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Business Trends

4 Tips to Mastering Remote Communication

Are you a master of remote communication? There are many tools and tricks people should know, especially when we communicate this way every day. Read on.

 

The coronavirus pandemic has forced companies, schools, and institutions all around the world to adopt remote communication at a greater pace and scale than ever anticipated. While this has contributed to a slowdown in the economy, the long-term benefits of this step forward in digitalization may yet begin to unfold. But before we can make the most of the benefits of high-quality remote communication, we need to learn how best to harness it.

 

Despite months and months of calls, meetings, and classes held entirely online, many people still struggle to make the most of virtual telecommunication tools, collaborative software, and other remote communication options.

 

While some are heavily anticipating the return to the office as COVID restrictions loosen and transmission rates go down, the reality remains that many others would enjoy petitioning for a continued work-from-home or work-from-anywhere arrangement, and the near future of the workplace looks a lot more hybrid or remote than purely traditional office setups.

 

Regardless of whether you’re a fan of remote communication or are desperately wishing for things to go back to 90 percent face-to-face interaction, mastering the tools of the digital trade will undoubtedly become more and more of a prerequisite in workspaces and office environments throughout the world. Let’s go over a handful of basic tips for mastering remote communication in the post-pandemic world.

 

1. Improve Your Camera Angles and Lighting

 

One thing everyone has had to tackle during the early days of the pandemic is finding ways to make oneself presentable over Zoom, Microsoft Teams, and other video communication platforms while working from home.

 

If you haven’t made the most of what’s available to you to appear professional even when working from your bedroom, note that you can drastically improve your appearance and professionalism while on a video call with just a few pointers:

 

      • Face a window during daytime or use a desk light behind your camera to illuminate your face.
      • Take note of your posture and camera placement to center your head and provide a good shoulder cutoff of your video feed.
      • Look into the camera or situate the camera close to where your eyes would be on the monitor, rather than off to the side.
      • Never film yourself from a low angle. Keep the camera at eye or nose level.

 

An interesting caveat to keep in mind is that there is room for discussion on whether video is always necessary when communicating internally. High quality video feeds can greatly improve collaborative efforts by allowing for the processing of non-verbal cues within small teams. But when teams get larger, it becomes significantly harder to both manage and interpret non-verbal cues in the group, while maintaining the bandwidth needed to support high-quality audio and video.

 

2. Be Mindful of Tone in Non-Verbal Communication

 

Tone matters. And when communicating non-verbally, it matters almost more than it would in a face-to-face or audio conversation. It can become hard to convey the right subtext purely via chat or mail, so take the time to reread your messages back to yourself and be mindful of unintentionally negative cues.

 

Aside from the tone of your writing, there are a few other non-verbal cues that you want to pay attention to.

 

You can easily send the wrong message by ignoring your coworkers’ boundaries, sending messages late at night or long after hours, or by reacting non-verbally (rolling your eyes, scoffing) during a large video call while forgetting that the camera is on you (yes, this has happened to people).

 

3. Keep Conversations Within Their Respective Platforms

 

A simple yet important tip is to avoid jumping between platforms when discussing something with a colleague. If you have continued questions about a project you are working on together, ask them through the same channel you use to work on the project together.

 

Don’t start up another email thread to retread older topics. One of the benefits of using multiple different communications platforms is that you can sort and review conversations, and go over old messages to remember what someone said, how they worded it, or check when certain information was conveyed.

 

By spreading a conversation out over multiple different platforms, you make it harder both for yourself and your colleague to keep track of what has been said, and when it was said.

 

4. Get Comfortable with Remote Communication

 

There are simply too many benefits and conveniences to remote communication to imagine that it would become less relevant once things return “back to normal”.

 

It’s much more likely that companies that were forced to digitalize faster during the pandemic will continue to adapt to technological changes, and adopt improvements in remote communication in order to expand their talent pools, create remote and hybrid teams, and benefit from the flexibility that comes with virtual workspaces, coworking spaces, and collaborative software.

 

With that in mind, the most important tip for any professional looking to improve on their remote communication skills is to make more use them, both professionally and in casual settings.

 

Improve your written communication skills and language skills, especially in multilingual teams where you might need to respond to emails and chat messages in multiple different languages.

 

Learn more about how you can convey subtext and nuance through text in ways that help your coworkers feel comfortable around you, avoids miscommunication, and breaks the ice.

 

Make the most out of digital watercoolers and get comfortable with the camera and mic through shared lunch meetings, weekend gaming sessions, and watercooler chats.

 

Finally, understand that with remote communication comes the reality of non-standard work hours and flexible boundaries. That being said, when managing workers remotely, remember one of the golden rules of working remotely: focus on tasks and results, not micromanagement.

 

Measure a coworker’s ability to meet the challenges of their job via deliverables, and keep in mind that remote work can be both equal parts distracting and incredibly productive, due to its flexibility.

 

Regardless of how future social networks and software will change the way we interact over the internet, communicating and collaborating across oceans and continents is here to stay.

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Business Trends Office Space

5 Remote Work Models to Consider

Since the pandemic, it’s safe to say that remote work models are here to stay. But which one is for you and your business? Read below for all the details of the different types.

 

Even as we approach an end to the pandemic, many businesses in and outside of tech have realized the efficiency and potential for remote work – if managed and implemented properly.

