Workplace

Category Archives
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.”

Workplace

How to attract — and retain — the best talent for your business

The staff members that will make the biggest difference to your business are talented, ambitious and hard-working.

But good talent is difficult to find and even harder to keep. Team night outs, free food and cash incentives are nice, but according to The 2018 Global Talent Trends study by Mercer, they’re not number one priority for the best staff that will make the biggest difference to the growth of your business.

Instead, good employees want a sense of purpose, flexibility to work in a way that suits them, and the opportunity to continuously learn new skills in their current role.

These are our top tips on how to incorporate these values into your business to ensure you attract —  and retain — 

1. Don’t be afraid of change  

If you look back even just 10 years ago, flexible working was something only a lucky few employees enjoyed. In 2017, 58% if workers were offered this as a perk and many now list it as a necessity when they look for new jobs. Likewise, unlimited holidays used to seem like a distant dream, but more and more businesses are adopting this perk.

Companies that attract the best people are the ones that aren’t afraid to try new things. They adopt perks and benefits that will help their staff have a better work-life balance and help reduce stress. Even a change of office decor can have a big effect on employee happiness — comfortable surroundings and a mix of both work and leisure spaces are incredibly important for employee happiness.

Don’t be afraid to trial different things to see what works. If you hire the right people, you’ll be able to trust them not to take advantage of any perks.

2. Create a community that employees are proud to be part of

Thanks to our 24-hour consumer culture and the digital revolution, it’s becoming rarer for someone to simply do their job 9 to 5 and then head home and forget about work. People’s careers are slowly becoming more a part of their life, so it’s the employer’s job to ensure this doesn’t lead to burnout.

The best way to do this is to create a community. Your business should be a place where people feel respected, cared about and recognised. When people feel like they belong and feel more connected to their colleagues and their job, the not only contribute more and perform better, but their mental health improves.

To achieve this, you need to create a culture of support. Offer employees the chance to relax and wind down, and don’t expect them to be available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Encourage people to speak up if they feel under pressure, upset, or bored of their work.

3. Continually empower your employees

Once you have created the right community atmosphere, it’s important that your staff members feel empowered to do their job well and help grow the company.

You can do this by communicating a clear vision and ensuring everyone is working towards the same goal. Getting to know your employees to understand their skills, talents, and their place in the shared vision will help to ensure everyone feels like they are working towards something.

Another great way to do this is to delegate more than just work. Ask one of your staff members to run an important meeting, give a department update or speak to a client to help develop their skills and make them feel part of something.

4. Offer tangible progression

Many businesses offer annual reviews or development plans, but unless the plans have tangible goals and incentives, they can feel meaningless.

Help your staff identify their career options by examining their interests, skills and values. Then, help them create goals and priorities they can really work towards achieving and help them see a future with the business.

5. Shout about what you offer

You can cultivate a community, offer tangible development and be brave enough to take risks, but if you don’t shout about your progress, potential employees may still believe that the grass is greener elsewhere. 

Use social media to highlight anything you feel is an important step in the right direction and add your benefits to any job descriptions when you’re looking for new staff. Encourage your employees to advocate for your business when they can — word of mouth is an important tool that should not be underestimated.

Attracting and retaining the right talent is about a lot more than some shallow perks or incentives. Try and foster a feeling of community, offer progression, try new things and make sure people know about what you’re doing, and you should see the best people be attracted to your business.

 

 

 

Workplace

5 super-effective ways to quickly boost employee engagement

Employees expect more from their jobs than they ever have. Whereas previous generations stuck it out long-term at companies because of the security and financial freedom it gave them, the new generation of workers are looking for a career that’s fulfilling — not just a day job.

This new reality is putting additional pressure on employers to keep their staff engaged. Research shows that the majority of UK HR managers see employee engagement as their biggest challenge, especially since disengaged staff at work cost businesses an average of £605 a year per person.

Thankfully, overcoming the disengagement problem isn’t as difficult as you might think. With the right initiatives in place, you can turn your entire team into innovators and brand advocates who’ll take your business to a whole new level.

Here are five effective employee engagement initiatives that you can start today.

