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Should Work Be Fun? Really? #TChat Preview

(Editor’s Note: Looking for a complete recap of this week’s events and resources? Read the #TChat Recap: Fun Times! Work, Games and Culture.)

Work and fun — do they fit together? Or should we save good times for vacation and weekends?

Traditionalists might say that work is serious business. However, one of the most creative and productive minds of the Industrial Age seemed to think otherwise:

“I never did a day’s work in my life; it was all fun.”
-Thomas Edison

Thomas Edison

Learn more about Thomas Edison

It’s impossible not to admire Edison’s enthusiasm. But these days, with global employee engagement stubbornly stuck at 30% or less, companies everywhere are looking for ways to inject more of that spirit into their organizational cultures.

That’s why the principles of gaming are gaining appeal as a way to improve workforce commitment, development and performance.

But how can we create environments where work is naturally more engaging and enjoyable, without losing sight of business objectives?

That’s the topic we’ll explore this week at #TChat Events, with two innovators in workplace culture development:

•  Dan Benoni, Co-Founder & Product Director at Officevibe, a social employee engagement platform
•  Mario Coculuzzi, Eastern Canada Regional Director at Microsoft.

Dan and I spoke briefly in a G+ Hangout, where he suggested that successful approaches don’t focus on the work, itself, but instead focus on three essential human factors:

Also to help us prepare for the discussion, TalentCulture CEO, Meghan M. Biro, wrote a related article at Forbes.com. Read “5 Fresh Trends to Fuse Fun and Work.”

This topic promises to be great fun — and helpful, too. So please plan to join us this week to share your ideas and opinions about why and how game-oriented tools and techniques make sense in the world of work.

#TChat Events: Should Work Be Fun, Really?

TChatRadio_logo_020813

Listen to the #TChat Radio show

#TChat Radio — Wed, Oct 23 — 6:30 pmET / 3:30 pmPT

Our hosts, Meghan M. Biro and Kevin W. Grossman talk with Dan Benoni and Mario Coculuzzi about why and how “fun” can be an effective way to improve employee energy, drive and focus. Follow the action LIVE online this Tuesday afternoon!

#TChat Twitter — Wed, Oct 23 7pmET / 4pmPT

Immediately following the radio show, we’ll move this discussion to the #TChat Twitter stream for an open chat with the entire TalentCulture community. Everyone with a Twitter account is invited to participate, as we address these questions:

Q1: How often do you see healthy company cultures? Examples?
Q2: Why is engagement key to creating/maintaining a vibrant culture?
Q3: Can “fun” team challenges and other activities really help?
Q4: How can leaders improve employee well-being and retention?
Q5: How can HR drive adoption of recognition and engagement platforms?

Throughout the week, we’ll keep the discussion going on the #TChat Twitter feed and on our LinkedIn Discussion Group. So please join us share your questions, ideas and opinions.

We’ll see you on the stream!

Workspace Design: Form, Function and Positive Feedback

“First we shape our buildings; thereafter, they shape us.”
Sir Winston Churchill

What a wise observation. I love the idea that we have a hand in creating a world that eventually influences us.

When I first heard this quote during last week’s “World of Workspaces” #TChat Radio show, I was fascinated. Workplace design expert, Chris Congdon of Steelcase, shared the concept as she talked about developing work environments that support organizational goals.

Among other things, Chris explained how physical workspace influences the way we feel and act. For example, if a company wants to foster collaboration, creativity and innovation, merely filling an office with tall cubicles and fluorescent lighting just isn’t going to cut it.

Great Workplaces: Beyond Tangibles

Her primary message was this:  The best places to work are designed from the inside-out. It’s not enough to consider only the tasks that must be accomplished in a space. Nor is it enough to focus on ergonomics that make those workflows more comfortable or efficient. Before we can build business spaces that optimize performance and engagement, we must understand human motivation and behavior in workplace settings.

Actually, on a larger scale, isn’t that how leaders approach corporate culture? Our mission is to create not just physical space, but complete ecosystems that bring out the best in every contributor. And in turn, that ecosystem rewards us in ways that reflect and reinforce our brand vision and values. It’s a continuous loop.

