Happiness at work: Lessons from home

Thanks to technology and mobility, our work has come home with us. So it’s only fair that home should come to work, right? It would seem logical that if people sit in front of a TV on the sofa at home while they work remotely, employees would be thrilled to have a similar set up within their office. However, in the workplaces where we’ve seen companies install couches and big screen TVs, those work spaces are almost never used by employees. Those companies missed the bigger picture. Home is as much an emotional experience as a physical one.

It’s more than just about comfy seating or watching the game. Work isn’t where you go; it’s what you do. Home is similar. Yes, it is a place you go, but more than that, it’s an experience you have. Similarly, the best workplaces create memories, capture events and tell stories. In the classic Management by Storying Around, David Armstrong advocates for more storytelling by leaders who want to cement experiences, communicate values, and reinforce membership in the organisation. Shared experiences help create the sense of belonging we need whether we’re at home, or yes, at work.

  • Having a role to play. I believe that, just as we are counted on in the home for specific tasks and contributions, we should each have a role to play and have meaningful tasks that give us a purpose in the workplace.
  • Being accountable. Being at home means being able to relax and be ourselves, but also be accountable for our actions. Work should be like this too. Having a culture of accountability at work is rewarding and helps us perform our tasks to a high ability.
  • Growing up. Going through our toddler and teenage years, we all test limits and push boundaries to find our voices and exercise autonomy. Organisations can learn from this and put home into work by giving people more choice and control.
  • Being appreciated no matter what. If you’re having to put on your armour to go to work, you’re not having a great experience in your workplace. Creating the emotional experience of home at work means people feel safe and can be themselves.

This is the best of bringing home to work: a workplace that creates the conditions for us to be our best, alongside colleagues whom we value and who value us.

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Dr. Tracy Brower a sociologist focused on work, workers, and workplace is a Principal with the Applied Research + Consulting group at Steelcase

 

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