In brief: Microsoft has added classic games like Solitaire and Minesweeper to its Teams communication platform in the belief that it will help create connections, build trust and improve overall team morale.
Redmond said the move to remote and hybrid work has weakened social capital, impacted cross-group collaboration and affected employee retention. According to the Work Trend Index, more than 40 percent of leaders view building relationships as the toughest challenge in remote and hybrid environments.
The Games for Work app from Microsoft Casual Games (an Xbox Games Studio) includes a selection of titles that are easy to play and emphasize different elements of team building. At launch, you will be able to choose from fan favorites like Minesweeper and Solitaire as well as games you might not be as familiar with such as IceBreakers and Wordament.
IceBreakers is described as a variant of This or That, a conversation game where players choose between two items they prefer. Microsoft said it can spur lively and passionate conversation (arguments?) that fosters connections and build team morale.
Wordament, meanwhile, is a word game similar to Boggle that debuted more than 10 years ago. Solitaire and Minesweeper need no introduction as they have been staples of Windows-based machines for several decades.
Each title is interactive, rated "E" for everyone and can support between two and 250 players. What's more, they are all free of ads. Microsoft said the games will continue to evolve, and new titles will be added based on user feedback.
Microsoft acknowledged that some may consider games at work a distraction, but it truly believes the benefits are plentiful. Redmond cited a 2019 study from Brigham Young University that claimed newly-formed work teams experienced a 20 percent increase in productivity on subsequent tasks after playing games together for 45 minutes.
What are your thoughts on games for Teams? Do you believe playing games with co-workers on company time will make people more productive, or is the remote work era saddled by more complex challenges?