Tag: work

Five ways to promote a healthy workplace

Employees lose one to two hours, and often more, of productivity each day in work environments unsupportive of daily health – but there are easy, cost effective steps that can be taken to remedy the problem.

Linda Trim, director at workplace design specialists Giant Leap, says: ”Air quality, lighting and temperature are the top factors for positive influence on wellness.

“Other priorities include personal control of the workspace and more privacy from noise and people distractions. Given the importance of a healthy work environment to productivity and retention – 7 out of 10 employees are likely to stay at a job that enhances wellness – all businesses should invest some time in making the most of their space.”

Here are five ways to promote a healthy workplace:

1. Personalise your workspace

You may not always be able to renovate and install new furniture, but you can probably always make decorative and design improvements. “Hanging pictures, keeping fresh flowers or live plants at desks make a big difference,” says Trim. She also suggested improved, more people-friendly office layouts and positioning people so they have the most appealing views possible.

2. Create privacy in open layouts

Fewer offices with doors in lieu of more shared layouts saves money, so they’re here to stay. But you can still maintain your privacy in an open workplace. Says Trim: “Taking advantage of privacy rooms and hanging a Do Not Disturb sign when you need to focus or using common spaces away from your desk make a big difference to a sense of control. If you do have private spaces you can use, know where these are and how to reserve them.”

3. Bring in support tools

It would be ideal if every office provided the air quality, lighting, temperature and other factors we want, but opinions notoriously vary on what’s optimal. If you need more air or light, consider a desk fan or desk lamp. The fan can help for temperature that’s too warm. Keep a jacket or scarf on hand if temperatures are too cold.

4. Build good health habits into your daily schedule

Leaving your open workspace for a privacy room for even a few minutes each day is one example of a habit you can build into your schedule. “In addition, take your lunch break,” Trim advises. It’s good for networking too. Walk the floor for exercise and for a broader perspective on your work. “Drink water throughout the day.”

5. Invest your bonus productivity hour and build a virtuous cycle

According to the Future Workplace Wellness Study conducted by View, a US company that creates smart buildings, 67% of employees are more productive in workplaces that promote a healthy environment, and gains could mean one hour or more of increased productivity each day.

“Once you incorporate improvements to your workspace and gain that time back, invest it in your career,” Trim advises.

“Write a list of career enhancing activities and tick it off. Examples could include catching up on industry news, attending a webinar to update your skills, spending time with colleagues outside your immediate area – or even a wellness option like walking outside.”

The global co-working trend of the past few years which disrupted the traditional office space is itself already being disrupted as the demand for shared work space that is more like a luxury five star luxury hotel grows.

Linda Trim, director at FutureSpace, says that co-working spaces have tended to be utilitarian “rows of bros” hunched over laptops in bland cubicles, pausing every so often to play ping-pong creating a noisy, bustling atmosphere.

“But that is changing because there is a rapidly growing demand for shared work spaces that are tranquil, beautifully designed and more like five star hotels in their look and services levels.

“These are the kinds of places that attract blue chip companies, executives, independent consultants, start-ups and those simply wanting a premium service with concierges on hand to help you really get your head down and achieve your work goals.

“The focus really is on helping you be extremely productive.”

Trim says that FutureSpace was developed by taking the established co-working model and making it better by offering every service a worker could want from the moment they arrive.

“In particular the depth and sophistication of technology services offered by premium shared work spaces is increasingly a distinguishing factor as this is often not available in basic co-working offices. Very high speed, reliable wifi and instant video conferencing facilities in particular are in great demand.”

The tech factor is prevalent in other ways too: People can quickly book desks, private offices, meeting rooms, summon tea and coffee, or enlist some on-site tech help to ensure everything is working when it needs to be.

“Everything is on-demand and available only when you need it,“ Trim notes. “This kind of Airbnb and Uber style flexibility is also one of the biggest drivers of premium shared office space. Ask and a concierge will bring you lunch or book a call with New York straight away so you can get the most out of your working day.”

