One of the benefits of office sharing is the opportunity it provides for interaction and networking with neighbors whom you might not normally encounter. Finding a suitable space is just one aspect of creating a stimulating workplace; connecting with the people around you can help anyone feel more relaxed and creative, which in turn boosts productivity.
Some of the best office-sharing hosts know this, and work to provide opportunities for socializing, networking, and idea sharing as part of the work environment. This can be an attractive feature to young firms, and is one of the things that differentiates an excellent office-sharing environment.
Moving beyond the physical basics of furniture, equipment, and infrastructure, these workplaces create a collaborative environment and a collegial culture that includes everyone in the space. It does wonders for the atmosphere and can enhance job satisfaction, which is essential for retaining talent. Additionally, a general feeling of camaraderie helps to head off misunderstandings or resentments that can build if people don’t communicate.
Activities and events should be tailored to fit the people involved, and may be as simple as a potluck luncheon or as involved as a series of lectures. Whatever the case, it’s important that they be freely available and include everyone in the space. After all, the whole idea is helping everyone to know their neighbors better. Read on for some great ideas for office activities to plan.
Here are some tried and true methods for giving coworkers the chance to find out more about the people they see every day:
Speed networking: Divide guests into smaller groups or start guests off in pairs. Give each guest 3-5 minutes to speak about their business, industry, etc. before switching speakers or partners. This type of networking gives everyone a chance to talk about their business, encourages mingling, and adds an element of fun.
“Ignite” style talks: Ignite talks follow the 20×15 in 5 rule. Give each guest the opportunity to present 20 slides with each slide advancing automatically every 15 seconds. This gives each guest five minutes to introduce their business, talk about their passions, explore new ideas, and show their creativity. If you have a larger networking event, this can be done in smaller groups or key speakers could be asked to present.
“Pecha Kucha” talks: Pecha Kucha talks follow a similar model, giving each presenter 20 slides with 20 seconds per slide for a total of six minutes and 40 seconds of talking. These short talks help guests get to know each other and provide some entertainment at networking events.
Meet at an event, like an art opening or author reading, with dinner afterwards. Or join a book club.
Invite guest speakers that connect business and personal interests to appeal to a wide audience. Someone from an art museum or a nearby university can provide information that’s interesting and informative. Throw in some snacks and wine and you’ve got a fun networking activity.
Events that don’t involve passively listening can be refreshing and stimulating. They build a sense of community and shared experience.
If the neighborhood accommodates it, a group walk can be easily organized. It provides a relaxed venue for conversation, gets workers outside, and has health benefits as a bonus. Outings to museums, parks, and popular restaurants are fun and easy to organize. Why not make a monthly visit to one of top rated eateries in your city? Or a Happy Hour series in quest of the city’s top martini?
If the space includes the right facilities, a group cooking event led by a local chef can be a big hit. Workers can learn something new, see each other in a different role, and have a great meal. Most chefs are glad to be invited and welcome the chance to meet potential customers.
Joining together to contribute to the community is a great way to build bonds in the workplace. Your group can participate in 5Ks for charity, collect donations for a shelter or Toys for Tots, or volunteer at a local soup kitchen or food bank. All of these are great opportunities for workers to learn more about each other.
Planning a networking activity for the workplace does not have to be complicated. Consider the audience and make it of value to them in some way. Talk it up and use social media to spread the word –before, during, and after. Make it free and convenient, and the people will make it a success. And food. Food is always good.
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