Office Games & Hacks: 25 Point Guide To Employee Health & Productivity

Posted by Scott 15 MARCH 2016

1. Playing Games Improves Relationships

You may well have noticed how many large organisations have team-building days/weeks with new recruits when they first start their new job. This allows them to build relationships, gets them to do activities together, and encourages talking, discussion, planning and strategy formation. Playing games together is one of the best ways to enable this. Research suggests that people who play a sport or game together form closer relationships and work better together. It also improves individuals’ confidence. 

2. Relieves Stress

Playing games and sports is empirically proven to be one of the best ways to relieve stress. We have all heard someone say after a workout, sports game, video game that they feel a lot better and less stressed. Playing sports and games like table tennis is also a great way to release stress by hitting the ball, running, turning, stretching, concentrating and increasing heart rate. 

3. Improves The Work Environment & Productivity

A positive working environment is vital to an employee’s performance. A fun working culture at work makes employees happier and therefore more productive.In an enjoyable atmosphere, employees won’t be looking to leave, they will feel relaxed and will have topics about which to chat: games played against each other, tournaments at lunch and other games-related subjects. The entire culture of the company can be improved by simply offering one or two games at the office. A happier worker is a better worker; as Sir Richard Branson says:

Richard Branson"Look after your staff and they'll look after your customers. It's that simple."

4. Improves Overall Health

Exercising for as little as 20 minutes a day can massively improve your overall health. Gretchen Reynolds, author of the New York Times’ Physical Education column, says that “at least 20 minutes a day makes a truly profound difference in your health and dramatically reduces the risk of a whole host of diseases, particularly diabetes, heart disease and dementia, as well as cancer.”

Many believe that just getting of their seat for 5 minutes multiple times a day will have little to no benefit. The study above shows that doing the little things consistently will have a dramatic effect. Make the effort to get up for 5 minutes every 30-45 minutes. Put yourself on a timer to make sure you stay consistent. 

5. Burns Calories - Promotes Weight Loss

Taking part in a game for just 30 minutes can burn a considerable amount of calories, leading to healthy weight loss. This 30 minutes of exercise can help to counteract the weight you may put on by sitting at a desk all day. As mentioned above, the compound effect of little or no exercise daily can be drastic in the long term.

You can use this calculator to find out how many calories are burned from the below and more.

30 minutes playing Pool or Billiards - burns 85 calories

30 minutes playing Table Tennis - burns 125 calories 

30 minutes playing Arcade Games - burns 41 calories 

30 minutes playing Air Hockey - burns 125 calories

Improves Cognitive Function

Studies on the benefits of regular exercise usually focus on the physical positive effects, as opposed to mental functions. Over the past 5 years, more studies have been carried out on exercise and its relationship to improved cognitive function. 

Researchers have found that people who exercise regularly have better memory, can think more quickly and are better at multitasking than those who don’t regularly exercise. 

7. Improves Blood Flow

Playing sports such as Table Tennis has been proven to be a way to improve circulation. As a result of exercising, the blood vessels in your muscles dilate and your heart muscle contracts at a faster rate, which allows blood to flow through major arteries at a faster pace, leading to improved circulation. Improved blood flow can also reduce the chance of clots forming in your legs or body as a result of being sedentary for long periods of time daily. We are now entering an age where the drastic negative effects of long term office work will start to become obvious.

8. Improves Tactical Thinking

Playing skill-led sports such as Table Tennis and Pool can improve tactical thinkingin young people and adults of all ages. Playing video games is also shown to promote many aspects of tactical thinking. Games such as Call of Duty require you to plan every move in advance, adapt to new scenarios, work as a team, develop hand-eye co-ordination and much more. A study conducted on training surgeons showed that surgeons who played video games regularly made 47% fewer errors, performed 39% faster and scored 41% better overall than training surgeons who did not play video games.

