Tag: remote working

Remote working is the way of the future

By Mark van Dijk for JSE Magazine

Unless you’re a front-line health worker or provided an essential service, you will have joined millions of employees around the world in working from home during the COVID-19 lockdown. You’ll know the feeling of ‘Zoom fatigue’. You may have met up with friends or colleagues (virtually, of course) for ‘locktails’ and ‘quarantinis’. And you’ll certainly have enjoyed the short ‘commute’ from your bed to your desk. Chances are, despite the disruptions of the working from home – WFH – revolution, you’re as productive as you’ve ever been, even though you’re not in the office.

Apart from a handful of people who continued to go into the building as an essential service, the vast majority of the JSE’s staff worked from home through the lockdown, as JSE Group CEO Leila Fourie told the Daily Maverick. ‘I find people are working much harder,’ she said. ‘[Physical workplace] presence does not translate into productivity. Leaders [used to] have a false sense of security in employees showing up at the office.’

Fourie adds that the crisis (and, make no mistake, this was an unprecedented crisis) has unlocked a level of solidarity and unity in the team. “We’ve built a new level of trust.”

When asked if he thinks SA businesses will go back to ‘normal’ after the lockdown, media analyst Arthur Goldstuck says yes, and no. ‘One of the things that we’ll find across the different aspects of the way we live our lives – working, shopping and so on – is that part of the shift that we’ve all experienced will become permanent. But that doesn’t mean that we’re going to transition into this new way in totality.’

For Goldstuck, it’s a question of digital transformation – and here he draws parallels with the move towards e-commerce. ‘A large proportion of South Africans discovered online shopping during the lockdown, and many will continue shopping online, while many will go back to traditional shopping,’ he says. ‘Those who find online shopping comfortable, convenient and quick will carry on doing it; those who found it didn’t quite work for them will go back to the old way.

‘And even within that there are nuances. Some will become regular online shoppers, while some will now be willing to shop online on occasion. It’s going to be a varied approach, depending on the person’s experience and on their openness to the technology.’

This, he explains, can be extrapolated into the working environment as well. ‘Businesses that have found it difficult to have staff working remotely will go back to the old way,’ he says. ‘But again, you’ll find that even in the businesses that do go back to the old way of working, remote will be allowed far more regularly.’

Yet many employees don’t want to make a permanent move to WFH. A nationwide survey by workplace consultancy Giant Leap found that 86% of South Africans want to go back to working in an office. Giant Leap director Linda Trim says that while remote work was very popular at first, as time wore on people realised that it came with loneliness and a lack of work-life balance.

‘The survey showed 70% of people missed the general social interactions of the office, while 85% said they missed the “colleague interaction” while working at home,’ she says. To that point, about 81% of survey respondents said that working remotely made work communication harder, while more than half said they missed meeting, socialising and having ‘impromptu face time’ with their colleagues.

The erosion of company culture, then, is the biggest concern about – and the last great hurdle before – a complete move to remote working. Virtually every team that gathered together on Zoom meetings during the lockdown already knew each other and already had established relationships. Those bonds can erode over time and can be hugely difficult for new hires to build.

If – as many are predicting – the old model of Monday-to-Friday, 9-to-5 does indeed change to something more fluid and flexible, offices will have to change to meet those new requirements. Looking ahead, there’s the realisation that while the work may stay the same, and the workforce may adapt, some of the most interesting changes will happen in and to the workplace. Wherever that happens to be.

After nearly two months of remote working South Africans are ready to get back to working in the office as the initial novelty of remote working has revealed unexpected difficulties, detracting from people doing their jobs properly.

Linda Trim, director at Giant Leap, says that the reality of working from home was certainly different to expectations now that we are well into what is a giant social experiment.

“Ironically perhaps, working from home had led to a complete lack of work life balance. People are been disrupted by colleagues at all hours and on all days.

“People are also over working and others are under working. This had caused an imbalance in productivity, creativity and by extension, difficulties in managing larger teams. Real collaboration is also very difficult.

“We need to restart the engine. In order to survive, businesses want to get their staff back to the office as quickly and healthily as possible.”

Trim notes several problems remote working had exposed:

Video conferencing fatigue
So many people are reporting similar experiences that it’s earned its own slang term, ‘Zoom fatigue’, though this exhaustion also applies to other videos conferencing like Google Meet, Skype and FaceTime.