 

The pandemic has taught us to diversify and innovate on how we work, whether from home or through coworking spaces, in work cafes, in the outdoors, or in offices with mandated social distancing. We have learned to better communicate and collaborate over great distances, improve our efficiency in the absence of daily physical meetings, better integrate virtual toolsets, and benefit from the flexibility of remote work and its many different forms.

 

Over these last few months (and over the course of the last few years), there are distinct remote work models that have come to the forefront as effective ways to integrate remote work into any given team. While remote work can be approached with complete flexibility, most remote work models can either be categorized as completely remote, split or distributed, hybrid, or virtual/remote-centric.

 

Each of these work models have their pros and cons, and managers as well as business leadership need to take into consideration how their team best functions, under what conditions their core talents thrive the most, and to what degree they might be willing to adopt or invest into any given remote work model. Let’s go over the basics.

 

1. Fully Remote and Asynchronous Work Model

 

A fully remote and asynchronous work model is usually tilted towards teams that operate across the world, with talents stationed in different corners of the globe, collaborating asynchronously through email, group chats, cloud storage, team task management systems, and more.

 

Video conferences or live calls might be few and far between, planned ahead and reserved for moments where the whole team needs to come together to answer questions quickly, solve problems immediately, or come up with a solution on the fly.

 

      • Pros and Cons

 

A fully remote team can completely embrace the freedoms provided by a business that operates remotely, through total workplace flexibility. This means that when you’re working in a fully remote team, you can work from anywhere: be that your home office, a coworking space, a local café, or a park. Furthermore, you can live anywhere, and as a manager or entrepreneur, you can source your talents from all over the world without a single care for issues like commuting.

 

But there are distinct cons to an asynchronous work model, as well as one that is fully remote. For one, it can be difficult to get things done right away. With proper management, you can ensure that your team meets all their deadlines. But if something comes up and needs to get fixed immediately, you will have to wait until your CSS specialist, or your developer wakes up and gets caught up with the situation.

 

In many cases, the boundaries between work and life can blur awfully hard when working in an asynchronous team.

 

While there is an understanding that everyone should take time for themselves and be offline from time to time, it becomes almost normal to check into work at odd hours, stay up much later than usual to resolve an issue because you had to wait for someone in another time zone to show up to work, and there are far more issues with communication and the team’s ability to react to problems.

 

With careful management, and certain considerations (such as ensuring that everyone on the team is online and working together at some point in the day, for at least an hour or so), some of these issues can be alleviated.

 

2. Fully Remote and Synchronous Work Model

 

Another fully remote work model is one that specializes in staying remote but working synchronously. In this case, the team collaborates on a similar or even exact schedule, despite minor (or massive) time zone differences. This might mean that some team members are stuck in a night shift.

 

Ideally, however, remote teams that work synchronously try to source their talent from areas in and around the same time zone, give or take a few hours, to minimize needing to put team members through the stress of long-term nocturnal living.

 

      • Pros and Cons

 

Otherwise, the pros and cons are much of the same. Fully remote teams may lack a centralized location, and because it doesn’t make much sense to be both fully remote and have a professional location, many businesses that embrace a fully remote work model lack the means to physically host clients, enjoy the benefits of face-to-face onboarding, or grow a company culture through personal interaction.

 

Some of these cons can be alleviated through a virtual office, which may exist solely to provide a place to meet and talk with clients, as well as intercept calls and relay packages.

 

3. Hybrid Work Model

 

Hybrid work models blend the benefits of a remote work model with the benefits of having an office, usually by having at least a portion of the teamwork from a central location (usually team managers) while individual team members work from home, or from different coworking spaces, nearby or abroad.

 

The exact definition depends on personal preference. Some people maintain that a hybrid work model requires at least 50 percent of a company’s workforce to work from a centralized, commercial office location (regardless of whether that space is a flex space or coworking space or owned/leased commercial property).

 

In many cases, hybrid teams form when a company realizes that it cannot serve its clients solely with local talent. In that case, a company may source remote workers to supplement the main office staff.

 

      • Pros and Cons

 

Hybrid teams only take limited advantage of the benefits of remote work, as the majority of the staff is still working from a central location.

 

This may be a popular model for most businesses interested in getting their toe in the water, but it limits the flexibility afforded by a true work-from-anywhere model.

 

4. Remote-First Work Model

 

This is a hybrid work model that prioritizes remote work, with a small subset of employees working from a centralized location. There are many benefits to a remote-first hybrid work model.

 

      • Pros and Cons

 

Remote-first work models allow team members to report in from time to time and collaborate mostly virtually. However, it may not be an ideal fit for team members who work best with other people and need a place where they can socially interact with other team members beyond the limits of a computer screen.

 

5. Distributed/Split Work Model

 

In a distributed work model, teams are split up into multiple physical locations, with a few remote team members. Most teams, however, collaborate physically and on-location in offices or coworking spaces around the region, country, or world, and work with the other teams through virtual meetings and the occasional physical event.

 

      • Pros and Cons

 

It’s expensive to fund and manage multiple commercial spaces. Coworking spaces relieve a lot of the managerial and financial pressure but stationing multiple teams across multiple coworking spaces is still more expensive than having a coworking hub, with multiple remote teams. But for many businesses, this blend of coworking and remote workspaces helps improve productivity and create a more defined and cohesive company identity.

 

Which Work Model Best Suits You?

