The Top Office Games and Activities:
- Eat Poop, You Cat
- The monthly “Mix & Mingle”
- Hungry Hungry Ninjas
- 3×3 mini basketball tournament
- Conference Table “Ice-Curling”
If you ask a lot of successful companies to define their culture, you’ll often hear something to the tune of “we work hard and play hard.”
Creating an enjoyable workplace is no longer something reserved solely for big tech companies in Silicon Valley. Companies around the world are making their offices a place where people get lots done while also having fun too.
So how can your company start injecting more fun into each day? I asked some awesome companies to share their fun office activities and office games to play at work (I also shared our favorites below) – basically, how they get people away from their desks for a bit and interacting with each other – our favorite is The Go Game!
There are some really cool ideas & fun games in the office on Fridays to play here (101 in total) that you can steal and use to have fun at work. Enjoy!
What if you’re a smaller team with people spread out across the country? George Dickerson explains how Bonusly manages to have fun together even though their team is thousands of miles apart:
Half of our team is in Brooklyn, NY and the other half works in Boulder, CO. That provides us a great mix of things to do together. Although we’re not always all in the same space, we definitely make up for it each time we gather the full team. We’ve had some pretty riveting indoor bocce ball tournaments, team meals, and some excellent happy hours in NYC. In Boulder, we do more outdoor activities together like barbecues and hiking in the Rocky Mountains.
Omri Itzhak at Monday explained how Friday (ironically enough) is always a fun day to be at their office:
A favorite Monday office activity is getting together every Friday for team lunches, which are held on the rooftop floor of our building with an incredible view of downtown. It’s a chance to connect and get to know one another in a meaningful way. Some Fridays we play various activities and quick fun office games to play in the office. Other Fridays, we go around the table and share personal and company highs for the week. This allows everyone to stay in tune with what is going on with the business and to celebrate each other’s success (oftentimes they turn into a big love fest!). Occasionally, we have different team members lead informative presentations to teach us something new or reinforce our culture. Some of the topics have been “How to be a Monday brand ambassador” or “How to live out our company core values.” The best part of Friday lunches is the initiation activity that all the new team members have to partake in. We’d share, but it’s a company secret!
Hannah Day shows us how BrightFire gets creative with their office fun:
At BrightFire we like to focus on creativity. From the moment you walk in the door of our office you absolutely get that impression. With a modern decor and laid back attitude it is clear we value and encourage creative thinking in all our employees. Some of the favorite activities here at BrightFire are weekly Yoga sessions, and a Friday “Chat n’ Chew” where we discuss new ideas, or new technologies over a catered lunch and swag give aways! Our close-knit and friendly feeling lends to an open-minded atmosphere for every one to bring forward ideas and new concepts.
Overall BrightFire does a lot to encourage a fun and creative environment for an equally fun and creative staff. Often times you can catch a few staff members in the break chatting like old friends over a cup of coffee or strategizing how to better our services while raiding the snacks. You could even stop into your boss’ office to see how his kids did in their tennis tournament before a meeting. Between the exchange of ideas, to the friendships we’ve all developed with one another BrightFire is not only a rewarding place to work, but a fun one as well.
When I reached out to Manisha Priyadarshan at Sparks, who specializes in live marketing experiences, I was blown away at all the fun things they do at their office. Their company’s core values are list as the “Code 10” philosophy, which you can check out here. Number 10 on their list is “Work should be fun”. Here’s what Manisha had to say about how Sparks makes work fun:
At Sparks, we strive for this every day. We greatly invest in our employees and want them to wake up looking forward to coming to Sparks, because, well, they have fun. Here are some of the ways we embrace number 10:
- We run a program called “Mix & Mingle”: employees selected from different departments to have lunch and get to know more about each other. We also run a program called “Food4Thought”, where employees can learn more about Sparks over lunch by hearing presentations from people in each department on projects they have worked on.
- HR runs a program called “TedEd”: an hour long live session including a screening of a Sparks-relevant Ted Talk followed by a round-table discussion.
- We have bimonthly “Flash Contests” with mini contests to inspire people to think about our company’s codes, i.e. send a story of a time when, “the client’s problem was your opportunity.”
