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Via AdWeek : How to Foster Inclusion in Your Workplace in Just 15 Minutes a Day

McCann Worldgroup’s chief diversity officer says small decisions influence big change.

Singleton Beato has spent years thinking deeply about how to drive business and innovation through implementing diversity and inclusion policies as McCann Worldgroup‘s chief diversity and engagement officer since 2017. She joined us for an episode of Top of Mind to talk about solutions to one of the agency world’s (and wider world’s) toughest problems.

The good news: She’s seen an encouraging shift in the number of leaders focused on inclusion in their organizations. “I am totally excited about the conversations happening around diversity and inclusion,” she says. “It’s top of mind for CMOs and CEOs. … In order to be innovative, you’ve got to have diverse thinkers all around you, all the time.”

She cautions against impatience, though. Real change is about changing minds, not quick-fix initiatives.

Her best advice for leaders is to spend 15 minutes a day speaking to employees who are different from them, whom they might not normally talk with. It makes employees feel valued, broadens leaders’ perspectives and influences colleagues to do the same.

“If you’re demonstrating inclusive behavior yourself, the change will happen,” she says.

Watch to the end of this episode to hear the scary advice Beato’s mom gave her when she was up for her first C-suite job, then check out more episodes of Top of Mind.

Via Industry Week : 4 Ways to Transform Your People Strategy for Industry 4.0

To make the latest technology pay off, you’ve got to develop the talent and skills of your workforce.

Imagine you’ve been asked to oversee building a brand-new manufacturing plant optimized with the latest digital technologies including advanced robotics, sensors, 3D printing, data analytics, automation and the Internet of Things (IoT). You have a limitless budget except the company requires that all of the technology remains on a Microsoft DOS operating system.

Ridiculous, right? Even if you could find some things that might work, making that plant Industry 4.0 competitive would be an impossible task.

Still, many manufacturers are doing something similar with their workforce. They’ve focused on investing in new technologies, while operating on outdated people strategies. Meanwhile, the gap continues to widen between the skills that available workers have and those that manufacturing jobs demand.

Here are four key areas to help you update your talent strategy from a traditional to an Industry 4.0 approach:

1. Traditional Approach: Product first, people second

Product is king. Many manufacturers focus on how they need to change the product before they think of the implications for their people. Workers have to adopt the changes or risk their jobs.

When the labor market was flooded with qualified manufacturing workers, it was often relatively efficient to take this approach. But as manufacturing jobs grow more complex and the pool of interested and qualified workers dwindles, a product-first approach is more likely to breed resentment among workers or drive them out completely.

Industry 4.0 Approach: Build change champions

Implementing change in the world of Industry 4.0 depends first on getting employees to embrace the changes. That process starts by developing “change champions” who are ready to embrace innovation and have the ability to influence others in their networks to adopt transformation.

These champions are usually digital-savvy, can listen to others’ issues with empathy, and have excellent communication skills.

Manufacturers should aim to build 15-30% of their workforce as change champions, spread across mission-critical roles, from frontline leaders to plant managers to advanced technical experts.

2. Traditional Approach: Employee engagement is a bonus, not a necessity

Traditionally, decision-making in manufacturing was made from the top down, with lower-level workers awaiting instructions from their managers. In that environment, having an engaged workforce was a bonus, but less important than having people who could effectively implement orders.

Industry 4.0 Approach: Operationalize engagement skills

As manufacturers are increasingly driving toward lean, high-technology environments, it’s critical to have a highly engaged workers who take ownership over their work and can quickly solve problems. In fact, DDI research shows that companies with high leadership quality and engagement are nine times more likely to outperform their peers financially.

Many manufacturing companies have no idea how to solve the engagement problem, or try to solve it with short-term employee incentives they hope will improve engagement. But the best way to address the problem is to operationalize engagement by training leaders in how to demonstrate key engagement behaviors—including selling the vision, inspiring passion, providing timely feedback, delegating and following up, and helping to close skill gaps.

Applying these skills must become a part of the way the company operates, not just a “nice to have” value.

