Posts Tagged ‘productivity’

100 Best companies to work for in 2009

January 31, 2009

Fortune magazine has just posted the 100 best companies to work for in 2009. Google has slipped from no. 1 to be replaced by NetApp – their policies include ditching a travel policy for common sense, writing future histories instead of business plans, and leave includes adoption aid. 

They also have a perks list which includes: 100% of health care premiums, encourage work-life balance and telecommuting, and some even help with buying a home and scholarships for kids. 

What does your company do that makes it a great place to work? 


Meetings: Necessary…or a waste of time?

January 21, 2009

A friend of mine just started an office job after working in a different industry and noted how many meetings he was suddenly involved in. Many of the meetings did not have an agenda, and there were not clear actions afterwards. He felt that sometimes the communication could have been done by email. Are all your meetings necessary? or are some a waste of time? 

A recent NY Times article notes that many meetings are not productive (even when they are discussing workplace productivity!). Here are some tips from the article to make your meetings more successful. 

  • Have an agenda and set clear objectives for the meeting. What do you need to achieve in this timeframe? 
  • Think about opportunity costs for the meeting. How many people do you really need? Do you need all those senior managers? 

Here are some more tips: 

  • Have stand-up meetings as they don’t go on for so long 
  • Minute action points and follow up – ensure there is a lasting benefit from the meeting
  • Know the difference between a meeting and a workshop, and when just an email communication will suffice

How effective are your meetings?

Social networking: Using Facebook as a workplace tool

January 11, 2009

One company grabbing the social networking trend is Serena Software, who have introduced Facebook Fridays for their staff. On Fridays, staff can spend an hour updating their sites and contacting friends and co-workers, using the site as a de-facto intranet and watercooler. Building stronger relationships within the workplace and also encouraging social interaction with potential clients and employees is obviously important, and social networks like Facebook are the way people are now doing it. You can now use social networking to get a job, as well as check on potential employees’ social lives. Recruitment is also moving online with LinkedIn becoming the professional choice. 

Contact me on Facebook 

Contact me on LinkedIn

Holidays: New study shows Australians are not taking them

January 10, 2009

A new study by Tourism Australia has shown that people are not taking their annual leave, but working instead.Close to 60% of full-time workers did not use their 4 weeks holiday, citing “workplace issues” and “personal issues” as reasons why. 

Stockpiling annual leave has an effect on people’s performance and workplace happiness as well as the company bottom line. The study is aimed at turning this missing leave into Australian holidays to boost the tourism industry, which should have a positive effect for everyone. 

“In the interests of workplace productivity as well as individuals’ mental refreshment and general health, it is important that annual leave be taken seriously by business.  During this time of skill shortages, employers who want to retain their talented workers increasingly need to be seen as employers of choice.

 “Employers who impose a culture of ‘work first at all costs’ are not investing in their people and will lose them to competitors who have a culture of looking after their human capital,” Jo Mithen, AHRI executive director said in the report.

Job efficiency: 12 ways to improve your personal efficiency

August 4, 2008


We are all busy. Work is busy and so is our personal life. So how do we get it all done? Here are 12 tips to improve your efficiency.