- We’ve hosted a number of fun events throughout the year! Chili Cook-off, Halloween Party, Holiday Party, Valentine’s Cupcake decorating, Mini March Madness, Earth Day, and Summer BBQs.
- We have recently implemented a Bring Your Dog to Work committee, where a select panel of dog owners and dog lovers will help to decide which employees pets would make great workday partners by spending the day at the office!
Here’s a look at an example of a Code 10 event (an Irish Potluck):
It’s no secret that Limeade is one of the best company’s to work for. They’ve been ranked on Entrepreneur’s Top Company Cultures list, Fortune and Great Place to Work 50 Best Small and Medium Companies to Work For, and Greatist’s 44 Healthiest Companies to Work for in America (among many others). As an employee engagement platform also plays fun employee engagement games, it makes a lot of sense that Limeade pays special attention to their culture and their team. They’re also really good at employee recognition.
Here are the fun office games for employees to play at work that Andrea Augustine at Limeade shared with me:
From walking meetings to coloring and puzzle stations, there’s always something to get us out of our chairs (well, standing desks that is). Fitness challenges frequent here (planking and wall sits) and team competition gets fierce. When we need to blow off steam, we hop on a razor scooter or start a nerf war. Some enjoy ping pong and others 3×3 basketball, but our dance breaks are loved by all.
When I asked Sabrina Son at TINYpulse how their company has fun, she shared this hilariously titled game:
One of our favorite activities at TINYpulse is playing simple work games like Werewolf or Eat Poop, You Cat. Werewolf is a great way for people to loosen up and casually accuse each other of being a blood-thirsty werewolf that has been killing the villagers while they sleep. You can find the rules here. Eat Poop, You Cat is essentially telephone pictionary. Each person writes down a phrase, passes it to the left. The person must then draw a picture based off the phrase, then fold the paper over so the phrase is hidden. Once it’s passed to the left, the next person must write a phrase based off the drawing. You continue to pass the paper until you get yours back. Another awesome way to get people laughing together! You can find the rules for that game here.
Having worked here for almost 3 years now, I can confidently say that SnackNation is a really fun place to work. So I wanted to share with you the things we do to spread some laughter and joy around the office:
- Bi-weekly yoga in the office
- Weekly bootcamps
- Company offsites to places like Big Bear, Venice Beach, Malibu
- Friday Happy Hours
- Teamwide personal development session every Monday (known as “The Sensei Session”)
- Scooter races in the parking lot
Having fun at work can also contribute to employee wellness. Here’s how Gabrielle Shultis says wellness company Voom incorporates fun into their company while staying true to their mission and values:
We’re a really small company, so we have the flexibility to actually take our activities outside the office! So once every couple of weeks (usually on a Wednesday, for “Wellness Wednesday”) we head on over to a local gym and take a class together. The classes vary, depending on what they’re offering that week and at the time we’re able to sneak out of the office. Sometimes it’s a “30 Minutes to Fit” class, but we’ve also dabbled with a TRX band class, “Cardio and Core,” and we’re hoping to try a newly added “Strength and Stretch” class! We’re a wellness program, so it’s important to us that we practice what we preach. We find that partaking in just 30 minutes of activity (which is the length of most of the classes) all together allows us to not only have fun together outside of a workplace environment, but we’ve had some really creative brainstorming sessions mid-plank! We return back to the office energized, and Wednesday afternoons after a class usually end up being our most productive time of the week 🙂
Ruthana Smith over at Harmless Harvest shared how the raw coconut water brand has fun at their San Francisco HQ:
Here at Harmless Harvest we create weird and wonderful smoothies and variations of our Coconut Water to share with others in the office. We have also recently installed hammocks – picture below of my colleagues trying to flip me around in it. Every month we also have a massive lunch together also with a theme each time – last month was of course Halloween!
Hack Reactor is a bootcamp where programmers become software engineers in 12 weeks. They’re a group of hard-working individuals, but they also know how to have fun, says Jared Neil:
At Hack Reactor we always love to have a good time together after work singing karaoke, hosting talent shows, movie nights, scavenger hunts, ice cream socials as well as casino night just to name a few! We work hard, play hard, and eat healthy!