Trim adds that another differentiator was that driving the demand for premium shared offices was the number of quality, knowledge sharing educational events and networking with people from different companies and countries.

“Having an opportunity to meeting and mix with people doing great and interesting things is an invaluable experience for business people,” Trim notes. FutureSpace recently held a stock market trading masterclass and will also hold an inspirational talk by a sexual violence survivor for Women’s Day.

The flexibility of having a well designed office available ready when you are at a lower cost than a more traditional office is proving popular. FutureSpace recently opened its third office in Bryanston to compliment its existing offices in Rivonia Road and Katherine Street in Sandton such is the demand.

What office workers get up to each week

By Zoya Gervis for New York Post

A study examining the intricacies of workplace communication found the average office worker has 17 meetings, gatherings with colleagues and conferences with clients each week.

How was your evening? Did you see “Big Little Lies”? Questions like these might sound familiar, as the average office worker endures 21 bouts of awkward colleague small talk per week.

And to power through it all, they’ll consume 19 coffees or other beverages from Monday to Friday.

A study, conducted by OnePoll in conjunction with GoTo by LogMeIn, examined the working habits and behaviours of 2 000 employed people in the US, UK, France, Germany, India and Australia — and it discovered that in a typical day, the average office worker will look at 10 non-work related sites.

From four small talk interactions, four coffees and three meetings, employed workers have busy days.

And it appears that work isn’t always at the forefront of the average office worker’s mind. In fact, the office workers studied will visit a non-work-related website more than 50 times per week and be on their phone for non-work reasons a further 56 times.

That sees workers take more than 100 non-working mini-breaks throughout the week.

The research progressed to examine the tools and efficiencies of their current work-setup. The average worker juggles five different work programs a day and uses a further four collaboration tools. At any one time they will have six different tabs open on their computer.

Results showed that more than half (56 percent) felt their workplace had ineffective or lacking communication policies.

And as many as 64 percent say they waste time switching between all the tools they need to use to do their job.

Other barriers to productive office communication and productivity proved to be phones — with over half (55 percent) revealing phones to be the leading cause of their work distractions.

A further 46 percent cited their inability to focus on the job on loud conversations while another 44 percent said their personal emails were to blame for their lack of productivity.

News alerts (35 percent) and noisy construction near the office (32 percent) also made it into the top five office distractions.

When it comes to office communication, 64 percent of those studied revealed they waste time switching between different tools and programs they need to use daily.

As a result, 56 percent admit that their communication among colleagues is ineffective and could use some help.

“These days workers are inundated with a vast number of tools that are supposed to make work easier. However, without the right technology the number of tools can quickly become overwhelming,” said Mark Strassman, SVP and General Manager, Unified Communications and Collaboration at LogMeIn.

The many barriers and inefficiencies might be why over a third (38 percent) have suffered an embarrassing workplace miscommunication.

The most common miscommunication blunder in the workplace was found to be sending an email to the wrong person.

Other notable work-related miscommunications included making a spelling mistake (46 percent), having a grammar mistake (39 percent) or not speaking up in a meeting (34 percent).

In fact, one respondent had accidentally sent a text message sent for her boyfriend to her assistant manager, while another mistakenly sent personal information to a co-worker.

Strassman continued, “Businesses need to set their employees up for success by giving them easy to use, reliable collaboration tools that help rather than hinder. Ultimately the tools need to facilitate great collaboration by simply getting out of the way so employees can work how, where and when they want.”

In a week, the average office worker will experience:

  • 21.15 bouts of small talk
  • 18.6 cups of coffee/drinks
  • 17.05 meetings
  • 25.85 email refreshes

Six ways to make work more meaningful

According to a Gallup poll called the State of the Global Workplace which studied employee engagement in 142 countries, only 13% of employees worldwide are engaged at work.

Isla Galloway-Gaul, MD of Inspiration Office, says: ”When people are engaged, they adopt the vision, values, and purpose of the organisation they work for. They become passionate contributors, innovative problem solvers, and are a joy to work with.