 

Finding a model that best suits you can be difficult, and it depends on the size of your business, your resources, where your team members live and work from, and what your goals are for the growth of your company.

 

If you’re interested in ways to expand your team and benefit from both a physical location and a largely remote work model, you should consider leveraging coworking spaces.

 

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Work Environment

9 Tips to Getting Work Done While Remote

Getting work done is difficult while remote, especially with more surrounding distractions. Follow these helpful tips below in order to adjust to your out of the office environment.

 

One of the bigger challenges of the past year has been getting work done while remote. Although many might have cherished the chance to work from home back in 2019, the harsh reality is that without major preparations, remote work is a double-edged sword for most.

 

It’s difficult to successfully separate family life from work life, stick to your regular hours, and get motivated to work while socially isolated. When you do finally make the switch, you get the opposite problem of struggling to unwind and being more likely to suffer from burnout.

 

The option of working from home is ideal for those who need to juggle their work-life responsibilities with certain family responsibilities, like a new child or a sick partner. In the short-term, and with proper preparation, it can be incredibly productive while saving both the company and the worker a lot of time and resources.

 

But without the necessary precautions, remote work can be substantially more difficult than getting things done in an organized office environment.

 

Here are some important tips:

 

Start with a Productive Morning Routine

 

A thorough schedule can take the guesswork out of remote work and help you regain the sort of structure you need to remain productive – and it starts from the moment you get out of bed.

 

Start by setting up a consistent morning routine that leaves you awake, refreshed, and ready for work. The perfect morning routine begins the night before. Try to prioritize a consistent sleep schedule that allows you to wake up at a set time, preferably even without an alarm.

 

Our body clock responds well to consistent sleep, and once you incorporate great sleep hygiene into your life, you can start to wake up feeling ready for the day ahead. Consider a light ten-minute exercise routine to prepare your joints and back for the day. Try something small and simple, like a handful of desk job-oriented mobility exercises or beginner yoga poses. Even minimal exercise can help you get alert and ready for the first tasks of the day.

 

Regardless of how you set up your morning routine, consistency is key. Get a feeling for what you can and can’t feasibly work into your morning. Give a little leeway here and there, and stick to it.

 

Create and Stick to a Work Schedule

 

Past the morning routine is your actual work schedule – and here, too, consistency is key. Consider your crucial tasks for the day ahead and slot them into feasible chunks to encourage productive work. Rather than approaching the workday as a single unit, approach each task individually, and calculate roughly how many tasks you absolutely need to fill into the day, and how many you’d want to accomplish additionally.

 

A consistent morning routine and work schedule can also help you separate your home and family life from your work life and give you a strict boundary for when work begins and ends.

 

Consequently, avoid unnecessary overtime. Some things can’t be put off until the morning, but if you catch yourself constantly drawing your workday out, you’ll begin to blur the line between work and home life, and negatively impact your productivity in the long-term.

 

Identify and Insert Energizing Breaks

 

An energizing lunch break can go a long way towards improving your productivity by giving you a strict period of time to look forward to early in the day and use as a means to get in a quick meal, take your mind off work, and jump back into your next task refreshed for the rest of the afternoon and evening.

 

Ideas of energizing activities to try during break time include walking the dog, calling a friend, tending to a home garden, or doing a quick chore (if these help you practice mindfulness).

 

Try to Separate Work from Home (Physically)

 

If possible, consider setting up a home office closed off from the rest of the home. Turn a guest room or storage room into your new office and make “showing up at work” in the morning a part of your routine. Separating your work from home is an important part of building and maintaining the boundary between your work life and home life.

 

Another alternative to separate your work life from your home life is through a coworking space. Many businesses that have nominally reopened are still working at half capacity at best, in order to reduce the contact between employees.

 

Coworking spaces have become an alternative for employees and entrepreneurs who must work outside of the office but can’t feasibly set up a decent working environment at home.

 

Whether it’s an unstable internet connection, the many distractions of family life, or just the mindset of trying to get productive in the same space usually reserved for relaxation and unwinding, coworking spaces provide the perfect alternative.

 

 

Take Those Sick Days

 

We might feel inclined to do more work while sick when we’re working remotely, because our jobs are a little more accessible, and no one likes wasting sick days. But learn to differentiate between a small headache and something you should seriously take the day to recover from.

 

Treating your mind and body with care is an important part of staying productive – unnecessarily drawing out sickness can negatively impact the quality of your work.

 

Use the Opportunity to Expand Your Skillset

 

Cutting out an unnecessary commute can save you a lot of time – time you can put to good use elsewhere, such as in your own education. The world is rapidly changing, and any self-sufficient professional should do the best they can to learn about how their profession is impacted by market changes and new technologies.

 

Don’t wait on mandatory training periods to learn more – be proactive about your training and arm yourself with the ability to seek better opportunities wherever they present themselves.

 

Communicate with Your Colleagues and Managers Often

 

Social isolation and loneliness are more than just simple causes of stress for many workers – they’re also leading to the alienation between employees and their employers. If your manager isn’t proactive about establishing steady contact between colleagues and different team members, establish that contact yourself.

 

Overcommunicate and keep others up to speed with what you’re doing, track your tasks over the intracompany network or group chat, and make friends within the virtual office.

 

Identify and Eliminate Your Most Common Distractions

 

Many of us have our own unique weaknesses when it comes to work distractions. A crying toddler or a newborn puppy? Other distractions are more predictable and controllable, like the need to doomscroll or check your email.

