4 Best Ways a Small Business Can Prepare for Winter

Winter is fast approaching, but there’s still time for small-business owners to prepare. To protect your business, employees and customers, take these four steps to prepare for winter.

1. Maintain Your Property

During the winter months, snow and ice can create potentially hazardous conditions for your employees and customers. Treating fall-related injuries costs Canadians an estimated $2.8 billion per year, so it’s important to maintain your property. Remove ice and snow as soon as possible, and apply salt or sand as needed. To help visitors navigate potentially slippery conditions, ensure your outdoor areas, such as walkways and parking lots, are well lit.

2. Inspect Your HVAC System

Some Canadian jurisdictions have laws about minimum indoor temperatures, but even in workplaces where these laws don’t apply, it’s smart to keep your employees comfortable in the frigid winter months. To ensure your building’s heating system is up to the task, get it inspected before the temperature drops. Fall is a great time to change the filters or perform other small repairs. If larger problems are discovered, there’s time to replace the system before winter.

3. Revisit Your Insurance Policy

Winter storms can cause roof damage, frozen pipes and other problems, so before the cold weather arrives, revisit your insurance policy. Get a copy of the policy and check what types of damage are covered. If necessary, make changes to the policy to ensure your business is covered. Take photographs of the building and its contents so that you’re prepared to file a claim.

4. Create a Severe Weather Policy

Blizzards, ice storms and snow squalls can leave employees wondering what to do, so before winter arrives, create a severe weather policy that answers their questions. Identify the weather conditions, such as snowfall totals or temperatures, that will make you close your business. Decide how you’ll let employees know about the closure. If it makes sense for your business, let employees work from home on these days. Set up remote logins, file sharing utilities and video conferencing apps so employees are prepared to be productive on snow days.

Winter will be here before you know it, so be proactive and take steps to prepare your business for the cold, snowy conditions.

How To Convince Your Employer About Flexible Working

At some point, you may realize that sustaining a “nine-to-five” job doesn’t fit into your lifestyle and career goals for one reason or another. However, even the most supportive managers may need some convincing before they agree to a flexible working arrangement.

Here are the steps to take to show your boss that a flexible working schedule is the best way forward.

1. Prepare a detailed description of your desired flexible work arrangement

Carefully determine the type of flexible working schedule that meets the needs of your employer and also fits your career and lifestyle goals. Your proposed working schedule may involve working a few days a week from home or working more days in the office and leaving earlier. Give it enough thought and be clear when presenting it without being too rigid about what can work for you.

2. Show your boss how your proposed work arrangement will improve your efficiency

Provide specific scenarios and give relevant examples of how the flexible work arrangement you’re proposing has worked in comparable cases. Show your boss what steps you’ll take to make sure that your projects don’t fall behind. Outlining how the arrangement benefits you and the company is crucial as it demonstrates how much you value your work and the success of your team.

3. Anticipate your boss’s potential objections and prepare compelling responses

Take your employer’s perspective and think about objections that they may raise against your proposed flexible working arrangement. Research and come up with compelling answers to address these objections, and develop a detailed plan for alleviating concerns your boss may have. You want to make it evident that you’ve given thought to all the risks of the arrangement and that you can handle them.

4. Propose a six-month trial period for the arrangement with extension pegged on your performance

One of the ways of mitigating the perceived risks of your proposed flexible working arrangement is suggesting that you and your employer test the arrangement for six months. After that period, you can decide whether to extend it and what adjustments need to be made. It’s essential that you demonstrate your flexibility and willingness to craft an arrangement that serves your needs as well as those of your employer.

The bottom line

Hard work, some creativity and a show of commitment are among the things that will increase the likelihood that you and your employer will come up with a flexible working arrangement that benefits you and the company.

4 Ways You Can Foster Creativity in Your Company

According to Adobe’s global research on creativity, 8 out of 10 people believe that creativity is crucial to economic growth. However, only one out of four people feels they are fulfilling their creative potential. The other three reported that their workplaces push for productivity over creativity.

