Managers and companies looking to grow profitably can hardly disagree that employee productivity has become the major managerial battlefield. Supported by workplace design and service, nudging can be an effective method to drive up both employee productivity and workplace efficiency.
Roughly speaking, nudging applies insights from behavioural science to design organisational contexts to optimise fast thinking and unconscious behaviour of employees in line with the objectives of an organisation.
Google is an excellent example of a company that has succeeded doing just that. Described in several books written by Google insiders covering the principles behind Google’s success – the company applies a very distinctive approach to employee management.
Rather than micro-managing, Google applies simple nudging and re-setting to improve the productivity, decision-making and perceived freedom of their employees. By its open outlook, the workplace design is adopted to improve collaboration and knowledge sharing, while the food choices in the cafeteria are laid out to increase healthy eating and thus to manage the health and productivity of its workforce.
Workplace Services can facilitate powerful nudging
Workplace Services, make up a great opportunity to facilitate powerful nudging. From behavioural psychology, it is well-known that people subconsciously imitate the gestures, attitudes and speech patterns of others (Mirroring). This concept takes place in everyday interactions and often goes unnoticed by both the person enacting the mirroring behaviours and the individual who is being mirrored.
When desiring certain attitudes or ways of behaving from employees, making sure that the front-line service personnel is trained to expose just the behaviour, attitudes and gestures desired, comes in handy.
If you’re, for example, looking to create a relaxed behaviour and atmosphere in the office where everyone can be themselves, it doesn’t help if your front-line service personnel (i.e. workplace experience managers, concierge, reception) wears up-tight uniforms, uses a controlled language and has a corporate outlook. This would translate to your employees as well.
Influence behaviour through workplace design
Another powerful tool to apply when looking to nudge behaviour is the facility design. Let’s say you’re one of the companies that have stranded in the pitfall of way too many and way too long ineffective meetings.
From research, we know that stand-up meetings cut meeting time with 25% without influencing the quality of decisions. Thus, introducing stand-up meetings could be a perfect way to nudge higher meeting efficiency and thereby employee productivity. Run a test in your workplace by replacing regular desks and chairs with stand-up desks only and evaluate the effect with your employees or design a walking path around or within your office building, that encourages people to do walk-and-talk meetings instead.
Nudging can also be of help if your goals are to enhance organisational knowledge sharing and innovativeness. If you want your employees to start surrounding themselves with people from other departments, re-planning the canteen areas or creating coffee corners will allow employees from different departments to meet and interact. Naturally, those areas must architecturally be arranged to create the best atmosphere to engage in discussions and exchange ideas.
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