According to experts in employee health and wellness, people feel like they’re working harder, and accomplishing less since the COVID19 pandemic. Something for modern day workforce employers and employees to consider is that productivity is habit-based, and new habits are perhaps needed now more than ever in order to combat that looming sense of overwhelm.
With a large percentage of the work-force moving to work from home arrangements or hybrid-remote work arrangements since 2020, its no surprise that a huge percentage of employees in the U.S. are working more than 40 hours per week. There’s something about unplugging and unwinding that can become challenging when “the office” has become part of home life.
Employers can encourage employees to focus on work-life balance by reminding them to log off at a decent hour, and keeping work hours at 40 hours per week as much as possible. Further, employers can remind employees of any company sponsored health benefit programs that may contribute to an employee’s productivity and good mental health.
A healthy morning routine should become ritual for anyone working from home as remote workers are no longer making the commute into the office. For many remote workers, preparing for work in the morning involves rolling out of bed, brushing teeth and showering, followed by a cup of coffee, and then immediately getting on the computer for work. This lack of morning routine can significantly contribute to low productivity, stress and feelings of burn-out.
Employees should consider the significant impact of adopting just a few simple lifestyle changes to increase productivity in the workplace and in their home life. Simple changes such as getting some sunshine each morning to fully awake before work can make a significant impact. Another example is for employees to eat protein in the morning as part of a healthy breakfast, and adopt a routine that involves some form of movement such as a quick walk to the mailbox, or stretching for a few minutes before work. This gets the blood flowing and helps release “happy hormones” into the blood stream, helping employees set the overall mood for the work day ahead.
Employees can also be aware of how sedentary they are being throughout the day by setting alarms reminding them to periodically get up and move around a few times, and taking pause for a break periodically. Drinking plenty of water in the morning and throughout the day can work wonders and positively impact employee's productivity and overall health. Employers can help their staff by sending encouraging messages about these healthy changes, or by reminding team members to take a pause, with a friendly IM.
One expert on the topic, Christine Carter of BetterUp, suggests that employees need to create a routine that helps the brain go into “flow state” – the things an employee can do to help them enter into a deep state of focus. Carter suggests employees block off time in the calendar for when to practice getting into the “flow state”, start with 20-minute blocks of time practicing task completion, and build from there. Carter has perfected her “flow state” and can work up to 2 hours uninterrupted. Her secret is to focus on one task at a time, completing it, and then allowing herself to focus on the next item.
For most people, creating new habits is like rebuilding a muscle, so Carter recommends that employees go for easy wins. Practicing single tasking to start can reap major benefits at work, increasing productivity in the workplace, for both on-site and remote workers alike.