During the past few months, I have been constantly on the watch for ideas to make office life more exciting and inclusive. This can be a big challenge especially in large multi-story offices where staff are often isolated from each other either by different stories in the building or by long and complicated office configurations. I was in an office this past month that is like this and they were having problems with staff just connecting with each on a daily basis. They have a beautiful and large coffee room but staff never seem to get together all at one time. So they had their annual chili contest and I heard more than once that it was the first time that all of the staff had filled the coffee room since they had moved to their new building over a year ago. The spirit of the chili challenge was very high. They took the approach that if you didn’t join a team, you were placed on a team. It was great and everyone had a fun time and got a free lunch as a bonus. We often think that staff are connecting at work on a regular basis but often they are so focused on their particular project or section of the business that they either become isolated or isolate themselves. The challenge of every business, regardless of size, is to develop that team spirit within the company so everyone is pulling in the same direction in a positive manner.
Something unique I heard of to increase communications and networking in the office is to have an “email free” day once a month. This would entail having people talking to each other rather than emailing and create more of a personal contact day within the office. It apparently works and has the added benefit of bringing people from out behind their computers and talking to each other. My answer to this is “so why not?”.
Business productivity is often related to systems and sales and marketing and most often we forget about the most important aspect of any company- the people themselves. The oldest software is still the best software- direct communication and contact between people.