How to Make Working Remotely Work For You

How to Make Working Remotely Work For You

The Staples Workplace Employee Survey found that more than 1 in 3 employers (35 percent) let their employees work remotely, and of those companies, 48 percent allow it more than once a week.

Telecommuting is a great perk, but you have to make sure you’re staying on task and not getting distracted by kids, loved ones or your movie collection. Below are three tips for making working at home work for you.

Communicate Throughout the Day

According to Forbes, teams best develop trust with their managers if they’re communicating well and often. This applies doubly when working remotely.

Many workplaces have multiple modes of communication: email, phone, chat, web and video conferencing, and they all have their place and purpose. It’s important to use each one wisely to make sure the message you’re sending is fully understood.

  • Email: Use email for sharing tactical information such as project updates and raw data that you might need to refer to again.
  • Phone: The phone is excellent for brainstorming or solving more complex problems.
  • Chat: Whether through Skype, Slack or something similar, if you need to check with a colleague or manager quickly about something, a chat program is a great tool.
  • Video conferencing: For boosting positive interactions among colleagues when an in-person meeting isn’t an option, video conferencing is a beneficial solution.
  • Screen sharing: This is useful when multiple people need to look at the same document or spreadsheet or you’re demonstrating a new feature.

Strive to Be Proactive

Working at home means you can’t count on running into someone in the break room or the hallway to talk about something. When in doubt or when you need to ask for clarification about something you’re working on, don’t hesitate to reach out to your manager or another colleague.

Put Together a Regular Routine – and Stick to It

Since you’re not in a hurry to catch the subway or beat the traffic, a regular routine can be one of the first things to go out the window when you’re out of office, and this can quickly add up to a lack of productivity and inefficiency.

Randstad recommends a number of ways to combat this, including a consistent start time, exercise and self-care and staying off e-mail before the workday starts. Designate break, meal and start and stop times to help you maintain your workflow.

References:

https://www.randstad.ca/workforce360-trends/archives/how-to-start-a-morning-routine-when-you-work-from-home_1661/

https://www.forbes.com/sites/jacquelynsmith/2013/10/16/14-tips-for-improving-your-relationship-with-your-boss/

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Awesome Workplace Design Tips for Happy, Healthy Productivity

Organizations are like living things that need to adapt and grow. Nonetheless, companies sometimes struggle to find a workplace design that’s vibrant and stimulating without being overwhelming.

In a recent STAPLES workplace survey, about half of the participants rated their company a C or lower in several categories, including:

  • Adequacy of personal and private spaces
  • Emphasis on employee health and wellness
  • Energizing and engaging workplace
  • Updated furniture, equipment and space

Luckily, there are some recent trends that can help designers overcome these challenges and create awesome workplaces.

Keep It Natural

Incorporate reclaimed wood panels, exposed concrete and floral patterns in artwork and fabric and use plants to decorate lobbies and work areas. Keeping it natural puts employees at ease and boosts productivity.

Optimize Lighting

Light affects our circadian rhythms and hormonal activity, so getting this right can boost energy, mood and productivity. Improve lighting in your office by:

  • Ensuring workstations have plenty of light without glare
  • Providing working areas with plenty of natural light
  • Installing circadian lighting systems
  • Using smart bulbs and LED lighting to produce more natural-looking lighting

Use Multipurpose Workspaces

Cubicles are disappearing. Their replacement is often a bench setup of multiple workstations. Non-assigned seating is gaining a foothold due to its emphasis on community, collaboration and socialization.

While multipurpose spaces are great for multimedia presentations and breakout areas, individual workstations can become noisy. If you’re considering this kind of layout, provide noise cancelling headsets for those who want to concentrate.

Mix Textures and Colours

Using different textures and colours in the workplace design adds variety and visual interest. It can increase creativity, wellness and productivity. Build functional areas with varying colour schemes and artwork and provide furniture that’s comfortable as well as visually appealing.

Retire Permanent Layouts

Flexibility is a growing trend taking over traditional office spaces. Modular components provide freedom to stack, mix and move furniture and storage units to suit changing purposes. This leads to a more dynamic and collaborative office.

Overall, a variety of working spaces and layouts ensure that individual employees can collaborate, focus and be more productive. Low-cost solutions can provide an impressive return on investment.

