7 Tips For Improving Productivity In The Office

Denise Caron-Quinn, the President at In Order to Succeed, wrote this article that was recently published on Forbes.com.   

Office moves and renovations present many opportunities for a fresh start. Changing your office’s location or interior design are catalysts for giving your entire company a makeover — and not just an aesthetic one. For starters, change is invigorating! With a fresh new look and a sharp, modern design, it’s hard for anyone working or visiting a beautiful and uncluttered space not to feel inspired and energized. Running a firm that specializes in managing relocations for individuals and companies, I know firsthand the potential advantages for businesses that operate “as if” they are moving (even if they don’t plan on vacating their current office). If you are an owner or manager of a company, you should consider targeting each of these seven areas — whether you are relocating or not.  

Introduce New Innovations

Moving to a new location encourages companies to try out different methodologies and techniques to run their business. Relocations prompt evaluation of the way a workforce collaborates and communicates. I believe rethinking staff workspaces, conference and recreational areas and examining new ideas for working simpler and smarter should be a component of any companies’ ongoing practice. This requires that both management and staff evaluate ideas that break away from the status quo in order to try new solutions aimed at improving productivity, efficiency and use of space. For example, open floorplans, non-assigned seating and multipurpose workspaces are a departure from the traditional walled-in workspaces. One can also utilize adaptable furniture designs to improve workspace flexibility.

Declutter, Organize And Beautify

Offices eventually accumulate furniture, equipment and accessories that are damaged or no longer serving a purpose. And regardless of how well your cleaning crew cares for your space, furniture gets worn and stained. We often discard or recycle anything that’s damaged, mismatched or outdated when we move a client. I strongly believe that clearing office clutter and removing antiquated furnishings is a good investment that will give a fresh face to your company’s image. Supply closets, kitchens and break rooms are areas that typically become untidy. These spaces are used by your entire staff, so a team approach is needed in addition to assigning someone responsible for daily maintenance. For assistance, consider allocating funds toward a professional who has office organizing and redesign experience. The National Association of Productivity and Organizing Professionals (Full disclosure: I’m a member), as well as resources such as the American Society of Interior Designers and the American Institute of Architects, can be utilized to find consultants experienced in reorganizing an existing space or designing your new one.

Evaluate Expenses And Build Energy Efficiency

Most of our clients take time to evaluate their financial outgoings as they prepare for a move. From utilities to office goods, they often will conduct a review of their suppliers to explore ways to save money. Energy costs represent a significant percentage of an enterprise’s monthly expenditures. With the green market constantly expanding and offering a range of more energy-efficient products, it’s smart to investigate and implement “green” upgrades to your office. Simple improvements such as a programmable thermostat, double-pane windows and automatic bathroom faucets may reduce your annual energy costs. Energy assessments should be routine practice for all companies and not just those on the move.

Enhance Employee Satisfaction

When evaluating your office, please take into account your staff who work there every day. Unpleasant surroundings and uncomfortable furnishings can be a real downer and deterrent. Enhancing your employees’ environment and comfort will likely result in a morale boost that can lead to more positive feelings toward their work and the company. Remember that their happiness directly affects the quality of their work as well as your profits.

Here are a few ways to enhance your employees’ environment:

Improve Lighting

Research shows that exposure to natural daylight can have positive effects on one’s mood, alertness and quality of sleep. Unfortunately, not every office space offers an unobstructed window view for each staff member. Installing skylights aren’t always an option, so keep windows regularly cleaned to maximize sunshine in and situate desks and workspaces within view of a window wherever possible. If an office has no windows, then the next best thing is indirect lighting. LED lighting and fluorescent lamps along ceilings, walls or floors can provide a hidden illumination source that can transmit light throughout the space. It’s less harsh than having the light shine directly on you, and it doesn’t reflect off of computer screens.

Update Technologies

State-of-the-art office technologies are frequently a component of office renovations and relocations. With wireless devices and cloud-based programs, offices can drastically change their layouts and reduce space in areas that once contained hardware and wiring. Depending on your situation, you may find such areas can be converted for new purposes and you’ll be able to streamline traffic patterns to avoid time wasted traveling to places such as the printer.

