Google landed the top spot on Fortune's list of "Best Places to Work for 2007," and the magazine cover boasted "Googlers" -- as the employees are often called -- clearly laughing and having fun.
The majority of executives and HR professionals say a culture of fun at work can improve communication, reduce stress, build loyalty and retention, and increase productivity among employees.
And it doesn't have to be expensive. If your company doesn't have the budget or the space for Ping-Pong tables and elaborate game rooms, there are many things you can do for little to no money to bring fun and humor to your office.
Send a Ball
For $10 Sendaball.com will ship a bright, bouncy ball (about the size of a volleyball) anywhere in the United States. There's no exterior packaging, so the ball arrives addressed and stamped with a greeting that reads: "Have a ball."
To test the response, I recently sent a bunch of them to my clients. The feedback was unanimous. It brought so much energy and fun among colleagues who loved tossing it among the cubicles and across the factory floors. It also made me look creative for sending it, which is a good reputation to have in the workplace!
Chuck Your Change
If the boss won't pay for your laughs, take up a collection on your own. Place a computer-generated or handmade sticker saying, "Chuck Your Change!" on an upturned large water bottle. Set it out in a high-visibility location within your office, so co-workers are encouraged to contribute. Your pennies for perks will add up quickly. Use the funds to pay for a pizza party, an ice cream afternoon, a bowling night -- whatever your budget will allow. You can even select a different activity each week or month, depending on the size of the collection.
Put a big bowl of M&Ms in a common area for co-workers to share. Because bright yellow is a color known to stimulate the brain, making you more alert and decisive, consider using this happy and energetic hue in your dish.
At MyMMs.com, you can order custom-printed candies with your company logo or a clever message.
If Google staffers have tea and crumpets every Tuesday, then why can't you?
Set a day and time, and let everyone know they can join together for milk and cookies, hot cocoa and cupcakes, or whatever sweet you choose. If you work in a big company, departments can take turns hosting this monthly gathering.
No matter the size of your employer, it's a great way to socialize and connect personally with your colleagues. You'll meet new people and get to know others better.
From $19.95 to $39.95, plus shipping, you can send sweets to any office from BakeMeAWish.com. Bring smiles when you tell clients or colleagues that they "Take the cake!" with any number of delicious gourmet treats.
Replace Boring Supplies
In one survey, 96 percent of executives said they believed people with a sense of humor worked better than people with little or no sense of humor. Show your humorous side by replacing some of your basic office supplies with fun, clever ones from KnockKnock.biz starting at just $3.95.
A little laughter through unexpected jokes like these can reduce stress and build camaraderie. In fact, when flights are delayed, Southwest Airlines encourages its gate agents to hold joke-a-thons and contests for the passengers with the biggest holes in their socks. The resulting laughter is cathartic; it diffuses tension, and keeps people happy and relaxed.
Take a Toy Break
We're not robots; we all need breaks. While Nike's corporate offices have tennis courts, a swimming pool and track fields, the rest of us can create our own forms of recreation in small spaces. Tiny toy breaks are a great way to bring fun to anyone's day. Start a meeting by handing out Silly Putty to the attendees. Or keep a stash of it in a common area. At SillyPutty.com companies can order 100 eggs for about $110, as well as five-pound chucks of it, which can be used as a great conversation starter, icebreaker and stress-reducer.
Other toys to have on hand include Slinkys, Play-Doh, Nerf balls, magnetic darts, and door-hanging basketball hoops.
Competition among colleagues doesn't have to be cutthroat; it can be fun too.
Consulting giant Bain holds a world soccer cup, but you can crown a champion in your workplace in other sports. Paper airplane contests, rounds of wastepaper basketball, or baby photo-guessing games where everyone posts their baby photo on a bulletin board and tries to figure out who's who are free ways to bring fun to your office this week.
Crown the winner of the festivities with an office-made medal crafted from multicolor paper clips or bestow the champion with a certificate for lunch on everyone else.
Tory Johnson has fun at work every day as is the workplace contributor for "Good Morning America" and the CEO of Women For Hire