One perk companies of any size can offer their employees is flexibility around working from home or flexible work schedules. While there can be disadvantages of offering flexible work schedules, almost everyone agrees the pros outweigh the cons.
But why not also invest in your office environment as an employee benefit? While it can be dreamy to sit in your PJs and have your cat in your lap (or on your laptop) all afternoon, working from home is often as distracting as it is convenient. If your employees feel more productive and inspired in your office environment, you’ll get more face time with your team, even if they have the option to work from home.
Here are four Distilled office tips to incentivize your employees to brave the commute into the office (and forego the oh-so-tempting desire to stay in PJs all day).
Intentional, intelligent office design
Whether you prefer the open office layout or a more traditional cubicle look, design your office with a variety of areas to suit different kinds of work and different kinds of work styles. Give individuals the freedom to choose the work environment specific to their mood, task, or creativity preference.
At Distilled, this includes flexible sit-stand desks (or areas of standing desks), cafe-style areas, couches and dens, communal hubs and meeting rooms for group work, and small spaces where people can put their heads down and concentrate. Some companies prefer having no designated desks, but we’ve kept to individual desks so that people express themselves with photos, tchotchke, and supplies, as well as providing storage for personal belongings.
Additionally, in an ever more computer-centric economy, design your workspace in a way that motivates movement. Even something as simple as having the printer or snacks farther away from desk areas can decrease the amount of sitting for long periods of time, which is by far the healthiest option for your employees.
Plan tangible office events that support company culture
Is someone having a birthday? Vicke in the London office and Amanda in Seattle are ready to make you a cake. Did you just start with Distilled? We’re having a team lunch to celebrate. While providing snacks and coffee in your office is a proven perk, it’s essential to invest in events and the time you get to spend together around the food. Company sponsored and organized events increase a sense of belonging, connecting you to both the company and the people in it.
Regardless of whether you want to hold company happy hours or softball games, keep in mind your events should be:
Inclusive – don’t let anyone feel left out because of age, gender, ability, or allergy.
Relevant – not sure what your team enjoys? Conduct some surveys or polls before you decide on your trip to the aquarium.
Finite – the best events have clear start and end times, so people can plan their lives or other commitments around them.
Not sure what kinds of events work best for your office culture? Focus on activities that allow for casual socializing, but that typically highlight something specific. Birthdays, engagements, and other employee life events are easy starting points.
Some ideas of ours that you’re welcome to steal include themed potlucks and Friday happy hour. On Fridays, all three offices host an optional gathering at the end of the workday to unwind and relax as a team, complete with bubbly water and alcohol (with and without bubbles). A couple weeks ago, Amanda, our fabulous People Operations Executive, organized an office “Waffle Bar” potluck. She brought the iron and we brought the toppings.
Your company will see an increased sense of community if you’re willing to put your money where your mouth is – sometimes literally.
Let people bring their home to work
Create an office environment where employees can bring their authentic selves (and maybe their Corgi) without feeling like they’re breaking the rules. If employees have to leave too much of their lives out of the workplace, it will make it difficult for them to get to the workplace, especially if flexibility is part of your office culture.
Consider making your office-friendly towards kids, dogs, bikes (and their storage), as well as casual dress. Even if you can’t condone casual dress at all times, casual dress days or events can go a long way towards making your people feel comfortable. Remember the novelty of “bring your daughter/son to work” days? If your office has a more corporate or formal feel, you can still create structured opportunities to let your employees bring their home to the workplace.
Even if your building doesn’t allow dogs, it can become a perfect reason to organize a dog-friendly event somewhere nearby.
Do sweat the small stuff
The littlest detail can go a long way towards making your employees feel connected and motivated to be in the office. The small stuff we like best at Distilled includes plants, music and, not surprisingly, video games.
While their ability to improve air quality might be a myth, the ability of plants to increase happiness and productivity have long been felt if only recently measured. In the Seattle office, we have some very happy dracaena, palm trees, succulents, air plants, pothos (ivy), and even a bird of paradise.
An intangible asset to your office is the addition of or access to music. Spotify and Sonos are small expenses to allow anyone in the office to be a DJ for the afternoon. If you’re a heads down office and having music playing in larger spaces is a terrible idea, consider reimbursing employees the cost of a music subscription.
Finally, while the idea of a neat and tidy office might seem optimal, studies have shown clutter to be important for ideation. Allow for areas of organized chaos. We have nicely- cluttered bookshelves and a TV that doubles as a projector screen and a Mario Kart station. A quick lap around Moo Moo Meadows is (almost) better than an afternoon cup of coffee.
Whether you’re drawn to reorganizing desks, planning events, bringing your dog to work, or playing Mario Kart, we hope one of our tips helps your office feel more like home – and maybe gets you more face-time with your teammates as a result.
Love our office lifestyle tips? If you’re tempted to immerse yourself fully in the Distilled culture, we have a number of open roles, particularly on our London team. Do you have some killer employee happiness tips to share from your current or previous company? We would love to hear about what gets you out of bed and into the office in the comments below.