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Avoiding Culture Shock in the Workplace

Untitled design (3)Every workplace has its own culture, which can be seen in everything from company policies to how employees interact with each other. This is something that almost goes unnoticed by longtime employees who don’t realize how difficult things can get when a business grows and new team members are hired. There is always the potential for culture shock whenever new hires are brought into a company, but there are ways to minimize and even avoid it. Here are some tips that might help.

Be Patient

There will always be a learning curve whenever a company grows. New hires have to learn about policies and procedures, and existing employees need to adjust to changes in their workplace. It can be stressful, but everyone involved needs to understand that things won’t be running smoothly immediately. Everyone needs to be patient with everyone else until they are all brought up to speed.

Keep Lines of Communication Open

Good communication can solve most of the potential problems associated with culture shock. New hires should be introduced to the team and made to feel welcome, and managers should have an open door policy for new and longtime employees. Everyone should be encouraged to help each other and answer questions since, as we’ve said before, there will be a learning curve.

Maintain Existing Policies and Traditions

Even though your company is growing and changing, you don’t need to abandon all of its policies and traditions. These are the things that will help your existing employees adjust as you bring in new team members. Maintain workplace traditions, and encourage your team to educate new hires about them.

Some degree of workplace culture shock is unavoidable, but it is easier to manage than you think. Keep these tips in mind, understand that there are always growing pains when a company expands, and be patient. If all goes well, things will be running smoothly again before you know it.

Want Your Employees to be More Productive? Let Them Work at Home

Untitled design (8)Any number of studies and experiments have been conducted which compare employee performance at the workplace to those employees working from home, and invariably the happier and more productive employees are those working at home. There are of course, settings in which a telecommuting arrangement simply would not work, e.g. when employees must regularly meet with clients in the office, but in most employment models, working at home would be not only viable, but preferable in terms of productivity. Here are some of the main benefits of having employees work at home.

Less Turnover

Employees who telecommute are typically more satisfied and happier about their jobs, because it’s much more convenient and lacks the restrictive nature of an office setting. With greater job satisfaction, there is less movement between jobs, and greater loyalty toward the employer. Having achieved one of the most desirable work-life benefits, there is less reason to seek employment elsewhere at a place which might offer the same benefit. This reduction in turnover can be extremely important for a company, because the cost of recruiting, hiring, and training new employees has become one of the major costs of doing business.

Greater Talent Pool

By offering the kind of flexibility that goes with telecommuting, a broader range of potential employees can be tapped into. For instance, some parents who are obliged to remain at home to watch young children or aging parents would thus become eligible candidates, whereas they would not be eligible to work in an office setting.

Longer Work Hours

This may sound surprising, because you might think at first that workers at home are subject to more distractions and put in less actual work time – but in many studies, the reverse has been found to be true. With no commuting to work at the beginning and end of each day, that becomes usable time to accomplish work-related tasks. Even with frequent breaks occurring in the home setting, employees are more relaxed and rested, and tend to work longer into the day, rather than making a hard stop at 5:00 p.m., or whatever might be considered normal office hours.

Less sick time

Most studies have shown a dramatic reduction in sick time taken by employees working from home, presumably because they require fewer ‘mental health’ days, or because important household tasks and errands can be completed within the framework of the day, while still completing work obligations. The flexibility provided by working at home simply makes it easier to blend work with home life, rather than having a hard line of demarcation between the two, and this means there are fewer reasons for needing time off work.

How to Stay Productive at Work

Untitled design (6)Work is something we must all face, usually on a daily basis. Drab atmospheres can not only be uninspiring, but can drain your energy. There are small changes you can make to increase your productivity in the office. Here’s a guide to keeping you productive at work, and even enjoy being there.

Prioritize Assignments

Becoming buried in assignments is the quickest way to feel completely overwhelmed, making the completion of work impossible and even ruining a perfectly fine day. To help combat to imminent flow of paperwork or various tasks, prioritize the items needed to be completed and tackle the most important or pressing ones first. This will allow for better time management and overall workplace success.

