In all the years I’ve been a remote-work advocate, there’s one thing I’ve consistently noticed when talking to remote workers: They almost never want to go back to the office. Recent studies have also shown that only 12% of employees are willing to work full-time from an office in the future.
Though it comes with its own challenges, it’s clear that implementing a hybrid workplace will be essential. It also requires a solid plan for getting your team on board before you decide to go back to the office, even if just for a couple of days per week.
Here are five ways of preparing your team for the switch.
Physical safety and stable mental health are the chief priorities for most employees. Health hazards represent the primary difference between the office as we once knew it and the future of the workplace. So going back to the office naturally raises concerns.
But employees are well aware of these issues by now. Many of them were seriously concerned even before 2020 whenever the flu season was around the corner. A line can be drawn between a top employer who acknowledges employees as the company’s number-one asset and one whose priorities are elsewhere.
Put together a realistic plan to tackle in-office health, including:
Rethinking office paths.
Adding more space between desks.
Periodically running health check-ups on your staff.
Implementinging a strict room-booking system to prevent overcrowding.
Having people come into the office at different times of day.
Keeping routine meetings via video calls.
Present this plan to your employees before you ask them to return to the office so they can be aware of the new changes and suggest potential improvements.
2. Place the individual at the center of your business
Remote work has been challenging enough in the pandemic. In a hybrid setting, these obstacles will only accumulate. Within a hybrid workplace, every individual is likely to struggle with making the schedule work for them. As work keeps switching between the office and their screens at home, they might lose focus and motivation.
This can put a halt on their professional-development goals, leaving them feeling like they haven’t achieved everything they wanted at the end of the year. Giving everyone the freedom to craft a schedule that suits their needs can prove a first good step to take in this regard.
Similarly, the issue of loneliness when working from home will persist for people who still haven’t adapted. Imposing a strict policy as to when people should come to the office won’t work for everyone. The few people who are feeling constricted or find it hard to focus at home will be better off with flexible choices that let them work from the office with their colleagues, even if just on a rotational basis.
To find all hidden problems, talk to your team — to every single person. Anonymous employee-feedback surveys or polls are appropriate approaches to receive the details of sensitive issues they wouldn’t want to otherwise disclose.
3. Ask employees for feedback before making any change
The pre-remote-work era was largely dependent on leadership decisions. Employee feedback was something not all organizations took seriously. Even when they did, surveys were sent too rarely. But working remotely highlighted the importance of listening to employees and meeting their demands. In turn, managers have gained relevant insights into how they could improve employee satisfaction, simply by talking to the people in their company.
Making a change within the hybrid office can always have a severely negative impact. Get everyone to come into the office and you might end up with half of your team sick. Force them to show up at strict office hours and you’ll lose them as they leave for more understanding employers.
Before you decide on anything, discuss it with everyone. Schedules, work processes, tools, concerns, team collaboration and independent wishes are all aspects to bring up before returning to your office.
4. Paving the way for new restrictions
Regardless of how strong your hybrid-workplace plans are, new restrictions are bound to appear, so don’t rely only on your office for specific project tasks. Make sure that everything you’re planning to handle in the office can be done at home too. Prepare a list of policies or guidelines, and don’t ditch a tool that might turn out to be your best on-project communication pathway.
Keep your team culture in mind at this point. Have a list of team-building activities your employees can bond over using video calls in case of a new lockdown. This is also the perfect time to tap into a global talent pool and start hiring non-locally. Bonus points for diversity right so you can benefit from fresh talent and new cultures.
Keep everyone in the loop. Have a document anyone can access to see your roadmap to the hybrid office. Be fully honest when it comes to not being able to do something. If you can’t promise everyone will enjoy using a new collaboration app, let them know. The same goes for any time you need to reduce costs or prepare for a low-sales season.
8Nearly 90% of employees expect CEOs to speak out publicly regarding any new societal or local issues. Displaying trust and interest in keeping your employees safe gives them the mental security they need to worry less about what’s to come. Transparency is the keyword to hold on to as you’re preparing your team to join a hybrid workplace. Forget that, and you’re bound to see a sudden drop in your employee retention rates.
