The Best Place to Work by Ron Friedman is a book about how to create an optimal work environment for employees. The book takes an in-depth look at how psychological research can be used to improve the productivity, motivation and satisfaction of workers.
It was published in 2015 and has been praised by INC. Magazine, Booklist and Library Journal.
The Lessons of Failure
Ask yourself, “What have I failed at today?” High achievers don’t see failure as a personal indictment. They view it as a sign that they’re on the brink of growth. If everything you do at work comes easily, consider this: You may not be pushing yourself hard enough.
Developing your skills is like waging a negotiation. If the opposition says yes right away, it might mean you’ve aimed too low.
Being happy at work
To be happier at work, seek variety in your tasks. Doing the same thing repeatedly leads to boredom and disengagement. Experiencing negative emotions can also be helpful for finding happiness in the long run.
Recognize why you feel the way you do and make changes accordingly. Practicing gratitude is also key to sustained happiness. Use a journal or an app to remind yourself of the positive aspects of your day.
Tired of being micromanaged? Take charge! Your boss may be freaking out, craving control in a world that feels out of control. But you can calm them down by bombarding them with updates, being proactive, and asking questions that make them feel like they’re running the show. After all, micromanagers are just scared. So take the reins and show them you’ve got it under control.
Discover your one best way of working. Your body has a unique rhythm, so why not find out when you’re at your peak performance? Figure out if you’re a morning person, if you work best with a midday walk, or if you need an Internet-free zone to tackle your work. With the right routine, you can tap into your maximum potential.
The Lessons of Listening
Win fewer arguments. If you find yourself locking horns in a workplace power struggle, beware. Winning arguments is often predictive of losing long-term relationships. Instead of thinking in terms of winners and losers, change the paradigm.
Look for joining opportunities, and ask your coworkers to tell you more about their opinions. Winning in the workplace is not about getting your way. It’s about finding ways of making others feel like they’ve contributed.
Create a workplace soundtrack
We often take the noise levels in our environment for granted, yet studies reveal that sound can influence our performance in surprisingly powerful ways. Is leaving the office not an option? A pair of headphones can do the trick.
Websites like Coffitivity.com re-create the low hum of a café, which research suggests can provide a creative boost, while Simplynoise.com offers the constant swish of white noise to mask distractions when your work requires deep concentration.
The Lessons of Hiring
Mine your network. You can wait for your manager to find your next colleague or you can recommend someone you’d like to work with for the position instead. The benefits of moonlighting as your company’s HR representative are many.
Your friends will appreciate your thinking of them. Your manager will notice your investment in the company’s success. The chances of you working with someone you respect improve exponentially.
Also worth considering: The better the candidate looks, the smarter you appear. It’s because we tend to assume people are similar to their friends, which makes recommending an outstanding candidate a shrewd career move.
To solve complex problems, use your unconscious mind by first clarifying your goal and absorbing relevant data. Then take a 30-minute break to distract yourself with something unrelated, such as a walk or reading an article. In the morning, when cognitive skills are sharpest, focus on learning.
In the evening, when the mental filter is weaker, try to reexamine problems for novel solutions. Exercise not only improves health but also memory, creativity, and efficiency, making it a valuable part of your job.
Relationships at work
To have better working relationships, connect with colleagues on a personal level. Workplace friendships are built in the spaces between work, like before or after meetings. Take time for chance connections, even if they don’t feel productive in the moment.
If you have conflicts with a colleague, find a common goal to work toward. Gossip creates short-term intimacy but weakens your standing in a group. Frequent gossipers are seen as less trustworthy, powerful, and likeable. If gossip is your primary means of connecting, it may be time to reconsider.
It can damage your reputation and make it harder for coworkers to view you as a friend.
Anticipate the J Curve
We like to think of progress as a straight line, where one development builds on top of another, leading to steady and unswerving improvement. It’s a comforting model. But when it comes to complex creative endeavors, it’s also unrealistic. The relationship between creativity and progress is messy and often looks less like a straight line and more like a J, with a heavy dip at the start, representing early challenges and setbacks.
Anticipating your early struggles makes it easier to stick around for later gains.
Failure not an option? It may be time to go. In a knowledge economy, unless you’re acquiring new skills, you’re slowly becoming obsolete. Some organizations want employees to repeat the same behaviors again and again without variation. This is not in your interest.
Workplace experimentation is the only path to developing the skills you need to remain both relevant and valuable.
The Lessons of Workplace Design
Invest in your psychological comfort. Many employees rarely give much consideration to the decor of their workspaces. Research suggests that they might be more productive if they did. The more comfortable we are, the more cognitive resources we have available for focusing on our work.
Which is why taking the time to personalize your workspace (to the extent that you can), from modifying the layout and direction of the furniture to making even modest changes, such as adjusting the height of your monitor or the amount of lighting available at your desk, can have a reliable effect on your productivity.
Choose autonomy over cash. Don’t let a fat paycheck lure you away from your freedom. A 2011 study spanning 60 countries found that autonomy is a better predictor of psychological well-being than income.
Money may seem like the ticket to independence, but it can actually lead to selling out your autonomy. Don’t fall for the trap – prioritize your freedom instead.