Whether you’re in charge of the office party or simply looking for ways to add a bit of fun and comradery to the workplace, it’s easy to add some excitement to the average workday.
In the 1990s, as Millennials were just being welcomed into the world, open office spaces were first appearing to combat rigid management hierarchies and promote collaboration. The foosball table became the new water cooler, and the idea that employees could work hard, get results and have fun became a workplace standard for innovative companies. Here’s ten office games that help you boost productivity and party like it’s 199… well, you get the idea.
1. Truth or Lie?
Here’s an ideal office icebreaker, perfect for groups getting to know each other for the first time. It works like this: going around the table, each person will tell the others three stories. Two stories will be true, and one will be a downright and blatant lie. It’s the job of everyone else to call out the lie. Not only will everyone have a great time learning a couple of truths about their colleagues, they’ll also learn who is the best office liar. And keep that information stored, people, it might be useful down the road!
2. Pet Pics
Do pet owners really look like their pets? Now’s your chance to find out if your peers resemble their pooches. Have employees post pictures of their pets on the company bulletin board (or Intranet site), with each pet numbered. If you choose, you can also include a random list of the pet owners participating in the game. The objective is to correctly match each pet owner with their pet. Not only can this game lead to new conversations at work, it may also lead to weekend pet play dates and new friendships among pet parents!
3. Ping Pong and Putt Putt
You’re sitting at your desk all day and the muscles are beginning to knot up. Relieve the stress with a bit of physical activity. Why not keep your eye on the ball by stealing away to a meeting room for a ping pong match in the boardroom or tighten up your short game between conference calls? Science shows that just a few minutes of physical activity during work can reduce back pain, and increase mental alertness and concentration. Besides, rainbow colored golf balls can really brighten up a room. The windmills and waterfalls, though? That might be going just a little bit too far.
4. Speed Chess
All you need is five minutes, a chess board and a mate – a “check-mate”, that is. Find a friend and burn off some frustration with a fast-paced game of blitz chess. Use the standard rules of chess, but with no waiting. Make your moves fast – this is a game of speed over strategy. The beauty of it all – someone will capture the king faster than it takes to burn through a bag of chips and an energy drink.
5. Two Minute Trivia
Go ahead, get your Google® on. In this simplest of games, employees are given a sheet of paper filled with trivia questions. They have two minutes to complete as many questions as possible. The most correct answers submitted by an employee wins fabulous prizes. It’s a quick but welcome diversion in the workday. And who knows, they might even learn something.
Assign an individual to give an impromptu five-minute pitch on anything. It can be work-related, humorous, whatever. Employees gather in a meeting room to hear the pitch and score the presentation on persuasive skill, confidence, body language, and delivery of engaging content. The highest scoring speeches can be rewarded with prizes monthly or quarterly. It’s a great way to make work fun while promoting practical job skills.
7. Waste Basketball
This is a timeless classic. Waste basketball, or trash can basketball, is so popular that you can buy backboards that attach to your waste bin. But that’s entirely optional… some would say even say vain, superficial and irrelevant. Playing is easy. Set up a wastebasket against a wall. Use masking tape to designate a two-point line and, at a farther distance, a three-point line. Players sit in a chair with casters and attempt to throw crumpled sheets of paper into the waste can, moving between the two-point line and three-point line as they wish. Keep track of points – or not. Create an organized league or shoot solo. Crank up on an oscillating fan to add an extra challenge. It’s a total and complete waste of time, which is exactly why the tradition continues with such gusto.
8. The Public Puzzle
It’s so beautifully simple. Buy a jigsaw puzzle, spill the pieces on a table, and wait. In just a couple of minutes, on the way to the copier or back from the restroom, an employee can make a single contribution to the cause and the entire team can watch as each contribution helps the team accomplish a common goal.
9. The Scavenger Hunt
Employees have a love-hate relationship with the scavenger hunt, where teams are given a list of items they must find inside – and sometimes outside – the workplace. They’re high energy, disruptive to everyone, and yet so much fun. Many offices host fast-paced hunts that may take just an hour or two. However, longer scavenger hunts allow more complex lists of items and give more people a chance to participate in the office game. Items on the list can promote teambuilding by letting people to get to know one another while they play. For example, items can include “one of the team members’ favorite books” or “a photograph of a tattoo on the person least expected to have one.”
10. Lego My Ego
An easy to prepare but mind-bending teambuilding exercise uses only Lego® bricks. Each team is placed at a table and given the same Lego set, without any instructions. On another table, the leader places a completed sculpture using the same set of building blocks. Teams can look at the sculpture from any angle, but they cannot take photographs, notes or sketches. They must then replicate the structure exactly. The winning team is the first team to successfully duplicate it. This exercise requires teams to work together, strategize and constructively address potential miscommunications and failure. If you want to “seriously” dig into the power of Lego for enhancing innovation and team performance, check out the SERIOUS PLAY methodology.
Work games build trust between colleagues and promote the sharing of ideas in a safe environment. They bring an office together for a few moments, with the goal of bringing co-workers together as a cohesive team. As Batman says to Lucy in the LEGO Movie, “If this relationship is going to work out between us, I need to feel free to party with a bunch of strangers whenever I feel like it.” Encouraging a little bit of fun on the clock can be a great addition to your day, and to your company’s internal relationship management strategies.