Companies have been looking for productivity boosters for as long as they have been in business. Often these boosters take the form of direct efforts, such as team outings or the dreaded “team-building exercise”. While these approaches may have an immediate positive impact, oftentimes lessons learned or motivation gained diminish over time. Ultimately, the reason for this drop-off is lack of consistency on following through on the positive lessons. A similar effect occurs outside the business world. For instance, when one is attempting to learn a foreign language, it does no good to engage in a weeklong “cram” and then ignore the language until the need arises.
Once a company decides to employ productivity strategies, the question becomes, what should these strategies entail? Most of the time, it makes sense to align strategies with existing company culture. Technology companies may benefit from allowing employees to bring their own mobile devices to work, for instance. Regardless of the direction you choose, some change is going to be necessary.
The word “ambience” elicits images of colored lighting and modern architecture, but in reality, the most effective ambient strategies are personality-based and usually originate from the top. Particularly in a corporate setting, the trickle-down effect is significant due to structured hierarchy. While it may seem cliché, the idea that management should “lead from the front” is a highly effective ambient strategy, and not just because of the feel-good nature such efforts inspire in employees.
Rather, when an employee sees someone in a position of success that regularly dives right into projects and is not afraid to get their hands dirty, they get the idea that, if they want to reach the same level of success, they must be similarly willing to take on a challenge. Remember, the reverse is true as well, and if an employee feels the only way to get ahead is through personal relationships and backstabbing, they will do that as well.
Ambient strategies must be consistent and long-lasting to realize significant benefit, but they can revitalize a business due to their integration in the daily experiences of employees. Further, because the benefits of ambient strategies are productivity based, you can measure the value of such efforts as a function of time. While ambient strategies do take time to mature, they can certainly adhere to the S.M.A.R.T. goal structure moreso than direct productivity boosters. In addition, they can be far more cost effective. Besides, does anyone really want to play tug-of-war in business casual?