Work: A Social Culture

I’d wager that, at some point, all of us have considered how we’d flourish in an ultra-cool, hyper-social campus culture. And, if you’re thinking anything like me, it’s a pretty nebulous concept. In another blog, I asserted that exposed brick and ductwork do not beget culture. So, personally, stripping away the aesthetics and amenities of said workplaces is necessary to look at what constitutes a “social” culture.


 Social Workplace Paradigm

A workplace that actively encourages engagement & interaction improves retention & is more attractive to prospective talent. Building teams that feed off each other & accelerate the pace of achievement becomes increasingly necessary in an era of proliferation for technology & communication. It also becomes increasingly difficult, with pervasive mobility and generational differences, to devise strategies for managing culture. Ideally, the integration process in a social environment occurs organically and allows management to:

Engage Wider Range of Human Intelligence

Interpersonal interaction has been shown to increase metacognition, emotional involvement, and planning quality. By promoting social interaction within the workplace, members’ increasing involvement organically embeds a deeper, more driven effort to achieve into the organization.

Unify Understanding of Common Values and Purpose

Embedding purpose in practice (beyond mission & vision statements) fulfills peoples’ accelerating need to positively impact society in the course of their work. Effective communication and modeling can be used to align organization’s sense of purpose from the big picture down to the individual.

Organically Encourage Spontaneous Innovation

Unlikely interactions can form relationships that increase both diversity and productivity for the individual and organization. There is transference – gleaning skills and perspective through collaboration. Then, there is the golden moment when a casual encounter is the catalyst for spontaneous innovation.

social workplace culture

Peer Effects in the Practice

A 2013 study sought to measure the effect of peers in the workplace by comparing incentive to work vs. work output. Employees had, in addition to monetary, social incentive measured to determine the incremental effect it had on productivity. The objective nature of the findings illustrates the importance of having cultural implementation and monitoring processes to avoid possible negative effects of peer pressure on individual performance.

  1. A workplace with a higher level of social interaction typically has a higher level of visibility when it comes to the productivity of others.
  2. The social pressure associated with seeing others’ outcomes at work facilitates comparison of individual productivity against that of one’s coworkers.
  3. While the relevance of peer pressure in a professional setting depends on skill-level & industry, the effects may exacerbate differences in productivity and clearly delineate top- and bottom-percentile performers. The 2013 study found that the “peer quality” of top performers exceeded that of the bottom by an average of 23%.
social workplace culture
Colleagues celebrating the birthday of their boss

Cultivating a Social Culture

“How do we encourage & support interpersonal relationships while maintaining high levels of professionalism, productivity, and quality?”

Encourage Vulnerability

99% of employees reportedly think workplace trust is a big deal, but only 29% acknowledge high levels of trust in the workplace. Isolationist culture breeds miscommunication and an opaque veil separating people up the ladder. Give employees autonomy, encourage them to relate to each other, and equitably support individuals in their talents and conflicts to facilitate flow of ideas and productivity unimpeded by self-consciousness and doubt. Most importantly, use failure constructively.

Embody “Can-Do”, Courtesy, & Candor

Lead by example – increased productivity on an individual level has been shown to positively impact the productivity of those adjacent, so, *JUST MAYBE*, honesty and polite workplace practices as organizational precedent will trickle down to new and existing members.

Embrace Flexibility & the Individual

Making an active effort to engage members of organization through providing workplace alternatives and well-distributed attention is not only effective for building morale, it’s on the short-list of concerns for today’s workplace. Incorporate options for varied work styles into your space, encourage positive lifestyle changes, and appreciate the individual by utilization of their specific talents and inclusion in decision-making.

social workplace culture

Thanks for Reading!

At Office Furniture Warehouse, our mission is making your workspace work as hard as you do. Cultivating a social culture in the workplace happens organically – the built environment is just one way to influence it. Need a resource for leveraging a workspace toward the benefit of human capital?

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