Archive for May, 2012

Hitting a record: Raising Spain’s Productivity by 40%

We First Conquered Spain…

Now it’s America’s Turn

Our motto has always been “You can’t manage it if you can’t measure it,” and this is a milestone in our record. Based in Spain and growing exponentially, WorkMeter has reached unprecedented levels in increased production: 40%. Quickly gained rise and renown in the corporate world, executives and managers have recorded it increase productivity of their employees by upwards of 30-40%, refuting and outdating the stereotype of an “unproductive Spain”.
For you first time readers who haven’t had a chance to look at it, let me tell you how WorkMeter works. It monitors the time spent on various work-related applications, such as databases, Outlook email, and online sites, then compares it to the time spent on applications and sites not listed as work-related. It then provided the employee and their supervisor access to detailed productivity reports that show them just how productive they’ve been.
As opposed to contemporary methods of productivity reviews, WorkMeter is neither invasive or correctional; it revolves around self employee motivation. It’s a productivity software that displays simple metrics to the workers themselves regarding their activity usage and leaves it up to them to take action, treating the employees as adults responsible for their work instead of children who need constant supervision. This change of attitude from the managers and supervisors has been recorded to effectively and drastically increase productivity in the office, as Spanish companies can now testify.
“As soon as we realize how much time we spend in applications” CEO and founder Joan Pons states, “we realize how to [better manage our time].”
“This program guarantees productivity and allows more flexibility for workers,” he continues to say. This touches on a topic I mentioned a few weeks back: teleworking and workshifting. With 25% of Americans now teleworking, both in the government and private sectors, WorkMeter gives them and the managers access to better time, project, team, and time management which will lead to an increase in employee productivity and motivation. In Spain, the lack of this was a big issue.
“There’s no trust in the employees here…The boss is like the police,” Pons comments. “I think we work more hours because there’s no trust between managers and employees.” It may be different here in America, but in Spain with a typical nine-to-nine work day and the longer siesta, or lunch break, this relationship does nothing to promote the motivation necessary to increase productivity.

“This is why companies both there and here block social sites such as Facebook,” WorkMeter’s Chairman, Andre Angel, explains. “At WorkMeter, we believe companies should allow employees the freedom to use corporate assets for personal use as long as they are given feedback to maintain a responsible balance necessary to meet deadlines and accomplish their objectives.”
With productivity dropping in Europe, WorkMeter was the cheapest and most effective solution they found, increasing Spain companies productivity by upwards of 40%. Similar effects are being seen here in the US, which is why the one-of-a-kind software has been brought over to this side of the world. How much will it change national company productivity? Will its effect be as dramatic and effective as in Spain? Only time will tell, but the numbers never lie.

If you want to see first hand what I’m talking about, see for yourself right here.

May 25, 2012 at 4:30 pm 3 comments

Instant Productivity & Success: How to change your life in 15 minutes

Guest Blog By JC Duarte, The Strategy Guy

“If an organization could teach only one thing to its employees, what single thing would have the most impact? My answer was immediate and clear: teach people how to learn. How to look at their past behavior, figure out what worked, and repeat it while admitting honestly what didn’t and change it.” This is the catch phrase that caught my attention & inspired this blog article when I read HBR’s leadership article The Best Way to Use the Last Five Minutes of Your Day by Peter Bergman.

15 Minute Magical Success Sessions

10h15 & 17h45, could possibly be the two 15 minute increments that will have the most significant impact on improving your quality of life. Are you familiar with the Chinese philosopher, Lao Tzu‘s quote “The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step”? Well, two 15 minute segments of your day can give you greater control over your own destiny, both personal & professional.

Having a Master Plan 

How do you start out each day? If you’re like most people, you’ve got anywhere from a vague idea to a rock-solid plan, which in itself is a wide spectrum. Unfortunately, to add to this challenge, most of us have these in our head. The more advanced of you have written things down on a task or to-do list. How’s that working for you? Overwhelmed with the amount of tasks building up from day to day that you can’t seem to clear?

Here’s your 1st tip

No more than 3 significant tasks per day!
And this is where your FIRST magical 15 minutes success session comes into play. Just like Peter Bergman’s article suggests, before you pack it in for the day, take a moment to reflect on the day just past. What worked? What didn’t work? What’s within your control to improve your situation? What are you going to do differently tomorrow? OK, now write that down, and more importantly, block out time in your calendar for doing the things you need to get done. I like to call this “making an appointment with myself”. Ever heard the phrase “if you don’t have your own plan you’re destined to be part of someone else’s?” If you miss this step, I’ll guarantee you that each day will end with you having worked on everyone else’s plan instead of your own.

