Team-building activities bring back reminiscent memories of the days of yore, when a company would squash into a hotel conference room and listen to a motivational speaker try to energize the team.
You may be thinking to yourselves… What about remote and distributed teams? It would be a rather difficult event to organize, especially in the current climate and just think of the flight prices…
Let us stop you there.
Just because your workers are able to work from anywhere does not mean that you have to sacrifice important team-building activities.
As a remote first company, at Wurkr we know a thing or two about virtual team-building. We have drafted a list of our favourite remote team-building activities that you can do with your team in your Wurkr.io virtual office!
1. Location, Location, Location
It must be noted that in-person communication is easier, quicker and often more efficient. Although that has something to do with speaking face-to-face, it is also due to our interactions with our environment. Online meetings with a grid of passport photo like faces can feel off putting and artificial. Instead, why don’t you show your coworkers your view? Not, only will you be able to see some foreign sights, but you will also be able to learn more about and connect with your coworkers.
This could even be a fun icebreaker before a meeting with external members. Show them your view and have the other participants try to guess where you are currently situated. This could also include *fun facts* about your location, helping you remove any pre-meeting awkwardness.
Let’s take this image as an example… This is a town in the land of springs and elves…
Any ideas where that may be? Check out the answer at the end.
2. “Virtual” hotdesking
In a physical office, you would be well acquainted with your coworkers’ desks. There is so much to learn about your team through the items at their workstation. This is unfortunately missed in a virtual office environment.. Or is it? What about a desk show and tell? Give your coworkers a tour of your desk or even just show off your workstation must-have. Not only will you learn more about your coworkers, but you may also pick up some remote working tips.
3. The Good ol’ Classics
Team-building exercises often take the form of a variety of games. Despite you not being able to practice your trust-and-fall exercises in the virtual office, there is still room for a variety of other classics. Take 2 truths and 1 lie, for example. You could dedicate a session going around the room and guessing which of the 3 facts is the lie.
You’ll be surprised about how many interesting anecdotes your team will have about meeting celebrities or climbing Everest. In addition, this is a great way to learn about how your coworkers think and the more times you play it, the easier it will be to spot when someone’s lying.
4. Coffee Breaks
Any Wurkr social media follower will know that we love our team coffee mornings. These moments are great at scheduling in non work related chats. By setting aside 15 minutes a week, you talk about what you did last weekend and solidify working relationships.
If coffee isn’t your cup of tea, any beverage will do. Or if you want a longer session, how about doing a virtual lunch or cook-a-long. By using Wurkr’s Screen sharing feature you could all follow the same recipe and have the same meal.
These tips are just the start of an endless list of virtual team-building activities for your virtual office. Nonetheless, without an “Office in the Cloud”, it may be hard to carry out some of these activities. So, allow your workers to team-build whilst working from anywhere by creating your own virtual office space today at https://app.wurkr.io/public/user-signup !
Picture Location: Iceland
We all know the drill when working in an office; weekly meetings, client updates and popping in to see your boss for a chat, or picking up the phone to speak to HR or Accounts. When everyone is based in an office we’re all contained under one roof. Managers, Directors and CEOs can ‘keep an eye on’ their staff and this visibility is often taken for good performance management and monitoring .
The same approach cannot be applied , however, when the workforce is dispersed around the country and working remotely. As working remotely has become more the norm and is likely to remain so a high, and arguably new, level of trust between managers and teams is needed. Can employers trust their workforce to be as productive while working away from their watchful eye? Will employees still turn up for work at 9am, take an hour for lunch and log off at 5:30pm? Or will they be lured by Netflix, snacks and the sofa.
It’s not easy managing a remote workforce, but in my opinion we need to trust that people are still going to show up at work and put in the same amount of effort as they do in the office. Just because someone is now working from home, or from a remote location, it doesn’t mean that they’re suddenly going to turn their back on their work ethic in favour of box set binges and social media scrolling. If anything, research shows that remote workers are more productive because they have less distractions, are pulled into fewer meetings and save time on their daily commute, freeing up more time to spend working, if they so choose.
But this is where an outdated stereotype really does harm those who have very successfully adapted to a new way of working away from the office. And let’s face it, it would be wrong to assume that people can easily transition between the two. For some, working in an office provides stability and a routine that they’re used to. Working from home is a very different experience, especially if you’re having to share your home with others who are also working from home, and let’s not forget the lessons many of us learnt home schooling just a few short months ago. This then puts extra pressure on CEOs, MDs and anyone with management responsibility to ensure they are supporting staff in new ways. All of a sudden the workforce have different and often difficult needs, but that’s another conversation for another time….(in my next blog actually).
