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How to Maintain Productivity despite Workplace Distractions
Written by RWorks
Monday, 31 January 2011 14:17

Productivity despite workplace distractions

Productivity- the difference between "I had a great day today-I got so much done!" and the dreaded "What a terrible day, I was interrupted constantly all day, and got nothing done".


It often feels that our ability to be productive lies out of our control, and too often is in the hands of external forces- our co-workers, our phone, our e-mail inbox. However, that is just not true! There are many things you can do to have a really great, productive day, right now today. And not only for today, but to create good, positive work habits for life.

For many of us, the first thing we do each morning is turn on our PC, and check our e-mail. Blogger Sid Savara recently wrote a great article called '7 Reasons you should never check e-mail first thing in the morning'. Savara warns that checking e-mail first thing is a symptom of not knowing what else you're supposed to be doing, "an excuse to lack direction". He writes that because you are in "check e-mail mode", you start replying to them at the expense of the task you should be working on, and goes on to advise against letting e-mail suck you in, and cause you to devote more time to it than you can afford. http://sidsavara.com/personal-development/do-not-check-email-in-the-morning

 

Planning your work is vital- plan your week, and plan your day.


Determine what you need to work on, and give tasks a priority status so that you know which ones are high priority, and which ones are low priority. Make a to-do list; this can be a written one, or an online one. Make a timetable. And single-task. Tackle the task with the highest priority status first.

Timetables need to be revised and updated regularly. A task that you alloted a half day to complete, can sometimes end up taking a day and a half of your time. Be flexible, and manage your expectations. The outcome is most important-that the highest priority tasks get done, and done well.

 

To cut down on delays, it's essential to eliminate your own personal timewasters.


Beware of the distractions of co-workers. I suggest you look at the task that you are planning to work on- is it a collaborative task, or best done alone? Some collaborations are done best, sitting together in the same office, sometimes even at the same PC. So to be most productive, both people need to plan to schedule that time together.Some tasks require total space, a quiet place, and no distractions. According to 'Bring back our shushers' by John Woodworth, "Those employees unlucky enough to work in an 'open office' will run to building lobbies with their laptops. They plead for a telecommuting day. They hide in the dark corner of the company cafeteria with backs to the door, hoping no-one will see them". He also states that "Social Interaction has it's place and time, but so does uninterrupted work". http://passepartout.posterous.com

If the task requires peace and quiet, then in order to get the task done, ie to be productive, it is vitally important to create that workspace. Ask your employer if you can work from home on those days. The significant increase in your productivity will be worth him/her creating a more flexible work arrangement. Businesses lose $600 billion every year due to workplace distractions. That is according to the testimony of Ann Bamesberger of Sun Microsystems to the U.S House of Representatives in November 2007.

 

And now for some good news- breaks are good, and they boost your Productivity!


Dr. Brent Coker at the University of Melbourne has found that taking a few minutes off work to use social networks or to browse the Internet is actually a good thing, and does, in fact, boost productivity by giving the brain a break! "Short and unobtrusive breaks such as a quick surf of the Internet, enables the mind to rest itself, leading to a higher total net concentration for a days work, and as a result, increased productivity". http://uninews.unimelb.edu.au/news/5750/ Also a short walk outside to stretch your legs and get some fresh air, and eat and drink regularly.

So to sum up, plan your day, make a to-do list, give priority status to tasks, single-task, create an uninterrupted workplace when needed, and take breaks to replenish your energy. Take control of your ability to be productive, and enjoy the sense of accomplishment that goes along with that.


 
Guest Blog from Mark Hummel, SAAS 44° To Telework or Not: How to Decide
Written by RWorks
Monday, 10 January 2011 13:08

To Telework or Not: How to Decide?    
                      Written by Mark Hummel SaaS 44°    

 

Many companies, as well as employees are contemplating whether a teleworking practice is right for them. Employers worry about whether employees will continue to be productive, while many employees are looking for more flexible work hours and environment to meet the challenges of their life.
In this article, we will address questions that both employers and employees have when faced with teleworking.

"I don't think that my employees will be as productive working at home."

 

In many studies, companies have reported an increase in productivity of 20-50% from their teleworkers.

Many teleworkers report that they are more productive due to the lack of disruptions, stress and commuting time. Employees are able to focus more on the tasks at hand without the usual office interruptions. By virtually eliminating commuting time, employees usually will work a little longer, as they don't have to worry about beating traffic to and from work. In fact, many report working additional hours as it is easily accessible to do so in their homes.

