Comfort at the Workplace – Strategies and Tips
Groshan Fabiola – July2017
As this generation is slowly being replaced, a new work culture is taking over. Younger, tech-savvy employees demand the improvement of working conditions and to their help come a series of HR studies showing the link between comfort and productivity.
Far from being a trend or a luxury, employee comfort is becoming an attribute of the modern workplace, one that can boost satisfaction, loyalty and productivity. With that in mind, every informed business owner wishing to keep up with modern workplace requirements should understand the influence that comfort has and take measures to increase it in a cost-effective manner.
The connection between productivity and comfort
Some building managers and business owners postpone comfort improvements because they lack the funds and they choose to spend their available money somewhere else. However, employee comfort is far from being inefficient. Although it does require an investment, it pays off. Neglecting it has the opposite effect; when they work in an unpleasant and uncomfortable place, employees are distracted. They cannot focus on doing their job, as they are focusing instead on what bothers them. Whether it’s a poorly ventilated room or a dirty office, discomfort can lower their productivity and, as a result, waste money in the long run. Needless to say, it can lead to absenteeism and employees who are unsatisfied with work conditions will eventually quit. On the other hand, making an effort to increase comfort will influence staff loyalty and boost their morale.
How pleasant is the building design?
People go to great lengths to improve their home design and make the living place more welcoming and comfortable. The same principles should be applied to the workplace. If the building is not properly designed, the staff will be in a bad mood and they won’t be able to perform. When assessing the productivity levels of their staff, managers should determine whether certain flaws in the building design have a negative influence.
For example, if employees have to work all day in very small offices or if the rooms are empty expect for an office, then it’s normal for them to be affected and perform poorly. To boost morale levels, managers should add more personality to the building by placing a few decorations, repainting the walls or refurbishing the floors.
The importance of break areas
Depending on company policy, employees either have a few minutes of break every hour or one full hour to get their meal. During these minutes, it’s important that they feel like they’re in a comfortable space, not a cold and impersonal environment. Setting up break areas is a great way of making the workplace more enjoyable and allowing staff to relax. These spaces don’t have to cost a lot of money. If you’re on a budget, you can set up a room with a TV, a comfy sofa and some bean bags. For buildings that have access to an outdoor space, creating a green corner is a good idea. In case the budget allows you, you can create something even better and get inspiration from some of the world’s largest companies. For example, Uber has nap rooms for their employees, Google offers shower rooms and bars and Microsoft break areas include multiplayer games to promote team spirit.
Cleaning should never be skipped
Investing in decorations and high-end break areas will not make a huge difference if you do not cover the basics of comfort: cleanliness. Every respectable company should have a contract with a commercial cleaning service in order to provide a safe and clean space for their employees. After all, the staff should focus on their work and should not have to worry about how much dust is on their desks or the questionable smell coming from the bathroom. No matter where your offices are located, commercial cleaning services are an absolute must. Working in a dirty space not only influences the mood and productivity levels of the staff, but also poses health risks and may cause workplace accidents. For example, if people work in an area with persistent mold, they can develop respiratory conditions and this makes you liable as an employer.
Details that can make a difference
Sometimes, even a building with a friendly design and good air quality can become stressful and, in that case, managers can work on a few details to increase comfort:
- New chairs – spending eight hours a day sitting in a chair with poor lumbar support cause lower back pain and increase the risk of other conditions later on, according to research. If you have the budget for office upgrades, then new ergonomic chairs should be included on the list.
- Temperature – the office should have a thermostat and workers should be able to change the temperature as they see fit. In seasons when temperatures hit extremes, heating and air conditioning units should be available.
- Lighting – employees should have as much access as possible to natural sunlight. If not, artificial lighting should mimic sunlight and not put a strain on the eyes.
- Uniforms – in companies where wearing a uniform is compulsory, managers should try to make the clothes as comfortable as possible, so that employees can move freely.
Top 3 Most Popular Languages in Business
Marina Ivanova – June 2017
Although it is difficult to predict the direct benefits of learning a second language, we do know that this skill will set you apart from your competition whether in the work force or while searching for a career. Here we have listed the top 3 most popular languages in Business right now, besides English, and in what industries they are most beneficial.
When doing business solely within the United States, it is important for companies to know how to communicate with the country as a whole. Given that Spanish is said to be the second most spoken language in America, it’s easily the best to learn for those looking to broaden their horizons within the United States. For this reason, getting a good job within any customer service-related industry is almost certainly tied to your ability to speak Spanish. It is estimated that the ability to speak Spanish could come with a wage increase of about 1.7%.
In addition to doing better business in the United States, Spanish could broaden horizons in countries like the ones throughout South America. With large self-sustaining environments, South America offers opportunities for a cheaper way to do business, and most of the population is Spanish-speaking.
There’s also Mexico, which is one of the top countries to think about investing in. It has a free market economy in the trillion-dollar class, and trading with the United States continues to increase.
As of this year, it is estimated that 400 million people around the world speak Spanish and 340 million speak English. Spanish is the official language of 21 countries and is spoken in 44 countries. Being able to communicate in Spanish fluently would be beneficial to communicating efficiently with cultures throughout the United States, but also in many countries around the world.
Surprise, surprise, the most widely spoken language on the plant is Chinese with over a billion numbers of speakers. Recent years have seen China grow to become one of the world’s largest trading nations. We have also seen the demand for Chinese-speaking business people grow.