For the majority of office workers, video conferencing calls are a regular, daily occurrence. It’s quite normal to start the day and end the day with a team update call, to check that everyone is on track. There may even be mini conferencing calls held throughout the day with micro teams, or at the very least, a progress report to check on productivity. But here’s the thing. No-one likes to feel as though they can’t be trusted to get their work done. No-one likes to feel as though they’re constantly being watched to check that they’re getting their work done. If you’re hired to do a job based on your key skills and competencies, then surely it shouldn’t matter where you’re actually doing that work?
Well, the rise in virtual micromanagement is real, and is something that Shelcy V Joseph, a former contributor at Forbes discussed in an article that was published in May this year (to read the full article, click here). Within the article she references a survey on remote working that was carried out by Ultimate Software. The results showed that remote workers are nearly twice as likely as in-office employees to frequently feel misunderstood or misinterpreted.
Meanwhile, a top concern among managers is worker’s performance. Which is where the need to micromanage can creep in, because creating a positive remote working culture can be tricky to navigate. There is a temptation to utilize various technical products to monitor everything from keyboard usage to eye movements rather than focusing on outcomes and getting the job done.
At Ultimate Software’s annual Connections customer conference, the company surveyed more than 400 attendees and gained some insights around the biggest obstacles to promoting a positive company culture.
“Develop a team communication and operating agreement to ensure everyone is on the same page.”
Seems simple, right? But it is something that organisations should invest in, to ensure the seamless integration of remote working and a positive way of working, for managers and the workforce.
Software platforms such as Zoom, Google Hangout and Skype are great at keeping teams connected from a face to face communication perspective, but there’s still a tendency to micromanage, with team update calls being scheduled throughout the day, which actually hinders productivity and delivery.
Another solution would, perhaps, be virtual or on line offices like Wurkr, a platform that I’ve helped to design, to help all members of an organisation to feel supported whilst feeling connected and part of a team. We know that remote workers can feel isolated, left out, or misunderstood, so we wanted to create a platform that took the likes of Zoom et al to another level of interactivity and productivity. Feedback we’ve received from early adopters over the past 18 months has been incredibly positive and we look forward to building a brighter future, addressing the needs of all team members, to make the new way of working work better for them….enough of the Wurkr plug!
A happy and positive workforce is definitely a more productive one, wherever they are in the world. Let’s not ruin things with big brother style ‘over monitoring’ and lack of trust .
Remote work does come with some distractions…
As we were saying, remote work isn’t perfect! Working in non conventional environments comes with its downsides. However, as remote working professionals, we have come up with a list of the top remote working distractions and how to overcome them. Thus, you will be more focused and able to enjoy the joys of remote work.
No matter how great your family is, they can be a massive distraction from your work. It is impossible to ignore a crying child or ignore a bored partner in between neverending meetings. However, a recent poll suggests that it isn’t always your family’s fault. 29% of the remote working respondents had a difficult time finding the perfect work-life balance. As most of us would love the idea of being able to spend more time with our families, it is not surprising that we distract ourselves with our family.
Fear not, this matter can easily be resolved with increased communication. Letting them know when you’re working and when you cannot be disturbed. You could also schedule breaks with your family members, so you have dedicated work and break time.
2. A man’s best friend…
Pets can also pull you away from your work. Noone wants to ignore the whimpers of their dog or cat, asking for attention or demanding to be walked. You don’t want to set a precedent of allowing them to distract you throughout the day. Instead, follow a routine so your pets know when you’ll be able to interact with them during the working day. In theory your pets should adapt to your schedule and allow you to concentrate better throughout the day.
3. Running Errands
Traditional office jobs often mean that errands get pushed to the evenings and weekends. Luckily, remote jobs allow workers to run errands and tackle chores at home more easily. Remote workers have more time on their hands by ditching the commute. However, it is important to not fall down the rabbit hole of cleaning your entire home and neglecting your work responsibilities. Organizing your week in advance will allow you to allocate time for each chore without eating into your work time.