9. Combats Ageing

A study did a test on elderly people with an average age of 77 years. The test had three groups of people: occasional gamers, regular gamers and non-gamers. The study concluded that occasional and regular gamers had a better well-being than non-gamers, as a result of mental stimulation, getting the mind to think and become active. These little stimuli can help improve the health of the elderly, combating the common scenario of elderly people becoming sedentary and not fully activating their brains.

10. Increases Calories Burned Through The Day

High intensity interval training (HIIT) has been shown to burn more calories than low intensity training. The benefits of this are myriad:

  • You don’t have to go running for hours to get in better shape
  • Your workouts can be as short as 10-15 minutes if you want 
  • HIIT burns more fat, for 72 hours post-exercise 
  • Playing games is an easy way to incorporate HIIT

An example of high intensity interval training: 15 seconds at maximum effort on a stationary bike, with 45-60 seconds recovery. Repeat this for 6-10 sets, and follow it with a 15 minute cooldown, and your health will improve dramatically.

Adding a stationary bike to the office is an easy, affordable option, and doesn’t take up much space. 

Table tennis can be another sport that comes into the same category. If you are a player of decent skill, playing a game against someone else for 5 minutes non-stop is a great high intensity workout. Repeat this for 30 minutes and you’ll quickly find yourself improving your physical and mental health.

11. Releases Endorphins Through Exercise

Exercise releases endorphins, which are the “feel good” chemicals we release when we finish a bout of exercise. You’ll often find runners talking about “the runner's high” which happens after they finish their run. They feel euphoric and this is often followed by a positive outlook on life.

The same effect can be achieved by playing any sport for a decent amount of time. Regular exercise is proven to relieve stress, improve sleep and boost esteem due to the ability to release endorphins.

Exercise has also been shown to help combat mild-moderate depression. 

12. Reduces Chances of Heart Disease

Regular exercise has been linked to reducing the risk of heart disease and heart attacks by combatting some of the five major causes of cardiovascular problems including obesity, high blood pressure and high cholesterol. 

This means that exercising essentially leads to a healthier lifestyle and leaves you with a lower risk of developing heart disease or other heart problems. 

13. Increases Confidence 

Regular exercise increases confidence and self-esteem. Studies have indicated a strong correlation between physical exercise and increased confidence and self-worth, which shows that exercise really can make us feel better about ourselves. 

14. Helps Stimulate Positive Actions

Positive actions come from a positive mindset and environment. Playing games with your co-workers and promoting a competitive but fun environment can stimulate positive actions. 

If your work environment is too serious and not positive enough, you will find it difficult to maintain high employee satisfaction levels in the long term. 

Health care expenditures at high-pressure companies are nearly 50% greater than at other organizations who promote a positive work environment. 

It’s also mentioned that 550 million work hours are lost each year due to the stress of the job. Employers need to understand that pushing the deadline and forcing longer working hours may infact be taking away at their overall productivity and quality of work.

If you can help to produce positive memories, actions and a positive environment in your office, your employees will think of the workplace as a positive place. This is a critical factor in long-term employee retention and performance. 

Tony Robbins the number 1 business performance coach states in his book “Unlimited Power” that when neuroconnections are made between a memory and an emotion it’s extremely hard to break and form a new one. This means if your employees are connecting a memory of the workplace with a negative emotion they will not want to turn up to work. 

We have the research and ability to now take action and put these research studies and recommendations into actions in businesses across the world. 

We can conclude that stress producing bosses are literally bad for the heart.

15. Rejuvenates The Body & Mind

There is a huge amount of data to support the positive effects on the body and mind of playing games such as pool, table tennis, video games, foosball and puzzle games.

Working for intense periods of time without breaks, or continuously thinking about work will lead to a rapid decline in performance and motivation.

To rejuvenate the mind you must take yourself away from work and completely focus on something enjoyable. Many new ideas, thoughts and inspiration will come from focusing on games during your “off-time”.

Many studies show that the optimal way to work is to have shorter but intense periods of work, followed by mentally stimulating but fun activities. Employees will return to their desks with a fresh mind, good memories with their co-workers and potentially new ground-breaking ideas.

