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Better Office Setups for Better Office Health

Better Office Setups for Better Office Health

Is your office space making the people in your organization unhealthy? There are many things in an office that can hurt office health: the heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems (HVAC), the lighting, even the layout.

Office space psychology can dictate the stress level of employees and thus their productivity. Healthy workers are happy workers, and workers today are no longer tolerating unhealthy situations.

How do you improve the health of your employees by changing your office spaces? There are many ways, and they can sometimes depend on the industry.

De-Clutter

Start your layout changes by getting rid of things your office doesn’t really need. Go paperless by trying electronic document management or document imagine options. Reducing your office’s paper production not only eliminates equipment and furniture, it is a great way to make your office green.

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Remove extra furniture by doing surveys of what has actually been used in the last six months to a year. This was a common practice in an office in which I worked. Once every six months, a usage inventory was taken, and if a piece of furniture hadn’t been properly used since the last inventory, it was turned over to Finance for surplusing.

One thing that should not be removed in the de-cluttering process is the personal property of an employee, unless it is of a highly unprofessional manner. The same office that inventoried furniture required that employees with front-facing counters and spaces remove any and all personal items. We couldn’t even have pictures of family members, including children. This type of restriction only contributes to stress among employees.

Assess The Workflow

The type of layout you choose will depend on your workflow as much as the architecture of your office itself. If your employees deal with sensitive information, segmented work spaces may indeed be the right layout for your organization.

However, there are ways of creating individual workspaces for workers that are less cubicle-like while maintaining privacy. Put your employees on laptops and build short walls between workspaces to maintain privacy rather than giant, opaque cubicles

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    If your employees have to be on the phone all the time, don’t overlook the fact that they also need to be able to get up and walk around frequently. Sitting at our desks all day isn’t healthy, mentally or physically. Don’t just consider the desk layouts for phone-connected employees. Choosing the right phone equipment and headsets can have a great impact on employee health.

    Employees who don’t feel tethered to their desks will feel more appreciated by their employers, contributing to a decrease in stress and an increase in productivity.

    Does your organization work in teams? Lay out your office furniture in creative manners that allow teams to both work closely and collaborate efficiently.

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    office-workspace-coworking-desks

      You can lay desks out in lines, in squares, even in circles. Offices in the 50s were typically arranged like classrooms, with employees’ desks laid out to face management. Using a more equalizing office layout is likely to elicit more creativity and collaboration.

      If your organization happens to be in a space with an interesting architectural structure or a spectacular view, take advantage of it. Don’t put executive offices or conference rooms in the corners where all the windows are.

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      people-office-team-collaboration

        Create collaborative spaces for teamwork and reserve bullpens of desks, including those of the execs, for the middle of the spaces. As an alternative, line up desks facing walls of window so that employees can take advantage of sunlight and fresh air.

        Get Creative

        Open office spaces are no longer just a fad. They are better for company culture because they not only foster teamwork, they contribute to the physical and mental wellbeing of employees. They allow employees to socialize while still giving them space to complete their work.

        The myriad options can be inspiring, no matter the industry. Take stock of the needs of your employees and your organization, then get creative with your layout. Of course, make sure that your creativity is tempered with a little practicality. Just as open layouts can be great for overall employee wellness, if they’re not done properly, they can be scary places for some.

        You won’t get it right the first time, but with planning and creativity, you won’t get it wrong either.

        Photos via VisualHunt.com.

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        H. E. James

        Writer and researcher

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        Last Updated on July 16, 2019

        7 Powerful Habits To Win In Office Politics

        7 Powerful Habits To Win In Office Politics

        Office politics – a taboo word for some people. It’s a pervasive thing at the workplace.

        In its simplest form, workplace politics is simply about the differences between people at work; differences in opinions, conflicts of interests are often manifested as office politics. It all goes down to human communications and relationships.

        There is no need to be afraid of office politics. Top performers are those who have mastered the art of winning in office politics. Below are 7 good habits to help you win at the workplace:

        1. Be Aware You Have a Choice

        The most common reactions to politics at work are either fight or flight. It’s normal human reaction for survival in the wild, back in the prehistoric days when we were still hunter-gatherers.

        Sure, the office is a modern jungle, but it takes more than just instinctive reactions to win in office politics. Instinctive fight reactions will only cause more resistance to whatever you are trying to achieve; while instinctive flight reactions only label you as a pushover that people can easily take for granted. Neither options are appealing for healthy career growth.

