5 New Office Culture Staples Your Business Should Adopt
For decades, we’ve been developing, maintaining, and appreciating certain fundamentals of “office culture,” which most office environments and white collar jobs have evolved to adopt as the norm. Think about a typical “office”—just picture it in your mind. You probably think of suits-and-ties, showing up at 9, heading to offices and cubicles, meeting in a designated room, talking around the water cooler, and leaving when the clock strikes 5.
But thanks to changing attitudes, new technologies, and a general course of evolution, these office fundamentals are changing, and if you want to survive, you’ll have to change with them.
The Importance of Adaptation
You might be saying to yourself, “our office culture doesn’t need to change.” After all, it’s what you’ve used for years—maybe even decades—and it’s worked out well for you so far. But you have to remember that what worked in the past won’t necessarily continue to work in the future. For example, your fax machine undoubtedly kept your business communication fast and modern for a time, but you’d be laughed at if you kept using it today.
This isn’t to say that you need to change everything about your culture, or that all industries or sizes of businesses should follow the same course of development, but you should at least be aware of some of the trends that are out there, and understand how they’re shaping the workplace for the better.
New Office Fundamentals
These are some of the biggest changes affecting offices everywhere:
- Flexible work schedules. The typical 9-to-5 is starting to disappear. Not only do workers have different preferences for work (e.g., morning people vs. afternoon people), most workers have personal responsibilities that distract and stress them on a regular basis. Offering some degree of flexibility, such as lenient entry times or relaxed policies on midday departures, helps people de-stress about their lives outside work, and gives them more power to get their tasks done in more efficient ways. Thanks to modern communications technology, they can still be on-call for emergencies and meetings, so the need to have everyone in the same place at the same time is no longer imperative.
- Stimulating office décor. “Stimulating” office décor is becoming more of a norm, thanks to more companies realizing the productivity and morale benefits this décor offers. For example, abstract art makes an office feel more welcoming, and encourages more creative thought. Atmospheric regulators, such as Himalayan salt lamps and aromatics like lavender, produce a calmer, yet more focused atmosphere for workers to engage in. Even the simple addition of music, playing in the background, can facilitate a healthier and happier work environment among your workers. Experiment to see which additions work best for your office culture and your staff members.
- Remote work possibilities. For similar reasons, working from home is becoming more popular. When a worker is absent from the office, he/she can still be reached by dozens of modes of communication like phone calls, video chats, IMs, emails, and texts. There’s some research to suggest that working remotely is also correlated with an increase in worker productivity—this may be a result of remote workers trying to “prove” their efficiency in order to retain the privilege, but either way, more work is getting done.
- New types of meetings. The old-school meeting format, where most employees gather around a table for an hour to get updates or hash out a plan, is starting to disappear. In most cases, it’s a waste of time (for some people more than others). Meetings are rarely planned formally, few people show up prepared, and the “right” people are rarely invited in the first place. Instead, these are being replaced with more appropriate communication mediums. Do you need a team collaboration? Try a group chat. Are you trying to update the company with an important announcement? Try a mass email memo. There are so many communication options, meetings are somewhat limiting by comparison.
- Open office environments. The walls and doors of older offices are starting to come down in favor of more open office plans. Why? The entire point of an office is to bring people together; if you want to work separately, you can work remotely. With fewer walls, you can exchange more ideas, work more closely together, and cultivate an environment that favors more teamwork.
A Gradual Transition
If you’re apprehensive about any of these “new” office fundamentals, remember—you don’t have to implement all of them at once, nor do you have to implement any one of them in grand fashion. You can roll them out in bits and pieces; for example, instead of everyone to work from home whenever they’d like, you can offer it as an occasional privilege to your top performers.
It’s up to you how you want to shape your office culture and team dynamics, but it pays to know how the working world is changing.