I arrived a tad early for a meeting in Canary Wharf, London yesterday, and needed to use the toilet. The place in question was a nice restaurant called The Pearson Room, which is part of the Reebok Sports Club. The kind of place where fast-paced, high pressure bankers go to try and relax for an hour or two.
The toilets are impressive for one reason and one reason only. Directly above the urinals, the owners have installed a car racing, video game. Perhaps these are relatively common-place nowadays and I simply need to get out more but I was mesmerised instantly. I remember years ago, hearing about video screens inside toilet cubicles in Tokyo but I’ve never seen any myself. I don’t even like racing games like this. I never go to arcades and I am certainly not any kind of gamer at home. But this was something different. For the first time in my life, I actually wanted to stay at the urinal for as long as possible! If I aimed to the right, the car veered off to the right and likewise, if I aimed to the left…you get the picture. And then, just as I was beginning to take note of the speed, distance covered and all the other factors that are designed to heighten one’s enjoyment of such trivial pursuits, I began to run out of my personal, renewable, recycled, hybrid fuel…
Then it was over. I’m laughing to myself even now, wondering how on earth this could serve as any life lesson at all. It did made me think however, about the ever-changing world of our working environment, and then later that same day, I read yet another article in the Evening Standard about the “future of work” and how the drive for greater productivity is taking on more creative guises than ever.
Apparently, the UK achieves 30% less productivity out of its typical workforce than the U.S., Germany and France. Everything from what we still call “normal business hours” to where we actually carry out our work is up for grabs. Innovative firms are providing on-site conveniences such as free lunch orders, sleep pods, never-ending fruit bowls, musical instruments, pool tables and even, yes you guessed it, video games! Modern office buildings are being built that include roof terrace wining and dining, boutique bedrooms for those extra long deadline-defining days and spa treatment rooms to make it even easier to work, rest and play all in the same location.
Companies like Google and Apple of course, have been doing this sort of thing for years and it’s precisely because of their enormous success that others are trying to adapt. Alongside this, there has been the increasing trend for people to work from home and dictate their own working hours accordingly. Whilst this has been welcomed and indeed, can very often generate more productivity, this latest round of ideas is all about trying to bring people together in the workplace. The key component behind this thinking was revealed by the single phrase. “Great people love working alongside other great people, and understand that successful teams are far greater than the sum of their individual parts.”
So how can we adapt accordingly, irrespective of whether we work from home most of the time, or we’re office-based, or on the road a great deal? Here are some personal ideas that come to mind:
Variety is the spice of life so try and mix it up in whatever way you can.
If you have a team of people who work for or report to you, how can you inject some fun into their normal, day to day?
What would your perfect day of work look like and how can you try to create anything that gets you near to that more often?
When thinking about the design or layout of your individual or group workspace, what else could you add that would help improve the overall productivity?
What would the females like to see in their individual cubicles?