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The health crisis has shaken our relationship with the workspace and the traditional definition of the “office” has become obsolete. In this article, Céline Fraquelli, Sales Manager at Framery’s headquarters in France analyzes the new priorities to be integrated into the design of tomorrow’s…
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Even companies with the best intentions can sometimes take a wrong turn when trying to do right by their employees. Damaging habits and behaviors can inadvertently get absorbed into company culture; and when this happens, it can send the wrong signal about a company’s priorities and values. One of the biggest challenges lies in finding the sweet spot between business needs and employee welfare and happiness. Naturally, you want a high-performing team; but not at the expense of employee well-being and mental health.
Here, we take a closer look at some common workplace conventions—and the ways that they might be inadvertently undermining your mental health objectives.
1. Having a “hustle” culture
It’s great to be productive, but over-emphasizing hard work and profitability can be a slippery slope to toxic productivity. It can lead to individuals attaching their feelings of self-worth to the amount of work they’re doing, and feeling like performance metrics are more important than their mental well-being.
Similarly, celebrating employees who stay late—or even lightly teasing those who start late and leave (or log-off) early (or on time)—can subtly contribute to a culture of overwork and performative busy-ness. Left unchecked, this can result in resentment and burnout among other employees who feel compelled to prove their own commitment to work .
A small fix:
Instead of celebrating regular overtime, try opening up communication about ways to include breaks and downtime throughout the day. You can support this with anecdotes about the healthy mental habits of people in the team (assuming they are open to sharing). For example: “Hey guys, Dave’s found a clever way to schedule regular breaks into his day around meetings!”
Also be sure to address long hours and overwork if you see a rising trend in the company, as it could be an indicator of unachievable work expectations.
2. Sending work emails or messages after hours
It happens to us all: maybe you only received a response on something late in the day, or you had an out-of-hours brainwave.
Sending the occasional evening or weekend message is fine, but doing it regularly implies that after-hours work is expected—which could pressure people into feeling they have to respond immediately.
The same goes for emails sent at the end of a working day with next-day deadlines (or, for example, Monday morning deadlines for work given out on Friday). These practices put a hefty burden on the recipient, which adds to stress and can contribute to burnout.
Now, it gets a bit harder to draw a line when you take into account the increasingly globalized world of work, which necessitates out-of-hours communications due to different time zones. But even in these cases, it helps to be explicit about expectations when sending messages, especially when you know the recipient is either about to log off or has signed off for the day.
A small fix:
If you need to send emails after hours or on weekends, be sure to add a note about how the email can be read or dealt with on the next working day. This takes pressure off the recipient and assures them that they won’t be penalized for not responding on the spot.
If you have a global team, it also helps to establish clear working hours for different countries, and to be clear about the fact that nobody is expected to read or respond to emails out of hours.
Also, no matter where in the world you or your recipient are, be sure to schedule enough time for them to deal with the task during their office hours! And remember—they may have other pre-existing work on their plate that might need to take precedence.
3. Only engaging in “shop-talk”
It’s easy to find things to talk about around the water cooler in the office. But take those organic run-ins out of the equation, and what you’re left with is often work chat and little else.
Working from home has made it harder to bond with colleagues. The natural tendency is to get work done and to only chat about the process, rarely (if ever) about other things.
This removes a big social aspect from work, which can take a significant mental toll on employees and affect their enjoyment of work. This is especially apparent for employees who don’t already have solid work friend groups, either because they’re new or because their friends have since left the company.
A small fix:
There’s so much more to people than just who they are at work. To get some non-work conversations going, design interactions that aren’t work related.
You could set up a monthly ‘coffee roulette’ to group random employees up for a chat. This can help to break the ice a bit and link up individuals who might not otherwise speak during work hours. Or you could arrange sharing sessions where people are encouraged to talk about their challenges and triumphs from life outside the workplace.
Another alternative is to set up interest groups in the company, to help like-minded employees find each other and bond over a shared interest in certain hobbies or things.
