Categories
Work Environment

7 Tips to Maintain Mental Wellness at Work Amidst the Pandemic

As businesses begin to slowly reopen, it’s important to continue to stay safe and care for your mental wellness amidst the pandemic. Learn from these 7 effective tips below.

 

A snapshot of the US economy back in June showed that nearly 42 percent of Americans were working from home full-time (while 33 percent weren’t able to work at all, and only 26 percent continued to go to work as essential personnel). But thousands of Americans have gradually been called back into offices in cities and states where lockdowns have ended or eased up.

 

Yet while we are slowly going back to work, things are far from “normal.” And it’s clear that, even after the pandemic, COVID-19 will continue to shape the workplace for years to come. One of the things many of us are still struggling with is focus and productivity.

 

It’s become harder to work effectively in the light of this crisis, especially amid sky-high anxiety rates and an increasingly uncertain future.

 

Here are 7 important tips to remember as we try to navigate through the second half of an eventful year.

 

1. Jot Down Your Thoughts and Worries

 

Your brain is often too quick to open a new thread before the first one has resolved. That processing speed can pick up when faced with overwhelming stress. It all accumulates, turning into thousands of open-ended bare-threaded questions and worries, all piling up too fast to be addressed.

 

When you can’t find ways to calm yourself mentally, turn to an empty page and start writing. Jot your thoughts down – stream of consciousness-style or in list form – and just put to words what it is you’re thinking and worrying about. There’s no need to publish or show what you’re writing to anyone else.

 

You could even write it all down and promptly delete or scrap it – symbolically tell yourself that these worries are all transient and not pertinent to the here and now, and you’d like to return to the blank page both in your hands and in your head.

 

Alternatively, consider journaling. Write your thoughts down and use the structure of a journal entry to help organize the chaos in your mind. Reflect on agitated thinking with a cooler perspective, and calm down.

 

2. Use Your Daily Commute to Calm Yourself

 

If you’re being called back to work, your typical commute might be especially stressful given the current situation. Commutes are a terrible time to be struggling with anxious thoughts, as we’re prone to falling into the trap of rumination.

 

Consider finding ways to make your commute more enjoyable and use it as a mood setter for the rest of the day. Pick a happy playlist, or a podcast you enjoy, or some other distraction to help you get into the right mindset for your morning.

 

3. Cut Out News Media and Sanitize Your Feed

 

The news cycle can be especially upsetting these days. Every new day tends to be dominated by at least a few headlines that are liable to spark anxiety and controversy.

 

While it’s completely understandable to feel the need to stay informed at all times, it’s also quite harmful. We tend to develop a skewed view of reality when inundated by a 24/7 news cycle. Especially one that is financially incentivized to capitalize on the worst events of the day. Consider drastically reducing the amount of media you consume, and setting aside portions of the day or week to check out reputable news sources rather than checking the newest headlines every hour on the hour. Avoid starting your day with a bellyful of awful.

 

Similarly, sanitize your social media feeds, or take a break from social media. Visit your Facebook and Twitter profiles more sparingly. Mute or leave group chats obsessed with sharing every piece of distracting news on the Internet. Make room for more qualitative conversations with friends and family through messaging tools and video calls and take a break from the unnecessary stuff that just leaves you feeling down.

 

4. Prioritize Good Sleep

 

While the importance of sleep is mentioned quite frequently in selfcare guides and productivity articles, it’s still a topic that is generally underrated and ignored. We seem to be stuck on catching up with the day’s news and gossip after work and dinner, often in our beds, when we should be winding down to get a good night’s rest.

 

Poor sleep hygiene is a widespread problem affecting millions of Americans, and it’s often only haphazardly covered up by sky-high caffeine consumption.

 

While there’s nothing wrong with a cup of coffee in the morning, it’s a bad sign when you’re endlessly groggy and not quite “awake” without your coffee. Make your sleep a priority, before anything else. Your mental state will thank you for it.

 

 

5. Get in the Habit of Setting Daily Goals

 

Feeling overwhelmed is a hallmark of anxiety, and when it’s at its worst, every day can feel like a paralyzing mountain of unsorted and insurmountable tasks and obstacles.

 

Rather than find yourself terrified at what lies ahead for today, the week, the month, and the year, scale all the way back down and prioritize the top two or three tasks for the day. Set aside just a handful of things that you want to accomplish at work and get laser-focused on doing just that.

