web analytics


Via Human Resources Online : From ‘I’ to ‘we’: Change ‘illness’ to ‘wellness’ in the workplace together

If you are a manager or leader in-charge of a team, stop doing nothing and start actively treating mental health as part of employee welfare, affirms Maria Plengsangtip.

Over the years, scientists and psychologists have come up with a lot of formulas, anti-depressants and theories about mental illness. While anti-depressants suppress a lot of our symptoms, let me tell you a secret – one of the most important panacea of mental health is social support.

Sometimes, we like to think that we are single units of human beings, apart and distant from everyone. As far as our denial can bring us, we are not. We are social beings where others depend on us and we depend on others.

No matter how hard we try combating the negative feelings and emotions in our minds, more often than not, it only takes a simple show of concern like “Are you okay?” from someone else to keep us going for the day.

The three levels of social support

In the workplace, social networks are formed in complex webs of connections between units of hierarchies and different job scopes. So does social support – it comes from different levels – organisational, managerial and individual. All are vital in their own ways.

At the organisational level, employee assistance programs (EAP) and policies are fundamental ways to provide support for the employees. Organisations should review their existing framework of policies and initiatives to ensure that their mental health programmes are easily accessible and known to their employees.

One of the simplest, but mostly neglected, ways is to cover for staff’s psychiatric treatment. Once known, it will also encourage staff to seek help when faced with problems. Conducting mental health awareness weeks and campaigns lets employees know more about first signs and symptoms of certain mental illness and dismisses certain biases and stigmas surrounding mental health.

Workers spend most of their waking hours at work. As much as managers and individuals can do, it takes an open-minded organisation for the provision of holistic staff welfare – both mentally and physically.

Equipped with adequate skills to provide basic counselling and support for their employees will allow managers to notice if their employees are experiencing any problems.

At the managerial level, managers can attend workshops to improve their supportive leadership skills. Equipped with adequate skills to provide basic counselling and support for their employees will allow them to notice if their employees are experiencing any problems. Managers should also have sufficient resources like counselling hotlines or help so that they can refer their staff for professional help if they require any.

To make the workplace vibrant and lively, and filled with positive relationships and energy, managers can conduct hands-on activities for their staff to build teamwork and communication. If funds permit, they can also think about hiring external speakers or services to provide them with professional talks and workshops so that individuals have the opportunities to develop coping and peer support skills.

More often than not, managers do not realise their crucial role in promoting mental wellness, which results in them doing nothing about it. Doing nothing allows poor mental health to manifest in unhealthy ways. If you are a manager of a body of staff, stop doing nothing and start actively treating mental health as part of staff welfare.

At the individual level, we need to get rid ourselves and others of all the stigmas and biases surrounding mental illness. We need to understand that even though mental illness does not affect us like physical illnesses do, it does not mean that it is not important.

We need to stop thinking that mental health is insignificant. The intangible nature of mental health is frequently neglected. Additionally, we often forget that we are capable to saving someone’s life just by simply asking them about their day. It is important to consistently check-in on our employees and build positive relationships and be each other’s pillar of support.

Remember, we were never meant to be single unit of organisms; we are a collective of social beings dependent on one another.

Via The Ladders : How 2020’s latest office design trend will change teamwork forever

It’s been nearly a century since Frank Lloyd Wright designed the first open office design plan back in 1939 with the intent to encourage teamwork. The ‘design’ consisted merely of a few white columns, filing cabinets, and oval desks. Since then, the effectiveness of the open office has been a polarizing implication within the design community.

Because productivity is a direct result of an efficient workspace, the conversation around the office space is relevant to employees everywhere. Research suggests that poor office design can have inadvertent repercussions – the high concentration of people and low privacy is taxing on concentration and a strain on teamwork. Open office design, for that reason, has often been condemned as a counterproductive business model. A recent study revealed that employees within open-plan offices spend 73% less time in face-to-face interactions, whereas email and messaging use went up more than 67%.

As 2020 encroaches upon us, a select few designers have concurred that open design can, in fact, be an effectual model, if implemented correctly.

Ladders caught up with two lead designers at Steelcase, the global surface materials designer Kaitlyn Gillmor and Senior Interior Designer Jon Rooze, to gather their forecasts on the trends we can expect to see in 2020.

