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Happy workplace, happy business

In this guest blog, serial entrepreneur, CEO of Central Working and Business of Happiness ambassador James Layfield offers his thoughts on how a happy workplace supports a happy business. 

Imagine your ideal workplace. What do you think of? Do you picture conscientious, innovative colleagues, or a trendy office? Maybe it’s a plum view across the city?

For me, it’s the people you work alongside that make your job what it is. A business is only as good as its people but it’s not just about getting the recruitment right.

Creating a special environment is important if you want to build a happy and successful business. We’re not just talking about the workspace being stimulating. At its heart – and this is crucial – it should encourage regular human connections and the chance to chat.

The aesthetics should never trump the practicality of a working environment, but sadly they often do. As startups and entrepreneurs you have the freedom to choose your working environment, so make the most of that opportunity.

You dedicate the vast majority of your time to your business so doesn’t it make sense to spend it in the most effective way? In a nurturing environment, surrounded by people that inspire you, can help you grow, and that genuinely care about you doing well? An increasing number of businesses are realising that the current world view of an “office” isn’t helping them do that, so they’re looking for other options.

I passionately believe the best alternatives offer opportunities to collaborate. People need people; we work better and achieve more together. Of course there are times when working independently is vital for concentration and getting stuff done, so you need to offer options for different modes of working. But these occasions should be the exception rather than the rule if you want to make magic happen at work.

You can find the perfect physical space that encourages collaborative working and attracts top talent, but a supportive culture and a dynamic atmosphere still needs to be nurtured.

Try these three simple tips to discover a business full of smiling faces:

1. It’s good to talk

How often do you send or receive an email from someone across the room when a quick chat would have been far quicker and more productive? Or perhaps you get caught up in the confusion of a misinterpreted email. If a quick chat will do the job, head over or pick up the phone instead. It’s better to know there are no crossed lines and the bonus is that you might discuss or learn something really useful. Opportunities exist in the spaces between the facts; you can’t see them in an IM.

2. Listen up

It can be difficult to give people your undivided attention in today’s digital, ‘always-on’ world. But committing to this can lead to huge leaps in productivity and morale for your team.  Listening is harder than you think; most of the time you think you’re listening, but in fact you’re off in that next email or worrying about that next meeting. Stop, be clear and listen. You’ll get way more done.

And keep an ear open for opportunities to help colleagues and be aware of what’s going on around you. This might mean unplugging the headphones or taking the time to have a proper conversation when you next bump into someone in the kitchen.

3. Get personal

Chat about life away from work and take an interest in colleagues’ hobbies when you grab lunch or a drink together. Not only will this help build better relationships, but you’ll also uncover hidden opportunities, whether it’s an untapped client lead or a skill you didn’t know someone had.

There’s no complex equation or algorithm required to create a happy business. Instead it’s the little changes you can make every day that could help you realise you were in your perfect place to work all along.

James Layfield is CEO of Central Working, a leading network of business clubs with locations across London and Manchester. Central Working provides over 800 businesses of all sizes with the environment, community and support to thrive.



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