“First we shape our culture; thereafter, our culture shapes us…”

So, just as color schemes, work surfaces and lighting must be carefully considered when developing any physical workspace, we must be equally deliberate in developing organizational culture, piece by piece.

Snapshot Assessment

That conclusion triggered a reality check for me. I quickly took a mental inventory of the physical environment and the organizational “vibe” at Achievers. Here are several highlights, and the intentions behind them:

Achievers Toronto1) Open Design:  Our workspaces are based on open floor plans and are surrounded by lots of natural light. There are very few individual offices. That’s intentional. We want our environment to encourage the kind of energy and enthusiasm that we hope is synonymous with our product.

2) Visual Cues:  Our Toronto office features a giant red wall inscribed with our company values. It’s one of the first things you see as you enter the front door of the building. Such a public display of company values may not guarantee that all employees internalize them, but it’s a constant reminder to employees, customers and business partners of what we want to represent.

3) Flexibility:  Steelcase reminds us that individuals prefer to structure their own tasks throughout their day. That’s why we offer a variety of options — group seating for collaboration, as well as various quiet and private areas. The more options we offer, the more likely our employees will feel they “fit” into the environment — regardless of their mood or work requirements. Actually, this philosophy aligns with employee recognition best practices as well (our area of expertise at Achievers). It’s human nature. Under some circumstances, a person responds best to public recognition. Other times a private, sincere expression of gratitude is more effective. Variety is the solution.

4) Reinforcement:  We believe that the most critical step any company can take in creating a workplace is to build a culture of “thank you.” Of course, employee recognition isn’t as visible as desks or chairs, but it is likely to be the most durable investment you’ll ever make. If you reinforce behaviors that move business goals forward and encourage employees to embrace core values, these intangibles will become as integral to your organization as the furniture.

Bottom line: When designing a workplace — don’t forget to decorate early and often with recognition!

Image Credit: Pixabay

Office Space: Work in Progress #TChat Recap

Every organization needs the right balance of caves and commons. What that precise balance is depends on what the organization’s particular goals and challenges are, and more granularly, what the immediate situation of a work team is.
Leigh Thompson, Harvard Business Review

This week, the TalentCulture community took on “The Office” as our primary topic. No, we didn’t talk about today’s finale of the long-running TV show. Instead, we focused on real-world workspace — what our physical environment means to us, how it influences our mood and behavior, and the role it plays in our creativity and productivity as individuals, teams and organizations. (For highlights from the #TChat Twitter event, see the Storify slideshow at the end of this post.)

Special Guests: Workspace Wizards

Perhaps no other company understands the concept of workspace better than Steelcase. That’s why we invited experts from that company to share their insights at this week’s #TChat events. If you think of Steelcase as a file cabinet manufacturer, think again. It’s now a global leader in design and furnishings for business, healthcare and education markets. I’m familiar with Steelcase from its work with schools. Just as office space shapes business behavior, classroom configuration has an impact on student learning.

This brief video of the Steelcase “Learning Lab” is a great way to see how Steelcase views workspace:

Key Takeaway: “Place” Matters

Yesterday’s #TChat Twitter conversation was the live-action conclusion to our deep dive into workspace issues and ideas. We seemed to agree on one key point:  These days, “workspace” is often determined by our location at any given moment. Many of us are in constant motion, and we take our work along for the ride — for better or worse. That means flexibility and choice are essential.

But all of us have a primary spot that we call “ours” — even if it’s in a bedroom corner. So, throughout the Twitter chat, many participants (including me) shared pictures of our workspace, or our vision of the ideal setting. Not surprisingly, those images are as diverse as the hundreds of #TChat participants who join us each week! One of my favorites is the Pons Huot Office, shared by Katja Matosevic. (Check out the #TChat Highlights Slideshow below for more, or look at this Forbes gallery of 10 Cool Office Spaces.)

Are you inspired yet? Read on!