Incorporate some Feng Shui

Perhaps all your workplace needs for your productivity is a little energetic rerouting. Feng shui is an ancient Chinese art that encourages the redirection of energy, and features different soothing aspects including lighting, colors and even the specific arrangement of your workplace. Feng shui is a valuable asset that may be exactly what your workspace needs to be revitalized.

Comfort is Key

If you are trapped in an uncomfortable chair all day behind a computer screen or desk, your body and therefore productivity will suffer. Not having the correct cushion or shape of a chair can have serious effects on a person, and such things as chair replacement often go overlooked. Consider an ergonomically correct chair, or at least a cushioned one that offers plenty of support to ensure the prevention of pain related to sitting for hours, like back issues.

Add Some Greenery

Plants, of course, release oxygen, which is vital for human existence. Knowing this, why not implement a couple plants in your work area to improve circulation and oxygen to your brain? Several studies have been done that link plant life within office space to better productivity, due not only to their purifying properties but also the connection between people and nature.

Organize

Trying to get work done in a cluttered work area, like a desk, is usually a recipe for a complete lack of productivity. Take the time to really organize your desk or workspace, so that everything has a specific place and remains there unless being used for a specific, immediate project. Keeping your space organized will make every assignment much easier to complete quickly and efficiently.

Knowing these tips and tricks, there is no reason for your workplace to remain unnecessarily uncomfortable. Try each of these suggestions individually or together, and you will quickly see the difference each one makes.

Use Your Smartphone to be More Productive

Untitled design (7)_FotorThe average American work week is 34 hours. The week may feel longer due to commuting time and time needed to get ready, but those 34 hours disappear quickly once there, and the piles of work needing to completed continue to grow. How can you get more done without working more hours?

Be Well Rested

You Smartphone can help you to sleep better, and to awaken ready for a productive day. The screens of monitors, phones, and modern televisions emit blue light. This blue light can interfere with our sleep patterns if we are looking at one of these screens before bedtime, stealing as much as an hour of deep sleep. There are apps for your smartphone, tablet, or computer that can reduce the amount of blue light produced throughout the evening and into the night automatically. As the sun sets, these apps produce a warm red hue which reduces eyestrain and helps you to relax.

When it’s time to sleep, your phone can also help you to relax and fall asleep quickly using a white noise app. Doze off to the sounds of the ocean, gently rolling its tides over a serene beach that only you can see.

Apply Some Science to Working: The Pomodoro Technique

One method that many people have found to increase their productivity is the Pomodoro Technique. While it has a fancy name, it’s fairly simple to understand and to follow. You set a timer for 25 minutes and work without interruption on one task. After the 25 minutes is up, you take a break for 5 minutes to recharge your batteries. This break might simply be a walk over to the water cooler and back. Repeat the timer process if a task will require more than 25 minutes to complete. Longer periods of working or longer breaks can both be counterproductive, so try to stay as close as you can to the technique’s prescribed times.

There’s no need to bring your kitchen timer to work. There are free or paid apps for your smartphone that will help you to manage your Pomodoro time, counting away silently and displaying the time remaining.

Turn Off Phone Notifications

Our smartphones, while great tools able to run apps such as sleep aids and Pomodoro timers, also take valuable time out of every day. Constant pings from Facebook, Linkedin, emails, games, and texts are each a distraction and can interrupt our work dozens of times a day.

If you’re utilizing a Pomodoro timer app, some of these apps are capable of muting your phone’s notifications. You can also do this manually in your phone’s settings, or there are automation apps that can silence notifications based on your location. For example, Tasker (Android) or IFTTT (iOS) can silence notifications based on your geographic location, by the time of day, or by other triggers. If you want to get aggressive about your productive time, you might even consider using the airplane mode setting.

Our smartphones can help us to more productive because of all the tools and information they provide, but they can also become a distraction from the important work we need to complete. Make technology productive again by utilizing a few apps that will tame those wayward phone screens.

