Want to create an office environment people will love? Your staff may be spending around a third of their day in your office, doesn’t it make sense that you try make the environment a place they enjoy? To some folks, this might seem more like a Club 18-30 rep’s role than a serious HR professional, but the business case for improving office environment is real. A study by Gallup showed that 68% of UK workers were “psychologically unattached to their job or company”, an additional 21% went further and were actively disengaged from their company.
What’s the risk? The report highlights that this costs UK businesses £85 billion a year in lost productivity. On average, this equates to tens of thousands of pounds per company, and far more than that for larger businesses. You may not be able to change every aspect of an employees job, but you can make an impact on the office environment that your employees spend much of their time in. Here are six ideas to get you started:
1. An army marches on its stomach
A peckish workforce is a distracted one. Making an effort to have some snacks and refreshments on hand will reduce the likelihood of people needing to pop out for coffee runs, or staring longingly at the clock as they wait for lunch.
Popular options include fruit bowls, a beer fridge, or a coffee machine. But if you feel your office suits more of a ‘bowls of candy and chocolate dotted around the place’ kind of vibe then we wouldn’t judge you for that.
2. Build a community
You’ve heard the saying “don’t choose a job, pick a boss”. Well, why stop there? A healthy community at work will help boost productivity, increase loyalty, and help your team hold together through challenging times.
Making sure your staff have the space to step away from the desk and engage with each other will help lay the foundations of a solid company community and there are many ways you can do this. Office ping-pong tables are a fun staple of nearly every start-up on the planet, but something as simple as a breakout area with more relaxed seating will help ideas and open exchanges flow a little more freely.
3. Don’t forget your introverts
When building an environment at a company, it’s easy to listen to what the loud voices want (they’ll tell you). But that doesn’t mean their ideas are suitable for everyone. A diverse workforce will include introverts, whose personalities (and maybe other boundaries) need to be respected. The idea of being forced to break out of some of their comfort zones will be genuinely unappealing to many them, and will not garner the same results as someone more comfortable in extroverted activities.
Allowing anonymous feedback or suggestions for changes to the office culture may encourage people to put forward their opinions who may not be comfortable putting their hand up in big groups.
In terms of social activities, these will vary depending on the individuals, but options to explore could include more reflective experiences or opportunities to work in smaller teams on a task. Escape Rooms, crafts, or simply a more relaxing trip may suit them more, and help them integrate with your team better than another endless night of beer pong and karaoke.
4. Break bread to smash targets
A team eating together isn’t just a nice activity to have one lunchtime, it also increases relationships across teams and ensures people get a chance to properly recharge their batteries over their lunch break.
Options here could include getting a takeout together on the first Friday of the month, or maybe all agree to bring a dish to share. If lunch doesn’t work for you, then breakfast clubs or a pizza at the office at the end of the day could be an alternative.
5. A flexible social budget
You can’t run a giant event for your whole company every month, but it’s still good for teams or departments to have some sort of bonding outside of company time. So why not put it in their control? Set a monthly social budget for each team, based on the number of people.
If they want to go out for a burger and some drinks every month with it, that’s up to them. If they’d rather build up their budget for three months so that they can go see a musical, enjoy the best restaurant in town, or just go to a theme park, they could do that also.
6. (Your staff will) thank you for the music
A Vision Critical study found that 65% of businesses say that music in the workplace makes us more productive. Do you need a better excuse to kick out the jams?
To avoid squabbles over the speaker, it’s best to set up a team/office playlist that everyone can contribute an agreed number of songs to, or perhaps set a rota. Depending on your company, you may also want to consider some basic guidelines on what can be played on the office stereo. This is especially pertinent if clients visit often and you don’t want them to endure a 25 minute jazz-funk odyssey that your CEO wrote in college.
Before rigging up a sound system to rival The O2 Arena’s, it is worth checking whether or not you need to pay PRS for the right to play music in a public place.
Make it yours
In implementing each of these, look for the opportunities to personalise these tweaks to suit your company. You may find that what works in most places can be improved and made more relevant when your own team puts their heads together for it.