So, you’ve installed a slide, bought a reclaimed retro pinball machine and got the pool table (with obligatory company branding on the felt). That’s your company culture sorted, right?
Not quite. Overloading your office with ‘fun’ design trends that work for Google and Facebook doesn’t mean they will work for you. It takes a very delicate blend of many ingredients to get your company culture right and fitting out or refurbishing your office isn’t even the starting point..
Who do you think you are?
In order to create the right office culture, you first have to understand then define who you are as a business. The products and services you sell aren’t the sole factors in determining this. A company mantra, or mission statement should outline what you stand for, what your goals and aspirations are and how you like to conduct your business. This clear vision of who you are gives your staff focus and unity. It acts as a barometer to measure the performance of employees and to ensure they continue believing in the vision. It means prospective employees clearly understand what the business stands for and makes it easier to find those who share your core values.
People who are happy, enjoy their work, and if they enjoy their work, they almost always produce better results. Indeed, researchers from the University of Warwick claim that happy people are 12% more productive than normal, whilst unhappy people are 10% less productive. Creating a harmonious work environment, based on trust, values, teamwork and honesty lays the foundation for a happy workforce and a positive company culture.
Creating the right workplace
Only when you’ve established who you are as a business and what your values and aspirations are, can you create a workplace which truly reflects your personality. Many companies are waking up to the realisation that if the performance of their staff is fundamental to the success of their business, then keeping the staff engaged and happy is critical. Influences from coffee shops, hotels, universities and the retail sector have all converged onto the humble office, to create dynamic, flexible places of work.
Workplace Culture in Practice
How you implement your workplace culture is unique to each business, and it doesn’t have to cost the earth . Here are some examples of what we do at Opus 4:
Open Forum Meetings
Once a month, we hold an informal ‘open forum meeting’ for all of our office staff. The MD gives a general overview of how the company is performing and discusses the strategy of the business in the months ahead. As we tuck into breakfast, each member then gets a chance to speak and explain what’s happening in their role, sharing any ‘sunshine moments’ – positive bits of news since the last meeting. This gives everyone else a sense of perspective of what their colleagues have to face, making everyone more appreciative of what happens within the company outside of their own department. Everyone has the opportunity to raise any concerns or issues they have without any fear of saying something which may cause offence, as long as their comments are intended to be productive and beneficial to the business.
Over the years, we’ve fallen victim to a ‘snack culture’. Cakes are brought in to celebrate birthdays, it was customary to bring sweets back after a holiday abroad and more than a few of us needed a mid-morning pick-me-up of crisps or chocolate to get us through to lunchtime. As part of our health and wellbeing push, free fruit is now offered to all staff. Everyone is free to request particular fruits and this is replenished daily. Nobody is persecuted for having their daily fix of chocolate, but since we offered fresh fruit to staff, nearly everyone is eating at least one or two portions of their five-a-day.
We work in a demanding, deadline-driven environment. From time to time this means some of the team have to work late. We have a policy that if anyone is working beyond 6:30pm, they can order in some food. It’s the least we can do for staff who are going the extra mile to do their work.
Health & Beauty Day
Once a month, a nail technician visits the office to give all of the girls a free manicure. The men are more than welcome to receive one too, but nobody has accepted the offer yet! On Health & Beauty Day, the men will usually finish a little early or have a pool contest.
Although we are always keen to promote health and wellbeing, once a month all of the staff are invited to our Takeaway Night. We finish work early and congregate in our social space. A different theme is suggested each month. So far we’ve had Chinese, Indian, Thai, Italian, American and Nando’s. It’s a great way of unwinding after a busy week and gives everyone a chance to chat socially, without the pressure of work. Our social space even has its own bar – after our Contracts Team where challenged to make something with a £100 budget!
The Secret Garden
We are strong exponents of biophilic design – reconnecting people with nature within the built environment through good design. But we’ve always felt this is still a compromise from actually being outside, and breathing in fresh air and enjoying nature first-hand. This led us to transfer the rear car park at our office into a themed ‘secret garden’. We wanted the garden to be a place where staff could work as well as relax. Bench desking, with full wi-fi, power and connectivity means anyone can work outside when the weather dictates. We also have soft seating, a games area and a brick-built barbecue, which will be utilised in the summer months for our monthly takeaway nights.
Staff Track Days
Opus 4 has an unusual mascot. We have a cherished, 1989 Volkswagen MK II Golf GTI track car. We hold regular track days for friends and clients who share our passion for motorsport. At one of our Open Forum Meetings, a member of the team made the point that the staff never get to go in the car and experience a track day. We’ve now planned a track day for staff and their family to experience the thrill of driving a car round a race track. If everyone enjoys the day, we’ll be holding the event once a year.
If you’d like to discuss ways in which you can implement or develop your own office culture, why not arrange a visit to the Bank Building, or view our office tour here.
Image 1: www.handluggageonly.co.uk
Google Office – Zurich