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Returning to the Workplace During a Pandemic: Is It Ideal?

A vast majority of businesses were forced to adapt to remote work setups for their employees due to the current pandemic. This drastic change in the environment severely affected people’s productivity which, consequently, reflects negatively onto the output of companies. Working from home on a daily basis is less than ideal, especially since it demolishes the existing barrier between work and home life. A home is usually a place for rest and relaxation, a sanctuary away from the busy life of professionals.

Fortunately, with the easing of the lockdowns due to the availability of a vaccine, a return to the workplace is close to becoming a reality. Time and again, environmental psychologists have proven the positive effects of a healthy, well-designed workplace with the efficiency of employees. It is a crucial piece of the puzzle for businesses that are striving to flourish and reach their maximum potential.

Avoiding Toxic Environments

A toxic work environment is often characterized by incompetence and negligence on the part of both employers and employees. Poor lines of communication can often lead to several disputes between individuals that can greatly affect their quality of work.

Even daily remote work, as mentioned earlier, can be considered an iteration of a toxic work environment. Disturbing an employee’s work-life balance can lead to high stress levels, thereby leading to faster burnout.

The type of culture a company aims to uphold is also indicative of whether it is fostering a toxic work environment. Companies that have a tendency to prioritize business outcomes often do so at the expense of their workers’ well-being. Job satisfaction and mental health are often overlooked.

Creating a Positive Workplace

A positive environment will undoubtedly provide more motivation and engagement for employees. As a result, employee retention and job satisfaction will positively follow suit. Fostering a healthier work environment will also lead to a drop in stress and even provide an avenue for all the individuals of an organization to share and discuss innovative ideas with one another. Letting their voices be heard is an essential part of boosting productivity, encouraging them to actually play a part in the development of the company rather than toil for profits they may never reap.

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Redesigning Spaces

The most obvious step in transitioning to a better, healthier work environment is simply tweaking the flow of the office space. The three most crucial aspects when reorienting a company’s workplace are allocation, privacy, and havens.

Allocation simply refers to the amount of space a single employee has to accomplish their work. It is important for an employee to feel that they have their own personal area that doesn’t encroach upon another coworker’s space.

Giving employees a sufficient amount of privacy is tantamount to their productivity as well. Making them feel like they have their own time on their hands will force them to maximize their own working hours. This also opens them up to transparency between each other and, more importantly, with their immediate supervisors since they will be accountable for how they spend their time.

Finally, havens should exist for employees to have a particular space where they are allowed to take a break and interact with their coworkers outside of a professional setting. Setting up havens can even provide them with an avenue to discuss work-related matters without the stress factor.

Havens are often the most glamorized part of a workplace, the epitome of a positive environment. They can range from a lounge, a game room, a snack room, or all three combined. For example, simply installing a couple of luxurious OHCO massage chairs can significantly reduce stress levels. Setting up game consoles or other devices can promote a healthy competitive spirit among employees. Stacking a pantry with all kinds of snacks will help ease anxieties. Offering a wide variety of self-care opportunities for employees enhances their productivity, making it a worthwhile investment for businesses.

Occasional Remote Work Opportunities

Disregarding the massive transitions that countless companies have made to turn to digital platforms for work during the pandemic could spell massive losses. Some employees might have even adapted to working from home better than others. Instead of shunning all of that to favor in-office work, businesses could provide remote work policies to see how it would succeed in the long run.

Even considering employees to work remotely at least once a month and taking note of their performance could be substantial to fostering a better work environment. Work-from-home setups are only detrimental when they are done on a daily basis. Backed by sufficient research, it was found that employees are more productive when they possess some semblance of autonomy and agency over their workspace.

The imminent return to the office will, without a doubt, happen sooner than later. However, given the unprecedented circumstances that this pandemic has brought, it is also important to observe how it has changed an employee’s perception of the workspace.

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