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Increasing Productivity

How To Create A Productive Office Space

Think about the way you and your employees work. Does the job require focus or collaboration? Most likely, it’s a mixture of both.

Laura Entis

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Focus, for most, means quiet. It’s hard to concentrate amid conversations about last night’s football game or what happened at the office Christmas party.

Collaboration, on the other hand, requires a very different environment: a space where employees can freely brainstorm, bounce ideas off one another, and go on conference calls without worrying about disturbing those around them.

This seems self-evident. So why are so many employees expected to focus in a loud room, or collaborate without the resources to do so effectively?

Unsurprisingly, they’re not as productive as they could be. Gensler, a global design and architecture firm, found that three out of four knowledge workers surveyed were struggling to effectively balance focus and collaboration in their office environment.

Tricked-out, amenity-saturated offices like Google and Facebook may get all the attention when it comes to office design, but companies with a smaller budget can easily improve productivity by keeping these central points in mind.

Balance

Janet Pogue, a principal who co-leads Gensler’s workplace practice is (unsurprisingly) not a fan of the cubicle model. “Having seated privacy is not a bad thing, but there are ways that you can do that without being boxed in from every side,” she says. “I think the Dilbert world is gone.”

She is a proponent of spaces that feel intuitive, “which enable you to seamlessly keep working.”

This doesn’t have to mean an expensive re-design, but instead, outfitting available rooms with the right tools: pens and notepads and whiteboards in conference rooms, outlets throughout the office space so people take their laptops and break free of the desk.

Fluidity is important. “That word, to me means, functionality,” she says.

Focus

Some elements of your employees’ jobs inevitably require unadulterated focus. To be truly productive, they need to maintain a level of unbroken attention.

That means every time a colleague stops by for a friendly chat, or a nearby conversation becomes a distraction, concentration is broken and valuable time and energy is lost.

That’s why Pogue recommends setting up a quiet space in your office where employees can go to avoid all distractions and disruptions. The typical cubicle, she notes, is anything but a quiet space – the cubicle design invites interruption (no doors) without blocking nearby sound.

In addition, designating a quiet focus room often means avoiding another common pitfall: an office where silence is enforced. Pogue sees this all the time. “People make the space too quiet. If you can hear a pin drop, it’s not natural,” she says. “You need to have a certain amount of buzz and energy in an office that cancels out that noise.”

Get Smarter, Happier and More Productive Teams Without Spending Anything

Choice

Pogue recommends empowering employees with as many options regarding where and how they do their work as possible. “Having the ability to pick up and move, or having the ability to signal to others ‘don’t interrupt me’ by putting on headphones is really important.”

Employers often think one solution will work for everyone.

“If you look at the evolution of offices, we try to make things very universal…that assumes that we all work in the same way,” Pogue says.

In reality, individuals work differently, based on personality type (introverts versus extroverts) and job title. More senior positions, for example, “typically spend more time engaging in face-to-face collaboration or virtual collaboration, while somebody more junior may be spending more time in focus mode.” Workspaces should reflect this reality, and provide different environments so each person can personalise the way they spend their day.

Interaction

One of the most important elements of designing any office space, says Pogue, is working to increase serendipitous mingling between employees who normally wouldn’t interact.

Interacting with different kinds of people simulates conversations that can often lead to new ways of approaching a task or solving a problem. “We think about that a lot,” she says. “How do we draw people together who wouldn’t normally be drawn together?”

Like Steve Jobs (who was so insistent that employees bump into one another that he placed Pixar’s single bathroom at the centre of the building), Pogue recommends motivating people to leave their normal workspaces by making life a little less convenient.

If a redesign is impossible, there are less costly ways to achieve the same effect. For example, at Gensler’s own office, the “good” espresso machine is installed in a central location, so employees from different departments naturally congregate around the caffeine.

