The four questions were as follows:

  • What does fun at work mean to you?
  • What have you done that’s succeeded / failed when it comes to increasing engagement?
  • How would you avoid forcing fun in the workplace?
  • Do you have an insight or experience to share about fun at work?

Sofia Klingberg

Inclusion & Diversity Manager @ AFRY
LinkedIn profile

Fun at work means…

… people, people, people. I’m an extrovert who loves interactions with other human beings. Fun at work is engaging with other team members and colleagues and making something together. And the more diverse the team the better, so doing things together with colleagues with different types of education, age groups, and cultural backgrounds really works wonders for me when it comes to creativity and giggling together during working hours.

Fun at work is also when you’re brave and honest. It creates trust and empathy in the team. When it comes to certain tasks at work, you can feel it’s all “going to hell”. Being able to vent that to your colleagues means everything, and often it’s never that bad, even if it feels like that sometimes.

Exercising together during work hours adds a lot of fun and value for me. At the AFRY office in Gothenburg, we have group training sessions every week. I love that it not only reduces stress, it also gives you a lot of new brain cells. We even have fun doing Tabata in the rain outside together.

Cherish inclusion and diversity

I have a responsibility to lead the global Inclusion & Diversity Agenda at AFRY. We are 18858 employees in 53 different countries in total, so it’s a bit overwhelming at times. But one concrete thing in terms of increasing engagement globally is AFRYs Inclusion & Diversity Week. This is a global event with local activities. We are doing this to cherish and celebrate our multitude of unique team players. During this week, we celebrate our differences by organising events to get inspired and learn more. During 2023, we engaged a much broader audience throughout the organisation through having around 50 events in 10 different countries. This is something that I’m very proud of.

Listen to your employees

Never force people to attend things that they don’t want. The best thing is always to listen to what the employees want to do. At AFRY, we have an internal portal called Yammer where everyone can reach out to colleagues around the world to get their insights and thoughts about anything.

Also, COVID has taught us that it’s totally fine to work from home. Sometimes you just want to use the benefit of solving the work-life puzzle by using the home-office location.

Value-adding activities

Placing focus on social activity can add lots of value for connecting colleagues. At AFRY, we have Club AFRY where a diverse range of activities are arranged for all employees. This is a great thing when you want to get to know your fellow colleagues better. Most of the time, you can always find someone that likes the same thing as you do. I love the skiing trips we have every year. To me, winter sports are the best possible way of enjoying time outside.


Max Hunter

Chief Joy Officer @ Motivators@Work
LinkedIn profile

Fun at work means…

… bringing people together to connect, build trust and co-create a better future. I love working with teams (teams of people. Not MS Teams 😉). I love meeting new people. I love helping people build real sustainable bonds full of emotion. I love it when someone tells me that I had an impact on their lives.

Working with and observing others in many organisations across many industries, geographies and company sizes, the following four elements are the consistent themes that we see in order for people to enjoy their work:

1. “I belong”
– That sense of connecting with colleagues and being on the same mission together

2. “I am seen”
– Recognition for what you do and appreciation for who you are

3. “It’s my thing”
– Loving your day job, getting in the zone, and having autonomy to make decisions

4. “I am growing”
– Having new challenges to expand into and the support you need to achieve them

More on this can be found here: Roots and Fruits.

Connecting people
Lots of things failed when I was Chief Joy Officer at Loylogic. The biggest learning was anything that didn’t have the buy-in from the CEO – or at least of the other key Executive Board Members – was destined to fail.

Plenty of successes too, such as connecting people across borders and departments with a non-mandatory internal workplace app. We launched it with a lot of fun and games, and it ended up being very sticky, with over 90% employee engagement.

We also sent waves of gratitude around the organisation with the ‘Thank You’ initiative.

You can find more info on all of that and more in the following talk I gave at the HR Congress.


