Reduce workplace stress with proper equipment and space

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Reduce workplace stress with proper equipment and space

Minimize stress by learning to get the resources you need to succeed at work.

Whether your work takes place in a corporate cubicle, private office, retail store or hospital intensive care unit, having what you need to do your job reduces your stress. Also, having a comfortable work space with the right resources promotes greater productivity, safety and job satisfaction — all keys to reducing workplace stress.

Your employer wants you to be successful at your job. Most employers strive to minimize stress and maximize productivity by making certain you have the equipment and human resources needed to complete your job, as well as the technology required if you have physical limitations. But businesses and managers also face budget constraints.

When you lack an essential tool or find yourself struggling to work in a disruptive environment, your approach to resolving the problem will determine whether or not your needs are met. Here's what to do.

Analyze the situation

When faced with an equipment or work space challenge, don't sit and stew about your problem. That only adds to your stress level. Approach your boss about the situation, but first ask yourself these questions:

  • What's the problem? Problems with work space or equipment vary. For some people privacy and noise reduction is important. For others, the problem may be one of ergonomics — either the desk is too high or too low, or the chair isn't comfortable.
  • Is there anything you can do to solve the problem yourself? For example, if noise is a problem, wearing earplugs or listening to music by headphones may be the best solution.
  • What are your options? If you do a better job of providing customer service online or by telephone when it's calm and quiet, could you work in an area that's less chaotic or even from home, rather than in a noisy office?
  • What do you expect your supervisor to do? Be realistic. If you work in a cubicle or share an office and you would prefer a private corner office with windows, you've probably set your expectations too high.

Make your case

Even though your employer wants you to succeed, he or she must work within a budget for computers, software, tools and other equipment. The same is true for human resources, which are often even more costly. Here's how to advance your case.

  • Ask for what you need. Whenever you need something, be sure and share with your supervisor why you need it. Perhaps a new piece of equipment or software will help get the job done faster or lead to fewer on-the-job injuries.
  • Put it in writing. Write a memo or send an e-mail to your boss explaining why you need a software upgrade, for example. Be specific. Explain how it will affect your productivity and whether it will save money in the long run or allow you to provide a new service.
  • Do your research. Using the same example, determine the cost of the software upgrade. Include it in your request. Find out if what you're requesting is state-of-the-art or the industry standard.
  • Present all the options. Your manager will appreciate your thoroughness, and you increase your chances of having at least one option selected.
  • Enlist an ally. If you have a specific health concern that affects your ability to do your job, enlist support from employee health services, your family doctor or both. Examples of conditions for which they can provide recommendations are carpal tunnel syndrome, vision problems, arthritis, or returning to work with an arm or leg in a cast. Some employers have occupational therapists on staff to consult with you when you're experiencing pain because of physical limitations or job-related activities.

Proceed with patience and persistence

Don't expect your supervisor to grant a nonessential resource request overnight. But just because you don't get what you need immediately doesn't mean your supervisor won't put it in next year's budget.

And don't take it personally if your request is denied. It's not about you. More than likely it's about the budget. Ask tactfully why the request was denied, if you can. This information will be helpful if you try again. Also ask if your supervisor has any thoughts about other possible solutions.

Finally, don't give up. If the need persists, you may want to make the request again. In the meantime, continue to nurture a strong working relationship with your supervisor. Let your manager know what you need, but be patient and positive. Business strategies and priorities change, as do management personnel.

Last Updated: 10/27/2006
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