Last week we discussed ways to improve your office morale, and this week we’re delving deeper into a key aspect of keeping your office an enjoyable place to work.  If employees stay cooped up in cubicles all day, chances are they aren’t getting much social interaction.  Your employees are happier (and more productive) if they work in a laid back, social work environment.  So how do you encourage a healthy amount of interaction among the employees in your office?  Check out our tips to see you to make your office a more social environment today!

1.  Create communal gathering spaces

Make sure your office has places where your employees can gather to hang out and take a little break from work.  Amenities like an in-office gym, basketball goals or ping pong tables allow people to take a step back from their work and interact with co-workers.  Your employees aren’t robots, and nobody expects them to work every minute of every day. Here at Shoeboxed, we love taking short breaks for a game of darts or ping pong. We even have a full musical setup in the office– complete with drums, keyboard, guitar and bass– for the unofficial Shoeboxed band to jam every once in awhile (see above)!

Alternative workspaces to desks are important, as well.  Have comfy couches or standing desks that let people escape from the monotony of their regular workspaces also promotes collaboration that doesn’t involve a computer screen.  A change of scenery increases productivity, especially if your office is a cubicle environment.

2.  Change the hierarchy of meetings

Conventional meetings between bosses, supervisors and employees aren’t the only meetings that should be taking place in the office.  Break up the hierarchy and focus on team-oriented meetings.  Creating teams within or between departments is conducive to collaboration and the spread of new ideas.  Not only are these groups working on shared goals and projects, but they are also forming bonds and boosting their communication skills.

You can also include your employees in the hiring process to promote engagement.  Company culture improves when people feel like they have a hand in hiring interns and co-workers.  Another way to increase the social environment is to educate employees about departments other than their own.  This will give people a more well-rounded view of the company and a better appreciation of what their co-workers do on a daily basis.

3.  Reward everyone

Don’t just recognize the all-stars of your team.  It’s important to reward good work, but only recognizing some people can foster negative feelings among co-workers.  You can recognize individuals for their star performances, but also take days to recognize certain departments or teams so everyone gets some recognition.  Acknowledgement is a great motivator and brings people together.

This tip also goes for recognizing the small wins, as well as the big wins.  You can celebrate smaller achievements that might fall below the radar in other companies.  If someone gets a promotion, recognize their hard work with a gift card or a treat on their desk.  When smaller goals are reached and rewarded, it inspires employees to put in their best effort.

4.  Encourage activities outside of the office

Have some fun outside of the office and arrange a company-wide  happy hour.  This is a great way to de-stress with co-workers and get some bonding time off the clock.  Happy hours definitely contribute to the office culture, making it a more social and relaxed environment.  Employees will be more comfortable working with each other when they’ve socialized outside of the office.

Group exercise is another great bonding opportunity.  Bring in a fitness instructor on a Friday or take a field trip outside to throw a football or frisbee at a local park.  Not only will this give employees a break, but getting those endorphins flowing makes everyone happier and more productive.

We also suggest an office dog!  Studies have shown that they reduce stress among employees and promote co-worker cooperation. Here at Shoeboxed, we have an office dog that joins us almost every day. We believe it’s a great unconventional perk— and an instant mood-booster.

What do you do in your office to create a more social environment?