Fix Your Office Culture First
Updated: Feb 13, 2019
"Open, collaborative workspaces and workplace flexibility won’t fix your poor excuse for office culture."
Ouch. Wow. There’s a statement for you.
We've written a lot recently about productive teams from the lack of scientific evidence around ergonomics, how a focus on some KPIs can drive bad ethical practices, to disempowerment and depression the workplace.
We care about our customers - we spend a lot of our team hearing first hand on how people feel. We thought we'd share some insights: some research and things we see.
(Controversial) Fun Fact Time:
Open Plan offices don't improve collaboration (source)
Working from home arrangements are far worse for team cohesion and innovation than working from the office (source)
Your Leaders might be the main reason people hate your business. (source)
Leaders who (genuinely) care:
In Eight Ways to Build Collaborative Teams by Lynda Gratton and Tamara J. Erickson we see that here has been much debate among both academics and senior managers about the most appropriate style for leading teams.
“Some people have suggested that relationship-oriented leadership is most appropriate in complex teams, since people are more likely to share knowledge in an environment of trust and goodwill. Others have argued that a task orientation—the ability to make objectives clear, to create a shared awareness of the dimensions of the task, and to provide monitoring and feedback—is most important.”
Apple CEO Tim Cook explains how to hire people who will focus on collaboration and deliver the "magic" that happens when great minds come together.
Too Many Chiefs:
Gratton and Erickson found that the greater the proportion of experts a team had, the more likely it was to disintegrate into unproductive conflict or stalemate.
Our Own Experiences:
Here at EGM we are passionate about putting brilliant people and business together - our Four “Ps”: People, Processes, Productivity and Performance.
We make sure we are at the forefront of the conversation and are always evolving, experimenting, analysing and evaluating what we do. Despite the evidence around ergonomics, we all have standing desks. We encourage physical activity, breaks, flexible hours and have a collaborative work-space. We are constantly looking for ways to improve and seek input from every member of our team.
We encourage a culture of what we call carefrontation:
We talk about our ideas and feelings - openly if needs be because we care about each other and we care about the team.
Our people feel empowered (we ourselves if we are and how we can be more so) which we feel leads to greater productivity.
What to do:
Being at the forefront regarding the latest trends in leadership theory is so important to organisations and shouldn't be underestimated. However (and I hate starting sentences with conjunctions!) it is an uphill battle if you haven’t got great people and a brilliant, collaborative workplace culture in your team.
Don't Throw out the seated ball and standing desk and don’t (necessarily) get rid of your flexible workplace (if it works).
Keep your charity days and encourage health and well-being.
Don't throw out the free great coffee and whether it's Haigh's chocolates or a fruit bowl - provide your your people want.
LISTEN - actually listen to understand.
Focus on your people.
Ask you people for their input .
Your people should be empowered to help build the brilliant working culture...and own it.
In short, we often see companies outwardly promoting the softer benefits of their EVP: the great things they put in place for their employees to help create a great workplace culture and environment. The most important factor we see, however, is the impact your leaders have on creating a culture which promotes collaboration and empowerment.