That deck space represented a place where everyone was included and sat together; there was no place for ‘cool kids’ to separate themselves, or for introverts to hide. If you went to the deck, you were included in the community. Conversations flowed easily and creatively. Everyone was valued. It was a serendipitous discovery of one of the many things that made our workplace an amazingly creative and positive place.
When we were moving to a new office without a deck due to growing staff size, I knew we had to recreate that ‘picnic table’ community culture somehow. We had a huge bright long space for the kitchen and eating areas. But whilst the president suggested cafe tables and bar stools which would look nice, I knew our staff NEEDED the singular picnic table. We valued collaboration, and that sense of inclusion. But of course we were now no longer an office of 15 people, we were 35 plus several other offices. How could we all fit around our very weathered 6-person picnic table?
After some research, I found a VERY long picnic table. It was one of the first things to get installed in the new space, and it worked like a charm. Everyone instinctively gathered there and it became the site of hilarious lunchtime conversations, birthday party celebrations, impromptu meetings, and the pausing place when waiting for a cup of tea, or the next pot of coffee to brew.
So whilst a table may be just a place to eat, for our company it reinforced the culture of inclusion and collaboration. Consider what your company’s ‘picnic tables’ are and how they reinforce and support your culture. You may be surprised at what you discover!