November 29, 2022

Office Sustainability Tip of the Week

With December and the holidays upon us, hopefully we’re all getting into the spirit of the season a little bit.  Even though this is often a very stressful time of year, it’s also a time when people come together to help those in need.  The Staff Advisory Committee has organized their annual “Helping the Homeless” Drive, and the Fredericksburg Network of the Alumni Association will be taking donations to the Fredericksburg area food bank as part of their Holiday Happy Hour on December 13th.  These are just a couple of the charitable events that the UMW community is involved with this season.  Hopefully we’re all doing a little something this month to help others and those in need.  While the “Office Sustainability Tip of the Week” usually focuses on environmental concerns, we’re taking the opportunity this week to think about how to go about sustaining social relationships in the workplace.

If you’re like me and many other people, you often feel as if you spend more time with your co-workers during the week than you do with your own family.  So it’s crucial to establish good relationships with everyone that you work with.  We’re often quick to shoot off the most minor of emails to co-workers to ask a question or pass along some information, but what about picking up the phone to speak to the individual or walking over to their area/office to discuss things in person?  Even doing this just once or twice a month might make that connection you have with individuals a little more personal.  Some organizations/institutions have “no email Fridays,” which encourages employees to pick up the phone or speak to individuals face-to-face as opposed to sending an email.  Is a policy like this always going to be practical?  Perhaps not, but it’s something to think about.  Moreover, how often do we misinterpret tone or intent through email?  How often is it hard to even comprehend what is trying to be communicated to you through email?  The choice to speak with someone over the phone or in person may not only improve social relationships in the workplace, but it may also improve communication, problem-solving, and productivity.

What about other ways to improve interpersonal relationships in the workplace?  If you’re a supervisor, are you taking the time to praise employees for a job well done?  If there’s that one individual in your office who NEVER leaves their office except for lunch, are you reminding them to take a few minutes every now and then for a quick walk around campus, to grab a cup of coffee, or to even just get up and stretch a little bit?  (Yes, I did just propose that you encourage your employees to get up and stretch — http://tinyurl.com/cstaqnt).  Maybe the answer for improving social relationships with your co-workers lies outside the office.  Does your office have a weekly happy hour or get together for lunch or dinner?  What about a Book Club or Movie Night among those you work with?  If not, maybe it’s time for you to initiate this idea among your co-workers.

If you have any suggestions for things we can all do differently each day to create more sustainable office environments–whether ecological or social–please feel free to leave a comment or email me the idea to be featured in a future Tip of the Week.

The PCS Action Group members for the “Office Sustainability Tip of the Week” are Kevin Caffrey, Elizabeth Sanders, Robert Louzek, and Dre Anthes.

Last week’s tip of the week: Junk Mail.

About Brynn Boyer

Brynn Boyer is assistant director of media and public relations and a 2010 graduate of UMW.