#Productivity

14 Fun Productivity Games for Remote and In-Person Teams

The COVID-19 pandemic has necessitated remote work on a large scale and for an indefinite period to safeguard employee health and safety and ensure business continuity. 
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Games are not just for children. Neither are they a waste of time.

When developed with a purpose, games can create a better work environment, increase employee satisfaction, and boost productivity.

It’s led to weird situations like coworkers never having physically met each other even though they interact over virtual meetings, emails, or chats.

Productivity games can encourage meaningful interactions between remote employees, helping them feel engaged at work and build a trusting bond with coworkers.

Engaged employees are more productive at work. Companies with high employee engagement have been found to be 23 percent more profitable!

Such companies also have 18 percent more productivity than disengaged companies.

Remote work is isolating by nature so productivity games can be a way of relieving the loneliness and tedium of work, especially for people who yearn for face-to-face interaction.

The watercooler chats at the office are a thing of the past and Slack channels or Whatsapp groups cannot replace them. Despite all the benefits of remote work, employee satisfaction and engagement tend to take a hit.

Let’s explore a few virtual and in-person productivity games that can be easily implemented to boost morale and make employees feel that they belong to the organization.

Virtual productivity games

Managers can choose from among the following productivity games to keep their remote team members engaged at work:

1. Two truths and a lie

The game is simple, yet effective in helping teams break the ice and get to know each other better beyond their work personas.

Number of players:

A minimum of five participants

How to play:

  • Each participant will state three facts about themselves—two will be true, one will be a lie.
  • The challenge is to create a convincing lie that fools the other participants.
  • The more outrageous the statements, the more fun it is!
  • The other participants will ask questions to find out which statement is false.

Benefits:

Two truths and a lie encourages team members to open up about themselves in a fun way and get to know others as well. When team members feel comfortable working with each other, it boosts productivity.

2. Virtual Pictionary

The age-old drawing game can be given a virtual twist for some hilarious times with team members. It’s effective to lighten the mood and help remote workers bond through a collaborative effort.

Number of players:

A minimum of four players

How to play:

  • One person has to draw something and the other participants have to guess what it is.
  • Whoever gets the answer right gets a point and the next participant takes a turn.
  • Apart from the video conferencing platform, players must use screen sharing and a digital drawing app.
  • They can also use an online word generator like the Pictionary Word Generator for ideas on what to draw.
  • It’s great fun because participants have to use MS Paint or Procreate, which often leads to the creation of some funny pictures.

Benefits:

Regular play can improve communication between team members as they learn how the other person thinks and conceptualizes ideas. Better communication enables people to work well together and improves productivity.

3. Personal quiz

Remote managers have used personal quizzes to good effect during the pandemic to familiarize remote team members with one other.

Number of players:

A minimum of four players

How to play:

  • The manager (or a chosen person) collects interesting and/or unknown facts about all the participants and creates a quiz using them.
  • Digital quiz tools can be used to administer the quiz instead of pen and paper to make the activity more engaging because they have instant answer reveal and time-keeping features.
  • Gamifying the activity encourages greater participation.

Benefits:

Personal quizzes help team members connect with one another as more than coworkers. When people find that they have something in common such as a hobby or a quirk, they find it easier to get along.

4. Taboo

Taboo is a classic party game and can be suitably modified for a virtual corporate environment.

Number of players:

At least four players

How to play:

  • Participants are split into two teams.
  • One person in each team explains a word to his/her teammates without using that word or five other related words.
  • The team that can successfully communicate the most number of words within a minute wins.

Benefits:

It’s a fun icebreaker activity that forces participants to think under high-pressure situations. People get drawn into the game and forget their usual hesitations. Unless coworkers get comfortable with each other, how will they work together effectively?

5. Association game

When you ask people to associate a word or theme with something quickly, their answers often reveal insights about their personalities that you would otherwise never know.

Number of players:

A minimum of five players

How to play:

  • One participant gives a word or theme to the rest of the players.
  • The players have three minutes to find something in the vicinity that they associate with the word or theme.
  • Each player explains why they chose the object.
  • The player with the best story (adjudged by the person who offered the word or theme) is the winner.
  • In the next round, another participant can offer a word or theme.