“The open office is the end-goal. Collaboration is important for how teams work together. The workplace as a social landmark is a trend that isn’t going away. The key is establishing an office environment that works effectively as an ecosystem on the whole,” said Rooze.

The designers forecast a predominant trend in the personalization of space. Brands will strive to be more transparent about their products, allowing for real, meaningful connections.

In one of Steelcase’s recent studies, they found that although 77% of employees have their own assigned workstation, the vast majority—87%—spend two to four hours every day working someplace else. Given the fact that 69% of all offices now have an open floor plan, according to the Steelcase Global Report, this fostering of authentic connections in teamwork is absolutely necessary.

Steelcase’s 5 design implications for 2020:

Origin Stories

A key component to the new office design that the Steelcase designers have picked up on is a greater push toward sustainability — in both the physical and abstract sense.

In order to achieve this, transparency is essential. People need to see beneath the surface. Whether it’s showing the origin story behind a product, or re-contextualizing ‘waste’ as a resource, designers will continue to make sustainability a rudimentary component.

“The bigger idea around origin stories is that there is an increasing interest in people wanting to know where materials are sourced…sustainability is integrated into all our design models. We’re constantly aware of how to minimize the amount of material we’re using,” said Gillmor.

“Brands want to come forward and demonstrate their own story,” said Rooze.

Connected Culture

According to the Steelcase designers, space should be indicative of a company’s values. If this isn’t immediately apparent upon walking into the office space, a redesign is necessary.

“People want to connect in a more physical way in the workplace…the workplace is a social landmark in people’s lives,” said Rooze.

In order to achieve this symbiosis, Rooze emphasizes the importance of ‘Functional team zones’. In this model, while teams may have individual workspaces allocated to their team alone, there should always be one ‘home-base’ in the office in which all employees can come together.

“It’s critical to have a home base where you can speak to each other without disturbing others. There’s good noise (the noise that comes from your team) and bad noise (noise from the other team). It’s so important to establish a balance that holds the tension to build that team space while allowing for openness in the rest of the environment. It should be a dynamic ecosystem. This allows for a cross-pollination of minds where people can still come together and speak freely,” said Rooze.

Social Medium

According to the Steelcase designers, there has been an increasing focus on creating office spaces that become destinations in which groups of people want to visit together.

“There’s an intense collaboration amongst teens and the way they come together and get information to each other quickly, and then send that information to people around the world. So we’re seeing a global interconnectedness. In design, we consider the things that are barriers to collaboration and dismantle them. How does this carry beyond being at a desk? This leads us to consider how we can use the entire space of an office to optimize its full potential,” said Rooze.

“We aim to create a module that would break things up into different spaces, giving team parameters and thus establishing psychological safety,” said Rooze. One example of a home base Rooze cited is a kitchen table — it creates a nucleus from which team members can gather around before returning to their own work zone. The emphasis here is on optional socialization; employees can come and go from the home base as they wish.”

Frictionless Environments

With the rise of the Boomer Generation eclipsing traditional workplace structure, designers are becoming more reliant on digital elements to streamline flow in the office spaces. Three of the five top barriers of collaboration are related to technology, according to a Steelcase study.

“We’re seeing a massive increase between physical and digital ways of working. This provides the opportunity to make completing tasks easier by augmenting the way people work so that employees can focus on things that are more creative, or that humans can do better than artificial intelligence can,” said Gillmor.

In one study, the Steelcase researchers found that the design of the space tends to create friction between people and technology—whether its a comfortable chair people don’t want to get out of, or a table — the space can be an obstacle to those interfacing with the content on the screen, resulting in disengagement.

Make Your Mark

The workplace has always been impersonal. But, according to recent research by Steelcase, the personalization of workspaces allow for a more streamlined workflow and collaboration amongst teams. The trend of personalizing space is not so much about ownership, but more about optimizing individual performance in a shared space. This means creating a space from which employees can freely shift furniture and elements of the space around to suit their performance style.

“We connect virtually to screens rather than physically connecting all ties into the concept of figuring out technology and giving back to the actual process of work,” said Rooze.

