Most of us have a work environment. It might be in the car, at home, in an office, or working in a factory or outside. We all have one, but can we make it better?
What’s wrong with your work environment? It could be anything and many things you are not aware of. Let’s look at it piece by piece.
Smells. Believe it or not, the smells around you impact how you work. It can help you relax or get you worked up. Pleasant smells are what we seek, and what is pleasant for me might not be pleasant for you. Scientific American summed it up like this: “ A growing body of literature shows that positive mood is linked to an increase in productivity, performance and the tendency to help others, while negative mood reduces prosocial behavior. Notably, prosocial behavior and productivity are also enhanced in the presence of pleasant ambient odors…. People who worked in the presence of a pleasant smelling air freshener also reported higher self-efficacy, set higher goals and were more likely to employ efficient work strategies than participants who worked in a no-odor condition. Pleasant ambient odors have also been found to enhance vigilance during a tedious task and improve performance on anagram and word completion tests. Conversely, the presence of a malodor reduced participants subjective judgments and lowered their tolerance for frustration. Participants in these studies also reported concordant mood changes. Thus, the observed behavioral responses are due to the effect that the ambient odors has on peoples mood.” (https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/do-scents-affect-peoples/) Discover what scents make you happy. Which scents draw you in? If you can keep a positive scent around you when you work, you might find that the workplace is a more pleasant environment.
Sounds. Our ears are always working. Even when we are focused somewhere else, our ears are absorbing information. Think about it. There are noises that aggravate you. I know a few in my workplace that are distracting and hurt my productivity. Then there are sounds that help us be productive whether we realize it or not. Different sounds can be appealing at different times. I find that I’m very productive with no sounds when I work before others show up. Now that is not always possible as I am in an office of several dozen people. It is not uncommon for me to play nature sounds and use earbuds at work. Not every place allows it, but some will. Check in with HR to see what you can do about the sounds to make your work environment better.
Comfort. You need to be comfortable when you work. I know that sounds like I’m suggesting a recliner and a glass of wine, but you can be comfortable without that. Seriously, you can. Comfort is here is being able to focus on your job at hand without pain. If your chair makes your back hurt as you work, you will not be as productive. Check with your company about getting a chair that you’ll be comfortable in. I highly recommend not asking for a recliner. I was denied. Consider this as well when you think of comfort as you work: Do you have access to drink and food when needed? Can you perform your job in comfort without pain? Is the temperature where you can work and not be extreme? Some comforts cannot be found in some jobs. It will be hot if you work in a factory, but make sure you can get water when you need it. Look to see where you can make your work place more comfortable.
Attitude. A good work environment goes beyond being comfortable. The morale and attitude goes a long way as well. When people come into work, do they smile and greet each other? Bad attitudes can do a lot to make a bad work environment. That attitude can be seen through the interactions of employees. Those who talk only about negative topics or gossip about others create a bad environment. Even when things are bad, put on a good attitude. Look for the positive side of things. At my job, there are a few of us who are always determined to keep a good attitude. We joke around. We call each other names in fun. We watch the sunrise together and laugh. One woman walks by my cubicle and pretends to swim over the edge. We always end up laughing. Even the dark times see the light.
People. Sometimes people are the problem for your bad work environment. Well, we can’t exactly get rid of them…or can we? Let’s look at the ones who are causing trouble in a way that could cause bigger trouble in the workplace. I’m talking about the kind that does get people fired. Those are the ones you might need to talk to your supervisor and/or Human Resources about. Most others aren’t that serious. They just tend to cause less drastic of problems. You can’t really change people, but you can influence them or, if need be, shut them out. You can influence them with your attitude. Smile at them even though you want to throw daggers as they bad mouth other people. That will throw them off and have them wondering what you are up to. Show them that their bad actions aren’t going to ruin your work environment. Remove them when you have to by not sitting near them at lunch if they tend to eavesdrop or gossip. The problem with people is that you can’t change them especially if you work with them. You can make your work environment better by not letting them have that control.
You can change your work environment to be much more pleasant. If you just sit and complain about it, then you won’t. You have to take charge of the change. Make everyone laugh. Go in with a smile. Don’t let the bad overtake the good.