Back…to the office
The only certainty about life after a pandemic is that there isn’t much certainty. Masks on or off? Six feet of distance or three? Shake hands or nod hello? It depends on who you ask.
Given the changing and conflicting information out there (or the lack of it), it’s no surprise that after a year (or more) at home, the prospect of returning to a building filled with other human beings is stoking office workers’ anxiety. A 2021 American Psychological Association survey found that 48 percent of vaccinated respondents were still apprehensive about face-to-face interactions.
If you’re among those facing a return to your workplace and aren’t sure how you’ll handle it, take a deep breath and read through this collection of suggestions to help you prepare for office re-entry.
Before you return
Do some mental preparation. Psychologists use imagery to help people cope with anxiety-inducing situations. It may help you to spend a bit of time now imagining some of the scenarios you fear encountering at the office, and how you’ll deal with them. That can help you prepare emotionally if they do happen.
Have a dress rehearsal. If you can, go into the office before your return date. Look around and see what’s changed. Sit at your desk. Do a little tidying up after the year of disuse. Stock your drawer with masks and sanitizer if you’re still using them. Organize your desk, add some updated photos and maybe a new plant if you’re allowed. Make it welcoming for your first day.
Reset your sleep schedule. It wasn’t just stress that played havoc with many sleep schedules. When you can work late into the night, roll out of bed five minutes before starting time or grab a catnap at lunchtime, it’s easy to get into bad sleep habits. A week or so before your return date, gradually adjust to your new/old schedule by 15- or 30-minute increments each day.
Once at work
Wear a mask if you choose. If you live and work in an area where masking is based on an honor system, how can you know who’s being honorable? You can’t. So, if you’re more comfortable wearing a mask during the day, don’t apologize and don’t let anyone tell you that you shouldn’t. It’s your decision, full stop.
Keep washing and sanitizing. Even though touch is a less frequent method of COVID-19 transfer, wash your hands often. As a bonus, it will help protect you and those around you from other bacteria and viruses. It also doesn’t hurt to wipe down your work area with sanitizer wipes at the beginning of your day—especially if you share a desk.
Set your boundaries and stick to them. If you’re not comfortable with hugs or handshakes yet, it’s okay to say no. If you’re not up to going out into crowds with co-workers, that’s your right, too. Explain to them what feels comfortable and safe for you in a clear, kind and non-judgmental manner—and be willing to understand others’ thoughts and boundaries, too. Use “I” statements to let them know why your boundaries are important to you: e.g., “I have little ones at home who aren’t vaccinated yet, and I don’t want to risk bringing something home to them.” Honesty is the best way to re-establish a respectful and compassionate working relationship.
Remember, some anxiety is normal. Even if they don’t say it out loud, your co-workers probably have anxieties, too. Allow yourself some time to adjust—after all, your surroundings may be familiar, but the world is definitely not the same as it was the last time you walked out the door. And if you do find yourself struggling, please don’t hesitate to talk to your doctor or mental health professional, who can help you take the steps needed to ease your way into your next normal.
Summer’s here, and the world is opening up again. However, not everyone feels comfortable traveling just yet. And that’s fine—there’s lots of fun to be found in every area. Here are some ideas to help you and your family have an enjoyable summer close to home.
Stargaze—You don’t need a telescope to watch the stars; some advanced research, a pair of binoculars, a free astronomy or NASA app, and time for your eyes to adjust to darkness will help you see stars. Grab some pillows and blankets, turn off or get away from all the lights you can, and lie back to identify constellations or look for the space station.
Create a garden—If you don’t have the room or the inclination for vegetables or flowers, create a wondrous fairy garden in a corner of your yard or a yummy herb garden in a planter. Playing in dirt is always fun, and if you include little ones in the process, it’s a great chance for them to enjoy fresh summer air and learn more about nature.
Visit local outdoor attractions—It’s likely the outdoor museums and zoos in your area will be open with appropriate safeguards this year. Whether you have kids or not, why not get out and visit these places? They’ll be thrilled to see more patrons, and you’ll have the chance to reconnect with local attractions you may not have visited in years.
Go geocaching—If you’re not familiar with this activity, geocaching.com defines it as: “A real-world, outdoor treasure hunting game using GPS-enabled devices. Participants navigate to a specific set of GPS coordinates and then attempt to find the geocache (container) hidden at that location.” It’s popular, fun and easy to get started with information you can find online. There’s a whole community and unending adventures just waiting for you.
