Let’s first dispel any preconceptions you may have had before clicking on this post. This post will not be outlining the benefits of keeping a diary of sorts to document your thoughts and feelings. Of course, if you already do that, then more power to you, but in this blog we will be focusing on why using a journal is the most effective medium in keeping track of any upcoming events and increasing productivity. But I Have Notes on My Phone… Smartphones manufacturers are continuously updating and innovating their products with the intention of streamlining our day to day lives. However, they can also provide distractions and reduce productivity. It can be all too tempting to tap on the YouTube App next to your Notes or Calendar. Having an actual notebook to write in reduces the temptation to get side-tracked and allows you to be present and focused as you document information. Smartphones also allow mistakes to be erased or things to be rewritten, which of course has its benefits, however, writing with pen and paper encourages a certain commitment to the process and taking time to document information in this manner allows information to be subconsciously registered. So what are some benefits of journaling? Organisation Traditionally, people would associate a journal as a daily record of news and events amongst other things of a personal nature. In essence, it’s a diary. However, rather than use journaling as a way to document the past, instead, use it to plan for the future. For instance, when applying for jobs, you may need to remember important dates such as interview's, online calls or tasks to complete. And whilst in employment, use it to remember deadlines, meetings, commitments and work based social events. Business and work-related alerts can become lost in the void of the other notifications on your devices, so having all important information contained in an accessible, easy to use portable format is guaranteed to avoid such occurrences. Productivity There can be slow times during a period of work and the temptation to scroll through social media or watch videos online can be all but too enticing. This is where a Productivity Journal can help. By tracking habits or division of time spent on tasks throughout the day, your working hours will ultimately be more focused with less wasted time. Time Management and Reaching Goals Journaling provides a way of breaking down a seemingly herculean task into obtainable goal by distributing time across a number of dates. Having all your important tasks and commitments scribbled down will allow you to quickly identify spaces in your schedule and allow you to dedicate time accordingly. Without question, planning your time effectively will increase productivity and decrease stress. Reflection Of course, it is worth mentioning that though you may journal as a means of planning ahead, it can be nice to look back through the previous weeks and months you have documented and reflect on previous projects. It can help instil a sense of pride to look back at your past accomplishments and completed tasks, which will motivate you to continue to work hard and not feel daunted when presented with a lengthy task. Viewing previously completed tasks retrospectively can provide good hindsight in preparation for similar projects in the future. Stress Relief A simple but important point of note, Journaling in this method can also be quite meditative, and is a sure way to keep the stress levels down. As previously mentioned, removing the ability to delete mistakes requires you to focus more on what you’re writing. This means you are present in the moment and focused on one specific task. The world of work can present many matters that require your attention and in a busy week of work full of deadlines, meetings and commitments, it can be nice to take 5 minutes away and just focus your efforts on one task. Doodles and Drawings In a similar fashion to the traditional diary, your journal isn’t just for handwriting, its your own personal document that you can shape and customise however you like. Studies have shown that drawing or doodling in your journal enhances your memory and can also provide further stress relief. A lot of people have strong visual remembrance and are more likely to recall information from an image than a written document. Aside from these benefits, personalising your journal is ultimately enjoyable and will encourage you to use it more often! In Conclusion Its difficult to list exactly how journaling can affect your professional life, as everybody uses a journal for different things. Some to plan ahead of time, some to document, and some as a way to take a few minutes out of there busy schedule to just focus on one task. Chances are as you read this blog post (thank you for reading to the end by the way) you already had some idea of what you would use a journal for, or maybe you’ve observed a close friend or colleague viciously scribble away in a notebook whenever they have a few seconds away from a call. We’ve mentioned a few practical uses of journaling, however, the best way to get started is just to get stuck in and see what works for you. Buy yourself a notebook and pen and get writing, it’ll help, trust me!
