Office culture has changed significantly since we started working and communicating online. The access to all things via the internet has made us think very differently about how a workplace can look and function. Somewhere along the way, we all decided that work should be a place of fun and creativity.
Improving company morale has become a large part of an HR department’s responsibilities. You have probably seen some of the amazing touches that HR in tech companies have added to their offices like treehouses for meetings, cushions that look like rocks in conversation pits, themed hallways, and hammocks for naps.
These are all great ideas, but we don’t all have access to the endless income that businesses like Etsy or LinkedIn can throw around. Some of us are on a budget.
Never fear. You can still help the office have a lot of fun and boost morale with some basic touches. Remember, employees appreciate any effort that a company makes to move away from the typical gray cubicle where employees are hunched over the computer not communicating with their fellow associates, which many companies settle for. Let your workers see your department is thinking of them, and they will give that energy and effort right back.
Start with Break Time
It seems like an obvious move, but it never fails—a company with a fun break room can keep its employees smiling and happy. Start with a great coffee station with a high-quality water filter and dispenser that has automatic hot and cold options. Make the coffee free and get the best beans your company can realistically afford. You may want to subscribe to a coffee service that can send artisanal beans to your office every month to make it extra special. Be sure to have several kinds of milk in the fridge and dunkable snacks to round out the coffee and tea station.
Beyond drinks and snacks, consider color choices for the room. If you have a basic, neutral color scheme for the walls, consider painting one of them as an accent wall. Or, you can change up the furniture to bring pops of color into the space. Here’s a quick look at what emotions colors like green or yellow will evoke in your team.
Not a decorator? Ask around the office and see if any employees can help. Maybe you have some amateur artists on your team or connections to up-and-coming designers. If all else fails, you can always find ideas online.
Beyond the break room, you need to consider how your office looks and functions. Do you have an excess of extra walls separating your employees into little corners or do you have a space that encourages conversation, brainstorming, and collaboration? If your original design is a lot of taupe, temporary walls, and gray carpet, it may be time for an update.
Many offices are turning to the open floor plan for their workers. The idea here is to allow different departments to interact, share information, and make connections on both a personal and professional level. Distinct areas are defined by color scheme changes, (blue for a lounge, yellow for a workspace, green for breaks), or changes in theme. Desks face each other instead of turning away, and the office has a kind of flow to the whole space.
Not sure how to plan an open floor office? Here are nine spaces to inspire you.
This technique is one of the most basic and simple things an office can do to get their employees smiling and working together—playing games!
Some companies put vintage board games or foosball tables in their breakroom while others use their hallways for things like bowling, ring tosses, or cornhole for any time an employee needs to stand and move around after sitting at a desk. Having a little space to play in the office can work absolute wonders and will make you and your fellow Human Resource warriors feel great about giving your team something positive and appealing.
Need some ideas for cheap, easy games? The YouTube channel Minute to Win It has you covered. Check out this one, which is played with empty coffee cups, a table, and an empty container. Games encourage friendly competition, which is yet another great way to keep everyone happy.
Teams and Competition
A lot of schools already do this because teachers know that if students are working to beat a fellow classmate, they’re more likely to focus and do their best work to get that prize. You can create friendly competition in the office by keeping a scoreboard for sales, keeping track of productivity and displaying results, or even posting up compliments from satisfied customers or clients.
If you want to go a different direction, you can make the games in the office a way to split the workforce into teams. Combine different departments by making creating groups based on birthdays, (first six months make up one team, second six months are another), a random selection from a raffle, or any other method of deciding.
Once your office is broken into official groups, you can compete in all kinds of ways. Have a bake-off with a blind taste test. The team with the highest ranked treats wins. Or, have a foosball tournament, a karaoke contest, or even “the cleanest workspace” prize.
If you want to use the team approach to keep everyone focused and engaged, you can ask members of the HR department to keep an eye out for things like an employee who is asking questions during a meeting, bringing suggestions to the workplace, and volunteering to try new things or help with something extra to win points for that worker’s team.
Make sure you have a great prize to give away each month or quarter that your employees will want. Consider a happy hour on the office’s dime, an afternoon off, or lunch with management.
Many offices are finding that employees who get a chance to do something physical while at work are more productive and much happier than those who are chained to a desk all day. While high-end offices offer pools or gyms, it’s nice to just be able to have time to take a break from your desk.
If you have a team with an aversion to sweat, you may want to try something light like a mid-day Tai Chi session, which is great for all fitness levels and will only take up ten minutes of your schedule.
If you have a more energetic team that isn’t shy about moving, try a group dance or Jazzercise style workout during the afternoon lull. Google has found that its workers love being silly together and moving to the dated, upbeat tunes. Find a silly one and just go for it.
Whatever decision you choose to change it up at the office, make sure your new touch is fun and something your team appreciates. Don’t be afraid to ask them what they want—remember, you hired this team for a reason: they’re smart! Together, you can make your office amazing.