Novel Coworking’s Response to COVID-19
Importance of an Office Layout

Importance of an Office Layout

You may not think about it during the day, but your office layout can make a huge impact on your mindset and your work. With a few adjustments to your office furniture, you can design a more productive and pleasurable work experience.

 

What’s an office layout?

This seems like an obvious answer: it’s how your office equipment and furniture are laid out within a certain space. However, we don’t want to just arrange these items based on space- office furniture and equipment should be arranged to maximize productivity, creativity, and collaboration.

It’s that second part that many businesses fail to grasp. Your office environment should encourage you to get more work done and communicate with the rest of your team effectively- sometimes, these objectives aren’t easy to accomplish when you have a lot of equipment, a lot of workers, or not enough office space (or all three).

 

Importance of an Office Layout

 

A productive environment breeds a productive mindset

Have you ever noticed how difficult it is to get work done in your living room, or even in a personal office? Your workplace is a reflection of your headspace. If it’s cramped, old, or cluttered, it’ll be a lot harder to hold productive calls or focus on your current project. A flexible, spacious layout can inspire more focused concentration.

 

Open spaces can foster creative collaboration

Sharing an office with someone else can not only be more cost-effective (particularly for startups and entrepreneurs) but it can improve communication and encourage the important conversations that need to happen: whether that concerns a potential bottleneck, a troublesome team member, or an opportunity to innovate. Managers will also notice a change in employee morale, as team members will feel more legitimacy in their work when they have a dedicated workspace.

 

An office can help protect and safeguard your team

Innovations such as webcam security, keycard access, and biometrics offer a unique security advantage compared to a traditional workspace. Teams that need not worry about the safety of their possessions or the well-being of their colleagues can enjoy a sense of comfort and peace of mind. Remember to always inquire about emergency planning and procedures no matter which office you choose.

 

What are the best types of office layout?

Experiment with different design ideas until you find one that best complements your workflow. Try using one of these layouts:

 

Cellular/Cubicle Office

Most commonly found in older office buildings, the cellular or cubicle office arranges employees and desks by rows and columns, often with low walls to divide people and (supposedly) retain their concentration. While these layouts still exist, they are gradually being phased out in favor of more open layouts.

 

Open Office Layout

In contrast, an open layout removes doors and walls as barriers to communication and collaboration. Multiple workers may share a single table, and the tables may be scattered throughout the space. These layouts have become more popular with startups as well as large tech firms as it encourages more immediate communication.

Read our previous article on how open offices can actually enhance your productivity.

 

Coworking Layout

Directly inspired by an open office layout, a coworking layout also eliminates walls or boundaries, but is much larger and often shared among multiple companies. The coworking space may feature couches, shared desks, private or dedicated desks, or high counters. Coworking has the added benefit of encouraging cross-company communication and networking.

 

Functional Layout

Some businesses may have unique services or products they work on and may decide to arrange their offices around the most frequently used equipment and machinery. For example, a startup that focuses on recording podcasts may strip their space and lay their computers, chairs, and other equipment around the recording microphone.

 

Match your company culture with your office layout

Ultimately, no one can tell you how to arrange your team, furniture, and equipment- you have to decide what’s best for your business. Some companies have a greater need for private spaces while others desire more meeting spaces.

One way to design your office layout is by basing it on your team’s needs and culture. Ask yourself these questions:

    • What does my business do?
    • What are the most common tasks each day?
    • What devices, equipment, or furniture does my team require to accomplish their work?
    • Open layout or cellular layout?
    • Collaboration or privacy?
    • Creativity or efficiency?

At the end of the day, these questions are about your business’s brand and culture. Ask yourself whether your space accurately and honestly reflects the team’s personality.

For some more advice, check out our previous post on how to create an engaging workplace, and read our office layout do’s and don’ts.

 

The Impact of an Office Layout on Productivity

Cubicles are a thing of the past. According to BizJournal, 81% of office owners and managers say office space is “very important” when it comes to hiring top talent, and 78% say they’re “increasingly being asked for open-office environments” and “more collaborative workspaces.”

