On average, we spend roughly 37.5 hours a week at work – this equates to 1,725 hours a year (taking out personal holidays and bank holidays). This means that, in total, we spend just under 72 ENTIRE days working (I’m not going to work out how many days over the course of our entire lives is spent at work as that would just get depressing.)
With such a large amount of time spent there, the need for a positive and welcoming office environment is undeniably important.
It goes without saying that happy and engaged employees will work the hardest and, when it comes to providing that perfect atmosphere, there are two things to focus on – the office and the people.
Let’s start with the office.
With the majority of the working day spent here, the office needs to be a place of calmness and openness. You don’t want to be dreading going to work in the morning because your office is dark, dismal and you’re going to have your head-down all day with no interaction from others. Offices need to be fun – encouraging you to work hard, but play hard too.
Look at Google’s offices in Zurich for example. As well as featuring a slide and a fireman’s pole (which is amazing on its own), Google also has a rule stating that no employee is allowed to ever be more than 100 metres away from food. This means that kitchens and cafeterias are everywhere, providing staff with free meals every day.
Another example is Facebook’s office in California. When planning their new office, the designers at Facebook actually conducted polls (on Facebook, obviously) asking employees exactly what they wanted in their work environment. The result? A nine-acre green roof with a half-mile walking loop, a skatepark, a DJ booth and so much more. By getting its employees involved, Facebook could be certain that what they were building would please their staff, increasing engagement in the process.
Now although these examples are from billionaire companies, lessons can still be learnt. By simply providing your staff with a positive working environment, they will automatically be happier and more engaged. Small perks like coffee Mondays or treat Fridays go a long way in boosting morale and breakout areas allow employees to de-stress and get away from their desks, even for just a moment.
Then there’s the people.
Going back to the title of this blog, let’s quote Sister Sledge – “we are family”. As I’ve already mentioned, a lot of your days are spent at work, perhaps more time than you’ll spend with your family or friends. Like it or not, your work colleagues inevitably become an extension of your family.
During the good times and the bad, you’ll still be going to work every day so it’s important that you can talk to and be honest with the people you choose to spend the working day with. When something amazing happens in your life, you’ll want to be able to shout about it at work and have other people congratulate you on your successes. Equally, when something bad happens, you’ll want to have that shoulder to cry on, to encourage you and get you back on your feet.
By creating the perfect office environment, you’ll unavoidably increase your employee’s morale levels, boosting engagement and positivity. This, in turn, will improve your teams relationships and communication skills, creating an office where everyone works hard, but can be themselves and have fun.