4. Don’t get stuck in the World Wide Web
A major perk and danger of remote working is being able to have any tab open on your computer without prying eyes. Although it is great being able to stay in contact with family and friends on social media during the day, a 5 minute break can often become a 1 hour procrastination session. Be sure to mute notifications of these tabs so that you are not distracted any further. In addition, allocate time throughout the day to search the web. Setting time aside for funny cat videos, will mean that you’re less likely to get caught up in the youtube whirlpool.
5. Coffee and TV
The television is often in the heart of the home. However, tv is probably the most dangerous remote working distraction. Unless you are a skilled genius able to completely zone into your work, it is nearly impossible to ignore your latest netflix binge. The best way to tackle this issue is to not turn it on. Working in silence can be extremely daunting, however, you can always turn on the radio or play a productivity playlist on spotify.
Hopefully, by acknowledging these potential distractions you will be able to prevent them and increase your remote productivity.
Work from Anywhere with Wurkr.io . Sign up for your own virtual office today at wurkr.io !
As a society we are no longer strangers to the world of remote working. Many companies are trying to get their staff back to work and revert back to “business as normal”. However, as workers have experienced the benefits of working remotely, they are not too keen on returning to the office full time.
Working from anywhere is not for everyone. Not everyone can work away from the office full time. Nonetheless, according to a study by global research firm Gartner, 48% of employees expect to work remotely post-pandemic, up from 30% pre-pandemic. Whilst an unanimous adoption of remote working is still not realistic, it seems that the traditional 9-to-5 office day is no longer fit for purpose.
Companies have noticed this shift in attitude towards working and are thinking towards a state of returning to the office accordingly. Atlassian, for example, is adopting the model “team anywhere”. Their employees will be given the choice between working remotely or inside a physical office or a hybrid of the two.
Evidence suggests that workers crave the flexibility that hybrid work gives them. Addeco Group UK and Ireland’s study, The ‘Resetting Normal: Defining the New Era of Work’, found that 77% of employees would prefer hybrid working, whilst 79% think that companies should implement more flexibility in how and where their staff can work. This means that office city culture will still remain but that employees are given the flexibility to work from anywhere to suit their lifestyles.
The main question being raised is how staff in and away from the office will be able to remain connected when in different locations. Luckily, virtual offices like Wurkr are the perfect tool for Working Together From Anywhere. Virtual offices are not only for out of office use. Colleagues within the same department can all log into the same office, wherever they are, so that they are able to stay connected no matter where they are.
Thanks to technology, staying connected and working together from different locations no longer poses any unconquerable challenges. Instead, workers are able to spend more time at home with their loved ones whilst maintaining productivity and save money and time that would have been spent on lengthy commutes. Hybrid work patterns will also be the end of the famous “Zoom fatigue”, as workers will have the flexibility to work from anywhere they please, both in and out of the office.
The last few months have taught us that there is no need to choose between the office and remote work. It is in fact possible to have the best of both worlds as we try and navigate our ‘new normal’.
Work Together From Anywhere with Wurkr. Sign up for your virtual office here wurkr.io
Technology has been the backbone of business for years. It enables us to do so much; connect, communicate and collaborate. It helps us to do all manner of things; save time, become more productive and capture data. With technology, we can become more automated, more in tune with our customers, stakeholders and suppliers. Over the past few decades, the focus for many businesses has been on using technology to create a seamless customer experience. The customer is king, after all.
But what about the employee experience?
When there’s so much emphasis on the customer and end-user, are your own employees missing out? Has their experience become less important?
If there’s one thing that we’ve all had to do over the past few months is to adapt and adapt quickly. All of a sudden, businesses around the globe have had to operate from living rooms, dining rooms and spare bedrooms. All of a sudden, our reliance on technology has increased tenfold and the digital experience has become one of the most important aspects of the employee experience.
We’ve become heavily reliant on communication tools that can keep us connected. Not only to operate from a ‘business as usual’ perspective but to keep colleagues connected, motivated and supported during this pandemic. A pandemic that has forced us to react to a situation that no-one could have foreseen or planned or prepared for.
Some may see it as some kind of greater power at work, fast-tracking new processes and ways of working that may have taken years to implement if it all. The way in which we work has been evolving for years, with an increase in freelance, remote and gig-economy workers. Those who have often felt disconnected; not only from their colleagues but from the overall mission of the brands they represent.
Communicating company values and creating a healthy work culture is as relevant today as they ever have been, so businesses cannot afford to overlook those employees who aren’t physically in the office. Those who may be working remotely but still performing to the highest of standards and putting all their energy and expertise into the work they produce.
