How to Keep Teams Motivated While Working Remotely

Approximately half of Canadian workers already work outside the office for at least half the time, according to one study. With the advent of social distancing, most businesses have closed their doors, sending employees home to work remotely. Here are a few tips to keep your team motivated across the digital divide.

Project Management Software

Project management tools provide up-to-the-minute updates for team members. There are many web-based and cloud-based tools that won’t strain network servers. For example, Asana, Basecamp and Wrike help many companies manage projects and tasks. Managers can run multiple projects, assign tasks and create weekly priority lists.

Notifications let team members know when tasks have been completed. Plus, many tools have chat and comment functionality.

Professional Development

When team members have to contend with the clash of home and work priorities, professional development and educational opportunities can improve morale and focus. Employees who feel valued tend to stick around longer, so give them opportunities to expand their professional skills.

Progressive training courses allow team members to build on their knowledge and feel a sense of accomplishment. This can lead to innovation and thought leadership in the workplace.

Casual Communication and Online Culture

If your team normally interacts in the office, leaders may find it hard to maintain the corporate culture remotely. Set up a time to interact casually. Whether you connect on social media or use WhatsApp or other apps to send cat videos, coronavirus memes or sanity tips on working with the kids at home — non-work-related conversations help everyone connect on a deeper level.

Using Platforms Effectively

Here’s how to use various platforms to motivation and cohesive while the team is working at home:

  • Email: Use group emails for more in-depth conversations so employees can refer to them later
  • Real-time chat: Use this for one-on-one or small group meetings for urgent questions
  • Video chat: Ideal for complex feedback and training sessions
  • Voice over IP (VoIP): A great solution for topics that take too long to explain via instant messenger or email
  • Short pre-recorded video: Great for training sessions with screenshots when live training isn’t practical

Keeping up morale and finding creative ways to interact helps to keep teams motivated and acting as a functioning, cohesive unit. These efforts will continue to bear fruit when everyone heads back to the office.

4 Easy Ways to Spring-Clean Your Workspace

Spring cleaning your workspace may be a task that only happens once a year, but maintaining year-round cleaning tasks has a variety of benefits. A clean workplace makes a good impression on clients, helps keep workers in better health and may also help workers get more done in less time. Browse through these four spring cleaning tips for ideas on establishing a healthy, productive work environment,

1. Remove Dust

Dust isn’t just unsightly when it collects on your office furniture and decor. Dust and dust mites are allergens that cause allergic reactions and respiratory issues for some people. To get rid of it, grab a dust cloth to wipe surfaces clean or use a vacuum with a dusting attachment to pull dirt away from dusty surfaces.

2. Organize the Workspace

A work environment is typically more relaxed and productive when it’s organized and free of clutter. Make sure there’s a spot to put everything by adding filing cabinets and storage bins as needed. Consider adding labels to each storage space while you’re sorting to make it easy to find things when you’re done cleaning.

3. Disinfect Frequently Touched Surfaces

Break out the disinfecting cleaning products to clean germy areas that are frequently touched, such as the bathroom and break room tables. Be alert to areas where mould may grow, and wear a mask when cleaning those places in the office. Also, consider setting up a hand sanitizer station to help employees avoid the spread of germs in the office.

4. Clean the Windows and Window Treatments

Use a spray bottle of glass cleaner and paper towels or bucket of glass cleaner with a squeegee to get spot-free windows. This lets the sunshine in and adds a bright, clean vibe to your office space. Finally, either wash or dry clean soiled drapery and use a duster or vacuum attachment to clean other window treatments, such as miniblinds and shutters.

If you’re new to the process of spring cleaning, consider preparing a to-do list that summarizes each cleaning and organizing task you want to complete; then, gather all the cleaning supplies before you start. This puts everything you need in a handy spot and lets you move quickly through the tasks. The checklist also lets you see how much you’ve accomplished at a glance.

How to Be a Sustainable Business

Sustainability in business is more than using eco-friendly materials and recycling, though those things are part of being sustainable. For a business to be sustainable, it needs to use best practices that focus on the triple bottom line. That means it needs to operate in a fiscally strong manner while being environmentally friendly and doing good on the social level.

Make Sustainability and Social Responsibility Fundamental Priorities

Build the business on a core belief that’s significant to you, your workers and your intended clientele. Summarize your goal of sustainability and social responsibility in your mission and vision statements. Provide clarity about the ways you plan to make it sustainable by adding brief details about plans for sourcing materials. Include philanthropic goals, diversity-friendly hiring and human resource policies, and plans for supporting the changing needs of your employees.