Where and how your team works greatly affects the end product of their labors. When you make it easier and more enjoyable for your team to work, you can look forward to a stronger, more enhanced version of your brand.

 

Office Layouts & Social Distancing

2020 saw a major shift in the workplace due to the coronavirus. Offices around the world have updated their layouts and designs to encourage greater social distancing and overall public safety. This includes more spaced out furniture, sneeze guards, and even limitations on how many people can be in a space at a given time. Remember to practice safe distancing and protocols to prevent the spread of viruses in the workplace, regardless of where you work. Be sure to visit Novel Coworking’s COVID-19 Protection Plan for more information and guidance.

Essential Mental Health Resources

Essential Mental Health Resources

Taking care of one’s mental health can be difficult, but this year has proven especially challenging for many around the world. Staying indoors, being isolated from friends and family, as well as being hooked on news headlines can make just about anyone feel overwhelmed.

Fortunately, you are not alone. Novel Coworking is here to help, by offering a few helpful reminders as well as directing you to important resources. But first, it’s important to understand exactly why looking after our mental health is so important.

 

Importance of Mental Health

Why is it so important to take care of our mental health? Just as we take care of our bodies, we must take care of our minds. Our brains handle all the important functions of living, from memory and emotion, to logic and reasoning.

If our mental health suffers, so too does our physical health, which in turn affects work, productivity, decision-making and almost everything else in our life. We can run the risk of burnout, endanger our personal and professional relationships, and develop even more damaging mental illnesses.

On the other hand, if we take the time to understand what is happening in our minds, and seek the necessary help, we can avoid these growing problems and cultivate a happier and more fulfilling life.  Let’s look at a few resources that can help with your mental health.

 

Mental Health Apps

 

Bloom

Bloom is a quick and easy way to get started with therapy straight from your phone. The app comes with interactive videos, guided therapy programs, daily exercises, and even analytics that track your overall progress. Bloom harnesses the power of CBT or Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, a short term, goal-oriented, and hands-on approach to therapy. The app comes with a free trial, as well as monthly ($14.49), three-month ($34.99), yearly ($86.99), and lifetime ($399) subscription options.

 

Headspace

Headspace has captivated the world with its simple yet friendly format, that anybody of any age can find it useful. Their mission is simple: to allow people to live healthier and happier lives through meditation and positive sleeping habits. The app comes with guided meditations, videos, music and more. Best of all, they have something for every situation: whether it’s handling anxiety at work or relaxation before bed. Headspace is free for the first two weeks, then can be purchased for $12.99 per month or $69.99 per year.

 

Insight Timer

Similar to Headspace, Insight timer offers over 55,000 recordings, music tracks, and guided meditations with one notable exception— they’re all free. Whether it’s a guided practice for going to sleep, or a TED talk on the importance of meditation, there’s something here for everyone.

 

HabitBull

Habits can either help us or impede us in the quest for mental resilience. Bad habits such as drinking and smoking can be difficult to stop, while good habits such as exercise or mindfulness, can be difficult to start. HabitBull can help. This app has a ton of features that you’ll find useful, from reminders, cloud syncing, data exports, and much more. HabitBull is totally free, and you can see it in action in this video:

 

Streaks

Streaks is a lot like HabitBull, only with a cleaner, minimalist design. Each habit you want to track (say walking the dog or quitting cigarettes) is represented by a circle, and the more you continuously form that habit, the more that circle gets filled in. It’s simple yet surprisingly effective. Streaks has a one-time payment of $4.99.

 

Free Online Mental Health Classes

 

The Science of Well Being

Offered by Yale University, The Science of Well Being is a deep dive into increasing one’s happiness and building productive habits. Taught by Professor Laurie Santos, the course covers misconceptions about happiness, how the mind works, and how to change for the better.

 

Positive Psychology

Offered by the University of North Carolina of Chapel Hill, Positive Psychology is a primer into the field of positive psychology, or the science of what makes life worth living. Dr. Barbara Frederickson also covers tactics that can help just about anyone make a positive difference in their lives.

