Bad Habits You Need to Ditch at the Workplace

Nobody’s perfect, but sometimes our bad habits can get us into serious trouble at the workplace. If you want to take a smooth journey up the career path, be sure to ditch the following bad habits and safeguard your job. By focusing on positive behaviors and relinquishing behaviors that are questionable, you can impress management as well as your colleagues while promoting your best qualities.

It’s one thing to be constructively critical about elements of your job, but to continuously infuse your negativity into the office culture is going to place your job in jeopardy. Negativity reduces staff morale and can transform you into a chronic headache for your supervisor. Even if you have cause to feel negatively about your workplace, it’s best to keep your feelings to yourself unless you can make a positive change with your comments or attitude. Moreover, keep in mind that some issues are bigger than others. You might do best to save your constructive complaints for those situations where they really count.

Poor Manners
In the work arena, saying please and thank-you will go a long way to making you into a pleasant colleague that people like having around. A lack of manners could mean you are unworthy of promotion as it signals a level of irresponsibility that would be out of place in the upper echelons of your company. Even managers who exhibit poor manners may find that their inability to “play nice” with others may mean they get overlooked when it comes time for the next promotion.

If you tend to get your work in at the last minute, you could be guilty of procrastination and poor time management. Procrastinating on a routine basis tells your manager that you are not altogether reliable. Moreover, last-minute work is apt to be of lesser quality than work that you spent more time on. To overcome the problem of procrastination, make a point of adjusting your calendar so that it reflects earlier self-imposed deadlines. Your company is sure to take note of you if you continuously turn in high-quality work earlier than your other colleagues.

The Talker
Conversation in the workplace can be pleasant and enjoyable for all, but doing too much talking can be distracting. Moreover, saying the wrong things (i.e. gossiping) can get you into serious trouble. Keep your chatter to a minimum at work to ensure that you are getting all your work accomplished and aren’t preventing others from doing their own. If you find that other work colleagues participate in idle gossip, do your best to extricate yourself from these conversations so you don’t earn a negative reputation for condoning gossip in the workplace.

Showing Up Late
Everyone runs into a traffic jam now and then on the way to work, but habitually showing up late to work or meetings is a habit you need to break. Be sure to get to sleep and go to bed on time so that you can wake up early enough to get to your job with time to spare. You’ll appear more organized and dependable if you regularly get to work early. Moreover, when you are constantly rushed, you’re apt to feel greater stress, which can negatively impact your mood and work performance.

With these tips in mind, you can better safeguard your career as well as your workplace reputation. If you know that you perform some of these bad habits, be sure to ditch them as soon as you can. If you happen to be in a position of management, you may even try to encourage your employees to remember these tips as well.


Putting Your Best Foot Forward in the Workplace

While knowledge, talent and ability are crucial to your success in the workplace, it cannot be stressed enough that there is an emotional and social component to a flourishing career, as well. Image and impressions can propel your career forward or send it into a tailspin from which you may never recover. Are you doing all you can to project your best possible self?

  1. Yes, you do want to stand out in the workplace. You need your talents to shine. It is also important to fit in while you stand out with your workplace culture. Abide by the general standard of dress, whether it’s formal business attire or ultra-casual. Find common ground with your co-workers so you don’t seem aloof.
  2. Don’t shun after hours social events. You may not be the type to hang out at the bar at the end of the workday, join a sports team, or participate in other post-work activities, but this is a valuable opportunity to network with colleagues. You never know when the people you know provide the next step on your career ladder.
  3. Work at crossing generational barriers. Those who are younger than you have fresh ideas and a different take on the world. Those who are older can contribute experience and a clue on how to survive the dog-eat-dog world of business. All generations have to work together and it is a point in your favour to be the ambassador of cooperation.
  4. Be the voice of optimism in conferences and meetings. Everyone knows why a proposed plan might not work. Try to be the optimist that wants to be gung-ho about the positive aspects of the new ideas. In other words, be a team player, not a roadblock to the future.
  5. Be inquisitive, on your first day of work and every day thereafter. Giving the impression you are always eager to learn will give you a reputation as a leader and a visionary. The future is always about change. Learn everything you can, even if it doesn’t seem relevant at the moment.
  6. Avoid forming alliances with co-workers. You are there to work, not to form a social clique. While it’s important to be friendly with everyone, it is equally as important to refrain from taking sides when it comes to office drama.
  7. Arrive for work every day with the same enthusiastic attitude you brought with you on day one. Don’t drag your personal issues or lousy mood into the workplace with you. You won’t benefit by earning the reputation of being moody.
  8. Keep your workspace orderly. While good housekeeping may seem like a silly point to ponder in the workplace, the first impression many people will have of you will be that of your surroundings.