Get Ergonomic

A comfortable work area with quality furnishings lets staff know that your company cares about their well-being. Sitting on chairs that facilitate good posture and installing under-desk keyboard trays are measures that encourage proper body alignment and comfort. Some offices have taken their workspaces to the next level by introducing standing or movable desks. Standing desks are believed to provide impressive health benefits that include improved mood and energy. Most versions are adjustable, allowing the user to change the height of the desk and alternate between sitting and standing. If buying new desks isn’t feasible for your company, then consider a desktop adapter that will convert a traditional desk to a standing desk in minutes.

All in all, a newly improved work environment can promote increased productivity and enhanced efficiencies, along with a variety of other personal and professional benefits. So why not start managing your company with the same mindset that you would if you were relocating or remodeling your office?

To learn more about how to creating an organized office environment that enhances productivity and efficiency, please email or call us today!

Denise’s Tech Pick – GoodNotes!

Since the creation of the iPad Pro and Apple Pencil (or compatible stylus accessories), transitioning from pen and paper to digital note-taking on the go has become not only feasible, but much easier and more fun than ever!

The GoodNotes 4 App

The GoodNotes 4 App is a feature rich tool that lets you take dynamic handwritten notes and annotate PDF documents on your mobile devices. Thanks to the app’s syncing functionality, your notes are searchable and viewable across iOS devices in real-time, and can also be set to automatically backup and store all your content in iCloud, Dropbox, Google Drive, Box and OneDrive.

GoodNotes Mac Companion

The developers at Time Base Technology Limited have also introduced a new intuitive GoodNotes Mac companion app to take your access and productivity to the next level, and all 3 platform applications can be purchased and easily downloaded from the Apple App Store for $7.99!   

Summary

All in all, it is safe to say that with organized notebook filing, handwriting-to-typed text conversion, robust share and export features, various “paper” styles and digital ink options (including highlighters) all available at your fingertips, the uses for GoodNotes can be truly endless.

 

Five Productivity Tips for
Working From Home this Summer

For some, the arrival of summer brings with it a variety of reasons for remote work. Be it summer break for the kids or a flexible boss, working from home can be a wonderful experience for both employer and employee. However, it’s important to be fully prepared for the challenges you might face, such as having your documents e-filed or having all parts of your home organized for peace of mind. Just like working in an office, working from home has its upsides and its pitfalls.

A major problem is how to remain productive when there are so many distractions at home that can get in the way of your work. Stay on target with these five productivity tips that will help you stay focused and get the job done.

1. Have a Dedicated Office Space

Whether you have a room set aside to be your office or a section of a room dedicated to work, it’s important to have a place to “go to work.” Be sure to have all the office necessities there: a desk, a comfortable chair, computer and telephone, filing or storage solutions, office supplies, and adequate lighting. This room or space should put you in a work mindset, so when you go there you’re prepared mentally to do your job.

Your custom office space should appeal to your work ethic and mindset. While a TV is generally distracting, some people work better with background noise. You know yourself better than anyone – just be reasonable and practical about the setup.

In other words, don’t just pull out your laptop and work from your bed in your pajamas. That might put you in a state of mind to update Facebook or even drift off to sleep!

2. Set and Enforce Boundaries

When you’re working from home a major productivity-buster can be the people you live with. The child who wants your attention. The pet who wants to hop in your lap or go out for a walk. The friends or family members who call just to talk because you’re home. To combat these distractions, it’s important to set and enforce rules for when you are working from the comfort of home.

If you have a door, close it. If you don’t, try hanging a “Do Not Disturb” sign on the back of your chair or set up some other notice that you are not available. Distractions are the downfall of productivity, and working without some healthy boundaries will cause more harm than good.

Post a schedule so others can see when you’ll be taking a break or are finished. Tell family not to call unless it’s an emergency. Enforce these rules from the get-go so they become a habit for everyone.

3. Set Regular Working Hours

Just because you’re working from home, doesn’t mean you should roll out of bed at 10 a.m. or take a two-hour lunch break. Schedule hours to work, just as you would in an office setting. Set your alarm, take a shower and get dressed, and eat breakfast before you begin work. This will help put you in a mindset for working, not lounging.

