Enormous changes in office design in the last fifteen years have seen the introduction of many non-business extras, the purpose of which is to pamper the rare and over-stressed grey matter of the specialists employed to improve the bottom line of their companies’ profit and loss accounts. Such extras probably started with the famous Google “chill out room”, and were soon followed by other innovations such as hot desking, biophilic design, water features such as fountains, fish tanks, tropical plants, etc., dedicated task areas, fully-equipped fancy kitchens with sophisticated coffee and snack-vending machines, games rooms, miniature libraries and more. And therefore, some geeks actually go to work to rest.
Focusing now on the world of media, famous for its reliance on modern technologies, we can draw interesting contrasts between the business of broadcasting and the software and hardware developers who service this sector. Broadcasters, exceptionally, operate in a unique environment in which entertainment, creativity, excitement and enjoyment are present in abundance 24/7, and whose operatives, therefore, are observed to have less of a tendency to seek chill out escapism in order to get through their demanding, high pressure workloads. On the other hand, highly-qualified specialists on the technological and manufacturing side of the media sector tend to expect the full range of top-level executive amusements and toys, perhaps not quite to the Google level of sophistication, but certainly enough to meet their stressed-out, chill out requirements.
As an example, let us now have a look at the famous brand, Provys, and how they keep their programmers, IT consultants, developers, sales staff, etc., continually motivated in an ever-changing, fast-moving environment.
“Finding and keeping top quality staff is a continual challenge, especially when the demand for such employees is growing constantly.”
“We have adopted a number of strategies within our company to ensure that we attract the best of the best and then work continuously to keep them happy and motivated even though the work-life balance is more and more under pressure” says Monika Zabadalova, HR Recruiting Manager, Provys. “The work in our company is never boring and the concept of ‘routine’ simply does not exist. Our staff are frequently called upon to travel the world negotiating, analysing, developing, implementing, training and supporting complex projects and solutions, meeting a whole range of interesting colleagues, communicating in different languages, and always maintaining a positive attitude and a happy smile. Of course, their business life is heavy on adrenalin, often pushing the limits, yet requiring 100% reliability and professional calmness in the face of frequently unpredictable circumstances.”
Some twenty years ago, when Provys was little more than a start-up, the social area within the company consisted of only one kitchen with its obligatory coffee machine, water-cooler, fridge and dish-washer. Conversations took place here in between current projects and a small number of staff were relatively satisfied until their numbers started to grow. An additional kitchen was added with enhanced coffee facilities, soon to be followed by new offices, even better kitchens complete with multi-screen TV facilities, soft chairs, sofas and even more drinks and snack vending facilities. Trying to pander to their own intellectual capacities, the specialists started to bring in complex jigsaw puzzles for further entertainment in the kitchens. This showed management that the grey matter still required yet further, and alternative stimulation even when exhausted following hours of demanding, creative enterprise. This led quite logically to the establishment of the company chill-out room, furnished with comfortable chairs and sofas, large-screen TV facilities, a play-station with a wide assortment of games including their favourite, Formula 1, a dartboard and a collection of jigsaw puzzles, some of whose unbelievably complex templates originated in-house. Great things amuse great minds.
These great minds, in general, in the broadcasting industry are employed increasingly in ever more demanding specialisations which inherently leads to the necessity to take a rest and re-charge one’s batteries. Failure to recognise this need can result in “burn-out”, system instability and even increased staff turnover. Good managers must utilise every psychological trick in the book to recruit and keep the best employees, perhaps for the rest of their lives, and part of their magic includes the chill out or re-charge room.