Everybody has times when they feel stressed out at work. Looming deadlines, working on a sprint or a day spent undoing a costly error. We all have a unique version of what stresses us out, and no two people handle stress the same way. There are, however, some practical ways to relieve stress functionally in your workday that can also improve your productivity.
When you spend all day in front of the screen, it can be challenging to get comfortable or stay comfortable in that position. Readjusting your posture at work can have significant benefits to your productivity, as well as your health. With a myriad of benefits ranging from decreased absences from work to reduced symptoms in those suffering from depression, this small fix can make a massive difference. Taking breaks from your screen is also really important. Many people eat their lunch and have their coffees at their desk and don’t take the necessary time to give themselves a fresh perspective on their problem.
Tools of the trade:
Physical activity has multiple benefits for the body and the mind. It also is hugely beneficial for companies profits. On workout days, participants’ scores were 21% higher for concentration on work, 22% higher for finishing their work on time, 25% higher for working without unscheduled breaks, and an incredible 41% for feeling motivated to work. “The survey also found that 41 per cent of employees feel burned out from working long days, and 55 per cent don’t feel they can leave their desk to take a break. However, the survey revealed that breaks could help, with respondents indicating regular breaks would improve work and personal happiness (59 per cent and 43 per cent respectively) and health (37 per cent)”
The idea that if we push through a hard day to meet deadlines is unfortunately not compatible with the research done on workplace productivity. We may still lock into the idea that an eight hour day is the most productive framework provided for employers and employees. The problem is that the productivity of your workforce is essentially 3 hours a day per employee. That is not because your employees are terrible, or ineffective at their work, but rather the fact that if you do not encourage your employees to optimise themselves for the day ahead. Encourage staff instead of multitasking to use the chunk method.
Multitasking was once heralded as a fantastic way to maximise one’s time and get more done in a day. Then people started realising that when they had a phone in their ear and were making calculations at the same time, their speed and accuracy suffered. There is a certain kind of frazzled feeling that comes from splitting one’s focus that doesn’t work well for most people. Rather than multitasking, try a new strategy known as chunking.
Much like the benefits that remote work offers many people to be more productive, comfortable and efficient, making sure you are comfortable and well relaxed at work will bring more benefits. When you feel confined to space and unable to walk around at your ease, you may find your concentration drifting. Sitting in one place for too long can make perceptions of a long day or a difficult task even worse. A new perspective can be gained just by getting five minutes of a break. If you feel like you need to justify yourself to another member of your team, then explain that you need to get some fresh air. It’s proven that if the lighting, heat or cold is distracting you, your mind will always go back to refocusing on how uncomfortable you feel any time your concentration lapses.
With the average rate of maximum concentration being an average of around 45 minutes, it is recommended taking a short three to five-minute break every hour, especially if you are working on a task that requires a high level of concentration. It may be easier to justify to yourself to sit and slog through until the job is completed, however, research has shown that those who take frequent breaks on high-intensity tasks complete the task faster and with less self-reported stress. The utility in making sure you are comfortable and can take a break from demanding will result in lower employee churn, higher team morale and a more pleasant work day.
A 2016 survey of 2,000 US hiring and HR managers by CareerBuilder dived more in-depth into the things that distract us at work. The top culprits included smartphones (55%), the internet (41%), gossip (37%), social media (37%), co-workers dropping by (27%), smoking or snack breaks (27%), email (26%), meetings, (24%), and noisy co-workers (20%). A staggering three-quarter of employers surveyed by CareerBuilder said that two or more hours a day were lost in productivity because of workplace distractions, with nearly half (43%) estimating they lost three or more hours a day.
Avoid Toxic Coworkers:
Toxic employees can be especially damaging when it comes to your company culture and employee experience. A study from Harvard Business School found that toxic employees create a terrible disruption for their peers:
- 80 per cent of employees lost work time worrying about the offending employee’s behaviour
- 78 per cent said their commitment to the organisation declined in the face of toxic behaviour
- 66 per cent said their performance declined as a result of working with a toxic employee
- 63 per cent lost work time as a result of trying to avoid the offender
The problem with employees who sour the work environment is the knock-on effect they have on others around them. It’s difficult to fully realise the damage that one toxic employee can have as their negative traits are like an infection in the workspace; it spreads invisibly. Often it’s only apparent after the employee leaves that the impact they were having becomes evident by its absence. Toxic behaviour can vary from malicious forms of bullying or intimidation to poor work ethic, regardless of the form it takes it must be dealt with in a professional and professional manner for the offender to be allowed to defend themselves and improve their behaviour before taking more serious actions.