1. Public praise

One of the key reasons why employees start to feel disengaged in a role is that they feel their work has no impact, which drains away their motivation faster than any physical tiredness could.

You can easily combat this by identifying something great that one of your employees has done and sharing it in a public space, whether that’s in the meeting room or the breakout area. This kind of recognition provides positive feedback to an employee that what they’re doing does matter and that it makes a difference.

The best kind of praise is specific. If possible, tie in your praise with a statistic that proves the work had a tangible impact and if not, tie in your praise with one of your company values.

Tying praise to company values is especially useful when recognising an employee who went beyond the call of duty: perhaps they worked overtime to help a customer or devoted an evening to mentoring a new member of staff. Whatever it is, make sure you publicly recognise it.

2. Write a job description

You may have started the recruitment process with a specific job spec, but it’s not uncommon for roles to evolve and change over time. A great way to identify this is to ask your team to write their own job descriptions as they understand it, and ensure that it’s reviewed in a month or a quarter’s time with their manager.

By reviewing this description with their manager, employees can see where parts of their job have changed — for better or worse. Your staff can then highlight those responsibilities that have crept into their role which they don’t want, giving you a chance to rethink how to optimise your team structure.

Ultimately, employees who are working on things they care about will be far more engaged, so writing and reviewing their job description is a great way to nip those detrimental tasks in the bud and help your people thrive.

3. Run knowledge-share sessions

Research shows that millennials are constantly looking for opportunities to learn and develop — it’s a determining factor in whether they’ll stay or go.

Thankfully, you can foster a learning culture without sinking thousands into an elaborate training budget. Instead, promote training sessions between different members of staff. This is a great way for teams to develop their understanding of different departments while building relationships.

Better still, it’ll benefit the session host as much as the learners; not only do they get a chance to touch up on their presentations skills, but they’ll also learn how to explain complex concepts more simply. It’ll remind them why they’re an expert at what they do, giving them that little boost of self-esteem that will go a long way in keeping them engaged.

Woman laughing while running an ideas workshop

4. Encourage innovation

Google is one of the most sought-out employers in the world and whose employees are known to work hard and love what they do. Famously, Google ran a ‘20%’ initiative, in which staff were encouraged to spend 20% of their time on a personal project that they believed could help the company.

The 20% initiative works: it produced Gmail, Google Maps and spawned the beginning of Google Home. But it also creates a culture in which employees feel trusted and empowered to make decisions.

By adopting a similar rule in your business, however that might look, you can re-engage employees. People are naturally more invested in an idea that they came up with, so by giving your team some free reign to start a project they’re passionate about, you reignite that flame that keeps them engaged in the rest of their work, too.

The best way to sustain this kind of innovation and keep engagement high is to use those ideas or developments that can add value to the work of the wider company, giving credit where it’s due. There’s nothing more satisfying than seeing the seed of your idea bear fruit in your environment.

5. Volunteer together

The new generation of workers is more interested in whether or not their employer is ethically minded and committed to a good cause than if their profits are at an all-time high.

With that in mind, many companies today donate to a range of charities both locally and overseas. But there’s one thing that a lot of businesses miss: encouraging staff to volunteer together.

Volunteering to do work for charities is an ideal way of keeping your staff engaged because it helps them bond with others in their team over a good cause.

These five initiatives are not only easy to implement and generally free to do, but they’re also long-term solutions to your employee engagement problem. In time, the benefits of having a more engaged team will drive your business forward and help you thrive.

Accessories

The 5 best apps for employee productivity

The digital revolution has mostly changed our lives for the better, but there’s one way in which it’s hurting businesses: employee productivity. Limitless distractions are now available at our fingertips, on both our computers and our phones, and only the strongest-willed among us can resist.

Luckily, there are innovations that can help remedy this problem. Some come in the form of restructuring the very spaces we work in: roomy breakout spaces and standing desks are known to improve employee productivity when implemented correctly.

There are also plenty of clever ideas to tackle distractions that are available on your phone. So, if you’re are struggling to stay productive, the good news is that there might just be an app for that.

Here are our 5 favourite apps to help you and your team stay focused at work.