Sources:
http://lifehacker.com/productivity-101-a-primer-to-the-pomodoro-technique-1598992730
http://fortune.com/2015/11/11/chart-work-week-oecd/
https://www.inc.com/john-rampton/15-ways-to-increase-productivity-at-work.html

5 Ways to Remain Focused at Work

focusedSometimes it is difficult to keep your concentration at work. It could be because you have been working long hours and you are exhausted or it could simply be because you cannot find a solution to an issue. Whatever it is, if you are finding it hard to concentrate, use some of these tips to find your focus and power through the tasks ahead of you.

Organize your desk

If your desk is a mess, it can lead to your mind being a mess as well. Clean up your desk so you can better focus on other things.

Have a snack break

Sometimes you just need a little bit of water to quench your thirst and refresh you. While you are at it, you should consider a good, healthy snack to give you a boost of energy.

Go for a short walk

If you really cannot get focused, walk away for a few minutes and let your mind relax. Take a lap or two around the office so you can mentally reset and will be better prepared to get the job done.

Prioritize

If you have a few things you need to get done, you should take the time to prioritize everything you need to get done so you can focus on the more important things first.

Put on some headphones

Whether you want to listen to some soothing music or simply want to drown out all of the other distracting office noises, headphones can accomplish this for you and allow you to focus on what is in front of you. If you are listening to music, make sure you choose the right one for you. Sometimes high energy music can pump you up but it is not always the best for each situation. Listen to the music that you need to focus.

We all have moments where it is difficult to remain focused at work. When you are having trouble, these tips can help you find your focus again and get back on track.

 

Tips to Improve Your Home Office

homeofficeAs great as it can be to work from home, you will still need to have a good home office if you are to get anything done. Your home has a lot of distractions that can cause you to go off-task, which is a serious problem when you’re trying to get work done.

If you’re serious about working from home, here are five things you will need in your home office:

1. A Dedicated Space

You will need a dedicated space for your home office. While it is easy to set up a laptop at the kitchen table or in your living room and try to get some work done, you will be far more productive if your office is a dedicated space. An extra bedroom that you aren’t using is ideal, but you might have to settle for setting up a partition somewhere in your home. In any event, this space should only be used for work; keep your TV, books, gaming consoles or anything else you might use for leisure in other parts of your home.

2. A Comfortable Chair

If you have the kind of job that requires you to be sitting down for hours at a time, you will need some comfortable seating. This will most likely be an office chair that offers plenty of support. Try to find an ergonomically designed chair for the best results. While you don’t want to sit in any chair for longer than an hour at a time, an ergonomic office chair might prevent you from developing back pain or other ailments that come from sitting at a desk for too long.

3. Better Lighting

A desk lamp is a great thing to have in a home office, but you will need more lighting than just that. If you have lighting fixtures in your ceiling, experiment with lightbulbs of different brightness and intensity to find out what works best for you. It’s not just about visibility, either; bad lighting could give you bad headaches and increase eye strain. If you can, set up your home office in a room that receives plenty of sunlight. You will feel better throughout the day, and you won’t have to rely as much on artificial lighting for your workspace.

4. An Organization System

Nobody likes to work in a disorganized office, even when they’re working from home. When you set up your workspace, invest in file cabinets, bookshelves and other things that will allow you to stay organized. Have a place for everything you might need, and make sure it stays there when you aren’t using it.

5. A Personal Touch

Just because you will be using your office strictly for work doesn’t mean that it can’t be inviting. Your office should be a place where you feel comfortable, so include some personal touches to make it feel warmer and more pleasant. Being able to do this is one of the biggest advantages to working at home, so do whatever you want to make your office a place you like without sacrificing your organization system.

Applying the Principles of Feng Shui in the Workplace

Untitled design (7)You may have heard of feng shui for the home, but did you know that you can apply the concept in the workplace, as well? This ancient Chinese art, used for centuries to improve the flow of energy, could have a dramatic impact on the overall productivity level of your office. If you’ve been looking for actionable ways to boost productivity at work, you might want to give this method a try.

1. Getting Started

You can utilize feng shui whether you are a corporate executive, a sales manager or an employee. Much of what you’ll be doing simply involves removing and repositioning objects; by doing this, you can make your workspace more functional. The first step you’ll need to take is to get rid of the clutter that is occupying your work area. Do you need several photos of your last vacation pinned to your cubicle wall? Try removing all but one, and replace the rest with a print that makes you feel relaxed but focused, such as a calming scenic print.

