Radically remote: 7
Insights on thriving under a remote-first culture and navigating the challenges that come with change
Mental and physical wellbeing: How we support our remote team
When I step into my office each morning, the first thing I glance at is the trio of vibrant canvases, hanging on the walls. I asked my three sons to paint them for me, to brighten up my workspace, and every single day they bring me joy. It was a spur of the moment decision, but commissioning my mini-Picassos is one of the best calls I’ve ever made. Their paintings boost my mood, fuel my resilience and – most importantly – make the space my own.
Remote work has huge advantages, but the last couple of years have taught us it isn’t always the magic bullet we’d assumed it to be. Yes, it brings incredible freedom, and flexibility and can be fantastic for business, but without the right setup and routine, it can challenge our mental and physical health.
Of course, the pandemic has amplified the impact that our workspaces and our working practices have on our wellbeing. We’ve all lived on red alert for some time and while lockdown may be long over, loneliness lingers for many remote workers. We also underestimate how toxic stress can be to our minds and bodies –the World Health Organisation even dubs it the health epidemic of the 21st Century.
But with the right systems and support behind us, I really believe remote working can be a gamechanger. Since Buyapowa went radically remote I’ve seen our team gain more control over their work-life balance and save hours of wasted commutes. It’s also given us scope to chase our dreams. Just ask Peter, our Marketing Director, who seized the opportunity to relocate from London to Madrid, or Nick, who now enjoys working from his sunny balcony in Barcelona.
So, how do we at Buyapowa support our team with their remote work setup? How do we give them the tools to ensure they feel positive and productive in our brave new world? Here are some of the structures we’ve put in place to help our colleagues feel mentally and physically empowered to navigate the choppy waters of remote work. I’d love to hear what’s proving successful for you and your team too.
Creating healthy spaces
Over the last couple of years, we’ve learnt more than ever that our workspace can make or break our day. If we invest in the right kit – like decent lighting, an ergonomic chair and a proper monitor – we feel motivated and in control. Without it, we’re less productive and our health can suffer. That’s why we make it our mission to work with every team member and invest in setting them up in a space that will support their needs.
Did you know that just eight weeks into the pandemic, nearly two-thirds (63%) of UK employees had injured their back, neck, hips, knees or wrists, all because of poor homeworking practices and a lack of suitable equipment? That’s nearly 11million people! For us, working on a laptop hunched over a coffee table or sitting on an uncomfortable kitchen chair is a total no-go. We wouldn’t expect that in the office, so there’s no reason for it to happen when you’re remote.
That means we invest in ergonomic chairs, which give back support where and when it’s needed. An external mouse and keyboard are essential too, as is a decent-size, external monitor. Our eyes are precious too and there’s no reason to stare at a laptop all day. Eye strain and headaches are pretty unpleasant, after all.
A slick set-up
From my own experience, I know that a great work set-up also eliminates those little frustrations that can make it harder to focus. With that in mind, we’ll boost Wi-Fi, set up webcams for virtual meetings and provide backgrounds for online demos. It helps things run smoothly and keeps them slick and professional.
The right light
Lighting is another thing we often forget to think about. We all feel better on a bright day, but did you know that an hour’s sunlight can make us feel as alert as several cups of coffee? We might not all be able to work on a sun-drenched balcony, but a well-lit office has massive implications for our mood and productivity too.
Here at Buyapowa, some of us swear by SAD lamps, designed to simulate the sun on dingy winter mornings, while other colleagues love smart lighting, which works in sync with the body clock’s natural rhythms. Either way, investing in the right lighting is crucial for kickstarting our brains and sharpening our focus. And if we get enough of the good stuff during the day, that can help us sleep better at night too. If you want to know more about just how powerful light can be, I can’t recommend reading Chasing the Sun, by science writer Linda Geddes, enough. It’ll change the way you light your life forever!
A personal well-being allowance
Finally, whether sweating it out at a spinning class or meditating is your scene, everyone needs time away from their screens. This is more important than ever when remote working because the lines between work and play can so easily become blurred. For me, it’s my weekly PT session and a daily, early morning run along the Thames that help me disconnect. Life is hectic, and regularly doing an activity you enjoy is vital for your mental health. Just ask health and happiness guru Dr Rangan Chatterjee, who recommends doing something you love every day, even if it’s just for five minutes.
To encourage this, we give every member of our team an annual wellness budget, to spend on anything that enhances their well-being. Some colleagues spend it on a gym membership, while others have signed up for painting lessons, or even mindfulness courses. We won’t ask anyone to justify their choices though – whatever your bag is, so be it. No questions asked.
If your team is remote – or you’re thinking of heading that way – I hope our learnings give some food for thought. Do let me know what’s worked for you and your team too.
Gideon’s been leading digital brands for over 20 years. He’s proud to have built and businesses for the likes of Universal, HMV and LetsBuyIt.com, but right now he’s busy helping other brands acquire new customers in an altogether smarter way. He’s the Founder and CEO of Buyapowa (https://www.buyapowa.com/), and they’re the world leaders in reward marketing, and their platform powers customer acquisition for over 200 leading enterprise brands across 27 countries and in 21 languages.