First of all, let me say that in general, I learn very little in the men’s bathroom. Pretty mundane stuff, although TV monitors in new bathrooms means I can at least get some news and sports scores. Recently, though, this was the site of some pretty profound discoveries with regard to the way we work and how turning everyday tasks into games can really enhance productivity and engagement. In a conversation with an Onyx accountant, Joe Sozio, I got a lesson in the benefits of gamification.It’s always good to start with a definition, so here’s one for gamification. As the name implies, it’s the process of turning tasks (work, routine, everyday) into a game in order to increase motivation, engagement levels, productivity, and sense of reward. It really works, and it has some interesting applications for CRE.

So aside from the fact that games have some unexpected benefits for work, what information did I pick up on that day in the men’s room? Here are 4 important points.

#1: It’s already all around us

Forbes published a piece that clarifies how ubiquitous games are in modern life. The article points out that a lot of our daily activities have elements of gamification:

“Airline frequent-flier miles are games that reward loyalty. Mega Millions, Powerball, Take Five and other state lotteries? They’re games. Nissan has an in-car gaming system that encourages drivers to compete for best efficiency levels (Bronze, Silver, Gold, and Platinum). Talk about a mobile game. You could look at Twitter as a game, the payoff being more and more followers and greater numbers of retweets the more you use it. Peer at the game-like iconography of your iPhone and you might recognize it as reminiscent of old video games like “Pac-Man” and “Space Invaders.”

#2: Adults at play

The act of playing as an adult can have psychological benefits such as increasing our focus, critical thinking, creativity, and productivity. This makes sense, but how many of us have actually applied this idea to the workplace?

Turns out, quite a few. Gamification has been frequently adapted for training purposes, for example. The Entertainment Software Association estimated that 70 percent of major employers are already using interactive software and games for training. Games give us a sense of accomplishment that can be hard to come by in real life, and this motivates us to continue, thanks to the flood of dopamine that gaming can produce in our brains.

#3: Gamification can help us meet our goals

The use of games in the workplace increases overall happiness at work, and it can help us to reach our goals. As Bunchball has explained, gamification has the potential to revolutionize the workplace, because it:

  •   Taps into intrinsic motivators and attaches those to company success
  •   Is data-driven
  •   Is proven and sustainable

#4: It really IS all fun and games

No matter what our age group or the type of work we do, who doesn’t want to have fun? For me, the concept of gamification takes me back to when I was a kid - where I could focus on the present moment - not only because I enjoyed what I was doing, but because it was fun! As we get older, we tend to think of the next thing - of what’s next. We’re constantly pulled in a number of directions. Wouldn’t it be great to get back to a workforce where our work became fun and we were able to stay in the present?

Considering that we’re already gaming in many ways in the course of our days, it seems smart to consider ways that it might be incorporated into our work routine. The experts agree that play makes us more creative, boosts energy, relieves stress and improves brain function. With the positive effects they have on motivation and productivity, it looks as though we’ve just begun to tap the potential of gamification in the workplace. I really hope this becomes commonplace. It would make for such a better, happy more exciting work life where we spend a lot of our life each and every day.