SURVIVING WORK

So, how can you prevent yourself from totally losing it while you prepare to leave your soul-sucking day job? 

Here are a few suggested ways you can pass the time plus tips I’ve put together after doing it myself. (The 10+ years of helping other creative women keep their sanity at the tail end of their day jobs doesn’t hurt, either.)

1. Try to make it a game (especially if you’re competitive!) to help your timeline go quicker.  Whether it’s “How fast can I get this done without majorly screwing it up?” or “ If my boss says ‘um’ 100 times this week, then I’m taking myself out to lunch”, it counts. At the end of each week, tell your partner/roommate/mom how many times you “won” that week and try to “win” more the next!

2. Give yourself a visual reminder of why you’re still there/what’s awaiting you, and put it up within constant eyesight in your cube/office, on the wall, on your desktop, etc. I put up my When I Grow Up logo, another client put up a poster she designed, and another drew Post-Its with scenes of what she planned on doing when she quit, like yoga on a beach, for example. If it represents “freedom” to you, then you have my full approval.

3. Find time to leave the office during the day, no matter how short the amount of time, no matter the circumstances. Take a field trip. Call a friend. Read a book. Take pictures. Fake food poisoning that mysteriously showed up for an hour and then left. Know what? They recommend this for people who like their jobs, too! You need air, perspective, and a little bit of time each day to let your brain focus on you — just you — so you can tell remind yourself this is temporary and the good life is coming. 

4. Start and end your day in ways that feel good. Instead of just waking up, taking a shower, getting dressed and heading right to work, what can you do for yourself before walking out the door? No need for it to be extensive, especially if you’re not a morning person (like me)! What will take 10 minutes or less, but still be a piece of the morning you actually look forward to? Think about reading your favorite magazine, or dancing to your favorite song, or doing a few sun salutations. Then, ask yourself the same question about the end of your day! I write quickly in my journal and read a chapter of my book before shutting off the light every night– that’s just for me. My copywriter says she indulges in her skin care routine and makes a mini spa in her bathroom before bed. By bookending your days with things that feel good, you’re ensuring you get something out of each day that passes while you count down to your day job exit!   

5. Set an intention at the start of every day, and if you can, write or paste it on something you’ll see throughout the day, like your phone’s background or a sticky on your computer. By focusing on just one word (i.e. “friendly” or “inquisitive” or “helpful”), you can have an M.O. for the day – a way for you to more easily fake it ‘til you make it, if you will. (<— Hey, that shiz is real!)

6. Come up with a mantra that’ll help you get through the day. Whether it’s your Giving Notice Day (“January 2nd; January 2nd; January 2nd”) or the end result (“I’m gonna be a dog trainer, I’m gonna be a dog trainer, I’m gonna be a dog trainer”), or a truth you believe in (“I deserve to be happy, I deserve to be happy, I deserve to be happy”) find the words that’ll calm you down and put things in perspective. Just try not to say them out loud in public at full volume, but you can always email me instead!! 

7. If you know the date you’re giving notice, start a backwards countdown on your calendar. I did this for the last 4 months I was at my day job (which is when I realized I could give my notice), and I loved sitting down to work each day and seeing that I was a day closer to my goal. It was super motivating, and also acted as my little secret, since there was nothing there but “53 days!” Exciting stuff.

Ya know what, though? Regardless of howyou do, you’re gonna do it, and that’s worth so, so much. Make sure that you pat yourself on the back and give yourself tons of credit for making (and acting on!) the plan to begin with! That’s more than most people do, and will absolutely give you a leg up when it’s time to hoof it out of there and shuffle off to become a Woman of the World (<– what I like to call “a full-time entrepreneur”). You can so do it! No horrible panic or purse-screaming required.  

Credit:

https://whenigrowupcoach.com/

ESCAPE THE 9-5

The alarm is going off. If you don’t wake up right now, you’re going to be late and you’re boss will be mad. We all know this feeling and I don’t know anyone that looks forward to it. Maybe it’s time to escape the 9 to 5 and start enjoying your life.

For millions of people around the globe, daily life revolves around the drudgery of the morning commute, the groundhog day effect of office life, the endless hours of staring at a computer screen, living for the weekends, and missing out on the things they enjoy. That’s no way to go through life. Don’t get stuck in a job you hate. Life is short. You need to enjoy every second of it.

Man Looking Skyward PhotoToo many people get stuck in the 9 to 5 grind. It’s scary to escape the safety of office life, but in today’s tech-savvy world it’s becoming more and more common. If you really truly want a remote, flexible, location-independent lifestyle, you can do it. And it’s surprisingly not as hard to do as you might think.

The first step is to make a plan. Determine what your dream really is. Remember it needs to be realistic – you can’t become a king and never work again. Your plan must include income replacement. Then you need to determine if you would rather work three hours a day to spend more time with your family, work in the evenings so you can ski or surf all day, or work from your laptop while sitting in a hammock on a Caribbean island. This isn’t retirement, but this can be your reality.

