In today’s busy, always connected world, people are tending to work more and are taking less breaks, not just from work, but from the online world such as social media. I think there is a need to come out of that world every so often and have some fun! I also believe that taking some time to reconnect with the real world around us can be very benificial and can actually help people be more productive in their jobs.
There are a number of ways to ensure these well needed breaks are taken, but in my opinion, a lunchtime board game group is a great option. I started one in my office a few months ago and highly recommend everyone to do the same. To try to help with this, I have put together a few notes below.
First of all, why is it a good idea to start a lunchtime board game group?:
- A well spent break – Of course, as already mentioned it is a break from the screen that most of us are tied to during the working day.
- Escape from responsibilities (for a short time) – It gives you something else to think about and an opportunity to escape from your normal world for a short time, returning to your desk refreshed and ready for new challenges.
- Keeps the brain active – Board games help to keep the brain active, rather than mindless social media browsing, which seems to be the most common lunchtime activity.
- Mental Health and Wellbeing – Board gaming is great for mental health and wellbeing. It increases laughter and happiness making it an ideal stress reliever.
- Inclusive culture – Having social activity groups contributes to an inclusive culture in the workplace, which many companies are striving for nowadays. Board gaming specifically is a very inclusive activity, anyone can play, regardless of their background.
- Networking – A social group such as a gaming group gives employees the opportunity to meet new people and network with others that they may not speak to in their day to day job.
- Fitter, Happier, More Productive – All of the above benefits add up to a happier and more productive office and a better working environment overall!
So, you’ve read the above benefits and want to set up a group of your own? I’m sure that you may have some ideas about how to go about this, but below is a list of things that worked for me:
- Pluck up the courage – The biggest hurdle for me as a quiet, shy person was to actually build up enough courage to mention this plan to others. This took me quite some time. Actually, now I have got over it, this has probably been the biggest hurdle for me.
- Ask around your immediate workmates first – As a first step, I asked my immediate workmates if anyone was interested in playing games one lunchtime. I am in a building with over 300 employees, so asking only around 20 of them that I already knew was much easier.
- Contact any Social/Diversity & Inclusion teams – A lot of workplaces have either social committees, or now increasingly Diversity and Inclusion committees. These are an ideal target to pitch your plan to. They are typically always short of volunteers and activities, and gaming at lunch is a great fit for either! This is actually where I got my break and started my monthly group. The office were running a Mental Health awareness week and were looking for ideas of activities. I told them about my gaming lunch plan and they loved it, and I have been doing it monthly ever since.
- Sell it using the points above – Using the points I have written above, the ‘sales pitch’ to convince people to let you run the group and also actually attend the group should be pretty strong.
- Communicate to as wide an audience as possible – The main ways I have communicated about my group have been sending a bulk email (with permission) out to my whole location, and I also put posters up in common areas such as kitchens prior to my first event.
- Select appropriate games – Since I was trying to cater to potentially a wide variety of gaming interests, I tried to pick games that were easy and quick to play. This was also good to help stick within the lunch hour time constraints. Old familiar classics are also good, alongside the newer ones. I actually tend to bring more games than I need, so people can pick and choose what they play. Games that have worked well for me so far have been: Dixit, Cluedo, Love Letter, Jungle Speed, and Happy Salmon was also great as an icebreaker. Now that my group is more established, I will also start asking people to bring in any of their games that they like to increase the variety.
- Set and keep a time limit – It is important to make sure you stick to your planned time limits. I know that it is easy to run over in these things, especially when you are having fun! You don’t want to be seen as taking people away from their job as the activity is supposed to improve productivity as mentioned earlier. Make sure you keep an eye on your watch/phone and finish on time. I have actually found that a lunch hour is plenty of time for many games, so this shouldn’t impact anyone’s enjoyment.
- Don’t worry if response isn’t great – If the response to your first event isn’t massive as you may hope, don’t panic! Remember that to play most games you only need 2 people, so as long as one other person signs up you will still have fun! I have actually found that while I started small, every month that I have run my group the number attending has steadily organically grown through word of mouth.
Neither of the above lists are exhaustive and I would love to hear any other tips and benefits that you may have seen if you have also started a gaming group in your workplace, so please leave a comment to let me know.
I hope this article has inspired people to at least consider bringing games into the workplace. I really genuinely believe that the world would be a better place if more people played more games together. This after all, is the main mission of my blog! Thanks for reading!