How to Improve Your Office Culture in 2015
Workplace Wellness James Caan CBE, serial entrepreneur and Chairman of Start-Up Loans UK shares his expertise on the ideal modern office: culture, layout and technology.
Mediaplanet: How important is office culture to productivity?
Office culture and staff productivity are directly correlated—a happy, identifiable, driven and innovative company culture encourages productivity because the team are determined to be the best they can be. They understand the importance of their role and feel valued.
MP: Why is an engaging workspace necessary for building a thriving office culture?
An open plan office introduces an entrepreneurial atmosphere and steers away from that traditional ‘email culture.’ Nobody wants to feel constrained by their job titles. I encourage all my staff to get up and talk to each other and work together to get things done more efficiently and quickly.
"More than 1 in 3 would-be entrepreneurs say they think about starting a business every day, but 78 percent are afraid they’ll fail. Something needs to change."
There is no hierarchy at Hamilton Bradshaw, I sit amongst my team and we discuss projects throughout the day. We consistently ‘shake things up’ around the office to ensure the team can share excellence and inspire creativity wherever possible. I purposely keep the right people around me so we can work efficiently because surrounding yourself with the people you need makes work easier and more enjoyable. More than this, an open planned office enhances soft skills which are essential in the workplace. Communication skills are declining due to the accelerated use of technology and encouraging collaboration in the workplace can directly enhance these skills as well as creating better working relationships.
MP: How is technology transforming the way we work?
The tech industry continues to skyrocket worldwide, fundamentally changing everything about the way we work—the way we communicate, how we manage our finances, the way we advertise, even how we decide what to eat for lunch. Here in the UK, the Government has paid particular attention to its development financially, socially and economically, reiterating its importance to instilling innovation and creating huge opportunities for our economy. Sixty-five percent of today’s school children will end up at jobs that haven’t been invented yet—can you believe it? That really does epitomize the tech effect.
MP: What can corporate business executives learn from San Francisco’s growing start up culture?
There are all sorts of theories concerning the success of Silicon Valley, but for me it’s obvious. Every success story understands the value of the individual. Often, great people go missing in corporate industries, skills aren’t recognized or taken advantage of, which can be demotivating. Startups give their staff the freedom to develop and mould their roles resulting in a shared passion for success because they are not limited or constrained by their job title. They’re also not afraid of putting in long hours because in a startup business, everyone has the opportunity to be a hero and upskill quickly. Diversity, innovation and openness to new ideas help keep Silicon Valley strong—notions all businesses should be encouraging.
MP: What is one piece of advice you would offer to entrepreneurs gearing up for business success?
Success is a journey, not a destination and failure is a key part of the journey. Lots of entrepreneurs I meet are too afraid of failure. In fact, UK research recently showed that more than 1 in 3 would-be entrepreneurs say they think about starting a business every day, but 78 percent are afraid they’ll fail. Something needs to change. They assume if something goes wrong then that’s it. Any successful business will tell you it’s these failures that shaped their future success—they were able to learn from their mistakes. Failure is the foundation for innovation, embrace it!