Make your plan and then design your own lifestyle. You still have to work, but find a career path where you can set your own rules. Here are a few popular escape routes to consider:

  • Start your own business. – Entrepreneurship is a big task. Can you provide a service or sell a product? Do something that you enjoy. Often you’ll work more than 40 hours per week to get your business off the ground, but your time is spent on you.
  • Choose a unique job or outdoor job. – There are plenty of non-desk jobs to choose from. Find a job that keeps you out of the office and on the move. It’ll make you a happier and healthier person.
  • Flip seasons. – At JobMonkey, we love seasonal jobs. Not only do you get to work cool jobs during the summer and winter, but you get to enjoy your off seasons. Most seasonal jobs involve being outside and having fun.
  • Seek out freelance opportunities.– Freelancers have to find their own work (which is easier than ever online). You can also set your own schedule and work where you want to work.
  • Telecommute. – Telecommuting saves everybody time and money. Many employers are open to the idea of letting you work remotely. Ask your boss to let you telecommute.
  • Compress your work week. – Instead of working five 8-hour days, try to work four 10-hour days. You’ll have an extra day to play.
  • Switch to part time. – Instead of working full time, try part time. You’ll have lots of extra time to explore your alternative job options, while still making a regular paycheck.
  • Make money online. – Sell things on eBay or Etsy. Start an online store. Become a blogger. Thousands of people make a healthy living online and reap the rewards of a “virtual office.”
  • Move abroad. – Some countries are obsessed with maximizing work hours, while other countries are a bit more laid back. Find a country where you can embrace the culture and work ethic.

It’s a daunting task to start something new.  It’s unlikely that you will be an instant success overnight. Determination is the key to escaping the 9 to 5 rat race. Make a plan and stick with it. Remember the wise saying, it takes 10,000 hours to become an expert.

If you truly want to escape the 9 to 5, you should read Timothy Ferris’ book, The Four Hour Workweek: Escape 9-5, Live Anywhere, and Join The New Rich. It’s a good read with many useful tips, productivity hacks, and proven ideas.

So what’s holding you back from escaping the 9 to 5 grind? Is it the money? The fear of the uncertainty? The desire to remain unhappy? They say money can’t buy happiness, so what can buy happiness? The time and the ability to do what you want. Go out and make that time. It will be the best thing you ever do.

STRESS AT WORK

What is stress?

HSE defines stress as ‘the adverse reaction people have to excessive pressures or other types of demand placed on them’.

Employees feel stress when they can’t cope with pressures and other issues. Employers should match demands to employees’ skills and knowledge. For example, employees can get stressed if they feel they don’t have the skills or time to meet tight deadlines. Providing planning, training and support can reduce pressure and bring stress levels down.

Stress affects people differently – what stresses one person may not affect another. Factors like skills and experience, age or disability may all affect whether an employee can cope. 

There are six main areas of work design which can effect stress levels. You should manage these properly. They are: 

  • demands
  • control
  • support
  • relationships
  • role
  • change

Employers should assess the risks in these areas to manage stress in the workplace.

Signs of stress

Stress is not an illness but it can make you ill. Recognising the signs of stress will help employers to take steps to stop, lower and manage stress in their workplace.

How to help

The earlier a problem is tackled the less impact it will have. If you think that an employee is having problems, encourage them to talk to someone, whether it’s their line manager, trade union representative, GP or their occupational health team.

Help for line managers to have simple, practical conversations with employees which can help prevent stress is available in our Talking Toolkits PDF.

To protect employees from stress at work, employers should assess risks to their health. These example stress risk assessments may help.

You may need to develop individual action plans for employees suffering from stress. HSE’s Management Standards may also help you to identify and manage the six causes of stress at work.

PLANTS AT WORK

Numerous scientific studies have proven the positives of having more greenery in your workspace. Here are the top seven benefits for employees – and their employers

Humans have an innate desire to be connected with nature, which scientists call ‘biophilia’. Unfortunately, the spaces we tend to spend most of our days – workplaces – tend to be stripped of much of their connection to the natural environment.

Studies have shown that simply adding some greenery in the form of indoor plants can have major positive benefits for employees and their organisations. The same goes for remote or home workers, too. Here are seven reasons why you should invest in some plants for your own desk, or your wider workplace.

 

1. They help to reduce stress

A 2010 study by the new University of Technology, Sydney, found significant reductions in stress among workers when plants were introduced to their workspace. Results included a 37% fall in reported tension and anxiety; a 58% drop in depression or dejection; a 44% decrease in anger and hostility; and a 38% reduction in fatigue.

Although the study’s sample size was small, researchers concluded: “This study shows that just one plant per workspace can provide a very large lift to staff spirits, and so promote wellbeing and performance.”

