Work Environment

7 Ways to Avoid Creating a Toxic Workplace Environment

A toxic workplace environment is a legitimate cause for concern, both for worker health and overall productivity. It’s essential to avoid these environments; read the ways below.


As we become more aware of how office culture can impact our personal lives, and the lives of those we work with, it becomes increasingly important to be retrospective about how we treat each other at work, and how simple changes in interaction and management can greatly boost morale and profitability.


While many managers and executives wish to maintain a positive and healthy office environment, they may be unwittingly contributing to a toxic work space. Below are seven important tips to preventing the growth of a toxic workplace environment.


1. Don’t Cater to Bullies

The workplace can be harsh. People don’t go to work to play, and ideally, they should feel motivated to get things done. Part of that can mean feeling immense pressure on some days, striving to achieve things that might not, at first, seem plausible. To bring out the best in people, managers and leaders must learn when to push, and when to give.


But there are other aspects of the workplace that are often harsh without needing to be, breeding a lack of trust in the management and undermining morale and productivity. These people often move up into higher positions within many corporate organizations, while leaving others in the proverbial dust.


Abuses of trust are a clear example, where employees who are superficially loyal to the management may go out of their way to emotionally sabotage those around them, vying for individual and selfish benefits while catering to the boss’s needs. It’s important to recognize the brownnosers and the troublemakers and to make it clear that undermining others is not a viable path to promotion in your organization.


2. Provide an Outlet for Feedback

This can be hard without proper feedback and truthful, reliable information. That is why commanding a certain level of transparency and urging others to speak up about misuses of power is important.


While many might worry about the image of essentially promoting ‘snitching’ and an office environment wherein employees can be free to complain about each other, the ultimate goal is not to cull people but to build a cohesive team of people who trust one another.


Doing so is impossible without giving everybody the ability to speak up about one another, to avoid individual abuses of power or toxic behavior.


3. Give Credit Where Credit is Due

When something is done well, it’s important to give credit to the right person, and doing it properly. Another problem with a toxic workplace environment is that people may try to claim credit when it isn’t deserved. Or, they may make false claims about how certain ideas came to be, and how certain decisions were made.


Managers should keep in mind:


    • Which employees have been historically trustworthy and reputable
    • Which employees are more likely to stay quiet and keep to themselves
    • Properly give credit whenever credit is due


Even those striving for approval will likely get the shot they need to prove themselves, without feeling the need to undermine others.



4. Point Out Mistakes, But Reward a Job Well Done

Managers are often tasked with fixing problems and preventing messes, but if you perceive your role as a manager as being one to crackdown solely on the bad and lay in wait for mistakes, you’ll often find that your employees and workers begin to feel as though they are walking on eggshells.


They begin to fear taking any risks because there is no incentive to doing extraordinarily well. On the other hand, there’s also a good chance of catching flak whenever a mistake is made.


Subvert this by addressing mistakes but rewarding useful input. The best way to promote creativity and innovation is to incentivize risk-taking and out-of-the-box thinking, even if it doesn’t always pan out.


5. Remember That Employees are People

People are individual in nature and don’t always fit a particular mold. It’s easy to come to quick conclusions about a person’s character, but sometimes, it takes the right environment to properly allow an individual to flourish.


Some people thrive in a traditionally toxic workplace environment, easily capable of manipulating their way to the top. Others do very badly in such areas but have the potential to be amazing workers and top earners, should they have the right environment to unlock their potential.


Managers should strive to create teams that give each person ample opportunity to thrive, which can be very difficult; but by talking to your employees and recognizing their unique traits, strengths, and weaknesses, you can have a better idea of how you might structure your office and your organization to allow everyone to feel comfortable with their tasks and positions.


6. Avoid the Pitfalls of High Stress

Work is stressful, and there’s a lot of benefits to stress. We’re ultimately meant to do best under a certain amount of pressure – but too much, and we crack. It’s hard to tell what too much means, however, as that is entirely subjective. While incentivizing hard work is good, there are certain pitfalls to consider and carefully avoid.


If you necessitate extreme stress, for example, by suggesting that overtime is necessary to avoid potential termination or demotion, then you’ll find yourself stuck with a toxic workplace environment. You’re then struggling with absenteeism, a high turnover rate, and workers who perform much worse than before.


