|Toys in the workplace ideal for stress relief, creativity boosters|
Monitor, TX -
An office replete with pinstripe suits and company memos hardly seems like the place for a bobble head doll.
Yet, more and more, that’s exactly where you’ll find them, along with Silly Putty, magnetic sculptures, foam dart guns and a Slinky or two.
While the corporate world hasn’t linked forces with Toys R Us, managers and workers are realizing toys in the office can benefit everyone in positive ways, from boosting troop morale to inspiring creativity. Guadalupe Rodriguez, who works in an engineering office in Hidalgo, is a comic book fan who keeps his office stocked with action figures. When people visit his office, they occasionally play with a figurine, he said, and the toys make the office atmosphere lighter.
'You don’t want to walk into an office and it has white walls all around,' he said. 'People ask me, ‘Hey, why do you have so many toys?’ and I say, ‘Hey, it’s not dull.’ I actually took them down for a little to clean, and I thought, ‘I need to put those back up.'
According to Christopher Avery, author of Teamwork Is an Individual Skill and expert on office productivity, some large corporations intentionally keep toys on retainer to make their employees happy.
'They are immensely popular,' he said. 'They are so popular that some places have graduated them to an art form and policy. Google is known for having rooms full of pinball machines and foosball tables and pool tables. Lots of software engineering companies have ping-pong tables in the hallways. They believe that those folks are pretty well self-motivated, and that playing together is collaboration. They’re not blowing (work) off, they’re thinking about their problem and trying to solve it.'
One of the most important elements of the office toy is its ability to connect with people and inspire dialogue, Avery said.
'Sometimes if you engage in something like a toy it’s a release for your mind to think or be creative or relieve stress,' he said. 'It’s a variety of things. If someone comes into your office to talk to you, you can engage them over the toy.'
Toys have a great social allure, said Bill Ross, founder of the office toy retailer officeplayground.com. Having them can make your company look good to prospective clients.
'What kind of company do you want to do business with, a company that’s all black and white, or a company that has pens in the shape of a carrot?' he said. 'Stuff like that people like. There’s character and confidence in a company that’s willing to play that way.'
Toys also can be used to dispel tension in an office or meeting setting, Avery said. For instance, stuffed animals in a meeting can help people indirectly convey frustration.