GETTING TO KNOW YOUR COWORKERS THROUGH GAMING
By Sandi Moser
Last winter, I overheard an animated discussion over a Friday lunch in a closed boardroom at work. Things don’t usually get animated in my neck of the woods, particularly over lunchtime, so my interest was piqued. When the boardroom opened at the end of lunch and a group of coworkers emerged with Settlers of Catan, I was shocked. Colleagues were playing a board game right beside me and I didn’t know about it!
That afternoon, after casually asking a colleague, I learned of the existence of a group of likeminded individuals who get together periodically to play board games over lunch. I personally don’t like Settlers, but if there’s a game to be had rather than eating at my desk, I want in! I quickly secured my invitation.
In the months since that first encounter, I've joined my coworkers every second Friday for a fun-filled board game lunch. Playing games has been a great opportunity to see my colleagues in a different light. It has provided a chance to bond with colleagues with whom I don't often get to interact.
During those lunchtime game sessions, we've also inadvertently learned things about each other that help us work together professionally. For example, in teaching each other new games, we’ve learned some of our preferred learning methods. In playing the games, we’ve learned how we think strategically. I've been surprised to see just how competitive some coworkers can be, and who can trash talk with the best of them (which may come in handy professionally one day, you never know). I work in a bilingual environment, so it has also gives a fun opportunity to practice my second language on occasion.
A side bonus to our board game lunch crew is exposure to new games (thank you M for introducing me to Zeppelin Attack!). We take turns bringing in our favorite games, providing opportunities to test drive new games.
A couple of things to think about if you want to start your own board game lunch at work:
- Choose a location that will cause the least disturbance to other co-workers. In our case, we book a low-traffic boardroom.
- Be flexible with everyone's work schedules and the use of the boardroom if someone else needs it for business purposes - work should still come first.
- While it is a social activity, continue to be somewhat professional (ie, watch your language). Essentially, remember you are still at work and need to interact with your coworkers when the game is done.
- Focus on games that can be completed in 30-45 minutes, or that can be modified to be completed early. Carcasonne is a good choice, since it can be ended at any time.
- As with any board game session, keep the ability of the group in mind when choosing a game. For example, working in a bilingual group, try not to choose games like Dominion that require players to be constantly reading English instructions on the cards as they're played.
If you’re looking for a new way to get to know your coworkers, consider starting your own Board Game Lunch. You may be surprised how much you learn about each other.
Sandi is a 30-something environmental engineer and mother of two from the metropolis of Stittsville, Ontario. In her spare time, Sandi enjoys playing board and video games, reading books, watching movies, and crocheting. She looks forward to sharing her geeky endeavours with you, as well as reporting on the next generation’s response to those endeavours.