Yesterday the under-appreciated groundhog got its annual 15 minutes of fame. These little guys are best known for shadow spotting and wreaking havoc with their burrows, but groundhogs can also teach us a lot about creating a favorable work environment.
Four Work Environment Lessons from the Groundhog
There are some things that the groundhog does that you would never want to do in the office, like getting aggressive with a competitive co-worker or running from your shadow. But for the most part the groundhog is a productive animal that can work well with others and goes to great lengths to build a successful habitat. The four groundhog behaviors below can be used by humans to improve their own work environments.
Create a Comfortable Space
Groundhogs work diligently throughout the fall to perfect a bunker that suits their needs for the winter season. Although they use the space to hibernate (you shouldn’t attempt to sleep in your bunker), it is equally important that this space is comfortable and meets your needs.
You can’t control the entire office, but you can create a workspace that is conducive to productivity. For starters, find an ergonomic chair that offers ample support, adjustable features and a cushion. Consider adding on a backrest for lumbar support if needed. Next, make adjustments so that your eye level hits the computer screen about two to three inches down from the top. Then place the keyboard and mouse so that they are at elbow height. Make these changes and you’ll emerge from your bunker after a period of focused work ready to take on the next challenge of the day – either with or without your shadow.
Keeping Others in the Know
It’s a little known fact that groundhogs are sometimes referred to as “whistle pigs.” This is because they let out a loud whistle to warn other nearby groundhogs when they’ve spotted a predator.
Open lines of communication, like in the groundhog’s woodland home, are critical for a constructive workplace. Keep co-workers and supervisors in the know on how projects are progressing and speak up as soon as you see a problem. If your company doesn’t already have a master contact list, suggest that one be created, and include the preferred method of contact for each team member so you can effectively and quickly communicate issues.
Groundhogs have learned to burrow, swim and climb in order to both survive and thrive in the wild. This versatility serves them well and allows them to handle problems that similar animals wouldn’t be able to overcome.
The ability to be versatile is also necessary in the office. Whether you are open to trying different ways of working through problems, interacting with a variety of personality types, or sharpening your skills with a new task, those who show their willingness to be flexible often thrive in the workplace. Several years ago, Accenture PLC conducted a survey that found many companies wanted to hire people with more skills. Employers considered versatility to be a sign that an employee could adapt quickly and handle duties that wouldn’t necessarily fall under their standard job description.
Take an Afternoon Break
The groundhog is a busy animal, known for being active in the morning and the evening. However, they have downtime during the afternoon when their energy level is at its lowest.
Like the groundhog, many of us experience a dip in energy during the afternoon. Instead of trying to power through it, consider taking a power nap. There is a large body of science that shows a 10-30 minute nap in the afternoon can have a positive impact on productivity. Some work environments are conducive for taking a quick power nap, but many are not. Discuss ways that your office can designate a quiet space for power naps and uninterrupted work.
Have you noticed other groundhog behaviors that can be useful at the office? Share your groundhog-inspired ideas in the comments section or via your favorite social media site.