Ergonomics is a big word for what kindergarteners would call “being healthy and having fun.” In the grown-up world, ergonomics is an applied science concerned with designing and arranging things people use so that the people and things interact most efficiently and safely.
Sometimes, if we take a step back from the big definitions and the big words, we can learn a lot from kids, who seem to do ergonomics innately.
Make meetings like circle time
Instead of meeting in a conference room or even at a local Starbucks, try sitting cross-legged on the floor or lying on your belly. Taking the monotony out of regular meetings and adding fun increases productivity.
Give approvals a Smiley Face
Instead of a big red, capital letter APPROVED stamp (or email), try golden stars or smiley stickers (or emoticons). Adding a smile to a colleague’s day goes a long way.
Turn routine phone calls into the Hokey Pokey
When you talk on the phone, make dramatic body motions that go with the conversation: shake your head vigorously, shrug your shoulders several times, or just dance! Exercise and movement during the workday has been proven to enhance moods, improve workers’ health, and reduce stress and fatigue.
Turn other things into tables
As any kindergartener can tell you, it is more fun to use a chair, the floor, or even the air as a table than to actually use a table as a table. Try it – place your laptop on your chair and squat on the floor while answering emails.
Do the happy dance
Inspire office-mates to take a dance break every day. You can use the same song every day (kids love repetition) and improve your moves as you get into the groove. Or, you can have each member of your new dance team pick a song every day. Have fun with it!
Celebrations aren’t just for birthday parties and IPOs. Celebrate your small successes. Closed a big deal? Got good feedback from a customer? Bring treats and noisemakers to share with the class.
Stare off into space
Look out the window if you can for a few minutes each day. If you don’t have a window, you can put a picture of a cartoon character or a peaceful landscape on your ceiling. Zoning out for a few minutes will refresh and rejuvenate you.
Everything is better with ice cream
Having a rough day? Quarterly goals seeming unreachable? Stop the pity party! Instead, treat your team to ice cream cones. Any scraped knee (or lofty sales goal) feels better with ice cream!
Anything can be used for art projects
Remember bringing home pasta glued on construction paper? Or a turkey drawn from your hand print? Offer simple art projects in the office: you can use paper clips or post-it-notes to create your masterpiece:
The key to ergonomics is fun
Kindergarteners don’t have fun because it makes them more productive, effective, or healthy. They have fun just because it is fun. But, as adults, sometimes “just because it is fun” isn’t enough motivation. So, studies have been commissioned, findings have been published in important medical journals, and consultants have established businesses on a concept that you can easily understand by watching any 5-year-old: adding play makes things more fun (and for the adults, I will add: the more fun we have, the more motivated we are, the healthier we are, and the more goals we can achieve).