The first Monday of every month at Nutbourne is a magical affair. Not content with performing IT sorcery for its clients, the wizards, warlocks and lone ork (Marcus) of Nutbourne gather on that most auspicious of evenings to do battle with each other over card game Magic: The Gathering.
The evening is a chance for the team to gather, pit their wits and decks against each other in a game that is all about strategy. For seasoned player and first-line support technician Zach Sansum, it’s very much about team bonds and encouraging an interest in the game:
“We’ve started to introduce everyone in the office to Magic, mainly because they’re intrigued when they see us playing, but also because it’s a chance for everyone to get involved with something outside work.
“Everyone that plays has become really involved and have started playing at lunch, buying their own decks (of cards). It’s had a good effect on team morale - I mean I've already gone to meet up with a couple of guys I play with outside to play.”
The monthly Mondays form part of a wider social calendar at Nutbourne that is aimed at including all tastes and past times. Playstation tournaments, a pool league and regular karaoke and pizza nights are part of a concerted effort to build a social scene at the company that extends further than just frequenting pubs and bars.
“We’re a diverse bunch at Nutbourne and that’s reflected in what we do socially. Some people like going for a beer while others prefer to shoot pool, sing or play video games. We embrace pretty much everything people suggest to us, which is good because it builds bonds and helps people to discover new interests and hobbies – magic is a good example of that.”
Indeed the Magic has become so popular in the office that Marcus says there are plans afoot to hold a company draft and regular company tournaments, giving the evenings a gentle competitive edge. So are we about to see a crack squad from Nutbourne enter a national or even international event?
“I think so,” says Zach. “I think that's where we'll get to eventually once we get a few more people into it. There's a couple of people I play with at lunch regularly and will start buying their own stuff. I know a few other people are interested in buying their own decks. I think once they're into it properly, I think we'll get into doing that.
“For now though it’s as much about having fun as it is about helping people become a bit more social in work. So far, it’s doing the trick.”