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Productivity

Via Real Business : How workplace design drives productivity for employees of all ages

There are many ways in which businesses can design their workspace to boost productivity and attract talent, while also keeping costs to a minimum. However, it’s understandable that business owners can be a little nervous about how to cater to the preferences of employees from a variety of different generations all in one space. Here are some tips to make a start…

The workspace of today has evolved far beyond the conventional office portrayed in popular culture, which are typically comprised of sterile white cubicles and grey carpet tiles. What has remained the same, however, is the desire to utilise the space to encourage productivity among employees.

Employee habits are changing, including the way they work and collaborate. With productivity levels in offices across the UK falling to an all-time low, it’s now essential for businesses to create a workspace that fosters productivity and collaboration among its employees.

How do you cater for different generations – all in one workspace?

By 2020, the global workforce is expected to be dominated by Millennials (22-37 years old) (35%) and Generation X (38-53 years old) (35%), with baby boomers (54-72 years old) accounting for 6%. With this in mind, designing workspaces to meet the needs of all generations of the workforce can be challenging, costly and time-consuming.

Avoid dangerous assumptions about certain generations

Attitudes towards work-life balance have shifted considerably over the last decade. While the assumption may be that Millennials and Generation Z employees’ value work-life balance most, research suggests 94% of baby boomers also want a flexible work schedule that provides quality of life.

Whether a business is expanding, refurbishing an existing office or relocating, flexibility must be built into the heart of every workspace. While the assumption may be that trends like hot desking embrace flexibility, research has shown that the lack of ownership of a space can make employees feel less valued as a result.

One size fits no-one

To create a productive and successful workplace, office design must move beyond generalisations and recognise that one size does not fit all. Designing an office to promote optimum efficiency is about creating the space and work environment that incorporates the right tools needed to meet the unique needs of your organisation.

As a result, businesses relocating offices to accommodate their design requirements should take into consideration how each of their employees approach their work.

Today’s employees are used to working in a variety of different spaces to suit their task. In settings where a combination of individual and collaborative work is required, activity-based working can provide far greater flexibility, while increasing productivity and collaboration.

Organisations embracing activity-based working should create versatile areas for employees to work at through the day, according to their task. This includes designated meeting areas, secluded spaces for quiet time and concentration and breakout spaces.

Breakout spaces

Introducing a designated area for employees to meet and socialise away from the main office creates a ‘home from home’ feel, while fostering a workplace culture that promotes creative thinking and employee wellbeing.

Breakout areas do not need to take up excessive space, and can be created on a low budget. Businesses can enhance their existing space by simply fitting comfortable furniture, such as sofas and tables, which work to enhance the interaction between employees and provide a space for ad-hoc meetings and brainstorming sessions.

Maximise private spaces

When relocating offices, it’s important to consider that while the open-plan workplace may work for some, there are still a substantial number of office workers across all ages that prefer private areas to maximise efficiency when working individually.

Workplaces operating within creative industries, where interaction and team-work is encouraged, are more likely to benefit from open plan offices. However, offices without private areas can be particularly problematic in workplaces that require high levels of concentration or frequent telephone contact, such as in financial, technological and contact centre environments.

Installing segregating panels on desks can reduce distractions and background noise, while also offering employees a sense of privacy. By offering this option, businesses can reap the collaborative benefits of the open plan, without sacrificing productivity.

Add some colour to the workday

More businesses are viewing their office space as a strategic component of a business plan than ever before. Colour schemes are an example of how businesses are communicating their brand values through their workspace, while leaving a lasting impression on clients.

Bright colours bring life to a workspace, whether by reinforcing your brand identity or by creating a personality, a unique feel and atmosphere for every area and space.

Under a traditional model, businesses are highly restricted in how they can design their office to communicate their brand values. Additionally, the possibility that businesses may need to expand, reduce, reallocate or relocate their workforce can be extremely costly and entirely impractical.

With flexible managed office models like Managed Office Solutions (MOS), office design is determined by the occupier and not the provider, and can be bespoke to the business’s requirements. This integrated approach manages each component of the process, while providing the expert knowledge that most organisations don’t have internally.

Via Learning Mind : 7 Basic Personal Effectiveness Skills

Every day we spend our time and energy on achieving our goals. But even the same goal can be reached with different costs by different people. It happens because we all have different personal effectiveness.