Take a scenic drive—Pack up the car with snacks and drinks, hop in, turn up the music and get outta town. You don’t have to go far; just drive out to the country or to the next town, take the kids on a tour of family landmarks, or stop at a local metro park for a picnic and to let everyone stretch their legs. You’ll be surprised how good a change of scenery feels.
Other ideas include mapping out a walking tour of your town, shopping at local farmers’ markets (summer produce is the best!), or enjoying an old-fashioned backyard water balloon fight when the summer heat and humidity climb. No matter your age and no matter how many people in your circle, have fun like a kid again and enjoy everything your area has to offer.
We live in a data-driven world. And because data is so readily available, businesses have the ability to tap into key metrics to measure against set goals. Whether those goals are to reduce staff turnover or client churn, increase profits, or extend the average client life cycle…having a KPI (key performance indicator) strategy in place is essential for long-term success.
While data tracking and monitoring key metrics is critically important to business success, the abundance of data available can cause information overload. To help you navigate the world of KPIs and build a “starter plan” of sorts, this article offers three tips to creating a sound KPI strategy.
Not all KPIs are created equal. The first step is to understand the difference between lagging and leading indicators and why both need to be monitored.
Lagging indicators show results over a period of time (e.g., total sales in the closing quarter). These are easy to measure and provide quick answers on whether set goals have been met. For example, if you set an ambitious goal such as doubling sales by the end of Q4 (compared to Q2 sales), the ultimate lagging indicator is annual revenue or profits.
Leading indicators capture data that has an effect on an outcome. This makes leading indicators useful for predicting outcomes. For example, if an online retail store shows a sharp drop in the purchase of a popular item, the company could predict a drop in overall quarterly sales. Monitoring leading indicators helps you get ahead of predictable trends and make adjustments to influence positive outcomes.
The goal here is to get your entire organization talking about data! When everyone speaks the data language, it better supports a company-wide KPI strategy.
To build a KPI-driven culture, be sure to offer regular staff training on the value of KPIs and the metrics each department is responsible for tracking. Also, be sure to assign the proper leads to champion KPI progress and ensure staff are kept updated as your strategy evolves. Finally, make sure you have the right technologies in place to collect and analyze data, and make KPI dashboards available to required staff.
It’s important to understand that KPIs are subject to change. You can bet that over time customer behaviors will change and business goals will evolve in response to market trends. This calls for businesses to refine their KPI strategy on a regular basis.
Over time, you may discover that a KPI is not helping you progress toward a specific goal or that it’s driving the wrong actions. For these reasons, commit to consistent KPI evaluation and enhancement as you move forward. The formal process of refinement requires you to monitor what is working and what is not.
You exercise your body to stay healthy, but how often do you exercise your brain? Research has shown that keeping your brain cells strong and sharp can help lower your risk of developing dementia. Here are four ways to make sure your body’s busiest organ keeps running smoothly.
As we get older, we all have the occasional memory lapse. But practicing these four basic habits—along with getting enough sleep, limiting alcohol, and not smoking—can help keep your blood flowing and ensure your body and brain stay active and vibrant for many years to come.
Now that you’ve been working remotely for several months, how are you feeling about your shared office apps? If you’re still scrambling to put together a set of tools that meet your virtual needs, here are some applications that will go a long way toward making everyone feel like they’re working together as a team…even when you’re not in the same office.
A final option to consider that doesn’t really fit into any of the categories above is Google Drive, which contains Google Docs, Google Sheets,and other apps. It’s more of a file storage system, but it’s free and a great way to create, circulate, and review documents and spreadsheets.
With any of these applications, you’ll take significant strides toward creating an efficient remote office that feels much less remote.
Smartphones. Most of us can’t live without them. They’re an indispensable addition to our daily lives, so it’s always nice to find new ways they can help us save time. Here are some smartphone productivity secrets that can help you dial up more efficiency during your day:
Use your phone to lighten your load
These are just a few smartphone hacks to help you simplify your daily life. You can look online or browse your phone’s app store for more tools that will help put little-known smartphone secrets to work for you.
If your business has a website, you’ve heard about the importance of content. Lots of content—educational, timely, entertaining, and frequently updated information that helps boost your search rankings and engage visitors.
Still, you might be asking: Our customers come to us because of the products and/or services we offer, so is it really that important to push out a steady stream of content?
The short answer is yes. And here are four compelling reasons why:
Content is a must in today’s web-driven world—enabling businesses to stand out from the competition and provide both clients and prospects with helpful, educational information. If you have not yet, it’s time to jump on the content bandwagon.