And interaction goes beyond possible creative outcomes. “At the end of the day,” Pogue says, “we want to feel like we are a part of a bigger whole.” Studies have shown that even though most employees believe they focus better at home, most still want to come into the office every day.

“Deep down, we’re all social people,” she says. “We all intuitively know it, but some organisations let real-estate cost get in the way of instead of realising that people are the most important asset of any company.” Ultimately, every worker should be a part of his or her workspace design.

How do you cater for your staff’s individual working styles? Let us know in the comment section below…

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Increasing Productivity

7 Bad Workplace Habits Millennials Need To Stop Making

Walk away from the computer once in a while. Leave your tablet behind for meetings. And don’t check your smartphone during a conversation.

Jayson Demers

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The millennial generation has faced a great deal of criticism, and in some cases, scorn from older generations. We millennials – yes, I’m one of them – are seen as selfish, entitled and demanding, not to mention addicted to technology.

Are these stereotypes true? Certainly not for all millennials. But there are certain tendencies and habits that are associated with the millennial generation more than any other generation – and they run both positive and negative.

Here, let’s focus on the negatives, setting aside the fact that you can’t categorize an entire generation, and behavioral traits and stereotypes can’t be empirically proven to exist. Instead, let’s focus on the bad workplace habits that the older generations perceive millennials to have, and work on eliminating them.

Related: Lifestyle-Focused Work Environments Are Not Just For Millennials

Regardless of how much of a stereotypical millennial you believe yourself to be, you’ll make a better impression in your new work environment if you avoid these common bad habits:

1Making demands instead of requests

Millennials do have a habit of making demands, and setting more rigid requirements for their workplaces. On some level, this is good; too many modern workers are afraid to voice their opinions, and would rather keep their heads down than verbally address something wrong with the organisations.

However, when voicing your opinion, turn your demands into requests. Making a request of your employer shows more respect and subordination than making a demand, which is especially important if you’re new to the organisation.

The more experience you earn, the more demanding you can afford to be, but start out by making requests instead.

2Exhibiting overconfidence

Confidence is good, but overconfidence can ruin your reputation if it’s perceived as arrogance. Millennials tend to overestimate their abilities and knowledge in the workplace, which is especially irritating to people from the older generations who have spent far more years on the job.

Recognize that your superiors have been at this job longer than you have, and don’t be afraid to exhibit confidence – as long as you keep that confidence reasonably in check. It’s better to perform well with a sense of humility than to boast about your abilities and fail to meet expectations. Just as happens with demands, you can demonstrate more confidence over time as your accomplishments start to speak for themselves.

3Relying only on certain forms of communication

Most millennials prefer text-based forms of communication over voice-based forms. They’re more comfortable with mediums like SMS text and email because they’ve grown up with these formats, and recognise the fact that they give you more time to put your thoughts together (not to mention leaving a paper trail).

However, it’s important to recognise that not everyone prefers to communicate this way – and that there are advantages to making a phone call rather than emailing. Showcase a degree of flexibility in the way you communicate, and you can eliminate this bad habit altogether.

Related: What Millennials Want From 2017 – How To Stay Ahead Of The Trend Curve

4Talking more than listening

Talking more than listening

This is a bad habit for any generation, not just millennials; but for millennials, it’s far more damning. Because millennials are seen as self-centered and overconfident, talking too much can be seen as an exacerbation of these qualities (even if it’s just a result of this individual’s extroverted personality).

Instead, make a conscious effort to speak less and listen more, especially when you’re in the company of someone more experienced or more authoritative than you are. You’ll end up making a better impression, and more importantly, you’ll learn more in the process.

5Assuming a certain behavior or action is okay

Office environments are becoming more relaxed. Work schedules are becoming more flexible, etiquette is becoming looser and dress codes are increasingly casual. These trends are facilitated by increasing technological sophistication and decreasing reliance on old-school business tropes. However, this isn’t a free license to show up at the office whenever you want, wearing whatever you want.