Don't be fooled in thinking that employees will work harder or be more productive simply because they are in the office. If an employee wants to goof off, they will find ways to do so, whether they are in the office or working from home.

Consider which employees are suitable for teleworking when implementing a teleworking policy. Look both at the job that is performed, as well as the employee. Look for the jobs that are spent mostly in front of the computer: Clerical, programming, designing, finance and accounting, sales roles, outbound callers and call-centres are all good candidates.Consider the employee's performance as well. A good performer that requires little direction and/or monitoring is a great candidate for teleworking.

 Which leads to the next question....

 

 "How do I manage teleworkers?"

Any worker, whether an employee that works in the office or is a teleworker has only one thing to do in their role: be productive. Managing teleworkers is not really all that much different than managing all employees. What is important is that you have measurable goals that allow both the employee and manager to monitor the productivity and attainment of the goals and ultimately the company's success.

What is important is that you put in a timely management policy to assist both you and the employee. Ensure that you have regular meetings (ie one a week, bi-weekly) either by phone or in person to discuss the employee's work and attainment of goals. This will keep the employee on track as well as allow the manager to be sure that their employee is being productive.

"Teleworking is too expensive to implement"

Yes, there are upfront costs. At the very least, an employee will need a computer, a second phone line, internet connection, and a secure connection to the company's systems.

However, in a study conducted by Nortel, it was found that the entire cost of setting up a teleworker is made up in the first year if only 3.5 days are away from work are saved by allowing the employee to work from home. Time lost due to doctor's appointments, ill children, employee illness or other personal situations can be minimized if the employee is able to work from home. Nortel also found that the number drops to only 1.5 days in subsequent years, accounting for the annual on-going costs of supporting teleworkers.

In addition, there are costs that can be offset. Reduction in required office real estate, office supplies and equipment, electricity and other areas can be reduced by sending employees home to work on a regular basis. One study shows that employees actually print less documents when they work at home, further reducing printing and paper costs.

Also, the employee will be allowed to write off a part of their home expenses against their taxes. This costs the organization nothing, and provides the employees with the added benefit of reducing their personal income taxes.

Finally, it reduces the carbon footprint of the employee, as they minimize or eliminate their commute time, and therefore their car emissions.

"As a teleworker, I'm afraid that I will be overlooked for promotions as I am not in the office"

First and foremost, managers and employers promote those that are capable and perform well. Your first priority is to meet and exceed the goals and expectations of your employer. Your manager or employer will know that you are a successful employee.

That being said, it is important to maintain your "visibility" at the company. This can be accomplished by ensuring that you have regular face to face meetings at the office, and by communicating with your colleagues through both email and telephone.

If you have reached a significant milestone or goal at the company, don't be shy to ask your manager to "publicize" your accomplishment, whether through your company's Intranet or regular internal newsletters or correspondence. If you have a good manager, they will be more than pleased to promote your accomplishments (remember, it makes them look good too!)

 

"What do I need to do to implement teleworking?"

As mentioned, you need to provide the basics to the employee to allow them to work effectively at home. This means a computer, a second telephone line, internet connectivity, printer if necessary, desk if necessary and access to the company programs and information.

While most employees will have a computer at home, it is highly recommended that you give the employee either a work laptop or computer. You don't want to compromise your network, and therefore you want to stress to your employee that they need to separate their work and personal use of the computer. The same policies that are in force for using computers in the office need to apply to employees with work computers at home.

It is also recommended that you provide a second telephone line for business use to their home. This will maintain the level of professionalism when the employee takes or makes calls from the home office.

With today's technology, it is also very cost effective to implement a Voice over IP (VoIP) solution whereby the teleworker is connected to the main telephone system. There is no need for a second telephone line, and maintains the appearance of the employee working from the main office, as well as many other functions and features. VoIP can also provide a significant overall cost savings to the organization.

The employee will need access to the company's software programs and information infrastructure. In most cases, this is simply a matter of providing access to email remotely. Usually this can be provided by a VPN, or accessing the email through a web client.

In other cases where access is needed to a software system (ie Finance system, ERP system etc) a VPN connection will usually be all that is required for access. Check with your IT department, IT consultant or software provider to see what may need to be implemented.

Almost all employees will have an internet connection, so this will not normally be an issue.

