Stress in Your Working Environment
The way in which your working
environment is arranged can be a major source
An obvious case is where the people and
resources you need are not immediately at
hand. Here, physical barriers and distance
stand in the way of being able to work efficiently.
This obviously obstructs people's achievement
of work goals and causes stress accordingly.
A less obvious source of stress comes with
the difference between working in an open
plan environment and working in individual
offices. On one hand, it is much easier
to work as a team in an open plan environment
because walls and barriers get in the way
of good team performance. On the other hand,
open plan offices can be immensely distracting
when you are doing a job that needs intense
concentration. The noise of telephones and
of people talking can significantly undermine
performance in these jobs.
Open plan offices also lack privacy. This
is important because it forces people constantly
to “maintain appearances”, and
to be constantly sociable when they may
be more efficient focusing on the job in
hand. This requirement for constant sociability
can be a source of stress, as people really
need to be able to control the level of
social activity they participate in, and
the way in which they interact.
Being pragmatic, the layout of your working
environment may or may not be something
you can control. If it is, try to arrange
things so that people have easy access to
the people and resources they need. This
normally works best by organizing workspaces
around the processes people operate, or
the types of work that they do. The idea
here is to make it as easy as possible for
people to do their jobs.
If the layout of your workspace is not
in your control, then consider making a
well-thought-out suggestion to the person
responsible as to how things could be improved.
Emphasize the benefits of making the change.
If you need personal space but none is
available, try blocking off areas with furniture,
screens or blinds. If noise is an issue,
then padded screens and plants can help
to muffle it. Make sure that you explain
to your co-workers why you are doing this;
after all you don’t want them to think
that you are avoiding their company!
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