Corporate Recess Stems Energy

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Ashoka (founders of social entrepreneurship) plays at work

Last April, Playworks DC led the Global Ashoka office through their very first recess, an hour of fun and games. This recess has evolved into a monthly hour of play and much more.  Cat Jaffee now oversees Ashoka’s recess.

That first recess, Cat Jaffe was surprised to find everyone on the grassy lawn ready to play. The final game of the hour was Rock-Paper-Scissors Champion. Each person turned to their neighbor and played a game of Rock-Paper-Scissors. The winners of each round played again while their previous competitor became their cheerleader. Soon there were groups of one winner and three cheerleaders playing. This continued until there were two final competitors each with half the group cheering–loudly! The environment was so positive that when Dana Fraz won, someone lifted her to their shoulders, carrying her while the others yelled “Go Dana! Go Dana! Go Dana!”

When the 75 Ashoka employees walked back to their office,  the climate had changed. Everyone was buzzing with positive, playful energy. Back at their desks, Cat and others noticed they were thinking more clearly and were more efficiently. Recess was a great experience. “We just need this so badly,” she thought. “Just as much as little kids need it, we do too.”

The next day, Cat emailed everyone to see who wanted more recess. To her surprise, she got over 40 responses: “Yes! Let’s do this.”

That’s how Cat became the recess moderator. Each month she determines the Leading Recess Player who organizes the activity. During this time, the employees walk to the local park and play for an hour. They’ve enjoyed team building games, competed in the Ashoka World Cup and performed their own Flash Mob. Future plans include a nature walk and a capture the flag tournament.

Since beginning Ashoka recess, the energy of the office has changed. The Recess Committee built a partnership with a local gym to provide $2 showers for employees who run at lunch. Cat now has a set of recess supplies at her desk for coworkers who wish to play outside at lunch.

Most importantly a group of 75 diverse employees has created stronger bonds by participating in monthly activities that bring something for everyone to be included.


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