“The answer to winning back disengaged employees, and keeping the engaged employees engaged, isn’t only pay, perks or promotions. It’s meaning – that is, giving work a greater sense of significance, and making work matter.”

Here are six ways to make people more engaged at work:

1. Show people their work matters
“Make time for employees to explore the purpose–or profound why–of what they do,” So, introduce your team to their customers. Explain how their work helps others, even in small ways, and encourage them to share their own stories. Reframe the work your team is doing so they can understand how and why they fit into that work.

2. Create a learning environment to encourage personal growth
Make space for people to create and execute their own learning plans, offering help along the way. Understand their different learning styles and attention spans, and provide experiences for growth expanding on what they already know, with immediate opportunities for putting into practice at work.

3. Help make people feel valued and valuable
“You care about your personal family and friends, but what about your ‘work family,’ whom you probably see the most? Do you ever ask how your employees are doing, and care about what they say?,” said Galloway-Gaul. By showing employees their value, they will feel valued as individuals and in turn are more likely to live up to their value in the workplace.

4. Involve people in decisions to crate a sense of control, and grant autonomy liberally
Micromanagement can be a meaning-killer. “Including your employees in decisions and giving them space to get the job done helps them feel less like numbers and more like contributors. Whether it’s where to put the new soda fridge, or how to solve a million-dollar problem, don’t manage in a vacuum,” Galloway-Gaul advised.

5. Allow people to bring their real self to work
By being your authentic self, you give employees permission not to check their identities at the door, even if they are a quirkier than everyone else. Of course, this must be within the bounds of workplace professionalism.

6. Help people see where they fit in the mission, and that the mission depends on them to achieve it
“Employees will never think their work matters if they don’t know that they matter. Achieve this by showing them the long-term vision and how they fit in it and contribute to to – beyond the org chart of course,” said Galloway-Gaul.

Top tips for workplace happiness

Many people think that if only they worked for a cooler company, had a different job or made more money they would then be happy at work.

But Linda Trim, director at Giant Leap, says that we should look to ourselves first for work happiness.

“The fundamental responsibility for being happy at work rests with the individual. You can be happier at work by following some simple ideas.”

These are her top tips:

1. Choose to be happy at work

Happiness is mostly a choice according to just about every expert. So you can choose to be happy at work. It sounds simple, but it’s often difficult to put into action.

“Think positively about your work. Dwell on the aspects that you enjoy. Find coworkers you like and spend your time with them. Your choices at work largely define your experience,” said Trim.

2. Only make commitments you can keep

One of the biggest causes of work stress and unhappiness is failing to keep commitments. Many employees spend more time making excuses for unkept commitments and worrying about the consequences than they do performing the tasks promised.

Create a system of organisation and planning that enables you to assess your ability to complete a requested commitment. “Don’t volunteer if you don’t have time. If your workload exceeds your available time and energy, make a comprehensive plan to ask for help and resources,” Trim advised.

3. Take charge of your personal & professional development

Said Trim:”You are the person with the most to gain from continuing to develop professionally so take charge of your own growth.” Ask for specific and meaningful help from your boss, but stick to your plans and goals.

4. Make sure you know what is happening at work

People often complain that they don’t receive enough information about what’s happening with their company, projects or coworkers. They wait for their boss to fill them up with knowledge. But the knowledge rarely comes. Why? “Because the boss is busy doing their job and doesn’t know what you don’t know. Seek out the information you need to work effectively. Develop an information network and use it,” Trim advised.

5. Ask for feedback often

Many people complain that their boss never gives me any feedback, so they never know how they are doing. “The truth is, “ said Trim, “you probably know exactly how you’re doing especially if you feel positive about your performance.” If you’re not positive about your work, think about improving and making a greater effort.
And then ask for feedback and and an assessment of your work.

6. Don’t be a neg-head

Choosing to be happy at work means avoiding negative conversations, gossip, and unhappy people as much as possible. No matter how positive you feel, negative people have a profound impact on your psyche. Don’t let the neg-heads bring you down.

