SYNERGY: when 2+2=5
As I’ve said before, aim for 2 + 2 = 5 when it comes to your team. This is synergy. It’s the power of community, and the collective potential of your office grows exponentially when you join forces on a personal level.
Looking for ways to build community in your office? Here are 5 simple ideas to get you started. Have something to add to the list? Share your ideas by commenting below!
1. Create an office library
If you don’t already have one, office libraries are a great way to create community, conversation, and an expansive-minded environment. Organize books by subject, and place the bookshelf in a central location. If you already have an office library, consider broadening it by asking colleagues to lend personal books. Here are some essentials: Purple Cow, by Seth Godin, The Tipping Point, by Malcolm Gladwell, and The Power of Habit, by Charles Duhigg.
2. Create a community board in the break room
It may sound a little hokey, but I have often been surprised at how little I’ve known about some of my colleagues when, after working together for years, I read their bio for the first time. Ask everyone to send you a bio of themselves, along with a picture of them with their family, friends, or doing what they love. The goal is not to get a headshot, but something that tells more of a story. Print the photos and bios and tack them on a bulletin board in the breakroom. Use tacks rather than tape or glue so that photos can be swapped out after vacations or major life events (a wedding, new baby, etc).
3. Promote your talented colleagues
Have any co-workers who play jazz piano? Write poetry? Teach yoga? Don’t overlook what your team’s hidden talents can bring to the dynamic of the office. Set up a table in the office where a book of poems, a recipe book, or a CD can be displayed and lent out; and hang your photographer’s or painter’s works throughout the office. And don’t stop at the artists: let the budding yogi grace you all with her/his gift as well. Introduce yoga Tuesdays (or meditation Mondays!) where the conference room transforms into a yoga studio for 30 minutes. The options are endless for whatever it is your colleagues are passionate about.
4. Create a vision board
Vision boards have received a lot of attention for personal growth – but they can be seriously inspirational in the office setting. Made popular through the book The Secret, by Rhonda Byrne, a vision board is a collage of images and words representative of the vision and priorities of the office. Be sure everyone in the office participates in the creation of the board, and use this great step-by-step on how to make it as beneficial as possible.
5. Bring it all together
Bringing the whole office together in person is essential to building community. Start a new tradition once a week: pass a favorite restaurant’s menu around the office at 11am, put the order in, and set up a picnic, preferably outside. Find a way to make it beautiful – use a colorful tablecloth, or a runner for an instant change of pace. The goal is a rather short but intense gathering – if it gets too long it will be hard to return to work, and if it is too leisurely co-workers may find it boring. Rotate who brings dessert for an extra incentive to join the party.