1. Forest

Screenshot of the Forest productivity app

Available on: iOS, Android

Price: Free (Google Play), £1.99 (App Store)

Remember when Tamagotchi was all the rage? Forest uses a similar concept: you nurture a virtual being until it reaches full growth, which Forest uses it to “gamify” your productivity.

When you want to focus, you plant a tree in the Forest app. In your focus time, the seed will begin to grow, slowly developing into a sturdy digital tree as each minute passes.

However, if you leave the app and do something else on your phone during your focus time, your tree dies. Whether it’s to check Facebook, your emails or to indulge in some Buzzfeed clickbait, there’s suddenly something to lose. By providing an immediate consequence of distraction, Forest deters people from using their phones unless they absolutely have to.

The app helps employees stay on track by not only raising the stakes in the game but in the real world, too. As employees build their own forest of trees (a great visual representation of all that good focus time), they earn points that they can spend on planting trees in real life.

It’s good for your business and good for the environment. What’s not to love?

2. Trello

Screenshot of the Trello desktop appAvailable on: Desktop, iOS, Android

Price: Free

Losing track of tasks can be a big productivity killer. Trello helps prevent that by providing you with a way to visualise all of your projects at once.

When you want to create a new task in Trello, you create a ‘card’. You can then add attachments, comments, deadlines and other users that the project is relevant to each card. Each user on your card will get notified each time you update it and can add their own comments, too.

Cards go into lists that you can label according to status. For example, projects that haven’t yet been started might go into a list called “Pipeline”, whereas tasks awaiting some feedback or need more information might go into a list called “Blocked”. Ordering your tasks like this lets you quickly see where any project is up to — no more wasting time sifting through emails when Karen from Accounts needs an update.

Best of all, Trello is free to use, so you can add everybody in your team to your board and start working together straight away.

3. Hours

Screenshot of the Hours productivity app

Available on: iOS

Price: Free

Sometimes you’ll be in the middle of a task, get distracted, and then before you know it, an hour’s gone by.

Keeping track of how you’ve used your time helps you retrospectively identify where you’ve used your time well, and where you might have idly whittled those minutes away.

Hours makes tracking time easy. You add new tasks that you’re working on and click the timer next to them when you start. Whenever you switch your focus to something else, you can start timing on the next task. When your day has finished, you’ll have a timeline that displays how you’ve used all of your time in a simple way.

Not quite accurate? You can go back and edit your timeline to ensure it’s a true representation of your day to factor in for those ad hoc requests.

4. Slack

Screenshot of the Slack desktop appAvailable on: Desktop, iOS, Android

Price: Free with Premium plans available

Slack is so revolutionary that it’s already found its way into thousands of workplaces across the world. It removes the pain of sifting through emails by providing an easy-to-use internal communications tool.

Slack helps teams work on projects together with instant messaging. Users can create separate ‘channels’ in which specific projects, clients or even company events can be discussed. You can tag other users to alert them to messages that they might need to see — that way, rather than asking you to dig out an old email, your colleagues can simply check through the channel to find the relevant conversation thread.

It’s free to use, too, so you can get your team signed up and tackling those big projects together in no time without having to leave their desks.

5. Grammarly

The Grammarly logo

Available on: Desktop, iOS, Android

Price: Free with Premium plans available

I know what you’re thinking: a grammar-checking tool isn’t a productivity tool. However, bad grammar can actually cost your company hundreds of hours of employee time; with every “Can you check this email for me?”, someone gets pulled away from a task that’s more important.

Grammarly buys you time back by working as a language assistant wherever you’re typing. When you install Grammarly on your browser, it will proofread your emails, social posts and documents, making quick suggestions to improve that clunky turn of phrase or wordy sentences.

Best of all, the basic version of Grammarly is free, so you can ensure your employees are outputting well-written, professional-sounding work without it costing you a penny.

 

Smart apps like these are helping offices around the world stay motivated and productive amidst a growing tidal wave of digital distraction.

Worried that young workers have been conditioned to be distracted online? Find out why Millennials actually make the best employees.