The first few weeks of work can be very intimidating. You have been placed in an unfamiliar environment full of people you don’t know who all seem to get along like a house on fire. You’re being presented with many new ideas, practices, and methods of work, complemented with a self-inflicted sense of pressure to not disappoint the people who have placed their faith in you. Your natural inclination may be to simply lay low and not draw too much attention to yourself. However, this may make things even worse! Below are a few points worth noting as you begin the next stage of your career and will hopefully make the first few weeks of your new job less stressful. Remember, we’ve all been in your shoes before! The Company Believes In You The interview process is not just a chance for an employer to see whether you are best suited for the role, but also whether you are a good fit for the company and its culture. Therefore, it is highly unlikely that an employer will have offered you a job if they didn’t think you would be able to ingratiate yourself with your new colleagues. Business is built upon strong foundations and values; therefore, an employer will build a team around individuals who resonate with the values of the company and put them into practice during their work. So, if you have been offered a role within the business, your employer believes that you and their team share common values, attitudes to work, and encourage the interests of others. So, with that in mind, your new work colleagues may not seem as mysterious or as enigmatic as you first thought! Everyone Was Once the New Guy Everybody has been in your place before. It’s that simple! In the world of employment, navigating through a new work environment is a shared experience that everyone has had at some point in their lives, which is good news for you! Your new team will know exactly what you’re going through and understand that your first few days may leave you feeling quite overwhelmed. You may find that you receive messages of welcome and encouragement from the workspace as your name is passed around. Make sure to acknowledge these and respond by saying that you look forward to getting to know them better! Your transition into your new role will be made so much easier if you accept the support of your colleagues. Just Say Hello! You may be a socialite. You may be a wallflower. Regardless of the level of enjoyment you gain when interacting with others, sooner or later, you are going to come into contact with the people you work with. So when faced with a new colleague, just say hello! You’ll no doubt be seeing a lot of each other in the coming weeks, and it's much easier to work alongside people you know you can have a chat with, and vice versa. Once your new team knows you are approachable and communicative, they’re likely to stop by and say hello or offer a conversation that may take the stress off the workday. We’re all human after all, so find out who you’ll be working alongside and make contact! Take Advantage of Team Socials Similar to the previous point, the best way to ingratiate yourself with your fellow work colleagues is to take part in any activities, events or social gatherings your team will organise. This could be as simple as breaking bread together during the lunch hour or joining members of the team for gatherings outside of work. For instance, you may find that an impromptu Friday night cocktail hour helps to ease social stress. In addition, it also removes the notion that the only thing you share in common with your colleagues is work. Establishments will often organise team-building events or days out for employees to enjoy, or company-exclusive classes and workshops. Take advantage of these opportunities, as the more you spend time with your team outside of the work environment, the more you’ll get to know them and vice versa. Work is always easier when you’re surrounded by friends! Don’t Be Afraid To Ask For Help I have no doubt that at least one member of your new job will have mentioned this to you, but it is worth reiterating. You need to dispel the idea that your new employers are expecting you to fully acclimate yourself to the companies’ practices and methods on the first day, then start raising turnover by 70% on the second. You have the collective knowledge and experiences of the members of your team at your disposal, so don’t be afraid to ask questions or check your work with them for any errors. Employers would rather you ask questions and get things correct than let mistakes slip through. You Will Make Mistakes, And It’s Only Natural Continuing on from the previous point, sooner or later, you may find yourself making an error with a particular task or piece of work assigned to you. The important thing to remember is that your employer will be prepared for this. Now, this isn’t a personal attack on your ability to perform within the role, but more so acknowledging that when dealing with the information overload that comes with learning a new business, mistakes may slip through. Now, of course, we’re not suggesting that continuous errors will go unnoticed, however, your team will be far more understanding if, after you are shown the correct method of practice, you actively take it upon yourself to avoid the mistake in the future. Ultimately, just don’t be too hard on yourself, these things happen! In Conclusion If ever things get too overwhelming, take a moment to remember; you managed to capture the attention of your new employers with a standout CV, bested your competition by providing a great interview to the employers, and now here you stand, ready to begin your new role. You should be immensely proud of yourself and what you were able to achieve! The first week of work can be quite draining, but the number one thing to remember is that the same colleagues you see chatting and laughing amongst themselves and going off to lunch together were once in the very same position as you are in. It will take time to acclimate yourself to your new surroundings, but know you are surrounded by a plethora of support every day.
