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Via AdWeek : How to Foster Inclusion in Your Workplace in Just 15 Minutes a Day

McCann Worldgroup’s chief diversity officer says small decisions influence big change.

Singleton Beato has spent years thinking deeply about how to drive business and innovation through implementing diversity and inclusion policies as McCann Worldgroup‘s chief diversity and engagement officer since 2017. She joined us for an episode of Top of Mind to talk about solutions to one of the agency world’s (and wider world’s) toughest problems.

The good news: She’s seen an encouraging shift in the number of leaders focused on inclusion in their organizations. “I am totally excited about the conversations happening around diversity and inclusion,” she says. “It’s top of mind for CMOs and CEOs. … In order to be innovative, you’ve got to have diverse thinkers all around you, all the time.”

She cautions against impatience, though. Real change is about changing minds, not quick-fix initiatives.

Her best advice for leaders is to spend 15 minutes a day speaking to employees who are different from them, whom they might not normally talk with. It makes employees feel valued, broadens leaders’ perspectives and influences colleagues to do the same.

“If you’re demonstrating inclusive behavior yourself, the change will happen,” she says.

Watch to the end of this episode to hear the scary advice Beato’s mom gave her when she was up for her first C-suite job, then check out more episodes of Top of Mind.

Via Forbes : How To Design The Best Workplace (Even When It’s At Home)

The last few weeks have seen a tremendous rise in the acceptance of home working, with employers across the world advocating it in a bid to ensure employees remain healthy in the face of COVID-19. With remote working largely a minority activity in many workplaces, it raises the prospect of people working in environments that are not ideal, as they have never had to consider their home work environment before.

Place someone in the hustle and bustle of Grand Central Station, and it’s unlikely that they would perform well in the kind of tasks we require of people in the workplace. As such, environmental psychologist Sally Austin argues that the way our workplaces are designed is crucially important to the effectiveness of employees.

In Built to Thrive: How to Build the Best Workplaces for Health, Well-Being, & Productivity, she highlights how important seemingly esoteric factors, such as the color of the walls or the configuration of the furniture affect our performance at work.

The work is part of a growing movement towards making our workplaces more humane places to be, with a noble aim to improve productivity by making us happier and healthier when we cross the threshold each morning.

Making work better

The question is, do we still need to come into an office in order to be happy and productive workers? Broadband Internet connections and portable computing tools are largely pervasive, thus enabling many ‘knowledge workers’ to work from anywhere they choose.

It’s estimated that nearly a quarter of American workers work remotely, with over 1.5 million workers in the U.K. working from home full-time. Indeed, across the globe, it’s estimated that up to 70% of people work remotely at least one day a week.

It’s already fairly well established that workers are happiest when they have agency over their working conditions, including the hours of work, the location of work, and often even the type of work they do. This leads to lower stress levels and higher engagement. Indeed, research has even shown that people would gladly accept lower pay for such autonomy.

Of course, this is not a new concept, with telecommuting existing as a concept back in the 1970s, but the availability of technology has made it increasingly feasible. It’s perhaps no surprise that it has found a willing home in the tech sector itself, with startups ranging from Automattic, Fiverr, InVision and GitLab all having a distributed workforce working from wherever they feel most comfortable.

Attracting the best

The cost of corporate real estate has long been an issue for those in the facilities management profession, but the costs associated with urban living is increasingly an issue for HR departments too. Areas such as San Francisco, New York and London are becoming more and more expensive to live in, and are seeing talent priced out into more affordable areas. By allowing workers to operate remotely, therefore, organizations are opening themselves up to a far broader talent pool than is available within commuting distance of a physical office.

The economics of work are just one of the factors behind this move, however. While working together in a single location can help workers to collaborate and innovate, they can also have a range of nefarious influences, from politicking and distracting that undermine performances.

