In an evolving digital workplace, employers must make employee wellbeing a priority, says Katharine Kimber, location head for TLT in Northern Ireland, signatories of the Mindful Business Charter.
At TLT, we love our office on High Street in Belfast but we also know that we achieve our best results by allowing people to find the place that works for them, their team and their clients.
As a result of changes accelerated by the pandemic, we all now recognise the considerable benefits of remote and hybrid working patterns, which free up travel time, increase the geographical area from which we can draw talent and increase the potential of a diverse workforce who might not be at their most efficient in a formal office all of the time.
In 2021, we formally acknowledged this by announcing a fully flexible working approach, which means everyone in the firm can choose where, when, and how they work on any given day. We’re also investing in a multi-million-pound programme over the next two years to deliver a digital and physical workplace to support choice, inclusion, and sustainability.
This means that our workforce is distributed, and more than ever, digital communication is a big part of our working day. Tools such as Microsoft Teams are designed to keep people’s attention, almost making a compelling game of staying on top of messages from work. This keeps employees’ eyes on the screen but can lead to stress and distraction.
For team leaders, the temptation to quickly hop on a call can be huge, but each interruption adds to the overall load we place on our colleagues. On the other hand, too little communication with workers who are based elsewhere can lead to feelings of isolation, a lack of support and a ‘them and us’ culture, not to mention missed opportunities for learning and development. The best work comes when everyone feels that they are part of the team.
Especially considering the strain of the pandemic, the risk of burnout in a hybrid working world is too high to ignore. Any employer wishing to avoid the risk of employee churn must put their best efforts behind the mental wellbeing of the engine of the business: their staff.
We are proud signatories of the Mindful Business Charter, a set of principles designed to reduce unnecessary stress in the workplace through respecting people’s time: openness and respect; smart meetings and emails; respecting rest periods; and mindful delegation.
We encourage employees to respect the preferred communication method for their colleagues, and to plan ahead for meetings and provide regular feedback. We ask them to be mindful of who’s on email trails and encourage employees to add their working hours to email footers and consider whether emails should be delayed until someone is back at their desk. If they must be sent outside of someone’s hours, we ask colleagues to make it clear in the subject line whether it needs to be read immediately.
Dial-in details are added by default to meeting invitations so people working away from the office always have a way to join, and managers are expected to set an example by not being on call when on leave.
In working towards these principles, we aim to live more comfortably with technology and reduce unnecessary sources of stress, which in turn is good for business.
As sharing best practice is another business positive for us, we are keen to discuss our experiences so that we can promote better digital working habits and encourage other businesses to sign up to the Mindful Business Charter. Get in touch to see how we put it all in place and have a conversation about what you can do in your company.
More can be found on the Mindful Business Charter at mindfulbusinesscharter.com
T: 0333 006 0014