Workplace

3 reasons why going green might actually save your business money

Historically, “going green” has been little more than a fantasy for the majority of businesses.

Despite all the best intentions, adopting environmental initiatives was a luxury afforded only to companies that could afford it, and whose dedication to helping the planet outweighed the extra costs they would need to swallow up.

But times have changed. Sustainable businesses are no longer a novelty: they’re now an integral part of the business landscape. And one of the most exciting aspects of this grand change is that it might actually benefit your business beyond the feel-good factor.

We’ve outlined 3 reasons why you should be adopting environmental initiatives in your business.

1. Renewable energies are getting much cheaper

One of the main barriers stopping businesses from going green was that renewable energy was typically a lot more expensive than non-renewable fossil fuels.

However, the last decade or so has seen prices for renewable energies plummet — and the trend is set to continue. A recent report created by the International Renewable Energy Agency found that at the current trajectory of energy rates, renewable energies will be cheaper than fossil fuels by 2020.

Part of the reason for this dramatic drop in price is the astronomical growth in investment in sustainable technologies. In 2017, for example, global investment in renewable energies went to a staggering $316bn, while investment into fossil fuels trailed behind at just $117bn.

When buying renewable energy, going local is usually cheaper than importing it; plus, you can reduce the amount of fuel required to get your energy to your location.

You can buy energy that has been created from renewable sources — like solar energy, wind power, biogeneration and hydropower — by switching to eco-friendly UK suppliers like Green Energy, Good Energy and Ecotricity.

2. You can get additional funding

To help encourage businesses to be more environmentally friendly, the Carbon Trust has created a bold new initiative: the Green Business Fund.

The fund is offering up to £5,000 to small and medium-sized businesses who need financial support to buy energy-saving equipment. That might be a new lighting system or more efficient air conditioning equipment for your offices.

The fund is available for a limited period of time on a first-come-first-served basis. If you’re an SME in England, Scotland or Wales, you can register your interest now.

It’s also worth noting that businesses in energy-intensive or IPPC-regulated industries can also benefit from tax breaks in the form of a Climate Change Agreement (CCA). A CCA is an agreement between your business and the government that states you’ll do everything in your power to make your business’s energy consumption more efficient.

Companies with a CCA get discounts on the Climate Change Levy (CCL), a tax applied to electricity, gas and fossil fuels. From April 2019, those discounts will go up to 93% for electricity and 78% for gas.

3. You can attract more customers and new staff

Many of the world’s biggest brands like Coke and Nike are pledging their allegiance to green initiatives — and it’s not hard to figure out why. According to Environmental Leader, a report from the Natural Marketing Institute found that 58% of consumers consider a company’s environmental impact in choosing where to purchase goods and services.

That’s a lot of business that you could be missing out on.

By attracting a broader audience of customers, adopting environmental initiatives can help you increase revenue, providing a tangible financial benefit to going green.

It’s also worth considering how this will impact your ability to recruit new talent. Research suggests that Millennials want to work for employers committed to values and ethics that include being environmentally responsible, so green businesses have a better shot at attracting candidates that could take their company to the next level.

Switching how you consume your energy is just one way in which you can give your business a makeover. Find out how you can easily rejuvenate your office with a few key design decisions.

Uncategorized, Workplace

The rise of remote working – could it do more harm than good?

The traditional office landscape is changing. Gone are the days of closed cubicles, quiet workspaces and water-cooler talk. Now, it’s not uncommon to see napping pods, office dogs and funky breakout rooms with an array of fun and exciting activities.

One of the biggest changes that has quickly grown in popularity is the rise of the remote working space. By eliminating some distractions that are common in an office environment and reducing commute time, remote working can have significant benefits for many employees, which explains why half of the UK’s workforce is set to be remote working by 2020.

However, there are also some issues that arise when employees work remotely that can have a real negative effect on businesses.  In fact, many big businesses including Yahoo and IBM, are scaling back or completely eliminating their telecommuting programs.

We’ve taken a look at the most pressing issues that remote working can create for businesses, and provide some alternative options that might work better for you and your staff.

