“[It] is not the most intellectual of the species that survives; it is not the strongest that survives; but the species that survives is the one that is able best to adapt and adjust to the changing environment in which it finds itself.”
– Leon C. Megginson
Megginson’s quotation, often misattributed to Darwin, has become increasingly relevant in the past few decades. We find ourselves today in a world Megginson could scarcely have imagined. Our embrace of globalization would have baffled a man who had lived through the Second World War and for whom the Cold War was an omnipresent reality. The monumentality of his computer age has been subverted by the subtleties of our own, replacing spectacle with splendor. For all his brilliance, he could not have foreseen the scale of change of the past twenty years, and yet his words, and his books on business management, still ring true.
Indeed, in this ever-changing business climate, you will likely experience a number of workplace changes that can have a considerable impact on employee happiness and employee productivity. While coping with those changes will be a part of everyone’s reality, workplace solutions are most effective when they come from the top down. Managers, department heads, and so on, leading by example, can have the greatest impact on workplace happiness. Outsourcing the management of workplace changes is also becoming increasingly popular as companies look to maximize time efficiency.
Common Types of Workplace Changes
Nothing is ever certain, and you may find yourself blindsided by a change that comes wholly unexpectedly, but there are a few main sources of workplace changes you can anticipate and prepare for. Broadly, these come in two major categories:
Changes to Environment
Relocations to new facilities are common reasons for change, as are upgrades to your current facility. Tensions often arise from inequities among the staff. For instance, if your business is rolling out upgrades to workstations, employees may object if the new workstations are doled out to some employees before others. More commonly, though, the changes are resisted. Employees will covet the outmoded stations or systems, either because of comfort and familiarity, or out of simple nostalgia.
Changes to Personnel
Being reassigned, or having a new member assigned to an existing team, can have a serious impact on employee happiness. Even in professional environments, both friendships and interpersonal conflict can be expected. In most workplaces, working relationships tend to seek a comfortable equilibrium, but this balance needs to be renegotiated when reallocating personnel.
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Workplace Changes Have a Large Impact on Employee Productivity.
Everyone has a natural disinclination toward embracing change. That reticence, in itself, can translate into wasted hours or a decrease in job performance. But even with the best of intentions and complete willingness, a lack of familiarity with a new system, facility, or coworker can eat into employee productivity. No matter how well a transition or a change is handled, a temporary drop in productivity is expected. That lull should be anticipated by the budget and the project planning for the incorporation of the workplace changes.
Solutions to Workplace Changes Start at the Top.
If you’re a leader in your workplace, lead by example. Demonstrate flexibility, trying not to let changes in circumstance interrupt your natural workflow. Be versatile, willing to try different approaches, or to take on new job roles. Your previous patterns, habits, and expectations may no longer be appropriate in your new circumstances, and showing an openness to redefine your role in a new system, for the good of the business as a whole, will have an immediate and tremendous impact on workplace happiness. Communicate with your employees, not just about the needs put on them by the workplace changes, but about their trepidation to let go of old habits or conditions and to start fresh.
Personalize the Office Space to Boost Positive Response to Workplace Changes.
For employees to feel comfortable and in turn feel less stressed, it helps to make the office space as homey as possible. Try and minimize the number of blaring fluorescent lights and see if you can get some peaceful natural light flowing through the office space. Furthermore, it is helpful to allow employees to decorate and personalize their cubicle or office space in whichever way they want, allowing them to feel more comfortable in an otherwise dull office space. If you feel the entire office needs a makeover, reach out to us! We’d be happy to help.
Productive Office Layout Essentials [Checklist]
A common workplace layout is not an uncommon business facilities strategy. There continues to be a steady incline of organizations embracing its rewards as well as its challenges — including how it may affect productivity. As you continue to tweak your strategy, look to this checklist to help you achieve a productive office layout. Get the checklist >>
Happiness Now, Productivity Later.
Finding workplace solutions to changes doesn’t need to be a negative experience. When you strip away nostalgia, habits and patterns often look like ruts. By encouraging employees to look at the big picture, and to embrace the changes with a spirit of positivity, you and your staff can treat the changes as an opportunity rather than a burden. Large-scale workplace changes can be a wonderful opportunity to do some housecleaning, and to solve some of the problems or issues that may have evolved in your business that were preventing employee happiness and productivity.
With any workplace changes, there’s going to be a learning curve, or a lull in employee productivity. By anticipating that, and giving employees some room, some slack in deadlines or workload, to weave those changes into their evolving job roles, you can ensure a more cohesive workplace, and you can build long term workplace happiness. By easing the transition, keeping open communication lines, and being willing to let go of old habits and patterns, you and your employees can develop new workplace solutions and take full advantage of the new options opened to you.