The coronavirus outbreak has transformed the way we work. More employees than ever are working remotely. For some, it may be another challenge to navigate alongside the outbreak. In this blog, we will explore how to stay productive outside the office environment.
Get a consistently good night’s sleep
A good night’s sleep is key to a productive day. This study found that U.S workers who sleep less compared to the rest of the workforce have “significantly worse productivity, performance, and safety outcomes”. They also estimated a $1,967 loss in productivity for each employee from their lack of sleep. However, if you are feeling particularly stressed about the lockdown it can be hard to fall asleep. This becomes a vicious cycle of needing sleep but not sleeping, causing you to become more tired and stressed. This limits how productive you can be throughout the working day.
Creating a bedtime routine will help you sleep better. This includes avoiding electronic devices an hour before bed to meditate or read a book instead. The NHS website also advises keeping your bedroom as a place to only sleep in, as there is “a strong association in people’s minds between sleep and the bedroom.”. If you are working in your room, move your desk to a different space to create the ideal environment to sleep in.
Work with the right people
Perhaps you are a manager trying to not only manage your productivity, but your team’s too. It can be hard to feel united as a team when you are not in the same room. Team composition can greatly impact on performance. A Bandran Hall Group survey reported that 72% of all organisations viewed team performance as having a positive effect on overall productivity. Cognisess Team Fit can support managers with the evaluation of their teams. For instance, if a sales manager notices one of her teams are not working well together she can use Team Fit from the comfort of her own home to diagnose the imbalance and apply an informed solution.
Team Fit is a tool to help organisations create diverse and high performing teams. Learn more about Team Fit here. If the right people are working together you can ensure that they will be productive without a manager constantly checking in on their progress.
Based on our analysis of self-reports from employees, teams that have gone through a guided Cognisess Team Fit exercise tend to communicate in a better and more constructive way.
Take a break
Research conducted by the Draugiem Group found the employees who where the most productive didn’t work longer hours. They took regular breaks, for every 52 minutes they spent working they took a 17-minute break. These breaks were usually taken away from the computer, for instance, taking a walk, reading a book or talking to coworkers (not about work).
This schedule can easily be performed at home. Taking regular breaks may make you feel more relaxed and in a positive frame of mind to tackle any tricky tasks.
Although we are in the middle of a pandemic, working remotely doesn’t need to be a challenge. By getting enough sleep, working with the right people and establishing a routine where you take regular breaks will ensure that you are reaching your full potential. If you would like to discuss how our platform and expert team can help you during this challenging time, please contact us.
Jobseekers now have plenty of time to apply for positions. However, Recruiting Brief found that 80–90% of applicants say a positive or negative candidate experience can change their minds about a role. By creating an excellent candidate experience you will ensure that your company is an applicant’s top choice.
At a time where everyone feels a little isolated from the world, it’s more important than ever to keep connected. Using a virtual recruitment platform like Cognisess Pro will help you keep the recruitment process moving. The platform can be accessed at home using a wifi connection, ensuring the safety of your staff and the applicants.
Here are a few ways you can use our platform to create a great candidate experience.
Perhaps you have an assessment centre day as part of the recruitment process, however, due to the ban on mass gatherings you are unable to undertake this. By rescheduling for later on in the year you are risking the top candidates being hired elsewhere.
On our platform, we have over 60 scientifically-backed assessments that are tailored to test the attributes that are important to the role you’re recruiting for. From emotional intelligence to mental arithmetic. Candidates typically find our assessments engaging and interesting, which will make your application process stand out. You can assign the assessments instantly to as many candidates as you want.
People are an essential part of a company. It is important to hire applicants who will positively represent a business. Although currently you are unable to meet potential hires in person, using a video interview tool will help you meet each applicant virtually. You may also use our DeepLearnTM Video Analysis tool to detect a candidate’s true emotion at that moment, not what they may like to present to an interview panel.
