Why would organizations let their employees play games when the conventional notion suggests that games distract them from work?
So how did gamification get recognition over the last few years and why does it appeal to the current working generation? Employers have recognized the need for their employees to blow off some steam and prevent a burnout down the line. Contrary to the popular belief that gameplay eats into the workload, productive diversions are found to keep teams connected to their work, and with each other.
Constant involvement in work can lead to a saturated state of mind causing a lack of creativity. In a saturated state, work quality goes down which is neither beneficial for the business nor for the employee in question. In that case, gamification helps employees take their minds off from work to stimulate their critical thinking and return to tasks again with a fresh perspective. Team building drills and collaborative games are great too but can only be played occasionally. Whereas, mobile games, computer games, and even a gaming console system sometimes can really help people improve work engagement and collaboration on a daily basis. Here are some benefits:
1. Develops a community at your Workplace
Virtual gaming develops a strong sense of belonging amongst the workforce, whether they’re collocated, distributed or working remotely. It is difficult to get a read on your team and the way they work together just from assigning them tasks. Are any of them dominating the others? Is any member doing the lion’s share of the work? Being siloed from each other can deepen the disconnect employees feel from organizational strategies, which impacts employee morale and eventually, their productivity. Gaming can be a subtle nudge to get people to interact and share ideas. They can even discover each other’s strengths and play to them when pitted against another group.
Short game breaks bring people together in your organization even if they have never worked or had any work-oriented interaction with each other before. With a resource management tool, managers can foresee lulls and staff availability that ensures they can be scheduled for such sessions ahead of time and be notified of the same. Workloads can be accordingly adjusted to allow for such team-building activities to be injected into the workload without disrupting actual business as usual activities.
2. Games Decreases Stress and Increases Productivity
Playing a game can rapidly take you to another reality from your work. Instantly switching focus prevents lethargy which is often observed as the result of stress from monotonous work routine. A recharged mind is a productive one, indicating that an employee can resume work with a fresh perspective and utmost focus.
Games can accelerate the time your mind needs to reenergize and reduce the amount of breaks you take. It means when you try to take a break and sit back on your chair, it takes more time to reenergize your mind compared to what playing a game can do instantly. A popular productivity model called Pomodoro method states that a person can only work on a task for 20-25 mins with complete focus, working beyond that without a short break one would only be compromising their quality of work. Taking a break to shift focus to another task thereafter that really interests and challenges you will increase productivity. Hence, a person plays a game during short breaks while following steps of the Pomodoro method given below can drastically improve productivity.
1. Work on a specific task for 20-25 minutes.
2. Take a short break of 5 minutes and play a game.
3. Get back to work without extending short breaks unnecessarily.
4. After 2 hours, take long breaks throughout working hours every day.
3. Improves Critical Thinking and Leadership Skills
Working on multidisciplinary projects, innovative approaches require extreme capability of absorbing the information and putting through creative ideas. Playing brain games to improve analytical skills, themed as logical thinking, puzzles, collaboration, building business alliance, etc. can easily stimulate critical thinking and let you gauge how workers perform under pressure and within a time limit
Your organization can benefit greatly when the workforce indulges in the games that sharpen their critical thinking and utilizing their skills for the combined benefits of their teams and departments. This practice of playing team games can help them develop a sense of belongingness where they naturally help others accomplish the tasks and even consult right people to accomplish their own tasks. It prepares them to contribute to the workflow at their best and take responsibilities whenever required.
When you find your colleagues playing a game around your desk are probably the ones who thoroughly focus on the tasks, even understand the methods of collaborating with others, and most importantly are problem solvers. Games are helpful in polishing your leadership skills where you understand the potential of your team members with healthy communication and leverage their skills in the hour of need.
Playing games for short intervals can create a lot of difference in the way you use your energy in work and how you gain it back. When your workforce is remote, they can feel isolated and siloed due to the reduced in-personal contact. Virtual problem-solving fixes this by encouraging live participation from team members no matter where they are located.
Gaming strategies connect teams, build stronger working relationships and encourage people to go out of their comfort zone. It makes the competition interesting, and gives you a myriad of problem-solving approaches. Young start-ups are making arrangements for permanent remote work options, signalling the start of increased gamification as a means to improve collaboration and work engagement, which even large establishments can copy.
After all, the idea is to motivate the workforce and reduce incidents of burnouts and saturation. In the end, working in an organization or from home basically revolves around factors that bolster productivity i.e. work engagement, satisfaction, work-life balance and growth.
Remember those extracurricular activities organized by your university or school’s club committees? Playing the occasional game in a virtual office works on the same lines. It is a gateway for members to bond over common interests which leads to a culture of trust, support and innovation!
About Author: Mahendra Gupta is PMP certified and an expert authority in the smart workforce planning and resource management domain. He is the subject matter expert in resource management and workforce planning at Saviom Software. His experience has enabled multinational businesses around the globe to diversify their project portfolio. Follow his work here.