Here’s how Bigcommerce’s Austin office unwinds at work according to Office and Experience Manager, Elizabeth Rhymaun:
Here at Bigcommerce we work hard, but we also play hard! Whether its a small break for a ping pong tournament or our Friday yoga sessions, we like to find outlets to relieve stress and have a little fun. We love to throw in the random lip sync battle during a Friday afternoon happy hour or have holiday decorating contests for free breakfast tacos, or even make up our own office games ideas (Hungry Hungry Ninjas = skateboards, laundry baskets, and balloons). We definitely love to keep things a bit wild around the office!
I reached out to Nicole Brooks of OwnLocal after I saw their company listed in an article on The Muse called “10 Companies That Are Just as Great as Google”. It sounds like there’s a good reason why they made this list:
Work hard play hard is extremely cliche, but that describes our office perfectly. People at OwnLocal work extremely hard throughout the day, so we encourage people to blow off steam. We have catered group lunches everyday to get people away from their desks and talking about things other than work. Mini fitness challenges are also pretty routine; wall sits, planks, weekly group fitness classes, etc. We take quarterly outings to get people out of the office – most recently we went bowling and past trips include boat parties and deep sea fishing. Coloring materials are available at the office which is surprisingly relaxing. It’s also pretty common to find people playing beer pong towards the end of the day or having whiskey / wine tastings.
Pro Tip: Check out ezCater for your office catering needs. Like their name implies, they making ordering food for your team super simple!
Having a committee or even 1 person in charge of regularly creating fun around the office is a very good idea. Here’s how Wendy DeCampos says they do things at Levatas:
We have a Cultural Committee dedicated to creating a fun and inclusive work environment. Last month, for example, we hosted a mini-golf tournament at the local putt putt course, hired a masseuse on October 21, 2015 for “Back to the Future” day (get it?), and organized a costume contest for Halloween. We also do what we can to contribute to our employees’ overall wellness. We offer access to a free gym membership, and have a standing invitation to a 2:30 p.m. company “meeting,” where a handful of us gather to pump out push-ups and/or planks – a perfect way to get the blood flowing after lunch. For mental relaxation (or stimulation, depending on how you look at it), employees are encouraged to take breaks as needed to play FIFA on the Xbox, race the Anki car, or challenge each other to a game of chess. This month, our Culture Committee is planning a table tennis tournament, an indoor soccer game with a local rival team, and treating the staff to a Thanksgiving feast.
Alex Kelsey at Greenvelope reached out to me with these fantastic ways they create an enjoyable work environment:
The Greenvelope.com team works hard, but we also know the importance of stepping away from the computer and having some fun during the day. Daily foosball tournaments are never missed, and are occasionally supplemented by a corn hole tournament on our custom Greenvelope set. Weekly happy hours bring the team together, whether we are experimenting with new recipes and cocktails, crafting for the holidays, or exploring downtown Seattle’s bar and restaurant scene. The newest addition to the office is a Nintendo 64, so you know there are Mario Kart championships going down on the regs. And our CEO, Sam Franklin, also included the perfect dose of zen by including a yoga room in our new office, complete with workout equipment to help us de-stress or get a little workout in during the day.
If you get competitive playing Rock Paper Scissors, then you’ll love what Marlon Heimerl over at FUN.com told me about their company:
At FUN.com you might imagine we’re all about promoting a Fun-loving culture.. Not only do we have an annual Mario Kart tournament and an annual Nerf Gun war, but we have an entire room dedicated to gaming on breaks. We also like to break up the year by attending things like Comic Con in Minneapolis and take some time of our “grueling” day jobs with another very popular rock-paper-scissors tournament. As you might imagine, the grueling comment was sarcastic! Promoting a fun environment gives people a reason to get up every day and do their best, not because you are working for a paycheck, but because you are working to help the friends beside you do well in the broader arena of finding a work/life balance while building lasting relationships.
Check out the cool things CentricsIT employees get to enjoy:
At CentricsIT, we strongly believe in a work hard-play hard culture. Here are some fun benefits of working here:
- Monthly catered lunches
- Ping-pong tournaments
- Office Game room
- In-house gym & showers
- An arcade golf machine
- Themed parties that involve the following: hula skirts, pig roasts, water balloon fights, raffles, cook-out contests, Halloween costume contests, Ugly Christmas Sweater contests, tug-of-war, jumpy obstacle courses, scavenger hunts, mid-day basketball games, etc.
