4 Striking Facts about Women in the Workplace

For decades, women have fought for equal representation with men in the workplace and while some progress has been made there is still a long way to go. In fact, over the last few years, the progress to gender equality in the workplace has dwindled according to the top-levelled findings of the 2018 Women in the workplace report released by McKinsey & Company and LeanIn.Org. 

The report analyzed pipeline and HR data from 279 companies in North America that when combined account for 13 million workers. To give you a consensus of where things stand regarding women in the workplace we have put together the four most striking facts found in the report. 

  1. Men hold 62% of manager positions to women’s 38% 

In 2018, women made up 48% of entry-level employees, 38% of managers, 34% of senior managers and 29%. For every 100 men promoted to senior levels, only 79 women moved up to similar roles. These discrepancies cannot be explained by women leaving their companies or the workforce as the report found that both men and women are leaving their jobs at near-identical rates. 

  1. Women are less likely to interact with senior employees

The report indicated that 27% of men have never had substantial interaction with senior management surrounding their work, opposed to the 33% of women who say the same. 40% of men were found to have never had an informal interaction with senior leaders, while 49% of women reported the same. This may not seem like the most profound difference, however, interaction with senior leaders in a company can play a huge role in promotions and retrenchments. Put simply, fewer interactions lead to fewer opportunities. 

  1. Women are far more likely to be mistaken for junior employees

20% of women have been mistaken for someone far more junior than their current position, while only 10% of men have had the same experience. Women are also twice as likely to provide more evidence of their competence and are more likely to have had their judgment questioned. The report indicated that 64% of women have faced microaggression in the workplace, with these women reportedly being three times more likely to consider quitting regularly. 

  1. Women are far more likely to be the only representation of their gender in the workplace

In the report, a fifth of women reported that they were frequently the only women in the groups of people they worked with at the office. 40% of women in senior roles reported being the only representation of their gender in their leadership teams, as opposed to only 7% of males in the same position. 

Most of the companies that were included in the study say that gender diversity is a priority, however, no significant changes have been implemented to solve the problem. You don’t have to be the CEO or head of HR to start making changes if these statistics upset you. Small changes such as the ones presented in this article, pave the way to an overall shift in the culture. 

5 Ways To Improve Your Office Working Environment

Have you ever considered how much of your week you spend in the office? Apart from weekends, you spend most of your waking hours during the week doing work. Just like how you try to make your home as comfortable as possible, you may also want to ensure that your office space is pleasant. Improving your office environment might make you enjoy your work more and be more productive. 

Here are 5 ways you can improve your office environment and make your workspace work for you:

Choose comfortable furniture 

Comfortable workspaces are more appealing and promote positivity and productivity. Start with your chair. It’s a good idea to invest in a comfortable office chair that supports your back. An uncomfortable chair can have negative effects on your health and put you in a bad mood in general. You can also look into a standing desk to alleviate the negative impact of sitting all day. Another thing to keep in mind is the height of your chair in relation to your desk. When you’re choosing office furniture, function comes before form. Go for furniture that’s strong and durable enough to withstand the daily wear-and-tear yet comfortable and practical enough to reduce the chances of any health problems that may occur as a result of using non-ergonomic furniture.

Personalise your workstation

If you have a designated desk or workstation, it’s helpful to personalise it to feel more homely (As you spend most of your time at work anyway). If you want to be reminded of what matters most, include pictures of your family, friends and pets on your desk. If you want to go all out, you can also put more personal items like a picture your child drew or a snowglobe from your last vacation on your desk. On the more practical end of the spectrum, keep items and office supplies that make your job easier easily accessible on your desk. Something as simple as adding a calendar and to-do list to your desk will make these items more accessible for when you need them.

Declutter your workspace

You might not even need to buy new equipment, sometimes just cleaning out the clutter on your desk will make the biggest difference. Take an afternoon to clean out the piles of paper and office supplies that you don’t use. Cluttered desks can be distracting and it can be difficult to find the things you need when you need them. An untidy workspace can lead to increased stress, reduced concentration and you can waste your time looking for things. Choose filing and organisational systems that work for you and help you organise your work better.

