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David Wagner
David Wagner
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IT Department Makes Hamster Wheel From iMac Boxes

An IT department used iMac boxes to make a giant human hamster wheel and also demonstrated the value of letting your team play.

How To Mess Up Your First Days On The Job
How To Mess Up Your First Days On The Job
(Click image for larger view and slideshow.)

Quick question: How many of you would be fired for having fun on the job?

How about spending what were likely hours on a project designed entirely to goof off?

Anyone? Almost all of you, right?

That's what makes this project from the George Fox University IT Department so much fun. If you missed it, the wheel went viral last week, but we had no video. Now, in all of its glory here it is in action:

That's a 9-foot-tall, 120-pound wheel, folks, and it is held together mostly with packing tape and a prayer. According to the department's blog, systems administrator Mike Campadore had the idea, but didn't have enough boxes. He was storing them one day and a dean asked him why he wasn't recycling them. Campadore said "he was saving it for a special project."

Amazingly enough, that was all he had to say. How many of you would have had managers who delved further and ruined the party?

Campadore actually used four hours of vacation to build the wheel, but personally I think the university should give him the four hours back for the viral marketing. I, personally, had never heard of George Fox University.

How much viral marketing? There were more 3.4 million hits on Imgur as of last week. More on Reddit and Facebook. I'm sure the video will go viral, too. It even became a target for Photoshop memes where people superimposed the wheel into the running of the bulls, Ben-Hur, and my personal favorite, The Price is Right.

(Image: George Fox University via Reddit)

(Image: George Fox University via Reddit)

So why does this matter? Isn't this just a bunch of guys goofing off while you have "real" work to do?

I don't think so. I think this highlights the value of adult play at work. No not that kind of adult … ewww.

When we played as children we used play to develop skills and cognitive abilities, and to relieve stress and socialize. There's no reason that should stop as an adult. Psychologists have shown that play as adults help us with innovative problem-solving and helps build high-level reasoning skills. It still helps us with socialization and stress relief.

If play helps employees be better problem solvers, why is it that we frown on it at work? I'm not saying everyone should build a giant hamster wheel at work. Every environment is different. But everyone should be free, within reason, to work on their own dream project, whether it is a hamster wheel from iMac boxes or an army of soldiers made from paper clips.

[Try coloring as an adult to boost creative thinking. Read Adult Coloring Boosts Productivity.]

What do you think? Would you be able to do this at your work? Should you be able to? Tell me in the comments.

David has been writing on business and technology for over 10 years and was most recently Managing Editor at Before that he was an Assistant Editor at MIT Sloan Management Review, where he covered a wide range of business topics including IT, ... View Full Bio
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