Creativity is the capacity to analyze methods or practices and figure out how to enhance them. It is indeed an asset, a vital component of a company’s growth strategy. The progress of any business depends on creativity. Change is a constant in every sector, so businesses that promote ingenuity can embrace change and drive innovation.

Encouraging originality also helps employees feel more fulfilled and engaged in your organization. Gallup mentions three factors that employers need to provide in promoting creativity: expectations, time and freedom to be creative in the workplace. Here are four ways you can help your workers tap into their creative geniuses and combine them to boost morale, productivity and profitability:

1. Reward New Ideas

Offer incentives for novel ideas. Incentives can include public recognition, gift cards, profit-sharing or other tangible rewards. Employees are more likely to invest their creativity into your business when they are assured of an immediate return.

2. Allocate Time for Everyone

High-level managers usually schedule time for thinking creatively because developing the business’s vision is a major role for them. Building a culture of creativity throughout your company requires that every worker has time on the clock to devote to creativity and collaboration. While you won’t be able to assess the profitability of this in monetary terms, you can observe the level of team engagement or how many ideas arise.

3. Mix Up Think Tanks

When people have been working closely for a long time, they tend to think along the same lines. Studies show that creative groups thrive with a mix of familiar co-workers and newer members. This arrangement provides a productive combination of stability and freshness to the collaboration process.

4. Follow Through

As a business leader, you need to develop a system for evaluating new ideas for practicality and alignment with business goals. Those who offer unfeasible ideas should understand thoroughly why their idea won’t be pursued. A culture that treats each idea respectfully can foster creative energy.

5 Useful Tips for Getting Your Work Groove Back

We all need to take a break from work from time to time. Whether you travel, party or just rest at home, that inevitable moment comes when you have to return to work. You don’t want it to catch you unawares, so here are five tips for switching back to work mode.

1. Use the Eisenhower Matrix

Your tasks at work vary in urgency and importance, so you need to prioritize. Use the Eisenhower Matrix to divide your tasks into four categories: Do First, Schedule, Delegate, Don’t Do. Start working on important, urgent tasks immediately. Set a later time to do important, non-urgent tasks. Delegate or outsource urgent but less important tasks. Delete unimportant, non-urgent tasks from your to-do list.

2. Set clear boundaries around your work time

If some of your friends and family are still in the holiday mood, find an empathetic way of letting them know that you need to focus on work and may not be as available as you were while you were on break. Disable notifications and use apps like Freedom and Anti-Social to block out online distractions such as aimless browsing and social media.

3. Find ways to stay inspired

Work hums when you’re inspired. Elevated by the feeling that our company is making good use of our talents, we feel a strong sense of purpose. Avoid feeling stuck and uninspired by taking deliberate steps to improve your work environment. Create an inspirational routine that involves attending professional gatherings, reading books, taking classes and so on. Most people can find an hour in a week to devote to insight-inspiring activities.

4. Practice self-care to avoid burnout

Overworking yourself can harm your health in the short and long term. Practice self-care to reduce the negative effects of work-related stress. There are many activities you can do to promote physical, psychological and spiritual nourishment:

  • Take a walk during lunch hour.
  • Practice meditation.
  • Create time to spend with friends and family over the weekends.
  • Make sure you get enough sleep (ideally 7-9 hours).
  • Eat healthy meals.

5. Use a daily planner

Staying organized is important, especially if you’re a busy entrepreneur, freelancer or corporate professional. Not many people have the mental capacity to keep track of all their personal and professional obligations. That’s why the most productive people use daily planners to maintain effective schedules, boost their creativity, manage their stress level, track their health, exercise their creativity and keep reliable records.

 

Product Spotlight

6 Mistakes to Avoid When Working Remotely

Remote working and telecommuting are becoming increasingly common. As a remote worker, you need to do certain things to maintain a healthy relationship with your colleagues and managers at the office. Here are six mistakes you should avoid making when working remotely.