Photo courtesy by:

  • Stylex_SavaMesh_Setting01-MR-2700×1800.jpg
  • Stylex
  • Chairs: Sava Mesh

3 Ways Robotics Are Changing the Workplace

Artificial intelligence and robotics are changing the way we conduct business. From the self-serve ordering screens at fast food restaurants like McDonald’s to software bots automating tasks in offices across the country, technology is revolutionizing companies’ interactions with employees and consumers.

We’ve compiled some examples of the ways robots are transforming the workplace that may well come into play in your office very soon.

1. Bots Are Performing Repetitive Tasks

According to the Financial Times, an increasing number of offices are employing bots to take on the time-consuming and repetitive functions that have tied up worker productivity for decades. Currently, it’s mostly straightforward and relatively tedious tasks that are being automated in offices, such as transferring data from one place to another or electronic filing.

In the future, machines are likely to learn to perform the tasks of bank tellers, travel agents and even some of the work carried out by nurses and doctors. This could free up employees to focus their energy on more creative tasks, with the potential for increased job satisfaction and better morale.

2. Artificial Intelligence is Learning How to Target Ads to Consumers

Advertising and sales executives who analyze budgets, bid rates and the efficacy of ads on target audiences may soon be focusing their attention wholly on the creative side of their jobs. According to a recent article in Forbes Magazine, robots are now analyzing the impact of advertising on target audiences as well as performing tasks such as budget planning and bid rate management. One thing they can’t do, however, is create advertisements that capture the necessary human emotion to have a real impact on audiences.

3. Robots Assistants

In recent years, robots have been learning to communicate effectively with humans via telephone, email and online chat. Many businesses are employing robots to perform some of the tasks normally done by receptionists and administrative assistants, according to CBC Business, and that’s just one area of the job market that artificial intelligence is about to transform.

There are still plenty of functions in the modern workplace that artificial intelligence can’t fulfil just yet. Still, it will be crucial for workers of the near future to make sure they have relevant training and a flexible mindset to face the job market that automation is creating.

7 Easy Ways to Promote Healthy Eating Habits at Work

When you spend lots of time at the office, it’s easy to develop an unhealthy diet.  Choosing healthy meals is difficult for the many Canadians who eat lunch at their desks due to workplace pressures, and it’s often difficult to say no when generous colleagues bring in baked goods to share.

The combination of spending lots of time sitting at a desk and adding junk food to the mix is not good. Fortunately, there are several simple ways to boost your willpower.

Ditch Junk Food

Empty your desk drawers and candy bowl. Get rid of those chips, crackers and other gut busters you’ve stashed away for emergencies. The less junk food you eat, the healthier your overall diet becomes.

Make Time for Real Meals

It’s easy to give up lunch when you spend the day on the phone or in meetings. Block off 30 minutes to leave your desk and have a healthy meal. This raises your energy levels and helps you stay productive.

Bring Leftovers

Make extra food when you cook meals at home so you can pack leftovers for lunch. It’s also a good way to save money.

Plan Your Meals

Many people eat at least two meals and one or two snacks at work. If you plan ahead, you can come prepared and avoid trips to the vending machines.

Keep (Healthy) Snacks at Your Desk

It’s not as hard as you think to stay stocked up on healthy snacks. Get dried fruit, applesauce, snack bars, packaged tuna, jerky and nuts for your spare drawer. These might not be as healthy as fresh fruit or a nice salad, but they’re better than anything you’ll find in many vending machines.

Drink Lots of Water

Bring a full bottle of water to work each day and refill it as often as possible. Drink the recommended daily amount for your height and weight. This keeps you hydrated and full of energy — and you can also flavour it.

Choose Snacks Wisely

When planning what to eat for snacks, combine healthy fats, carbohydrates and lean proteins that boost your metabolism, keep energy levels high and help you feel full. A peanut butter and banana sandwich or an apple with some almonds are great snack choices.

The Top 8 Items on Your Employees’ Workplace Wish Lists

Happy employees produce better results so, as a business owner, it’s in your best interest to provide what they need. While conducting the STAPLES Workplace Employee Survey, released in March of 2018, researchers uncovered the items that employees want most to make their workplace a positive environment. There are many ways to improve productivity and work satisfaction for your team.

8. Outdoor Space

Sunlight and fresh air can have a dramatic effect on overall well-being. Providing an outdoor area for employees to soak in nature’s healing while they eat lunch or take their breaks improves mood and promotes harmony.

7. Updated Bathrooms

The quality of your restrooms can be a good indicator of the quality of your business. A clean bathroom in good repair gives your employees a comfortable place to retreat when nature calls.

