While we would all love to be at our dream job feeling like work isn’t “work” at all, even those who are passionate about their career need happiness and positivity to energize a mundane workday. Often a shift in perspective, a quick pick-me-up, and creating camaraderie among coworkers is how everyone thrives at work. Becoming the positive catalyst in the office is not a bad title to earn. After all, having a good time is the key to being productive. Here are 19 ways to do just that:
1. Be the snack queen/king.
Whenever there’s free food in the office, people swarm like vultures. Being the go-to for snacks is beneficial: you’ll get to know your coworkers when they pop by for M&Ms, and you’ll have a reason to go grocery shopping during the workday.
2. Start the games.
Whether it’s a work-related contest or a quick game of darts, try to initiate spontaneity and competition into day-to-day tasks.
3. Plan outings with coworkers.
Some examples of team bonding include bowling, happy hours, and pizza Fridays. If your boss/manager is open enough, suggest these ideas as potential corporate-sponsored events to rile up the crowd. Spending time outside the office to catch up on topics other than work is a great way to get to know your peers on a personal level.
4. Give gifts.
Anything from Girl Scout cookies to coffee to really fun pens, taking the time to appreciate a coworker and give them a little thinking-of-you present is thoughtful—and the first step to making true friends among the humdrum.
5. Decorate your desk.
Choose a theme and go for it. If you’re really feeling bold, offer to decorate someone else’s desk (if you know them well!). People will get to know your personality better and ask questions that will lead to interesting conversation.
6. Take frequent breaks.
Give your eyes a rest from the computer screen to stretch your legs outside. Fresh air lets the body distress after long periods of Excel or Photoshop.
7. Create a recreational team.
Kickball, soccer, book clubs, salsa dancing. If you haven’t already, you’ll soon realize the working world is just like college, except you get paid. Might as well do something fun and productive.
8. Bring your plant to work.
It’ll freshen up your desk and add some calming greenery your space.
9. Bring your pet to work!
If you’re lucky enough to work in an office that allows dogs or cats, bring your pooch in for some inter-office cuddling and snuggling.
Birthdays and holidays, milestone achievements such as promotions, newcomers, and movers; these should all be properly celebrated with champagne, or lots of sweets.
11. Host a scavenger hunt.
For when you’re feeling particularly proactive, this activity is great for a group of interns and team bonding. Whether it’s just in the office or around a whole city, working together to solve problems and compete is a fun simulation of the workplace environment.
12. Play pranks (within reason).
Light-hearted pranks should be encouraged outside of April Fools’ Day—nothing says love like finding hundreds of Post-its on your desk area. Just be game to help clean up afterward!
13. Challenge a friend to be your accountability partner.
Whether training for a race or simply working out, the people you see every day are great for motivation.
14. Go out for lunch.
This one seems simple, but more often than not, people eat at their desks just to appear dedicated. Socializing is important, and so is food.
15. Personalize your desk space.
Bring in photos of your friends and family, significant other, and other trinkets as a reminder of what makes life worthwhile.
16. Have a Nerf gun contest.
One of my first internships was at TerraCycle, where one manager hosted a Nerf gun contest for the best poem. I wrote a haiku and a limerick and earned myself a Nerf gun, which I was allowed to use on anybody in the office—even the CEO.
17. Give handwritten notes.
Not just handy for interviews and thank-you notes, but also for random compliments and acts of kindness. Cheer up someone’s day with a sweet card!
18. Challenge yourself to obstacles.
While team sports are great, sometimes the most fun you can have in the office is to compete with yourself. I personally enjoy completing a task more efficiently, faster, or creatively than ever before (but yours can be a little more fun than that).
19. Show gratitude.
Above all, having fun at work is all about human connections. A corporation will never deliver more impact than the collective individuals who surround you each day, fighting the same fight. Living by this mantra will make for a harmonious workplace.
Photo: Robert Daly / Getty Images