The world has changed in an instant and we’ve all had to learn how to diversify. Technology has helped to support that, but more can be done to continue to improve the employee experience.
Technology can radically alter the workforce as we know it.
Technology can be used to drive change internally as well as externally.
Technology allows you to meet your people where they are. It keeps employees engaged, connected and supported. It allows everyone to work towards one mission. To reach goals and milestones that once-upon-a-time could only be reached in the traditional office environment.
The way in which we work has been slowly changing over the years but has only been fully embraced by a small percentage of early adopters who can see, and believe the bigger picture. Those with a belief that business can actually improve if employees are enabled to work in a way that works for them.
The traditional 9–5 no longer serves us as human beings. Life isn’t that linear any more. Individuals have their own hopes, dreams and aspirations. They’re inspired to do more and be more and the workplace needs to nurture that. Employee empowerment is key to long-term success and sustainability. Driving successful change in your organisation needs to be facilitated from those at the top, but it needs to be driven by those who keep the wheels and the cogs turning.
Successful change needs to be collaborative. Ensuring that everyone has a voice that’s heard, understood and where possible, implemented, to create a culture that you can be proud of.
According to The World Economic Fund’s ‘The Future of Jobs Report’, 85% of businesses are expanding into new technology, including:
- Cloud-based technology
- Artificial Intelligence
- Big data analytics
Is now the time for global leaders, C-suite and founders to step up and really focus on the employee experience as well as the customer experience?
Getting the employee experience wrong can be devastating. It can lead to confused employees who are unproductive, disconnected and disengaged. While the world continues to work with restrictions in place, with some employees working from a socially-distanced office and others working from home, now really is the time to embrace the technology that’s going to support everyone in the coming months and years.
Having access to cloud-based telecommunications software is great, but it doesn’t keep employees engaged and connected outside of call times. It doesn’t give them the freedom to ask questions when they arise. There’s still a heavy reliance on email. Being able to recreate the office environment and company culture online is going to be a game changer for your business. And that’s exactly what Wurkr can provide.
Wurkr is a video platform that replicates your physical office, online. You can communicate and work with your distributed or remote colleagues visibly and in real-time, wherever they may be. It’s been designed to support the workforce of the future, today.
It may come as no surprise that Millennials and Gen Z are starting to dominate the workplace. By 2025, these generations will make up 75% of the international workforce, so it is understandable that companies are aiming to cater to the needs of 21–36 year olds. According to Steve Pruden, senior vice president of human resources for Appirio, one such need is remote work. This is evident in Hired’s Home Work Report which states that 70% of pre-pandemic job seekers looked for flexible working locations in potential roles. Alongside the new focus on mental health and mindfulness, most young people do not want to be chained to their desks like their parents, but instead are opting for adaptable working environments that cut down on wasted commuting hours.
Due to the current outbreak many sectors have been hastily brought into the world of remote working, which has in turn created some problems. Many initially assumed that less technologically savvy workers were going to be struggling. However, that seems to not entirely be the case. Following a survey conducted between 8 and 15 April 2020 by Engine Insight,89% of Generation Z and 91% of millennial workers declared difficulties in working from home as a result of the current COVID-19 pandemic. The main issues raised included excessive video conferencing conflicting with productivity, feeling detached from company life and loneliness. Considering the recent shift to virtual work, employers are trying to combat these issues by adapting their virtual platforms.
This is why we created Wurkr, a workspace as a service that enables you to work from anywhere with anyone around the world within a virtual office space. It cuts the need for lengthy video conferencing calls and allows all Wurkrs to feel like they are integral to their business as they work together online. Ensuring that your company’s culture is maintained whilst removing the feeling of isolation and loneliness.
It is still unknown as to whether there will be a permanent shift towards working remotely in the post COVID-19 economy. Nonetheless, it seems that regardless of its potential pitfalls young workers still want the option of working from home.
Do you think that future workspaces will be increasingly remote? Let us know in the comments below
The office has become somewhat of a second home to modern workers. Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, many of us have had to bid farewell to towering skyscrapers and water-cooler chats and acquaint ourselves with remote working. However, change to the office is not a recent development; where and how we work has and will be an ever-evolving phenomena.
