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Mindful : June 2016
Tips June 2016 mindful 69 The rise of tech has turned “office” into a mindset rather than a physical place for many modern workers. In the midst of this increased flexibility, here’s how you can bring some stability to your worklife. Is “Office” a State of Mind? It used to be when some- one talked about being “at the office” they meant they were at an actual physi- cal space. With the rise of workplace flexibility, global work teams, and technology to support a slew of telework options, “office” has become an elusive concept. The number of “mobile workers” in the US will reach 105 million by 2020, esti- mates market intelligence firm IDC. That means almost three-quar ters of our work- force will find themselves with flexible office situations. It’s no wonder, then, that many For tune 500 companies are committed to attracting and retaining employees by offering flexible work environ- ments and promoting diverse work styles. Depending on what you do for a living and how you like to work, you will have your own unique definition of “office.” For some, office still means a physical space—like a desk or a cubical (or, for the free-spir- ited, their favorite café). For others, office means a device, like a tablet or phone. For these people, they’re “at the office” whenever their device is on and in their vicinity. For others still, office is a state of mind—it’s whenever you have work thoughts, which for many people is a lot of the time. It’s easy to see how nontraditional work situations can take on a life of their own, and lead to more stress rather than more flex- ibility. That’s why it’s import- ant to define what “flexible work” means to you. A recent study in the American Sociological Review found that workers with well-designed flexible work situations are less stressed, experience less burnout, and have increased job satisfac- tion compared to their peers in a typical workday situation. Simply giving employ- ees more control over their schedules and shifting emphasis to results rather than hours logged allows employees to be effective and happy. Go figure. What’s imperative is that managers and employees work together to establish what is acceptable within the company or team culture. This is a huge oppor tunity to build trust and prevent con- fusion by discussing upfront what “office” means from the employer’s perspective. Then everyone can work together to construct what a workday at the office ideally looks like. In order to have a bal- anced, mindful approach to flexible work situations, consider the following. 1 Your Physical Space If your office is an actual space, notice what you need in that space. If you work from home, is there a well-defined space in your house where “office” takes place, or do you “office” a little bit ever y- where? If “office” means a device, ask yourself when do you engage and disengage with the “office” (your device): Is it a set time, like 7 p.m., or is it when you reach a specific physical destination? 2 Your Mindset If your office is a mindset, think about how you can intentionally tap into and let go of work thoughts. Perhaps you can establish a “stop work thoughts” mantra that helps you bookmark the thought, for example, “Thank you, I will come back to this later.” Or you could intention- ally take a few deep breaths to redirect your energy, or try to set a concrete time when work thoughts are just not welcome. 3 Your Time When does “office” begin and end for you? Flexibility is about choice, and if the choice is to be always on, the power of flexibility is dimin- ished. Embrace and enjoy the flexibility to work wherever and whenever by being inten- tional about how, where, and when you “office.” How to work anywhere • Make sure some of your “office” hours overlap with a standard workday • Find time for face-to-face meetings and schedule them regularly • Avoid working on sensitive documents over public Wi-Fi • Block out brainstorm- ing time in your calen- dar—“ think” time is par t of your job. ● Jae Ellard is the founder of Simple Intentions and author of a series of books on developing awareness in the workplace. Three Steps For Defining “Flexible Work” practices at work