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Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 17 December 2018

Playtime brings creative success

Studies show that fun pursuits can help build stronger worth ethic

Employees play games at the Google office in Dubai. Satish Kumar / The National
Employees play games at the Google office in Dubai. Satish Kumar / The National

Playtime, especially playing house, or spending hours assembling a puzzle, helped to ignite my imagination as a kid, and as a result, I have countless notebooks of tales and drawings inspired by a scenario my friends and I came up with while playing.

Looking back I can see how playtime helped enhance my creativity as a young writer.

As we grow older, we gradually give up on playtime and immerse in more serious activities. Instead of dedicating two hours or more to playtime every day, we may indulge in a hobby or an activity we enjoy for an hour every week or so if we are not busy.

We do not have any kids at my home, so playtime is something of the past. However, a month ago, while staying at my aunt’s house for Eid, my little cousins took me on a walk down memory lane and urged me to play with them and help to build a princess carriage out of Lego blocks. We spent a good two hours doing that and I recalled how important playtime is in enhancing creativity and clearing my mind.

For the next couple of days I spent time playing with my cousins and my phone was tucked away during those times; my mind was clear and I was focused and enjoying something completely unrelated to my work.

After that, I made it a point to dedicate sometime almost every day to playtime. I would either paint, jump around using my pogo stick, or simply just float in our pool, and I would ensure that I would also engage in these activities when I had a mental block, or was looking for an alternative solution to a business issue.

Numerous studies also support the importance of playtime and its relation to enhanced creativity. A study by Michigan State University found that both boys and girls who played video games tend to be more creative, regardless if the game is violent or not. The study showed how the more kids played video games, the more creative they were in writing stories and drawing.

Another study, also by Michigan State University, analysed the relation between having an artistic hobby and professional success. The study examined Nobel Prize winners and found that dedicating time to artistic pursuits reaped great results. For instance, scientists who paint or draw are seven times more likely to win a Nobel Prize. Writing creatively, such as stories and poems, increased their chances by 12 times, while dancing increased their likelihood of winning by 22 times.

We are living in a time where there are many competitors and it is getting tougher for businesses to stand out – where many businesses’ success depends on creativity – and so more and more companies are integrating playtime into their workplace to enhance creativity, and increase employee interaction.

Facebook and LinkedIn provide opportunities for their employees to get up and play, not only during lunchtime, but also any time where they feel that they need to get up and take a break. Play options include ping-pong tables and arcade games installed in the premises.

Other benefits for employers to introduce playtime at their offices include: talent acquisition and reduced stress. It Pays to Play, a study commissioned by the HR software company BrightHR, reveals that 79 per cent of graduates believe that fun at work is important and 44 per cent believe that it encourages a stronger work ethic.

The report also revealed how respondents who had fun at work, took fewer sick leaves and enjoyed a greater psychological well-being.

Cultivating a playtime culture at work is not hard and you can start tomorrow. You do not need to build large facilities like Google. You can start by allowing your employees to take a break and do something completely unrelated when they feel a mental block. Bring some board games to work, puzzles, drawing pads for those who are interested, or perhaps instal a TV and some video games. If you are a freelancer, then the same applies: dedicate some time to do something fun every day.

Creating a work culture that values fun and playtime is a smart way to ensure business success.

Manar Al Hinai is an award-winning Emirati writer who manages her branding

and marketing consultancy

in Abu Dhabi. Twitter:

@manar_alhinai