 

Positive Psychology: Resilience Skills

A University of Pennsylvania Coursera course, Positive Psychology: Resilience Skills is all about mental resilience, at home and at work. Taught by Dr. Karen Reivich, the course covers protective factors (such as mental agility and optimism), cognitive strategies, and a critical relationship enhancement skill.

 

De-Mystifying Mindfulness

Mindfulness and meditation can often seem like exotic or complicated concepts. Though it started as a religious practice, today it is also viewed as a psychotherapeutic practice, meaning it can help one tremendously with their mental health. In his course, De-Mystifying Mindfulness, Professor Chris Goto-Jones breaks down the history of mindfulness and relates it to the fields of philosophy, politics, and psychology, giving each student the tools to understand meditation and mindfulness with clarity.

 

Mental Health at Work

You may be wondering, “how can I apply these lessons and resources in the workplace?”  The answer depends on how you want to approach it!

As a leader, you can always increase awareness of mental health by providing assessment tools, workshops, and seminars. Manager training can also ensure your other leaders are equipped with the vocabulary and resources needed to support their teams.

It all starts with the culture. Companies should strive to develop a welcoming culture, one that prioritizes work-life balance over productivity. This can present itself in a variety of ways:

– Allowing employees to work remotely when they want

– Regular check-ins regarding workload

– Encouraging and incentivizing healthy decisions (such as rewarding workers that maintain their exercise habits or kick a smoking habit)

– Offering crucial benefits such as healthcare, paid time off, vacation days etc.

– Providing free or discounted mental health resources

 

Caring for our mental health remains one of the most important issues of our time, perhaps now more than ever. We live in a culture and society that views mental health illnesses as weaknesses or nuisances when in reality it can affect just about anyone. It falls on us as individuals and as a collective to look after ourselves and each other. That all starts with developing the practices and using the right resources to look inward and care for our minds.

Here is a list of emergency resources if you need immediate help:

Emergency: 911
National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-7233
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255)
National Hopeline Network: 1-800-SUICIDE (800-784-2433)
Crisis Text Line: Text ‘DESERVE’ TO 741-741
Lifeline Crisis Chat: https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/chat/ (Online live messaging)
Self-Harm Hotline: 1-800-DONT-CUT (1-800-366-8288)
Planned Parenthood Hotline: 1-800-230-PLAN (7526)
American Association of Poison Control Centers: 1-800-222-1222
National Council on Alcoholism & Drug Dependency Hope Line: 1-800-622-2255
National Crisis Line – Anorexia and Bulimia: 1-800-233-4357
GLBT Hotline: 1-888-843-4564
TREVOR Crisis Hotline: 1-866-488-7386
AIDS Crisis Line: 1-800-221-7044
TransLifeline: 1-877-565-8860 and https://www.translifeline.org
Veterans Crisis Line: https://www.veteranscrisisline.net

Habits to Keep After the Lockdown

Habits to Keep After the Lockdown

Ever since the world entered lockdown earlier this year, we have been inspired by the positive habits people have developed to help cope with and overcome the isolation. From home exercises to volunteering, there’s no shortage of creative routines even at home.

But why stop there? We’ll explore the many habits that you can continue to hone even after lockdown.

 

Personal habits

 

Practice mindfulness

For many around the world, the lockdown was an opportunity to break from the usual grind of work, a reminder to enjoy the small things around us every day. Slowing down, even just a fraction, can open our eyes to the beauty of the present moment.

Try limiting your activities and projects. Reduce your screen time before going to bed and after waking up. Instead of trying to stay busy, simply focus on “being.” That may translate into spending more time with family, checking in with friends, or taking more breaks away from the news and social media.

 

Meal planning

Eating a complete meal three times a day is one of the most important things you can do every day. Yet even now, it’s common for someone to skip breakfast or lunch just to get through their work. Instead of eating out or fasting, plan out your meals one week ahead.