Proponents of colour psychology argue that the colour green has a relaxing and calming effect – so decorating offices with this shade could potentially have a similar affect to introducing plants to the workspace.

 

2. They help to increase productivity

Employees’ productivity jumps 15% when previously ‘lean’ work environments are filled with just a handful of houseplants, according to 2014 research by the University of Exeter. Adding just one plant per square metre improved memory retention and helped employees score higher on other basic tests, said researcher Dr Chris Knight.

“What was important was that everybody could see a plant from their desk,” Knight told The Guardian. “If you are working in an environment where there’s something to get you psychologically engaged you are happier and you work better.”

Of course, another great way to boost organisational productivity is to invest in HR software – which will help staff, managers and HR users alike manage their data more efficiently and effectively, and free up time that would otherwise be spent on labour-intensive administrative tasks.

 

3. They help to reduce sickness and absence rates

The 2015 Human Spaces report, which studied 7,600 offices workers in 16 countries, found that nearly two-thirds (58%) of workers have no live plants in their workspaces. Those whose environments incorporated natural elements reported a 15% higher wellbeing score and a 6% higher productivity score than employees whose offices didn’t include such elements.

Some experts argue that adding plants to the work environment can help to reduce the risk of sick building syndrome, although evidence to back up these claims is hard to come by.

A small study by the Agricultural University of Norway in the 1990s found that the introduction of plants to one office was linked to a 25% decrease in symptoms of ill health, including fatigue, concentration problems, dry skin and irritation of the nose and eyes.

“The presence of plants can probably result in a positive change in the psychosocial working environment,” commented professor Dr Tøve Fjeld in a 2011 blog post. “The resultant feeling of wellbeing also affects how the individual assesses his/her state of health. Against the background of the psychobiological identity and mankind’s positive reaction to nature we can assume that plants have a particular effect on the sense of wellbeing. This is evidenced by the fact that the occurrence of symptoms linked to the indoor atmosphere was reduced.”

 

4. They make workspaces more attractive to job applicants

Commenting on the 2015 Human Spaces report when it was released, organisational psychology professor Sir Cary Cooper said: “The benefit of design inspired by nature, known as biophilic design, is accumulating evidence at a rapid pace. Looking at a snapshot of global working environments, up to one in five people have no natural elements within their workspace, and alarmingly nearly 50% of workers have no natural light. Yet a third of us say that workplace design would affect our decision to join a company. There’s a big disparity here and one that hints at workplace design only recently rising to prominence as a crucial factor.”

 

5. They clean the air 

While humans need oxygen to survive, plants absorb a gas we don’t need – carbon dioxide – and combine it with water and light to produce energy in a process called photosynthesis.

In the 1980s, scientists at NASAdiscovered that plants were adept at removing chemicals such as benzene, trichloroethylene, and formaldehyde from the air, making it cleaner for humans to breathe.

More recent research led by Dr Fraser Torpy, director of the University of Technology Sydney Plants and Indoor Environmental Quality Research Group, has found that indoor plants can help reduce carbon dioxide levels by about 10% in air-conditioned offices, and by about 25% in buildings without air conditioning.

“We found palms beat everything else for carbon dioxide,” said Torpy. “But when it comes to volatile organics everything is the same – it doesn’t matter… A medium-sized plant (anything above about 20cm) in a room will make really big reductions to those particular chemicals.”

 

6. They help to reduce noise levels

By absorbing sounds (rather than insulating against noise pollution), plants help to reduce the distracting effects of background office chatter. Positioning larger plant pots, in multiple locations in the edges and corners of a room has the great positive benefit, according to a 1995 paper by researchers at London South Bank University.

 

7. They can boost creativity

The 2015 Human Spaces report also found that employees whose offices included natural elements scored 15% higher for creativity than those whose offices didn’t include such elements.

Attention restoration theory suggests that looking at nature – and even just images of nature – can shift the brain into a different processing mode, making employees feel more relaxed and better able to concentrate.

 

So which plants do best in an office environment?

Not all plants will love to live in your workplace – you need to consider restrictions such as the availability of daylight, and how often they can and will be watered. Those that will thrive in workplaces include succulents (which include aloe and cacti), rubber plants and peace lilies.

SHAKE THE MONDAY BLUES

It is Monday morning. People have the Monday blues apparently.

My newsfeeds are ram packed full of memes about Monday mornings, groaning about going back to work, about how the weekend ended too soon and that they are reaching for the coffee to begrudgingly kick start the beginning of the week…..

Ugh! *Makes dramatic huff, sigh and shoulder shrug to go with the noise of the word*


It’s all too easy to get caught up in negativity on a Monday morning and you end up feeling like you should be unhappy because ‘everyone else is’! It’s absurd. And, as a person, it is no way to start your week or any day – heck, the Monday blues can put a huge strain on your mental and emotional well-being!