 

Ignore what comes after – especially when you’re having a hard day, and just need a place to start. It’s good to think ahead and have foresight when you’re feeling better. But there is a time and place where tunnel vision is just healthier and will help you get more done.

 

6. Split Your Day Into Bursts of Work

 

If you have lots of tasks ahead, consider organizing your day into individual bursts of work paired with short, but effective breaks. Make use of those breaks in a productive way – don’t just go to the bathroom, check your emails, or read an unrelated article.

 

Instead, get up off your chair and spend a few minutes looking out through the window. Make yourself a cup of something warm to drink. Pace around the office for a bit and get a few steps in. Stretch your back and hips, sip some water. Try to take a total break from work, and “refresh” your mind. Use the last few minutes of your break to plan out how you’re going to start your next task. Then sit down and start the next task energized.

 

7. Make Your Mental Wellness Nonnegotiable 

 

Given pandemic levels of anxiety and the sharp incline in stress-related issues since this crisis began, we simply cannot afford to continue acting like burnouts are an appropriate cost and natural necessity for success.

 

Striving for short-term gain while ignoring the long-term consequences is a recipe for disaster in any endeavor. And this goes for the workplace as well.

 

Managers and employers need to do better to ensure the wellbeing of their workers, show their employees that they care about equitable healthcare and better mental health management, and pledge themselves to emphasizing the importance of overall mental wellness. It relates to productivity, creativity, and a company’s competitive edge.

 

To that end, petition for policies at work that you feel will have a bigger impact on your mental health and the health of your colleagues. Get together with other workers and open a line of communication with management to identify ways you can work together and smooth the transition back towards focused and effective work.

 

At home, look for ways to separate yourself from work and seek out activities that help you create a distinct divide between work and home. This could include chores, working out, TV time with the family, or dinner. Appropriately turn off anything coming from work (aside from true emergencies) after a specific time.

 

Conclusion

 

The coronavirus crisis is an ongoing issue, and the changes it will force at home, in public, and at the workplace will shift and mature over time. Making sense of things during this volatile period while remaining productive is challenging, but by taking it a day at a time, you’ll be able to face individual problems as they come up.

 

 

Categories
Business Trends

How Organizational Intelligence Shapes Business for Success

If you’re always searching for new ways to grow your business for success, then organizational intelligence is definitely something you should learn more about! Read all the details below.

 

Ever since we’ve moved into the information age, researchers and analysts have been looking for a better model for management thinking and business survival in the 21st century, especially with regards to modern technology and developments in communication and automation.

 

The most enduring idea to emerge from the combination of human intelligence and improved technology is organizational intelligence. This is a new way of measuring the potential for growth and survival in a business based on a more holistic approach to the business’ human assets. In addition,  its computational assets, its leadership, its data acquisition and management, and how well it puts that data to use.

 

What is Organizational Intelligence? 

 

Just as we measure human intelligence via an intelligence quotient, so do some analysts argue that it might be possible to measure a business’ or an organization’s intelligence by how the organization as a whole adopts and adjusts to new information. Of course, no tests for such a quotient exist.

 

Instead, organizational intelligence is determined in relation to the event or timeframe in which it is analyzed. Perhaps in relation to a business’ competitors or past performance, or simply to rate whether something was a success or a failure as a result of a business’ organizational intelligence, or outside factors.

 

Organizational intelligence can best be described as an organization’s capacity to leverage the individual performance and intelligence of each working part. This includes each branch, each employee, each system, each department, each project, and each team to adapt, survive, and thrive as a whole.

 

To measure an organization’s intelligence, an analyst would look towards:

 

      • The organization’s capacity to adapt to complex situations.
      • The organization’s ability to pick up on emerging trends and events, and act accordingly, ideally preempting another trend (i.e. trendsetting).
      • The organization’s ability to gather, manage, analyze, and act upon relevant data as collected from clients, users, and other legal sources.
      • The organization’s ability to reflect on past successes and failures, and replicate successes while avoiding similar pitfalls (i.e. avoiding the same mistakes).

 

Organizational intelligence also shifts away from the idea of the executive arm of a business as being its sole decision-making body. Instead, the model of organizational intelligence allows a business to not only consider the capacity for data management and analysis in the business, but in each individual part of the business. This means in each team, group, and department. It encourages individual employees to collect information and improve their work on the basis of that information.

 

It encourages them to think ahead, to notice trends, to speak on the future of the company or the product, and to act independently to some degree – while the executive arm retains oversight.

