The Best Place to Work
How do you create an extraordinary workplace?
How do you turn a group of strangers into a community of friends?
Why should a company pay people to play?
Usually, when I read advance copies of book manuscripts, I wait to talk about the book until it is released. In this case, I couldn’t help but talk about this book for the last few months at conferences. Now that it is finally available, I am excited to introduce Ron Friedman’s new book The Best Place to Work: The Art and Science of Creating an Extraordinary Workplace.
If you want to build a winning culture and encourage collaboration, this book provides a blueprint. If you are designing a new office space or updating an old one, this book is a must read. But what surprised me most about this book is the many insights it provides for leaders at all levels. If you want to be promoted at work, you will want to read this book and follow its guidelines. And, as a CEO who is privileged enough to lead an organization that regularly hits the Best Places to Work in IT list, I can tell you this book gave me numerous ideas.
The book’s author, Ron Friedman, PhD, recently answered my questions about his research and work. He is a psychologist and the founder of Ignite80, a management consultancy to help leaders build extraordinary workplaces.
3 Ways to Improve Space
From a workplace design perspective, what are the top 3 ways to improve space for a positive impact?
The most important principle is design with the end in mind. Think carefully about the tasks your employees are going to be doing and provide a space that empowers them to do their work more effectively. At many companies, people are placed in the identical work environments regardless of their job function, and this is a missed opportunity. It’s why so many people feel that they need to come in early or stay late to get any work done.
A second consideration is encouraging people to personalize their workspace. In The Best Place to Work I talk about organizations like Etsy and DreamWorks that provide their employees with a budget for customizing their workspace when they first join. It’s a wise strategy. When we have the freedom to shape our environment, we experience a sense of personal control. One study found that people are over 30% more effective when they’re encouraged to personalize their workspace.
A third recommendation is to invest in informal social spaces, like outdoor picnic tables or a café-like break room. The idea is to encourage colleagues to get together, even when they’re not talking about work. Workplace friendships are vital to our performance, and lasting friendships aren’t established when we’re in formal meetings.
Paid to Play?
One of your chapters says that we should be paid to play. You say that the childlike manner of play can improve our creativity. How can we use play and exercise to improve our workplace?
There’s a business case for giving employees the flexibility they need to exercise. Over the last decade, scientists have uncovered a range of benefits from regular workouts that extend far beyond being healthy or looking good. Exercise, research tells us, can also make us more effective at work.