Marion Reidel Reviews Lauren Stein's "Fun at Work"

Playing at work. There’s nothing better.
A review of Lauren Stein's Fun at Work (Arboretum Press, 202) -– $25.99 –
by Marion Reidel

Eavesdrop as novices improvise scenes. Lauren Stein’s Fun at Work, published by Arboretum Press, offers entertaining insights into team building and mental wellness. Through improvisational performances she facilitates a group of eight corporate co-workers as they build interpersonal connections, strengthen self-confidence and discover spontaneous problem-solving.

At a time when personal stress is on the rise and the challenge to maintain life balance is increasingly difficult, Stein demonstrates that improvisation has significant benefits. She’s a “creativity coach” who creates a safe, supportive atmosphere in which she sets interactive challenges for the participants.

Improvisational training offers more effective team building than a lazer tag or climbing wall outing because of the vibrant interaction it generates. Stein’s account clearly documents how the colleagues, who were superficial acquaintances, evolved to connect more deeply with their own motivations, as well as becoming more sensitive to each other. Tapping in to this form of creativity enhances the ability to listen more intently to colleagues as well as to evaluate and act upon their needs. Although participants may embark on a scene with an outcome in mind, they must be attentive and flexible to response appropriately to what others are contributing.

Imagine the positivity of a workplace in which co-workers collaborate. Where ideas are shared without judgement and the contribution of any individual is eagerly expanded upon by others. Those trained in improvisation are able to think on their feet, literally. They learn to be present, become more encouraging and accepting of others. The workplace becomes a productive environment, with less absenteeism. Co-operation replaces competition.

According to Stein, the playful manner of improvisation can be misleading. Interaction via scenes keeps minds nimble and responsive. As an ongoing form a recreation, it also provides work-life balance. Stein is a strong advocate for the therapeutic value of self-expression. She says that self-care should not have negative connotations. It is not selfish or laziness. Improvisation helps people learn to trust themselves. The Fun at Work project included hand-written journaling allows those involved to explore their own motivation and increase self-awareness.

The improvisational guidelines offered by Stein are easily translatable to daily life. She teaches that when in doubt the important thing is to so something… anything. Be the expert in our own life. People must trust themselves. It is also important to feel… to react to what is happening. The ability to show emotion is critical to mental health. Stein assures her students that they are not alone to make things work. Partners will support you. This is true in all aspects of our lives.

Fun at Work is available online in both soft cover and digital formats. It is an easy read that will formatted well to highlight key points. Lauren Stein is a teacher, therapist and performer. Visit to contact her.