16. Playing Video Games Helps You Learn New Skills

Playing video games during your lunch hour can help you learn new sensorimotor skills quickly. Sensorimotor skills include activities such as riding a bike, typing and playing table tennis, which require a new pattern of co-ordination between your vision and movement. 

A study which indicates this correlation was conducted by the University of Toronto and can be found here.

A conclusion from this study is that offices would benefit greatly from having some sort of challenging, fast-paced games for employees to play when possible. 

17. Improves Concentration

If you find your employees have trouble concentrating or focusing, short bursts of exercise could well be the answer. As covered above, exercise improves cognitive function, which also impacts our concentration levels. A new analysis of 19 different studies by the British Medical Journal found that short, 10 to 40 minute bursts of exercise led to an immediate boost in concentration and mental focus, which they suggested was due to increased blood flow to the brain.

A short 15 minute table tennis game with a colleague could therefore improve employee concentration once they return to work. 

18. Improves Joints & Aches Through Stretching

Any health club in 2016 will most likely have yoga classes, zumba, funky pump and stretch classes. More and more studies are now showing that stretching helps improve recovery, aids in walking/running/movement and improves your blood flow.

Being stationary for hours every day without moving can cause your muscles to become tight. These tight muscles can easily lead to injuries when they are used.Stretching every day will help to improve blood flow, improve your joints and make your body feel better overall.

Potentially the important benefit from stretching is ensuring that none of your body goes without being moved and warmed up for the day. Bad backs, hands, knees and necks are common in the workplace, but making sure that you stretch these daily will reduce pain.

19. Decreases Fatigue & Improves Stamina

Many people across the UK feel a sense of fatigue from “doing nothing”. It’s all too common to hear someone say “I’m so tired from doing nothing”. 

Being active, doing a workout or playing a game to energise the brain helps to break this feeling of fatigue. Getting out of your seat, playing a game of table tennis for 30 minutes and then returning to work will make you feel a lot more energetic. 

Adding some kind of activity over a period of time will help you feel more awake and improve your mental stamina, as well as your physical stamina if you opt for a game that requires physical movement such as table tennis.

20. Decreases the Chances of Snacking & Putting on Unnecessary Weight

Many people think if you exercise you will eat more food, as you’re burning more calories and thus likely to eat more. This is not only wrong, but the opposite is in fact the case. Daily brisk activity is shown to reduce appetite, due to hormones being re-balanced and sending a more accurate reading to the brain. As a result, the body adjusts your appetite for proper calorie intake. 

Overconsumption of fatty foods over long periods of time actually disrupts the brain signal that tells us when we are hungry, but brisk activity can help to curb this effect. Brisk activity includes anything such as a walk, playing table tennis, or taking part in a game on a foosball table. 

21. Improves Mental Health

Short bursts of exercise have been shown to have a positive impact on our mood. A study that focused on the link between a positive mind and exercise was completed in 2005, asking participants to rate their mood immediately after periods of physical activity and periods of inactivity. 

Researchers found that the participants felt more positive, awake and a lot calmer after exercise in comparison to the periods of time when they were inactive. 

Office Hacks

Office Hack 1: Add Green Plants to the Office

This simple trick has some drastic effects, as adding some real office plants has been shown to increase office productivity by up to 15%.

A study conducted by Exeter and Cardiff University has shown that over the long term, office workers feel less stressed and more comfortable, and their productivity increases as a result.

How can plants improve profits?

Green plants filter the air. The office air will be cleaner and the plants will filter the toxins in the air to give a better working environment.

The colour green is also connected with ideas, productivity, happiness and enthusiasm in some ideologies. 

Working in an office that’s just desks, computers and walls isn’t very appealing, so adding some life - such as plants - can really make a big difference to the look of the office. 

It’s official, plants improve profits.

Office Hack 2: Work Remotely from Time to Time 

Working remotely can help you to get more work done, increase your job satisfaction and give you the break from the office you need to hit your own targets, according to Harvard Business Review.

Working in an office can, inevitably, be distracting. Even with a well-organised group, it can at times be hard to complete all the work that needs to be done.

