Updated: Aug 29
In the 21st century we have come a long way from the original working conditions of ‘free workers’ in the industrial revolution. Over time we have created working places which protect, motivate and empower employees. Employers are always looking to improve the workplace to increase productivity and wellbeing of their employees. We look up to tech giants such as Spotify, Google and Facebook and their creative working environments and see those as the current example of how the perfect workplace should look like, even the term ‘perfect workplace’ is clouded with mystery. In this blog we will take a closer look at 5 common myths about the perfect workplace and show you the reality behind them.
Myth 1: Working 8 hours guarantees productivity.
The longer you work, the more work you get done. That seems the premises behind this myth that has been around since Henry Ford introduced the eight-hour workday to his factory workers. Experiments here in Sweden with six-hour workdays show that the opposite is true and that 8 hours does not lead to more productivity. They argue that a lot of the eight hours spent at the office are spent inefficiently and that the six hours put down a healthy amount of pressure on their employees. Furthermore, they argue that their employees are happier to show up and leave the office and are in general less exhausted. While we are not arguing that all companies should switch to six hours of work per day, we are arguing that the normal nine-to-five working days should be a thing of the past as they are simply exhausting your workforce. Try to rethink what makes your employees productive and try to tap into their needs. Perhaps working from home is a viable (better) alternative, or shortened working days with shortened breaks. As always, there are no one-size-fits-all solutions.
Reality 1: Working 8 hours does not guarantee productivity.
Myth 2: The closer the relationship within teams, the less errors will be made.
When you think about it, it makes sense right? If you have a good connection with your colleagues and your manager and if you got your relationship and work down to a routine, then there should be less room for errors. Nothing is less true. A study by Amy Edmondson shows that employees and managers with a close relationship reported significantly more errors than the test subjects who do not have a close relationship. So why is that? The answer is quite simply: the employees felt more certain to their managers to report errors because of their good relationship. This is important to note because failure is a part of progress. As an employer you need to know where mistakes are made so you can improve your business, therefore it is your responsibility to create the safe environment to be able to report these errors. You should focus on continuous improvement rather than perfection.
Reality 2: The closer the relationship within teams, the more errors will be reported and the faster they improve.
Myth 3: Like-minded people work better together.
On the surface this one seems to make sense. The more you are on the same line with your colleagues the faster you take decisions and the better results you will get, right? Wrong. A study by Kathrine Philips, Katie Liljenquist and Margaret Neale disproves this and argues that homogenous teams indeed take faster decisions, but do not make better decisions. The heterogenous teams performed best in terms of decisions as they kept questioning and challenging their partners to come to better results.
Reality 3: Homogenous teams deliver speed, heterogenous teams deliver results.
Myth 4: Additional perks make for happy employees.
We have all seen the examples of Google, Twitter and Facebook. Cafeteria filled with food and beverages (sometimes even entire meals), doggy day care services and even cleaning services are all perks which are supposed to make your employees happy. Although nobody ever got sad from a free meal, it is not a guarantee for happy employees. These perks will only be perceived as offerings and add-ons to their job if the working culture is healthy. If you are encouraged to work through your lunchbreak, but in exchange you do get a free lunch, that might feel more as a bribe than an actual perk. It is therefore important that you get a healthy culture first which empower your employees. Only after that fundament is established, can you think about adding additional perks. If you want to learn more from Google, read my blog on the 7 most important lessons here or if you want to find out what truly motivates employees in this day and ages, read this blog.
Reality 4: Only if you have the fundamentals right, then additional perks will contribute to happiness.
Myth 5: Doing what you love is the best way to achieve the most out of your work life.
We all heard the conventional wisdom that you should strive to work with what you love to get the most out of yourself. This string of wisdom argues that your passion motivates you do great things and make a difference in the world. There is evidence which disproves this self-centred motivation. A study done by O.C. Tanner in 2015 shows that great work or results are not so much achieved by doing something we love but, according to 88% of the participants, it is more focussed on making a difference that other people love. That is where true productivity and great accomplishments lie. This is not to say that you should not try to find job wherein you can do what you already love to do, it is just a way of saying that it is not necessarily the best way of the most out of your work life or achieving great things.
Reality 5: Achieving greatness often begins with trying to make a difference that other people love.
Are you interested in finding out more? Get in touch with us to see how we can help you to:
Open up to errors and improvement
Create heterogenous teams that deliver results
Establish a healthy culture which makes for happy employees
Achieve great results with the right people