Does your workplace encourage you to take regular breaks and rest? Or are you tied to your desk from the moment you walk through the door, with lunch ‘al desko’, until it’s time for you to head home?
Gimmicky employee perks such as ping pong tables, beer fridges and Playstations in the office have come in for a bit of a bashing recently.
And I agree, that when sold as an employee benefit these sorts of things are superficial and only good for their novelty value.
But – let’s look at them another way.
The ping pong table could be seen as a clear sign from the boss that employees are encouraged to take regular breaks, switch off and spend time with each other.
That beer fridge says, hey, we want you to hang out with your colleagues here and not be working yourself to the bone.
And the spaces in the office those items are placed in encourage employees to get together, talk and get to know each other.
So, why is this important?
I’ve been thinking about these ‘workplace signals’ and how they relate to a fantastic talk I heard from Bruce Daisley on happiness in the workplace and the importance of taking a break.
Bruce Daisley is the man behind the #1 podcast EatSleepWorkRepeat and a VP at Twitter.
Here’s some of what Bruce shared, extracted from his ‘New Work Manifesto’ that got me thinking:
- 40 hours of work is enough – the best thing you can do to improve productivity is to work less. By preserving energy, you get more done.
- Stress destroys creativity.
- Office chatter about last night’s TV (for example) leads to work discussion. As a result, the most creative organisations are the ones with the most office chatter.
- The most productive teams are those with the strongest bonds.
The big takeaway for me is that rest and relaxation, as well as time spent socialising with colleagues, could be a real contributor to business growth.
And as I thought through how we actually facilitate that and use it to our advantage, I realised that this is a joint responsibility.
Firstly, for all of us, as individual employees, who need to be more mindful of our work/life balance.
And secondly, for the employer, who needs to plan how they will send an intentional and clear message – both literally and physically through the workplace surroundings, that they value and encourage this balance.
Only then will we see more creative, more productive and happier employees who’ll deliver greater benefits for the organisations in which they work.
I think it’s time to bring on the ping pong!