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Advanced Workplace Institute

Online Workshop

Working at Home

Many people are comfortable working from home for a day or two a week – or for a short period to work on a specific piece of work. In our experience, the majority of people like to be in the office with their colleagues for the majority of the time.  The third part of the series provides tools and tips on how to stay focused, happy and productive whilst working at home.
AWA Advanced Workplace Associates: Cognitive Performance

Workshop Aims

  • Setting expectations with family members and colleagues
  • Discipline and routines
  • Staying connected and protecting relationships
  • Maintaining trust with colleagues
  • Overwork, under-work
  • Work, life and balance
  • Staying fit, nutrition and hydration
AWA Advanced Workplace Associates: Cognitive Fitness

The Issue

When people start spending more of their time working from the home base, this can certainly cause tension and issues within the team and between manager and team members. And from a personal point of view, there are many ways in which working remotely can be challenging – in terms of productivity and focus.

To be effective, people working remotely need to focus on a number of aspects relating to their personal performance and to the relationships they have with colleagues.

Fortunately, through scientifically based research, we know what it takes to safeguard personal performance and team relationships when people aren’t together all the time. If you (or people in your organisation) are working virtually as a consequence of the current health emergency (or for other reasons) then this session is for you. Full of great insights and practical tips you can put into action immediately.

Event Summary

orkshop 3 in the Working AWAy series took participants into a deeper dive than the initial session. To see a summary of session 1, please click here.

The session lasted 90 minutes and participants were placed into interactive breakout rooms where they were able to discuss the key aspects that impact cognitive functioning and capacity. By understanding these, it enables us to better operate individually as home workers but also empower our teams to work as effectively as possible in this changing environment.  The Advanced Workplace Institutes scientific research shared what the key components are for maintaining higher levels of cognitive function.  There was an open and honest discussion around productivity and how individuals at the session felt their productivity had changed, improved or diminished with the changes coronavirus has forced onto their ways of working.

There were four key takeaways from this session. Firstly, the conversations we had revealed a simple truth. These changes are affecting each individual uniquely. The majority of peoples performance has been effected, but for some it was positive and others negative.
Key take away two. We looked at the Plum Model of Brain Energy and how mental capacity is more likely to be exceeded during times of uncertainty. New situations, and uncertain situations drain the brain of more energy. Therefore, expecting to have the same mental capacity to perform new, or even the same tasks is not possible for the majority of individuals.

Key take away three. Having now identified that the brain requires energy to operate, and is most likely consuming more energy due to the changes, challenges and uncertainty being created by the global pandemic, we asked the question, “What can be done to ensure it can maximise the use of its capacity”?

Looking at the research the Advanced Workplace Institute has undertaken in collaboration with the Center of Evidence Based Management, we identified through scientific research, the primary factors that facilitate cognitive performance. Not only that, but also the primary factors that impede cognitive function. These range on the positive from coffee, nutritional breaks, scent, daytime naps and others contained in the summary handout you can download here.

Key take away 4. Having considered the individual needs, what does this look like for teams and collaboration? We discussed and looked at the idea of a working away team agreement. This would identify what is allowed, what isn’t allowed and set the expectations for all team members. Ideas for what could be included in a team agreement can be found in the summary handout.

For further reading on the topic of working well at home, please read our Working Well at Home article.

The next workshop in the series will be looking at practical ways in which we can best use technology to facilitate working online with our teams. For further information, please click here.

Our Contributors
AWA Advanced Workplace Associates: Andrew Mawson, Founder

Founder & Managing Director, AWA

Andrew is recognised as one of the UK’s leading thinkers on the evolution of work and the workplace. Since founding AWA over 25 years ago, he has worked at strategic level with organisations including Merrill Lynch, RBS, Network Rail, Santander, Unicef UK, Welcome Break, Willis Towers Watson, The Home Office and The Cabinet Office to support them in improving the performance of their workplace portfolios.

Andrew has been closely involved in the AWI and its predecessor the Workplace PIN since their inception.

Karen Plum - Advanced Workplace Associates - UK - USA - AWA - Workplace consultant

Director of Research and Development, AWA

Karen Plum is a senior workplace consultant responsible for our Research and Development activities.

In her consulting work Karen specialises in working as a senior coach with leaders, supporting them in creating the conditions to bring about strategic change in the way their people work. Karen is an expert in agile working, having helped countless organisations transition into new ways of working. She has worked with numerous organisations, helping to coordinate and construct more effective workplace strategies. Clients she has worked with include the Royal Bank of Scotland, Microsoft, Nationwide Building Society, Morgan Stanley, Lloyds Banking Group, Prostate Cancer UK and London & Partners.

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