Egalitarian Work Spaces
We all spend a lot of time sleeping. Most people sleep around 8 hours per day, and we are all tuned in to the fact that it makes sense to ensure the place where you sleep is comfortable.
We also spend a lot of time doing work… you can see where this is going, right?!
Whether you do your work in an underground mine or purely in your mind, you’ll want to be surrounded by an environment you feel comfortable. What applies to the person also applies to the collective.
Many corporations have woken up to the fact that asking their people to perform at their best, while accommodating them in cubicles and sweatshops is actually counter-productive, and so it costs businesses money if the working environment is “wrong.” So how do we get it “right?”
Well aside from the obvious physical considerations like lighting, temperature and amenities, there is the psychological environment to consider. Many businesses try to sort out the physical aspects first, assuming the psychological ones will follow, or are somehow less important.
Unfortunately for them, it doesn’t work like that.
The way we think about things is how we shape our reality, so dressing up a psychologically damaging workplace with a ping pong table, air conditioner and a bowl of fruit will be, well, fruitless.
Good news then, we don’t need to invest in a googleplex of pinball machines, free food and swimming pools. They can come later when your business sky rockets on the back of your inspired people's creative ideas and innovations ;)
So how do we achieve this workplace nirvana? Well we know how not to, at least in my opinion. Start by putting closed doors between the boss and everyone else. Don’t share ownership. Limit communication and motivation. Appoint managers and team leaders, so everyone else can stop feeling like they should be part of making decisions or heaven forbid actually lead anything...you’ve seen this before, right?!
What we need is an equilibrium approach one where everyone feels equally invested in shared goals - as much as possible anyway! Many structures have been proposed to action this, so the ultimate choice of which one to adopt comes down to finding the best match of values between all stakeholders.
"Cooperatives” and “collectives” are terms which often comes up when equalitarian workplaces are being discussed. They in some ways describe what I consider a good direction to head in. A cooperative is an organisation which needs to benefit all its members in some way and do it equally. A collective is a way of running any organisation so that decisions are made by all, for the benefit of all. Such beasts do exist and are out there today and I’ll be exploring them in future and also in real life as I move my own business in this exciting direction.