Work spaces and interpersonal relations at the centre of occupational health

09/03/2021

Work spaces and interpersonal relations at the centre of occupational health

The current situation has forced many companies to implement homeworking for their employees, but more and more reports are emerging about how this work model is affecting people.  According to many psychologists and psychiatrists, significant numbers of people are longing to return to their offices for a change of scenery and the chance to interact with other people, something that has a crucial impact on our performance and occupational well-being. This feeling of fatigue is known as “burnout syndrome”, and in today's Colonial post we explain what it is and how to detect it.

What is burnout syndrome?

This syndrome consists of a state of physical, mental and emotional exhaustion caused by the prolonged stress of a difficult work environment. It is a situation that builds up gradually and often leads to a loss of motivation and diminished performance. Frequent causes are the lack of contact with other people and the fact of using the same spaces to work and rest. In the current pandemic situation, many people have had to adapt their home to accommodate a work space, and since this makes it much more difficult to disconnect from work, the result has been the appearance of this syndrome. 

What are the symptoms and how to detect them?

Burnout may be accompanied by symptoms such as a lack of energy and a feeling of despondency. It also causes feelings of failure and frustration when not being able to achieve the desired results despite the effort invested. An irritable, negative and impatient state of mind may develop, along with difficulties concentrating, leading to a sensation of being overwhelmed. On a physical level it often manifests as muscular discomfort, such as back or neck pain, frequent headaches and eye strain caused by fatigue and excessive screen use.

This situation of fatigue and the need to disconnect are normal consequences of an excessive workload, no fixed hours, the loneliness of not being able to interact casually with colleagues, and the blurring of private and work spaces.

The importance of the work space and nostalgia for the work environment

The spaces where we work are crucial to achieving good mental and occupational health. In order to disconnect during our free time and on holidays, we have to be able to separate our work and personal life. Besides, a good work space will help to reduce stress and increase our productivity. As we have discussed in previous articles, the design, decor, colours and light are some of the factors that contribute to a calm and productive environment. Unfortunately, it is not always possible to find a comfortable, well-lit and non-cramped space at home to replicate the congenial, structured environment that is found in offices and is so essential to be able to work efficiently.

Physical interaction with colleagues is something else that is becoming increasingly necessary. Video and telephone calls are fine at one level, but people are beginning to miss the chance to share concerns and clarify quick queries naturally through ad hoc chats with their colleagues in the office. Plus, there is a general consensus among the experts that sharing a physical space with colleagues enhances creativity and idea generation because everyone can work together to find joint solutions for daily problems.

Now more than ever, it is essential to create safe and healthy offices for all users. Here at Colonial we have developed and implemented a set of measures and recommendations for our property portfolio, such as increasing the frequency of cleaning, the use of gloves and face masks by personnel working in the building, the installation of hand sanitiser dispensers in entrance halls, and continuous ventilation measures to guarantee indoor air quality.

What about you? Missing the office as well?

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