As home and work lives continue to blend through hybrid working, conversations are springing up around the importance of being able to work in a way that is comfortable and healthy. For example, employees now need a quality home working set-up that allows them to work productively - and have proven that effective work doesn’t always require a suit and tie.
Lars Lauridsen is Senior Global Product Manager for Digital Wellness at Logitech.
The pandemic also introduced a more personal side to work, as colleagues got comfortable on video calls and became familiar with each other’s homes, pets, children and partners. Indeed, 39% of workers say they are now more likely to be their full, authentic selves at work. As hybrid working continues, being comfortable to embrace video will also help to bring in person and remote employees together, and ensure there is a work environment where all participants feel engaged and involved – regardless of where they are.
While remote working brought challenges for both employees and employers, focusing on keeping employees comfortable and healthy - at home, in the office and on camera - will help make the hybrid working model a success.
Tech that makes you feel better, so you do better
The pandemic forced most employees to work at home in spaces that were never designed for office work. This, plus the rush to buy whatever office tech was available, resulted in many employees having an inadequate home working setup or one that was causing discomfort.
On top of this, office workers often suffer with muscle and joint strain from working with unergonomic equipment, which can in turn reduce productivity. As many employees now work from home at least part of the time, employers must equip them with the same level of quality, ergonomic peripherals at home as they would expect in the office.
There are a number of solutions to choose from, such as an ergonomic keyboard with a curved, split keyframe which offers better hand and wrist posture than a standard keyboard. Mice can also cause joint and muscle issues, so providing employees with a vertical or trackball mouse can allow them to work comfortably – and reduce the risk of conditions like pronation and carpal tunnel syndrome.
Physical discomfort can cause heightened stress levels, that when brought into homes can be detrimental to employees’ mental wellbeing, leaving them less able to focus on what matters. Keeping employees healthy with ergonomic equipment not only increases productivity but improves overall job satisfaction.
Breaking down dress code norms
The pandemic has proved that it is possible to work productively without wearing a suit or heels, and employers are beginning to ease decades old dress codes as a result. During the pandemic, employees saw one another – and often clients and customers – wearing casual clothes on video calls, and forgoing shirts and ties for t-shirts and sweatshirts.
As many companies now plan to work both at home and in the office, adhering to an uncomfortable dress code that only applies to in-person employees is becoming difficult to justify.
Comfort also means more than just soft fabric – it’s also about freedom from the creative restrictions that come with strict dress codes. Allowing for outward expression of individuality, especially when in your own home, leads to greater levels of creativity and insight. If employees can bring a piece of their personality to work in their outfit, they will be more confident in bringing new perspectives to the table.
Getting comfortable with video
Another element of remote working that many employees had to get used to for the first time is video conferencing – the pandemic has brought about a real revolution in video. Employees have become adept at learning how to light and frame themselves and what sort of background to use in order to have an effective, clear video call – and these bring significant benefits to the effectiveness of meetings.
Being able to see body language and have eye contact more closely replicates face-to-face communication, and can allow for more productive meetings. Even as we move towards a hybrid working model, there will be many meetings where participants are both in-person and remote, so ensuring everyone is comfortable with video calling will be important to ensuring meetings are effective, and that remote employees feel included and engaged, going forwards.
It’s clear that the refocus on comfort will bring many overdue improvements to both the workplace and home office: easing outdated dress codes, enhancing virtual meetings, and providing employees with the equipment they need to create an efficient home working set-up. As the line between professional and personal life continues to blur, promoting comfort is the way towards a healthier, more fulfilling way of working.
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Lars Lauridsen is is the Senior Global Product Manager at Logitech.