Communication issues can arise

Thanks to increased technological advances, we can communicate with people half-way across the world in a matter of seconds. You might think that thanks to these advances, communication won’t be an issue, even if your employees work remotely. For example, Ben Davies, head of marketing at remote working space Ziferblat, said:

“When working remotely, communication can be a challenge, but this is where strong management and company culture step in.

“Managers can often find that without office distractions employees can be more effective when they work remotely and will communicate with each other in a more intentional way.”

However, the opposite proves to be true in some cases. According to a survey from Buffer, 21% of people who work remotely believe that collaboration suffers when they’re removed from the office and find it makes communication with other employees more difficult. Worse still, 52% of people who work remotely feel like their colleagues based in the office don’t treat them equally.

On top of this, flexible hours can lead to scheduling issues and make spontaneous communications problematic – if someone needs an answer to a question quickly about a certain project, resentment may build if they have to wait hours for an answer.

When the bulk of your communication happens via email, it’s very easy for communications to get twisted or misconstrued. Small misunderstanding can grow to bigger issues that snowball into bad blood between employees – especially the ones feeling left out.

It can impact creativity

All good business leaders know the importance of collaboration when it comes to creativity. Although there are services out there that have been created to aid collaboration, nothing really beats the output from a fun, face-to-face ideas meeting.

One of the most important aspects of innovation is trusting your team to respect your input and help you develop your ideas in a constructive and helpful manner. Professor and author, John Bessant claims that businesses need to “create an atmosphere where creativity is welcomed, by making people feel like they can deliver an idea, and that it’s safe to share their own and link up with others.”.

This can be difficult in remote working spaces. They can lead to a more disjointed team, which may mean people are apprehensive about voicing their concerns or take offence to well-meaning criticism.

Even just a face-to-face quick chat about a problem with colleagues can help employees come up with a creative and innovative way to solve it – something that’s missing from remote working spaces.

Loneliness and isolation

Often, the biggest problem facing remote workers is the isolation. People who choose to work from home may go the whole day with no face-to-face contact – there will be no co-workers around for a quick chat, no kind words of comfort when a project goes wrong and no one to share a lunch with. This can have a real damaging effect on employees mental and physical health.

Long hours spent working from home can lead to staff feeling very isolated and lonely. A recent report by the Campaign to End Loneliness predicts that social isolations costs U.K. employers £2.5 billion per year in absenteeism, productivity losses, employee caregiving obligations, and turnover.

Dr. Dhruv Khuller, a physician at Massachusetts General Hospital also states that the effects of loneliness on our health are only slightly less strong than smoking or obesity. If done wrong, remote working can have a negative impact not just on our mental health, but our physical health too

Accountability and visibility

Accountability and visibility are concerns for both employers and employees. If staff work remotely, a manager may find it difficult to know if their employees are doing exactly what’s being asked of them. Yes, you can give your staff deadlines, but a project rushed the night before won’t be as good as one that’s worked on over the week. Many managers find it difficult to balance the need for transparency and “checking in” without overwhelming staff.

On the other end of the scale, when working remotely, some staff members may feel like they need to over-work and do more hours than their office-counterparts just to be visible. They may also feel ignored and overlooked simply because they are less likely to talk to senior managers day-to-day. They will also have fewer opportunities to gain insight into the “bigger picture” which could lead to dissatisfaction, and ultimately, staff turnover.

So what’s the answer?

Remote working doesn’t come without its hiccups, and often the negatives can outweigh the positives. However, depending on your industry and the type of staff you have, there are some ways to balance the good with the bad.

  • Create a strong company culture for all staff members – encouraging staff members to meet (if face-to-face is not possible, via Skype) regularly with fun team building events will help them form more of a unit, making communication easier and helping relationships develop.
  • Make staff feel valued – Ensure remote working staff still have regular one-to-ones and receive feedback on their work.
  • Modernise your office – Updating your office with modern workspaces, relaxing breakout areas and private working spaces will minimise the number of employees who choose to work remotely.
  • Consider a mix – Allowing your employees a certain amount of time a month to work remotely is a great way to balance the scales – your employees will feel valued thanks to the perks available to them.