1. Maintaining the Same Routine

Avoid keeping the same routine after you shift to a remote working position. Add intentional networking to your schedule to maintain a healthy relationship with your co-workers. Consider scheduling more interactions with your managers to clarify your priorities, get informal feedback and keep up with office news related to your role.

2. Not Getting Enough Breaks

You can lose track of time when working remotely because there are no colleagues to invite you to join them for lunch or a break. Schedule time to eat, hydrate, move and stretch throughout the day. Many remote workers struggle with maintaining mobility and good health in their work environments. Additionally, taking frequent breaks from screens helps reduce eyestrain.

3. Using Your Bed or Couch as Your Desk

Dedicate an area in your home for work, and keep all the materials you need in that space. Your bed isn’t meant to be a working space. Unless mobility challenges limit you to working from your couch or bed, keep a separate place for work and non-work-related activities in your home.

4. Failing to Learn Conference Call Etiquette

As a remote worker, much of your communication with colleagues and managers may be through conference calls. Make sure your presence is appreciated, and set yourself apart by learning conference call etiquette such as announcing yourself appropriately, preparing well for meetings and using the mute button to mask unpleasant sounds from your environment.

5. Working in Pyjamas

One of the advantages of remote work is it lets you be flexible with your wardrobe. But keep in mind that your clothing affects your performance. While there’s no universal dress code for remote workers, it’s a good idea to dress neatly to maintain clarity of mind.

6. Staying Isolated at Home

Spending too much time in your home office can lead to isolation and loneliness. Find opportunities to switch up your work environment. If you miss your lunchtime interactions with your colleagues at the office, schedule lunch with others and make time for social events related to your field. You can also consider joining a nearby co-working space where you can work around other professionals.

Follow these tips to make working from home both pleasant and productive.

6 Benefits of Using a Daily Planner

When you lead a busy life, it’s essential that you keep it organized. Very few people have the cognitive capacity to keep track of all the demands of career, family and social life. For that, you need a daily planner. Here are six reasons why.

1. Maintain Effective Schedules

Effective scheduling is a crucial part of time management. You achieve the best results when you prioritize and plan your tasks before working on them. Using a daily planner to schedule the exact time for office tasks, personal errands, appointments and so on ensures that you prepare well for these events.

2. Enhance Your Productivity

Your level of productivity has a direct effect on your professional and personal lives. At work, being highly productive lets you complete your tasks and projects on time. High productivity at home ensures you’re not overwhelmed by chores and other household duties. A daily planner helps you stay on top of tasks at work and home by organizing them efficiently.

3. Manage Your Stress Levels

We all feel the pressure of stress from time to time. One of the most common causes of stress is having a hectic schedule that drains you physically and emotionally. Your daily planner helps you plan important tasks so that you don’t have to deal with the anxiety and fear of failing to meet your obligations.

4. Enjoy Many Health Benefits

You can use a daily planner to track and plan your diet, sleep and exercise. You’ll get your vitamin D and plenty of fresh air when you schedule time to spend outdoors. Use some of the pages in the planner for daily journaling, which can be quite cathartic.

5. Exercise Your Creativity

Setting a firm schedule for all your compulsory activities at work and home helps you find time for creative endeavours such as learning a new skill or engaging in a hobby. The daily planner itself can serve as a canvas on which to express your creativity by adding decorative items such as pictures, art and stickers.

6. Maintain Reliable Records

Many productive people used their daily planners as a record for notes, appointments and tasks. For example, if you can’t remember when you last reviewed one of your important goals, you can check your daily planner. You can also keep track of how long it’s been since you spent time with a family member or close friend.

Enjoy many productivity and health benefits by starting to use a daily planner today to schedule your activities and keep records.

