The work environment is one of the factors that is considered to have a significant impact on an employee’s performance. Unhealthy working conditions can easily lead to stress, reluctance to work and delays. Being in the telecom sector where employees spend a considerable part of their lives in the workplace, it is very important that the team members feel happy, comfortable and motivated in this space in order to promote maximum productivity and ensure a high quality of job execution.
The work environment can be defined as the environment in which people work, including the physical and behavioral environments, work profile and culture. Each aspect is interrelated and affects the overall performance and productivity of employees. It is the quality of the work environment that has the greatest impact on the employee’s level of motivation and subsequently, performance.
With employees spending such a large proportion of their lives at work, a displeasing work environment can decrease employee performance. Hence, healthy surroundings at work are important for employee productivity and make good business sense. A study by Robert Half International found that the work environment provided by businesses is the most important factor in employee satisfaction, and that more than one-third of workers would reject a perfect job if the work environment was not one in which they could thrive.
While negativity is contagious, so is positivity. When employees are happy, satisfied and engaged, they are much more likely to do a better job, perform tasks effectively, make fewer mistakes and influence others to perform similarly. The odds are, if employees communicate well with each other and managers communicate well with employees, the workplace will be more productive. An inviting, comfortable physical environment also enhances the positive energy in the workplace, increasing productivity and success.
The office environment can be divided in two main categories: physical and behavioral environments. Physical components consist of natural light, cleanliness, ventilation, heating/cooling facilities, a comfortable working environment, an informal meeting area, office layout and the working desk/area. Behavioral components include the creative environment, distractions, social interaction and motivation.
The physical environment at work is vital to employee contentedness, health and well-being. This element affects interpersonal interactions between employees in an organization, and environmental conditions in the workplace are important factors influencing employee job satisfaction and performance. A proper, rewarding and supportive work environment improves the physical and mental capabilities of employees in their daily lives, while an unfavorable work environment causes stress at work.
The modern workplaces of telecom service providers are packed with computers, mobile phones and VoIP telephones. Due to the constant interaction with technology, the employee’s brain may be overloaded with sensory information. Also, many of the workers in the telecommunication sector face a problem of the lack of mobility in the office, as they spend most of the day in front of a computer screen. Some organizations believe that the physical environment must encourage informal communication, familiarity and friendships, as these factors motivate employees to pursue a higher level of organizational commitment, which ultimately leads to better performance.
In the telecom sector, workplace environmental elements such as sufficient light, absence of noise, proper ventilation and the office layout can substantially increase employee productivity, encourage mobility, improve concentration, and enhance the sensory and physical connection to work roles. Noise is one of the leading causes of distraction, and high noise levels in the workplace reduces staff productivity and increases errors.
Moreover, the ergonomics of the work environment, which may be defined as the science of designing a workplace to fit the employee, rather than physically forcing the employee’s body to fit their surroundings, also has an effect on productivity. Most telecom sector employees work while sitting at a desk, and this may lead to ergonomic risks such as sitting in awkward postures, causing discomfort and sometimes pain. When ergonomic issues are not addressed, workers act subconsciously, adapting their behavior to relieve pain, thereby negatively affecting their work performance and reducing productivity.
Without a doubt, the physical working environment has a direct impact on employee productivity, and it therefore makes sense to provide the staff with a workplace that is modeled to increase the wellbeing and productivity of the workforce.
It is increasingly being recognized that the behavioral environment in the workplace influences the overall work performance of the participants. This is a powerful element in shaping the staff’s work enjoyment, working relationships and work processes. The behavioral environment is particularly influenced by the organization’s executives and other managerial staff due to their role in decision-making and strategic leadership. However, every employee has an impact on the culture that is nurtured at work.
Regarding technological tools, the more a company is able to offer platforms for unified communications, the better its employees will be able to complete projects, meet customer needs and fulfill responsibilities. In addition, close links allow for a more cohesive and stress-free workplace for employers and employees alike. Furthermore, employees appreciate at least some control over their work instead of feeling powerless, and staff that feels valued and is able to make decisions will achieve a higher level of performance.