  1. Make lists. These will help de-clutter your mind and organise what you need to do into specific tasks.
  2. Spring clean your office space. At work and at home, go through and ditch all the old paperwork in your drawers. Do the filing and create a To Do pile that consists of the relevant information. Make space on your desk and you will find your head clearing.
  3. Streamline your bill paying. Set up direct debits for the common household bills. Organise online banking for everything else and make sure you pay early for discounts.
  4. Shop online. You can get everything online now including your weekly groceries which saves you time (although may cost more). You are less likely to browse online, and you can shop out of hours.
  5. Organise your email. Keep your Inbox for items that need actioning. Archive old mail and delete old stuff. If you use a searchable email system like Gmail and don’t use folders, then make sure you use the Archive function so the Inbox is still actionable items.
  6. Be proactive about your calendar. Whether you use a PDA or a Filofax/ paper diary, make sure that you actively manage your calendar. Put in your regular appointments, birthdays and things to remember. Then plan your weekends, and week nights writing in items like the gym, social plans and business meetings. If you organise in advance, you will fit so much more in.
  7. Be ruthless with your email and phone contact. Limit your phone and email usage to specific times during the day, and do all admin tasks at the same time. This chunks your time into manageable pieces.
  8. Learn to say no.  When asked to do something, weigh up whether or not you really need to do it. Sometimes people get trapped into doing tasks that are not part of their job because they are being nice. But this can impact stress levels and people are often respectful if you say no for good reason.
  9. Find out about job opportunities for flexi-working. In these times of high fuel prices and the need to retain staff, companies are allowing telecommuting and flexible hours. If you can work from home, you can use the commuting time for other things.
  10. Stop procrastinating.  There are always things you don’t want to do, but they need to get done. By putting them off, blockages are created as those items just sit on your list. Stop procrastinating and do them first. At the beginning of the day is always a good way to get them done quickly.
  11. Delegate and outsource tasks. Within a company, see who you can delegate or share tasks with. At home, consider outsourcing tasks like cleaning and gardening to free up quality time for other things. In business, try using a Virtual Assistant or outsourcing to contract labour online e.g.
  12. Set up Google alerts for targeted information. If you need to monitor specific news or information online, set up Google alerts so you are emailed with the latest updates. This prevents the need for trawling the internet. The information is sent daily. Subscribe to newsfeeds and RSS feeds for the sites you want to monitor.  
  13. Add to FacebookAdd to NewsvineAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to Ma.gnoliaAdd to TechnoratiAdd to Furl

Work stress and ways to change the workplace

June 3, 2008

A new study in Australia has shown that nearly one in five working women with depression can attribute it to their job and one in eight depressed working men have problems because of work stress.


One key contributor is high demands and low control within a job, with people in lower paid roles particularly at risk.


This is nothing new. Studies like this come out every week. But the attitude of the VicHealth organisation is encouraging. Todd Harper (CEO) states “I think one of the things that we can do is to actually convince workplaces that this information is important, that they actually stand to benefit out of this because in a time of workforce shortage, the most valuable employees are the ones that you already have, keeping them healthy is the priority,” he said.
“Simply increasing the demands on staff comes with consequences and I think workplaces are aware of that, they can start to design their work in a more efficient and productive way.”


Here are some ideas for making the change to efficiency and productivity in the workplace. These will provide more control to employees which should reduce stress levels.


·        Make teams self managing and autonomous. Adults are self organising and will achieve given deadlines and clear roles and responsibilities.

·        Trust people to do the job without micromanagement. Managers do not need to go to all meetings. Delegate responsibility and make people feel they are valued.

·        Back up your team members. Don’t overturn decisions made by others if delegation of authority has occurred. This undermines confidence and displays a lack of trust.  

·        Give people the opportunity and encouragement to act creatively without fear of recrimination or blame in case of failure.

·        Embrace new ideas and reward people for submitting them

·        Treat people well and respect individuals for their skills. Don’t try to put people in boxes. Their job description is not the end of who that person is. Give people an opportunity to shine.

Lunch breaks: Why you need to take one every day

May 17, 2008

The lunch hour seems to have disappeared in the modern office world. People rush from one meeting to the next and spend every spare minute trawling their in-boxes. Coffee or cigarette breaks are more common than the lunch break which is often spent wolfing down a quick meal at the desk. A study by KFC Corp found that 60% of workers in corporate America consider the lunch hour to be “biggest myth of office life”.

But the demise of the lunch break is having an adverse effect on the office workers of today. Employers should take note of the benefits that a break can provide in terms of productivity and employee happiness.

Here are 6 options for the lunch break that could benefit you and the company.