Go to the grocery store with a list of essentials: fruit, vegetables, meat or fish (or your preferred alternative if you’re vegetarian), grains, and other condiments or spices. On Sunday, cook big batches that you can portion out for each day: rice, pasta, soup, oatmeal, or anything else that comes to mind. Not only will you save yourself a lot of time, but you’ll also save money! There’s no reason not to take meal planning seriously.

 

Give gratitude

Lockdown also served to remind us of our connections with the people we love. Whether it’s our immediate family, old friends, and colleagues, or our neighbors we seldom talk to, there’s always someone we can be grateful for, and always a way to show it.

Call someone you care about, or if they may appreciate it, write them a card or letter. Send them a small gift or gesture of appreciation. Especially in these uncertain times, a simple message of gratitude can go a long way.

 

Habits involving others

 

Organize more impromptu calls

When was the last time you called someone spontaneously, just for fun? We are so used to scheduling calls a few days or weeks before, that we forget we can call anyone at any time. Although some planning ahead of time can be greatly appreciated, so too can a spur of the moment phone call from someone you care about.

Instead of finding the right time to call your family or friends, just call them out of the blue! You may get a few missed calls, but you’re bound to talk to one person who appreciates the act of spontaneity. Don’t let a calendar hold you back— just reach out to your loved ones when the feeling strikes you.

 

Start a virtual club

From a book club to an investment club, you can do countless group activities without meeting up in person. Pick a hobby, interest, cause, or passion project— something that motivates you to action. Once you’ve settled on an activity, start finding like-minded people: within your family, friends, and network.

There are a few places online you could try out that makes the process of starting a club much easier. Facebook Groups is one of the most popular ways, given the platform’s popularity and ease of use. You could also try out Meetup, which works for both in-person and online events. There’s no shortage of places to find events and groups, even if you can’t physically meet up.

 

Host a happy hour

Enjoy some downtime with your coworkers and colleagues with a virtual happy hour! Regardless of the current restrictions in your area or how busy work can get, you can always find time for an hour or two to spend with your work colleagues. For some, a happy hour may be the only opportunity to get to know the people you work with.

Schedule an hour (ideally after the workday!) where you and everyone on the team can set aside your projects for a couple of drinks. You can keep it casual and have friendly conversations over drinks, or you can put a spin on it, by doing trivia or games or something similar. The best part: you don’t need to do this in person! It can be just as fun over a video chat.

 

Habits to help your community

 

Support local business

More than ever, the mom-and-pop shops in your area need your help. Restaurants, cafes, grocery stores, convenience stores all rely on local patrons to survive. Fortunately, you don’t need to do much to show your support.

The next time you consider buying a book or movie from Amazon or Target, instead, ask yourself if you can get it locally. The same applies to groceries, ordering out, and various professional services. Supporting local businesses can make all the difference within your community.

 

Organize neighborhood cleanups

Without frequent care, local parks and public areas can accumulate trash, which leads to bigger problems like rodent infestations, air and water pollution, and a wide range of other environmental issues.

Littering can be a community problem, but it can be solved with community action. Round up your friends and neighbors, some garbage bags, and a pair of latex gloves, then get to work! Beaches, parks, gardens, playgrounds are commonly visited areas that could use a little cleaning. You can also volunteer to help clean up National Parks. If you’re so inclined, you can even post it on social with the #TrashTag.

 

Offer to help your neighbors

Despite living next to other families and individuals, it’s amazing how very little we know about or interact with our neighbors. But they are part of your local community too! So in a way doing something for your neighbors is a way of giving back to the community.

Cutting grass, tutoring, walking the dogs— these are just a few ideas. It doesn’t have to be a grand gesture. What matters most is the act of doing something for someone that you live close to every day.

2020 has forced many around the world to change their daily routines and way of life. But for some, it has spurred a change for the better— be it eating healthier or communicating with loved ones more frequently. These habits don’t need to stop after lockdown. Instead, we can take what we’ve learned in those periods of isolation, and use them to build a more loving and peaceful world.

