When the wheels come down… When the wheels touch ground…

landinggearI spend a lot of time being in L’viv with our employees that are working from there. While I am there I spend quite some time in inspiring environments.

Even though their office space is not the best of all places it is still quite an inspiring place. Everywhere you see people working together, there is music playing in the kitchen, there is a fish tank, a wall of fame (or shame depending on how you look at it), there are people playing foosball together and you can see that people have spent attention to their working place since most of them have some personal things on their work place such as pictures, etc. Basically it is a lively place where you see good things happening regarding human interaction combined with work.

Next to the working environment and the people that are working there I also experience the hotel, in which I am usually staying while I am in L’viv, as a comfortable place which brings out the best in me. Usually the best ideas that I have surfaced while I was enjoying a relaxing evening in this hotel after a though working day.

And last but not least the face to face work related conversations with the employees and also the CEO of this company always motivate me to find even better ways to manage these teams and get even more out of them.

After my last visit while traveling back to The Netherlands I was reading in Management 3.0 from Jurgen Appelo about empowering teams and motivational factors and when the airplane started to descent to initiate the landing approach I realized that the inspiring working environment was behind me again and that it would be back to business as usual.  During these thoughts some lyrics from the song “Wheels” from the Foo Fighters played through my mind:

When the wheels come down.
When the wheels touch ground.
And you feel like it’s all over.
There is another round for you.

It made me realize again how important it is to have a working environment that makes you feel comfortable and inspires you. The fact that during the last rounds of job reviews multiple people also mentioned that they find the current working environment rather boring means that it is time to pay some attention to it.

Now don’t get me wrong I am not overestimating this and definitely don’t think that turning your office into a playground will make people perform a lot better but it is a simple fact that most people like an environment in which they feel at home and that triggers their creativity. Nobody likes to be in a dark office with clinically white walls, ugly carpeting and a terrible view (no offense to the people that decorated our office).

Previous times I let this issue slip to the background because there are so many other things that require my attention. But this time I will not let this happen, even though it might seem that this is a low priority issue it is actually not and besides that it is easy to resolve and at least it will make my own working place more fun to be at as well.

So how can we make the office more fun to be at without having to hire some expensive interior decorators. Some things that come to mind are:

  • Pay some attention to the lighting in the office. Most offices contain big industrial lights on the ceiling. Some ambient lighting will do miracles for the atmosphere in the office.
  • Arrange furniture to improve collaboration. The worst thing you can have in agile teams is to create work places where people constantly fully isolate each other from the rest. Make it easy for people to talk to each other and have eye contact while doing so.
  • Create spaces were people can have formal / informal discussions away from the work space (use bean bags, coffee tables, anything that comes closer to a living room than office desks and meeting room chairs.
  • Use colors and decorations that have some meaning to the company or the people that are working there.
  • Allow for some leasure time to be spent in the office (foosball tables, dart boards, a Nintendo WII or Playstation)
  • Beverages. Drinks, fruit, snacks. It won’t cost a lot and it looks good to have it in the office and gives the people the feeling that the company takes care of them.
  • Music maestro please.

These are the things that I will be starting with in our company, if I am happy with the result I will post some pictures of it.

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