Traditionally, when we arrive at work, we check part of ourselves at the office door and adopt our “office persona”– a version of ourselves attuned to our company’s workplace culture and professional expectations. In fact, a recent Deloitte study found that more than half of us cover up some part of our identity to fit in at work. But in a world where the lines between work and life increasingly blur, separating our professional and personal selves is not only tricky but counterproductive.
How to Make Your Workplace More People-Centric
Our job-related skills are only a piece of what we bring to our careers. When we can be our whole selves at work, we’re more engaged, productive and innovative – and workplace design can help make this possible.
1. Anticipate and support employee’s personal needs. Workplace amenities like a Mother’s Room or private phone booth make it easier for employees to seamlessly address professional and personal needs throughout the workday. These amenities can also be a valuable tool for recruiting and retaining top talent. Women returning to work following maternity leave, for example, can feel self-conscious about stepping away from their desks. A Mother’s Room signals that your company understands and fully supports their needs, making it easier to bring their whole self to work.
2. Give employees greater control over their environment. 75% of our perceived comfort is psychological. When we perceive a work environment as noisy, uninviting or chaotic, we can subconsciously feel threatened and may struggle to do our best work. Simple adjustments can flip this equation, giving us a greater sense of control over our environment and personal autonomy.
- Lighting: Task lighting, overhead dimmers, and adjustable shades
- Acoustics: Sound dampening features and designated quiet spaces
- Workstation flexibility: Height-adjustable desks for sitting and standing, adjustable chairs, and adjustable height benching systems
3. Empower with choice. Collaboration and concentration can exist side-by-side– as long as your work environment includes the right design cues to maximize space utility. In a collaborative zone, mobile furniture like stools or smaller chairs can be easily rearranged to accommodate impromptu group meetings. Designate a small conference room as a “library zone” where employees can work undisturbed in silence with the door closed.
4. Set precedent. Whether you’re training for a marathon or moonlighting as a DJ on the weekends, being transparent about your hobbies and passions – as appropriate – helps your team feel more comfortable doing the same. When we can integrate our personal and professional lives, we can bring our whole self to the workplace.