Incorporate Flexibility Into Your Plans

Add an element of flexibility to plans so your company is able to easily adapt. An example of the type of change that merits flexibility and adaptation is offered in the Staples 2019 Workplace Survey. It notes that millennials have a preference for open floor plan offices while boomers prefer closed office spaces. Changing the floor plan after boomer employees start retiring adds sustainability by accommodating the work style of millennials.

Choose Eco-Friendly Products and Processes

Going green is a marketing advantage with those customers who prefer doing business with companies that use and produce green products. Include eco-friendly practices, such as using recycled paper and buying office furniture made from green materials, when choosing items to purchase for your business.

  • Sustainable Materials: Choose materials that have been recycled, produced using sustainable processes and items that are made to be recycled when your office is done with them.
  • Avoid Single-Use Plastics: Follow the lead of earth-friendly stores that are working to eliminate unnecessary plastics by offering green products for employees to use. For example, provide reusable water bottles rather than offering single-use plastic water bottles in the break area.
  • Recycle: Consider setting up a recycling station in your business for paper, plastics and ink cartridges to keep them out of the landfill.

Making your business sustainable is an opportunity that pays off for years to come by setting it up to transition through market changes, social changes, and changes in the workforce. It shows customers and employees you value them, and it shows your dedication to building a company that’s positioned to stick around.

Everyday Essentials for Greener Living

Canadians have worked hard to protect the environment through measures such as the Basel Convention, which limits the export of hazardous waste materials. However, the country produces 36.1 metric tonnes of waste per person per year. Most of this comes from industrial activities including chemical manufacturing, oil refining and metal processing that involve hazardous materials, such as arsenic, lead, mercury, acid and other chemicals. To counter these impacts, individuals can invest in eco-friendly gadgets to lower their waste levels.

Send Solar Power Back to the Grid

Now is a great time to consider solar and other renewable energy sources at home or for your business. Government incentives such as the Renewable Energy Standard Offer Program (RESOP) from the Ontario Power Authority and the province’s Green Energy Act are encouraging people to build solar farms and connect them to the power grid. Participants can make as much as $0.42 per kilowatt, about seven times the $0.06 paid to other power providers.

Going Green at the Office or Home Office

Going green doesn’t have to involve high-tech solutions. Using organic products such as Keuring organic coffee pods helps reduce pesticides and other harmful chemicals, which can threaten water supplies. Biodegradable leather office chairs also reduce the amount of plastic waste and can last for decades if properly cared for.

Sustainability at Home

There are many products in this category, but a few stand out for innovation and utility. For example, reusable bamboo makeup removal pads are good for up to 2,000 uses and come with a machine-washable mesh bag. Bamboo alternatives could also prevent millions of plastic-handled toothbrushes from the landfill each month, while a kitchen countertop composter can decrease your family’s trash footprint and give the plants in your garden a boost. Reusable napkins only slightly increase your laundry load but could prevent thousands of paper napkins from ending up in your trash. The Niagara Earth Showerhead conserves water without sacrificing water pressure.

From a low-tech refillable metal water bottle to an efficient aluminum bike that can get you to work without polluting the atmosphere, there are many ways to invest in everyday tech for greener living.

Love Your Office: 4 Great Ideas to Refresh Your Space

Refreshing your office is an easy way to add positive energy to your workspace, and it’s easy to do with a few changes. New furnishings, such as a desk, create a unique focal point in the room. Updated seating adds comfort to the area, and new filing cabinets help you keep the refreshed office space organized.

1. Choose a New Work Surface

A desk is more than just a spot to put your computer and the documents you’re managing. It’s also typically the focal point because it’s the biggest piece of furniture in most offices. Pick a desk style that fits the way you work, such as one with plenty of drawers to hold small items or an open style for an organized effect.

2. Add Comfort With New Seating

Placing a new chair in your office is a way to enhance the ergonomic benefits you enjoy while working. Make sure the chair you choose has the features you need to be comfortable when seated. Easily accessible position-setting controls are also helpful for ergonomics because adjusting the chair position and height lets you align your head and hands comfortably with the desktop and your computer monitor.

3. Increase Your Office Organization

It’s easier to get work done on time when your office is tidy. Choosing a new filing cabinet provides an organization system that makes it easy to store documents when you aren’t using them, and gives you a way to quickly find them when you need to retrieve them. Filing cabinets come in a variety of sizes and colours, so it’s easy to find one that matches your office decor.