Let’s be honest here, the first week of job hunting can feel pretty demoralising, spending hours, days or weeks applying for jobs whilst receiving little to no response from employers. I myself, have been personally guilty of the somewhat selfish mindset when faced with a lack of an immediate response during my days applying for positions, in a similar narrative to ‘Yes, I know you’re a massive company and you’re very busy, but please respond to me!’ The fact of the matter is that employers receive hundreds of new applications every day and must give time to all potential candidates who have shown an interest in the company. Of course, the way to stand out in this particular crowd is to make your CV as eye catching, optimised and applicable to the role as possible, but that’s a blog post for another time. So how do you stay motivated during the job search? You’re Not Alone, We’ve All Been There Everybody has to start with one foot on the ladder before they can start to climb and all successful men and women in business would have started exactly where you are. The payoff with spending time applying for jobs is landing yourself a position where you can flourish, feel motivated and ultimately progress to your career goal. Though things may seem bleak or monotonous right now, have faith in your own self worth and abilities, and trust that the right employer will recognise your skills and potential. The Hard Part is Over Of course, many would consider the most challenging part of the job application process to be the interview, but we aren’t worried about that step just yet! The most important thing to remember is that at this point, your professional materials are in the best shape they can be. You’ve spent time making sure your LinkedIn is professional, your CV is in the best state, and your cover letter is engaging and conveys all your passion you have for the role in question. Perfecting these will have taken time, with a lot of trial, error, re-writing and designing. So with these fully optimised tools at your disposal, you can apply to jobs with confidence that your personal marketing material is bound to turn heads and catch eyes. Set Your Goals By FAR, the best way to avoid getting demotivated or bogged down with repeated job applications and searching is to set yourself a control or goal to make sure you’re not spending every hour of every day at your computer. Namely, a set time or set number that you can work towards. This could be a set number of hours you spend searching for and applying for jobs, or perhaps a set number of applications you can complete each day. By spreading out your time, you’re taking steps towards your future career without compromising on your downtime, which will result in you feeling less demotivated and worn out. For example, you may choose to complete 7 applications a day. That adds up to nearly 50 applications in a week, which will drastically increase your chances of a response! Switch Up Your Location Spending every hour of every day in the same space can lead to cabin fever setting in pretty quickly. So, break out of the routine and find yourself a new setting to complete your applications. Spend some time outdoors if the weather is conducive. Take your laptop into a coffee shop and work from there. You’ll find the benefits of being around others very motivating and being surrounded by life and conversation will stop you feeling lethargic. Don’t have a laptop? Download jobs apps like LinkedIn or Indeed to your smartphone! You can apply to jobs through these apps via an uploaded CV attached to your profile, or even save jobs applications to complete the next time you’re sat at a computer. Surround Yourself With A Supporting Network Never underestimate the value of surrounding yourself with like-minded, motivated people. The positive energy of strong supporting friends or family that want you to succeed will be essential in helping you take the first steps. These people will remind you of your own merits and bring the best out of you, which will stop any feelings of negativity or demotivation creeping in. Listen To Motivational Materials We all like to fill time in our day with audible media, be it during a walk, or a commute, or even just as passive listening in our homes to fill the room with a sound. So why not switch out your playlist for some motivational content. There are many different forms of communicating information than just reading books about business, so do some research, find people in your industry you identify with, and engage in their content, be it podcasts, lectures, talks or even just their Twitter feed. You’ll be surprised how one TED Talk can strike a chord with you and give you a new burst of motivation and energy. And Most Importantly, Be Your Own Biggest Supporter Everyone has the capacity to be WAY too hard on themselves sometimes. When things don’t go to plan, or life throws us a curveball, we often give ourselves a rough time. Recognise your own self-worth, and constantly remind yourself that each day is another step in the right direction to achieving your goals. Visualise where you want to be and remember your value doesn’t decrease just because someone hasn’t noticed it yet. Keep on going until the right person recognises your potential and soon enough, you’ll look back at this process and see that the hours spent job hunting all paid off in the end.
