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Via Verdict : Productivity drain: 60% of work is about work, survey finds

From email to spreadsheets, there are many ways in which technology has made our working lives easier. But new research suggests that technology doesn’t always mean that we are working smarter, resulting in a drain on workplace productivity.

A survey of more than 10,000 office workers across the UK, US, Japan, Australia, New Zealand and Germany found that more than 60% of their time is spent doing work about their work. That includes searching emails, talking about projects and sitting in meetings.

This means that just 27% of knowledge workers’ time is spent doing the job they were actually hired to do – a huge drain on workplace productivity.

The survey, published by work management platform Asana, highlights a problem unique to the knowledge economy, an economic model where growth is tied to the quality and quantity of information – rather than the means of production.

Duplicated work drains workplace productivity

Paradoxically, despite workers being better connected than any time in history, a large chunk is of work is being accidentally duplicated. Globally, each worker wastes 4 hours and 38 minutes per week doing work that’s already been done.

Contrary to Germany’s reputation as being highly efficient, the survey showed its workers spent the most time on average doing duplicate work – five hours and nine minutes per week, or 270 hours per year.

In the UK, five hours and five minutes per week spent doing work that has already been done, or 30 days per year.

And around the world, respondents said that two-thirds of meetings are unnecessary and a waste of time and a further drain on productivity.

Technology has made it easier than ever to work remotely and at any time of day, but that has resulted in 30% of workers often or always working lake. That’s despite research suggesting the ‘always on’ work culture of checking ‘one more email’ has been shown to negatively impact worker’s health.

“Despite having more ways to communicate and collaborate than ever before, the majority of teams are still turning to antiquated tools like email and spreadsheets that were never designed to synchronise work,” said Dustin Moskovitz, CEO of Asana.

“As a result, they’re spending more time managing the chaos of coordination rather than on the actual job they’ve been hired to do. We believe this represents a tremendous opportunity for teams to streamline their processes and better orchestrate their work — ultimately giving them valuable time back in their day to focus on what matters most.”

Via Askmen : 11 Easy Ways to Increase Productivity in the Workplace

Sometimes, finding steady motivation in the workplace can be tough – whether you’ve become complacent in your current position, have too much going on, or simply haven’t been sleeping well… There are endless reasons why you may need a boost in productivity to get through the day.

What’s more, being able to maintain consistent productivity is a little known hack to getting things done well. Instead of having a peaks-and-valleys style workflow, being consistently productive will help take your business or work life to the next level.

We tapped into the mindset of CEOs and business owners to get their best tips on staying productive at work – and some of them will surprise you.

Take Advantage of Email Folders

Most professionals can probably relate to an overflowing email inbox that can be difficult to manage, especially when you’re on the road traveling for business. Matthew Ross, co-owner and COO of one of the leading sleep websites, says, “to stay organized and productive, I utilize over a dozen different folders. Every email I receive, I promptly move it to a specific folder to make sure it doesn’t get neglected. Not only does this help keep me organized but it also helps me prioritize which emails I should be responding to first.” He says you can even set certain rules for folders to automate the process depending on which platform you use.

Switch Up Your Workstation

“I recently purchased a desk bike that has helped improve my productivity in the afternoons,” says Ross. “Essentially, it’s just like the exercise bike you would find at your gym except it has a desktop that extends upwards for your laptop. I don’t use it all day obviously but it’s definitely nice to get up from my normal desk and cycle a little bit in the afternoon after eating lunch.”

Let’s face it, we’ve all been there before – you eat lunch and then you suddenly feel like you need to take a nap once 1 or 2 p.m. rolls around. “Luckily, the exercise desk helps me wake up and relieve stress while still getting work done.”

Use Your Earphones to Your Advantage

“When someone on our team wears headphones or earphones, we’re not allowed to disturb him/her. It means he/she wants to be focused and concentrated on what they do, whether it’s coding, designing, copywriting or else,” says Jonathan Aufray, co-founder and CEO at Growth Hackers. This is a polite and simple social cue that will help you stay focused without distraction – even if you’re not listening to anything.

Write a Mindful To-Do List

“At the beginning of each week, we recommend (it’s optional, not compulsory but almost everyone does it as it helps them) our team members make a to-do list on the things they want to achieve by the end of the week,” says Aufray. “We do the same with smaller, daily to-do lists. This allows people to set small milestones and see what they’ve achieved.”

It may also be helpful to take a look at the length of your to-do list before getting started. If it’s too long, you may get lost in the small tasks. Try to only include the top tasks you want to get done.

Work from Home!

While some people think that working from home means daytime TV, afternoon naps and a general lack of motivation, Aufray says it’s actually quite the opposite if it’s a regular routine. “Remote work isn’t for everyone but there are many people who are more productive when they work from home,” says Aufray. “Whether it’s from a coffee shop or from elsewhere, working remotely for up to three days per week will result in more productivity and a clearer mindset.”

Pick a Desk Near the Window

According to HBR, almost half of employees feel tired due to the absence of natural light at their office. So, daylight seems to have a major influence on productivity. “If your work desk is far from the window and there’s no way you can change that, you should at least try to compensate for the lack of sunlight by using a bright lamp,” says John Breese, founder and CEO of HappySleepyHead.

Take Naps at Work (Yes, Really!)

Most people have a one-hour break in the middle of their day and use it for lunch. However, according to Breese, 15-20 minutes should be more than enough to have lunch, so the rest of your break can be dedicated to a quick nap. Even sleeping for only half an hour may increase your productivity immensely.

Avoid Multitasking

“Focusing on one thing at a time is a better way to manage your time than trying to juggle multiple tasks at once,” says Sacha Ferrandi, founder and principal of Texas Hard Money and Source Capital Funding. “As a business owner, it can sometimes be difficult not to get wrapped up in multiple things at a time, which can actually lead to a decrease in productivity and performance.” Allowing yourself to give your full attention to the task at hand will bring greater success in your personal life and your business’.

Take a Walk

Take a break and a deep breath after completing a task before reviewing your work. “Get up from your desk, stretch out and maybe take a walk to the restroom or water cooler,” says Chane Steiner, CEO of Crediful. “Let your mind reset prior to reviewing your work. This process is almost like having a second set of eyes reviewing your work. There’s a good chance it alters your perspective and you may find revisions are necessary that would have otherwise been overlooked.”

Surround Yourself with Productive People

You’ve probably heard it many times: you are the average of the five people you spend the most time with. “If you hang around unproductive people who waste their days away, guess what? It will rub off on you,” says Thomas R. Harris, owner of The Exceptional Skills. “Instead, hang around productive people, and it will push you to be more productive.”

Learn to Say “No”

Harris suggests that saying yes to one thing is saying no to another. When you say yes to everyone’s requests, you are saying no to the more important tasks that you have to do. Be helpful, but limit what you say yes to.

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.