Getting Ahead on a Budget (Part 3): The Importance of “Office” Culture
How to stay connected without always being in the same room
With 2021 in full swing and vaccines circulating the world, businesses must look ahead at how they will re-establish themselves as they move past COVID-19. Given the economic hardships created by the pandemic, outfitting a successful company can be more challenging than ever before. Join us as we explore alternative ways to attract and retain talent in this Keypoint Intelligence blog series, Getting Ahead on a Budget.
For years, the debate over the issue of remote working was largely an academic one. While many executives read the theoretical benefits of allowing for remote or flexible work options, there was no tangible evidence that it would work for their company—and they had no real motivation to try. Why fix what was not broken? With few exceptions pretty much everyone worked in the office—that was the way it was.
Then COVID-19 happened, and the debate ended. People had to go remote, even in the print industry. Many of us at Keypoint Intelligence have not been inside our respective offices in over a year. It is incredible to think just how much the awareness and presence of remote workflow has surged forward. It is a trend, like many others accelerated by COVID-19, that is likely to last beyond the pandemic. People like having the option of working from home without the expectation to spend hours in traffic each day (working in Massachusetts, a state with some of the worst traffic, it is difficult to fully express the hours of productivity lost in commute.
Yet this has raised concerns for some organizations. After all, without the office, can there be an office culture? In a business landscape already full of employees changing jobs, will remote workflow further fray the sense of community that the traditional workspace brought? While having a majority remote workforce can indeed lead to a reduced sense of community, it does not have to.
One way that companies can maintain a sense of community and even strengthen teamwork and communication skills is through online gaming. There is data to back this up. A study conducted by Brigham Young University found that work teams that gamed together for 45 minute intervals during the day had an increased productivity rate of 20% over their nongaming peers.
There are a number of reasons that gaming can help employees not just connect but to also enjoy their work more. For one thing, and this may seem obvious, games tend to be fun—and any workplace that allows its employees to have a little fun is generally rated a better place to work. Secondly, games can provide much needed mental breaks during demanding and stressful work hours.
However, not every game is equal in this regard. For instance, if you are trying to foster a stronger sense of community, it makes sense to choose a multiplayer game—and preferably one that puts employees on teams similar to their real-life work teams. Sure, it might be fun to vent anger in something like DOOM, but the team structure of a game like Heroes of the Storm will help teach workers to better communicate with one another to achieve common goals.
|In Heroes of the Storm, five players team up to take on another team of five.|
Other Online Activities
Gaming is not the only online activity that can foster a sense of workplace community. While no one wants another Zoom meeting, other events like trivia, book clubs, painting, and even cooking lessons can all be done and shared digitally.
The trick here is knowing your employees’ interests before devoting time and effort toward creating these online activities. Workers cannot be forced into a community they have no interest in being a part of. If, for instance, only one out of 27 likes cooking, then making all employees attend an after-work Zoom cooking lesson may backfire.
That said, smaller groups are more usually the key here rather than company-wide digital outings. Managers should talk to their teams, try to find a popular activity or interest, and then see if it can be replicated online.
Let the Quirks Shine
No matter what course managers and executives decide to pursue, it is important to let employee personality shine through. For years, we at Keypoint Intelligence have been making a big deal of many personalization matters for consumers and how it can drive greater sales. Well, it can have a positive impact internally, as well.
The COVID-19 pandemic has been an abnormally stressful time, to say nothing of the other conflicts happening within the US. Workers want an environment that allows them to relax and be themselves. While this should never directly interfere with business, it is important that companies recognize where there is wiggle room and let their employees have extra leeway. No one is saying to abandon the concept of professionalism, but it should never be prioritized over employee happiness and well-being.
The good news about all these initiatives is that each is low cost. Many online games today are free-to-play, opting to build in-game optional purchases rather than make players pay upfront. Likewise, Zoom social events take more time than anything else to accomplish.
For print companies looking to create more compelling work environments without breaking the bank, fostering an online community of workers does not require millions of dollars; just listen to how employees want to relax and bond, and then try to provide those opportunities.
In the next and final installment of this series, we will look into blending game design elements with work practices and how properly deployed gamification can help transform businesses into the companies that employees fight to work for.
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