Games for Work app: Microsoft Teams launches games for work to help colleagues break the ice

Playing short video games is a better way of increasing productivity than conventional team-building exercises, according to one study  (Microsoft)
Playing short video games is a better way of increasing productivity than conventional team-building exercises, according to one study (Microsoft)

It’s not easy socialising with your colleagues when you’re working from home. Gone are the convos about The Crown by the coffee machine, lunch breaks with your closest office pals and cheeky mid-week drinks. Still, Microsoft is trying to inject a bit of fun into our new work setups by introducing classic games to Teams with a multiplayer spin. On offer are a bunch of casual, easy-to-play titles including classics such as Minesweeper, card game Solitaire, Microsoft IceBreakers and Wordament. They can all be played free by downloading the Games for Work app for Teams.

Noticeably, Minesweeper – a 1990s Windows relic in which players uncovered squares on a grid while avoiding hidden mines – has been given a colourful new sheen. According to Microsoft, it “encourages individuals to come together to solve problems and accomplish objectives quickly”. Just try not to rage quit if you lose for the upteenth time, as your colleagues will probably notice unless you’re on mute.

The amount of players for the titles ranges from two to a whopping 250 for word challenge game Wordament. Alternatively, Microsoft Solitaire Collection offers a head to head competition that lets others watch from the sidelines.

Finally, IceBreakers is a variation on “this or that” (think pineapple or pepperoni on your pizza?). It’s designed to “spur lively and, at times, passionate conversation to foster connections” and, like most of the games available, “build team morale”.

Microsoft cites a Brigham Young University study that found that teams who played short video games together were 20 percent more productive than those who participated in more traditional team-building activities. Just try not to goof around for too long because you’ll probably wind up forgetting those spreadsheets in the pursuit of a new high score.

Microsoft says it will add more games based on user recommendations. Does that mean workers will be able to take a chainsaw to a horde of demons in Doom Eternal on Teams while their bosses watch in terror, mouths agape? We can only hope. Though we’re more likely to see the likes of other Windows classics such as Microsoft Mahjong and, fingers crossed, SkiFree.