“Virtual interactions can be extremely hard on the brain. A typical video call requires sustained and intense attention to words because the possibility of viewing body language is mostly eliminated,” says Trim.

“Multi-person, gallery view screens magnify this problem. It challenges the brain’s central vision, forcing it to decode so many people at once.”

Feelings of isolation, anxiety

Though working from home can make life easier at first, it can actually be detrimental to employees’ mental health. Humans are social creatures, and working without seeing anyone can make employees feel cut off.

Says Trim: “Remote working can also cause anxiety. The lack of close contact hinders three key parts to any effective working relationship: The formation of trust, connection and mutual purpose. Remote employees are more likely to struggle with office politics, worry what colleagues are saying about them and lobby against them.”

Teamwork troubles

When employees work mostly or exclusively from home, they likely only interact with their colleagues via email and occasional calls.

“Remote working isn’t conducive to building meaningful relationships with co-workers in the same way that working in the office is,” Trim notes.

This is important for two reasons. Firstly, interacting daily with coworkers facilitates expectation-setting. When new employees are continuously exposed to the behaviour of their colleagues, they’re able to grasp the standards of performance and communication much more quickly than they would remotely.

Second, social interaction is strongly correlated with workplace engagement and satisfaction. “A Gallup study of 15 million employees showed that those with a work buddy are seven times as likely to be engaged in their jobs, are better at engaging customers, produce higher quality work, and have greater sense of well-being compared to those without.”

Enthusiasm for business building harder to foster

Businesses want their employees to be passionate about the work they’re doing but inspiring passion across a dispersed team is not impossible, but certainly harder.

“Unless your employees are all completely self motivated, it’s difficult to stimulate enthusiasm about your service or product without ample social engagement. Big enthusiasm is tough to express digitally,” she added.

The reality is lockdowns haven’t had people working at full speeds so although the home office will still play a role in a world that gradually gets back to work, the office is still the best model of working for most companies.

“But wellbeing now has to be front of mind for companies. We have to come up with solutions on how to design for distance but still promote interaction. We have to create resilient workspaces for future pandemics.

“But the good news is that the evolved work areas will provide more privacy and cosiness. The evolved office will be a nicer place to work,” Trim concluded.

Source: Barry Neethling

Now that it is clear that Covid-19 is not going to go away as fast as it appeared, we are faced with lockdown and social distancing measures for some time to come.

Many people care about their appearance when attending physical meetings but over a conference call, your voice and words are all that others can use to decide who and what you are.

So, what do you “look like” through a microphone?

Even with a good microphone (and, especially with a great microphone), if your mouth is not within half a meter away from the microphone, the listeners are likely to hear the echoic characteristics of your room added to your voice.
Be mindful that you don’t sound like you are sitting in a bathroom when attending a conference call.

We are going to be working more remotely than we used to, and as a result depend more on our voice and ears than ever before to communicate.

It is difficult to buy a poor quality microphone or headphone set. These devices have been around for more than 50 years, and have been refined over time.

When working remotely, you have a lot less to work with than if you are meeting physically.

This gets way more difficult if you are having to meet people for the first time.

The most valuable and important sense you have to work with is your ears and then, in turn, your voice to be heard.

All other senses are shut off. If you are lucky, you have video, and you are often faced with looking up the other person’s nose, with a bright background. This does not help with 1st impressions and tells you little more about the person that can help with the meeting.

The workspace
The internet is brimming with information on things you can do to help you work as best you can from home.

You can read on how to make your physical workspace better, giving your room a makeover and of course, how to soundproof your home office.

Remember, making your home office a better, quieter and comfortable space to work in is mostly simple common sense, once you have grasped the basics. Most of this can be done without spending any money.

Your hearing
To get information from the call you are having, your only source of information is your ears.

All the normal ways your brain uses to shut out echo, background noise, muffled speech or other people talking at the same time are eliminated when you are now sitting at the other end of a conference call at home.

The most sophisticated microphone and noise reduction system on the planet (your ears and brain) has just been replaced with a  much simpler version. Thus, when listening to something you are completely dependent on how well it is recorded.

