When the pandemic arrived and exploded back in 2020 (was it really that long ago???) we have all had to adjust and adapt to a different life at work. Zoom calls and working remotely from home have become standard now that we live in the “new normal.” This has affected office dynamics and practices, but whether we work at the office or at home we still have to get the job done and make our bosses and clients happy.

Even before the zombie apocalypse, the goal for anyone to achieve peak engagement, productivity, and enjoyment at work has been to hit the “flow state.” In sports, this has commonly been referred to as being “in the zone.” It’s that mental sweet spot where you are totally relaxed, focused, and enjoying the task at hand. Being 100% immersed in an activity can make time appear to stop.

This can apply to all jobs and disciplines, from finalizing monthly financial reports to repairing a furnace to working on code for a website to creating a new logo for a brand… to writing a blog for Phoenix Group’s website. While the logistics of work may have changed because of the realities of the pandemic, the essential tools to achieve this state remain the same.

Whether you are working from home or are at the office, there are some easy ways to get motivated and crush everything on your task list.

Decoration can lead to inspiration and creation

Most of us spend 40 hours or more a week at work. That’s a HUGE chunk of your life, so whether you are working from home or at the office it is crucial to make your workspace feel like a second home. A plain desk and computer can exude sterile and soul-sucking vibes, so adding pictures of your family and pets, plants, or memorabilia of your favourite sports teams, musicians, movies, and TV shows can make your work environment feel warm and inviting.

Personally, I am a huge nerd and music fan, so I always make sure to include things on my desk that reflect my interests, make me smile, and bring back fond memories. For the last few years, my favourite desk fixtures have been some Simpsons collectable figures of R.E.M. and Bret “The Hitman” Hart. Combining one of my favourite TV shows along with my favourite band and pro wrestler from back in the day is a perfect way to help brighten my work area and provide some inspiration when I need an extra boost, especially on Mondays.

I’ve only been at Phoenix Group for a short time, but I love that our office is chock full of fun, quirky, and random pieces of décor. Across from my desk is a cabinet with some shelves comprised of a Saskatchewan Roughrider foam finger, Denise Bosler’s book Creative Anarchy, and a figure of the Great Gazoo from The Flintstones… because why not. If that doesn’t turn your frown upside down, then I’m not sure what will. Yabba Dabba Do!

It’s the small things like these that can make a huge impact in getting the creative juices flowing… especially being a Writer at Phoenix Group because you never know when inspiration hits. So, whatever you’re a fan of, I highly recommend decorating your workspace. Make it fun, make it weird, make it cozy, make it mellow… but make sure to make it your own.

Make a soundtrack

Regardless of where your desk is I find it important to have at least some ambient noise in the background. For me, listening to music or podcasts at a low volume while working can help set the tone and mood for the day. When I had to work from home a few months ago, I found it got too eerie and quiet if I didn’t have some background noise. Sometimes silence is necessary but tunes and podcasts help foster a positive mood and increase motivation and inspiration. Working in a creative industry, sometimes a song lyric or melody can trigger an idea for whatever project I am working on.

Working in an office space can alternate between pure silence to utter madness and everything in between, especially in open-concept work areas. That’s why headphones can be your best friend: when the office gets loud and hectic you can drown out the noise, but when it’s so quiet you can hear a pin drop it’s nice to have the right amount of sound to make your workspace more relaxed.   

Get up and move

This isn’t exactly rocket science but getting out of your chair and moving does amazing things for your body and mind at work. Sitting in front of a computer all day does awful things for posture, so making it a point to get up, move your legs and stretch can help you avoid looking like Mr. Burns.

I am fortunate that I live close enough to work where I can walk most days unless it’s a torrential downpour, blizzard, or -40. Even 20 minutes of moderate exercise in the morning can help get the blood flowing and get you ready to take on the day.

Phoenix Group is committed to providing its employees with incentives and motivation to stay active. On Mondays and Wednesdays, we can take part in yoga sessions over the lunch hours. As well, we have a Wellness Group that provides fun monthly challenges for everyone to tackle. Initiatives like this do wonder for peoples’ mental and physical health.

Stay connected

The biggest challenge with some people working from home is staying connected to your coworkers. A healthy work culture relies on employees connecting with each other. Plus, knowing you are part of a supportive team can really help keep you motivated and productive.

While working from home makes face-to-face contact impossible, being onsite doesn’t guarantee you will see most of your coworkers either. However, it is still possible to stay connected with your teammates. Email is the primary method of contact at the workplace these days, so it’s important to do everything you can to engage and banter with your fellow employees and clients.

It seems like a small thing but including a fun (but work appropriate) joke or smiley face emoji in an email can help brighten peoples’ days. You never know what people are going through in their personal lives so a fun, positive comment can make a world of difference for someone who is having a bad day or going through a rough time.

That’s a wrap!

The hybrid workplace isn’t going away in the foreseeable future, so we might as well embrace it and take advantage of the opportunities it provides. Whether you work from home or at the office, making your desk feel like home and an extension of your personality does a world of good for the brain. It’s no secret that healthy, happy employees do much better work.

So, play some tunes, stretch those legs, go for a walk, decorate your workspace, say hi to your coworkers, send a bad dad joke over email… the small things like these at work make the biggest difference in making your 40 hours a week enjoyable and productive.