If you rely entirely on your hardest workers, you might find that they’re picking up the slack for everybody else.


Make sure you are employing enough people to deal with big projects and extremely pressuring deadlines. Reward those that go above and beyond, so long as it’s evident that they are not sacrificing their health; and remind them to take breaks, when it’s clear that they’re beginning to burn out.


7. Bigger Space Can Help

Space is important. Offices shouldn’t feel cramped – but there should still be some form of design in place. Completely open offices can be chaotic and unruly, leaving many to struggle with noise and a lack of concentration.


Finding a healthy middle ground is important but avoid cubicles and other office plans that further isolate workers and leave them feeling unmotivated or inconsequential.


For many companies, coworking spaces offer an excellent middle ground as a great place to work while offering plenty of amenities most smaller companies might not be able to afford in an office of their own.


Office Space

What are the Advantages of Renting an Office Space?

If you’re curious about renting an office space for you or your employees, then you’ve absolutely come to the right place. Here are all the advantages to know.


Even before the onset of the pandemic, remote work was on a meteoric rise – and rentable offices such as coworking spaces were following suit.


Work from home concepts evolved into work from anywhere concepts as advances in connectivity and communications have enabled companies to organize teams that could continue to productively cooperate while letting each individual team member pick and choose the location that best suited their workstyle.


Furthermore, small companies in need of flexible workspaces at a lower budget could turn to rented office spaces and coworking opportunities as a viable and attractive alternative to the prospect of laying down precious capital for expensive commercial real estate.


Now that we have seen firsthand what an abrupt move into remote work can do to workers unprepared for the distractions and challenges of working from home, companies are looking for safe alternatives to help their employees boost productivity, combat social isolation, and reintegrate them into the team without endangering their safety.


Rentable office spaces will be an important part of a comprehensive workplace strategy for small and large businesses alike, whether they’re looking to expand, rely on affordable workspace solutions after a hard-hitting pandemic, or need an alternative to team members who cannot come back to the office, nor stay at home. Let’s go over some of the other advantages of utilizing rentable office space in 2021.


Flexibility and Affordability


Flexibility is critically important in this climate. Many companies aren’t sure whether they will have the means and opportunity to grow, invest, or survive the month, let alone a year.


Rentable and flexible workspaces give companies the ability to expand when it is necessary, scale back down when it isn’t, and rely on a lean philosophy to build revenue and invest.


For businesses who have experienced a boom in the last few months, rentable office spaces provide them with the opportunity to rapidly rent the space needed to put their growing number of hires to work without lengthy lease contracts and risky investments in commercial properties they may not be able to make much use of.


The ability to expand and shrink as a business based on how the wind blows will be important, especially for smaller companies and startups weighing their options during the pandemic.


Access to Prime Locations


Affordable rentable spaces mean smaller companies will have the means to rent a space in a prime location, along with the opportunities that location presents. This allows startups and SMEs to reach for the stars without investing every last dime on premium real estate, while still having the option to scale back down to something else on short-term notice.


The professional image afforded by hosting meetings and conferences in a prime location can also open doors to partnerships and business opportunities that might be harder to earn when hosting a call from a busy coffee shop or your own apartment.


Fewer Liabilities, Fewer Headaches


Rentable spaces are a simple deal – monthly or biweekly payments for the right to use the space as a preconfigured and established workspace, with useful amenities, meeting rooms, roving cleaning crews, a reliable and speedy internet connection, and a central location that cuts down on commute time for your coworkers.


This can be in stark contrast to what you might expect from more long-term leases, where you can customize a space that you can call your own, but at an immense financial cost, alongside countless insurance and tax considerations that pile up and eat into your revenue.


A rentable space can help you minimize and even eliminate most liabilities tied to commercial real estate and give you additional freedom and flexibility.


Reorganize and Invest Working Capital


A space of your own is tremendously expensive, restricting your ability to invest capital into better tools for the company, more talent, and better opportunities. A good idea can only work so long as you continue to scale up and invest in it, and office space becomes a major hurdle to overcome for many startups that need the space to host new talent to meet the growing demand they’re facing.


Rentable workspaces and coworking space give your business the ability to scale better and faster and expand at a lower cost.