7. Make friends

“One the best ways to be much happier at work is to have a best friend at work, “ said Trim. Enjoying your coworkers are good predictors of a positive and happy work experience. Take time to get to know them.

8. If all fails, searching for a new job will make you happy

If none of these ideas makes you happy at work, it’s time to re-evaluate your your job.
Most work environments don’t change all that much. But unhappy employees tend to grow even more disgruntled. “You can secretly smile while you spend all of your non-work time searching for a job, “ Trim concludes.

Is your office too loud for introverts?

It is estimated that between a third and a half of the population are introverts, but workplaces seem to increasingly favour noisy extroverts, often to the detriment of those who prefer to work in quieter environments.

Linda Trim, director at workplace design specialists Giant Leap, says that with the rise of the open plan office and the culture of speaking often and loudly as a way to gain career advancement, many offices risk sidelining up to half their workforces.

“Our goal as designers is to create places in the workplace that allows everyone to work more effectively, not just those with the most to say.”

It is important for offices to embrace flexibility for introverts.

“It is imperative to remember not all introverts are the same. Some prefer visual privacy to focus and recharge, therefore a booth or screen can provide the needed barrier for added comfort.

“On the other hand, our experience shows that introverts and extroverts alike require audible privacy to focus, yet some prefer not to be isolated. This has led to the popular concept of library-like settings, where employees can easily plug-in and work silently in a shared environment.”

She adds that some introverts thrive in an isolated environment. “A small focus room that is set up with multiple screens, a comfortable work surface, whiteboard and natural light will allow those people to quickly focus.”

She adds that offices always faced the challenge of workstation distractions. “People still often prefer to work at their desk, especially those who have items they frequently use stored there. This can be especially challenging for introverts, because of distractions like colleagues on their phones or a group collaborating nearby,“ Trim notes.

The solution is to work with targeted individuals to create flexible workstations that offer the appropriate amount of storage, visual privacy and posture customisation.

“These factors are easily modifiable allow people to curate an environment that meets their needs and maximise individual productivity. We are also mindful of the importance of giving employees enough space between workstations,” says Trim.

But even when offices are well designed to cater for introverts working solo, there are still many instances they have to collaborate with colleagues and this creates a further challenge for the office.

“A solution is to hold meetings in a quiet room with seats organised in a myriad of forms within the room. This design creates a more inviting atmosphere and allows for more options, unlike the typical individual focus room. Therefore, the introverted users feel included as part of a group rather than excluded, isolated or on display.”

Because introverted leaders tend to carefully listen to their colleagues, they are often more successful in one-on-one meetings in areas without distractions.

“We recommend having two configurations of space. The first should include seating at a height that makes note taking or reviewing work easy, the second should include lounge height furniture for more conversational meetings.”

Trim added that research also indicates introverts are more successful when they host industry or client events in their own space, as attendees will seek them out as the key person to engage with.

“Designing a space that can easily accommodate events could be an area that has a variety of uses as well,” she concludes.

The future of work in a digital world

By Cathy Smith, MD at SAP Africa

The digital age, and the new technologies it’s brought with it – blockchain, artificial intelligence (AI), robotics, augmented reality and virtual reality – is seen by many as a threat to our way of life as we know it. What if my job gets automated? How will I stay relevant? How do we adapt to the need for new skills to manage customer expectations and the flood of data that’s washing over us?

The bad news is that the nature of work has already changed irrevocably. Everything that can be automated, will be. We already live in an age of “robot restaurants”, where you order on a touch screen, and machines cook and serve your food. Did you notice the difference? AmazonGo is providing shopping without checkout lines. In the US alone, there are an estimated 3.4 million drivers that could be replaced by self-driving vehicles in 10 years, including truck drivers, taxi drivers and bus drivers.

