There are many facets that make up a fulfilling job. First, the work must be meaningful and purposeful — one that benefits the company, yourself and/or the society at large. But beyond that, fostering a congenial work environment, where employees feel at ease to not only tackle challenges together but also commune with each other, does wonders for productivity.
Not that there totally should be no boundaries between employees (for example, dating a colleague will be risky business), but there are certainly many intangible benefits with kicking back and having the occasional pint of beer with your colleagues.
You learn to trust them, you learn to know them as people with fully-formed, three-dimensional personalities; you learn to understand and empathise with their needs and vulnerabilities; you built camaraderie and, because of that, you will be able to work better with each other.
There are also direct benefits, a Gallup report found that employees who had a best friend at work became more engaged at their jobs, and organisations could increase profits by at least 11 per cent, as a result. And not only that, it even increases the employee’s commitment to the company.
Additionally, a survey conducted by Globoforce found that positive employee relationships transcend the office: 89 per cent of employees said that work relationships are important to the overall quality of life.
Many tech companies such as Google and Facebook understand this concept well.
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While traditional companies place employees into drape, corporate offices that are designed to be functional and cost-efficient, modern tech firms believe the ideal workplace should that enables interaction and creativity to thrive. To that end, many tend to build open spaces with vibrant, cheerful colours and a lot of breathing room.
The design and the layout of these offices encourage employees to casually meet or bump into each other, to chat, discuss new ideas and so forth. They are also come packed with amenities such as video game machines, espresso machines, bean bags, pool tables and more; a way to let off steam when one needs a breather from a tough assignment.
How shared spaces help
This fresh attitude towards office culture has led to the proliferation of shared spaces, with many embodying the blurring of work and play characteristics that have come to define the startup industry’s disruptive and dynamic culture.
Shared spaces are great because it allows companies — and individuals (freelancers or otherwise) — buy into this work paradigm shift by simply renting desks or rooms instead of getting a lease for their own space and furnishing it, which costs more time and money — a critical pain point for smaller businesses.
WeWork, a globally shared space chain, is one of the most recognisable names of this nascent sector. Since its founding in 2010, it has developed 287 shared spaces in over 77 cities across 23 countries.
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Its spaces come packed with many of the above amenities, and hot desks — allowing employees to be flexible on where they sit. WeWork also hosts events and activities that let employees from different companies mingle.
Several of its tenants, such as advertising platform KNOREX, told Tech News that WeWork’s large and open spaces have helped motivate their staff and have been instrumental in helping them build a positive and strong company culture.
Another tenant, Wantedly, a Japanese company that provides social recruiting services, said that it found synergy with WeWork’s philosophy and concepts.
“Our office in Japan is very much like a co-working space on its own, with a very open layout and places for people to cross-collaborate between different departments,” said a Wantedly spokesperson.
“We all love working together and share many laughs throughout the day…Everyone on our team is quite driven on their own, but being at WeWork, with the colourful design, open layout, and fun features like the ping pong table, makes work more enjoyable!” it said.
Fridtjof Berge, COO of startup builder Antler, also had found that working in WeWork’s shared space gave his morale boost.
“WeWork’s overall positive and cheery vibes reflected from the community managers down to the members and overall aesthetics of the space, definitely help in motivating our team, when the going gets tough,” he said.
Examples like these demonstrate why it is important to build strong social structures where employees can be candid amongst themselves and have a jolly good time. As the saying goes: all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. And like everyone knows, working with a dull person is no fun.
Image Credit: WeWork