Finding Your Rhythm

Just like our biological clocks, and the rest of the universe, everything around us works in cycles & rhythms, so why should you be any different. If you respect your required sleep patterns, then your mind & body will be ready for the challenges of each new day. Finding your rhythm also means discovering your strengths & weaknesses, and applying a continual learning process that helps you move from theoretical education to applied practical behavioral change.

Here’s your 2nd tip

You can only effectively focus & execute tasks at optimal performance in 60 to 120 minute concentrated periods.
This means that it’s key to eliminate or avoid disruptions when you’re doing “knowledge work” that requires concentration & focus. And if you think about a typical day, plan it out properly, and hold yourself accountable to being disciplined, I’ll bet you can find three 60-90 windows of time where you can dedicate your focus to 3 significant tasks.

Here’s your 3rd tip

Even if you don’t want to listen to music, put your headphones on anyway. And if you have noise canceling headphones, better yet! 
The fact is, people are less likely to interrupt you if they see you concentrated on a task & with head phones on, as they will assume you are listening to music, a tutorial video or something else that’s important. If your colleagues don’t happen to be this “cluey”, then by all means stand-up and share with those immediately around you that you’re about to start very important work that requires extreme concentration and that you’d appreciate not being interrupted for the next 60 minutes.  Try it, it works!

Back to Your Master Plan

I said there were two 15 minute magical success sessions. Well your next most important 15 minute increment is your early to mid morning pulse check. Just like a doctor’s visit when your pulse is measured to see how you’re general health is, it’s key to take a pulse of how your day has started in comparison to your plan from the previous afternoon / evening, and to make any necessary adjustments before the new day flies by.
If you really want to be on the ball & gain extra bonus points for a satisfying & highly productive life, plan a pulse check just after lunch as well.

Here’s your 4th tip

I like to call these early to mid morning pulse checks Daily Huddles. And typically I have my team leads or direct reports join me on this huddle. We cover 3 simple things…
1.     What’s up; How did I perform since our last daily huddle & what did I accomplish based on what I set out to do? How am I feeling about that? What am I going to do differently?
2.     My Metrics for Today; What are the three most significant things I want to get done today, and what are the results (quantifiable) that I expect to witness by the end of the day in order for me to declare it a success?
3.     What are My Stucks; What’s holding me back from succeeding on my plan? What are the interdependencies where I need help?
This exercise is not only a great activity to make sure that your focused on the things that need to get done each day, and week, in order to reach daily, weekly & monthly objectives, but likewise it gives you an opportunity to align & (if necessary) adjust individual team members focus. It gives everyone a snap-shot of what’s going on in their department & how it relates or contributes toward success. And most importantly, it gives us all an opportunity to address the things that are keeping us from succeeding (stucks), addressing them before we miss our deadlines (otherwise known as failure).
Has anything in this article struck a nerve with you? Upon reflection of these simple steps, is there anything new that you could apply to your daily routine that would put you back in control of your life, both personally and  professionally?

May 22, 2012 at 5:30 pm

5 Email Habits Your Doctor Will Thank You For

Email: How to Tame the Untamed Beast

It’s your everyday morning: you wake up with the perfect plan for the perfect day, everything laid-out and ready to go. You think to yourself This is the day I’m going to catch-up and relieve myself of all the stress. So you hit off, eat your breakfast, and drive to your typical 9-to-5 office.
Try to convince your boss
that this will increase productivity.
Fast-forward to the end of the day: you just left another heavy project and you’re exhausted. You managed to get a good lead on your load, yet there’s still a long ways to go. But for now, you’re just on your way home, looking forward to that well planned R&R. You walk inside and are just about to heave a sigh of relaxation when suddenly your phone buzzes. You pull it out and it’s Johnson needing some quick help on the Smith report. Ok you think I’ll just get this over with then it’s me time. A couple of hours later and you’ve finished.
You go to the shower, run it on hot, when your phone buzzes again. You look at it and it’s your boss telling you there was an error in your last layout and was wondering if you could come in that weekend. Excellent. Now you have your lost weekend to fret about.
Then your phone buzzes again. And again. And again. It’s like you never left the office.
This is a scenario we’re all familiar with. Yet the University of California in Irvine recently released a study pointing out how poor work habits, particularly relating to email, impact a person’s overall health and productivity in the office. How you managing the main mode of communication in the office is a strong indication of how stressful you allow your life to get. Luckily, there are a few simple habits you can do to help bring that blood pressure down:

1)     Delete (Turn Off) Your Email When You Leave Work

This at home doesn’t increase productivity.
It hurts it.

