“The work environment can bring out the ‘best’ or the ‘worst’ in you,” says Abhishek Ratna, author of the self-help book, No Parking. No Halt. Success Non Stop! Raina makes the crucial point that “business is ultimately about people and we can’t be effective in business without having some insight into people.” Ergo, as business owners and senior managers, we need to ensure that we provide a healthy, productive workspace for our employees, especially if we would like them to achieve their full potential.
The Productive Working Environment
Part of providing insight into the importance of a productive work environment, management needs to ask what constitutes a creative business space. In other words, how important is the workplace culture to the stability and growth of a company? And, what is required to ensure a happy working environment?
By way of a case study, let’s look at the early days of a new startup to gain an insight into the type of working environment we should consider providing for our staff. The initial days of a startup’s lifecycle are hectic, exciting and intense. The team is usually small as the startup does not normally have a significant amount of money to spend on anything but the essentials. The physical office space is usually very simple, without any frills and fancy office equipment (Google’s first office was based in the founders’ friend’s garage).
There is a lot for everyone to do. Ergo, team members are very involved with the business and each other. There is a culture of excitement and contentment as the levels of job satisfaction are very high.
Unfortunately, these levels of excitement die down as the initial euphoria wears off. This is when we need to look at what we can do to sustain a creative work environment. Here are a few tips to improve the company’s workplace culture and physical environment:
Physical Environment: Seating as Well as Heating and Cooling
It’s important to ensure that the physical environment is comfortable for staff to work in. Therefore, aspects such as the office air conditioning and heating systems need to be maintained by specialist companies such as PriceFixer. Air conditioning units and systems need to be checked regularly, and replaced if necessary to ensure that they filter air properly and maintain the room temperature at a consistent temperature.
An office environment that is either too hot or too cold (or even both) will impact negatively on staff. Both heat and cold are known to reduce brain function. Ergo, it is important to ensure that there is an ambient temperature throughout the workspace and that there aren’t hot and cold spots across the office. Furthermore, some people function optimally when the average temperature is warmer, while other people prefer a colder working environment. It’s difficult to find a happy medium; however, communicating with staff will help management find solutions.
Should certain staff members express an individual seating preference, it’s important to do our best to accommodate them. For example, some people are more productive if they sit by a window and can view the outdoors while they work. These people will often feel trapped should they be seated in the middle of a large room with other people all around them. On the other hand, other people don’t mind where they sit. They can work in any environment. In fact, the noisier, the better.
Build Trust and Channels of Communication
If we look further at our case study, we will find that the small startup employees have an innate level trust between each other. Because of this, they will find it easier to communicate honestly and openly with one another. Most staff prioritize and value fairness, honesty, and trust in the workplace. These three aspects are often seen as some of the most important attributes in a workplace.
Additionally, it is worth noting that no workplace culture is perfect. We are all human; ergo, there will be differences of opinion among employees. Fostering trust among employees will help facilitate honest, helpful communication between individuals. After all, we can’t expect our staff to be frank with us and each other if there is a culture where staff are mocked and ridiculed for their opinions and differences.
Furthermore, as management, we need to be seen as people of integrity, who value our staff as well as their input and opinions. We need to honor our word, make firm commitments, and keep our staff updated on the resolution of and progress on any issues raised. We need to be empathic, making amends for any mistakes made on our part, as well as maintaining an open-door policy.
It is never easy to accommodate everyone’s individual preferences; however, when we distil the workplace culture down to its most basic element, the most important role of senior management is to make sure that every employee feels heard and understood. Many issues will resolve themselves if individuals believe that they add value to the company, and what they say matters.