Spending a few occasional days at home, so that you can start your working day right and stay up-to-date with your projects, can have a huge positive benefit on both yourself and the overall productivity of the office.

Office Hack 3: Use the Pomodoro Technique

The pomodoro technique is a time management system/technique, created in the 1980s. The 25 minute work cycle is called a “pomodoro” which means tomato in Italian. The creator Francesco Cirillo used a tomato shaped timer for his work, which is where the name “pomodoro” originated. 

The technique consists of 25 minutes of continuous work with no breaks, no distractions and no stopping. This is then followed by a five minute break (for example, go for a walk around the office, get a drink or chat for five minutes while standing.)

After you work for four pomodoros, take a 20-30 minute break before going back into another cycle of four pomodoros. 

You should track every pomodoro you do, either on paper, or by using one of the available apps on your smartphone (which can also produce graphs and timers for you). In this way, you can track how many pomodoros you can do per day. Many apps also offer a league table, so you and your work colleagues can compete to see who can be the most productive on any given day.

How does it benefit you?

Studies show frequent breaks help to improve productivity and work rate. The mental break gives employees time to recoup and go again with a fresh mind. Many companies expect their employees to work 8 hours a day, non-stop, and to have fixed breaks. This rigid work frame can have a negative impact on the work produced. 

This technique also gives you a guilt-free way of taking mini-breaks without feeling as though you're wasting time. 

Wasted time is a major problem faced by offices; employees waste countless hours just talking, staring into a screen, trying to figure out what to do first, writing lists, or getting distracted doing other minor things.

Pomodoros forces you to look at your to-do list in detail and attack the most important task first, with 25-minute bouts of continuous work. 

This is a realistic and achievable goal, and will thus give you a feeling of accomplishment once you do a full 25 minutes.

As the business philosopher Jim Rohn says: “Don’t major in minor things”, meaning that we shouldn’t get carried away with being “busy” doing hundreds of small tasks that only produce minimal results. 

Office Hack 4: Healthy Office Snacks

A common issue in many offices is that people bring in their own snacks or cakes, and everyone gets involved. People may feel left out if they don’t get involved, and this has a huge effect in the long term. 

As an employer, it is important that you make healthy eating accessible, and the best way to do this is to offer healthy snacks. 

Healthy snacks such as nuts, fruits, low calorie snacks will not only help look after your employees’ well-being, but will also help to keep energy levels elevated. 

Eating a chocolate bar, as opposed to something healthy such as a handful of almonds, will have very different effects. 

The chocolate will cause your insulin levels to spike as a result of the sugar intake, and will lead to a crash in energy soon after. Nuts such as almonds contain important healthy fats that will help to optimise your hormone levels. 

Offering cold fresh water from a dispenser will help to hydrate your employees. Drinking fizzy drinks which are filled with sugar will have a big impact on weight gain and energy. 

Hydration is extremely important: studies have shown that if you’re dehydrated by as little as 10%, your performance can drop by as much as 30%.

Offering zero-calorie drinks is also an option, and while people may be skeptical about the health risks of artificial sweeteners, several studies that show their safety are listed below. 

The main studies that led to negative conclusions about artificial sweeteners were done in the 1980s, on rats, and were subsequently dismissed in the late ‘90s. By this time, however, the damage was done in the media and people are still distrustful of artificial sweeteners to this day.

A cancerous effect was proven to be caused in rats, but the same result could also be achieved by overdosing them on vitamin C; there has to date been no study that shows any negative effects of artificial sweeteners on humans. 

As a result, a zero-calorie drink can help to curb cravings for junk food and is perfectly safe.

Research study on artificial sweeteners over sugar

Research study shows no risk in younger children by consuming artificial sweeteners 

Research study to back the safety of artificial sweeteners 

Aspartame: A Safety Evaluation Study

A study here indicates that sugar-sweetened drinks contribute directly to weight gain, whilst the artificial sweetener group was shown to cause weight loss in the subjects.


