Business environments have been the subject of experimentation for decades and are even more so in today’s modern business world.
The debate over cubicles versus open concept has been ongoing, with the pendulum swinging back and forth for years now. Millions of dollars have been spent on such experimentation. In addition, more and more companies are using alternative methods such as shared office space and resources, and remote offices.
How do you know what environment is best for your business?
Actually, that is the wrong question to ask. It is not about creating an environment for the business. It is about creating an environment for the people who conduct the business.
And that is a totally different perspective.
What is best for business may seem to be open office space, where you can fit more people into a smaller amount of square footage. This saves on leasing costs, but at what cost to productivity and morale?
What is best for business may be remote workers, but if communication, socialization, collaboration, and accountability are not addressed, it could affect outcomes adversely.
Leaders have fallen victim to the constant barrage of “new ideas” intended to solve old problems. It has effectively created a herd mentality, where these decisions are made based on “what others are doing.”
How do you create an environment that fosters productivity?
The key is to know your people.
People are affected by their environment. If you have ever put on clothing that didn’t feel “right” or been in a place that irritated you, you will understand the effect of environment on your people.
And yet leaders unwittingly irritate their people in these “one size fits all” experiments regarding work environment.
The end results are leaders who have spent thousands of dollars (or hundreds of thousands of dollars) to create the “perfect” environment, only to realize imperfection, as evidenced by lowered performance and productivity.
The good news is, there are ways to optimize the work environment for each type of person.
1. D-wired Individuals
D’s are rugged individualists. They like to “own” their domain. When it comes to work, they are more task-driven than people-focused, so when it is time to work, they want to shut the door and get it done. They also need a team in close proximity to that door so they can quickly delegate.
If you take away their domain or create a constant open-door effect as you find in open office space, you take away their power and productivity, the very reasons for which they were hired.
If you have a D in an open office space, you will find other employees are challenged by their constant push of energy, intrusion into the work of others in an effort to keep things moving, and vociferousness.
Best environment for a D-wired individual:
- Office space with a door.
- Private space, but accessible to their team within set boundaries.
- An office or space that allows them to oversee productivity from a big picture point of view.
- No shared space. Room to spread out their work.
- An area that allows them to see, or go, outdoors. Being active and in nature gives them energy.
- D’s work well remotely IF they have a team and people contact on a regular basis, and especially if the work involves them getting out of the office. They will get the job done without prompting and will relish the chance to work on their own terms to get results. They would not work well in total isolation.
2. I-wired Individuals
These individuals are your most people-oriented and idea-oriented. They are innovative, influential, fun, and optimistic. But their chatter, constant activity, and fidgeting can also be annoying to others who are more introverted or to a D-wired employee who is focused on a task.
While they would seem to be the perfect candidates for the open space concept, the danger there is distraction. The other people will be a distraction for them; and they will also distract others.
Best environment for an I-wired individual:
- A space of their own to decorate with their favorite things
- Color – in space, furniture, accessories, or views
- Diversity – the ability to move around and work in different spaces such as an unused conference room where they can spread out their work and ideate with a white board
- Access to people, but with understood boundaries
- A central meeting space equipped with tools for creativity, where I-wired individuals can meet to collaborate and innovate
- Space in an area that will not interrupt the more introverted employees. This gives them freedom to have fun in their work.
- I-wired individuals can work remotely, but there can be challenges with accountability and sociability. If those are addressed, they will work well, as they will have the flexibility and spontaneity they need to do their best work at their best time.
3. S-wired Individuals
S-wired individuals are, by nature, introverts. They are great team players, but too much “team” will de-energize them. They relish their private space to do their work.
While it would seem efficient to place them in an open space among the team for the sake of communication, it will have a negative impact on their performance. They need quiet space to think and plan (inwardly) before reaching out to the team (outwardly). Too much outward energy without enough inward energy will lessen their impact.
Best environment for an S-wired individual:
- A comfortable space. Good ergonomics and lighting are important to an S-wired individual
- An orderly space. Having the tools and resources they need readily at hand are key to an S-wired employee. Allow them to create a space that flows well, as efficient processing is paramount to their job satisfaction.
- Quiet space, but with people contact. In cubicles, for example, S-wired individuals usually prefer walls that are not so high as to be confining or isolating. But they do prefer walls or some type of boundary to give them privacy as they work.
- A place to display sentimental objects that remind them of the purpose in their work.
- A shared workspace generally does not work for an S-wired individual, unless it is shared with someone equally organized and provided there are specified areas for each.
- S-wired individuals can work well from home, as long as there are mechanisms in place to keep them connected to the team, systems, processes, and any upcoming changes.
4. C-wired Individuals
C’s are some of the most talented people in your organization when it comes to complex problem solving, quality control, engineering, programming, and financials. Because they think deeply, they must work with long periods of uninterrupted quiet.
Putting them in an open concept office takes them totally out of their strengths zone. You will end up with frustrated, distracted, and de-energized employees, who could eventually erupt in anger over the situation in which they have been placed.
By simply placing them in the wrong environment, you could lose these essential talents.
Best environment for a C-wired individual:
- Private and quiet space is an essential need. C’s must be able to concentrate deeply on the task at hand.
- C-wired individuals need uncluttered space in order to function well, and modern, minimalistic design generally appeals to them.
- Quality matters, so be sure they have good quality tools and resources to do their job well.
- Space for research and research materials would be a welcome bonus for these individuals.
- Be sure their office furniture and equipment are ergonomically correct, as they will spend a great deal of time in their space – more than any other type.
- Allow for good collaboration tools, as C-wired individuals prefer to communicate digitally.
- Encourage them to attend meetings, but provide an agenda and a good reason for them to be there. If they say something, be sure to listen, as it is normally very well considered.
- C’s will work well from a home office. In fact, they may do their best work there. But be sure to set standards for communication and collaboration so they do not, by default, work in silos.
Back to that original question, “How do you know what environment is best for your business?”
It is the environment that is best for each individual.
To learn how you can create a team that works at top efficiency in today’s fast-paced business world, click here to learn about the Maxwell Method of Communication Impact Report.
As the CEO of Strength Leader Development, Deb Ingino is a highly sought-after international executive mentor, coach, trainer and speaker. Deb is well versed in global business operations and helps business leaders and their teams to discover and leverage their strengths, so they can create highly collaborative teams that deliver great results. With a refreshingly direct style, Deb helps leaders and their teams to deliver profitable results. Connect with Deb to learn more about her mentorship and coaching programs to equip you with advanced strategies to elevate your results.