2. Set the Mood With Lighting

Just as you would set the right mood for a romantic dinner with candles and subtle lighting, you can use light to set the right tone for your workspace. If your office has a window, be sure to draw the blinds and let the sun illuminate the room naturally. Replace fluorescent lights with bulbs that replicate natural light. Another trick is to install a natural light filter on your computer. You will be more focused throughout the day, and your eyes won’t feel strained and tired when you’re ready to go home.

3. Get a Few Plants

Humans were not meant to spend many hours per week in an unnatural environment, but most people can hardly avoid that if they need to bring home a paycheck. Plants bring living energy into any room, and that kind of energy can be a great asset on the job. Plants also purify the air, which may be quite useful in a room full of people. A few plants should suffice – the idea is not to make the space look like an exotic jungle, but simply to install a little nature in your workplace.

4. Sit in the Correct Position

Another feng shui tip that you might implement at work is to sit in the right position. Don’t sit with your back to the door if you can help it. Instead, reposition your desk and chair to face the door. If you don’t have the option of moving your desk or chair, you can place a mirror above your desk, so the door may be seen in the reflection. Taking these steps automatically puts you in a position of power as opposed to vulnerability – you won’t be surprised by anyone who comes through the door and sneaks up behind you. Whether it’s done intentionally or unintentionally, being surprised like that can startle you and instantly cause you to lose your sense of focus.

Staying productive in the workplace may be challenging, but there are ways to combat a lack of energy and improve your concentration. Applying the principles of feng shui to rearrange your office is a way to work smarter instead of harder. By making a few changes to your workspace, you may truly become more productive.

Sources:

https://www.forbes.com/sites/melissathompson/2017/02/18/how-entrepreneurs-can-use-feng-shui-to-stay-productive-in-the-office/2/#5a77d57647e8

http://www.mindbodygreen.com/0-10774/6-fast-easy-feng-shui-tips-that-work-for-everyone.html

https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-gen-y-guide/201511/how-feng-shui-your-workspace

3 Ways to Increase Business Productivity in the Office

Untitled design (6)Business productivity is a major concern for every business owner. However, it can be hard to pinpoint what areas need adjustments and what changes will actually lead to better business productivity. Below is a list of three ways to increase business productivity in the office that you may have never thought of before:

1. Use Technology

Technology is definitely a great way to eliminate the extraneous work involved in a lot of mundane office tasks. When used properly and by well-informed employees, various B2B (Business-to-business) programs can assist and even elevate the productivity of tasks. Some of these types of programs include production management tools, project management systems, accounting software and POS (Point-of-Sale) software. Integrating the newest technology and gadgets (tablets and other mobile devices) into everyday tasks also helps you and your business keep up with the changing times.

2. Take Plenty of Breaks

Have you ever noticed that after working on something for a long period of time, you begin to loose focus? Unfocused employees lead to poor work output not only in terms of speed but accuracy. Ensure that you and your employees take regular breaks to help counteract the dreaded “afternoon slump.”

3. Encourage Gym Use

Exercising may seem like something employees should do on their own time, but studies have shown that businesses that invest in the physical fitness of their employees–even during the workday–are more productive overall. Not only does a regular workout ritual boost employees’ energy, meaning more work gets done, but it also strengthens the immune system, resulting in fewer sick days, while improving mental health. Encouraging gym use could come in the form of having an office gym, providing employees with gym memberships and setting up exercise goals/competitions among workers. A healthy employee is a happy and productive employee.

Remember: when you evolve, your business evolves, too. These three tips to increase your business productivity is only a starting point for revitalizing your business and its long-term performance.

Three Ways to Get More Work Done Today

Untitled design (6)1. Write it Down

Sure, it seems like basic advice, but there’s a reason it’s first on this list. Instead of randomly entering meetings, notes, and to-do lists into different apps, write a list of your goals for the day or week on paper. This is a great task for the end of the work week. Spend a few minutes on Friday making a list of what you want to accomplish the following week, or even just the following Monday. You’ll come in to work ready to break that list down into manageable chunks.

