Games and Fun at the Office
The modern office has lost the old-fashioned rigidity and is turning into a flexible environment, where everyone gets to feel at ease. It’s no longer required to mind your own cubicle and just do the work, having fun is part of the job too.
We never stop learning. There are many methods of acquiring new information or improve our skills – the greatest one of all might just be by playing games. It’s gone beyond mere leisure – playing can help develop problem solving and critical thinking skills, simply by designing game elements based on collaboration, competition, discovery, and others. Surely, to find the games that best fit your company culture might require a bit of effort, but it’s an effort worth making.
There’s plenty of games you can choose from available on the market. The internet is absolutely chock-full of ideas on how to make the office atmosphere lighter. Plus, gamification in the workplace is highly encouraged nowadays. But how do you sift through all of them and choose the ones that are suitable for your office? Well, here’s how.
1. Basic guidelines
Everything works better with preparation. Whatever you’re thinking of doing, have a plan. Same applies here: if you’re considering bringing games into the office, and you want them to deliver more than just that feeling of recreation, make sure you have a supporting strategy. Here are some guidelines to get you started.
1.1. Keep it simple
When in doubt, KISS. That is, use the “Keep It Simple, Silly” principle. Search for those games that achieve their goal in the simplest way, by following a clear, uncluttered path towards it. Avoid activities that imply learning and paying attention to a lot of rules, or require a bunch of resources. All the efforts should go into getting people to participate, as this is challenging enough on its own.
1.2. Cater for both segments of the social spectrum
Some enjoy being in the middle of a crowd, others care nothing for it and would rather be on their own when it comes to their pastime. Obviously, what works for some will not for others, and a company must take care of all its employees. As such, when looking for games to liven up the workplace, make sure to offer both group activities and individual ones. For the first, it’s best to select those that do not have a player limit (so everyone gets to play and no one sits aside); for the latter, diversity is key, so there’s no way boredom can set in.
The great thing about the variety of games out there is that you can actually make two friends with one gift. That is, there are activities that can be played both individually, or by as many people as possible. Without stepping on each others toes, of course. Take puzzles, for example. Be it a 1,000 piece jigsaw puzzle, or a 6,000 piece one, it’s guaranteed to relax people, challenge them, develop their problem-solving skills, memory, visual-spatial reasoning, and so on. And if more people join, it transforms into a game that brings them together.
1.3. Have goals
Clearly, the main purpose of a game is to help people unwind. You can’t have a company retreat every weekend, so having other mechanisms in place to enable people to take a breather is essential. Fun challenges at work are ideal. Plus, they’re the perfect opportunity to discover hidden talents, and grow individually or as a team.
Therefore, any game played at the office should have a goal. Sure, playing something just for the sake of it can be done as well, but it would be a shame not to use the productive environment available. Choose and put at your employees disposal games and activities that support teamwork, leadership, camaraderie, communication, etc.
1.4. Give prizes
Generally speaking, a good way to stimulate participation in activities is giving out incentives. In the matter of office games, offering prizes can be a fun activity in itself. Whether it’s just a title (e.g. the Punctilious Puzzler, the Frisky Foosballer etc.), or an actual object (maybe some silly office awards, such as a trophy, or a toaster), having a prize to award a designated winner is a proper way to boost attendance and attract more participants.
2. Default circumstances
So far we’ve analysed how to choose a game suitable for your company and employees. But the conditions in which a game can take place are a whole different story. In the following, let’s look at what you should consider in the matter of internal and external factors that can influence office games.
2.1. Outdoor versus indoor
Similar to the case of outgoing versus introverted, you should be prepared to cover both these environmental opposites. If your office is near a park or there’s an indoor sports area that you can use, you can opt to take everyone out for a lively game of basketball. Not only will this kindle their competitiveness and awaken their teamwork skills, but it will also be a great round of exercise. On the other hand, if outdoor activities are not possible or favoured, an indoor space must be prepared to take over the animation.
2.2. Know thy employee
Everyone is different, but passions and preferences bring people together. In the matter of office games, strive to put into effect those that embody the predilections of the many, without ignoring the inclinations of the few. Whenever you’re unsure about what your employees’ preferences are, just ask them and be prepared to listen. It can be as simple as running an internal poll or quiz. Some would rather go outside and pass a ball around, some are happy to stay inside and scribble on a colouring book, others get a kick out of the game planning itself. Whatever it is that they take joy in, make sure to include it in the activity schedule.
2.3. Non-disruptive office games
When it comes to indoor games, an important aspect to have in mind is that under no circumstances should they disturb the office atmosphere. In this regard, it’s better to have a communal fun area where people can do as they please to quench their game and relaxation thirst. It can hold bean bags, darts, foosball, game consoles, colouring books, puzzles, board games, you name it. All that matters is that those who are playing are not bothering those who are working.
2.4. Party games
A different part of the office games story is represented by the activities prepared for animating office parties. In this case, there’s no need to keep it separated or quiet; au contraire, focus on fun challenges that engage as many participants as possible. In the case of a work success party, for example, go for the laid-back options, such as a photo booth stocked with lots of funky props. If it’s a thematic party, such as a Christmas or Easter one, the chore of picking out what to play is even easier. There’s nothing more entertaining than an Easter Egg Hunt or a Secret Santa gathering on Christmas. Be careful not to overdo it with the eggnog, though!
Working 9 to 5 is no longer “all takin' and no givin'”. And all the credit goes to those that do their very best to make it so, by creating flexible, supportive environments, where every employee can flourish. Even through playing games.