Via Occupational Health & Safety : Five Ways That Natural Light Improves Productivity in the Workplace

Natural light in the workplace affects a number of health aspects like mood, sleep, vitamin D levels, and eye health–and it heightens productivity levels.

Natural light and views of the outdoors are among the most highly-sought workplace perks, according to a study carried out by HR advisory firm, Future Workplace. This same study also revealed that employees sitting closer to windows are more likely to show up for work, and have increased productivity throughout the day compared to those sitting under artificial light.

Find out just how natural light improves productivity in the workplace.

Mood enhancement

Natural light improves your mood. Those impacted by Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) will be familiar with the shift in their frame of mind when the shorter days and darker evenings set in. The reason for this is likely related to the affect that light has on the hypothalamus in the brain, which influences the body’s internal clock and the production of melatonin and serotonin.

Those who are not exposed to a good amount of natural light are more likely to see a drop in their mood, and potentially—as a consequence—their productivity. The same Workplace Wellness study by Future Workplace also found that 38 percent of employees lose 60 minutes of time when their emotional wellness is suffering.


Many of those who work in the arts—whether this be writing, painting, singing or other—would agree that natural light is imperative for stimulating creativity. In fact, Irish author George Bernard Shaw was known for commissioning the construction of a well-lit ‘writer’s hut’, which boasted a mechanical turn table inside. The purpose of the table was to move it according to where the light moved, so he would always be exposed to natural light while he wrote.

To take a leaf from Shaw’s book, so to speak, consider the fact that the creativity and productivity of your workforce could vastly be improved with the installation of large windows which would expose employees to as much natural light as possible.

Better Sleep

Another benefit of plenty of natural light is the impact this has on a person’s sleep. A research team at Northwestern University of Chicago concluded that office workers who spent their time below artificial light, with no exposure to natural light, had 46 minutes less sleep than those who worked in an office with windows.

It’s also well-known that more sleep equals higher productivity, because sleep is so important in its restoration of the body and mind. Those who suffer from insomnia often have trouble concentrating, and therefore cannot be as productive as a well-rested person.

Vitamin D

Vitamin D is essential for good health in humans. Natural light is the chief provider of Vitamin D, and those who do not have access to enough natural sunlight can often find that they develop a deficiency. A Vitamin D deficiency can cause problems with bones, teeth, and muscles—all of which can go on to affect other areas of health.

In the workplace, employees who suffer from Vitamin D deficiency may encounter problems with health, which can then go on to impact their productivity. Good overall health and nutrition is needed to boost a person’s ability to concentrate and apply all their efforts to the task at hand.

Eye health

Research undertaken by Professor Alan Hedge at Cornell University in 2017 revealed that office workers reported a 51 percent drop in eyestrain, and a 63 percent drop in headaches, as a result of more exposure to natural light. Eyestrain and headaches can be attributed to a condition known as Computer Vision Syndrome (CVS), which is said to effect 70 million employees across the globe. CVS could potentially be significantly abated with the introduction of more natural light in the workplace.

In regards to employee productivity, fewer instances of eyestrain and eye-related headaches are likely to decrease the number of breaks an employee needs to take away from the screen. Plus, improved eye health will enable them to better concentrate on their work and maintain a good production rate.

Considering the significant impacts that such a simple thing as natural light can have on a workforce, it is clear that employers should try to achieve this in their workplace if possible. In addition to the productivity and health benefits, remember that natural light is by far the cheaper option for lighting your office in comparison to artificial light.

Via INC : 5 Signs That Instantly Identify Someone With Good Leadership Skills

For starters, do you foster a culture of transparency?

Whether you subscribe to the notion that “everything rises and falls on leadership” or that “culture eats strategy for breakfast” (and, I might add, lunch, dinner, and the midnight snack), no company on the planet can grow without growing leaders first.

While the word leadership conveys hundreds of possible scenarios about what a leader is or does, I posit that the best leaders are people-centered; they aspire to lead by serving others first, and everything else follows to exceptional results.

In the words of Robert K. Greenleaf, the man who kicked the servant leadership movement into high gear decades ago, “The servant-leader is servant first … It begins with the natural feeling that one wants to serve, to serve first. Then conscious choice brings one to aspire to lead.”

Here’s my most recent list of what I feel makes a great servant leader and, in turn, how instantly identifiable they become in the eyes of their followers.

