Often at the office my business partner and I hit a shuttlecock (badminton) back and forth as it helps us brainstorm. The popularity of sports/games in the workplace is rising.
Ex-Londoner and founder of UBERPONG, David Lowe, is a good friend that moved from London to Austin Texas to popularise ping pong, including in your corporate office. So let’s explore the title of this post: can ping pong increase office productivity?
Dr. Daniel Amen, a renowned member of the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology, specifically points out that table tennis:
Sounds like good stuff to bounce around in the workplace, no?! David has done his research and is building a case for the inclusion of table tennis in an office near you.
How did you come to the conclusion that it’s a good idea to have a ping pong table in the workplace?
David: Think of the average day in London. The bell goes off and you start work, have lunch and it’s all very mechanical – like school. I tried going to the gym before work, forget it. I tried during lunch and there wasn’t enough time. So I ended up sitting the whole day – which as research points out, is killing us. With a game like ping pong you can get up, play for 20 mins, break a lil sweat, get your brain racing and come back to work refreshed.
The British seem to forget that the asthetics are so important. The lack of sunlight, the grey sky, the grey buildings – I think if you have that on your way to work, and you get to work and there is no colour at work, it leads to depression. A culture of keep calm and carry on… personally I think that London, especially, needs color in the workplace.
Anything that makes ping pong unsuitable for a workplace?
David: The two objections to keep in mind are: (1) the space it takes up and (2) the noise.
But ping pong tables can work well for meetings. Kun Dang, the founder of an SEO agency in Shoreditch, between games uses the table as a meeting table:
Kun: It (ping pong) is the perfect break away from what you are doing. The whole aim of a break is think about something else. The great thing about ping pong is everyone knows how to play. In Shoreditch there are ping pong tables popping up everywhere. They’re even in soho square. It’s just one of those office sports that is active and brings out the competitive nature in people – which is a great thing for business!
(pic above) A snazzy meeting table that converts to table tennis and back from Table&Tennis
What about attracting young talent to your workplace?
David: If you look at GenYs, they expect way more than GenXs from a workplace. When they come in the first day they will decide that day if they want to stick around. It’s all about the cool workplace, more and more people are hearing about Facebook, Innocent Smoothies and Google offices. In the Austin Facebook office they have things like hammocks and free Starbucks and in Innocent Smoothies – they have ping pong. These companies are creating communities at work – it’s a way to keep employees going and gives them something to talk about.
I mean who talks about a company where you’ve got to buy your own milk? It’s little things, but GenYs need more. In my previous job, a london startup, the beautiful thing I saw about having ping pong there was the speed which I could build relationships by using the table. We’d end up playing doubles and got to know each other.
Frequently, on Friday nights, we’d stay back and socialize and play – instead of just hitting up bars, we were having fun for free. Even the security guy, who could hardly speak a lick of english, was inspecting the table and I asked him if he wanted to play and we got to know each other.
Ping pong for me is the one sport that is ideal for agencies – sure there’s foosball and mini putting greens, but ping pong for me is the one. Ping pong makes you use your brain and improves attention spans. Most companies say welcome to the family, and few companies actually back that up. If they do it, it’s radical. I hope that in 20 years people enjoy going to work.
You can connect with David on twitter HERE and check out David on his successful (now closed) Kickstarter video below: