Lessons from Lockdown – A New Opportunity for Performance & Productivity

I’m delighted to introduce this guest blog from Dr Ken van Someren, director of performance at Boost Cognition. We’ll be speaking with Dr van Someren later this month about employee wellbeing and performance – webinar details are below.

Dr Ken van Someren

Emerging from the COVID-19 lockdown and planning the return to the office, what have we learned from the greatest workplace experiment never designed?

Without doubt, many work tasks performed by knowledge workers can be performed remotely. We’ve known this for years of course, though the need for collaboration, social interaction and propagating organisational culture have kept us predominantly office-based. Recent months have enabled organisations to re-evaluate their ways of working, real estate needs and culture.

But how much do we understand about home-based and remote working? While we have over a century of office-based working to inform our current thinking, we have only 3 months of what may well inform the ‘new normal’. We should proceed with caution.

Employee Wellbeing

Of course, health and safety comes first when planning the return to the office, but there are many other factors that impact on individual wellbeing. For many people, the benefits of working from home include the elimination of the commute, a working environment more conducive to focusing on tasks without distraction, and greater time for a healthy lifestyle of physical activity, improved sleep and nutrition.

In contrast however, others are working longer hours and experiencing greater mental stress with the ‘always on’ of digital communications and day-long video conferencing.

A balance between stress and recovery is critical to our energy, performance and productivity. An imbalance will result in fatigue, underperformance and possibly burnout. 

Brain Power & Productivity

No organisation can afford for its greatest asset to be underperforming or ‘standing still’. We know that employee energy and stress underpin cognitive performance, or brain power. Today’s knowledge worker productivity relies on key cognitive skills of focus and attention, problem solving and decision-making.

As we emerge from what has been survival mode for many organisations during lockdown, we must ensure our people and organisations thrive. This will require the creation of working environments and ways of working that promote energy and brain power at an individual and collective level.

The impact of the working environment, ways of working and employee wellbeing on energy, stress and brain power are measurable, providing data to inform our future strategy. The COVID-19 lockdown has been a burning platform, demanding and enabling a more innovative approach to the future of workplace.

Boost Cognition

Join Magenta for an ‘in conversation with…’ Dr Ken van Someren, director of performance at Boost Cognition, on Thursday 16 July at 3pm BST, to hear more. Boost Cognition helps organisations by putting wellbeing and performance at the forefront of business thinking. You can register for free here.

Jo Sutherland