1. Transparency

I recently connected with David Graham, founder and CEO of Code Ninjas. He starts his brainstorming meetings with the hard truth: eliminating any tension with his team by being transparent, and opening every brainstorm by announcing that 90 percent of what his staff is going to say is never going to happen.

“There are no stupid ideas, so just let them flow. You never know what you might say that will inspire someone else, even if your idea was a flop,” Graham tells his team.

When an idea strikes a chord, he has four simple questions to ask his employees to determine if it’ll get pursued: How is it going to fail? Can we mitigate the failures? Is it in our realm of expertise? And is it on brand?

2. Sharing the decision-making process

Traditionally, an autocratic style of management has been effective in getting results. But the nature of work today, along with its workforce, has changed. Success in management today requires collaboration — not command. Asking people to take part in deciding the goals that they will be a part of is an essential component to engaging employees.

3. Listening without distractions

Before you assume you’re fit to lead, you have to ask yourself, Am I a good listener? Because if you’re going to lead, you need to be.

Recent research published in Harvard Business Review supports evidence that leaders who listen well “are perceived as people leaders, generate more trust, instill higher job satisfaction, and increase their team’s creativity.”

One reason leaders don’t listen more in the workplace is that they think they’ll be perceived as weak or without authority. Another reason is that they are simply under time pressure or distracted by other thoughts.

The first step to becoming a better listener is to eliminate the noise — from your distracted mind and your physical and digital environment.

4. Creating a friendship culture

Employee burnout is a real threat to the well-being of today’s workers. Recent research conducted by Gallup found that 23 percent of employees reported feeling burned out at work very often or always, while an additional 44 percent reported feeling burned out sometimes. That means up to two-thirds of your employees could be experiencing burnout on the job at any one time.

Leaders are now faced with fostering a healthy environment for happy employees to perform at a high level. One of those leaders is Shawn Riegsecker, CEO and founder of Chicago-based ad tech provider Centro.

Riegsecker shared with me the idea of establishing a workplace where friendships are developed for competitive advantage, or, as he puts it, a “culture of professional intimacy.”

Sounds soft and fuzzy, but what he’s getting at is backed by science. Office friendships boost individual performance and increase lifetime happiness. A recent Gallup study found that women who have a best friend at work are more than twice as likely to be engaged than women who don’t. Look beyond the bottom line to create an office that encourages friendships in and out of the office.

5. Flexing self-awareness muscles

Improving self-awareness is an emotional journey but can be incredibly rewarding. One of my favorite executives I’ve featured in my column a few times is Chuck Runyon, the extremely self-aware CEO of the multibillion-dollar Self Esteem Brands, parent company to Anytime Fitness, Waxing the City, and Basecamp Fitness.

“Just as you have to work out consistently to build muscles, you have to actively work on improving your leadership, too,” notes Runyon. In a previous column, he shared five steps to becoming more self-aware, which will help in your interactions with employees, colleagues, customers, and investors.

One of those steps is to know your team members on an intimate level in order to build them up, because a business is only as strong as its people.

Runyon shares: “Get in the weeds with them, celebrate their wins, and be there for them if they fail. Encourage and empower them to take risks in order to continue improving and advancing. Provide opportunities for professional development such as conferences, events, and courses for personal growth.”

Via AV Interactive : Five workplace collaboration predictions for 2020

An end to the generational divide in tech use and a move from Bring Your Own Device to Bring Your Own Meeting are among predictions from Barco Clickshare, based on major survey research.

In recent years, there has been a dramatic change in the workplace. And this change will accelerate, with technology a disruptive force. This is according to Barco ClickShare which has revealed five of the most prominent trends set to impact collaboration in the workplace in 2020.

The company has developed insights, thanks in large part to a recently commissioned pan-European study, which looked specifically at the future of communication for the workforce.