Liven up your office with plants and flowers

Flowers and plants are also a great way to make your workstation more welcoming and aesthetically pleasing. Plants in the office can liven up the room creating a fresher, more vibrant environment. Other benefits of having plants around include the air being cleaner, reduced sickness, decreased stress levels, and enhanced creativity and inspiration. A few simple house plants don’t cost much but make a world of difference.

Make sure your workspace has good lighting

In the physical working environment of the office, lightning has a huge impact on mood. Bad lighting can also have negative effects such as employees straining their eyes, headaches, migraines and even hazards due to the inability to see properly in low lighting. Lack of natural light has serious long-term effects such as lethargy or even leading to depression. If your office has windows, it’s beneficial to keep the curtains or blinds open to let the natural light in. Gloomy spaces don’t do much for our mood and a lack of light can be detrimental to our productivity.

These are just some of the ways to make your office working environment more comfortable and a space that you actually want to spend your time in. If you can make these little changes yourself you’ll experience the benefits everytime you come to the office. POD OFF Grayston offers serviced office spaces and a pleasant work environment that feels homely, yet supports productivity. With a coffee shop onsite, furnished private offices, stylish co-working spaces and boardrooms, the POD offers a working environment that suits every lifestyle. Get in touch by filling a contact form or contacting us on 010 595 1099.

The Different Types of Co-workers and Tricks to Handle Them.

The ideal work environment is friendly and productive, but oftentimes this seems unachievable. Sometimes even just a single bad co-worker can make getting your job done near impossible. Most issues with co-workers stem from improper communication tactics; so to deal with tricky co-workers you need to take emotion out of the equation.  

That’s easier said than done, however, if you’re looking for some advice on how to handle different types of challenging co-workers here are some tips on how to handle them.


A ‘tackler’ co-worker is someone who attacks you personally while arguing an issue. They may be someone who tries to score brownie points with the boss by subtly undermining you. It’s important to not stop suggesting great ideas just because you’re worried your co-worker is going to knock you down. Try moving the emphasis away from people and instead focus on the issue at hand. If this tactic is still not working, you can always pull your co-worker aside for a private chat. 


Enviers are individuals that want what you have and believe that they should have it instead. Even a simple ‘congratulations’ can seem insincere or hostile from these co-workers. The best course of action would be to limit your communication with this individual and to keep things strictly professional.

Often these co-workers feel insure about their own position or accomplishments. Keeping emotions out of your conversations is important and instead, engage these individuals on a project that excites them to deflect negative feelings. If things escalate to a point where it’s difficult to get your job done, it may be time to approach HR to help you smooth things out. 


These co-workers are often the bully of the workplace, intimidating you to do what they want by holding some sort of perceived power over you. With these types of co-workers, first decipher if they have real or perceived power over you. Remember that you have the right to stand up for yourself while still being respectful. Rehearse responses to their jabs, such as ‘I do not feel comfortable with that’, to be better prepared to respond to them in uncomfortable situations. 

When interacting with these co-workers create a mental bubble in which you can distance yourself from their threats. It’s good to keep an electronic copy of your interactions, in case matters escalate and you need to take it to HR. 


You helped get a co-worker acclimated to the office or a difficult project and now they won’t stop knocking on your door to ask for favours. Imposers take unfair advantage of your good nature, time and talent – these individuals are often self-centred and inconsiderate of others and their time.  

The easiest way to deal with these co-workers is to say that you’re too backed up to help and suggest an alternative solution or person that may be able to assist. 

Keep in mind that there is always someone you can approach to help you with negative working situations. You should never be afraid to voice your opinions or ask for help in the workplace. More often than not, negative situations with co-workers can be resolved if you keep a level head and separate emotion from your communication.

Why Working From the Office is Still Relevant

With Covid-19 bringing about a whole new way of working and many employees preferring to work from home, it brings the value of the office into question. In March 2020, when lockdowns were imposed all over the world, many companies rose to the occasion, acting swiftly to migrate their workflow online so that work could continue even though we had to be confined to our homes. Since then many companies have simply continued remote working with some even finding that working from home was preferred by many employees. So, is the office still relevant in 2021? The answer is YES , working from the office still has its benefits that remote working can’t always replicate. Here are some of the main reasons why physical work spaces are still valuable.

