It is becoming widely accepted that there is a direct link between the work environment and productivity in the workplace, so how do we improve the work environment and to what extent do the tools we work with directly impact the work environment in an office setting?
The work environment
Let’s start by looking at what the work environment entails. The work environment (also referred to as the working environment or workplace environment) broadly describes the physical and psychological conditions in a workplace. This includes the relationship with top management, general management and colleagues; the physical environment in the department and within the individual employee’s immediate area; and much more.
Most companies are aware of the importance of maintaining a good work environment and have put procedures and processes in place to ensure that shortcomings in the work environment are identified early and acted upon. If you choose to deprioritise the work environment, you risk inexpedient conduct, poor productivity and ultimately increased sick leave. All of which cost companies greatly every day.
The work area
When you assess the work environment, you will inevitably also consider the work area. The work area covers the area in which the individual employee works. For a receptionist, for example, this would entail the area around the reception desk. For a sales assistant, it would include the desk, the chair and area in the immediate vicinity of these items. For the head of the division, it could mean their entire office.
Whatever the layout and size of the work area, it is important for a company to consider how best to maximise the design of a space to ensure the best possible conditions for the work environment and productivity.
When examining your own or your employees’ work area, you should also consider any employees who work remotely. These could include consultants or field workers who may work from different offices at times – a home office, a customer’s office or somewhere else. As a company, it can be difficult to influence such external conditions, but you should consider the extent to which this would be possible.
The last area that I would recommend you look at in relation to the work environment is the workstation. This refers to the immediate area where the individual employee works. For the office worker, this includes everything you will find on their desk: computer screen, lighting, telephone and other equipment used to perform daily tasks.
As a company, you have the opportunity to optimise conditions for good productivity by looking at the design and layout of the workstation. There are now various tools you can use to rethink the design and functionality of the workstation in order to give the employee more energy and thus increase productivity.
When it comes to the workstation, a company has substantial influence – also for remote workers. Wherever your employees are based, you will find good solutions for optimising the workstation these days. And this should be incorporated into your planning for the department and the company in your efforts to improve the work environment and thereby the productivity across the company.
If you are interested in improving the work environment in your company, and particularly if it pertains to the workstation, then we recommend that you consult qualified workplace assessment experts, who will be able to make an evaluation and advise you.