A wise woman once said: the key to employee happiness is yoga and ice-cream machines.
OK, perhaps she didn’t…
But the fact remains that it only takes a few magic touches to lift an office from drudge central to Place I Wanna Be.
Flash Pack HQ, for example, would be a flatter realm without the cheering presence of our resident spaniel, Sid. The free beer and Master of Fun nights don’t hurt either.
“The awesome office vibe at Flash Pack means that we have an incredibly happy, and therefore motivated, team,” says Jenni Shaw, our events director. “A quick game of mid-afternoon ping-pong or snuggle with Sid does wonders for productivity.”
With that in mind, we’ve taken a look at the golden rules to a happier workplace – as below. From nap rooms to head massages, follow these steps for your very own workplace nirvana.
Get an office dog
We’re not just saying this for you, Sid – office dogs really do make us happier. Various studies show that having a canine colleague in the workplace reduces stress and promotes cohesion among team members.
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This is certainly the case at consumer giant Nestlé, whose Gatwick HQ has had a Pets At Work policy in place since 2015 (interested mutts must undergo a probation period). “Sometimes something will stress me out at work and I’ll go: ‘Right, I need some puppy love. And off I go to find a dog,” employee Zoe Green tells the Guardian. “A few minutes later, I’m a different person.”
Play all the games
Here at Flash Pack, our ping-pong leagues are legendary – even if they do frequently descend into raucous rounds of beer/vodka/prosecco pong. And it seems we’re not the only ones getting our game on. The London hub of Expedia, one of the UK’s happiest companies, comes with a go-kart arcade game and giant sandpit for employees to throw around ideas in. “It’s awesome,” product manager Jane Roslyak tells the Independent. “We laugh, like, all day.”
Danish toymaker Lego is naturally at the centre of this movement, putting out giant boxes of plastic bricks for team members to play with during meetings. In her book The Year of Living Danishly, journalist Helen Russell recalls how colleagues often can’t hear each other speak over the noise of rifling through hundreds of plastic bricks. This hasn’t stopped Lego becoming a mainstream way of unlocking ideas and talent, in businesses around the world.
Slide between meetings
Why take the stairs to the lower floor when you can glide down by helter skelter? That’s the motto of office designers Space & Solutions, who created the above slide – along with an office pub and cinema – for a Southampton IT company. A sleek silver slide is also one of the main attractions over at Google’s new Zurich offices, for workers to zoom effortlessly from one meeting to the next.
One of the main perks of The Workshop space for digital freelancers in Kent is its 20ft-long slide that connects different floors. “Everyone has a go when they come in, but people have become accustomed to it now,” says office manager James Avery. “No-one looks up, it’s just the norm.”
Grab a free massage
Insurance firm Admiral consistently ranks as one of the UK’s best places to work. The fact that they give out free Indian head massages to their employees can be no coincidence. The company runs six therapy sessions a month, in a move to promote happiness and stave off stress. “The massage is just fantastic,” says employee Terri Griffiths. “You get a feeling of complete and utter peace after being pumped up and on the phone.”
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San Francisco tech firm Asana – touted for its excellent company culture – also runs in-house massage and reiki sessions. “Treating each other well, being respectful to each other, building a culture you actually want to live in, these are all things that make people happier, and in the end, more productive,” says co-founder Justin Rosenstein.
Have a nap room
With Arianna Huffington putting sleep firmly on the corporate agenda, we’ve never been more aware of its impact on performance. And some companies are taking this seriously enough to build their own nap rooms, where employees can retreat to for half an hour’s kip (ginger cat optional). Nike’s HQ in Oregon has nooks filled with cosy couches and chilled tunes for soothing time out – be that power-napping or a spot of meditation.
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Similarly, Google’s California base is peppered with innovative sleep pods, complete with built-in Bose music systems and light sensors. And people working at London-based app service Potato can use their snooze room to break up long hours. “If a quick nap in the Pod helps them get their best work done, then it’s well worth it,” says content lead Declan Cashin.
Lay on the al desko drinks
The Mad Men days of knocking back bourbon at every brainstorm going are – thankfully – behind us. But any company worth its salt should still be willing to roll out a few al desko tipples when the occasion warrants. Advertising firm Saatchi & Saatchi has its own heavily subsidised pub, The Pregnant Man, which is packed on a Thursday night, while fellow ad company FCB Inferno has a bar with a pool table and ice-cream machine (#jealous).
Meanwhile, London law firm Norton Rose Fulbright plumps for an old-school drinks trolley, delivering “wine and happiness” every Friday afternoon. As for us at Flash Pack? Well, our fridge is always healthily stocked with beer and other delights. But we’re also partial to an espresso martini when the hour comes calling (see above). Chin chin!
Images: Flash Pack, Instagram, Sarah Ball on Unsplash and Shutterstock