No Real Estate Liabilities Means Fewer Tax Headaches


Owning an office space of your own means taking care of both legal and tax liabilities, and potentially taking out loans to finance your new real estate investment in the company. On the surface, owning commercial real estate comes with several attractive tax deductions. But managing your costs and responsibilities and keeping track of it all while managing a growing business can be needlessly complex.


This in turn can lead to complicated local, state, and federal taxes come tax season – and paperwork that mounts until it becomes an unavoidable and expensive challenge for a tax professional and accountant to solve, at a premium price.



Cooperation and Networking Opportunities


Even during the pandemic, coworking and shared rental spaces provide an opportunity for companies, freelancers, and contractors to network and exchange information and opportunities, discover and hire new talent, or build long-lasting and meaningful business partnerships that could help you both grow.


Improved Productivity


Being surrounded by like-minded professionals in a space that caters specifically to people trying their hardest to get things done and make sacrifices for their dreams can drastically improve your productivity, especially if you have spent the last few months working in isolation or surrounded by distractions when you were trying to prioritize your work.


There is nothing wrong with spending time with the people we love, but we must make clear distinctions between the time we spend working and the time we spend at home, and that can be difficult for people who have to work from home.


Rentable office spaces don’t ask you to sacrifice your productivity for the opportunity to work away from company headquarters.


Better Onboarding


It can be tremendously difficult to onboard new hires in a virtual environment and make them feel like they’re part of a human crew through Zoom meetings and online ice breakers.


Rentable workspaces and coworking locations can be leveraged as short-term onboarding spaces to help mentor and integrate new hires into the company and give them some time to feel welcomed into the team and develop a sense of self within the organization before continuing to work remotely or from a different location.


The flexibility afforded by rentable spaces means companies can afford to rent out space in multiple locations at once to cater to different talents across a region, country, or continent, while still spending less money than a commercial space of their own might cost.


Don’t Skimp on Safety

Rentable office space does not have to be a hazard during the pandemic, and it should, quite the opposite, be a way to reduce the risk for employees by eliminating the need to travel to a location that might require a lengthy and dangerous commute through public space (by finding spaces within a bike ride of your team’s homes, for example), and without undoing the work you’ve done to de-densify the main office and make it a safe space for those who can still opt to work at headquarters.


Work Environment

Encourage These Top Building Activities for Virtual Teams

While working remotely during a pandemic, building activities for virtual teams is encouraged in order to keep the team connection alive and well. Read below for details.


Team building activities promote team cohesion, improve productivity, reduce stress, and help new as well as long-time employees feel connected to one another and the company.


All of these are critically important qualities that have been tremendously impacted by the pandemic. We know that building activities for virtual teams can be an effective tool in addressing these issues, and helping companies and teams combat the long-term effects of remote work, such as social isolation and a feeling of distance from other team members.


1. An Online Lunch/Dinner Date


Something simple but relatively refreshing and effective for helping teams feel connected on a personal level is a team lunch or dinner date. On the surface, it’s nothing more than sitting in front of your computer during mealtime and having a friendly chat with other coworkers while you ea. But eating together is an ancient and ingrained bonding activity, and integral to any team.


Even if it’s over the Internet, a virtual lunch break complete with audio and video can help your team feel truly connected, even across the globe. Even if that means some people will be having their lunch while others are eating dinner, or just joining in for a quick snack and coffee break.


2. A Cooking and Plating Competition


Competitions can be an amazing team building activity for specific teams and cultures, where a little competitive spirit can build stronger bonds. Cooking and plating competitions help each individual team member show off their improvisational skills, creativity, problem-solving, workflow, and design philosophy – all in a simple dish. Pick a recipe, set a time and timer, and use a simple online poll to decide whose attempt was the best-looking, most creative, and/or most original.


3. Daily or Weekly Icebreaker Questions


While it’s a relatively straightforward one, icebreaker questions can be a useful virtual team building tool outside of the onboarding process. Consider introducing them as a weekly or even daily occurrence.


For example, build a pool of icebreaker questions (25 to 50) and pick one at random at the start of every scheduled meeting (i.e., non-critical or time-sensitive). Examples include – what was your favorite toy as a child? What animal do you most identify with and why?