It only takes one negative voice to create a descent into the gloom and that voice might even be our own inside our own head. Yet it is like a domino effect and a half when collective consciousness (figuratively speaking!) starts to take swipes at poor old Monday morning, and before we know it, we are in a grump and are dramatically huffing and puffing our way into the Monday blues.

How do you combat it? How do you turn it around? Let’s nip this in the bud, shall we?

It is not hard to create an environment where you don’t have to experience these feelings and you look forward to going into the office, or to work each day; being aware of doing it is a step in the right direction. Then altering our experience of life to one, which is far more rewarding and enjoyable on many levels.
Do some or all of this stuff to beat the Monday blues:

Get Enough Sleep and Rise Early:
At times we burn the candle at both ends leaving no room for rest, but research says that you cannot catch up on lost sleep. There may be no more important night to get rest than Sunday night, and no better remedy for Monday blues than a solid night’s sleep. The Dalai Lama is quoted as saying, “Sleep is the best form of meditation.”


Feeling down is not helped if you’re feeling exhausted too. And tiredness can make small problems feel like huge issues. Grab an early night tonight – not only will Blue Monday feel shorter but you’ll feel better on Tuesday.

Prepare for Monday on Friday:
I have a flash card blue tacked to my office light switch that reads “Is tomorrow planned?” I want to be able to step into my office and know right away what it is that I am doing. In particular when stepping into the office on Monday morning.

Have a think about what’s coming up at work next week. Is there anything that will be hanging over your head if you don’t get it done beforehand? Don’t leave dealing with a complaint, a long-winded but inevitable task or an unwanted phone call for your Monday. Bite the bullet and once it’s done, that’s another weight off your shoulders that can leave your weekend feeling much lighter. Getting the tough stuff done as early as possible on Friday means your Monday will be less fearful or dread inducing.

Have an After Work Plan:
What is there to look forward to on a Monday?

Beating the Monday Blues isn’t just about what you do at work but what you do when you’re not. Plan to go and see a friend, eat something delicious somewhere nice or go and sweat out some stress in the gym; do something that makes you feel good, something you can look forward to.

Keeping yourself busy with activities you enjoy will set you up to take control of Monday, rather than letting Monday control you. Choose your Monday rather than being a passive recipient of it. Plan it well and turn it into something to look forward to.

Switch Off:
Find some time in your day to disconnect with it. That is, you can let go of Monday at regular intervals in the day. Take some time out for a quality break – use that to have some fun as I suggested in the previous point, or engage in some mindfulness, some self-hypnosis, some solitude. Be unplugged and disconnect from the world for a while.

You’ll be much more productive with your working role as a result too. Read this article for more on this subject:
Solitude – The Importance of ‘Me Time’ and How It’ll Make You More Successful

Exercise:
Exercise and fitness are essential for everyone. It changes your body, releasing chemicals that reduce anxiety and stress, and increase happiness. Even just a short run, gym workout or a walk in the park.
Exercise is also an opportunity to take some time out to let your brain relax and wander. If you’re feeling low energy or uninspired, getting moving is the best thing that you can do.

Go and get oxygenated and get some feelgood chemicals in your system at the same time.

Do What You Love:
It was Steve Jobs that said: “The only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it, keep looking. Don’t settle.”

It couldn’t be truer! You might find it difficult to be good at something you’re not passionate about; equally you might struggle to enjoy something you’re not passionate about. It’s as simple as that. Passion is a key component in Jim Collins’ three circles theory of business success: you must be passionate about it, it must make economic sense, and you must be the best at what you’re doing.

When work is such a major part of your life, then maybe you should consider doing something you enjoy or love? You’ll be skipping into work on Monday’s instead of dreading it.

Be Goal Focused:
Think about why you’re doing what you’re doing. Why do you work? What are you working toward? What is the purpose?

Having a goal in mind and written down, you’re always reminded of why you’re doing what you’re doing. You have a path, a reason to get up, look forward to getting into work on Monday and get stuck in to reaching that target. Being aware of that, reminding yourself of it, gives your Monday (and any other day) some purpose and inherent value rather than feeling blue about it.

You might also consider your own development in addition to other goals related to what you do. Training, ongoing development, education and personal growth is essential for job satisfaction. Perhaps that is because not only are you learning and developing, you also have an end goal in mind – an exam or deadline to work towards and that is incredibly motivating. These kinds of goals can lead to you having other options and directions in life that give you more ‘get up and go’ to remove Monday blues.

Have Fun:
A little (or a LOT) bit of fun and laughter is a great way to shake off a case of the Monday blues. Bring humour, and playfulness with you into your Monday. This is a simple way to brighten the day and it’s a good supply of energy to help productivity.

Read more about these topics here:
1. How and Why You Need To Be More Playful and Childlike.
2. The Science of Laughter: Why Laughing is Really Good for Your Health.

Develop New Habits:
If you have trouble getting started on Monday mornings, then forge new habits that will banish the Monday blues. That is, start engaging in more of the afore mentioned points so that they become second nature; healthy habits that have you looking forward to Mondays and seeing them as filled with opportunity, excitement and enjoyment.

Reward yourself along the way for taking new actions that build the habits that produce bigger results over time.

While some may consider Monday to be the worst day of the week, you, on the other hand, will learn to make the most of it. Take charge of your Mondays by relishing it and supercharging it. All you need is a momentum to keep you going. Wave goodbye the the Monday blues; soon Mondays may even become your favourite day of the week. Maybe….

HOW TO WRITE YOUR RESIGNATION

Resigning from a job is never easy. Aside from leaving favourite colleagues and the familiarity of a current role, writing a tactful resignation letter can prove a real challenge.

Failing to plan your letter of resignation properly may well burn bridges with the company you’ve worked so hard for and taint your list of connections within that company—a record which may well help you grow your career in the future.

Here’s a guide to what to say when resigning, details on whether a resignation letter is required by law and who to address a resignation letter to.

Is a resignation letter required by law?

Letters of resignation are one of the first stages of career transformation and growth. They are not required by law in the UK, but before you opt to skip writing one, the government does recommend checking your employment contract to ensure you aren’t in breach of any agreements made when you started your job.

If you aren’t sure, try checking your induction handbook or any literature you were provided with on your first day. Your contract also might include details as to what’s expected of you when terminating your employment, so read through it again before you take any action. When in doubt, it’s always a good idea to make your resignation formal with a letter.

How to write a resignation letter

Before you sit down to write anything, you should think through your decision to leave your current role. Once you’re confident that seeking a new opportunity is the right move for you, the next step is to download the Robert Half Salary Guide so you can benchmark your remuneration package options and growth opportunities against the UK hiring market.

Related: Before you quit, ask yourself these questions…

Taking these initial steps will put you on firm ground to negotiate any counter offers from current employers and give you added confidence in your decision. It’s also a good idea to have another job lined up before you resign so that you can transition seamlessly into a new role without any delays.

Although you can easily pull together a generic letter, it’s far more useful to create a tailored one. Try following this template resignation letter structure to ensure you include all the essential components:

  • Address it to your line manager
  • Begin with a statement of intent, for example: “It is with regret that I officially tender my resignation for the position of [your job title] at [company name].”
  • Include the date the letter was written (preferably in the top right-hand corner of the page)
  • State your contracted notice period and the date of your last day
  • Tactfully give the reason for your departure: new job, personal reasons, relocating, etc.
  • Include a graceful thank you to the company for the opportunity they gave you
  • Write your signature at the bottom

Free sample resignation letter

(Insert Current date)

(Insert Manager’s name)

(Insert Company Name)

(Insert Company Address)

Dear (Insert Manager’s name)

Please accept this letter as formal notification of my resignation from (the position) at(company name). My last day with the company will be (date).

Before I leave, I will ensure that all my projects are completed as far as possible, and I am happy to assist in any way to ensure a smooth handover to my replacement.

I would like to thank you for the opportunity to work at (company) for (years of service). During this time I have thoroughly enjoyed the atmosphere within the team, and I will miss our interactions.

While I am excited by the new opportunities that I will be pursuing in my new role, I will always remember my time at (company name) with affection. Please do not hesitate to contact me if you need further information after I leave, and I would be delighted if you stay in touch.

Kind regards,

(Your signature)

(Your printed name)

Using these essential components, you should be able to start writing a resignation letter which feels far less cold, shows genuine regret for leaving and displays appreciation.

WELLNESS AT WORK

We spend a shockingly high percentage of our lives at work. If your people are unhappy, unhealthy or have any other issues surrounding wellness – then you must address this! Failure to establish a culture that encourages wellness will lead to your people having wandering eyes and your business being less attractive to the next generation of workers, who often value happiness over pay and benefits…

You might have spent time and resources on building a strong vision and brand, improving your product/services and investing in new tech. But that overlooks the most important element of your business… your people! What have you done to improve their wellness? I thought it was timely to highlight the importance of a happy and engaged workforce as it’s “Cranky Co-Workers day” tomorrow!

THE IMPORTANCE OF WORKPLACE WELLNESS

We recently compiled our own research into what factors most affect the happiness and well-being of people at work. We surveyed over 2,500 employers and employees around the globe. Our results highlighted that factors like enjoyment of role, trust and work-life balance are more important to employees than salaries – when it comes to feeling happy at work.

(To read our whitepaper which outlines all our research Click Here)

Workplace wellness is critical to your business due to the huge cost implications related to employee illness and stress. According to the 2017 Health and Safety Executive report, “37% of all work-related sickness is due to stress, including anxiety and depression; costing UK employers an estimated £3.7 billion a year in absenteeism.”

So what sort of initiatives should you implement to improve workplace wellness within your business?

