According to the Sigmar/AON Pulse Report on the future of work post-Covid, just 34% of workers will be returning to the office on a full-time basis once Covid restrictions are permanently lifted. 22% of employees are expected to work full-time remotely with the remaining 44% to work hybrid between home and the office. Of this hybrid cohort, 92% will spend three days or less in the office. The Sigmar/AON survey polled 253 companies in Ireland to get insight into the future of work practices post-Covid. Commenting on the findings Talent Summit founder and Sigmar chief commercial officer Robert Mac Giolla Phádraig says: “Recent speculation about the future of work has seen a division in thought between commentators and experts regarding the role the office will play in working practices post-Covid. With this poll, we have real insight into how employers are planning for the world of work once restrictions are lifted. The reality is that two thirds of Ireland’s workforce will see permanent changes in their work practices. That is a massive shift that affects the majority of us.” Remote Working to Spark a Global War for Talent The Sigmar/ AON survey finds that 22% of employees will work full-time remotely. Says Mac Giolla Phádraig: “Remote work is the emerging front of a world war for talent, being fought virtually and our remote workers the spoils of this war. “Ireland is globally recognised as an epicentre of highly skilled and educated workers, making this cohort of employees an attractive proposition for employers from around the world. “There is now global competition for local talent, requiring an arsenal of new methods and systems to compete, as it’s more about hearts and minds than before. “International competition of this cohort of workers will be fierce, effectively opening up a whole world in which 22% of our workforce can work.” The Future is Hybrid 44% of Ireland’s workforce will work hybrid between office and home. 92% will work three or less days in the office. The reality is that many of us will work hybrid between the office and home. Last year we were challenged by the forced dislocation of the workforce from the workplace. This year, however, we will choose how, by whom and where work gets done, which requires deep consideration as we re-architect work over the coming months. This is a critical moment in time for the next generation of work. Says Mac Giolla Phádraig: “ “According to this survey the future is hybrid.”
Here are small, yet effective, measures you can take to improve your wellbeing in the workplace that can spread into your personal life in a positive, affirming way. Work/Life Balance Sir Ken Robinson noted in his keynote speech at Talent Summit 2018 that, although the invention of emails was promised to save us time, we have since found that, if anything, we are less and less able to leave work behind in the workplace. It is now part of most people’s routines to check their phones first thing in the morning and reply to work-related emails at all hours of the day, always thinking about what needs to be done. It’s important that you ‘work smart, not long.’ This means actively leaving work behind in the office, working efficiently during the day so you don’t feel compelled to continue with it after hours. If the quantity of work you are being expected to complete within working hours is too much to do so successfully, be sure to speak up and discuss the manageability of your workload with your supervisor. Communication is key – they’re going to keep piling on the work as long you stay quiet about how overwhelmed you are, so make sure you speak up and be heard before it becomes too much to handle. Employers won’t know where the pressure lies unless you tell them. If you’re unsure of how much your work life spills over into your personal life, why don’t you try keeping a log for a month? Jot down in a diary how many hours you work every day – not just when you’re sitting at your desk, but when you’re thinking about work at home, composing emails and returning calls out of hours. It may build a more objectively troubling picture than you can see currently from the inside. Make The Most Of Your Breaks Don’t be afraid to make the most of the breaks you are allotted at work. Once you’re on a roll, it’s tempting to power through lunchtime and eat at your desk, one eye always on your computer screen. Try and avoid doing this when you can. Take a walk, practise mindfulness or meditation, experience new places to eat, socialise with co-workers or friends who work nearby. “But I don’t have time to meditate!” I hear you exclaim. Yes, you do! ‘Meditation’ is not always synonymous with pulling on yoga pants, lighting up a stick of incense and adopting the lotus position. You can meditate absolutely anywhere – in a local park, at a café… even sitting at your desk! If you’re not confident leading your own meditation, you can find five-minute guided sessions free online, like this one here. There are also some great customisable apps you can get on your phone, such as Timer and Headspace. It is impossible to overvalue the importance of taking time to relax, clear your head and focus on your own wellbeing. You’ll find this re-energises you for the rest of the day, as well as provide an invaluable opportunity to assess your current state of mind and mentally address any emotional concerns or anxieties. You may also be pleasantly surprised at how easily solutions pop into your head when you take just a few minutes to collect your thoughts. Communication This one works both ways for employers as well as employees. Communication is the key to destigmatising conversations about mental health. In his TEDx talk on workplace mental health, Tom Oxley says ‘you don’t make people unwell by talking