How to Create an Inspiring Workplace in 5 Easy Steps

The open office concept’s rise in popularity has come into question over the last few years, as many question the impact an open office design has on employee productivity. But on the flip side, a closed office layout decreases the opportunities for collaboration and spontaneous brainstorming.  So what layout option works best? Which one will inspire employees to do their best work? The 2016 Workplace Index surveyed a mix of managers and workers to find out.

The Workplace Index findings pointed to a split decision when it came down to the preference of the office floorplan layout and design. When asked what the preference would be, 34% said an open floor plan, 32% selected a closed floor plan, and 34% chose a hybrid option – an office floor plan consisting of fully enclosed office spaces or cubicles as well as open spaces.

Perhaps of equal importance to floorplan flow, those surveyed pointed to a number of features of an office that provide inspiration and add to productivity. Whether stationed in a cubicle or corner office, the following features were among the top rated in terms of what workers and managers are looking for:

  1. Natural light – 43% of survey respondents listed natural light as a feature in the office that they would like to have access to. Natural light is known to boost productivity and creativity among office workers.
  2. Private space – those who participated in the survey noted that they would like to have access to private space to get work done. In fact, 34% listed this as a preferred feature.
  3. Standing desks – the battle of sitting all day continues; 31% noted that a standing desk would be something they would like to have access to.
  4. Lounge areas – while private space allows workers to get their most pressing work done, lounge areas that promote collaboration were also requested by 30% of respondents.
  5. Flexible furniture for multiple uses – in addition to standard office furniture (cubicles, desks, chairs), respondents were looking for furniture that can adapt to their tasks.

Want to explore how you can introduce some of these elements into your workplace? Speak to the experts. The furniture team at Staples Business AdvantageTM can help. For more information, visit: StaplesBusinessAdvantage.ca/Furniture.

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6 Tips to Master Your Time Management

In today’s busy office, what we all feel like we could use more of is time. Many workplaces are dealing with tighter budgets, a scaled down workforce, increased workload, and greater expectations to perform. We can learn all the tricks there are to perform our tasks more efficiently and streamline systems to get more done, but at the end of the day the most important aspect to fitting everything in to your work week is time management. If we can master the planning of our schedules, we just might be a little better off.

6 Tips to Better Manage Your Workday:

  • Take 15 minutes at the end of each day to schedule your workflow for the following day. Writing down important tasks for the next business day will also help alleviate stress once you leave the office for the evening.
  • Don’t book yourself back to back – allow room in your day for interruptions from colleagues, sending and answering emails and even unexpected phone calls.
  • Allow for flexibility – slot space in your calendar for breaks, lunch out of the office, and last minute projects. Giving yourself the extra time in your calendar for extra projects can help manage the stress that comes along with these unexpected requests.
  • Be realistic with the time it takes to get something done. Short scheduling or thinking you can rush through a task won’t help you in the long run.
  • Get the most important tasks done at the beginning of the day. That way if you do run over or out of time, you can reschedule some of the less important tasks for the following day.
  • Make the commitment to yourself to stick to the schedule you set out. Skipping one or two tasks for the day will only make the to-do list for the following days grow longer.

Product Spotlight – shop these favourite products to help you master time management:

DAY-TIMER Solstice Starter Set
daytimer

fILOFAX Weekly Planners, Fuchsia
filo

AT-A-GLANCE Marrakesh Collection, Weekly/Monthly Plannerataglance

What are you best time management tips? Share them with us in the comments below, or tweet us @StaplesBusAdv!

NeoCon 2016 Recap: Top Trends & Innovations for Office Design

The furniture team from Staples Business Advantage was in Chicago in June to attend NeoCon 2016, 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 few days we were at NeoCon 2016, we gathered up heaps of inspiration and insights from top vendors like Allsteel, HON, Global, Via Seating, Arcadia, Safco, and many others.

This recap from our time at NeoCon explores active seating options, how to introduce pops of colour into your workplace, communal workspaces, and how to plan your office layout to optimize employee productivity.

Perching vs Sitting
Safco was a hub of activity with their newly acquired line of Focal Upright seating options that they’ve added to the Safco Active family. This collection brings together products that promote movement throughout the workday by standing, active sitting and perching. The products make healthy happen through small changes that add up to make a big impact on your work and life. As studies and news outlets continue to report the importance of movement throughout the workday, Safco Active is focused on providing solutions to keep user’s bodies actively engaged while keeping in mind how and where users work.
SafcoSource: http://www.safcoproducts.com/pr-201605-safco-acquires-focal

Bringing Colour into the Workplace
Global Furniture Group brought a sleek and modern approach to their NeoCon showroom, infusing pops of colour into traditional office furniture pieces. Blues, yellows and plaid patterns made an appearance, bringing a fun twist to the standard selection of workplace furniture.
Global1
Source: facebook.com/globalfurnituregroup

Global’s new River system introduces customizable lounge furniture pieces in a range of colours and layout options. The River collection brings people together in a place where ideas, insight and inspiration can be shared. River supports an endless array of curvilinear and rectilinear configurations with three back heights and benches. Seating and tables can be specified with power and USB outlets for mobile devices.
Global2Source: facebook.com/globalfurnituregroup

Workplace Productivity
In recent years, employers have been searching for the key ingredients that will help employees do their best work. Many workplaces are dealing with tighter budgets, a scaled down workforce, increased workload, and greater expectations to perform. If we’re putting more pressure on our employees, how do we support them to keep performance and productivity levels high? Is there a proven method for measuring performance? In a recent global research review, Allsteel went in search of scientific answers to backup this very question.
The study uncovered six key factors that have the highest statistical association with the performance of teams:

  • Social Cohesion
  • Perceived Supervisory Support
  • Information Sharing
  • Vision and Goal Clarity
  • External Outreach
  • Trust

These insights help us to approach office design and layout for optimal productivity levels as proven through the research.
Allsteel
Source: http://www.allsteeloffice.com/neocon2016

Want 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: workplacestudio.ca.

How Happier Workplaces Create Better Employees

Standard, plain and dull. Is that how you would describe your office? If you’re nodding your head, you aren’t alone. Standard, plain and dull topped the list of how employees described their office in the Staples Business Advantage 2016 Workplace Index survey. Fun, engaging and motivating were among the bottom responses. This begs the question: are our current office structures meeting the wants and needs of employees?

While the office isn’t necessarily a place to be having the time of your life (it’s still a place of business, after all), a little laughter and office comradery can help increase motivation, employee engagement, and help to increase employee retention. We spend the majority of our waking hours in the office, so it should be a space we strive to make enjoyable so that employees come to work each day with a positive and energized attitude.

Of course there is a fine line between having fun and focusing on the bottom line, but finding the balance might be easier than you think.  Throwing a company carnival might not be in the budget, but simple additions to the workday to boost employee morale don’t have to be big, costly gestures.

Fast Company gives us a list of easy ways to add a little bit of fun to the office, like bringing a pet to work, decorating your cubicle (see our Pinterest board for inspiration), or starting a group exercise club.

There are of course certain industries or workplace scenarios where bringing workers together for a group activity isn’t a feasible or easy task. Celebrating with your employees is great, but simply celebrating your employees through recognition and praise can lead to the same end results: increased motivation and productivity.  Employee engagement levels are almost three times higher when they receive recognition. So if you don’t have one already, now might be a good time to look into an employee recognition program.

Aside from an engaging, motivating and fun workplace, what else are employees looking for from the workplace in 2016? Find out from the 2016 Workplace Index report. Download the full report here.

Canadian Workers Continue to Face Office Stress and Burnout

Do you leave the office at the end of the day feeling satisfied and productive? Or stressed and burnt out? If you’re like most Canadians, you’re feeling a little from both sides of the coin. According to our second annual Workplace Index survey, Canadian workers are reporting that the office is the most productive place to get work done, but is also contributing to stress and burnout.

