The importance of socialising at work
"Culture eats strategy for breakfast" is a classic quote by management consultant Peter Drucker. What he means is that it doesn't matter if a company has the best strategies – if the corporate culture is not strong and the employees are not engaged in the company, success is hard to come by. Work's role as a social meeting place is one of the most important building blocks for creating a good corporate culture. These days, when we have the freedom to choose whether we work at the office, from home, in a hotel lobby or at a café, it is even more vital that the office is able to compete with all the other options. With the right design and furnishings, the office becomes a place that employees want to be at. This is an effective way of building up corporate culture and cooperating to come up with creative solutions that help the organisation and company to grow and develop.
"Culture eats strategy for breakfast"
The human-friendly workplace
The simple truth is that most people go to work to be part of a community, not necessarily to only produce things. And yes – we are still happy to go to work: Leesman surveyed over 70,000 people and the results show that only 17% work from home. It's at work that we become part of the community, the work team and a human context. "Human-friendly offices" need therefore to take our deep human need to be with others into consideration. When the office works as a social hub that people like to be in, it leads to employee well-being.
"Just like home"
In many ways, today's offices resemble our homes. We can choose what we want to do and where we want to do it. We can also do many different tasks in one and the same working environment – not much different from how we use our living rooms at home. As the boundaries between work life and family life are being erased – and as the workplace becomes a place you actively choose to go to – it is critical that the office environment not be clinical but rather that it has a homely feel. Naturally, homeliness does not mean that the office has to look like a living room but that there are environments that encourage numerous activities, just like at home. In other words, it's not enough to only have spaces for individual and focused work. Because we work more and more collaboratively and less with individual tasks, it is important to have spaces that promote discussion and relationship building. That's why there should be spaces that invite spontaneous conversations and deeper collaboration. They can be designed in many different ways – from sectional seating for relaxed dialogue to more work-focussed project environments.
Furnish for social moments
By offering many varied cosy social spaces, you contribute to strengthening the community feel and the corporate culture. Being able to socialise with colleagues without feeling any pressure to perform often gives rise to the best ideas. When asked, "Would you like this piece of furniture in your home?", your employees should say yes! When an office is considered to be as comfortable to work in as working at home, employees will continue to come to the workplace, an environment that contributes to increased creativity and productivity.
6 inspiring social environments for the office
Versatile meeting spaces
The lounge can become the obvious meeting point in the office – not entirely unlike a hotel lobby. This is where you have the opportunity to get together with your colleagues and talk about work or socialise in a relaxed environment. The lounge is the ideal place when you need to sit down and check your emails, or when you want to have a coffee and clear your thoughts for a while. With the right interior design, the lounge can also be a place for presentations and events. Furnish with section seating containing comfortable easy chairs and sofas with coffee tables and side tables, but also include somewhat taller bar tables or café tables with stools that contribute to a more flexible environment and more active meetings.
A place to touch down
A "touch down space" is designed for stopping for a short while – alone or with others – to read through a document or check your emails. This space is also ideal for use as a temporary workplace between meetings. Here, there is also space for short conversations in smaller groups. Touch down points can be furnished with high-backed easy chairs, for example. Coffee tables of a suitable height work as side tables, desks or a place to put your laptop.
In good company
The lunch or dinner break is a welcome opportunity to socialise with colleagues and customers in a more relaxed way. But it also offers the opportunity for a few minutes' peace and quiet. The canteen should be furnished to meet both needs, with generous dining tables and flexible coffee tables. It should be usable for quick individual work tasks and for larger meetings and presentations, and it's a good idea to locate it next to the lounge.
On the go
The coffee station is often the most popular and most relaxed meeting place in the office. You meet your colleagues by the coffee machine several times a day, and this is often how conversations begin. A simply furnished coffee break corner, for example with standing-height coffee tables and high stools, gives you space for quick briefings or deeper conversations.
Mingling at work
The bar is the perfect place for undemanding mingling. Here you can have a quick espresso, meet colleagues after work, or invite customers. It's an appreciated meeting place that can be used in many different ways. Furnish with standing height coffee tables with matching bar stools.
Fun with colleagues
Sometimes we think best while we are doing something else and our brains are relaxing for a while. A combined playroom and activity room, with space for ping-pong, billiards, hockey or gaming allows for the open-ended togetherness that can lead to creative ideas. The room can therefore be fitted with different types of soft, hard, high and low seating and coffee tables in various heights that make it easy to pick up work as soon as discussion arises.