Nick Pollitt from DBI Furniture said:

“Remote working can work well for some employees in some industries. However, it’s not ideal for everyone. A great compromise is to make sure staff feel completely comfortable at work by updating your office and offering perks such as fruit, drinks and bonding activities.

“Alternatively, offering part-time remoting working can offer staff and managers the best of both worlds – visibility and accountability coupled with freedom and autonomy. It’s up to businesses leaders to decide what will work best for their workforce – the may find that offering remote working rejuvenate their workforce, or it may do the opposite.”

Desks, Ergonomics, Furniture, Workplace

The importance of good posture in the workplace

Over thousands of years, human beings have evolved to run long distances, hunt and forage for food and spend the majority of our time outside. What we’re not designed for is sitting hunched over a desk for hours on end.

And yet that’s exactly what’s happening in our increasingly office-based culture, with 78% of office workers saying they spend too long sat down.  That’s why bad posture in the workplace is such a common (and growing) problem.

Why is good posture so important?

Your mum was right: your posture is important. Good posture means that your bones, muscles, joints and ligaments are properly aligned, leading to them being used more efficiently.  

Good posture can also help prevent several health problems, including:

  • Increased risk of backaches
  • Fatigue
  • Poor digestion
  • Increased chances of cardiovascular issues
  • Varicose veins
  • Changes in your spinal curvature

What causes bad posture?

There are a number of different sitting and standing habits we pick up that lead to bad posture, especially when spending long hours sitting in front of a computer screen at work.

Things you may be doing that lead to bad posture include:

  • Slouching in your chair
  • Hunching your back
  • Rounding your shoulders
  • Poking your chin out when sat at a desk
  • Cradling your phone between your ear and neck

These positions can sometimes feel more comfortable than actually sitting correctly, but they’re a habit that needs to be broken to avoid health problems down the line.

The type of lifestyles we live can also contribute to the way we hold ourselves. Prolonged periods of inactivity, a lack of exercise and poor ergonomic workstations can all lead to problems with your posture.

Luckily, there are some easy ways in which you can help break these habits and stay standing tall.

How to win the fight against bad posture

It’s never too late to make an effort to start improving your posture. Take these measures now to look forward to a future of better health.

Understand your posture

To improve your posture, you need to know how you currently hold yourself.

Take a look at your posture in the mirror. See where your hands rest and feel where you hold tension (for most people, this is usually in the shoulders).

If your palms face your thighs with your thumbs pointing ahead, your posture is good. If your palms face backwards, you’re probably slouching. To correct this, pull your head back and your shoulders down and back.

Make an effort to sit properly

We often develop bad posture through how we sit. If you sit too far forward on your chair, you put additional pressure on your pubic bone, and if you sit too far back, the pressure mounts on your tailbone.

Find the right balance by keeping your feet flat on the floor, your back straight and centring your weight. You should also think about supporting your lower back to prevent aches and pains if you spend long periods of time sitting.

Try correcting exercises

There are certain exercises you can do to help counteract the damage of bad posture. The best exercises strengthen your core, extend and flex your muscles and encourage better balance. They include:

  • Yoga
  • Pilates
  • Planks
  • Shoulder stretches
  • Bridges
  • Pull-ups

Make sure you’re fully supported with the correct furniture

In office environments, there is a natural tendency to lean forward towards your computer, slouch at your desk or keep your legs crossed for long periods, which can lead to increased tension and muscle strain throughout your body. One of the best ways to combat this is to ensure that you are provided with comfortable, ergonomic furniture that supports good posture.

Height adjustable desks are great for encouraging good posture, as you can decide between sitting or standing whilst doing your work, giving muscle groups a rest during the day.

The right kind of chair is also very important. You need to ensure that you’re comfortable and supported and that your chair is ergonomically designed to avoid any health issues.

For more information about health and wellbeing in the office, take a look at the best ways to encourage your staff to start exercising, or take a look at the six seating sins office workers usually fall victim to.

 

Workplace

Easy ways to rejuvenate your office this year

Few things help to stimulate your mind like a fresh environment.

So, if your office still has those tired beige walls and threadbare floor tiles, it’s probably time to bring a splash of colour into the room that reflects the passion you have for your business.

