Lyndsay Carling

Author
Uncategorized

How to encourage good desk etiquette

Your desk is your haven when you’re at the office. It’s where you can work as you please without interference from anyone else. But while it may be your space, it’s mindful to remember that what you do at your desk can potentially impact those around you, especially if you work in an open plan office.  There is such a thing as desk etiquette, and it’s important that you make an effort to follow it. Here’s how.

1. No smelly foods

Rule number one of desk etiquette: be very mindful about what you eat at your desk. Nothing will irritate your colleagues more than you eating a very smelly meal at your desk. We understand that when midday rolls around it’s nice to have something to look forward to at lunch and, of course, you’re perfectly entitled to eat whatever you wish. But have a think about how others might feel when you’re boxing up last night’s leftovers. 

Fish, cabbage, eggs, fast food, excessive garlic and onions, spices and particularly smelly cheeses are foods you need to keep in your own kitchen, not in the office.

2. Tidy as you go

Keeping clutter at a minimum is essential to productivity. Tidy desk, tidy mind. A workstation that is tidy and well-organised can also boost your mood. So if you’re one to find clutter elsewhere in the office distracting, do your part for everyone else and keep your own desk tidy. A desk with your own personal drawers is best. It’s much easier to put something away once you’re finished with it or try not to have too many “bits” out at once.

3. Tidy at the end of the day

Take a little bit of time at the end of your working day to pack away any supplies that have made their way out of their drawers. It’ll only take you a few extra minutes and you’ll feel a sense of pride leaving behind a tidy desk and when you come in the next day you can get straight into work and not worry about finding the workspace underneath it.

4. Bring your own stationery

When you work in an office, stationery is the tool of your trade. Your necessities for getting tasks done. So rather than spending your valuable time searching store cupboards and drawers for pens and sticky notes, make sure your own desk is fully stocked up. Don’t go over the top – chances are you don’t need a protractor – pens, highlighters and paper clips are a good place to start.

And always have spares stored in your desk. It’s always good to be prepared incase a pencil breaks, a pen runs out of ink or a notebook becomes full.

5. Keep cutlery clean

We all like a brew at our desk to help keep productivity flowing, but your desk mates won’t appreciate a pile of used cups around your computer. Your office may have its own specific rules when it comes to dishes, but it’s good practice to clean up after yourself whenever you’re done with it. Your colleagues won’t be happy if they go for a coffee break but can’t find any mugs.

6. Be quiet and considerate

There’s nothing wrong with chatting with your colleagues, and if you work in an open plan office then it’s unavoidable. But keep in mind that loud conversations could prove distracting and annoying. Ultimate desk etiquette suggests that you should keep personal conversations away from your desk, whether you need to step out for a phone call or save catching up with your coworkers til lunch time. Work conversations are different; some may require you to be at your desk and work calls need to be taken there, but if the matter is private try to find a meeting room so you don’t disturb those around you.

Workplace

How to look for a job while working full time

Thinking of getting a new job? If you’re looking to take a different step along your career path it might be time to start getting to a few interviews. And chances are you’re going to have to conduct your search while still working full time. 

While it’s not against any rules to look for another job – in fact most people will have to do it this way due to income – your current employer may not take too kindly to your search. If they find out your manager may take it personally, view it as a lack of loyalty and treat you differently in your role. Employers want someone loyal and committed.

So, to that end, here’s 10 ways to look for a job while working full time, and still save face.

1. Keep it all under wraps

We understand that it can be difficult to stay quiet about your job search – it’s the start of an exciting new time in your life, after all! But if you tell one coworker you may as well be telling all of them. Avoid speaking about any aspect of your search, from recruiters who don’t get back to you to whether or not an interview went well. 

This also means staying quiet on social media. Some employers may keep tabs on their staff’s Twitter and Facebook accounts and you never know who is a friend of a friend. Avoid posting anything that even remotely relates to you attending interviews while employed, even if it’s just a “Wish me luck!” or “Exciting things happening!”

2. Update your LinkedIn

Before you say that you have your boss on LinkedIn, don’t worry. There’s a handy little feature that you can activate that lets recruiters know that you are looking for a new place to work. So if any recruiters come across your profile and think you’re a good fit, they’ll know you’re open to receiving a message.

Speaking of LinkedIn, you should always be keeping it up-to-date. But it’s important not to broadcast you’re thinking of moving elsewhere. First things first, turn off notifications so your connections aren’t immediately told when your profile is updated. And secondly, make sure your skills reflect your current position, and don’t make any drastic changes, both of which can act as a tip-off.

3. Avoid job boards

You never know where your CV might end up if you just send it out into the online world. Plus, nothing says you’re thinking of leaving like dozens of emails and phone calls from a recruiter during working hours. Remember that the best opportunities often come from networking and direct applying with companies.

4. Avoid current references

While your current manager may leave you a glowing reference in theory, many potential employees will check with references in advance of inviting you in for an interview. Avoid putting yourself in an awkward position by listing your references as ‘Available on request’, or by using previous employers.

