Part I – The office golf tournament water cooler effect

Lying down in our weekly office meditation class, I start to drift away, the pressure of deadlines dissipate and even the person nearby, who starts to snore, cannot pull me out of this state of calm. Without warning I hear cries of “two’s get you through” and “can I get a witness”. 

While in most workplaces this would be curious rhetoric – I know instantly I won’t be able to stop thinking about our office golf tournament. With only ten minutes to go in this calm, it’s over as my phone starts burning a hole in my pocket, and I crave to check the app, to see the scores and most importantly, who will be buying the team doughnuts at the end of the week.

Three months ago our Head of Software introduced an office putting competition she played at a previous job. Each day participants take three shots from predetermined locations, you get points for each shot in, but missing all shots for the day results in 0 points or “doughnuts”. 
 
The rest of this post could serve to cover the idiosyncrasies of the game as there are 41 official rules, but all that really matters is that at the end of each month the person who scored “doughnuts” the most times buys doughnuts* for everyone who played. *Doughnuts must be Krispy Kreme quality or better it is in the rules.

Anyone who knows me would attest to the lengths I would go for free food, and I’m not above paying for putting lessons to keep away from the bottom of the leaderboard. However, a sugar high isn’t the real reason I love this game – it has given us an opportunity to interact with colleagues in all areas of the business, thus boosting morale and inclusion

The water cooler effect is a phenomenon where a team’s sense of cohesion results in increased productivity. Game of Thrones may be considered a “water cooler show,” as it gives people a common interest given a large majority watched it. I have seen the same effect first-hand with the introduction of our golf tourney.

Rule #4 states: The Player must have a witness of some other player within the tournament.  

At first I thought this rule was totally unnecessary, no one in the office is competitive enough to cheat, but that’s not what the rule is about. The beauty of it is, every time you take your shots you have a moment to chat with a colleague away from screens or whiteboards. 

Whether you are celebrating a perfect score, commiserating on a missed shot or postulating the carpet rolls differently this month, you are forming relationships – feeling more included, energised and ready to dive into the remainder of the days’ work.

Being in tech naturally attracts a lot of innovators, so after seeing the immediate benefits of this friendly competition we decided to brainstorm ways in which we could increase this engagement. 

We hypothesised that digitising the scoreboard would make the competition more intriguing, and expand this water cooler effect outside the confines of the putting area. 

So with that, we set out to create a mobile app for the game using our low-code development platform Outsystems. Stay tuned for Part II.