Each candidate records themselves answering several key questions that have been set by the company. HR professionals are then able to draw conclusions from their own expertise. Our Computer Vision technology is then able to analyse from 27+ points on the face, searching for emotions such as positivity alongside other attributes relevant to the job frame by frame. As a result, a business can identify top talent from their entire applicant pool and keep the recruitment process moving.
Keep in contact
80% of job seekers say they would not reapply to a company that didn’t notify them of their application status, according to Lever. In this uncertain time, reaching out to inform candidates of their progress will be seen as a thoughtful gesture. The candidate will most likely remember this positive experience when they decide whether or not to accept the job. On our platform, it only takes a few minutes to keep connected and send a message to your candidate pool.
The coronavirus outbreak has changed how we work. More people now work remotely and connect online, therefore it’s also time for the recruitment process to adapt. There are many ways you can create a good online experience for candidates, from video interviews to regularly communicating with them. If you are interested in using the Cognisess platform for this, our team is working remotely and can give you a free demo of the platform.
Monica Durigon explores how we can combat stressful thoughts. She is a qualified nutritional therapist and member of BANT (British Association for Nutrition and Lifestyle Medicine). You can view the original post here.
I have written on the topic of immunity before. Still, I feel compelled to do it again as the current Corona Virus infection has reached pandemic proportion, and new research and data are emerging daily.
We receive constant updates on vaccines developments, the number of infections and deaths, government debates about the best strategies for containment and endless reminders of the symptoms and actions to take to prevent and cope with the virus.
We are constantly reminded that the most effective way to avoid infections is by washing our hands with soap ( often and thoroughly), avoid touching our face ( where the virus can gain access to our mucosal cavities and enter our body ) and social distancing and isolation. This is valid and standard advice applicable to any viral and bacterial infections.
How can we support our natural immunity?
What has been mostly missing from big media is information on how we can support our natural immunity. There is no cure for this virus; however, we can influence the way our immune system responds to it and as a result, possibly alleviate its presenting symptoms and support a quicker recovery.
The constant bombardment from the media with the statistic of infections and death, criticisms to the government interventions, stories about European isolation and discrimination, doomed opinions from experts and far too many non-experts … pointless polemics …are enough to drive a sense of worrying and anxiety even in the most relaxed and zen-minded of us.
We all understand from a logical perspective that, worrying does not change the situation…and, in this current situation, worrying is not only pointless but plainly counter-productive for our health because of its effects at the biological level.
There is a whole relative new science, psychoneuroimmunology (PNI) which studies the complex communication between the brain and the immune system and their implications for health.
However, there has been minimal discussion about the effects that stress, fear and anxiety can have on the immune system. The psychological stress that many amongst us are experiencing at the moment induces the same release of chemicals in our body that other type of stressors would.
Negative thoughts and worries about what has happened and what might happen in the future produce a physical change in the body. I recond that it is essential to be aware of this, to understand how this happens and to adopt behaviours which can modify these adverse biological outcomes.
In straightforward terms:
1) You worry- feel stressed, anxious, powerless, fearful …
2) In response, your brain releases the hormones CRH (corticotropin-releasing hormone), ACTH ( adrenocorticotropin hormone ) and ß-endorphin
3) These hormones travel to your adrenal glands and initiate the release of cortisol and catecholamines ( adrenaline and noradrenaline).
This “communication route”, called the HPA axis ( Hypothalamus- pituitary-adrenal axis ), produces the “fight or flight” response.
How the cascade of hormones involved in this axis can affect the immune response
Cortisol and the catecholamines can directly suppress the actions of some immune cells, ( T lymphocytes and macrophages) which produce and release cytokines ( chemical messengers ) such as interleukin -2, interferon-Y, interleukin 12( and many more). These molecules are pro-inflammatory, and some of them pyrogenic ( which means they induce a fever) and are needed to fight viruses. Elevated levels of cortisol, noradrenaline and adrenalin, suppress the production of these pro-inflammatory cytokines and the immune responses to viruses are compromised.
What can you do to decrease your worrying thoughts and maintain a calm and rational mindset in the current situation?