Visit our Working from Home Hub to check out content we have put together to support remote workers and Managers now working from home - blogs, video content, training modules, podcasts and other resources. The hub has lots of great info and supports for: Working form home, Managing staff remotely, Wellness at Home Talent Summit Series on working in this new normal Access to free online courses to upskill Netflix recommendations Check it out at https://www.workingfromhomehub.com
As many of us have been plunged into working from home for the first time without warning, we may be struggling with where to start. Our normal routine has changed entirely leaving a lot of us wondering how you keep yourself motivated and productive. Read on for our top tips on making the most of working from home. 1. Working Space When it comes to setting up your working from home environment there is no one size fits all approach. While some people prefer one dedicated desk area that resembles an office work station, others prefer to change their environment throughout the day whether it be to sit at a desk space/their kitchen table for work that requires focus and concentration, their patio area for business calls/team meetings or their couch for catching up on emails. This is one of the key benefits of working from home - you get to decide on your ideal office set-up. However, while it can be tempting to lie in bed on your laptop all day, you are likely to tire of this and hurt your neck or back. What you want is a dedicated space that allows you to work productively with minimum distraction. Having a dedicated space also signals to your brain that you’re “at work” and puts you in the mind-frame of being productive. If working from home is a temporary measure for coronavirus, you probably don’t have that much equipment beyond a laptop. Laptops have bad ergonomics so it might be an idea to rise it on a pile of books and get a USB keyboard and mouse and treat it as a desktop. Or if you are enjoying working from home and see yourself continuing to work from home beyond coronavirus perhaps invest in a docking station and a second monitor. Stand-up desks are another popular option. A bar table or even a wide and tall surface in your home may be suitable for a couple hours a day. Switching your desk may energise you and increase your productivity for certain tasks. Finally, don’t forget to check your tech! Ensuring good connectivity at all times is fairly important for most online workers. Be prepared for an outage by having a back-up such as a mobile plan with extra data or a mobile router. After that make sure you have all the technology and tools you need to work effectively. From email and video conference software to collaboration tools - some of these may be new to you so take the time to get to grips with the basics. 2. Routine As mentioned, our normal routine has been changed, we’re no longer commuting, grabbing a coffee at the café around the corner from the office, chatting to colleagues in the canteen, attending meetings, visiting clients etc. Therefore, you will need to make a new routine to work from home. Triggers It’s important to identify “triggers” for yourself that signal to your brain that you are in work mode. Every article you read will tell you to make sure you get up and get dressed, while it is tempting to stay in your pyjamas for an hour, that hour can easily slip into a full day. After this incorporate the parts of your old routine that you benefitted from. Perhaps you enjoyed walking to work in the morning as it woke you up, if so, get outside for a walk first thing. Have a coffee in your garden/on your balcony to replace the one you had in your local café. Do an at home workout if you used to go to the gym in the morning. Set reminders to get away from your desk for five minutes every so often to mimic the breaks you took in the office to grab a coffee in the kitchen. Structure You are your own personal manager when working from home. Without things like in-person meetings to break your day, it can be easy to lose focus. Also your motivation naturally ebbs and flows throughout the day, so set yourself a schedule. List what you’ll do and then block times on your calendar as to when you will work on them. For me personally I like to block the first 2 hours of every morning for writing tasks as I find that’s when I am at my most creative. I then try to schedule video calls and meetings for the afternoon when I find my productivity is waning. Make sure to set fixed working hours for yourself. It can be tempting to stay logged on long past when you said you will finish but it is best to set up a consistent schedule with yourself so that you can make a clean break between “work” and “home”. Kill distractions Working from home and particularly at the moment it can be easy to let yourself be consumed by the news and social media. To counteract this, remove social networks from your internet browser bookmarks and log out of every account. Or create a work bookmark list and a personal bookmark list. Your work bookmark list will only consist of the bookmarks you need for your job and the personal list can include your social networks. You can hide your personal bookmark list during your working day to remove the impulse to click into social networks. 3. Stay Connected Naturally, given the anxiety surrounding the coronavirus pandemic and being unexpectedly thrown into working from home, it is natural to feel isolated. Instant messaging and video conferencing tools can make it easy to check in with your colleagues so make sure to schedule in some “non-work” related chats with your colleagues. Here in Sigmar, we schedule virtual coffee breaks with our colleagues, a ten-minute call to check in with each other and to have a chit-chat. This helps maintain team bonds and provides some light relief throughout your day. 4. Give Yourself a Break Being thrown into working from home, employees can often be harder on themselves about their productivity levels as they forget about the amount of distractions that come with working in an office environment. You might not have scheduled your coffee breaks when you worked in the office but regular breaks are important for maintaining focus and productivity so don’t be afraid to include them in your schedule. It could be a simple 10-minute break for a coffee or a snack or a few minutes to read an interesting article. Ideally, you should try to get some outdoor time during your lunch break too, so you don’t go stir crazy. Ultimately, what works best will vary from person to person so don’t be afraid to try things out over the next few weeks until you find your ideal set-up and structure. The most important thing is to find what helps you stay focused, while maintain a work life balance.
