An ideal work environment is every employee and employer’s dream. Working in a place that encourages collaboration, communication, and positivity impacts overall productivity and well-being. But what is an ideal work environment?
By definition, a work environment pertains to a workplace setting that consists of various elements that affect how people work. A workplace environment may have the most obvious components such as office walls, interior, amenities, office equipment, or concessionaires.
Moreover, a work environment may also consist of other intangible elements such as excellent work culture, motivational leaders, or exceptional workplace communication. Thus, a combination of both tangible and intangible components makes up for an ideal work environment.
A lack of a few of these work setting elements contributes to revenue loss. For example, APA estimates a loss of over $500 from the U.S. economy over workplace stress. Additionally, more than 550 million workdays are also lost annually due to workplace stress. Stress.org also estimates 60 to 80 percent of workplace accidents yearly due to stress on the job.
Overall, the work environment is an important aspect of a business that can foster a company’s success or contribute to its demise. It has a significant effect on job satisfaction, employee motivation, and team morale. Employees become enthusiastic about reporting to work every day in positive work environments that contribute to overall growth.
While it may be easy to consider that color of paint placed on office walls are simply down to preference, there’s more to it than just that for an ideal work environment. Read on to find out.
Elements of a Work Environment
An ideal working environment is a culmination of different elements that together characterize your working conditions. The perfect workplace is somewhere that considers employee satisfaction while offering a dynamic environment that fosters development and growth to succeed. According to research, employee satisfaction is vital to achieving harder and happier workers, providing up to 12% more productivity. Elements that make up your work environment are:
An employee’s working hours are a critical aspect of the work environment. Your job may be the regular nine-to-five or a shift that involves more flexible hours. Overtime is also a part of this element and defines whether companies support overtime work through proper compensation or stretch out a personnel’s time too thin.
A company that values employee satisfaction also values excellent working conditions. This includes a focus on achieving a work-life balance for employees that ultimately benefits both parties.
Your office workspace is a huge part of the work environment and can range from an office cubicle, a private office space or even working remotely from home. Aspects of the workspace also include the physical environment, from the size of the working area, furnishings, and overall design within the workspace. Location is also an important aspect to consider, depending on whether the job entails indoor or outdoor work or how far it is from a residence.
A company’s culture is an essential aspect of the work environment. A strong company culture directly correlates to how effective employee engagement can be, which can impact an organization’s bottom line. Unfortunately, some companies are more traditional and have a formal culture, expecting workers to dress in specific work attire and follow stricter protocols.
Other work cultures are more relaxed and allow employees to dress more casually, even granting more freedom to execute tasks. A company’s beliefs and how its goals align with employees’ is a substantial factor in achieving comfortability in the workplace.
The benefits that an employee receives, such as the paid holiday time one can receive and sick leave benefits, are part of the work environment. This can also include the equipment and facilities that a company may provide to its employees. These benefits provide an essential aspect in an ideal work environment to promote achieving positivity for employees.
The people within the workspace play a considerable role in defining the type of work environment. Positive and happy workers create an ideal environment for support and development and lead to more productivity and effectiveness. The opposite of this, where negative and self-centered people overpower, creates toxic workspaces that contradict productivity and hurt company profits.
Growing and developing as a professional is an essential element that contributes to the work environment. Workers expect companies they work for to acknowledge and value their skills and help further their careers. Companies that provide opportunities and allow employees to take a more critical leadership role can reciprocate trust with harder and more effective work.
How to Create an Ideal Work Environment
Creating an ideal work environment should be on top of every business owner’s list. According to 29 percent of applicants, a collaborative work environment is crucial in searching for jobs. Unfortunately, employees tend to look at the company’s office environment before accepting the job offer. This is simply because no one wants to work in a toxic work environment.
If you want to make your company more appealing to prospective hires, here are the top factors of a good work environment. These ideal work environment characteristics are classified into four categories:
- Company Culture
- Interior and Physical Space
- Employee Benefits
- Work Collaboration and Process
Company culture is the primary element of a company that can bind employees and employers together. When a company has a solid and compelling company culture, employees feel a sense of belongingness. It makes them proud to be working for your company. Moreover, having an excellent company culture will attract the best hires that will help scale your company.
Encourage open communication
Whether internal or external, workplace communication is one of the most significant factors that make or break a business. Internal communication is essential to ensure that everyone is on the same page.
Instilling open and honest communication where everyone is free to express themselves makes a company more attractive. Unfortunately, some employers ignore two-way communication. However, this makes 74 percent of employees feel that they’re missing out on crucial company information.
Some ways of fostering internal communications are:
- Employee manuals and handbooks
- Information on the company website
- Company’s mission statement
- Company’s regular newsletter
- Training, conferences, seminars, etc.