4. Only having group chats and check-ins
Big group check-ins and catch-up meetings are important. But group settings can pressure people to put a good spin on things, or cause them to feel like they’re being irrational or weak for struggling when everyone else seems to be doing well.
This could result in problems being missed and getting out of hand, which in turn can take a big toll on mental health and well-being.
A small fix:
Some people may not be willing to speak candidly to a large group, so be sure to set aside time for employees to speak one-to-one to a manager who can address any problems that may arise. It’s also important to make sure everyone understands that they won’t be penalized or looked down on for speaking up about any issues they may be having.
5. Not talking about mental wellness
Perhaps the biggest way your company might be undermining mental health is simply by… not talking about it.
Some managers may not feel equipped to have these conversations, or may not be sure about the etiquette or convention around holding these conversations. But by not broaching these topics at all, employees may feel like they can’t speak out about things they’re struggling with.
The result is a rose-tinted veneer that may be hiding deeper problems under the surface. And studies show there likely are problems. According to the CDC, 1 in 5 employed adults in the U.S. experienced a mental health issue back in the previous year, with 71% of adults reporting at least one symptom of stress. That number has likely shot up now.
A small fix:
Be candid about mental health and encourage people to share their burdens and struggles—especially leaders. You can help by actively promoting good habits like mindfulness and meditation, proper work-life balance, and reaching out for help when necessary.
By being more honest about struggles and mental wellness challenges, managers can reduce the stigma and create a more open culture where people feel able to admit they’re struggling.
As a company, it’s important to be careful about the ripple effects that even small actions—or, in some cases, inaction—may have on employees. The simple fact is that the signals you send may be reinforcing unhealthy habits.
That’s why it’s so important to be aware of deeper currents that run in your organization and to proactively address any harmful behaviors.
By staying aware and making a few small tweaks and behavioral changes, you can hit the reset button when necessary and encourage good habits that protect employee mental wellness.
For more tips on how to build a more inclusive workplace culture that supports your employees’ mental well-being and happiness, check out:
Is Mental Health important in the workplace? Tom explores all things related to workplace mental health, including mental health in school workplaces, in this insightful video. Tom helps employers figure out mental health at work. He reviews workplaces, trains managers and writes plans. Since 2012 he has interviewed more than 130 people, surveyed thousands and worked across the UK with corporations, civil service, charities, the public sector, schools and small business. Tom has worked with national mental health charities Mind and Time to Change and consults widely across the UK. He lives in Norfolk and is mildly obsessed with cricket and camping.
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It only takes one toxic worker to wreak havoc and negatively impact an entire workplace. Toxic coworkers not only make work dreadful and unpleasant, but they harm the productivity and morale of everyone around them. They create unnecessary drama, erode the culture, undermine the values of the company and destroy trust within the team.
According to a Fierce Inc.study, four out of five employees currently work or have worked with a potentially toxic coworker. Randstad conducted a study exploring why employees leave their workplace and found 58% have left or are considering leaving due to negativity, office politics and disrespectful behavior.
It’s easier said than done to not allow the toxicity of one person to affect your own work especially if you have to work closely with them. Working with a toxic coworker is a powerless and draining experience. Furthermore, it’s not always easy to identify a toxic coworker especially if you consider them to be a friend.
If you feel drained or negative after interacting with them, this could be a sign they’re toxic. Toxic behavior can manifest through words, body language, disrespecting boundaries, hoarding information, purposely undermining others, not following through on promises or commitments, insults and rumors, to name a few.
Here are three ways you can identify a toxic coworker and set healthy boundaries.
Employees with a victim mindset will always talk about how much they hate their job, their boss, their team or the company. There’s a difference between having a bad day and someone who revels in creating misery for others. Dan Bailey, president of WikiLawn Los Angeles Lawn Care, explained, “the more people they can get to share in their discontent, the better they feel.”
Despite being disengaged, toxic coworkers will make excuses for their performance when given constructive feedback with the belief that it’s a personal attack against them. Moreover, they hold grudges and never lose a chance to share how they’ve been wronged even if those situations have been rectified.