6 Tips for Staying Healthy in the Fall

You’ve been actively participating in healthy outdoor activities in the summer, but your motivation might be taking a hit as the fall starts and work routines get back to normal. Here are six ways to maintain a healthy lifestyle in the fall.

1. Be Firm About Your Bedtime

With school back in session, many parents set a routine and bedtime for their kids. You should do the same for yourself. Give your mind and body time to heal with seven to nine hours of quality sleep. Proper sleep boosts your immune system and reduces risks to your health.

2. Prepare Dinner and Breakfast Together

Start your healthy morning routine the night before by making breakfast as soon as you finish dinner. Satisfying high-protein breakfast options for the fall include breakfast burritos, chia pudding, mini quiches and overnight oats. You’re less likely to grab an unhealthy snack on your way to work if you have a healthy breakfast ready when you wake up.

3. Set Up a Games Area

Sustained social interactions with your family and friends help you maintain good mental and emotional health. As the weather chills in the fall, create engaging social spaces in your home. Make it easy to transform your dining area into a board game area, and invite friends and family for some relaxing hangout time.

4. Get Your Flu Shot

The flu is common during the fall and winter. Protect yourself by getting your flu shot early. This respiratory infection is highly contagious, and it causes great discomfort at the very least and can lead to severe health complications. Getting your flu shot lowers the risk of missing workdays due to flu-related complications.

5. Visit the Fall Farmers Market

We all love our summer fruits, but the fall also brings with it a host of fresh, delicious produce such as apples, pears, onions, beets and squash. Use these nutritious whole foods in your snacks and meals. Steer clear of processed foods that are laden with artificial ingredients, have a high fat content and are low in important nutrients.

6. Try Some Indoor Workouts

It’s easy to let the fitness momentum you had going in the summer wane as it gets chillier outside in the fall. Keep up the momentum by bringing your workouts indoors; find YouTube exercises for work or home or download apps for workouts, yoga and meditation.

6 Life Hacks to Maximize Your Productivity

Improving your productivity helps you accomplish more at work and at home. Productivity life hacks cover everything from better ways of planning your work, study and chores to more effective ways of doing the task. Here are six hacks to increase your efficiency.

1. Forget About Multitasking

Your productivity falls up to 40% when you multitask, so focus on one task at a time. Multitasking is an illusion. In reality, you’re simply switching from one task to another, and your brain takes several minutes to settle on the new task. When you prioritize your tasks and focus on them one at a time, your productivity improves noticeably.

2. Disable Unnecessary Notifications

Cut down on notifications on your computer and mobile devices. Don’t give every website and app permission to interrupt you anytime. You can put a lid on apps that are relentless about posting notifications by using the “do not disturb” features and notification management tools available on Android, iOS, Windows and Mac.

3. Use Keyboard Shortcuts

You’ll be surprised by how much faster you can work when you use keyboard shortcuts on browsers, Windows and Mac. The few seconds you save from not using the mouse or trackpad to click around menus add up to hours over time.

4. Set Up Aggressive Email Filters

All major email clients provide an email filtering feature to organize your inbox. One effective way to manage your mail is setting up different accounts for different purposes (work, newsletters, family/friends) and using one app to manage all the addresses.

5. Use the Pomodoro Technique

The Pomodoro Technique is a time-management method that helps you complete projects faster by maintaining focus. The process involves budgeting your time into a “Pomodoro” (25-minute period for work) followed by a five-minute break. After three or four Pomodoros, you take a break for 15 to 20 minutes. This technique improves your productivity because the frequent breaks keep your mind fresh so it’s easier to remain focused.

6. Use Your Downtime to Learn Something New

Productive people are always looking to learn something new during downtime while commuting, waiting in line and so on. Don’t let the time pass as you scroll your social media feed, check your mail or stare out the window. Instead, read an article or e-book or listen to an audiobook or podcast.

Using these tips will help you complete your tasks at work and at home faster and get the best possible results.