Yes, the big stuff can go in your phone’s calendar app (missing a big meeting is the opposite of productive, after all), but the act of writing information down on paper has been shown to increase productivity and memory. Even if tasks go unfinished for whatever reason, taking the time to outline your day or week has positive effects on your performance.

2. Break Up the Day

Dedicate a chunk of time to a particular task – answering emails that have been piling up and stressing you out, perhaps. Or, simply set a timer and work without interruption until that timer goes off. Breaking your day and duties into manageable chunks makes an overwhelming to-do list much less daunting and enhances the quality of your work. They key is to stay focused during your ‘on’ period and truly take a break from your work when that time is up. Get up from your desk, take a short walk around the office, or chat with a coworker for a few minutes.

3. Turn Off Your Phone

Again, this suggestion isn’t terribly earth-shattering – but, the reason you see it in just about any post about productivity is because it needs to be said. Bouncing around social media, emails, and apps wreaks havoc on your attention span. It also kills momentum. When you’re in the middle of one of your chunks of dedicated email answering or phone call returning time, the last thing you need is distraction in the form of Facebook or text notifications buzzing on the phone you set aside. If you have friends or family that text often during the day, let them know you’re trying to minimize distractions and may not be available until lunch. If possible, turn your phone on airplane mode, or even off altogether, to eliminate the temptation to check it throughout the day.

These three simple changes can boost your productivity right now. See for yourself!

3 Ways To Retain Great Employees

Untitled design (7)Every business should understand how important it is to retain great employees, as they are crucial to overall success and growth. They’ve already been trained, keep customers satisfied and have likely formed positive relationships with their co-workers and leaders. While the real cost of employee turnover has been widely debated among many industries, some studies show it can cost as much as 20 percent of the annual salary for mid-range positions and 213 percent of the annual salary for highly educated executive positions. For a small to mid-sized business, calculating exactly how much money employee turnover is costing you can be extremely difficult if you don’t have systems and policies in place to track intangible costs. For example, the cost of job screening, interviewing, training and lost productivity time for actual work looks different for every company. It’s important that every business works to retain great employees and here are three ways to do that:

1. Offer Opportunities for Growth

Most employees have some sort of long-term professional goal—whether it’s to become CEO or to receive a promotion every year or two. If your company doesn’t offer any room for growth, you can bet your great employees will look elsewhere when they’re ready to achieve their next goal. Victor Lipman, executive coach and Forbes contributor advises, “The potential for growth is a huge motivational difference maker. Even when major financial rewards aren’t forthcoming, other kinds of growth opportunities can still motivate.” Never overestimate the motivational power of progress, such as allowing your employees to broaden their skill set and knowledge of the industry. In addition, hire internal candidates whenever you can, as it’ll keep your employees motivated to work toward bettering your company.

2. Give Your Employees Freedom When Possible

Research shows that over 20 million Americans choose part-time work—rather than full-time—because it gives them more freedom. A healthy work-life balance has become increasingly more important to employees, especially the millennial workforce. No one wants to work 40+ hour workweeks without any vacation time and people are actually turning down companies that have this mindset. Employees who have the option of working when they want and sometimes where they want are known to be less stressed and more productive. Consider restructuring your office hours or allowing some flexibility in scheduling. In addition, reevaluate your vacation policy to ensure that every employee feels encouraged and supported to take a break.

3. Emphasize Communication

Communication in the workplace is great way to improve morale and generate success for your company. When employees feel they can communicate freely with their leaders and each other, they’re more likely to feel valued, satisfied and motivated at work. Finding a boss who eagerly listens to questions or concerns is harder than you think, so make your company and leadership style stand out with effective communication. Try holding weekly team meetings and encourage every employee to share their ideas and feedback on big projects. You’ll not only help the team’s morale, you’ll help your business by fixing any issues that might arise. Open communication is a win-win because it keeps you in the know and others feeling connected and accountable.