Remote working has become commonplace due to measures taken to prevent the spread of COVID-19. While many employees initially welcomed the flexibility and convenience of working from home, the lines between work and home quickly disappeared as the months dragged on. As terms like “work-from-home burnout” and “quarantine fatigue” became real phenomena, Lenovo Japan was looking for new ways to keep employees engaged while keeping everyone apart, and they found their answer in an unconventional activity unfamiliar to traditional corporate environment – esports.
Building Camaraderie, virtually
As esports rise in popularity in Japan with an even bigger spike during the pandemic, it has not only become a pastime activity but a way to relax and connect with friends and families. Recognising this trend, Lenovo Japan created the first corporate esports tournament in the market, an alternative to face-to-face engagement, it offered similar advantages of building camaraderie, fostering teamwork, as well as giving employees time to decompress and have fun.
Indeed, research has shown that online gaming in groups helps develop a sense of belonging to the community and its members. Just as how physical sports has been a long-time favourite among organisations to create team bonding, esports has the potential to become the next big thing for employee or even intercompany engagement.
Setting up the first corporate esports tournament
In July this year, Lenovo Japan launched the amateur corporate esports tournament which saw over 50 teams from 36 companies battle it out on the popular game Players Unknown’s Battlegrounds (PUBG).
Supporting the event through its corporate esports Team Support Programme, Lenovo loaned gaming PCs to the participating teams and set up the IT infrastructure required for the tournament. Lenovo also created an exclusive esports club membership and a virtual community for players to connect and practice together. In the lead-up to the tournament, Lenovo hosted weekly online training sessions for employees and other corporate teams looking to train after work.
“The gaming tournament gave my colleagues and I something to look forward to while working from home. It was a wonderful opportunity for us to relax and bond over outside of work, and I look forward to more such activities,” said Akiyuki Tokuda from team Lenovo Game Club.
The future of corporate esports
As gaming becomes increasingly mainstream, corporate esports is a great alternative to regular team building activities. It also levels the playing field, breaking down hierarchies and enabling all employees – male or female, senior or junior, young or old – to all participate together. Even though it is still early days for corporate gaming leagues, Lenovo believes that the benefits that esports brings will see more companies adopting it as an activity that helps raise employee motivation and foster a sense of belonging.
“The response from the companies that are already working with us in corporate esports has been encouraging,” says David Bennett, President, Lenovo Japan. “With or without the pandemic, companies are looking for new ways to engage their employees. With our corporate esports initiative, we hope to inspire more companies to leverage esports as a new way to engage employees and build intercompany friendship and fun competition.”