We’re not immune from this phenomenon in Africa. In fact, the World Economic Forum (WEF) predicts that 41% of all work activities in South Africa are susceptible to automation, compared to 44% in Ethiopia, 46% in Nigeria and 52% in Kenya. This doesn’t mean millions of jobs on the continent will be automated overnight, but it’s a clear indicator of the future direction we’re taking.

The good news is that we don’t need to panic. What’s important for us in South Africa, and the continent, is to realise that there is plenty of work that only humans can do. This is particularly relevant to the African context, as the working-age population rises to 600 million in 2030 from 370 million in 2010. We have a groundswell of young people who need jobs – and the digital age has the ability to provide them, if we start working now.

Make no mistake, there’s no doubt that this so-called “Fourth Industrial Revolution” is going to disrupt many occupations. This is perfectly natural: every Industrial Revolution has made some jobs redundant. At the same time, these Revolutions have created vast new opportunities that have taken us forward exponentially.

Between 2012 and 2017, for example, it’s estimated that the demand for data analysts globally grew by 372%, and the demand for data visualisation skills by more than 2000%. As businesses, this means we have to not only create new jobs in areas like data science and analytics, but reskill our existing workforces to deal with the digital revolution and its new demands.

So, while bus drivers and data clerks are looking over their shoulders nervously right now, we’re seeing a vast range of new jobs being created in fields such as STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics), data analysis, computer science and engineering.

This is a challenge for Sub-Saharan Africa, where our levels of STEM education are still not where they should be. That doesn’t mean there are no opportunities to be had. In the region, for example, we have a real opportunity to create a new generation of home-grown African digital creators, designers and makers, not just “digital deliverers”. People who understand African nuances and stories, and who not only speak local languages, but are fluent in digital.

This ability to bridge the digital and physical worlds, as it were, will be the new gold for Africa. We need more business operations data analysts, who combine deep knowledge of their industry with the latest analytical tools to adapt business strategies. There will also be more demand for user interface experts, who can facilitate seamless human-machine interaction.

Of course, in the longer term, we in Africa are going to have to make some fundamental decisions about how we educate people if we’re going to be a part of this brave new world. Governments, big business and civil society will all have roles to play in creating more future-ready education systems, including expanded access to early-childhood education, more skilled teachers, investments in digital fluency and ICT literacy skills, and providing robust technical and vocational education and training (TVET). This will take significant intent not only from a policy point of view, but also the financial means to fund this.

None of this will happen overnight. So what can we, as individuals and businesspeople, do in the meantime? A good start would be to realise that the old models of learning and work are broken. Jenny Dearborn, SAP’s Global Head of Learning, talks about how the old approach to learning and work was generally a three-stage life that consisted largely of learn-work-retire.

Today, we live in what Ms Dearborn calls the multi-stage life, which includes numerous phases of learn-work-change-learn-work. And where before, the learning was often by rote, because information was finite, learning now is all about critical thinking, complex problem-solving, creativity and innovation and even the ability to un-learn what you have learned before.

Helping instill this culture of lifelong learning, including the provision of adult training and upskilling infrastructure, is something that all companies can do, starting now. The research is clear: even if jobs are stable or growing, they are going through major changes to their skills profile. WEF’s Future of Jobs analysis found that, in South Africa alone, 39% of core skills required across all occupations will be different by 2020 compared to what was needed to perform those roles in 2015.

This is a huge wake-up call to companies to invest meaningfully in on-the-job training to keep their people – and themselves – relevant in this new digital age. There’s no doubt that more learning will need to take place in the workplace, and greater private sector involvement is needed. As employers, we have to start working closely with should therefore offer schools, universities and even non-formal education to provide learning opportunities to our workers.

We can also drive a far stronger focus on the so-called “soft skills”, which is often used as a slightly dismissive term in the workplace. The core skills needed in today’s workplace are active listening, speaking, and critical thinking. A quick look at the WEF’s “21st Century Skills Required For The Future Of Work” chart bears this out: as much as we need literacy, numeracy and IT skills to make sense of the modern world of work, we also need innately human skills like communication and collaboration. The good news is that not only can these be taught – but they can be taught within the work environment.

