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3 Ways to Foster an Open Workplace Culture

Our world is more connected than ever. As a result of our latest technology, work is no longer confined to an office. We can email clients while in line for coffee and approve memos on the train. Promoting and continuing this culture of connectedness is now more important than ever in the workplace. Marc de Grandpre, Senior VP of marketing at KIND Healthy Snacks, asserts in a Forbes interview, “It is absolutely critical to have both an authentic and transparent work environment” in order to allow “brilliant ideas” to flow. Dr. Michelle Rozen explains that an open workplace culture increases “productivity, job satisfaction, and collaboration.” Here are some expert tips for ensuring your workplace promotes an environment in which your employees can innovate and boost your company’s bottom line.

Build Trust

Trust is essential to the productiveness in any working environment. In Trust and Betrayal in the Workplace: Building Effective Relationships in Your Organization, author Dennis S. Reina and Michelle L. Reina warn employers against the dangers of creating a work atmosphere in which employees hoard information from their coworkers, keep their ideas from one another, and fail to inform management of problems out of fear that their honesty will have a negative impact. To avoid these major pitfalls, the authors emphasize the importance of contractual trust, the mutual understanding that, in an agreement, both parties will do what they say they will do.

They also advise employers to set reasonable expectations. Employees who believe their tasks are achievable are more motivated to meet or even surpass expectations. On the flip side, when an employee receives a task and a time frame that is unmanageable, feelings of resentment can take root and an unproductive cycle of distrust in management’s ideas may plague the relationship. When assigning an employee a task, it’s important to outline all available resources. This shows the employer’s belief in, and support of the employee’s work while increasing the motivation to accomplish the goal on schedule.

Open Door Policy

For managers, an open door policy can improve manager-employee relations by fostering an environment in which frank conversations are encouraged. In her Forbes article “New Managers: 4 Reasons You Need an ‘Open Door’ Policy,” Lisa Quast examines the primary benefits of adopting an open door policy. By offering an open door to employees, you:

  1. Appear more engaged with office life and reinforce that you care about employees and their work. You should always have a finger on the pulse of the office.
  2. Encourage staff members to share ideas with you and keep you in the loop. Employees are more likely to approach a manager to discuss a problem if they have the easy opportunity and no reason to fear the consequences. An early warning gives you more time to plan and respond to a problem and prevent it from spinning out of control.
Workplace Design

In between the two extremes—cubicles and open tables—rests the happy medium that is perfect for your workplace. It’s important to provide spaces in your office for all types of projects. In his article “To Work, Open Offices Need to Be a Little Less Open,” Shane Ferro explains the importance of a workplace that accommodates all employee types. He advocates a 1:1 ratio between the number of desk seats to seats in shared settings for collaborative work. This gives employees who work better when they believe they are not constantly being monitored by their peers and managers the freedom to work, while others who enjoy constant collaboration and group work have places to brainstorm.

The benefits are endless for open environments, and by creating an atmosphere where people feel trusted and motivated will only increase your company’s bottom line.