Audio quality is mostly determined by the data rate (compression plays a role). Now, the shocking thing is that almost every conferencing system you use today such as Teams, Skype, Webex, Zoom, BlueJeans, Starleaf  has higher quality audio than a CD.

In comparison, cellphone and “old fashioned” telephone calls are ghastly quality – stay away from them at all costs.

There is nothing technically stopping you and your colleagues from producing and hearing your conference call in the same quality as the best artists you have heard on CDs.

Practical steps

Not being able to hear well creeps up on you for many reasons – like going to too many loud discos as a teenager, firing weapons, taking medication, to lifestyle through to genetics and plain bad luck.

The first step to a better experience working from home is to understand how good your ears are. You can find auditory tests online, but these are not substitutes for a test done by a professional.

All the normal cues you use to communicate in a meeting are removed apart from your ears- and they have been severely compromised anyway because now a microphone is doing the job instead of your ears.

Lipreading may help. We are all subconsciously lipreading to supplement what we are hearing.
When you have to work remotely, further contributing to stress levels and feelings of isolation – because a whole layer of communication has been removed.

If you have hearing loss issues, there is a lot you can do to improve the situation.

Dealing with the problem
Once you have figured out that you may have a problem, you can deal with it in a few ways.

NuHeara is by miles the leader in the new commercial “hearing assistant” space, and a serious challenger to the market that has been dominated by super expensive hearing aid companies.

Hearing loss is a problem and getting a lot worse with our youth growing up with earpieces inside their ears.

With the result from your hearing test, you can use the equalizer built into your PC or use an App for your iPhone or Android device – of particular interest is Neutralizer.

Based on your hearing test results you want to gently boost the volume of the sliders matching (or close enough) to the frequencies that your hearing is impaired. Do not make drastic changes.

Once you have made the changes, re-test yourself to see if there is an improvement, and if you are not happy, repeat the process.

Think of others
The “other guy” is the one trying to hear what you are saying, and remember that’s all the “other guy” has – your voice which you need to make sure is as good quality as possible, further considering the “other guy” may not have taken the same care to hear you properly.

  • Try not to use the microphone built into your tablet or notebook. Go to your advanced setup and experiment with the settings using the voice recorder app to see with what settings you sound the best
  • Some microphones have an “enhanced” tab with extra settings that can help your specific microphone perform better
  • Try to get close to your microphone – the further away you are, the more secondary reflections will reach the microphone to aid muffling your voice
  • Use a bigger, better external microphone. Even Microphones built into webcams can be of excellent quality – but they also need setting up
  • Don’t just plug microphones in and expect them to work properly. Test the microphone by listening to yourself – be critical as this is what your colleagues will hear
  • Avoid using video – unless you are sure everyone will have the bandwidth to cope

By Vivienne Walt for Fortune.com

Is working from home here to stay, or is it just a temporary solution to the coronavirus?

Even as the U.S. and Europe begin discussing how to reopen businesses, company leaders themselves say the coronavirus has jolted them into thinking about more permanent changes in how we all work — shifts that will last much longer than this crisis and could forever reconfigure the entire notion of offices.

In interviews this week, executives at global companies say COVID-19 has hurled them at warp speed into a future that they had envisioned unfolding slowly over many years. And to their astonishment, their online-only operations have worked well—raising the possibility of continuing much of the lockdown’s online-first work that has dominated since early March.

Watch the video below:

For some people working from home is a regular practice, but for most of us it’s a new way of working and presents new challenges – especially if you are with family who are now at home too.

Isla Galloway-Gaul, MD of Inspiration Office, says: “People are all at once discovering the benefits and frustrations of remote work. But you can take cues from great workplaces. You’ll get more done and feel better when your technology, space and the ways you need to work come together. Working from home should be no different.”

Here are some practical tips about how to improve the work from home experience.

Establish and stick to boundaries

It’s tempting to be “on” constantly when you work from home. Others find being home distracting and challenging to stay focused and productive. “Identifying boundaries can help you maintain a healthy and productive balance. Decide on your schedule each day and try to stick to it,” Galloway-Gaul advised.

Be transparent

If you are not at your computer, be sure to communicate that with your colleagues. Make your calendar visible to your team, update your status in any team/collaboration software you use or even leverage your out-of-office auto reply. Let your team know when you’re going to be away and when you’ll be back, especially when you work in different time zones.