Those who are new to a company are prone to being swept up into the negativity as they’re eager to make friends and unaware of a toxic persons patterns. For this reason, it’s important to do pulse checks to see if this is a cultural thing or a person thing.
Here are some coping strategies to help you bounce back from a toxic encounter and stay mentally strong:
Surround yourself with uplifting coworkers who take responsibility and learn from their mistakes
Seek out your company’s Employee Assistance Program (EAP) or professional help to learn how to better manage the situation and have a safe space to talk about it
Talk to your HR department and keep the conversation based on facts rather than an individual’s personality. Be prepared to provide specific examples of incidents
Incorporate social activities you can look forward to after work
Practice gratitude and meditation
They Gossip More Than They Knowledge Share
Gossip is the root of many internal company problems. It breeds negativity and spreads quickly. Yasir Nawaz, digital content producer at Pure VPN, said, “toxic colleagues drain your energy and are a constant source of demotivation at work. The worst part is you may not realize you’re in the company of a toxic colleague until it’s too late.” He added, “there’s one sure-fire way to identify one; someone that constantly talks about others behind their backs.”
Melanie Musson, insurance specialist for Buy Auto Insurance asserted, “gossip doesn’t help build a stronger team; rather, it tears down teamwork. Chances are, if they gossip to you, they’re also gossiping about you.”
Another warning sign a colleague is toxic is if they refuse to share knowledge with you that prevents you from being able to do your job. As a victim of a former toxic coworker and boss, I know how detrimental their impact can be not only on my work and mental health, but also to the team and overall workplace. In my experience, my former coworker excluded me from meetings, team activities and withheld information that prevented me from being able to do my job well and used it against me.
Musson explained, “toxic people put themselves first. They really don’t care about others and use others’ misfortunes as a way to move forward at work. If a team member is struggling, the toxic coworker may take the opportunity to show how they excel in that same area.”
Eventually, I set a boundary with her where I started documenting every incident before confronting her. Then, I worked around her to find the information I needed and limited my interactions with her altogether. Be aware, setting healthy boundaries will often push toxic coworkers to react negatively. However, those who are the happiest and most productive are the ones who set healthy boundaries and those who aren’t used to having boundaries set with them are likely to take offense.
Here are boundaries you can set with a coworker that gossips:
Empathize and redirect them to focus on what’s working or to speak with their manager
Refuse to participate by excusing yourself from the conversation when they start gossiping
Focus on positive gossip that celebrates others instead of participating in negative gossip that hurts morale
Communicate your boundaries letting them know you don’t like to talk about office politics
Surround yourself with people who would rather share knowledge than spread gossip
Use key phrases such as “this sounds like a rumor and I don’t want to hear it”, “I’d rather engage in conversations that are positive and uplifting” or countering with “is that a fact or gossip?”
They Use Passive Aggressive Comments Rather Than Compliments
Matt Satell, CEO of Prime Mailboxes said, “toxic employees are often those who purposely undermine the capabilities of others so they can stay ahead of their competition.” They thrive on finding fault, negativity and holding people back.
Here are a few examples of passive-aggressive behaviors and comments:
Giving the silent treatment
Responding with sarcasm or disguised insults
Rejecting feedback and others perspectives
A cynical attitude
An air or superiority
Nich Chernets, CEO of Data for SEO said “in my experience, toxic people tend to complain a lot, even in the situations when everything is good. They’re looking for an audience that will constantly listen to their problems. In the long run, these people bring a lot of negativity to the work process and burden others with unnecessary things.” John Stevenson, marketing specialist at My GRE Exam Preparation added, “in turn, this creates an environment where other members of the team cannot work at full capacity because they’re too busy watching their backs.”
You can cultivate positivity through uplifting interactions with other colleagues, listening to motivating podcasts and finding the good in the work you do. It’s easy to lose motivation when a toxic coworker undermines your abilities and believes their role and contributions are more valuable than everyone else’s.