4. Add Visual Interest

When you add colour to the room, it invigorates the space. Choosing small vibrant accessories, such as an ottoman or desk chair with colourful upholstery, provides a win-win solution for incorporating energetic hues into the decor. These types of items are plush and comfortable, and the bold colours available add a sense of positivity that energizes the room and the people who enter it.

Choose furnishings that are both functional and comfortable and things that add a pop of colour to design a space that has a fresh, new aura. A wide variety of items to revamp your office are in stock, making it easy for you to tackle the task while saving time.

4 Useful Tips for Staying Connected to Your Workplace

Whether you’re routinely working from home or have to be out of the office for a few hours, there are a variety of ways to stay connected. Modern technologies have the potential to enhance your productivity when you’re away from your desk. Technologies that enable you to communicate via a smartphone or your laptop help you remain effective so you can make the most of the time you spend on remote work.

1. Utilize a Work Portal or Collaboration Hub

Work portals may be established within a company website or accessed through an outside collaboration hub provider. There are both paid and free collaboration hubs available, and these hubs offer an easy way to collaborate with team members within work groups.

2. Check Email Frequently

Add frequent email check-ins to your work schedule as a way to stay on top of communications with your peers or employees. Consider scheduling email check-ins and setting a timer to remind you to open your email account when you’re in the midst of a project that requires frequent updates.

3. Use A Mobile Device for Text Messaging

A mobile device, such as a smartphone or even a basic flip phone, can be used to exchanging text messages about work tasks with others from your office. Brief messages, such as reminders about meetings or to request digital files, are especially suited to texting. This type of messaging is ideal for times when you’re going to be away from other traditional communication sources but still need access to information from your office.

4. Have Phone or Video Messaging Conversations

Sometimes, a direct conversation provides you with the information you need in the fastest way possible. When this is the case, consider connecting with office mates using a phone or video messaging conversation. These communication modes provide immediate feedback, so you’re able to confirm that each party to the conversation is on the same page.

Technology makes it easy to stay in contact with the office, so you’re able to remain productive when you’re away from your work site. Combine these technologies with traditional office supplies, such as notepads, colored pens and a planner to make it easy to keep plenty of notes about tasks you need to do when you’re back in the office.

Why Stress Management Belongs on Your Office’s To-Do List

Stress is one of the main factors that affect the quality of the workplace environment at your office. You can’t eliminate stress in the workplace, but you can find ways to manage it.

Important ways to manage stress include:

  • Providing job security
  • Maintaining reasonable hours
  • Promoting a healthy working environment
  • Supporting employees without micromanaging them

Symptoms of stress originate from a chemical reaction called the fight-or-flight response or stress response. Designed to enable fast reactions to crisis, it increases your heart rate, quickens your breathing, tightens your muscles and raises your blood pressure. In short bursts, the stress response is an asset and even a survival necessity, but extended periods of stress are another thing entirely.

People handle stressors differently, and their symptoms can likewise have a lot of variety. Proper stress management improves your organization’s performance and productivity and creates an environment that attracts and retains talented employees. It lets you get ahead of the mental and physical effects of prolonged stress and deliver great results for your company and brand.

Importance of Stress Management in Your Office

Improved company culture: When employees learn how to manage their stress in healthy ways, they like to manifest positive behavior in the office and to be supportive of the coworkers. The workplace becomes a pleasant environment, and your employees will look forward to arriving to work every day.

Consistent attendance: Employees who enjoy good mental health and freedom from unmanaged stress are likelier to be punctual and reliable.  With support from the company and their colleagues, they can manage their stress in healthy ways, and they’re less likely to call in sick as a result.

Talent acquisition and retention: When you go out of your way to mitigate stress at your office, you’ll enjoy higher staff retention rates. When an employee does leave, they’ll have positive things to say about the workplace environment they enjoyed at your organization.

How to Set Your Goals & Plan to Achieve Them in the New Year

Setting goals is the first step when you want to make big changes, and it’s an easy task when you follow a few basic steps. Effective goal setting begins with knowing what you want to end up with and comparing it to your current state. Make an honest assessment of where you are compared to where you want to be as an ideal way to get started.

Choose Goals That Really Matter to You

Anyone can set a great goal, but if it isn’t meaningful on an individual level, it’s likely to fall by the wayside. As an example, it’s easy to set a goal to lose a lot of weight, but if you aren’t driven by a “why” that’s important to you, it may never go beyond the wish to lose weight.

Sticking with the weight loss goal example, add the “why” behind each goal to make it personal and meaningful. Instead of setting a generic goal to lose weight, set a goal to lose 20 pounds so you’ll be healthier and live longer.

