How the match was won.
Dragisa from the shipping and distribution department, his eyes narrowed into a focused gaze, tosses a ping pong ball from his left palm into the air, then gently swings the racquet with his right hand. The rubber surface grazes the ball from underneath, sending it forward with some backspin.
More than twenty MikroE employees sitting and standing beside the table start turning their heads to the right.
Bouncing off Dragisa’s side of the table, the ball clears the net by a centimeter or two, then bounces again before it’s deflected with the backhand slice of COO Nemanja’s racquet, catching even more spin.
Twenty heads turn left.
In an attempt to counter the backspin, Dragisa overcompensates, sending the ball back too high. Realizing the mistake he retreats from the table to defend. Nemanja hits a firm forehand. Dragisa returns it from a few meters back. But the ball bounces even higher and Nemanja puts his entire body into a violent forehand smash.
The ball flies beyond Dragisa’s reach.
That was the match point!
The entire room erupts into applause and cheers. The sound echoes throughout the vacant halls of the rest of the building — Nemanja wins our annual company-wide table tennis tournament!
Everyone secretly rooted for Dragisa because, well, his opponent is from Management. Other C-level executives supported their guy, but they’re a minority. However, Nemanja’s victory was deserved.
22 of us competed in the previous three weeks. Every department had at least one representative. The winner took home a diploma, an iPad, and a trophy improvised from some ice cream cups and ping pong balls glued together and spray painted in gold.
The table tennis craze started when we introduced hour-long lunch breaks (instead of 30 minutes). Ping-pong skills are a welcome side-effect, but the main benefit from the new organization is increased productivity. Yeah, our forehands, backhands and footwork got better, but you also see more click boards every week. Causation or just incidental correlation? Hard to tell, but in any case, the fact remains that as employees we spend the best eight plus hours of our day at work. It makes sense to try and turn it into quality time as much as one can. And we don’t do anything half-heartedly.