 

Stress and Anxiety at Work

Stress and Anxiety at Work

Almost everyone has experienced some form of stress or anxiety at work. It’s completely normal. In fact, stress can even be healthy, motivating us to go further.

But when that pressure becomes too overwhelming, the consequences can be severe.

According to the Center for Workplace Mental Health, workplace stress results in nearly $190 billion in health care costs each year. More concerning, it also causes approximately 120,000 deaths each year.

 

Science behind stress

We all understand the concept of stress, but how does it actually work?

Whenever we’re in a moment of high-pressure, like presenting during an important meeting or starting the first day on the job, our nervous system releases stress hormones. These include adrenaline, noradrenaline, and cortisol. Each one affects how we perceive the threat, as well as how we formulate a response. This is also known as the stress response, or “fight-or-flight”.

As your brain processes a response, there is a struggle between the emotional brain and your rational brain. The emotional brain, also known as the limbic system, is a set of structures in your brain that deals with emotion and memory. Your rational brain is the part that can think clearly and logically to solve problems.

So whenever you feel stressed, your brain is trying to figure out what to do based on your experiences and your knowledge. But too much stress can lead to more serious problems, such as fatigue, headaches, chest pain, and more. It can also lead to anxiety, which is an unexplainable fear of something about to come. Prolonged periods of stress can lead to anxiety disorder.

 

Sources of Anxiety at Work

From dealing with difficult customers to managing a team, there is an endless list of reasons to feel under pressure. Here are a few of the most common causes of anxiety.

– Workload – Long working hours or large projects can grind a person down. The feeling of always having something to do while never getting anything done is common within the workplace.

– Workplace conflicts – Sometimes the best-intentioned coworkers can still butt heads with each other. When the argument turns from professional to personal, it can be even more stressful. But it isn’t just one’s relationship with coworkers— conflicts with customers, partners, or vendors can bring great stress.

– Problems at home – It’s possible to feel anxiety at work, even if it isn’t work-related. Sometimes, your mind can be elsewhere, worrying about family, pets, unfinished chores, or something else entirely unrelated.

Uncertainty with the business – From the top executive to the new employee, everyone at a company has some concern about the future success of the business. The less certain its path, the more anxious its workers.

 

Tips to Reduce Anxiety

– Find and develop hobbies – Work is just one part of your life, remember to take the time to do other activities you enjoy. Pick up a sport, learn a new skill, or make something for yourself. That side activity may be just what you need to do after work.

– Taking breaks at work – Give yourself time to breathe and recharge between major work tasks. Use the pomodoro technique to stay productive while preventing burnout. You can’t do your best if you constantly feel overworked.

– Meditation – Mindfulness can help you in accepting anxiety. It all boils down to focusing on your breath and the thoughts cloud your mind. Consider Healthline’s list of breathing techniques if you’re feeling anxious.

– Exercise – Physical activity is one of the most effective ways to get your blood flowing and to get motivated for the day. Whether you’re weightlifting or running, it seems impossible until you finish your set, and then you’re ready to take on the day.

Healthy eating – There’s a saying that goes: “you are what you eat”. If you tend to dine on take out and junk food, you’ll start to feel pretty bad about yourself over time. Develop a balanced diet by taking the time to buy your own ingredients and cook for yourself (or meal prep during the weekend if you don’t have time).

Speaking to others – Talk to others, your family, your coworkers, and your friends! Bottling up your thoughts and feelings won’t serve any purpose except to bring you more suffering. Having someone listen to us can feel transformative.

 

Apps to Reduce Anxiety and Stress

 

Calm

Out of all the meditation apps online, Calm is undoubtedly the most popular. The app won Apple’s App of the Year in 2017, Google Play’s Editors’ Choice in 2018, and has consistently earned the #1 spot in the Apple app store’s Health and Fitness category. Listen to guided meditations, relaxing music, video lessons on mindful movement and stretching, and even audio classes from experts.

You can get Calm as a 7-day free trial, $69.99 billed annually, or $399.99 billed once to keep forever.