- Friday fun night at Six Flags over Georgia for all operations employees and their families (this is an example of our employee appreciation events)
- The sales teams get even more benefits based on their quotas. Those who meet or exceed their quotas get invited to the annual Quota Club and go together on an all-expense paid trip to Mexico
Liz Van Camp told me about an epic monthly tournament the company competes in:
At Objective, we have a monthly ‘Office Olympics’ tournament. The entire office gets to participate and relax while we hold the competition that afternoon. It has been a ton of fun and Events include the following, to name a few:
- Water Balloon Toss
- Nerf Shootout
- Conference Table ‘Ice Curling’
- Dizzy Dash (where after being spun around with your eyes closed, you see how far you can walk/run down a curb in 10 seconds without falling off)
This monthly competition brings the entire office together and keeps everyone laughing, but still trying their best, since the winner receives a prize. It’s the activity everyone most looks forward to each month. It also helps to break things up a bit and to encourage a fun atmosphere in the office.
The data scientists at ZestFinance believe nothing is more fun than doing fulfilling work with amazing people. That’s why their workplace activities focus on employee learning, collaboration, and well-being.
Here are a couple of the fun activities happening at ZestFinance:
- The CEO hosts talks every Tuesday to encourage open dialogue.
- Employees frequently collaborate on assembling challenging gigantic jigsaw puzzles.
- Daily chef-catered lunches help employees treat their bodies and their taste buds. (Plus, it’s the perfect time to catch up with co-workers away from the desk!)
- Employees meet in thought-nurturing conference rooms with 80s band themes. The themes provide ideal ice breakers, and they make nearly any old meeting feel like an awesome activity.
- Employees enjoy company outings and recreational clubs.
ZestFinance’s strategy of looking at fulfillment as fun definitely pays off. The company’s recent awards include the Fintech 50 and Fortune’s 30 Best Workplaces in Tech.
A leading creator and provider of free multiplayer online games, Riot’s entire business structure is centered around games. When employees create, promote, and improve games for a living, what do they do to make work even more awesome? They play more games.
Riot recognizes that working on games for a living does not provide the same benefits as playing the games, so they offer a variety of employee benefits and activities to keep the fun alive. They don’t want working in the art of gaming to become simply “work.”
- Riot employees, also known as Rioters, enjoy a monthly Riot Play Fund, extra money to use on any online game they want. Obviously, not every company would benefit from paying employees to play games. Adapt this idea for your own company priorities. What external activities would be most inspiring for your employees? If you’re a coffee company, you could give employees a “Buzz Budget” they can spend on sampling single-source beans from exotic locations, getting inspired as they sip.
- Employees look forward to a Riot Rumble, an employee-against-employee championship series that lets everyone show off their gaming skills. Why have a rumble? According to this post, the rumble happens because:
“Competition. Friendship. Growth. That, in a nutshell, is why we Rumble.”
- Rioters also enjoy hackathons, where teams with big ideas attempt to build marketable models and prototypes in a two-day invention fest. They call it the Thunderdome. Sure, the event is challenging and labor intensive, but it’s also engaging and fun. Thunderdome proves you can design engaging employee activities around doing more work—work without restrictions and limits, work that lets employees connect secret passions and inventions to their day-to-day lives. These activities maximize employee passion by focusing on the aspects of work employees are most passionate about. Maybe your company’s Thunderdome involves developing a business plan or an advertising slogan. Whatever it is, employees will love it.
Riot is a repeat offender on Fortune’s 100 Best Companies to Work For list, and they’ve been voted Company of the Year by Inc Magazine. In summary, fun pays off.
It should come as no surprise that Rover—a company that connects doting dog owners with an online network of quality dog sitters and walkers—has found the best way to bring fun into their company is…dogs!
- Rover employees bring their dogs to work. This enables 24/7 fun and games in the form of petting and catch, and it also brings employees together as they stop by each other’s desks, meet the pups, and schedule doggie play dates. Their fridges come stocked with doggie treats. While this fun perk fits elegantly with Rover’s business model, any company can implement the same idea and enjoy the same benefits.
- When it comes to non-dog related activities, Rover takes a strategy of letting employee preferences drive activities. One week could involve a ski trip, and the next week could feature an art class.