5. Book your interviews smartly

If you start booking a lot of Fridays off or suddenly taking more “doctor’s appointments” at 9am, you’re going to start raising suspicion. Ask your interviewers for breakfast or lunch meetings, or after you finish for the day. If it just can’t help but being scheduled between 9 and 5, we’d suggest arranging to work from home or booking the day as annual leave.

6. Don’t self-sabotage

Even if you have your heart completely set on leaving your current job, don’t throw in the towel just yet. It’s vital that you keep putting in 110% so you get your good references, don’t burn any bridges and, most importantly, don’t get let go prematurely!

Don’t be the person who picks arguments or fights, don’t have a “couldn’t care less attitude” and don’t stop doing your daily responsibilities, and don’t use your work laptop or phone to organise interviews. Stay completely focused on your work.

7. Don’t dress differently

This all depends on your office’s specific dress code, but if your business is more jeans and t-shirt casual and you want to head to your interview in a suit and tie, you might stick out like a sore thumb wearing the latter. Store your interview outfit in the car and change in the bathroom when you arrive. 

8. Ask for discretion

Most recruiters and HR will understand that you will require discretion in your job search, and would not do anything that could risk letting your current employer know. However, it’s wise to state your need to keep things on the down low straight away. If they’re not willing to honour your request, find someone else to help you out.

9. Be honest

Sometimes, even despite their best efforts, employers can get wind of someone looking elsewhere. If you find yourself in this situation, don’t lie. Although that may be your first instinct, it will surely come back to bite you later on, and your boss won’t appreciate the deception. Some managers will want to understand more about why you want to leave and they may even want to work with you to try and improve things where you are currently. Sometimes they just don’t want to lose a good person!

10. Think big decisions through

Moving jobs is a big life decision, so make sure you take the time to think things through properly. Avoid doing anything rash, even if you’re convinced it’s in the bag from a great interview. Nothing is done until you have accepted the new position and signed on the dotted line, so don’t hand in a notice until it’s a sure thing.

Of course, sometimes you may start searching only to realise that you’re quite happy where you are. If that’s the case, just slow down your job search, but don’t stop. There might always be a better opportunity out there, so keep your eyes and ears open. Just remember it’s ok to enjoy and grow where you are.

Workplace

How to organise your desk (and keep it that way)

Nobody likes an untidy home. But shouldn’t your home away from home be the same? If you’re struggling to get work done and often find yourself distracted and unproductive, it might be time to take a look at your workstation. How much do you have on your desk? How much of it do you use on a regular basis? Can you even see the surface?

Say goodbye to the untidy desk of the past. Our incredibly easy-to-follow desk organisation tips will have you clutter-free in no time at all. 

1. Start with a declutter

Before you can move forward into an organised future, you first need to look at where you are now and make some changes. There’s little point in organising items on your desk that you just aren’t going to use, so now’s the time to be a bit brutal. While you may think you’re getting rid of a lot of useful items, the point is to only have what you absolutely need and replace when it can no longer be used. 

Start by looking at any duplicates in your drawers. This includes notepads, pens, pencils, gel pens, sticky notes… Keep two notepads – one for jotting and scribbles and one for meetings – and two or three pens. Donate the rest to your colleagues, or drop them in your office stationery cupboard.

2. Go paperless

A huge amount of clutter on our desk is due to paper. Printed out emails, presentations, folders, sticky notes, to-do lists… it’s endless! Fortunately there is an easy fix, go paperless! 

Use spreadsheets to stay organised with your tasks and use note taking apps like Evernote or Google Keep. Use Dropbox to share folders with colleagues instead of printing things out, which helps cut back on paper waste too. 

3. Wire control

The typical workstation is far from technology-free. When you take into account a laptop, a monitor, a mouse, a keyboard, chargers and phones, the number of wires facing us can quickly get out of control. Concealing messy wires is an easy step to take to reduce clutter and your stress levels. If your desk doesn’t have wire slots or holes, it’s a quick and easy DIY desk organisation project using binder clips to hold them all together and out of sight.

4. Label cords

We’ve all been there. You’re up to your ears in an important project and have been working away for hours, when all of a sudden, your laptop dies before your eyes, the dreaded empty battery blinking back at you. No worries, just plug it back in. But you crawl under your desk to be faced with a jungle-like tangle of wires and cords. 

Take some time to detangle the wires one by one, wrap colourful pieces of tape around them and label which powers which device. Not only does it distinguish your wires from your neighbour’s, in the event of a battery emergency, you can get back up and running in no time.

5. Limit sticky notes

If you’re a lover of sticky notes, then you probably feel organised, and that’s true to an extent. They’re easy to grab and jot your thoughts down on, but before you know it you have 20 of them stuck to your computer screen when you could have just made one coherent to-do list. 