 

Communication is Key

 

As such, communication plays a critically important role in determining a business’ organizational intelligence. The capacity for a business to relay and act on information internally, communicate and collaborate between teams and departments, utilize technologies to kick start and continue projects across distances, and interact with other business partners.

 

This lets a business remain lean even as it grows in size. It places greater importance on how intelligent a system (in this case, the business) becomes the greater its scope. On a smaller, individual level, our intelligence is limited by individual quirks and weaknesses. In teams, we can make up for these weaknesses and we aim to hire and train people who allow a team to become whole.

 

 

In turn, as teams form departments and the departments form the company, it becomes plain to see how every asset plays a role in developing a business’ potential for growth and survival, based on their ability to gather and act on information.

 

After every major step, it’s important to reflect on an episode in a business’ history and determine whether anything could have been done to adjust how information was gathered and acted upon.

 

Could the trend have been identified sooner? Was it identified but rejected? And why? If there was a failure to act sooner or if a misstep was made, where did it occur? Was there a problem with the information? Or management? Was there a failure in communication and follow up? Were changes poorly coordinated?

 

These are just some of the questions that must be asked and help determine a business’ organizational intelligence.

 

Organizational Intelligence and Operational Intelligence

 

Organizational intelligence is not to be confused with operational intelligence. The two are very similar and play a critical role in the development of a forward-thinking and adaptable business.

 

Organizational intelligence is a measure of a business’ capacity to gather information and act on it as a whole, In addition, an analysis of a business’ organization and communication, as well as the relationships that play into how a business functions. Operational intelligence describes the actual process by which a group makes decisions based on real-time data. One is nothing without the other.

 

Operational intelligence focuses on real-time data collection and analysis, whereas organizational intelligence measures a business’ ability to act on that information by way of its employee workflow and collaborative communications. Its ability to interact between departments and power structures, across different physical locations and divisions, and between internal organizations and partners outside.

 

A Business’ Capacity to Adapt Belies Its Success

 

A business that can properly leverage communication channels, data collection and analysis, and lean decision-making will possess the necessary organizational intelligence to adapt to turbulent times, pivot whenever necessary, and react accordingly.

 

It will also gain the ability to set trends and learn from patterns of success and failure and turn a large collection of people with individual strengths and weaknesses into an organization that channel’s everyone’s talents.

 

Technologies and workplace policies are key to building a culture of high organizational intelligence.

Building a business that works efficiently and communicates effectively on a skeleton crew, or by having a substantial portion of the company remaining remote or working through coworking spaces is one such example of how to improve on organizational intelligence. This way, teams learn to collaborate more effectively, and leverage talent from all around the world with less overhead and greater productivity.

 

Categories
Office Space

4 Reasons COVID-19 Made Coworking Spaces Important

Believe it or not, coworking spaces are beneficial to the working force right now and for the future. The pandemic has forced us all to think outside of the box. This is no exception, which you can read all about below.

 

With the shift towards remote work getting a sudden boost due to the limitations imposed by COVID-19, many companies are adopting post-COVID policies to make it easier for their workers to work from anywhere – reducing the need for expensive and underutilized office space.

 

Rather than endanger the coworking industry, COVID-19 may bring us to embrace coworking as one of the key players in a workspace revolution meant to minimize infectious disease and subsequent public health scares. In addition, leverage the technologies that allow millions of us to work from anywhere.

 

We are going to see more changes to the way we work not only with a better and more optimistic outlook towards remote work, but with renewed interest in cost-efficient and well-maintained flexible office spaces.

 

1. Managers and Leaders are Seeing the Importance of Workplace Flexibility

 

As offices throughout the world shuttered in response to the novel coronavirus, thousands of industry leaders and company heads had to rapidly shift towards limited capacity remote work, encouraging their workers to continue working from home whenever applicable.

 

As a result, just about everyone who could work from home did work from home during the lockdown (42 percent of the US labor force, accounting for about two-thirds of the entire American economy). And while businesses have had the opportunity to gradually open up again, many managers have been made aware of the benefits of not only remote work, but workplace flexibility as well.

 

An empty office is an expensive liability. Now that managers and employers have seen that they can continue to run a business while their employees remain productive from home, many are considering an overhaul to their work-from-home policies. Reducing the number of employees being called back into work on an as-needed basis, while the rest continue to remain productive and safe within their own four walls.