4. A Gifting Competition


Another interesting way to build team cohesion and let everyone get to know each other is to host a gift exchange – but with a twist. “White Elephant” and “Dirty Santa” gift exchange games involve prank items or impractical gifts. They can be much more entertaining than trying to guess what your gift target might actually want or appreciate, or going for the same old boring and safe options as always (mugs, clothes, and gift cards).


5. Reinvent Ways to Introduce Yourself


Team building activities are usually an important part of the onboarding process for new hires – but with the pandemic, that tradition has taken a hit for many companies. Some have turned to new ways to introduce fun and entertainment into the onboarding team building process. This is by turning simple introductions into more elaborate projects.


For example, you can try creating a tongue-in-cheek PowerPoint presentation on yourself, in lieu of a company project or prospectus, or even write a User Manual on how to be a coworker in this company. The goal is to loosen things up, parody your company culture a little bit, and help the new hire feel comfortable and connect with the team on a more personal level (which can be very difficult over the Internet).


6. Take Up an Online Class Together


Learning something can be fun. But it’s much more fun when you’re learning with other people. The pandemic is a perfect opportunity for many to continue to brush up on their professional skills and seek out a whole slew of online classes and courses to improve and expand their toolkit.


Individual teams and departments can consider taking classes together or getting through a course together as a team building activity and professional exercise rolled into one.


7. Test Your Team’s Strength


The internet is full of personality tests and quizzes. These can be a fun way to just goof around and see what Disney character one best mirrors, or what superpowers they might have.


But more in-depth “strength assessment” tests can serve as an interesting and in-depth way to reflect on yourself and both your professional and personal skills and share these with the rest of the team. While intensely personal, these tests and quizzes can reveal to one another what every team member brings to the table, and how you all best work together.


8. Arrange Weekend Virtual Games


From board games to chess tournaments to cooperative video games, there’s a nigh-infinite treasure trove of games to play virtually and as a group.


Some excellent examples depending on your connectivity and tools-at-hand include the classics like Clue, small stakes poker, and Monopoly, or popular party and co-op video games like Mario Party, Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes, or Ultimate Chicken Horse.


9. A Virtual Watercooler


While not an activity per se, setting up a dedicated chatroom or channel to serve as an after-hours hangout or place for coworkers to socialize during breaks can massively improve team cohesion and help your team members get to know one another.


There are pros and cons to setting up a virtual watercooler. If left uncontrolled or unattended, it can contribute to a team’s distractions and get endlessly clogged with unrelated or lengthy conversations and arguments. Keep your channels or chatrooms lightly moderated to avoid workplace toxicity.



The Bottom Line


Virtual team building activities can help teams socialize, greatly improve the onboarding process, reduce the effects of remote work stress and isolation, and improve your team’s overall cohesion and productivity. Even through entirely unproductive games and activities.


While we have had a long year to learn to cope with the changes introduced by the virus, this pandemic isn’t quite over. Many of the changes it has forced onto the workplace might be here to stay. Learning to improve on the strengths and mitigate the weaknesses of working remotely will continue to be an important goal for this new year, and many years to come.

Work Environment

9 Tips to Getting Work Done While Remote

Getting work done is difficult while remote, especially with more surrounding distractions. Follow these helpful tips below in order to adjust to your out of the office environment.


One of the bigger challenges of the past year has been getting work done while remote. Although many might have cherished the chance to work from home back in 2019, the harsh reality is that without major preparations, remote work is a double-edged sword for most.


It’s difficult to successfully separate family life from work life, stick to your regular hours, and get motivated to work while socially isolated. When you do finally make the switch, you get the opposite problem of struggling to unwind and being more likely to suffer from burnout.


The option of working from home is ideal for those who need to juggle their work-life responsibilities with certain family responsibilities, like a new child or a sick partner. In the short-term, and with proper preparation, it can be incredibly productive while saving both the company and the worker a lot of time and resources.


But without the necessary precautions, remote work can be substantially more difficult than getting things done in an organized office environment.


Here are some important tips:


Start with a Productive Morning Routine


A thorough schedule can take the guesswork out of remote work and help you regain the sort of structure you need to remain productive – and it starts from the moment you get out of bed.


Start by setting up a consistent morning routine that leaves you awake, refreshed, and ready for work. The perfect morning routine begins the night before. Try to prioritize a consistent sleep schedule that allows you to wake up at a set time, preferably even without an alarm.


