Jessie Pavelka was featured in Raconteur, speaking about how “organisations have the power to impact individuals and business positively.”
Here, Jessie explains more about the impact of remote working on people and situations related to circadian rhythm, creativity and personalities.
How might remote working affect circadian rhythms?
The Harvard Business Review details research that finds on average, after the workday begins, employees take a few hours to reach their peak levels of alertness and energy — and that peak does not last long. Not long after lunch, those levels begin to decline, hitting a low at around 3pm. We often blame this on lunch, but in reality this is just a natural part of the circadian process. After the 3pm dip, alertness tends to increase again until hitting a second peak at approximately 6pm. Following this, alertness tends to then decline for the rest of the evening
The Human Factors and Ergonomics Society analyses also suggest an approach to work design that takes into account the optimal effects of naps as a fatigue countermeasure. Encouraging your people to take a siesta may feel counter-intuitive, but the rewards are there.
Working remotely can provide people with the freedom to arrange their most productive moments as best works for them, without the barriers or distractions such as commuting, or face to face meetings where they must be off their screen.
Modern life can put our internal clock out of sync. Our bodies haven’t caught up to our lifestyles, and we still need the right signals to be able to feel time. These signals, called ‘zeitgebers’ include our food intake, movement and temperature. The greatest is light exposure, as when light enters our eyes it activates our ‘suprachiasmatic nucleus’. Screen time, not moving, not eating well – all of this can destroy a healthy internal clock – and so employers can ask if their well-being program includes interesting and motivating discussions on nutrition, movement and mindfulness.
So the question is how are you supporting your remote workers with the challenges they face to switch off, to separate home life and work life, and to build a day that results in both productivity and well-being? As an individual and from the side of the organisation, are you taking a reactive approach?
Being in a remote working situation gives us less to navigate – and so it seems as though we have more freedom. But are we filling that space with more of the familiar – more work? When work stops, is home life the same as it always was, or are opportunities for personal growth and well-being being identified and taken?
Once each person’s challenges, opportunities and strengths have been pinpointed, how does this come into reality? Depending on what your strengths are, it’s not about showing up one day and giving your best to your teams at work and also your family at home. It’s about consistency. Without a plan of action to continue the positive findings, it’s going to be short-term success.
Thinking that I require X amount of sleep, X amount of sunshine outdoors as a human being, then my strengths might be short-lived if I can’t achieve this. So it’s more about finding a way to feel good about your work contributions, being able to lead your work team and also your family. These things are all possible, even in the challenge we’ve faced this year, but only if we honour the human element to all of this.
How can creativity thrive in a remote working situation?
Creativity is still possible, yet a lack of face to face means a lack of connection. We each have a unique relationship with these things, some people need the energy of others to get their creative juices flowing and will need to find new ways to find inspiration, while other people may thrive in a quieter environment. Those who are better in the room can perhaps look at the bright side of being able to connect with more people, with video calls becoming the natural format. That presents potential to enhance the creative process once people become more familiar with it.
We had attached a fixed process to creativity. Now, the environment is different – let’s say the home – but real creative people will still be able to tap into new opportunities.
With many MNCs talking up remote working, it may seem as though the situation now will forever be so. Yet with society opening up, face to face collaboration will have it’s day again. Working remotely can have advantages, from a wider talent recruitment net to comfortable employees – yet organisations can still look at ways for their people to come together on a regular basis.
What should people be aware of related to the experience of extroverts and introverts?
A true extrovert needs human to human interaction. The way to manage this is to look at engaging with people outside of work where possible, to give them the energy they need to thrive back in the workplace.
The leader can identify who are the extroverts and offer them opportunities to take leads themselves, whether leading a group-wide webinar or going to the outside online world as a thought-leader and someone who takes part in group discussions, relevant professional societies and the like.
Introverts also need leading in the right away, rather than be assumed that they can thrive remotely. Virtual team meetings need to be managed relevant to this – is there someone who takes up all the air team as a natural extrovert, while the introverts lose their voice remotely? Introverts working remotely have the risk of retracting so far into their shell that they lack the confidence to speak out.
What can employers do?
Employers should certainly speak with their people to identify times of greater productivity, particularly within teams that need to connect remotely. Matching up the work preferences of morning larks and night owls can be a near impossible feat and may lead to an impact in organising teams.
It’s also a responsibility of leaders to ensure that their people feel aware of daily expectations – including the need to not overwork. Creating agreed daily routines help both sides understand when it’s best to schedule calls – rather than assuming 9am works for everyone, or assuming that your people will come to a complete stop at 6pm.
Organisations need to support their people in a redefinition of what the home is. How an individual lives in the day leads to the quality of their sleep at night. Do they have the tools – whether mindset or motivation – to eat well, do they feel empowered to move and get away from work in the daytime, do they feel connected to their colleagues besides pure work discussions? Do they feel lonely? These all make up a holistic and inclusive wellness program that employers need to provide their people with.