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The simplest ways to strengthen company culture

Steph Panecasio

This article is sponsored by Nespresso Professional.  »

Achieving the kind of culture that makes your employees excited to come to work is one of the most important things a manager can do, and it’s instrumental in ensuring that employees feel like they have a healthy work-life balance.

For some, it’s as simple as setting aside a portion of your budget for the provision of food and drinks, or creating a communal area for collaboration and discussion, or even introducing a wellness program by partnering with local gyms or healthcare facilities.

But it’s true that defining ‘good office culture’ can be tricky, both for established businesses who’ve been working from the same policies for years and for burgeoning start-ups seeking to establish healthy practices from the get-go. This can be particularly challenging when faced with justifying the value of allocating spend towards good office culture to stakeholders who might see greater value in putting the money elsewhere.

However, while it may seem like more of an upfront expense, investing in people can have a tangible effect on the rest of your workplace — and it’s a growing market.

Companies like Nespresso, for example, known for their exceptional quality at-home coffee, also offer an office-specific range; Nespresso Professional coffee and machines. By choosing the highest quality and valued everyday comforts like this, you can show your employees you appreciate them and in turn help boost their mood and general office sentiment each day.

Why is good office culture worth investing in?

Employees make up the backbone of any business — they’re the ones carrying out the day-to-day and ensuring that everything stays running smoothly. Thus, upping employee engagement and wellbeing can be instrumental in increasing the overall mood of an office.

A study from the University of Warwick found that happiness results in a 12% increase in employee productivity. As such, by maximising the output of your employees, not only are you contributing to the company’s general betterment of attitude, but you’re also facilitating growth and ensuring ROI.

Consider Richard Branson, CEO and Founder of the Virgin Group, whose long-time philosophy has been to prioritise the wellbeing and happiness of your employees over all else.

He is often quoted as saying, “Clients do not come first. Employees come first. If you take care of your employees, they will take care of the clients.”

This core message is why initial costs for things like coffee machines, outdoor relaxation areas, flexible working hours and general wellbeing initiatives can have such a flow-on effect to the output and quality of work produced. The value outweighs the cost.

How can you create a good office culture?

Healthy offices succeed because of a top-down perspective on wellness, with policies and procedures enacted by management and senior staff, but it’s important that this carries through to each and every employee as well.

As such, for offices seeking to increase their productivity and create a more positive environment, there are three core areas that can be easily amended throughout all levels of business.

1. First is a stronger focus on flexibility. While this doesn’t mean you should be willing to overlook employees shirking off, you might instead consider revising your policy on the possibility of a four-day workweek, to see the difference in productivity and engagement when they’re in the office.

In fact, the four-day workweek has recently been introduced at Microsoft Japan, resulting in a 40% increase in productivity over the duration of the testing period. The period also incorporated a mandatory 30 minute limit on meetings and saw a noticeable decrease in the wastage of office energy and resources.

2. The depletion of resources is also important to note given the value placed on the second core area: sustainability and environmentally-focused philosophies in the workplace.

A panel at the 2019 Dell Tech Summit discussed how 76% of millennials consider a company’s social and environmental commitments when deciding whether to work for them, according to Karen Quintos, executive vice president and chief customer officer at Dell Technologies.

This is further backed by a study from Nespresso Professional citing that more millennials are now referencing sustainability as a contributing factor in how happy they are within a business.

While sustainability and flexibility policy amendments might seem like extensive changes, there is still more to be done on a smaller scale while still having a significant effect on your office culture.

3. Notably, the third core area targets the development of wellness initiatives and building of a workplace community. Given that most employees will spend the bulk of their working week at the office, it’s important to ensure that it’s a welcoming, collaborative space.

By providing your employees with a space that they can collaborate, take a breather and hold brainstorms outside of their desks, you can enable the greater transfer of knowledge and creativity while allowing employees to feel less confined.

Chances are your employees already bond over regular coffee breaks, so it stands to reason that you could conceivably build this space out from your coffee machine and beyond. The Nespresso Professional range is a strong starting point, given their machines are designed with these spaces in mind, catering for all types of coffee drinkers with 13 coffee blends and an easy-to-use machine interface, meaning you can have an espresso or a flat white at the touch of a button.

Using that as a foundation to create an open kitchen space can also facilitate healthier lifestyles for your employees, with the provisions to eat more sustainably and healthily. For greater impact, you could also align with local gyms to provide discounted memberships for employees.

Ultimately, if maximising the productivity of your employees through the creation of a high quality, healthy office environment is the end goal, these are all areas that you might consider adopting. Lead with empathy and understanding of your employees’ needs.

Not only might you see benefits in employee productivity and happiness but also, by extension, retention. As such, the benefits of incorporating these aspects into your office outweigh initial costs, especially from a long-term perspective.

Besides, even if you start out small with a communal coffee station to show your staff you value them, it’s absolutely a step in the right direction.

One small step for office culture, one giant leap for employee morale.