Workers in the post-COVID economy are faced with a number of challenges, most notably the ability to connect to the office and work from anywhere at any time. Human capital management and wellness specialist consultancy Sensory Intelligence Consulting has compiled a list of practical steps that employees can take to establish a healthy and balanced work environment – wherever they find themselves.
Dr Annemarie Lombard, Founder, Thought Leader, Workshop Facilitator, and Author at Sensory Intelligence Consulting, says, “The power of technology and connectedness has never been more prominent than now. As a team, we have always worked virtual and support a flexible, home working approach for employee productivity and wellbeing. In the sensory overloaded world we operate in, flexible remote working practises have saved many of our clients from the brink of burnout in the past.”
The first step is to ensure your work environment is comfortable and conducive to productivity.
Dr Lombard says it is advisable to set up a ‘home office’ environment, a space that is specifically set aside for work. “Your work environment should firstly be comfortable and conducive. Use a desk and proper chair – your bed or couch is not conducive for long periods of sitting still and can create unnecessary strain on your back, wrists and/or other body parts. Create an “office space” for you at home. No clutter, no mess, clean, tidy and comfortable. Although others won’t necessarily see it, you do, and you need to like what you see.”
The next – and arguably most important step – is to ensure that you have reliable connectivity.
“Stable Wi-Fi and good online systems are critical. It will ensure smooth and easy connections. There is a variety of systems to meet, chat, collaborate and act. We use G-suite, Zoom, Trello, WhatsApp and Slack but there are various options. It is just amazing how connected you can be without being in the same physical space as others. Just ensure you agree on standard operating procedures when using the systems to avoid duplications, irritations or uncertainty when you work in a team,” says Dr Lombard.
It is equally important to establish a distraction-free environment. “Firstly, to help you to stay focused, ensure there is no annoying background sounds while working. Secondly, when on a call switch off all background noises. Switch off your music and keep the dog outside. Screaming toddlers won’t be appreciated by your audience. Disable the sound alerts on your phone or pc as they can be highly annoying for your team or audience on the other end. Mute your microphone when you are unable to control the noise and are not speaking at that particular time.”
Dr Lombard says effective lighting is often overlooked and although it may seem inconsequential, it is actually an extremely important step.
“Use as much natural lighting as possible as it boosts productivity more than artificial lighting. Open your blinds or curtains to allow for more light but not to the detriment of glare. The potential is to change your desk position to allow for more natural light this way. Play around with options. If you develop eye strain or headaches relook your lighting sources,” she adds.
Closely linked to this is the need to move and take regular but short breaks. “In the same way you need to stretch your legs, take a break and ‘recharge the batteries’, you need to give your mind the same ‘time-out’. There is an important psychological factor at play here – whether you are at home, at an internet hotspot in town or at the office, being dressed for work and presenting yourself as if you are at work and professionally will help focus and ensure productivity.”
“Your body and attire will prepare your mind for focused work. The unsaid and unseen have great power in our output and attitude,” Dr Lombard continues. In conclusion, Dr Lombard and her colleagues stress that self-awareness and self-insight into your natural rhythms and working style will take your home working productivity to the next level