Ping-pong at work, waste of time or creativity boost?



Regardless of your view on playing during work hours, there is little doubt it is becoming more and more common. But – does it help the company in any tangible way? Will the extra playtime prove beneficial through a boost in creativity and energy for employees? As the (soon to be) undisputed office champion of ping-pong, I thought I’d try to answer that question in a couple of paragraphs.
As I was looking into this, I was rather surprised at the diversity of the research results that I came across. Many studies pointed to regular playing times being beneficiary to productivity, whereas some did not. One study on British supermarkets even suggests there might be a negative correlation between job satisfaction and corporate productivity; the more miserable the employees were, the better the profits(!).
Now that was just one example, of course, and the majority of data seem to show that taking ”active pauses” at work can indeed provide a break from monotony that is often needed in order to attack a problem from a different perspective and find new solutions. And while implementation of this theory has been most prominent in the IT industry – who hasn’t heard of the skateboarding executives at Google – the trend is starting to gain a foothold in other sectors as well. It’s easy to find employee temtimonials showing that a workplace filled with humor and fun provide more incentive to perform at a higher level.
But as much as it might boost creativity, there seem to be a less direct reason for allowing playtime at work that is at least as important to company success. In a time where job security, loyalty, and average tenure are lower than in the past, a relaxed and fun atmosphere at work is increasingly likely to be the glue that retains and motivates high quality employees.
I’d like to expand further on the subject, but I’m afraid av have a ping-pong game to attend to…