To help you stay calm and rational in this current situation, consider including in your daily routines, some rituals or activities which enable your nervous system to have a break and reset. Yoga, breathing exercises and medication are effective and proven methods to recalibrate your stress response. I use an online platform called Gaia https://www.gaia.com to practice yoga at home, and I find the following apps helpful to maintain my meditation practice: Headspace https://www.headspace.com and Insight Timer https://insighttimer.com.
A simple exercise such as deep belly breathing for few minutes can reduce your stress response and bring you back into a parasympathetic response (the rest and digest mode of the nervous system vs the fight or flight mode).
You can use these tools whenever you need to check out of your head during the day, but I also recommend that you make them part of your day in a more structured way. Add them to your routines, perhaps the easiest way to have them to follow a well-established habit such as brushing your teeth in the am and pm. All you need is a few minutes per day to reap some benefits.
Another tool that I found extremely helpful in keeping in the zen area is a daily gratitude practice. I would recommend that in the evening you close your day by listing a few events, small gestures, acts of kindness that happened in your day. Gratitude is the mother of all good feelings, and God knows we need them now, and we need to remind our self of the kindness and beauty that is still present in our life.
What supplements can we take?
From a nutrients point of view, I found that L-theanine is a helpful supplement to relax. If taken in the evening to facilitate relaxation before going to beds, L-theanine and lemon balm combined are even more useful. L-theanine is an amino acid that is found in high concentration in green tea and can modulate inhibitory neurotransmitters, selective serotonin, and dopamine (your happy and calming hormones) to bring about anxiolytic (anxiety reducing) and calming effects. L-theanine can also improve cognition and attention, perhaps due to changes in alpha brain wave activity. Research shows that an effective dosage is between 200 to 400mg per day.
Another nutrient which might be used to decrease anxiety is magnesium. Research has demonstrated that magnesium attenuates the psychological response to stress by modulating the release of ACTH ( in the brain) and cortisol ( from the adrenal glands). It has a relaxing effect on the musculoskeletal system as well and improves cardiovascular function by reducing high blood pressure which goes hand in hand with anxiety and elevated stress. 5,6,7
You can add some powdered magnesium to a cup of well-stewed chamomile tea for even more calming and soothing feelings. Avoid magnesium oxide and magnesium sulfate formulas as they are less bioavailable. Choose a bisglycinate or mixed formula. I use a variety of magnesium supplements ( not at the same time ): High Potency Magnesium by Viridian ( 1 x day ); MAG365, natural flavouring formula ( 1 heaped teaspoon mixed in hot water or chamomile) or a complete formula called MegaMag Calmeze which includes amino acids ( L glutamine, L theanine and L taurine ), vitamins B1, B2, B3, B5 and B6and vitamin C, nutrients which have been proved to help modulating the stress response. Be aware that if you have impaired kidneys function, you should not take more than 350mg of magnesium per day.
From a general nutritional perspective maintaining balanced blood sugar levels is essential for having stable moods. Constant spikes and drops of glucose in the blood due to a diet rich in refined carbohydrates ( and perhaps also under-optimal in terms of proteins, fats and essential nutrients) lead to irritability, cravings, dips in energy and initiate a stress response.
Adrenaline and cortisol are some of the hormones that help maintain blood sugar levels. They, along with glucagon are called “stress” or “gluco-counter-regulatory” hormones – which means they make the blood sugar rise. Elevated cortisol secretions, as previously explained, will interfere with the immune response and long term high amount of glucose in the blood leads to insulin resistance, the step which precedes the development of diabetes type 2.
Finally, I just wanted to conclude this blog by offering you a song which I find soothing and deeply relaxing for the body and the mind. I first heard it in one of my yoga classes a month ago, and it has become my regular soundtrack while I get ready to go to sleep. I hope you will enjoy it as much as I do.
It is surprising to think that self-control could make you happier.
