It doesn’t take much observation to recognize that the way people work is changing drastically. The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the telework phenomena and pushed many people who would have never left the office into work-from-home status. Even today as many believe the COVID pandemic is nearing its end and becoming endemic, work status remains forever altered.
The pandemic has brought about several other changes in our lives. Notable for many Americans is an uptick in screen time. This is a product of multiple things such as having to work in front of a screen while teleworking and not being able to get out and do much else during lockdowns. One side effect of this is that many more people have taken up gaming as a hobby.
The intersection of work and gaming can be an interesting one. There is plenty of evidence to suggest that those who game could be more apt to succeed in a remote workplace environment. Some experts even suggest that a gaming hobby could improve productivity in certain settings. Though many of these potential benefits are a boon for the gaming industry, they are only realized by the personality types that can strike a balance between work and play.
The Future of Work
Today, many companies that were previously requiring employees to be in full telework status are reopening their doors and allowing employees back into the office. For some, going back to the office is a welcome change of pace and an opportunity to ditch the isolation of working from home. While for others, the idea of going back to work and not being able to work in pajamas to take care of small household chores on breaks sounds dreadful.
Research suggests that the majority of employees with an option prefer some level of a hybrid work environment. This might involve going into the office a few days per week and teleworking the rest. Or it could be something like starting the day at home and going into the office after lunch. Or only going in for meetings. Or mostly being in the office, but having the flexibility to telework as needed. The options are really limitless.
As many companies are inviting employees back to the office, there is a vibe that they are willing to be more flexible than they previously were. Likewise, many companies are considering adopting other policies that could improve productivity and work-life balance in the workplace. Some ideas include allowing employees more flexible working hours, creating areas for relaxation and de-stressing in the workplace, and finding opportunities to address health concerns.
Gaming and Productivity
One example of this newfound flexibility is exploring options for improved breaks at work. For instance, some companies, having realized the benefits that gaming can provide, are putting gaming consoles in their break rooms and allowing employees to game during their lunch break. Some research suggests that a 45-minute gaming break can increase team productivity by up to 20%.
Some even argue that gaming can prepare people for the workforce by helping them to better develop soft skills such as creative problem solving, communication under pressure, and emotional intelligence. In a remote environment, these skills can really shine. After all, gamers are accustomed to collaborating and achieving goals in an online setting. It is no wonder that many gamers thrived in a telework environment.
Proponents of gaming are also quick to point out that online gaming is a profound way for even the most introverted among us to improve our social skills. Cooperative games have been shown to help young children learn how to work together and there is evidence to indicate that the learning doesn’t stop with children. In a workplace, gaming together could insinuate greater team bonding, which in turn could give another boost to overall productivity.
Striking a Balance
All of this gaming can be a great means of increasing productivity and building a stronger team, whether in an in-person or remote working environment. However, there are some potential drawbacks. Of course, too much gaming can take away from actually getting work done and causes many other problems for the gamers themselves.
For example, gaming at home during the pandemic hasn’t been all that beneficial for everyone. Those that are on the computer all day for work and then get online for gaming tend to get lost online. They may check out from normal day-to-day activities and develop a legitimate addiction to spending time on the Internet, whether that is playing online games or just browsing aimlessly until their phone dies.
The situation has become so dire in many areas that the World Health Organization recognized gaming disorder as a mental health condition. To incorporate the positives of gaming into work, it is important to recognize the signs of gaming addiction and work towards resolving the problem. Perhaps the first step is to ensure that the games are kept to breaks and are not encroaching into actual working hours.
Our workplaces are changing at an unprecedented rate. In many instances, gamers can take advantage of these changes by applying the soft skills they’ve learned in games to becoming phenomenal teleworkers or by advocating for the benefits of a gaming console in the break room. Gaming can be a boon to employee productivity as long as it is managed within reason and employees are cognizant of how much their hobby is encroaching on their life.