Workplace Strategies: 10 Ways to Work Better

Workplace Strategies: 10 Ways to Work Better

Happy, engaged employees drive business success. Today’s workplace needs to enable work to happen anytime and anywhere by giving employees a choice of where, when and how they work.

A key component of optimizing the workplace is to develop a clear picture of existing workplace attributes and how they support the way people need to work.

Here, we offer 10 strategies that can help employees work better. And we’ve also included important assessment questions to ask to quickly and easily determine if a workplace is supporting or hindering the work styles of your employees.


Put People First

Engage employees and culture: Engaged employees are committed to an organization’s goals and values, and motivated to contribute to its success. Their productivity and job satisfaction is supported by a workplace that enables connections between coworkers and teams, communicates organizational goals and values through the environment, facilitates work activities and allows individual expression through personalization and reconfiguration of space.

Why is this important? Because, according to Gallup’s State of the American Workplace survey in 2013, employee disengagement cost $450 million to $550 million in productivity loss annually in the United States.

Wellness matters: Because employees’ physical and psychological well-being affects productivity, performance and quality, progressive companies are using their workplaces to support a healthy lifestyle by providing spaces for physical activity, appropriate levels of sensory stimulation, environmental control and social interaction.

Questions to Ask:

  • How do employees influence decisions and outcomes in your organization?
  • What type of workday culture exists in your workplace?
  • Is information and knowledge easily shared between team members?
  • Does the workplace encourage employee wellness?

The Right Tools

Accommodate personalization: The proliferation of personal technology tools blurs the boundaries of traditional work settings. As a platform for mobile work, and in combination with social media and virtual meeting technology, the ability to work, connect and collaborate anywhere and at anytime is expanding exponentially. The workplace must engage technology seamlessly while facilitating productivity and efficiency gains.

Access shared tools: High-tech and low-tech equipment and communication tools support the work process. Whether it’s a white board, an ergonomic hot desk or a dock station, the right tools appropriately placed can go a long way to support work efficiency and effectiveness.

Questions to Ask:

  • What is the overall mix of high-tech and low-tech tools that are available for employees to use?
  • Are the personal tools that employees need readily available to them?
  • Are shared mobile tools available for each department?
  • Are shared spaces equipped with appropriate communication tools?

A Transformational Process

Embrace mobility: Organizations are adopting mobile/flexible working as a strategy to increase productivity, employee engagement and performance. What that looks like depends upon the organization’s culture, work process and real estate. Drivers like attraction and retention, work-life balance, employee satisfaction and real estate costs dovetail with the need to build stronger networks and teams to craft an approach that supports working anywhere, anytime as long as the work gets done.

Manage change: The success of any workplace change depends on carefully and actively managing that change to improve acceptance, ensure timeliness and promote necessary culture shifts. The most effective change management programs are highly communicative and consist of defining the scope of workplace changes, participation, on-going education with occupants and feedback.

Reshape teamwork: Today’s dynamic operational environment is transforming teamwork to become more virtual (distributed), self-directed and mobile. International Data Corporation estimates that one in every three workers worldwide are not tied to a desk in an office. Communication happens primarily through electronic media (email, telephone, video conference). Corresponding challenges for the workplace include virtual team building, social networking and a periodic need for face to face interaction.

Questions to Ask:

  • Is communication primarily face-to-face or electronic (email, telephone, video-conference, social media)?
  • Do you work in the open or behind closed doors?
  • What type of policies are in place for working remotely?
  • What types of work styles do occupants have?

Places to Work and Connect

Support working alone: The wave of new workplace practices increases the potential for visual, acoustic, thermal and lighting distractions, which in turn results in lost efficiency and lower job satisfaction. The workplace needs to provide settings to support concentration, working alone and privacy (visual, acoustical, spatial and digital).

The impacts of “techno-stress” (excessive information and stimulation) are real. Some studies have shown that the average smart phone user checks his or her phone 150 times a day. Knowledge workers also spend 11 hours per week with email — and it takes 67 seconds to recover from reading each email and returning to the previous task.

Create space for collaboration: The most beneficial work relationships occur when people physically interact with each other, working collaboratively, sharing knowledge and communicating effectively. Branded spaces should be designed in proximity to team members with collaboration tools that will accommodate and support small groups, impromptu discussions and web meetings.

Socialize for best connections: Socializing in the workplace is critical to foster relationship development for knowledge sharing, effective teamwork, sense of community and shared culture. Enhance social interaction by providing casual and flexible spaces that act as destinations located along common paths of travel.

Questions to Ask:

  • What is the overall mix of “me” / individual space and “we” / team space in your current workplace?
  • Does the work environment provide a choice of informal collaborative settings?
  • Are individual workspaces assigned appropriately according to work styles?
  • Do employees have the acoustic and visual privacy they need to get their solo work done?
Principal, Design Strategy