The past 5 weeks in Professor Audrey’s OB class had been an enriching and thought-provoking one. Not only have I gained an invaluable amount of knowledge about the different organization theories and how interconnected these theories are in contributing towards the climate and culture of the workplace, I have also further affirmed that the everyday process of ‘going to work’ is not just like any other routine. More often than not, the daily routine which we follow during our personal time can be done mechanically without much thought processing since how we carry out this routine would not very much affect third parties. However, the routine of ‘going work’ everyday cannot be done mechanically because there are elements in the workplace that require us to display a certain degree of behavior intelligence so as to better manage personal behavior and relationships in the workplace, especially in the age of globalization where companies have been witnessing a greater diversity among its employees. In a workplace with people from different nationalities and having contrasting background, it is essential for individuals to be equipped with cognitive cultural intelligence when they go to work, in order to interact and work effectively with their colleagues who have different nationalities. Having vast knowledge about other cultures would allow individuals to be aware of what are the dos and don’ts when communicating and working together with foreign colleagues. Being discerning of other cultures would not only help to mitigate any conflicts that might arise from the differences in culture, behaving according to cultural expectations would also allow foreign colleagues to feel respected and welcomed. This would create a friendly and diversity-loving climate in the company that would be attractive for potential foreign talents to join. Additionally, I have also understood that people have different reasons that motivate them to go for work and they hope to achieve varying rewards from work. Some people value extrinsic rewards such as pay rise while others may appreciate intrinsic rewards such as achieving self-actualization and esteem. With different motivators, people might, as a result, adopt varying attitudes towards their work to attain the rewards they yearn.
The theories of OB are not just relatable in the classroom context, these theories are also very much applicable in the real world where organizations do apply the OB concepts to enhance the environment and climate in the workplace. I was interning at Singapore Exchange (SGX) for the last 6 months. Unlike other companies which only have a relatively small and enclosed pantry, SGX has an extremely spacious and open pantry which the management named it as ‘Market Place’.
A marketplace in common context is a ‘place where values, opinions, and ideas are put forward for debate or recognition’ and an open space where people congregate together to interact. Thus by naming the pantry as ‘Market Place’, the SGX management team hopes to use the open pantry as a nudge to promote communication and synergy among employees across division by providing them with a space where interaction can take place easily. With such an ample area in its pantry and even furnishing it with drinks, snacks and fruits, most employees (including the interns like me!) have much incentive to purchase their lunch back to the pantry, instead of having lunch outside. There were around 10 interns in various departments during the time I was interning and despite being in different departments, we often made use of the Market Place as our ‘meeting point’ where we had lunch and breaks together. It was not just the team of interns, full time employees from different departments would also be having lunch together at the Market Place; and sometimes if the management team happened to walk past, they would also join them as well. Through all the lunch-time and break-time interactions, SGX’s employees, regardless of their divisions, are able to forge a close relationship with each other and this would help to create a cordial culture in SGX where relationships amongst colleagues are valued. Additionally, SGX also holds celebrations for festivals such as Christmas and New Year at Market Place as well where all employees would gather for an afternoon of fun and drinks. This further helps to promote a fun-loving and lively culture in SGX which I believe would allow work to be more enjoyable for all SGX employees.
Hence from the design of SGX’s open pantry, it is evident that the management team has cleverly planned to use environmental cues as a driver to advocate interactions among employees in order to attain the goal of building a people-oriented culture within the company. From this, we are able to see how OB’s theory becomes alive in the real world.