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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



Productive-Employees-Office Spaces-Increase Productivity-Staff

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.


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.


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.”

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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.


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…


Increasing Productivity

The Entrepreneurial Case For A Co-Working Space

Morné Stoltz, MiWay Head of Business Insurance shares the benefits and competitive advantage of co-working business spaces.

Morné Stoltz




South Africa’s small business sector continues to grow, with the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor report for 2016/17 indicating that SMMEs now account for over 36% of the country’s GDP. Yet these numbers do not reveal the many challenges faced by local entrepreneurs, many of whom are unable to sustain their business operations due to limited support and countless administrative hassles.

Many entrepreneurs also suffer as a result of reduced opportunities for collaboration and networking, with many working from home or out of small offices that leave them with little exposure to other like-minded business owners, whilst their larger counterparts are able to build networks and push the boundaries of innovation by tapping into a wider spectrum of human capita.

Related: Workplace Evolution 2.0: Are You Ready For The New Era?

Entrepreneurs have been largely left to fend for themselves, leaving them at an obvious disadvantage in the marketplace.Yet, with the recent emergence of co-working spaces, this pattern is slowly starting to shift, with small business owners now beginning to band together in the absence of appropriate support from those able to give it.

Why you need collaborative spaces

Not only do these collaborative spaces expose entrepreneurs to others facing similar challenges, but they also facilitate networking opportunities and much needed interpersonal interaction without a hefty price tag. In these 21st century workspaces, entrepreneurs are able to feed off one another’s energy, discuss and find solutions to administrative challenges and share resources so as to preserve that all-important cash flow.

Some co-working spaces also host regular presentations and events attended by industry luminaries, enabling business owners to up their expertise and connect with relevant big players in their respective fields.

Could this new way of working be the answer for the South African economy, which relies heavily on SMEs to sustain its growth? Sadly, the massive administrative and psychological challenges faced by small business owners are unlikely to be completely overcome without the necessary investment from government and the private sector. Inevitably, businesses need both money and time to survive and it is usually only the former that frees up the latter.

Co-working spaces offer a lifeline to new business

Nonetheless, there is certainly an entrepreneurial case to be made for the co-working space. While it might not be a complete entrepreneurial elixir, it does nonetheless offer up a lifeline for new businesses, affording them access to the people and networks that can elevate emerging enterprises from good to great.

Related: The Workspace And MiWay Announce Entrepreneur Competition

That being said, not all co-working spaces are created equal and it is important that entrepreneurs seek out locations that best suit their businesses and working styles. Here are a few key things to look out for when embarking on the search for the perfect space:

Search for synchronicities

It is not simply enough to be around other entrepreneurs – if you want your business to thrive rather than simply survive, you will need to find a space populated with others in similar fields.

Naturally, you do not want to be sitting across from your biggest industry rival, but it is not going to do you much good if you are a marketing guru surrounded by a group of architects. So look for places typically frequented by those with complementary skills – it is the perfect kick-off point for great network building.

Do your research

Everyone has different working styles, so it is important that you find a co-working space that best suits yours. A loud, boisterous environment might be invigorating for some, while others prefer a quieter, more laid-back tone. By setting up camp in a space that facilitates productivity and energy, you’ll be far better placed to succeed.

Buy into the right benefits

Co-working spaces come in many shapes, sizes and price ranges. Ensure that you pick one that offers you exactly what you need without breaking the bank. While you’ll want your space to be adaptable in the event of growth, you also don’t want to have to invest in more square meterage than entirely necessary. By all means think big, but also preserve your bottom line for the time being.

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

You’ll also want to look into the other perks offered by your local co-working spaces. Many offer secretarial services, administrative assistance and other similar amenities, which are like gold dust for entrepreneurs who’ve started up their operations based on skills rather than savvy.

For other business owners, networking events and seminars might be exactly what’s needed to fast track your growth trajectory, so carefully weigh up the benefits and costs based upon your specific pain points and potential areas for improvement.

MiWay is an Authorised Financial Services Provider (Licence no: 33970)

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Increasing Productivity

You Can Motivate Your Employees Without Creating A Hyper-Competitive Culture

Creating work atmospheres where people choose to engage and do their best work for the right reasons will lead to sustainable success.

Gary Beckstrand




Recently, major companies – from the flashiest tech startups to centuries-old legacy banks — have made unwanted headlines due to unrealistic expectations and growth-at-all-costs behaviour.

Employees expressed concern that Uber favoured “high performers” over a safe environment for its female employees, as detailed by a former employee’s viral blog post; Zenefits created software to help its employees cheat on state online broker license courses to sell insurance illegally, and hired people with little experience in the highly regulated insurance industry. Also among companies reluctantly in the news recently, Amazon reportedly condoned workaholic behaviour to achieve its ambitions.

These companies exemplify company cultures that seem to focus only on results, leading to unintended consequences. Unfortunately, this corporate perspective is common to many Silicon Valley start-ups, as well as established companies.

