Post recreational activities that are OK for an office.

Lately I have had to undertake the unpleasant managerial task of banning certain office activities. Specifically I have passed on the rule (from the Tech Dept) that watching streamed videos from the internet is not allowed. Also I have intimated at certain habits that are frowned upon, such as spending all night playing online poker on a machine not connected to the network but with an adsl connection.

A couple of the less technologically understanding staff have kicked up a huge fuss about this and have asked what can they do to keep themselves sane during their [12 hr unsociable hours] shifts. I have already suggested many things they ARE allowed to do (online flash games, portable games machines, TV, DVD player, books, sensible internet sites such as MBs, etc)

The reason for this thread is to ask for ideas for recreational activities within an office environment that might not have occured to me. I have asked the staff to submit their own ideas but they are notorious for ignoring email requests for opinions.

Factors to consider are: most of them are young (19-22) most are male. they work three 12 hr shifts a week. They work in a call center taking bets over phones. They are on the Isle of Man so already have a terrible mindset that they don’t need to pull their weight because jobs are aplenty.

Get 'em a dartboard? Some board games or decks of cards so they can play against each other? RC cars might be fun if you have the right flooring for it, too.

We have a department Trivial Pursuit game going, that we only play around lunch and toward the end of the day. There are 18 of us, so we split up into 6 teams of 3 people.

We’re going to try Dungeons and Dragons next.

Puppet shows
Finger wrestling
Paper dolls
Coloring books

Satellite TV.

Lord, I wish I could stop streaming video…

There are some really amazing board games available now. Many of which can be played quite quickly and have great repetitive value.

Please check out for some good ideas. You might be pleasantly surprised, and so might they. (Try to get Monopoly out of your head, they aren’t like that anymore. One that seems to be pretty universally well received is Apples to Apples.)

We had to take away HBO from our night shift computer operators. They didn’t have the sense God gave them (or evolution should have instilled) to figure out that “no one cared if they watch cable throughout the night, as long as they didn’t watch anything that could get the company in legal trouble.”

Here in the U.S. you’d have to give VERY clear guidelines - no nudity, movies rated PG or PG-13 only. Internet surfing on “safe” sites only, no gambling. Nothing that the most conservative person in the office could walk into and complain about.

I’d love to see these guys spend their time in self improvement. Take correspondence courses, self study for IT certifications, learn to create a simple Access database - but that ain’t gonna happen, I bet. It doesn’t happen with our guys, and they are the first to complain that they’ve been there five years and were passed over for a promotion.

Our break room has a foozeball table and a skee ball machine. I don’t think either was very expensive and the “rounds” don’t take that long and make perfect 15 minute breaks.

Outbound sales or customer service calls.

Basically, I kid. But when I have worked in call centers, we were expected to work in other types of productivity during slow periods. None of this “watch a DVD.” Maybe this could be your punishment for those who abuse the system. Or put it out there as an incentive for those who are money motivated.



On of the drawbacks to telecommunting: No more OCDD.

If they’re in an in-bound call center, then they need to be at the phones for when the calls arrive.

I don’t really have any suggestions. When I worked evenings at my last call center, I wrote two novels and knitted uncounted scarves. Given the chance, I would have re-indexed the tech library, but my bosses didn’t care for the idea. A decent employee will look for the opportunity to do something that adds to the company or at least doesn’t detract from it.

Online Mafia games?

Ok, an oddball one. Not exactly recreation, not exactly exercise – especially good if they need to stay at their workstations.

Foot yoga with tennis balls. Just go down to socks or bare feet and roll tennis balls under your feet. It feels GREAT, can be done standing or sitting.

Please note I do not practice yoga at all. Ever. But this felt so good when a co-worker had me try it, that I do this pretty often.

Bets? Bets on what? Just curious.

What do you mean? Are there more jobs than workers on the Isle of Man?

I don’t know the layout of your office space, or how sturdy the furniture is, but since you’re laying down the law already you may want to consider a “BMX in designated areas only” rule.

You might want to have a word with your legal department about the legal ramifications of various activities. For instance, in the U.K., if you use your PC to view streaming video, you need a TV license. You can then explain this to your staff.

But this is during paid time, isn’t it? So you could point out that they’re being paid to work, not goof off. Does the office need cleaning? Are there reports to be typed up? Is there documentation to be written? New procedures and skills to be learned? Dry runs / tests to be done? And if push comes to shove, you can invoke the nuclear option and point out that if there’s so much down time, perhaps not all of them are needed? “Guys, do you really want me to go to upper management and say that I’ve increased efficiency so much that I can reduce the team?”

Hmm, well you need a licence to watch British TV that is streamed over the internet as it is broadcast. Not if you just want to watch stuff on YouTube.

AFAIAA you are not correct. When I didn’t have a TV a few years ago, I was advised by the UK TV licensing authority that streaming from any website - not just the BBC - counted as being broadcast. If you look at the response in their FAQ to a question about satellite TV you’ll see that it doesn’t matter if the source is foreign.

I think we’re both half right - it looks like you do now need a licence to view TV from anywhere, not just Britain, by any means. But you only need a licence “where that programme is received at the same time (or virtually the same time) as it is received by members of the public by virtue of its being broadcast” (Communications Act). To my mind, that excludes sites like YouTube.

I know from previous enquiries into legal questions surrounding the licence fee that there are grey areas like this that simply haven’t been tested in court. It doesn’t matter what TV Licensing say, that is just their opinion.