Companies such as GitLab are attempting to bring an extreme level of transparency to their work in a bid to overcome these factors. Team meetings are shared on YouTube, with employees crowdsourcing the employee handbook collectively. The idea is that all employees have a say and a stake in how the company is run.

Of course, just because you’re not working in an office environment doesn’t mean that you could, or should, ignore the best practice guidelines in workplace design. It’s still where you need to produce your best efforts, so needs to be the ideal environment to support that.

Ideal home (office)

Working from home affords you a large degree of freedom around your work environment, and in doing so, you might want to consider things like the work you’ll be doing, the equipment you’ll need, whether you’ll be making conference calls, or even hosting external clients or colleagues.

For instance, central offices have a huge array of equipment, most of which you probably use very rarely. A photocopier, for instance, is very expensive, so you are probably better off using local copying services rather than investing in hardware yourself.

Lighting is also a crucial consideration to make when planning your home office. In an ideal world you want to ensure you have as much natural daylight as possible, as this is the most evenly balanced source of light available.

It’s also hugely important to ensure you have privacy in your workspace, especially if other people are at home as you work. Just as the noise of an open office environment disrupts our work, so too does noise in our home environment. You might also consider ways to mark out your work area, with bookcases a personal favorite as it provides a physical barrier while also providing excellent storage space.

Working remotely, you also often lack any kind of health and safety policies, but that doesn’t mean you should neglect your wellbeing by skimping on an ergonomically robust workspace. The health risks of sitting are now well established, and many traditional furniture places our body in an unnatural and unhealthy posture. This should not, of course, be limited to your chair, but your entire workspace.

“Rather than sitting all day, you need to have circuits of activity, and you don’t want to be efficient and have everything in arms reach,” says the University of California, Berkeley’s Galen Cranz. “Instead, you want to get up to answer the phone, file something or talk to somebody else. You have to build micro-movements into office routines.”

Cranz highlights how we can typically tolerate just three hours of sitting per day, as doing so results in the electrical activity in our muscles dropping, and a reduction in the lipase that our liver uses to digest and break down fat. This is why sitting for prolonged periods is so risky in terms of heart attacks, strokes and cancer. Make sure you construct your workspace to counter this risk.

Going mainstream

It’s perhaps been too easy to dismiss flexible working as the preserve of the software industry, and therefore not something for the rest of us to worry about, but that’s increasingly not the case. Indeed, across the world, organizations are scrambling to put remote working procedures in place in response to the COVID-19 crisis.

While the software industry have undoubtedly led the way, now is the time to learn from their experiences and explore how remote working can benefit your organization, and especially your workforce.

When given the choice, a growing number of people are choosing to forgo their commute, and the unproductive environs of their open office and instead deciding to work in an environment they control. The workplace industry has focused almost exclusively on the office environment for decades, and while progress has undoubtedly been made in that domain, it’s high time they lent their expertise to the growing market for remote working, so that our home offices are as healthy and productive as they can be.

Via CStore Decisions : 9 Tips to Make Working Remotely Work for You and Your Employer

The concept of remote working has been around for a long time. Many entrepreneurs have mastered the ability to work virtually, but it is often a major challenge for those who normally work in a busy office setting to shift to working outside their traditional office environment. Working remotely can feel more isolating than mingling with co-workers in an office setting.

Being effective while you work remotely takes more than a mindset shift. It requires a disciplined approach to planning your activities and seeking out opportunities to interact with your co-workers. Here are nine practical tips you can use to make the most of this experience.

1. Establish a Routine

Just as you have a routine in your normal workday, try to mimic this routine as you work in your remote location. Whether it is at your home, an airport, or a coffee shop, following your normal work schedule is vital to feeling like you are really working. Start your workday at the same time. Make sure you get dressed. Wearing your pajamas might be comfortable, but it does not prepare your mindset for work. It can become easy to get distracted when you are working in a different environment, so focus on acting like you’re still working in a supervised workplace. This approach will help you feel more like you are working.