In fact, doing so could mark you as both overconfident and disrespectful. Don’t just assume a certain action or behavior is okay. If you’re even slightly in doubt, ask someone.

6Multitasking

Millennials grew up with technology that provided instantaneous information on demand. They work fast and think fast, which makes them highly productive and ingenious. Unfortunately, this high pace also lures them into the multitasking trap, tempting them to try to accomplish many things simultaneously in a bid to work as fast as possible.

As more people are beginning to realise, multitasking is ineffective, and engaging in multitasking could weaken your performance in multiple areas.

Related: Why Millennials Are Becoming Franchisees

7Staying plugged in

Again, thanks to our natural history with technological devices, we millennials tend to be more reliant on them than our older-generation counterparts. There’s a perception that weare addicted to technology, so if you’re young and want to combat this stereotype and improve your reputation in the process, avoid staying “plugged in” for too long.

Walk away from the computer every once in a while. Leave your tablet behind for that important meeting. Above all, don’t check your smartphone when you’re having a conversation.

The truth is, there are some differences that set millennials apart from other generations. This doesn’t mean millennials are bad workers or good workers – it just means they work differently. Acknowledging those differences, and compensating for them when they create workplace dissonance, can help you better adjust to your job, and make a better impression with the people in charge.

Focus on eliminating these bad habits, and you’ll stand apart from the rest of your generation.

This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.

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End Of Year Slump? Now’s The Time To Pull Out The Right Rewards

It has been a long year with many economic turmoils. People are tired and many employees have just one goal in mind — to take a well-deserved rest.

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For sales people this should be the last thing on their minds. The festive season is especially the season to sell, sell, sell. What is the best way to solve this conundrum?

Motivational programmes that offer staff incentives have proven highly successful. They can generate a positive, productive atmosphere. November, through December into January is the time of year when annual targets will be achieved and contracts renewed, so what better time to drive activity and incentivise the workforce?

As an incentive solution company, Uwin Iwin has the necessary experience in achieving the optimum results.

Timing is everything

The tradition of pre-Christmas reward means employee recognition is delivered before the year is out. Although the extra money will come in handy for gifts and what-not, January is usually a lean month.

Related: Uwin Iwin Incentives Hits The United Kingdom Shores

The reward process could be split, for example, with half the reward given before Christmas and half in the New Year. A reward at the start of the year is the perfect way to perk up employees who may be suffering from the January blues, and focus them on activities for the months ahead. It also helps extend the feel-good factor of the festive season and ease the post-Christmas squeeze on spending.

Increasing normal rewards

For those who have to work during this time, motivation can ebb away. Instead of the normal incentive programme, introduce competitions and make it fun. Increase normal incentives by 50%, for example, to motivate sales channels to perform at the highest levels possible.

Considering that buying power increases through more disposable income, December offers the perfect opportunity to maximise sales figures.

A targeted approach

When it comes to deciding on targets, realistic goals need to be set. Goals must be achievable and fair, and the best way of deciding them is to ask staff to select their own. This means that their commitment to achieving the target is greater because they take ownership of it.

Businesses should not concentrate on rewarding top achievers in their workforce, but ensure the programme is designed to engage and improve performance across the whole of the team, especially during this time when employees might feel deprived of a festive season because they have to work.

Reward categories could include Performance of the Month, Biggest Improvement, Best Comeback, to name a few.

Related: Incentives to Promote Job Creation

Appropriate rewards

The challenge that many businesses face when planning their festive reward strategy is what type of reward to give. Cash is appreciated by most employees, but runs the risk of being an ‘invisible reward’ — forgotten once it hits the bank account and likely to be spent on day to day necessities.

Money being uploaded onto a gift card that can be used anywhere is much more rewarding. Uwin Iwin has the perfect solution in the Kudosh card that offers exactly that — cash on a branded card accepted by any vendor that accepts MasterCard.

