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To achieve a positive work environment, it is essential to consider various factors, such as compensation, availability of resources, workplace facilities, lighting, aesthetics, etc. In addition, intangible aspects such as communication, interpersonal relationships within the team, recognitions and opportunities for professional growth should also be taken into account.
For a long time, organizations were concerned with maximizing profitability, without taking into account that work climate can be a determining factor in talent retaining and, consequently, in productivity.
Currently, there is a high demand for IT and software development professionals, which has led companies to recognize the need to differentiate themselves from competitors not only by offering higher salaries and fees, but also by providing a comfortable and inviting work environment that fosters employee satisfaction and retention.
Here we tell you what it is and why it is important to generate and maintain a good working atmosphere in an organization, what are the key points that build it, how it relates to the company's culture, and how we can improve it.
In this article:
Once it is generated, the working environment "spreads" within the organization. Although job positions at XOOR are remote, we develop various activities to improve the atmosphere by making a closer bond between team members and by renewing enthusiasm.
How do we communicate? The main means of communication within the XOOR team is Slack. We chose this tool because it is very intuitive to use, allows you to easily organize and visualize the different conversation channels. It works very well for both chats and video calls (1-1 or group) and also offers integration with Google, Figma, and some of the main social networks and cloud storage services such as Dropbox or GitHub.
There is a primary Slack channel that serves as the main platform for sharing important announcements with the entire team. In addition, there are several other spaces designated for exchanging resources and helpful tips related to daily work, as well as sharing jokes, memes, and music recommendations.
How do we strengthen the team? At XOOR we carry out several initiatives to foster teamwork, sense of belonging, and affection among company members.
Face-to-face meetings with the entire team on special occasions or dates (year-end parties, company anniversaries, etc.).
Meetings by work areas or inter-areas, and activities to share extra-work time (going out for lunch or a drink, playing pool or bowling, etc.).
Online after-office meetings with the whole team (sharing games, chats, welcome activities for those who have joined the company).
How do we strengthen our leaders? Every 6 months we hold retreats that have proven to be an enriching experience. They are face-to-face meetings in an inspiring environment, close to nature, that gather founders and area leaders for three days. The objectives are:
Promote integration within the leadership team and foster ties with the founders.
Convey XOOR's values so that leaders can replicate them in their teams.
Get to know the dreams, aspirations, desires, discomforts and difficulties of the team leaders, in order to work together on solutions and build new objectives for the company.
Strengthen bonds and encourage camaraderie through recreational experiences in nature.
How do we work on culture and values? At XOOR we give preponderance to values such as teamwork, responsibility and commitment, communication, adaptability, proactivity, creativity and innovation.
During the selection process, we seek out candidates who already align with our values, so that they can naturally internalize XOOR's guidelines, which encompass our approach to work and our interactions as colleagues.
Besides, we understand that imparting culture and values is an ongoing process that cannot be accomplished once and for all. We need to invest in it every day, every month, and every year, through initiatives that must be refreshed as team composition evolves and based on the needs and motivations of individuals.
The working environment refers to how people perceive their workplace, and their experience with the company or organization.
Creating a positive work environment should be crucial for any organization, as it can help team members feel more comfortable and perform better, ultimately leading to increased productivity.
A survey conducted by Bumeran, a job website in Argentina, found that the top concerns among workers aged 18 to 35 are finding a job with a better working environment and enjoyable tasks that are relevant to their studies.
Working in a pleasant and positive environment has many consequences for both the collaborators and the company:
Increases well-being, motivation, creativity and productivity. Conversely, a negative or uncomfortable atmosphere can generate mental blocks and decrease individual and group performance over time. According to Bumeran, a poor work environment can reduce staff performance by up to 94%.
Promotes teamwork and camaraderie. When a company's work environment is positive, people feel more comfortable and confident to express their ideas and opinions, which leads to better communication among team members.
Increases staff retention and loyalty to the company, decreasing turnover. According to a study conducted by Great Place to Work, companies with a good working environment have 65% less turnover compared to those that do not.
It is essential to ensure constant dialogue within the team, among peers and between the different roles, using a variety of resources and tools.
The focus is on having frequent, transparent, planned, and organized interactions, whether to address work-related needs or to foster a sense of belonging and promote trust.
To facilitate smooth communication in a remote work company, it is advisable to use tools that allow the creation of different spaces (or channels) based on specific needs.
Slack, Microsoft Teams, Google Chats and Meet, Ryver or Mattermost, are some of the apps which are very practical for organizing internal and external team communication.