 This is something most of us can do and that is not to take our work home with us. You work at an 9-to-5 office and it should last just that long: from 9 till 5. During that time, your office life can, and often will, get very stressful, so when it’s time for you to go home, leave it at the door. Same way how you leave your personal life at the door of the office. Your time at home is a time for you to kick back and relax because come the next day, it’ll start all over again and your productivity has to be at it’s best. This is impossible if your phone is buzzing off with emails every hour. The key: turn it off. You don’t need to be checking your email constantly. Whatever comes, you can deal with it tomorrow. This is your R&R, and keeping your mind busy with work 24/7 will only make you worse at it, not better.

2)     Create Priority Alerts

Now there are those of us who’s jobs entail a continuous line to the office and cannot afford the luxury of turning off our emails. In this case, the Priority Alert system is your best friend. What this does is allows you to set an alert that goes off only if an email meets the required priority level, which is in this case “high”. What this will do is any urgent emails you receive that cannot wait until tomorrow will be buzzed to you and the ones that are of lesser importance won’t be. The epitome of time management which takes us directly to our next point.

3)     Don’t Chain Events

Once you take care of that urgent email, you have to resist the urge to look and take care of the rest. Do NOT chain events. Once you start down this road, you won’t finish until it is 4 hours into your home time and you’re productivity and health will take the hit. This crucial time management skill will benefit you in both the long and short run. So stick to that one important email and that one email alone.

4)     Auto-sort: Use It

What’s something that nobody wants
but everybody has?

This is a habit for within the office, as opposed to outside it. Use the auto-sort. Create folders such as “meeting minutes”, “Smith project details”, or “misc.” and set your email to automatically filter them into those folders. What this will do is greatly unclutter your inbox and reduce that awful sinking-in-the-gut feeling when you see torrents of unread emails are awaiting you. By automatically sorting your emails, you can instead visit each folder in turn and deal with their respective emails, thereby boosting your productivity with a time management system.

5)     Learn To Ignore

This is a reiteration of a part of a previous step, but it’s important enough to be reiterated. Learn to ignore some emails. Not permanently, but until it’s time to deal with them. This habit is perfect in and out of the office. If it isn’t urgent and your busy working, then ignore it. Worst comes to worst, they will call you. But in the office, learn to stay focused on the task at hand and out of the office, learn to stay focused on yourself. This is possibly one of the hardest habits for employees to develop.

May 8, 2012 at 8:00 pm

Telework in the Government: Not Just for Businesses

            A few weeks ago, you’ll remember we spoke about the relatively new phenomenon that has hit North America, teleworking. If this is your first time reading, telework is the practice of working remotely from home, as opposed to from a corporate office or cubical. The benefits of this are quite astounding, ranging from more raising employee motivation and increasing productivity to saving the company millions in expenses. You can read more about it in our previous post here.
Jumping on the Telework Bandwagon
Teleworking like the best of us
            You would have expected other companies to have been the first to embrace this new method of work. Maybe one here and one there, first testing the waters to see how well it would work in the general system. But believe it or not, it wasn’t businesses who took to it: it was the government. Already passed by the US Senate, the US House of Representatives accepted and passed it with a vote of 254 to 152, allowing a much greater number of government employees to telework. The legislation creates a policy framework and set of procedures in order to begin teleworking, as opposed to prior, where teleworking was something difficult and near impossible to achieve, causing less than 10% of the employees to participate. Yet just from these low numbers, the Office of Personnel Management estimated it saved roughly $30 million a day on expenses. Not only that, but the Parent and Trademark office estimated they too were able to save $1.5 million a year through avoided rent expenses.
How Does It Work?
            What the bill does is have government agencies decide which employees are eligible for telework. Those who are eligible would be required to complete training programs before signing telework agreements with the agency. As well, much like a company, not all government employees would be eligible for telework, for obvious reasons. The restrictions that limit those who can participate in teleworking are comprised of 3 simple rules: those who have been officially disciplined for “being absent without permission for more than 5 days in any calendar year”, those who have been officially disciplined for “viewing, downloading, or exchanging pornography…on a Federal Government computer”, and, for obvious reasons, those whose job requires an on-site presence to accomplish, such as law enforcement officers, park rangers, air traffic controllers, etc.
Only a Matter of Time
            When the government has acted before the companies, you know somebody is behind. Companies are still slowly getting into the business of having their employees telework for fears of loss of productivity, despite the numbers to prove otherwise. Still remaining in an old train of thought, they believe that the best work is office work and work from home is simply unproductive work. So they turn to software such as WorkMeter, that allows them to monitor their employee’s productivity and gives them a chance to see with their own eyes just how effective teleworking is.

May 1, 2012 at 6:56 pm

Productivity tips

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