The best way to do that? You need to rejuvenate your office space.

Why it’s important to update your space

Your office space can directly affect how your employees think and feel when they’re at work. It’s why some of the world’s biggest companies have invested into transforming their office environments: Google is famous for producing offices with all sorts of quirky features, from rock-climbing walls to sleeping pods; Lego has an indoor slide and AirBnB’s offices are designed to look like homes from around the world.

Investing into these spaces has helped employees of these companies generate bigger and brighter ideas than the competition, all the while raising their happiness and boosting retention.

Now, we’re not saying you need to throw in a ball pit and an indoor fort, but if you see the value in updating your office space, you can start with a few simple changes. By changing up your environment, you’ll help to reinforce your company vision and equip your employees with the mental stimuli they need to go from good to great.

Dynamic spaces


It can be difficult to encourage teamwork when staff in different departments aren’t in regular contact with one another. Help connect your employees by bridging those gaps physically with dynamic spaces.

Dynamic spaces can be defined as environments that are constantly changing to suit the needs of those using it.

A few elements you can easily add to your office to make it more dynamic include:

  • Moveable furniture – Portable chairs and desks make hot-desking so easy that staff won’t have an excuse not to spend some time sitting with a different crowd.
  • Meeting pods – Adding small meeting pods to your office help staff have shorter, more informal catch-ups on a regular basis, and leave other rooms free for meetings with clients or senior management.
  • Adjustable-height desks – Employees can keep energised by standing at their desks when they feel the need to stretch their legs.

Biophilic designs


Biophilic design seeks to reconnect employees with the natural world to help them feel happier and more energised throughout the day. Decorating your office with bright colours and plenty of natural lighting encourages creativity by stimulating colour receptors in the brain.Unleash your staff’s best ideas by incorporating a few of the following elements into your office:

  • Plant stands – Plant stands bring flora indoors without taking up heaps of space. Keeping the room full of oxygen by using plants is a natural way to keep you and your staff alert and productive.
  • Keep the blinds open – Natural lighting keeps body-clocks ticking how they should, so employees don’t get sleepy during the day. Try keeping the blinds open whenever you can.
  • Daylight lamps – When sunlight is sparse, try “daylight” lamps instead. These unique bulbs radiate light with a UV ratio similar to that of the sun to help counter the familiar fatigue of dark winter mornings.

Homestyle comfort

Infusing your office with some homestyle comforts is a practical way of helping your staff get a moment of downtime in their day. It gives them a place to calm their mind, think over their problems and find solutions to them, without frustration getting in the way.

You can make your office feel more homey with a few easy changes:

  • Office sofas – Having a few sofas around the office gives people somewhere they can sit to read an important document, or just to catch up with someone in another team over a coffee.
  • Games – The ultimate crossover between “work” and “play” is to add a few fun activities in the office that employees can interact with on their breaks. Playing games allows employees to get their heads out of work while keeping their minds engaged and improving their ability to solve problems quickly.
  • Desk decorations – Encourage your staff to make the space theirs by bringing in decorations for their desks. These could be family photos, movie posters, or quirky figurines; anything that helps unleash their personality is great for helping them feel more at home.

Rejuvenating your office this year is more than just a vanity project: it’s an essential way to re-engage your staff and redefine your business culture.

And if you have clients visiting your office, it’s a great way for your ethos, visions and values to shine through: let them see that you’re a progressive, forward-thinking company.

Got any more tips on how to revamp your office this year? Share them in the comments below.

Workplace

5 reasons why millennials make great employees

Millennials have had more than their fair share of bad press lately. Dubbed the ‘go nowhere’ generation, they’re often associated with a lazy, risk-averse attitude.

But are they just misunderstood?

With inspirational millennial entrepreneurs making headlines and many businesses investing in a millennial workforce, it would seem so.

In fact, millennials could actually be one of your business’s biggest assets.

 

Reason 1: They crave responsibility and thrive when empowered

Coffee meeting

One of the most common criticisms aimed at millennials is that they’re self-entitled – possibly down to their parents’ openness to involve them in family decisions as children. Giving them a sense of responsibility from a young age, this kind of parenting has led many young people to feel they should also be able to have similar input in the workplace.