 

Identify avoidable and common distractions and try out different measures to banish them, from working them into a reward system for your daily tasks, to utilizing productivity apps to eliminate these pesky bad habits.

 

End with an Evening Routine

 

The day should end the way it started – with a simple, easy-to-vary routine. Evening routines can help us shut off the “work brain” and create a boundary to eliminate and avoid work conversations and discussions until the next day and give us time to slip into a different headspace and unwind with the family before bed.

 

Structure and consistency are important for any productive working environment, and you can create both yourself, whether at home or anywhere else.

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Work Environment

Working From Home Affecting Team Collaboration, What’s the Solution?

Have you seen a difference in team collaboration due to working from home? If productivity is lacking because of this, then learn more about the solution below.

 

The benefits of remote work are beginning to drop off, and some of its long-term issues – especially in the face of poor and rushed implementation – are beginning to shine through. It’s no secret that the current crisis has pushed countless businesses into panic mode to adapt and overcome.

 

However, that initial rush of productivity has since passed, and many businesses and employees are reckoning with the long-term impact of social isolation, poor virtual team cohesion, indirect collaboration, and the impact of sheer physical distance.

 

Many businesses rely on the cohesion between individual talents, coming together to collaborate, brainstorm, and apply both spontaneous ideas and careful plans.

 

Working from home has shown to greatly affect this collaborative spirit, putting a hamper on both individual and team productivity in certain cases, and greatly impacting the overall economy.

 

For businesses worried about the safety and health implications of a full return to the office, giving up entirely on remote work is simply not possible. So, what’s the solution?

 

How Working From Home is Impacting Teams

 

The most immediate and measurable impact that working from home has had on many businesses is a general drop in long-term productivity, not necessarily due to fewer hours or lack of oversight, but more directly due to:

 

 

While teams can function remotely, many teams cannot thrive remotely, and that distinction is critical. Furthermore, the impact of these issues is felt more strongly over time as they can lead to eroding organizational health. In addition, a drop in employee engagement.

 

Individuals within a company simply feel less like they’re part of something greater, and struggle to identify and communicate with their coworkers, and the organization in general.

 

Another issue to highlight is the long-term impact of a so-called “lost year” on the global economy. Not only in terms of measurable metrics, but also in terms of lost ideas and a slump in innovation as talented individuals lose their jobs, cannot capitalize on ideas, suffer from reduced productivity due to at-home distractions, or simply never develop them to begin with due to a loss of in-person collaboration. This impact may be felt throughout the rest of the decade.

 

Addressing Team Collaboration in Remote Work

 

It’s important to stress that there is no real replacement for in-person collaboration and office face time. Remote working tools may help businesses stay afloat and keep their workers employed, but remain a poor substitute. On the other hand, a full return to the office isn’t feasible just yet, due to the very real dangers posed by the continued risk of infection in densely populated workspaces.

 

A balanced approach might be one of the only alternatives, wherein offices are sparsely reoccupied, while companies leverage both critical information technology as well as empty and existing shared workspaces. This is to help their workers take turns in a step-by-step return to more in-office collaboration, while continuing to benefit from the option of remote work.

 

Some companies may never see their workers totally return to the old system, and that may be a good thing, as it can give certain employees the ability to work from wherever they feel most comfortable, cutting down on time wasted in commutes without losing out on the benefits of regular team collaboration and social interaction.

 

Embracing Coworking During This Crisis

 

Coworking will play an important role in implementing a workspace policy wherein companies can facilitate in-office interaction and collaboration without putting their workers at risk.

 

Companies might rotate some employees through available and nearby spaces while keeping others remote, enabling in-office collaboration through a variety of spaces without excessively packing a single workspace with a dangerous number of workers.

 

This will be especially important for onboarding new employees and helping those who thrive the most via collaborative and interactive work, rather than individual and isolated work. Work styles are a measurable and important part of organizing and managing a team, whether remotely or at the office, and certain employees do better in a group than others.

 

There’s a clear trend towards wishing for a return to the office, although there’s little consensus on how exactly to approach this return safely. Different hygiene concepts may minimize danger, but not eliminate it outright. Some industries are far more at risk than others, and different regions and industries require different rules and considerations.

 

What is uniquely applicable to everyone at this time, however, is a need for adaptability and flexibility in the face of an evolving situation. Even now that the development and release of a viable vaccine draws near, there’s no practical way to tell when things will be back to “normal”, or what that might look like.

 

 

Final Thought

 

Concepts such as social distancing, more rigorous cleaning protocols, and a greater reliance on digital collaboration and communications tools may be here to stay. We may need to embrace terms such as “de-densification” and move away from the cramped open office model, towards a more modular, safer, divided, and shared floor plan.

 

While it’s clear that a 100 percent remote model isn’t viable for most businesses, let alone every business, companies may very well embrace completely new work-from-anywhere policies. This is in order to keep their main offices sparsely populated, and help protect employees.

 

Businesses, particularly startups, will see critical office space costs continue to rise as the economy reopens and recovers from the virus, and may have very well realized that some employees suffer the most from working remotely – while others seem to thrive on it, and do quite well spending most of the work week at home.

 

Finding ways to cater to individual employee needs while maintaining and improving team cohesion and collaborative efficacy may be one of the biggest and most important challenges to deal with throughout the coming year. Shared workspaces, alongside a suite of collaboration tools and new concepts, will remain a big part of the conversation.