3. Traditional Approach: Hire for skills and experience

The common-sense approach to recruitment in manufacturing is to hire people who have the experience and skills to meet the demands of the job. In the environment of Industry 4.0, however, the pace of change has accelerated, quickly making skills and experience irrelevant. Instead, personality is proving to be much more relevant on the job.

In fact, a 2015 study by The MPI Group showed that, at more than 300 manufacturing sites, poorly selected personal attributes and competencies were much more likely to be the cause of termination than technical and professional “know-how,” education, or past achievements.

Industry 4.0 Approach: Hire for learning potential

Industry 4.0 leaders must demand a radical shift in their hiring and promotion practices to focus less on skills and experience, and instead look for individuals who demonstrate strength in agility, continuous learning, interpersonal communication, and proactive problem-solving skills.

Manufacturers should start by looking for these skills within their existing workforce, and ensure that these skills are either already present or developed in their leaders before they apply these radical new criteria across their frontline hiring practices. Otherwise, companies may see an uptick in turnover and worker dissatisfaction as workers who are ready to learn, grow and adapt feel thwarted by their leaders.

4. Traditional Approach: Learning to be a leader happens by trial and error

Manufacturing leaders often determine their approach to leadership by observing their bosses on the job, and end up copying the behaviors they like or vowing to do things differently.

Formal leadership development, if it happens at all, occurs in bits and pieces during infrequent seminars in which participants are “talked at” for a few hours about leadership. As most manufacturers were more segmented in the past, this approach to leadership development was often good enough to accomplish baseline quotas in various parts of the company. But in the streamlined world of Industry 4.0, such an inconsistent approach hampers collaboration and stands in the way of implementing major changes.

Industry 4.0 Leader Approach: Create purposeful learning journeys

A purposeful learning journey combining face-to-face learning with online learning that helps hone on-the-job-skills can help manufacturers achieve more consistency in their leadership. This learning should be spread out over a specific time frame to avoid overwhelming participants.

Given enough capital, any manufacturer can invest in the latest technology. But without the right people in place to optimize that new technology, it will take a long time to recover the investment.

Via Educations : The Ultimate Guide to Internships Abroad

Internships are valuable opportunities to gain experience, professional insight, and practical skills for the workplace. Many students do not realize they can apply for internships abroad, but as long as you have the time to spare with your courses, there’s no reason not to!

What will you get from an international internship?

  • Practical, hands-on experience
  • Enhanced resume or CV
  • Networking opportunities
  • Experienced mentors in your field
  • University credit or stipend (in some cases)

Oftentimes, internships can also directly lead to employment opportunities that you may not have known existed before. If the internship provider doesn’t have an open position for you, they can usually point you in the right direction and provide you with a great recommendation. Otherwise, with an international internship on your resume, employers around the world impressed and eager to book you for an interview.

Aside from the professional opportunities, an internship abroad can provide valuable insight into the workplace culture and customs of the country in which you are living and studying. For example, there is a huge difference between a workplace in Sweden compared to the United States, and you’ll only be able to experience them firsthand if you join the workforce yourself! After your internship is complete, you will then have a much better sense of the values and work ethic expected of employees in your host country.

Are you excited to start an internship abroad yet? First, there’s still some things to consider! Read on to get a better understanding of all the internships available to you as an international student studying abroad and how they work.

Types of internships Abroad

There are many different types of internships available for you to choose from depending on your area of study or personal interests.

INTERNATIONAL INTERNSHIPS FOR CREDIT

Universities and colleges work collaboratively with companies to offer students internships for academic credits. These credits provide you with hands-on experience while fulfilling your academic requirements. Internships for credits are a great way to accomplish two goals at once.

Academic internships can be arranged through your academic adviser and may last 1-2 semesters in duration. To receive credit, students may be asked to keep a journal, write an essay, or make a presentation about the experience.

SUMMER INTERNSHIPS ABROAD

Summer internship programs are normally shorter in duration and can last from a few weeks to an entire summer. These internships provide academic credits or experience in your field.