It’s a great way to consolidate company culture

This is especially true for new employees, but also relevant to maintaining the company culture with employees that have been around for a while. Great company culture supports relationship building, shared experiences and personal development. An office environment can really reinforce the values of the organisation. Organisational culture also has a proven influence on business performance. This is because culture can influence people’s engagement and passion for the work that they do. Your immersion in the organisational culture can be what makes your work day more rewarding and what drives you to achieve your inner WHY.

Building human connection and relationships

While most of us grew accustomed to socialising digitally during lockdown, interacting with someone in person is a much better way to build relationships and connect on a deeper level than Zoom. While we don’t necessarily come to work to socialise, spending time with our colleagues does a great job at maintaining a social work culture helping us connect and collaborate together. Socialisation and teamwork really support better work and happier employees. Working in the same space, even if it’s just for a portion of the week, facilitates tangible connections and the kind of in-person interaction that builds relationships and breeds ideas.

High quality workspace

In an office you’re guaranteed certain standards: suitable equipment for your job that might include chairs that support your back and screens that don’t strain your eyes. At home, however, your workspace is your responsibility. While the idea of working from your bed sounds amazing, the physical and mental damage of not working from a proper workspace can have is worrisome. It’s also true that not everyone has the best workspaces at home – this could make it difficult for some employees to deliver on their work as they have other obstacles to face in their environment. The office allows you a workstation designed to support you in carrying out your tasks unimpeded. Let’s also not forget the free office WIFI and generator that kicks in when the power cuts!

Separating work and home life

It’s a known dilemma that many employees end up working even longer hours when they work from home. It’s unhealthy to be working during your every waking hour. While it isn’t always intentional, it’s often a result of not being able to differentiate between professional and personal when your workspace and your chill space are in the same physical area. Working from the office allows you to switch off from personal issues when you’re at work and switch off from work at the end of your work day and head home. The fact that the office allows you to separate your professional and personal domain is one way to help you achieve better work-life balance.

With all this said it is important to realise that in this post covid world the way we work in has changed forever. Finding a harmonious balance between human interaction with your teammates, the ideal work environment for a productive day, and being a part of the company culture all come into play when deciding how your team will work. There is no right or wrong decision, just the one that benefits the businesses objectives whilst driving employee satisfaction at the end of the day.

How your office design can increase productivity

Now that flexible working has become the norm, business owners need to think more carefully about how they structure their office. Even if you only have five employees in at a time, it is still your responsibility to make their environment comfortable and conducive to employee productivity. Here are some things to consider that affect productivity. 

Open or closed plan?

One of the factors that can affect productivity is the space planning of your office. For example, do people work best with open plan, closed plan, individual desks, or shared tables? The answer, surprisingly enough, is not so simple. Many people feel that open plan offices are the best for them – they allow collaboration and the room feels more spacious. On the other hand, closed plan office spaces make other people feel like they have more peace and quiet, which might suit their working style. The same goes for individual vs. shared tables. So what kind of office planning is best for productivity? Well, all of the above! The ideal office layout offers some spaces that are open plan, some closed, some private and some shared. By having a mixed setup, an office space makes sure that there is something for everyone. This also lets people get a change of scenery more easily – very important when you’re working for long hours. 


Most people associate different colours with different feelings – blue is calm, red is passionate. Bear this in mind when you design your office space. There’s a reason you don’t get many red and yellow colour schemes. You want to stick to colours that are calming and not overwhelming. This means a limited palette of cool tones. You don’t need to make everything grey – a bit of colour here and there can liven things up. Here is a helpful guide on the psychology of colour to help you choose.

Ambience of the room

Ambience is created by a few different factors. This includes the sound, lighting, temperature and even smell of an office. Like spatial planning, different people are more productive with different ambiences. However, there are some factors that are universal. 


