The ‘office’ as we know it has undergone a significant transformation in the past few years, with many businesses and employees warming up to the benefits of remote or virtual working. It’s a trend that has infiltrated businesses of all sizes, from global organisations through to SMEs, sole traders and freelancers.
Author Archives: Wendy McAuliffe
Five years ago, face-to-face meetings were the norm for me, and what most clients expected. But over the past couple of years particularly it’s become more common for me to attend online meetings. The benefits speak for themselves, and that’s why so many businesses are opting to meet virtually. Gone are the days of two-hour commutes, hefty train fares, three hour meetings and the worry over what to wear! But for online meetings to be effective there are a few golden rules to follow.
There are some occupations where keeping hydrated is a ‘must’ and part of working culture. The mining industry in Western Australia, for example, involves working in extreme desert climates where temperatures can soar as high as 40°C and beyond. Miners are therefore required to keep their fluid intake up, and alcohol is usually banned from mining sites to help lower the risk of dehydration.
You only need to look back in history, or at some of today’s most successful business people, to see that coaching and mentoring has been around for quite some time. Plato was mentored by Socrates, Harper Lee was rumoured to be mentored by Truman Capote, Audrey Hepburn was mentor to Elizabeth Taylor, Marissa Myers is mentored by Larry Page and Marc Benioff was mentored by Steve Jobs. These people sought inspiration and the greater wisdom of others, and it paid off!
There is a lot to be said for being your own boss. I made the break from full-time employment in 2006, one month after getting married! I had a single client in place before handing in my notice, but it was still a big gamble, and particularly as I was hedging my bets on the emerging social media space. When I think back though, the nerves were minimal. Excitement and anticipation overwhelmed any feelings of doubt, and I couldn’t wait to be in charge of my professional future. I had created a tiny work space in my bedroom, within our one bedroom flat at the time. I was young, determined and raring to go.
Self-improvement should be a constant ongoing focus for anyone who is keen to progress in their career, but unfortunately it’s often something remembered at the beginning of a new year, only to slip in priority once workload mounts. If you set out to learn a new language in 2015, enhance your coding skills, gain a new level of fitness or maybe even write a book, the chances are it never really happened. Apparently just 8% of us achieve our New Year’s resolutions, despite more than 40% of us setting goals for self-improvement.
Now that the countdown to Christmas is in full swing, it’s always nice to reflect on the highs of 2015, and in our case, the blog posts that really got our readers thinking and sharing. So just before we kick back with a glass of mulled wine and call it a wrap for 2015, we thought you might like our Christmas Top 10 of the posts that grabbed the most eyeballs this year…
Four years ago, the first edition of The Smart Working Handbook was published, designed to offer best practice advice in transforming organisations through smart working techniques. Its success was unprecedented, with more than 100,000 copies being downloaded and shared. Its advice has been adopted by numerous organisations including the UK Cabinet Office, as the official guide to Smart Working for the UK’s 440,000 civil servants.
Within his book, The Virgin Way, Richard Branson shares a letter written by his mother, Eve Branson. He says he was a child full of curiosity, determination and a thirst for exploration, and in his mother’s words, “utterly determined to do his own thing”. Most parents would want to protect their child from the hurt that’s associated with failure, but Richard Branson’s parents gave him the scope to explore his crazy business ideas. Many ended in disaster, but he learnt by his mistakes. His parents were there to help him pick up the pieces, and encourage him to soldier on. It turned out these were just “the growing pains of a budding entrepreneur”.
“If a cluttered desk is a sign of a cluttered mind, of what, then, is an empty desk a sign?”
Who are we to argue with the wise words of Albert Einstein? Certainly not me! On some days, usually when I’m up against a big writing deadline, it’s hard to tell if there’s really a desk under my mountain of paperwork, notebooks and mugs. A former journalist colleague of mine once discovered a six-month old mouldy, half-eaten pasty on his desk when he was ordered to give it a clean up!
The Google campus in Mountain View, California, has the perfect solution to that well known energy slump which many of us experience in the afternoon, usually right around 2:30pm. It’s called a nap pod! When the innovation gets too much, employees are encouraged to take themselves off for a five to 15 minute power nap, to help recharge their batteries.
LinkedIn is so much more than a business networking tool. While it’s great for forging new business connections, and strengthening existing ones, its content can often be a source of motivation and learning. Submitted by business leaders around the world, it’s not uncommon for articles to be authored by revered business figures such as Bill Gates and Richard Branson, as well as highly successful published writers and speakers.
If you’re a fan of Harry Potter, you’ll know that at Hogwarts school of witchcraft and wizardry, an enchanted ‘sorting hat’ is used to decide which house each pupil should be in. If only us muggles had such an easy way of judging personality! But with the absence of a sorting hat in the business world, companies have for years relied on psychometric testing. It’s big business, and in the US alone more than 2,500 personality tests exist on the market.
A study carried out by ROI research found that people are 44% more likely to engage with a brand if an image is involved. On Facebook, a post that includes an album or picture receives 120% to 180% more engagement from fans than a text-based post. According to 3M Corp, our brains process visual content 60,000 times faster than text. Suffice to say, images are often the perfect way to bring a piece of content to life, in order to attract the highest levels of engagement.
Web conferences aren’t always the most natural of situations which can sometimes lead to some common pitfalls and awkwardness, as well as some pretty annoying phrases!
If you’re a regular to web conferencing, you’ve most likely come across some or more of these phrases at some point. Very often the problems arrive when you’re being asked to use an online meeting platform which is unfamiliar to you. I’ve learnt that it certainly pays to be prepared, allowing plenty of time to set-up the technology beforehand, run an audio check, and still be on time for the meeting. Investing in a good quality headset is another ‘must’, if virtual meetings are a regular thing for you.
It’s tempting, I have to admit! A life without email would undoubtedly make a huge difference to my productivity. Throughout my career, the roles and positions I’ve held have always been heavily reliant on email, and although it’s been essential for communications, in many ways, it has also been a big distraction. Despite best efforts to restrict email related tasks to particular times of day, the reality is that people often expect faster response times. When an important email comes through which needs urgent attention, it can be tricky to ignore. But this can really disrupt the creative process and work flow.
There is only one place to begin a round-up of the coolest offices in the world: Google’s corporate headquarters in Mountain View, California. People find Google’s HQ so comfortable, that a number of employees decided to make the ‘Googleplex’ campus their permanent address for more than a year. With perks like free meals, nap chairs, haircuts and a laundrette, it’s easy to see why they thought they’d save on rent and other personal costs for a while.
Brainstorming was invented in 1941 by New York advertising executive Alex Osbourne, who found that conventional business meetings were inhibiting the creation of new ideas. He proposed a set of rules that he believed would give people the freedom to think creatively and bypass any inhibitions or tensions. They were: