Companies We Love: Village Workspaces
The cool new co-working space puts happiness first.
Well-being expert Sophie Keller wants employers to put happiness first. “Research has really proved that the happier you are the more successful you'll be,” she explains. “Happy people perform 202% better than those who aren't; they have better bottom line results.” In addition doing her doctorate on creating happiness in workspaces (and why doing so is essential to companies’ success), she’s co-founder of the cool new co-working space Village Workspaces. “Offices like ours—which put happiness and well-being first—are the future of work,” she says. She and her husband, Oli Barry, along with their partner, Lew Maler, have opened two spaces in LA, which hold over 60 offices between them. Companies from Vox Media to 360Heros to CrowdfundX have moved in, and Sophie and her partners are looking to expand across the US—and beyond—soon. Sophie filled us in on the connection between happiness and success, how Village Workspaces puts its members’ well-being first and how other companies can do the same for their team.
Happy employees perform better than unhappy ones
They're more productive and loyal, their health is better, they’re more creative and they have better relationships. When you're happy, there's an opening that happens in your mind—you're open to learning, you've got a better memory, you think more quickly, you solve problems more easily and you create better social connections. Essentially, happiness allows you to maximize your potential, performance and productivity, and you're much more likely to get what you want as a result. When you're negative, the opposite effect takes place. You go into fight or flight mode, and you narrow the range of responses that you’re capable of and think less clearly. We, socially, have this perspective that if we have better relationships, more money, a perfect body—whatever it is—we’re going to be happier. But every time we reach one of those goals, we push happiness away because we want more and more and more. No single thing is ever going to make you happy. The key is to reverse the formula and find out how to be happy first, because happiness will bring these to you—you'll lose weight, you'll have better relationships and you'll do work that you love.
People connect with their work when they’re in a positive space
87% of employees worldwide are not engaged at work. That's why creating these workspaces makes a difference. People can get on with whatever they're doing in a beautiful environment that makes them happy. Even if you don’t enjoy always what you're doing, we have a workspace where you'll enjoy doing it, regardless.
It’s all in the details
The design is absolutely gorgeous—very warm, inviting and mature. Our members are proud to be here and to bring clients here. I've written a book on feng shui, and we applied those principles to the layout, in addition to providing ergonomic desks and chairs. We have an organic vending machine and offer fresh-pressed juices, as well as quality coffee, beer and wine. These details, along with many others, come together to make people happy to arrive at work every day.
Use music that keeps people in the flow
We're mindful of the music that we use to ensure people stay in the flow, even when they’re working in open areas. We have quite a few writers in our space, and they like to have music without a beat, whereas other workers may prefer something more energizing. Ask yourself: what music will people people in the flow of whatever it is they’re doing? We tend to play mellow music, like Buddha Bar mixes and French cafe playlists.
Hire people with room to grow
Our team is autonomous. They they have a say in what they're doing and they can shape their jobs and acquire new skills. We put people in roles that are slightly beyond what they can do so that they feel they're growing into something and never get bored. We make sure that they're developing new skills and we're clear on what they want to get out of their roles. They're acknowledged; everyone has the say. We offer a flexible blend of work and life.
Foster meaningful social and business connections
We create an environment that allows all the companies in our workspaces to cross-pollinate. We host events where people can learn skills to build their businesses, while developing social relationships here as well as their businesses. the businesses work together. Most recently, we had a crowdfunding workshop and a sound immersion event, and we have a table tennis evening coming up. We're social creatures. Being able to blend that aspect of ourselves while doing our work is key to building workplace happiness.
Images courtesy of Village Workspaces