How would your team describe the ‘environment’ within your company? Is it somewhere people want to come and do their best work? Or could it do with some improving?
Our physical environments have a huge impact on how well we perform. When we work in, not only a pleasant and comfortable environment, but one that inspires us to do our best work, we produce better results.
People, are not machines, you can’t just fill them up with electricity or diesel, press the ‘on’ button and expect them to churn out near perfect 100% productivity.
We are humans, with feelings and emotions and intelligent brains that are affected by the environment around us, therefore as our businesses grow, it’s important to think about the environment we provide for our fast growing companies and the people we employ.
It goes without saying that offering people a clean and comfortable place to work, with access to tea & coffee, and at a comfortable temperature is a given, but what else should you consider?
Here are some ideas on how to create an environment that inspires your people to deliver their best work;
1. Use visual triggers to inspire them and keep them focused.
I recently returned from a newly decorated client’s office, which had completely bare walls. Once they understood the importance of visual cues in their environment they created a group dedicated to collating everyone’s ideas which are then put forward to management and voted for by the business.
Some ideas included;
- A copy of the company’s vision, mission and values
- Targets and sales or productivity figures (even better if these can be on a screen and updated real-time)
- An inspirational white board where people can doodle thoughts or leave positive messages
- Framed meaningful photos of the company and team achievements
- Use professional cartoons or graphics to depict key messages or company priorities
- Training prompts. (I give our clients prompts and printouts to be placed on their office walls to remind them of actions they need to take.)
2. Create the ‘right’ level of noise that supports the type of behaviour you wish to encourage.
I always worry when I come across sales environments that sound more like hospital corridors than a hive of pro-active sales activity! You may not feel it appropriate to have everyone whipped up into a ‘Wall Street’ like frenzy, but there should be a level of background noise that raises the energy and keeps it high throughout the day. Therefore I’m a big advocate of background music or using the radio, particularly in a high energy environment.
- Make it an incentive for the ‘top’ team or person to choose the music for the day
- Those that prefer it to be more quiet, offer them silencing headphones
- Don't sit your sales team immediately adjacent to your finance team. (Note: but don't sacrifice positive noise for those one or two who like it quiet! Ideally move them to a quieter location - behind sound proof walls!)
- Introduce a gong, a bell or some other one off sound that people can make to celebrate success. Success breeds success, so what sound could you facilitate which anchors against that behaviour?
3. Provide more than one environment your team can switch between.
Traditionally this would have been your ‘canteen’ where you’re team go to have their lunch, but even this space can be used as a motivational space. Don't just offer hard chairs and boring bland walls. Make it colourful and offer different types of seating. Introduce some soft chairs, settees or even bean bags. Something as simple as changing the way you sit will induce a different type of thinking and frame of mind.
If you have the luxury of more space to offer, could you have a telly room, games room or whatever else your team would like.
It’s no accident Google invested so highly in their head offices Googleplex which famously have slides between floors, sports courts, sleep pods, think rooms, doodle walls and more. They also offer employee benefits such as free restaurants, dry cleaning, dog crèches and so on. Not only do they attract the very best talent for their sector, their environment encourages their people to collaborate better, be more creative, as well as want to work harder and for longer.
So even on a smaller scale, ask your team what they would like in their working space, think about what kind of people you want to attract into your business ongoing and ultimately what behaviour you wish to encourage and build your business environment from there.
Nicola Cook is CEO of Company Shortcuts – a consultancy dedicated to excellence in sales and leadership.