6. A Private Place to Rest

Everyone needs a moment to recharge during the day, and your employees are no exception. Whether you offer a private break room or a fully outfitted wellness room, your workers need a calming place to catch their breath.

5. Food and Drink Options

Work takes energy, and recharging that energy takes fuel. Aside from scheduled lunches, employees sometimes need a snack or a drink to perk up their efforts. Having options available on-site ensures everyone has what they need to stay alert.

4. A Fitness Centre

Exercise promotes good health and keeps the mind alert. Providing an in-house fitness centre gives employees the chance to get their blood flowing on their breaks. Healthier employees mean fewer sick days, too.

3. Private or Personal Space

Individual space free your employees from the distractions of working too close together. Having a private area can also help creativity flow.

2. Ergonomic Furniture

Ergonomics promote comfort, pain relief and improved bone and joint health. Less pain leads to greater focus.

1. New Technology or Equipment

You can’t get the best out of your employees if their tools are out of date. That’s why this took the top spot as the most requested item. Update their equipment and technology to improve employee efficiency and productivity.

Four Great Marketing Tips for Intense Customer Engagement

Customer engagement is a crucial connection your customers develop with your brand. When you create highly engaged customers, they promote your brand to others and buy more of your products and services. Therefore, a quality customer experience is a win-win and should be part of every marketing strategy you implement.

What’s in It for Your Brand

An engaged customer base effectively become a community of brand ambassadors, and communities have conversations. Here are some things those conversations can do for your brand:

  • Drive excitement about new features and updates.
  • Elicit honest feedback on your products.
  • Generate more prospects and conversions by word-of-mouth.
  • Increase retention rates if this community feels like you listen and respond to them.

Humanize Your Brand

Customers love it when companies get engagement right. This is easy to do if you have a fun brand like Red Bull or Adidas, but any brand can generate buzz around product releases that solve problems for loyal customers.

Events, contests and social media play a part in giving your brand an identity. Forget cute campaigns that get attention but don’t hone in on product strengths. Instead, humanize your offerings in natural ways that resonate with your audience.

Create a Corporate Culture That’s Customer-Focused

Make sure you hire people who are excited about the product and committed to an amazing customer experience. Your customer support team forms the front line of your business, so empower them to solve problems.

Social Media that Wows

When you think of engaging content, reviews should be at the top of the list. Don’t just provide great content; give customers a chance to tell you what they need you to know. People leave comments and reviews to be part of a larger conversation sparked by your content. Plus, getting honest reactions from their family, friends and connections helps you figure out how well a campaign or product is going without forcing a reaction.

In-Product Messaging

With the internet delving into every nook and cranny of our world, connected products give you a great opportunity to send messages to your customers within the product experience. The conversion rates for this approach are high.

Using these tips, you can create meaningful interaction and encourage an intense customer engagement with your products.

The Strategic Role of the Office and Facilities Manager

Office and facility managers are widely recognized for playing a critical role in the workplace.  According to the Staples Business Advantage Workplace Employee Survey, 82% of Canadian office workers believe that the office and facility manager is vital to the success of their organization, and 65% see this individual as a “strategic employee who should be given the maximum resources they need to help grow the business.”

The value that these individuals provide, however, is often overlooked – while 74% would give their office and facility manager an “A” or “B” grade, 59% agree that the individual is under-appreciated in their organization.

Part of the issue is that office and facility manager job description covers such a wide range that few – only 22% of respondents – feel they have a complete picture of what these individuals do.  Typically, the responsibilities might include selection and provision of office furniture, equipping and supplying washrooms and break rooms, keeping technology up to date, procuring safety and medical supplies and equipment, or providing traditional office supplies.

As a single-source supplier to Canadian businesses, Staples Business Advantage Canada assists office and facility managers in all these areas, freeing them of the chores of working with multiple vendors and allowing them to focus on the strategic aspects of their job. This is evidenced by the growing number of businesses that are turning to Staples to take a more strategic role in helping their organizations become more successful.

The connections between the work of the office and facility manager and the success of the organization are many. The look and feel of the office, for example, can have significant impact on both employee retention and customer satisfaction, and the ability of the business to provide the tools employees need to do their job can be a major determinant for how well that organization serves its customers. Staples Business Advantages Canada is becoming an essential partner for a growing number of office and facility managers as they face the many expectations that these responsibilities entail.