Find yourself going overboard? Try going cold turkey and you’ll find the clutter disappear instantly, and your urge to use them will slowly diminish too. When you do use them, use them sparingly and only for urgent reminders, and discard them when you’re finished. 

6. Keep your inbox under control

Staying organised isn’t just about keeping your desk free of clutter. Even if you leave things spic and span, a chaotic inbox can be just as overwhelming as a desk piled high with papers. 

While we wouldn’t recommend going the whole hog with a complex labelling system, which can be tricky to implement and follow in the long term as well as creating more work, there are little things you can do to make a big difference. 

If you use Gmail, which most offices do nowadays, simply switch your settings to Priority mode – which will cause unread emails to jump to the top of your inbox, and leave them unread until they have been dealt with. Once they have been dealt with, archive them just in case. Be vigilant with your newsletters and subscriptions and delete them if you find you aren’t reading or using them.

If you find that too many internal conversations are happening over email and it’s clogging up your inbox, suggest to your office that you switch to Slack instead. 

7. Prioritise your work

Now that your desk is sorted, it’s time to look at the way you work with our final organisation tip. The only things out in front of you should be your necessary work supplies like a laptop, notepad and pen, along with any relevant and active projects you are working on. Keep things simple and stress-free.

If you find that work keeps piling up, it can easily become overwhelming which only leads to procrastination. Stay on top of things as much as you can by using the following system of prioritisation: 

  • Important and urgent
  • Urgent but not important
  • Important but not urgent
  • Not urgent and not important 

8. Re-organise regularly

Staying organised isn’t just a one-off task, but something that requires constant work. Once you’ve got yourself to a place where you feel comfortable with your desk and organisation, schedule in a weekly check-in where you take a scan of your desk to make sure everything that out in front of you is useful and deserves to be there.

Workplace

How to work remotely and still be productive

A huge number of us now have the ability to work remotely. Whether you’re an employee or work for yourself, being able to set up shop anywhere can be incredibly freeing and helpful. Imagine being able to get all your work done without worrying about a commute and getting laundry and chores done in between. Sounds great, right?

Sometimes the reality doesn’t quite live up to our expectations. Working remotely may sound like a dream but being closer to home can not only be distracting, but also quite isolating. Never fear, here eight super easy to follow tips on how you can work remotely and still be productive.

1. Start the day right

When you work in an office, you don’t just leap into work straight out of bed. Well, we hope you don’t. And it shouldn’t be the same when you work remotely. You need time to wake up and prepare yourself for the day ahead. So make sure you start your day the right way. 

What would you like to do in the morning to set you up for a great day? What about yoga, going to the gym, going for a run, meditating, journalling, listening to a podcast or reading a book? Take your pick, just make sure you have some ‘you’ time before the work begins. And no, emails don’t count.

2. Dress like you’re working

We’re not talking full on suit and briefcase, but working in your pyjamas can actually have a detrimental effect on your productivity. Think about it; you’re still in the clothes you slept in. And as comfy as they may be, you’re also probably still in the same ‘chill out’ mindset. 

A quick freshen up and a change of clothes can be the perfect way to signal to yourself that the working day has started. Get ready for the day as you normally would; get a shower, brush your teeth and then put on some new clothes, even if it’s just a clean pair of loungewear. 

3. Have a place dedicated for work

Not everyone has the space or resources to have an “office” in their home, but at the very least you need a designated workstation that is for working and only working. Sitting in bed or in front of the TV may sound great, but you’re probably not going to get much work done. Heading to the same spot every day, just like you would do in an office, helps to train your brain into understanding that this is where you need to be focused and concentrate.

4. Plan your day first thing

Some people love lists, while others hate them. But whichever side you sit on, we’d recommend starting each working day with a good old to-do list. This shouldn’t be everything that you have to get done, otherwise you’ll never reach the end of it. Instead set yourself a finite number of tasks that you want to accomplish that day, then prioritise them, give them a designated time slot and work from there. 

5. Ignore personal tasks

While you don’t have to work 9 to 5 at home, it’s important to set time boundaries when you will only be doing work. Otherwise you’ll find yourself doing something else; procrastinating. That doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll catch up on Netflix, it could mean you’ll hoover, do the dishes or tackle the laundry. But if you know that between the hours of 9 and 12, you’ll be working on X task, then 12 to 1 you’ll have lunch and a quick tidy, then 1 to 4 you’ll work, your day will have structure and it’ll help you focus.

6. Avoid social media

Procrastinating can come in all forms, and one of the biggest is social media. No matter what your vice is whether it’s Facebook, Twitter, Reddit or even Wikipedia, the Internet is a rabbit hole that is easy to get lost in. Even the most will-powered among us can have trouble staying focused. Thankfully, there is help at hand. Work Mode is a Chrome extension that blocks social media and can be programmed to activate during your work hours, helping you stay laser-focused.

