Many businesses are adopting flexible and remote working during this period of uncertainty. The questions we need to ask ourselves is: How can we make the best out of working remotely for ourselves and our teams? How can we maintain exceptional performance while taking care of our families, communities and organisations?
It’s a critical time to address our mental, physical, spiritual and financial health.
Can we use this wide-scale global disruption to establish a new workplace standard founded in wellness and community? We also need to ask ourselves how do we empower people to adopt remote working to suit their needs, behaviours and responsibilities?
We will be taking learnings from workspace design to explore what’s needed for success when working remotely.
Ensuring employees have the technology when working remotely can help improve work efficiency. Digital connectivity can also boost mood through engagement with others. Additionally, by increasing transparency, providing IT-support contacts and making relevant programs available, people will gain confidence. When they know they have the digital tools and supportive infrastructure while working remotely they will be able to do their job well.
Exploring new methods for teamwork to keep work processes moving is key. This may include replicating a collaborative work environment with video conferencing or messaging platforms that support visual content. It might also incorporate new ways of working that mix brief discussion with also flexibility for independent work. Brainstorming and creating a series of diverse events with teams can be a fun way to connect and encourage progress.
Up-skilling people on topics that interest them and guiding on working in different environments and managing team relationships can encourage creativity and community.
Sharing the most effective ways to work remotely and guiding on how to manage expectations can strengthen self-reliance and create a connected team.
This is an amazing time to grow leadership across all levels. It’s a time where you can brainstorm, share and celebrate work which can make a great difference. It’s good to allocate time in meetings to recognise successes at all scales. Asking each team member to share their professional/life achievements can build trust and confidence. This will also support the development of close connections.
Helping team members define time and space boundaries is vital. Protecting mental wellbeing supports healthy and high-performance habits.
The ultimate ROI is dedicating time to help people grow confidence, and understand their own resilience within their organisations. This is will make room for present and future success alongside an increased efficiency for individuals and their businesses.
Empower people to create comfort and performance in their own homes. It can have a distinct impact on health, wellbeing and productivity. This may include ergonomic furniture, lighting, plants, acoustics, access to daylight, water and nourishment. DIY solutions include: stacking books for adjusting laptop height, borrowing office chairs, selecting areas with absorptive surroundings and proximity to windows. This provides flexibility while enhancing comfort, performance, and mood.
It’s important to identify a variety of settings for different types of work. Empower people to create a minimum of three high-performance work environments. No matter the size of their space – this has proven to support a range of benefits. Boost motivation through freedom of choice. Create mood-enhancing playfulness. Stimulate the brain through micro-movements. Provide headspace for new ways of thinking. The areas we select must be versatile and vibrant, just like our offices.
Encouraging a motivated mindset is vital to employee happiness and performance. This can be encouraged through regular communication with teams and team leaders, and by receiving recognition and positive feedback. Continuous learning is key – teams benefit when individuals are self-motivated and can champion their own success.
By creating time for people to clarify priorities and bring to life their passions, working remotely offers greater autonomy and more opportunity for focused, “deep work”.
Exercising regularly, eating healthily and sleeping more can support health, wellness, and productivity. Creating time for family dinners and preparing meals can also support nourishment. Positioning fruit and vegetable snacks in visible locations can help support healthy eating habits.
Dedicate part of your day to practicing breathing and movement. Activities such as yoga, running or jumping on trampolines, can help the brain and keep the lymphatic system moving. Even just a few minutes on the trampoline, doing a series of squats and/or taking a few deep breaths can stimulate the immune system and creative problem-solving.
Anxiety limits our body’s immune-building functions, which can make us more susceptible to physical and mental challenges. Practicing mindfulness, limiting news, panic accelerators, and setting good habits for sleep can help. Giving employees the freedom to manage their own time and deadlines can reduce perceptions of success being based on accessibility.
Connection to others enhances mental wellness and supports resilience by providing community, a sharing/learning platform or sounding board. Bringing new forms of connection to the daily routine also enables mental growth, positivity and a sense of purpose. This might include calling loved ones, empowering team members, up-skilling and undertaking acts of kindness.
The COVID-19 response is accelerating the evolution of the workplace and the need of working remotely. As architects, this challenge is a unique opportunity to redefine best practices towards a sustainable, healthy future.
In our own office, living labs and remote locations, we are testing new HVAC design, flexibility and other data-driven methods. We will continue to share tools and examples to assess health, wellness and high performance across life and work.
Dr Christine Bruckner, FAIA is an Architect and Director at M Moser Associates, leading Sustainability and Wellness in Hong Kong, serving clients globally.