How to Prepare For Cold Weather Work

Unless you’re living somewhere in the sunny south, it’s time to prepare for chilly winter weather. For facility managers (FMs), this means adjusting and upgrading many areas of the office, including the exterior of the building and the surrounding property. Here are some ways FMs can ensure the comfort and safety of their employees, as well as the longevity of the office building during a cold spell.

Automate your HVAC system

Are you still using a manual heating and cooling system? Are your employees constantly grumbling about fluctuating temperatures? By installing an automated HVAC system that regulates and maintains temperatures, FMs can ensure the comfort, happiness and productivity levels of their employees stay at their full potential. Automated systems not only help regulate the facility’s temperatures during season changes, but can do so during office closures as well. Annual holidays may mean that your facility will be closed for a prolonged period of time. By kicking the HVAC system into power-saving mode over a break, FMs can lower energy costs—and these savings are crucial with the parties, vacations and slower periods that the holiday season brings.

Maintain spotless floors

As the FM, it’s your job to schedule regular maintenance checks to avoid asset breakdowns or damage. Doing so ensures that employees have all the resources they need and that the office stays clean and spotless. An easy way to tackle all of these responsibilities is to place floor mats and signage in commonly used entranceways as storm season approaches. Mud, slush, snow and salt can ruin floors, therefore increasing facility repair and replacement costs. These are all great reasons to invest in high-quality floor mats that are durable and absorbent.

If mats are only solving half the battle, avoid permanent damage to the floor by employing cleaning staff to do a daily clean. You can also suggest that employees bring an extra set of footwear for indoor use to avoid mud-drenched and salt-caked boots ruining the floors. All of these important steps play a role in protecting the company’s outward presentation and more importantly, the well-being of valued staff members.

Tip: When wet weather persists, don’t forget storage spaces and racks for sodden coats and umbrellas.

Avoid seasonal bugs

The changing season brings with it the inevitable flu bug. That’s why making tissues and hand sanitizer available in commonly frequented locations around the office is key to maintaining a healthy office. And while sending sick staff home—and encouraging them to stay there—is a given, there is another way to help promote a purified office space: plants. Plants can play a vital role in helping clean, revitalize and remove chemicals from the air. They are proven to reduce indoor air pollution, and add a calming, natural element to any indoor space.

Speaking of adding vitality and Feng Shui into an office, you can help brighten workdays by ensuring that the winter wear and tear doesn’t disrupt the light entering your facility. The gloomy conditions and darker days of the season mean that there is minimal natural lighting coming through office windows. To maximize natural light in your building during frosty days, ensure that windows are cleaned on a regular basis.

Tip: Learn about the best plants to help clean the air in your office.

Electronics

There are many ways to lower your energy consumption during the holidays. Computers consume an enormous amount of energy, even when they’re left on standby. For this reason, it’s essential to ensure that all staff switch off their computers during winter breaks and vacations. Additionally, holiday lights and decorations are likely to increase your energy consumption over the final months of the year. To optimize this consumption, use energy efficient lighting such as LED lights on your Christmas trees, the rest of your workplace and whatever other space you decide to illuminate this holiday season.

These techniques and technologies are just a few ways to get ready for the season ahead. To ensure that you’re fully prepared, dive into your office’s reports and analytics to understand which areas could use the most revitalization.

SOURCE: OFFICESPACE SOFTWARE

9 Tips for Office Fall Cleaning

Fall is officially upon us. While we usually hear the term “spring cleaning,” we think fall cleaning is just as important. Try these tips to get your work space tidy and ready to take on the fall and winter seasons.

1. Clean and organize your work space

We’re approaching that time of year where the germs fly free. Take 10 minutes to take everything off your desk and clean it. Find a microfiber cloth to dust your computer and disinfect your keyboard, mouse and desk surface. After you give it a good wipe down, take some time to sort and organize what’s been taking over. Go through your files and choose what can stay and what needs to go. Find a home for those charging cords, stacks of papers, business cards, etc.! Having an organized desk will make your workday feel less stressful. Plus you’ll know where everything is when you need it.

2. Update your passwords

This sounds like a menial task, but it’s important to make sure your accounts are secure. Keeping your passwords updated helps keep your accounts safe. Hackers are real!

3. Clean up your inbox

You know that amazing feeling when there isn’t a number in parenthesis next to the “inbox” folder.  It’s probably been a while, hasn’t it? Set aside some time to go through all those unread emails you’ve been ignoring. Delete what you don’t need, sort through the messages cluttering your inbox into folders to get your email organized.

4.Set up coffee with a contact

Do you have someone you work with often? Ask them to coffee (it is, after all, the lifeblood of our industries). Fall is the perfect time to reconnect with your contacts. Besides building on a professional relationship, this is an opportunity to update them on projects you’re working on and vice versa.