Millennials & Generation Z in the Workplace: 3 Ways to Support Their Productivity

It’s not uncommon to see three or four generations at work these days. According to the Pugh Research Center, millennials were born from 1981 to 1997, and many have dubbed the newest generation Gen Z. Gen Xers born between 1965 and 1980, and the post-WWII baby boomers often share office space with these younger generations.

These groups may have different priorities, making it difficult for employers to create a more inviting workplace that appeals to everyone. Here are some tips to support the productivity of multigenerational workplaces:

1. Keep Office Furniture and Technology Updated

According to the Staples 2019 Canadian Workplace Survey, new technology and equipment and ergonomic furniture were the top priorities of all age groups. However, millennials preferred open workspaces more than previous generations.

Younger, tech-savvy Gen Z employees were born into the digital age. They are excited to try out new tools and the latest gadgets and apps. Feeding their need for tech is one key to keeping Gen Z happy in the workplace.

2. Prepare Millennial Managers for Gen Z

As millennials enter their mid-30s, they are beginning to manage Gen Z employees. To succeed, managers should understand that Gen Z responds to face-to-face communications but also has an entrepreneurial streak. This interesting dichotomy in working style can lead to misunderstandings. To be successful, millennial managers should cater to Gen Z’s desire for mentorship and communication. The good news is that 77% of them are prepared to work harder than previous generations to earn their place at the table.

3. Support Social Causes and Sustainability

About 30% of Gen Z workers surveyed said they would take a pay cut to work for a company with a mission they cared deeply about. This generation grew up hearing about the importance of climate change and social causes. Companies that take care to reduce their carbon footprint, source material locally and act as good stewards of the environment are likely to win the loyalty of both Gen Z and millennials with a deep commitment to their core values.

Creating a more inviting workplace and culture can improve retention and productivity. Companies that wish to create a productive space for multiple generations can also ask their employees what’s important to them and slowly integrate changes, such as creating spaces suited for a variety of work styles, including socialization, concentration, collaboration and training.

Must-Have Items For Your Fall Marketing Calendar

The fall brings with it many opportunities for marketing. Everyone’s starting afresh: kids are heading back to school, and people have returned from vacation. Here are some marketing ideas to include in your calendar for the season.

1. Run a Contest on Instagram

Invite your followers to post their pictures as they engage in fall activities they enjoy with a hashtag of your choosing. Select a winner, repost their photo on your account and give them a gift.

2. Sponsor a Local Team

Provide young athletes with support in a way that’s relevant to your business. For instance, if you sell women’s apparel, consider partnering with a local girls’ soccer team. Maybe you operate a restaurant; make it the official spot for parents and players to hang out before and after the game.

3. Place Ads on Local blogs

Find the most popular blogs in your community that align with your business, and place ads for special promotions for the readers. In addition to inexpensive rates, these blogs can help you expand your reach to your target market.

4. Celebrate Holidays Other than Just the Popular Ones

We all love Halloween and Thanksgiving, but you can set yourself apart with fun holidays that align with your business and lend themselves well to social media marketing. Examples include International Coffee Day and International Day of the Girl Child.

5. Make Seasonal Pitches to the Media

Reach out to popular TV/radio stations and popular podcasters and YouTubers to pitch seasonal stories, such as seasonal recipes and fashion updates, that are relevant to your brand.

6. Hire Top Talent

You might be in need of a new social media manager, graphic designer, product photographer and so on. Reach out to local design school, colleges and even high school, and hire young talent to inject fresh perspectives into your business.

7. Make Donations to Auctions

Many charity organizations and learning institutions run fundraisers in the fall. Consider reaching out to our favorite organizations and offering your products for silent auctions or raffles. You’re not only being a good neighbor but also raising your brand awareness.

The Bottom Line

As the fall sets off the holiday season and consumers’ attention shifts toward product and services related to the season, smart marketers jump at the chance to capitalize off these trends. The online and offline campaigns mentioned can you help you grow your audience and access a larger market, ultimately improving your sales.