A common problem in today’s busy society is how to maintain a good work/life balance and ensure that the former doesn’t encroach on the latter. A good way to avoid this is to remove any temptation to stay late by increasing productivity during the working day.
In our attempt to make life as easy as possible, here are a few ideas to keep in mind next time you’re feeling the pressures of time getting to you.
1. Have clear objectives and support
It may sound obvious but making sure team members know exactly what their responsibilities are and what is expected from them is essential. This is something that can sometimes become lost as companies expand and change from a small hands-on start-up to a larger scale enterprise. Monitoring employee progress is therefore important to make sure that people stay on track, achieve what is needed and don’t repeat work. This is also a good way to identify early on any areas where a person may be struggling and look for ways to help before the situation gets out of hand.
2. Provide confidence through training
Although an employee may be hired for a particular skill set, it is unfair to expect them to improve without some form of training. Even if this is as simple as employees researching and presenting to their peers, an interest in personal career development will make people feel valued by the company. It will also give employees added confidence in day-to-day tasks, decision making and taking initiative. Funding courses is also likely to make employees feel indebted to the company and so more obliged to perform better.
3. Use technology to your advantage
Make life easier by using tools specifically designed to increase productivity. This could be in the form of implementing HR software to reduce time spent on recurring admin tasks; or by removing travel to meetings by using a conference call facility, such as Powwownow. Not only will tools such as these give staff more time in a working day, but removing dull and monotonous tasks will also help to improve moral.
4. Stay positive and motivated
There will always be elements of your job that you are less fond of. But keeping these elements to a minimum and recognising them for what they are will help to stay positive, motivated and on track for a productive day. From a managerial point of view, try to avoid micromanaging situations. Trusting in your team to think for themselves and deliver the work without constant monitoring from superiors will free up time for both you and them.
If there is a particular task that you are really dreading, give yourself an added motivator, even if it’s just in the form of a cup of tea or chocolate biscuit when it’s finished.
5. Plan your day – including breaks!
Keep on top of things by planning your day to avoid getting side-tracked. Give yourself targets for each day and break larger projects into smaller tasks to make them more achievable. Try scheduling these smaller tasks into 30 minute slots in your calendar. Obviously some items will take more or less time than this, but measuring this as you go along will help to check that you’re not spending too long on the smaller items.
Just as important as planning in work is to allow time for breaks and rewards. Although it may seem like you’re chained to your desk until a project is complete, taking a proper lunch break and stretching your legs will help you to relax and think more clearly about the issue at hand.
Is keeping your day productive something that you struggle with? Or do you have any tips on how to stay focused?
With Work Wise Week aiming to show businesses that there are smarter ways of working, Work Wise UK has teamed up with Powwownow to offer 100 lucky people the chance to sample our collaboration product Powwownow Engage.
The first 100 people to email: firstname.lastname@example.org and enquire about Powwownow Engage during Work Wise Week (12th – 18th May 2013) will be given a free three month trial for their company*.
Successful individuals will be notified by 31st May 2013 by Powwownow.*Licences limited to 50 people per company for the trial period.
How Smarter Tools and Better Teamwork will Power Successful SME’s in 2013
With business leaders increasingly under pressure to be both more productive and more innovative – the ability to connect people together and getting them to work in a fast and flexible way is more valuable than ever.
In this paper, the Insight Team from Powwownow share their latest research into the importance of effective collaboration and team work, explore how our offices are changing shape – and show how small businesses and medium sized enterprises can benefit the most from the powerful new workplace communication tools now available.
Click below to view our whitepaper.
With the first quarter of the year firmly under our belts, we are strongly on track to meet our ambitious targets for 2013. This follows on from a momentous 2012 for Powwownow, with not one but seven ‘Million Minute Days’ being achieved. This meant that on those days, Powwownow users spent over a million minutes using the conference calling service.
To achieve such a traffic rate in normal economic times would have been an achievement. To do so during today’s recession is something worth shouting about.
First it is important to note the key reasons why people choose to use conference calling: to save time and money. Simply put, conference calling cuts out the hassle and expense of travelling to meetings and using a video call even adds that personal touch.
Motivations for using a conference call service covered; why choose Powwownow as the provider?
There is obviously a range of factors considered by businesses when making this choice but primarily this again comes down to time and money: Powwownow is simple and affordable to use. With a clear one step sign-up for making a conference call it is easy to use and also explain to other potential call participants. The affordability comes from customers only paying the cost of their own phone call, without any additional contracts or bills.
It becomes even more prevalent to save these resources during an economic downturn, such as now. Since 2008 when the recession first hit, many companies have had to introduce stringent cutbacks. Affordable tools and services that enable businesses to save money and potentially avoid unpleasant cutbacks have therefore become even more appealing.
Similarly, with many companies unwilling to offer the salary increases that would usually be expected, it has become increasingly popular to offer non-monetary incentives, such as remote working. This is made significantly more effective through the use of reliable and affordable conference calling, video and web calls.
Powwownow’s products have been able to help companies facilitate this increased demand for money-saving tools and effective remote working. The product range has also been expanded through the development of new collaboration tool, Powwownow Engage. This has a range of functionality such as screen sharing, instant messaging and HD video calling, which makes engaging, communicating and working together easy.
