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How to Make Your Office Incredibly Awesome

How to Make Your Office Incredibly Awesome

If you’ve ever seen the movie Office Space, you know there are only two options for workplace culture: (1) Cubicles, TPS reports, and birthday parties where the haves get cake, and the Miltons get sad music and, (2) 37 pieces of flare.

Except, that is, if you work for any number of big and small companies across the world that are radically reshaping what office culture can (and should!) be. After all, what better way to keep employees motivated and working until the job is done than helping them actually enjoy office life? Let’s take a look at a few truly unique initiatives at some of the world’s most fun companies for a few cues and a lot of inspiration.

1. Bigstock’s Random Holiday Celebration

Thanksgiving, Christmas, Memorial Day. These are just a few of the many holidays most companies celebrate throughout the year, but how about National Doughnut Day? If you work for Shutterstock, that’s more than enough reason to roll up your sleeves and dig in.

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Earlier this June, a very humorous series of images appeared on the company’s blog, with employees and their children weighing the merits of fruit vs. doughnuts. Perfectly on brand, the images paid tribute to the best doughnut stock images in the company’s vaults. While the delectable glazed treats were undoubtedly delicious, the real benefit here was likely the boost in morale and creativity that comes with doing something a little different and swapping deadlines for play.

What This Means for You: Do a little research and find the wackiest holidays out there. Then have your office vote on the ones they’d most like to celebrate. Initiatives like this not only boost morale, but they also make great blog posts, giving your customers and clients an inside look into your company and establishing rapport—a fact you can use to convince your boss.

2. Comvert’s Personal Skatepark

There’s BYOB and then there’s BYOS—Build Your Own Skatepark. That’s what the Italian clothing company, Comvert, did when they converted this old movie house into a warehouse. That’d certainly provide a better way to let off steam than rummaging through the break room cupboards for a good round of stress eating.

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What This Means for You: Okay, so you probably don’t have the time, money or perhaps even interest to build an entire skate ramp. But that doesn’t mean you can’t outfit a good game room, complete with video games, ping pong, foosball, and hey, why not trampolines, too? This is another good one to put to employee vote.

3. Selgas Cano’s Outdoor/Indoor Retreat

Sure, most of us would prefer working outside to hunching our lives away in a windowless cubicle, but it’s not like we can plop our desks onto a dolly and haul them to the grass every time the sun peeks its way out from behind a wall of clouds (can you tell I live in Seattle?). This is one problem the architects at the Madrid branch of Selgas Cano don’t have to worry about, as their offices are made almost entirely from windows and are tucked away in a suburban forest. For knowledge workers of any stripe, this is the best kind of “fun” one can have: peace, quiet and plenty of natural inspiration.

What This Means for You: So maybe you can’t get your boss to replace all of your walls with windows, but you can bring the great outdoors to you. Decorate your personal office space with local plants, and see if you can outfit the hallways and break room with hanging plants and planter boxes. Tell your boss, “Nature is the source of all productivity.” It’s worth a shot!

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4. Shutterstock’s Hackathons

Hack-athons have become pretty commonplace at many tech companies these days, and it’s no wonder: In these intensive, 24-hour (usually) marathons, engineers, designers and even non-tech employees meet to brainstorm and build “crazy” new ideas. Many will be left to gather dust once the hackathon is done, while a precious few will be further developed into prominent new features or even new and important products in their own right.

Shutterstock is famous for their hackathons, with the initial idea for the company actually stemming from an event in which CEO and founder, Jon Oringer, participated over 9 years ago. Given the intense conditions, hackathons like this also build camaraderie at the same time as they’re possibly birthing the world’s biggest next idea. How’s that for a great combo?

What This Means for You: From 24-hour play festivals to all night design marathons and mini-NANOWRIMOs, hackathons aren’t the sole domain of the tech sphere. Order some pizza, stock up on the Mountain Dew, dial up the intensity, and host a hackathon of your own.

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5. Google’s…Um, Everything

No article on fun work environments would be complete without Google—the company that defines the concept. When it comes to office design itself, how do pods, swings, hammocks, ski gondolas, slides, pubs, forests and bowling alleys sound to you? (Take a peek at Google’s coolest offices here). Googlers also enjoy 20% time; an initiative that allows them to work on their own projects 20% of the time, as well as yoga classes, gyms, and easy access to healthy and delicious food, wherever they go.

What This Means for You: What can your workplace learn from Google? You mean… besides everything? While most companies won’t have the funds for Google-level perks, you can still argue for 20% time as an effective way to rejuvenate the mind and possibly even produce a useful and unexpected new feature. Google is also a great example of a way to give workspaces creativity and an individual feel without relying on cheesy posters and figurines. To decorate like Google, why not hold a hackathon specifically devoted to the subject, and see what creative spaces you can produce?

Takeaway

You may feel you work in the world’s most corporate, sanitized office, but chances are your colleagues are also looking for a little injection of fun. Fortunately, fun often leads to that business buzzword, “innovation”, and a well-reasoned argument should get your boss right on board. So hack your office with a little amusement, and make the office space of your dreams.

