NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – Do you ever find yourself fidgeting with desktop toys, or maybe trinkets designed for kids, while at work? Researchers are looking into whether a little play could go a long way to help keep workers focused and get those creative juices flowing.

For Andrew Boucher, being at his desk doesn’t mean all work and no play. He often occupies his hands with a toy or a small puzzle.

“It keeps my head active and it keeps me in place, i suppose, and focused,” he said.

Boucher feels the play-things actually help unlock his creativity.

“All of a sudden I’m fidgeting with something or playing with something and it just has a way of bringing the creative half of my brain to life,” Boucher said.

Now, researchers say he may be on to something, CBS2’s Alex Denis reported.

Michael Karlesky is investigating the potential link between fidgeting with toys at work and clearer, more creative thinking.

“We’re looking at how particular objects and the experience of playing with them is actually part of the thinking process and part of the self-regulation process,” Karlesky said.

The research is ongoing, but Karlesky says they’re hearing from workers that playing with toys help with focus, problem solving, and lowering stress levels.

So, what kind of toys are people picking up?

Everything from silly putty to pens, koosh balls– the sort of toys that might inspire creative or clearer thinking is still an open question.

“However, we’re confident that just by simple observation there’s something going on here,” Karlesky said.

Toy experts agree.  Laurie Schacht, CEO of the Toy Book, says what she refers to as “fidget toys” are great for the desktop.

“A mindless, repetitive, motor sensory activity. So, it’s something that people hold in their hands and they touch. There’s no ‘fidget toy aisle.’ it’s really known as novelty toys and there are many new ones coming out every year. They’re usually small, and they’re usually affordable,” she said.

Some companies are actually facilitating a bit of play by giving employees toys.

“It is something that does exist and that some corporations are embracing,” Schacht said.

Boucher says at his office, puzzles and toys are popular. He plans to continue to make play a part of work.

“It seems to work for me. I think everything in moderation,” he said.

Some companies encourage play and creativity by offering art or yoga classes, throwing regular parties or providing games such as foosball or ping pong at the office.


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