Given a 9-5 schedule, an average adult spends about forty hours a week at his/her workplace. Irrespective of how passionate someone is about their job, there will be times when work becomes, well, just that, work. Improving the user experience of workspaces could be the jolt to drive more creative and innovative work consistently. Most corporates shy away from the thought of it, afraid of the kind of investment needed to create such environments. Fortunately, small alterations could have profound effects. Something as simple as having open conversations consistently could be the difference between good work and great work.
Below, I’d like to take you through some of the changes that can be made to workspace environments that will positively impact employees and consequently your business.
Walk into some motivation
All employees pass by the front desk atleast once every single day. Using the space for a functional desk is the logical, practical thing to do, so let’s not change that, but there are more innovative ways to use the front wall. Use the wall to show ‘Quote of the day’ or maybe some riddles/puzzles. Get people to mail the answers and choose a winner. Profound funny quotes are everywhere. Mix up the schedule to keep an element of surprise every day.
Burnt out of ideas for the wall? Here’s one, put up an abstract art and ask around for interpretations. Put the best 5 predictions for votes and reward the winner. These are simple activities but it could kick-start a conversation and keep the energy high throughout the workday. Encourage discussions and introduce elements that require teamwork to make teams sync.
Open mic nights (or afternoons)
Friday afternoons are often the lull hours of a work week. The weekend is just a few hours away and there is nothing that anyone can say or do that will inspire hard work. Instead of letting that time waste away in slow motion why not use it for an open mic session? Call the entire team to an informal area of the office, the manager or team head could address each person in the team and remind them how important they are or what value they bring the table. You could use this open mic afternoon for literally, anything. Maybe to discuss a cold war that people have been picking up on lately. Or maybe one of the team members is having some difficulty in his personal life. The need for emotional support from peers is never going to be scarce.
Spending time together to have open, heartfelt conversations will add to humanizing the workplace environment for everyone from the employee to the stakeholders. Employees shouldn’t be the only ones being evaluated though, managers should be open to any opinions coming their way. These sessions will help in building trust among colleagues and make them gel better for team efforts.
Libraries, remember those rooms that always smelt of paper?
With Google, the need for reference books has one foot out the door. But that shouldn’t stop anyone from having libraries, especially when it comes to corporate workplaces. Every single employee is unique in their own way and the way they work will also differ. What one feels to be a creative environment might not be the definition someone else might give it. Some of us like silence and calmness around us, surrounded by few (if possible, none) of the other employees. Libraries could just be those spaces.
The inspiration to create a wonderfully effective library is just a trip away to the nearest public library. If people choose libraries to work in, why not bring the libraries to work? Between rows of bookshelves have spaces with essential furniture, sparsely designed preferably with plants and plenty of natural lights. Libraries have a calm, relaxed feeling that is hard to replicate anywhere else. Brace yourself for all the thank you notes that will come your way from introverts in the house.
Encourage hobbies that are not work-related
Allowing employees to develop creative skills will positively impact the creativity and innovativeness that they bring to work. With the incessant stream of calls, chats, meetings, talking, listening, agreeing, disagreeing, coding, designing, everyone needs an outlet to revive their inner zen. Providing those outlets will spread the message that you care about your employee’s mental health and wellbeing. It could well be simple things like weekly meditation sessions or discounts to pottery, painting, or crafting classes.
Learning new skills is never out of fashion. Make use of simple online surveys that can be quickly distributed among employees to obtain data about the things that they wish they were good at or wanted to learn more about. Analyse all the information to understand which hobbies or interests were the most requested and provide a pathway to cultivate those.
Make room for spatial freedom
Most corporate offices tend to do one of two things when it comes to providing spaces for employees. They either have cubicles, or they have long desks. The long desk method with people sitting left, right and front do not limit the space used by each person which over time could blend into everyone’s common spaces. The cubicle technique (with partial separation from other colleagues) does provide some space for personalisation but those tiny spaces tend to cramp up with just everyday use. Give employees large independent desks, encourage them to add elements that give them joy. Being around items that spark creativity is essential to keep bringing out the best work out of people.
Combine personalising spaces with what scientists call ‘Biophilia’, human’s innate need to be close to nature and add desk/indoor plants. The benefits of adding indoor plants have been talked, researched and proven by many respected researchers. They reiterate that plants help in elevating stress, improving focus, and enhance overall health. Employees who are more aqua people could go for water plants like Marimo moss balls. Having large spaces give employees the physical freedom and mental space to work and think with clarity.
A positive environment will help create happy employees that enjoy working in the office and encourage them to perform their best at any challenge.