Almost 70% of Canadian office workers and managers report working more than 40 hours a week, and the majority consider the office the most productive place to get work done. In an effort to improve stress and overall morale, employers need to take action to ensure the workplace remains an inspiring and motivating environment.

Forty-three per cent of Canadians say they’re working longer hours simply to catch up on work they couldn’t tackle during an eight-hour day, with 22% working 11 hours or more per day. That workload is taking a toll.

Consider:

  • 68% of Canadians say their workplace has contributed to stress
  • More than one-quarter of Canadians (27%) cite the volume of their work as the number one stressor in their workplace
  • One in five Canadian respondents (19%) has taken a workplace stress-related leave of absence

“The Staples Business Advantage Workplace Index provides an important look at the state of the workplace and what Canadians want and need from their employers,” said Michael Zahra, President, Staples Business Advantage Canada. “Based on the results, it is evident that Canadian employees are working long hours just to keep up with their volume of work. It is the responsibility of employers to therefore provide an inclusive, welcoming environment that boosts employee productivity, increases happiness and positively impacts the bottom line.”

The Staples Business Advantage Workplace Index is a comprehensive study involving office workers and business decision makers in Canada to help companies meet their recruitment, retention and engagement goals.

Over the next few months, we’ll explore the Workplace Index survey and share key findings and insights through a series of posts. To get full access now, you can download the complete report here.

 

 

 

 

PC Enhancements At Your Fingertips

Here’s a silly question: If you could enhance the performance of your PC — using tools already installed on your computer — would you do it? Of course you would.

With a few easy-to-use applications that came prepackaged on your PC, you can make your computer run faster and more efficiently, protect yourself from malware and increase your privacy while browsing the Internet. Soon you can enjoy better computing by using these tools for Windows and Internet Explorer.

Enhancing Speed and Performance
Have you noticed your PC isn’t running as quickly as it once did? Does it take longer to start up? Do your applications seem sluggish? Is web browsing slower than usual? If so, you may need to use these tools to give your PC a tune-up.

Defrag Your Hard Drive
Your computer has a strange habit: Sometimes your PC will break files into different parts and then store these file fragments in separate areas of your hard drive. Your PC does this for efficiency, but as the files update and multiply, the retrieving and rebuilding of these files when you need to use them becomes more work for your computer. Thus, your PC slows down.

To put the file fragments back together and help your PC run more efficiently, you will need to run your Disk Defragmenter tool. This tool is found on your Control Panel under Administrator Tools. Note that you will need to be signed into your PC as an administrator to use this and the following tools.

Remove Disk Errors
Every once in a while, a program on your PC will crash or you will experience a power outage. The result of such an event is often errors on your hard drive, errors that result in a slower PC. To repair these errors and improve performance, run the Check Disk tool, which is found on your Control Panel.

Remove Temp Files
Your PC is a bit of a hoarder. Each time you surf the Web, your computer stores temporary files on your hard disk that make Web-page loading faster. Also, when you use programs like Word, your PC keeps many temporary files to ensure that you don’t lose important data. Eventually the sheer bulk of these files adds up, and they slow down your computer.

To rid your PC of these unnecessary, temporary files, use the Disk Cleanup tool.

Manage Startup Applications
Some software applications may be set to start automatically whenever you turn on your PC. This can be useful for programs you consult frequently, but too many programs running automatically can cause startup delays. Use Windows Defender in your All Programs list to limit your startup applications.


Remove Malware from Your PC

Spyware, viruses, adware —you can hardly surf the Web these days without running into them. And if you do contract some of this malware, not only can it compromise your personal privacy and information, it can reduce your PC’s performance. As these applications run in the background of your PC, they take up processing power, leading to slowdowns.

Many people have already purchased an anti-malware program, but those who haven’t can download Microsoft Security Essentials for free. This tool removes existing malware from your PC and prevents further infections.

