Microsoft hopes Minesweeper, Solitaire will assist staff be productive


Microsoft has a brand new resolution to make staff extra productive: Allow them to play video games.

On Wednesday, the corporate introduced its Video games for Work app for its office communications service, Microsoft Groups. The free app, obtainable within the apps space of Groups immediately, permits customers to play certainly one of 4 multiplayer video games with their colleagues throughout a gathering. The aim is to assist staff construct belief, enhance how they work collectively and enhance morale — the digital equal of the foosball desk within the workplace cafeteria.

The announcement comes as many corporations have shifted to workforces which can be distant or hybrid, by which staff go to the workplace part-time. Some managers say having staff unfold out makes it arduous to construct and preserve firm tradition and foster private relationships. Others fear productiveness could lower — in consequence, a rising variety of corporations have opted to extend worker monitoring.

Keystroke monitoring, screenshots, and facial recognition: The boss could also be watching lengthy after the pandemic ends

Consultants say gaming, moderately, could enhance the office and productiveness — serving to construct social capital which may be waning as staff are usually not casually connecting within the workplace as usually.

However video games may create points if employers make them necessary or use them as a crutch for establishing tradition, they are saying. It may be an issue if staff spend an excessive amount of time gaming moderately than working.

Microsoft’s new suite of video games is an instance of an organization proposing a digital resolution to unravel an analog downside post-pandemic, mentioned Matt Cain, analyst at analysis agency Gartner.

“We’re seeing the opening of the brand new chapter the place IT people are being requested to handle issues like tradition and group well being,” he mentioned. “I don’t suppose that’s going to go away.”

Microsoft’s 4 video games, all multiplayer, had been developed by Xbox Recreation Studios’ Microsoft Informal Video games. IceBreakers presents gamers with questions and choices to assist them get to know one another higher. For instance: Do you favor pineapple or pepperoni in your pizza? Minesweeper encourages gamers to unravel issues collectively. Wordament is a phrase problem sport that may be performed with as much as 250 members. And Solitaire permits gamers to work together with one another whereas watching their rivals play their rounds of the digital card sport on-screen.

However word to staff: Managers can pull information displaying their exercise on Microsoft Groups. Account directors of Microsoft Groups can entry particulars like what number of conferences a consumer participated in in addition to audio, video and screen-sharing time on mentioned conferences. On the subject of video games, directors can entry how a lot time was spent on the apps collectively, although they can’t see how a lot time a person spent on them.

Your boss can monitor your actions with out particular software program

Jennifer Chatman, professor of administration on the Berkeley Haas Faculty of Enterprise, says getting folks collectively for actions unrelated to their work duties can promote new concepts and assist make folks extra comfy difficult the established order. Permitting staff to attach over video games could be definitely worth the time funding, she says. Gaming may be particularly useful for staff who’re new to the corporate, groups which have had current battle or staff who’ve gone above and past at work.

“You must notice you’re taking part in the lengthy sport right here,” she mentioned. “Not permitting any time for folks to attach may harm you in small methods in the long term. Individuals could by no means really feel comfy sufficient to talk up in conferences.”

To encourage cross-team bonding, for instance, Chatman mentioned employers may randomize who performs with each other. Employers may additionally implement minimums on how many individuals should take part to ensure that a sport to be performed to encourage extra staff to get to know one another.

However watch out to not power the enjoyable, Cain mentioned, including that employers must belief staff to make use of the video games correctly. As an alternative, specialists recommend letting groups determine what is smart, when or how usually video games must be performed, and the way they wish to use the software.

“Individuals will probably monitor themselves as a result of they don’t wish to get behind of their work,” Chatman mentioned. “They are often trusted to get their work completed.”

Cain mentioned employers shouldn’t depend on gaming as the one method to advertise tradition and productiveness.

“Gaming shouldn’t be going to be an end-all,” he mentioned. “There actually must be a sequence of actions a group can take to really feel larger sense of unity.”