Working in IT is very demanding. Long hours, pressurized situations, and cutthroat competition can leave you feeling overwhelmed. Throw in the all-too-common headlines about company acquisitions and job cuts, then mix in bosses who stand over your shoulder scrutinizing each of your actions and it won’t be long before you begin to question your career choices. Added together, all of these aspects can take a toll on even the best of IT professionals leading to work absences, lower productivity, and increased turnover.
Naturally there are times when one feels tired of the daily routine at work. Some may consider this as motivation to seek a career change and go in search of greener pastures; others may label it a monotonous phase and do their best to live with it. Either way it’s no fun for anyone.
Generally, IT professionals report a high level of satisfaction for their jobs and indicate passion about their work. Such satisfaction and passion can create excitement for the job. High salaries, challenging projects, and intelligent and interesting colleagues can also go a long way to cutting down on employee turnover and help create a positive culture at work.
A pleasant and enjoyable work culture goes a long way in helping you look forward to work and contributes to a sense of satisfaction in your job. In fact, when it comes to doing a good job, the culture of an office is almost as important as having skilled employees.
It’s also the responsibility of employees to contribute to the creation of a positive work culture. There are a number of things one can do to improve their office culture. But before I get to my ideas, let me share a personal experience that has helped me.
After successfully completing a few projects at work, there came a time when my job just didn’t seem exciting and interesting. A number of projects were stalled and there were few in the pipeline. I initially liked the feeling of not having any pressing burdens, but soon realized that I wasn’t just bored, I was actually slowing down in my IT career.
Without pressing deadlines and projects, I would show up at work with a blank mind and leave without accomplishing much of anything. I felt unmotivated and began to have second thoughts about my job.
One day while having coffee in the breakout area, I noticed few of my colleagues playing foosball. I joined them for a game or two and developed a liking for it. This helped the days pass quicker, but I was still concerned about my growth. Since I wasn’t doing much productive work, I eventually decided to invest some time in learning new technologies, thinking it might help in upcoming projects. I even built a lab to help me study.
This was a turning point. It helped me regain my passion at work, even though there were still no new projects. I now knew what I had to do when I wanted to have some fun and grow technically. In short, I realized I could challenge myself by improving myself. It made a huge difference in me personally and began to have a positive effect on the work place as a whole.
But enough about me. Here are a few pointers that may help you regain your passion for going to work and help improve your IT office culture for yourself and for coworkers.
Effective use of breaks: Work is more than just sitting at a desk all day. Make full use of your short breaks. Don’t sit alone thinking about your projects or appraisal or anything related to work. Get up and go for a quick walk with friends. Grab a coffee or play some games like table tennis or foosball. This helps clear the mind and gets you some exercise. Plus your co-workers will find it enjoyable as well.
Refrain from emotional outbursts: Don’t lose your cool with a situation or coworkers — regardless of what happens. Be less emotional and more professional at workplace. Others will tend to act in a similar fashion.
Many IT professionals are possessive about their image and often consider negative feedback from supervisors and colleagues as a matter of prestige. My advice is to not take such things to heart. Prepare yourself to consider only constructive feedback and filter out the rest, else it may lead to unwanted stress.
Use PTO effectively: Many of us are in the habit of thinking about pending issues at work, even when on a holiday or paid time off and even on weekends. This contributes to mental fatigue as even after utilizing the PTO we don’t get that needed break from work.
It’s advisable to shut down the professional mode when not in the office. This helps in spending quality time with family and friends and gives a short break to reboot yourself for work. Learning to relax away from the office is also good in that you’ll be able to share with your colleagues some of the fun things you did while away.
Stay alive and passionate: There will be times when you don’t feel the same way about your job as you used to. But don’t let the fire within you die. Stay passionate about work. If you feel that your work does not interest you anymore or if there is not the right amount or type of work to keep you interested, it’s better to invest time in some new technology. Go for self-learning and set up milestones to achieve. IT is an evolving industry and change is inevitable, you never know when you may get to use your new skills.
It’s also good to share your learning with co-workers. They will also note your efforts to improve and may start doing likewise. Everyone likes an environment where people are learning and sharing.
Socialize with strangers at work: We all have the habit of recognizing the people we work with or who sit in the cubicles next to us. Most of us don’t find it challenging to start conversations with them or even develop a working reputation because we work in close proximity.
A better challenge is to socialize with people within the organization but outside of your working domain. That’s when you come to know about new opportunities within the organization and can grow to be an influential professional.
Believe me, it does motivate and provide a feel good factor when there are 20 people who wave at you in the morning as you show up to work opposed to only a few cubicle mates. So don’t just stick to your immediate team, talk to the stranger in the lift or maybe someone standing beside you in the printer area or in the cafeteria. You never know what it can lead to.
Do favors: It never hurts to be helpful to others — people may not remember what you said, but they always remember how you made them feel. A few moments can make a difference to a stressed and busy colleague. (Just take care not to neglect your own work.) As you set an example of courtesy and helpfulness to co-workers, it will spread and it won’t be long before others do similar.
As you can see, an enjoyable work culture makes a difference, especially in IT. More often than not, it’s not what you’re doing as much as who you’re with. No one enjoys a work culture that isn’t fun and easy to maneuver. Smile at others, be pleasant, be helpful, relax with co-workers and work hard. Do these things and you’ll be surprised at the positive impact they will have on your work day.