Almost everyone has a recollection of the last few days of school each year. With sunshine, fresh air and fun beckoning tantalizingly through the windows, time seemed to warp. The hands on the clock never moved, the teacher’s voice seemed thin and far away, and sitting still became more difficult than ever. The emotions of those restless, twitchy, anticipatory hours before vacation remain as clear as the sunny day outside, even decades later. It’s not so different in an office environment. Keeping morale up and productivity high when everybody’s internal eight-year-old is begging to be taken to the beach can be a challenge, even among the most motivated teams. While we can’t all throw work to the wind and head off into an endless summer, there are things we can to do give everyone a taste of freedom and fun in these warmer months.
Bring Summer Inside
Creative summer office activities are one of the best ways to add a little sunshine to everyone’s day. They don’t have to be extravagant or time-consuming to be effective. Don’t be afraid to get silly or cheesy: after all, a lot of the summer blues come from unfulfilled nostalgia.
- Set up an “ice cream truck” in reception, complete with novelty popsicles and terrible tinny music coming from someone’s smartphone.
- Have a “ridiculous Hawaiian Shirt day”, hand out leis, and serve fresh fruit juices festooned with paper parasols from a well-decorated “Tiki Bar.”
- Try indoor gardening: a small budget will buy you pots, seeds, some potting compost and a bit of plastic sheeting for under the table. Invite everyone to put together their own little herb or flower container garden.
Get Everyone Outside
As everyone gets more mobile, there’s no excuse for staying cooped up in the office every single day. If there isn’t a compelling reason for everyone to be on-site, surprise and delight them with the opposite of a snow-day: a sunshine day. Send out a memo saying that it’s too nice a day to spend at a desk, and send them away to work from home or on a sunny cafe patio. It doesn’t mean everyone is going to goof off, either. Recent studies show that people working from home are often more productive.
Giving people a chance to move their bodies isn’t just great for health, morale, and general well-being, it’s also a way to instantly evoke some of the best parts of childhood summer holidays. Organize a company softball tournament, a 5k run, or an old-fashioned field day (don’t forget the trophy and prize ribbons!)
The workplace summer outing is a longstanding tradition. Maybe you’re planning a company-wide trip to a theme park, an office tailgating party, or a 4th of July office party (ideas for fun activities can be sourced from employees ahead of time.) No matter what, it’s an opportunity for everyone to let loose a little and socialize in a different way. A few thoughtful details are all you need to make it memorable. Heading to Six Flags? Hand out refillable water bottles before everyone heads into the roller coaster lines. Need summer office party ideas for a picnic in the park? A few Frisbees or Nerf guns do wonders to break the ice. Last but not least, and often overlooked at informal events, name tags can really help to break down barriers and build new connections.
For grown-ups going through the routine of our ordinary work schedules, all it takes is a small rise in the thermometer reading to send us right back into the thick of those old summertime memories. But it only takes a small effort to turn our summer longings into a day full of laughter and team building.
Recapturing the joy, energy, and excitement of summer vacation for the people in your office is a special way to let them know that their hard work is appreciated all year round.