Build belonging

Think about ways to keep relationships intact while working from home and practicing social distancing.
“Consider creating a group chat for social interactions – during stressful times, everybody loves a good meme. Schedule coffee with a colleague over video to catch up. Remote workers need more of these checkpoints than those who are in the office.”

Create consistent connections

It can be easy to slip into a siloed work experience when everyone is working on their own, especially during more socially isolating times. Institute a quick daily virtual team connect to keep work moving forward.

Provide a variety of tools

The tools available to distributed teams aren’t perfect. No one technology does it all. “Pick some consistent tools for instant messaging, video conferencing, sharing documents, file transfers, etc. to keep your team connected virtually while social distancing,” Galloway-Gaul noted.

Turn your camera on

Video should be the default setting for any remote collaboration. Seeing facial reactions and body language lets you “read the room,” plus people are less likely to interrupt or speak over one another. “To do it well, keep the computer at eye level — put it on a stand or further back so it isn’t looking up your nose. Look into the camera and use natural light, but avoid putting your back to a window or you’ll look like a silhouette.”

Hear and be heard

“Avoid rooms with lots of hard surfaces that echo – like a kitchen,” says Galloway-Gaul. “Choose rooms with rugs or other softer materials, like the living room.” Headphones provide a better experience than computer audio. Finally, if you’re late to an online meeting or not speaking, mute your audio to avoid disrupting the conversation.

Find focus

Not everyone has a home office, so think about establishing a territory that clearly signals “I’m at work.” Discuss protocol with other members of your household to signal when you’re “on at work,” even if you’re reading on the sofa. If you tend to be distracted by other household demands, find a way to create visual boundaries so you don’t see the dirty dishes. And, if acoustics are an issue and you can’t shut the door, headphones may be your new best friend.

Be aware of your posture

A risk of working from home is becoming more sedentary. Look for ways to vary your posture and the spots where you work throughout the day. “Sit, stand, perch, go for a walk — activating the body, activates the brain and can keep you from going stir crazy,” Galloway-Gaul add.

Particularly important: Most people slumped over their laptop and look down onto their screens when they have converted the dining room chair and table to an office. “We strongly suggest raising the laptop, even if on a couple of books, which allows the screen to be at the same level of your face. This is much better for your body, dramatically reducing strain on the back and neck.”

 

By Aaron Holmes for Business Insider US 

As coronavirus spreads, companies are increasingly being forced to work from home – and some are using online conference tools to try to prevent a dip in productivity.

Some are turning to tools like Sneek, a group video conference software that’s always on by default.

Sneek features a “wall of faces” of employees at a company, automatically taking a photo of employees through their webcam every one to five minutes.

“Sneek was never designed to spy on anyone,” cofounder Del Currie told Business Insider. “We’d be the worst spy company ever considering we named our app ‘Sneek.'”

Working from home can make it feel like managers have less direct supervision over workers. But an always-on video-conference tool changes that by automatically snapping webcam pictures of employees every few minutes.

Companies across the world have been forced to abandon offices in favor of working from home in recent weeks to try to slow the spread of coronavirus, which has sickened more than 39,000 people in the US alone.

In order to keep productivity high while working remotely, some companies are turning to tools like Sneek. The software features a “wall of faces” for each office, which stays on throughout the workday and features constantly-updating photos of workers taken through their laptop camera every one to five minutes.

Sneek’s user base has rapidly expanded in recent weeks as companies transition en masse to work-from home – signups have increased tenfold in in the past few weeks, cofounder Del Currie told Business Insider. It has over 10,000 users and boasts clients including American Express, Lego, Fred Perry, and GoFish digital.

The software’s interface lets people set their webcam to automatically photograph them every one or five minutes, depending on how frequently they want their image to update (or how frequently their boss requires it).

If a coworker clicks on their face, Sneek’s default settings will instantly connect the two workers in a live video call, even if the recipient hasn’t clicked “accept.” However, people can also configure their settings to only accept calls manually – and only take webcam photos manually – if their employer allows it.

Currie told Business Insider that, while some may be put off by the software’s interface, it’s meant to build a connected office dynamic.

“Sneek was never designed to spy on anyone, we’d be the worst spy company ever considering we named our app ‘Sneek,'” Currie said. “We know lots of people will find it an invasion of privacy, we 100% get that, and it’s not the solution for those folks, but there’s also lots of teams out there who are good friends and want to stay connected when they’re working together.”

