Collaborative Video Games Could Increase Office Productivity
Do you remember the scene from The Office where the employees in the Stamford branch play “Call of Duty” together? This may have seemed outlandish at the time, but it turns out that playing video games with coworkers can be a useful team building activity that increases office productivity.
Instead of coming up with intricate or sometimes expensive team building games, it may be more effective to let your employees play a collaborative video game together.
Increased Use of Video Games in the Work Environment
Video game usage in work environments is on the rise. Major businesses, such as Microsoft, use video games for training purposes, replacing eLearning platforms. As video games become more commonplace in today’s workplaces, researchers are looking to answer the question of whether or not they have the potential to increase work productivity.
Study Shows Collaborate Video Gaming Increases Productivity
A study in AIS Transactions on Human-Computer Interaction performed by four Brigham Young University professors sought to identify if there was a link between playing collaborative video games and increased work productivity.
The study brought together students who represented a variety of disciplines. These students were divided into several groups. No students with preexisting relationships were grouped together.
Teams started by completing the first round of the geocaching app Findamine. This task established a baseline for their productivity together. The app gave them clues pointing them to a landmark on the BYU campus. They earned points for identifying, traveling to, and photographing themselves with the landmark.
Following the geocaching activity, the teams reviewed their performance. They would then perform an intervention treatment before attempting the geocaching activity a second time.
The teams were randomly assigned an intervention treatment. The control group worked independently on homework. A second group did goal training where they discussed how they could improve their performance. The third group played the video games together, given a choice between “Rock Band” and “Halo 4.”
After completing the geocaching activity a second time with a new set of landmarks, the group that performed the video game intervention treatment saw a performance increase of 20 percent, while the goal-setting group saw almost no improvement.
The research team concluded that if a work-related group task lasted at least three to five hours, encouraging the team members to engage in a 45-minute collaborative video game session could benefit the team’s productivity.
More research needs to be done in this area. Because the participants were university students familiar with video games, it is difficult to conclude what the effect on an older generation of employees with little video game experience might be. This is a step, however, in demonstrating the viability of collaborative video game playing in the workplace.
Video Games Have Restorative Effects
Fatigued and stressed employees make for less productive workers. Employees can benefit from stepping away from their work for a short break. One study examined the effects of breaks, relaxation activities and video games on stress, affect and cognitive performance.
In this study, participants completed a computer-based task that induced fatigue. Once this was completed, they were told to take a break. The researchers assigned the participants one of three break activities: sitting quietly, undergoing a guided relaxation activity, or playing a video game.
The participants in the video game group reported that they felt better after their break. According to researchers, they exhibited greater engagement and restoration of mood than the other groups. The researchers concluded that some activities, such as video games, are better than others for restoring workers from fatigue.
Allowing your employees a video game break will reduce their stress levels, resulting in better performance and greater productivity.
Action Video Games Lead to Faster Decision Making
The usual problem with quick response time is that you trade accuracy for speed. However, another study examined the effect playing action video games had on speed and accuracy.
Young adults between the ages of 18 and 25 were chosen to play 50 hours of either an action video game (“Unreal Tournament” or “Call of Duty 2”) or a slow-moving game (“The Sims”). The participants were then asked to complete several tasks where they need to make quick decisions.
The group that played the action games had quicker response times with a greater accuracy rate than the other group. These response times were seen to be applicable across a variety of tasks.
What does this mean for the workplace? If your employees are playing action video games regularly, they will be able to make faster, more accurate decisions. This means greater productivity among your employees.
Putting it All Together: How You Can Use Video Games in Your Workplace
The business world is rapidly changing. If you want to attract new, talented, hard-working individuals to work for your company, implementing video games in the workplace may be the way to do it.
More research is being done all the time to understand the effects video gaming has on individuals, work and productivity. While video games used to be thought of as detrimental to cognition and work ethic, a new understanding of how video games affect people is emerging. We’ve seen how they increase productivity, bring restoration from fatigue, and help people make faster, more accurate decisions. This can be used to your advantage.
Try redesigning your policies to allow employees to take breaks and play video games. The ideal work-to-break ratio is a 17-minute break for every 52 minutes of work. When given frequent breaks, employees stay focused on the task at hand, being more productive than those who work straight through until they finish a task. They need to be completely detached from their work during a break for it to be effective. Allow your employees to take those breaks, and let them play video games while they do it.
In addition to breaks, consider setting up a video game console in the conference room. Think about what you normally do for team building activities. Can you replace those activities with collaborative video game sessions? In addition to boosting productivity, this has the potential to create solid bonds between coworkers, promote teamwork, and build a fun, attractive work environment.
The generation entering the workforce has grown up on video games. Use this to your advantage and create an environment that attracts talented employees that want to work in a fun, collaborative workplace.
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