How to Build a Better Working Environment for Your Employees
Author: Kristina Proffitt
27th February 2018
A few weeks ago, the Cronofy team had a discussion about the keys to a great working environment.
It was interesting to see how different people interpreted the term ‘working environment’, and also to discover the common threads in everyone’s answers.
While there were many differences, there were also many overlaps. This goes to show that we all value slightly different things, but what matters most never really changes.
So, based on that roundtable and some of our other interviews, here are the six factors every great working environment needs.
Every time we do a roundtable or an interview, listening is mentioned as a key – if not the key – ingredient to success in business.
As Adam said last year in our very first roundtable, “Part of being a leader is assimilating inputs from all sorts of sources and distilling the patterns and insight from it. Your team are inevitably closer to customers, delivery, billing, in fact pretty much any aspect of the businesses. Unless you’re properly open to listening to what they are reporting to you, both directly and indirectly, you will struggle to help them effectively navigate the business.”
This sounds pretty simple, doesn’t it? And that’s the problem. When something sounds simple, we often think that doing it is second-nature. But teamwork doesn’t always come easy.
For a business to work, everyone must feel like their opinion is valid regardless of how long they’ve worked for the company.
But it goes further than that. Different departments must also work together. This means open communication channels between marketing and sales, for example.
A lack of harmony between teams can lead to confused customer flows, disgruntled employees, and loss of revenue.
Have the right furniture
The right office furniture can have a dramatic impact on employees’ health, wellbeing, and productivity.
Treatment for back pain costs the US $88bn every year. A third of sick leave in the UK is caused by back pain, and it’s thought to be the leading cause of disability globally. Many of this stems from us spending too long sat at desks and a lack of exercise. While there’s no denying that exercise helps, having ergonomic office furniture goes a long way, too.
Garry summed up the impact of the right furniture in our working environment roundtable:
“I can work in a hunched-up mess for a day or two, but if it becomes a regular thing I end up getting aches in my neck, back, and shoulders.
“The key elements of this for me are:
- Roughly parallel thighs – I’ve had a footrest to ensure this in various places
- Having the top of my monitor slightly above eye-level, about 50cm away. This doesn’t require anything special – there’s always a book on VB5 or something (dev joke, don’t mind Garry) knocking around that will do the job.
“These mean I have a straight-ish back and neck, and relaxed legs. I’ve achieved this with all sorts of combinations of desk and chair with the same result. Bonus is it’s often easier to get a footrest and monitor stand sorted out than changing your desk and/or chair.”
Location, location, location
It’s not just about the furniture that you use. It’s also about the space around you.
From too much noise to tangible silence, and blinding light to complete darkness, we all have our deal-breakers. In factories, it can be particularly difficult to diminish the noise pollution coming from below, while in some offices the sun can glare onto your screen and make it impossible for you to see what you’re doing.
It’s important for managers to have regular discussions about employees’ wellbeing and how the office environment affects their work. Noise-canceling headphones, blinds, and different bulbs can all be ways to adapt the office to better suit an employees’ needs.
There’s no denying the attraction of flexible working hours. True flexibility is about more than just letting employees choose when they come and go, though.
It’s about giving them the freedom to work from wherever they choose. Remote working has been proven to boost productivity. When you think about how noisy open-plan offices can be, it’s really no surprise. At home we’re in full control over our atmosphere and can have it as noisy or as quiet as we need.
Giving employees their own laptops also means that they can work while they travel and even use this distraction-free time to do some deep work.
Encourage everyone to be accountable
Raise your hand if you’ve ever made a mistake.
It’s difficult to admit sometimes, but nobody is perfect. It helps to have a culture that doesn’t admonish employees for making a mistake, but encourages them to do so. Why? Because the fastest way to learn is through making mistakes. By analyzing our mistakes and looking at what we could have done differently, we ensure that we don’t make the same mistakes, and our coworkers can learn from them, too.
Running away or hiding your mistakes creates a culture of fear. Employees don’t feel comfortable coming to you when they’ve messed up for fear of being reprimanded. This culture of fear is unhealthy and damaging not just to an employee’s work life, but their home life, too. It’s a manager’s job to set an example, and it’s therefore imperative that they set a good one.
Whatever industry you work in, the key elements of a working environment don’t change.
Everyone can benefit from listening to others, working together, the right furniture, the right location, flexibility, and accountability whether you’re just starting out or senior staff.
Date: 27th February 2018 | Category: HR Tech