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We’ve had over a year now to transition to and normalize remote workforces, but the corporate world is still dropping the ball in some areas. It’s understandable that we were all forced to scramble to adapt to remote work technology, and some things fell to the wayside as seemingly “unimportant” — like employee morale and mental health — but it’s time we reel back a little and address these things.
Some of the best leaders in the corporate world have found a valuable solution in online games as team-building activities.
If that sounds crazy and unproductive, it’s not — and in this article, I’m going to explain how online games for remote workers will actually improve employee morale, productivity, and well-being.
While many people imagined remote work to be luxurious freedom in the past, the reality of remote work has detrimentally impacted the global workforce.
As someone who has been online freelancing for over 10 years, many friends and families used to tell me how much they envy my life and “freedom”. Now those same friends and family are endlessly bemoaning how much they miss the workplace and human interaction with co-workers in the office.
Whether you’re more naturally introverted and embrace isolation as I do, or you’re one of the people missing the office interactions, there’s no denying that remote work has had an overall impact on mental health for the newly formed global remote workforce.
53% of American adults have had their mental health negatively impacted because of stress linked to the pandemic.— Kaiser Family Foundation (a health policy research organization)
This coincides with some statistics showing that remote workers might actually be less productive than office workers: “49% of remote workers note that their biggest struggle is wellness-related. More specifically, 22% can’t unplug after work, 19% feel lonely and 8% can’t stay motivated.”
This is something that employers and corporations need to adapt to, because you can’t go replacing every employee that starts to show mental fatigue or depression symptoms — you probably wouldn’t have much of a workforce left, if those statistics are any indication of the state we’re in.
While the television series The Office humorously portrayed co-workers playing Call of Duty in the office, there’s actually some truth to it.
If I can trust Karen from Marketing to spot snipers under pressure, I can probably trust her eye for detail to double-check my proposal edits under looming deadlines.
Am I suggesting that corporations sponsor weekly Call of Duty tournaments to foster co-worker relationships? Well, I’m not specifically suggesting Call of Duty, but overall yes, that’s exactly what I’m suggesting!
While some corporations think Zoom meetings are good enough for remote worker socialization, they often aren’t. This is the “boardroom meeting” mentality, where everyone is expected to listen and nod at the current speaker, showing signs of life at the proper social cues to hide the fact we’re probably miles away in some kind of daydream.
Zoom conferences just make all of that 100x worse.
Teleconference security is kind of concerning as well, because you’re asking employees to place their home privacy in the hands of a third-party corporation. Over 500,000 Zoom teleconference accounts were compromised in 2020, and a lot of companies generally go with the cheapest bidder for setting up their remote work VPNs.
While I’m sure your remote employees don’t give much thought to some blackhat hacker knowing what color their window drapes are, I’d suggest management consider online network and security courses before casually dismissing this as fear-mongering.
While teleconferencing tools like Zoom and Microsoft Teams meetings have become a normal daily ritual for professional and casual communication between remote workers, it still leaves a lot to be desired.
In fact, we can actually get pretty tired of being on a webcam all the time, at least an office cubicle has some semblance of privacy without a camera in your face all day.
One of the best alternatives to teleconferencing tools is online team-building activities and games.
Co-workers generally form personal relationships during or after work hours. It’s completely normal for the office team to get together for a round of shots on a Friday evening, but we can’t do that anymore, can we?
These friendships actually serve to benefit the workplace. Studies show that work friends make us more productive.
More than half (57%) of UK employees say that having a “best friend” at work makes their job more enjoyable, increasing their productivity and creativity.
There’s a lot of available evidence that video games enhance our cognitive abilities.
According to the researchers at Brigham Young University, playing video games for 45 minutes with co-workers can improve productivity by 20%.
Furthermore, video games also offer cognitive benefits such as improving sustained attention, spatial awareness, hand-eye coordination, memory recall, and can even help to prevent beta-amyloid deposits from forming, which are the hallmark of Alzheimer’s 🤯
While a lot of corporations love to harp on about their “work culture” and “highly valued employees”, mandatory videoconference socialization doesn’t exactly prove anything. Most of us could go our entire lives without knowing Karen from Marketing’s favorite color or what park she took her dogs to over the weekend.
But when we’re sharing an experience, like shouting at a screen together or working together to root out the suspect in an intense game of Among Us, that’s when we’re actually team building and improving morale.
I don’t need to know you personally to trust you or feel like we belong to a team, I just need to see what you bring to the table. Are you the careful and methodical type, are you a risk-taker?
Being able to see these traits in action in our co-workers helps everyone increase confidence in each other’s abilities, and knowing the individual strengths and weaknesses of people overall helps us work together in the most effective ways.
Erika Rykun is a copywriter and content manager. She is an avid reader and runner. You can get in touch with her on Twitter.
Did you know that you can play corporate games on Hi5?