The first “Modern” Office: Early 20th Century
Frank Lloyd Wright is considered to be the founding father of the modern open plan office.The Larkin Administration Building in Buffalo, New York had few separating walls, mirroring the layout of a factory floor. This revolutionary design followed the principles of Taylorism, entrenched in the work of efficiency driven industrial engineers, like Frederick Taylor.
In addition to the new layout, the technological innovations of the early twentieth century meant that offices were now fully equipped with electric lighting, the telegraph, telephone, typewriters and calculators. Land value was also increasing, so constructors opted for building upwards, paving the way for the skyscraper laden cities of the future. Despite all the positive modernizations, office life remained strictly regimented as managerial offices surrounded the never-ending rows of desks. Along with the added features of bright lights and air conditioning, rendering sunlight and fresh air redundant, workers were depressingly distanced from the outside world.
The rise of the white-collar worker: Mid-Twentieth Century
As technology progressed further into the twentieth century, manual jobs became fewer and far between. By 1956, for the first time ever, there were more whiter-collar workers in the US than blue-collar workers. With greater numbers of office workers than ever before, there was a significant demand for efficient and effective office structure.
In Europe, the Taylorist offices of the past were ditched for the more relaxed Bürolandschaft landscaping. Desks were arranged in smaller clusters, whilst plants and furniture were used to loosely divide areas to promote interaction between teams. This layout was considered to be the new socially democratic workplace which coincided with the increasing authority of workers’ councils fighting for the rights of their employees.
On the other hand, offices that required more privacy between departments used the Action Office line, reminiscent of AMC’s Mad Men. The furniture collection, which is still in use today, conceived the idea of flexible, semi-private workspaces that allowed for effortless modification to suit the needs of the office. The 60s was a time of notable change in the workspace as employers started to merge business with the needs of their workers.
The middle manager cube: The 1980s (Think the movie office space)
Two decades later and as mobile phones and the internet were introduced into society, so were middle managers. Companies were in dire need of management for their ever-increasing workforce. That is when cubicles started popping up in offices all around the world. They were used as distinguishers for staff deemed too important to be given just a desk, but not deserving of their own office. The cube craze also allowed for a more relaxed working environment as the lack of doors made middle managers more approachable to their staff. More casual working relationships were highlighted in the 80s and 90s as nearly 20% of straight couples met through or as co-workers, more than those meeting in bars or at university.
The virtual office: The new normal
Pre-pandemic, there had already been a trend in flexible and remote working. Silicon Valley had forefronted the campaign for more relaxed working environments removing the need to commute by providing fully stocked campuses. There still seems to be a desire for workspaces as, according to Deloitte Real Estate, over 15m square meters of office space is currently under construction in central London. Coworking spaces make up a considerable chunk of these new offices.
Nonetheless, COVID-19 has underlined the perks of remote working due to its flexibility and cost-effective nature. Following the announcement that all Twitter and Square staff will be given the option to work from home forever, many others are starting to recognise the benefits of working remotely. Businesses are still managing to work as employees collaborate on projects without being confined to an office thanks to the innovative online video platforms, like Wurkr. We created Wurkr, a virtual office to enable companies and teams to work from anywhere with anyone around the world. Allowing for business culture continuity no matter what events life throws your way, may that be transportation strikes or even global pandemics.
The office is and will continue to be a fluid interpretation of a work environment adapting to the needs of the company and its staff at any given time. As a space, the office was created to solve problems and fit as many workers under one roof as possible. However, thanks to technology, online working platforms can accommodate any sized workforce and enable Co’s to scale rapidly without barriers to location opening up a far great universe of skilled potential team members.
Do you think that the office will become more digital post-pandemic? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.
Working remotely can be challenging for first-timers, especially when forced to within difficult circumstances. However, here at Wurkr.io, we are a remote-first Co. So, we have come up with a list of our top productivity tips to help any newbies that are struggling.
Experiment with your workspace
Just because you are used to your drab old office doesn’t mean you have to recreate the same experience at home. The main perk of working remotely is the flexibility you have. Add a little excitement to your working day by changing your environment. Maybe take a day to work outside in the garden or anywhere else that takes your fancy. If you are more of a desk dweller, you can always decorate your workspace with photos, postcards or motivational quotes to make the “office” less of an eyesore. By experimenting with your workspace, you will quickly learn where and how you work best.
Rise & Shine
As the days feel as though they are merging into one, the temptation to stay in bed is real at the moment. Regardless of how comfortable your memory foam mattress is, hitting snooze on your morning alarm is not the way forward. Give yourself a wake up time and try sticking to it every day. The commute to your coffee machine won’t be very long now so you’ll still be getting a bit of a lie-in.
