In our last blog, we discussed the importance of creating a positive office environment and the tangible negative repercussions you risk otherwise. Now it’s time to put you on the right track by giving you 138 Pyramid’s pillars of a positive office environment – and you’ll be surprised. It’s not all bean bags and foosball tables.
With a contemporary intellectual war raging about whether our increasingly digital world is bringing us closer together or alienating us ever more, it is no wonder that one of the most important things for jobseekers is feeling connected. And this is more than a social longing. Studies have shown that positive social connections result in increased productivity, faster skill acquisition, better mental acuity and overall improved job performance. Meanwhile, research from the University of California, Irvine shows that negative social relationships place people at a 70% greater risk of early mortality – as opposed to 20% caused by obesity, and 50% caused by smoking. With social connections playing such an important role in our wellbeing, it is crucial that business owners make a conscious effort to promote positive social interactions and an environment of connectivity amongst coworkers.
- Make sure office communication is not limited to the profession
- Create communal spaces – with some form of a common room or space to interact
- Organize social gatherings and focus on the important events – the Ramadan Iftar, the annual Christmas party and birthday celebration are way more than a formality!
On par with promoting positive social connections is the business owner’s ability to convey empathy. Brain imaging studies have found that employees recalling an un-empathetic boss showed increased activity in brain areas associated with avoidance and negative sentiment – hardly the foundations of a good working relationship. Additionally, researchers at the University of Michigan have linked empathetic leaders in the workplace with increased business resiliency – which means that showing empathy to your staff may be the thing that saves your business during rough times. With the economic downturn affecting all local businesses with varying severity, this is a crucial component that may help your business wade through troubled waters.
- Have periodic check-ins with your staff that are not task or project-related. Instead, focus on their updates, work load, and any stress triggers
- Promote a collaborative culture amongst coworkers, encouraging them to support each other with workload during stressful times
Transparent and open communication is important across all tiers of your business structure. Harvard University researcher Amy Edmondson’s studies, which focused on “psychological safety”, clearly showed that a culture of safety at work definitively led to better learning and performance in the workplace. This research defined a culture of safety as one where leaders are humble, inclusive, and more importantly encourage their staff to speak up – a testament to the importance of open communication in the workplace. A workplace where employees feel safe expressing their opinion and believe there is room for two-way communication is a breeding ground for innovation and creative thinking, both of which are key to business success.
- Utilize technology platforms to streamline communications in an open, transparent manner
- Consider adopting a variation of the “open door policy”, encouraging coworkers to approach you with their concerns
- Promote brainstorming sessions at the project design stage, or while addressing problems
- Provide a forum for staff to discuss challenges, lessons learned, or recommendations
With our busy schedules and even busier surroundings, organization is more important than ever. Business owners need to set the tone by creating a business culture that is organized, clean, and streamlined – and then create the systems and processes to ensure it stays that way. This is not easily accomplished, especially for early stage entrepreneurs that have a lot of managerial tasks and often suffer from information overload. However, it is crucial to make time to organize, as a cluttered office space has proven to adversely affect both productivity and motivation.
- Focus on these five key areas of organization: paper, office supplies, space & furniture layout, electronic information and time management
- Engage your employees and promote a sense of ownership, to ensure organization is a culture
- Create an organizational taskforce within the company
Comfort vs. Utility
Designing a comfortable workplace is not about aesthetics, but can have repercussions on office morale and happiness. Think about things like lighting, ventilation, office furniture as well as wall paintings, in-office branding, and communal spaces. Your office is an outward manifestation of your corporate culture, values, and philosophy – so you must ensure that they are aligned. While this might seem a little meta to some, this is key in implicitly reinforcing what you stand for daily among your staff.
With all that said, and no matter what the latest trends are, utilities are key. It seems common sense, but when the basics of a functional office work like clockwork (e.g. technology, hardware, software, office equipment), you are facilitating a productive and efficient work environment. This includes strong office admin staff, processes to mitigate any issues that might arise, and flexibility.
- Spend time brainstorming design elements that are in line with your corporate mission and the culture you aspire to create
- Learn from others, and incorporate elements from work environments you find conducive and productive
- Ask for input from your core staff – they often have a clear grasp on the intricacies of the corporate culture that you might overlook
As the world increasingly adopts a “lifelong approach to learning” mentality, employees are more and more attracted to workplaces that both promotes and avails educational opportunities. Corporates of all sizes all over the world are investing in in-house and outsourced educational endeavors for their staff.
- Partner with an educational institution or training center to provide subsidized courses for your staff
- Create in-house workshops, leveraging on the expertise of various staff members
- Encourage staff to submit applications to attend relevant training courses, workshops, conferences and seminars that could potentially be cost-shared by your business
As business owners, partners, colleagues and staff, the time spent at work is usually much more than the time spent with the families or friends in any one working week, so making it a place to happily go to is not just to have fun but to have a rounded happy life. The minute one goes to work without feeling the satisfaction of the job or the overall environment, it is usually when one becomes sloppy and uncaring…then it is definitely time to change, as the effect tends to harm ones overall well being.