BALANCE AT WORK BLOG

Back to basics: Work environment matters

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Visits to several different workplaces during ‘Sydney Open‘ started me thinking about how the place we work – the physical surroundings – can have a big impact on our enjoyment and therefore our performance.

I know you’ve thought about this before and you know how you’re affected by where you are.

But when you’re advising people on their future careers, do you always give the potential work environment the attention it deserves?

Of course, it’s easy to assume certain environments for certain professions, industries or jobs. We know that usually a finance worker will be working indoors, for example. But as workplaces change, so do the factors that impact job fit.

Banking and related roles are a good example. The photo below was taken inside 50 Martin Place, once the Commonwealth Bank (yes, the money box building) and now the global headquarters of Macquarie Bank. In the past, we might have safely assumed that this type of work would be carried out in a relatively quiet, calm and contained environment.

I wonder what it’s like to work on one of these open floors?

2014-11-02 14.42.55

(The ‘industrial chic’ trend has me wondering if in 150 years’ time people will be pondering our primitive ‘workhouses’ of the information age. What do you think?)

How has the work environment changed for you since you started your career?

Has it changed in ways that enhance your enjoyment of the tasks you need to complete, or the opposite?

Could you have predicted the changes when you started in this career?

To get the full picture of how a person will ‘fit’ a particular type of work, we need to know exactly how the work environment will be. And we also need to know what will suit them.

There is no point in matching a person to a job or career on the basis of all the great stuff like values, personality, motivation and skills, if we are putting them into an environment they will ultimately find intolerable because of basic physical factors that can’t or won’t be adjusted to suit them.

How thoroughly do you check on environmental factors before you start a new job or advise others on their careers?

Can we assume too much about the potential workplace – and about the preferences of the individual?

We have all met people who – through just not knowing – aim for a role that is completely unsuitable because of the work environment. Finding this out early on can save a lot of heartache. I recently met a man with a young family who had decided he wanted to be a train driver – and was prepared to give up a job in an IT company – but hadn’t considered the reality of shiftwork, commuting and being alone on the job. (He also wanted to get out of IT because he thought his workplace was too political. I recommended he do some more research before joining the railways!)

My guess is that most people reading this will know their work will be mostly indoors, but even there the variations can be immense. Consider things such as noise levels, standing or sitting all day, the need to travel for work.

Knowing what you and your clients or staff prefer is a key factor in career engagement that may be easily overlooked due to the assumptions we make. Unlike other assessments, Harrison Assessments do not assume, they measure. Here’ are some of the work environment factors included in the questionnaire and reports:

  • Noise
  • Driving
  • Sitting
  • Outdoors
  • Travel

Contact us if you’d like us to send you a full list of the traits we can measure.

As usual, I’d love to hear your feedback on this post. Please share your stories below how you’ve notices work environment having an impact on engagement and performance.

 

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