However, this trait can actually be of significant benefit to employers if they approach it in the right way. Give a millennial employee ownership of a particular area (no matter how small), and they’ll feel infinitely more valued, and that their work is having a real impact on the wider business.

Joshua Hebert, CEO of Magellan Jets, says:

“Give [millennials] a boring task without a reason, and they’ll give you boring results. Give them a share in the idea you’re putting into play, however, and they are more likely to turn in work you never imagined.”

Boosting morale and motivation, businesses adopting a team structure that focuses on empowering younger employees are likely to see a happier, more dynamic workforce. This kind of environment also breeds skilled workers, with further benefits down the line when these employees are able to step up to higher positions without hesitation thanks to their experience.

 

Reason 2: They’re open to change

Young people stood in a line

Thanks to their parents encouraging them to speak up, millennials are conditioned to openly question processes in a business if they think they can be improved.

Rather than starting work and blindly following the rules because “that’s how things have always been done”, millennial workers are open to change and likely to challenge things when older workers would perhaps be more reserved.

People development consultant Susy Roberts says:

“Generation Y aren’t more demanding – but they are different. They’ve been brought up in a team environment and encouraged to speak up when things aren’t right. And this, as any good business coach will tell you, is simply best practice.

With millennials, it’s definitely not all about money. An open working culture that respects individual views and opinions is essential.”

While some business owners may see this as a lack of respect for authority, that is simply not the case. Keen to make their mark and not afraid to challenge the status quo, millennials can help shape a business for the better, bringing in inventive ways of thinking that can streamline processes and increase efficiency.

 

Reason 3: They’re on a constant mission to better themselves (and your company)

NEO PR agency

Another frequently discussed millennial attribute is their desire to develop and progress.

While some people may see this as a negative thing (and the reason for a higher turnover of millennial staff), it can also be seen as highly positive. Who wouldn’t want a workforce that’s driven to improve and expand their skillset?

95% of millennials said they are motivated to work harder when they understand the importance of a particular task within the context of a company’s big picture goals. One way to harness this is to actively help and encourage them to learn everything they can about the operation at hand.  

Through learning new things, millennials can quickly become experts in their field, becoming serious assets to any business in the process.

 

Reason 4: They’re digital natives

Millennials using phones and tablets

Raised by computers and smartphones, millennials are the first generation born in today’s tech-centric world. An essential part of their daily lives, 53% of millennials say they’d rather lose their sense of smell than access to their devices.

With advancements in technology changing businesses all over the globe, the digital-savvy nature of millennials means they’re immune to change. Able to adapt almost effortlessly, the younger workforce requires next to no training when it comes to adopting new processes.

Not only does this save businesses a lot of time, it means you have a workforce that is instantly familiar with the latest tools (e.g. social media) and knows how to use them to produce results.

 

Reason 5: Their productivity is through the roof (in the right environment)

Impression Agency offices

Even if the lazy stereotypes are true under normal conditions, there’s a relatively simple solution to unlocking the incredible potential of the younger generation in the workplace.

Forward-thinking businesses are coming to the realisation that, when it comes to millennials and productivity, creating the right environment is a key factor. Gemma Spinks, Director at Neo PR, says:

“At Neo PR we love hiring young, vibrant, hard-working millennials, but we appreciate that they do like to work in a slightly different way. We have tailored our office to keep our employees motivated, engaged, active and enjoying themselves.”

Ben Garry, a 20-year-old SEO Executive, is a big fan of vibrant work spaces. Speaking about his time at Impression agency in Nottingham, he says:

“For me, working in this kind of environment has really helped me to integrate with the wider team. It makes collaborative working much easier; not only do we have plenty of spaces for meetings, but the more informal chats over a table tennis game or a beer on a Friday evening can lead to new ideas and more creative strategies.”

Whether you believe the stereotypes or not, investing in millennials is the future for every business. If you want to make your business more millennial friendly, our range of stylish office furniture can help you create the perfect environment for maximum productivity.