 


Read More:

How to Stay Productive in a New Working World

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Office Space

New Workplace Strategies Can Help Expand Flexibility

As we adjust and live in our new normal with new workplace strategies in place, it’s important to be aware of its expanding benefits now and for the future. Read more below.

 

If current polls are to tell us anything, it’s that many employees wish for greater workplace flexibility moving forward. Particularly, if it can help provide them with more safety in these turbulent times.

 

Calls for more flexibility, however, can be interpreted in many different ways. And it’s important to have clear strategies in place to understand how to best implement post-COVID workplace guidelines.

 

The main takeaway from the data that’s been gathered in the face of the ongoing pandemic is that people want a better mix of remote and office-based work moving forward. The ability to control how, when, and where they work is a benefit many employees would like to retain. Even more interestingly, it seems that many employers agree with these sentiments.

 

It seems that many people want the ability to work from both home and the office, depending on the circumstances and needs demanded by their work and personal lives.

 

Furthermore, companies are looking for ways to safely bring employees back into the office without jeopardizing their individual safety, while making the most of the space they already have. Reconciling remote work and office work might not be as difficult as first anticipated, given the growing role that coworking spaces may play in mediating between the two.

 

Coworking Spaces Can Help Maintain Social Distancing 

 

Companies seek to cut down on the number of workers coming back into work while keeping many workers involved via remote work. The need for flexible spaces to provide an in-between is greater than ever.

 

Coworking spaces present the perfect opportunity for small and large companies to rent space on flexible terms for workers who need to work in groups or work closer to the main office, without crowding the office or requiring them to work solely from home.

 

Coworking spaces provide an excellent third place between home and office. They are perfectly positioned to not only provide commercial real estate, but also provide services essential to ensuring that their spaces remain safe. This includes strict social distancing guidelines, individual offices and private spaces, separated and well-filtered HVAC systems, better total airflow, roving cleaning crews, mask and glove policies, and much more.

 

Coworking Spaces Can Helm the Responsibility of a Clean and Safe Environment 

 

While companies are still scrambling to find the right way to deal with the increased demand for flexibility now and moving forward, coworking spaces can helm the responsibilities of keeping a safe and clean environment.

 

Companies with existing office space will have to continue to COVID-proof their own space, but they won’t have to worry about buying or leasing even more office space to support de-densification, or worry about forcing a large portion of their workforce to work only from home.

 

Coworking spaces and flex spaces provide the optional space needed for any company that seeks to keep the number of workers working at the main office sparse while giving other employees the option to work at a coworking space or from home. To that end, the flexible and short-term lease and rent options most coworking spaces provide are excellent for addressing a business’ immediate needs and providing the level of flexibility needed in these uncertain and volatile times.

 

In a hub-and-spoke model, where companies maintain a centralized location and utilize smaller spaces as spokes in a wheel, coworking and flex spaces will remain and continue to be a useful service for companies seeking ways to reduce overhead costs and outsource the creation of a safe workplace dedicated to employee wellness and health.

 

 

Employees Want Flexible Hours to Accompany Flexible Spaces

 

Our time away from the office has led to many managers and employers finding themselves uncertain of how to track their employees’ hours, and instead rely on tracking their results. This has paved the way for the idea of revisiting the working week and judging an employee’s performance on the results they bring rather than the sheer volume of the hours they put into their job.

 

In this sense, employees are also looking for greater freedom to attend to their private and personal lives, destress, and find more time for themselves and family. In turn, seeking the kind of security and serenity needed for greater productivity at work, and a more efficient use of company time.

 

Work-from-anywhere policies can also include an amendment to the working week and develop better concepts of productivity based on data.

 

Developing new ways to track employee productivity and promote wellness and health first, in order to cultivate greater results, can also reflect well on a company’s priorities and help workers feel that their employers are putting the wellbeing of their team ahead of the business’ bottom line, without sacrificing profit, simply by placing greater trust in the team’s own motivation to do good work, and to work effectively.

 

The Ecological Footprint of Flexible Work

 

Another boon provided by a tenuous return to the office and new ideas of what it might mean to put flexibility at the forefront of emerging workplace concepts is that companies can begin to reduce their environmental impact and save time in the process.

 

Reduced commutes and reduced office space translates into reduced emissions and less resources needed for energy and heating, while keeping employees interconnected and allowing them to work together, even during emergency situations and weather disasters.

 

Remote Work and the Future

 

Much is still uncertain about how COVID will continue to impact our work culture, and our workspaces. But we know that, as we’re getting through this first inning, remote work is more important than ever. And much of the progress we’ve made towards adapting to it will not be lost the instant things go back to some degree of normalcy.

 

To that end, many workplace strategies will rely on remote work as an option for further de-densifying the office space, cutting down on the amount of space needed for a company to function, and placing greater value in virtual communication and collaboration technologies.

 

Remote work will not replace the office, and for some people it will always be an inferior option. But for those who seek the flexibility to work from home or anywhere else, it’s more than likely that many smaller and larger businesses will try to accommodate that wish moving forward, for both the safety of their workers and for the benefits that remote work can bring to the table.

 


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4 Reasons COVID-19 Made Coworking Spaces Important

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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

Categories
Work Environment

5 Ways to Boost Employee Wellbeing Remotely

Working from home has its benefits, yet can also be a little too stifling. And in order to be productive, we need to be sure we are in good mental and physical health. Read below on different ways to boost employee wellbeing.

