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A Relaxed Office Environment – Is It Worth the Bother?

A longer typical work day and technological advances have blurred the line between an employee’s work and personal life. Employees find themselves at the office when they feel the pressure of responsibilities at home, and electronic devices make the working world available after hours. Many companies are responding by offering perks to accommodate the personal lives of workers on the job.

Employees appreciate a casual dress code, flexible work hours and the ability to telecommute. Some offices go as far as allowing workers to take their pets along to work. A relaxed office environment offers benefits to employers as well as employees by boosting morale and often workers are more productive and creative when they are allowed to dress as they please – within limits, of course. According to U.S. News & World Report, the pros outweigh the cons when it comes to allowing workers to bring their pets to the office.

The Business Casual Dress Code

Many companies are changing their dress code to allow workers to feel comfortable in the office and moderate the effects of a longer working day. Allowing employees to wear business casual attire, even if it’s just on casual Fridays, shows that the boss is tuned into employee and cares about their comfort. Unfortunately, when some office workers hear that the company is instituting a “business casual” dress code, they hear the casual part loud and clear and ignore the business aspect. A business casual dress code must be professional to project the right image for the company.  Some industries are notoriously super casual, such as tech companies and creative fields like advertising and marketing. But in most cases, business casual in the office is a little more structured than jeans and a tee shirt.

Employers would be wise to spell out the dress code so there are no misunderstandings. To some people, business casual is no flip flops but everything else goes. In most cases the employer really means neat khakis and collar shirts for men, and blouses, skirts, slacks and knee-length dresses for women. Workers in a client-facing position are often required to dress more formally than back office personnel, who do not meet customers. The dress code may change for events like trade shows and meetings, where more formal business attire is called for. It is up to employees to interpret the dress code properly and understand what is required.

Family-Friendly Flex Time

It’s easy to see why parents and others appreciate flexible working hours. When employees have a say in when they work, they can catch the kids off the school bus, keep that doctor’s appointment and avoid going out when the weather is awful. Flexible hours help people balance their work with their personal responsibilities and preferences.

What people may not realize is that employers benefit from allowing flex time as well. According to the Huffington Post, instituting a flexible workplace policy promotes teamwork among workers. When employees are happy in their job, they are less apt to look elsewhere for the family-friendly flextime they seek, keeping job vacancies low. In fact, when asked whether they would prefer flexible work schedule or a salary increase, many workers chose a flexible work schedule.

Telecommuting

For many jobs, working from home or telecommuting is a wonderful perk for employees and a boon to employers on a number of levels. Workers who telecommute can be more productive than office workers performing similar jobs, and they often express more job satisfaction. Commutation, dry cleaning and lunch costs typically decrease for the employee, making telecommuting a cost-effective measure.

Employers benefit because the company can experience a decrease in everything from utility bills to office supplies and even furniture. A telecommuting policy can provide wider access to a range of talent anywhere in the world, allowing executives to hire the best workers for the job from a larger pool of applicants. Companies with serious office politics problems might look to a telecommuting program to avoid absenteeism. Telecommuting is also a great way to put forth a “green” initiative and reduce the carbon footprint of the company.

Furry Friends at Work

According to U.S. News & World Report, the pros of having a pet-friendly work environment far outweigh the cons. Studies show that having a pet in the office, even if it’s not your own pet, can decrease stress and boost teamwork. Companies with pet-friendly initiatives attract likeminded people with a common bond, which helps to create a cooperative culture in the workplace. This positive atmosphere contributes to high morale and a higher level of commitment from employees. While you may have some workers who don’t like having pets around because of allergies or personal preferences, a pet-friendly policy in the office can promote cooperation, decrease employee turnover, de-stress the workplace and even promote a healthy lifestyle by enabling pet owners to walk their dogs.

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