If environment determines behavior, it only follows that office environment would determine business behavior. Long gone (or at least they should be) are the office set-ups dictated by cubicle mazes with an overseer (manager’s) office at one far end. It brings up unsettling reminders overbearing dictator relationships across history, from the galleys in Roman ships to plantation layouts, to even factor designations during the industrial revolution in the last century.
Scoring record PR just for the stellar corporate culture alone, Google feels that “all work and no play makes for less productive employees.” In order to stimulate creativity and teamwork, Google makes it a priority to sponsor fun activities during the workday. Zappos, of course, does the same by infusing creativity into the office. When you walk through Zappos, it sometimes can feel like you’re walking into a circus of sorts. The move works for them. Elsewhere, Ogilvy and Mather set up their reception to look like a spa in Bali. “The reception desk sits atop a low timber platform, and the desk itself is supported by solid sections of tree trunks. Suspended above are a trio of ‘silk cocoon’ light fixtures.” They also built a relaxing internal cape on the bottom level that can be reached by a flight of stairs that’s flanked by a slide and cushioned seating. Having an internal café helps keep employees connected, mingling, and focused. In fact, many of the top firms across the states consider it a given that they’ll provide lunch and sometimes even dinner for their employees…all in the name of productivity.
So how do you encourage employees to “play” if all you can afford is one gaming station? Maybe it’s Guitar Hero, Mario Kart, or something else you’ve already got laying around. One Santa Ana based company invested in a ping pong table then set up a “ping pong tourney” that pitted inter-departmental team members against each other in a death match for a final win. Of course, all this was done during breaks but the move helped wiggle employees out of their department comfort zone and start mingling with co-workers. It also fostered a lot of camaraderie among employees, giving them something to talk about and cheer after. If it’s one thing any team needs it’s a glue to bind them together, no matter how silly that glue might be.
Work from home types can also get in on creative work spaces. In fact, I’d say it’s more of an imperative for the self-employed since they’re often the types most often stuck in static work environments void of external input including even basic conversation some days. Take a cue from landscape architect Andreas Stavropoulos, who’s converted his trailer into an on-to-go office he can hitch to his car.
You can expect to start seeing a playful attitude in advertising as well. Take for instance, Kit Kat challenging Oreo to Tic-Tac-Toe. Responding to a Tweet from a user to tagged both KitKat and Oreo in a declaration of her love for chocolate, KitKat wittedly responded by challenging its chocolate counterpart to a game of Tic-Tac-Toe. It was a great impromptu PR move that responded to real-time events, real customers, in a social visible way without costing anything.
How you work determines what you produce. Whether it’s a quirky office environment or work culture, or even a game that becomes a hit PR campaign, creativity will seep into other areas of your business. Whether you’re working from home or clocking in a nine-to-five somewhere, “your workplace and the atmosphere surrounding you determine the way you work and explore your imagination. The more inspirational your workplace is, the easier it is to break the creativity black and discover new ideas.”