Recent studies claim the average person spends 50 to 70 percent of their time sitting down. These terrifying results are partly because a large portion of the working population have desk jobs. Those with mainly sedentary occupations are at a higher risk for diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and premature death. Even more than just negative health benefits, sitting at a desk for eight hours per day can slowly wear on an individual’s psyche. Researchers have found that playing with executive toys (any object that sits in a workplace and can be fiddled with, building toys are great for this) can actually increase productivity by allowing individuals to focus more readily, to ease anxiety, and to generate fresh ideas.
Wall Street Journal writer Sue Shellenbarger claims “playing with a geometric puzzle or stress ball at your desk can seem like idle diversion. It may also spark clearer or more creative thinking.”She argues that “clicking, stretching, twirling, flipping, squeezing, stroking, or fiddling with everyday objects” helps individuals overcome feelings of boredom, confusion, anger, and restlessness. Pens, coat toggles, rings, magnets, putty, building blocks, building toys, and mini versions of Newton’s Cradle are all examples of executive toys.
Individuals who feel restless or claustrophobic in their cubicles find that the physical stimulation of executive toys reduces their stress levels and increases their ability to focus on the task at hand. All too often toys are viewed as being childish, distracting, and an inhibitor of workflow. Used appropriately (and not just as a distraction), toys can facilitate production. Fidgeting allows individuals to take a step back from their screens and de-stress by holding something tactile.
John Edmark, the designer of The Helicone, argues the overabundance of digital devices are exactly why executive toys are so valuable in the workplace. He claims: “We know anything can happen on that computer screen, and it may be beautiful or magical. But objects in the analog world are bound by physical constraints. When they appear to defy the laws of nature, they seem all the more remarkable.”
Similar studies on fidgeting indicate that college students who take their notes by hand understand the material more efficiently than those who take notes on a laptop, for the same reason that children who count on their fingers have an easier time with arithmetic as adults: we need physical stimuli. Executive toys offer adults a mini-vacation, a short hiatus, and a chance to catch their breath. Playing with a slinky or fidgeting with a yo-yo may actually improve cognitive function and spark new ideas. The smooth maple planks and colorful connectors of our Brackitz are just one example of executive toys that can be used to help relieve restlessness. Their portable and light-weight design are perfect for desks and office spaces.