Here's my idea: forget "Secret Santa" this year. A £5 present for the guy you've said nothing to all year? Chances are it won't wow him. The present you receive, the one more suited to an 8yr old - do you respond with a genuine smile and sincere thanks? Probably not. Instead, I propose buying presents for the office.
I'm thinking of presents for lunch areas, breakout spaces, or an empty coffee table. Presents that will engage you and your colleagues creatively, away from the computer screen. Ones that give you an alternative perspective, teach you something about each other; are thought provoking or self-reflective. Here are my suggestions (links in headings):
A bowl of LEGO
Well, that's a no-brainer, coming from a LEGO Serious Play facilitator! Nothing better than a nice bowl of LEGO to get your mind off BIM. Easy LEGO, not the Millenium Falcon and not 'LEGO for Architects'. Let go of aesthetics, embrace metaphor. You might like to plant a challenge card in the bowl every week: Build a model that tells a story about your week, or Build a model about your nightmare team leader.
- Taps into the unconscious brain - let your hands do the talking
- Transfers your thoughts into a 3D concrete form
- Inclusive - anyone can build with LEGO
- Uses metaphor to get quickly to the heart of the matter
It's an Amazon 'best seller' for a reason. Apparently, it teaches you "how to create sustainable cities". No need to get serious, just get your sandwich and draw an underwater skyscraper.
- Increases brain connectivity and elasticity. Activates part of the brain associated with contemplation
- Delay or even negate age-related decline of certain brain functions
- Engages you in 'flow'
- Increases the “feel good” neurotransmitter dopamine
This is quite an interesting book, but how about taking on the idea and creating an office book? Grab something like a Moleskin sketchbook (tear-out pages should your inner-perfectionist be niggling), have some pens available (nice pens, architectural pens, pens that demand you write and draw beautifully). Share your knowledge with each other. Seriously.
- Knowledge capture
- Increases your awareness of the collective genius of the office
How well do you know your colleagues? It's easy to play, competitive and better than talking about the weather. There are more serious versions, though you might not want to get into emotional intelligence during your lunch hour. This one is light fun.
- Encourages new conversation
- Find out how little you know about your colleagues
I remember spending endless lunch hours learning how to twirl poi (no, not with fire) in the basement of the Bank of England (on-site interior refurbishment). Poi twirling needs both sides of the brain to work together, in total concentration. It was quite physically demanding (bruises!) and a good outlet for stress. To be space conscious (and to spare the bruising) I'm opting you go for the juggling balls. Juggling has been used to alleviate symptoms in ADHD, dyslexia, and autism. In short, de-stressing and fun.
- Stress relief and an upper body workout
- Increases grey matter in the brain
- Helps you learn to unlearn patterns of repeated behaviour
- Encourages mentoring
These activities will help your office foster greater communication, inclusion, self-resilience, creativity and innovative thinking. No excuses, go play!
PS If you really have to do the Secret Santa gig: Playmobile Architect.