When it comes to creating a sense of community in the workplace, there’s way more to it than Friday night beers in the pub and company awards night. There is a whole plethora of other contributing factors – including office interior design and commercial furniture – which can either help or hinder a community-led working environment.
Combining the Competing Values Framework of Clan Culture which describes a strong family dynamic in the workplace, and Steelcase’s emphasis on ‘Belonging’ as one of the 6 Dimensions of Workplace Wellbeing, it’s clear to see that community at work is crucial.
Here’s our advice on how to enhance this…
Facilitate more agile and flexible working habits
There are obvious benefits to flexible and agile working such as improved wellbeing, more professional autonomy and increased motivation levels. What’s even more obvious though – so obvious its often overlooked as a predominant advantage – is how it encourages staff to get up out of their seats.
Of course, this means more physical movement throughout the day which is great for physical health but what it also means is that staff are interacting more fluidly. Creating microenvironments and neighbourhoods for specific tasks or functions means employees will move away from their desks to work more closely with their colleagues on a more regular basis.
This will improve communication, help nurture stronger internal relationships and as a result, foster a stronger sense of community in the workplace.
Do more to connect remote and residential workers
As the working world continues to become more agile and adopt a more nomadic approach to where they work, a few issues can arise if not managed strategically. One of these common workplace issues is a disconnect between staff in the office and staff who are working remotely.
If not dealt with, this disconnect can cause a breakdown in communication and hinder any sense of community. Introducing video conferencing facilities or something like the Google Jamboard which enables remote participation is one of the best ways to improve connectivity between resident and mobile workers.
Ensure your brand values are communicated clearly
The foundations of workplace community are built on solid communication lines but also a mutual understanding and embodiment of the business’ brand ethos and values. A set of shared values are crucial if you want to foster a stronger sense of community within your workplace.
In order for staff to absorb these values and respect brand identity, they need to be reflected clearly through both company culture and workspace design.
Click for our pearls of wisdom on how office design can communicate your brand.
Social spaces designed for purpose
According to statistics from Steelcase, 46% of workplace collaboration happens on an informal, unstructured basis. So, although collaborative work areas certainly have their place in the modern office, we would always recommend incorporating at least one designated social space too.
Social spaces give you the chance to introduce softer design elements such as a more domestic colour palette and soft seating. This will then create more low-key surroundings in which the professional hierarchy can be broken down and staff can interact on a more level playing field.
Try introducing more fun into the office
Social spaces also provide the ideal environment in which you can experiment with introducing different types of fun into the office. From a table tennis table to comfortable space with a television, this type of facility gives staff a chance to relax, destress and bond in a more casual environment.
Just make sure you know where to draw the line between function and gimmick – a workspace design expert will be able to help you out with this.