The lonely Ping-Pong Table
Who is lonelier: your employees, or that Table?
It's a sight we see all the time inside of offices of the Pacific NW. A lonely foosball or ping-pong table, sitting by itself in a lunch room, or set adrift from a cubicle farm.
Sure people use it once and a while, and maybe it doesn't just collect dust and hold books, but what was the dream when you first bought it?
What's the purpose of that table? To provide a fun break once and a while? To show that your office values a fun culture?
How many people met for the first time at that table? How many events, tournaments, and social meetups did you schedule at that table? How many nudge talents and shared interests were discovered at that table? How many quiet giants awoke at that table?
Or did you wheel it in, shiny and new, and say, "You're here ping-pong table, now do your job!"
Alas, it just sat there, like a modern day giving tree, being used as a drink coaster, and storing books and magazines. Sure once an a while people who were already friends started up a game, but then they realized everyone else was watching them play ping-pong, and it felt a bit weird.
When we see that lonely ping-pong table, we see all the space that a Workplace Olympiad has to bring that table back to life. You don't need more office toys, you need shared activities with those toys. You need simple Friend-Building events that help 2 people who have barely ever talked , to discover something new about each other for the first time.
Maybe its a talent, or a origin story, or maybe it's that they are really good at ping-pong!
But the solution is not more objects, its more interest. Start small and schedule time for 2 new employees on the calendar at the ping pong table, and see what happens. After all, that table is a bit lonely too...it could use a few new friends.