“World Day for Safety and Health at Work” is an annual international campaign which promotes safe, healthy and decent work. It is held on 28 April each year.
In 2019, the focus is on not only reflecting on the last hundred years of achievements in improving the safety and health of workplaces, but also looking forward to explore the future of work. There will be thirty three “think pieces” across the next twelve months which will explore the interplay of digitalisation, changing work demographics, emerging new work roles, climate change and globalisation on work health and safety.
Already these forces are at play within a number of workplace sectors, and their impact will only become more pronounced over the next decade.
So, given that the “future is now”, and these challenges are already starting to manifest, what can you do to ensure that your workplace culture is as healthy and productive as possible.
Keep communicating well!
Ironically, effective communication can sometimes fall off the radar when there is technological innovation afoot. Whilst technology allows us to communicate instantaneously and remotely, with an expanding number of apps and resources at our disposal, we need to ensure that they are being used effectively and appropriately.
The danger is that we become lazy and complacent in what or how we communicate, or even worse, communicate in ways which are not demonstrating the values of respect and accountability.
Whilst technology may free up time, and so make us more productive, there is always a place and space for being clear with colleagues and your team about what we are here to achieve, and how we can achieve that together.
Use the latest technology to share ideas, collaborate together and be more efficient with your time, but do not let yourself become unduly focused, however unconsciously on an unholy trinity of “my inbox, my tasks, my outcomes”.
Technology is a means to an end, not an end in itself. Make sure you continue to explore how your teams and colleagues can genuinely communicate together, with technology aiding that, rather than becoming the primary focus or end in itself. For example:
1. Use technology and face-to-face interaction to drive innovation
Use apps to collate ideas for how to better undertake a project, service a client or update a precedent, but do then actually make sure you are providing a range of face-to-face forums (including the humble team meeting) to discuss, support and embed these ideas. Creativity through real-time discussion can build on whatever has been flagged before a meeting.
2. Deliver thanks in person
A face-to face (or Skype to Skype) “thank you” is gold. Of course, we cannot necessarily be omnipresent, and a quick “thank you” by email is better than no thank you at all. But do not rank an emailed “thank you” as equal to one being said directly.
Remote working is a blessing in enabling us to work from home flexibly, but make sure that we are not seen as taking people’s effort for granted. Be visible with your appreciation.
3. Be mindful with email communication
Start by being more mindful about when we send emails to each other. Just because you can send an email over the weekend about a work problem that you have been mulling about, and are now seeking others’ input about, does not mean that you should send it.
What meta-message is your email message sending? That “down time” is actually de facto “work time”. That we are to be pondering work conundrums when we are meant to be resting, rejuvenating and pursuing our personal pursuits?
Counter-culturally, some workplaces are now asking employees to only email during work-hours, and to save any “out of hours” emails as draft or schedule them to be sent during the working week. How sensible!
4. Think calmly before responding
The written word can only take us so far. The very nature of globalisation, the pace of work, inevitability of email to connect with others across different time zones means that we will all continue to be mindful of what and how we communicate.
We need to be calm and curious when reading and reacting to emails from fellow employees across national and international networks, and ensure that we are not adding to our own stress levels (or theirs) when dealing solely with email as our means of exchange.
Rapid change is happening in where and how we work, and the types of jobs already emerging (and disappearing). Amidst all this change, we need to be able to continue to question and identify what are the best ways that we can use technology to communicate effectively, respectfully and accountably with each other.
About Grevis Beard
Grevis Beard is the co-founder and director of Worklogic. Grevis has significant knowledge of the dynamics of workplace disputes and their resolution. Grevis works with a range of clients to improve workplace communication, investigate inappropriate behaviour at work, manage workplace risks and handle complaints. He is an acclaimed speaker and author.