7. Be accountable

There’s a reason why many of us improve more in the gym when we have a personal trainer; it’s because we’re accountable to them for our actions and results. So before your other half or your flatmate leaves for work themselves, let them know what you’re planning to get done today. You don’t have to give them a minute-by-minute rundown of your day, but being able to tell them what you’ve ticked off will not only help you have the mental focus to do it, but it’ll also give you a great sense of accomplishment when you tell them in the evening. 

8. Know when the day is done

Whether you work at home permanently or it’s once a week, just because you’re not in the office doesn’t mean you have to be working 24/7. Not only is it unhealthy, but it’s also unfair to your other commitments and the other people in your life. Although it may sound counter-productive, setting limits and boundaries on your working time and sticking to it, can help you be more focused and work harder. So at the end of the day, log off, shut down and walk away. 

Workplace

Green office ideas: How to make your workplace more eco-friendly

The typical office isn’t always the most eco-friendly of environments. Fluctuating temperatures as people fight over the thermostat, computers being left on standby all night, and blazing fluorescent lights between the hours of 8am and 5pm. But it doesn’t have to be that way; there are plenty of changes you can make to bring a touch of green to your desk.

So if you’re an eco warrior at heart, here are a few ways you can set your sights on making a difference in your workplace.

Super quick tips that you can implement today

  • Place recycling containers throughout the office – When you’re working all day it’s easy to get complacent. By having recycling containers placed at strategic locations – a paper box near the printer and a plastic and cans box in the kitchen – you’ll help make it easier to recycle. Also make sure you make an effort to recycle your used batteries as these shouldn’t be thrown in the standard waste bin
  • BYOM (bring your own mug) – Rather than getting takeout coffees and teas, which can’t be recycled and have to be sent to landfill, encourage your staff to use real mugs, glasses, cutlery and dishes
  • Bring plants into your office – Not only do they look great and help to brighten up the place, plants are responsible for the oxygen we breathe; incredibly useful!
  • Green cleaning – Whether you clean your office yourself or employ a company, make sure you use green cleaning products that aren’t doing any damage to the environment
  • Go paperless – Wherever possible, communicate electronically. Only print documents if you absolutely have to
  • Use tech where you can – If you have client meetings, use projectors and laptops to show your work rather than printing off agendas and presentations. Your clients will appreciate this as they won’t have to carry bundles of paper back too
  • Switch off – This should go without saying but switching off your laptops, computers and lights at the end of the day can make a huge difference. It may not feel like much, but if everyone in the office does it, it all adds up

Tips for the long run

  1. Start a sustainability team

Chances are there’s more than one person in your office who’s passionate about green living, so harness that enthusiasm and give them a place to go wild. A team that is totally dedicated to sustainability in your office can both raise awareness and accomplish more. Some projects they could get started with include expanding your recycling program and helping to inform purchasing decisions. Weekly or monthly inspections can help make sure your efforts are continuing.

  1. Look at your suppliers

Whether you’re a business owner or work from home as a freelancer, it’s always a good time to look at who is supplying your power. Green sources of energy such as wind and solar energy are more accessible than ever before, and now it’s possible to switch to a supplier who guarantees their energy is coming from renewable sources. And don’t worry about price either; green plans are actually very competitively priced even compared to more traditional sources.

  1. Think about your lighting

The only light that isn’t going to have some kind of impact on the environment – and cost you nothing – is natural light. So wherever possible try and have large windows and natural light streaming in to illuminate your office.

If all natural isn’t possible, there are other options for you. Make sure all the bulbs in the office are LEDs. You could install smart power strips at each desk, and considering adding sensors and timers onto your main lights so they work automatically.

  1. Start cycling

Commuting to and from work isn’t the most sustainable of practices. And in reality a fair few of your employees will live close enough to get into the office by cycling, but more often than not it’s the cost of a bike that can put people off making the effort. Thankfully, as their employer, there are a few things you can do to help.

Start by signing up to Cyclescheme; a government-subsidised scheme that helps people buy their new bike tax-free. Another big help is to buy the bike for them and allow them to pay it off over time by taking small regular payments out of their monthly salary.

  1. Green machines

Did you know that computers and other related pieces of tech account for 3 – 4% of the world’s carbon emissions? What’s even more shocking is that’s more than the aviation industry which often gets a lot of negative attention. So if you’re looking to reduce your business’ carbon footprint, changing the computers you use can really make a world of difference.

Before you buy, make sure you head to Gooshing UK. It’s a website run by the Ethical Company Organisation and it shows you the ethical and environmental record of various computer manufacturers. The Greenpeace website will also be able to help you find out which manufacturers use the least amount of toxic chemicals during the hardware manufacturing process.

If you’re a large company, then chances are you’re going to be using a data centre which houses your servers. Unfortunately this is likely to be one of the worst environmental offenders due to the huge racks of machines that need to be powered and cooled simultaneously.