Make it Easy to Succeed in Your Goals

Be realistic about how quickly each goal may be reached, and break goals into long-term and short-term goals. Think of each step necessary for reaching a big goal as a short-term goal. Put a specific timeline on reaching each goal.

This gives you a guideline to compare to your results when you evaluate your progress. It also gives you an opportunity to feel great about each smaller goal you reach. Building positive feelings into the process of reaching your goals increases your chance of succeeding in your biggest goals.

Set an Objective and Make an Action Plan

Make a commitment to achieving your goals by putting your objectives in writing. Setting an objective is a key part of making an action plan because when you prepare an objective statement, you include the details and steps you need to follow to succeed.

SMART is an acronym that’s commonly associated with goal-setting objectives. It stands for specific, measurable, audience-specific or attainable, realistic and time-bound, and those are the details needed to set successful goals.

No matter what your goals are, the best time to create an action plan and start working toward them is now.

How To Stay Motivated After the Holidays

Time off with family and friends for the holidays can provide a wealth of benefits, including helping you gain a better work and life balance, and can help you reset yourself mentally. However, the parties, food and relaxation may make you feel less than motivated to go back. To help you get back into the swing of things, consider these tips.

Prioritize Your Tasks

Map out your workday by creating a to-do list. Instead of focusing on the hardest tasks first, start with a few simple projects to help you ease back into the daily hustle. Marking items off your to-do list will help motivate you to keep going, even if the tasks are small. Break down very large projects into several smaller ones to help you complete the task in steps.

Take Frequent Breaks

If possible, stop every hour or every two hours for a short break. Stretch your legs by taking a short walk, drink some water or simply stand up at your desk and stretch. Get your body moving to help fight fatigue and to keep you alert and focused. Regular breaks can reduce stress and create a more positive work environment, according to the Canada QuickBooks team.

Socialize with Coworkers

Friendly chatter with coworkers can help make your day pass quickly and can create a more positive environment to work in. Make a point to stop and chat with close colleagues, and ask about their holidays. If you took time off while others worked, ask if you missed anything while you were gone. A simple conversation with friends at work can make your entire day better. Friends at work can also make you motivated to do more and can help boost your overall job satisfaction.

Clean Up Your Inbox

An office inbox can fill up quickly while you are on vacation and answering everyone at once can seem overwhelming. The Daily Muse suggests creating three separate folders in your email: one for emails that must be addressed immediately, one for emails that can wait and a third for those that can potentially be deleted. Read through the subject line, and sort your emails into three folders. Address your priority emails and save the others for another day.

Going back to work after the holidays doesn’t have to be a stressful time. By easing your way into your work and the work environment, you can be productive without feeling overwhelmed.

5 Ideal New Year’s Resolutions for Small Business Success

The beginning of a new year is a perfect time to look back on what worked or didn’t go well with your business over the past year. Growing and maintaining a vibrant, profitable organization calls for reflection and a determination to drive and adjust to change. Take on the new year with these tips for your business and personal life.

1. Delegate More

Delegation is essential to maintaining a healthy work-life balance. Thorough training and open communication can equip employees with the knowledge and power to handle some of your responsibilities. People often rise up to what is expected of them. Outline goals and deadlines clearly and dedicate more of your time to work on high-level tasks.

2. Keep Wooing Current Customers

An existing customer base could be a huge catalyst for sales growth. Ongoing relationships with clients can generate consistent revenue in the thousands or even millions over time. Resolve to appreciate and listen to current patrons, always looking for ways to meet their needs and surpass their expectations.

3. Get a Tighter Grip on Cash Flow

Over 60% of small businesses worldwide have serious cash flow concerns, and about 40% of Canadian small companies miss out on significant revenue-generating opportunities because of insufficient cash flow. Since profits often don’t equate to available funds, it’s important to know how much working capital will keep your business going. Make projections, and automate receivables and payables with a software program.

4. Charge What You’re Worth

If you feel that you deserve more for your product or service, now may be the time to raise your prices to reflect the value you provide. Author Dorie Clark wrote in the Harvard Business Review: “Charging a fair price … allows you to create long-term value.” This may cost you some business, but there are many clients out there who are willing and able to pay what you want for top-quality solutions to their needs.

5. Learn a New Skill

Pick up a new skill this year, whether or not it is related to your business or industry. This is an important investment in yourself that will yield returns of greater personal fulfillment and broadened perspective in your business life. You may also meet and cultivate relationships with new people who may turn into friends, clients, potential employees or vendors.