 

Remote work has been growing in relevance for years, but it remained relatively niche in 2019. Then COVID-19 gripped the world, and for the past few months, over half of the American workforce spent most of their workdays getting things done from home.

 

Though not an ideal showcase of the benefits of remote working, surveys have been able to capture how this spontaneous and sudden shift in working conditions has affected productivity, wellbeing, and more.

 

80 percent note that they’re better able to handle and manage interruptions from coworkers. 80 percent like being able to spend more time with family. Two thirds feel more productive. Two thirds also say they still prefer the office (or any workplace, like a coworking spot) from the casual atmosphere of home.

 

While the freedom to choose to work remotely has been a big perk for millions of Americans in the past few years, it’s not any easier or harder than working at the office. It is, however, substantially different. COVID-19 has thrust millions of Americans into a position where they and their managers had to work together quickly to adapt to a completely new set of circumstances and continue to serve clients and customers.

 

As a result, many have been working longer hours while struggling with loneliness and isolation. In turn, companies have stepped up to the plate to improve their employees’ wellbeing remotely.

 

Here are a 5 ways they have been doing so.

 

1. Promoting Physical Health

 

One of the best things to do for the mind is to take care of the body. While most American workers aren’t as physically fit as the surgeon general recommends, they were still getting more exercise in the pre-COVID-19 days as a result of frequent commutes, walking through the office, taking the stairs, and having access to the gym. Easier access to fresh food and produce via farmer’s markets and supermarkets also meant an easier time eating healthy.

 

Ever since COVID-19, however, the likelihood of relying on online food delivery services (particularly takeout food) has greatly increased. The combination of poorer food choices and far fewer options for movement and exercise help contribute to the isolating and negative mental effects of lockdown.

 

Some companies have taken the necessary steps to encourage their employees to get active with at-home alternatives, offering workout regimens (with stat tracking for competitive employees), and online yoga and HIIT classes, as well as helping employees organize online grocery purchases and share recipes.

 

2. Frequent Breaks from the Screen

 

For every hour of productive work, take a quarter hour of time off. That rule of thumb only serves as a broad guideline for how to make effective use of breaks, but it’s common knowledge that people don’t work through their entire shift remaining perfectly focused, but instead break their day down into a series of tasks with a few minutes spent “refreshing” between tasks.

 

Rather than refreshing on a Slack channel or on Facebook, however, managers would do well to encourage their workers to take their breaks away from the computer and phone – looking out a window, taking a short break to walk around, exercising, grabbing a snack, or just taking a few minutes to read something or stand on the balcony. If you enjoy working in shorter spurts, take shorter breaks.

 

If you’re taking a break every 90 minutes, consider taking a few more minutes off. The key to being productive with a break is to clearly separate work and break time. And to learn to “turn on” and focus solely on the tasks at hand whenever break time is over.

 

3. Minimize “Presenteeism” By Assessing Employee Needs Individually

 

Presenteeism is a phenomenon typically described at the office, where a worker shows up for work but is barely “there.” They may be distracted by problems at home, or by mental or physical discomfort, or by a sense of disenchantment with the work they’re doing.

 

To minimize presenteeism, maximize communication. Managers and leaders can consider taking the time out of their day every few weeks to communicate individually with each employee, and get an update on how they’re doing, whether they’re bothered by something at work or at home, and whether they need help in any shape or form.

 

Not only does a personal conversation with the boss help show employees that you care, but it also serves to give you a better sense of what every member of your organization needs to perform better.

 

4. Offer Comprehensive Telehealth Services

 

Research shows that mental telehealth services can be just as helpful as face-to-face conversations and therapies in cases of depression and other common mental health issues.

 

As workers face an increasing risk of developing stress-related problems as a result of the sudden shift towards quarantine and total isolation at home, many will continue to need both physical and mental healthcare, and telehealth services are often a great way to help workers deal with their most immediate issues.

 

5. Create an Environment for Organic Watercooler Talk & Virtual Happy Hour

 

Another way to combat isolation, loneliness, and boredom outside of work is to create an environment for virtual interaction. Established teams won’t have a hard time switching to a virtual way to communicate and stay in touch, through collaborative and communications tools like Skype and Slack. Teams that have just been formed during the COVID-19 days can still network via organized online events, such as a Friday night quiz or a virtual happy hour.

 

Final Employee Wellbeing Tip

 

There are other ways to boost employee wellbeing and morale, including basic gratitude and recognition. Many strive to feel like they’re part of something greater, and it’s harder to do so remotely. By awarding recognition individually and encouraging other managers or leadership within the organization to take special interest in every one of their employees, you foster a culture that shows it understands the role every employee plays in making a company’s success possible, and recognizes the value of every team member.

 

Categories
Office Space

6 Tips for Balancing Work and Family at Home

Balancing work and family in the same space has become the new normal. But if you’re seeking tips on how to manage the two in the best possible way, then read below for some helpful details.

 

Research indicates that remote working is not only a great way for companies to save space and reduce costs, but it tends to improve worker productivity. However, this is may be due to an added caveat: many employees who work remotely tend to work longer hours, as well as odd hours. This hints at the darker side of remote working, which is that it’s incredibly difficult to manage one’s time properly without outside structure.