 

In doing so, many companies will come to realize that they need far less office space than previously imagined. Policymakers and business leaders also understand that COVID-19 is unlikely to be the last pandemic – and understand that a shift towards improved readiness via better remote work policies and flexible workspaces can mitigate loss of life and economic losses in the future.

 

2. People Can’t Work from Home Forever (and Many Can’t Work at All)

 

The shift towards popularizing remote work and improving its efficiency (via improved telecommunication tools, improved infrastructure, as well as policies to assist employees in setting up basic home offices) will undoubtedly remain a major topic for the next few years.

 

However, it’s also important to remember that only a portion of the American workforce can operate at 80-100 percent efficiency remotely. Millions of Americans need to interact with customers and/or equipment to do their job. And while certain jobs are at least partially possible remotely (such as via telehealth and virtual reality), the post-COVID world will not see the disappearance of the office, or urban infrastructure such as public transport. Inequality is at an all-time high.

 

Meanwhile, many of us who have been working from home are beginning to feel the strain of spending 24/7 within the same four walls. And while many employees will relish the option of spending a few days a week working from home, few will consider staying at home indefinitely (though most will certainly want the option).

 

Workspaces must be adapted to accommodate fewer workers in a safer way, encouraging many to continue to minimize their contact with others (particularly in crowds) without ignoring the fact that millions of Americans must come to work to have a job at all.

 

 

3. Companies Need Less Office Space

 

When it comes to office spaces, coworking spaces are better at dealing with the unique demands of a post-pandemic world. This is by taking the hassle and cost of managing and cleaning a large office space for a reduced workforce out of the hands of companies, allowing them to save massively on the overhead of a post-COVID office while reaping its benefits.

 

Larger firms are working on “de-densifying” the office, having fewer employees return, and investing in safer office spaces. Big companies and small businesses alike can turn towards coworking spaces to provide safe and frequently maintained flexible office space for workers who need to cooperate in-person for a set time.

 

Fewer costs, fewer overhead, fewer people coming in, fewer headaches. Companies will seek ways to grow their business without clustering their employees, and without encouraging employees to rely on mass-transit to come to work.

 

Flexible office spaces can rent out space to companies as needed, allowing them to cut costs on space they will no longer require as a larger portion of their workforce works remotely. Larger companies can also spread their forces out between different spaces rather than investing in one large space, allowing them to maintain a greater presence in more cities and regions at once.

 

4. Cost-Effective and Safe Office Spaces Will Become a Premium

 

It is neither simple nor cheap to keep an office hygienic and safe during (and after) a pandemic. But coworking businesses are well-positioned to invest heavily in air filtration, individual private offices, better cleaning protocols, and other renovations to implement and enforce social distancing even after a COVID-19 vaccine has dropped.

 

At first glance, it would seem like a worldwide pandemic would deal a serious blow to the coworking world. After all, it’s a nascent industry, and “shared workplaces” sound less hygienic and more dangerous than the status quo. Furthermore, most of us are still busy staying at home and trying to minimize our contact with other people, and offices (as well as the associated commute) serve as vectors for disease.

 

But it is exactly that point that makes innovation in the workplace such an important part of the post-COVID world, both during the immediate recovery period and in the long-term. The ‘status quo’ is the corporate open office, a perfect storm for infection and unhygienic behavior, sharing a single HVAC system and lacking the frequent turnover that helps make constant roving cleaning much simpler to schedule and enforce in coworking spaces.

 

Categories
Work Environment

How to Give Constructive Feedback Over Video Calls

As a leader, it’s imperative to give constructive feedback to your employees in order to solidify a strong foundation for business success. But what’s the best way to do this through a video call? Follow the tips below.

 

While many of us have taken the necessary steps to adjust to the new day-to-day, some difficulties may remain – particularly for those among us who are still working from home. Communicating effectively with your coworkers and employees can be a serious challenge under normal circumstances, and unfortunately, we are still far from normal circumstances.

 

Adaptability is a key skill for any business aiming to thrive during this crisis. And overcoming the challenge of communication is an important first step towards acting more cohesively and avoiding the pitfalls of remote work. This includes increased burnout and miscommunication.

 

This is true for management and workers alike, as every member of an organization must learn to communicate effectively with their teammates and coworkers to ask the right questions and give the right answers. Miscommunication remains a big issue as many of us continue to rely on technologies that we might not be completely familiar with.