In attempting to accomplish innovative feats, they ignore fundamental culture practices that will benefit every company, regardless of whether they’ve been around 30 months or 30 years and what metrics they’re trying to hit. Focusing on results without creating work atmospheres where people choose to engage and do their best work for the right reasons will lead to behaviours that put current and future business results at risk.

Related: These 4 Types Of ‘Nightmare Managers’ Are Scaring Employees Away

What can be done to avoid growth-at-all costs environments that continue to be an issue for many organisations? It begins with leadership.

How leadership can improve

Many leaders scale the ranks because they were effective doers – they got the results they wanted through hard work. These leaders often don’t understand that when they assume a new role as manager of a team, their purpose in the company shifts as well. Their primary responsibility is to influence the work of others rather than do the work themselves.

Often, inexperienced or poor leaders can be micromanagers who unintentionally put unhealthy pressure on team members, rather than taking a step back and creating an environment in which people can do their best work.

Connecting to purpose

Leaders cannot force their employees to do something, but they can give their employees the choice to engage. The best motivator for true engagement is to help the employee connect with the overall purpose of the company, rather than driving performance through fear or pressure.

Is your company simply driving results for results’ sake? Now might be the time to connect the results to an end benefit for the customer and to share that greater purpose with your employees.

People aren’t lazy

lazy-staffMany leaders hold the misconception that people are inherently lazy and will slack off if highly competitive cultures aren’t cultivated or goals aren’t mandated. They believe that if people don’t have structure and steep quotas to reach, their natural tendency is to not produce.

Related: 10 Tips To Motivate Employees Without Resorting To Money

The reality is people want to make a difference. People want to do great work and achieve what hasn’t been done before. If they feel their work is connected to a deeper purpose and the overall mission of the company, they will willingly spend more time on projects, rise to the occasion and hit targets, without undue pressure.

Recognising rather than penalising

Employees want to achieve great work, but they also want to be recognised for it when they do, rather than penalised if they don’t hit the mark. They want a culture that celebrates wins of individuals and teams instead of one that instills fear. A recent study conducted by my company found that of the six most common motivating factors that cause employees to produce great work, recognition is by far the number one factor.

We live in a competitive business world in which every company wants to go above and beyond the industry standard. Establishing aggressive goals and focusing on results is important; however, unless leadership works to create cultures where employees are motivated to do their best work for the right reasons, they may unintentionally reinforce unhealthy and unethical behaviour that puts the very business results they seek at risk.

This article was originally posted here on

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Increasing Productivity

How To Build Organisational Wealth Through Increased Efficiency

Using the right business systems can allow your staff to become more efficient through best-practices and better process flows.




As your business grows, the demands of running and managing all its parts increase. Fortunately, technology can help you standardise, streamline and adapt your operations in order to meet these increased demands. Let’s have a look at some of the ways in which you can increase efficiency to build your organisational wealth.

Integrated business units

It can be difficult to get a holistic view of what is going on in your business if information is floating between different departments and/or locations. Manually pulling data together can be very time consuming, causing delays and leaving greater room for human error.

Related: How To Improve Your Business Productivity And Efficiency With Help From Tech

By implementing an integrated business management solution, you can significantly increase efficiency among all your business units, allowing departments to easily share and access information. This real-time, inter-departmental integration allows you to get a birds-eye view of the performance of your business at the click of a button.

Business process automation

You can significantly save time by automating key business processes with an Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system. Accounting, for example, is much easier when details of all transactions are quickly and automatically shared between departments (no need to manually upload or download information).

Automation will enable your teams to respond to customer enquiries with alacrity and maintain optimal stock levels. Through automatic alerts and responses, relevant managers will be notified when stock reaches predetermined minimum levels. When these levels are reached, purchase orders for replenishment stock are automatically generated.

Automation also enforces consistency in your business’s day to day operations by following local and industry best-practices built into the system.

Synchronised customer data

The success of any small to medium sized business depends on getting new customers and providing excellent products and services to existing customers. Collating and sharing customer data across all departments is essential for effective customer service. SAP Business One, for example, provides the tools to track and manage the entire sales process, from initial contact and invoicing through to project management and after sales support – playing a pivotal role in customer retention management.

This complete view of past, present and prospective customers, along with historic purchases will help you to better understand your customers’ needs, behaviours and preferences. This will enable you to respond to clients effectively in order to boost satisfaction levels, increase sales, maximise profits and ultimately promote client retention. In addition, your marketing team can better plan campaigns based on insights from accurate data about prospective and current customers.

Related: 101 Efficiency Hacks For Busy Entrepreneurs

Instant access to information

You have to be able to plan properly to stay ahead of your competitors. Having access to up to date, relevant and accurate business data removes the guesswork and empowers employees to make informed business decisions. With an integrated business management system, you will be able to better manage your cash flow and stock holding with a real-time overview of current stock levels, orders in process and outstanding payments. This, in turn, will save time and allow you to better manage your procurement process and help build organisational wealth.

Who doesn’t like it when a plan comes together and things are working well? Working smarter and better – not harder – is what increased efficiency is about. Your teams will share the benefits of increased efficiency as you grow your organisational wealth together.

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