2. Set up a Dedicated Workspace

Having an area in your home where you do your work is essential to success in working remotely. It is easy to become distracted by the dog, television or the pile of household tasks that need to be completed. When you are in your workspace, you are working. If you combine it with following your normal worktimes, you can do a better job of staying focused.

3. Convert Commute Time to Learning Time

The time you used to spend on your commute is now extra time that you can use to enhance your value by learning something new. With the plethora of online courses and videos, you can take advantage of this “commute time” to enhance your skills. Even better, you might be able to get a certificate of completion that will make you even more valuable when you get back to a normal office work routine.

4. Take a Lunch Break

One of the most challenging aspects about working remotely is that it becomes easy to just sit at your desk and eat your lunch. In a normal work environment, you have to walk somewhere and often wait a bit to get your food. At home, your lunch time could drop from an hour to 15 minutes. Use the extra time to get in your workout or engage in some other activity to benefit your health. Giving yourself a solid break during the day will help reinvigorate you and give you a mental boost.

5. Connect with Others

When you are feeling a little lonely or isolated, take a minute to reach out to someone. Rather than sending a lengthy email, see if a colleague is available to talk live about a project. If they are working remotely too, they might welcome the human contact! Intentional connections like this build team bonds and help sustain you when you are working remotely. It also offers you additional opportunities to dig even deeper into issues and brainstorm alternative solutions to critical issues.

6. Use Video Conferencing

Using technology applications such as video conferencing is a great way to connect people from different locations. It provides a deeper level of connection and engagement than a phone call or text. Don’t worry about looking perfect on camera. The key here is using technology to connect with each other. Remote meetings are often very effective, but you need to make sure everyone is focused on the meeting and not multi-tasking! You can even set up regularly scheduled meetings via video conferencing so you can add more structure to your workday.

7. Communicate Clearly

If you are now relying on digital communication with your colleagues through email, be sure you are communicating effectively. Sarcasm or snarky comments have no place in written communication as they can be taken out of context without the body language or facial expressions to convey your meaning. Take some time to plan out the structure for your communication. Identify your key messages and what you need to add to support them. This will help you clarify your thinking and be better understood by others when they are only relying on your written communication.

8. Leverage Your Opportunities for Productivity

You will likely discover you are more productive without all of the interruptions common during an office workday. The lack of interruptions and distractions create additional opportunities for you to be more efficient in completing your normal work responsibilities. But it also offers you the opportunity to be even more productive. Leverage this productivity and tackle that special project you were hoping to get done someday. That someday is now! Just make sure it is a one-off project, not a permanent addition to your job responsibilities.

9. Be Aware of the Time Trap

It is not uncommon for people to feel guilty that they are not working hard enough when working remotely. It is easy to fall into the time trap to seek out additional job responsibilities to fill your time. Keep in mind that you won’t have the same opportunities for productivity once you go back to a normal office environment. You and your boss should be clear about this so the extra work does not cause complications when you get back into the work setting.

While it is not ideal to have a major shift in how you work, you can adapt to the situation with practice and focus. Keep in mind that it takes time learning to balance all of the complex aspects of working remotely. Be creative in exploring all your options for maintaining a connection with those you work with. Just make sure you keep your mindset on making a remote situation work for you — and your employer.

Via Science Mag : Working from home because of COVID-19? Here are 10 ways to spend your time

“Classes are cancelled, exams are being re-scheduled, university buildings are staying shut, meetings are being postponed indefinitely,” a Ph.D. student who is based in Austria tweeted last week. “Now what am I supposed to do?”

As the COVID-19 pandemic sweeps the world, many academics are of course dealing with greater concerns, such as the health of family, friends, or themselves. But for those free of illness and related burdens, and stuck at home, what do you do with your time? Here are some ideas for scientists who suddenly find themselves working from home.

1. Take care of yourself.

As a first step, don’t neglect your physical and mental health. Meditate. Do jumping jacks in your living room. Practice yoga. Whatever it is that works for you, do what it takes to care for your body and mind.