After Sneek’s interface was reported by The Information’s Priya Anand last week, some were turned off by the workplace surveillance tool. David Heinemeier Hansson, CTO and cofounder of the development firm Basecamp, tweeted that the idea “makes my skin crawl.”

Currie acknowledged that the company “did indeed get some Twitter fame last week” after The Information story was published. Sneek was inspired in part by a book on remote work that Hansson co-authored, Currie said, but now the company has received messages from Hansson’s followers “abusing our staff and calling us pieces of s-.”

The purpose of Sneek isn’t surveillance, Currie said, but office culture.

“We’ve worked from home for 10+ years and one of the biggest things that starts to creep in is that sense of isolation, it does really affect people’s mental health,” he said. “Just having that ability to look up and see your teammates there can make all the difference.”

By Rebecca Greier Horton, workplace well-being knowledge lead at Herman Miller

Self-care has been a hot topic in 2020. And now, given the fact that many of us are working from home, it’s even more important. How do we look after our mental, emotional, and physical health while trying to manage the challenges of working remotely?

When it comes to WFH, comfort is key. Take time to set up an ergonomic home office. This will help prevent the musculoskeletal disorders that can occur when you work on a laptop for long periods of time, and it will increase your cognitive engagement. So, where to start?

1. Light it up

Select a spot where natural light is your primary light source. Research indicates our sleep cycles and even our hormones are positively affected by this. If your setup is near a window where you can let the fresh air circulate—even better!

2. Police your posture

Remember that bad posture still counts when you work from home, and that how you sit today will shape your body forever. It’s important to choose an office chair that supports your body. A recent study by Herman Miller and Texas A&M shows how the right chair can influence cognition and your body’s ability to handle stress.

3. Get a move on

Move your body! Whether or not you have space for a height-adjustable desk, research from the University of Waterloo advises that for each hour worked, we should spend 30 minutes standing.

4. Treat yourself

If you’ve hesitated to purchase a good sit-to-stand desk for your home office, consider making the investment in your health.

Practicing self-care should be your number one priority as you work from home. It will help you be the best partner, caregiver, mom/dad, leader, friend, and contributor that you can be.

How to survive working from home

By Elmarie Grant, head of Synthesis Academy

You have now been tasked with navigating a new world: working from home. This may sound great until you are charged with being the home-school teacher; your dog decides your new life purpose is playing fetch with him or her; you realise that your significant other is the loudest eater ever to have walked the earth; and you have to manage all forms of other new and unexpected interruptions – all while doing your job and keeping your customer happy!

Fear not. After extensive research, we have gathered the top tips to help you survive working from home:

  1. Set working hours
    Setting a schedule for yourself can be helpful in balancing work and life. Get up at your usual time, and be clear when your workday starts and ends. This way, you’ll feel more in control of your time and know when you can walk away without feeling guilty. It also gives you some flexibility to catch up with others – can you work for an hour or two before the kids wake up, or work another couple after they’ve gone to bed?
  2. Create a morning routine
    Deciding you’ll sit down at your desk and start work at a certain time is one thing. Creating a routine that guides you into the chair is another. What in your morning routine indicates you’re about to start work? It might be making a cup of coffee. It might be returning home after a jog. It might be getting dressed (wearing pajama pants to work is a perk for some, but a bad strategy for others). A routine can be more powerful than a clock at helping you get started each day.
  3. Keep a dedicated “office” space
    Creating a clear space that signals “this is where I work” can be helpful in separating work from fun. If your laptop is on the desk, it’s worktime, and if it is on the dining room table, you can allow yourself to check your social media or watch a movie. Keeping your space clean, neat and stocked with whatever supplies you need (power cables, additional screens etc) will also help you focus and be intentional about your activities. Use the same space everyday so this space is your office away from the office, providing you with a physical and psychological boundary.
  4. Set ground rules with the people in your space
    Having little ones or loved ones around can be very distracting when you are working. Setting ground rules about how and when they can interact with you (especially when you are at your “work desk”) can be helpful. It helps them understand when they can expect your full attention, and minimise interruptions. Additionally, just because you’re home and can let service people into the house or take care of pets doesn’t mean other family members should assume you will always do it. If that’s how you choose to divide up the domestic labour, that’s fine, but if you simply take it all on by default because you’re home, you may feel taken advantage of, and your productivity may suffer.
  5. Schedule breaks
    Just because you are working from home, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take your usual lunch break, or schedule time to walk away (and spend some time with your little ones). Regular breaks also help improve your productivity, manage your energy levels and reset your attention span.
  6. Be strict with social media
    It is natural to want to check what is happening on social media and to check the latest news but this can become all-consuming. Rather allocate time to do this as breaks in your day. Set an alarm if necessary to ensure you don’t fall down the rabbit hole and waste your day.
  7. Show up to meetings
    Instead of office meetings, you may be required to dial in or use other virtual means for meetings. Make sure you schedule these in the same way you would normal face-to-face meetings; they are a great way to check in with your team, measure your own progress and socialise a little. Raise any issues or risks, but also celebrate the small things. Don’t skip them!
  8. Look for training opportunities
    There are a variety of online, self-paced training resources available. Using your time working from home to learn a new skill set, hone an existing skill or reading more broadly about something you are interested in will not only keep you engaged and energised, but help you find new ways to add value.
  9. Over-communicate
    Working remotely requires everyone to be clear on what they are doing. Not seeing colleagues continuously makes it much harder to keep track of where they are and what activities they are completing. When you finish a project or important task, say so. If you are running behind or are facing a challenge, speak up. Over-communicating doesn’t necessarily mean you have to write a five-paragraph essay to explain your every move, but it does mean repeating yourself.
  10. Create an end-of-day routine
    Like your morning routine that gets you ready for your remote workday, set a routine that lets you (and your loved ones) know that you are winding down. It will allow you to leave work at work (so to speak) and engage with your after-hours activities mindfully and meaningfully and relax.
  11. Be present and be positive
    Whether you are working, or taking a break and spending time with others, be present in that moment. The best way to focus and improve your productivity is to aim your attention to one thing at a time. Cultivating a positive mindset has many benefits – from making you happier and more productive, to spilling over into your relationships. Let’s face it, being cooped up with others can be challenging, and keeping a positive, open mind will help you overcome those small irritations.

Faced with the prospect of a lengthy commute on a sweltering day, either jammed into a packed taxi or a never-ending queue at the traffic lights, plenty of us have dreamed about that ultimate career goal: working from home. Design the day to fit your other commitments, get a few things done around the house, and pop out for lunch with a friend – surely this is the answer to the quest for the perfect work/life balance?

Well, yes and no. Little or no social interaction, an endless list of distractions, and no motivation to ditch the pyjamas for something a little more… professionals are the other side of the coin. OK, the dishes might be done and the bathroom sparkles like a showroom – but what about those missed deadlines? What may sound idyllic on paper can prove disastrous in reality.
The disadvantages of working from home doesn’t stop there. Of course, the pitter-patter of tiny feet can be a joy, especially after you’re done for the day. But when you’re trying to prepare a presentation with one hand and break up warring siblings with another, things can look a little different. In New Zealand last year, demand for coworking spaces actually increased during the school holidays as practical parents sought refuge in an environment better geared to productivity. A survey of 15,000 people in 80 countries found that 68% South Africans cited family members as a barrier to getting things done.

Loneliness is another problem. The staggering rate at which technology has expanded has made our lives much easier: we can order dinner, something to read and a taxi with the tap of an app. But email and messaging platforms like Slack and WhatsApp, though extremely efficient forms of communication, have removed the need for any real interaction – and this can feel particularly acute for someone spending the day at home alone. Loneliness has become so serious, in fact, that in 2018 the UK became the first country in the world to appoint a minister for loneliness. What might at first sound wishy-washy is brought into sharp relief by this piece of evidence in a Harvard Business Review article, which found that loneliness is “associated with a reduction in lifespan similar to that caused by smoking 15 cigarettes a day.”

At the same time, the office environment has its own distractions. Beware the colleague with a fervent belief in endless meetings as the solution to all problems: not only do meetings often take up a significant chunk of time in a typical eight-hour workday, but they also introduce more issues than they solve if they’re not handled with military precision and a ruthless eye on the clock. Then there’s the danger of being side-tracked by someone else’s project, as they ask you to come over and look at something “just for a minute” that quickly turns into another precious hour lost to a non-core task.

