April 25, 2023
Set yourself up for success: A holistic approach to work
By Muriel Kosovsky
With last year now behind us, it is time to turn our focus to this year and what we want to create. But wait… is this another blog about New Year’s resolutions which, as we all know, are reduced to a crumpled Post-It note in our drawer a few weeks into the year?
Rejoice! It is not.
This article is taking you into a deep exploration of the things which truly matter and which will last. I propose to help you set solid foundations for you to feel and perform at your best in the workplace this year. Because the truth is, for most of us, it is not about what we do — the tasks, the meetings, the reports, the conversations – it is about how we feel when we do what we do. It is our feelings and emotions, and how we manage them, which lead us to perform at our best in the workplace and give our best contributions.
Today we are exploring a holistic approach to work. We are going to think about what you need to be at your best and what impacts your well-being and performance, both at and outside the “office,” whether your office is at home, in a building, or a combination of both.
There are a lot of things we might think of as “personal,” but which need to be carefully thought about in order for us to feel at our best at work. Let’s review a few items and reflect on what these items might mean, as we are all different and have different needs. The question I would like you to ponder is: How important is this for me? How much of this do I need to feel and perform at my best?
Foster community and belonging at work
First off, community and a sense of belonging. Being part of a group, sharing a common purpose, and building meaningful relationships within a group all contribute to our well-being and motivation in the workplace. Covid and remote working have asked us to rethink how we build work communities and create a sense of belonging for employees, especially for those of us who onboard and work completely remotely. Creating and maintaining that sense of belonging is paramount, even for those of us who are introverted and need a lot of quiet time. We still need to make meaningful connections and will gain energy from these interactions.
If you work remotely, plan regular coffee chats with colleagues, or get involved with social or extracurricular groups within the organisation. If you go to the office a few times a week, take this opportunity to have coffee or lunch with colleagues. The key to community and belonging is to be proactive and intentional. It is easy to retreat behind our laptops and think that virtual communication and messaging will suffice.
In an online article dated August 2022, HRD reports that 67% of workers aged 18-34 stated that since working remotely, they have found it harder to make friends and maintain relationships with work colleagues. 71% felt that their work colleagues had become distant, and 54% attributed remote working as the main cause for drifting apart. These statistics show that being proactive and intentional with creating meaningful connections in the workplace is essential, and the best way to avoid feelings of isolation, which in turn will decrease motivation and performance.
Establish your support network
Second, a holistic approach means that you have a reliable support network at work. You might need support in many different areas: to do your tasks, to progress in your role and in the organisation. You might also seek support in speaking on other topics which might be a little more personal to you, such as how you are feeling, what you are experiencing outside of work, or your mental health and general well-being.
A good support network at work can start with your manager and can also extend to team members, colleagues from other functions, colleagues from HR, and well-being specialists, coaches or occupational physicians who might be available to you through work. Building this support network intentionally and actively will increase both your well-being, your confidence, and your opportunities to progress within the company.
Prioritize your well-being with small daily habits
Finally, I want to invite you to think about your well-being routines and habits at work but also outside of work. These will have a huge impact on your well-being but also on your performance, even if they are not strictly related to the work you do.
Making sure you take regular breaks, drink enough water, and eat healthy food or snacks at regular intervals will fuel you physically and energetically. It is easy to prioritise work deadlines and workload and end up forgetting about our needs. A study conducted by Desktime in 2021 found that the most productive employees were on break for 20-25% of their day. It is often the simple things, stopping for 5 minutes, drinking a glass of water, or going for a 10-minute walk, which will make a big difference to your energy, your productivity, and your performance.
What you do outside of the office is as important as what you do during your working hours. I want to invite you to examine your routines and habits outside of work. For example, what is your morning routine? Do you roll out of bed, open your laptop and/or turn on your phone? What does your evening routine look like?
The routines and habits you build morning and evening will set the tone for the day and allow you to have quality sleep at night which, unsurprisingly, has a huge impact on your productivity, well-being and overall performance at work. On their online blog, Trello, a web-based, list-making application, suggests 5 simple steps for an optimal morning routine (referenced at the end of this article). Don’t worry, it doesn’t involve waking up at 5 am, exercising for 90 minutes, or eating raw kale and egg whites. Simple habits such as moving around, preparing the night before, going slow, and focusing on what nourishes the soul can make a big difference and truly set the tone for a relaxed and productive day. This can help you feel and perform at your best day in and day out, especially when deadlines and stress kick in.
Your morning routine will equip you to bravely navigate the inevitable ups and downs of your professional life. The evening routine will also help you recover and settle your brain activity and nervous system so you are reset, refreshed, and in tip-top shape both body and mind the next day!
For those of us who work mostly or exclusively from home, there might be final elements to consider in order to feel and perform at our best in 2023: setting boundaries! As much as we want to approach work holistically and understand how our well-being and performance are impacted by things that are not strictly related to our job description, we also need to create healthy and clear boundaries between our home space and our workspace. And by space, I mean our physical space, of course, but also, and more importantly, our mental space and our ability to switch off work when we are in fact utilizing the same physical space to live and to work.
As much as we need community and a sense of belonging at work, well-being and performance are also created by our ability to switch off completely from work. We want to avoid patterns of “taking work home,” which can be trickier when there is no obvious physical separation or a commute between two spaces. Here are three tips to get you on track for a winning WFH setting in 2023 and beyond:
- Mental boundaries start with physical boundaries. Assign a specific space as your workspace, and work exclusively from that space.
- Make your workspace nice, inviting and cosy, so that you actually want to be there (vs work from the couch!). Invest in a good quality office chair and computer screen — this will make all the difference.
- Tuck away in a drawer, out of sight, laptops and work phones once you have logged out. Use separate equipment for work and for yourself personally. Turn off all work-related notifications once you have logged off — unless these are an explicit pre-requisite for your role (employees being on-call, for instance).
These simple tips will ensure healthy and clear boundaries, which in turn will allow you to get the time off you need to return with a punch the next day.
Here’s to a year of well-being and performance, where you can feel at your best in the workplace, whatever your role or set-up is!
Happy 2023 and beyond,
Short Bio: Muriel is an executive coach who specialises in leadership development from the inside out. ACC accredited and having delivered over 900 hours of 1-1 and group coaching internationally since 2018, Muriel offers specific support to highly sensitive leaders and contributors and is a firm believer that a holistic, human-centered and emotionally intelligent approach to leadership development and empowerment is the only way forward. Muriel has partnered with Bravely since 2019 and loves the impact and difference that Bravely is making to employees around the world. Find out more about Muriel at www.highly-sensitive-leaders.com
Online articles or blogs
Mental health and wellbeing in the workplace: A practical guide for employers and employees, by Gill Hasson and Donna Butler
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