It sounds almost counter-intuitive, but to be successful in the Digital Age, businesses are going to have to go back to what has always made them strong: their people. Everyone can buy AI, build data warehouses, and automate every process in sight. The companies that will stand out will be those that that focus on the things that can’t be duplicated by AI or machine learning – uniquely human skills.

I have no doubt that the future will not be humans OR robots: it will be humans AND robots, working side by side. For us, as business people and children of the African continent, we’re on the brink of a major opportunity. We just have to grasp it.

It’s been called the new cancer and it’s killing us. Sitting hunched forward looking at a screen all day causes a laundry list of health issues, from heart and brain damage to back, hip and neck problems.

Linda Trim, director at Giant Leap, says that such is the growing awareness of the dangers of sitting, that in addition to ensuring correct ergonomics for desks and chairs, she increasingly works with movement specialists like Monja Boonzaier, who helps employees preserve their health in the office.

Boonzaier (who teaches locally the internationally accepted Feldenkrais Method of body awareness and movement) says that although many people understand how bad all day sitting is, much of the advice on how to combat it “is impractical and wrong.”

“For example, people are advised to sit leaning back. But how can you sit back in chair and work on a computer? A lot of advice is also centred around having a strong core because you need those muscles to hold you upright.

“It’s a good theory but people know from their own experience a strong stomach does not make you sit upright. If you watch someone who has been told to sit or stand straight they cannot maintain this ‘correct’ position without a continuous effort. As soon as their attention shifts to an activity that is interesting they will slump back to their original posture.”

Boonzaier says that dynamic sitting is a powerful solution and is increasingly taught the world over as a way to combat the ill effects of sitting all day.

“We recommend arm and wrist stretches, doing side bends to the left and the right to stretch lower back pains, and also doing glute stretches like lunges or swinging each leg forward and back while standing. You should also regularly roll your feet, rock your pelvis back and forth, shift your weight to the left and right sides of your seat, and press each ear to its nearest shoulder. “

Boonzaier says this only take a few minutes and suggests doing a few of them every hour as it will dramatically reduce joint stiffness and back pain. “Ideally people should also get up from their desks and walk around the office or up and down the stairs every hour too.”

Trim, however, warns that stretching at work doesn’t mean you can skip exercise. “The three best exercises to combat sitting for long spells are squats, lunges and wall sits. The best thing about these exercises that you can do them anywhere, you don’t need a gym.”

Trim adds that ergonomically friendly desks and chairs was also fundamental to good office health. “Amongst other things, this means having an adjustable chair that supports your spine and allows you to sit with feet flat on the floor and thighs parallel to the floor. Desks should have clearance for your knees. Computer monitors should be placed directly in front of you, about an arm’s length away. The top of the screen should be at or slightly below eye level. The monitor should be directly behind your keyboard.”

There is another often overlooked aspect to sitting all day – we forget to breathe.
“Bad posture and stress at work often makes us forget to breathe properly. Every hour, take a few moments to take three or four really deep breaths. Breathe in deeply and then out slowly and press the breath out of your lungs. This can be done while stretching.”

Offices don’t just have an aesthetic impact on us: we are also influenced by how we sense sound, touch and smell at work.

“Together, the perception of all these senses help or hinder our ability to focus and concentrate. And this is particularly true of sound in the workplace,“ said Linda Trim, Director at workplace specialists Giant Leap.

“Everyone has had the unhappy experience of trying to get something important done when colleagues are making a lot of noise.

“Loud noise has definitely become one of the greatest irritants at work.

“Studies by architecture firm Perkins & Will showed how important workplace acoustics are to performance and satisfaction, and that good acoustic design equals good business.

“In 2016 it showed statistically significant changes in creativity scores associated with different acoustic conditions,” Trim notes.

Workers reported that they were more creative when office noise was masked “white” noise. A 2005 study on office noise and employee concentration by Banbury and Berry, showed that 99% of employees reported that their concentration was impaired by various types of office noise, especially telephones left ringing at vacant desks and people talking in the background.