Here are some ways you can remind yourself of your hard work and contributions:
Keep a running document of your achievements and wins
Copy and paste recognitions from emails, client/manager reviews and Slack comments into the running document
I’m a Leadership Coach & Workplace Culture Consultant at Heidi Lynne Consulting helping individuals and organizations gain the confidence to become better leaders for themselves and their teams. As a consultant, I deliver and implement strategies to develop current talent and create impactful and engaging employee experiences. Companies hire me to to speak, coach, consult and train their teams and organizations of all sizes. I’ve gained a breadth of knowledge working internationally in Europe, America and Asia. I use my global expertise to provide virtual and in-person consulting and leadership coaching to the students at Babson College, Ivy League students and my global network. I’m a black belt in Six Sigma, former Society of Human Resources (SHRM) President and domestic violence mentor. Learn more at http://www.heidilynneco.com or get in touch at Heidi@heidilynneco.com
Toxic Coworkers | How to Deal with Toxic People at Work // Do you have a toxic coworker? Or even worse, several toxic workers. Nothing make a toxic work culture faster than having these difficult coworkers and having to deal with toxic coworkers every day. If you have toxic work colleagues, you need to know how to cope with toxic coworkers. You can disarm toxic people in the workplace, and while it won’t totally heal a toxic work environment, it can make your day to day in a toxic workplace slightly more tolerable. In this video I will show you how to deal with toxic coworkers – it’s six simple strategies that will disarm toxic person at work and help you survive until you can escape the toxic environment at work. I’d love to know which strategies you would implement or how you have dealt with toxic coworkers in the past. ****************** Stop settling for mediocrity, it’s time to glow up your career. Attend the free LIVE workshop on December 2nd at 12pm EST. glowupyourcareer.com ************* Think I might be the right Career Success Coach for you? Learn more & apply: capdecasolutions.com/coaching Accelerate your job search, get Hired in a Hurry hiredinahurry.com ****************** More videos to help deal with difficult coworkers and toxic workplaces: TOXIC WORK ENVIRONMENT: 14 Signs Your Workplace is Toxic (and How to Cope) https://youtu.be/GEJBaigzUcA COWORKERS ARE NOT YOUR FRIENDS https://youtu.be/XjhF3xQE1lM How to Work with People You Don’t Like https://youtu.be/x1S5EPX0Jik HOW TO HANDLE DIFFICULT COWORKERS | Dealing with difficult people at work https://youtu.be/R-nI-IpQYbo POSITIVE ATTITUDE AT WORK (HOW TO STAY POSITIVE AT WORK) https://youtu.be/wVKUB0-ZHvM ****************** SUCCESS HABITS & RESOURCES Join my private community, the Strive Squad (it’s free!) https://www.facebook.com/groups/striv… I’m all about productivity tools, great books, and sanity savers in general. Browse my favorites in my Amazon Store: https://www.amazon.com/shop/jenniferb… Get your bookworm on when you’re on the move. Audible is my OBSESSION, and it helps me read an extra 1-2 books per week. Get 30 days free: https://amzn.to/39d3U3W Try my 30 books in 30 days challenge, and make it easier with Kindle Unlimited (your first month is free!): https://amzn.to/3ftIBMB Being the best means you keep your knowledge up to date, for this I love Skillshare! Get a free trial: https://bit.ly/3l3oTbJ What Am I Wearing? I hate wearing the same thing twice and I love saving money, so 95% of my wardrobe is from Rent the Runway. Wanna try it (and save $30): https://bit.ly/3995mnT ****************** LET’S HANG! I post more content and videos on LinkedIn – follow me there https://linkedin.com/in/jenniferbrick Daily career glow-up videos on TikTok https://www.tiktok.com/@jenniferbrick… You can also follow me on: Instagram: http://instagram.com/capdeca Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ccJenniferbr… Twitter: https://twitter.com/jennifer_brick Sometimes I write stuff for Thrive Global https://thriveglobal.com/authors/jenn…
Covid-19 forced organizations to rethink the future of physical workspaces. Everything from desk layouts to conference rooms to communal areas needs to be approached with a new lens of employee health and safety. Data plays a critical role in how leaders structure their reopening plans, identify metrics for reopening and measure effectiveness.
