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Advice / Succeeding at Work / Work Relationships

You'll Be Begging Your Boss for This Workplace Perk

One thing the world’s top-performing companies have in common is that no day is the same for their employees. A spirit of imagination, creativity, and serendipity encourages people to innovate and connect—which produces the results and insights that lead to industry domination.

But it takes a lot of time and energy for these companies to engineer this sort of workplace, leaving those of us with fewer resources stuck with throwing an office happy hour once a month or catering the occasional lunch and hoping it has the same effect.

Well, here’s some good news: If you’re looking to channel more energy and excitement inside your own workplace, with a little less work on your part, take a look at Surprise Industries.

Launched in 2008 in New York by sisters Tania Luna and Kat Dudina, Surprise Industries creates surprising experiences for groups, with a special focus on workplaces. The company believes the element of surprise increases trust and connection, helps employees embody and deepen their employers’ core values, incentivizes and rewards people, sources inspiration and fresh ideas, and creates better organizational agility and tolerance for change. (Who doesn’t need all of that?)

Indeed, scientists at Emory and Baylor used MRIs to measure changes in human brain activity in response to predictability versus unpredictability and found that humans are hard-wired to crave and enjoy the unexpected. Plus, according to Robert Plutchik’s psychoevolutionary theory of emotion, the feeling of being surprised tends to amplify other emotions you’re feeling. In other words, channeling that turbo-charge in a work setting could translate into incredible productivity and ideas.

So, how do you manufacture surprise? Surprise Industries offers a subscription service that plans one surprise immersive activity for you per month (up to 20 employees, $1,000 per month). On the day of the surprise, a mystery box arrives with a clue and a secret address, leading your group to anything from an ice sculpting class or a pizza tasting tour to a calligraphy course or unicycling session. Think The Bachelor dates, but with fewer pyrotechnics and more professional connections made.

Surprise Industries can also craft a one-off “Team Building Adventure” for up to 20, either a two-hour or half-day package packed with surprising team-building activities customized to your group (starting at $1,500 per two-hour activity). Another option is working with the organization to plan or amp up your company conference or retreat. Along with Surprise Industries’ sister company LifeLabs, the crew can design workshops and programming, working in elements of surprise, for everything from a one-day off-site to a three-day conference.

As pressure in the workplace cranks up to deliver more and better results, faster, you need an occasional breather to supply that hard-working brain of yours with oxygen. Next time you come up for air, think about letting Surprise Industries do the breathing for you.

Photo of present courtesy of Shutterstock.