COLUMN: Why we need healthy work spaces


Yesterday I got a straight-razor shave. Ladies, if you want to do something way rad for a man in your life, book them a shave at the barber. The hot towels, the lather of the shaving foam, the razor blade so close to the neck – it’s awesome! Once we get finished with one of these bad boys, we feel more manly than a cowboy riding rodeo (we’re not, but we can pretend).

­The reason I’m telling you this is that I didn’t actually go to a barber yesterday. I just got up from my desk, walked a few steps, sat down, and the barber was there. I also get my hair cut at the office, a massage when I need one, and a new tattoo when the addiction comes a-calling. Oh, and Jasmine visits the office every now and then to sit with the beautician we have come in.

So why do we do this for our team? Is it because we’re nice people?

Alas, no; it’s because we’re sneaky.

­There’s a great quote that says, “Happy wife, happy life”. It works for more than just the missus, though. An employer’s variation could be, “Happy staff , life’s a laugh” (although, to be fair, it really only works when read with a Scottish accent).

To me, creating an environment of comfort is not simply the right thing to do; it’s the smart thing to do. If my team doesn’t hate where they work, they are a lot more likely to put in the extra hours when they need to. Which BTW, is completely up to them, as the staff are in control of when they arrive and leave. It’s not flexi-time; it’s just “get-it-done” time. If you’re having a bad day and you’d rather go home/shopping, you don’t have to ask permission; you just have to let us know. We hire smart adults. ­They are perfectly capable of managing themselves.

Ironically, since introducing this system, rather than spending less time at the office, they’re there more! ­ They are 100% autonomous – they get to choose how they spend their time, so they put it to good use and get the job done. And to think, all I needed to do was to give people control of their lives and a few little perks. It’s so easy, I don’t understand why everyone doesn’t do it.

Here’s the deal: for years I thought it was about the perks. Now I realise it’s about the autonomy. If you want to create a healthy work environment, share the control with your team. Let them create the rules of engagement.

Creating a healthy work space is everyone’s job, regardless of which side of the salary cheque you sit. ­The sooner we all realise that we’re all working towards the same goal here, the happier, and healthier, we’ll all be. Now then, enough talking shop; I have to go sort out the “… happy life” bit.