Are you and your colleagues feeling totally drenched in the stress of your nine-to-five? If so, it’s time to release that tension with the addition of a new happy hour routine. Develop a healthy regimen of fun to ease your workload with some creative happy hour ideas for work. Here are a few to get you started.

Happy Hour Ideas For Work

  • Change your look: Does your office environment demand that you wear a drab, grey-and-white or black-and-white uniform? Do you ride to the office decked in a conventional suit and tie or heels? Or are you allowed to be more creative, but feel stressed every day having to choose a savvy outfit? If so, a change in attire can really lighten the mood for everyone. Options include offering a generic costume day in which people dress up as a favorite celebrity, movie, or book character. The bonus with this idea is that you can then set aside an hour for drinks and munchies and play a game to figure out who people are dressed as. A more cozy and playful idea is to have pajama day, or dress-down day. Just be sure to leave your lingerie and boxer shorts behind!
  • Have a healthy potluck: While at work, many of us have plentiful access to fast food venues, and non-stop filter coffee makes caffeine hard to resist. Why not drop the sugar and fat and facilitate a work community potluck? This would require some advance planning so you and your busy office mates have time to prepare something the night before. Additionally, you will have to take a survey of the office to determine whether people have allergies and how to accommodate various restrictions for those people who eat only vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free, or low-sugar. Religious requirements should also be considered, such as no beef, Halal, or Kosher. Once you understand the restrictions you need to incorporate for the community’s comfort, you can pass around a sign-up sheet where everyone can note down what they will bring along. Innovative, tech-savvy workplaces may consider using Google Drive for the project. Finally, make sure people who are busy—those with family obligations or other matters—can still participate by contributing beverages or store-bought snacks. Even those who miss the ball should come along for the fun; it’s all about creating a sense of community and enjoying a much-needed break!
  • Go to sleep: This might sound a bit extreme at first, but consider how humans operate so much better after a fifteen minute nap. Eight or nine hours of almost non-stop thinking is more than people’s brains can manage, and that is assuming they had enough sleep the night before and are generally healthy. It is perfectly acceptable to catch some Zs mid-work day. To create a sleep-friendly enterprise, consider creating a mini sleep station, complete with seductive, sleep-inducing cushions and comfy blankets. At minimum, it can be a place to restore and refresh. For those who are a bit anxious to snore in front of their boss, load it up with sweet-smelling teas, novels, and an iPad with nature music. Even if you don’t completely fall asleep, the zone can offer great comfort and a place to relax when your brain requires it.
  • Dance your legs out: Consider the new wave in office acrobatics. Nowadays, many offices offer non-sitting workstations where people work while standing at their laptops. In some cases, these workstations can be quite sophisticated, offering back support to make the experience even more comfortable. Well, if this is the new wave, then why not get even more physical and have a dance party? Each week, designate one person as the official dance-party leader, whereby they select the music, call the time, and lead the party. Encourage a mix of music and dance styles. The person should be responsible for making everyone feel comfortable by cheering on the group. Those who don’t feel comfortable letting loose, or who cannot dance for reasons of disability or illness, should be offered other movements or gestures to help them take part.
  • Run (or walk) like the wind: An extension of the dance-party routine is the group communal run or walk. While this should not be made mandatory, it should definitely be a commitment—for example, every Wednesday for three months, the walkers will meet by the elevator or in the lobby at 10 a.m. 10 a.m. is a good time because by then, people have generally had their morning coffee or tea, checked their email to make sure nothing is too urgent, and have settled in but not become fully engrossed in the day’s projects. Mid-week is recommended since it helps blow off steam, with neither the Monday pressure to put out weekend fires, nor Friday deadlines.
  • Schedule a massage break: While it may not be everyone’s cup of tea, it’s certainly a welcome treat for many to have a professional come in to help ease stress. A professional can visit each person at their cubicle for a simple head, neck, and shoulder massage or set up a full table in a discrete area of the office. If it’s pricey to maintain this regular routine, consider calling on the services of a student or entry-level practitioner. Such individuals typically do a great job, but at a lower cost, and you’ll be offering them practice hours for their certification.
  • Host a movie night at the office: The idea may seem a tad old-fashioned, but the tested and true move night is still an optimal choice. Enjoying a great flick together can really help people bond. Comedies are the ideal choice since they appeal to majority taste and get everyone laughing. It is said, in fact, that laughing together over a good joke can create a sense of unity. Furthermore, after a long, stressful day, some people do not have the energy to go to a party or share themselves in an overly social atmosphere. A relaxing movie allows people to be together, but still take their minds off work.
  • Try a Secret Santa: Sometimes a fun way to engage everyone’s creative side is to get them involved in gift-giving (and receiving). Secret Santa, named for its typical application during Christmastime, happens when everyone prepares a small gift for another person in the group. Over break or lunch, all gifts are placed in the center, individually wrapped for a sense of surprise. By lottery, people accept gifts or select from the pile anonymously. No one should know who provided the gift until they receive it. For the most effective community-building results, humourous gifts work best. Also, make a golden rule—for example, nothing should cost over five dollars—to create a sense of equality among the crowd. Better yet, why not choose a theme? “Things your grandmother gets you for the holiday” is one option. Hopefully, not everyone will receive a pair of new socks.

