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On his lunch break, Javed Ahamed often plays chess with a couple co-workers. One day he noticed other colleagues taking interest, and he got to thinking: “I have a bunch of board games at home, and I’ve always wanted people to play them with.”
So, he launched a “game night” and invited the entire office to attend. Now, on any given Wednesday after 5pm, you’ll find about half of the employees in Perficient’s Fairfax, Virginia, office gathered around games and pizza that they order in.
“We play a lot of the non-American ones, like European board games,” says Javed, an IBM technical consultant who’s been with Perficient for 2 1/2 years.
Munckin, Catan and The Resistance are the favorites, with Resistance often being the go-to. “It’s a simple game with spies and resistance agents. You play a role, and nobody knows what you are. It’s a lot of bluffing. It’s a lot of fun with co-workers. You trust people, but when someome’s a spy … our most memorable game nights are from that.”
The office environment is a fairly social and collaborative one, Javed says. But he and his co-workers have found that game nights have become an important way to connect outside of work hours.
Many of the software development consultants in the office travel for projects and might be out for weeks on end.
“We don’t always get to see everyone,” Javed says. “It’s definitely good to get to know each other because some people are really busy in their projects.”
Game night gives everyone a chance to sit down and catch up. “When you’re in a social setting with your co-workers, they tend to open up more, so you get to know them better,” he says. “It’s good to unwind.”
Game night has also proven a great way for new hires to get acclimated to the team, as they might not be assigned to the same project as their colleagues. “It helps them socialize with others,” Javed says.
Workplace experts say these kinds of experiences are important for professional growth and could also help to strengthen a company. From a Forbes article on the topic:
Socializing with your coworkers is essential for your career,” says Alexander Kjerulf, an international author and speaker on happiness at work. “If you’re not able to relate to your coworkers as human beings and build positive relationships, your career will suffer. Socializing and getting to know them as people will help you to communicate better, trust each other more and work better together. Also, employees who have positive workplace relationships are happier at work (in fact, good workplace relationships are one of the most important sources of workplace happiness) and we know that people who are happy at work are more productive, more creative and more successful overall.”
The Fairfax group also gathers outside of the office for happy hours or to play mini-golf, but they’ve found that game nights are more cost effective and easier for people to get involved in.
“I would definitely recommend this to other offices because it helps bring people together,” Javed says.
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