Here are small, yet effective, measures you can take to improve your wellbeing in the workplace that can spread into your personal life in a positive, affirming way. Work/Life Balance Sir Ken Robinson noted in his keynote speech at Talent Summit 2018 that, although the invention of emails was promised to save us time, we have since found that, if anything, we are less and less able to leave work behind in the workplace. It is now part of most people’s routines to check their phones first thing in the morning and reply to work-related emails at all hours of the day, always thinking about what needs to be done. It’s important that you ‘work smart, not long.’ This means actively leaving work behind in the office, working efficiently during the day so you don’t feel compelled to continue with it after hours. If the quantity of work you are being expected to complete within working hours is too much to do so successfully, be sure to speak up and discuss the manageability of your workload with your supervisor. Communication is key – they’re going to keep piling on the work as long you stay quiet about how overwhelmed you are, so make sure you speak up and be heard before it becomes too much to handle. Employers won’t know where the pressure lies unless you tell them. If you’re unsure of how much your work life spills over into your personal life, why don’t you try keeping a log for a month? Jot down in a diary how many hours you work every day – not just when you’re sitting at your desk, but when you’re thinking about work at home, composing emails and returning calls out of hours. It may build a more objectively troubling picture than you can see currently from the inside. Make The Most Of Your Breaks Don’t be afraid to make the most of the breaks you are allotted at work. Once you’re on a roll, it’s tempting to power through lunchtime and eat at your desk, one eye always on your computer screen. Try and avoid doing this when you can. Take a walk, practise mindfulness or meditation, experience new places to eat, socialise with co-workers or friends who work nearby. “But I don’t have time to meditate!” I hear you exclaim. Yes, you do! ‘Meditation’ is not always synonymous with pulling on yoga pants, lighting up a stick of incense and adopting the lotus position. You can meditate absolutely anywhere – in a local park, at a café… even sitting at your desk! If you’re not confident leading your own meditation, you can find five-minute guided sessions free online, like this one here. There are also some great customisable apps you can get on your phone, such as Timer and Headspace. It is impossible to overvalue the importance of taking time to relax, clear your head and focus on your own wellbeing. You’ll find this re-energises you for the rest of the day, as well as provide an invaluable opportunity to assess your current state of mind and mentally address any emotional concerns or anxieties. You may also be pleasantly surprised at how easily solutions pop into your head when you take just a few minutes to collect your thoughts. Communication This one works both ways for employers as well as employees. Communication is the key to destigmatising conversations about mental health. In his TEDx talk on workplace mental health, Tom Oxley says ‘you don’t make people unwell by talking about mental health – you give them the opportunity to speak out sooner’. There’s a flawed unspoken terror that speaking out about mental illness will somehow worsen the problem, as if it’s contagious or seem as if you conjured it up into existence within your own mind. The reality is that many sufferers don’t feel able to speak up due to the prejudice surrounding mental health, and the fear that their workplace would not be supportive of them if they did so. The best way an employer can foster an atmosphere of positivity, health and wellbeing is to ensure that their workers know that they are free to talk openly about any feelings of stress, anxiety or depression and won’t face indirect penalisation for doing so. The first reaction of many employers is to offer a struggling staff member limited time off to recover, then expect them to return to work and continue as usual. While time off may be a solution for some employees, bosses should also consider the advantages of offering flexible working hours to affected workers. Tom Oxley strongly advocates for good communication practices between employers and employees to ensure that no one ever feels alienated from their place of work, and that anxieties don’t build up