How can small businesses promote a better workplace for their teams?

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The past two years have fundamentally changed the way we work forever. Australians have learnt to adapt to a hybrid working system, and now businesses must change with the times to create an experience of work that is productive, collaborative and drives mental wellbeing.

It is time for business owners to leverage the key learnings of the past year and create a better workplace for their teams. This includes looking at each aspect of their organisation from office design to workplace culture and technology, to create an experience that is engaging for employees.

Fortunately, smaller businesses have an advantage in that they can take a much more individualised, personal approach to creating a great employee experience for their people.  They can be more nimble and agile about any initiatives they implement and have great oversight of how any new ideas or concepts are working as a whole.

Test and learn

In our experience, if a business has not modified its workplace since before the pandemic to suit its employee’s needs, then it’s almost guaranteed that this legacy workspace is outdated and not the quality experience people are looking for. 

Small businesses can utilize their existing space to try new settings or ideas for a set period of time, collecting the data and metrics about behaviour and preferences so that the most appropriate environment can be determined for your people

As a result of the learnings of the last two years, we are seeing a higher proportion of collaborative, workshop-style settings with 1–2-person soundproof rooms and shared desks in workplace environments. Rows and rows of uniform desks, private dedicated spaces for senior management, and large meeting/training rooms are less popular now.

Prioritise wellbeing

The great resignation witnessed large numbers of Australian employees leaving their jobs in search of better workplace culture, with well-being benefits, and the opportunity to leverage some of the personal gains of the last two years.

People are seeking out flexibility so they can alter their hours beyond the standard 9 -5, with the option to work from various locations including abroad. As a small business look at how you can provide your employees with experience which fits their needs, supports them in their personal wellbeing goals, and is potentially outside of the ‘norm’.

These needs play into a larger focus on mental health, as talent look for organisations that have an authentic approach to wellbeing. Whether that be providing mental health plans, structured or ad hoc workplace wellbeing activities or company counselling, small businesses can tailor programs for their team’s needs.

Invest in your technology and ergonomics

As we transition into a hybrid world, small businesses must invest in their technology to create a seamless employee experience that allows both those working from home and those working from the office (or elsewhere) to communicate easily.

Ergonomics is also critical.  Humans are not designed to work from home off their dining table or kitchen bench for an extended period of time. Now that we know that hybrid working is here to stay, it is now more important than ever to ensure people have an at-home set-up that mirrors their office experience.

Small businesses can create a better workplace for their teams by helping to provide WFH ergonomic monitors and screens at the correct heights and distances, as a minimum. Other peripherals may also include laptop stands, footstools and desk lights.