HR executives are pretty pumped about using gamification in the workplace. Forbes writer Meghan M. Biro even suggests hiring a Chief Gamification Officer to make sure the workplace is as productive and fun as possible. (Stats show that $350 billion is wasted each year by lack of productivity.) Highly productive global corporations–and Officevibe clients–like Walmart, Best Buy, ADP, and P&G, know how to “gamify the office.” And we’re not talking about the old corporate trust-building games where you fall backwards into the arms of co-workers. Companies today are using social platforms and apps to encourage productivity by making employees feel better and more engaged. Or in Officevibe-speak: “better the atmosphere with good vibes.” (Brian Wilson is not being compensated, but you hear the song in your head, right?)
So how does it work? Officevibe sends a weekly mission to everyone at your office asking them to perform 5-10 activities by the end of the week (desk stretches, meet a new colleague, compliment someone, turn off phone notifications). Then it tracks everyone’s activities and tallies up points, so the one sending out the most or best “good vibes” gets recognized by the office. It’s a very nice idea (“Good job, OfficeVibe!”) but mightn’t it–hold on, need to stretch–put sincerity at risk? If a compliment is turned into a commodity, wouldn’t that encourage an insipid scenario of fawning officemates and—excuse me a second: “oh hi, are you new? What a pleasure…” Sorry about that but–eight points! But then every tool contains the opportunity for abuse. That doesn’t mean the tool itself isn’t valuable. Highly engineered environments may be troublesome to libertarians and anarchists, but for those of us in cubicles, the extra stuff, the reminders, the mini-incentives to do something positive is a gift that often gives back–vibes tend to be viral.