As regards internal communication, the ideal is to allocate a space for the more formal transmission of messages related to organizational, administrative, and other matters; and another space that is more informal where coworkers have the freedom to share other types of content.
On the other hand, regarding external communication, it is very important to establish exclusive channels for dialogue with clients, suppliers, stakeholders, etc., where purely work-related information takes precedence.
It is not only necessary to assign spaces for communication, but also to schedule and systematize times for meetings, both formal and informal. When estimating deadlines and resources for each project, it is also convenient to include daily organizational calls, periodic meetings to give feedback, as well as more relaxed meetings that seek to foster teamwork and strengthen bonds, such as after-office meetings.
Teamwork is essential to enhance individual work, unite efforts to achieve a common goal, and promote a good organizational environment. The team is always more than the sum of its parts, and enables continuous progress.
To achieve success through teamwork, it is important to be able to speak up when in doubt, facing a blockage, or any need, and it is equally important to have someone on the other side to help or find a solution together. Organizational charts serve practical purposes, but there should be no hierarchy in human interaction, only equality to talk, express opinions or contribute ideas.
The idea of camaraderie is implicit within the concept of teamwork and goes hand in hand with respect, good treatment, cooperation, willingness, and friendliness.
In a company that works remotely or semi-remotely, strengthening camaraderie is quite a challenge. When we use chat to communicate, we only have what the other person writes, but we do not perceive their gestures or tone of voice, which can lead to misunderstandings, confusing a suggestion with an order, or assuming that a late response equals disinterest.
To overcome these barriers, it is very positive to organize recreational activities, both virtual and in-person, where team members have the opportunity to see each other face to face, listen actively, deepen their connections, engage in conversation, play games and have fun together.
To promote a good work environment, it is necessary that teams are led by people capable of setting clear objectives, inspiring and motivating professionals to meet them, and recognizing their achievements.
A good practice is to periodically schedule one-on-one (1:1) meetings between leaders and team members to give them feedback on their performance, providing active listening where both parties can raise their points of view, their suggestions and expectations of the role or tasks, etc.
In these meetings, it is essential for leaders to point out areas for improvement, and also to acknowledge and reward successes, in order to increase confidence and boost motivation.
In selection processes, the technical skills and experience of those who apply are traditionally measured, but this does not guarantee that they can adapt or fit in with the team. In the end, people are "hired for skills" and "dismissed for values".
It is important to take into consideration the values of the candidates, seeking to match them with those of the company, that is, looking for a cultural match or cultural fit.
This concept refers to the coincidence of values and attitude towards work. From the very beginning, it is necessary for the company to make sure that people already naturally have certain characteristics, so that they do not have to make an effort to adapt to the environment later on.
Then, in order to maintain this alignment, it is important for the company to constantly communicate, promote and reinforce its culture so that the entire team understands and identifies with it. In remote IT companies, where developer turnover is often high, it is even more important to continually impart the values and culture.
A good cultural match contributes to harmony and a positive work environment, and increases motivation, sense of belonging, work quality and productivity.
There are several ways to evaluate the work climate in an organization. Some of the most common are:
Work climate surveys. These are carried out anonymously to the members of the company, in order to know their opinion about different aspects: teamwork, communication, motivation, job satisfaction, organizational culture, etc.
Individual or group interviews. By means of a questionnaire to one or several people, we seek to deepen in the answers and to know details that cannot be obtained with a survey.
Direct observation. This involves observing the behavior of collaborators in their environment, in order to obtain a general perception of the work atmosphere. It is important that the observation be organized and systematic (based on certain pre-established criteria). In addition, we must take into account non-verbal communication, tone of voice, interpersonal relationships, among other aspects.
Indicator analysis. The focus is on the organization's indicators, such as turnover rate, absenteeism, productivity, customer satisfaction level, etc.
These evaluation methods can be combined to obtain more accurate results. For example, it is advisable to carry out the work climate survey with general questions to identify the most problematic points, and then go deeper with individual interviews to those who lead the areas, and group interviews to work teams.
At XOOR we understood that work environment measurement is as important as taking actions to enhance it, so in July 2022 we conducted our first work environment survey to assess the current state of our workplace and identify areas for improvement. The survey was based on the internationally recognized Great Place To Work model and included questions on management, leadership, career development, and overall satisfaction with the workplace atmosphere.
We proposed to conduct this study annually, in order to analyze how the environment is changing over time and to know what strategies to apply in order to keep on improving it.
To conclude, it is important to highlight that work environment surveys have to be periodic and constant, and we must not take responses personally, but rather as an opportunity to understand the status of the company and to implement concrete improvements.