When you hit a tough and major project at work, it is easy to put your head down and think, “When we get on the other side of this, we’ll reward ourselves. We’ll relax. We’ll take a breath. We’ll talk more about how we’re all feeling. But for now, we work.” Then that project leads to another. And another. And suddenly you feel tired all the time, and bummed to go to work, and no one around you seems happy.
Here’s the thing: it didn’t get like that due to one person and nothing will get better if you look to just one person to manage office culture. But it can get better and it will, if you participate. These are things you can do today, whether you’re an intern or a CEO, whether you work behind a desk or a register:
1. Say good morning and good night to your co-workers.
You ever notice how much better you feel when you’re nice to people? You don’t have to lay flowers at their feet, just say good morning. You never know when an unexpected bit of kindness, yes even something as small as a greeting, can turn someone’s whole day around.
2. Eat a good looking lunch.
I’m so inspired by Johanna Scott’s Dining at My Desk. Her food is more than just frugal and healthy, it’s beautiful. Why not put a salad in a pretty bowl? Even if you get takeout for lunch, you deserve more than a plastic fork and a styrofoam container.
3. Find a mentor outside of your company.
Certainly people within your company can be helpful mentors, but they shouldn’t be your only ones. Find someone outside of your office who can offer a fresh perspective and help you see the big picture. Start by following someone new on Twitter today, and introduce yourself. In 2013, I’m working on a mentor network of people I can learn from in my professional and personal life.
Office culture isn’t about policies or rules or even traditions. It changes and moves as new people come on and the company grows and changes. It is made up of a series of small actions by everyone over time, and you can absolutely help it move in a good direction. And even if you can’t, it sure doesn’t suck to create a better daily experience for yourself and stand out as a positive person in your workplace.
How do you affect office culture where you are?