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Increasing Productivity

This Is What Happens When You Give Up Your Office

Employers who dispense with private offices can understand what it’s actually like to work for the company day in and day out.

Matt Straz

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Open-office plans have been bashed by critics, but done right, they can be effective. When my company, Namely, moved into a new space, I knew I didn’t want my own office.

That’s right – I’m the CEO, and I don’t have my own office. Instead, I move my desk around every few months so I can sit in a different Namely department.

Why? I get to know all of our people, to truly see what their day-to-day is like. That helps me be a better leader. Although a big office with windows overlooking the city is a dream for many entrepreneurs, leaders don’t need it. And, yes, open office plans have been criticised – particularly recently. But the truth is that breaking down the walls between executives and employees can create a better work environment and more effective leaders.

Related: Successful Entrepreneurs Are Never ‘Out of the Office’

Here’s why:

1. It gives employees a voice

As businesses begin to grow and add new employees, sometimes employers can no longer hear what everyone is saying. With hundreds of employees, it becomes harder for leaders to know and interact with everyone anymore.

In fact, a 2015 Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) survey of 600 U.S. employees found that only 37 percent described themselves as “very satisfied” with the consideration managers gave their ideas; and just 23 percent were “very satisfied” with communication with senior management.

In the early stages of a company, everyone has a voice. But as the company becomes more and more successful, that employee input and connection to company leadership gets lost. Stepping outside the CEO office can help you change that.

When leaders work alongside employees, they can welcome new ideas and insights while building relationships with workers at every level. It creates a work environment that welcomes collaboration, communication and idea-sharing. Without a formal office, there’s less of a traditional workplace hierarchy. Employees have a closer connection to leadership, and executives get a better sense of what their workers think and experience every day.

office-communication

2. It improves communication

The default communication method for senior leadership is email. Email seems like the fastest and easiest way to send out information to the entire company, so it’s no surprise that 89 percent of companies surveyed by the theEMPLOYEEapp in May 2015 said they communicated by email.

But, on the employee’s end, email isn’t cutting it. In the same survey, 30 percent of employees said they ignored emails from their employers, and 50 percent said they felt out of the loop.

By taking down the walls separating employees from leaders, employers don’t need to rely on email all the time. An open work environment promotes openness in the working culture, as well. Leaders will more likely be transparent with employees and keep everyone up to date on company happenings, if they’re sitting next to them every day.

Employees value transparency, and when walls are removed, the work environment becomes both literally and figuratively more open.

Related: Struggle To Stay On Task At The Office? A New Study Says You’re Not The Only One

3. It gives new perspectives on the business

As companies grow, leaders become further and further removed from the heart of the actual business. They become insulated from the process of selling, marketing and supporting the product. With more employees, CEOs focus less on the routine tasks that make a company run.

Traditional office settings increase this effect, putting actual distance between them and the day-to-day goings of the business.

While leaders can’t be involved in every little thing, they still need to have a good sense of the business’ inner workings – and sitting with employees can give them just that. Working alongside employees throws the CEO back into the middle of the business.

After you as CEO spend a few days of sitting with employees, you’ll find that your people forget they are working alongside an executive. That’s when employers can gain true insights into their business. Leaders get a better understanding of how the business runs, what works and what needs to change. They see things they can’t from their offices and view the company from a new perspective.

4. It creates a better work environment

Leaders strive to create a great work environment for their employees. But if they work from a separate area, can they really know what that environment is like for employees?

Probably not, judging from a November 2015 survey by Globoforce. Surveying more than 800 full-time U.S. employees, the study found that 47 percent of respondents didn’t think their company leaders cared about or actively tried to create a human workplace. That’s a big deal.

Among those employees who said they felt their leaders didn’t care about making the workplace more “human,” just 43 percent said they loved their jobs and only 32 percent called themselves highly engaged. In comparison, of the employees who said their leaders did care about instilling a human work environment, 89 percent said they loved their jobs and 51 percent called themselves highly engaged.

