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8 Ways to Make Work Fun

 

I won the office costume contest as Cruella de Vil

I LOVE Halloween. I dress up every year – at work – regardless of what my day holds. I bring in candy, and there are usually a few decorations around too. The pandemic and working from home has made that more challenging, but I still dress up for my Zoom calls.

It’s one of the ways I bring my unique self and show my personality at work. Smiles, laughter, confusion, judgment – I get it all. It’s not for everyone for sure, but to those of you who also dress up at work – I get you. If Halloween isn’t your jam, that’s okay too.

Thinking about Halloween and which costume and wig I’d wear this year inspired this week’s blog. This is something I do because it is part of me and a way for me to have fun at work. It’s also a way for me to connect with others by sharing stories about my past or about what I’m doing with my toddler this year.

Whether or not you love your current job, here are some of my favorite ways to bring some fun and personality to work. If you’re stressed or unhappy, it’s even more important to do things that bring you some happiness and energy. After all, we spend A LOT of time at work. 

If you’re looking for a new job or think you might be soon, here’s my free checklist on what to do before you start: Free Download: 6 Tips to Jumpstart Your Job Search

Let’s dive in!

       1. Personalize Your Work Space

In an office or at home, bring in some items that make you comfortable, relieve stress, and make you smile. Grab some pictures of your friends, family, pets, or vacations and hang them up. Bring in some cozy sweaters or a blanket if your space gets cold. Lumbar support is a must have for me too.

In the past I’ve thought “well, I may not be here that long” or “why would I want to bring in personal items to work.” I understand the resistance, but the fact is that you’re here. While you’re here, you should make it a space you enjoy being in.

       2. Show Your Personality through Your Style

Let’s not go crazy here (you should still look presentable), and I understand some places have uniforms or safety requirements. Maybe you love color and can wear some brighter shirts, shoes, ties, or jewelry. I personally love matching my lipstick to my shirts whenever possible. Pick some fun socks you can show off (or not). Wear some jeans and a vest or hoodie if your office allows. If you work from home, you have even more flexibility. Get out of those pajamas and wear something that makes you feel confident and want to turn on your video.

       3. Find a Work Bestie (or just make some work friends)

Everything in life is better when you have someone to share it with. Remember Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs? Human belonging is a fundamental need right after food and shelter. Friends provide that sense of belonging. Research shows that those with work friends are happier, more productive, and healthier. Workplace bonds also tend to result in real, outside of work, lasting friends. I have met so many of my good friends at work, and I even met my husband at work. Some of my friendships may be from joint experienced trauma, but that made them even more important in my life. We supported each other through miserable bosses and crazy workloads. We could trust each other and safely vent and release the stress and frustration. Wherever you’re at now may not be your forever home (most likely it isn’t), but that’s no reason not to make some good friends.

       4. Join an Employee Resource Group

If you’re organization has these, find one that fits your needs. If not, maybe you can pose the idea to HR. I’ve worked at some organizations with and some without, and I prefer the ones with these groups. They provide an automatic network of people who get you and are there to support each other. Groups can be based on gender, ethnicity, language, caregiver status, affinities for hobbies, or any number of things. The best part is that these groups can be a powerhouse for change. If you’re unhappy because you don’t have certain benefits or flexibility, this group can push for new policies. Honestly, it’s just nice to find people that understand what you’re dealing with – especially when you’ve never met before. Instant connection.

       5. Turn On Your Camera

This one might be controversial, particularly for women, and I understand why. Before we dive into that, let’s get the facts. Human, face-to-face interactions matter. Body language, facial expressions, and being able to read the room all require you to see the other person/people. Seeing others and being seen promotes connection and bonding too. Oh, and it keeps you focused (most of the time). I don’t think everyone needs to be on video all the time, but making it a habit will help you stay engaged when it’s so easy to get distracted.

Now for the “I don’t want to dress up” part. Before the pandemic, I would NEVER leave the house without makeup on. The idea of people seeing me without was terrifying. This one may challenge you, like it did me, to take on some personal growth and learn to become more confident and loving and accepting toward yourself. I had a baby right before the pandemic started, so I never really returned to the office after my maternity leave. I was even less confident with a post-pregnancy struggle to lose weight and no professional clothes that fit. I still wear makeup when I go into the office, but I stopped wearing it during the pandemic. It was freeing, and I got used to seeing myself with my natural beauty.

I wasn’t hired because of the way I looked. I was hired because they believed I was capable of kicking butt at the job. If I’m on Zoom or Teams without makeup, the truth is that no one really cares. Brush your hair, put on a shirt or sweater, and turn it on.

       6. Schedule Regular Coffee or Lunch Chats

Again, this is all about connection. If you can’t do it in person, do it online. It’s a great way to get to know the people you work with, make friends, and strengthen connections. It’s also a great way to network. You can share exciting news, vent about your boss or an annoying project, and talk about whatever is on your mind professionally or personally. You can also catch up on the latest office news and water cooler chat.

       7. Bring Treats to the Office (or send them to your team)

Fact: everyone loves food. This is a great way to meet people and get to know your team. It doesn’t have to be expensive, and if you’re lucky you can ask your company to pay for it as a teambuilding or morale boosting effort. It’s just a nice thing to do. To throw in some science, tasty food can produce serotonin, which reduces anxiety and depression and generally makes you happier. All good things at work. And since you’re bringing it in, you get to choose whatever you like and want to snack on. Win-win!

       8. Find Mentors Inside and Outside of Your Organization

Mentors are wonderful and critical people to have in your life. They support your professional development, can be strong advocates for you, often provide personal support, and can be direct and honest with you. I was once at an organization where I had two phenomenal mentors that gave me advice, supported me during a tough time, and always had my back. We’re still connected and are friends to this day. When I was struggling in my personal life, they shared their past similar struggles and showed me I wasn’t alone. When I ultimately left a toxic work environment, they were my references for my next job. They also connected me with a mentor outside of that organization who really opened my eyes to what career planning should look like and how to intentionally and strategically advance. He also leveraged his professional network for me. If you don’t have any now, start identifying people in positions you want to be in and reach out to see who you can connect with.

BONUS TIME TIP: Block Out Your Personal/Family Time on Your Work Calendar

As promised in my email, here’s my #1 tip on protecting your personal time. It’s simple, but admittedly scary if you’ve never done it before. Block out all of your personal time on your work calendar. I mean it. Do it now. If you can’t get into work until a certain time because of school drop off, block it. If you need to leave to pick up your kids from school, block it. Doctor appointment, mental health day, concert, vacation, whatever it is that you’re doing – block it out on your calendar. OOO and unavailable. If someone really needs you, they will call you or reach out before scheduling anything. You come first – always.

What are your thoughts on these tips? What other ways do you bring in your personality and some fun into work? I’d love to hear all of your ideas!

 

Batgirl out!

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