Happy Hour Menu ideas

It can be difficult to find fun activities at work, but just like the case for getting fresh air and exercise, group cooking can be both relaxing and fun. Choose a favorite dish by surveying the workplace, bearing in mind any allergies, dietary restrictions, and food preferences. Note down the optimal choices and let the group cast their vote. Here are some famous happy hour menu ideas:

  • Sushi is a great one because it requires teamwork for beginners, and though it might not turn out perfectly (unless you have star chefs at the office), the experience can be both challenging and a good bonding experience.
  • Cupcakes are another good option, since they are harder to get wrong and success is more likely. You can also be fun and creative with these by adding bright colors, sprinkles, and extras.
  • A good tomato pasta or fettuccine can be a lunch option, both feeding everyone in the office and making an affordable and delicious meal. Sometimes, the more mess you make, the more fun you have, so everyone should get involved in wiping up corners and mopping floors after eating the favorite dish, of course.

There are countless creative ways to capture the imagination of office staff and enjoy a much-needed happy hour away from the daily grind. It’s important to facilitate a sense of community and belonging at work, and feeling connected to others will help everyone meet their obligations. A happy staff is a purposeful staff, and in the end, being truly happy is what matters most.

When Raffi Rembrand’s son was diagnosed with autism at the age of 4, it was not the worst news the family received that day. The biggest blow came when their doctor said it was too late for the earliest treatments.

So for Rembrand, a chemical engineer by training, finding a way to detect autism earlier became his life’s mission.

Now, more than three decades after his son was diagnosed with autism, Rembrand has founded an Israeli company, SensPD, which he hopes will accomplish just that. 

SensPD, a finalist in the WeWork Creator Awards that will be held on June 20 in Jerusalem, is developing a way to detect autism based on physiological signs. The company uses an existing device commonly used to check the hearing of newborns, but has modified it to check for sensory perception. One of the major components of autism, which affects one of every 59 children born in the U.S., is its effect on the sensory system.

“We didn’t reinvent the wheel,” says Maayan Shahar, SensPD’s CEO.  “But we have altered a very known device used in all hospitals that will hopefully provide a standard screening process for all babies.”

The goal is for such a test to eventually become standard for every baby born around the world, allowing the various treatments for autism to start as soon as possible. When started very early in life, some therapies have a success rate of up to 90 percent.

“It’s been known for a long time that it’s early intervention that makes all the difference,” Shahar says.

But the standard diagnosis of autism based on a series of evaluations often comes after a children has reached the age of 3 or 4, which is too late for some treatments.

SensPD is currently preparing to start clinical trials in Israel. It hopes that if all goes well it will get regulatory approval for its device within three years.

Rembrand’s son, now 35 and living in a group home in Israel, remains an inspiration for the company.

“We want to bring this to market as soon as possible, but in the most professional way,” Shahar says.  ”So that instead of being isolated, children with autism can be a productive part of society.”

While Yehudit Abrams was working as a postdoctoral fellow at NASA, her job was to research the potential use of ultrasound to monitor astronauts on long missions to the international space station. But when her cousin, a gynecologist and breast cancer survivor, was killed in a car accident in 2011, Abrams started thinking of other uses for the medical device.

“She was so passionate about the early detection of cancer, and I wanted to honor her for that,” says Abrams, a physician and mechanical engineer who immigrated to Israel last year from California. “That is what got me thinking about using some sort of portable ultrasound for early detection of cancer.”

Abrams founded MonitHer, a Jerusalem-based startup that is developing a handheld ultrasound device that women can use at home to monitor their breast tissue. The device and its potential to change the way breast cancer is detected is why MonitHer was named a finalist in the WeWork Creator Awards, which will be held in Jerusalem on June 20.

An early prototype of the MonitHer scanner.

Women using the device will scan their breasts once a month for about 10 minutes. A U.S. Food and Drug Administration-approved software program then scans the images for any changes over time. If the software detects any potential problems, users will be advised to consult a physician.

By monitoring breast tissue over time, Abrams says women will be able to detect cancer earlier than the traditional method of self-exams where women feel each breast in order to find lumps or swelling.

“We are changing the paradigm from breast cancer screening to breast health monitoring,” Abrams says.

Once more than 100,000 women begin to use the device and upload their scans to the app each month, artificial intelligence and machine learning methods will be used to evaluate tissue changes.

While mammography has long been the best way to diagnose breast cancer, it is less effective on certain women, especially those with dense breast tissue. And the current protocols for breast cancer detection have recently been questioned for resulting in the unnecessary treatment of tumors that may never grow in size or harm a women’s health.