Related: Linda Trim From Giant Leap On Making Your Office Work For You

So, the message here is, strive for a more human workplace. Working in the same environment as employees can help leaders see the changes that need to be made to help their employees be more productive and happier at work.

Employers who dispense with private offices can understand what it’s actually like to work for the company day in and day out and what can be done to improve the workplace for everyone.

This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.

Matt Straz is the founder and CEO of Namely, the HR and payroll platform for the world's most exciting companies.

Increasing Productivity

5 Traits Of Highly-Effective Scrum Teams

Here are the top 5 traits of highly-effective scrum teams.

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Scrum teams can make quick work of complex projects. But accomplishing your company goals by utilising a sprint team is difficult because effective scrum teams are so exceedingly rare.

If you’re thinking of assembling a scrum team, you have to be sure that you’re working with talented individuals who can tolerate the stress hyper-ambitious project management frameworks invite.

Agile teams are ones open to change, to communication, and to improving processes as they define them. Scrum teams have all these same qualities but are unique from agile teams in a few key ways.

You must search for key attributes that define great scrum teams before you begin your company’s next project. Here are the top 5 traits of highly-effective scrum teams:

1. Adaptive

Scrum is one of the leading frameworks implementing agile. Agile is an iterative process whereby teams are self-organised and self-motivated, delivering working products in cycles and measuring the progress of their project through these deliverables.

Scrum team members do not hesitate to change requirements, expand or minimise scope, or add or remove a planned feature from an end product.

Changing roles, revisiting processes, or scrapping failed plans is not unheard of for scrum teams. In fact, even changes late in the development process are encouraged.

2. Ambitious

Scrum defines the length of the iterative processes. The time spent on each cycle is defined as a sprint. With each sprint, which is usually only two weeks long, a small fragment of the project is completed.

Upon the completion of the sprint, the scrum master (or project manager) leads a retrospective, using past evidence and performance evaluations to determine how they will go about completing the next sprint. The sprint structure demands ambition.

Successful scrum teams are passionate and ambitious. With each new sprint, they concentrate their goal of continually improving and expanding what their team can accomplish.

3. Open to criticism

One of the foundational principles of scrum is continual improvement. The sprints and the project retrospectives between them serve to help the team better identify problems. In order for this to work, every team member must be open to constructive criticism.

In addition, they must understand how to apply this constructive criticism to make processes better. The team, therefore, must communicate clearly and concisely.

The team as a whole must be on the same page about improving processes. The team must be cohesive, open to mentorship, and gentle but honest communication.

4. Experienced

An experienced team is much more likely to lead your company to success than an inexperienced one. It seems like an obvious bit of wisdom but it is nonetheless true. While you may be attracted to hiring a young team of passionate and promising project managers and developers, it’s a better idea to bet on an experienced bunch.

Scrum is an incredible project management framework. Still, there is no substitute for experience. No matter how strong a framework may be, it cannot buttress your project against unexpected challenges – only experienced project managers can do that.

5. Co-operative

Scrum team leaders have to underscore the importance of constant communication on a regular basis. Ideally, scrum team members are cooperative, communicative, and transparent. The best scrum teams can achieve a high level of cooperation with little to no contentious feelings.

Additionally, scrum teams are cooperative with the organisation as a whole. Often, scrum teams want to communicate and cooperate with other departments within a company. Instead of working in the dark, scrum teams prefer to engage business people, product owners, and marketers with their development process.

Conclusion

Scrum is one of the most popular project management methodologies based on the agile approach. Scrum is everything agile is but with a bit more of a backbone.

Scrum teams embrace fast-paced environments that use an iterative process to handle complexity. As such, successful scrum teams are adaptive, ambitious, and co-operative. They are open to constructive criticism and can leverage retrospectives to better the project.

No matter how hard your team tries, they are sure to encounter challenges. Experienced scrum teams can handle this pressure with cool, calm, and collected demeanour.