5. Refill your wallet or purse with business cards

You’ve spent all summer socializing, networking and passing out those business cards. Now is the time restock your wallet or purse, especially if you’ve seen a promotion since the last time you loaded up.

6. Refresh your LinkedIn profile

Set aside some time to clean up your LinkedIn profile. Update your experiences with your current work. Don’t forget to swap out your photo for a fresh head shot too! It’s important to keep your LinkedIn current so your connections know what you’re up to.

7. Check in on your reading list

The cooler evenings make the perfect excuse to cuddle up on the couch with a good book. This is a good time to check in on that reading list you’ve been putting off and pick a book off the shelf.

8. Review and refresh

Take a look at how far your client’s organization has come since the last time you checked. Fall is a good time to refresh needs.

9. Brush up on your skills

Check out the calendars of professional networks in your area. Sign up for an upcoming networking event! 

Source: Franco

Prepare your Staff for Office Safety Hazards

No workplace is ever completely free of hazards, and an office is no exception.

The hazards may not be as obvious as they are on an industrial shop floor, but people can suffer serious injuries in an office environment.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has no single rule specific to office safety, but several regulations do apply. This article will highlight some of the common hazards.

1. Introduce the need to be prepared for emergencies

Being ready to handle an emergency is perhaps the most important part of an office safety program. When there’s a fire, severe weather, or some other emergency, you can rely on the written emergency action plan (EAP) to give you the instructions you need to stay safe.

Everyone in the office should know:

  • How to report fires, injuries, chemical spills, and other emergencies
  • How to recognize alarms and other warning signals
  • The evacuation route
  • Where to assemble after an evacuation
  • Where to take shelter from a storm
  • Who to ask for more information

2. Review your policies for using fire extinguishers

If everyone is to follow an EAP to evacuate in case of a fire, there’s no need for anyone to learn how to use fire extinguishers. Just because there’s a fire extinguisher in the office doesn’t mean you’re supposed to use it.

However, if some employees have been designated to use fire extinguishers, these employees must be provided with hands-on training in the use of the equipment. Even trained employees have to take precautions. Never try to fight a fire if:

  • A fire extinguisher isn’t readily accessible
  • You aren’t sure if the extinguisher is the right type for the fire
  • You aren’t sure how to use the extinguisher
  • The fire is already smoky, hot, or spreading rapidly
  • Your escape path is threatened or blocked

3. Emphasize the importance of reporting injuries and getting first aid and medical attention

Office workers may not have the same risk for serious injuries as factory workers do, but injuries can still occur. Report any injury right away. No injury is too minor to report.

When there’s no nearby hospital, clinic, or infirmary that can be used to treat injured employees, the employer must train persons to render first aid.

In many offices, however, the policy is to call for emergency responders (such as paramedics or EMTs) or to go to a nearby clinic in case of an injury.

4. Describe the hazards of bloodborne pathogens

There’s often blood involved with an injury. Blood can carry infectious microbes such as hepatitis B virus (HBV) and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). OSHA’s bloodborne pathogens standard applies to all “occupational exposures” to blood or other potentially infectious materials. Employees who are designated by the employer to provide first aid (or to clean up equipment and surfaces contaminated with blood) are covered by the standard.

These employees use “universal precautions,” an approach to infection control where all human blood and certain body fluids are treated as if they were known to be infectious for bloodborne pathogens. Responders wearing rubber gloves and protective clothing is part of following such precautions.

5. Discuss slip, trip, and fall hazards

Slips, trips, and falls are some of the most common causes for serious office injuries. To avoid injuries:

  • Keep floors dry. Wipe up spills right away, and mop up tracked-in rain or slush at doorways.
  • Wear shoes with non-slip soles. Low heels provide more stability for walking than high heels do.
  • Walk carefully. Don’t run if you’re in a hurry.
  • Always watch where you’re going. Never carry materials that you can’t see over.
  • Keep areas will lit. Report burnt-out lights.
  • Keep aisles, stairs, and work areas clean and free of clutter. Store materials properly.
  • Keep file cabinet drawers closed.
  • Arrange furniture so no one will walk into sharp corners. Keep clear access to aisles and exits.
  • Don’t let electrical cords be tripping hazards. Tape them down securely if they must temporarily be run where people walk.
  • Report loose or damaged stair treads, handrails, or carpeting.
  • Don’t lean back in your chair or put your feet up. These actions can cause the chair to slide out from under you.
  • Always use a proper stepladder to reach materials on high shelves. Check the condition of the ladder before you use it. Stay off the top step, and don’t lean too far over to the side.

6. Describe safe-lifting procedures

Office workers aren’t immune from having to do manual lifting occasionally. Improper lifting is a common cause of injury. Try to use a cart or dolly to move items when you can. Get help to move heavy materials. When you need to manually lift materials:

  • Plan the lift. Know the object’s weight. Have a clear path and clear place to set the object down.
  • Position yourself squarely in front of the object.
  • Bend your knees and keep your back straight.
  • Get a full, firm grip with the object held close to your body.
  • Straighten your knees to lift the object. Keep your back straight.
  • Don’t twist your back as you carry the object.
  • Set down the load by bending your knees to lower it into position.

