Embracing Playfulness: The Key to Thriving in Uncertain Times

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In today’s rapidly changing world, organisations face unprecedented challenges. As I explored in my book “Decoding Change”, we live in highly uncertain and disruptive times. The ability to adapt, collaborate, and innovate has become crucial for survival and success in the modern workplace.

But how can businesses cultivate these essential qualities? The answer may surprise you: through playfulness.

The Power of Playfulness in the Workplace

Playfulness, often dismissed as childish or frivolous, is a powerful tool for fostering a dynamic and resilient workplace culture. My research at the Playfulness Institute has led to the development of the Three Pillar Model of Playfulness, which revolves around curiosity, creativity, and connectedness.

  1. Curiosity: Encourages exploration and continuous learning
  2. Creativity: Sparks innovation and novel problem-solving
  3. Connectedness: Enhances collaboration and team cohesion

This model provides a framework for both assessing and developing workplace culture, offering a roadmap for organisations seeking to thrive in our ever-changing landscape.

The Benefits of a Playful Workplace

Recent studies have revealed numerous benefits of incorporating playfulness into the workplace:

  • Reduced stress levels
  • Increased resilience
  • Enhanced creativity and innovation
  • Improved adaptability
  • Higher levels of empathy

These outcomes are precisely what organisations need to navigate the complexities of the modern business environment.

Overcoming Cultural Barriers

Despite its benefits, playfulness has been historically undervalued in professional settings. This stems from cultural narratives rooted in the Reformation and later reinforced by Industrial Revolution-era management practices. These approaches, focused solely on linear thinking, efficiency, and viewing humans as resources rather than capital, have long overshadowed the importance of playfulness.

It’s time to challenge these outdated notions. In our knowledge-based economy, where adaptability and innovation are paramount, playfulness is not just beneficial—it’s essential.

Implementing Playfulness in Your Organisation

Fostering a playful culture doesn’t mean turning your office into a playground. Instead, it involves:

  1. Encouraging curiosity through continuous learning opportunities
  2. Promoting creativity by allowing time for experimentation and embracing failure as a learning experience
  3. Enhancing connectedness through team-building activities and collaborative projects

By embracing these principles, organisations can create a more engaging, innovative, and resilient workplace culture.


As we look towards the future of work, it’s clear that the most successful organisations will be those that can adapt quickly, innovate consistently, and collaborate effectively. By recognising and harnessing the power of playfulness, we can create workplaces that not only meet the challenges of our uncertain times but thrive in them.

It’s time to stop underestimating playfulness and start embracing it as the valuable resource it is. After all, in a world of constant change, our ability to stay curious, creative, and connected may be our greatest asset.

Chris Marshall

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