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Via CStore Decisions : 9 Tips to Make Working Remotely Work for You and Your Employer

The concept of remote working has been around for a long time. Many entrepreneurs have mastered the ability to work virtually, but it is often a major challenge for those who normally work in a busy office setting to shift to working outside their traditional office environment. Working remotely can feel more isolating than mingling with co-workers in an office setting.

Being effective while you work remotely takes more than a mindset shift. It requires a disciplined approach to planning your activities and seeking out opportunities to interact with your co-workers. Here are nine practical tips you can use to make the most of this experience.

1. Establish a Routine

Just as you have a routine in your normal workday, try to mimic this routine as you work in your remote location. Whether it is at your home, an airport, or a coffee shop, following your normal work schedule is vital to feeling like you are really working. Start your workday at the same time. Make sure you get dressed. Wearing your pajamas might be comfortable, but it does not prepare your mindset for work. It can become easy to get distracted when you are working in a different environment, so focus on acting like you’re still working in a supervised workplace. This approach will help you feel more like you are working.

2. Set up a Dedicated Workspace

Having an area in your home where you do your work is essential to success in working remotely. It is easy to become distracted by the dog, television or the pile of household tasks that need to be completed. When you are in your workspace, you are working. If you combine it with following your normal worktimes, you can do a better job of staying focused.

3. Convert Commute Time to Learning Time

The time you used to spend on your commute is now extra time that you can use to enhance your value by learning something new. With the plethora of online courses and videos, you can take advantage of this “commute time” to enhance your skills. Even better, you might be able to get a certificate of completion that will make you even more valuable when you get back to a normal office work routine.

4. Take a Lunch Break

One of the most challenging aspects about working remotely is that it becomes easy to just sit at your desk and eat your lunch. In a normal work environment, you have to walk somewhere and often wait a bit to get your food. At home, your lunch time could drop from an hour to 15 minutes. Use the extra time to get in your workout or engage in some other activity to benefit your health. Giving yourself a solid break during the day will help reinvigorate you and give you a mental boost.

5. Connect with Others

When you are feeling a little lonely or isolated, take a minute to reach out to someone. Rather than sending a lengthy email, see if a colleague is available to talk live about a project. If they are working remotely too, they might welcome the human contact! Intentional connections like this build team bonds and help sustain you when you are working remotely. It also offers you additional opportunities to dig even deeper into issues and brainstorm alternative solutions to critical issues.

6. Use Video Conferencing

Using technology applications such as video conferencing is a great way to connect people from different locations. It provides a deeper level of connection and engagement than a phone call or text. Don’t worry about looking perfect on camera. The key here is using technology to connect with each other. Remote meetings are often very effective, but you need to make sure everyone is focused on the meeting and not multi-tasking! You can even set up regularly scheduled meetings via video conferencing so you can add more structure to your workday.

7. Communicate Clearly

If you are now relying on digital communication with your colleagues through email, be sure you are communicating effectively. Sarcasm or snarky comments have no place in written communication as they can be taken out of context without the body language or facial expressions to convey your meaning. Take some time to plan out the structure for your communication. Identify your key messages and what you need to add to support them. This will help you clarify your thinking and be better understood by others when they are only relying on your written communication.

8. Leverage Your Opportunities for Productivity

You will likely discover you are more productive without all of the interruptions common during an office workday. The lack of interruptions and distractions create additional opportunities for you to be more efficient in completing your normal work responsibilities. But it also offers you the opportunity to be even more productive. Leverage this productivity and tackle that special project you were hoping to get done someday. That someday is now! Just make sure it is a one-off project, not a permanent addition to your job responsibilities.

9. Be Aware of the Time Trap

It is not uncommon for people to feel guilty that they are not working hard enough when working remotely. It is easy to fall into the time trap to seek out additional job responsibilities to fill your time. Keep in mind that you won’t have the same opportunities for productivity once you go back to a normal office environment. You and your boss should be clear about this so the extra work does not cause complications when you get back into the work setting.

While it is not ideal to have a major shift in how you work, you can adapt to the situation with practice and focus. Keep in mind that it takes time learning to balance all of the complex aspects of working remotely. Be creative in exploring all your options for maintaining a connection with those you work with. Just make sure you keep your mindset on making a remote situation work for you — and your employer.

Via Forbes : How To Cope With Change In The Workplace

According to Heraclitus, the only constant in life is change. That couldn’t be truer than in today’s work environment. For one thing, automation is eliminating many manufacturing jobs making strategic and managerial roles more critical. With most of the workforce comprised of Millennials, we’re seeing more people demanding flexible schedules and more relaxed office environments. As always, companies continue to restructure and reorganize. The corporate ladder has collapsed, leaving employees with what Cathy Benko terms a “corporate lattice” or what Sheryl Sandberg calls a “jungle gym.” Career progression is no longer well-defined within companies, and career change is the new normal. Unfortunately, change isn’t always easy. A study from the American Psychological Association (APA) found that organizational changes such as restructuring or new leadership can lead to employees who are overly stressed, have less trust in their employers, and have a greater desire to find new jobs. While coping with change in the workplace can be challenging, there are ways to make it easier. Here are my top five tips for dealing with change in a way that will benefit you and your career:

1. Help others

Chances are you’re not the only one who feels uncomfortable with change in the workplace. If you can take the focus away from your own situation and direct it toward someone else’s, it will help you cope. Make space for your employees to have personal conversations either in person or using technology like Slack. Invite co-workers out to lunch or for a walk outside so you can discuss the situation. The process of helping others will help you to deal with the stress and adapt more quickly to change.

