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Reshape the Workplace by Removing Unnecessary Stress

Reshape the Workplace by Removing Unnecessary Stress

When talking about the workplace of the future, one of the things which keeps coming up is working from home. Of course working from home is very flexible and combines business with pleasure. You can get out of bed at the same time as always, and start earlier than you normally would. Alternatively, you can sleep in a little longer and start work less stressed than if you were on the road with aspiring Formula One drivers! You could also enjoy having lunch with your family. On the other hand you can work more effectively in a quiet work environment compared to the open–plan offices most of us are used to.  All of these are very good points in favor of working from home.

Having said that, far more annoying and stressful than traffic is email. Sadly, working from home doesn’t help here. In the 1990s – I guess I’m showing my age here – email was seen as a great tool with which to share information quickly. Gone were the fights with the fax machine: paper jams, lack of toner, lack of paper, unsuccessful transmissions…the list is endless. The trouble with email is related to both the quality and the quantity of the messages received. How many of the emails received, resemble more electronic telephone conversations? How many emails glaringly show that the writer doesn’t know what they’re writing about? How many emails might have been saved with a simple phone call? The consequence is that even though you might be in the comfort of your home, you still have to spend hours reading through or replying to tons of mail.

How can work – from home or in the office – be made more effective? Surfing the web, you read a lot about the ‘end of email’. Some of the alternatives mentioned are things like blogs, social networks, instant messaging and so on. The question is though: will any of these or some other platform make communication better and more efficient? Or will we just have more platforms with which to produce ever greater quantities of nonsense? Or do we need to be even more flexible by quickly processing information from multiple sources?

Do you know of any communication platforms which could really make us more productive? Would love to hear from you.

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3 Comments

  • avatar image
    Sean Dring
    April 11, 2012

    I often set up "rules of engagement" with my peers and customers to ensure that I can control the amount of “noise” generated via the many forms of communication as well set expectations concerning response times. Another key thing is to try and wean people off using e-mail as an instant messaging or collaboration solution. After all, people are creatures of habit and often e-mail provides and easy “Fire and Forget” way of doing things. So, I set the expectation that the phone is the most efficient way of engaging me. Instant messaging is fine for when I’m on-line and e-mail will be answered within a 2 working day period. Using that and rules within Outlook (such as moving any e-mails that cc me out of my inbox to a follow-up folder) helps reduce the noise. I also use SharePoint and try and keep as much relevant information as to my current projects in there as possible; In that way, people often look at my site before sending me that e-mail. Also, working from home is all well and good; but a lot people overlook the health and safety aspects of doing so. Having a workplace at home that follows all the relevant ergonomic specifications for your type of work is essential to good health and often this is provided at the employees’ expense.

  • avatar image
    Marco Rossi
    April 11, 2012

    Sounds like a sensible approach. Do you use smart phones to ckeck your emails? Do you find them helpful? You're certainly right about working from home. In order to do so, you may well have to invest in a new monitor, printer (I find it easier to read things on paper rather than on screen) or other office equipment - including the ergonomic equipment you refer to, which can be quite expensive.

  • avatar image
    Sean Dring
    April 16, 2012

    Hello there Marco, I do use a smartphone. But it’s a phone first and a messaging device 2nd. The reason for this is that when I first got a smartphone (many years ago) it had an insidious way of disrupting my life. Having things pop up in an e-mail after hours that may require attention when you return to the office does not bode well for a good night’s sleep. Also work/life notifications were all mixed into one big notification mess so it quickly became a device for “interrupting my interruptions”. I use the Exchange Active Sync feature to choose when I update my e-mail. The hard thing about creating a set of rules for engagement is to stick with it. Eventually it will start to work for you.

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