This groundbreaking 1998 research found that self-control is like a muscle. You can exercise this muscle by resisting that morning cup of coffee for another hour. But as the working day progresses your self-control ‘muscle’ gets tired, affecting your performance. Professionals have tried to combat this by beginning with the most challenging tasks in order to get the most out of their self-control abilities. Other high performers decrease the number of decisions they make in a day, Obama once told Vanity Fair that:
“You’ll see I wear only grey or blue suits. I’m trying to pare down decisions. I don’t want to make decisions about what I’m eating or wearing. Because I have too many other decisions to make.”
This study found that self-disciplined people are happier. The research also revealed that participants who had higher self-control were better at choosing the best option when conflict arose than people with lower self-control. It’s not surprising that this ability would aid high achievers who regularly need to make the right decisions for a company.
What do high performers have in common?
We identify and work with top performers from a variety of sectors. Although each sector has its unique attributes that ensure success there are a few traits which are universal. Our Chief Scientific Officer, Dr Boris Altemeyer, comments on this:
“These studies are an excellent example of the assessments and consequent results that we see in graduates on Management Fast Tracks. The ability to suppress initial urges to ‘react’ and consciously prioritise and ‘ignore’ unhelpful distractions or ‘reactive urges’ is key to become highly proficient in many areas. The outstanding people we have had the great pleasure of assessing and working with tend to score high on the attribute of Response Inhibition. It will be interesting to see whether this allows them to maintain higher levels of emotional wellbeing over time as well – often critical in the roles that they are in, and generally beneficial for all of us to look after.”
Each individual has their own unique set of abilities. Within a team of people there is going to be varying levels of will power. A team can support each other in improving their self-control, for instance, only bringing in healthy snacks so no one is tempted by junk food. In general, we believe a strong team has a range of abilities. For example, an extroverted person is able to effectively engage with clients, whilst an introvert on the team can problem solve an issue they are having.
Discover how self disciplined your teams are
On our platform you can assess an employee’s Response Inhibition, allowing you to see if they are reaping the benefits of this attribute. However, you can save time by assessing your team as a whole with our Team Fit tool.
Team Fit is designed to assess how well a team functions in relation to interpersonal chemistry (Social Cohesion) and diversity of thought (Cognitive Fit). The process is designed around a combination of standardised online assessment instruments and customised surveys for teams of up to 100 members. You can also view reports detailing descriptive feedback, key takeaways, general feedback and insights. Armed with this scientifically backed information, it will make managing a team slightly easier. Find out more about Team Fit here.
There are many methods we can use to improve our self-control to optimise our day and the decisions we make. Teams may find it easier to support each other in improving this ability. Finding out what your team’s Response Inhibition or collective abilities are will allow you to optimise your decision making. Book a demo with us to try our Team Fit tool.
In the past, video
games have had a bad reputation. But video games are actually good for your
brain. Every time you play a video game it
exercises your brain’s neuroplasticity. This is the part of your brain that
helps you learn new skills. As you get older your brain’s neuroplasticity
naturally declines. However, playing video games is known to have a positive
impact on this ability regardless of your age.
We live in a world
where we are always trying to improve ourselves or be constantly productive. We
all need to relax from time to time, otherwise, we can suffer from cognitive
fatigue. Because video games are fun, they allow us to switch off from
the daily grind whilst unconsciously improving our skills at the same
They also have a number of benefits. These
researchers found that playing these games can help your perception, attention,
memory, and decision-making skills. These skills aren’t only important in video
games, they can also be used throughout our lives – particularly in the
workplace. Video games can increase your reaction time, which can be
useful if you are working in a role where you need to respond quickly, for
instance, a doctor who works in a hospital.
Video games can also help you get a
More and more
companies are using games to assess applicants for jobs to create a more
engaging experience. But these games are different from the ones you can play
on your Xbox. They are scientifically-backed and are designed to assess a
candidate’s behaviour, abilities and future job performance. In 2018,
the global gamification market was valued at $5.5 billion. In the future, these games may be a
common part of most recruitment processes.
Will gamers have an advantage?
