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Establishing an Optimal Office Environment
In order for businesses to be successful, they need employees to be motivated and engaged in the achievement of their goals. The office environment itself, in which work gets done plays a very important role in encouraging this motivation.
Employees spend large amounts of time in their offices, and as such, should be made to feel as comfortable as possible when they are there. This not only means endeavoring to establish an optimal office environment, but also taking strides to eliminate the potential for a hostile environment as well.
Strategies for creating a space in which employees can achieve their fullest potential can be categorized under three easy-to-remember groups: People, Place, and Things of an optimal office environment.
Hire Positive People
First and foremost, the most important aspect of an office environment is the people who work in it, one very typical and observable metric of culture. Hiring positive employees right out of the gate is a great way to ensure you keep office morale up, maximize communication, and promote productivity.
When hiring new people, employers should observe closely the candidate’s attitude during and even before the interview – are they friendly, flexible, and respectful? Do they answer questions thoughtfully, do they seem eager, do they seem like they would be a good team player? A good attitude is integral to creating an engaging office environment. After all skills they need to succeed can be taught much more easily than a new attitude. A number of pre-employment testing tools can provide excellent insights into behavior and overall attitudinal approaches to a number of different situations.
Speaking of attitude, sometimes the easiest way to promote a positive office environment is simply to remove anything negative or toxic from it. While employers should put effort into hiring the right people, they also should be cognizant of any employees that may be adversely affecting office morale. They must be willing to listen to complaints that arise about disruptive employees, and if the situation calls for it, not be afraid to address those issues. Keep in mind that avoiding or not doing anything about that toxic employee is the very same as stating it as acceptable behavior; action is critical. Read more about hostile work environments here.
Improving the Team
While hiring the right people is a crucial first step, an individual and its team needs to evolve. In order to maintain an optimal office environment, the entire team needs to work well together – while this is no surprise, this requires diligent efforts to continuously improve team dynamics. A well-organized On Boarding program can set the pace for a very positive experience and even contribute to retention.
An effective way to improve communication is through regular, on-going feedback. Not only will this demonstrate to employees that their leadership is accessible, it will mobilize employees to continuously improve.
Additionally, steps to improve the team – and therefore, the office environment – can be taken outside of the office. Organizing activities and outings that encourage team building, while also recognizing a team’s successes helps to build camaraderie and strengthens the team’s overall performance. Teamwork Fitness Survey tools can help calibrate the top functioning team dynamics (e.g.; cohesiveness, meeting skills, conflict resolution) ensuring on-going levels of high-performance are always within reach.
Offering employees flexibility can lead to more productivity, whether it be the choice between working from home or at the office, or letting them decide when, and how, they take their breaks – this also shows trust in their judgement, which reinforces the positive office environment.
Work on your space
It should be fairly obvious that an integral part of establishing a positive, productive office environment, is ensuring the office space itself is clean, inviting, and comfortable. Employees spend large chunks of their time there, and the happier they are, the more productive they will be.
While there will of course be budget considerations, allowing employees to customize their office – within reason – will be beneficial. This could include the option of sitting or standing desks, ergonomically designed chairs or keyboards, and more.
Believe it or not, the lighting – both amount and type – of an office environment is a big factor in how productive employees can be. While it isn’t always possible to have a large amount of natural light in an office, employers can take strides to ensure an optimal setting.
Lighting ranges from warm (light from a fire) to cold (an overcast winter day) and affects people accordingly. Warmer colors are good for areas such as break rooms – they allow the employees to feel more relaxed and happy. Mid colors work well for meeting rooms – they will keep employees alert, but still give off a welcoming vibe. Cold colors should be used in the areas where work needs to get done, as they tend to improve mood and productivity, while lowering fatigue.
Armed with this knowledge about lighting, employers can optimize their office environment by creating an intelligent design, incorporating different work stations – with different lighting – suited to different tasks. Seeking the advice of an interior designer for specifically office settings is also a good idea.
More about the effects of lighting can be read here.
Many recent studies have proven the benefit of having plants in an office. A greener office environment led to an increase in productivity and creativity; a reduction in stress, sickness, and absence; and overall healthier employees. For further reading, check out this study.
Healthy employees are happy employees, and as such, employers should consider offering a selection of healthy options for different aspects of life.
This could include offering gym memberships – or other recreational activities, such as interactive games like ping pong – for employees (if there isn’t one available in the building); giving the option of walking meetings, or other similar tactics to avoid sitting all day, or even stocking a kitchen area with healthy snacks and drinks employees can eat during the day.
This should be an obvious one, and it’s crucial to a productive office environment. Simply put: employees need to be able to do their jobs. It is incredibly frustrating to be unable to complete a task due to a technological limitation, whether it be requiring admin privileges they don’t have, or simply not having the correct program to get the job done. Employees don’t all need the latest cutting-edge technology, but they should be appropriately equipped to deal with any aspect of their job that may come up. Equally important, they need to be shown how to optimize its usage – comprehensive training is essential to leverage the investment of tech-related, productivity tools.
There are many aspects to establishing an optimal office environment. If employers take appropriate steps to ensure that productivity can be maximized through these different methods, they will continue to grow and succeed.