 

However, this problem can be addressed by imposing some structure of your own. Remote workers can be just as productive or even more productive than their in-office counterparts and maintain their productivity over time. It will take some planning and a lot of proper time management.

 

By balancing work and family at home, remote workers can learn to have the best of both worlds, remaining productive while spending time with their loved ones and making a little time for themselves. Otherwise, the benefits of remote working can be cut short by an increased risk of burnout and overall stress.

 

1. Set Real Boundaries

 

As hard as it may be, it’s important to consistently and clearly distinguish between work and home – even when both take place within the same four walls. Set aside a room, a corner, a desk, or anything you can to designate “the office.” Set a schedule where you should not be disturbed.

 

With kids in the house, this can be very difficult. If you live with a partner or a spouse, coordinate with them to find the best three to four-hour window for you to get most of your concentrated work done, so the rest can get done intermittently between breaks. Put up a sign or lock the door or use headphones to put yourself in a different space.

 

Both physical and temporal boundaries are important for your mind to distinguish between work and home living. To that end, it’s also important to be away from work when you’re done with work. Stop checking emails or responding to messages after a set time and be sure your clients and/or employers know exactly when that time is. If needed, you can make exceptions for emergencies, but it’s important to discuss and properly define an “emergency.”

 

It might not seem like a big deal to be aware of what kind of communication you’re receiving from work while not technically working, but whenever you respond to an email or go over a coworker’s comment you are in fact “at work.” And being at work constantly is a detriment to your work-life balance.

2. Create a To-Do List

 

When at work, you’ll want to get as much done as possible. To eliminate the guilty feeling that accompanies being distracted and stuck on tasks while working from home, you need to set up a step-by-step process for each daily task and work through your responsibilities incrementally.

 

To-do lists are helpful here, as they let you quickly plan out the goals for the day, allot time for each step, and execute it without having to go over what you’ve done and what you need to do every hour or so. This will also help you jump right back into work if you’re in an environment with a lot of distractions or forced breaks, like home. You’re not always going to get your three hours of peace and silence – but if and when you do, a to-do list can help you capitalize on that time.

 

3. Start Work Very Early (or Very Late) 

 

If your sleeping schedule is inherently flawed nowadays, you might as well take advantage of that fact and figure out a good way to capitalize on the time you’re spending awake while everyone else is asleep.

 

Either pick the graveyard shift or wake up much earlier to get started with work while everyone else is still asleep. This way you can knock most of your tasks off your to-do list early on in the work day, then get to the tasks that don’t require quite as much focus throughout the rest of the work day, as everyone else is waking up.

 

 

However, don’t underestimate good sleep. A good night’s sleep is absolutely critical for mental performance, and research shows us time and time again how underrated sleep can be, and how even a little bit of restlessness can cost us cognitively.

 

If you’re waking up early to get an extra hour or two of quiet time in before everyone else is getting up, make sure you can get organized to go to bed an hour or two ahead of everyone else as well. This is easier said than done, and you will need some support from the rest of the family depending on how everyone’s household tasks are divided.

 

4. Elicit Help for Chores 

 

When working from home, one of the tougher challenges is juggling work life with the need to keep the home clean and tidy. If you and your partner are both working from home, the logical answer is to split the housework, doing a little more or a little less depending on which one of you is busier. Some weeks, the workload is heftier than other weeks. Some days, a work task might take priority and require a little overtime. Remaining flexible for any variation in schedule is important here, so don’t get too stuck on who’s job it is to do what.

 

If you have kids, find age-appropriate chores for them to complete. Young children can learn to practice cleaning up after themselves, fold clothes, bring used clothes to the hamper, and organize their rooms. Older kids can do laundry and the dishes, keep the floors and windows clean, and help in other ways.

 

5. Find an Effective & Healthy Way to Wind Down 

 

The “quarantini” has become a trend for a reason, but don’t get too attached to coping styles of that sort. They’re called “maladaptive” coping mechanisms for a reason. Finding a form of “me time” that helps you relax and is good for you can be somewhat of a challenge but is important when working from home.

 

It can be anything therapeutic from working with your hands (a little baking or stitching) to working with your mind (sudoku, puzzle games, online video games), or letting off some steam (yoga, boxing, exercise).

 

Pick a handful of simple half-an-hour to one hour-long activities that you can rely on to cap a day off, either after work or after spending time with your family and make them a priority. It might seem selfish to spend time solely for yourself when there is probably plenty else to do, but you need some way of staying sane.

6. It’s Okay Not to Be as Productive 

 

Given the context and the news around the world, as well as the sudden and abrupt shift to remote working for many, these are still extraordinary circumstances.

 

As we inevitably shift more towards a remote work environment and the continuing growth of the work-from-anywhere trend, it will be important to get used to circumstances such as these and manage an effective rhythm from home.

 

But for now, cut yourself some slack. It’s okay to take a little time to adjust and figure out the best way to organize yourself in chaotic times like these.

 

Categories
Work Environment

How to Shape Your Current Office Space for Agile Working

The aim for agile working is important now than ever before as people are currently working remotely. But what does this mean exactly? Read below for more details.

 

Despite being ubiquitous in development and office management, “agile” is a term with several different conflicting definitions. “Agile working” refers to neither agile development or agile project planning, both of which employ different methodologies to enable efficient and timely projects. No, agile working refers to a flexible and “agile” work schedule.

