When you hear that old saying: “happy workers are productive workers”, most people think about reducing stress in someone’s job role or planning fun office activities every Friday or other things like that.
They think about ACTIONS rather than ENVIRONMENT — i.e. what can people do that will make them happier?
I’d like you to consider that, in addition to office socials and streamlining your processes to reduce stress, the environment people work in is just as important. And I don’t just mean whether their desk faces a window, there are lots of different environments that make up your teams’ workspace.
The Obvious Environment: Your Office
The term “working environment” almost always refers to the actual space in which your team is working. And it is important.
When people come into work, they don’t want to be met with a dull, unwelcoming, or hostile feeling space. They want to feel welcome and at ease in their workplace.
This doesn’t mean that you have to transform your office into a state-of-the-art, Google-level super trendy pod or anything. A few simple changes to lighting, added greenery, and maybe even some fun or quirky personal touches can make a big difference.
When we moved office, we made sure that we created a welcoming breakout space…nothing fancy, just a couple of sofas and potted plants…and it gives people somewhere to socialise or just take a few minutes break. It made the whole office feel so much friendlier, which really did make people happier.
The Less Obvious Environment: Communication Spaces
How does your team communicate with each other? Is it all via email, do they talk to each other, do you use an internal messaging system?
Making sure that your team have a place to communicate, both about work and non-work related things is vital.
We use an instant messaging system to conduct virtually all of our communication, with separate teams and groups to make sure the conversations don’t bleed into each other.
It can create extra “noise”, but the benefits far outweigh this.
People can take a minute or two out of their day to joke with a mate across the office, without having to actually step away from their machine.
They can equally ask for technical help in the same space, giving them access to support without hugely disrupting everyone’s day.
However you manage your internal communication, whether it’s virtual or a physical space in the building, the important thing is that you give people an open and easy-to-access way to talk about both work-related and non-work-related topics.
The Final Frontier: Other Business Software
And finally, there’s making sure the environment in which your team actually conducts their work is just as supportive, easy-to-use, and friendly as any other part of your business.
But at the same time, each piece of software (such as our crm system!) has to do its job. It needs to give you the ability to manage the various aspects of your business, without compromise.
This is part of what makes it so tough to find the right systems, you need to juggle the needs of your business while still giving your team the right user experience.
This could mean that you ask a couple people on different teams to join you during a demo or trial stage. Or maybe you ask for a few small changes to the system to get the right information in the right place for your processes.
Whatever you are doing, the important thing is that every member of your team feels comfortable and confident using a product they are going to be spending a lot of time in over the coming weeks, months, and years.
Making sure that people are happy at work is about so much more than just allowing picture frames and customised desktops. Looking at every aspect of their working environment, from the physical to the virtual, is essential to providing a happy and healthy office.