7 Ways to Make Work Feel More Like Life

Americans spend a lot of time at work. According to the Wall Street Journal’s 2015 American Time Use Survey, Americans with full-time jobs spent 8 hours and 8 minutes a day working or traveling to work in 2015. Considering we spent an average of 8 hours and 50 minutes a day sleeping on top of that, the remaining 7 hours are split between spending time with family and friends, eating, watching Netflix, and checking social media.

If we need to spend one-third of our lives working, we should be able to enjoy the time we spend at work. As the founder of a company, manager of a team, or a colleague, there are many ways you can contribute to cultivating a fun and positive work environment. Here are 7 ways you can make work feel more like life while staying productive at your company:

iBec Marketing Strategist, Chelsea Pullan, sits on a plush, armless blue couch in a cozy corner of the office filled with natural light

1. Open Concept Office

Open concept office spaces are becoming increasingly popular in the tech industry and startup world. Although an open floor plan can inevitably lead to a decrease in privacy, it can also lead to a huge increase in collaboration and transparency. These types of environments lend themselves well to comfortable office furniture, creative decor, and a brighter, more airy space to work in. Literally deconstructing walls that divide departments and management levels can lead to improved communication and more driven employees. At iBec, we also provide private spaces within our open office environment to give people the option to move to a quiet space if they need to.

2. Paid Volunteer Time

Volunteering is a great way to give back and get involved in your community. It can be difficult to find the time to volunteer on top of the 8‑hour workday. Paid volunteer time incentivizes employees to spend time engaging with their communities and getting involved in causes they feel passionate about. For colleagues, there may be opportunities to team up and volunteer on a project together like working in a soup kitchen, mentoring high school students, or helping a local nonprofit.

3. Flex Time Policy

A Flex (or Flexible) Time Policy is one way to help employees lead happy, fulfilling, and successful lives. This policy provides employees with the flexibility to work outside of the typical 9–5 workday, and be able to take lunch with family, go to an appointment, or pick up their kids from school. They’re able to come into work early or stay late to make up the time. At iBec, Flex Time is our way of acknowledging that we care the most about the work we do, and not necessarily when it’s done.

iBec employees sit at their desks in an open concept work area of the office. Developer, Nate Blanchette, leans over to pet the guest office dog.

4. Dog Time

According to USA Today, allowing dogs in the workplace helps in retaining and recruiting employees, improves morale, helps employees connect with each other, and can even help save dogs by making employees more likely to foster or adopt a new pup. Small businesses have led the way when it comes to dog-friendly work environments, but even large companies like Etsy and Salesforce are known for having an open doggie door policy.

5. Friday Happy Hour

Co-workers that play together stay together, isn’t that how the saying goes? Happy hours aren’t just for toasting to a successful week, they can also be a great excuse to end work early once a week and enjoy each other’s company outside stressful deadlines and project sprints. At iBec, we like to play a civil (non-money-betting) game of poker, or an entrancing round of Dungeons and Dragons to wrap up the week on a fun, positive note. When Monday rolls around, the team’s feeling recharged and ready to tackle any challenge that comes our way.

6. Music Vibes

Bob Marley once said, “One good thing about music, when it hits you, you feel no pain.” An office without music is well, a quiet one. Playing quiet music in the background can lead to better moods, increased productivity, and reduced stress. Background music isn’t suitable for all offices, but creating a music policy around allowing employees to wear headphones and listen to their own music as they wish can also be a huge benefit.

iBec Marketing Strategist, Jesse Plate, sits in a comfortable, blue armchair with his laptop on a lap desk

7. Working from Home

Lastly, what can make work feel more like life than, well, working from home? For internet-based businesses, allowing employees to work from home is a great benefit if they’re under the weather, or if the bad weather looms overhead during winter’s harshest months. If properly implemented, a work from home (or WFH) policy gives employees the flexibility to be productive, and in some cases more productive at home than in the office.

Not all of these policies will work for every business. What’s right for your business may vary depending on your industry, team size, or existing company culture. When in doubt, ask your employees: “What would make you excited to come to work every day?”

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