Spend A Day In Your Employees' Shoes

Tanya Pinto
Spend A Day In Your Employees' Shoes

If you really want to know how effective your organization’s office space is, here’s an easy idea. Spend a day in your employees’ shoes. 

No, we’re not simply using a poetic metaphor. Knowing how your employees spend their working hours in office can reveal exactly how you can help them become more productive. 

The old-fashioned ‘office’

The present-day ‘office’ setting is a by-product of the past century. A 9-to-5, stick-to-your-desk culture was better suited to businesses which functioned with paper files and documents. It’s amusing that even though computers, internet and constant connectivity has transformed the way we work, organizations still stick to an office culture from several decades ago. 

The first step to upgrading your organization’s office space, is to understand it from an employee’s point of view. Observe how your employees utilise the office through the day, and you may be surprised by what you notice. 

Here’s why.

Your office design might be toxic to employees: Sitting for several hours a day increases the odds of cardiovascular disease, illness and an untimely death, as stated by Harvard research. On the other hand, a PwC study claims that sick leave costs UK employers £29 billion annually. The case is clear – an office space is designed for primarily for sitting at a work desk is eventually going to cost the business dearly. An office should ensure employees remain healthy, productive, and comfortable. While an employee may feel it’s too trivial to complain about an uncomfortable chair, it’s an issue that should be urgently addressed. Some quick solutions include: introduce standing desks, gym facilities, or more open spaces to walk about.

There’s no clear divide between the workplace and home anymore: Employees of Eurostar, the inter-Europe rail service, are all set to go on strike this month. Their demands? They want Eurostar to offer them a better work-life balance, complaining they are made to work at unsocial hours and don’t have time for friends and family. The same concern affects almost all other employees. With more connectivity and faster-paced businesses, employees are encouraged to take their work home, but aren’t allowed to bring their ‘home’ to work. As an employer, you need to redesign the workplace as a sanctuary of positivity, hope, and accomplishment. For example, offer employees flexibilities such as remote-working or flexible hours if they have certain personal commitments. Ignoring these human aspects of an employee’s life will lead to frustration and a drop in productivity, which will eventually affect the organization. 

Understanding the impact of digital technology: This is possibly the most crucial revelation. As an employer, how would you react if you caught your employee browsing through someone’s party pictures on Facebook, or quickly uploading an ‘office selfie’ on Instagram? You’d probably be furious that the employee wasn’t doing any work. As an extreme, you might even ban all access to social networking sites from office computers. However, this would be a huge mistake. Social networking is central to the workplace of the future, and employers need to embrace it positively. Social media has launched a new era of social engagement- where people are more vocal about their opinions and can quickly organize for causes they believe in. This has an impact on the workplace too, as employees want to have a voice and feel technology is the best way to do that. Employers should not perceive social media negatively, or else they’ll be left with a dysfunctional, outdated office. With technology or social media: you can’t ever beat the beast, so you’d rather befriend it. Some changes you could adapt: introduce the use of communication and collaboration apps, regularly share business updates internally, and be an early adopter of new social media channels such as Snapchat. 

The next time you watch an employee ‘clock in’ to office dot on time, with eyes still puffy from sleep deprivation as she sits at the desk, give it a thought. Is it helping your business to follow rigid rules from Henry Ford’s time? Maybe not.

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