Some countries are already reopening offices as the rest of the world watches and learns. One of the biggest lessons from the Asia Pacific region so far, as Gartner suggests, is the importance of “transparency” and “iteration.” As Hernan Asorey, chief data officer at Salesforce explained, “We are always assessing the data we have available to make decisions. For every evolving need, we pragmatically look at what exists from trusted sources, we vet it with experts in the field, and then we assess, augment, learn and adapt.”
Since organizations are faced with entirely new challenges—all dependent on a variety of factors including office location, workspace type and workforce size—leaders need data to inform a flexible approach to planning, informed by data.
There are four areas where data can inform your reopening strategy:
Creating a COVID-19 task force
Tracking regional policies
Informing workspace planning
Analyzing employee survey data
These areas represent a starting point and not an exhaustive list. Since all of these details vary based on your organization, this piece should be used for informational purposes only.
Reopening is a cross-functional effort. Organizations are instituting centralized, assigned Covid-19 task forces—made up of a variety of people with a diverse set of skills and perspectives—to manage details like workplace logistics and employee communications. This group should represent your workforce as a whole.
“At Tableau, we’re bringing together a variety of stakeholders into workplace conversations,” said Debbie Smith, senior manager of workplace at Tableau. “We have perspectives—and data—from all aspects of the company, from security to HR to real estate to marketing to procurement. We’re also bringing in outside experts to inform details like capacity planning and air filtration.”
All of these stakeholders work with different data points to inform their perspectives. For example, health and safety teams might monitor regional policy data, procurement might use data to inform any new equipment purchases, like panels between desks, and IT might work with workplace teams to determine how to replace existing equipment like phones or headsets.
Creating a dedicated team is a foundational step in a reopening strategy, because data is useful only when people can provide context and take action.
Reopening strategies are largely dependent on local policies. In addition to these policies, organizations are also faced with a long list of guidance from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and more.
Organizations are exploring centralized dashboards to track changing policies and to inform key indicators to determine when it is safe to reopen offices. SC&H Group’s data analytics team, for example, created a sample dashboard that shows what this could look like for a company in the United States. The dashboard highlights legislation on a state-by-state basis alongside a map showing number of cases.
Christopher Adolph, associate professor of political science and adjunct associate professor of statistics at the University of Washington, is curating and maintaining a data set on state policies related to Covid-19 from open source data. He encourages data and analytics leaders to take a focused approach when visualizing local policy data. That might mean considering other visualization types beyond maps to focus on specific, regional metrics that show the impact of Covid-19.
“If I were an organization,” shares Adolph, “I would structure a visualization to show what’s happening in each location associated with my business, with filters that allow stakeholders to sort through stringency of policies, trends in mobility and trends in cases. I would want to see a time series of how policies change over time as cases increase or decrease in a region.”
Data analytics and geospatial services firm Lovelytics created a dashboard template combining Covid-19 case data from the Tableau Covid-19 Data Hub with sample HR data, providing a breakdown of at-risk employees by building, age group and location. Although this example was originally developed for companies looking to stabilize in a crisis, these types of dashboards could also become a single source of truth in the event of another wave of the virus after reopening.
Some of the most complex challenges that employers face in the wake of Covvid-19 are related to workspace layouts. Many organizations have adopted open office concepts, making it difficult to enforce six-feet guidance between employees. They’re also evaluating the use of shared spaces like kitchens, bathrooms and elevators along with high-end air filtration systems to reduce the spread of infectious droplets. One way that employers can start to make sense of all of these logistical decisions is through data.
Some key data points that employers are collecting (or considering collecting) around space utilization are:
Physical distance (between desks and in shared spaces)
De-densification (removing furniture in communal spaces like kitchens and conference rooms)
Air movement and ventilation
Pinch points like elevators and bathrooms
These new challenges are leading organizations to take a new approach to workplace metrics. Salesforce, for example, is analyzing data to model staggered arrival times so they can effectively manage elevator capacity. Salesforce is also partnering with Siemens on key solutions for a “touchless office,” where organizations can manage occupancy and location data to augment their contact tracing process (on an opt-in basis).
