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Ask anyone working in advertising how his or her day is going and you’ll get the same response: “Busy.”

No doubt this is true—no one in creative, marketing and advertising industries sit around twiddling their thumbs all day. But sometimes “Busy” becomes synonymous with “working” which means “I deserve to be here.”

Here’s the problem with that answer: it ignores the actual content of that busyness, the quality of what it is we’re occupied with all day long. Yeah, what we do is hard work, but here’s the little secret few of us are willing to admit: it can also be fun.

In fact, it should be fun.

It has to be fun.

Because fun and play – just as much as hard work – are essential to the advertising process, universally, no matter the brand or category.

And fun actually leads to busy, but in the best way. Myriad studies show that happier employees are as much as 20% more productive in the workplace, and take fewer sick days: more fun, more work gets done.

Fun, in fact, is serious business. We need to make it okay to own up to having fun, and understand its role in the creative and critical process.

Here are four key reasons that fun works.

Fun diffuses difficult situations.
Relationships have their ups and downs, and sometimes things can get tense — the website is behind schedule or the client just didn’t love the first round of creative concepts. Everyone can think of a tense meeting when a difficult subject is being discussed, and everyone freezes, afraid to speak. But then someone makes a joke and tension is diffused, lines of communications are opened and the work of the problem-solving journey starts.

Fun breeds creativity.
It can be really hard to be creative when there’s not a drop of joy in the room. But to lead a brainstorming session with fun with the license to be illogical, to get off track for a bit, to go forth in an unexpected direction knowing you’ll eventually you’ll nail it, is to be open to the big idea. And that is the key to creativity.

It’s important to mention: fun is not just a road to funny. Even if the brand is addressing more serious issues, rooted in harsh truths and/or complicated science, good creative product is still dependent on talent having fun in exploring the possibilities of how the brand can connect with people.

Fun opens up and creates strong partnerships – with employees and clients.
Fun creates bonds. We engage with people when we have shared experiences, and fun is one of the most effective ways to both discover and fortify those connections. Play unlocks ideas, and simply provides the means for people to connect with those ideas and with each other. Which is good news, because advertising is a team sport. To create communications in this modern world, wildly different types of personnel need to collaborate: technologists, marketers, data analysts, account people and creatives. More fun means more sharing, which means better teamwork for all those talents and personality types.

Fun fuels productivity.
There’s a reason healthy and happy go together: one begets the other (and it works both ways). It’s no different at the office: to have fun at work is to have increased mental and physical energy, better flow, a drive to work harder and commit more. All these things improve productivity.

Studies show that having fun reduces the production of cortisol, “the stress hormone”; increases serotonin levels that regulate mood; improves memory; and makes people sleep better.

So if you think you don’t have time to have fun at work…the truth is you don’t have time not to.