Generally speaking, we spend a large number of hours a week at work, about a third of our time. For this reason, it is essential that wherever you are, you breathe in a healthy work environment.
On the other hand, in our workplace, we share information, opinions and even friendships that we don’t want to be compromised by conflict. For this reason, it is important that we learn to establish pleasant relationships with others.
After all, a good work environment gives us a stress-free space unrelated to our household chores. This makes us much more efficient and will allow us to be more comfortable during the time we are spending at our post.
The need for a healthy working environment
According to the WHO, a healthy working environment should be implemented for three reasons :
- Because it’s the right thing to do. From a business ethics standpoint, it is essential that workers feel comfortable in their work. Today, human rights are a pillar of our society. Any area in which human beings relate to each other must respect them, especially if there is money at stake.
- Because it’s a smart decision. Every entrepreneur is aware that the happiness of his workers is reflected in their productivity. Therefore, if we want better results, comfort at work is important.
- Because that’s what the law says. This point is directly related to the first, because human rights are not only a moral and ethical concept. On the contrary, they are fundamental rights. Respecting the worker and developing a good working environment means evolving legally.
What characterizes a healthy work environment?
In its document “Healthy Workplaces: The WHO Global Model” (available in English only), WHO defines the healthy work environment as “a place where workers and senior managers collaborate on implementation of a continuous improvement process to protect and promote the health, safety and well-being of all workers and the sustainability of the workplace ”.
In other words, it is an environment in which everyone works for the common good, to achieve the goal of their professional activities, and for the collective good, the well-being of all team members. In addition, this document discusses 4 key levels on which to exert influence to promote the creation of healthy workplaces:
- The physical work environment. This notion includes the characteristics of the building or the physical place where workers perform their tasks. For example, the furniture, the air quality….
- The psychosocial work environment. It includes the attitudes, beliefs and practices of people in the workplace.
- Personal health resources. Those to which the worker has access to feel good.
- The company’s participation in the community. It is about the implication of the organization in which one works in the society which surrounds it.
How can we improve our working environment?
Besides external issues, we can also do our part to create a healthy working environment. Legal or structural issues of the place where we work are beyond our reach. However, we can take small initiatives to improve our mood and that of those around us, such as the following:
- Communicate with colleagues. In an environment where everyone (or almost everyone) knows each other, it is normal to see small birthday celebrations, promotions, successes or family problems. Thus, worrying about the lives of our colleagues will help improve their mood and ours. For example, worrying about a classmate who is sick or asking her how her children are doing will make her feel closer to you.
- Respect the privacy of others. Contrary to the previous point, we must remember that we must not go beyond certain lines of privacy of our companions. After all, a lot of people understand work as a way to get away from their everyday life.
- Look for moments of disconnection at work. To reconcile the concepts of “disconnecting” and “socializing”, there is nothing better than taking coffee or lunch breaks with your peers at lunchtime. Working as many hours as possible doesn’t make you more productive. On the contrary, it has been shown that the most productive countries tend to be those with the lowest number of hours worked.
A good working environment is a pleasant space, free from hostility and full of people with whom to share experiences, processes and a lot of time. We need to use working life to feel protected and, if we don’t, ask ourselves if we would be happy to continue down this path.