Posts filed under ‘Productivity’

Internet Freedom of the New Generation

Social Media: More Important Than You'd Think
Social Media
More important than you’d think.

The world is changing; specifically, working world. Steadily and no longer slowly, old mentalities are being replaced as new and fresh ideas and ideals are brought in through younger generations. From the world beyond the four-wall-cubicle, thoughts and expectations of freedom are being fought for. Now, that focus of freedom has seeped in from the cracks in the walls and has arrived at the working world with an entourage of young professionals and recent graduates.

 The Freedom Demands of the Employees
A report entitled Cisco Connected World Technology Report was published in 2011 by Cisco depicting the growing trend in the importance of internet freedom and social media. Done on 2,800 college students in the United Kingdom, all were asked on the importance of internet freedom and social media in comparison to salary.

933 believed having internet freedom and access to sites such as Facebook and Twitter was as “important as air, water, food, and shelter,” indicating a critical factor in employee motivation.

1,120 stated that they would accept lower-paying jobs that allowed them their freedom to social media and from internet blocks over a higher paying job that restricted them.

1,960 acknowledged to breaking IT policy on a regular basis by attempting (and even succeeding) at bypassing security measures meant to restrict their online access.

This new wave of future employees are emerging like a grass-root movement, refusing positions that don’t meet their freedom requirements and setting a new bar in employee-employer social media relations. This growing trend is something that old employers are having trouble adapting to.


The Productivity Fears of the Employers

If you’ve been keeping up with us, you know very well that maintaining and increasing productivity is always high on the employers list. So, naturally, when they see demands for increasing internet freedoms, they usually provoke thoughts of “Well why do you want more access” and “Are you going to be wasting time surfing the web as opposed to working?” But it doesn’t have to be that way.

This increased trend of internet freedom doesn’t come from the slackers; it comes from the motivators. They don’t see it as a sink hole to waste company time and money, but instead as a tool to pause and recharge their batteries. Job motivation is a large factor in productivity and if granting access to Twitter allows them to return to work refreshed, then so be it. In the end, the problem for the employers should be the websites themselves, but the time management of the employees.

The Middle Ground

Effective time management is where both the employers and employees must meet; granting access with the assurance that it won’t be abused. Here, conventional software and productivity monitoring programs don’t work since they focus on preventative measure, as opposed to motivational goals. They snoop and locate sites that employees spend a large amount of time on and place a website block, preventing future access.

New productivity software, such as WorkMeter, which has grown rapidly in Spain’s industry, take on a different approach. They work by monitoring application usage on productive and unproductive applications, then displaying the activity graphs to the employer AND the employee. This grants the future hires the internet freedom they wish all the while letting their employers unintrusively see the levels of their productivity. 

The college students are growing from pre-graduates to post-graduates and in no time, they will take over the workforce. The advancement of company productivity depends on who will gain them by deciding to take the first step in workplace freedom and embrace this new method of improving productivity.

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April 9, 2012 at 5:00 pm

WorkMeter – ‘Eli Daniel Group’ success story

It seems like anywhere we go or whatever we do these days, we are being monitored and tracked. Soon the monitoring and tracking could come to your work computer.

A program called WorkMeter allows managers to track what websites employees log onto, what programs they use and how productive employees are as they go about their days.

“The idea behind WorkMeter is not about spying. The idea is to build a database or look at a performance of an employee from a time management perspective,” said Andre Angel, the Chairman of WorkMeter.

Angel said WorkMeter worked best when managers included employees in the process.

“Nobody is doing anything malicious. Employees want to work, want to improve what they’re doing, and if you give them that feedback, they improve,” Angel told CW 33 News.

Chris Lawson, the CEO of the staffing company The Eli Daniel Group in Allen, Texas, recently installed WorkMeter. Employees at first were less than enthused about the new software.

“I was a little concerned at first because I really thought it was going to be Big Brotherish, Chris and management looking over your shoulder wanting to know what you are doing every moment,” said Kendra Fox.