The past few years have seen an explosion of meeting room technology. The survey highlights the fact that most (72%) respondents agree that meetings have drastically improved from five years ago. But it also emphasises that emerging technology will continue to dramatically disrupt the typical meeting experience. Analysing this landscape of changeability, Barco ClickShare has highlighted five trends which stand out as those which will dominate in 2020. These include:

1) The end of the generational divide

The generational divide we’ve seen previously with corporate technology is rapidly disappearing. 74% of people of all ages are now confident with technology, with 86% stating that they prefer meetings that embrace technology. 2020 will finally see the end of the stereotype of the “technophobic older generation” as new technologies play an increasing role in workplace communication and collaboration for all employees, from Generation Z to Baby Boomers. Organisations need to factor this in when developing workplace technology strategies and ensure they communicate to employees in a clear and consistent way.

2) Video and AI technologies to become the standard

The futuristic vision of corporate environments controlled by interconnected Internet of Things devices is becoming the reality for many large corporations, and Barco ClickShare’s research suggests white-collar professionals think this is only going to accelerate. Of the 1,509 employees surveyed:

  • Over three quarters (77%) stated that video will be standard in meetings within the next three years
  • 83% want to see voice recognition in meetings within the next two years.
  • 81% want video filters (like those available on apps like Instagram) to feature in meetings within the next two years.
  • Nearly a third (30%) want to see the use of hand gestures to control technology in meeting rooms, with 80% of those wanting it in the next two years.

Employees now expect technology in the workplace to keep pace with the consumer technology they are used to. Organisations need to keep pace with change and establish intuitive, experience-enhancing solutions that will wow their workforce, or face disengagement and impacted productivity.

3) Employees want a new reality

Augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) solutions have not yet found their way into most corporate meeting rooms. But according to Barco ClickShare’s study, many employees can see significant potential for these technologies in the day-to-day workplace and want to see investment in their use. Most in-demand is the ability to use AR technology to overlay information onto visual content in realtime – bringing the technology which made apps like Pokémon Go so popular, into the office environment – something which 65% of respondents would like to see introduced. Commercially, this could for example enablean architect to bring their plans to life literally in a meeting, augmenting a computer-generated building, long before the first foundation has been laid. Utilising VR technology to meet via interactive virtual spaces was also a popular idea, with 81% of employees expecting this to be made available in the next three years. The technology is still nascent, but organisations should be thinking about what they could bring to the workplace in future – the future’s closer than they might think.

4) Remote working will continue to proliferate

The number of remote workers has increased 115% over the course of the last decade, and this trend is set to continue to accelerate in 2020. According to Barco ClickShare’s research, over half (53%) of meetings currently involve attendees who join remotely, with three quarters (74%) of those surveyed stating that they predict an increase in remote attendee-only meetings over the next three years. For remote collaboration to succeed, participants must still be able to interact with each other in the same way as they would in a face-to-face scenario. Organisations will have their work cut out for them when it comes to implementing the correct IT infrastructure. This will be vital to ensuring they have the correct technology in place to allow employees to collaborate efficiently and effectively from wherever they are.

5) Prepare for a Bring Your Own Meeting (BYOM) future

The Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) market has exploded, set to hit almost $637 billion by 2022. Now, we are entering the next phase of the BYOD trend, where employees will expect to not only join meetings from their personal devices, but host them using their personally preferred conferencing solution, rather than their organisation’s official corporate service. The rise of Bring Your Own Meeting is reflected in the responses of Barco ClickShare’s survey participants – 71% of whom stated they can already choose which conferencing solutions they use in meetings. Allowing workers to choose their own conferencing solution, as well as bring their own device, will allow organisations to better address the different dimensions of an effective digital workplace strategy, enabling an increasingly diverse workforce, from intern to contractor, to collaborate and contribute just as much as regular employees.


Lieven Bertier, segment director for the workplace at Barco ClickShare commented: “Barco ClickShare is witnessing first-hand how technological trends like VR, AR and voice recognition are transforming the AV and meeting room technology industry. In this regard, we are uniquely positioned to offer insight into the changing landscape of the meeting room experience, where technology is bringing the promise of better and smarter collaboration in meeting room and conferencing scenarios. Our findings are clear. Technology has already enhanced the meeting room experience, and will continue to revolutionise meetings in the future. As 2019 comes to a close, and we look ahead to 2020, this pace of change is only set to accelerate. Corporations should act now to ensure their meeting room equipment is capable of sustaining changing employee expectations and demands and, therefore, increasing productivity, collaboration and the overall workplace experience.”