 

What is Agile Working?

 

What does a flexible work schedule have to do with office space and “agility”? A lot. Fully employing a flexible work schedule means embracing a more fluid office space that sees some employees working from home and some employees working from the office.

 

Rather than a chaotic hot desk philosophy or the strict and stringent rules of a traditional office, agile working policies require an office design that matches the flexibility of their worker’s schedules. This means having both open office spaces with plenty of collaborative furniture and a forward-thinking design (filled with sunlight, color, and plenty of nature), as well as closed-off and quiet private spaces for smaller teams and individual professionals to seek refuge from the social interactions of the rest of the office and get a solid hour or two of concentrated and focused work done.

 

Agile working, as a philosophy, aims to capitalize on the productivity research done of the last years. We know that workers can generally only concentrate on a single task for a short amount of time and that their productivity, creativity, and focus is improved by giving them the ability to interact with nature, daydream, and spend time with other workers, as exemplified by productivity and creativity gains seen in coworking spaces.

 

The Benefits of Flexible Working and Telecommuting

 

We know that flexible work schedules and work-from-home opportunities lead to happier workers, greater job fulfillment, lower turnover, more hours worked, and fewer breaks are taken.

 

By giving workers the option to work from home or the office, companies can also give their workers the freedom to choose their path toward productivity.

 

Better yet, opening to remote workers everywhere greatly increases the available talent pool. A company that has access to this reduces their costs and overhead by allowing them to cut down on office space and energy costs.

 

Flexible work schedules and a work-from-anywhere attitude is also greatly valued by workers everywhere, especially in a post-COVID-19 world where the value of telecommuting is more obvious than ever, and a study shows that nearly a half surveyed workers are willing to take a 10% paycheck cut to be able to work from home.

 

Remote work will only grow in prevalence and importance from here on out, but for many companies, the key doesn’t necessarily lie in going completely remote. Going 100% remote works out for many smaller businesses who don’t have the space to open up a physical office, but for other businesses with access to coworking spaces or office space of their own, adopting work-from-anywhere policies might be best instead.

 

Prioritize Quiet Spaces

 

When creating an open office, it’s important to balance the fine line between improvement and chaos. If there is no workspace available, workers can’t be productive. If they spend a considerable part of their morning finding a good place to start working, they’ll be wasting time.

 

Agile working offices need to be intuitive and must learn to blend open spaces with widely available private spaces. This is possible through remote work policies. More office space is freed up to those who prefer to work from the office rather than working from home.

 

Make sure to prioritize quiet spaces, such as smaller conference and meeting rooms or private offices, to give workers a space to retreat to when they cannot or do not want to be interrupted, and don’t have the time to entertain new ideas or conversations. These spaces should be available to workers who need to put into action what they’ve devised and talked about in open spaces.

 

 

Design for Open Collaboration

 

Collaborative furniture can help naturally bring workers together to discuss ideas and interact. Intersect collaborative furniture with natural elements to incorporate the restorative benefits of real nature and nature-inspired design, from indoor plants to a view over a park.

 

Workers should be naturally incentivized to cycle between the different areas of an office to work on ideation, brainstorming, planning, and execution – with each stage of development beginning and ending within the open and private spaces of the office.

 

The collaborative spaces are where this all begins, so they must be designed for comfort and productivity, with easy access to charging ports, plenty of tables and seats to provide space for every worker’s essential devices, and nearby planning spaces such as whiteboards, task boards, markers, and post-its.

 

Plan Ahead for the Incidental

 

Bigger companies can leverage an open design by creating spaces for departments to blend and interact. While marketing and production/development might be working on different floors, creating interactive spaces where workers are encouraged to take a break away from their offices (such as cafes, napping stations, and inter-department break rooms) allows for “incidental” collaboration, as workers from different stages of the business meet and talk about their gripes and ideas.

 

This is like the effect generated in coworking spaces, where professionals with different skillsets tend to come up with new or unique ideas via collaboration due to different backgrounds.

 

Compensating for the Cons

 

It’s no secret that there are many benefits to reap from giving workers greater freedoms and the ability to pitch more ideas and receive recognition for truly innovative concepts.

 

But there are certain drawbacks to remote working, the greatest of which is the lack of control over one’s work-life balance. Ironically, working from home often leads to a person having difficulties separating work from home. They begin to work longer hours and take fewer breaks because it becomes harder to “break out” of that mentality.

 

Workers may spike in productivity while working from home, but to keep that productivity going, companies need to help their workers better manage their time, by preparing them for a transition into working-from-home through at-home work schedules, encouraging downtimes (i.e. no calls after hours), and encouraging workers to take breaks in and out of the office, to go get some water, stretch often, or just grab some fresh air for a few minutes.

 

Offices might also encourage local remote workers to check in every few days, on days of their choosing, to keep workers from getting stuck in a rut, and to help combat a growing issue of loneliness. A stronger sense of community in and out of the office – enforced by a positive company culture for remote and non-remote workers – can help too.

 

Others manage their time more effectively, seeing the benefits of remote work without its cons – but for those who find themselves trapped in a working mentality, helping them create tangible boundaries between work and home while at home can help preserve a worker’s mental health and value in the long-term.

 

Conclusion

 

Agile working aims to capitalize on these facts by giving workers the ability to work from home, from coworking spaces, or the office – and adapting office spaces to mimic the open and collaborative nature of a coworking space.