Expert scrum teams are rare, but it is possible to assemble one with the proper attention to the traits that comprise the most effective scrum teams.

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Increasing Productivity

How Training Your Employees Will Prepare Them For The Future

Below are just some of the ways in which training your employees will help to prepare them for the future.

Amy Galbraith

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Employee training is an important part of any growing business. Your staff are the backbone of your business and so should have their skills improved whenever possible. By investing in training courses for your employees, you will be preparing them for the future and helping your company keep ahead of the competition.

In order to be prepared for any future trends, you should invest in training courses for companies that focus both on your industry and on more general skills. Not convinced? Below are just some of the ways in which training your employees will help to prepare them for the future.

They will stay on top of evolving skills

In today’s technological and digitally focused world, the skills we are used to are continuously evolving. This might mean that your administrative assistant will need to be able to use chatbot technology in order to deal with client queries or that your marketing team will need to learn about a new Google algorithm as it comes out.

Having a team that is up-to-date on all the latest skills and trends is one of the major benefits of training courses for companies. It prepares them for the future by allowing them to stay on top of evolving skills that they need for working in a fast-paced environment. Their knowledge and abilities will improve, making it easier for them to adapt to any new changes that occur in technology and their skillsets.

Related: What To Include In Your Induction Training

They will be able to use the latest technology

This goes hand-in-hand with staying on top of evolving skills. Being able to use the latest technology is vital to your business’ success, and sending your staff on training courses for companies which operate in the technological world will help with this.

Imagine if you had a personal assistant who was unable to answer emails because they did not know how to access them? Or if you had a content marketing team who did not know how to resize images in Photoshop for a new campaign? This would cost you both time and money, making it difficult to keep your business operating smoothly. But sending your employees on training courses will teach them the basics of technology so they can stay abreast of new developments.

The entire team will build their knowledge

Sending your staff on a training course will help the entire team to improve and increase their knowledge. And this will help with productivity, collaboration and efficiency, all of which are expected by consumers in a world that is becoming increasingly fast-paced.

You will also be allowing those staff members with different levels of understanding of a topic to increase their knowledge on the topic. This will bring the whole team to the same level and allow everyone to have opinions and offer suggestions on issues. By having everyone on the same level, you will be creating employees who can share knowledge and collaborate on projects, finishing on time, within the budget and exceeding customer expectations.

They can prepare for redefined roles

Technology brings with it new and redefined roles for your employees to adapt to. And with new skills becoming difficult to find, smart business owners will send their staff on training courses for companies so they can learn new skills and be prepared for redefined roles.

In some cases, it might mean that your staff have to learn new automation programs that deal with workflow. This will change their role significantly as they will be working hand-in-hand (so to speak) with new software. Your employees will have to be able to adapt to and deal with a change in their role without any issues.

You might even have to assign them new roles if technology continues to advance, such as bookkeepers becoming data analysts once their roles have been automated.

Related: The Importance Of Training In A Small Business

You can address weakness in abilities

Preparing for the future means that you will need to look at your employees’ current performance levels. One effective way to do this is to take part in training courses for companies. This will allow you to see what weaknesses your employees might have and address and rectify them.

You can prepare them for the future by working on their present. Training courses will show them what areas they might need to improve on and work towards bettering their skills. Not only will this help to build their futures in your company, but you will also be helping your company have an edge over the competition. Well-informed and well-trained employees are ideal for building business success.

Sending your employees for training courses not only helps to improve your business but can build up their futures immensely. It will also help your employees to prepare for the future and allow them to easily adapt to any new roles, technology and trends. Their skills will improve and they will be able to stay up-to-date with everything that is happening in your industry.

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Increasing Productivity

Take Responsibility For Your Company’s Culture To Boost Productivity

A healthy culture isn’t a nice-to-have but a must-have.

John Rampton

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Whether you’re running an early-stage startup or a fast-growing company, every organisation has a culture. And it can determine whether your business succeeds or fails.