 

But when conversations are particularly sensitive, clarity is of the utmost importance. When aiming to provide feedback to an employee or ask for feedback from an employer, there can be no room for uncertainty or miscommunication.

 

Here’s how you can improve on your feedback, and make sure it comes across as intended.

 

Make Sure Your Tech is Working

 

The fundamentals are important. You can’t have an earnest conversation with someone when there are ten walls between you two in the form of terrible mic quality, audio lag, video stutters, or far more egregious issues such as a muted mic or broken camera.

 

An important video call isn’t something you should start with a troubleshooting session.

 

Always do a test call beforehand, calling a friend or family member to make sure that everything is going smoothly and that there are no major issues on your end. Check the video feed, check your internet connection, and check your mic quality. Test the delay between saying something and it being heard by the other party.

 

At this point, you should have a decent quality microphone, especially if video calls are a frequent business matter. Be sure that your words are coming across clearly and without any stutter, echo, or significant distortion.

 

Establish Etiquette for Video Calls

 

Just as there should be a basic standard for the quality of your equipment, there should be a basic standard for video calling etiquette. It’s all fine and good to enjoy some of the perks of remote work, such as the ability to work from home in your PJs.

 

But when we let all pretenses of professionalism break down completely, it can become difficult to distinguish between work and personal life, let alone friend and employee.

 

Putting a little effort into your presentation on camera (and asking the same of anyone working with you or for you) also shows that you care. Next, it also helps you avoid camera issues that might come across as unprofessional, intimidating, or embarrassing, including poor posture, angle, and lighting.

 

Sit up straight, face the camera head-on, speak clearly, and hopefully find a corner of the home where you can be alone without any significant background disturbances.

 

 

Figure Out Your Core Message

 

Before scheduling the call, it helps to sit down and figure out exactly what it is you want to address. Boil things down into simple sentences and keep them on-hand for whenever you feel that the conversation is trailing off.

 

You can even go so far as to write up a script for how you’d like the conversation to go. However, even if you plan on just having an organic face-to-face, it’s important to keep your agenda in mind (and on hand).

 

Make Your Intentions Clear and Schedule the Call 

 

One of the important keys to providing constructive feedback is honesty, and by extension, trust. To that end, this isn’t something you should spring on someone. If you’re planning to schedule a call to provide feedback over a recent project or someone’s performance over the past few months, make it clear upfront that this is what you intend to do.

 

It doesn’t have to be threatening or intimidating. Managers often feel that they’re harsher with their employees than they really are, and they fail to realize that employees typically welcome constructive criticism more than praise. That isn’t to say that recognition is overrated – but criticism is more helpful, especially when it provides information that helps employees do better.

 

Give Honest Feedback 

 

One of the worst things you can do when offering constructive feedback is coating it in praise and positivity. This so called “compliment sandwich” ends up muddling the message by taking away from the key point (helping an employee improve) by confusing them with talk about how they’ve been doing so great.

 

Separate recognition and criticism. There’s a time for praise, and a time for reflection and re-evaluation.

 

Hear Them Out as Well

 

Constructive criticism is much more effective when you have a better handle on your employee’s situation and turn the call into a two-way exchange. A manager’s job isn’t to squeeze blood from a stone, but to help individuals thrive at work, so the whole organization can thrive together.

 

That means listening to your employees, and maybe getting a better feel for how current circumstances have been affecting them and their performance, and how you might be able to help them perform better at work.

 

If they’ve been struggling with the latest project because of a personal problem (such as a sick spouse), you could offer to give them some time off for a few days so they can focus their energies on taking care of things at home, so they can come back ready to rededicate their attention to work. Criticism isn’t just about telling someone that they’ve been slacking (they likely already know that) – it’s about finding ways together to improve their performance.

 

Follow-Up is Critical

 

It’s an easy mistake to make, but never assume that criticism or feedback ends with a simple one-and-done video call.

 

End the first call by scheduling another in a few days’ time, and expect to check in on your employee at least a few times over the next few weeks to monitor their progress and make sure that your message has come across – while giving them ample opportunity to communicate with you and let you know what they might need to do better for the company.

 

By scheduling a follow-up immediately, you let them know that this is an ongoing process that you’re willing to dedicate time to, and that your professional relationship (and their career) is something you find important enough to invest in, rather than just giving them a simple warning (before eventually letting them go).


Read More:

How to Run a Productive Virtual Meeting