Dara Simkin

Founder, Chief Play Officer @ Culture Hero

Find purpose in play

I define fun and play as two very distinct things. While play at work is fun, fun for its own sake is often frivolous and silly; think team building exercises and dress-up parties. This type of fun is without intention. It brings lightness and connection, but no real lasting effects on the culture. Purposeful play at work on the other hand is about exploration and learning. It provides a low stakes environment for colleagues to test and try new things, to collaborate and imagine possibilities. It’s also a space to build trust and empathy.

Allow for more learning than failing

Understand the importance of meeting people where they’re at. Some may have less of an appetite for play than others, so it’s important to ease people in. Also, avoid putting people on show in front of others. I almost always start activities in pairs to avoid anyone being overwhelmed. While play is fun, it can also be a vulnerable space.

There is always room for being flexible, curious and open when navigating different group dynamics — this allows for more learning than failing.

Play is an invitation

You can never force anyone to play. While a certain engagement might be mandatory for team members to attend, whether or not they choose to participate or observe should be up to them. When a safe container is created, most people will eventually join in because the joy that play creates is contagious.

Play builds trust

Play and work cannot stand in isolation of each other. Work without play is high pressure and stressful, while play without work is ‘rah-rah’ team building that has no real lasting influence on people or performance.

Work is work and we need to execute in order to get things done. However, living in ‘execution land’ all the time is what kills creativity. Hence why play is crucial. It is divergent, emergent and innovative thinking. When play is applied to work with purpose, it builds the trust and mindsets needed to enable high performance and high engagement. This trust acts as the foundation for greater connection, wellbeing and new thinking in organisations. So, let’s play!


Charlotta Rydholm

CEO / CLO @ .tobegin
LinkedIn profile

To me, fun at work means…

… that I lose count of the number of smiles and laughs that I produce.

Set the stage

The Power of Perspectives exercise. Handled correctly, it sets the stage for conversations that are fun, difficult, curious, and tricky.

Don’t define fun

To avoid forced fun, avoiding defining what fun is. Instead aim for trust, desire and curiosity. Then the fun will arrive and feel welcome, now matter in what shape of form it’s in.

Flip it, mix it, share it

I always dig into my three paths: Flip it, Mix it and Share it.

Try to find other ways to define (flip it), other ways to deliver learning (mix it), and then share as much as you can with perspectives you never had before (share it). You will have the fun of your life!


Hanna Larsson

GTM & Growth Advisor / Consultant & Fractional Revenue Leader
LinkedIn profile

To me, fun at work is…

… taking the opportunity to connect with people I work with (or customers), whether it’s work related or not. I highly believe in the importance of creating a playful and open work environment where having fun is a natural part of how we work and communicate with one another. It’s also important to remember that fun means different things to different people.

Build a culture

When I built and scaled the sales team at the unicorn company, Remote, I put a big emphasis on building a culture that enabled us to have fun together and get to know each other better. This could be through different Slack channels with specific topics, starting a team call with a social question, celebrating a milestone, or sharing fun things from our everyday work. When we have fun in our everyday work, everything and everyone benefits.

Fun connects us on a deeper level

Forced fun is never successful. What employers can do is to encourage certain values and behaviour and then create an environment that enables people to have fun together. I do believe that when we have fun together, we connect on a deeper level.


Nico Mayes

Senior Creator Partnerships Manager @ Epidemic Sound
LinkedIn profile

To me, fun at work is…

  • Open minded colleagues.
  • A culture of vulnerability that allows psychological safety so you can be your true self.
  • A culture that promotes and enables open communication.
  • Meaningful work. Aligned values with your workplace.

At Epidemic Sound, I feel that my job has a great purpose. We work at the intersection of music and content creation, which is a pretty cool and unique place to be. I work as Senior Creator Partnerships Manager, and my job basically consists of nurturing relationships with various content creators (mostly YouTubers) and planning campaigns where we promote Epidemic Sound.

Focus on team culture

I am a huge believer in the power of feedback. For me, not having a culture that encourages feedback would end up failing when it comes to employee engagement. I’m also a big fan of being intentional with the team’s culture. Working on and taking care of it will definitely increase efficiency and wellbeing, and failure to do so will simply have the opposite effect.