 

Headspace

Headspace is similar to Calm in that it offers videos, podcasts (called Sleepcasts), music, and guided meditations, but presented in a more simple and colorful app. Each day, a new meditation gets added, so you’ll never have to worry about running out of things to listen to. Check out this mini-meditation provided free by Headspace:

Headspace is available for free for two-weeks, after which you can get it for $69.99 per year or $12.99 per month.

 

Sanvello

While the first two apps focus on mindfulness with sections for stress and anxiety, Sanvello (previously known as Pacifica) is designed specifically for improving self-care and mental health. The app was started by Chris Goettel and Dale Beermann after realizing how difficult it was for people to find genuine mental health relief. The app offers daily self-care, cognitive-behavioral therapy techniques, and a community of users willing to support each other.

Get Sanvello for $8.99 per month, $53.99 per year, or free with your insurance (although your coverage may vary).

 

Breathe2Relax

Although it isn’t as sleek or attractive as its peers, Breathe2Relax offers a useful suite of tools to help you manage your stress. Developed by the National Center for Telehealth & Technology, Breathe2Relax offers visual aids for diaphragmatic breathing, body scanning, stress evaluations, and even heart rate tracking through HealthKit integration. The best part of this app? It’s totally free.

Stress may be common in the workplace, but it doesn’t always have to turn into anxiety. The workplace is where we spend most of our lives, so cultivating a positive and nurturing environment should be both an individual and collective responsibility.

 

Note, these apps are not meant to be replacements for professional medical help. If you are experiencing suicidal thoughts, please consider calling the Suicide Prevention Lifeline (988) or the 24/7 crisis text line (Text “HOME” to 741741). Your life matters.

Understanding Psychological Effects and Mental Health After a Pandemic

Understanding Psychological Effects and Mental Health After a Pandemic

Although most of what we see in the news recently concerns the physical symptoms and effects of the coronavirus, there is another side that is less spoken about— mental health. Even if one doesn’t contract the virus, it’s possible for someone to experience some form of mental health struggle, whether it’s temporary and minor or something that requires professional help.

Identifying these issues early and addressing them in the most appropriate way can help you and your team avoid emotional strife and cultivate a healthier and more positive experience during this time.

Let’s explore the facts as well as the resources available to keep your team mentally resilient.

 

Mental health resources

To properly address any mental health issues within your company, you must first arm your team with the best information and support. Most often, this means building out a human resources department, or in smaller teams, assigning a human resources manager. This department or individual will be responsible for directing people to the proper health resources should they need them.

At this stage, you should seriously consider giving everyone (particularly your HR leaders) mental health first aid training. Just as first aid training can help someone with physical injuries, mental health first aid can help someone suffering from mental illness. This training can potentially save lives.

HR leaders may also want to share free videos or webinars that provide guidance and support. The National Council for Behavioral Health offers a variety of training resources for both leaders and team members. You can find a comprehensive list of ongoing webinars here. Also, check out webinars from Mental Health America (MHA) and the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA).

The Crisis Text Line is another incredibly useful service if you live in the US, Canada, UK, or Ireland. Simply text “HOME” to 741741, and a trained Crisis Counselor will respond from a secure platform. The Crisis Text Line can be tremendously helpful if you need immediate emergency support.

No matter where you are, you can find something of use in this Global Mental Health Resources list from CheckPoint. This is an exhaustive collection of links and materials for a variety of issues: depression, anxiety, addiction, sexuality, women’s health, and more.

If the issue is specifically related to coronavirus, we highly recommend visiting the CDC’s resource page for more info and resources.

 

The mental health of employees

Mental health is already a topic that is taboo in many circles, but none more so than in the workplace. Symptoms of severe mental illnesses tend to be ignored, or worse, viewed as a sign of weakness. Lack of motivation or energy can, for instance, be a symptom of depression and many other mental illnesses, but can often be perceived as laziness.

