On average, we spend over 90,000 hours at work during our lifetime; that’s why it’s important for businesses to ensure their employees are happy, engaged and fulfilled in the workplace. This goes beyond work itself. We need time out from work at regular intervals to de-stress and refocus, so that when we are sitting at our desks we’re doing the best work possible.
In recent years we have noticed a steady increase in requests for office designs that include breakout areas with space to play. Employers are asking for gaming stations, pool tables and table tennis, so that there are opportunities for everyone to take a break whatever time of day.
Recent research from the University of Central Florida supports this trend. Instead of encouraging staff to use their break to switch off, they found that playing a game actually made their study group feel better. Playing ‘Sushi Cat’ increased engagement, improved mood and reduced feelings of anxiety and worry; suggesting that gaming could be an effective tool to combat workplace stress.
How to build play into your office environment
Providing employees with the facilities to play games is a great step, but for play to be an effective tool in the workplace it requires a cultural shift. Many companies have introduced games into the workplace to promote their ‘fun’ culture, but unfortunately in some cases gaming is still viewed by senior management as a perk that should be confined to lunchtimes and Friday afternoon (if targets have been hit).
If your company provides the facilities but then doesn’t follow through by supporting employees when they do use them, it becomes a ‘perk with conditions’ rather than a reflection of workplace culture. To get the full benefit of your investment in a games area, there needs to be a top down cultural shift towards encouraging employees to take regular breaks away from their desks for more than just a coffee.
Provided that there is no dip in productivity and performance, (and with a culture that encourages staff to de-stress you should see the reverse), employees should be free to monitor their own gaming activity without it being policed from on high. This attitude also encourages collaboration between staff and social interaction amongst teams.
Promoting a fun or alternative company culture is something many companies are doing to attract and retain Millennials. Research shows that this demographic are more motivated by experiences and perks than salaries, and therefore a company culture that promises a great workplace environment is very attractive. Companies like Facebook and Google have taken this a step further, creating ‘campuses’ where staff can do everything from visit the gym, get a haircut, eat all their meals, and even sleep.
The tech giant campus model is certainly something we’re seeing being scaled to fit different sized companies. Employers have seen how the modern workplace and working patterns have changed, with more time than ever being spent in the office or socialising with colleagues. As a result progressive companies have adapted the office space to accommodate this trend, recognising that to get the best out of people they need to provide the right environment.
Gaming stations, ping pong, pool and other de-stressing activities are part of this, although not for everyone. When we are asked to design an office space with these elements we recommend that staff are consulted first to see whether this is what they want; you can’t force people to have fun. Instead consult with your staff to find the right solution for your workplace, providing employees with somewhere inspiring to work and play in, and then allowing them to do so.
Anyone for a game of Sushi Cat – the latest virtual game to take the world by storm?
To discuss your office redesign, or how to incorporate breakout areas that allow your employees to relax, de-stress and refocus contact our team on 01344 290290 or email firstname.lastname@example.org