by Traci Pesch
As part of my work, I get involved with many different customers across a wide variety of industries, located around the world. When I step back from a particular customer’s situation and look across the spectrum of customers and how they think about the work environment and how people work best together, patters emerge.
1) Physical Space – There’s definitely a difference in how “cool, trendy” companies treat physical office space vs more traditional organization. However, across the board, I’m seeing a lot of detailed attention being paid to how employees get work done within a physical space. Open offices are the trendy approach, but even in these spaces, I see many little tweaks and configurations to give a semblance of “personal space” and even privacy. So, who benefits from an open office structure? Company leaders claim the primary benefit is in increased collaboration, innovation, productivity, etc., but research is showing the opposite. Too much noise and distraction in open offices can actually lower productivity depending on the collaboration scenario. But for some teams and work structures, the ability to easily and quickly collaborate with colleagues is a distinct benefit.
Find the Balance – Structure work environments that give employees ample opportunity to spontaneously collaborate as well as work heads-down in a physical space ideal for concentration. This requires acknowledging different people and teams work best differently and allowing for space ideal for everyone.
2) Perks – Free food (breakfast, lunch and dinner) and nap rooms. On-site dry cleaning, laundry services and car washes. On-site doctors and dentists. These and many more perks are truly a benefit for employees. But everyone also knows companies often offer these services as a way to eliminate these distractions so employees can work longer and more intense hours. That’s not a bad thing, necessarily, but it all lies in how these benefits are perceived by both the employer and the employee. If there is a dentist on-site, will I be frowned upon for leaving work early to go a dental appointment with a doctor I prefer?
Find the Balance – Invest in perks that ease tiresome burdens for employees and allow them to focus on what matters most to them, but be sure employees are fully comfortable with the option to take advantage of the available perks or not.
3) Recognition – In my nearly 15 years in the industry, I’m seeing a much more rapid adoption of employee social recognition as a driving factor of both individual fulfillment and team and organization success. But as more and more people gain a deeper understanding of the Power of Thanks, I’m also seeing less and less valuable, meaningful and personal recognition experiences. It’s easy to jump on a “Hey, thanks!” bandwagon, but much more important to put the extra effort into crafting a true culture of recognition in which deep, detailed appreciation between peers and leaders alike. (There’s an art and science to this discussed in much greater detail in the book linked above.)
Find the Balance – Recognition, when given specifically and personally, strikes a deep chord and feeds an important human need. Yet how individuals give, receive and process recognition is very different. Be sure to think about the person receiving recognition as much as the person giving it.
The common theme here? Everyone is different. Humans are complex beings. Understanding how we can best work together is an equally complex, but deeply important undertaking. That’s why I’m looking forward to WorkHuman 2015 (June 8-10 in Orlando). I’ve just scratched the surface of the many ways in which we need to think better, harder and deeper about how we WorkHuman together. I hope you’ll join me there. (Register here and enter code DIBLOG100 for a $100 discount).
What do you find to be the most important aspects of a human work environment?