Last time, we explored the future of the workplace and why it is so important for each individual’s sense of wellbeing. Another critical element when considering the future of the workplace is the role that it plays in an organisation’s culture and core values. The physical environment in which we work sends out so many cues about a company’s culture. Some of them are glaring, others far more subtle, but taken as a whole, the workplace connects your staff to your values. That physical space is your organisation’s body language, if you like.
The future of the workplace is physical
The workplaces you provide for your employees give so much away. How much does the organisation value collaboration and how people work together? Does it value privacy, comfort, or wellbeing? All of these cues are an important part of the overall experience of work. They give your staff a vital insight into your values, and connect them to your culture. Any organisation can talk the talk and tell its employees what the company values are – but these physical, unspoken cues are just as important. They will reinforce a strong organisational culture quietly but powerfully. Equally, if your working spaces don’t live up to the hype, staff may start to feel deceived and disconnected.
The future of the workplace is in its people
We, and many others, have spoken at length about the future of the workplace – and whether, in fact, there is one. People have proved that they can work effectively from home because they have had to. However, if we work away from the office for any length of time, we no longer get those cues to an organisation’s values. Apart from the fabric of the building and individual workstations, we also pick up a lot from the people around us. Seeing how leaders and colleagues behave around and towards each other puts some of your company values into context. Without the workplace, people are not plugged in. They begin to drift away and lose sight of what it is that makes the organisation great.
We talked last time about the workplace providing a sense of belonging, but it’s more than just that. Online get-togethers are all very well but they cannot create the experience of being in a shared space where everyone has something in common. When we are together in groups, we draw energy from the group and pull together with a common sense of purpose. Sociologically speaking, we are herd animals, tribespeople. In the same way that we learn our earliest values from our family or tribe, we learn our work-based values from leaders and colleagues around us. We need to gather round the campfire and tune in. The campfire may be a kettle, it may be a square table, but the important thing is that it’s shared. There is something magical about the power of a circle. It is the most inclusive way of bringing everyone together and it is impossible to create in the linear world of online meetings.
At Big Picture People, we believe very strongly in clear, effective communication between people at all levels within an organisation. Our bespoke visual communication tools, learning maps and games encourage everyone to gather round in the workplace, using socialisation and a fun, informal environment to break down barriers. They create a common sense of purpose, connecting people throughout the business back to your organisation’s core values. The light-hearted, non-challenging format of a game or map encourages input from every member of staff, helping to inspire belief in the company’s culture.
Intrigued to find out how a board game can bring your workforce back together and re-align them with your core values? Book a free 30-minute consultation to see how such a simple concept can have such far-reaching results.
How do you see the future of your workplace?
After an enforced absence, it is vital to re-connect everyone in the organisation back to the core of your business. Your culture is your strength. It makes the organisation what it is. It sets out what the company believes in, how things should be done, and why. It builds trust among your staff, keeping them engaged. The future of the workplace is feeling somewhat precarious right now but it is a vital part of engaging your people with your values. When it is once more safe to do so, organisations will need to consider how they plan to welcome their employees back to the office or workplace. It will also be the perfect time to look at workplaces with fresh eyes and see whether they could be made better. This is something we will look into further next time…
For now, we would like to express our thanks to Tracy Broward, whose fascinating interview inspired this post. For her views on the future of the workplace, listen to the full podcast.