Olympic fever grips Synapse: Beer relays, synchro wall climbs and flying monkey toss

Zeb Roach, left, and Jason Covey holding one of the “screaming monkeys” that will be used in the 2012 Synapse Olympics.

It’s just nine days until some of the best athletes in the world converge on London for the opening of the summer Olympics.

But a different type of athlete, one might say more of the “mathlete” variety, will be competing this August in Seattle and San Francisco.  Synapse, an engineering firm which has designed everything from high-performance headphones to cutting-edge keyboards to next-generation toothbrushes, is staging its very own office Olympics that will reward the most artistic and skillful employees with bronze, silver and gold.

Following a similar approach to the decathlon, 44 teams comprised of four to five employees will compete in various games and activities during the seven-day event. The opening ceremony kicks-off on Wednesday, August 1st with the lighting of the “Olympic flame” (a fan with a fabric and light on it) before moving into an epic match of rock, paper, scissors. Foosball, scavenger hunts, a screaming monkey toss and a 4X4 beer relay around the office — complete with a geeky engineering challenge in the middle — also are on the schedule of events.

Our favorite: “The synchronized wall climb”  in which team members will perform a routine — set to music — on the company’s rock climbing wall and staging area.

“Maybe leotards. Nose plugs are optional,” notes Synapse mechanical engineer and co-organizer Zebrick Roach. “That’s a doozy. It will be fun.”

In order to connect the company’s two main offices, Synapse plans to livestream events (including opening and closing ceremonies) between the offices in Seattle and San Francisco. Medals will be awarded to the top participants, with the overall winning team earning a surprise prize package. Teams were chosen randomly, so one group isn’t overloaded with software developers or electrical engineers.

“We are having a lot of fun,” said co-organizer Jason Covey.

Synapse isn’t the only company catching the Olympic spirit, with BloombergBusinessweek reporting on other companies that are doing everything from keyboard discus to office-chair soccer. (Call the lawyers).

Now, we have just one question: How will anyone actually get any work done amid the ongoing activities?

“We always find time to do work. That is not a difficult task,” said Roach, adding that the events will take about an hour each day. “Having some fun at work is a nice part of keeping people fresh. In a highly competitive engineering capacity, it is easy to drain, so having ways of having ways to refocus your energy and your mind for small snippets of time” is important.