When it comes to games used in job applications, gamers may have a
slight advantage. But they aren’t cheating, they have done the work to increase
these skill areas. Just as much as a person who has been practising the guitar
for a year will be better than a complete beginner.
But this doesn’t mean
that people who don’t play video games will be at a disadvantage in the
gamified job application process. For every ability a video game can train
there are other activities that can improve these skills. For example, a text-based
adventure game will improve your reading ability, but reading a book will also
do this. Video games are just a popular and fun way to develop these important
Technology helps us improve our lives. From conveniently paying for your
meal deal on your phone to AI assistants like Alexa. Video games not only help
you improve your skills but are also fun to play. This happy median will also
help companies in the future fully understand job applicant’s abilities and
help an individual discover their talent.
Bauldville reported on the first day of a role 67% of millennials are already thinking about applying for a new job. To improve your chances of finding a great hire that is more likely to stay, use these questions and the science behind them.
Tell me about a time you made a mistake at work?
A question like this aims to understand two areas: a candidate’s resilience – whether they can overcome challenges quickly, as well as their emotional intelligence – which is how honest they are with themselves or others about their actions and feelings.
Resilience sits under the personality type ‘emotional stability’, one of the ‘Big Five’ personality factors, proposed by Costa and McCrae (1992). Emotional intelligence is measured by the ‘Emotion test’, which is taken from research by Paul Ekman. Both attributes can be measured through Cognisess’ platform using two assessments heavily substantiated by their research.
It is not about the size of the mistake they describe, but how the candidate dealt with the aftermath of it. ‘‘You won’t hear people low in emotional intelligence take much accountability for their mistakes.’ claimed Mark Murphy in Forbes.
Does the candidate accept responsibility for making a mistake? A research article ‘Who Accepts Responsibility for Their Transgressions?’ by Schumann and Dweck (2014)found that people are more likely to apologise and take responsibility for their actions if they believe they can change their behaviour. This acceptance demonstrates a ‘growth’ mindset and a willingness to change in the future. A key feature of personality traits are that they remain stable across time and context. With this in mind, the findings of this study remain generalisable to the work environment, even though the original context was romantic relationships. As such, this study demonstrates a key behavioural factor in how successful an employee will be in the workplace.
Tell me an interesting fact about yourself.
Not only will the answer demonstrate an example of their personality type, it will also give the interviewer an insight into how the individual views themself. The candidate must select what they deem to be ‘interesting’ it offers a view of how the individual will fit within the company or team culture. For example, a candidate who chooses to relay information about a recently gained skydiving qualification may be more extraverted than a candidate who has expressed their passion for classical literature. Depending on the position available and the culture of the company, one candidate may be better suited than the other. Extraversion is also one of the more commonly discussed traits from ‘The Big Five’ (Costa and McCrae, 1992).
This also may not be a question the applicant has prepared for. You will be able to observe first hand how an applicant thinks under pressure. However good a person is at hiding how they feel about a question, their true expression will display on their face for one-fifth of a second. Cognisess Video Intelligenceis able to capture this to enable you to explore how the candidate is actually feeling.
Do you have any questions?
This will be able to tell you how attentive an applicant was throughout the interview, if done right it should feel like they are interviewing you.
Top candidates may display ‘reflective listening’ – a communication strategy where a candidate listens to what you have said about the role and then paraphrases parts back to you in a form of a question. Good listening skills exhibit emotional intelligence, as the applicant values what you are saying instead of thinking about what they want to say. This will be more important when recruiting for a leadership role as in one study, 44% of employees reported poor communication skills as a main obstacle when successfully leading a team.
Additionally, Cognisess’ software is able to reveal insights into candidates prior to the interview stage. It assesses them on all levels – their cognitive capacity, emotional intelligence and personality. Our algorithms then custom builds an interview guide from a database comprised of 500 questions tailored to the role you are hiring for; saving you time before the interview and allowing you to really listen to what each candidate has to offer.
To understand how to use People Analytics for more successful hiring contact us today.