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.

April 9, 2012 at 5:00 pm

Break Time and the Website Block: Friend or Foe?

Look at yourself now. Sitting there, many of you in that cubicle with those dull grey-colored walls surrounding you. If you an employee, you’re wondering if you’ll be caught or how you should be getting some work done, as opposed to taking your unplanned break time on the web. You revel in the fact that you found a way to entertain yourself around the website block. If you’re a supervisor, you’re basically wondering the same thing, with the added thought of whether or not there should be a website block on this. 


Should you be taking your break time right now?

It’s the never-ending cycle of employee against employer. Through the stress, the employee finally caves, throws caution to the wind, and begins their break time on the spot. The employer, wishing to meet their deadlines and push productivity to the max, searches out these distracting sites and places a block on them. Yet what they fail to realize is that this cycle in and of itself is counter-productive and that these unplanned break times are, in fact, increasing work productivity.

It’s not time wasting; it’s employee productivity enhancing!

Most popular website to block.
Also the hardest.

A relatively recent study was done by Don J.Q. Chen and Vivien K.G Lim of the National University of Singapore in 2011 proving that allowing unplanned break times on the internet (in moderation of course) and not placing a website block on entertainment and social sites do boost productivity. You’ll find this much similar to the older study I mentioned in the past by Dr. Brent Coker of the Department of Management and Marketing at Melbourne University in 2009, which had garnered the same results. 

Both studies were approached similarly: a control group was set in a normal work environment, another was allowed to take their break time in anyway other than online, and the third was given complete online access without the website block on social, entertainment, and shopping sites. The results were the same: the third group was marginally more productive than the other two.

Don’t block. Manage.

This self-regulated break time, this power given to the employees, allows them to determine on their on factors if they need a break or not. This opportunity allows them to return to work, refreshed, rejuvenated, and even motivated, as opposed to feeling like they have to work around the website blocks or forced to resume their projects. Naturally, too much break time has the opposite effect which is why it’s critical to give the employees a non-intrusive monitoring system that would show them how productive they are being or how much time they are wasting.

See related articles here and here.

April 5, 2012 at 6:10 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

Internet usage & Productivity; Compliment or bitter rivalry?

Can you recall before the advent of the internet, and this is still true today in many public service locations, how you could walk into a workplace & spot at least 1/2 of the employees reading a newspaper or standing by the water-cooler in idle chatter?

Yes folks, before the internet came to be, companies already had productivity issues! All the internet did, as with every other positive aspect it also brought about, was accelerate what was already right or worng about our organizations.

The great debate is on.. and every man and his dog has an opinion, so let me share with you my own. The internet, like anything else in life, is only a distraction in the workplace if your organization lacks the disciplined effort to engage it’s key-stakeholders in the activities required for both employee & employer to succeed. The fact is that the internet is a significant & key enabler of innovation, including finding new ways to become more productive by sharing best practices. But don’t take just my word for it, let’s explore the messaging that’s prevelant out there today.

Surprise: Internet monitoring reduces Internet use

And if you declare a police state, putting armed officers on every street corner you’ll reduce crime. But is that what you really wanted? What’s your objective? To have people use the internet less or for them to be more produce more work that drives desirable results? If the latter is your choice, then focus on getting your team on-board with a sound game-plan for achieving success. Give them the skills, knowhow, resources & effective communication strategies that will keep them highly engaged, motivated & productive. The internet isn’t the real issue.. it’s more than likely that you’re just not doing a great job of motivating people to do the right things at the right time required to achieve success.

Social networking at work leads to productivity loss

So I guess when I last connected to someone on LinkedIn, which in turn resulted in a transaction where I was engaged to perform a key (remunerated) project, that wasn’t productive? Or when I tweeted a question about what best product / service to use in order to execute on a particular task.. and I received valuable feedback that reduced the chance of my wasting time on a product that someone else had already deemed poor.. I wasn’t really being productive? Social networking at work can only lead to productivity loss if your people aren’t focused & engaged, or don’t have the skill set / knowhow to leverage social networking to their benefit.

To Lee Fayer, and others alike who make claims that “social networking costs 14 billion pounds a year in lost work time”, I would say that you’re just looking for excuses to cover up ineffective people management & engagement. For the record, let me say that if your people are spending more than 1h per day on the likes of Facebook when “they should be working” (and this phrase is key), then you’ve got a management, motivation and or engagement issue.. and not an internet usage issue.

Why Your Employees Are More Productive When They Facebook at Work

The sciences of biology & psychiatry prove that human beings need recovery breaks intermingled with intense work segments in order to maximize their effectiveness & productivity. It’s a proven fact that when you allow people to perform completely unrelated tasks in-between work-tasks, they increase their focus and output as a consequence of reaching a higher state of concentration & throughput immediately following their break.

Dr. Brent Coker’s work entitled “Freedom to surf: workers more productive if allowed to use the internet for leisure” is more than just common sense, it can also be proven by the practical nature of the following factual diagram brought to us by our friends at WorkMeter.

Because you can’t manage what you can’t measure

As this graph shows, when a control element is introduced there is a natural tendency for reduced activity. Yet when the appropriate effective management tools, engagement principles & strategic initiative motivate a workforce, what you begin to witness is true productivity (driving company results) which can actually supersede previous levels of “activity”.

What are you focusing on these days? Activity which might not be directly contributing to desired results, or productivity by using the right empowerment & engagement principles that guarantee your team get’s on-board with your strategic plan?

 

Guest Blog by JC Duarte; The Strategy Guy

February 18, 2011 at 11:00 am

Quick Win Productivity Tip-of-the-Day; Digitalize

This morning’s bank experience… I’m not naturally organized when it comes to finical matters. That said, it doesn’t mean I can’t be great at it, it’s just going to take me extra effort, energy, a framework & discipline until it becomes a newly engrained habit. That’s how life works!

So when I went to my bank this morning to establish additional accounts (buckets) for segmenting & putting funds aside for my various obligations & plans, my digitalization strategy.. which I put into effect some years ago.. came into very productive use!

The Challenge

For whatever reason, my identity details in the bank records had expired, and without the physical documentation I would have had to come back another day.. wait in another line to be attended to.. and start explaining my needs all over again.

The Solution

Fortunately I’ve digitalized my life, so with the stroke of a few keys on my smartphone, tablet pc or Laptop (in this case laptop) I accessed my Dropbox account & promptly handed (emailed) over my previously scanned legal identity.

The Reward

What turned out to be a 1h exercise, which I initially estimated at 45m, could have been double or triple (including more inconvenient trips to the bank) had I not had all my relevant information at the (extended) tips of my fingers.

I don’t do back-ups anymore.. my working files (directories) in my laptop are permanently & instantly synced with Dropbox, which means anywhere in the world, from any device, I can access my information. I share files (or directories) with clients for immediate productivity. No longer do I need time-consuming file transfers or deal with e-mail limitations. This morning’s practical example is only one.. Dropbox & digitalization (virtualization) of a significant part of my life has given me more time for me to do the things that really matter to me.. providing me a significant increase in work-life balance.

How are you virtualizing? How are you digitalizing? If you’re not, then how are you still getting stuck in your traditional off-line world / frameworks? How are they empowering or limiting you?

Guest Blog by JC Duarte; The Strategy Guy

February 16, 2011 at 5:59 pm

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