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Top tips for adapting working environments, for WFH and in the office

Mark Deeprose, VP Real Estate & Facilities - Jellyfish

As many of us rapidly approach our year anniversary of working from home due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Jellyfish Training has been reminiscing about office life. With this in mind, they have teamed up with Jellyfish, a digital transformation agency, asking Mark Deprose, VP of Real Estate & Facilities, to provide actionable tips and insights. He discusses how employees can improve their at-home setups and tips for how employers can adapt their office environments to aid the transition of returning to office life.

Offices will need to offer far more than just a place to work, but a space where people can have fun, be creative and collaborate with their colleagues. We need staff to want to come to the office, so we have to offer something more exciting than just desks and meeting rooms.”

Advice for employers on how to adapt the office environment

Managing your space
As we move into a more hybrid way of working, with staff working more of their year from home, as well as the uncertainty of the pandemic, it’s more important than ever to get control of your real estate. There are now 100’s of tools on the market which enable businesses to manage and measure their space effectively, as well as enabling staff to book desks and meeting rooms – all through one platform. With these tools we can start to understand the behaviour of our staff, where they sit, with who, and how frequently, which will help inform our decisions around the space in the future. Accurate data is also critical in helping us know when to increase or decrease the amount of office space we need, especially when closely linked with a recruitment strategy.

Adapting to a new way of working
The way our staff will use the office in the future is going to change, though we still need the data to back this theory up. Staff will be able to choose to work from home when they need to concentrate, but come to the office to see their colleagues, collaborate on projects, and have fun. Before lockdown, there was already a shift in office design and pushing for different ways of working, with a real emphasis on providing less open plan desks and more quiet work areas and fun communal space. The data will now be a key decision maker in the way we design space going forward as well as creating environments that will draw staff out of their homes.

Retaining the culture
Company culture and the people in your business should never be underestimated, and is what makes a company unique. Video conferencing is a means to an end, and we’ve proved we can all work effectively from home, but isn’t a substitute for a real face to face meeting. COVID has forced the hand of business owners, making them review their working from home policy, but it shouldn’t mean we turn our back on the office, in fact, the office will now play a more important role than ever, giving staff a safe environment to go and collaborate with their colleagues and develop their working relationships – something that just cannot be replicated online.

Advice for employees on how to improve their WFH setup

Comfort should be your number one priority when working from home
Ensure you invest in a good chair. There are lots of cheap chairs out there, but you can’t guarantee their comfort. Purchasing a proper branded office task chair will ensure you have a product designed specifically for long periods of use, unlike a dining room chair or stool. Also ensure you have everything at the correct height – simple modifications can make a big difference to your comfort and reduces the risk of back and neck strain. If you don’t have the budget for expensive furniture, then there are lots of effective products out there which can help improve your existing furniture.

Create a nice environment to work in
Try and position yourself near a natural light source or window, which will help provide a better outlook and a potential source of fresh air in the summer. If you don’t have access to natural light, then make sure you have adequate light in the room. Try introducing daylight bulbs and additional lamps if the space is too dark. Keep well organised and make sure you have plenty of storage around you so you can keep your environment clutter free. Also, introduce plants to your space as they will help improve air quality and look great. One thing people also forget is what others can see when on video calls. Make sure you keep the room tidy, especially the area that’s in view on video calls. Even put some pictures up if you have blank walls.

Ensure you have the best possible technical setup
Your internet connection is key to success as pretty much all business is now reliant on the internet, and done through a browser. If possible, try and make a hard wired ethernet connection from your PC/laptop to your Wifi router, instead of relying on a wireless connection, which could be shared by others. This will hopefully provide a more reliable connection, saving any embarrassment from poor connection on calls. Also, invest in some good quality bluetooth headphones with a microphone, so you can switch between calls, video conferencing and listening to music. Earbuds are great as they are more discrete, just don’t forget to charge them!

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