Using an Employee Friendly Focus to Improve Your Office Environment

7K0A0501You can improve your office environment by focusing on changes that will directly benefit your employees. By keeping the needs of your employees in mind, the changes you set in motion will help to improve employee productivity and office morale. Two key areas of focus should be physical improvements and social improvements.

Here are a few examples in each category:

Physical Improvements

Improve Ease of Access

Do your employees have all of the tools and supplies they need to do their jobs well? If the answer is no, or you are unsure, make this a top priority. Next, take a look at the layout of the office and think about how things can be rearranged to make access to tools and supplies more efficient and effective for employees.

Before you start moving things around, ask your employees questions to make sure that the changes you are proposing really will improve employee performance. If your employees offer other setup suggestions, consider them experts on the matter and facilitate their proposed changes whenever possible.

Update Workspaces

Can you make employee workspaces more comfortable and more functional? Certainly this does not entail bringing in couches for each cubicle; however, you can make some simple updates that will make employee workspaces more enticing.

For example, you can attach coat hooks at each station, making it easy for the employee to feel at home and help keep the office tidy. You could also consider offering various desk organization items to encourage organized spaces that make the employee’s job easier too. And don’t forget about things like office seating, workspace lighting, and better technology options (like extra computer monitors).

Monitor Environmental Controls

The temperature of your office can play a huge role in employee productivity. If the environment is too warm, employees will doze off. If the environment is too cold, employees will have a hard time staying focused in between shivers. OSHA recommends that the temperature of a workplace should be between 68 and 76 degrees fahrenheit.

While your heating and air conditioning system may be set in the temperature range above, other factors can influence the actual temperature. If you have large windows in your office that get a lot of sun (especially throughout the afternoon), you may want to consider installing commercial window tinting like this to control the temperature and reduce glaring.

Social Improvements

Weekly Employee Traditions

Encourage employees to uphold a weekly tradition that gives them the opportunity to interact with each other. These weekly meetings are a great time to discuss team or office needs, strategy, or to set goals. Employees also get to know one another better which can ultimately be as important as any other factor in the long run. Here are some examples of weekly traditions:

  • Weekly potluck lunch with a theme (everyone brings something to share)
  • Weekly team building activities (work related, fun games, or both)
  • Weekly funny videos (watch one video per week chosen by an employee)
  • Weekly contests
  • Weekly team walks outside of the office
  • Weekly trips to other businesses or attractions nearby
  • Weekly industry education/training provided by the employees

Forced Interaction

I once visited an office with multiple stations where office treats and snacks were stored. The treats were purposely mixed up and rotated to different locations on a regular basis. The goal was to get employees searching for their favorite treats and interacting with employees they wouldn’t normally see in the process.

Establishing forced interactions in your workplace does not have to mean that you blatantly force employees to interact with each other. Rather, focus on devising ways that you can naturally encourage more frequent interactions between employees in the way you organize other aspects of the office. Frequently rotating desk assignments is one example. By making employee interactions common, you can more easily build a much needed sense of community in your office.

Informed Managers

Employees like to be treated like people. When managers and supervisors know basic facts about their employees, this helps build morale in the office. The key is to find a balance between general facts and truly personal information. A manager can treat an employee well by using some of the following tactics:

  • Asking general questions on occasion that have nothing to do with work
  • Remembering preferences and referencing them when they apply
  • Remembering the employee’s birthday
  • Starting conversations with a group of employees about current events
  • Leaving handwritten thank you notes when an employee goes above and beyond on a task or assignment

By making physical and social improvements in your office, you will find that your employees are more likely to be excited about coming into work, more likely to feel a part of the company, and more likely to work hard on their assigned tasks. While making these improvements does not guarantee a workplace utopia, keeping your employees at the center of your office decisions will keep your company on track for success.

Whitney Hollingshead is an optimist, a dreamer, and a professional writer.  After graduating from Brigham Young University’s Marriott School of Business, she spent five years working in international operations management.  Whitney loves business strategy and enjoys discussing innovative business solutions with others.

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