If any skeptics in your office worry that the only real benefit of fun activities is, well…having fun, then point out evidence suggesting that fun-loving companies also know how to innovate. For example, Rover landed on Fast Company’s Most Innovative Companies 2018 list. (Fun and innovation may not have a proven causal relationship, but pointing out the correlations makes a pretty compelling case for fun!)
Zynga strives to connect the world through games; they believe games can make the world a better place. Since their altruistic goals attract service-minded employees, Zynga has found their employees’ favorite activities don’t just involve group sports and happy hours; Zynga employees favor activities that involve giving back!
- Employees like to mentor local students.
- The entire company comes together for a week of service where they volunteer for local nonprofits.
- The company’s tech experts host hands-on STEM activities with local students.
The benefits of these feel-good activities last far beyond the end of the event, inspiring happy vibes for months. Do the same thing in your office by finding nonprofit causes related to your mission or surveying your employees to learn what they care about.
Bonus! Play Popular TV Game Shows in the Office
Television game shows have survived several entertainment revolutions. Variety shows came and went. Sitcoms came and then came back again. Reality TV seemed to take over everything for a while. How did game shows manage to hold on through thick and thin? People love them! Turn your favorite television game shows into fun office activities to bring some of the joy you’ve experienced as a viewer over the years straight into your office.
Bonus Idea 1: Chopped – Office Snacks Edition
Based on: Chopped The real deal features chefs who receive a basket of (usually) outrageous ingredients and then turn those ingredients into a cohesive dish. Play it in your office by putting your favorite healthy snacks into a basket and challenging employees to “transform” the assortment of snacks into one delicious super-snack. Without raw ingredients, you won’t need a full kitchen. Some utensils, cutting boards, and bowls should do the trick.
Bonus Ideas 2: Fixer Upper – Cubicle Edition
Based on: Fixer Upper The real deal features designers who turn not-so-stellar homes into dream homes. Play it in your office by having employees turn boring cubicles into cozy little spaces people will love working in. Each “design team” could have a small budget or no-holds-barred access to a supply closet. Take before and after photos to share on your company’s social media channels.
Bonus Idea 3: Jeopardy Office Knowledge Edition
Based on: Jeopardy The real deal features brainy people who supply questions that match answers, grouped into descriptive categories. Play it in your office by creating a series of answers focused on your company history, culture, fun facts, employees, and anything else you think would be fun. The real Jeopardy thrives thanks to a charismatic host. Select a host you know will shine, and make sure this person knows they’ll need to reprise the role often.
Bonus Idea 4: Office Family Feud
Based on: Family Feud The real deal makes one member of a family guess how the rest of the family responded to certain questions. The families who know each other best take the cake. Play it in your office by pitting teams against other teams to see which ones seem to know each other best. This provides bonding for teams who already know each other well, and it helps teams just getting to know each other learn a lot of new information in one fun game.
Bonus Idea 5: The Price is Right in the Office
Based on: The Price is Right The real deal features contestants who get the chance to win big by guessing item prices. The closest without going over gets the chance to win. Play it in your office by having employees guess the prices of items around the office, including supplies, electronics, chairs, food, and more.
Bonus Idea 6: Let’s Make a Deal at the Office
Bonus on: Let’s Make a Deal The real deal shows costumed contestants trying to trade mystery goods. Who can make the best deal, trading an old sock for a shiny new bicycle? Play it in your office by having employees attempt to trade office supplies, odd jobs, parking spaces, office snacks, and more.
Bonus Idea 7: Office Shark Tank
Bonus on: Office Shark Tank The real deal gives people a chance to pitch their ideas to a room full of wealthy investors. If any of the “sharks” bite, then the pitcher gets funding for their idea. Play it in your office by having employees pitch their best ideas and inventions to some key company leaders. If the leadership team likes the idea, then the “pitcher” may end up seeing their dream idea become a reality.
There is always a chance to take a break and have some fun while putting in a hard day’s work. Contributing to office fun can make a big difference on company culture, so don’t be afraid to try one of these out the next time the team has an opportunity for some fun.
There are so many ways to have fun at work, and hopefully you grabbed a couple of new ideas from the companies mentioned in this list. What fun office activities does your company do? Share them by leaving us a comment below.