Workplace Culture Gets Strengthened by Social Interaction and Respect

by Elizabeth Dukes on March 10, 2015

The modern day workplace has become increasingly complex. Organizations who wish to rise to the top in their industry have more details to contend with than ever before. Gone are the days of just coming to work, putting your head down, and grinding out the work. The workplace of 2015 is about change, technical and creative innovation, and having the courage to take risks. Many businesses have found that teamwork is at the heart of it all- having a group of colleagues who not only work well together, but also feed off each other’s creativity and energy, inspiring each other to consistently evolve, both together and as individuals.

The emergence of technological advances such as software communications, the cloud, and mobile devices such as smart phones and tablets, have allowed for a steady flow of communication amongst colleagues, but Mobile technologies have forced FM teams to work on bringing employees together.have brought with them a new set of challenges. A vastly mobile workforce, coupled with employees from multiple, very different generations, has added an entirely new dimension to the workplace, forcing facility management teams to devise strategies that bring their employees together onto common ground. While the traditional office still works well for some, many companies have shifted to developing an agile, team-based workplace culture in which boosting employee morale and encouraging them to work together is the number one focus.

With these changes, comes a wide-open workspace of opportunities for those facilities managers who wish to keep up with the growing demands of a highly competitive market. FM teams must work for their people, encouraging strong relationships, built not only through professional projects, but on a personal level as well. But how do we encourage and support these solid interpersonal relationships, while maintaining a high level of professionalism? As their leader, this will start with you.

Facilities management teams must consider the following in working to build a solid rapport amongst their workforce:

  • While you may not have the budget to create a workplace design like Google or Facebook, recent research supports the theory that non-task oriented meetings amongst employees helps build sound relationships that carry over into productivity. Create an office space that encourages chance encounters, perhaps by the water cooler, strategically placed coffee machines, or a break room.  
  • As the FM, you have the unique opportunity to impact the workplace culture. This often means leading by example. Adopt a “can do” approach to everything you do, and the effects will spread like wildfire.
  • Show your appreciation for what talents each individual brings to the table. If your workforce consists of individuals from multiple generations, they may need a little encouragement to interact with each other,
    both professionally and personally. By including each of them in the decision-making process and embracing their individual strengths, you will, inevitably, bring them all together. Keep in mind, that your customer base is just as diverse as your workforce!
  • An office is much like having a large group of roommates. No one likes the guy that leaves his half-eaten sandwich on the table, or that loud talker that makes it too distracting for anyone to concentrate. Or what about the girl who gives you a cold, hard stare in response to your “hello”? Practice common courtesy, greeting your colleagues with eye contact, a smile, and a hello. Clean up after yourself. This may seem like obvious advice, but you would be surprised at how many people forget once they walk into the office. Our slide share 15 Habits We Should All Strive to Break provides additional insight into the intricacies of workplace courtesies.
  • Never complain about work at work or on social media. Complaining breeds negativity, and as the FM, it is your job to keep the workplace positive and happy.
  • Depending upon the space your company occupies, try to incorporate mobile options within the office. Consult with your employees regarding the must-haves in office design and do your best to accommodate them all. Embracing organizational flexibility will encourage positive lifestyle changes, leaving your employees feeling happier, more engaged, and part of something special. This is a key element to retaining your workforce.

Building employee morale and professional relationships has become a common theme between management teams. With that, has come the rise of company socials, outings, and community volunteer events. While these outings do promote social interaction, there is more that you can do to promote the campfire approach, without the expensive price tag that comes with organized events. Planned interactions always have that “forced” feel to it, affecting the overall outcome of the event.

The cowboys of the Wild West had it right – gathering around the campfire adds a more relaxed atmosphere that allows smalls collaborations to happen organically. In the process, solid relationships are formed, based on mutual respect. People who might not normally come in contact with each other form diverse connections that, ultimately, strengthen common goals. Get creative in finding ways to encourage social interactions amongst your workforce; you might be surprised at the organizational goals achieved in the process.


Elizabeth Dukes

Elizabeth Dukes' pieces highlight the valuable role of the real estate and facility managers play in their organizations. Prior to iOFFICE, Elizabeth was in sales for large facility and office service outsourcing firm.

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