Best Practices, Company Culture, Health and Wellness, human resources

Creating a Workplace Respite

In urban sociologist Ray Oldenburg’s 1989 book The Great Good Place, he suggested that people are happiest and healthiest when their lives have a balance between three different realms: a “first place,” which is home, a “second place,” which is work, and a “third place” which is a separate and distinct social setting. Throughout history people have sought different third places, whether it be at diners, taverns, or even the agoras of ancient Greek city-states. Dialogue from younger generations has been trending on TikTok lately asking the question, “If we are depressed due to the lack of a ‘third place,’ how can we fix it?”

2020 revealed a lot of uncomfortable truths about our society, and one is that in addition to not having a third place, many have “first” and “second” places that are far from ideal. One solution to creating employee happiness, building workplace retention, and fostering in-person collaboration is by creating a workplace that transcends the conventional by being a place where people actually want to be.

Creating Comfort 
At home, if something is uncomfortable, you can just change it. People are happier at work when they are given this same autonomy in the office. Whether the answer is a stool to prop their legs on or a small heater for the winter months, needs assessment surveys are a great way to reveal what employees need to feel comfortable in your workspace.

Nature and Natural Light 
Especially in the winter, workers in offices without windows sometimes report going days at a time without seeing the sun. Spending time in natural light can make you more creative, more productive, and happier. If there are no windows in the building, think creatively about how you might be able to expose your team to natural light. What if you occasionally had a meeting outdoors?

Professional Development Opportunities 
One way to nurture a sense of purpose beyond home and work is by encouraging personal and professional growth opportunities for your employees. A lot of great organizations invest in creating worker learning opportunities that relate to the job, but the best organizations create learning opportunities that can expand beyond an employee’s role in the company.

Community and Collaboration 
The biggest perk of in-person work is being able to bounce ideas off of your co-workers and work together to create something bigger than you could on your own. However, this can only be done if the office structure is conducive to building community and a collaborative environment. If most people are looking for a sense of belonging, then a workspace that encourages team-building and positive relationships between co-workers is going to feel like a more sustainable workplace than one that doesn’t.

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