We went even further with our research. We directly asked a few companies why they have implemented games rooms into their offices. Below you can find 3 quotes from very successful companies and what they have to say about the impact it has had on their employees.

Yolk Recruitment

Here’s what Dale Williams, Co-founder and Managing Director of Yolk Recruitment, had to say about the implementation of a games room at the Yolk offices: “Adding a games room was part of a wider strategy to enhance the working environment for our team. Our people are our most important asset and the workplace has changed over the years with well-being, health and engagement now being fundamental to a positive working culture. “The games area of our new HQ will offer more enjoyment for staff in periods where they need a distraction or a motivator to kick on and be at their most productive. As a target driven business we also encourage increased competition and that culture to the nature of the office along with increasing interaction between employees who usually wouldn’t get the chance to mingle due to departmental constraints. “Our open plan office space consists of a games and socialising area including a pool table, ping pong, branded arcade machine with 3000 games, Spotify and a PlayStation zone. “I’m hoping employees will get a lot of benefits from this, a second wind of energy after lunch will be important and I believe it will help give them that extra spring in their step. Playing games has been proven to increase cognitive function. “The investment is a significant one but one that we see offering a strong return on investment in the future and hopefully it will help with staff retention and attraction among other benefits.”

Vertical Leap

Michelle Hill, Marketing Manager at Vertical Leap, says:

“The main reason for setting up a video games room was to encourage employees to take time out from their work and to create a social space where people could relax. Digital marketing requires a lot of concentration and analysis, and it’s really important that people take a break, have a bit of fun with their colleagues and re-energise throughout the day. “It’s had a very positive effect on the company with employees saying that they feel less stressed and more productive. Whether people use the games room or not, everyone sees it as a really positive signal that the company recognises the importance of a ‘healthy’ working day. “The longer term benefits - such as employee happiness, retention, performance etc. – are the result of a much wider mindset, in which the games room plays just a small role. We want to ensure that Vertical Leap is a great place to work, with happy, productive people getting great results for our customers. For some people, that is achieved through training, for others it’s through flexi-time and for others it’s a game of FIFA with their mid-morning coffee.”

Sleeping Giant Media

Why did you decide to invest in a games room?

“Here at Sleeping Giant Media, we are proud to have a fun work culture and environment for our Giants. Our motto is: “You spend most of your waking hours at work – why not make it somewhere you look forward to”, and this is translated through our vibrant office and games room.

“Upon entering Giant HQ your eyes will be met with (in no particular order): a colourful Lego wall, a bar, ping pong table, pool table, a fully functioning ball pit, sleep pods, a fridge stocked with drinks (including alcohol!), a PS4, writeable walls, office scooters, a giant darts wall and much, much more! 

“All of our games room facilities are used daily, a firm favourite being our ping pong and pool tables.”

Have you seen any benefits from it?

“One of the benefits from having our games room is our employee satisfaction rate. We perform company surveys quarterly, with our last survey receiving a 100% positive employee response rate. Other benefits are impressing our clients when they come into the office, as they can’t quite believe their first meeting is in an awesome ball pit!”

What benefits do you expect from having a company games room?

“One of our three core values is making people GIANT, and this philosophy is a two-way street applying not only to our clients, but to our employees. We want our staff to grow GIANT, which is why we encourage them to use our games room at their leisure in order to establish a good work hard / play hard balance.

“We also take our fun games room mentality out of the office itself, and our Giants also get to enjoy: unlimited holiday, discounts in stores, regular subsidised team activities – such as white water rafting and go-karting, monthly team & company lunches, charitable events, and the opportunity to attend national & global conferences.

“We do all this to engage our employees and make Sleeping Giant Media a place people are proud to be a part of. We want to make sure our team are the best, as we would be nowhere without them.


Mental Health Foundation - “How to look after your mental health using exercise” (

Psychology Today - “Physical Activity Improves Cognitive Function” 

National Center for Biotechnology Information - “Exercise Holds Immediate Benefits for Affect and Cognition in Younger and Older Adults”

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