There’s no question about the importance of putting your best foot forward in any workplace environment in which you find yourself. Just remember, a career decision made now does not have to lock you into place for the rest of your life. If, in spite of all your efforts to create the work environment that fits you and your personality, you still feel you are a square peg in a round hole, you always have a way out. Use your skills to find the almost perfect fit that benefits both you and your employer.

Offer Quiet Zones to Improve Productivity

Every open-plan office has the same problem: it’s a constant thoroughfare for chairs on wheels, noisy phone calls, discussion groups, the mailperson and the cleaning staff. There’s endless chatter and banter about the weekend that’s just passed or the annual holidays to come. None of this is conducive to concentration.

As much as people enjoy some level of distraction, many employees are sitting with their teeth gritted or biting their bottom lips because they just can’t concentrate.

Given the variety of open-plan office tasks, it’s common sense to provide quiet spaces, yet few workplaces do. Conversely, in recent years there has been increasing focus on integration and team-based activities; partition walls have disappeared in favour of occasional screens or potted plants to break up the desk monotony.

While open-plan spaces are good for team morale, those needing to focus are either reduced to working too slowly or making mistakes while their ears and eyes are diverted. Writing reports, drafting presentations, conducting staff appraisals, analyzing data, looking at trends, reading reports and gathering phone intelligence all require deep focus and a calm atmosphere.

Nearly everyone has experienced phone calls, as the client or customer, in which an unruly office melee can be heard in the background of the conversation. That is not a good impression for any company to deliver to clients.

Providing Quiet Space

The quiet spaces provided can be simple and affordable, especially when the outlay results in improved productivity. Think of libraries with their small booths or compartments; something like this is ideal, especially if employees can still sit side-by-side but not make ready eye contact.

These areas are conducive to cerebral work because they are contained; dividing walls send a clear message that these aren’t talking spaces. The sound of tap-tapping on calculators and keyboards, and the scratching of pens on paper, encourage everyone to get their heads in their work and not distract anybody.

This zone should be out of the general footfall area, with nobody walking behind or in front. It should be sited at the far end of a building, with a wall to the rear so nobody has their back to an open space. It feels secure and calm. In time, you may find you need to build more booths as these spaces become popular.

At the end of each focus zone, offer a large soundproofed booth for multiple occupants, where people still have privacy and calmness but can thrash out new ideas. You could name this space the “Group Focus Zone.” This, too, isn’t for idle chatter; it’s for brainstorming and problem solving that cannot be done in the quiet zone, but which still needs some isolation.

The Group Focus Zone room needs a round table, not a rectangular one, since squared-off tables are dividers, not facilitators. This space would look quite like an airport business lounge, with everything at hand to bring the booth-generated ideas into reality. It has printers so people aren’t queuing, and stationery such as calculators, pens, notepads, whiteboards and flipcharts. Technology should be at hand, including projectors and a bank of laptops open to use by everyone. Do not password-protect these computers; every barrier to smooth thought processes is a wasted opportunity. If employees don’t have to wander about to obtain exactly the tools they need, they will stay undistracted. People will soon clamor to use the booths for independent work, and the Group Focus Zone when teamwork’s required.

Now, everyone can escape unproductivity. You’ll also find some employees even stay at work later if there’s access to comfortable spaces. However, don’t allow anyone to eat in the work booths or other productivity zones, as eating is simply a new–and noisy–distraction creating messy spaces.