2. Learn a new skill.

Let’s face it. If you’re stuck at home, you’re probably not going to become an expert on how to run a mass spectrometer. But you could beef up your computer programming skills—for instance, by learning how to create a fancy new graph in R or how to produce documents in LaTeX. You could also read a book about a new topic or circle back to that online course that you never finished.

3. Revisit that long forgotten project.

Somewhere in the deep, dark depths of your computer’s file system, do you have an unfinished manuscript or unpublished data? If so, then you might want to use this time to dust off the files and figure out whether what you have is, in fact, publishable.

4. Promote your work online.

Consider devoting time to a bit of marketing. Does your personal website need updating? Have you been meaning to set up a Twitter profile and learn what hashtags are? Would you like to write a popular science article? Or create a YouTube video about your research? If so, this might be the perfect time to wiggle your way out from underneath the rock you’ve been living under and find new avenues for connecting with other researchers and sharing your work. If you’re struggling with social isolation at home, then social media might also help with that—giving you a way to interact and commiserate with other scientists, such as those on #AcademicTwitter.

5. Create a graphical abstract of your research.

Graphical abstracts—self-explanatory visual summaries of the main findings of your research—are an increasingly popular way to communicate science. They take time to make, but they are a perfect eye-catcher and are recyclable. Once you’ve made one, you can place it on posters, presentation slides, papers, and social media platforms. It could even help you build your personal brand.

6. Apply for funding.

You might benefit from spending time scouring the internet for fellowships, grants, and awards. Don’t just look in the most obvious places, such as federal grant agency websites. Take a look around for industry awards, lower profile fellowships, and little pots of research funding that you might be able to apply for. Even if you don’t receive an award, the process of applying will help you master the skill of grant writing.

7. Think about your career plans.

When you’re in the lab, it’s easy to focus on your next experiment and neglect long-term career planning. So, consider using some of your homebound time to learn more about yourself and your career options. You could read a book about career planning, test out career options with online job simulations, or use free introspection tools, such as myIDP. These things will help you reflect on the skills you have, brainstorm skills you’d like to develop, and think about where you see yourself headed in the future.

8. Conduct informational interviews.

If you have a few ideas about jobs that might interest you, then take this time to reach out to professionals who currently hold those jobs. In the midst of a pandemic, it’s not appropriate to ask them to meet up for coffee. But you can ask them for a quick phone call or Skype chat. The reality is that the people whom you’d like to speak with may be working from home too. What’s more, they might be itching for more social contact. So, informational interviews could be a good way to break isolation, learn about someone’s career, and build a network, while still keeping a distance.

9. Be nice to your fellow humans.

If you live with others, being cooped up with them fulltime might be less fun than you imagined it to be. Channel your frustrations into something harmless—for instance, by punching a pillow, exhausting yourself with pushups, or placing a tea towel between your teeth and screaming as loud as you can. Whatever you do, don’t punch anyone.

10. Do fun stuff.

Close your eyes and think back to the time before you went to grad school. What was giving you joy? Is there an old hobby you can pick up again? One upside of your home confinement is that you no longer need to spend time commuting back and forth to work. Can you reallocate that time to doing something that will bring you joy—or, at the very least, alleviate some stress?

It’s an incredibly turbulent time for most of us. Take care of yourself and others, and remember to wash your hands!

Via Business 2 Community : Ways to Increase Productivity in the Workplace

Productivity is all linked with your employees’ satisfaction levels. Your employees are your backbone and their performance levels are what you should always keep in mind. Because they can either make or break your business in the long run.

Their happiness levels are going to reflect their work and their productivity, which eventually will make your organization grow. However, if you see that the productivity levels of your employees are decreasing with time, then you might want to make changes in your work culture.

Here are a few simple tips on how you can increase productivity in your workplace.