“We are wasting billions of dollars of year treating cancer that women don’t have, and this is because we have stopped innovating,” Abrams said. “Medicine is a dinosaur.”

Changing the system of breast cancer detection will not only save lives and money, but will give women more control over their medical care.

“We are empowering women,” Abrams says. “We are empowering the individual.”

When his friend Joshua Altman suggested that they could help provide clean drinking water to whole villages, Moshe Tshuva was dubious.

“When I first heard his idea, I told him it couldn’t work, because it wouldn’t produce enough water to be worth it,” says Tshuva, who has worked in the solar energy industry for more than three decades. “But it turns out that I was wrong and he was right.”

Together, the two engineers started Tethys Desalination, an Israeli company that aims to turn salty or polluted water into crystal-clear drinking water by harnessing the energy of the sun. Their easily installed device, which fits into a box that’s about a square meter in size, can produce up to 50 liters of drinkable water each day.

The system is scalable, so one device can meet the needs of a family, and a cluster of units installed together can sustain an entire village. Altman says the device could help save the lives of children in drought-stricken areas of Africa.

One device can meet the needs of a family, and a cluster of units installed together can sustain an entire village.

“And ultimately, it will allow those places without water to come back to life,” says Altman.

The device, which is being tested on a kibbutz in northern Israel, was recently named a finalist in the WeWork Creator Awards, which will be held in Jerusalem on June 20.

The idea for the device came to Altman back in the 1990s when was teaching a university course about water desalination techniques. He found himself frustrated by the limitations of desalination techniques.

“All of the processes use a lot of energy and are very aggressive toward the environment,” says Altman. “I thought there had to be a better way.”

Altman, who has co-founded several other successful startups, envisioned a cheap, simple, and energy-efficient desalination technique. The idea has garnered a lot of attention in recent months, with cities like Cape Town, South Africa, seeing their water supplies nearly run out.

The device is basically a weather system in a box, Altman explains. The sun causes the dirty water inside the box to evaporate. It then turns into mist and eventually drips down, producing clean water. This process, which mimics how clouds work, is repeated four times per cycle to maximize the amount of water produced.

“Basically we see how clean water is created in nature, through the water cycle of evaporation and rain,” Tshuva says.  “So we want to use this to solve the water shortage problem in a natural way.”

About 20 years ago, a group of Jewish and Arab parents whose children had attended the same private nursery school in Jerusalem wanted their children to continue to study together rather than be separated by Israel’s religiously segregated education system. So rather than sending their children to the usual Jewish and Muslim public schools, they started a new school called Hand in Hand.

At first there were fewer than 20 children, all in kindergarten, who studied in a spare room in one of the city’s schools. The school grew along with the children, adding a grade as they got older and bringing in a new group of kindergarteners each autumn. It now welcomes kids up to the 12th grade.

To help build relationships between Arabs and Jews, the nonprofit organization Hand in Hand now runs six schools with more than 1,800 students around the country. It has been selected as a finalist in the nonprofit category for the WeWork Creator Awards, which will be held in Jerusalem on June 20.

“We are not going to wait until peace comes to live together,” says Noa Yammer, who oversees international engagement for the non-profit organization. “We are just going to do it now.”

Rather than send their children to the usual Jewish and Muslim public schools, parents started a new school called Hand in Hand.

Besides six schools (and two more in the planning stages), the organization offers a variety of community programs for children and adults.

“We realized that we can’t just build a shared society through children,” says Yammer. “Adults also need to interact.”

Yammer says that the segregation within Israeli society — which is about 20 percent Arab — takes its toll on the country. It helps fuel the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which made headlines again in May during protests around Israel Independence Day.

But Yammer acknowledges that the intensity of the conflict isn’t going to go away overnight. The anger on each side is too entrenched.

“We live in a violent conflict,” Yammer says. “There’s a reason people are afraid. Our project is not an easy project. It’s actually a really hard thing to do in the conflict we live in, but it’s important.”

Dahlia Peretz, a principal at Hand in Hand starting in 2001, says that the school is designed to help students see past the conflict.

“In our divided society, relationships between Jewish and Arab children can succeed only if parties meet as equals, without any feelings of alienation,” she says. “We created a school where all children feel their languages and cultures have a legitimate place, a school where intercultural exchange can take place despite the unequal balance of power in our society.”

In addition to expanding its network of schools, Hand in Hand is developing a curriculum that any school — regardless of religious affiliation — can use to better educate children about tolerance.

The organization sees a growing interest all over the country, with more than 1,000 children on the waiting lists for the Hand in Hand schools. A win at the Creator Awards could help expand the program.

“This really needs to be a project in every city in Israel,” Yammer says. “We just need more resources so we can say yes to those asking us to come.”

Photo by Craig Stennett