Tips to improve workplace wellness:

EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE TRAINING

Superior emotional intelligence (EQ) improves your worker’s performance, wellness and stress levels. Sounds too good to be true, right? To effectively develop a culture of mindfulness and self-reflection it is important to have training sessions or even ”lunch ‘n’ learns” that provide practical exercises and takeaways to help improve EQ.

Here at The Happiness Index HQ, we have an in-house specialist who has empowered us to diagnose our EQ personality types:

  • Emotional – expressive, empathic, creative, energetic…
  • Instinctive – knowing decisive, territorial, conviction, certainty…
  • Rational – logical, organised, objective, process-driven…
  • Reflective – intuitive, self-aware, insightful, visionary…

This helps us understand how to communicate with each other and work collaboratively. This is an effective technique for wellness, as we modify our behaviours to ensure we complement each other’s working practices. We also know when to take our foot off the pedal if someone is more sensitive to certain behaviours, or personality types.

ASK DAILY WELLNESS QUESTIONS

An effective technique is to ask your people questions daily that make them consider how they approach their day in terms of healthy mind, body and working practices. You don’t necessarily need written or verbal answers. Simply asking the questions will lead to the individual considering their choices and answering internally. This will help your people to think positively and tailor their working practices.

Example questions:

  • “What are your personal goals toward your own health and well-being today?”
  • “What form of exercise will you partake in today?”
  • “What can you do today that will make you happy?”
  • “What can you do today to improve someone else’s day?”

FOCUS ON FLEXIBILITY

“Working nine to five” may have been a big hit for Dolly Parton but for most of us, it’s archaic. It’s also a very unattractive prospect!

Thanks to technology people expect to be able to fulfil their duties away from the office. People can work in any country and at any time – day and night. Assuming everything gets done, does it really matter if everyone is chained to a desk all day?

It goes without saying that not everyone can work from home effectively, so it’s important to get to know your people and learn what works best for everyone. For those who do work well from home, it will lead to a boost in performance and offer a break from a grim commute and the stresses of office politics.

CONSIDER THE LOSADA LINE

We borrowed this strategy from workplace psychology guru Shawn Achor and his incredible book The Happiness Advantage. The theory is centred around focussing on the number 2.9013. Don’t worry I’ll explain…

According to mathematician Marcial Losada, this is the ratio of positive to negative interactions required to make a workforce happy and ultimately successful. The idea is that it takes about three positive comments, experiences or even expressions to fend off feelings of negativity and sadness. If you drop below this ratio your worker’s wellness and performance will drop and if you rise above it at a ratio of 6 to 1 – you are in the golden range where performance is highest and workplace wellness improves massively. Start complimenting your people and getting them to “pay it forward”. What have you got to lose?

SLEEP HAPPY, WAKE HAPPY

Another powerful approach is a self-reflection exercise that encourages positive thinking. This is also a by-product of The Losada Line. The practice involves reflecting on your day just before bed and thinking of three positive things that happened to you in the last 24 hours. This ensures you scan your memories with a positive filter and start to see the good in things… even if they are minute and your day was particularly bad! Eventually, this way of thinking will be instilled and you will start to think more positively in general.

By encouraging your people to do this, you will create a team of happy workers who look for the best in every situation.

“IT’S BETTER TO GIVE THAN TO RECEIVE”

Businesses are quick to invest in perks in their mission to boost wellness and productivity. The reality is that it takes more than that to make a sustainable difference.  By partnering with charities or local environmental drives you will allow your people to actively help others and witness how their efforts create positive outcomes for more than just a balance sheet.

This will improve staff wellness and happiness, as they will have more of a sense of purpose and will be proud to work for a business that genuinely cares about real-world issues. We recently partnered with Hope for children – a charity that helps to enrich the lives of underprivileged children around the globe. From a personal viewpoint, I find it very motivating to know that the harder I work, the more we can contribute to this great cause.

If that didn’t convince you, it will also bolster your customer relationships. This is demonstrated by The UK Small Business Consortium; “88% of consumers said they were more likely to buy from a company that supports and engages in activities to improve society.”

USE YOUR SPACE CLEVERLY

We spoke with Head of Design at Studio 11, Paul Bateman to discover whatare the best office designs to facilitate collaboration, health and productivity,“Companies are trying to attract and retain talent straight out of university and many students are used to the modern hot-desking approach that promotes flexible working. These non-corporate office style designs are increasingly more popular because businesses need to be agile to keep up in competitive markets.”

To further promote this flexible approach, you can make small tweaks to your existing office to maximise your space, whilst encouraging collaboration and catering to different working styles/needs. Some examples could be interactive walls that people can draw on, offices that moonlight as break-out areas or even nap rooms when not in use! Turn the conference room into a games room so people can take short breaks or have a game of table tennis during a meeting. Consider getting power sockets installed in comfy chairs, so people can work from a laptop in comfort. 