over time into uncontrollable crises. In turn, employees should communicate to their employers about their feelings on mental health in the workplace, as far as they feel comfortable to do so. Being transparent about how you’re feeling and what you need from your job to help you recover will give your boss the tools to help you in the way that’s most beneficial for you. If you are worried that taking time off would only serve to isolate you from the company, voice that concern. Your employer should want to get the very best out of you – they hired you for a reason. It’s in their interest to give you the support you need. Create a Healthy Routine Studies have consistently proven a strong link between mental health and physical health, and specialists are adamant that one of the best ways to maintain good mental wellbeing is to look after your physical welfare. Your job can be intellectually demanding, with long hours and difficult tasks taking a toll on your mental health. Your job is also more than likely sedentary. Indeed, scientists have connected the rise in global obesity to the increasing number of jobs that don’t require any form of physical activity. It can be hard to find the time to exercise during a busy work week, but it’s important you look after your body – the injection of endorphins from exercising can only beneficially impact your mental wellbeing. Take a stroll during your lunchbreak, do 30 mins of yoga before work, or even try training for a half marathon over the course of a few months. The same can be said for your diet, avoid that pastry to go with your coffee and instead be sure to stock up your desk drawer with nutritious snacks rather than sugary ones, such as nuts, fruit and protein bars. Snacknation has published an extensive list of delicious office snack ideas if you’re dry on inspiration. These are just a few ways you can work to improve your mental wellbeing in the workplace, which will in turn hopefully boost your productivity, energy happiness and eliminate the possibility of coming down with the January blues. While mental health is something we can’t always necessarily control, we can impact the way in which we talk about it, breaking down the harmful social barriers that currently ruin constructive discussions on preventative measures.
Start Your Day Right If you're overrun with many different tasks at the one time and find it difficult to know how to structure your day in the most productive way possible, don't worry, you're not alone. A simple solution is to try coming into work 10 - 15 minutes before you are due to start and use that time to make sure your desk is tidy and you lay out all the tasks you need done on that day and during the week in a notebook or use an online tool such as Google Tasks or Google Calendar. Write a list of what you need to do today and a list of the deadlines you have for the week. Taking the time to do this in the morning before emails start flying in and your phone is going off will start you off on a productive path and it should help to keep you on that path throughout the day. Prioritise Once you know what you want or need done in your day/week, the next step is to learn what tasks are the most important. One of the key elements to being organised is being able to prioritise the important stuff and know what needs your time first. A handy way to decide this is by using the below table. For every task you need to complete, you should evaluate each one by placing it in the below table. You should never have more than two priorities that fall in the box of ‘urgent and important’. The rest fall under the other categories of ‘important and not urgent’, ‘urgent but not important’ and ‘not urgent and not important’. Always structure your time around the urgent and important things. This short film about prioritising might inspire you... Ask For Help Most days you will handle your workload just fine on your own, but every now and then when you see your to-do list is particularly long, sometimes the best (and only) way to get things done is to ask a colleague for help. If you have too many urgent and important items on your to-do list, you should go to your boss to look at delegating some of your workload or see if some deadlines can be adjusted. Missing a deadline is much worse than letting someone know in advance that you need some help to get something done. Being organised doesn't mean you must manage everything yourself, it's being able to look at your workload and know how it will be done and when it will be done.
