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What Makes a Great Workplace?

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Ask any professional who spends lots of time inside an office space to describe exactly what makes a workplace great rather than simply average and you will hear some very interesting answers. Some of the responses refer to the people in the office workplace while others focus on the attributes of the commercial office space.

 A few of the issues that consistently come up when discussing “people issues” of a great workplace include:

  • The luxury of performing work that is personally satisfying
  • Working for a great boss who believes in empowerment
  • Respect for varying work styles, and
  • Freedom and flexibility

 Rachel Permuth-Levine, PhD, MSPH is Sr. Director and Health Behavior Theorist at Sodexo, an office supply firm in the Washington, DC area.  She moderates a group about workplace experience where she posed this Question of the Day (QotD) recently: “What attributes make a workplace FANTASTIC instead of just "average"?” We found two of the respondents have extremely revealing and valuable input.

Jose Luis Sanchez-Concha, Corporate Real Estate and Facilities Management Consultant working in Spain said, “There is one commercial statement from my company that I have taken and changed a bit: "Is not about the workplace, is about what you can do in it.” His input incorporated three important factors that help make a workplace great:

  1. DESIGN - not just some colors here and there and some kinky/funny stuff around... design need to say something about the company culture, needs to reflect its identity and make people feel that they are part of something greater. A known example is Google; it is fair to say that they have actually reflected who they are in their spaces.
  2. SERVICES - "If it is not going to be great, then please don't do it"... that is the feedback from one user when we were defining some of the services for a new office in Germany (in the particular case, a fitness centre). We call it "first-choice" services: people drinking their coffee in the company cafeteria because (it) is much better than that fancy cafeteria across the street.
  3. TECHNOLOGY - Seamless connectivity  where people can access to information in real time, without worrying about firewalls and protections, true wireless environments, not the usual minimum range, and technology that truly enables people to make the best work possible.

 Tim Springer, Chicago metro area researcher and consultant for high performance workplaces provided these seven criteria:

  1. SPATIAL EQUITY: Workspace provides adequate privacy, daylight, and access to views for all.
  2. HEALTHFULNESS: The workplace is free of harmful contaminants and excessive noise.
  3. FLEXIBILITY: Workspace (that) can be quickly and inexpensively reconfigured to accommodate organization, work process, and technological changes.
  4. COMFORT: People can adequately adjust their personal working environment – including temperature, lighting, acoustics, and furniture – to meet their needs.
  5. TECHNOLOGICAL CONNECTIVITY: There is good communication and information access among distributed co-workers.
  6. RELIABILITY: Building, security, computer, and telecommunication systems provide reliable service with minimal disruptions.
  7. SENSE OF PLACE: The workplace has a unique character, enabling a sense of pride, purpose, and dedication for both the individual and the workplace community. 
Office Space , Office Space Design

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