Many employees say that noise levels play a part in their productivity – too loud and they can’t focus, too quiet and they become self conscious. One solution to noise and echo reduction is carpeted floors and soft chairs. This helps to absorb sound – the clicking of your keyboard won’t echo throughout the whole office. It is also important to have a headphones-only policy in shared spaces – not everyone in the office wants to listen to your true crime podcast. 


When the body is cold, it spends more energy heating itself up. That’s energy that could be going towards working! You never want your office to be too cold – or too hot for that matter. Having a thermostat lets you choose the best temperature for productivity. Good insulation can also stop the temperature from getting extreme. People in the office will be comfortable, which will let them work better. 

Finally, the best thing might be to ask around. People usually know what is best for their productivity. Do a survey about lighting levels, layout, and colour schemes and how they affect productivity. Once you get the answers, you’re all set to reinvent your office.

5-minute coffee break activities to get your mind refreshed

Working from online all day can be exhausting – for your mind, body and eyes. That’s why it’s important to make sure that you have a comfortable workday. Aside from having a proper desk and chair, you also need to have a set time for work, rest, and play. It’s better to take short breaks, and to not look at a screen when you do. But how? We’ve come up with some activities that you can do that aren’t screen-related. These can add a little bit of fun in between your work day. You don’t need a yoga matt – you can just do these around the office. 

Try to balance on one leg for a few minutes

Maybe don’t do this one right in the middle of the office space. Many ‘work breaks’ suggest doing a bit of yoga, but yoga requires time, commitment and – most importantly – cute leggings. Instead, have a one-legged stretch! It’s good for your muscles, and the balancing part makes it a bit of a challenge. It sounds silly, but sometimes silly is just what you need. 

Draw something with your non-dominant hand

Speaking of silly, it’s time to draw some silly art! You just need a post-it note and a pen. Try to draw something (or someone) in the office using your left hand, and see how it turns out. Using your non-dominant hand forces you to focus more on what you are doing, which helps to train your brain. It also makes you care less about making the end result perfect – you can’t do that anyway!

Make someone a cup of tea or coffee

Aside from resting your eyes, it is also good to get a bit of human contact now and then. Offering your coworker or desk-neighbour a hot beverage lets you get up and move around, and interact with a real person. Doing nice things for other people will also help you feel good about yourself and give you a mood boost for the rest of the day. 

Listen to a short podcast

Whether it’s serial killers or molecular science, there’s a podcast out there for everyone. The trouble is finding one that’s short enough for your coffee break. Luckily Ranker has a list of best podcasts that are under 10 minutes. Why not learn something completely new? You’ll have something interesting to tell your coworkers. 

Make a to-do list (of non-work tasks)

Have you been wanting to read that new book for a while? Or maybe you want to start writing your memoir? Well now isn’t the time to do that, but it is the time to plan it! Planning out some fun after-work activities can give you a little mid-week boost. You’ll look forward to your downtime and get a fun little planning break at work. 

If you’re reading this article during your break, we hope you found it interesting. Now get off the computer and go give your eyes a short rest.

How to motivate your employees

The backbone of every company is its workers. When you combine the skill, knowledge, and effort of a highly motivated group of people – they can become an unstoppable force. Without employees a business can not function, thus it’s essential that your employees feel encouraged and inspired on a daily basis. So here are a few ways to ensure you keep your employees motivated and performing at their peak. 

Ensure you pay your employees what they deserve

When setting salaries be sure that their salaries are competitive to other companies’ offerings in the industry and geographic region. Keep in mind that 26% of engaged employees would leave their current company for just a 5% increase in pay.  Losing hard-working employees because you are underpaying them could cost you more in the long run. 

Make the workplace pleasant 

Every individual deserves to work in a place that is clean and inviting. Your office space should be stimulating and inviting – this encourages employees to be excited when entering the workplace. Remember you don’t have to spend a lot of money to make an office homey – small touches like pot plants can go a long way.

Offer opportunities to improve employees skills 

Employees will become much more valuable to the company if they continuously develop their skill sets. provide your team with the training they need to advance in their careers and to become knowledgeable about the latest technologies and industry news. 

Encourage happiness

Unhappiness spreads – so make sure you foster a happy positive office. Keep an eye on your employees to see whether they are happy with their work and employers.  