Today, 16th October is officially known as Boss’s Day. It’s a significant day considering we all have a boss or we are a boss, but what we want to know is makes a great one? You can go to great lengths to hire the best team but without a great manager the team will ultimately fail. Google is acutely aware of this, so for the last 10 years they conducted extensive research on this topic under the code name Project Oxygen. The goal? Figure out what makes the perfect manager, so companies like Google could train its leaders to be the best in the worlds. The research has paid off, as over the years Google has seen improvement in employee turnover, satisfaction, and performance. Want to know what make the perfect boss? It all comes down to these 10 behaviours… 1. A Good Coach A great boss allows their employees to solve their own problems. Rather than doing everything themselves, they teach others to do the work so they can be responsible for their own tasks. Taking the time to teach staff and encouraging them to upskill makes for a more empowered staff. A great boss allows their employees grow and guides them as much as they can. 2. Empowers Team and Does Not Micromanage Giving staff the freedom to do their job is key to being a great boss. Employees need to be trusted in order for them to succeed. Robert Gibbs, Chief Human Capital Officer of NASA is an advocate for this. During Robert Gibbs keynote at Talent Summit he explained how NASA’s raison d'être boils down to the flourishment of human kind, giving NASA the ultimate competitive advantage. Robert believes in “the power of presuming positive intent”. Belief goes a long way and sometimes to get the best out of people the best thing a boss can do is to just believe in them. 3. Creates an Inclusive Team Environment, Showing Concern for Success and Well-Being Putting emphasis on building social capital in the workplace is a trait of a great boss. Margaret Heffernan is an entrepreneur, CEO, writer and keynote speaker who understands that social capital takes time, focus and energy, but if the ingredients are right, can bind human capital to achieve success beyond measure. A great boss will know that loyalty, friendship and comradery in the workplace create a shared commitment to success, something we may struggle to replicate in the gig economy. In short, being trusting and trustworthy is the basis of creating a just work culture that inspires success. 4. Is Productive and Results-Oriented The best type of boss will motivate and inspire their team purely by just working hard at their job. If a manager is lazy and their team doesn’t really see them doing much it really just encourages the staff to do the same. Having a boss who is not afraid to roll their sleeves up and get stuck in to any given task is the type of leader that inspires their staff. 5. Is A Good Communicator — Listens and Shares Information A great boss shares information from their staff. Having a transparent boss means staff learn more and are encouraged to be transparent themselves. A great boss is a good communicator but an even better listener. 6. Supports Career Development and Discusses Performance A great boss will always encourage their staff to develop, praise them when they do well and constructively criticise when it’s needed. Sir Ken Robinson is a believer in the importance of a culture that gives us the opportunity to engage in creativity and how creativity should be encouraged in our businesses. Humans are born with endless capacities but they need to be adapted in order to become abilities. Sir Ken uses a clever anecdote about learning to play guitar to explain his theory. We are all born with the capacity to play guitar, but we don’t have the ability until we learn to play the instrument. We need to open up our employees to new opportunities to learn and adapt skills and unlock talents they didn’t even know they had. Criticism is also very valuable to employees. A great boss will always praise their staff on doing a good job but will have the capacity to explain in a constructive way when work isn’t at it’s highest standard. This kind of behaviour encourages learning and development which is a key behaviour of a great boss. 7. Has A Clear Vision/Strategy For The Team A great boss had a plan. They know where their team is, where they are headed and what is needed to reach their end goals. A great boss needs to be catalyst for the team/companies vision. When the team loses motivation or drive, the boss needs to be there to remind everyone of the strategy and keep things in motion. 8. Has Key Technical Skills to Help Advise the Team Understanding every staff member’s job is crucial to being a great boss. A great boss will appreciate the work that goes into completing tasks and is on hand with useful advice when needed. If a boss has unrealistic expectations because he/she doesn’t understand their staffs role, employees will only ever feel like they are underdelivering and when they need advice they feel their boss doesn’t quite understand the problems at hand. A boss who has the technical skills will welcome their staff seeking guidance. 9. Collaborates Across Effectively A great manager always sees the big picture. They work for the good of the company as a whole and encourage their teams to do the same. A great leader will promote camaraderie and integration and encourage everyone to come together and work on goals that benefit the company as a whole. 10. Is A Strong Decision Maker A great boss is decisive and not impulsive. They are confident in their knowledge and make decisions that they stick to. Being a leader means being brave in your actions to lead and guide others. You need to be courageousness to lead beyond the odds, stick to your decisions to be a great boss. Google have really hit the nail on the head with these behaviours. If you can promote these behaviours and train your leaders using these 10 points from Google, you’ll build teams that will trust and inspire one another to achieve success beyond measure.
