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year-of-wfh

Tools & Tips

Still working from home? Here are 5 ways to foster happiness in your team

Can you believe we’ve been working from home for almost two years now? Time flies when you’ve got agonising backache from taking Zoom calls from your kitchen stool.

Don’t you think you deserve more? (Hint: You definitely deserve it).

While working from home may be temporary for some, if the pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that most of us really can do our jobs from home. In fact, we’ve already seen huge companies like Facebook, Amazon and Dropbox offer permanent remote positions to their employees — proving we’ll all likely return to the office with a new mindset. 

Whether you’re eager to get back to the office or keen to remain remote, now’s the time to reflect on the past couple of years of working from home and reassess — whether that’s upgrading your office equipment, learning a new skill or even treating your team. 

Refresh your office equipment

It goes without saying, no one could have predicted what 2020 (and 2021!) brought — which probably explains why you weren’t equipped to turn your kitchen table into a fully-functioning office. But it might be time now, finally. 

So, here’s some office essentials your flat might (still) be missing:

Get out of bed and buy that new desk

It’s likely that you’re working from one of the few spots: the kitchen table, the sofa or from bed, and none are ideal for your productivity and motivation.

If this sounds like someone on your team, now is the time to let them invest in a desk that would improve their home set-up, not to mention how this has perks when it comes to encouraging a work-life balance during uncertain times. 

Close all those tabs and set up a dual-monitor 

Working on a 13-inch laptop screen can make work feel overwhelming. With hundreds of tabs open and every program running in the background, it’s hard to know what’s a priority.

A study by Dell found that workers showed a 44% boost in productivity when moving from a single screen to a dual-monitor setup. Depending on your job, it can also improve the quality of your work too, especially when it comes to photo editing, design and video production. 

Replace the tired kitchen chair with a new ergonomic one

Like it or not, we all spend most of our time on our desk chairs and not everyone has one at home. You may have been using an old, uncomfortable wooden chair which can lead to easily preventable health issues — from lower back pain to neck ache and even injured spinal discs. 

By having an ergonomic desk chair, you’ll be doing your back a favour as they support the natural ‘S’ shape of your spine, which prevents slumping and reduces stress on your pelvis too. Allowing your team to expense a chair doesn’t just help with comfort, it has proven positive effects on productivity too.

You’re not on mute, your wifi is just slow 

When working from home, there’s nothing worse than having a bad connection — whether that’s during a video call or downloading large files.

Before the pandemic, most of us would probably only rely on our wifi for streaming movies or online shopping, so it’s unlikely that your team has the same top-of-the-range internet speed as the office.

While it may feel too late to invest in office equipment now, more and more companies are choosing to offer permanent remote positions for their employees, now could be the time to refresh your expense policy guideline to include home-office essentials for those that need it. 

And don’t forget to upgrade your software

It’s not just the physical office equipment that allows your team to do their job well, they need access to software too… 

Add more space to cloud storage 

This is essential whether your team is working remotely or from the office. Not only does storing large files locally on a laptop take up storage, but it can also slow down the performance too, making every little thing feel impossible.

Having shared cloud storage means all your teams’ assets and work are safely stored and centralised, saving potential headaches when it comes to finding contracts and documents.

No more constraints on Zoom calls 

One thing that has united everyone during the pandemic is video calling. Yet some of your team may not have access to the unlimited package on Zoom for example. This typically means their calls can’t go over the basic 40-minute time limit which is set for each meeting with three or more participants.

Regardless of the job title or department, your team needs access to video conferencing, and this will likely remain a reality.

Offer learning and development programs 

Things have very much felt like Groundhog Day, so it’s unsurprising that your team might feel unmotivated at work. Beat this feeling by introducing some new developmental programs.

Learn a new language

It’s likely you fired up Duolingo back when the first lockdown happened and neglected it after a few weeks. But maybe now is the time to commit to learning a new language in your spare time — whether that’s through an app, an online course or simply switching your Netflix language. 

A recent study found that 62% of British people only speak English, but many would like to learn a second language. Doing this isn’t just great for travelling, it’s also an in-demand work skill. 

Take a leadership course

While we shouldn’t be feeling pressure to progress during a pandemic, some may welcome the distraction of learning a new skill or progressing in their job just to keep them busy. 

This could be in the form of taking a leadership course which could help push you forward in your career — not to mention the potential benefits it carries to expand your network. 

Why not learn a new skill altogether?

Whether you like it or not, work has felt as though it’s consumed all our time, and for some, this time might have been a make-or-break situation when it comes to deciding whether they’re satisfied in their profession. 

As we all continue to work from home, and not have much else to do, use this time to test the waters in other industries, whether that’s designing, coding, cooking or anything — you might not have this amount of spare time once things resume back to normal. 

As a team lead, you can offer this kind of training by adding a personal progress budget to the expense guidelines or even invite experts to host sessions for your team to continue learning, even while working from home. 

Allow a monthly treat for your team 

While many might find work a welcome distraction from the rest of the world, some of your team might find that each day feels like the last, which seriously impacts their motivation and wellbeing at work.

At the beginning of lockdown, you may have been involved in incentives to get everyone at the office together virtually, most likely in the form of a Zoom quiz — but as we all know, those ran dry pretty quickly. 

It’s time to properly treat your team. This could be in the form of a monthly get-together where they could expense their dinner, for example, which ultimately improves employee happiness.

In fact, a recent study found that happy employees stay in their job four times longer than unhappy employees and have 65% more energy than unhappy employees — proving it pays to treat your team well. 

Get your team something that has nothing to do with work

It goes without saying, these past couple of years have been hard for everyone, and even worse for others. Whether your team was forced to work from their tiny bedroom or they were parenting all the times they were on an important call.

Take the time to really show your team that you’re there for them, and they’ve been doing great work given everything, with a treat that has nothing to do with work. Maybe it’s a gift card, maybe it’s a subscription or maybe it’s even a day off. 

Sometimes it’s the smaller improvements that make all the difference. 

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