Why a flexible work schedule is a good idea

The industrial revolution changed a lot of things about the way we live. With work, it led to a strict 9-5 in-office work schedule. With so much work going online, however, we’re starting to realise that the 9-5 might not be the best for everyone. Having more flexibility in work times can make it easier for employees to be productive. Here are some reasons why.

Energy = productivity

Now and then, we all have to do work when we’re a bit tired. Maybe a big project is due or a co-worker needs help with something. But working when exhausted shouldn’t be the norm. The 9-5 (or now more commonly, 8-6) traditional work schedule suggests that people should be productive in the morning. But what if you’re tired in the morning and wide awake at night? Some people have a burst of energy halfway through the day, or a lull instead. Trying to force yourself into the wrong routine means that you aren’t taking full advantage of your natural energy cycle. A flexible work schedule lets you rest when you’re tired, and grind when you’re fully charged. This means that the morning people and the night owls can both benefit. The result is more productivity.

Different Lifestyles

A rigid office schedule means that people have to fit their personal lives around their work. This makes every non-office minute a rush to get things done. The result is a more stressful work environment – and more stress means more mistakes. A flexible work schedule, however, lets employees plan their week more easily. Some people have to pick their kids up from school at 4pm, some people have to walk their dog at noon, maybe some employees are taking night classes at a local business school. Whatever the case, a flexible schedule means a healthier work-life balance. This doesn’t mean that they get to skip work and do whatever they want, however, the total hours per week will still be the same. 

The company saves money on resources

It makes sense, right? If everyone works at the same time, it means everyone is at the office at the same time. It also means that you have to rent an office full time. However, if people get to choose a flexible schedule that involves some working from home, a full-time office is a waste of money. Companies with flexible hours can switch to temporary office space, and let their employees book desks or meeting rooms whenever necessary. A pay-per-use office space also has all the facilities that you will need, and will provide a nice change of scenery for people working from home. 

Here at the Pod Off Graystone we think that everyone deserves the work routine that suits them best. You should be able to work at your most productive hours, and in a productive space. That’s why we think that our pay-per-use offices are the best way forward. To learn more about how PODs can offer the right workspace for you, check out our services at X.

Staying healthy while at the office

The workplace is changing for the better (we hope), and workers have more flexibility in how they work. So why not take advantage of this, and make your workstyle more wellness-friendly? Working on the computer can cause exhaustion, back pain, and eye strain. It can also lead to other unhealthy habits. Here are some small changes that you can make, to help you stay healthier at the office.

Try the Pomodoro method

You need to take breaks. One of the biggest health problems that we see in the office is neck and eye strain. 

The Pomodoro technique can help with this. Italian for tomato, the Pomodoro is simple – you work for 25 minutes, and then you take a small break. You work for another 25 minutes, and then you take another break. Repeat, until finally you take a longer break. The short intervals were designed by a medical student, who understood that our attention span gets worse over a certain amount of time. The short breaks force you to stand up and move around, so you don’t sit still for too long. The Pomodoro technique is meant to improve productivity, but it also forces you to give your body a well needed break. You can’t stay hunched over the computer all day, so it’s better for your back and neck muscles. Here is a timer on Youtube if you don’t want to download an app.

Blue light filter

Again, eye strain is one of the main dangers of working on the computer all day. You can’t prevent all of it, but there are some things you can do to make it a little less. Your phone, laptop, and tablets all have ways to limit their blue light. Try going on settings and searching ‘blue light filter’ or ‘night light’. Usually there is an option to turn this on. With some devices, you can even set a timer for when it turns on and off. This will have a double benefit – your eyes will be less tired and you might sleep better at night. Keep it turned on while you are working – you might not notice the effect now but it will make a difference in the long run. If you have the extra money for it, you could even buy a pair of blue light filter glasses.

