Workplace culture is changing, and doing so very rapidly. CEOs are recognising that there is a direct correlation between productivity and worker morale. Employees today come to a workplace with more expectations than in the past. The one size fits all model is increasingly less relevant and people are looking to flesh out the work-life balance by having offices and work models that are more mobile, flexible and personalised.
Jenny Folley, founder and managind director of @WORKSPACES explained that employers are increasingly doing a good job of thinking outside the box and coming up with flexible work arrangements that will keep their workers happier and more committed to their work roles.
“After two years of Covid and countless Zoom meetings, workers are tired of communicating through a screen. Bosses have been encouraging people back into the offices to rebuild those human social and professional connections that we lost for two years. Here are eight ways to humanise your office,” explained Folley.
1. The human touch: look up and engage
“A team should be recognised as a group of people, personalities and ideas coming together to work together, rather than a group of faceless worker bees. If you’re used to going to work and just doing your own thing while plugged into earphones, look up, make eye contact and engage with people. You’ll be surprised by the number of meaningful connections you can make,” encouraged Folley.
2. Supporting each other through thick and thin
“It’s important to acknowledge people who are thriving and also those who are struggling. Acknowledge the contributions that people have made in facilitating a job. People feel more motivated when their efforts have been recognised. Conversely, if you notice a colleague is struggling with something, be it personally or professionally, make a point to ask how you can help, after all, your team is only as strong as your weakest link. If you can find a solution, it’s going to benefit the entire team,” said Folley.
3. Fostering friendships at the workplace
“A 2018 Gallup poll found that people with a best friend at work are twice as likely to be engaged in their jobs, produce higher-quality work, have a greater sense of well-being, and are less likely to get injured on the job. We all want to be professional while we’re on the job, but those hours at the office become so much more pleasant and meaningful when you have a friendly face across from you. It’s also better for team morale and team building, to know that you can trust each other,” said Folley.
4. Bringing family into the workplace
“Some office cultures may frown at having family and fur baby photos on display at your desk, but interestingly enough, recent research has found a positive consequence of allowing personal photos at work. A field survey found that people were less likely to engage in unethical behaviour such as fudging expense reports when their workspace displayed a photo of their loved ones. Some staff members, particularly women, may fear being perceived as unprofessional if they personalised their workspaces, however, workplaces should be encouraged to develop an inclusive culture where employees feel comfortable in doing so,” said Folley.
5. Adding some green to the office desk
“Having a couple of desk plants brings surprising benefits to your office landscape. Besides benefiting air quality, adding that touch of green also increases worker attention span, improves creativity, lowers stress levels and stabilises moods. Many people spend an enormous part of their lives at the office and one study linked having plants in the office with a 15 percent boost in productivity. As humans, we all have an innate and instinctive desire hardwired in our DNA known as Biophilia, which craves connection to nature. In a sterile, clinical environment, being out of touch with natural colours and elements leads to an increase in stress and anxiety,” explained Folley.
6. Updating office policies and procedures
“Keeping the channels of communication open between staff and management is the key to understanding your organisation better. If you take the time to see the workplace through someone else’s eyes, you may gain new perspectives. You may even want to update your office’s policies and procedures if they haven’t been looked at for a while. A fresher, more modern lifestyle-oriented workplace policy might be needed. Perhaps some of your staff members are finding work hours too rigid and would work better with flexible or remote work arrangements,” recommended Folley.
7. Incorporate lifestyle elements into the office
Many offices now have gyms in the building which definitely helps people keep on top of their health conveniently. If there is any unused floor space, could you turn that into a small hub for community engagement, like a small lounge or a small wellbeing studio?” suggested Folley.
8. Prioritising the happiness of your staff
“Employees are the heartbeat of the company, so their happiness is fundamental to the success of the business. Happy workers are engaged and productive and can achieve more results. When teammates are happy and can work well together, projects can run more smoothly too, and workers can look forward to professional development within the same company,” said Folley.
When you bring humanity back to the workplace, we give workers a better experience when entering their workspace. Owning a business should not just be about cutting costs and raising profits. There needs to be a recognition that there are people who contribute to the financials of the business and that their worth needs to be considered. Most humans do not thrive in isolation, so humanising the office culture to create a compassionate and supportive environment means that workers will thrive.