If 9-5 feels more like a jail sentence than a work schedule, it’s about time you inserted some fun into your office atmosphere. The fastest way to make your office more enjoyable is to fill it with friends. And since it’s unlikely your boss is willing to hire all your college pals and drinking buddies, the best way to find camaraderie is to befriend your coworkers.
To do so, try out the following 10 tips for finding fun and creating bonds in your office.
Focus on Food
Designate one day a week as “potluck day,” where anyone who wants to participate brings one breakfast or lunch item, and everyone digs into a delicious and varied meal. Those who aren’t kitchen inclined can bring cutlery, paper plates and/or napkins. Then, sit back and wait to make a ton of food-loving friends.
Jump in the Pools
The global consulting firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc. estimated that the discussing and filling out of 2010 NCAA Basketball Tournament brackets could cost U.S. employers approximately $1.8 billion (yes, with a ‘B’) in unproductive wages during the first week of March Madness. The firm arrived at this number based on 45 percent of the employed population (the percentage that indicated they would join an office pool in 2009) wasting 20 minutes per day for the week.
Almost two billion dollars certainly sounds daunting. But “wasting” may be an inaccurate word. By joining – and being active in or even organizing – your office pool, you will meet more office employees, form better connections with your colleagues and set yourself up to work faster and more efficiently with those coworkers in the future, therefore increasing (or at least not wasting) productivity. If the pool catches on (likely), and all involved employees have a quality work ethic, consider implementing additional pools for the college football bowls and the World Cup.
Once in a while, arrange an outing with a small group of coworkers to a nice restaurant. The lunch menu will pack less of a punch to your wallet, while still allowing you to eat superbly. Just make sure the price range is agreed upon by all diners.
Practice “Happy Birthday”
Organize a calendar of all the birthdays in your office or department, and bring cupcakes, cookies or a small cake for each celebratory day. Establish a collection for people to donate to or rotate who buys the goodies.
Pull a (Small) Prank
Office pranks can be brilliant and beneficial if pulled off correctly. If you have an established rapport with a few coworkers, plan a small prank (ideas here), with plans to buy the victim(s) a drink later.
When you’re eating lunch at your desk or taking your 15-minute afternoon break, exchange your favorite (office appropriate) YouTube video with a co-worker. Just make sure not to overuse the privilege.
Make an Hour Happy
Once a month, arrange a happy hour for office employees at a nearby establishment. Ask the bar or restaurant manager if he or she will provide discounted prices on a few favorites, and allow employees to leave work half an hour early.
Get in Tune
While chatting at the coffee pot or the water cooler, inquire about a coworker’s musical taste. Share which bands/artists you enjoy, and consider exchanging songs you think the other would enjoy.
Get Out at Lunch
Much more than eating can be accomplished on your lunch hour, but instead of just running errands, arrange a once a week outing to go bowl, play mini-golf or shoot pool with colleagues. The competition and interaction will foster better working relationships for all of you and allow you a physical activity and stress reliever in the middle of your day.
Enjoy seasons and holidays within the office, as well as at home. Arrange a potluck-style Thanksgiving spread. Bring Valentine’s Day cupcakes. Or provide popsicles for the Fourth of July.