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Last Updated on March 29, 2021

5 Types of Horrible Bosses and How to Beat Them All

5 Types of Horrible Bosses and How to Beat Them All

When I left university I took a job immediately, I had been lucky as I had spent a year earning almost nothing as an intern so I was offered a role. On my first day I found that I had not been allocated a desk, there was no one to greet me so I was left for some hours ignored. I happened to snipe about this to another employee at the coffee machine two things happened. The first was that the person I had complained to was my new manager’s wife, and the second was, in his own words, ‘that he would come down on me like a ton of bricks if I crossed him…’

What a great start to a job! I had moved to a new city, and had been at work for less than a morning when I had my first run in with the first style of bad manager. I didn’t stay long enough to find out what Mr Agressive would do next. Bad managers are a major issue. Research from Approved Index shows that more than four in ten employees (42%) state that they have previously quit a job because of a bad manager.

The Dream Type Of Manager

My best manager was a total opposite. A man who had been the head of the UK tax system and was working his retirement running a company I was a very junior and green employee for. I made a stupid mistake, one which cost a lot of time and money and I felt I was going to be sacked without doubt.

I was nervous, beating myself up about what I had done, what would happen. At the end of the day I was called to his office, he had made me wait and I had spent that day talking to other employees, trying to understand where I had gone wrong. It had been a simple mistyped line of code which sent a massive print job out totally wrong. I learn how I should have done it and I fretted.

My boss asked me to step into his office, he asked me to sit down. “Do you know what you did?” I babbled, yes, I had been stupid, I had not double-checked or asked for advice when I was doing something I had not really understood. It was totally my fault. He paused. “Will you do that again?” Of course I told him I would not, I would always double check, ask for help and not try to be so clever when I was not!

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“Okay…”

That was it. I paused and asked, should I clear my desk. He smiled. “You have learnt a valuable lesson, I can be sure that you will never make a mistake like that again. Why would I want to get rid of an employee who knows that?”

I stayed with that company for many years, the way I was treated was a real object lesson in good management. Sadly, far too many poor managers exist out there.

The Complete Catalogue of Bad Managers

The Bully

My first boss fitted into the classic bully class. This is so often the ‘old school’ management by power style. I encountered this style again in the retail sector where one manager felt the only way to get the best from staff was to bawl and yell.

However, like so many bullies you will often find that this can be someone who either knows no better or is under stress and they are themselves running scared of the situation they have found themselves in.

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The Invisible Boss

This can either present itself as management from afar (usually the golf course or ‘important meetings) or just a boss who is too busy being important to deal with their staff.

It can feel refreshing as you will often have almost total freedom with your manager taking little or no interest in your activities, however you will soon find that you also lack the support that a good manager will provide. Without direction you may feel you are doing well just to find that you are not delivering against expectations you were not told about and suddenly it is all your fault.

The Micro Manager

The frustration of having a manager who feels the need to be involved in everything you do. The polar opposite to the Invisible Boss you will feel that there is no trust in your work as they will want to meddle in everything you do.

Dealing with the micro-manager can be difficult. Often their management style comes from their own insecurity. You can try confronting them, tell them that you can do your job however in many cases this will not succeed and can in fact make things worse.

The Over Promoted Boss

The Over promoted boss categorises someone who has no idea. They have found themselves in a management position through service, family or some corporate mystery. They are people who are not only highly unqualified to be managers they will generally be unable to do even your job.

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You can find yourself persistently frustrated by the situation you are in, however it can seem impossible to get out without handing over your resignation.

The Credit Stealer

The credit stealer is the boss who will never publically acknowledge the work you do. You will put in the extra hours working on a project and you know that, in the ‘big meeting’ it will be your credit stealing boss who will take all of the credit!

Again it is demoralising, you see all of the credit for your labour being stolen and this can often lead to good employees looking for new careers.

3 Essential Ways to Work (Cope) with Bad Managers

Whatever type of bad boss you have there are certain things that you can do to ensure that you get the recognition and protection you require to not only remain sane but to also build your career.

1. Keep evidence

Whether it is incidents with the bully or examples of projects you have completed with the credit stealer you will always be well served to keep notes and supporting evidence for projects you are working on.

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Buy your own notebook and ensure that you are always making notes, it becomes a habit and a very useful one as you have a constant reminder as well as somewhere to explore ideas.

Importantly, if you do have to go to HR or stand-up for yourself you will have clear records! Also, don’t always trust that corporate servers or emails will always be available or not tampered with. Keep your own content.

2. Hold regular meetings

Ensure that you make time for regular meetings with your boss. This is especially useful for the over-promoted or the invisible boss to allow you to ‘manage upwards’. Take charge where you can to set your objectives and use these meetings to set clear objectives and document the status of your work.

3. Stand your ground, but be ready to jump…

Remember that you don’t have to put up with poor management. If you have issues you should face them with your boss, maybe they do not know that they are coming across in a bad way.

However, be ready to recognise if the situation is not going to change. If that is the case, keep your head down and get working on polishing your CV! If it isn’t working, there will be something better out there for you!

Good luck!

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