Our personal effectiveness depends on our innate characteristics – talent and experience accumulated in the process of our personal development.

Talents first are needed to be identified and then developed to be used in a particular subject area (science, literature, sports, politics, etc.).

Experience includes knowledge and skills that we acquire in the process of cognitive and practical activities. Knowledge is required for setting goals, defining an action plan to achieve them and risk assessment. Skills also determine whether real actions are performed in accordance with the plan. If the same ability is used many times in the same situation, then it becomes a habit that runs automatically, subconsciously.

Here are some skills that will greatly increase the efficiency of any person who owns them:

1. Determination

It allows you to focus only on achieving a specific goal without being distracted by less important things or spontaneous desires. It may be developed with the help of self-discipline exercise.

2. Self-confidence

It appears in the process of personal development, as a result of getting aware of yourself, your actions and their consequences. Self-confidence is manifested in speech, appearance, dressing, gait, and physical condition. To develop it, you need to learn yourself and your capabilities, gain a positive attitude and believe that by performing right actions and achieving right goals you will certainly reach success.

3. Persistence

It makes you keep moving forward regardless of emerging obstacles – problems, laziness, bad emotional state, etc. It reduces the costs of overcoming obstacles. It can also be developed with the help of self-discipline exercise.

4. Managing stress

It helps combat stress that arises in daily life from the environment and other people. Stress arises from the uncertainty in an unknown situation when a lack of information creates the risk of negative consequences of your actions. It increases efficiency in the actively changing environment. It requires problem-solving skills.

5. Problem-solving skills

They help cope with the problems encountered with a lack of experience. It increases efficiency by adopting new ways of achieving goals when obtaining a new experience.

6. Creativity

It allows you to find extraordinary ways to carry out a specific action that no one has tried to use. It can lead to a decrease or an increase of costs, but usually, the speed of action is greatly increased when using creative tools. It requires the ability to generate ideas.

7. Generating ideas

It helps you achieve goals using new, original, unconventional ideas. The idea is a mental image of an object formed by the human mind, which can be changed before being implemented in the real world. For generating ideas you can use a method of mental maps, which allows you to materialize, visualize and scrutinize all your ideas, which in turn contributes to the emergence of new ideas.

These are just some, but the most important personal effectiveness skills which make the achievement of any goal easier and less costly.

Via Thrive Global : Three Ways to Improve Work Relationships and Increase Your Own Effectiveness

When confronted with people who bug the you know what out of you, do you tend to expect that they (not you) need to change? While it’s temporarily satisfying to believe that changing others is the way to improve relationships, the best approach to building effective relationships is by changing yourself first.

Follow these three practices to start with yourself first:

1. Ask for feedback, don’t just give it. If you can’t recall the time you last asked for feedback, you’re in good company. Most of us resist it because we equate it with criticism. But if we see feedback as something useful that can support us in getting better, we won’t be so threatened by it. Use these tips when asking for feedback:

Assume good intent. Most people mean well, so give them the benefit of the doubt. Those who have mustered the courage to give you feedback are feeling as vulnerable sharing it as you are receiving it. Show up with an open heart and signal that it is “safe” to give you feedback.

Ask for it skillfully. Don’t surprise people with a request for feedback on the spot. Give them advance notice to prepare. Instead of a general, “How did I do?” ask people to share specific things you could say or do to improve.

Act on It Immediately. While you don’t need to implement every piece of feedback, you do need to act on it, or share why you aren’t going to act on it. People may start to feel safe when you ask them for feedback, but they will know they are safe when they see you take action.

2. Get the Volume Right on Your Strengths. We all rely on our natural “go-to” strengths to get work done. Imagine your strengths are like a pair of headphones. Sometimes, the volume feels inadequate after a few minutes, so we inch up the level—potentially damaging our ears in the process.

Our strengths function in the same way. We grow accustomed to using them at a certain level. But without even realizing it, we dial them up—especially in times of stress—potentially damaging relationships. For example, a strength of practicality, if dialed too high, can become pessimism; loyalty can become gullibility, and passion can become dominance.

Practice getting your volume right by identifying three strengths. Describe how “setting the volume too high” in each strength would look. Then, ask a trusted friend if they’ve seen you exhibit those behaviors. Finally, brainstorm a different strength that might have been more effective in the situation, and/or if needed, which ways you might turn the volume down on the original strength in the future.