2. Embrace new opportunities

According to Ian McClarty, President at phoenixNAP, “The silver lining to any change in the workplace is opportunity, often to add new skills to your repertoire or work with new team members.” Change often translates to possibility for those who are willing to embrace it. For example, reorganizations or mergers can create new positions, new divisions or departments, or a chance to create a new job title.

3. Maintain relationships

Make an effort to stay connected to previous co-workers and continue to expand your network. Don’t forget about the people you’ve already had the chance to work with because they could become extremely beneficial to you in the future. If you’re like many professionals and haven’t kept in touch with your contacts, don’t hesitate to start up that relationship again. Think of it as a win-win situation—you never know when you might need each other down the road.

4. Accept rather than resist

There are generally two types of coping: escape coping and active coping. Escape coping is a form of coping that involves changing our behavior to try to avoid thinking or feeling things that are uncomfortable. Active coping is a form of coping that allows us to tackle a problem head-on. This approach is healthier because you are addressing the stress, rather than avoiding it. Ultimately the most important thing to do to cope with change in the workplace is to acknowledge it. Recognizing and accepting change is one of the first steps toward managing it.

5. Overcommunicate

When things are changing at work, communication is critical. Any communication gaps can instantly be filled by rumors and speculation, which create even more fear and uncertainty around the idea of change. If you can effectively communicate your concerns to co-workers and managers within the organization, your anxiety can be better addressed and alleviated.

Change in the workplace is here to stay. While it can be disruptive and uncomfortable, there are benefits to change, like promoting the development of new skills and bolstering innovation. With the right attitude and a specific set of actions, you can find the opportunity in any situation. Learn to embrace change, and you’ll start to appreciate it for what it is: the chance to grow.

Via CBR Online : Digital Change: How Can You Support Employees Through The Process?

Imposing new technology on employees without a clear change management process can have detrimental effect on adoption

Across the globe, a revolution is taking place inside modern workplaces, writes James Longworth, Workplace Technology Consultant at Insight UK.

From collaboration tools that support teamwork, right through to voice-activated assistants to increase productivity – technology advancements are giving employees capabilities they could only dream of a few years ago. However, businesses will only realise the true benefits these advancements can bring if employees are fully on board and utilising technology correctly.

Too often, enterprises implement new technology with rose-tinted glasses, hoping to make their business run faster and more efficiently, yet without spending the time to think about how their workforce will react. Technology creates change and if the process of change is not managed properly, new technology can result in doing the opposite of what was intended and have a negative effect on collaboration.

Out with the Old

When implementing new technology, businesses must take a human-first approach. Meaningful change starts with people, not technology. It’s important that employees have time to adapt to the change, know how it will help them within the workforce, what to expect from it, and how to use it. If they don’t, they’ll either refuse to adopt new systems, fail to tap into their true potential, or could potentially put the organisation at risk through misusing tech or not utilising it at all. Our recent research shows UK office workers waste 1.8 billion hours a year due to poor technology that doesn’t give them the support they need. More than a third (34 per cent) of employees also said that not being equipped with the right tools makes remote and flexible working difficult and stressful – despite its value in improving productivity and employee satisfaction.

What’s more, imposing new technology on employees without a clear change management process can have detrimental effect on adoption; Gartner claims that “change-stressed” employees perform five percent worse than average. Employees must be supported throughout the process, otherwise organisations risk increasingly frustrated staff, which can drive down productivity across the entire business.

Adoption Doesn’t Happen Overnight

According to Insight’s research, a significant 77 per cent of office workers claim they’ve been given technology such as laptops, mobile devices or business software without knowing either how it will benefit their role or how to use it. As a result, training must take place before any change so employees know what to expect, how it will improve their experience and how it will change existing tasks and process.

It’s also important that after the change, the organisation continues to gather any thoughts or feedback from their employees and address any concerns. This process should be strategic, where gradual change takes please to ensure the adoption process runs smoothly, both with the technology and employees. This is an on-going process, where results will not take place overnight.

An Ongoing Process

For the modern workplace to match employee expectations and provide the best possible experience, it must also represent the way consumer technology operates. Consumer devices and software are improved through frequent updates, which are easier for end-users to absorb and adopt.

Rather than “big bang” implementations where the user experience is completely disrupted, technology deployment needs to resemble this ongoing process. Incremental updates are far more effective, as they are less noticeable and easier to adapt to.

Encouraging the Next Generation

With nearly half (48 per cent) of employees saying the technology on offer would influence where they would work in future, it’s never been more critical for businesses to provide a seamless experience, and offer the ongoing support and training employees need to succeed in their job. Creating a truly modern workplace, where technology enhances employee productivity and the user experience, is not just good news for your current employees, it will encourage the best of the next generation to apply too.

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.

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