Empathy and compassion are the foundations for building trust with your employees. It’s not enough to write bold statements in a handbook or create clever commercials. Leaders have a responsibility to create a culture of empathetic and supportive listening. Too often people are quick to talk but not to listen. What is your company doing to really hear each individual’s problems?

Find ways to have consistent communication, with coworkers and managers alike. Schedule regular 1:1 meetings to bring up tough subjects more candidly. Create anonymous surveys so people can voice their concerns without the fear of repercussions or judgment.

As much as possible, train your employees and leadership to catch mental illnesses before they grow worse and cause unexpected problems for the individual and everyone around them. Look for signs of stress— lack of sleep, impatience, or loss of motivation.

 

The mental health of managers

Employees aren’t the only ones prone to mental illness, managers are too. After all, it can be a lot to oversee multiple projects or accounts and be responsible for multiple people at a time. The same practices of identification and treatment remain the same— listen closely, create channels of feedback, and catch symptoms before they develop.

Encourage self-care and empathy. If someone needs time off, hear them out. Managers tend to have high availability to their team, which can add a tremendous amount of stress. It may be something as simple as a few days, or even a few months. If you truly believe in that person you will want to direct them to the appropriate help and care that they need.

Emotional intelligence is key to any successful manager. That is the ability to read and understand emotions, not just in others, but in one’s self. While we may all be able to read one’s face when they are happy or sad, it can be difficult to spot mental illness when people try to hide it. Train managers and other leaders to notice changes in tone, facial expressions, and body language to determine whether there may be a larger issue at hand.

 

Tips for mental health during a pandemic

Now that you know the symptoms of stress, what can you do about it? Fellow coworkers, leaders, family members, and friends, everyone on the team can do something to help someone suffering from mental illness.

  • Take breaks – Not just from work, but from the news, and from social media. Too much stimulus can cause our brains to go haywire and overthink everything. With so much negativity in the news and even in our social circles, intertwining it with work responsibilities is a recipe for burnout. Set reminders to go for a walk, or eat a healthy meal, instead of scrolling through headlines.
  • Practice mindfulness – Mindfulness is the act of being present and aware of yourself. It isn’t clearing your mind of thoughts, as most people believe, but about clearly identifying the thoughts that run through your mind. Over time, practicing mindfulness can help you catch negative thoughts and mindsets before they consume your whole being.
  • Talk it out – Bottling up issues and concerns at work can lead someone to explode one day. Encourage team members to speak freely with one another, and with their leaders. It’s the only way to work towards a sustainable solution.

 

Mental health is just as vital as physical health. If we treat our minds with the same care and attention that we tend to treat our bodies, we can cultivate safer and more pleasant environments to work in. Remember though, it’s not a fight one can go through alone. Train your team, revisit your company’s culture, and work through the struggles of mental strife together.

Looking for other ways to encourage a healthier culture? Check out our list of inexpensive ways here.

How do you create happiness at work, even when you feel uninspired? Read our post, How to Be Happy at Work.

 

Keeping Your Team Safe Coming Back to Work

Keeping Your Team Safe Coming Back to Work

As lockdown ends and restrictions lift, businesses around the world are gradually returning to the office. But it won’t be business as usual.

For many businesses and establishments, the new normal involves frequent sanitation and the use of face coverings. How might this affect your own office?

If you and your team feel ready to go back to the office, then be sure to read up on these tips and guidelines beforehand to ensure a smooth and safe transition.

 

Developing a Health and Safety Plan

Before undertaking any kind of action, it’s always best to devise a clear plan.

One of the first orders of business is to decide the protocol for who should go into the office and who should stay at home. Even if most of your team is ready to return, you should always take into consideration any team members, family, or friends that are at risk, especially the elderly and people with underlying medical conditions. Assess the essential functions of each of your employees as well as their risks to come to a decision about whether they should come in.

You may also want to consider more flexible work hours or arrangements, such as partial remote work during the week. Giving your team an option to work from where they want or when they want can provide some comfort during uncertain times.