8 Effective tips to maximize productivity

1. Always Delegate

There is always this question if your employees are assigned the right task. Somehow if your employees end up doing a task which they are not proficient in, it might hamper their morale and productivity. They will find the job overwhelming and will not be able to achieve their targets.

However, as a manager, if you delegate your employees and guide them towards the right task, then they are most likely to be successful in what they do. With the right job in hand, your employees’ productivity will rise, and there will be a rise in their morale.

2. Reducing Distractions

With the rise of social media platforms, it has become evident that it consumes much of everyone’s time. These social media platforms also become productivity killers in an organization. And in the long run, it can cause harm to your business.

However, to reduce the use of social media and decrease distractions, limit their use during office hours. But do keep in mind to provide periodic breaks so that your employees do not feel that you are controlling their personal life. This way, you will be able to maintain a balance between social media use and an employees’ productivity.

3. Providing the right tools and equipment

Providing the right tools and equipment is vital if you want to increase the productivity of your employees. You don’t want your employees to be stuck with all the manual paperwork or doing small scale jobs, which can be automated. Instead, incorporate a system that is going to help them swiftly wrap up such tasks.

Right tools make a huge difference not only when it comes to your employees, but it also helps the organization in quickly achieving tasks, which in the extended run increases productivity, efficiency and increases their skill level.

4. Work Environment

The work environment which you provide will play a crucial factor in your employees’ productivity. Our immediate surrounding and workplace environment has a significant impact on the state of our minds. Some of the parameters which determine your employees’ productivity are the design of the workplace, company values, leadership styles, and a lot more.

You need to be able to create a positive work environment where your employees can focus. An environment where everyone is comfortable and works on collaborating. This will help you a lot, in the long run, as your employees will be able to increase their productivity and enhance their performance.

5. Breaks in a busy Schedule

We get it; the corporate world right now is too busy with all the changes that are going on. Along with that, every employee in an organization is occupied with numerous amount of tasks, which is creating significant disruption in the work-life balance.

However, as a manager, you can change that. Giving your employees a much-needed break from a busy schedule will help them regroup physically and psychologically. This will also showcase that you are being a good leader for them and understanding their needs. You are giving them the time needed to have a fresh start, eventually increasing their productivity and helping their overall morale.

6. Employee Satisfaction

While we ponder upon how to achieve a business strategy, we often tend to forget about our employees. Always try to remember that your employees are your backbone, and they are the ones that can guide you and your business towards success. And to gain loyalty from them, you must heed upon their satisfaction levels.

To increase their satisfaction levels, it is essential that you understand what they want from the job and which task will suit them. Placing them in the right department and giving them the right job will enhance their productivity. Not only that, but it will also help them concentrate and become proficient in what they work on.

7. Perks that Matter

The perks that your organization has to provide play a significant part in increasing productivity. Perks and awards should be meaningful and tangible. It should never be impractical. An employee should be able to make good use of the perks that you have to provide.

Perks like flexible work schedules, paid holidays, remote working, financial assistance, and much more. These will not only help them ease their overall stress but is likely going to increase their work efficiency and productivity in the long run. And one bonus of providing good perks is that it will build loyalty and reduce turnover.

8. Fun Work Space

A workplace can sometimes become dull, stressful, and dreary places. This not only hinders employees’ performances, but it also reduces employee productivity. So, what can you do to avoid such situations?

Creating a workplace where employees can have some time off for fun activities is always a good idea. Installing a ping-pong table or a room to have a friendly chat or maybe a room full of just board games are some of the good ideas which you can adapt to. When you add fun along with work, you see decreased levels of burnout and increased levels of productivity.

Summing it Up

Employee engagement is all linked with your employees’ productivity levels. The more productive they become, the better they perform, which is a good sign in terms of taking the organization forward. Once you can provide all the necessary tools and facilities for your employees, you will see an engaged workforce who are not only productive but are efficient with their work. So, try to elevate your efforts in increasing the productivity of your employees and see the positive result it bears.