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Design Your Office to Build Trust

Design Your Office to Build Trust

Management experts agree that trust is fundamental in any business organization. Customers have to trust your products or services; managers have to trust their teams; employees have to trust their bosses. Trust creates loyalty, and loyalty creates longevity – the ultimate goal of a business enterprise. How do managers create a work environment that reinforces trust and builds a successful business?

Carolyn O’Hara, writing in the Harvard Business Review, lists trust-building strategies:

  1. Get acquainted – learn about your employees as individuals and find common ground, to show that your goals are aligned with their goals.
  2. Be transparent – when your team sees that you are truthful, they will in turn trust you with truthful information.
  3. Take responsibility – if mistakes are made, own them; don’t blame others. And make sure to share the credit for successes. Integrity builds trust.
  4. Demonstrate a drive for competence – build new skills, and your employees will trust your authority and follow your lead in improving their own skills.

Autonomy is another invaluable trust-building strategy. Tracy Maylett states, “Autonomy is the power to shape your work environment in ways that allow you to perform at your best.” For many businesses, autonomy is expressed through a “hoteling” policy of flex hours and telecommuting, trusting team members to make their own decisions about when and where to work in order to be optimally productive.

Re-designing the office to fit a hoteling policy can present a golden opportunity to strengthen trust by including employees in space utilization decisions. In addition to feeling trusted, and trusting management in return, employees will be invested in the success of the design.

Adding variety and flexibility to office design will empower staff to work where they feel they will be most productive at any given time, says Marie Puybaraud in Entrepreneur Magazine. Adaptive furnishings can be transformed at will, changing from collaborative spaces to semi-private heads-down workstations. Modular cabinetry can be moved and reconfigured as space usage changes, saving costly build-outs. Giving employees the ability to rearrange their work areas as they see fit communicates your trust in their judgment, and their trust grows proportionately.

Trust is “the fabric that holds everything together,” according to Forbes Magazine. If you design your workplace to show your trust in your employees, they will reward you with loyalty, dedication, and productivity – the kind of results you can trust.


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