Whenever possible, reduce the number of in-person meetings and hold them virtually instead. Whether it’s a check-in with a supervisor or a lead with a new client, it’s just not worth the risk of contamination. Zoom, Google Hangouts, and Skype all offer video conferencing apps that allow you to connect from whatever device you may have.

For total preparedness, we recommend coming up with a process for any hypothetical outcome. For example, in the event someone tests positive for coronavirus, what actions will your business take? It may involve requiring everyone in the office to be tested, preventing the employee from coming into work, and following up with them regularly on their condition.

The more you plan ahead, the more you can be proactive instead of reactive. That not only keeps your team safe but everyone else in the building safe.

Next, we’ll discuss what you should keep in mind once your team is actually back in the office.

 

Personal Hygiene

Once you’ve completed screening or evaluating employees for potential risks and have decided to move forward with a return, you must next consider the necessary steps and precautions for protecting yourself, your team, and everyone else in the office.

Number one: make sure you disinfect your entire workspace if you haven’t already done so. Place hand sanitizer or disinfecting wipes in commonly touched areas (computers, machines, doors). Even as Novel Coworking has increased our sanitation staff and procedures, we highly recommend everyone stays vigilant in cleaning their own spaces.

The second most important guideline is to maintain your distance from others. By now you may have heard that the coronavirus is transmitted via droplets, which means there is a potential for it to be transferred through your clothes or by touch. Maintaining a six feet distance whenever possible limits that risk.

 

Office Cleaning

Novel Coworking has taken enhanced measures to protect all of our tenants and visitors. Among our new changes include:

  • Making sure all common area surfaces are clean and hygienic
    • Cleaning kitchens, bathrooms, and common area desks and tables with disinfectant daily. Spray Lysol Disinfectant on common area door handles and building entrances/exits
    • Encouraging customers to disinfect personal office surfaces (desks and tables) and objects (telephones and keyboards) daily
  • Promoting regular and thorough hand-washing by employees, contractors, and customers
    • Putting sanitizing hand rub dispensers in prominent places around the center. Refill regularly
    • Displaying posters promoting hand-washing (attached). Deliver posters via app communication weekly
    • Making sure staff, contractors, and customers have access to places where they can wash their hands with soap and water
  • Promoting good respiratory hygiene
    • Displaying posters promoting respiratory hygiene (attached). Deliver posters via app communication weekly
    • Advising employees, contractors, and customers to stay home (or work from home) if they experience COVID-19 symptoms including low-grade fever (99 degrees F)

 

We also recommend that business owners should do their own part to keep office spaces clean. Schedule a block of time in your calendar to conduct a deep cleaning of the office— wiping down all hard surfaces such as electronics, tables, door handles. For soft or cloth surfaces, spray alcohol-based solution and launder the material if possible.

A few layout changes may also be necessary if your office suite has several people in it. This may involve moving desks to be spaced at least 6 feet apart from each other or installing sneeze guards depending on the nature of work (such as for a beauty salon).

 

CDC Guidelines

We’ve discussed Novel Coworking’s response so far, but it’s also important to see the guidelines set forth by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, otherwise known as CDC. The CDC has issued guidelines for various businesses, schools, places of worship, restaurants as well as other worksites. Besides similar cleaning and social distancing practices, they also recommend touchless payment, avoiding sharing items such as menus, using disposable, single-serve condiments, and avoiding food and drinks brought in from the outside.

Each industry has its own unique set of considerations. To find your workplace and its related guidelines, visit the CDC’s page on businesses and workplaces here.

Finally, much consideration should be given to air filtration and airflow within any space. Not only should office spaces be properly ventilated, but also the airflow controlled to prevent lingering toxins or pollutants. Make sure your air conditioner or ventilation system has been recently cleaned or maintained to prevent any potential airborne transmission.

 

After several months of being forced to work remotely, many of us are ready to get back into the office and collaborate with other entrepreneurs. But we must remember to keep safety top of mind. No matter how important it is to get your business back on track, remember to always keep the health of your team, and those around you, as the utmost business priority.