#TChat Week-in-Review

SAT 5/11

Sneak Peek: Organizational Pyschologist and #TChat Ambassador, Dr. Marla Gottschalk, helped us frame the week’s theme in her TalentCulture blog post, “Your Workspace: How’s It Working For You?”

SUN 5/12

Forbes.com Post: TalentCulture CEO, Meghan M. Biro identified “5 Habits Of Leaders Who Create Workspace Culture” in her weekly Forbes column.

MON 5/13

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Listen to the #TChat Radio recording now

#TChat Preview: Our community manager, Tim McDonald, posted a detailed the week’s theme and key questions in a preview post: “If These Workspace Walls Could Talk.”

TUE 5/14

#TChat Radio: Chris Congdon, Director of Research Communications at Steelcase, offered fascinating perspectives about the human psychological and physical factors that influence workspace design. In particular, she focused on the importance of choice in satisfying diverse preferences and multiple work modes.

WED 5/15

Related Post: Sourcing specialist and #TChat Ambassador, Ashley Lauren Perez, offered another spin on workspace design — specifically its role in supporting talent acquisition and retention. Read her post, “Employer Brands: Big-Company Ideas for the Rest of Us.”

#TChat Twitter: The community conversation was so fast and furious that once again, we trended on Twitter! Did you get in on the action? If not (or if you want a refresh), see highlights in the slideshow below:

#TChat Twitter Highlights Slideshow: “If These Workspace Walls Could Talk”

[javascript src=”//storify.com/TalentCulture/tchat-insights-if-these-workspace-walls-could-tal.js?template=slideshow”]

Closing Notes & What’s Ahead

SPECIAL THANKS: Again, thanks to Chris Congdon and Steelcase for sharing your perspectives on workspace design and organizational culture. It feels like this discussion has only just begun!

NOTE TO BLOGGERS: Did this week’s events prompt you to write about workspace issues? We’re happy to share your thoughts. Just post a link on Twitter (include #TChat or @TalentCulture), or insert a comment below, and we’ll pass it along.

WHAT’S AHEAD: Next week — reward yourself! Join us for events focused on recognition and employee engagement, with special guests, Stan Phelps founder of 9 Inch Marketing, and S. Max Brown, Principal of Leadership Directives at Rideau Recognition Management Institute.

Until then, as always, the World of Work conversation continues each day. So join us on the #TChat Twitter stream, or on our new LinkedIn discussion group. And feel free to explore other areas of our redesigned website. The lights are always on at TalentCulture, and your ideas and opinions are always welcome.

We’ll see you on the stream!

 Photo: Thanks to Tom Bolt for the Einstein inspiration

Your Workspace: How's It Working for You?

Cultural Clues, Hidden in Plain Sight

What does your workspace say about you? About your organization?

This may have never crossed your mind – but it really should. Workspaces can spur on any number of positive behaviors and organizational outcomes. Your surrounding environment has the potential to enhance opportunities for communication, encourage creativity, and possibly provide the needed spark for innovative thought. I find that workspaces are the most underrated of workplace variables. The power is there – but we often fail to acknowledge that power.

Workspaces are quite telling, as they often seem to reflect what is operating on a deeper level. I’ve seen all sorts of spaces – cluttered environments, dark conference rooms and walls without color. These environments always seem to say something about its residents. It saddens me, when I walk into an organization and I feel no energy – workspaces reflect this. We internalize the essence of what is around us, and workspaces are no different.

Imagining the Possibilities

Ultimately what is right for you, or your organization, workspace-wise is a personal choice. However, there are so many unique options available to express your work life or the culture of your organization. (Steelcase offers some inspiring ideas. See several design directions here and here). There is really no wrong answer to the workspace question – the question just needs to be asked.

So, what is your workspace contributing to your work life? Your organization?

