The Pros and Cons of Distractions in the Modern Small Business
Wander into a small business or modern office today and you might find a Golden Retriever greeting visitors, an impromptu Ping-Pong tournament or classic game of Pac-Man in the break room, with treadmills doubling as desks and exercise balls in place of chairs. It’s an evolving environment where employees can gather, discuss ideas and network in a space tailored to their needs. It’s important for small business owners to consider both the benefits and the potential risks that they can bring.
Incorporating informal opportunities for recreation within the office setting offers the potential for taking breaks without having to leave the office. Some of these new features also can create distractions, threaten productivity and risk injuring workers, customers and other visitors. Before your company adds recreation to the workplace, here are a few potential considerations to keep in mind.
Dogs in the Office
The benefit of walking a dog may provide a healthy break for employees, who otherwise might not get exercise and fresh air during the course of the workday. Dogs also require care and feeding throughout the course of the workday, which can be a social and team-building experience for employees.
On the negative side, dogs at work can present a distraction to workers and visitors, some of whom may have allergies or are afraid of dogs. Dog also may create disruptions during conference calls or other meetings if they see something that catches their attention. There is always the potential for a dog to bite a coworker or stranger, and if two or more dogs in the office do not get along, employees or visitors may be injured while trying to break the dogs apart. Dogs also may carry germs or diseases that are potentially harmful to humans.
You may want to consider policies for times when it is not acceptable to bring dogs into the office, such as new customer meetings or job interviews with prospective candidates. You also may consider having one conference room and potentially some work spaces where dogs are not allowed, in case someone with an allergy visits your office.
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Ping-Pong Tables and Other Activities
Instead of committing a day at the golf course, hosting a 15-minute Ping-Pong tournament, air hockey match or game of pinball can help build morale and help employees get to know one another in a different setting. They also can be a different way to get to know a new customer or prospective customer.
A short distraction can encourage camaraderie, strengthen employee engagement and even help with recruiting and retention efforts. However, if these activities become more than an occasional diversion, you might want to consider policies limiting when, and for how long, they can be played. What is more, injuries caused during playing games may threaten productivity.
Treadmill Desks and Other Alternative Furniture
While they may look like a good way to combine exercise with time in the office, the scientific benefits of treadmill desks and other kinds of furniture such as exercise balls are unproven and may cause injuries. They also may lead to an increase in errors and a decrease in productivity.
As you consider whether to include these and other recreational features in your small business or office, consider the potential risks and distractions against the possible benefits that incorporating them can provide. Understanding which features will motivate and engage your employees can help you create a safe and engaged workforce to help grow and expand your small business.
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