Your company’s culture comprises the actual work environment for your team and the standards everyone is held to. It also dictates how colleagues interact and communicate and the values and beliefs of your team. In fact, one survey shows that 86 percent of employees believe their company’s culture influences how productive they are.

No wonder Arianna Huffington has described corporate culture as “a company’s immune system.”

“Ultimately,” she says, “your health depends on your immune system.” Here are four ways a healthy company culture boosts morale and productivity.

It makes employees happy

A study conducted by economists at the University of Warwick found that happiness led to a 12 percent spike in productivity, while unhappy workers were 10 percent less productive. As the research team states, “We find that human happiness has large and positive causal effects on productivity. Positive emotions appear to invigorate human beings.”

If you have employees who dread coming into work and are spending more time looking at the clock than working, how productive do you really think they are? What’s more, happier employees tend to work better with others, solve problems instead of complain about them and make fewer mistakes. They also have more energy and motivation, which helps them learn faster and make better decisions.

Related: Wasted Employee Time Adds Up: Here’s How To Fix It

It promotes collaboration and stronger relationships

A healthy and positive company culture encourages your teammates to get to know one another. That friendly chatter eventually leads people to feel comfortable enough to share advice, opinions and ideas.

When there’s a large project looming, your team members will be able to work together faster and more efficiently because they know how to communicate. More importantly, this leads to your team building friendships – which has been found to increase productivity and engagement.

“People are more creative and productive when they experience more positive inner work life, including more positive emotions, stronger motivation toward the work itself and more positive perceptions of the organisation,” says Harvard Business School Professor Teresa Amabile, who co-authored “The Progress Principle.”

It inspires creativity

Let’s say that an employee or colleague comes to you with a suggestion. If you immediately dismiss her idea, do you think she’ll come to you the next time she has an “aha” moment?

Healthy company cultures encourage people to be creative through brainstorming sessions and new responsibilities. This not only gives them a chance to be heard, but it also helps them look for unique ways to solve problems.

It influences individual mindsets

Company culture also affects how each team member views his or her individual performance. It shouldn’t comes as a surprise, then, that healthy cultures foster more high-performing team members. Aaron Schmookler, leadership coach and co-founder of TheYesWorks, a training and team-building organization, calls this positive peer pressure.

“Why do aspiring Olympians train with other aspiring Olympians?” he asks. “In part, they want the high-performance drive to rub off on them if they don’t have as much of it as they wish.”

According to Schmookler, even when someone already has a high-performance mindset, she’ll want to keep it and deepen it so she can keep pushing forward. Being surrounded by others pushing for greatness makes the hard work feel easy.

Schmookler also says the opposite is true.

“We’ve all heard of workplaces where a new person comes into a low-performance culture and people tell them, ‘slow down.’ ‘You’re making us look bad.’ High-performance cultures have people who instead say, ‘Pick it up. You can do it.’”

Related: 7 Ways To Get Better At Working With Others

How to avoid toxicity

There’s a strong correlation between morale and productivity. If you want your team to be more productive, you’re going to have to foster a healthy and positive work culture. Emma Seppala, Ph.D., and Kim Cameron, Ph.D., suggest in Harvard Business Review that you can achieve this by fostering social connections.

Encourage your teammates to get to know each other by hosting social events or having them eat lunch together. You must also get away from your desk and have face-to-face interactions with your team. Go out of your way to help as well.

Leaders who are fair and self-sacrificing inspire employees to become more loyal and committed. If your team is swamped, step in to help. Encourage people to talk to you – don’t brush someone off when he has a problem. It gets the problem off his mind, which means he can focus on work.

A healthy culture isn’t a nice-to-have but a must-have. Culture exists, whether we actively cultivate it or let it develop on its own. To get the most productivity you can, make sure to build an environment where people feel respected and inspired. It will not only make your employees happier, but it will also fuel high-quality work.

This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.

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