Great Fitness Exercises for Authentic Team Bonding

Team-building exercises are ideal for promoting bonding within a group, but many of the most common activities inspire groans instead of excitement. Instead of the same old icebreaker challenges, why not set up some physical activities that get their adrenaline flowing and require cooperative efforts to complete?

Scavenger Hunt

Create a timed scavenger hunt and break your group into teams. You can set it up in a designated area as big or small as you want. Use clues instead of naming items, and be sure to include some that are ambiguous so teams have to work together to agree on their interpretation.

Tug-of-War

Tug-of-war is pretty basic and lets each team adjust their tactics in real time to beat their opponents. Have each team decide the placement of their members before beginning, and give them time to discuss their strategy.

Capture the Flag

This is a fast-paced game that requires collaborative efforts to win. Divide the group into two teams and place them at opposite ends of a designated area. This is their base and should have that team’s flag pinned somewhere. Teams have to advance to their opponent’s base to find the flag and bring it to their own base. Captured opponents must go to a penalty area until a teammate frees them. The first team to capture the other team’s flag wins. You can even add an extra flag for each team to increase the challenge.

Commercial Adventures

If setting up team building exercises isn’t your thing, you can take advantage of physical challenges available in your area. White water rafting requires synchronicity and communication. Paintball fights encourage communication and delegation. Escape the Room adventures require group problem-solving, time management, delegation and critical thinking. Check your local area for group activities that can challenge your team to work together in new ways.

For a company to run efficiently, coworkers should work and communicate well with each other. Physical team-building exercises are a great way to help employees bond, instill trust and determine the strengths and weaknesses of each team member. The result is a team that knows how to work together to get the best results for your company.

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Fantastic Remedies for Distraction That Will Supercharge Your Productivity

According to a recent STAPLES Workplace Employee Survey, many workplaces are so noisy that employees leave the building to take work calls or wear noise-canceling headphones so they can concentrate. If you work in an open office or are bombarded by emails, teleconferences and instant messages all day, you’re probably distracted a lot. There are several ways to increase productivity while putting distraction on the back burner.

Get Off the Grid

You can’t do anything if you’re constantly putting out fires or stuck in meetings. Every time you check your mail or pick up the phone, you lose productivity. The solution is simple: Turn off your phone, close your email browser and get your work done. You’ll find things go a lot faster once you’re free to concentrate without these distractions.

Quiet Your Workspace

If working remotely isn’t an option, you have to find a quieter place at work. Look for conference rooms and quiet break rooms you can book or take over during crunch times. If you have an office but an open-door policy is killing your productivity, it’s time to shut the door. If you feel bad, you can always post a paper clock marked with a good time for visitors to come back.

Hold Standing Meetings

Instead of weekly staff meetings, try a few shorter standing sessions to give everyone a chance to voice their top concerns and concisely ask for help. Standing keeps people from getting too comfortable, so everyone is encouraged to resolve issues efficiently.

Multitasking is a Myth

When you multitask, everything takes twice as long. Every time you switch tasks, you disrupt your train of thought and have to start over. Instead, focus on completing one task at a time.

Give Yourself Lots of Breaks

A tired brain is an unproductive one. It’s hard to finish writing a paper or report if you’re doing head bobs. Take at least 10 minutes to recharge with a walk or a healthy snack.

By removing distractions and getting work done quickly, you become far more productive than ever, so don’t be afraid to set some boundaries.

For more workplace trends visit https://www.staplesbusinessadvantage.ca/workplace-employee-survey/ to download our full Staples Employee Workplace Survey report.

How New Office Tech Will Transform Your Business

Finding ways to streamline your business and maximize efficiency is the mark of a good entrepreneur. However, if you aren’t investing in new office technology, you’re missing out on benefits that could revolutionize your company.

Streamline Paperwork

The current advancement of technology renders many of the most common paperwork organization tools obsolete. Replacing these with their tech equivalents will let your business operate more efficiently and save you time and space. Some tech replacements include:

  • Computer filing systems to replace your filing cabinet. This saves floor space and makes it easier to find and share the files you need. Older paper files can be transferred to the new system by scanning.
  • Form creation software negates the need for pre-ordered stacks of printed forms. Instead, print forms as you need them and make immediate adjustments when necessary. Forms and contracts can be created for online completion, and some programs allow clients to sign legally binding contracts on a computer.

