Alternative Workplace Cultures
We spend a quarter of our life at work, so surely, we should be enjoying it? And if not, is there anything we can do to go against the grain of the corporate 9-5?
I recently stumbled upon a podcast by Adam Grant, an organisational psychologist from the US, who did a mini-series about companies that preach new ways of working and alternative work-life cultures. He talked about a range of alternatives, from a company that encourages ‘zzzmail’, a system where you have bans on sending emails after office hours to define the boundaries of your work life and personal life. To a company who doesn’t have a designated boss, or rather, on each project a leader gets elected. And if that leader isn’t performing, any member of the team can vote to demote them.
After listening to this podcast, I thought this was a really interesting topic to look into and it’s fascinating how new businesses are forging their own paths and are trying new ways of working.
This topic also sparked my interest from my own battling transition from a former university student, going to class for a few hours a day and doing homework in a coffee shop, to commuting 40 minutes and doing 9-5:30 every day, 5 days a week. I think I’m still in denial that the three-month summer holidays aren’t just around the corner…
The episode from the podcast that stood out to me the most was one about criticism. In one of the world’s most successful hedge fund companies, everyone from junior roles to CEOs are rated and ranked constantly, and to their face. Their philosophy is that once you learn to deal with criticism, without getting defensive and kicking back, you will learn to crave it. Once you learn to tell your co-workers AND bosses the truth of how you feel, your work life will get so much better and be infinitely more rewarding. Knowing you aren’t doing a great job on something should make you want to work harder to achieve more and be better. Being aware of the fact that everyone around you thinks you’re slacking should energise you to be at the top of your game!
For the larger companies, remote working and working from home offer a lot of benefits. Such as, increased productivity, reduction of office costs and decreasing commuting times, which benefit employees’ happiness as well as having a positive environmental impact.
Countries like Sweden, who have embraced a different way of doing things, and put their citizens’ happiness first, is a good example of alternative work-life culture. It is the view, in Sweden, that if your employees are happy people, it will show in their work and the work they produce will be exponentially better and more efficient. It is believed that people who take constructive breaks throughout the day are more productive since they’re well-rested and focused. As opposed to being constantly on their device 24/7 and constantly under pressure to perform.
There is also the main reason Sweden made the headlines a few years ago, they started trialling a 6-hour workday to try and increase productivity and make people happier. The aim was to get more done during the shorter working hours and to help employees have more energy to fully enjoy their private lives.
Could this be the future of the working world? I know I could definitely get on board with shorter working hours, I definitely think this would increase my productivity and decrease procrastination levels. It would be like a HIIT (High-Intensity Interval Training) workout, you do short bursts over a shorter time frame and it’s more effective than struggling to get through a marathon gym session. You remain focused for the duration. And maybe the analogy works in real life; if people had shorter working days, there would be more time to go to the gym and we wouldn’t be so tired, therefore we’d perform better at work… See where I’m going?! Maybe companies should be more open to discussing workplace alternatives and see what the results are.
At Halston Marketing we work with vastly differing clients, from start-ups to multi-national corporates and the workplace culture in every company is different depending on what works for them.
The best insight we have when creating relationships with our clients is through internal comms, we love to learn about how different cultures across regions operate internally. Learn more about our work in internal comms here.