A few ways to make your office a stress-free environment
You may know a person who is fond of pointing out little absurdities in life, and the language we use to capture it. Such a person may, upon encountering a phrase like “a stress-free office”, laughingly condemn the word to oxymoron, to sit alongside “military intelligence”, “controlled chaos” and “same difference”.
And, such a person, infuriating though they may be, would largely be correct. The office as the place of work is the environment in which we strive. And stress emerges when we strive. Following the literalist’s way of thinking, to rid an office of stress would only, truly, be possible at the shuttering of doors at the end of a day.
An active office may never be stress-free in its entirety, but that does not mean that some kinds of stress cannot be removed from the office atmosphere. Stress is a protean phenomenon. The stress of a deadline for a pitch is quite distant from the stress of having to confront vendors for late payments, is different too from the stress of having to get between bickering and uncooperative colleagues. These kinds of stresses are unavoidable – dealing with these pressures in the best manner is the art of running a stress-minimised office.
Stress emerges in many forms – it also emerges in layers. Very often the most difficult operation for one tasked with reducing stress is identifying the root cause. Will separating two warring employees bring an end to a hostile environment, or is their antagonistic relationship a consequence of a more systemic communicative problem in your office environment? Are people unmotivated and unproductive because they aren’t paid enough, is it because they aren’t given an opportunity to flourish, or is it rather that their physical environment is uncomfortable?
In the latter example, the solution to the bubbling tensions is vastly different – a pay raise, a new responsibility, or a comfortable chair. There’s no algorithm for properly perceiving the root of stress in your office. Instead, you must be open with your employees, open to criticism, and willing to see things from an objective perspective.
The most prevalent stresses are the most mundane, and the easiest to be rid of in your office. If you’re doing your accounts manually, staying up late, a bleary-eyed mess of papers and pen, then you’re bringing unnecessary stress into your life – modern accounting software will save you time, money, and a trip to the optician. The moment you find yourself thinking “Life would be so much easier if...” pause, and consider that others may have had the same thought, and done something about it – a few moments Googling may resolve apparently chronic frustration. And if nobody has – consider doing something about it and make a fortune.
Remove the unhelpful stresses – and start the process by noticing that they exist.