No matter your profession, there will still be deadlines to meet. Set reminders that you have responsibilities and stick to a schedule. Do take a lunch break, but keep it to a reasonable time, no longer than an hour. Take this opportunity to eat, enjoy the summer weather, spend time with family and friends or make those personal calls. If friends and family are adhering to the second tip, they will know that this is a time you are available.

4. Keep it Clean

It’s tough to be productive when your desk and office area is a cluttered mess. Be sure to keep your desk clean and clear of any clutter. Keep a trash can nearby to toss unwanted items and a filing system to keep your important papers organized. Have an in-bin for items that need your attention. Make sure only work-related items are in your office; no kids’ toys (which could attract the kids) or piles of junk from elsewhere in the house. Your office space should be for your work only!

At the end of each workday, take a few minutes to put things in their proper places so you have a clean slate the next morning, not a mess from yesterday to deal with.

5. Eliminate Background Noise

Noises and other distractions will kill your productivity. Crying children, noisy lawnmowers and email alerts can all jolt you out of what you need to be doing. Turn off all alerts and vow to check email only at certain times of the day, such as first thing in the morning, before and after lunch, and at the end of your workday. Have your personal cell phone send all messages to voicemail during working hours.

If you live in a noisy household or neighborhood, consider a set of sound-cancelling headphones so you can truly work in peace. You can also invest in a good white-noise machine to replace distracting sounds with soothing ones, or run a small fan for the same effect.

For more tips on  how to make working from home a productive and convenient experience or for help organizing your home-office environment visit In Order to Succeed’s website.

 

Summer Planner Checklist for Students and Families

Now that summer is upon us and our children are off from school we have the pleasure and the pain associated with lots of free time. Although my 13-year-old has times throughout the summer where her schedule is booked with camps, classes, and structured events, there are those wide gaps where she has the freedom to choose what her day will look like. Her schedule is solidly booked during the school year, so summer is an opportunity for her to choose what to do during her downtime or to choose to do nothing at all and just relax.


Handle it Gently

Without being overbearing but at the same time wanting to create a sense of objectives, I sat down with my daughter to discuss the importance of her mapping out the next few months so that she makes the most of her summer break.

At the end of our efforts, we had developed a Google doc for her to complete that asked for the following considerations:

We asked her to set limits on the amount of time she felt appropriate for her to be connecting on social media or browsing the Internet, watching videos, or playing games.

We then asked her to determine what reading assignments or other school-related assignments she needs to complete over the summer and also pick out some books that she plans to read that are not part of her required reading. Similarly, we asked her to list other academic-related tasks that she will complete.

Another area that we felt would be helpful, was for her to identify the friends who she wants to connect with over the summer and perhaps write down times that she knows they will be in town or away. This would make it easier when we want to schedule and plan things or have spur of the moment play dates.


Take advantage of the time off

Summertime is a great opportunity when extra time enables us to try new things or work on improving things that we already do. With this in mind we asked for her to think about ways in which she may spend time learning new skills, trying out a new sport, or doing something that’s a little out of the ordinary and that she wouldn’t generally have the chance to do during the school year.

We then asked her to think of volunteer opportunities that she would be interested in participating in such as caring for animals at the Humane Society or being volunteer tutor or camp counselor to younger children.

There are also chores and family responsibilities we expect of her. Having those listed with frequency and times and when they need to be done is extremely helpful. This way she knows how much time there is for work and for play.


Continue after Summer is Over

Once our summer game plan is completed we add target dates and reminders on the calendar so that in addition to scheduled camps, theater productions, and taekwondo classes, our child has some reminders and a framework that she can use to navigate the goals that she has set for herself. Hopefully, our summer checklist and a calendar schedule will ensure that these activities and plans actually happen.

With all this said, my goal is not to overbook or over-stimulate her during the summer vacation but rather to keep her from falling into an area of too much time with not much happening.  Left to their own devices, it’s easy for our children, (just like it is for us) to lose track of time and spend endless hours on social media and idly staring at computers and televisions.

To optimally plan for the summer, I developed a tool to guide us which you can access via the below link. I hope you and your family find that it facilitates your children’s time, activities and priorities!

Denise Caron-Quinn

(Click here to download our helpful guide for your own plan