From an employee perspective, it is advisable that you find a spot in the home to set up "your office" to minimize distractions and allow you to focus.

 

Teleworking is a great alternative to attract quality employees and keep employees loyal as well.

Many studies show that the majority of workers are now looking for alternative and flexible work schedules. In a recent Robert Half study, 33% of employers said that allowing telecommuting and flexible work schedules is the most effective way of attracting top employee candidates, second only to offering higher salaries than competitors.

______________________________________________________________________________________________

SaaS 44° offers many services to enable teleworking. We also have relationships with organizations that specialize in assisting organizations in implementing teleworking policies and procedures.

Contact us at mark@saas44.com 

(This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it )or by calling Canada  647-476-3556 ex 224.
 
 

 
Getting Started with RWorks
Written by RWorks
Thursday, 23 December 2010 14:21

Getting started with RWorks could not be easier!

 

 

1)Simply click on any of the Free Trial links on www.rworks.com

2)Fill in your registration form.

3)A verification email will be sent to the email address you provide. Please click on the link within the email to confirm your registration.

 

 

 

Take a note of your password, username and the e-mail address you used for your RWorks registration. You can reset your password if you forget it, but you do need one of either the username or email address for logging in on future occasions.

We are delighted to offer your first 15 days with RWorks, free of charge. Take a look at the product demo video to familiarise yourself with the system. Read the FAQ's on the support page of www.rworks.com. Follow us on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube for product announcements, updates and relevant information. And don't hesitate to contact us on support@rworks.com if you have any queries.

We trust your user experience with RWorks will be a positive and beneficial one, and will provide you with real value.


 

 
How does RWorks benefit Remote Workers/ Teleworkers?
Written by RWorks
Monday, 20 December 2010 14:57

So, you are working from home as part of a dispersed team. You are enjoying all the benefits, the reduced commute times, the savings on fuel costs, and your car will definitely not miss the wear and tear of travelling to work every day! And neither will you- you can now get some exercise before work, enjoy your breakfast rather than the 'grab and run', and arrive at your desk focused and relaxed. No wonder there is so much evidence in research on remote working/teleworking pointing towards a better worklife balance, happier employees and resultant increased productivity levels.

Working for an organisation from your own home however is not without it's challenges. There needs to be absolute clarity on what your role is in the project, and what your deliverables are. With lack of face-to-face interaction, there is plenty of room for mis-communication and indeed, lack of communication. You may even feel a sense of exclusion from your office-based co-workers. And do you know the most commonly cited problem that we at RWorks found in our research on remote/teleworkers? It is an interesting one! It is the employee's feeling of worry and anxiety that the manager may not know that the employee is actually doing what they have been assigned to do, and the progress they are making on their tasks.

Let's get this one thing straight- if you weren't a trusted employee, you would not be working from home. So relax on that front, RWorks is not about trust. RWorks is about communication. It is great to know that your manager does know that you are working well, and that he/she is getting automatic updates from the entire team, thereby keeping the entire project on track. And through RWorks, you can receive feedback from your manager on your work, enhancing that feeling of inclusiveness within the dispersed team, and support from your manager.




 
RWorks and Freelancers
Written by RWorks
Thursday, 09 December 2010 15:33

You are a self-employed consultant,a SOHO    (small or home office owner), a freelancer. So, you're not part of a large organisation, or even a dispersed team.

How does RWorks apply to you? How can RWorks help you in running your business?

Here's how- RWorks provides you with a highly accurate breakdown of how you spend your working day, including time in meetings, on the phone, researching and in specific applications. This helps significantly with how you manage your time. It also helps with how you spend your money- why pay for software licenses that you are not actually using?

With RWorks, you make a list of tasks to be done, an online 'to do' list if you will, and RWorks will automatically track your progress on those tasks, helping you to stay on top of your workload, all the time.

Never miss another billing opportunity! RWorks uses this information to generate highly accurate timesheets. This enables you to calculate billable hours with to the second accuracy. Your Timesheet Report is customisable; you can add your own company branding in terms of logo and colours, representing your professionalism with a corporate finish. And your clients will really appreciate the reassuring transparency of this billing process.

Register now for your free 15-day trial of RWorks. See for yourself how easy it is to use, and how helpful it is in managing your time, tracking your progress on your tasks, and calculating billable hours for invoicing. Your time is precious- make more of it!



 
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