Work Booth Enhancements

Anyone can provide a big room with chairs and desks, but is that the best we can do as employers? Work booths and comfort-based enhancements aren’t about making employees too comfortable, but about enhancing thought processes and working practices.

Decide on a set of enhancements for your booth zones. These might include fresh water dispensers, heat pads to keep employees at a stable temperature and sensory aromatherapy. Noise-cancelling headphones should be standard equipment in each booth.

As odd as it sounds, listening to music or relaxation audio files can increase cerebral-task productivity up to threefold. Experiment with at-work audio via headsets and earbuds, and ask how it’s working out. Certain types of music or nature-based audio files stimulate different areas of the human brain, freeing up creativity and powers of calculation and reasoning. Employees should choose their own sounds, but what they play must be inaudible to anyone else, and a sing-song is strictly off the menu. Another benefit of employees wearing earphones is that others won’t disturb them. How often do you talk to someone if you know they’ll have to remove a pair of headphones first?

Feel free to experiment and encourage new ideas; you’ll be surprised at the feedback. The former lip-biters could be the first employees you promote, because you’ll see a real improvement in what they deliver, showing that some of your best workers’ brains may have been restricted by the environment in which they had operated. An added benefit is that your employees will find you a progressive, inspirational and encouraging boss.

Workplace Design: The Best of NeoCon 2017

The Staples Business Advantage™ furniture design team attended NeoCon 2017 in Chicago in June, North America’s most important design exposition and conference. Our team of experts visited the various showrooms to explore the latest trends in workspace furniture and office interior design.

Throughout the conference, our team gathered up insights and inspiration from top vendors like Allsteel, HON®, Global and National, among many others. We saw a continuation of some trends from 2016 into 2017, such as the emphasis on Me/We pieces and collaboration, while also spotting new emerging trends for 2017, such as the shift into “resommercial” spaces and the introduction of darker hues in fabric choices, compared to the brights of years past.

Here is a round-up of the top four trends and highlights of interest from our design team:

  1. Flexibility in Movement

A big focus from Lacasse was the STAD Collection, which offers multi-use furniture pieces with a professional lifestyle look and feel. Responding to the growing needs of today’s open office concept, the collection includes Me/We pieces that can be moved and reconfigured to create privacy when desired or collaborative areas, perfect for impromptu meeting spaces. It also features adjustable height tables, sectional seating and poufs for greater comfort and better posture. The addition of these pieces into the workplace is leading to a shift of traditional office space into a “resommercial” (residential + commercial) feel, through both space layout and furniture design.

A big part of this collection is the noise reduction and acoustical wall solutions, the perfect accessories for open office spaces that can get a little loud. The pieces from this collection were featured in a mix of finishes and materials, and in trending dark and warm colours, including green, dusty rose, rusty; a shift from the white and bright mix of recent years.

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2. Bringing Comfort to Healthcare

Lacasse featured some of the newer pieces to their Healthcare collection, which brings a sense of warmth and comfort to healthcare furniture. The warm fabric tones and textures of the lounge area pieces help create an at-home feel. All pieces from the healthcare line are excellent for environments such as laboratories, pharmacies, emergency and procedure rooms.

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3. A Focus on Education

Top vendors including HON, Global, National and Allsteel had a major focus on higher education as well as corporate office learning spaces, such as training rooms. Pieces from these lines focused on flexibility with the ability to adapt and move in order to suit different learning types. The influence of technology was seen throughout each of the collections, with special features such as convenient power outlets for on-the-go charging stations.


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4. Office Retreat

Allsteel introduced their new line of lounge furniture, Retreat. The Retreat collection includes a number of great collaboration pieces greatly suited for smaller square footage or multi-use and shared spaces such as offices or meeting rooms. With the clean, flexible design, these pieces help to make the most of underutilized spaces by creating a space within a space with pieces like the high back lounge chairs with generous privacy wings.

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Would you like to explore how you can introduce some of these elements into your workplace?  Speak to the experts. The furniture team at Staples Business Advantage can help. For more information visit: