A new study has revealed a surprisingly effective team-building technique: collaborative videogaming.
In the study, newly formed teams played videogames together for just 45 minutes. The researchers measured participants' productivity on subsequent tasks and found the teams that played videogames together experienced a massive 20% productivity boost.
Greg Anderson, one of the researchers leading the study, observed that the thousands of dollars many organizations spend on team-building activities that aren't proven to increase productivity may be better spent elsewhere.
"To see that big of a jump -- especially for the amount of time they played -- was a little shocking," says Anderson. "Companies are spending thousands and thousands of dollars on team-building activities, and I'm thinking, go buy an Xbox."
The study compared productivity across three conditions. In the first, teams engaged in quiet homework time together. In the second, teams discussed how they would improve their results on the upcoming task. In the third, teams videogamed together.
Though participants who discussed the upcoming task reported higher team cohesion than those in the videogaming group, this didn't lead to a noticeable improvement in productivity. Instead, only those who videogamed together showed an increase.
The team-building effects of videogames may not apply to games that encourage competition.
A key aspect of the study was that the videogames team-members played (Rock Band or
) required team co-operation to achieve the game's goals. This may be key to producing a productivity boost. More research is needed to determine whether games that pit team-members against each other can have the same positive impact.
Surprisingly, the team-building effects of collaborative videogaming were as powerful for non-gamers as they were for those who said they regularly played videogames.
"Team videogaming may truly be a viable -- and perhaps even optimal -- alternative for team building," said lead researcher Mark Keith, associate professor of information systems at BYU.
If you've been searching for an affordable way to boost your team's productivity, a collaborative videogaming session may be the answer.
The study is further proof that games can be used to boost productivity and motivation at work. Learn more about how Arcade could bring gamification to your workplace.
Access the full study here.