3. Identify Your Contribution, Not Just Your To-Do List. Consider the important roles you play at work and home. Don’t just think about the things you need to do in each of those roles. Think about who you want to be in each role. This will help you identify the contribution you want to make in each role and how you will show up for the people who matter most.

Identify a mix of 5-7 of your most important personal and professional roles. Write down one person you influence in each role (i.e. If you’re a manager, choose one of the people you lead. If you’re a parent, choose one of your children. Next to each name, write a sentence or two about what you hope that person would say about you if they were giving you a glowing review. Use the following examples to guide you in creating a tribute statement for each of your important roles:

Parent: He loves me unconditionally no matter what I do. He helps me see my potential.

Leader: She listens to my ideas and always gives me opportunities to grow and develop my skills.

Project Manager: He makes it safe to explore options and take risks. I’m free to make mistakes as I learn what will and won’t work.

Friend: I never feel judged or pitied by her. I always feel encouraged and understood.

Share your tribute statement with each person you identified, then ask each one: From your perspective, what do I need to start doing to make this statement a reality? Once you have everyone’s feedback, identify a few actions you will take today to become the person you want to become.

By changing yourself first and resisting the urge to try and change others, you will improve relationships more quickly, increase your personal effectiveness, and have far greater influence in the long-run.

Via UGMC : How To Maximize Personal Effectiveness & Productivity

“Productivity is never an accident. It is always the result of a commitment to excellence, intelligent planning, and focused effort.” – Paul J. Meyer

Effectively managing and maximizing our time and resources are the keys to personal effectiveness and productivity. Managing our lives means managing ourselves, our tasks, our resources and others so that we can satisfy our needs, wants and the needs of others. Thus, the better we manage and use our time, the better our lives will become.

Here are some tips on how you can manage and use your time to the best.

1. Master The Psychology of Effective Time Management

  • Understand that Managing Time is actually Managing Yourself, Your Plans, Activities, Resources etc..
  • Think & Do Smarter
  • Work Hard but Smart
  • Always Keep Your Personal Life in Balance – Organize Every Aspect of Your Life
  • Enjoy Your Job – You Will Be More Effective If You Love It!

2. Set Motivating & Rewarding Goals

  • Set clear goals yearly, monthly, weekly & daily that Motivate You
  • Set SMARTER Goals
  • Set Your Goals in Writing
  • Ensure that you have all the necessary tools to achieve your goals.
  • Resolve to be a top performer.

3. Develop Plan & Strategies to Achieve Your Goals

  • Always Plan Ahead
  • Make a Productive Action Plan
  • Prepare & Use A Daily / Weekly-Planning Calendar
  • Always Work from a List
  • Schedule Essential Daily Activities
  • Commit Your Undivided Attention to One Thing at a Time
  • Be Persistence

4. Priotitize Tasks Effectively

  • Organize Activities & Execute based on Priorities
  • Establish Priorities on A Daily “To Do” List
  • Focus on Your Priorities
  • Eliminate or Drop Tasks That Do Not Benefit You
  • Start the Day with One High-Leverage Activity as The Single Priority, Your ‘Task of The Day’

The 80/20 or Pareto’s Principle says that the most important things carry the highest marks or values. Thus, if you have 10 things to do and done the 2 most important tasks first, you have achieved 80 percent effectiveness.

5. Create A Motivating & Productive Work Environment

  • Organize Your Work Space, Your Documents & Resources – Make Sure Everything Has a Place!
  • Be Appreciative.
  • Display confidence.

6. Use Time Management Tools & Techniques Effectively

  • Use an Organizer
  • Start Your Day with the Most Important Work
  • Do Tasks in Groups
  • Delegate to Accomplish More in Little Time
  • Plan Your (Sales) Calls Effectively
  • Avoid Distractions at Productive Times
  • Utilize Travel Time Effectively
  • Remember to Take Breaks
  • Perform a Weekly Review to help make sure you focus your time on important tasks.

