The workplace environment, the atmosphere that permeates the office and in which we all participate, is an aspect of work in any company that is difficult to define in concretely. It is not something objective but has to do with the individual employee’s subjective experience. Something like when we say “everyone tells the story of the party the way they enjoyed it, from their personal point of view”.
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However, I am sure that in the day-to-day life of the company you talk, listen and observe your colleagues all the time and you perceive elements in common with them about how pleasant or unpleasant it is to work in your company. That is the workplace environment.
Indeed, the guests at a party may have a good or bad time depending on different factors, but in the end, they have all been in the same room and listened to the same music: there is a large part of the environment in which they have been moving that is the same for everyone. In the office, we call that atmosphere the workplace environment.
We can’t touch the workplace environment but it’s something everyone can feel, this is due to, at least, three reasons:
-It’s related to the company culture but it’s not the same as the company’s culture.
-It’s got more to do with how we do things rather than the things we do.
-It’s composed of space, time, work methodology, and interpersonal relationships. This is why it doesn’t matter if we work from home: a company’s workplace environment goes beyond the four walls of the office.
Why is it important to take care of the workplace environment?
Taking care of the workplace environment improves productivity, helps retain talent, and most important of all: it is good for the company’s overall mental health.
No job is perfect, not even those which have an amazing office, a high salary, or the tasks are completely vocational. However, whether these conditions exist or, more importantly, when they do not, there is one thing that can save countless situations: taking care of the workplace environment.
The workplace environment -the working atmosphere, to put it another way- is what you can’t see and can’t touch, but makes you enjoy going to work, feel comfortable entering the office, don’t mind giving a little of your time to work, or recommend people around you to apply for a job in your company.
It is obvious that, in extreme situations, taking care of the work climate is not an all-powerful remedy against serious problems that a company may have. However, when things are not so extreme, a positive workplace environment is what tips the balance in favor of a company to consider that it has adequate conditions to provide sufficient psychological well-being for people.
On the contrary, when the workplace environment is bad, stress and demotivation are produced, relationships are tenser and less fruitful, and those who have the opportunity to leave the company will do so as soon as they can.
What to take care of in order to protect the work environment?
There are several factors that should be taken into account when creating a positive workplace environment. The working environment that is established in a company depends on the people who make it up, the tasks they have to perform, what the workspace is like, the leadership style, other external factors… However, we will highlight some factors that can foster a good working environment in any type of company:
1. Good work organization
The feeling of clutter, even chaos, generates a great deal of insecurity and a sense of inefficiency. On the contrary, the organization of work around a clear strategy, where each team member knows their roles and objectives, contributes to better work. Thus, better results are achieved in less time and individuals can cooperate with each other in a more orderly manner.
2. Healthy leadership
The proper management of relationships between different hierarchical levels is not only based on having authority, but also on being an authority. Therefore, authentic leadership is essential to generate a climate of trust in which employees feel that their needs are taken into account and that the company is an ally, not something to be feared.
3. High level of team cohesion
Interactions between coworkers are essential to take care of the workplace environment. For this, they should not be based solely on something inevitable such as interdependence. It is desirable that they also include positive emotional bonding. When workers do not feel that it is a punishment to have to put up with each other, but rather working together is pleasant, or even the most pleasant thing about the job, that is when a healthy workplace environment is truly created.
4. Physical atmosphere and ergonomics
Light, temperature, decoration, noise, office layout, ergonomic quality of tables and chairs, the size of the office… All of these factors contribute to working well, as they influence comfort, concentration, and interactions. Therefore, they affect the emotions experienced by employees, the creativity they can develop, and, ultimately, the quality of the performance.
5. Physical security
Staff members must perceive that the office environment does not put their physical vulnerability at risk. Beyond standard occupational risk prevention, it must now be borne in mind that a company cannot pretend to unite presence, health, and pandemic in any way, but by taking the necessary preventive measures against Covid and, of course, making workers aware that this is being done. This way, the workplace is seen as a safe space, without any threats.
6. Psychological security
As with physical risks, it is also important to prevent psychological risks: the employee must consider that the company is not a threat to their personal well-being.
We talk a lot about the prevention of anxiety, stress, and burnout syndrome, and we need to continue to do so. However, do we pay enough attention to factors such as respect for diversity and the prevention of sexist or xenophobic attitudes? These are just a few examples of issues that may go unnoticed but have a significant impact on whether we feel at ease in a company or not. Nowadays it is rare for a company not to take them into account in terms of the official company culture, but it is always necessary to make sure that this is reflected in the actual working environment in which employees work on a day-to-day basis.
In short, a favorable working environment is the responsibility of everyone in a company. However, managers, leaders, and human resources managers have a special power to encourage it or to boycott it.
To prevent the latter from happening, it is important to give this issue the relevance it deserves in terms of the psychological health of employees and, therefore, the quality of professional performance. Companies can already achieve this thanks to emotional well-being programs such as the one designed by ifeel‘s psychologists.
The importance of relationships for a healthy work environment
There are many factors that influence the environment in a workplace. Of the six we mentioned above, the most important is the last one: the different ways in which a team unites, which is related to the quality of interpersonal relationships within the company.
Quality relationships do not necessarily imply that there are friendships with co-workers: if they do exist, that’s great, although they are not essential for people to work well together.
However, relationships do have to include other characteristics to make working in the company of others enjoyable. What characteristics? Fundamentally friendliness, sincere collaboration, trust, and sympathy.
No one likes to work in a place where tension can be cut with a knife. If that is the atmosphere that is being felt in a company, it is important that we do not allow it. It is not just a matter of the company’s work dynamics being pleasant for the sake of “having a good time”: if the atmosphere is tense or toxic in a lasting way, the psychological well-being of staff deteriorates, performance worsens, it favors the loss of talent, and everyone loses out when these consequences can usually be avoided.
Ifeel has designed an emotional well-being program for companies aimed at boosting the psychological well-being of their employees, for example by fostering a positive workplace environment, as part of its strategy of caring for human capital and improving productivity.
This program allows employees to focus on their mental health through different levels depending on the extent of depth they desire: resources based on artificial intelligence, emotional support via chat with one of the platform’s registered psychologists, or online psychological therapy with a psychologist specialized in cases such as theirs.
Moreover, HR managers can receive personalized, data-driven advice to gain a better insight into the company’s work environment. This protects the employees’ mental health while providing the right conditions for maximum productivity.
We hope you found this post about the importance of the workplace environment interesting. If you want more information about our emotional well-being program for companies, simply request it and we will contact your team as soon as possible. You may also be interested in this post about the advantages of using ifeel’s workplace mental health platform.