Last Friday Wirebox went on one of the best team building excursions in a while. After work we set off for d20, Watford’s first and only board game cafe. The idea behind the cafe is that you can pick from an extensive library of board games, from genres such as ‘strategy’, ‘classic’ and ‘co-operative’, and also grab something to eat and drink. The two-tier tables allow you to stash food and drinks whilst having enough space to play a board game.
And play board games we did! Some highlights were 3D Connect Four, Pointless and Telestrations, a game similar to Pictionary, but drawings are passed from player to player so that they are reinterpreted and redrawn, with amusing consequences.
These different games involved skills including strategic and logical thinking, communication and creativity. It hardly needs to be said that these skills are important not just for the development work that Wirebox does, but also because working as a team in any industry requires some amount of cooperation and strategy. One developer suggested, for example, that the interpretation involved in Telestrations was similar to the interpretation and communication required in designing a website to meet the objectives of clients.
It was also an opportunity for people to get to know each other. We chatted about shared interests, game strategies and some work stuff. It was an informal atmosphere without the pressures of deadlines, which can help to contribute to effective discussion and creative solutions that may be overlooked in meeting rooms or at desks. For a relatively new member of the team:
“My highlight from D20 would be the socialising aspect of it, as it allowed me to socialise with the team as a whole which I hadn’t had the chance to do yet.”
Research suggests that the secret ingredient to team building is ‘social capital’: the ability of people to share knowledge, trust one another and foster a collaborative culture. Businesses in Sweden regularly have ‘Fika’ lunches, where employees socialise over coffee and pastries, serving much the same purpose. Games are another way to build social capital in a team in a way that is comfortable and interesting.
It also meant that we could support an up-and-coming local business. d20 began as the idea of a few friends, who partly used crowdfunding on Kickstarter to grow their business. We know that for small and medium enterprises, the connections you make and the social capital you have are two of the biggest success factors. They’re now putting Watford on the map as one of the few board game cafes in the country, and justifiably so. The service was excellent, and we especially liked their array of burgers and impressive milkshakes! A straw poll of the office determined the excursion a success, and it will no doubt pay off in terms of performance and ability to face challenges.