December 22, 2020
Practical tips for coping with remote working
Metka Silar Sturm
After ten months of remote working, quarantines and lockdowns, it can be difficult to maintain a positive outlook. We spend a large portion of our lives at work, and we miss the daily social interactions that our office provides. All of this made the focus of two recent well-being webinars all the more relevant. Once again, Dr. Gill Green, a chartered psychologist and senior consultant at OR Consulting, stepped in to facilitate two very interesting, and engaging sessions about how we can keep our spirits up as we work through the pandemic.
Keeping a sense of humor
In one session, Gill was joined by Aedrian Bekker, Managing Director of OR Consulting, to talk about the importance of positive humor at work. Why is humor so important? Well, studies indicate that people who use humor at work are likely to be more productive, have less stress, earn more money and be, well, happier. Part of this has to do with the amount of time we spend at work. If you spend long hours doing something without having any fun, this is not really a recipe for a happy existence. On the other hand, if you can have fun, and more specifically, have fun together with your colleagues, you’re more likely to enjoy those long working hours. As Aedrian stated, “The easiest and fastest way to have fun is to laugh with each other.”
There’s a scientific aspect to it as well. “Humor seems to open up part of our brains that then enables other things to work better,” Aedrian said. When we laugh, we release endorphins, which is the same thing that happens when we exercise, and yes, it can actually burn calories. For example, some figures show that if you laugh, it’s the equivalent of 5 minutes of cardio work. Humor also helps to create stronger personal relationships. Aedrian explained, “We’re more drawn to people who feel authentic and where we can see beyond their façade to the real person underneath; one way we do that is through humor.” The warmth and authenticity that comes with humor has a big impact. It’s a great way of challenging social structures, taking the gravity out of a situation and helping us heal.
One of the points the session highlighted was the importance of laughing with others. Of course, laughing on our own is fine, but if we really want to use humor as tool to draw us closer in this age of remote working, we need to laugh together. Adrian offered a parting suggestion in that regard: “Share something that’s made you laugh over the course of the last week, something that lightened up your day.” By sharing these moments with each other, we can introduce more laughter into a challenging situation.
How to stay motivated
In another session, Gill welcomed Richard Brimblecombe, an actor and experienced facilitator and coach, specializing in communication and personal impact. In talking about key elements that can help us stay motivated, Richard started off with the basics – the same things that you hear from award-winning athletes – the importance of sleep, hydration, exercise and diet. While these things might sound elementary and a bit banal, there even more important in stressful times. “I know that it can make a difference now, particularly when a lot of our days are spent looking at a screen,” Richard said. “If we don’t get that balance right between all those things, it does have a hugely detrimental impact.”
There are other practical things companies can do to make sure employees stay motivated. For example, some companies have implemented a company-wide lunch hour, meaning no meetings should be booked during the hour set aside for lunch. Others have given company-wide days off, to allow employees to recharge. Another tip is the 45-minute meeting. “If you make a meeting 45 minutes, it focuses everyone’s mind, and it then gives you that Golden 15 minutes to transition between one meeting to the next,” Richard stated. Giving employees this 15-minute transition period reduces the chances of them being late to the next meeting, and it gives them headspace – the opportunity to reflect on what they’ve just done and what they’re about to do. These things are crucial for improving employee effectiveness and well-being. He concluded by asking us to try to do at least one thing differently. “Whether it’s a shorter meeting, starting the day with a pint of water, taking a walk during lunch – just commit to doing something, a tiny little thing, differently. Because if we make small differences now, they can have a big impact further down the line.”
These were great sessions filled with practical tips that helped us to get through a challenging year. Now, with 2021 on the horizon, we look forward to developing as a team, drawing closer together, although still physically apart. If you’re interested in joining our dynamic, diverse and virtual team, check out our open positions here.
Stay safe and see you in the new year!