The modern workplace is a thriving ecosystem that supports all within it, acting as a cultural hub for an organization and a home for employees. Remote work pushed the workforce to translate well-established rituals into the home environment. Now, as employees return to the workplace, businesses must blend old and new rituals to create an inclusive environment that attracts and retains talent.
What Is A Ritual?
A ritual is more than a routine, just as a routine is more than a habit. Rituals have a deep intrinsic meaning behind the set of actions performed, such as emotional expression, a celebration of achievement, or religious observance.
In the workplace, rituals affect how company culture is felt throughout the business. Culture is built around an organization’s core values and defines how employees act individually and around their colleagues. Practicing rituals in the workplace enriches culture, effectively shaping how employees feel and perform on the day-to-day. Meaningful rituals can improve employee productivity, wellbeing, and happiness in the workplace.
Resident And Remote Workplace Rituals
Examples of workplace rituals include work anniversary celebrations, holiday parties, and community involvement opportunities. Traditionally, workplace rituals involved gathering in person. But those traditional activities became impossible during a locked down country two years ago, encouraging remote employees to develop workplace rituals from home.
Established workplace rituals such as anniversary celebrations and parties didn’t disappear during remote work but instead took on a new virtual form. Many businesses saw new rituals such as virtual coffee chats and home-delivered employee gifts spring up during this time. Most significantly, individuals developed personalized rituals to define a balance between work and home while being remote. Individual rituals include taking a short walk between meetings or preparing for their workload ahead by enjoying a coffee from the sofa before work.
Welcoming The Workforce Back
As workforces return to the office in full or partial capacity, it will be critical to provide a space where new and old rituals can coexist. Reintroducing traditional rituals can comfort employees as they learn to navigate workplace culture again. Inviting new rituals developed at home can enable employees to perform their ideal work style.
Blending these rituals can remove lingering hesitations employees may have in returning to the workplace. An environment that practices familiar rituals and offers opportunities to engage in personal rituals can improve employee happiness, productivity, and psychological safety—the belief that one can speak up without the risk of punishment or humiliation.
Creating A Healthy Ecosystem
There are many ways to promote practicing shared rituals and adapt existing rituals to accommodate remote and resident employees in the modern workplace. Some of these include:
- Provide technology and space for video conferencing.
- Provide refreshment areas or break rooms.
- Promote the use of outdoor space and provide outdoor seating options.
- Utilize resimercial design to create comfortable and casual workspaces in the workplace.
- Implement desk hoteling to give employees the choice of their work environment.
- Install signage and visual cues for different spaces such as wellness rooms, restrooms, open office space, conferencing space, and break areas.
- Offer health and hygiene resources such as hand sanitizing stations and masks.
- Ensure all employees are educated on the available resources and amenities in the workplace.
The ideas listed above create an environment oriented around variety and flexibility. Work is done differently than it was just two years ago. Just as employees adapted to working in a home setting from an office, employers now need to reciprocate by creating an environment familiar to home and office settings.
After a testing and awakening two years, the need to feel valued and interact with others has increased in the workforce. The quick push into remote work was a wake-up call for many organizations, making them fully realize the impact a safe and welcoming environment has on employees and their output.
As companies move forward with reopening facilities and offices, a multifaceted and inclusive environment that accommodates a variety of work rituals will be a key driver in attracting talent back.
This article was based on the Knoll k.talk, “Developing Rituals Across a Workplace Ecosystem.” Watch the entire k.talk here.