        Winning requires you to consciously choose your reactions to the situation. Recognize that no matter how bad the circumstances, you have a choice in choosing how you feel and react. So how do you choose? This bring us to the next point…

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        2. Know What You Are Trying to Achieve

        When conflicts happen, it’s very easy to be sucked into tunnel-vision and focus on immediate differences. That’s a self-defeating approach. Chances are, you’ll only invite more resistance by focusing on differences in people’s positions or opinions.

        The way to mitigate this without looking like you’re fighting to emerge as a winner in this conflict is to focus on the business objectives. In the light of what’s best for the business, discuss the pros and cons of each option. Eventually, everyone wants the business to be successful; if the business don’t win, then nobody in the organization wins.

        It’s much easier for one to eat the humble pie and back off when they realize the chosen approach is best for the business.

        By learning to steer the discussion in this direction, you will learn to disengage from petty differences and position yourself as someone who is interested in getting things done. Your boss will also come to appreciate you as someone who is mature, strategic and can be entrusted with bigger responsibilities.

        3. Focus on Your Circle of Influence

        At work, there are often issues which we have very little control over. It’s not uncommon to find corporate policies, client demands or boss mandates which affects your personal interests.

        Gossiping and complaining are common responses to these events that we cannot control. But think about it, other than that short term emotional outlet, what tangible results do gossiping really accomplish? In most instances, none.

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        Instead of feeling victimized and angry about the situation, focus on the things that you can do to influence the situation — your circle of influence. This is a very empowering technique to overcome the feeling of helplessness. It removes the victimized feeling and also allows others to see you as someone who knows how to operate within given constraints.

        You may not be able to change or decide on the eventual outcome but, you can walk away knowing that you have done the best within the given circumstances.

        Constraints are all around in the workplace; with this approach, your boss will also come to appreciate you as someone who is understanding and positive.

        4. Don’t Take Sides

        In office politics, it is possible to find yourself stuck in between two power figures who are at odds with each other. You find yourself being thrown around while they try to outwit each other and defend their own position; all at the expense of you getting the job done. You can’t get them to agree on a common decision for a project, and neither of them want to take ownership of issues; they’re too afraid they’ll get stabbed in the back for any mishaps.

        In cases like this, focus on the business objectives and don’t take side with either of them – even if you like one better than the other. Place them on a common communication platform and ensure open communications among all parties, so that no one can claim “I didn’t say that”.

        By not taking sides, you’ll help to direct conflict resolution in an objective manner. You’ll also build trust with both parties. That’ll help to keep the engagements constructive and focus on business objectives.

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        5. Don’t Get Personal

        In office politics, you’ll get angry with people. It happens. There will be times when you feel the urge to give that person a piece of your mind and teach him a lesson. Don’t.

        People tend to remember moments when they were humiliated or insulted. Even if you win this argument and get to feel really good about it for now, you’ll pay the price later when you need help from this person. What goes around comes around, especially at the workplace.

        To win in the office, you’ll want to build a network of allies which you can tap into. The last thing you want during a crisis or an opportunity is to have someone screw you up because they harbor ill-intentions towards you – all because you’d enjoyed a brief moment of emotional outburst at their expense.

        Another reason to hold back your temper is your career advancement. Increasingly, organizations are using 360 degree reviews to promote someone. Even if you are a star performer, your boss will have to fight a political uphill battle if other managers or peers see you as someone who is difficult to work with. The last thing you’ll want is to make it difficult for your boss to champion you for a promotion.

        6. Seek to Understand, Before Being Understood

        The reason people feel unjustified is because they felt misunderstood. Instinctively, we are more interested in getting the others to understand us than to understand them first. Top people managers and business leaders have learned to suppress this urge.

        Surprisingly, seeking to understand is a very disarming technique. Once the other party feels that you understand where he/she is coming from, they will feel less defensive and be open to understand you in return. This sets the stage for open communications to arrive at a solution that both parties can accept.

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        Trying to arrive at a solution without first having this understanding is very difficult – there’s little trust and too much second-guessing.

        7. Think Win-Win

        As mentioned upfront, political conflicts happen because of conflicting interests. Perhaps due to our schooling, we are taught that to win, someone else needs to lose. Conversely, we are afraid to let someone else win, because it implies losing for us.

        In business and work, that doesn’t have to be the case.

        Learn to think in terms of “how can we both win out of this situation?” This requires that you first understand the other party’s perspective and what’s in it for him.

        Next, understand what’s in it for you. Strive to seek out a resolution that is acceptable and beneficial to both parties. Doing this will ensure that everyone truly commit to the agreed resolution and will not pay only lip-service to it.

        People simply don’t like to lose. You may get away with win-lose tactics once or twice but very soon, you’ll find yourself without allies in the workplace.

        Thinking win-win is an enduring strategy that builds allies and help you win in the long term.

        Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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