“Interestingly researchers also found no evidence that people become used to these sounds over time. So people don’t just get accustomed to noisy offices, they are consistently bothered. And in extreme cases it can cause them to resign,” said Trim.

According to another study by Witterseh et al on the effects of noise distraction in the workplace, 68% of those surveyed become frustrated when sound levels creep just above normal conversation, and they also reported increased fatigue and difficulty in concentrating.

Says Trim: “Often the reason why background sound distracts us is because we try to work out which sound to focus on, and what sounds to ignore. If nearby speech is not relevant to your team or your work, it becomes even more distracting.”

To increase concentration and in the workplace, Trim said that companies should pay as much attention to acoustics in the office as they do aesthetics to create a productive workspace and keep employees happy.

“For example, introducing white noise in all areas will mask all conversations, so it needs to be applied strategically. Office spaces that have variety of individual, small group, and collegial areas can help the issue, especially when un-assigned seating is enforced so individuals can choose where they wanted to work according to their chaning attentional needs.”

Trim adds that increasing numbers of South Africa companies are also installing sound proof booths so people can make calls without disturbing others.

“Today there are many advanced, affordable products to be used in placing acoustics in the office such as light fittings, suspended ceilings, wall coverings and office furniture. Using materials that absorb sound is key. Carpeting, screens or walls covered in fabric, acoustical panels or drop ceilings with acoustical tiles can help neutralise sound issues,” Trim concludes.

How to keep on top of your e-mails

They are one of the biggest distractions of office life, pinging into your inbox every few minutes.

But ignoring your emails, even if you get hundreds a day, is not the best way to be more productive.
Checking just a few times at work has the opposite effect, a review by Kingston University has found, and will probably just make you more stressed.

Ignoring your emails, even if you get hundreds a day, is not the best way to be more productive. Checking just a few times at work has the opposite effect, a review by Kingston University has found, and will probably just make you more stressed, even if you get hundreds a day, is not the best way to be more productive.

Checking just a few times at work has the opposite effect, a review by Kingston University has found, and will probably just make you more stressed.

The four steps

1) Delete or file away emails whenever you check  your inbox – by reducing inbox clutter, people report feeling less overloaded.

2) Switch off email alerts – interruptions can have a negative impact on our efficiency, but make sure that you are still logging on every 45 minutes or so – to stay on top.

3) Use the ‘delay send’ function when sending email out of hours – this means recipients only receive their email during normal working hours. While you are taking advantage of the flexibility of email, you aren’t imposing this on the recipient.

4) Review your personal email strategies – are your emails purposeful and efficient or are they habitual and reactionary? The best advice is apparently to log on every 45 minutes to stay on top of new emails and work priorities.

The review’s author, Dr Emma Russell, Head of the Wellbeing at Work Research Group at Kingston Business School, says: “People use email to help them get their jobs done. Most people say they couldn’t imagine being able to do their work effectively without it, and very few send non-work critical email during their working day.”

The review highlights three popular myths which are not backed up by the academic evidence.

Email myths
The review highlights three popular myths which are not backed up by the academic evidence.
The first is that emails are a ‘time-wasting distraction from “real” work’, while in fact recent studies show up to 92 per cent of emails received are critical to people’s jobs.

Another is that we should limit ourselves to checking email a few times a day, such as in the morning, at lunchtime and before leaving work, which in fact makes people feel less in control.

The third myth is that emails stop us getting on well with other people, because of ‘back-covering’ messages, for example, cc’ing in colleagues who people want to implicate in mistakes.

However studies show the cc’ing culture of copying people into emails in facts forges rewarding relationships by keeping workmates informed and in the loop.

Dr Russell wrote: ‘The same participants also reported that processing more email resulted in greater perceived coping – actually dealing with email and keeping on top of it helped workers to feel in control.”

The study was commissioned by Acas, the mediation service which also provides workplace training.

By Victoria Allen for The Daily Mail

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