The equation for employees and employers often gets reduced to salary, skills, and experience. However, the work environment also plays an important role in job satisfaction and productivity. Workers want to spend their days in a place that values their skills, treats them fairly, supports professional development, offers constructive feedback, and earns their trust.
These qualities drive better engagement, which benefits employers. Studies by Gallup have found that positive, engaged employees are more productive and bring higher-quality results.
The challenge for today's remote workplaces is creating a positive work environment without a centralized location. Can you form an attractive culture that inspires quality work and loyalty in a team joined by nothing more than an internet connection?
What Is a Positive Work Environment?
The idea of a positive workplace can be somewhat abstract, but these environments all share certain traits.
- A positive company has clearly defined values and goals that employees can embrace. Also, expectations and policies are unambiguous, so workers know exactly what is expected of them.
- In a positive workplace, employees feel free to voice opinions or try new methods without fear of being punished, demoted, or fired for doing so.
- Employees feel not only valued for their skills but also supported in their professional development efforts, either formally through training programs or informally through constructive feedback.
- A positive environment also takes issues like work-life balance and stress reduction seriously.
- A positive workplace is inclusive, with employees valued for what they bring to their jobs and the team rather than their background, physical characteristics, or any aspects of their personal life.
The traits of a positive work environment are the same for both in-person and virtual offices. However, it can be more difficult to foster a positive atmosphere in decentralized workplaces.
Common Challenges for Remote Teams
Here is a look at the common challenges remote workers encounter, and how these roadblocks can complicate the creation of a positive work environment.
- Communication - Remote teams lack the same face-to-face interactions that their in-office peers enjoy. In addition to not being able to voice concerns or opinions, they may find it difficult to get support or clarification when needed.
- Scheduling - Remote workers may live in different states with differing time zones. In some cases, they may even be in separate countries. This makes it more difficult to bring the team together and may increase the sense of isolation for some workers.
- Transparency - Since workers operate independently, it can be challenging to track their performance and productivity and ensure each one is working toward the goal.
- Building culture - Companies typically focus on instilling a culture in a face-to-face environment. Remote workplaces often lack the interactivity, events, and social aspects of in-person workplaces that help bring about a sense of belonging. It takes more effort to build workplace culture in these situations.
- Tools - It can be difficult for remote teams to get on the same page as far as software, platforms, communication systems, and file formats, leaving some workers feeling like they lack the tools to do the job correctly.
Luckily, there are plenty of ways to foster a positive work environment while accounting for these challenges.
11 Tips for Creating a Positive Work Environment
Here are 11 ways to develop a positive work environment in a virtual office.
Develop a Communication Strategy
Remote teams need an effective communication strategy to maintain efficiency, remain on schedule, and ensure everyone has the guidance and feedback they need to do their job. The first step for most companies is to centralize their communication on one easily accessible platform instead of expecting workers to use their own email and apps to interact. You should also account for time-zone differences so that every employee knows when their peers are available, and you can schedule meeting times that work for everyone. Finally, you should have clear policies for using the platform.
Establish Clear Goals and Expectations
Workplace surveys have found that unclear expectations are the biggest source of frustration for employees. Establishing explicit goals and expectations gives employees direction, raises morale, and allows them to plan their workdays, but it also helps bring the remote team together by giving them a common goal to reach. For longer projects, you can set benchmarks to help ensure work remains on schedule. Also, it is important to recognize when the team meets goals or exceeds expectations.
Encourage Collaboration and Team Building
Team building can take more effort in a remote office because workers are not physically next to one another. However, shared goals and collaboration can bring positivity to the workplace, even for offsite employees. In addition to creating spaces for teams to interact on project management platforms or virtual office software, you can facilitate virtual events or meetings outside of work where members of the team can interact with each other in non-work settings.
Provide the Necessary Tools and Resources
A company should provide the necessary resources for remote workers. Insufficient resources can drive workplace stress, especially in a remote setting where the worker will have to find the tools for themselves.
There are two parts to creating a positive work environment by providing the necessary resources. The first is giving your team the digital tools, such as video conferencing software. They can use this system for communication and also to build a personal connection with co-workers.
Second, you can provide insights and resources for setting up a physical home office with comfortable chair and desk. This gives the workers a viable office space.
Check In with Your Team
Remote workers often feel isolated. By checking in at regular intervals, individually or as a team, you can provide extra guidance and give employees a chance to offer feedback or ask for clarifications. You can set these meetings at regularly scheduled times to ensure you remain consistent.
Poor work-life balance is one of the biggest frustrations for employees. It can be an even bigger challenge for remote workers because there is no physical distance between their home and work lives. You can encourage employees to take breaks during the day. Perhaps you could tell them to log off the system for 30 minutes for lunch or 15 minutes for a mid-morning coffee break. You can even consider building breaks into the workday by hosting a virtual happy hour or other similar events.
Virtual Events Are Important
In an in-office environment, team-building events are easier to organize, and co-workers can often bond during casual get-togethers outside of work. Virtual events can provide a similar sense of comradery. However, you will need to organize the events using video conferencing or other communication platforms. The goal should be to get workers to interact and participate with co-workers in activities that do not involve work tasks.
Feedback Is Key
Professional development is important to many employees, but some may feel like a remote work is not ideal for growing their career. You can help team members develop skills and experience and further embrace their roles by offering constructive feedback at regular intervals. Perhaps you could schedule a time for a weekly one-on-one video or audio call. During this interaction, you can offer feedback on recent performance and give the worker a chance to ask questions or receive guidance. This can also be a time to help clarify expectations and goals, if needed.
Diversity and Company Culture
Remote teams are likely to have people from different places, cultures, and backgrounds. In addition to creating communication policies that encourage respectful interactions, give employees a chance to voice their needs, such as how they would like others to address them, and do your best to foster communication using inclusive language.
Ownership of Projects
Remote workers are more independent than their in-office peers. With the right virtual workspace and project management tools, you can empower team members to take more ownership of their work. See if they are able to complete tasks without direct oversight, and use benchmarks and one-on-one meetings to assess their progress. With more autonomy, workers may feel like they are an integral part of the team rather than interchangeable employees doing tasks for management.
Lead by Example
Employees are attuned to the actions of their managers. They will be looking to see if you follow the guidance and requirements you give to them. You can lead by example by modeling positive workplace behaviors, having a positive attitude, and being open to suggestions from employees.
The Importance of a Positive Work Environment
Studies show that employees in a positive workplace are more engaged and productive. This is as true in remote settings as it is in traditional offices. Virtual office tools from Kumospace can help you with the communication, interaction, and virtual events aspects of creating a positive virtual workplace for your employees. These will give you the framework to create a remote office environment where people feel welcome, empowered, and glad to log in to work every day.
FAQs on Positive Work Environments
You can create a positive work environment by giving employees the tools they need to do their job, providing clear expectations and goals, and offering consistent and constructive feedback.
A positive office also allows for a healthy work-life balance and encourages a culture of inclusivity where every worker feels like they are a valued contributor to the team.
Here are five steps that can work for bringing more positivity to any office.
- Communicate expectations and goals clearly.
- Provide constructive feedback that is consistent with the goals and expectations.
- Supply the tools and platform necessary to meet expectations.
- Host virtual events to bring a sense of fun and positivity to the workplace.
- Encourage workers to have a healthy work-life balance.
Employees need tools to handle their jobs. This includes communication and video conferencing systems, file sharing, and project management platforms. This digital infrastructure should be accessible to each employee, and it should facilitate interaction and teamwork, which are two of the hallmarks of a positive workplace.