Benefits:

The fast pace of the game lays bare the personality of each participant. It encourages people to look beyond the superficial qualities of their coworkers to dig deeper.

By gamifying the activity, participants are incentivized to find the most interesting stories about themselves and their lives.

6. Aliens have landed

It’s a whimsically named productivity game to help your employees get their creative juices flowing.

Number of players:

A minimum of six players

How to play:

  • Divide the participants into groups of three or four people.
  • Inform the participants that aliens have landed on Earth and they want to know more about your organization. But they don’t speak your language so you have to explain using five symbols or pictures.
  • Participants have to discuss and agree upon five images that best describe their organization.
  • They have to put up these images for everyone to see.
  • Other teams have to attempt to interpret the message that the images convey.

Benefits:

By racking their brains for five representative images, employees have to demonstrate out-of-the-box thinking, creativity, and team player abilities. All of these skills are necessary to contribute to the company’s productivity.

7. Virtual scavenger hunt

A scavenger hunt can be executed online to encourage employee engagement and boost creativity. You can choose to offer one clue a day to spread the hunt over several days or share all the clues at once.

Number of players:

A minimum of four players

How to play:

  • You give the participants clues to look for objects in their surroundings.
  • When participants find the object, they show it to the rest of the group on the screen.
  • The game can be made fun by giving funny, quirky clues.

Benefits:

A scavenger hunt is a good way to banish the blues and boost employee morale, which in turn, has a positive effect on productivity.

In-person productivity games

If your team members have begun to return to the office, you could try some of these games to help them feel more comfortable and energized.

1. Clap-clap

Clap-clap is guaranteed to elicit plenty of laughs—and the more participants, the better the game becomes. It’s simple and can be completed within five minutes for a quick break from work.

Number of players:

A minimum of three players

How to play:

  • All the participants stand in a circle.
  • One person claps a single time and specifies the direction in which the clapping should move.
    The second person in that direction claps next. This person has two choices:
  • Clap once and the clapping moves to the next person in the same direction
  • Clap twice in quick succession and the direction of the clapping changes i.e. it moves back to the original clapper.
  • The clapping is always fast so that participants are forced to focus hard.
  • Whoever makes a mistake is out of the game and the clapping continues until one person remains—the winner!
  • People who are out of the game can distract the players if they want.

Benefits:

Clap-clap is a stress-reliever as well as an exercise in building concentration and focus. The good-natured fun when a person makes a mistake helps everyone loosen up.

The effort taken to keep track of the number of claps and the direction of the clapping helps players practice maintaining focus for a prolonged length of time. It translates into better concentration, and hence greater productivity, at work.

2. Lego quest

Lego quest is a test of your analytical and communication skills. You will need plenty of Lego pieces and a timer.

Number of players:

A leader + at least four players (to make two teams)

How to play:

  • The leader builds a Lego structure that is hidden from the view of both teams. The structure shouldn’t be too simple or too complex.
  • One person from each team is then allowed to take a look at the Lego structure for 10 seconds. They cannot take photos or make sketches of the structure.
  • They have to explain the structure to their teammates as best as they can.
  • The teammates have to recreate the leader’s Lego structure based on the explanation given to them.
  • Each team has a specified time (ten minutes – 60 minutes) within which to recreate the structure. The team that can build a structure that most resembles the leader’s structure is the winner.

Benefits:

Lego quest helps team members understand each other’s thinking processes and enables them to communicate their ideas clearly. The exercise translates to better productivity and collaboration at work.

3. Circle drawing

Circle drawing is a useful productivity game that can be played to prep team members before they work on a group project or when they have problems during a group project.

Number of players:

A leader + a minimum of two players

How to play:

  • A leader (or the manager) will give instructions to the rest of the participants who are sitting at a table with a pen and a piece of paper.
  • The participants have to follow all the instructions to the letter without asking any questions or taking anybody’s help.
  • The leader uses the following script to provide instructions: “Draw a triangle. Draw a pentagon inside the triangle. Draw a cube in the corner. Write your designation in the paper.”
  • The participants will hold up their papers so everyone can see who has drawn what. It is likely that everybody has drawn something slightly different.
  • When the leader asks why the participants drew different drawings, they may say the instructions were not clear or they were not allowed to ask for clarifications.
  • Next, ask the participants to turn over the paper and repeat the exercise. This time, give specific instructions.
  • Provide clear instructions about where to draw each shape and the dimensions of each shape.
  • When participants hold up their papers after they’re done, it is most likely that their drawings will be nearly the same.

