Outside of our own homes, the office is the place where we spend most of our time. While work should hopefully be a place of productivity, the 40+ hours Americans put in week after week can begin to take its toll. Even the best work environments can become stressful, which is why we’ve assembled a list of five simple strategies to employ the next time you notice tension on the rise in your office.
Commit to Checking Email Just Twice
If you were to take an honest look at how long you spent on email each day, how much of your time would you estimate spending checking and answering messages? For many people, email is about putting out fires rather than producing any tangible results. Too often, we sit down to take the temperature of our day and wind up elbow-deep in messages that distract us from our to-do list. By committing to checking email just once or twice a day, you’ll free up time to tackle the most essential errands in your day.
Start by setting a timer – it’ll be different for everyone, but 20 minutes is a good place to begin. Then do a deep dive on your inbox. Go crazy! Once that buzzer rings, though, you’ll need to hold yourself accountable and close out of the app. Don’t just minimize the window and allow incoming messages to ping you throughout the day. Instead, close out of the program and get to work. While clients and colleagues may find your newfound sense of keyboard freedom frustrating, they’ll quickly learn not to expect instant replies via email. If something is urgent, they can always call you.
Allow Employee Passion Projects
With more time in their day freed up by not answering so many emails, your team should gain some freedom to pursue passion projects. This doesn’t need to entail any huge undertaking. Instead, ask employees what they care most about when it comes to their duties. Maybe you have a staff photographer who is eager to update your website with fresh images, or maybe your accountant would like time to digitize old ledgers. If they have a chore they’ve been putting on the back burner that they’d want to tackle, give them the freedom to do so.
This sense of self-direction can help give employees buy-in to the overall goal of your office, reminding them of why they are in their current role and what they like most about it. The loss of these things contributes heavily to stress in the workplace, so rediscovering the talents and passions of your employees can be incredibly beneficial.
Start an Office Walking Club
Put plain and simple, Americans don’t get enough exercise. We sit at desks all day before going home to sit on the couch all evening. It’s no wonder we’re all so stressed. Thankfully, exercise is one of the most natural forms of stress relief, and it doesn’t have to come in the form of a treadmill or set of barbells. The simple creation of an office walking club can help keep your colleagues healthier and stress levels low.
Nobody likes mandated fun, so offer the walking club as an option for your colleagues rather than a required activity. Take 15 minutes to chat, walk around the building, take a tour of the parking lot or stroll around the block. No matter where your office is located, there is sure to be a spot to lead a group walkthrough once or twice a day. Bonus points if your group incorporates a water-drinking component of the challenge – staying hydrated is crucial to managing stress levels.
Delegate Whenever Possible
Most employees are required to be generalists. From answering phone calls to handling customer service, workers are often tasked with managing the administrative side of the business in addition to their assigned duties. It’s a wonder that anyone ever gets any of their core duties done. By delegating these disruptive kinds of tasks to administrative experts like those at MAP Communications, your staff will find themselves free of the most common interruptions in their day.
With the MAP crew of virtual receptionists standing by to take your calls 24 hours a day, your team will gain time to work on their to-do lists. You’re sure to see productivity skyrocket when you allow your colleagues and direct reports the chance to specialize. Job satisfaction goes up and stress goes down when people are able to focus on what they are best at. Leave customer service to us while you focus on the most important tasks on your plate.
Plan Regular Breaks
While this last strategy might seem obvious, you’d be surprised at how few people take breaks throughout their workday. Smoke breaks exist, but fewer and fewer people are smoking each year. As cigarettes go out of fashion, so too do the hourly trips for some fresh air. The good news? You don’t have to take up smoking to take regular breaks. In fact, this particular strategy can be incorporated with your new plans to only answer emails at certain times a day and your goal of creating a work walking club.
Stepping away from work for even just a few minutes and letting your mind wander is great for both focus and decreased stress. Our brains can only concentrate one a task at maximum attention for limited amounts of time anyway, so why not reset every couple hours so you can come back strong and productive?
No matter which of these strategies you decide to employ, you’ll be pleasantly surprised at how quickly they’ll relieve tension around your office. Whether you’re the manager and want to implement these strategies as rules or someone hoping to make an impact on the team, these tips are easy to tackle. Start small, and you’ll be stress-free in no time!