Make a to-do list
Giving yourself a manageable list of tasks to do every morning is very important. We all know that there is nothing more satisfying than checking something off your to-do list. So add a little bit of excitement to your day and make a list before you start working. The more digitally savvy amongst us may prefer digital lists, many of which can sync up with all of your devices making it easier to complete tasks no matter where you are that day.
Give yourself a break
Working from home can sometimes make you feel like you are skiving. Do not overcompensate for that feeling by not having breaks. There may be interruptions and things may not go strictly to plan, but don’t let that get you down. Set timers on your phone for your chosen period (30 mins is advisable) and then give yourself a 5 min break. During that time, stretch your legs, make a cup of tea or even put a wash on. When your break time is over, you will be more productive and less sluggish than before.
Having a tough day? Have you been putting off a task on your to-do list? Promise a treat to yourself to stop making tiresome tasks seem endless. When you are done, make yourself that cup of coffee or watch that youtube video. By integrating the things you love into your day, work will seem like less of a chore and more of a choice.
Have a chat
Working remotely can come with its problems. Many workers can feel lonely having lost their midmorning water-cooler gossip sessions. Just because you are at home, does not mean that you have to sacrifice your office culture. Luckily, video workspaces like Wurkr, enable you to have the flexibility of working from home whilst maintaining constant contact with your colleagues. Create your own virtual workspace on Wurkr for free here. wurkr.io
Make the most of it!
Although we are 100% remote, we understand that not everyone will be permanently working from home in the future. So, make the most of it! Use what time you would have been commuting to do the odd jobs you have been putting off for months, work out or simply spending more time with your loved ones.
Over the past week, there has been a lot of coverage on what remote work could mean for capital cities all around the world.
Traditionally, recent graduates have flocked to cities, like London, to have a chance at nabbing their ‘dream jobs’. According to a 2016 report by the UK think-tank Centre for Cities, 38 % of first or second class degree Russell Group graduates contribute to the ‘brain drain’ and move to the UK’s capital after their studies.This habit forces graduates to leave their hometowns and live in cramped flatshares even if that is not the path they wanted. However, the ongoing pandemic and the shift towards remote working has highlighted that we should not have to relocate in order to excel professionally. Desirable remote working opportunities are increasing as companies, like Facebook, state that as much as 50% of its 48,000 employees could be working remotely within the next decade.
The ‘brain drain’ has also had a detrimental effect on rural areas leading to plummeting populations due to the lack of opportunities available to its inhabitants. Communities which were once well-connected have been drained of businesses and youth, making their futures less stable. It is the mission of charities, like Grow Remote, to make remote work visible locally. Not only could remote work help workers secure a better quality of life but it could also re-inject some life into struggling rural towns in Ireland and further afield.
Wurkr prides itself in its international team. As a fully remote company, we believe that the best workforce is composed of a variety of different skilled individuals rather than workers within a certain geographical location.
Gran Canaria based, Matthew, shared his experiences on working remotely:
“I was a remote work guinea pig for a Company in the UK some 6 years ago — we had some initial teething issues as you would expect, creating a remote-first culture, oftentimes I was the sole person on a laptop in the corner of a meeting in the office. However, we soon sussed this out. I’ve never looked back, I still work remotely from my home office in Gran Canaria. I love my commute to work (or non-commute — they say the best commute is no commute) — I simply log into the Wurkr office in the morning, start my day and log off at the end, which gives me the defined start and end of the day. Working remotely has allowed me to be present with my family, go to the gym in the afternoon, go to the shops when they are quiet as well as experience the best that Gran Canaria has to offer.”
The current pandemic has brought many building plans to a halt! 2020 was supposed to be an important year for office construction but some City projects are now likely to be scrapped due to COVID-19 related economic downfalls. This could lead to other big names following in the Lloyd’s of London’s steps. The world’s biggest insurance market is planning on taking their underwriting room virtual following the temporary closure of their Square Mile space in March. As companies expect less of their workforce returning to traditional office life, perhaps the possibility of working remotely in Gran Canaria, like Matthew, or from anywhere else, will lessen the immense pressure being put on our capitals.