As a result of this increase in service demand, Powwownow has actually bucked the economic trend, growing in size from being only a handful of people in 2004 to having more than 60 members of staff in 2013. In 2012 alone the company saw 30% growth, with Powwownow achieving an impressive annual turnover of 10.2 million per annum.
When asked about how Powwownow has succeeded and grown as a small business through the recession, CEO Simon Curry commented: “The achievement of our first ‘million minute day’ at the end of 2012 was a massive milestone for us. Testament to all of the hard work and man hours that our team has put in to growing and developing the company, especially through these economically gloomy years, this really is something that we are hugely proud of. Never satisfied to sit back and take our industry leading position for granted, we are always striving to better ourselves and are now looking for the next challenge. We believe that conference calling shouldn’t be seen as an expensive luxury but as an essential, practical and reliable money-saving tool.”
There has previously been a clear distinction between enterprise vendors, and enterprise communication providers (meaning telephony and networking vendors). However, this distinction is becoming increasingly more blurred as unified collaboration tools that combine both communication and collaboration technologies become more common.
It may be hard to remember a time before emails, but the development of this instant written communication tool was possibly the most important enterprise product ever invented for business. Not only allowing people to instantly send messages, for the first time it also allowed electronic documents to easily be worked on from multiple locations and by different users. For many people, this is still the default form of collaboration. However, this does not make it the most effective.
Using email to send different document versions back and forth can quickly get confusing. It is also the most common reason for email systems to become overloaded, as vast quantities of data is repeatedly saved to the system.
This is where using a unified collaboration tool such as Powwownow’s Engage, means that people are able to work together to edit and discuss documents from different locations at the same time. There is no need to save separate versions as people are able to see and work on the same one, whilst also discussing in real time via HD video calling what changes should be made.
Using the same system to screen share, work on documents, chat and exchange written messages means that it is easy to switch between these different methods of communication. For example, if it turns out that a quick question sent on IM actually requires a full conversation, using a unified collaboration tool makes that conversation only one click away. It is also possible to then easily include other call participants if needed – real time presence makes it easy to identify if they are available.
Video conference calling is far more than your average conference call. Allowing users to see other call participants, as well as enabling screens and documents to be shared in real time, it can be almost as if you are in the same room working together.
Cost savings – money, time and space
The same as with traditional conference calling, video conferencing removes the cost and hassle of having to travel to meetings. Cutting company fuel bills and allowing increased productivity from the time saved, video conferencing gives a tangible return on investment. Participants can be based anywhere in the world and, time differences permitting, meetings can be arranged simply and easily at the drop of a hat, with no need for large meeting room facilities. The reduction in travel is also an environmental win.
Whilst there has historically been a divide in strategy and tactics of B2C and B2B marketing, modern technology is starting to blur the lines. Increasingly, the smartest B2B marketers realise that buyers expect the same levels of service – whether in their business or personal lives.
The rise of eCommerce solutions, the proliferation of useful advice online and the use of social media platforms are all examples of how consumer marketing experience is affecting the expectation of SME decision makers. The level and openness of information has changed. Dan Pink points out that in many cases, a well-connected savvy buyer, thorough the use of forums and social media sites can now have more product and review information than the salesman. This is something that has completely changed the traditional buyer-seller dynamic.
Email is the most dominant form of business communication with employees often spending hours every day using it. It’s therefore important that you are making the right impression to gain attention and captivate customers. Making your message stand out for the right reasons is essential.
First, a quick recap over the top ten email basics – these should provide a strong foundation for any email that you send, whether it is a regular contact message or part of a larger mail out.
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- Be professional and understandable – politeness is a given but also make sure not to use unnecessary abbreviations.
- Introduce yourself usefully – you wouldn’t talk to somebody new without first saying hi but bear in mind what is relevant to the topic at hand.
- Use obvious subject headings to indicate content and purpose – for frequently used topics perhaps agree on abbreviation headings, such as ‘AR’ for “Action Required”.
- Send on a need to know basis – use ‘cc’ and ‘bcc’ appropriately and don’t ‘reply all’ unless everyone really needs to know.
- Emails aren’t private – refrain from discussing confidential or potentially embarrassing information: never put in an email something that you wouldn’t put on a postcard.
- Use friendly formatting – don’t SHOUT or get too excited with exclamation marks! Always spellcheck and use a standard font face.
- Don’t overdo emoticons – in fact there’s a good argument for avoiding them all together: if you feel the need to better express yourself, you probably need to take another look at your words.
- Be contactable – have an up to date and useful signature.
- Beware of sending large attachments – if this is absolutely necessary first check that the recipient has room in their inbox and also the best time of day to send it.
- Don’t hide behind an email – remember, your tone can’t be heard in an email and likewise neither can theirs; try to keep phrasing neutral and give the benefit of the doubt.
Presentations and hand-outs are commonly used in meetings to help explain a topic or to prompt discussion. After all, a picture paints a thousand words and it is often easier to illustrate a point using a picture or graph.
It is therefore a shame that the cost of saving time and money by using a conference call facility should be that the effective use of a presentation is lost. Although supporting documents can be circulated ahead of a call, there is no way to guarantee that everyone will be looking at the same part, or that relevant facts will be highlighted appropriately.
Using a web conferencing facility overcomes this problem. By using this to integrate screen sharing into a conference call, whatever the host displays on their own screen is also viewable by call participants. This could be anything from a presentation document to a website, a spread sheet to an annotated article.