Health and fitness is another huge area that can be incorporated into office design. By installing furniture that doubles as exercise equipment you will encourage people to be less sedentary at work – which is a major health risk.  This can involve standing desks, exercise balls for chairs or treadmills with laptops attached so you can take a light stroll whilst you fill out your pivot table.

The options are endless. Find solutions that align with your budget and culture, then ask your people what changes they want to see. This is a huge step towards creating an environment where people will be excited to come to work.

FILL THEIR STOMACHS

The way to a worker’s heart is their belly. Your office should provide access to organic, healthy and tasty foods at affordable prices. This may also encourage workers from different departments to eat together and socialise.

Depending on budgets you can even provide complimentary meals, or at the very least healthy snacks like fruit, salad bars and possibly the occasional sweet treat for morale! You could also install a drinks fridge for after work socialising.

Provide advice and healthy eating programmes to educate everyone how to eat healthily and the positive implications it will have on their work and personal lives.

PROVIDE FINANCIAL AND RETIREMENT EDUCATION

A necessary employee wellness initiative is providing financial education that is based on different stages of everyone’s life and career. For example, new starters you can explain about investment and how pension schemes work. Whereas for older workers you can provide retirement coaching to alleviate concerns. This will help prepare them for a future where they won’t be employed.

This will encourage mindful career planning (and beyond), be a catalyst for positive change and most importantly demonstrate how much you care about everyone’s well-being.

COMMUNICATION IS KEY

Communication is the cornerstone of a healthy and happy workplace. Create an environment that encourages and empowers everyone to share their feelings and vent any concerns. This is a very healthy technique. By implementing a flexible feedback programme that allows everyone to voice their concerns and express sentiment – you can start to create action plans to remedy concerns, build on successes and promote a happier workplace where everyone has a say! This will ensure that “Cranky Co-workers Day” is nothing more than an abstract concept for you, your workers and all your stakeholders.

Here at The Happiness Index, we are advocates of our happiness formula: Happiness + Engagement = Productivity. Workplace wellness is synonymous with high performance, high retention rates and high revenue.  By following the above tips and concentrating on your people and their wellbeing, you will create a culture of health, happiness and productivity. This will boost workplace wellness, make you more attractive for new talent and help you become a workplace for the future.

CREATING A HOME OFFICE

Your home is your castle, but it can also be the central command post for your business, or a secondary workplace if you frequently bring work home. If the latter, you may not have much input regarding the appearance of your workplace office (or cubicle). However, as the king or queen of your castle, you can design and decorate your home office to your exact specifications. These are some tips to keep in mind as you create the perfect home office.

Choose carefully

Home Office Location

The location of your office may decide how productive you are. Image: KatarzynaBialasiewicz/Getty Images

When selecting the location of your home office, consider noise and traffic factors. For example, if the office is close to the street, you may hear people walking and/or driving by. Also, consider the traffic in your home. If you plan to work in your office when the rest of the family is at home, placing it close to the kitchen, bathroom or family room means you could have a lot of visitors or you might be easily distracted by nearby sounds.

On the other hand, if you have small children, it might be best to place the office relatively close to their playroom so you can monitor their activity.

Consider a minimalist approach

Home Office essentials

Only include the essentials. Image: Hero Images/Getty Images

Justin Klosky, CEO and co-founder of the O.C.D. Experience (Organize & Create Discipline), says, “Trends come and go – but no matter the Pantone Color of the Year, my forever favorite trend is a minimal aesthetic. Keeping your desk space clean with little, non-distracting touches of personality here or there makes a difference in productivity and helps keep your head clear.”

In fact, Mariko Baerg, a realtor at Bridgewell Real Estate Group in Vancouver, says she’s seeing a trend in this approach. “There’s a move to a minimalistic space with little clutter and a focus only on the essentials: laptop, wireless printers/scanners, a desk and cabinets.”

Cut the cords (or at least hide them)

Home Office wireless

Wireless devices provide a safer work environment. Image: Westend61/Getty Images

Wireless printers and scanners are one way to keep those ugly wires out of view and reduce the chances of tripping over them. Klosky also recommends a two-in-one laptop paired with a wireless charging mat, wireless keyboard and thunderbolt docks if you need dual displays. However, if you don’t have wireless equipment, Klosky says you can hide 99 percent of your wires from being seen. “You can do this with a crafty combo of PVC piping, velcro and zip ties to mount power sources under desks and out of sight.”

Avoid paper clutter

Home Office paperless

Save paper – and the planet. Image: Tom Merton/Getty Images

Do you really need to keep all of those documents?  Klosky advises readers to go paperless. “Goodbye rolodex and planner – by digitizing your address book and keeping your calendar online, your network is literally at your fingertips whether on the go or while you’re working from home,” he says. “Digitizing also allows you to scan and shred documents for recycling, preventing the further use of paper and saving the planet.”