Telecom companies must be able to create a work environment where employees are motivated to work to achieve their organizational peak performance. Employees who have friends or social connections at work tend to be more engaged and serve as loyal workers. This is because a quality employment relationship helps build a strong corporate culture that emphasizes respect, loyalty and trust. In a work environment that promotes social ties, employment outcomes can be better as well.
In addition, motivation is an integral part of the behavioral environment in the telecommunications sector. Motivation can be intrinsic or extrinsic. Extrinsic motivation refers to external factors that can be measured in monetary terms, generally having a direct and powerful effect, but is not long lasting. Intrinsic motivation, on the other hand, refers to the personal desire of employees to overcome challenges and perform better. Intrinsic motivation lasts longer since it is concerned with quality of the working life. A motivated employee always understands the goal to be pursued and directs his or her efforts towards that objective.
Another element of the behavioral environment is music. The relationship between music and the brain has been extensively studied and analyzed over the past decade. Studies have shown that music has the potential to affect the human brain emotionally and cognitively, as it synchronizes the right and left hemispheres of the brain. In fact, a Music Works campaign by music licensing organizations PPL and PRS for a music survey revealed that 77% of businesses say playing music in the workplace increases staff morale and improves the atmosphere.
Demet Leblebici (2012), in a research project on the impact of workplace quality on employee productivity, found that healthy behavioral workplace conditions result in positive consequences on employees, even if physical environmental conditions are less favorable. Importantly, it was discovered that behavioral components of the working environment affect employee performance more significantly than physical components. In conclusion, a behavioral environment has many benefits on employee performance within an organizational setting.
A favorable workplace environment can have a significant impact on productivity, employee engagement and absentee levels. But how exactly can this important objective be achieved? Here are four ideas for things telecommunication companies can do to improve their environment and make employees more productive.
Investing in the physical environment: The physical environment of the office, which typically includes lighting, walls and ceilings, has a significant impact on the mood of the work environment. Adding bright and colorful elements unconsciously changes the mood. Blue and green colors are associated with creativity and innovation, while red is associated with better concentration. Proper and sufficient lighting without glare and shade can prevent fatigue and headaches amongst staff, and, if possible, the office space should be exposed to natural daylight. It is also very important to take measures to reduce noise pollution both from outside and inside the office. Additionally, investing in small things such as providing free access to tea and coffee, plenty of cutlery, live plants and comfortable furniture can make a significant difference in augmenting productivity.
Nurturing good relationships among staff: The relationship amongst employees and employers has a major impact on the workplace environment. Creating a healthy corporate culture requires the participation of all members at various levels of the organization. Taking time to have a conversation with employees about projects and making sure that employees generally feel able to share the ideas they have, fostering a culture where no idea is too silly and allowing people to feel comfortable being able to innovate safely, is vital for better staff involvement and productivity. Overall, telecommunications companies should focus more on creating an open-door work culture, where every manager’s door is open to every employee.
Exploiting technology: Workplaces are changing at an astonishing rate, and technology in the telecommunications sector is increasingly becoming an inseparable part of the job. Nowadays, Telcos rely to a great extent on digital tools for their operations and productivity. Of course, employees can only achieve the best results when offered the latest, most up-to-date tools. In addition, the availability of technology is directly related to innovation, creativity and work efficiency, as technology helps keep businesses fully organized and the work at peak performance.
Encouraging work-life balance: Work-life balance has become one of the highest criteria for job applicants and should be a key component of the employer’s inclusion agenda. When employees feel able to work from home, take time off for medical appointments, handle family matters and work flexible hours according to their personal needs, there is a considerable increase in employee loyalty and satisfaction, which in turn increases productivity and improves staff retention. Thus, creating a harmonious work-life balance is very important not only for the physical, emotional, and mental well-being of employees, but also for better work performance.
All in all, employee performance is influenced by both physical and behavioral factors. In today’s competitive business environment, the physical environment alone is not enough for employees to achieve better results, as the cultural environment of companies also leads to the improved realization of organizational goals.
Therefore, it is advisable to invest in the physical environment, nurture good relationships amongst staff, exploit technology to your advantage and encourage a proper work-life balance to boost the performance of employees.
By fostering a healthy work environment, employees will be empowered and motivated to grow and succeed and, most importantly, achieve superior work results.