I recently blogged about ways to ignite your passion in the new year, with tips for making sure that you’re working on projects that you are passionate about and that make your work exciting, rather than draining, but you can also look for other ways to introduce fun into your work. For example, at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) my employer, Intel, hired Hugh MacLeod (aka gapingvoid) to draw custom cartoons, hang out in the booth and give out signed copies of those cartoons. It made me wish that I’d had an excuse to go to CES, instead of watching the coverage from my computer in Portland. It did get me thinking about other ways to incorporate fun into our work events.
Maybe you can’t hire a famous cartoonist or Lady Gaga, but you could work with your employer or clients to incorporate something fun into an event. Cartoonists, artists, musicians and other talented people can help make an event fun. If you don’t have money to hire people to perform, you could hold a contest where people can perform and win prizes. This could be anything from a battle of the bands with real instruments to Rock Band competitions, talent contests, arm wrestling, juggling or any other fun and crazy scheme you can come up with to add a little excitement. Toys can also help make an event more fun: a few hula hoops, video games, puzzles, puppets or other toys or cool tech gadgets can help introduce some fun.
Most of us have some conferences that we are obligated to attend or that we feel that we should attend because they will have some benefit in the future, but many of them just aren’t fun. Spend some time thinking about which conferences you enjoy attending and try to find excuses to attend more conferences like those. We all have different interests and get enjoyment from different types of conferences. When I was consulting full-time and doing online community strategy, I attended a few community and social media conferences, but most were too marketing-oriented for me, and I didn’t really enjoy them. I prefer to attend conferences filled with geeky developer types and smart people building really interesting things out of cutting edge technologies, so I like to attend open source / Linux developer conferences, SXSW and various unconferences. Budget is always an issue with going to conferences, but you can often attend them for free by speaking or volunteering to work at a conference if money is tight.
You can even make your own event. We often forget to celebrate our work achievements, but having something to celebrate, even a small accomplishment, can make a great excuse for a little party. For the big things, it can be really fun to have a huge party with a nice budget. However, we can also throw little mini parties to celebrate the smaller accomplishments without breaking the bank. On the low end, you can do a team lunch, happy hour at a local pub or a celebration in the office with a few snacks. If you have a little budget, find something fun for the team to do together and throw a bigger party. Either way, you can make work into a fun event.
What is your favorite way to make work events fun?
Related content from GigaOM Pro (sub. req.):