Benefits:

Circle drawing teaches people the value of giving specific instructions and asking for clarification when in doubt. It moves the attention from problems to solutions and shows the outcome of poor communication.

Groups can work in greater harmony after such an exercise, boosting productivity.

4. The Marshmallow challenge

It’s a fun challenge that marshmallow lovers will enjoy because the winner gets to eat all the marshmallows. Participants need uncooked spaghetti sticks, marshmallows, tape, and a timer.

Don’t be fooled by how childish the challenge sounds. It delivers a real and useful benefit for participants that will help improve productivity at work.

Number of players:

A minimum of five players, divided into teams

How to play:

  • Split the participants into two or more teams and give each team the following items: around 50 sticks of spaghetti, three feet of tape, and one marshmallow.
  • The challenge is to build a free-standing structure that will support the marshmallow.
  • The team that can build the tallest structure is the winner (and gets to eat all the other marshmallows).
  • Each team has fifteen minutes to complete the task.

Benefits:

The marshmallow challenge forces team members to exercise their creativity and problem-solving capacities. They are forced to think outside the box and come up with innovative ideas.

Working effectively as a team requires them to communicate clearly and smoothly, which helps them when dealing with group projects.

5. Reverse Drawing

If you’re looking for a productivity game to shake things up during an otherwise routine day, reverse drawing is just right.

Number of players:

A minimum of two players

How to play:

  • Print a picture of a simple doodle or cartoon character and give each participant a copy.
  • The participants have to copy the picture onto another piece of paper with their non-dominant hand, i.e. the one they do not use for writing or drawing.
  • The game could be timed or relaxed and there isn’t really a winner.

Benefits:

Reverse drawing forces participants to get creative as they use their non-dominant hand to draw, and gives the creative side of their brains a good exercise. It relieves the tedium of work and encourages the flow of fresh ideas.

6. The Barter Puzzle

Are you looking for a game that will force your employees to flex their mental muscles and engage in effective discussion under pressure? The barter puzzle compels people to adopt a problem-solving approach.

Number of players:

A minimum of twelve players divided into teams of four-five people

How to play:

  • Each team receives a jigsaw puzzle of equal difficulty, which they have to solve within a specified time.
  • The challenge lies in the fact that some of the pieces of the puzzle are with another team
  • Thus, each team has two goals:
  • Complete the puzzle before other teams
  • Get the missing pieces of your puzzle back from other teams by negotiating, bartering, offering help to solve the puzzle, or even exchanging team members.

Benefits:

Solving the puzzle requires team members to communicate and collaborate effectively. Plus, they have to exercise their negotiation and/or bartering skills to win the challenge. These are essential skills at the workplace to boost productivity.

7. Follow the Leader

Follow the leader will require all participants to work as a team and mimic the actions of the leader such that people find it difficult to guess who is leading the movements.

Number of players:

A minimum of eight people

How to play:

  • One person is selected to be the guesser who leaves the room for a short time.
  • The rest of the participants choose a leader who will direct their movements, such as patting their heads, raising their arms, or stamping their feet.
  • When the guesser returns, he/she has to study the movements of the group and identify the leader.

Benefits:

Follow the leader helps employees build a variety of skills, such as non-verbal communication, active listening, cooperation, trust, and cohesion.

It also shows who has good leadership skills. Such abilities are helpful in improving the productivity of the team as a whole.

Conclusion

Productivity games are meant to go beyond casual chit-chat and help employees get to know each other better, build trust, and communicate well.

Even if they aren’t working from the same location, and some may have never met their coworkers, these games help establish a genuine human connection with each other.

The camaraderie shows up in improved team productivity and cohesion.

If you’re looking to convince your bosses about the benefits of productivity games, you can use an A/B Test Planning Template to design and implement your experiments to gather quantitative data.

Team-building activities should be considered a “must-have” and not just a “good-to-have” exercise.