Remember the feeling of running outside for recess when you were in grade school? In those 15-minute breaks between lessons, anything was possible. Whether it was scaling the tallest playground structure or finally making it across the monkey bars, the thrill of challenge and accomplishment was intoxicating. When the bell rang, summoning you back inside, you could hardly wait for the next recess break…
Today, our work days often feel more like the academic lessons, with the recess bell bringing us back to the office on Monday mornings. We only feel the sweet release of a “recess” on Fridays or as we leave the office for vacation.
But what if we had more of these “recess moments” throughout our work days instead?
One of the hot new buzzwords of 2017 is “placemaking” – a people-centered approach to the designing and activating public spaces based on the needs and desires of the surrounding community. Here in Sacramento, we’ve seen a number of amazing examples of placemaking recently from the Wide Open Walls mural festival to the Major’s office sponsoring the Creative Economy Pilot Project micro-grants to encourage creative ideas across the city.
While the concept of placemaking has primarily been used around public community spaces, this creative concept has some powerful applications for our workplaces as well. This month, we’re exploring the concept of placemaking to create spaces that inspire positive work and increase employee engagement, much like recess! This one is for managers, freelancers, emerging leaders, entrepreneurs, and executives alike.
Imagine what it would be like to wake up so inspired to go to work because you loved the way your office made you feel, just like recess.
While a majority of workplaces are functional and even designed with employees in mind, many still feel sterile or are missing a human engagement element that so many of us crave (and we may not even realize how much we crave it because it’s been missing for so long).
So I ask the leaders and managers this simple question: If the physical space and emotional ethos of your company culture promoted more employee engagement and productivity, what would be possible for your team?
This is corporate placemaking: designing the common areas of our workplaces to welcome authentic engagement and inspiration and break up the monotony of corporate culture.
Essentially, it’s recreating recess.
Three Steps to Activate Your Workplace Culture
Embracing corporate placemaking requires our leaders to be visionaries and ask “what is possible in our spaces to elevate employee inspiration and create a more motivated culture?”
It goes beyond simply buying a ping pong table or bringing in free lunch on Fridays. It’s an overarching ethos that shapes your company culture, making your space a place people want to be part of, not just where they show up to work.Make your space a place people want to be part of, not just show up to work. Click To Tweet
Here are three steps to activate your workplace culture as you become a corporate placemaker:
STEP ONE: Assess your current employee aspirations
Here, you go beyond meeting basic needs by digging deeper into what motivates your individual employees and their teams. If you’re a manager, take your direct reports to coffee and really seek to understand what makes them show up to work (besides a paycheck!). By gaining a better understanding of specific drivers, you’ll begin to see what ideas would make the biggest impact on sustaining engagement.
ASK THEM: If you could wake up tomorrow and one thing was different about your work, what would change that would make it a place you’d never want to leave?
STEP TWO: Align resources with ideas
Once you have an idea of what would make a difference for your employees, consider what it would take to make these ideas happen and continue on sustainably. What are human and physical resources you can use? Are there other sources could you leverage or access? What seems impossible, but might just work? Who do you need to have in your corner to secure these resources?
ACT INTENTIONALLY: Identify three people in your organization that could help you access the necessary resources to take the first step forward. Invite them to lunch or schedule a meeting to share your ideas.
STEP THREE: Activate with awe and wonder
Our human consciousness craves to be engaged and inspired. To be invited
into an experience. That’s why it’s so easy to escape into media when our surrounding world ceases to produce moments of profound awe and wonder. Similarly, most of our offices have some common areas that could be more inspirational. Maybe it’s a waiting area near the entrance or even the back of a bathroom stall door. What areas exist in your every day areas that have the potential to transform how you feel while your work?
ACTIVATE NOW: Choose one common area to transform using one of the inspirational ideas and supporting resources you’ve already identify. Start small and notice the difference.
What if you’re a smaller, local business without a big budget? Or maybe you work from home or out of a coworking space like me. Here are a few ideas to try:
- Think of 10-20 words that inspire you to work better and create a visual display
- Buy a small indoor fountain or essential oils diffuser to bring more flow and wellness into your space
- Change your phone and desktop wallpaper to be a quote or motivational saying that inspires you. Update this every month.
- Buy a gong or pair of Tibetan cymbals and have someone play them every time you accomplish a goal
- Paint your office door a bold color that makes you smile
- Choose a theme song each week and play it when you start your day
- Decorate the inside of your elevator or office door with quotes that inspire you
Looking for positive changes for your team in the new year? I partner with leaders at all stages to help them intentionally create thriving workplace cultures. Let’s connect!
Be the Revolution,