So, how to crack the remote employment conundrum? Coworking solutions like Spaces may well have found the sweet spot between the advantages and disadvantages of working from home. Firstly, being surrounded by like-minded individuals creates a buzzy atmosphere that puts paid to any feelings of loneliness – but because your fellow members are more often acquaintances than colleagues, the opportunities for downing tools and discussing last night’s TV are greatly reduced compared to the office. And that sense of quietly competitive camaraderie can be a great motivating factor when 4pm rolls around and your first impulse is to put off writing that long email until tomorrow morning.

That said, it’s all about balance – after all, burnout can also be a big problem in the world of work in the 21st -century. Traditional office culture is partly to blame but home based workers aren’t immune either. Who hasn’t ended up putting in more hours at the kitchen table to prove to the boss that they really are working even though they’re at home? And when the laptop’s left open while you’re preparing dinner, it can be all too easy to carry on with various bits and pieces in between chopping the vegetables. At SPACES, networking events like mindfulness talks and yoga classes act as gentle reminders that a good work/life balance is what will make us most successful in the end.

Another article in the Harvard Business Review found that people thrive in coworking spaces for a number of reasons. The sense of community, the ability to be yourself rather than adopt a “work persona”, and the empowerment that comes with being able to plan the working day according to your schedule, all play their part in developing the meaning and purpose that we all need to feel fulfilled at work. Even better, there are none of those working-from-home distractions that can so easily swallow up half our time if we let them, and no loss of productivity that comes with office life.

When working from home doesn’t cut it for you, there’s always another option. Our coworking memberships provide access to workspaces all around the globe, without the distractions.

During the last decade, the workplace has undergone dramatic change: but it pales in comparison to how new organisational structures will impact the work environment as we move towards 2020.

Isla Galloway-Gaul, MD of Inspiration Office, says: “Our ways of working have changed as many societies become wealthier, as consumers demand new types of products and services and as we constantly seek to increase productivity.”

She notes that there are four megatrends, which will have a profound impact on how we work:

The rise of mobile knowledge workers

A knowledge worker uses research skills to define a problem, identify possible solutions, communicate this information and then works on one or several of these possible solutions. “The rise of knowledge workers sets new requirements for office design. Knowledge work is flexible, and knowledge workers are far more likely than other types of workers to work from home and be more mobile.

“The design of the work environment must be adapted to specific work needs as well as suit personal preferences, “ Galloway-Gaul notes.

Burst of new technology

For more than 30 years, IT and mobile advancements have had a profound influence on how we work and it’s likely this exponential advance will continue.
A few emerging technologies are already so advanced that it is possible to gauge their future influence. For example the Internet of Things, a connected network of physical devices, can connect and exchange data, resulting in efficiency improvements, economic benefits, and reduced human efforts. Real time speech recognition and translation will support easier communications between different language speakers and big data will allow companies to recognise patterns and make better decisions.

From Generation X to Generation Y

Generation X describes people born from the early 60s to the early 80s, many of whom hold now senior and work-influential positions in society today. Generation Y, often referred to as millennials, represent the generation that followed Generation X.

Says Galloway-Gaul: “Looking ahead to understand how our ways of working will change, it is necessary to understand what Generation Y need from their workplace, what their characteristics are like and how differently they see the world.” For example millennials tend to be more family-centric which means they are willing to trade higher pay for a better work-life balance. They are also the most tech-savvy generation which makes remote work possible, even desirable. They are achievement orientated and seek frequent new challenges.

Globalisation and the pressure to perform

Globalisation affects how we work in at least two ways. “Firstly, there is a now a larger, global talent pool available which means talent is more geographically dispersed and culturally diverse.

“As we head towards 2020, people will increasingly work with co-workers they have never met before,” Galloway-Gaul says.

Secondly, globalisation increases the pressure to perform. Previously companies could produce goods and have a secure home market with limited competition. “Now many products are sold at similar or more cost effective prices with the same or better service, and innovation is copied by competitors within weeks. This puts the question of whether work or services should be outsourced to other countries on the strategic agenda of any corporation,” Galloway-Gaul concludes.

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My Office News Ⓒ 2017 - Designed by A Collective


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