7. Identify & Eliminate Time Wasters

  • Say No to Non-Essential
  • Stop Procrastinating
  • Give Yourself Uninterrupted Time
  • Prevent Perfectionism
  • Avoid Excessive Contact with Negative People
  • Improve Your Concentration
  • Do it quickly!
  • Simplify and automate. Build and implement simple, standard procedures.
  • Schedule your most meaningful work for times when you feel most productive.
  • Do low-value activities when your energy is low.
  • Watch the clock. It’s your time, not theirs, so stay conscious of time passing.
  • Allocate time. State how long you can spend and stick to it!
  • Be Efficient and Effective. Efficiency is getting a lot done in a short time. Effectiveness happens when you focus on activities that are important to you.

8. Look Well After Your Health, Fitness & Life-Balance

  • Resolve to be healthy, trim & fit!
  • Develop Healthful Eating Habits
  • Get Enough Sleep Every Night
  • Build A Fitness Program into Your Day
  • Manage Your Work / Life Balance

9. Reward Your Achievements

Choose the reward before you start both for small and large achievements and use it to move you forward particularly when overcoming an obstacle.

Rewarding yourself will encourage you to keep persevering and focusing on winning. This will help maximize the use of your time and productivity.

For example, you can choose to do something that you really would want to do it yourself such as organizing your room, taking a good rest or learn a new skill.

Via Mind Tools : Being Effective at Work

Essential Traits and Skills

Do you consider yourself to be effective at work? Although many of us like to think that we’re 100 percent effective, the truth is that most of us have strengths and weaknesses that impact our effectiveness.

Many of us could benefit from tweaking at least a few of our skills, in order to become even more effective. For instance, perhaps you’ve always excelled at time management. But how much time do you put into learning new skills, or staying on top of industry trends?

Or, maybe you’re adept at managing the considerable demands you face day-to-day. But, when things get really hectic, your communication skills start to suffer as stress levels begin to rise.

Being truly effective at work can pay off now and throughout our careers. Effective workers get exciting projects, win important clients, and are well respected by their colleagues and bosses. But how can you become more effective, and make sure that you don’t miss out on these great opportunities? And what should you focus on?

This is what we’ll be exploring in this article. We’ll look at the skills you can develop in order to become more effective at work, and we’ll review strategies and resources that you can use to increase your effectiveness.

Step 1: Identify Priorities

If someone asked you what your job was truly about, would you have a good answer?

One of the most crucial steps in becoming fully effective is to know your purpose at work. After all, if you don’t know what your job is there to achieve, how can you set appropriate priorities? (If you don’t set priorities, you’ll be forever buried under a mountain of work, unable to tell the difference between what’s important, and what isn’t.)

To identify your job’s true purpose and define what you need to achieve in your current position, perform a job analysis. This will help you uncover your most important objectives, so that you can start prioritizing tasks effectively.

Step 2: Adopt a Good Attitude

Effective workers have a “good attitude.” But what does this really mean?

People with a good attitude take the initiative whenever they can. They willingly help a colleague in need, they pick up the slack when someone is off sick, and they make sure that their work is done to the highest standards. “Good enough” is never quite good enough for them!

A good attitude at work will do more than just earn you respect: setting standards for your work and your behavior means that you’re taking responsibility for yourself. This admirable trait is hard to find in many organizations. But demonstrating ethical decision-making and integrity could open many doors for you in the future.

So, focus on adopting a good attitude at work, and make decisions that intuitively “ring true.” At the very least, you’ll sleep easier at night!

Step 3: Build Essential Skills

Chances are that you have a lot of competing demands on your time. One of the best ways of becoming more effective at work is to learn how to manage your time more efficiently. Other key areas include learning how to manage stress, improving your communication skills, and taking action on career development. All of these can have a major impact on your effectiveness at work.

Let’s look at each skill in greater detail.

Time Management/Productivity

Probably the most crucial thing that you can do to become more effective at work is to learn how to manage your time. Without this skill, your days will feel like a frantic race, with every project, email, and phone call competing for your attention.

Start by looking at your daily schedule. Do you know how you spend your time every day? If not, the answer might surprise you! Use an Activity Log to analyze how much time you’re devoting to your various tasks, like meetings, checking email, and making phone calls. It can be an eye-opening experience to look at this objectively, especially if you discover that you’re spending lots of time on tasks that don’t help you meet your objectives.