Enhancing PC Privacy
Maintaining your privacy is important when surfing the Web. Keeping your critical data hidden from hackers can thwart identity theft and financial loss. Hackers are also keen on tracking the Web sites you visit, keeping tabs on pages viewed and even recording each keystroke you make while there. Such keystroke trackers can reveal your passwords to hackers.

We’ve already discussed the use of anti-malware programs, but there are a few other utilities packaged into Internet Explorer that can enhance your PC privacy while you use the Internet.

InPrivate Browsing
This Internet Explorer tool allows you to surf the Web without your PC storing data about your browsing session. Information such as history, cookies and temporary files is not collected, keeping this data from being usable by hackers. You can access this tool through the Safety menu.


SmartScreen Filtes
Some hackers set up Web pages that are made to mimic the appearance of other sites. They may create pages that look like your bank’s Web site to try to coax you into giving up passwords or account information. Or, these pages may appear to offer free downloads of popular programs, which instead download malware to your PC when you click Install.

The SmartScreen Filter available with Internet Explorer detects these scam sites and blocks the pages from loading.

Other Internet Options
If you click the Tool icon on the Internet Explorer toolbar and choose Internet Options from the drop-down list, you will see there are other tools available to enhance your security and privacy while surfing the Web.

On the Security tab, you can set the level of protection to be used while you surf. You may wish to lower or heighten this level depending on the kind of browsing you do. You can also specify lists of trusted and restricted sites.

Under the Privacy tab you can set your personal privacy level (Accept All Cookies; Medium; Block All Cookies). This is also the place to turn on the Explorer pop-up blocker, which prevents pop-up advertisements from opening while you surf the Web.

Finally, under the Content tab, the types of Web content that can be viewed while surfing can be controlled. This is where you will find options for parental controls as well.

Rate Your PC’s Performance
Your PC is a bit of a hoarder. Each time you surf the Web, your computer stores temporary files on your hard disk that make Web-page loading faster. Also, when you use programs like Word, your PC keeps many temporary files to ensure that you don’t lose important data. Eventually the sheer bulk of these files adds up, and they slow down your computer.

To rid your PC of these unnecessary, temporary files, use the Disk Cleanup tool.

4 Tips for Standing Desk Success

So you’ve heard all about standing desks and how they can be a great benefit to your health. You would like to make the transition, but what if it feels weird? All your coworkers are sitting and you’re standing. Before you make the investment and jump in with two feet, we have four tips to make your transition to a standing desk a true success.

Do your homework.
Moving to a standing workstation may require a bit more planning than if you were ordering another standard height desk. You will want to think about getting some of the necessary accessories that will help support your new standing situation, such as a height adjustable monitor, a supportive stool, and maybe a padded mat to stand on. You’ll also want to think about your choice of footwear.

Value flexibility.
This goes for both the products you’re considering as well as your habits. Standing desks and other design pieces that help you get up and move often have the ability to function as a “traditional” desk and transition from one mode to the other. There are even apps to help. Phone apps like “Stand Up” and others can help remind you to take a break from sitting and to switch to the standing function of your desk. And flexibility goes beyond your desk— not all tasks and situations work best when standing. Find the right balance and you’ll get the most use out of your standing desk.

Don’t be afraid to be a trendsetter.
This one’s a tough one, and a New York Times article says “you will literally stand out. Embrace it.” Standing desks, treadmill desks, and other pieces are becoming more and more common in the workplace, but it might be a while before they’re the majority. In the meantime, consider how your originality might lend itself to other healthy office trends—start a walking group, encourage your team to take meetings on the move, and make your standing desk just one part of an overall approach to a healthier workplace.

Consider the culture.
Consider the culture of your office and determine how a standing desk fits within that culture, and where you can take advantage of company culture to promote workplace wellness, flexible workspaces, and creating ways to avoid the brain lag that can come from being cemented in one place for too long.

Are you looking for ideas on how to break out of the mold of the traditional office? Browse a selection of height-adjustable desks and accessories on eway.ca.