Lunch roulette is a great way to increase employee engagement! I had this in my previous job and it was recently implemented at Epidemic Sound. Basically, you enter into a lottery with six tickets (sponsored by the company) to eat lunch with colleagues you’ve never met before.

The power of feedback

The solution to avoiding forced fun is definitely by listening to employee feedback. Having a culture where everyone is included and encouraged to shape processes, ways of working, and the team’s/company culture is essential.

Create a memorable experience

I recently organised a campaign with a fantastic content creator from the UK, Ali Abdaal. The focus was to have an experience together and create great content. We visited our HQ in Stockholm and then we flew above the Arctic Circle where we spent two nights in the Ice Hotel in Kiruna. Organising such an exciting project from scratch was one of the most fun and rewarding experiences I’ve had at work.


Binette Seck

Co-Founder @ ChangersTech & Obama Leader 2023
LinkedIn profile

To me, fun at work…

… alludes to having a mission rather than just a title. It means becoming a leader rather than being a manager. The notion that work can be pleasurable and satisfying in ways other than merely earning money for myself. It involves pursuits that create a win-win for the entire ecosystem, not just our community. Also, it’s to intentionally encourage joyful feelings and develop a sense of family among coworkers and community. As a leader, I’m conscious about bringing ourselves to work in order to make an impact and getting to live our best lives no matter what we choose to do.

Align with values

For me, one of the greatest lessons in increasing engagement is becoming more aligned with my values and having a deep sense of knowing why I am a leader choosing to invest my time and competence at a specific organisation. I deliberately choose to not only show up to work, but also to bring good vibes and knowledge to my work. By choosing a workplace that has representation across the entire organisation, including the board, it allows me to bring my full self to work. There’s an increasing amount of data (LinkedIn, Deloitte, Gallup etc.) that points out the advantages to bringing your complete self to work, both for individual employees and for organisations as a whole.

And, especially when dealing with diversity, inclusion, and equity. For example our community are young adults between the ages of 14-40, generally 75% of all attendees throughout the years of ChangersTech have been women. This season however, 94% of those attending our course are female. Also, 98 percent have at least one parent with a different ethnic background. And, all students are from marginalised vulnerable areas. Thus, it is crucial for us to have leaders who not only comprehend but also have a strong connection to our community.

I find that by being genuinely curious and getting to know the individuals we are serving brings out authentic fun and lasting joy.

Representation matters

Using value-based leadership and having a deep understanding about representation can be advantageous in that it stresses the significance of the wellbeing of our participants and employees. I’ve learned that enjoyment never lasts. But joy can endure even the tough times.

You can read more about value-based leadership in my article on making Europe’s Silicon Valley more inclusive here.

Create memorable encounters

What I do for a living is not a job – it’s a mission. I’ve learned that when we as social entrepreneurs are in alignment with our values, purpose, and mission to make an impact every single day, we enjoy our work the most. I am working to democratise tech. Creating value and memorable encounters with people are frequently the most enjoyable moments.

What the fun was that all about?

And there you have it. A mini-investigation into the world of fun at work. For us at Hyper Island, it’s only the beginning. We’d like to continue looking deeper into this topic and collecting more insights and best practices to inspire others to increase engagement in the workplace. A massive thank you to our co-collaborator Jenny Theolin and all our participants who took the time and consideration to support our journey. Watch this space.

A message from our co-author, Jenny Theolin:

Thank you for reading our Fun at Work blog series! In this final part, we’ve gained valuable perspectives and experiences from individuals across various industries. From prioritising inclusion and diversity, fostering trust and connections, and cultivating a feedback culture, to discovering meaning in play, each participant has emphasised the significance of making work more enjoyable, meaningful, and humane. We hope you found these insights helpful and motivating. Have fun!

Missed the first two parts of the series?

Read them here:

Part 1: What does fun at work look like and why’s it important? (2023)

Part 2: The playful ways to facilitate fun at work

Hyper Island
Hyper Island Shape Your Future
Article updated on: 15 April 2024