But the Eli Daniel Group included employees from the start, allowing each person to follow their own productivity with a dashboard on their computer.

“It’s not like it is me over your shoulder wondering what you are doing all of the time. It gives the individual the real time information,” said Lawson.

Fox believed WorkMeter was only as successful as how it was implemented.

“As long as they explain it right and kind of pitch it the right way and make sure their employees are on board and kind of including them in the process, then I think people will be OK with it,” said Fox.

Click here to watch the video

March 9, 2012 at 1:19 pm

Top 10 ways employees waste time at work

24/7 Wall St. looked at a number of workplace studies on how people spend time online, and found that most say employees with PCs spend 20-plus hours a week on the Web while at work—and about a quarter of that is for personal use. 24/7 Wall St. broke those 5 squandered hours down into the top 10 “time wasters”:

1. Social Networks: 1 hr, 14 min/week; apparently, 77% of employees who have access to Facebook from work check it at least once a day.
2. Online Games: 34 min/week
3. Email: 27 min/week
4. Portals like AOL, Yahoo!: 14 min/week
5. Instant Messaging: 13 min/week

How much time is spent watching pornography at work? It’s staggering. Follow this link for more information, or read what we think

 

December 6, 2011 at 11:02 pm

Productivity is More Than Just a Mathematical Formula

Wikipedia defines “productivity” as a measure of output from a production process, per unit of input, and this is where the fundamental problem of the modern day business begins.

Without real & measurable business benefit as a subsequent output of labor input, then what you are measuring is simple activity & NOT “productivity”.

True productivity starts at “why”, gains momentum at “what” and accelerates on continuos & measured improvements.

The Power of “Why”

People don’t do what they’re told, people do as they believe! The way we exercise our thoughts are through actions, likewise we exercise our beliefs through engrained habits or behavioral patterns. Ever go on a road trip that you weren’t convinced was right for you? How did that workout for you? Were you enthusiastic about overcoming the challenges that appeared along the way? Did you look on the bright side of ever set-back?

“Efforts and courage are not enough without purpose and direction.” – John Fitzgerald Kennedy; A strong sense of purpose, something you can identify with, believe in.. is always a sure bet to get you enthusiastic about the journey your company is about to take you on. It’s purpose that gives you faith & courage to seek alternative paths and make proactive efforts to achieve your milestones faster. Purpose is the first key to engagement & commitment to excellence.. it’s the self imposed response to an employee who briefly asks themselves “why bother”.

What’s your company’s “why”and how do remind everyone every day of it? And this is just the 1st step..

The Direction of “What”

“If you are working on something exciting that you really care about, you don’t have to be pushed. The vision pulls you.” – Steve Jobs; Follow-up strong purpose with a clearly articulated & understood vision, and your powerful formula is more than half-way there.

People more quickly propel themselves toward something they can visualize.. almost touch & feel.. than into a dark tunnel or foggy cloud. How quantifiable is your company’s vision? How absolutely clear is the short, medium & long terms goals / objectives of your organization.

What mechanisms are you using on a regular basis to remind people of what your vision is.. the end point of your journey’.. and most important, what are the regular (rhythmic) interval checks or pulse-checks that measure your progress and as well what’s left to achieve? Yet this is merely your 2nd step..

The power of metrics.. measurements & continuous improvements

What doesn’t get measured doesn’t get done, because people don’t do what you EXPECT.. they do what you INSPECT!

That’s the reality of human nature, and to assume anything else is a guaranteed formula for disaster. If purpose (Mission) & vision need to be quantifiable, then even more so does execution. As Thomas Edison once said, “Vision without execution is hallucination.” But how do you know that you’re executing? After-all, how do you know whether your teams are being “productive” or simply busy (activity)?

If you’ve got your act together in what regards setting & measuring against performance, how are you ensuring your team is continuously measuring progress and growing through key learning?