Low-effort healthy meals

Eating healthy is one of the biggest challenges when you’re a busy bee. If you only have half an hour for lunch, it’s tempting to go for instant noodles or takeout. One idea is to meal-prep during the weekend, so that all your food is already cooked. But you want to use your weekend to relax instead, so why not make a quick salad? Salad doesn’t have to be boring. Add whatever you want – the more variety the better. One idea is to grab some pre-chopped lettuce, baby tomatoes, canned mackerel, white cheese and a packet of seeds. Add vinegar and olive oil instead of a mayo-based dressing, and you have a fast and filling salad. Hot tip – crumble up a cracker for some ad-hoc croutons! The process shouldn’t take longer than 15 minutes, and doesn’t need any cooking.

Ask how your office space/employer can help

There are some things that are too difficult or expensive for you to do alone. Some offices offer healthier chair or desk options such as standing desks or yoga balls. With yoga balls you always have to keep your balance, so your muscles stay active the whole time you are working. The same with the standing desk. These aren’t for everyone, though. Some people find it hard to concentrate if they can’t stay upright. 

Many younger companies have yoga or fitness programs in the morning. An optional yoga class is a great way to start the day, and helps keep everyone healthy. Your office could also provide blue light screens to put over their computers. If you feel like your office could make some wellness improvements, talk to your Human Resources department to see what they can do. 

Finally, keep a work-life balance

All the ‘wellness’ techniques in the world won’t help you if you’re still working too hard at the office. Most office workers are used to working regularly under pressure. You get used to it, but it is important to know when it is becoming too much. If you are always tired and have no motivation, you might be in the middle of a burnout. When this happens, the only thing you can do is decrease your workload, or take some days off. A good manager will understand that this happens sometimes, so speak to them about what you can do. Sometimes a day or a week off can be enough to get back on your feet.

Remember that your health is important. Make sure that you know how to look after yourself, and that you keep a balanced and healthy lifestyle. 

Why small and medium businesses are key to economic recovery in SA

The COVID-19 crisis has led to more than just health issues. With shops shutting down and travel becoming almost impossible, the South African economy has taken a hit that will not be easy to recover from. Small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in particular have been struggling to stay afloat. These businesses play a vital role in supporting the South African economy, and will be key to its survival if they receive the support that they need. 

The South African population is young, and increasingly so. The OECD estimates that around three million young people have entered the workforce over the last few years, and 11 million more will do so by 2030. SMEs play an enormous role in providing these jobs, employing almost half of the workforce. This is not surprising, as SMEs all over the world have been shown to do the lion’s share of reducing unemployment.
The cost of creating a job in an SME is also lower than the same in a larger company, making SME’s the most cost-efficient place to generate employment. Finally, where large multinational companies will often bring employees in from abroad, SMEs rarely use anything other than local labour. The additional benefit is that these are often entry-level jobs that provide training so that the new employee can learn key skills along the way. This ensures not only that they will be employed for now, but will also improve their employability in the future.
By supporting SMEs during the aftermath of the global pandemic, South Africa would be investing in the future of its employment. A growth in SMEs will ensure that the employment situation steadily improves, and will eventually lead to economic recovery, if done sustainably. 

Another key characteristic of SMEs is their affordability. SMEs, on the whole, offer their products and services at lower rates than larger companies. Maintaining affordability will be key to economic recovery, the lower prices set by SMEs will allow many of those who have suffered financially to continue consuming what they need. Making consumption easier will ensure that cash continues to circulate through the national economy, and will strengthen it when dealing with the aftermath of the pandemic. SME’s are also more likely to use local resources, and in doing so they also give back to the national economy. 

Finally, SME’s also have the advantage of flexibility. In a rapidly-changing economic and technological environment, SMEs can adapt faster and more aptly to change. This will be particularly useful for recovery in the coming year or so, when the long-term economic effects of the virus begin to make themselves known. 

SMEs make up more than 98 percent of the nation’s businesses, and different sources estimate that SME’s contribute to between 20-42% of the South African economy. Despite SMEs playing such a large role, South Africa has one of the lowest SME success rates. Though the government has several initiatives in place to promote SME growth, many small business owners are still unaware of these resources. It is important to change this, and to make sure that SMEs have everything at their disposal that they need to thrive. If small and medium businesses can survive and grow stronger in the coming months, then maybe so can the South African economy.