We’re all familiar with the idea of the “fun quirky office.” Maybe you’ve seen a friend from high school posting things on Facebook and wondered to yourself (or commented, if that’s your thing) “does this company ever get any work done?” Generally, this type of environment is reserved for tech companies or creative industries, but this isn’t always the case. More and more “normal” offices are taking cues from creative workplaces and embracing a unique company culture.
When your employees feel comfortable in the workplace, there’s a good chance they will become more productive and hopefully feel a sense of pride in the company.
You may be thinking “well I work in [insert industry] so there’s no way we could do something like that.” Sure, dragging your conference room table out to the curb and replacing it with a light up ping pong table and kegerator is probably a bit drastic. But there are other ways you can boost company morale and encourage collaboration even in a structured environment.
This isn’t always an option, due to structural constraints, noise levels, etc., but sometimes a few minor changes can make a world of difference. Replacing cubicles with large collaborate surfaces and separating teams by partitions and sliding doors instead of floor to ceiling walls will encourage interaction between employees.
Speaking of interaction, one thing creative industries do really well is collaborate and brainstorm. Bouncing ideas off people who have a vested interest in your company can be hugely beneficial, and your employees generally fit into that category. No one expects you to invite the summer interns into the board meeting, but some of your employees may have great ideas and suggestions and are just not comfortable voicing them without being prompted.
This is considered a big “no-no” at some companies. Sites like Twitter, Facebook and Instagram are often blocked by employers to keep people focused. The truth is your employees are probably still using these sites, but they are secretly accessing them from their phones. Why not consider creating a social media policy instead of an all-out ban?
Make your company interesting by encouraging your employees to share company posts and links. Each of your employees has a different social circle, so allowing them to be active on social media often leads to an increase in recognition for your business.
Most people function better when they feel mentally stimulated, and it’s no secret we begin to lose skills if we don’t practice them regularly. Sending employees to relevant conferences, events or classes is generally a good use of time and resources. If someone comes back after an event with refreshed skills and valuable new information, that’s going to benefit your company in ways a mundane day in the office never could.
One thing you will notice about most of the “fun companies” we’re borrowing from, is that they all care about their image. If your company has dated branding and a website that doesn’t function, this is a glaring red flag for potential customers. You never want people to look at your company’s marketing materials and immediately question your level of professionalism.
You can call them “field trips,” “team building,” “adventures” or whatever you’d like. It may sound silly to some, but rewarding the people who show up and do great work for you on a daily basis is nothing to be scoffed at. People need to let loose sometimes, and until technology advances a bit further, it’s likely your employees are not robots. Whether it’s an annual outing, quarterly trip to a museum, or even a summer softball league, get everyone out of the office for a bit.
You know you’re in a marketing company or design firm if you walk in and trip over a cat, right? It may be a slight exaggeration, but these companies (yes this includes Roundpeg) may just be onto something. Studies have shown that pets make people relaxed and happy. Your “office mascot” may even make your company appear more personable and trustworthy. Animals just have this affect on people. Obviously if you work in a doctor’s office, restaurant or other tightly regulated facility, this may not be possible, but there’s always the fish tank option.
Clearly not all of these tips are going to be a good fit for every company. Please don’t read this post and turn your life insurance company into a 24/7 frat party. Consider your current environment and staff, and figure out what works best for you. Who knows, you may just find yourself wanting to figuratively and literally knock down a few walls to shake things up a bit.