- Surveys and polls
- Press releases
- Employee forums and group threads
Hiring people who are the best in their work also make up a great company culture. Once you build an organization, the people involved in growing and scaling it are vital. That said, only hire the best people.
Of course, not everyone you hire transforms into A-players. However, you can pinpoint the A-players from the ordinary ones. Support your A-players and build a team of the best people to inspire the entire organization.
Empower your A-players to be the best at what they do. Offer them opportunities for learning because high-performers are constantly feeding on new things. Also, high-performers look only for these three things in their jobs:
- Meaning (Ensure that high-performers know “why” they’re doing their tasks. If there is no significance behind their tasks, then high-performers likely won’t exert too much effort)
- Autonomy (Make sure you’re not micro-managing your A-players. High-performers want the autonomy to start and complete a task without someone breathing down their necks.)
- Mastery (When these two components are met, high-performers try their best to be the most competent person. When mastery is achieved, you’ll have the most productivity and success you’ve ever imagined.)
If you want to know how to empower your team of A-players, read this useful 5E Scale Engine playbook. It covers everything, from creating business systems to fostering powerful company cultures and increasing business efficiency.
There is so much positive impact when you value work relationships. When everyone works in synergy and is understanding of each other, it makes everyone’s jobs easier. Unfortunately, some employers tend to focus their attention on high-performers only.
However, that shouldn’t be the case. This can create division between you and certain departments and members of your organization.
Value every relationship in your company. Go out of your way to spend time and chit chat with every member of your organization. Whether work-related or not, spending a few minutes each day to connect with your employees will make them feel valued.
If you want to make your employees feel that you care, you also have to give them regular feedback. Inviting feedback or constructive criticism in the workplace means team members support each other. In addition, it’s a way for colleagues to improve their skills.
One thing you must remember about high-performers is that they’re always looking to improve their craft. Therefore, they value support and feedback so they can be more competent at what they do.
Experts and employers have attested to how positivity boosts overall employee wellness. It also prevents more stress in the workplace and increases productivity. Moreover, you attract the kind of energy you give off. That said, if you’re emanating positivity in the workplace, then expect that it will resonate within the office walls.
To promote positivity and optimism in the workplace, here are a few tips:
- Show gratitude
- Use positive language
- Celebrate small wins
- Give praise when necessary
- Develop and nurture relationships
- Smile always
Work Collaboration and Process:
The work process you implement as a business owner will impact the overall productivity of your people. Make sure that you establish a seamless work process that is beneficial for everyone. An ideal work environment provides easy collaboration with all members of the organization. Here are some factors to consider when assessing how people work in your company.
Set up systems
When my partner and I first started our web hosting business, we did most of the work. We felt drained most of the time because we weren’t delegating some of the tasks to others who could have completed the tasks satisfactorily. And that was one of our first biggest mistakes.
We realized we needed systems in place to ensure a flawless work process and collaboration. Some people think that systems are complicated. But that’s further from the truth. Systems are merely a “repeatable set of actions.” The moment we implemented systems in our organization, it saved us a lot of time, money, and effort. If you want to learn more about setting up systems in the workplace, read the 5E Scale Engine playbook.
Also, providing your employees with the proper tools will contribute to a faster and more efficient work process. Don’t think twice about it if you can invest in online applications and software that improve communication and work collaboration. Having the right tools will also ensure that anyone working remotely will be kept in the loop about current projects.
When you combine suitable tools and systems, you’ll soon realize how fast people get work done with quality results. And this is a prime example of an excellent work environment.
Hold useful meetings
Some employers have this impression that just because they’re holding meetings, everything is on schedule. But this doesn’t follow, especially if you’re not running effective meetings. For example, you could be holding meetings regularly without a satisfactory outcome that increases productivity.
That said, hold useful meetings ONLY if you want to foster an ideal work environment that everyone enjoys. Regular ineffective meetings can waste everyone’s time that they could’ve used to complete their tasks. Overall, this will lead to employee frustrations.
Successful and effective meetings have a clear purpose that provides benefits to all participants. Moreover, effective meetings also keep participants engaged the entire time and encourage diverse thinking among members.
If you want to achieve a good work environment, do these tips for running effective meetings:
- Assess whether you really need to hold a meeting or not
- Only let necessary participants attend
- Create an agenda and share it before the meeting
- Encourage participation and involve everyone present
- Focus on results
- Start and end the meeting on time
- End the meeting with an action plan
Change the work environment
Working in the same space five days a week and eight hours daily could lead to employee burnout. So it’s good to take your job elsewhere to change the work environment. If you have an ideal work environment like Google, employees will enjoy their jobs with such creative, colorful, and fun office amenities.
However, if you’re like most traditional companies, give your employees the option to bring their work someplace else. Whether they choose to work outdoors or at home, provide them with this perk at least once every week.