Rewards beyond gift cards

gift cards

Out of the ordinary rewards can be a very good incentive. One option that works nicely is the earning of days off (increased leave) that can be used outside peak seasons. Sending out questionnaires to keep your ear to the ground when it comes to preferred rewards will give you great insight into possible solutions.

End-of-year rewards resonate strongly with employees as a way of acknowledging their contribution throughout the year. It is therefore also a good idea to use this opportunity to acknowledge the achievements of employees by presenting their rewards on a public forum.

This adds a personal element and provides public recognition for the member of staff in front of their peers and is fitting for an end-of-the-year festive celebration.

Communication is key

Communication over the festive season is especially pertinent. Regular emails, SMSes and even hard copy pamphlets outlining the increased rewards serve as a constant motivation.

The trick here is to make the communications so powerful that they overcome end-of-year fatigue.

Related: With the Right Incentives Loyal Customers Will Become Brand Advocates

Ask Uwin Iwin to help you to relook your incentive programme this festive season. And while it shouldn’t be the only incentive you provide for the year, it is good to make it a little more special for your valuable employees during the festive season.

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Why Supporting Your Mobile Workforce Is Good Business

77% of workers drive over the speed limit due to work pressure. TomTom helps reduce pressure and improve safety for your drivers, while protecting your bottom line.

TomTom Telematics

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Did you know?

30% of each vehicle’s Total Cost of Ownership is influenced by the way the car is driven.


Each of the devices that form part of the TomTom PRO 8 series is a customisable driver terminal that connects driver and vehicle data to business processes, while helping drivers to be safer on the road.

What does this mean for your business? Data is power. Having the correct data at your fingertips allows you to make better decisions for your business, enabling you to improve efficiencies while saving on costs.

The TomTom PRO 8 series of driver terminals are designed to seamlessly integrate information captured in the field into back-end systems, to enable better decision-making and improved customer service levels based on current data.

This customisable device offers new opportunities to further digitise the workflow process through WEBFLEET and bespoke business apps developed by TomTom, whilst staying in control of device management in the field.

Related: 3 Ways You Can Use Mobile Apps To Improve Your Customer Experience

It also helps the driver by providing support from award winning solutions such as navigation and traffic, and OptiDrive 360, to help your drivers drive on the correct routes for their vehicle, and in a safer and more efficient driving style.

TomTom PRO 8 Series features include:

  • Top-class navigation: Ensure your fleet drives with the latest map, and that you have access to the fastest routes to your customers.
  • Orders: Send clear order instructions directly to the driver terminal. Include order type, full address, contact details and any special instructions. The drivers are able to follow the faster available route.
  • Messages: Use WEBFLEET to send and receive messages about a job without calling and disturbing your mobile workforce. TomTom PRO devices are also using text-to-speech technology to read out messages, increasing your drivers’ safety.
  • Logbook: Mileage capturing made easy with a TomTom PRO driver terminal. By simply touching the screen a driver can register a journey as private, commuting or business.
  • Working Time: Report working time and driving time to show your compliance.

Drivers use the device to register the moment they start work, take a break or head for home.

360drive

OptiDrive 360° empowers drivers of all vehicles, from cars to vans and heavy commercial vehicles, to improve driving performance continuously, before, during and after trips. All driving performance information is displayed on a TomTom PRO driver terminal.

Related: 3 Ways Retailers Should Accommodate the Mobile-obsessed Customer

Video input

  • Dedicated video cradle provides PAL or NTSC, and universal camera input support
  • Standard with TRUCK versions, available as an option for standard devices
  • Ideal for use with rear facing camera, also offers ‘parking guidance’
  • Auto switch to camera view when reversing
  • Small camera view via home screen widget.

Camera

  • Camera for image capture and/or barcode scanning to integrate into workflows
  • Integrated flashlight
  • Only products in class that support a camera.

Data Security & Privacy

  • Configurable settings for data flow and management enable you to remain in control of security and privacy for your users.

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