The recent years have seen a huge shift in what our 'workplace' now looks like, with almost all of us experiencing some form of Work From Home (WFH). We are now in a period where businesses and individuals are discussing the pros and cons of continuing this WFH arrangement, with the focus being on whether it is best supporting workers' physical, mental, and emotional wellbeing whilst still delivering on key business objectives.
Are the home-office mixed with online meetings and flexible works hours a benefit to workers? At first glance most would say yes, however there are some issues to be considered.
Not every person has felt positively about this new WFH structure, and some have noticed that their productivity has changed. The ‘social’ person is not coping as well with these changes and requires a more nuanced set of arrangements built into their workplace structure - we all operate differently, so a ‘one size fits all’ approach should not be the new standard.
Some people are reporting a pressure to be 'always on' with less separation between work and home life. If left untreated or not managed, this performance stress can lead to musculoskeletal issues such as muscle tension or headaches, or other serious symptoms such as anxiety and depression.
What I have noticed over these past two years in the clinic was real change in client needs and the variety of people needing my help. Both men and women struggled with change, isolation, anxiety, depression, and fatigue.
The idea that a workplace should support its workforce has come a long way over the past decades, largely as a result of basic workplace safety improvements and businesses wanting to minimising liability risk to personal injury. Prior to Covid, these basic worker rights had included changes to office environment, lighting, air circulation, workspace (ergonomics, hot-desking and placement), chill-out and green spaces. With less workers in the office, how do employers ensure they continue to look after employee work health and safety?
The new focus is on the employee experience and its direct physical, mental and emotional influence to improve productivity gains. From a business perspective, it has become clear ground for the corporate world.
If your workplace has been modified to move with what’s happening outside, making sure you initiate your own supports for physical, mental and emotional wellness in your ‘home’ office. The benefits will lift your workplace enjoyment and productivity. This, in turn, becomes a sustainable metric for your business or management to gauge, and therefore supports your ongoing workplace flexibility.
I too had made some changes to my workspace over the Covid lockdowns and sort to support my own mental and emotional needs. Being in the clinic with built-in breaks helped me manage the whole day (which can often be a long day from 10am to 8pm).
By adding an outdoor sitting area for both customers and myself to sit, reflect and enjoy, has made a difference to my daily routines. Adding in short walks around the block also breaks up the day. I not only need to talk the talk but walk the walk - literally!
Make sure you remember to support yourself with ’time-out’ breaks such as relaxation, casual walks (parks, seaside, etc.) and therapy (e.g. reflexology, massage, yoga, acupuncture, etc.). This helps to maintain your nervous system, which gives back as clearer thinking, calmness, and quality sleep in your downtime.
Spending time ensuring your workspace is pleasant, ergonomic, and that you build in separation, social activities, and relaxing downtime will ensure you continue to thrive in this new Work From Home world!