Global commercial real estate services firm Cushman & Wakefield noted in its Recovery Readiness guide that organizations may want to “invest in operational building technologies that enhance the integration, visibility, and control of building and workplace systems” (like occupancy sensors or air quality monitoring capabilities). The company also piloted a new office layout in Amsterdam deemed “The 6-Feet Office,” using large circles and visual cues to enforce a six-foot separation between employees.
An example dashboard from Tableau Zen Master Ken Flerlage. Note that this is intended to be an example and not a template. There are a variety of factors in workplace planning that organizations need to consider beyond the six-feet guideline. Interact with the full visualization.
Recently, Tableau Zen Master Ken Flerlage explored what an office space visualization could look like, drawing six-feet circles around each desk. If a desk area doesn’t follow the six-foot perimeter, then the circle turns red and indicates that the company needs to rethink the layout of that office area. In Flerlage’s blog post about the visualization, Amanda Makulec, data visualization lead at Excella and Bridget Cogley, senior consultant at Teknion, explain that this template is a good starting point for people as they rethink office seating arrangements, but that there needs to be additional thinking around the complexities of how people move in an office setting.
To account for these complexities, some companies are hiring external experts to help set these parameters and inform logistics planning. All of these concepts will require additional iteration and flexibility as organizations put them into practice.
Whether or not they can physically return to work, organizations also need to think about employee needs. Are employees comfortable returning to work—and if so, in what capacity? Some employees need to stay home with kids as schools remain closed, others may have compromised immune systems, and some may just be more comfortable working from home until a vaccine is available to the public.
Some companies, including Tableau, are gauging employees’ concerns through regular surveys. They’ll ask questions about general well-being, like how they’re adapting to work-from-home and how the company can support them. Companies in the logistical planning stages might ask questions about whether or not employees are comfortable returning to work to determine reopening schedules.
An example dashboard from the Tableau people analytics team showing results of a COVID-19 work-from-home survey (this dashboard contains sample data). Interact with the full visualization.
With this data at their fingertips, organizations can analyze:
Employee needs like office equipment or childcare support services
Once offices reopen, companies could join this survey data with utilization data to understand how many employees are actually coming into the office on a regular basis. This can help inform whether or not employees are comfortable with new working conditions.
Analyzing the results of these surveys can help organizations develop important metrics around how the pandemic is affecting their employee base and help them determine how to take action.
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Whether you’re entering the workforce for the first time, looking to change careers, or in a leadership position, one of the most important factors to consider is the culture of your workplace. In fact, according to research from Deloitte, “94% of executives and 88% of employees believe a distinct workplace culture is important to business success.” It’s easy to understand why.
A positive workplace culture boosts morale, prevents burnout, decreases conflicts, and improves collaboration. It also keeps everyone engaged and inspired. As a result, productivity soars, and turnover is less likely to occur.
While there are several ways to build a more positive culture, it ultimately comes down to the personalities of the people within the office. Just take a moment to think about the people you’ve worked with. Did you ever have the honor of working with a micromanager, a bully, or a critic? How about someone who’s always negative or unable to control his emotions? I doubt you were effective in that role. Even worse, I bet you dreaded working with these types of individuals — meaning that showing up to work each day took real effort.
Understanding the various personality types within your organization is key to improving its culture. Better yet, it can make you a stronger teammate.
Recognizing Personality Types
I feel TypeFinder has a clear definition of what personality types are: “Personality typing is a framework designed to describe individuals according to their unique personality styles: their approach to managing energy, processing information, interacting with others, and organizing their lives.”
Personality typing can be traced back to the studies of psychologist Carl Jung. The theory of personality was later continued by Katharine Briggs and her daughter, Isabel Myers. The goal of personality typing is to highlight people’s differences while showcasing their individual strengths and tendencies.
If you want to learn what your personality type is or have your co-workers join you in a typing exercise, there are more than enough personality tests available. The most well-known are Myers-Briggs, Enneagram, Big Five, DiSC, and StrengthsFinder. Some of these may charge you for an assessment, but many sites offer free options as well. Many offer team assessments to bring together the different types under one roof.