Offering remote work can also reduce the costs of utility bills and increase productivity. An Apollo Technical article states that 77 percent of remote workers show increased productivity, with 30 percent doing a higher workload in half the time.
Encourage more breaks
Taking breaks may also increase productivity in the workplace. Never restrict your employees to take much-needed breaks if they’re stuck from nine to five in the office. This will have a considerable impact on their well-being as well as their morale.
The question now is: How often should employees take breaks?
There is no cookie-cutter method on how to implement breaks. However, social scientists claim that working for 52 minutes straight and taking a break for 17 minutes is effective.
A productivity app DeskTime monitored the users’ work system. The app shows that 10 percent of the highest-performing users worked for an uninterrupted 52 minutes. This was followed by a 17-minute break. Another technique is the Pomodoro method, which entails working for 25 minutes straight and taking a break for five minutes after. Then, after four 25-minute Pomodoros, take a 15-minute break.
Overall, encouraging more breaks makes for an ideal working environment. It prevents mental and physical drain while welcoming an avenue for creativity and efficiency. So here’s what you should do when you’re on a quick break:
- Do anything but work (Stretch, eat, listen to music, toilet break, etc.)
- Step away from your screen
- Move your body
- Shift your attention
- Stop concentrating
Practice work-life balance
A healthy work environment encourages work-life balance for all its members. When employees separate their professional and personal lives, it reduces stress and mental burnout in the workplace.
Experiencing chronic stress will lead to more severe physical issues such as hypertension, heart problems, body pains and aches, and more. On the other hand, offering a more flexible work environment can lead to workplace happiness. For instance, letting your employees work flexible hours or take unlimited PTO can enhance job satisfaction and decrease stress.
Finally, encouraging work-life balance will prevent mental health issues that may escalate to severe problems down the road. When you encourage work-life harmony, you let employees foster relationships outside the office that keep them motivated and engaged at work.
Employees also weigh benefits when searching for an ideal work environment. Aside from the monthly salary, the employee benefits package entices suitable candidates. And this can be beneficial for your business. If you want an ideal work environment that entices applicants, here are some employee benefits you can offer.
Provide opportunities to learn
Some employees want to climb up the corporate ladder. They envision themselves as being on top of the organization and at the pinnacle of their careers. If you’re a company that doesn’t offer growth potential for employees, don’t expect your employees to stick with you. This is essentially true for high-performing employees as well.
High-performers are always looking for new learning opportunities. This is why high-flyers are always ecstatic about new projects because it challenges them and hones their skills. If you want to keep A-players and aspiring CEOs or managers in your organization, provide regular training.
Make sure to make free training sessions a benefit for high-performers. In addition, offer free online courses that they can watch anytime they need to learn about a new system or skill. Moreover, provide regular evaluation programs so employees will know where they are in their careers.
When you say flexibility in an ideal work environment, it doesn’t only refer to the work hours. Instead, flexibility pertains to how well an organization can adapt to changing times. It means that a company and its members can quickly act on any new circumstances without being at fault.
This is the main concept of flexibility in the workplace. Moreover, you may also offer other flexible work benefits such as flexible work hours. This brings companies a myriad of benefits such as:
- Motivates and attracts high-performers and experienced candidates
- Lets employees manage their responsibilities even outside the office walls
- Lowers your overall overhead costs
- Provides environmentally friendlier alternatives
- Reduces absenteeism
Examples of flexible work arrangements:
- Part-time offers
- Reduced hours
- Compressed workweek
- Working remotely
- Job sharing
- Unlimited PTO
Focus on wellness
Prioritizing employee wellness is also another excellent benefit in an ideal workplace. The Deloitte team states that companies should build worker wellness by transforming them into mandates, policies, and actions.
Furthermore, Deloitte also recommends that employee wellness should be classified into three levels:
- Individual Level – Employees should be able to express themselves and communicate their personal needs that help their well-being without judgment.
- Team Level – Managers should connect with their team to make for a harmonious workflow. The management should empathize, empower, and encourage its team to be the best.
Organizational Level – The management must commit to prioritizing employee wellness by including it in every company decision.
Fun work environment
Take heed of Google’s office branding. You’ll notice how the company banks on a fun yet collaborative work environment. Google’s workspaces are also brimming with bright colors, and amenities employees won’t find elsewhere.
Moreover, you can also provide fun amenities such as a pool table, a foosball table, a movie room, a sleeping lounge, a karaoke space, and more. Finally, if you want a more engaging, fun activity, you can organize fun games in the office every week.
Monday is when everyone comes in at the office still either drained or energized from the weekend’s shenanigans. So to keep the office vibes pumping on a Monday, make it a habit to conduct exciting games or trivia questions at the start of the week.
