President and CEO, Nurse Next Door, Vancouver
It comes as no surprise to me that more comfortable workplaces mean happier and more productive workers. People find happiness in being supported in their work environment; seemingly insignificant things like environmental features can affect employees' physical, functional and psychological comfort.
For some people, these features might be photos, plants or a pool table. For me, it's a couch.
When I first came on board at Nurse Next Door, there was a couch in my office. I liked the idea of creating a space that felt less corporate and more inviting.
So many positive things were associated with this couch. We are in the business of caring for people, and that commitment to care extends beyond our clients to caregivers, franchise partners and the HeartQuarters team.
Now, I never sit at a desk in my office; I always sit on the couch. Here is why I think every CEO needs one:
A couch creates a feeling of home
Our business is disrupting the traditional health-care model. That disruption begins in our workplace. People prefer work environments that put them at ease. At Nurse Next Door, we believe everyone can stay at home. We have brought that vision to the workplace, creating a space that makes people feel at ease.
Some of my best ideas come from working on the couch. We empower people to think outside of the box – and make themselves a little mentally uncomfortable – by inviting them to get physically comfortable.
The design of your work environment can impact productivity
PhD and designer Jacqueline Vischer found that happier workers work harder. It takes more than just financial incentives to keep workers satisfied. Whether it's getting rid of cubicles, letting in more natural light or offering different spaces for the team to work, office design is underrated.
Believe it or not, a few carefully chosen pieces of furniture in your workspace and office can make a real difference.
We can get more natural responses from interview candidates
I have started holding interviews on the couch. People can give better interviews when they are comfortable. Getting rid of the barrier of a desk gives candidates the opportunity to meet our team as equals.
By making interviewees feel like collaborators instead of subordinates, the interview process can be fun. This can change how people view their careers and opportunities. We love what we do, we love what we represent, and we want new hires to feel the same way. The first conversation with a potential hire on the couch gives them insight into our workplace culture, and it gives us insight into who they are. If comfort helps people be more open and honest, we can better determine if a candidate's values really do align with ours.
The couch supports our self-led culture and open-door policy
Walking into a traditional meeting setup with a desk and chair can be intimidating. When someone is seated behind a desk, it seems like their opinions are the only ones that matter. With a couch, you can create a casual space where people actually want to talk. And I don't just mean a physical space. The cultural structure of the workplace can impact the happiness of your workplace.
It was once said that "culture eats strategy for breakfast." While I believe culture and strategy need one another, Nurse Next Door wouldn't thrive without our self-led culture and open-door policy. People feel like they can come into my office and make suggestions, or verbalize ideas they have been toying with for a while.
Compassionate leadership can disrupt traditional workplace norms and reframe how employees view their careers and goals. The couch creates a dedicated area that's all about the conversation – about us speaking and listening to each other. An inviting space encourages an equal playing field and makes it easier to openly share ideas and collaborate.
As a leader, I believe that I am more approachable when we take formality out of the equation and come together as collaborators.
At Nurse Next Door, we are always trying new things. The couch provides an outlet for conversation, passion and unbridled ideas, which can create a recipe for innovation.
I'm proud to have an office that mirrors our core values of innovation and making a difference. It helps us connect with our "why": making lives better. When you think about it, good conversations and ideas often start in a relaxed place. Find a comfortable zone that inspires you to push your comfort level. For me, it's the couch.
Executives, employees, educators and human resources experts contribute to the ongoing Leadership Lab series.