“Vision without action is a dream. Action without vision is simply passing the time. Action with Vision is making a positive difference.” – Joel Barker.. Action with vision is measurable! It’s when you can identify whether employee’s behavioral patterns at work are producing business results. For this, you need to be able to measure activity that drives results and not just activity working on the applications or environments you’ve deemed productive. I can spend an entire day in a word processing application, just like I can in a spreadsheet, but unless I’m producing business results, it’s all just a hallucination.

On the contrary, in parallel to measuring where I’m investing my time, how many uninterrupted & focused work sprints I’m able to generate in a day, if i can associate my activity to quantifiable increases in business results.. then I can confidently state that I’m productive.

July 6, 2011 at 4:30 pm 1 comment

How Facebook(ing) Can Improve Work Productivity

In a study dating back almost 2 years ago, Melbourne University’s department of Marketing & Management demonstrated how a workforce that takes planned work breaks with Facebook is actually 9% more productive.

The fundamentals behind why this works can be found in guaranteeing the appropriate strategy, effective communication & engagement principles so that a workforce can plan for success. It’s about finding the right rhythm & planning your 60-90 minute work sprints.

Social networks are NOT the problem

The problem most companies are facing today isn’t the Internet or Social Media, it’s the lack of effective Leadership. 86% o senior executive agree that the biggest challenge is to mobilize their workforce, yet 53% of staff are unable to explain their companies strategy. What’s wrong with this picture? Leadership is about setting direction & delegating, it’s about using a “story-telling cascade” to build a shared and compelling narrative about the need for change.. or the results you expect to achieve. The competitive advantage of the twenty-first century is increasingly derived from hard-to-copy intangible assets such as company culture and leadership effectiveness.

People Strategies First

Leveraging insight from Beyond Performance: How Great Organizations Build Ultimate Competitive Advantage; Charles Darwin’s observation that “the fittest win out at the expense of their rivals because they succeed in adapting themselves best to their environment” may have become something of a cliché in the literature on change management, but it has never rung more true in the business world. The ability to manage an organization dynamically so that it can both shape its environment and rapidly adapt to it is becoming the most important source of competitive advantage in the twenty-first century. Success is about winning not just in the marketplace for customers, but also in the marketplace for talented employees.

The role of business in society is changing. As we work more and socialize less, the time we have left for traditional activities involving our family, our local community, and our religious institutions is declining. As a result, our sense of meaning and identity is increasingly derived from the workplace (our jobs) and the marketplace (the products and service we buy). The message is that talented employees are not content to be cogs in a machine geared to hitting quarterly performance numbers. They want to work in dynamic workplaces where they feel empowered to make meaningful, positive change happen.

You Can’t Manage What You Can Measure

Once you’ve got your people strategy effectively in place, what mechanisms will you use to measure active contribution toward company results? How will you address the 7 simple questions that drive your strategic plans; Who, What, When, Where, How, Why? And most importantly, how will you answer the always difficult “but Should we or Shouldn’t we?” questions?

By empowering your team with a solid Vision and aligning them around agreed strategies, you’ll also need to ensure a fine balance of productive work sprints coupled with recovery breaks.

Why not let them Facebook when you know you’re already getting he very best out of your people? What measurements do you have in place that give you confidence of how your team is engaging their available productive capacity?

June 27, 2011 at 12:39 pm

How-To Fix the Open Space Syndrome

Let’s be honest.. the advent of Open Space Offices had more to do with economics than productivity. That said, other than death & taxes, every challenge has a (or various) solution(s).

The current work environment provided by most employers who support an Open Space layout is highly unproductive for getting work done at work. Interruptions & easy distractions are only a few inconvenient truths of why an open space working environment can become highly unproductive. That’s what I call “Open Space Syndrome”.

Open spaces are economical solutions for housing employees, and in the right configuration can still gain effective transversal (cross functional area) awareness without compromising the concentration required to deliver effective results.

Here are some solutions I’ve found to help open spaces become more productive.

Focus Time

If you have to do work that requires focus & concentration, find a quite & unused space in or around your office building. The secluded corner table of the coffee shop downstairs, the park bench across the street, the conference room that’s not in use, the library down the street or even the office cafeteria during off-peak hours. These are all spaces that you can move to in order to get important work done.