The tiny Irish island of Arranmore hit headlines a few weeks agoo with the announcement that they are seeking remote workers to telecommute from the island, in an attempt to boost the population. Arranmore boasts 469 inhabitants, only 22% of which are currently employed. The island council has written an open letter to Australian and US workers, citing the high-speed broadband, Guinness on tap and idyllic beaches as reasons to consider the move. While life on Arranmore would certainly put the ‘remote’ in ‘remote working’, such a call demonstrates an awareness of the future of the workplace beyond that shown by many large corporations in mainland Ireland. In a time where the workforce is seeking greater flexibility and better work/life balance, employers will find it difficult to attract and retain top quality talent without providing any remote working options, making it an imperative that proactive business leaders consider the advantages and disadvantages of employing remote staff. The Pros Larger Talent Pool The most significant advantage of hiring remote workers is the access employers now have to a vast, international talent pool. When a job posting is not restricted to workers within commuting distance, thousands of potential superstar employees suddenly become ripe for the taking. Cut Down on Costs There are two key ways in which hiring remote workers can significantly reduce company costs. Firstly, in not requiring employees to work from a central office location, businesses are removing the need to pay for renting/buying a workspace, the internet, electricity, cleaning, computers and broadband – the list goes on. Secondly, remote workers are often considerably better value that office-based workers. If an employer does not require their staff to physically turn up to work each day, they can hire from any area – including ones with a lower cost of living than where the company’s headquarters are based, such as rural zones. On sites such as UpWork, for example, remote workers’ prices range from $4/hr to $70+/hr, hailing from all over the world. Additionally, there has been research to suggest that remote workers are more likely to accept lower pay, work longer hours and forgo company-provided health insurance if it meant they were permitted to work from the comfort of their own home. Higher Retention Rate A study by Staples Advantage found that 76% of remote workers considered themselves more loyal to their company after being offered the option to telecommute, and that 39% have turned down a job, a promotion or outright quit because the company did not offer flexible working options. Many traditionally office-based workers are finding that remote working is an increasingly attractive alternative model to consider, as they have children or gain other responsibilities outside of their professional lives. More and more employers are offering remote working options to their staff to prevent competitors, who are similarly wising up to the advantages of this system, from poaching their most experienced employees…perhaps snapping up a few of their own along the way! Increased Productivity Levels ‘Work smarter, not longer’ is fast becoming the mantra of the modern workforce. If an employee is able to tailor their working day to their own personal preferences, in an environment of their choosing, they’re considerably more likely to be productive and engaged throughout the day. That being said, remote workers are 53% more likely to work over 40 hours a week, according to recent studies, increasing organisational productivity as a result. The Cons Potential Security Risks The Blueface Business Communications Technology Insight Report 2018 found that 57% of organisations with 200+ employees had experienced a cyber incident, such as hacking or phishing. When employees are permitted to use their own computer equipment in a non-secure environment, they are considerably more vulnerable to malicious cyber-attacks, potentially compromising company data security. However, there are numerous steps employers can take to overcome these odds, such as recommending workers avoid using public WiFi networks and providing stringent security guidelines upon hiring new staff. Loss of Company Culture While remote working options are statistically proven to actually increase employee engagement, such a work arrangement company-wide can somewhat dilute the sense of culture that has been so integral to successful modern business models until now. Employees are less likely to develop a genuine rapport online, let alone arrange to socialise out of hours or organically collaborate on a new idea. That being said, there are some great ways employers can promote a positive culture for their remote workers, such as the ones explored in this Forbes article. Issues with Communication Inevitably, if managers are only communicating with staff during brief windows of time each day, there is ample opportunity for the misinterpretation of instructions, or a lack of clarity in the project objective. It’s more of a commitment for an employee to pick up the phone and call their supervisor to clear something up than to pop their heads round a door, or to pass someone in a corridor. However, if employers rise to the challenge and adapt their communication practices to suit a remote workforce, there’s no reason why communication should hinder the productivity of the company. Investing in an instant messaging app for employees and ensuring managers are in constant contact with their team throughout the day will eliminate most potential issues before they have a chance to cause problems. Face-to-face interactions, such as video conferencing, are a further valuable tool for managers to ensure that they are getting the most out of their staff. Our workforce is evolving in a way that may feel scary or uncontrollable to some employers. However, the benefits to remote working are hard to be argued with – there are many great reasons companies should consider moving with the times and expanding their talent pool beyond their immediate geographical location. Arranmore is on the right track – you should be too!