Most commonly, summer internships are arranged with your school, but independent internship opportunities can be found in fields such as tourism and hospitality.

There are many types of summer internships offered to students. You may choose from paid summer internship programs, high school summer internships, or internships based on location.

NON-PROFIT INTERNSHIPS

Non-profit internships are normally for organizations such as charities, schools, government agencies, religious organizations, or hospitals. The aim of non-profit internships is to provide a public service for the community. Internships at non-profit organizations are typically unpaid but look impressive on a resume or CV.

SERVICE LEARNING

With this unique type of internship, you work for an organized community organization such as a library, a shelter, or a community center. Service learning programs are structured in a three-step process which require participants to:

  • Define the objectives and goals of the project
  • Perform the service work
  • Present their experiences in a presentation or a paper

Examples of service learning projects could be taking part in a reading assistance program at a library, working with veterinarians at an animal shelter, or designing a playground at a community center. Through service learning, you receive transferable skills while benefiting the community.

JOB SHADOWING

Job shadowing is also known as an “externship” and is similar to an internship but shorter, only lasting from a few days to several weeks. Job shadowing is used as an activity for high school or university students to explore different career options.

Students taking part in job shadowing will spend time observing their mentor while working together with other professionals. Job shadowing is a great way to gain insight and experience while helping you decide the direction of your career.

Whichever type of internship you choose, you’ll have the chance to transfer your academic knowledge to real life experience.

Paid vs. Unpaid Internships Abroad

Depending on the company or the organization, compensation may be offered. Internships without financial benefits still offer many rewards to candidates.

PAID INTERNSHIPS ABROAD

Paid internships provide you with the opportunity to gain experience while getting paid to work! Companies offering paid internships are usually in the private sector.

Paid internships are offered in specific fields such as engineering, law, or IT internships. Therefore, a great way to gain the practical experience you need to find a job in your industry after you graduate is to find an internship within your chosen field. That way you get the most out of your international internship!

For obvious reasons, paid internships are the most sought after and companies often use them to recruit new employees. Compensation paid during these internships is not comparable to a full-time salary but is similar to a stipend to cover basic living or traveling expenses. This also means that getting accepted for the internship is more competitive.

Therefore, it’s important to demonstrate to the company that you’re the best candidate for the position. Highlight the fact that you are studying abroad and carry with you valuable critical thinking, problem solving, and cross-cultural communication skills. In today’s globalized world, language skills are in a particularly high demand, so don’t forget to mention any language you speak as well!

UNPAID INTERNSHIPS ABROAD

Unpaid internships are a great way for students who do not have permission to work in their host country to still gain the work experience necessary to successfully find a job after graduation. Before moving abroad, students should consult with the government agency who approved their visa to see which work opportunities they can take part in while living and studying abroad.

Although you are not compensated financially for your time, you can reap many other benefits, such as the experience you can put on a resume. Experience aside, you can also expect to make a lot of friends and professional contacts that you will have long after your study abroad experience is over. This is especially important considering many students begin their studies knowing no one.

Although your time is unpaid, it also means your schedule is often more flexible. This is a great for students studying abroad because it gives you the flexibility to gain experience at their international internship, attend lectures, and still enjoy their new city with all of their new friends they’ve met.

WORK PLACEMENTS ABROAD

Work placements are normally shorter than internships. These types of placements are offered to those still enrolled in school. Work placements are usually part of your program or can be completed in place of a course.

In comparison, internships normally are longer, typically lasting up to a year. Internships are not only completed by students but are also for recent graduates and those looking to change careers.

Overall, paid internship, unpaid internships, and work placements allow you to apply your academic knowledge in the workplace. This experience undoubtedly gives you an advantage when entering the job market and building your resume.

Applying for an Internship Abroad

Applying for internships requires some time and patience, but you can increase your chance of finding the right internship abroad faster if you know what to expect. Preparation is key, so make sure you have everything you need to make a great first impression. It starts with a professional CV or resume and a well-written cover letter. Then once you score the interview, it’s just up to you to impress employers with all the skills, knowledge, and experience you can bring to the internship.

