The main reasons people work here haven’t changed: it’s a mix of expertise, experience, work environment, and opportunities here that we couldn’t get anywhere else. But we thought we’d share a couple of the things we do that keeps our work environment fun, and our experience with the pro’s and cons:
1. Pets in the Office
The other thing that is new in the “fun work environment” category is office pets – and this has been a resounding success. We have one pet that visits the office almost every day: a 12-month old Jack Russell terrier named Cindy.
One key to office pets is to have one that mind its own business and doesn’t make a mess when we ignore her and concentrate on work. We get the benefits of interacting with an animal (things like lowered blood pressure and reduced stress), and the feeling that we work at an avant-garde institution for allowing it.
If a dog can’t handle the workload…
An unexpected benefit of having an animal in the workplace though, is that we get an extra sensor to tell us when it's time to go home. There comes a certain point in most days where, if we keep on working, our productivity is going to plummet. We often power through that, and pay the consequences with reduced energy and concentration the next day. Now, when people in the office have stayed too late, Cindy starts growling. The longer we stay past our prime, the more she growls to let us know we should be getting home.
2. Videogames in the Office
Our first experiment with videogame/exercise break times during the spring was a failure. We installed a Wii Fit in the boardroom, gave a presentation where we showed staff how to use it and what benefits it could give them, and set some usage criteria to measure its success by. The problem was, it just didn’t get used. Staff members talked about it every now and then, “Oh, I should really take a break and get some exercise. . .” – but we never did. In the slew of hectic days and late nights, spending more time at the office for breaks and exercise was just not on the priority list.
The Wii Fit setup languished unused in the boardroom all Spring, but then the Summer came and we made the conference room available for employees' kids during their vacation. Now all of a sudden the room saw constant use, and staff of all ages would take breaks for a trip to the virtual bowling alley or a boxing match. This made the summer feel like a vacation for both kids and staff. Meanwhile, the frequent 20-minute breaks boosted office productivity as well as morale.
Our experience with office gaming brought us to the idea of “seasonality” in corporate culture development: maybe our corporate culture should have yearly, repeated elements based on the seasons that surround and permeate so much of our lives outside of work.
Of the three workplace trends we touched on in the last two articles, we still think that online collaboration tools have the most capacity for improving our productivity. But little corporate culture initiatives that make the workspace more fun can add a special pizazz to your organization.
Editors Note: Animals in the workplace are not appropriate in all offices, or all cultures, due to cultural, health, and religious reasons. Furthermore, legal liability should be thoroughly investigated before moving forward with any initiative that would have videogames in the office.