Our body clock responds well to consistent sleep, and once you incorporate great sleep hygiene into your life, you can start to wake up feeling ready for the day ahead. Consider a light ten-minute exercise routine to prepare your joints and back for the day. Try something small and simple, like a handful of desk job-oriented mobility exercises or beginner yoga poses. Even minimal exercise can help you get alert and ready for the first tasks of the day.


Regardless of how you set up your morning routine, consistency is key. Get a feeling for what you can and can’t feasibly work into your morning. Give a little leeway here and there, and stick to it.


Create and Stick to a Work Schedule


Past the morning routine is your actual work schedule – and here, too, consistency is key. Consider your crucial tasks for the day ahead and slot them into feasible chunks to encourage productive work. Rather than approaching the workday as a single unit, approach each task individually, and calculate roughly how many tasks you absolutely need to fill into the day, and how many you’d want to accomplish additionally.


A consistent morning routine and work schedule can also help you separate your home and family life from your work life and give you a strict boundary for when work begins and ends.


Consequently, avoid unnecessary overtime. Some things can’t be put off until the morning, but if you catch yourself constantly drawing your workday out, you’ll begin to blur the line between work and home life, and negatively impact your productivity in the long-term.


Identify and Insert Energizing Breaks


An energizing lunch break can go a long way towards improving your productivity by giving you a strict period of time to look forward to early in the day and use as a means to get in a quick meal, take your mind off work, and jump back into your next task refreshed for the rest of the afternoon and evening.


Ideas of energizing activities to try during break time include walking the dog, calling a friend, tending to a home garden, or doing a quick chore (if these help you practice mindfulness).


Try to Separate Work from Home (Physically)


If possible, consider setting up a home office closed off from the rest of the home. Turn a guest room or storage room into your new office and make “showing up at work” in the morning a part of your routine. Separating your work from home is an important part of building and maintaining the boundary between your work life and home life.


Another alternative to separate your work life from your home life is through a coworking space. Many businesses that have nominally reopened are still working at half capacity at best, in order to reduce the contact between employees.


Coworking spaces have become an alternative for employees and entrepreneurs who must work outside of the office but can’t feasibly set up a decent working environment at home.


Whether it’s an unstable internet connection, the many distractions of family life, or just the mindset of trying to get productive in the same space usually reserved for relaxation and unwinding, coworking spaces provide the perfect alternative.



Take Those Sick Days


We might feel inclined to do more work while sick when we’re working remotely, because our jobs are a little more accessible, and no one likes wasting sick days. But learn to differentiate between a small headache and something you should seriously take the day to recover from.


Treating your mind and body with care is an important part of staying productive – unnecessarily drawing out sickness can negatively impact the quality of your work.


Use the Opportunity to Expand Your Skillset


Cutting out an unnecessary commute can save you a lot of time – time you can put to good use elsewhere, such as in your own education. The world is rapidly changing, and any self-sufficient professional should do the best they can to learn about how their profession is impacted by market changes and new technologies.


Don’t wait on mandatory training periods to learn more – be proactive about your training and arm yourself with the ability to seek better opportunities wherever they present themselves.


Communicate with Your Colleagues and Managers Often


Social isolation and loneliness are more than just simple causes of stress for many workers – they’re also leading to the alienation between employees and their employers. If your manager isn’t proactive about establishing steady contact between colleagues and different team members, establish that contact yourself.


Overcommunicate and keep others up to speed with what you’re doing, track your tasks over the intracompany network or group chat, and make friends within the virtual office.


Identify and Eliminate Your Most Common Distractions


Many of us have our own unique weaknesses when it comes to work distractions. A crying toddler or a newborn puppy? Other distractions are more predictable and controllable, like the need to doomscroll or check your email.


Identify avoidable and common distractions and try out different measures to banish them, from working them into a reward system for your daily tasks, to utilizing productivity apps to eliminate these pesky bad habits.


End with an Evening Routine


The day should end the way it started – with a simple, easy-to-vary routine. Evening routines can help us shut off the “work brain” and create a boundary to eliminate and avoid work conversations and discussions until the next day and give us time to slip into a different headspace and unwind with the family before bed.


Structure and consistency are important for any productive working environment, and you can create both yourself, whether at home or anywhere else.