Why ping pong tables are a must for startups

Ping pong table at Betterment.

It’s no secret that incredible office perks and playground-style amenities seem to be part and parcel of the tech workplace.

But it seems no startup office is truly complete without a ping pong table — and there’s a good reason for that too.

“It helps bring to life our vision of a fun, dynamic and informal environment that supports both work and play,” says managing director at Intuit Australia, Nicolette Maury.

But beyond this, executives say that the ping pong table is a wider reflection of a creative work culture and can even correlate to the way they approach challenges in the workplace.

“Having a ping pong table in the office is a great way of providing employees with the right environment for creative thinking, and the conditions to take responsibility, be autonomous, feel safe to take risks, innovate, use initiative and deliver on the broader corporate goals without micro-management,” says Jeremy Crooks, managing director ANZ at Criteo.

Here’s what these tech executives have to say about the ping pong table.

Nicolette Maury, managing director at Intuit Australia


“As a 30 year old startup it’s important our office environment embodies a culture that helps stimulate creativity and innovation. There’s actually research that shows when you play ping pong you engage a part of your brain responsible for creativity which can lead to innovation.

“Importantly, our ping pong table helps bring employees together across our two floors, functions and teams which helps foster collaboration and relationship building, not to mention some healthy competition!”

Drew Banks, head of International at Prezi


“A quick ping pong match in the middle of the day strengthens relationships within the team and allows team members to switch off for a short time, when needed. Along with helping staff stay motivated, the short time out also allows staff to come back to their desks with a fresh view on what they are working on, which is fundamental when working on innovative products like Prezi.”

Jeremy Crooks, managing director ANZ, Criteo


“Companies today shouldn’t operate like a factory; it’s essential to give your workers downtime while they are in the office. The ping pong table tells employees that there’s no pressure for them to always stay at their desk.

“On the contrary, it encourages them to have fun and feel relaxed. Productivity at work is a measure of output, not time.”

David Hickey, area director for Meltwater Australia


“I think the ping pong table is a euphemism for ‘you give, we give back’. A strong employee relationship is a lot like a good game of pong — there needs to be a good amount of to and fro for people to stay committed.

“We employ almost exclusively Gen Y, and they can sometimes be a demanding bunch; but they will give you more time, better output and much greater return on your investment if you are prepared to engage them on multiple levels.”

Kristie Comarmond, people and culture director, Bulletproof


“Bulletproofers are competitive and social, and a game of ping pong is a great way to take a break and clear your thoughts before getting back to the important job of supporting hundreds of customers.

“From a business perspective, happy employees are more engaged in their work and deliver better customer service as well.”