Wimbledon may only happen once a year but tennis fever can be year-round. Bringing a healthy dose of competition into the workplace can be a great way for employees to de-stress, relax and interact with one another.

Just look to the modern-day mega offices from the likes of Google and Facebook. They both recognise the need to strike a balance when it comes to the ‘work hard, play hard’ mentality with their modern office designs being centred around collaborative and fun working spaces. There are countless ways to facilitate downtime with pinball machines, beer fridges and videogames being popular fixtures in breakout areas, but none are as versatile as the century-old game of ping pong!

1. It’s an office workout

Start to flex your muscles by playing a round of ping pong, as it is proven to do your body wonders! Playing can vastly improve muscle and joint movement, since it’s fast-paced and conducted over a short distance. The small bursts of exertion followed by a recovery period help to improve your leg, arm and even core strength! If you’re feeling guilty about at indulging at lunch time, then you can burn excess calories with a match. A 10 stone person (68kg) can burn 272 calories per hour by continually playing ping pong! Small incentives like this can help get inactive employees away from their desks and moving around.

2. It’ll keep your brain active

While coffee can get you started in the mornings, ping pong can also get your mind working. In addition to being a great office workout, ping pong provides a great mental workout. Strategies have to be made and executed within seconds, as the speed, spin and placement of the ball are crucial to how the game is played.

Since it requires snap thinking, playing table tennis can help to boost concentration levels, enhance creativity and heighten your decision-making abilities. A round of ping pong can also boost hormone levels and help keep the brain young, which can help slow the progress of cognitive decline. Clinical studies in Japan found that playing ping pong can increase blood flow to the brain and help prevent dementia in older people.

3. It’ll help you wind down

Who would’ve thought that coffee and ping pong would be such a winning combination? This is certainly the case at Costa’s office in Basildon where a ping pong table has been used as the centrepiece in the staff breakout area. We situated it in one of the mock railway arches to give it a casual, underground feel and the large space nearby allows plenty of room for spectators. Since it’s situated away from any workstations, participants can be as competitive as they want without worrying about disturbing other colleagues.

FirstRand pool table in office communal area

4. Channel your inner competitive streak

It gives those in the office who thrive on friendly competition the perfect chance to unleash in a (relatively) harmless environment; after all, ping pong tables are tough to break!

Despite moving to smaller premises, FirstRand Bank ensured they still had substantial space set aside as a breakout area for staff. We transformed their lower ground floor into a loft-style area for staff to unwind with a games room for a little competitive ping pong at lunchtime. Complete with a fully stocked bar, expansive kitchen and exposed brick walls, we really brought that Manhattan feel into the central city space.

5. It’s a great use of space

If space is at a premium in your office, then a ping pong table will be one of your most versatile furniture investments. Your table can be in full swing as a desk at 9am, and by 5pm it can transform into a breakout centrepiece. It can even be converted to a dining area over lunchtime or folded up and put away to make room for open plan collaboration spaces.

ThoughtWorks is an office on the go with all their furniture on wheels – ping pong table included! They’re a small team that needs to scale up or down to accommodate different project needs. We situated a ping pong table in the centre of their open plan office, which allows staff to use it as a hot-desking area throughout the day, and then come finishing time they can swap pen for paddle and have a friendly tournament.

6. Encourage social interaction

Any indoor sport can create a sense of togetherness and team bonding. It allows different personality traits to shine through and also helps to break down social barriers. It can help introverts come out of their shell and gain more exposure across the business; after all, who knew the shy analyst was a ping pong pro? Simple yet effective, it can help shape a unique office morale that any workplace would be envious of.