Work From Anywhere and Create your own Virtual Office here: wurkr.io
The workplace has definitely had to adapt in recent months, thanks to the impact that the Coronavirus has had on a global scale.The majority of office-based businesses in the UK are now operating from kitchen worktops, dining room tables and even the sofa, in a bid to re-create a working environment in a place you usually love and call home.
The term ‘whatever it takes’ has never been so pertinent, with employers and employees doing whatever they need to do to keep customers happy and the business afloat.For some of us, this new ‘work from home’ reality is a dream come true. It’s something we’ve been hoping, praying and petitioning for, for years, with little promise of it becoming ‘the norm’.
Something that has been so high up on the agenda for years is now considered to be ‘the new normal’.But the workplace hasn’t always been a suitable place for some members of society, especially those with a physical or mental health condition.In fact, the workplace has become a huge barrier for a lot of people who have huge potential to succeed.
Many people with physical and/or mental health problems choose the path of self-employment because they’re able to choose how and where they work. They’re in control of their working environment, they can play to their strengths and limit how much exposure they have to situations that are going to have a negative impact on their health and how they work. But it shouldn’t have to be this way. Employers should be able to adapt to the working environment to be more inclusive, offering an alternative solution to those with physical and/or mental health needs.
Statistics show that there are 700,000 people in the UK on the Autistic spectrum. Only 16% of those on the spectrum are in full-time employment. Only 32% are in some kind of paid work and 1 in 3 autistic adults experience mental health difficulties due to lack of support.
To me, this shows that there’s a massive gap in the talent pool that could easily be remedied with the right infrastructure and support in place.
An office environment can often create additional problems for those on the autistic spectrum. It can be too noisy, chaotic and disorganised. It can be over-stimulating to the brain when there are too many sights, sounds and movements to filter, and then there are the social expectations of working with colleagues.
When you already feel as though you don’t fit in, these factors can easily increase anxiety and lead to depression. The number of disabled people in employment has increased by over 1.3 million people since 2013, but a lot still needs to be done to really embrace inclusivity in the workplace.
People with physical disabilities aren’t always able to work in an actual office, due to the location of the office itself. And then the set-up of the office can also be more of a hindrance than a help. Not all offices are designed with wheelchairs in mind. Not all offices have access to a lift, or ramps to aid those with mobility issues. These are all very real issues that affect a high percentage of the UK population. So again, there’s a massive gap in the talent pool when it comes to providing jobs in a safe working environment.
As we’ve learnt since being in lockdown, the long-held belief that we need to be physically present in the office is a thing of the past. We no longer need to commute to a place of work to be able to carry out our job roles to the high standards that are expected of us. We no longer need to be sat at a desk from 9–5pm in order to be productive, or to be motivated to give 100% every single day.
Employees across the globe have proved that objectives can still be met and work can still be delivered remotely. Some people would argue that they’re more productive working from home as they have less distractions. The phone isn’t ringing all the time, colleagues aren’t asking questions and less tea breaks are being taken!
The one thing we’ve all embraced since being in lockdown, is technology. Zoom, House Party and Google Hangout (to name a few) have acted as the glue that holds us all together. However, the one thing they can’t do is capture and re-create the office environment. To speak to team members, you still need to arrange a time for the call, you all need access to the login details and password and you all need decent WiFi to stop screen freeze!
These are all factors that we took into consideration when we developed Wurkr — the work from home anywhere platform that literally enables you to work from anywhere, whether that’s from home, from a shared office space, or even a café, and allows you to be present and feel connected to your colleagues throughout the day.
Wurkr not only keeps teams together, but it also offers another layer of inclusivity to the workplace, opening up opportunities to those who simply don’t work as well in an office environment.
Someone with a physical disability or mental health condition can now work in harmony alongside their colleagues, without the distractions of the very factors that stop them from working in a physical office. Removing the barriers that affect the employability of those with a physical or mental disability opens up a whole new world of opportunity, not only to the employees but the employers themselves. Which is huge and a massive step forward in boosting the economy, employing exceptional talent and breaking silo’s that simply aren’t serving anyone.
So, while there are many benefits to working from home, you could argue that the hidden benefits have way more of an impact on the recruitment of those who are often not suited to working in an actual office environment.
Rosenblatt, M (2008). I Exist: the message from adults with autism in England. London: The National Autistic Society, p3
The National Autistic Society (2016). The autism employment gap: Too Much Information in the workplace. p5
Bancroft et al (2012). The Way We Are: Autism in 2012. London: The National Autistic Society