Benefits in Every Corner

As much as we’d like to think that skills are the only factor contributing to excellence, the fact remains that where we work contributes to how we work. Here are just a few reasons to pay attention to the physical space where you work:

  • Form follows function:  If you don’t have a workspace that flows with your work, it is likely that you will be less productive. Workspaces should support your intended activities.
  • Surroundings can help you create:  Working in a well-designed space can help spark ideas. Qualities such as color, lighting, sound, office configuration and furniture — all come into play. The right workspace design can enhance the creative process.
  • Project a positive image:  Your physical space is a reflection of how you see yourself and your business. The style, form and function of your space, all contribute to this. If you work in the creative realm (advertising, design, etc.) your workspace is even more critical – as it reflects what you can do for your clients.

Beneath the Surface

Becoming more effective can possibly start on the surface and trickle down to the other aspects of your work life. When you really think about it – sometimes “rearranging the furniture” is much more than it seems. Some ideas to consider:

  • A little peace:  Wherever you are — on the road, or at home base — incorporate some calming elements. Work life can be mired in drama, so utilize your work space as a key to regain balance.
  • An inspiration:  Your workspace can be an energizing force in your work life. Fill your work environment with people, conversation and visual cues that help you feel positive and successful.
  • A reflection:  At the very core, your space should convey the respect you hold for your work, and what you have set out to accomplish. Your surroundings should celebrate not only your past, but where you intend to go.

How does your work space reflect you and your work? We’ll be discussing this topic at #TChat forums this week (May 14/15) — so join the conversation — or weigh-in with your comments below!)

Image Credit: “Mad Men” AMC Networks

Your Workspace: How’s It Working for You?

Cultural Clues, Hidden in Plain Sight

What does your workspace say about you? About your organization?

This may have never crossed your mind – but it really should. Workspaces can spur on any number of positive behaviors and organizational outcomes. Your surrounding environment has the potential to enhance opportunities for communication, encourage creativity, and possibly provide the needed spark for innovative thought. I find that workspaces are the most underrated of workplace variables. The power is there – but we often fail to acknowledge that power.

Workspaces are quite telling, as they often seem to reflect what is operating on a deeper level. I’ve seen all sorts of spaces – cluttered environments, dark conference rooms and walls without color. These environments always seem to say something about its residents. It saddens me, when I walk into an organization and I feel no energy – workspaces reflect this. We internalize the essence of what is around us, and workspaces are no different.

Imagining the Possibilities

Ultimately what is right for you, or your organization, workspace-wise is a personal choice. However, there are so many unique options available to express your work life or the culture of your organization. (Steelcase offers some inspiring ideas. See several design directions here and here). There is really no wrong answer to the workspace question – the question just needs to be asked.

So, what is your workspace contributing to your work life? Your organization?

Benefits in Every Corner

As much as we’d like to think that skills are the only factor contributing to excellence, the fact remains that where we work contributes to how we work. Here are just a few reasons to pay attention to the physical space where you work:

  • Form follows function:  If you don’t have a workspace that flows with your work, it is likely that you will be less productive. Workspaces should support your intended activities.
  • Surroundings can help you create:  Working in a well-designed space can help spark ideas. Qualities such as color, lighting, sound, office configuration and furniture — all come into play. The right workspace design can enhance the creative process.
  • Project a positive image:  Your physical space is a reflection of how you see yourself and your business. The style, form and function of your space, all contribute to this. If you work in the creative realm (advertising, design, etc.) your workspace is even more critical – as it reflects what you can do for your clients.

Beneath the Surface

Becoming more effective can possibly start on the surface and trickle down to the other aspects of your work life. When you really think about it – sometimes “rearranging the furniture” is much more than it seems. Some ideas to consider:

  • A little peace:  Wherever you are — on the road, or at home base — incorporate some calming elements. Work life can be mired in drama, so utilize your work space as a key to regain balance.
  • An inspiration:  Your workspace can be an energizing force in your work life. Fill your work environment with people, conversation and visual cues that help you feel positive and successful.
  • A reflection:  At the very core, your space should convey the respect you hold for your work, and what you have set out to accomplish. Your surroundings should celebrate not only your past, but where you intend to go.

How does your work space reflect you and your work? We’ll be discussing this topic at #TChat forums this week (May 14/15) — so join the conversation — or weigh-in with your comments below!)

Image Credit: “Mad Men” AMC Networks