Now this isn’t something you’re going to be able to give up, but you can ask some questions to your data centre to find out whether they use some kind of eco cooling system or an energy efficient hardware. If they don’t, you could always shop around for a new place or suggest they make some changes.

Workplace

How to love Mondays

Let’s face it. Sometimes Mondays ask a little too much of us. Back to work anxiety on a Sunday evening is a feeling that we’re all familiar with, even if you love your job, and it’s totally normal. Counting down the hours on Sunday, wishing the weekend wasn’t over…

There must be a better way, and there is! With just a little bit of preparation and mental fortitude, you can break the ‘I hate Mondays’ cycle and give every day that Friday feeling. Let us help you love Mondays again.

It starts with the weekend

  1. Don’t work

Easier said than done? With the majority now having our work emails pinging directly to our phones, the temptation to be on the clock when you’re out of the office is greater than ever. Unless you absolutely have to, we’d recommend disconnecting your work account from Friday night to Monday morning. Or, if you just can’t stay away, allow yourself to check at set times of the day only – for example when the kids have gone to bed.

  1. Disconnect to reconnect

Time flies when you’re on your phone. It’s easy to get lost in the virtual world; sucked in by texts, emails, calls and social media. Even if we’re not endlessly scrolling, notifications can be pinging left, right and centre causing us to pick them up multiple times an hour. Disconnecting from your device is the best way to reconnect with those around you, so try setting your phone so that only urgent notifications are allowed to make a noise. That way if you’re interrupted, you’ll know it’s important.

And with all that free time you’ll have, use it to be with your loved ones as much as possible. During the week, our time is taken up by work, the school run, cooking and errands, so why not set aside weekend time to be with those who really matter?

  1. Prep for Monday

No doubt one of the things that makes Mondays seem more painful is how much we have to do. Do your future-self a favour and do as much as possible the night before. Avoid the temptation to head out for lunch and spending more than you need to by preparing a healthy meal the night before – it also gives you something to look forward to!

Choose your outfit the night before and hang it up outside your wardrobe. That way you only decision you need to make is which shower gel to use.

  1. Get the rest you need

Sometimes you just need some down time, and there’s nothing wrong with that. Today’s “hustle” society makes us feel like we have to be on the go all the time; if we’re not being productive then it’s a waste of energy. And that’s just not true. Relaxing and looking after ourselves is just as important as being on the move.

Give yourself permission to switch off a little bit. It could be watching a film on a lazy Sunday afternoon, or going for a walk in the sunshine with your family. Forget about the demands of your job, and truly relax. You’ll feel better for it come Monday.

And there’s nothing wrong with an early night on a Sunday!

On the big day

  1. Start as you mean to go on

We’ve already talked about temptation, but this time in comes in the form of the glorious snooze button. While it may feel good to get that extra five minutes of rest, how much rest are you actually getting? Set your alarm to go off at a reasonable time that means you’ve gotten plenty of sleep overnight but also have enough time to get everything done in the morning. Maybe even put your alarm on the other side of the room so you have to get out of bed to switch it off.

  1. Enjoy your commute

Whether you drive or take public transport, your commute to and from work is valuable time that you won’t get back. So instead of getting angry at the traffic or shouting in your head at the leaves on the track, why not use your time productively? Call your parents – you know it’s been a while – or listen to an audiobook or podcast. Plug in your headphones on the bus or set it up in your car before you start driving, and actually enjoy your commute rather than hating it. It’ll help you arrive at the office in a better mood too.

  1. Prioritise your day

After a couple of days off, it’s normal to feel overwhelmed when you sit down at your desk on Mondays and look at your email inbox or to do list. Instead of feeling anxious or panicking, take a deep breath and prioritise what absolutely has to get done – what’s your biggest and most important task of the day? Instead of avoiding it, rip the plaster off and get it over and done with. Work through your list one at a time and get through what you can in the hours that you have.

Of course, it’s only standard that you should have a mug of your favourite tea or coffee cradled in your hands as you write your to do list. Trust us, it’ll help.

Workplace

How to settle in at a new job

There’s no rush quite like that of accepting a new job. The prospects and possibilities laid at your feet can be exciting and exhilarating. But it’s not uncommon for the thrill to wear off a little, and once it does, it’s entirely natural to be left feeling a little bit nervous and anxious about the prospect of settling in somewhere new. 

But don’t worry! We can help guide you through this rollercoaster of emotions that come hand-in-hand with starting at a different company. This is an inspiring time in your life, so embrace it and you’ll be making a name for yourself in no time. To that end, here are our seven top tips on how to settle in at a new job and ace your new role. 

1. Stay positive

It may sound like a tip you read after cracking open a fortune cookie, but we believe that cookie speaks words of wisdom in this situation. There’ll be a lot of info headed your way on your first few days and weeks, including a lot of new names and faces, and it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. But remember that this is a good change in your life, so keep your chin up and it’ll help with every challenge you face!

