It’s known that play time in childhood is essential to healthy development of cognitive, psychical, social and emotional wellbeing; but why do we deflect so much from the concept of play as adults?

A 2014 NPR article took a deeper look into playtime and why it doesn’t just end when we become adults, “Play is something done for its own sake… It’s voluntary, it’s pleasurable, it offers a sense of engagement, it takes you out of time. And the act itself is more important than the outcome.” Dr. Stuart Brown, Founder of National Institute of Play shared with NPR.

The concept of play in adulthood has been traditionally buried beneath a layer of hobbies or masked as productivity. Besides the few widely accepted games like Scrabble on a Wednesday night with your partner or perhaps a card game during an outing with friends , playtime for adults is generally rejected and occasionally labeled as lazy or bizarre. But it shouldn’t be.

In fact, the benefits of adults taking time for recess or time for play could be the simple solution that remote-team CEO’s have been looking for, and here is why.

How playtime benefits the wellbeing of adults

Several studies conducted during the 2010’s concluded a direct correlation between playfulness and wellbeing. 

A 2013 study revealed that individuals who reported being more playful experienced lower levels of perceived stress and more frequently utilized coping strategies to adapt, reframe, and manage difficult situations without the need of employing negative or avoidance strategies. The ability to cope with a challenge in a healthy way affects the individual’s wellbeing, dynamics of the team, and inevitably the success of the organization. 

After the term burnout was coined in the 1970s and given scientific legitimacy, it skyrocketed in prominence in the 2010s as Millennials became known as the burnout generation. A 2019 article in NBC News on the topic draws the conclusion that, “Arguably the most significant and distressing takeaway… was that millennials are subject to pressures that threaten to overwhelm the nervous system.” The levels of stress have only increased since then, and it’s past time to do something about it. Being more playful just might be the answer.

Some of the biggest benefits to adding play in to your regular day:

  • Relieve stress and increase your ability to cope with difficult situations
  • Improve brain function by involving multiple senses to achieve a challenge 
  • Boost creativity and learn new skills faster by making the process enjoyable
  • Build stronger communication and social skills through team cooperation 
  • Repair relationships through a positive experience and bond with humor 

Why C-suite executives should care about playtime for employees

More recently, remote-work has increased concern surrounding engagement, wellbeing, and socializing in the workplace. A new digital landscape has proven to be more challenging for leadership to manage, even exacerbating previous issues around burnout. 

While in general c-suite executives are focused on returning to the office to rectify some of the challenges coming to light, they are completely missing out on the potential benefits of a virtual office space and how this new work day flexibility can improve productivity and team cooperation. According to this PGi study, frequent workplace collaboration boosts successful innovation by 15% as well as teams see a 50% increase in continued collaborative efforts outside of formal gathering settings, such as small briefs and meetings, improving overall organizational productivity. It’s possible to bring that into the remote workplace, too.

The correlation between happy employees and organizational success has been continuously proven; a study conducted by Stanford Research Institute International and the Carnegie Melon Foundation discovered that 75% of long-term job success depends on people skills – and play just might be a simple solution to maintain those skills in the workplace. 

Providing a low-barrier activity that allows team members to socialize, improve their people skills, and build relationship bonds through play is a simple and cost-effective strategy that leadership could be utilizing. 

We asked Anywhere League teams for their feedback and this this is what we got:

  • 98.9% of team members surveyed said that Anywhere League makes their work week more enjoyable
  • On average team members reported a 4.8 out of 5 when asked if regular play helps them build strong relationships with their colleagues  
  • 88.4% of team members survey said that Anywhere League helps them feel more engaged with their jobs

“The best part of my workweek! The curation is so so good, never gets old. Funny, engaging, educational, and socially aware. I regularly save the forms and discuss them with friends and family throughout the week.”

 Comment submitted through Anywhere League anonymous experience survey

The benefits of playtime for adults in the workplace are often underutilized or completely tossed aside due to being socially labeled as lazy or unproductive. But if you look closely you’ll realize that leading organizations like Google and Amazon have been incorporating playtime through interactive workspace, table games, even full basketball and soccer courts as a key strategy to success from the very beginning.