Another way to entice new hires to choose and stay at your company is to provide employees with inviting rewards. However, make sure that these rewards are only for those who deserve them. This system is also a great motivator for employees who want a taste of these exciting rewards.
There are no holds barred when you offer rewards as benefits. It can be in the form of a voucher for groceries or entertainment such as movie theaters or amusement parks. If you want to offer a special reward for the topmost employee of the year, you can even provide a travel voucher to someplace nice. Although not a huge factor in making employees stay, this will increase the attractiveness value of your company in the eyes of candidates and experienced employees.
One last category that’s a considerable factor in an applicant’s decision-making process when choosing a company is the office’s physical space and interiors. Again, going back to Google’s office branding, a company’s physical space and interior will hugely impact how employees work. That said, make sure that you check these factors if you want an excellent work environment to appeal to employees and new hires.
Imagine having to come to work in a dirty and cluttered office space or cubicle? Not the very best work environment you can think of, is it? That’s why business owners should see to it that everything in the office is spic and span. Your employees spend most of the days of the week at work, at least make it comfortable to keep them happy.
Maintaining a clean workplace is crucial for your employee’s health and well-being and their productivity. Did you know that there is a negative relationship between clutter and productivity? According to research, employees waste about four hours searching for office materials. This also increases stress as well as reduces creative thinking and focus.
Moreover, you shouldn’t only focus on an organized desk or office cabinet. You must maintain a clean office holistically by also ensuring that the air quality is exceptional. The office smell should be fragrant enough that it puts your employees in a good mood.
Office lighting is also a great addition to an ideal work environment. Traditional and old offices once used fluorescent bulbs because they’re suitable in higher ceilings and larger offices. However, fluorescent bulbs don’t last long. Plus, they flicker due to daily wear and tear, making the lighting quality inconsistent. In some cases, fluorescent light bulbs even buzz after using them for a while.
Since more and more companies are looking at sustainable ways to operate, LEDs are entering the scene and replacing these harmful fluorescent light bulbs. LEDs don’t have high mercury content and other harmful chemicals found in fluorescent light bulbs. In addition, LEDs bring a range of office-friendly color temperatures that are good for productivity.
Experts suggest that the best lighting in an office should be natural daylight. However, not a lot of offices have huge windows or open spaces that invite sunlight in. To mimic natural daylight, you can get light bulbs with color temperatures such as cool white ranging from 3000K to 5000K. Better yet, get bulbs that mimic daylight with color temperatures ranging from 5000K to 6500K.
Some business owners often neglect the office interior design. However, a beautiful office interior with curated decor and paintings provides comfort, function, and inspiration. For example, employees would prefer privacy when they work. Unfortunately, not all companies can afford to give each employee a private room to work. Therefore, create office cubicles and design them with divisions to give each employee their own space.
Outdoor spaces and plants
Plants bring a myriad of benefits in an ideal work environment. Not only are they relaxing to look at, but plants improve the room’s air quality and humidity. Some types of plants also control the toxins in the air that are harmful to humans. Overall, this can enhance the employees’ comfort when working from nine to five.
A commonly-used interior design in office spaces is biophilic design. It’s defined as the concept used in buildings and establishments that connects the occupants to nature. This is achieved by using natural elements, whether directly or indirectly. For example, the use of wood and plants contributes to a more relaxing and comfortable work environment.
Here are some benefits of decorating your office space with plants:
- Reduces stress
- Increases productivity
- Reduces the possibility of illnesses, leading to lower absenteeism
- Makes your office space more attractive to applicants
- Improves air quality
- Reduces noise levels
- Boosts creativity
Aside from plants, you may also provide outdoor spaces for employees. Spending time outdoors refreshes the mind and boosts creativity. Instead of making employees sit through the whole workday in a cubicle, provide comfortable open spaces for them to work. Whether it’s an office balcony with comfortable chairs and tables or a huge office lawn with bermudagrass, working outdoors can help fight mental drain and burnout.
Your employees should feel excited to come to work every day. Some people consider their workplace their second home where they’ve fostered connections with colleagues over time. That said, provide casual common areas for your employees. These spaces should be an avenue where people from different departments can talk about anything but work.
If they have to talk about work, ensure these spaces aren’t like office cubicles laden with computers, paperwork, or office equipment. Make these common areas very informal that employees can act casually without fear of getting reprimanded. Common areas can pertain to office lounges, sleeping rooms, a smoking area, or cafeterias.
Ideal Work Environment Checklist
Now that you know how to create an ideal work environment, use this checklist to ensure that you’re not missing anything.
Whether you’re the boss or an employee, finding your ideal work environment is essential to feeling comfortable and being more effective. Gaining the satisfaction of being where you belong makes you work harder, contribute more, and perform a lot better.