It’s been a tough year for businesses across the globe, with the number of people working from home rising from 21% to 25% in October, and tighter lockdowns only strengthening this trend. By the same token, the news that Pfizer’s vaccine is 90% effective has given the stock market a major boost, indicating that the world may well be in the very initial stages of the return to ‘normalcy’. For many workers, the end of the pandemic will involve returning to their respective offices after many months. How can employers ensure that the happiness factor is high so that teams can give their all to achieve company goals together?
The Effect Of Cleanliness On Mood
There is an inexorable link between interior design and mood, with researchers at DePaul University finding that clutter can be “so overwhelming that it chips away at your well-being, relationships, and more.” Cleanliness and happiness are closely linked, with numerous studies showing that clean and tidy spaces boost concentration, are more inviting and attractive to both internal and external clients, and have a positive impact on morale and productivity. A clean office can also boost the feeling of safety. All offices should be professionally cleaned, with special attention being paid to bathrooms, shared kitchens, and other spaces that can have a higher germ quotient.
Training Staff On Respectful Communication
Leaders and employees alike can benefit from the completion of courses on skills such as conflict resolution, communication, stress management, and self-care. Even offices that “return to normal” will have employees who may continue to be stressed for various reasons – including having to accept lower workloads or salaries, mental conditions triggered by collective worry in recent months, the difficulty of adapting once again to in-office work, and, in some cases, grief from friends or family members being affected by the pandemic. Supervisors should be trained to be patient and to understand changes in employee behaviour, taking an assistive rather than a disciplinary approach. They should also ensure that employees experiencing stress know whom to turn to for support.
Companies can also consider reassessing policies, making changes that may be beneficial to both the company and its employees. For instance, managers may decide to let part or the entirety of the team work remotely if goals are being achieved, and this means greater flexibility and reduced transport costs for employees and lower office rental costs for employers. The company could set aside dedicated days for important meetings and social get-togethers to ensure communication flows and team spirit is kept intact. Managers and supervisors might also decide to allow employees to take mental health days off in addition to sick leave for a specific time period.
Embracing Stress Busting Activities At Work
There are many ways that employees can make daily life more fun and less stressful for employees. Just a few ideas include offering yoga or mindfulness meditation for teams at work, organising team building activities, and holding ‘self-care talks’ once a month or at regular intervals. Studies have shown that holistic activities such as yoga and mindfulness meditation have powerful effects on mood, and are able to lower stress levels almost immediately. Team building and social activities should be held outdoors in green areas on sunny days. Studies have shown that as little as 10 minutes in a natural area can make people feel happy and lower the effects of physical and mental stress.
When the era of new normality truly begins and many employees can begin to work in offices again, supervisors and managers will need to be aware of the mental health impact caused by the global health crisis. They can help to counter these impacts in many ways – including simple strategies such as cleanliness and tidiness. Staff training is also key; those who are struggling mentally should be free to discuss their issues openly and know who to turn to. Finally, companies can set up new policies that promote flexibility and happiness, and bring a little light into the office through fun activities that focus strongly on stress relief.
This is a guest post by freelance writer, Lucy Wyndham