2. Be yourself

Sound like you’ve opened a second fortune cookie? Maybe, but when you enter a new environment it’s incredibly tempting to try and act like someone you’re not in order to fit in with those around you. While it’s important to stay professional, try not to change who you are too much. After all, the company hired you to be you and because they thought you’d fit in with their culture. Being yourself makes it easier to build real and lasting relationships with your co-workers.

3. Be punctual

This one is extra important. One thing employers look for and value very highly is punctuality. It’s alright being on time for your interview, but you need to keep it up in the long run too. Of course, there are exceptions such as personal emergencies and unforeseen traffic accidents – make sure you call ahead to let them know – but why not do some test drives and figure out alternative routes just in case disaster strikes?

4. Build a rapport with colleagues and your boss

When you’re in a brand new environment surrounded by brand new people, it’s easy to retreat into your shell and become a bit introverted. But it’s important that you do the opposite, put yourself out there and network with your new colleagues as much as possible. Try going up to people and introducing yourself rather than waiting for them to open up the conversation. Ask them what their role is, what they do on a day-to-day basis and see where things go from there.

With your boss, you need to remember that good relationships and strong rapport doesn’t happen overnight. Your new manager may do things slightly different to what you’re used to. No two managers are the same and it’s going to take some time for you to get used to one another. 

Start by extending an invitation for coffee or lunch to ensure that you’re both on the same page and understand what is expected of you. Don’t be afraid to take charge and make suggestions on your work goals or objectives; they’ll be more impressed than anything!

5. Offer to help

Of course you’ll have your own workload to contend with, and you’ll want to focus on impressing those around you by nailing your daily tasks, but it never hurts to offer to do something outside of your own remit. Lending a helping hand to colleagues in your own and other departments is a fantastic way to brush up on old and new skills, get involved with different projects and, most importantly, it shows everyone around you that you are a team player.

6. Take notes

You know that brand new notepad you bought especially for your new job? Don’t be shy, we know you splurged. Well put it to good use from your very first day and take it with you everywhere you go. You’ll be bombarded with information and it’s understandable that you might forget a thing or two so don’t be afraid to jot things down. Everything from tidbits about the company’s history to names and job titles, it’ll all come in handy later down the line. 

7. Immerse yourself in culture

We don’t mean heading out to a museum, but rather take the time to immerse yourself in the company’s culture. This has become more important than ever in the modern workplace, and it’s important that you and the culture get along well. Use the first few days and weeks of your job to absorb everything about the company and your new environment. Look at the company’s website, check out their Glassdoor profile and social media, and speak to those who have been there longer to find out more. 

But remember, it’s ok for you to experience a bit of a culture shock. Everything will be different to you from the role and tasks, to your boss and the people around you. As we said earlier, you were hired because they thought you were a good fit, and that includes culture-wise. So stay positive, embrace the new challenges that face you and, most importantly, be patient. Settling in takes time!

Workplace

How to embrace hygge in the office

You’ve probably already heard of hygge. It’s the Danish concept of cosiness – pronounced ‘hue-gah’ – that has taken the world by storm and infiltrated homes across the country. Living rooms everywhere have suddenly been filled with wooly blankets, scented candles, Monstera plants and mugs of herbal tea. 

But did you know that you can embrace hygge in the office too? Here’s our guide to getting cosy and relaxed at work. 

1. Bring the outside in

A big part of hygge is embracing nature. Unless you work from home or are self-employed, chances are you’re going to be based indoors for your job for the majority of your time. But that doesn’t mean you can’t bring the outdoors in. 

There’s just something so calming and relaxing about trees and nature, so bring that into your workspace by adding a couple of small potted plants to your desk. It’ll really help to lift your mood and recreate those happy vibes that we get from being surrounded by nature. Just don’t forget to water them!

2. Make your desk your own space

The underlying element of hygge is enjoying the environment around you. While this is easier to do at home when you can truly be yourself in your own four walls, it’s trickier to accomplish at work. But not impossible.

Create your own little sanctuary at your desk by adorning it with small personal items that mean a lot to you. This could be bringing your favourite mug from home, a photo of your loved ones or illustrations to pin up in your cubicle. Even adding these small touches of your personality allows you to escape the daily grind, helps you smile and lifts the soul even in difficult moments.

3. Make the most of your lunch hour

How often do you sit at your desk eating lunch? Or even work through your lunch as you desperately try to catch up on work. While you may think this is helping your mental health by reducing stress in the long run, it can actually do the opposite by keeping you cooped up.

Getting a simple change of scenery can work wonders. No matter what the weather, why not wrap up warm and head into the great outdoors, even if it’s just to pop down to the road for your favourite pastry. Or maybe run a couple of casual errands and get them ticked off your list, go for a walk in a nearby park, or take a book and find a quiet spot to read for 30 minutes.

Do anything at all, just get out of the office!