Enhance Communication

Advancements in communication let you connect with clients and colleagues almost anywhere in the world.  Teleconferencing tools and equipment provide several advantages:

  • Conference software has video and audio capability, can record meetings to review later and often allows file sharing.
  • Some offer collaborative tools so team members can work on a shared document together, with changes being made in real time.
  • Depending on your industry, you may be able to allow employees to work remotely from their homes, reducing the amount of office space and on-site resources needed.

Improve Project Collaboration

Project management technology lets business owners delegate tasks and track the time investment from each team member. Breaking a large project up into milestones can start and maintain a feeling of accomplishment, giving the team momentum until project completion. Most project management software enables report generation, completion measurements and collaborative messaging tools.

These are just a few ways new office technology can help your business run more efficiently. Whatever your needs may be, there are technology advancements available to save you time, effort and resources.

Summer Reads Can Sharpen Your Mind

Some industries find summer to be the busiest time of year, while others experience a summer slowdown. If you’re working for a business that tends to hit a lull during June, July and August, consider creating a summer reading list. This seemingly simple activity can do wonders to keep your mind active and assist in recharging your professional batteries. Here are three surprising ways that summer reading sharpens your mind.

1. Reading Keeps Your Brain in Shape

Reading keeps you healthy. It’s like a workout for your brain, helping to keep your mind sharp and giving you a fresh new perspective to take back to the office when things start ramping up again.

What should you read? Anything and everything. Perhaps you’d enjoy a simple escapist beach read or you’re a small business owner interested in a self-help title to get you to your professional goals. Whatever it is, reading is a brain-stimulating activity that may even preserve your memory as you age.

2. Reading Impacts Communication Skills

Many literacy studies show that reading helps people process information verbally and visually. It improves every aspect of communication, and this is important for business leaders and employees who work closely with others each day, interacting with them in a variety of ways. Improving communication skills can boost your work performance and help you stay productive during crunch times.

3. Reading Can Improve Connectivity Between Brain Circuits

It sounds like a lot of scientific jargon, but reading can help you think about other work-related situations in new, creative ways. The book you pick up on your weekend getaway can help you perform better at work and be more successful at problem-solving.

So while you’re planning an upcoming summer trip, don’t forget to pack something to read. It may have more impact on your work performance than you realize.

Smart Vacation Habits For Employees

If you’re like most business professionals, you wait all year for some much-deserved time off from your usual work routine. According to the 2018 STAPLES Workplace Employee Survey, 75 percent of employees find it easy to disconnect while on vacation. And those who are stuck at the office during the traditional summer slowdown find they can focus on work tasks while the office is quieter.

To maximize your opportunity to recharge your professional batteries, you’ll find there are a variety of smart vacation habits you can adopt.

Keep Up Your Fitness Routine

Some people tend to let exercise habits go by the wayside when they’re on vacation, but instead, you should continue engaging in your daily walk or run. Exercise builds stamina and increases your energy levels for the rest of the day. Even if you’re lounging at the beach, you can stay awake for a chapter or two of your favourite summer read.

Acknowledge the Experience

“Live in the moment” really applies here — take in all the sights, sounds and smells of your vacation, and try to commit them to memory. Occasionally, while you’re enjoying a quiet moment, clear your mind of everything and focus on appreciating how you feel. You’ll find that pleasant memory easier to recall when you return to the office refreshed.

Completely Disconnect

The STAPLES Workplace Employee Survey found that employees have no problems with disconnecting from the office during a much-needed vacation. Consider these stats from the survey results:

  • 43 percent set up an out-of-office email message
  • 39 percent don’t respond to emails or phone calls if they’re contacted
  • 25 percent don’t bring their computers with them when they travel for leisure
  • 17 percent schedule important deadlines around their vacation schedule

When you disconnect from the office, you ensure your vacation is restful, relaxing and truly allows you to recharge so you can return with a fresh perspective.