Will these assessments always be 100% accurate? No — in fact, some experts recommend that you consider the result you were given, as well as other high-scoring options, to determine which one most closely reflects your outlook and habits. Nonetheless, these assessments can concretely help you identify your and your teammates’ strengths, preferences, and behaviors. Knowing these things will help you better collaborate with others; if you’re a leader, this knowledge can assist in motivating and managing your team.
I would like to add one final note here: I suggest you don’t use personality testing when hiring. Besides prolonging the hiring process, some candidates may be able to “trick” the test to give the result they think you want. More concerning may be some legal concerns, such as violating the Americans with Disabilities Act. Instead, you could have new hires take a personality test as part of the onboarding process, which is something I’ve done in the past.
Beyond onboarding, you could also take personality tests as a part of a career development effort or use them for a team-building activity. Our team, for example, took an Enneagram assessment before our biannual meeting and discussed the results and how we could help address each other’s needs.
Taking the test is just the first step. Here’s what you should do next to become a better and stronger teammate.
1. Develop your own self-awareness.
I’ll be honest: It’s not always easy to admit and embrace your shortcomings. But self-awareness should be the first move you make when it comes to working with teams because it gives you a chance to know yourself better. If you can’t understand your own motivations, how can you possibly embrace others’?
For example, according to the Myers-Briggs personality assessment, my type is ENTP. This type is often referred to as the debater because we have a tendency to be curious and innovative. Not bad for an entrepreneur, right? The problem with ENTPs is that we often love playing devil’s advocate. As a result, others might perceive us as pushy, rude, or dismissive of their ideas.
Knowing this, I’ve had to work on my tone and body language to let others know that I’m not hating on their ideas or feedback. I just want to challenge them and their ideas so we can find the best solution possible.
2. Prioritize time with your teammates.
Granted, taking a personality test won’t make you an expert. But it can let you know the most common types of personalities that exist within your organization. Those dominant tendencies and outlooks naturally shape your culture.
Of course, the only way you can match these personality types with your colleagues is by actually getting to know them. I get that time can be an issue, but it can also serve as an excuse. There are always opportunities to prioritize time with each of your teammates, like inviting a co-worker to lunch or having a quick chat during a break.
When you get to know your teammates better, you can identify their strengths and weaknesses, as well as their preferences. These one-on-one interactions also give you a chance to ask what their needs are and exchange feedback.
For example, if you have an employee who’s an introvert, don’t put her on the spot during a brainstorming session. A better alternative would be to conduct a brainwriting session so her voice can be heard while respecting her habits and preferences. It’s how you’ll get the best work out of her — and build the best camaraderie among your teammates.
3. Use individual strengths and preferences to your advantage — but don’t be afraid to shake things up.
In school, English was not my forte. That meant I had to work my tail off in college to ensure I got a good grade. One way I achieved that was by working with my classmates who excelled in English, partnering with them on projects and studying with them before an essay-writing exam.
At the same time, I had no problem speaking in front of a crowd, which carried over nicely into my public speaking career. If one of my quieter writing buddies had to work on a group presentation, he would team up with me. He would structure the argument, based on our research, and I would present it to the class.
The same idea can be applied to the workplace. Whether you’re assigning tasks or collaborating on a project, people want to play to their strengths and preferences. Do you have a coder who works best at home? Grant him the autonomy to work from home as often as possible. Do you have a salesperson who loves talking to others? Find opportunities to let her spread her wings at conferences.
At the same time, shake things up to prevent getting in a rut. Consider rotating positions or asking your teammates to take on new responsibilities. It can help everyone develop new skills, show off previously hidden talents, and gain insight into the diversity of the entire team.
Understanding personality types isn’t a magic bullet, but it can help you discover more about yourself and your teammates. Better understanding your teammates’ preferences and motivations can strengthen your communication with them and help you avoid conflicts. Personality typing can ensure that a diverse group of people not only is productive and successful, but also respectful — and that’s exactly the culture you want.
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