Saturday, 13 August 2011

Happy@Homeworking, Guest-blogger Jane Anderson of Radio Wellbeing

Jane Anderson, Radio Wellbeing
Thank you to Jane Anderson of Radio Wellbeing for providing our first guest blog.  Jane is a consultant and writer in environmental wellness; she helps organisations to create happier and healthier working environments to improve their productivity.

In this guest blog Jane explores the home office space as a working environment as part of a series of writings on the theme of Happy@Homeworking.  You can also read Jane's recent article '15 ways to make your home-office a happy workplace' if you want to find out more!

Workspace is changing
Power-napping, hot-desking, brand rooms, humour policy, office concierge, duvet days. No longer viewed as cranky or even cutting edge these concepts and many more like them are increasingly becoming accepted and adopted by businesses interested in attracting and retaining people who want, and need, more than financial inducement to work effectively.

Right now with resources and capacity stretched to capacity, everyone needs to work harder and smarter. In order to gain that extra ‘discretionary energy’ from their workforce, employers must think differently about the conditions they offer around ‘The Job’ itself. Many of the improvements they are making are environmental and are as relevant and advantageous - if not more so - to people based at home as to those in the traditional workplace.

People work better when they feel happy and comfortable in their surroundings
Home, lone, remote or agile workers, be they entrepreneurs or out-based employees, often work out of cramped and cluttered spaces inappropriate to their needs. This supports neither personal health nor business acuity but they need to look out for their own wellbeing because, frankly, no one else will.

In terms of workspace design, many people working from home are often grateful simply for a dedicated desk and a clear view of the door. Sometimes this restrictive scenario is self-imposed with people not allowing themselves time to reflect on how to make best use of space and time in their workspace. More usually physical circumstances determine how we will work in our home work space and it may not be as fit for purpose as one would prefer.

Whatever the home-based working situation, many of the ‘added-value’ ideas incorporated by larger organisations to make life at work more attractive to employees can easily be adapted to the home setting regardless of the individual limitations involved.

The trend in offices and administration centres, particularly creative design studios, has been for doing away with ‘claimed’ work space, or the individually ‘owned’ desk, in favour of mobility: lockers for personal bits and pieces and interchangeable laptop sites that enable workers to sit down virtually anywhere and pick up where they left off.

Much of the rationale behind this is to encourage increased flexibility in terms of thinking, communication and production. It allows workers to chose the space most apt to their specific need at any given point during the day – be it a touch-down area for impromptu discussion or a chill-out room for a few minute’s peace. It creates an opportunity for new perspective and keeps people fresh and on the ball which in the still-active business war for creativity is crucial. This design policy has been implemented less for altruistic motives than as sound business strategy. People work better when they feel happy and comfortable in their surroundings. It therefore it makes sense to provide an environment that fosters such a response.

The paperless home-office?
These days with aid of technology your office can be pretty much anywhere you want it to be. Homeworkers need not be tied to the home but can and should up-sticks and get out to pubs, cafes, park benches etc not just to meet people or co-work, but also to work in alone, in solitude in varied and inspiring surroundings. We can do it; thousands can’t, so make the most of this aspect of your work.

Back home however, which is where most homeworkers tend to gravitate to take stock, the setting is frequently less than inspiring; perhaps a desk or table with the usual accoutrements including a toy, coffee mug (dirty?) and post-it notes to complete the panorama. 

Even more mundane is the fact that the vast majority of people still do not operate from a paperless office. The homeworker in particular seems prone to paper hoarding, despite the fact that they probably couldn’t work from home in the first place without the use of a computer which was theoretically mean to assuage this problem years ago. This doubling up of virtual storage and paper causes clutter overload and unnecessary stress in many home work spaces.   

Happy@Homeworking - don't sell yourself short
Remember to enjoy your environmental freedom. Relish the fact that your homework space estranges you from regimented time constrictions, strict dress codes and décor dictats. You are the architect of your own workspace. Don’t sell yourself short by skimping on the place where you spend the bulk of your day. Ultimately, your working environment should support, rather than deplete you. 

You can also read Jane's recent article '15 ways to make your home-office a happy workplace' if you want to find out more about being Happy@Homeworking.

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