1.    Give your brain a break. Concentrating hard on work tasks all the time makes it difficult for the brain to rest. In a resting state, or doing something different, the brain can often come up with the answers that are sought. If somewhere is available, take a nap. A study with NASA pilots showed that a 26 minute nap improved mental performance by 34%. A 45 minute nap boosted performance for up to 6 hours later.


2.    Give your body a break from the computer. Office workers suffer from posture issues, eye strain and Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI). Workplaces may encourage stretching and mini-breaks but these are often forgotten in the rush of trying to get everything done. Get out of the chair and go for a walk. Give your mouse hand a rest, change posture and stretch in the lunch break.  The majority of offices are also air conditioned which dries the air and recycles fumes, spores and other people’s germs. Dehydration and inactivity can cause headaches. A walk in the fresh air and drinking more water can help combat these issues.

3.    Get some sunlight. Sunlight improves mood and lifts happiness. People spend so much time under fluorescent lighting which has been linked in some studies to health problems and inability to concentrate. In winter, people may arrive and leave in the dark and get no natural light in the office. Make sure you get some sun in the daytime hours by going outside even just to walk around the block.  


4.    Get some exercise. Exercise has been proven to improve brain function and productivity. It reduces stress and improves blood flow to the brain and the muscles. Aerobic exercise in particular improves executive functions like problem solving, planning and attention which are critical to office jobs.  

5.    Eat a proper meal slowly. Focus on eating when you take your lunch break rather than multi-tasking on the computer. Take your time and make the most of it and you will feel less hungry in the afternoon. Eating the right food can also modulate mood and enable more effective concentration in the afternoon.  


6.    Social support reduces stress, improves job satisfaction and retention. Meet up with colleagues and friends to spend your lunch hour catching up and discussing issues. Get it all out of your system in one go instead of going round to people’s desks to have a chat at other times which may disrupt a productive day.

These options will improve productivity in the afternoon, as well as job satisfaction resulting in benefits for the company as well as for individuals. So put a recurring meeting in your diary every day for the lunch break and make a decision to improve your day. If you are a Manager, tell your employees to have a lunch break every day and see how the office improves.  

Work from Home: 7 reasons you should do it

May 13, 2008

Thursday 15 May is National Work from Home day in the UK. Broadband access, mobile phones and company provided laptops means people can increasingly work from anywhere, so why not from home?

Here are 7 reasons why everyone should work from home one day per week.


1)    Get stuff done. Away from water-cooler gossip, desk interruptions and meetings, you can power through those work tasks and still make time for coffee. Demonstrate to your boss that you can achieve more on a day from home, and you can ask for another one next week. Focus on being productive instead of just busy.


2)    Work when you are most productive. You have the freedom to choose what hours to work. If you are a morning person, start early and be finished by mid-afternoon. Or have a lie in and take the afternoon shift.


3)    Get some exercise.

Less time commuting means you can get to the gym or go for a walk before sitting down to work. Get up at the same time and spend your morning commute time exercising. The increased blood flow will actually help you work smarter, instead of harder.  


4)    Save money.

No fuel or travel costs, no lunch out or lattes. Eat from the fridge and keep the money in your wallet. No lunchtime shopping to break up the office day, so you know you can have a day without spending money.


5)    Save your family life.

Have breakfast with your partner. See your kids at breakfast and before they are in bed. Finish work at 5pm and be home already. Don’t spend those commuting hours doing extra work. Stop and enjoy being at home. It’s called work/life balance.  


6)    Your company wants you to take the day at home. Studies show that working from home makes for a more motivated workforce, reduces sickness absences, reduces staff turnover and reduces office costs. It also helps reduce workplace stress which costs UK business 5 billion per year. (


7)    Save the planet. If all commuting workers spent one day less on the road, rail and bus systems per week, vehicle emissions would drop, air pollution would be reduced and the carbon footprint could be drastically cut.

So talk to your boss and make a case for a day at home this week that benefits everyone.