The pre-requisit is that your management team has realized the benefit of fitting out the office with laptop computers connected to docking stations or keyboard, mouse & screens. Given the increased computing power of portable computers and the flexibility of cloud computing based storage solutions, Desktop computers are dinosaurs / anchors that just don’t cut it anymore.

Visual Hints

Have you ever seen an “on-air” sign in a radio or television station? Do you remember the last time you walked into a bank, took a number & headed to the information desk? Those are only a few practical reminders of things you can do in your open space office environment in order to get more work done. If you’re part of a work team, agree amongst yourselves a rotating “customer service” schedule to take questions and issues from other departments & functional areas. Make it visibly clear who’s “on-call” by placing a bright tennis ball on the screen of the person providing Customer Service.. or get even more creative and make-up a sign to hang somewhere visible.

Another effective tip is to put headphones on, even if you don’t want to listen to music, so that people will assume that you’re taking an online course, speaking on Skype or indeed focused on a task whilst listening to music.

Semi-Open Spaces

Glass partitioning works best to provide an open-plan feel and still be conducive to “noise” cancelation. Glass partitioning also provides the added benefit have creating more “white-board” space to draw up brilliant half-baked ideas & capture spur of the moment brainstorms.

In an earlier article this year, I highlighted how the MCI Group has developed a really inspiring open-plan workspace in their Zurich offices.

The above are only a few effective solutions & I’d like to hear yours. If you’re working in an open space & have found handy tricks to maximize your productive moments in-spite of the challenges, I’d love to hear / read your experiences.

June 20, 2011 at 11:21 am

How your business is slowly dying

Every business expert will agree that “you can’t manage what you cant’s measure”, yet most of you reading this post are slowly killing your companies prospects to profitably grow because you don’t have the appropriate measurements in place.

In your case, “the gap” is the space between your perception and reality. According to a recent survey conducted by 3S in 305 Iberian based mid-size companies, only 37% of senior executives categorized their companies as very good or excellent at executing strategy. When we scratched deeper below the surface, we found that more than 50% of employees were disengaged with their company’s strategy, and that 31% recognized they didn’t have the necessary measures in place to ensure effective execution of their strategies to reach required business results for success.

Flying Blind

76.8% of the companies admitted to flying blind (perception based), without the necessary performance measurements to determine if their strategies were successful or not. The same figure of 23% blamed the current economy as the cause that limits their capacity to grow.

With numbers that evident, you can only cringe at the wasted productive capacity, and it’s no wonder that companies are in the troubles they are in today. Imagine +76% of the planes in the sky flying around with no radar for day.. would you get on a plane that day? This is shear madness, yet having worked across 5 continents over the past 26 years, I can confirm this isn’t unique to Iberia, it’s just more severe here.

Flying with Radar

What are you currently doing to measure the performance & productivity of your team?

You don’t have to go immediately overboard and jump straight into a full fledged Human Performance Technology Program. You should start out slow.. take baby steps with a Productivity Management tool like WorkMeter. Easy to implement & even easier to use, it engages your employees in discovering how to transform learning into more productive habits. Unlike other “performance monitoring” tools, WorkMeter is an educative “performance analysis” tool, and the best one I’ve used to date that helps me quickly experience increased results. It’s employee friendly nature fosters internal healthy competitive growth & development without management having to step in. Once you set the strategy, your team does the work & the learning themselves.

Eliminate the Gap

Don’t hold your finger to the wind to figure out if a storm is coming! Plan purposefully with concrete data & facts that will have you better predict the future of your organization based on historical trends. Join the new era of empowered organizations that confidently determine their own future success based on solid metrics. The execution of an idea is always more important than the brilliance of the thought, so stop dreaming about being more productive and get down to measuring it so you can manage it.

The growth of an organization is simply the accumulated growth of the individual relationships that constitute it, and it now rests on your shoulders to eliminate the gap created by perception by empowering your employees with metrics (measurements) they can learn, develop & grow from.

June 6, 2011 at 4:43 pm

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