No matter how much you earn or how many benefits are you are entitled to, if your office environment is restrictive and discouraging, going to work can quickly turn into a chore. Your office – and its inherent culture – both have a powerful impact on your well-being. An exciting, fun and energetic office space will ensure that people work productively and efficiently, and more importantly, enjoy doing the work, but having a negative and problematic workspace will hamper not only your productivity, but also your peace of mind. This impact is not always explicit, and hence, it becomes difficult to directly trace the source of stress and anxiety to your office. However, all stimulating offices have a few features in common:
If a random stranger comes into your office or department, what is he or she likely to see? Individuals with frowns working in isolated places and pin-drop silence, or cheery and bright individuals with an occasional laughter or conversation in the background? One might not consider the answer to be of importance, but this is a good indicator of the general mood that prevails in your office. If there is palpable fear, tension, or stillness in the air, you need to dial it down, and loosen up a little. Being in the emergency mode all the time kills the productivity, and also takes the fun out from the work. Litmus test for gauging the mood in your office: See how many people greet each other in the morning – not just professionally, but personally.
A positive workplace needs to have open, strong and transparent communication, and its employees need to understand the value of the same. In other words, meetings are not stifled with mundane tasks and routine checks, but actually become platforms to voice concerns, give feedback and generate productivity. That also means no back-handed gossip and personal remarks find their way in the team dynamics, and there is flexibility and cooperation to adapt to change, or to talk about it when needed. There are dedicated and known (and frequently used) redressal channels, feedback platforms, and review methods which provide you with ample opportunities to flag concerns, discuss relevant issues and challenges, and examine progress.
A common sense of understanding, a belief, in the larger goal of the organisation, and its understanding is also prevalent in great offices. People actually believe in the work that they do, and understand how it is important, and why it matters. People who are passionate about what they do, and what their organisation does are common to places that are willing to nourish them and help them grow. There is integrity and respect, not only for the bigger goals, but also for team members. The biggest indicator of such confidence and belief is how you choose to introduce and explain your organisation and the work that you do, in an informal and personal setting, to someone who hasn’t heard of it – your choice of words will be a giveaway!
Honest and approachable leadership, coupled with development and growth focussed training, can cater to a majority of challenges faced while doing a job. Your organisation’s support, in the form of investment, training, recognition, and guidance from a capable leader and a strong team create an encouraging and positive environment for one to grow in. An undeniable feature of a positive workplace is that it pushes you to continually better yourself, update your skills, and find unique solutions to problems by providing you with opportunities to work on your weaknesses. A great organisation will focus on and support you in your development and progress, as much as it does on its own.
Last, but far from least, a positive work environment will not demand you to reorganise your priorities, and give you space, flexibility and room to establish a work-life balance. A positive workspace allows you to take a step back when needed, for a break or an emergency, and doesn’t eat into your peace of mind. Furthermore, you are not expected to put your health on the line, and pull in late-nighters, or to regularly skip your lunch. A great place to work will understand that you are the primary resource that makes everything possible, and will consequently work to ensure your physical and mental well-being.
People often get defensive or dismissive about their company culture, but they forget, office culture is formed by people, as much as policies and rules. At the end of the day, if you are happy doing your work, and you get to learn, have fun and meet like-minded people like yourself, chances are you have a great work environment. However, no matter where you work, it is your responsibility to help foster a positive and enabling working environment by being communicative, receptive, collaborative and encouraging.