For many people, working is a considerable portion of their week. It is the place they spend most of their time, and where they socialise the most.
In straightforward terms, a work environment is a place where individuals perform their professional responsibilities. While the space that the tasks are undertaken in is important, it is also about the wider ethos and culture that is encouraged, not just in the office, but for home working as well.
Even with the best staff at an organisation, a working environment that employees dislike has the potential to cause presenteeism and absenteeism. It is therefore important that employers work towards creating engaging work environments.
Below are areas you should focus on to develop a positive workplace environment.
Encourage collaboration and communicationWorking in silo can be isolating for staff, particularly if they are struggling personally or professionally. Team members who feel comfortable raising challenges or concerns are more likely to flag issues early.
Creating an environment where staff feel comfortable working together on elements of the same work allows relationships to develop, while also avoiding staff becoming possessive towards their work. Apps like Trello are also great tools for line management and supporting staff with workload.
Demands at workIncreases in workload is one of the main causes of workplace stress. Feeling excessive pressure at work can lead to a siege mentality in teams, with communication breaking down as staff become defensive of their performance.
To avoid risking burnout in staff, it is important to put in place systems that monitor workload of both individuals and teams. Recognise that constant high pressure is not good for productivity, as staff can’t maintain it forever, and put in place support for staff at times when in the year you know are going to be busy.
Provide autonomyVery few people like to be micro-managed. Instead, individuals like to be trusted to carry out their work to a high standard.
Encouraging a culture that recognises staff independence is crucial to develop a positive work environment. As alluded to earlier, organisations that lean towards micro-management tend to be viewed by employees as not trusting them.
Recognise the need to be flexibleThis is different to encouraging flexible working (which is also a great way to develop a workplace environment).
Employees have lives outside of work, which can have a significant impact on performance and general wellbeing. Staff need to know there won’t be negative consequences for asking to make sudden adjustments when issues outside of work arise.
Conduct regular check-insFrequent check-ins between staff, both on an individual and a group setting, is a great way to foster a positive work environment. Having a routine opportunity for staff receive praise and highlight potential issues in the future. It doesn’t have to all be about work though, arranging check ins and meeting around general wellbeing and support is heavily encouraged.
Regular team meeting is also particularly important in situations where team members don’t all work in the same office. Increasingly more workplaces consist of teams with staff across different locations, with a mix of purely office based and home working.
Facilitate opportunities for learningFor many individuals, developing new skills, or building upon skills they already have, is an incredibly important part of working for an organisation.
Encourage staff to learn new skills does not require large budgets or formal training, including skills that may seem relevant to their current role. Opportunities could involve informal upskilling between different team members, or even between different skills. The objective is to allow staff members a variety of different opportunities to develop their professional skills.
Allowing staff to shadow other roles is also a great opportunity for staff to get a better understanding of different roles within an organisation.
Well designed workspaceIt’s not the size of the space that’s the problem but how that space is used. Instead of cramming a bunch of cubicles together, remove them and allow employees to have an open workspace where they can easily collaborate