about mental health – you give them the opportunity to speak out sooner’. There’s a flawed unspoken terror that speaking out about mental illness will somehow worsen the problem, as if it’s contagious or seem as if you conjured it up into existence within your own mind. The reality is that many sufferers don’t feel able to speak up due to the prejudice surrounding mental health, and the fear that their workplace would not be supportive of them if they did so. The best way an employer can foster an atmosphere of positivity, health and wellbeing is to ensure that their workers know that they are free to talk openly about any feelings of stress, anxiety or depression and won’t face indirect penalisation for doing so. The first reaction of many employers is to offer a struggling staff member limited time off to recover, then expect them to return to work and continue as usual. While time off may be a solution for some employees, bosses should also consider the advantages of offering flexible working hours to affected workers. Tom Oxley strongly advocates for good communication practices between employers and employees to ensure that no one ever feels alienated from their place of work, and that anxieties don’t build up over time into uncontrollable crises. In turn, employees should communicate to their employers about their feelings on mental health in the workplace, as far as they feel comfortable to do so. Being transparent about how you’re feeling and what you need from your job to help you recover will give your boss the tools to help you in the way that’s most beneficial for you. If you are worried that taking time off would only serve to isolate you from the company, voice that concern. Your employer should want to get the very best out of you – they hired you for a reason. It’s in their interest to give you the support you need. Create a Healthy Routine Studies have consistently proven a strong link between mental health and physical health, and specialists are adamant that one of the best ways to maintain good mental wellbeing is to look after your physical welfare. Your job can be intellectually demanding, with long hours and difficult tasks taking a toll on your mental health. Your job is also more than likely sedentary. Indeed, scientists have connected the rise in global obesity to the increasing number of jobs that don’t require any form of physical activity. It can be hard to find the time to exercise during a busy work week, but it’s important you look after your body – the injection of endorphins from exercising can only beneficially impact your mental wellbeing. Take a stroll during your lunchbreak, do 30 mins of yoga before work, or even try training for a half marathon over the course of a few months. The same can be said for your diet, avoid that pastry to go with your coffee and instead be sure to stock up your desk drawer with nutritious snacks rather than sugary ones, such as nuts, fruit and protein bars. Snacknation has published an extensive list of delicious office snack ideas if you’re dry on inspiration. These are just a few ways you can work to improve your mental wellbeing in the workplace, which will in turn hopefully boost your productivity, energy happiness and eliminate the possibility of coming down with the January blues. While mental health is something we can’t always necessarily control, we can impact the way in which we talk about it, breaking down the harmful social barriers that currently ruin constructive discussions on preventative measures.
Start Your Day Right If you're overrun with many different tasks at the one time and find it difficult to know how to structure your day in the most productive way possible, don't worry, you're not alone. A simple solution is to try coming into work 10 - 15 minutes before you are due to start and use that time to make sure your desk is tidy and you lay out all the tasks you need done on that day and during the week in a notebook or use an online tool such as Google Tasks or Google Calendar. Write a list of what you need to do today and a list of the deadlines you have for the week. Taking the time to do this in the morning before emails start flying in and your phone is going off will start you off on a productive path and it should help to keep you on that path throughout the day. Prioritise Once you know what you want or need done in your day/week, the next step is to learn what tasks are the most important. One of the key elements to being organised is being able to prioritise the important stuff and know what needs your time first. A handy way to decide this is by using the below table. For every task you need to complete, you should evaluate each one by placing it in the below table. You should never have more than two priorities that fall in the box of ‘urgent and important’. The rest fall under the other categories of ‘important and not urgent’, ‘urgent but not important’ and ‘not urgent and not important’. Always structure your time around the urgent and important things. This short film about prioritising might inspire you... Ask For Help Most days you will handle your workload just fine on your own, but every now and then when you see your to-do list is particularly long, sometimes the best (and only) way to get things done is to ask a colleague for help. If you have too many urgent and important items on your to-do list, you should go to your boss to look at delegating some of your workload or see if some deadlines can be adjusted. Missing a deadline is much worse than letting someone know in advance that you need some help to get something done. Being organised doesn't mean you must manage everything yourself, it's being able to look at your workload and know how it will be done and when it will be done.