Is your team taking time to goof off together?

Trust, communication, flexibility and empathy for co-workers make strong teams — but you can’t train for these things like you can train people to sell frames, edge lenses or fit contacts. However, all these traits come naturally to people who like and respect each other. Here are some ideas for after-hours playtime:

1. Bowling is a fun way to enjoy some friendly competition. Have $5 or $10 gift cards on hand for the top-scoring team, most creative bowling form, etc.

2. Go to the mall for a merchandising scavenger hunt. Give everyone 30 minutes to take photos of the best and the worst displays they can find. Gather at a designated time and location — a not-too-loud restaurant works well — and have everyone share their photos and the reasons they chose those displays. Vote for the best and worst displays, and give the teams that discovered the winners a prize.

3. Larger offices can play “Project Runway.” Divide the staff into teams, and give each group a bag filled with stuff that could make an outfit: large plastic bags, feathers, crepe paper and so on, plus scissors, masking tape and glue. Give each team 45 minutes to dress one of their team members and write a script describing the outfit. Include fabulous runway music and enjoy the fashion show.

4. Have a painting party. Create two to four painting stations. Divide into teams and set a timer to go off every three minutes. Each team gets that long to paint whatever they want on the canvas. When the timer goes off, teams move to the next canvas. Continue until every person in the office has contributed to each canvas. You now have paintings to hang in your break room, where you can share a pizza and admire your work.

Playtime takes some people out of their comfort zone. If this happens, respect your colleague’s boundaries. Ask if they’d like to be the official photographer, timekeeper or judge. The key is to keep things fun — and to make it all about learning to play together, because the team that plays together stays together.

REBECCA JOHNSON is a 30-year veteran in the eyecare business. She is the executive director of Business Consultative Services for GPN and owner of EyeTrain4You, an ophthalmic staff training and development company. Contact her at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

This article originally appeared in the June 2015 edition of INVISION.



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