Office Recreation: 10 Ways to Salvage Summer

by Salary.com Staff - Original publish date: January 19, 2012

You know what they say about all work and no play. But how often do you cut it up with your co-workers and colleagues? Socializing with co-workers isn't just fun and a good stress-reliever, it also provides some less obvious work-related benefits, according to Kerry Patterson, co-author of The New York Times bestseller "Influencer." Patterson says people who are successful in their careers share something in common: they are well connected to others within the organization.

Socializing with co-workers allows you to build respect and likability, better understand the personalities of co-workers, contributes to feelings of teamwork and expands your network within the organization. Summertime---with its longer daylight hours, carefree attitude and increased access to the outdoors---is the perfect season to maximize your mingling.

This article explores 10 ways to enjoy what's left of summer with your co-workers and colleagues before fall arrives.

Organize a sports team

Company softball is probably the most recognized team sport at work, but we've also heard of organizations enjoying Ultimate Frisbee, kickball, and golf. This is a great way for co-workers to get together once a week, enjoy each other's company in a fun, recreational environment, and blow off work-related stress.

Playing sports together in a competitive atmosphere is also a terrific team-building exercise.

Host a barbecue or picnic

Open up your home or, if you have co-workers with young families, choose a public spot where co-workers and their family members can swim and play.

Ask everyone to bring a dish to share, crank up the tunes, set up a game of horseshoes or break out a Frisbee and get to know who your co-workers really are in a more relaxed environment.

You'll be surprised at what you learn and you may even end up making some enduring friendships.

Be active together while doing something for a good cause

Charity sports events such as Team in Training or Dragon Boat racing rely on teams working together to raise money for specific causes.

Other events, such as Tour de Cure and Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure, can be done individually, but are much more fun with friends.

Meeting a challenging goal while making a difference is a great way to bond with co-workers, and to earn their respect.

Have lunch outside

Check out the weather forecast, pick a sunny day, find a nearby park or grassy area and ask co-workers and colleagues to join you for an outdoor picnic.

Ask your boss for an extra half-hour. You'll come back more refreshed and productive, and the time spent getting to know one another will increase familiarity and appreciation.

Organize a hike

Pick a nice day and go for a moderate walk or climb.

It shouldn't be anything too strenuous so that everyone in your office and on your team can be invited and feel welcome to participate. Pack a lunch and some cold beverages and pick a spot to rest, eat and enjoy the scenery and each other.

Can’t get everyone together outside of work?

People tend to go on vacation at different times and spend more time with family during the summer, which means it can be difficult to find a time and place that works for everyone.

In that event, bring a "taste" of summer to work and surprise your co-workers with a yummy summer treat. Make your favorite summer dessert, bring a variety of nostalgic ice cream truck treats or keep it simple and hand out some popsicles.

It's impossible not to bond over food!

Have a beverage after work

There's nothing like enjoying a cold beverage after a long day of work, especially if the weather is warm.

Pick a locale that has something extra to offer---live music or a view of the water---and organize an after-work gathering. Sharing a drink with colleagues is a great way to get more insight and understanding into their personalities, and results in important friendships.

Take a fitness class together

Zumba, kickboxing, yoga or step.

Most gyms and recreation centers plan classes around the schedules of those who work, and offer noontime classes as well as classes immediately after work.

Find a class that looks fun and organize a sign-up among colleagues. Endorphins and sweat facilitate relationships and bonding!

Host a casual game night

Break out the poker chips, Pictionary or Cranium and invite co-workers and their families to join you.

Playing games with one another will create a sense of community and togetherness, and that friendly feeling will usually extend to the office as well.

Volunteer together

Choose an outdoor activity, such as participating in a Habitat for Humanity project or building a playground for a school, and get others in your office on board.

Projects can be long-term, or they can be just one day. Volunteering brings a sense of fulfillment to individuals, builds loyalty among participants and is a great team-building strategy.

It's not too late for summer fun

When August rolls around employees start to wonder where the summer went. They start thinking about vacations they should've taken before the leaves turn color and the kids go back to school.

But it is still summertime and there are ways to have some fun at the office while simultaneously remaining productive. So instead of lamenting yet another summer gone by too fast, follow some of our tips.

Bring some summer sunshine into your cubicle by lightening things up a bit while also fostering positive relationships, increasing connections, building bonds and strengthening your reputation.

Work hard but take every opportunity to get out and play.

Recommended Reading (try an ebook)

301 Ways to Have Fun at Work: Proving That a Fun Workplace is More Productive Than a Dull One

Fish! A Remarkable Way to Boost Morale and Improve Results

Fun Works: Creating Places Where People Love to Work

1001 Ways to Reward Employees: Using Awards & Recognition to Boost Productivity & Keep Employees Happy

Get Weird: 101 Innovative Ways to Make Your Company a Great Place to Work

Who Took All the Paperclips?: Fun Things to Do With Office Supplies When the Boss Isn't Looking

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