I once spent 16 months moving a 20-person non-profit across Manhattan and set up their space and systems from scratch, along with new policies to match. Sound like fun? Actually, I MADE it fun, and not just for me. Because I am VERY FUN, and I am also very smart. You see, research suggests that “levity” at work is good for morale and good for business. And if you’re seen as someone who helps bring the fun, good for you!
Play name games…
I worked at a company that named their three conference rooms after The Golden Girls. RESPECT. No “Large Conference Room 2” or Huddle Room room one.” for this joint! When you went to reserve a conference room, you got to book “Dorothy,” let’s say—and you got to amuse staff and guests every time.. “Your 2 PM is in Blanche Devereaux!” It never got old.
WIFI names and password don’t need to be Guest or Welcome456. Name them after funny things that happen in office life, No Fish in The Microwave or Oops I Replied All.
I worked in the operations for a small office. We had a lot of printers. Five, to be exact. You couldn’t tell them apart. Who is going to remember HP-76876349 is the color copier or the small black and white? I didn’t, and I helped IT network them all for the staff. I decided to name each printer after the great Houses of Westeros. Pro tip: House Stark is the black and white printer, because there is so little color in the north. For bonus points, we should have printed and posted correlating sigils. Next time I will.
When our organization moved, we needed to set up new services, one of which was our IT help desk. The help desks requires a verification passcode when a user calls in. That way they know what company you are from. Instead of going with old faithful (the company’s name, snore), I opted for famous movie lines. I picked, “Houston, we have a problem” and “Welcome to Jurassic Park”. Not only did staff smile when every time they said it, but we made the help desk’s day when we called.
Say it with pictures….
For example, offices often have “Employees Must Wash Hands” sign hanging in the bathroom and kitchens. Replace the sign with a picture instead! Use Buster Bluth from Arrested Development with his claw hand screaming, “I’m a monster!.” I’d wash my hands to hang out and stare at the picture just a little longer, wouldn’t you?
If a picture is worth a thousand words, the perfect .gif is worth like eleven thousand! Allow a culture that says it is okay to When appropriate, reply with a well-chosen (and SFW) picture or meme. I used to do it all the time. So much so, I had a desktop folder with my go-to pictures saved, ready to be dragged and dropped at a moment’s notice (time-saving tip!). Some go-tos in my catalogue were: Captain Picard’s “Make it so,” the face of Grumpy Cat, and Baby Fist saying “#Winning,” for when a coworker needed that extra boost.
Take advantage of existing but underutilized technology. Most corporate companies use Microsoft Office or Gmail as their operating system. Adding a profile picture to your email is a universal ability, yet so few people do it. Why not implement the policy that your picture is, say, your celebrity doppleganger? (You can set the visibility of the photo to internal so that is really is only an inside joke.)
Make it interactive…
In the newsletter
We all log onto the company resource hub or get the weekly HR e-blast—which, let’s face it, is not a page-turner (unless you find notes like don’t forget to hand in your timesheet or remember to book the Dorothy Zbornak conference room via Outlook to be FULL OF SUSPENSE). Why not include quizzes like “Pick your favorite ice cream and we’ll tell you what kind of cat you are”? The more people click, the more you know they opened it that day!
On the website
The website doesn’t have to be all biography and accolades. Why not throw it back to the early 2000s when surveys of random questions about yourself were all the rage? You know, the ones that ask for your “last book read,” “what you did for your last birthday” or “goal you’d like to achieve this year.” Let each person answer a few different questions, and put it all up on the ABOUT US page.
Easter eggs: Always funny.
And it’s always Easter on the office-wide shared drive!
Everyone knows it’s a maze of folders and documents and you spend chunks of your day clicking around to find the one thing you need. When I set up all those pathways, I made fake folders that contained little mysteries, with names like “Worst Cover Letters Ever Received” and “Money Hidden in the Walls.” You can put some fake supporting documents in there too, if you want. Let it sit and say nothing. Then wait until someone in the office finally brings it up! Pro tip: You can see the last time a folder was modified, so you can track who has looked!
So no more sitting in your cube trying to talk yourself out of #SadDeskLunch and realizing you haven’t had fun today. I’m here to share my own successful strategies for finding easy, free—and cringe-free—ways to use already existing policies, software, and procedures to bring good humor and fun to your office every day. There are opportunities all over the place, if you know where to look
Which one of these will you set up in your office? Have any to add to the list? Let us know!
Courtney Antonioli is a performer and storyteller living in NYC. She produces Stay Golden, a YouTube channel of original content inspired by The Golden Girls. She hosts monthly Golden Girls Bingo and does too many Tough Mudders. You can find her at @stolafprod.