Go green

Home Office greenery

Greenery helps to bring the outside indoors. Image: Paolo De Santis/EyeEm/Getty Images

Working at home is better than being in a stuffy office building, but you’re still indoors. However, greenery can help you bring the outdoors inside. “A plant, for example, brings a low-key source of life and color to any room,” Klosky says.

Baerg agrees that this is a trend she’s seeing in home offices. “Plants or green wall accents are becoming popular because we are usually looking at computer screens or our cell phones, and having that green aspect is easy on the eyes and helps us feel more connected to nature,” she says.

Let the light in

Home office natural light

Natural light can reduce your energy consumptionl. Image: Lumina Images/Getty Images

Studies show that people who work in natural light are more productive, absorb more vitamin D, sleep better at night and have fewer eye problems. Light can also improve your mood. And if you need another reason to put your office in a location that allows you to take advantage of natural light, consider this: Using natural light can lower your electric bill.

Blend in

Home Office blend in

Your home should complement the rest of the home’s design. Image: YinYang/Getty Images

If your office is visible from other rooms in the house, consider how it will blend in with adjacent areas. The style choice and colors should be complementary, not clashing. In the photo above, the home office contains the architectural detailsfound throughout the house.However, if you can close the door to your office, there’s more leeway in your design and decorating choices.

Add inspiration

Home Office inspiration

Include a few items to inspire your best work. Image: Buljac/Getty Images

While Klosky recommends a minimalist approach, he says there should be a place for personal items. Sometimes, displaying your favorite things can provide inspiration and lead to your best work. For example, if you’re an artist, display some of your artwork. If you’re an accountant but you love traveling to exotic locales, keep souvenirs close by. They may inspire you to keep working hard so you can maintain your current lifestyle.

MUST HAVE OFFICE TECH

Technology is what drives and supports businesses today, from apps that enable communications to smart conference tables that allow anyone at a meeting to share their screen with the press of a button. Here are seven tech tools that will turn your office into a modern digital masterpiece. 

Office automation control system

Homes and buildings are becoming “smart” with automation systems that control the heating, lighting, air conditioning, and so on. Now offices can benefit from the same types of technology. With an office automation system, you can control every aspect of your office environment right from your iPad. Some systems even have built-in sensors that can adjust the environment based on the number of people in the office. This allows you to provide the optimum working environment for your employees while also saving you money on energy. A win-win! 

Personalized lighting system

While an office automation control system can adjust resources based on the number of occupants, it doesn’t take into account who those occupants are. But the “who” is important, particularly when it comes to age. Research shows that older people need significantly more light than younger people to see the same detail. And suboptimal lighting can lead to eye strain, headaches, and other problems that affect productivity. Personalized lighting systems allow you to control the overhead lighting in your immediate environment via a smartphone app. Not only can you raise or dim the lights with the press of a button, but the app remembers your preferences and automatically adjusts the lighting when you move to a different workspace. 

Visitor management system

Visitor management systems have become staples of modern digital offices. In offices without receptionists, visitor management systems expedite the visitor check-in system while also reducing the number of interruptions caused by guests and deliveries. In offices with receptionists, visitor management systems replace old-fashioned sign-in sheets and enhance security by keeping a record of everyone who goes in and out of the office. They also save you money. 

Connected chairs

Modern office workspaces are all about choice. Many companies outfit their spaces with regular desks, standing desks, couches, and bean bag chairs, so employees can choose where they work at every moment. For maximum productivity, however, your workspace needs to be both comfortable and functional. Well, it hardly gets any more comfortable and functional than this: an office chair that sports an electrical outlet and USB ports. It even has a flip-up privacy panel, so a single work area can provide opportunities for both interaction and privacy, depending on the employee’s needs. A couch version is also available. 

Treadmill desks

Standing desks are so last year! Walking is much better for getting those creative juices flowing, and studies link using treadmill desks to improved memory and concentration, attention to detail, and increased productivity. As a bonus, you get some great exercise. 

3D printer

If your company sells any type of physical product, the benefits of 3D printing are clear: rapid prototyping, infinite opportunities for customization, and so on. But even software and service companies can benefit from having the ability to create literally any product on demand. The possibilities of this technology for offices are just starting to be discovered — check out these ten 3D printing office hacks from CEL-Robox CEO Chris Elsworthy. 

Zapier

Finally, this list would be incomplete without a software tool. Zapier is the ultimate office software, because what it does is allow you to connect all of the other apps you use and automate workflows and communication between them. For example, you can automatically post updates to social media when you publish blogs or add products to your online store; you can automatically add new customers to email lists, Twitter lists, and CRMs; you can automatically share content using Google Docs, Feedly, Buffer, Evernote — and these are just a few examples. Zapier integrates with more than 500 apps and is adding more all of the time. Want more tech tools? Check out our free ebook on tools to boost your office productivity.