Some of the most important and influential Chinese communities are in Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Brunei, the Philippines, and Mongolia. Mandarin Chinese is spoken in all of these, so knowing how to converse with professionals in these places would give business people the advantage of tapping into vast markets and making a more personal connection with some of the most powerful economies.
Mandarin is the official and most widely spoken language within China, though there are also a number of other Chinese dialects that are also spoken within the country. Mandarin is one of the official languages of the United Nations.
It is important to note that many companies have long-terms investments in China, so business with international companies such as these would provide business for years to come. That being said, it may take a while to learn this complex language, but China is not going away as a powerful nation any time soon.
Arabic, one of the world’s oldest languages is spoken in the Middle East, with speakers found in countries such as Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Iraq, Syria, Jordan, Lebanon, and Egypt. So many people have a working knowledge of Arabic, in fact, that in 1974 it was made the sixth official language of the United Nations.
The use of the Internet is rising in popularity in the Middle East, and so it is becoming easier to do business there from anywhere else.
Other business owners agree that the Middle East is one of their biggest export markets. Some say the region makes up a quarter of their business overall. Because of the fast-growing market of eager consumers in the Middle East, businesses should consider making their products easily available to Arabic speakers, and enterprising business people should consider taking a few lessons.
There are about 406 million native speakers Arabic is the official language of roughly 27 different countries, and the Middle East is proving to be full of promises for businesses across the world.
Chi Chi Okezie – May 2017
Networking is definitely a key component to career, business or academic success. Being able to overcome common obstacles takes focus, skill and dedication. Savvy networkers can be efficient and effective in their endeavors when they are able to make good decisions.
Listed below are helpful tips for maneuvering through common networking challenges.
Pick and Choose
There are instances when you have two or more events scheduled for the same time. It is impossible to attend them all, thus you have to choose an event. It can be difficult especially if there are opportunities which can arise from one or more events. How do you select the right event to attend? A good suggestion, is to contact the organizer of the event and ask if the event is re-occurring. If the event will take place in the following months then plan to attend at a later time. Another idea is to ask the organizer or host who will be attending. If the guest list matches up with your potential customers, clients or partners then opt to attend that event. Also, check the agenda or program, if possible. Will there be a notable speaker? Will there be a good presentation? By answering these questions, it can give you insight as to how to make the proper decision.
Another great way to scale your networking is to attend functions which are relevant to your goals. Do not attend an event just because you do not have a prior commitment or can afford to make an appearance. Go to a function because you believe it has quality and adds value to your networking advancement. You can also pick events that can benefit others in your networks and expose them to similar opportunities. Definitely take the time to evaluate your processes and make proper use of your time.
Use these tips and suggestions to effectively make connections and grow your networks. Find the value and importance of attending the right events and being success in your endeavors.
The Essential Ingredient for Teams to Perform at Their Peak
Sam Obitz – May 2017
What came to your mind first? Great leadership, cohesion, exceptional communication or perhaps respect for one another? Certainly, all of those components are required for a team to perform optimally, but none of those things are possible without TRUST.
Without a foundation of trust to build on, not one of your team’s accomplishments will ever be as great as they could be with it. Exceptional teams begin with this and build outward.
It all starts at the top of the organization, so the members of the team must first trust their leader. Any organization without trust in their leader will under perform (and often outright fail) regardless of the amount of skill and expertise on the team itself.
So, you may ask, how does a leader gain the trust of those on their team? There is more than one way to gain the trust of those around you. However, there are many factors that tend to be present in most situations where the leader has a high level of trust.
At the top of that list would be authenticity. You have to know who you are and what you stand for, or people will see right through you. In addition, you cannot preach one thing, do another, and expect people to fall for it for long. This is called ‘walking your talk’ and there is no quicker way to engender respect than living your life this way. I have seen instances where coaches or leaders have blinked just once, which led to their downfall as well as their team’s. As soon as you blink, you open the door for everyone else on your team to start cutting corners as well.
Also high on the list would be what I call heart or compassion. As the great coach John Wooden was fond of saying, “No one cares how much you know, until they know how much you care.” People will go to the end of the Earth for you and each other when they feel valued and cared for.
Being consistent and fair is another key component in gaining the trust of others. People mistakenly think this means I believe leaders have to treat everyone on the team the same. What this means to me is that you treat everyone the way they deserve to be treated. Ideally, everything would be earned and all people would be held accountable for their actions. A subset of this would the necessity to be straight with everyone and not dance around things. People may not always like it when you tell them the truth, but they will gain your respect when you do and lose it quickly when you don’t. A side benefit of telling it like it is, is that it prevents further pain down the road.
Once the leader has established that he or she is trustworthy, the next step is getting the team members to trust each other. I’m going to hit on two key components here. The first is a shared vision for the team. It is imperative that everyone on the team strives to reach the same goal through an agreed upon process. Once team members know what their responsibilities are and how their task affects other members on the team, who are relying on them, bonds will begin to be forged.
The second component is the one that I believe separates the good from the truly exceptional, getting to know your teammates on a deeper human level. I cannot stress this enough! When you form bonds with people, you naturally view what is good about them through a magnifying glass and what’s bad about them through reverse binoculars (which has the effect of making things appear tiny). This causes team members to give each other the benefit of the doubt when things go poorly, the net effect of which is reduced or removed animosity among teammates. This results in more energy and focus for the team to put towards its shared goals.
Once you develop a foundation of trust, you will be able to be a better leader, develop cohesion, and have exceptional communication and respect for one another. It will also make all other things you want to do easier to accomplish as well.
Remember, ‘It takes time to build trust, mere seconds to break it, and forever to repair it.”