Once you know how much time you’re devoting to different tasks, you need to learn how to prioritize them. If you know which jobs are important, and which can be rescheduled or delegated, you’ll be able to focus on the work that brings the most value. To keep track of it all, use an organizing tool like a To-Do List or (better still) an Action Program, to make sure you don’t forget vital tasks and commitments.

Being effective at work means you use time to your advantage. Schedule your highest value work for the times of day when you’re feeling the most energetic. This increases the likelihood that you’ll resist distractions and enter a state of flow when working. Our article, Is This a Morning Task?, helps you identify your peak energy time, so that you can schedule work accordingly; and our Are you a Procrastinator? self-test will help you deal with a serious, effectiveness-killing habit.

Goal setting is another important element in working productively. Once you’ve done a Job Analysis (see step 1), you should have a clear sense of what your role is all about. Use this information to set short and long-term goals. The advantage of doing this is that your goals act as a roadmap – after all, you’ll never get anywhere if you don’t know where you’re going!

Good organization is also important for working effectively and productively. If you’re disorganized, you can waste a huge amount of time just looking for lost items. So learn how to file properly, and find out how to create an effective schedule.

Communication Skills

Think about just how often we communicate every day. We make phone calls, attend meetings, write emails, give presentations, talk to customers, and so on. We can seem to spend all day communicating with the people around us. This is why good communication skills are essential, especially when your goal is to work more effectively.

Start by developing your active listening skills. This means that you’re making a concerted effort to really hear and understand what other people are saying to you.

Don’t let yourself become distracted by what’s going on around you, and don’t plan out what you’re going to say next, while the other person is talking. Instead, just listen to what they’re saying. You may well be surprised at how much miscommunication can be avoided simply by listening actively.

Next, look at your writing skills. How well do you communicate in writing? Start with your emails. Most of us write dozens of emails every day. But there are many techniques that we can use to make sure we write effective emails – ones that actually get read!

For instance, always keep to one main topic when writing an email. Putting several important topics in one message will make it difficult for your colleague to prioritize and sort the information. If you do need to bring up several different points, then number them sequentially, or split them into separate messages, with relevant subject headings.

Of course, we do a lot more writing than just email. We write through IM, we write reports, and we create presentations. You’ll be more effective in your role if you learn how to communicate better across all these media, and your boss and colleagues are bound to appreciate your skills, since they’ll be the main beneficiaries!

Stress

A little bit of pressure can be a good thing. But when pressure exceeds your ability to cope with it effectively, your productivity goes down, and your mood suffers. You also lose your ability to make solid, rational decisions; and excessive stress can cause health problems, both in the short and long term.

No matter what you do, you’ll likely experience stress numerous times throughout your career, perhaps even on a regular basis. This is why learning how to manage stress is a key factor in becoming more effective at work.

Try to get a good night’s sleep every night, and do your best to avoid taking work home with you. It’s also important to relax when you get home in the evening.

If you’re not sure what triggers your stress, keep a stress diary for a week or two. This helps you to identify the events that cause you stress, and understand the degree to which you experience it. When you’re feeling calm, you can then analyze these triggers and come up with effective strategies for managing them.

Career Development/Learning

No matter what your field is, it’s important that you keep learning and developing your skills. To begin with, carry out a Personal SWOT Analysis to identify the areas that you need to work on.

In addition to the technical skills required to do your job, you also need to focus on soft skills. These include areas such as leadership skills, problem solving techniques, emotional intelligence skills, and creative thinking. Anything you can do to enhance these skills will pay off in the workplace.

Also, consider if there are any qualifications that you don’t have that a reasonable person would consider appropriate for your field. If so, could this be holding you back from an advancement or promotion? For instance, would it be useful to have a particular degree or other certification if you want to apply for a management position? Are you lacking any specific skills?

In some roles, keeping up-to-date with developments in your industry helps you stay relevant. It will help you do your job better, especially as you climb the ranks.

Key Points

When we’re truly effective at work, we manage our time well, we communicate clearly, and we have a good attitude.

Effective workers are often the most respected and the most productive in their workplaces, and they’re often the first to be considered for a promotion. So it’s definitely worth the effort to enhance your skills here!

Start by doing a job analysis to discover what your role is really about. Next, learn how to manage your time better, communicate more effectively, and control any stress.

Also, make sure that you devote time towards further learning and career development. You never know how or when those new skills will pay off!

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