Start with the following checklist to put yourself on track to finding your ideal international internship:

  • Perfect your resume. Make it clear and avoid errors in formatting, grammar, and typos.
  • Use your network–find internships by asking professors, friends, and family for professional contacts.
  • Gather documentation for internship applications, including transcripts and possibly letters of recommendation.
  • Ask your professional contacts if you can put them down as a reference. Or, ask professors for recommendations.
  • Have someone you trust go over all your documentation to check for mistakes and give feedback.

Don’t forget, the earlier you begin searching for internships, the better!

RESUME/CV

When applying for an internship, take time to clean up your resume or CV. Avoid lengthy resumes and try to make it easy to read. Ask a mentor or teacher to read over it for suggestions and to double check for errors.

You can start by making sure your resume is organized in clear, logical sections so that employers can quickly and easily see your education and experience. Don’t forget to make sure all the information is up-to-date as well. Be sure to include your most recent job experience and which program you are attending at university. It doesn’t hurt to quickly check to see that all your contact information is accurate too.

Since you’re studying abroad, it’s great to highlight the skills and knowledge that studying abroad teaches you to set yourself apart from the rest of the candidates. These are skills that can’t be taught in the classroom, only through first-hand experience, making them valuable to succeeding at your international internship. However, it’s easy for this particular type of experience to get looked over if it’s not done properly on the resume.

To increase your chance of scoring the interview to do an internship abroad, consider the following tips when putting study abroad on your resume:

  • Highlight any languages you have learned during your experience.
  • Include any international social organizations you joined or ran
  • Demonstrate the skills you learned in and outside the classroom while studying abroad

You can also put study abroad on a resume or CV for making your study experience speak for itself!

COVER LETTERS FOR INTERNSHIPS

Cover letters for internships are a one page document which introduce yourself and highlights why you are the best candidate for the position. Just like a job application, internships require a cover letter attached with your application.

The 3 common types of cover letters are:

  • Standard cover letter
  • Referral cover letter
  • Letter of interest

A standard cover letter demonstrates your ability to effectively communicate why you are qualified for the position. You should mention the position you are applying for and how your skill set will benefit the company.

The second type of cover letter is known as a referral letter. This type of cover letter is used when someone has referred you to the position. When writing a referral letter, you should mention the person who referred you to the company right away. Referral letters are a great introduction to the company, and may help improve your chances of being noticed in the application process.

The third type of letter is called a letter of interest. This is written when there is not a specific position advertised but you write to express your interest in the company.

Keep in mind that cover letters are the first thing an employer will read, so invest time in crafting the best letter possible!

TRANSCRIPTS

A transcript is a record of your academic grades and achievements and is one of the most common components of applications for internships. There are two types of transcripts: official and unofficial.

Official transcripts are issued directly from the university and are sealed and delivered directly to the recipient. Official transcripts may take anywhere from 4-8 weeks to arrive, so make sure to order them in advance so it has time to arrive. This type of transcript also usually requires a small fee for the copy.

Unofficial transcripts can usually be printed directly from your the university website. This type of transcript is not issued or sealed by the school and are not always accepted for applications.

Make sure you carefully read which type of transcripts are required for your application and plan enough time for delivery to meet the application deadline.

LETTERS OF RECOMMENDATION FOR INTERNS

Recommendation letters are written by a third person and highlight your skills or academic merits. The letter should address your professional strengths as well as your strengths in character. The best people to ask for recommendation letters are teachers, employers, or organizations you have been involved with.

Letters of recommendation for internships are an important aspect of the application process so give the writer plenty of time to prepare. We recommend asking at least 3-4 months in advance.

In conclusion, internship applications can require many types of documents. You should make sure you read each application’s guidelines very carefully and that you allow yourself adequate time to gather everything you need to apply.