4. Make an office playlist of what you love

Music can have a tremendously positive impact on your mind, but your tastes might not align with everyone else’s in the office. Take some time to create a personalised playlist on Spotify that caters to you and you alone. If you’re feeling really creative, have a different playlists for different moods or working situations, for example, one where you really need to zone out and concentrate.

5. Tweak your lighting

Lighting is possibly one of the most overlooked elements that can positively influence our mental health. Natural light is incredibly important in hygge, so try and position yourself near a big window wherever possible.

But warm lighting is also essential for creating an aura of relaxation and calm. Candles are best, but these won’t be allowed in your place of work. So if you have desk lamps, ask if you can replace the bulbs with warm, slightly orange bulbs that create a pool of light around you. It’ll do wonders for your concentration and your stress levels.

6. Be prepared for the cold

Office temperatures fluctuate all the time. And that’s not just down to the unpredictable British weather. Employees can wage wars over the thermostat; some like it hot while others insist on air conditioning. For these reasons it’s a fantastic idea to have some cosy layers stored away under your desk.

These could include a gorgeous colourful scarf, a spare pair of socks for when the rain sets in, a knitted cardigan or a cashmere jumper. At home we’d recommend snuggling down under a thick blanket, but this’ll do!

7. Embrace teamwork

Teamwork is a core part of the Danish culture. From early childhood a strong focus in placed on working together in groups and on seeking and giving help when faced with a problem. Danish kids are encouraged to be humble yet confident, and these skills follow them into adulthood and the workplace.

Think about how much better your office environment would be if people were more open to working together and seeking help from one another without it being seen as a weakness? Embrace this concept yourself and you’ll start to see others follow in your footsteps.

Encourage managers to organise team-building days and activities such as scavenger hunts where the focus is on working together and all the benefits it can bring.

8. Focus on happiness

Demark, Sweden and the other Scandinavian countries are always making headlines because of their relaxed work ethic. To them a job isn’t just a way to get paid; it’s another source of happiness and because of this they expect, and receive, high job satisfaction. Of course, a great deal of this is down to fantastic employee benefits such as regular training and flexible working hours, but it’s also something else.

Focus on finding the passion in your job; what do you really love to do? Once you find this, you’ll start to approach each working day in a whole new light.

Workplace

Two-thirds of people say they’re not looking forward to their office Christmas party

It was once the case that staff would eagerly anticipate their Christmas party, counting down the seconds until they could throw some tinsel in their hair, wrap their tie around their head and tell their boss what they really think.

However, as it turns out, those days may be coming to an end. A recent survey conducted by DBI Furniture Solutions revealed that 2 in 3 people aren’t excited for this year’s festive shindig.

When asked “Are you looking forward to your Christmas party this year?”, only 32% of respondents said that they were looking forward to it, with 45% saying they were unsure about it and 23% admitting that they were actually dreading it.

Demographic differences

Men were less likely to get excited by the prospect of the Christmas party than women. Only 27% of men who were asked said they were looking forward to their annual party, compared with 37% of women.

The Christmas party also proved far less popular with older groups than it did with younger people. 43% of 18-24s said that they were excited about partying with their workmates, while only 19% of respondents aged over 65 said they were looking forward to the celebrations

Why the ‘bah humbug’?

This new research poses a challenge to UK businesses, who collectively spend a staggering £1bn a year on Christmas parties every year.

Though everyone will have their own reasons why they may dreading the office Christmas party, typical complaints include poor venue choices, having to spend time with co-workers they feel they can’t relax around, and — of course — the risk of getting drunk in front of the boss.

Nick Pollitt, Managing Director of DBI, said that the negative feelings many employees have about office parties present an opportunity for businesses to think outside the box and turn their employees’ opinions around.

“A lot of the time, businesses make some costly mistakes when it comes to organising the annual Christmas party. There’s a delicate balance to be struck: while you risk boring your staff by going for the same venue with the same decor every single time, you also need to be considerate of their tastes.

“The best office parties are the product of healthy collaboration between an employer and their employees. Whatever the theme, venue or entertainment, it’ll always be a success if it’s centred around giving your staff a genuine, personalised ‘thank you’ for the year of hard work they’ve put in for the business.”

5 ways you can make your Christmas party a success

1. Ask how last year’s party went

The first thing you need to do when planning for a Christmas party is to find out what your employees liked and — more importantly — didn’t like about last year’s party. Was the venue too far away? Was the food bad? Did they wish the magician could have made himself disappear?

Put together a quick survey to gather some learnings and apply them when you plan this year’s party.

2. Get the venue right

The venue you decide on for your Christmas party says a lot to your staff. Going to the same venue every year leaves staff feeling like they haven’t really been thought about; instead, the company goes for the ‘safe’ option to save time and money.

Keep venues fresh while minimising the risk of getting it wrong by asking your employees for some venue ideas. However, you need to make sure you take into account the size of your team when considering suggestions. Booking out a small restaurant isn’t a good idea for a team of 100 while hiring out a yacht for your six-person marketing team is just wasteful.