Eat Well

For many people, vacation is a time of indulgence, and that includes food. Allow yourself the frozen treats, buffets and drinks, but be sure to mix in some fresh fruits and vegetables so you don’t steer yourself too far off the rails. Opting for incomplete meals or fast food might provide small bursts of energy, but they’ll leave you feeling groggy and grouchy later. Pack healthy power snacks, and be sure to stay hydrated, especially in warmer climates.

Use these four smart vacation habits, and you’ll return to the office with a fresh perspective, feeling energized and ready to take on new work-related challenges.

Health & Safety at Work

Everyone has the right to enjoy a safe and healthy work environment. Whether you want to make sure you have all the basics covered or you want to delve deeper into a certain health and safety area, check out our four workplace safety tips to improve the health and overall well-being of your workforce.

1. Know the Hazards

The easiest way to reduce the risk of workplace-related injury or illness is to be aware of the potential hazards your company faces. Staples Business Advantage asked its Canadian employees through a workplace survey about their opinions on various topics, including health and safety at work and what they deem to be important. Results from surveys like these can help you figure out what to focus on in a health and safety program.

2. Look for Ways to Reduce Workplace Stress

In the Staples Workplace Employee Survey, 72 percent of employees say that stress depletes work health and vitality, and 60 percent believe that experiencing stress at work inhibits learning and growth. Research supports these findings: Job stress has been linked to health problems, higher health care costs and increased risk of workplace accidents.

Try these strategies to help reduce workplace stress:

  • Encourage movement: Taking frequent walks can make a difference in employee productivity.
  • Foster positive relationships among coworkers.
  • Make it easy for employees to eat nutritious foods throughout the day.
  • Provide a wellness room.
  • Support taking mental health days and vacations when employees need a break and are stretched too thin.

3. Create a Wellness Room

A wellness room can be a great way to combat work-related stress and help workers recharge. Here are some examples of what might be included in a wellness room:

  • Comfortable seating
  • General privacy
  • A refrigerator and sink

A wellness room is also useful for breastfeeding mothers or employees who need to self-administer medication.

4. Recognize the Employers’ Responsibility in Health and Safety

A big takeaway from the Workplace Employee Survey is that 81 percent of employees expect their employers to take measures to keep them mentally and physically well. While employees certainly have to take some responsibility, employers can make positive changes to ensure their employees’ health and wellness needs are met.

Health Benefits of a Standing Desk

Did you know that someone with a desk job can spend more hours sitting than they do sleeping, 7-10 hours a day. The standing desk became popular about a decade ago as a way to break this sedentary pattern. How well has that solution stood up, so to speak, over time? Here we review some of the key health benefits of a standing desk.

Standing Lowers Your Obesity Risk

Sitting too much increases all sorts of health risks, including the risk of obesity, and exercise alone can’t compensate for its effects. Standing every so often while you work can burn enough extra calories to offset some of that risk. It’s true even if your job is otherwise stationary.

A More Active Workstation Improves Your Circulation

One of the bigger drawbacks of sitting too much is increased chance of cardiovascular disease because of the way chairs can interfere with your circulation. Standing and moving provide you with better circulation and more energy during the workday.

More Energy, Better Mood

One of the best-known benefits of exercise is that it provides higher energy levels and an elevated mood. This is true even if all you do is choose standing over sitting. Having more energy and being more productive makes for a better working day all around.

Other Factors to Think About

Though there are obvious benefits to a standing desk, it’s not an instant cure-all. Any office solution that radically changes your lifestyle needs an informed approach.

  • Standing too much can carry its own health risks, especially if your body isn’t prepared. You may need to ease yourself into a standing-desk lifestyle.
  • It’s important to ensure a standing desk is set up properly. If the ergonomics are wrong, or the required accessories like cushioning to avoid foot pain are absent, it can create problems.
  • You may want to alternate between standing and sitting. If you can’t commit to seven or eight hours of standing in a day, you might try a sit-stand desk that lets you split the difference.

With those caveats in mind, standing desks are clearly still an interesting option for better office health.