Via Forbes : From Open Hiring To Negligent Hiring: How To Reduce Risk And Promote Inclusivity

As employers face a critical talent shortage amongst historically low unemployment rates, organizations are turning to untraditional methods to source workers. While it’s not uncommon for a job listing to include a set of requirements for the position, what if those prerequisites were limited only to the ability to lift over 50 pounds, stand for eight hours, and be authorized to work the United States? No “previous experience required.” No “college degree preferred” or minimum GPA necessary. No verifiable qualifications demanded. That’s what candidates for employment at The Body Shop’s retail stores will find in store for them come this summer.

Open Hiring

Open hiring policies abandon traditional pre-employment screening, such as criminal background checks, drug tests, and verifications of employment, education, and references in favor of, “replacing scrutiny with trust.” In most cases, there’s not even an interview – any interested worker is eligible for hire.

While the unemployment rate in the U.S. lingers around 3.6%, that still represents an estimated 5.9 million people who are without a job. And for many of these individuals, their past histories, which may include criminal convictions, present barriers from getting a paycheck. In fact, one in three adults in America, or an estimated 77 million individuals, have a criminal record, and around 2.2 million individuals are currently inmates in the federal or state penitentiary systems. What’s more, criminal recidivism rates show that about four in nine ex-offenders will re-offend at least once during their first year out of prison.

And that’s where open hiring fills a gap.

From Greyston To The Body Shop

Since 1982, New York-based Greyston Bakery has utilized an open hiring model to “accept an individual based on current actions and future potential, not judge them on their past.” Open hiring hopes to curb criminal recidivism by getting people employed.

Greyston maintains a waiting list of individuals wanting a job. When a position opens up, the person at the top of the list gets invited to complete a paid internship at their bakery. Upon successful completion of the course, a full-time job is theirs. It’s that simple. Around 75% of Greyston’s bakery staff, which comprises close to 80 workers, have come through their open hiring model.

After consulting with Greyston and piloting open hiring at their distribution center in North Carolina, The Body Shop recently announced that it will adopt an open hiring model for its retail associates in the United States. Much like Greyston, candidates seeking employment at The Body Shop will be hired on a first-come-first-served basis, absent background screening, or drug testing.

By comparison to Greyston, the deployment of open hiring at The Body Shop is massive. The Body Shop employs around 1,000 retail workers during peak seasons, with 10,000 employees in total and annual revenue close to $1 billion dollars. And with size comes greater risk.

Negligent Hiring

Employers must act reasonably when hiring, supervising and retaining workers. Negligent hiring occurs when an employer fails to verify that a prospective employee may present a danger to the organization. Negligent hiring claims can be brought by an individual when an employer fails to screen a worker adequately, and that worker subsequently harms someone else.

In making a negligent hiring claim, the harmed individual argues that the business knew or should have known their worker’s background history before hiring them. While states have defined the elements necessary to prove a negligent hiring claim, at their most basic, the harmed party must establish:

  1. The employer owed a “duty of care” to others when hiring the worker
  2. The employer breached that duty
  3. The breach was the cause of the injury or harm
  4. The injury or harm was reasonably foreseeable
  5. Damages resulted from the employer’s inaction.

The bottom line: If an employer is not diligent in assessing a worker’s background and that worker harms someone, that employer could be on the line for the worker’s actions. And employers are responsible for the ongoing supervision of their workers and ensuring that their retention does not indicate foreseeable harm to the organization’s workforce or its clients.

Case In Point

Successful negligent hiring claims are disruptive to business and are avoidable. The number of lawsuits filed against organizations are numerous, with settlements averaging more than $1 million, and court awards often exceeding several million dollars.

Take the case of a healthcare provider who failed to perform a background check on its employee who subsequently murdered a client and his grandmother. A criminal background check would have revealed six felony convictions. Instead, two individuals are dead, and the company paid out $26.5 million to the Plaintiff, including $18 million in punitive damages.

In the manufacturing space, an employee shot and killed a coworker as a result of a workplace confrontation. If the employer had conducted a criminal background check and requested a reference check of former employers, the employer would have learned that the Defendant had multiple criminal convictions, including carrying an illegal weapon on the job site. The employer was found liable for negligent hiring, supervision, and retention.

And in retail, the actions range the gamut from allegations of sexual assault of a child customer to incidents resulting in the murder of coworkers. In all cases, the employer is held accountable for the actions of their employee if they could have reasonably foreseen the consequences of their employee’s actions.

Balancing Inclusivity With Risk

While open hiring models are admirable, they introduce risk to an organization that comes with legal liabilities associated with negligent hiring. Directly inquiring into and verifying an individual’s past can help to reduce an employer’s risk of a negligent hiring claim. Some states have even passed legislation that protects organizations from negligent hiring claims when hiring ex-offenders. And most employers are amenable to working with individuals with criminal records.

Here are some tips to avoid a negligent hiring claim while supporting inclusive hiring:

· Eliminate barriers in the pre-hire process

Ban the Box measures delay when an employer can inquire into a candidate’s criminal history. In some cases, they may also include special notice requirements and may also limit the types of criminal information that an employer can consider when making their suitability decision. Even if you are not in one of the 34 jurisdictions in the U.S. that have enacted a ban the box law, you might consider removing the criminal history question from your job postings and application so that all individuals are encouraged to apply regardless of their criminal history.

· Trust but verify

Ask candidates to disclose their former employment and education history. Verify that information looking for gaps in a candidate’s past. Engage in an open discussion with the candidate to understand how life events have shaped their work history; professional references that solicit substantive information can help develop a picture of the individual as a worker.

· Equitably assess criminal history

Employers should avoid blanket policies that exclude individuals from hire. Instead, employers should create policies that promote fair hiring practices. In particular, employers are encouraged to following the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s guidance and consider:

  • The nature and gravity of the crime
  • The time that has passed since the crime or completion of the sentence
  • The relationship of the crime to the worker’s ability to perform the job without reasonable cause of harm to the organization

· Screen proportional to role

Not all workers introduce the same amount of risk to an organization. Employers should consider tailoring their background screening practices to align with the roles their workers will fill. Identity verifications and reviews of previous employment and references should be a must for all workers. Criminal record searches and drug testing may be relevant for some positions but not others. And industries like energy, finance, healthcare, and transportation must meet specific minimum background check requirements as identified within the regulations that govern them.

· Benchmark to avoid negligence

Remember that negligence results when an organization falls below a reasonable standard of care. Employers should network with other businesses in their industry to set a baseline for screening. Falling below that baseline could be evidence of negligent hiring practices.

Good Intentions May Lead To Bad Consequences

While open hiring models are a novel way to approach recruiting, employers should proceed cautiously and understand the legal risks associated with adopting an open hiring model. Employers can still foster inclusivity and embrace change for the better while taking reasonable measures to protect their workforce and guests through effective background screening.

Via Forbes : How To Design The Best Workplace (Even When It’s At Home)

The last few weeks have seen a tremendous rise in the acceptance of home working, with employers across the world advocating it in a bid to ensure employees remain healthy in the face of COVID-19. With remote working largely a minority activity in many workplaces, it raises the prospect of people working in environments that are not ideal, as they have never had to consider their home work environment before.

Place someone in the hustle and bustle of Grand Central Station, and it’s unlikely that they would perform well in the kind of tasks we require of people in the workplace. As such, environmental psychologist Sally Austin argues that the way our workplaces are designed is crucially important to the effectiveness of employees.

In Built to Thrive: How to Build the Best Workplaces for Health, Well-Being, & Productivity, she highlights how important seemingly esoteric factors, such as the color of the walls or the configuration of the furniture affect our performance at work.

The work is part of a growing movement towards making our workplaces more humane places to be, with a noble aim to improve productivity by making us happier and healthier when we cross the threshold each morning.

Making work better

The question is, do we still need to come into an office in order to be happy and productive workers? Broadband Internet connections and portable computing tools are largely pervasive, thus enabling many ‘knowledge workers’ to work from anywhere they choose.

It’s estimated that nearly a quarter of American workers work remotely, with over 1.5 million workers in the U.K. working from home full-time. Indeed, across the globe, it’s estimated that up to 70% of people work remotely at least one day a week.

It’s already fairly well established that workers are happiest when they have agency over their working conditions, including the hours of work, the location of work, and often even the type of work they do. This leads to lower stress levels and higher engagement. Indeed, research has even shown that people would gladly accept lower pay for such autonomy.

Of course, this is not a new concept, with telecommuting existing as a concept back in the 1970s, but the availability of technology has made it increasingly feasible. It’s perhaps no surprise that it has found a willing home in the tech sector itself, with startups ranging from Automattic, Fiverr, InVision and GitLab all having a distributed workforce working from wherever they feel most comfortable.

Attracting the best

The cost of corporate real estate has long been an issue for those in the facilities management profession, but the costs associated with urban living is increasingly an issue for HR departments too. Areas such as San Francisco, New York and London are becoming more and more expensive to live in, and are seeing talent priced out into more affordable areas. By allowing workers to operate remotely, therefore, organizations are opening themselves up to a far broader talent pool than is available within commuting distance of a physical office.

The economics of work are just one of the factors behind this move, however. While working together in a single location can help workers to collaborate and innovate, they can also have a range of nefarious influences, from politicking and distracting that undermine performances.

Companies such as GitLab are attempting to bring an extreme level of transparency to their work in a bid to overcome these factors. Team meetings are shared on YouTube, with employees crowdsourcing the employee handbook collectively. The idea is that all employees have a say and a stake in how the company is run.

Of course, just because you’re not working in an office environment doesn’t mean that you could, or should, ignore the best practice guidelines in workplace design. It’s still where you need to produce your best efforts, so needs to be the ideal environment to support that.

Ideal home (office)

Working from home affords you a large degree of freedom around your work environment, and in doing so, you might want to consider things like the work you’ll be doing, the equipment you’ll need, whether you’ll be making conference calls, or even hosting external clients or colleagues.

For instance, central offices have a huge array of equipment, most of which you probably use very rarely. A photocopier, for instance, is very expensive, so you are probably better off using local copying services rather than investing in hardware yourself.

Lighting is also a crucial consideration to make when planning your home office. In an ideal world you want to ensure you have as much natural daylight as possible, as this is the most evenly balanced source of light available.

It’s also hugely important to ensure you have privacy in your workspace, especially if other people are at home as you work. Just as the noise of an open office environment disrupts our work, so too does noise in our home environment. You might also consider ways to mark out your work area, with bookcases a personal favorite as it provides a physical barrier while also providing excellent storage space.

Working remotely, you also often lack any kind of health and safety policies, but that doesn’t mean you should neglect your wellbeing by skimping on an ergonomically robust workspace. The health risks of sitting are now well established, and many traditional furniture places our body in an unnatural and unhealthy posture. This should not, of course, be limited to your chair, but your entire workspace.

“Rather than sitting all day, you need to have circuits of activity, and you don’t want to be efficient and have everything in arms reach,” says the University of California, Berkeley’s Galen Cranz. “Instead, you want to get up to answer the phone, file something or talk to somebody else. You have to build micro-movements into office routines.”

Cranz highlights how we can typically tolerate just three hours of sitting per day, as doing so results in the electrical activity in our muscles dropping, and a reduction in the lipase that our liver uses to digest and break down fat. This is why sitting for prolonged periods is so risky in terms of heart attacks, strokes and cancer. Make sure you construct your workspace to counter this risk.

Going mainstream

It’s perhaps been too easy to dismiss flexible working as the preserve of the software industry, and therefore not something for the rest of us to worry about, but that’s increasingly not the case. Indeed, across the world, organizations are scrambling to put remote working procedures in place in response to the COVID-19 crisis.

While the software industry have undoubtedly led the way, now is the time to learn from their experiences and explore how remote working can benefit your organization, and especially your workforce.

When given the choice, a growing number of people are choosing to forgo their commute, and the unproductive environs of their open office and instead deciding to work in an environment they control. The workplace industry has focused almost exclusively on the office environment for decades, and while progress has undoubtedly been made in that domain, it’s high time they lent their expertise to the growing market for remote working, so that our home offices are as healthy and productive as they can be.

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