Get a Christmas committee together that’s made up of people from different departments. It’ll help make planning easier and satisfy the party requests of your team

3. Break the ice

The size of your company will often dictate how long it takes for your staff to properly unwind once they arrive at the party. A great way to break the ice is with some interactive entertainment: games you can quickly play with someone else, like Jenga or table tennis, or hold a quiz with mixed teams get people talking quickly. It’ll certainly take the pressure off those introductory conversations!.

4. Feed them well

Open bars are great, but free drinks and empty stomachs are a recipe for disaster. Make sure that there is good food available to your staff at different points throughout the night: don’t just wait for the meal. Start the evening with canapes and bring out sandwiches for the people still partying come midnight.

Oh, and make sure there are plenty of soft drinks for non-drinkers and designated drivers, too. They should feel as included as anyone else.

5. Make it easy for them

If your venue is a little further afield, think about arranging some transport or even booking out a few hotel rooms so your staff don’t have to worry about how they’ll get home. Not only does this show your employees that you genuinely care about having them present, but it’s also likely to stop people from checking their watches and instead have a genuinely good time.

Bringing the party to the office

Perhaps you don’t have the budget for a big Christmas party this year. In which case, the office party could be just that: a party at your office.

If you’re planning on celebrating at the office, think about how you can make the place feel a little more relaxed to help employees let their hair down. Having a designated and well-furnished breakout area can help staff feel relaxed, while multi-purpose furniture means you can change up your space on the fly. For more ideas, visit DBI Furniture Solutions.

Workplace

How to use interior design to make your office more homely

Over the last decade, expectations about what an office should look and feel like have radically changed. Much like the shift towards casual clothing at work and flexible working options, the ideal office is quickly becoming one that mimics our lives outside of work. They’re becoming environments where employees feel more comfortable and more productive as a result.

Nick Pollitt, Managing Director of DBI Furniture Solutions, credits the change in part to changes in technology. “As WiFi and 4G internet connections have become more widespread, workers can work from anywhere, whether that’s a cafe, at home or even from abroad. With so many options available, the traditional drab office is becoming less and less attractive.

“The problem is that remote working has its fair share of issues, so it’s important that employees still feel that the office is the best place for them.”

With that in mind, we asked some interior design experts about what it takes to turn an office into a home and how it can help bring out the best in your staff.

Start neutral

It might be tempting to repaint the walls with myriad colours and styles, but you should remember that this might not feel like ‘home’ for everyone.

Sean Evennett, Managing Director of Bespoke Interiors UK, says: “When it comes to office decor, it’s impossible to cater to everyone’s individual tastes, so neutrals are a must.” Neutral colours create a foundation upon which you can encourage employees to add their own decorations, like photographs or art.

Build your brand

Sean also says that you can add splashes of your brand colours over the neutral base. “Using the company’s colours is a great way to reflect your brand identity. For example, your brand colours could be used to promote your company values in typography on your walls. You could even extend this to the colour of soft furnishings, like your office chairs.”

Layla Chapman, designer and owner of House of Sparkles, agrees. “I believe that your office space should be filled with personality and represent your vision for the company you’ve worked hard to create,” she says. “I felt it was very important when creating our working environment that it was a place of calm, glamour and luxury, which is what I’ve created in our head office.”

For the love of plants

One of the biggest trends of the last few years is the shift towards biophilic design — that is, office spaces incorporating plenty of plant life. And for a good reason, too. “In a recent study, workers in spaces with plants showed 15% higher levels of productivity than those without,” says Rebecca Snowden, Interior Style Advisor at Furniture Choice.

Not only do plants help bring cleaner air into your office but they also help employees feel more relaxed — perfect for establishing that homely feel. Rebecca advises adding small plants to desks or nearby shelves, and keep larger floor plants in the vicinity.

Get flexible

A home is characterised by its variety of rooms, each one a space designed for a specific purpose, whether that’s sleeping, eating or entertaining guests.

To reflect that homely feel, Sean suggests that office environments should be more diverse. “Introducing flexible workstations gives employees the freedom to work in different zones, depending on their mood or task. For example, an open space is great for collaborative working and boardrooms are perfect for meetings, but what about those days when you just want to get your head down?”

Sean suggests this ‘third place’ should be a non-traditional work zone where employees can detach themselves from the bustle of office life. These non-traditional workspaces can create non-traditional mindsets, so your team can think outside the box.

Light it up

Lighting plays a key role in how comfortable we feel in any particular space. “Poor lighting conditions can cause you to feel tired, strain your eyes and even result in headaches, all of which detracts from focus and motivation,” says Rebecca from Furniture Choice. She recommends positioning desks near to windows or getting a SAD lamp to inject more natural light into the office to help increase alertness and productivity.

Layla advises using softer lighting too, providing a warm feeling your staff might need to help them through the winter months. “Add some floor lamps for softer lighting, as well as some desk lights with different light fixtures.”