Building jigsaw puzzles helps build collaboration at 344 Winchester

completed jigsaw puzzle at 344 Winchester
May 11, 2017

Most of us remember jigsaw puzzles as a pleasant pass-time from our youth, but building these colorful and complicated creations has many benefits for mental and physical health at any age. Building puzzles is believed to help strengthen visual acuity, build short term memory, develop problem solving skills, increase fine motor skills and it may be therapeutic. 1  

Puzzles in the workplace…

Rowena Griem, a member and liaison for the Yale University Library Technical Services (YUL-TS) Workplace Culture Group, located at 344 Winchester Ave., worked in partnership with Being Well at Yale to provide some low-cost but effective stress reducing activities which staff could do during break time. Some of the activities the committee decided to implement are a drop-in meditation group, mindful coloring, and building jigsaw puzzles. 

The committee decided the best place to build a jigsaw puzzle is in the spacious lounge area located in between both departments which would give employees from both the Catalog and Metadata Services (CMS) and the Digital Reformatting & Microfilm Services (DRMS) departments opportunities to work on it. Many employees from both departments began to build the puzzle and after a while, the puzzle started to take on a life of its’ own, in a good way. According to Rowena, people became attached to it and felt a sense of pride and ownership for the portion they had completed. There’s even a designated puzzle table in the center of the lounge. 

When done as a collaborative effort, building complex puzzles helps to build cooperation, interconnectedness and teamwork. 

The jigsaw puzzle was a great way to relieve stress from prolonged computer use at our workstations. After spending our breaks playing with it, we came back with both our eyes and minds refreshed. Providing it in the break room also fostered cooperation between staff from different departments who would otherwise rarely see each other. - Daniel Mugaburu of Catalog and Metadata Services

Stephanie Sherry of  Digital Reformatting and Microfilm Services shared why she enjoyed working on the puzzle…

It’s a fun challenge. I can look at the same piece dozens of times before finding where it fits which in turn gives a feeling of accomplishment. It’s also a good excuse to get me away from my desk for a break.

The completed puzzle provides proof of the collaborative efforts of different people from different departments working together, many of whom have recently moved to 344 Winchester, much like puzzle pieces themselves, trying to make a good fit in a new environment with new coworkers and new neighbors. The picture-perfect jigsaw puzzle remains on display in the lounge area, for now, until the next puzzle is completed and takes its place, reminding us that while all things change, there’s always a place to fit in.  

Daniel Mugaburu is re-creating the moment when he placed the last piece of the puzzle.

Some of the puzzle builders, from left to right: Agnes Wnuk (DRMS), Stephanie Sherry (DRMS), Daniel Mugaburu (CMS), Jon Heinly (Grad student at the Divinity School), Tachtorn (Wheat) Meier (CMS)


For information on stress-reducing ideas and wellness activities for your department, please contact or call 436-8270.

1The Health Benefits of Puzzle Building