Strictly business

Is your no-nonsense workplace hindering your performance?

Post it notes with one saying I love the officeAsk most employees what factors ensure commitment to their current employer and the top ranking answers will be fairly predictable: having clear career progression, ownership of role and more challenges and responsibilities.

Ask them what they regard as important when looking for a new role and you’ll get similar answers: an opportunity to scale the career ladder, a higher salary and a feeling of empowerment.

No big surprises…well, there may be just one. It would appear that employees place as much value on their working environment as they do on the pay packet and the opportunities a role has to offer.

Perhaps it isn’t such a surprise to see a large show of hands in favour of a pleasant atmosphere in the office. After all, we’ve probably all heard someone say they didn’t take a job due to the ‘grotty office’.

The working environment says a lot about a business and can give clues as to how professional it is, and the general attitude of staff and management. A thoughtfully-designed space, with attention to the ergonomic details, will no doubt rub off on employees, helping to make them more proficient and in turn, more valuable to the business.

In our time, we’ve probably seen our fair share of workspaces and yes, we’ve all drooled a little at the big corporate offices with amazing views and onsite gym facilities.

We’ve been (possibly a little too) excited by the some of the fancy agencies with state of the art chill-out areas and kitchens offering free homemade soup and fresh fruit.

smart office environmentNaturally these are not the only things that have impressed us.

A gorgeous office soon loses its allure if it’s so clean and tidy that you’re afraid to put anything down for fearing of marking the polished surfaces; similarly if the atmosphere is so quiet that you find yourself forming an exit strategy before you’ve even sat down.

A working environment can look as good as one on the cover of a style magazine, but it needs to feel right too. A warm welcome, a friendly buzz, a good level of energy and touches of individuality go a long way.

So don’t start thinking that your office needs an extreme makeover. Just investing a little time and thought into your working space could have a large bearing on the attitude and productivity of you and your colleagues.

Why not talk about some of these points at the next team brainstorming session to decide if it’s time your work environment had a bit of a facelift?

The heat is on (or off?)

What temperature suits everyone best? Is everyone comfortable with the setting of the heat or air conditioning? It’s highly unlikely that you’ll all agree upon this one but an open discussion may result in a reshuffle of desks or seating so that everyone is in a spot that allows them to work well.

Feeling dazzled?

As well as influencing personal well-being and health, light also has a positive impact on motivation and performance. This is one area where it may be worth investing in some ergonomically designed lighting. Call in an expert to establish the perfect balance of indirect and direct light sources as well as a balance of natural and artificial light.

The right combinations and quality of lighting will enhance work performance.

To personalise or not?

mug in an office with I love my job on itHaving a bit of freedom to create a workspace that fits your personality has a significant impact on a team’s productivity level.

Remember that everyone will have a different style of working and while a clear and orderly desk with pencils sharpened to the exact same length will work for one member of the team, piles of papers and nik-naks that make the surface of the desk a distant memory will be what gets another member firing on all fours.

Make sure everyone has a say. What matters to one person won’t bother the next.

If you can create a space that caters to the individuality of each team member, you’ll have a positive physical working environment which is going to lead to greater job satisfaction, longer employee retention and have a bearing on attracting the right kind of talent to your team — an all round winning situation!

Is your working space in need of a few cosmetic touch-ups? Or have you already made some positive changes? Let us know.

Emma Sasai

About Emma Sasai

Having spent over 13 years living overseas in Japan and the US, I returned to home shores in 2008 and set up as a freelance writer and editor. I juggle several different clients and write about topics that cover a broad spectrum. I might begin the day editing non-fiction books for children and end it interviewing a communications executive in London. In between all this, I cater to the needs of a Japanese husband and our two children. I thrive on a challenge, both mental and physical, which is why most days begin with a big sweaty workout. My creativity is fuelled by endorphins, tea in copious amounts and my homemade raw chocolate.