7. Explain electrical safety concerns

In an office, properly installed electrical equipment is guarded, or covered and insulated. Misuse and defective equipment can cause shocks and burns. To avoid electrical hazards:

  • Inspect portable electrical equipment before use. Look for defects such as loose parts, damaged or missing prongs on the plug, damaged insulation around the cord, and exposed bare wires. Remove damaged equipment from service. Repairs can only be made by qualified persons.
  • Don’t handle cords, plugs, or equipment with wet hands.
  • Keep cords clean and free from kinks.
  • Don’t raise or lower equipment by its cord.
  • Don’t pull on the cord to unplug equipment.
  • Don’t use staples to secure cords in place. This can damage the cord’s outer insulation.
  • Don’t use circuit breakers, fuses, or safety switches to repeatedly energize equipment; use the equipment’s control switches that are designed for regular use. If a circuit breaker trips repeatedly, report that there may be a problem with the circuit.

8. Discuss chemical hazards

There may be chemical hazards in an office. Cleaning products, inks, adhesives, etc., may be flammable or reactive. Using chemicals may lead to unhealthy exposures. OSHA’s hazard communication standard has requirements for container labels and safety data sheets (SDSs).

In an office, however, you may only be exposed to chemicals when you use various types of consumer products such as correction fluid or a cleaner for a dry erase board. OSHA’s standard doesn’t apply if you’re using a consumer product as it’s intended to be used by a consumer.

9. Emphasize the importance of reporting hazards

Hazards can only be addressed if they’re identified. If you notice a hazardous situation, report it right away. Be especially vigilant for hazards when you change equipment, materials, or procedures. Changes can introduce hazards.

SOURCE: THE BUSINESS JOURNALS

8 Tips for Transitioning into a New Job

Congratulations, you accept a new position! Now it’s time to make your move and settle in at your new job.

Finding your groove after landing a new position can be challenging. You’ve been granted a new and exciting opportunity to showcase your skills and experience, generate beneficial solutions, and navigate a new company. But getting there takes a bit more time than you’d expect.

Don’t sweat the small stuff — keep in mind your first 90 days are usually a transitional period for finding your footing. Here are eight tips for creating a smooth transition into your new employment endeavor:

1. Stay positive. Every career change comes with a variety of emotions. While you may be thrilled to take this next step in your career, transitioning into a new position is likely to come with a few obstacles. Whether you’re not quite fitting in as quickly as you’d hoped or maybe your typical work speed hasn’t got back up to par. Whatever the case may be, it’s important to keep your chin up and endure the change with a positive attitude. Showcasing your enthusiasm will likely draw in your co-workers and make initial interactions a bit smoother.

2. Find your routine. The average duration of unemployment is about eight months in the current job climate. For many, this means the breaking and remaking of a variety of routines. Returning to work might initially be a challenge in terms of finding your footing with your new tasks. Actively attempting to build and manage a routine will allow you to increase your efficiency and effectiveness, as well as create a sense of normality.

3. Immerse yourself in company culture. Fitting in at a new job often means observing the overall culture of the company and adapting. Since you were hired for the position, you probably expressed a variety of values that made you a good match for the company. Openly embrace the culture of your new company by making the office norms your new habits.

4. Take notes. Key in on your work environment by utilizing your senses. Take both physical and mental notes on what goes on around you. While you’re immersing yourself in the culture of the company, also familiarize yourself with some of the other norms. How does your boss react to certain things? What are problems you can provide solutions to? Take a “fly on the wall” mentality while you’re settling in to see how the company functions.

5. Set goals. Within the first few weeks on the job, make a point to establish some beneficial goals. Ask yourself what you must accomplish in your first three months, what you want to accomplish in the future, and how you plan to continually improve your efficiency. These are just a few questions to set you off in the right direction. Goal-setting techniques are important in every stage of your career.

6. Build relationships. The relationships you have with the people you work with can easily make or break your experience. Immediately forging relationships with your co-workers will also help you transition more smoothly. Step out of your comfort zone and attempt to interact with everyone you work with. Introduce yourself and always accept happy hour invitations. These are the individuals who are likely to be your networking connections for years to come.

7. Increase your participation. While you might still be nailing down your own duties, it’s also important to extend a hand when possible. If you know a co-worker could use your help tying up a few loose ends on a project, offer your services. This will provide you with a chance to work with someone new, as well as showcase your willingness and ability to work on a team.

8. Seek out mentorship. Sometimes the best way to familiarize yourself with your new position, as well as a company, is to seek out a mentor. After observing daily operations for a while, reach out to someone you admire within the company. Shoot them an email or stop by their office and share your interest in learning about — and from — their experiences.

It may take some time, but you will eventually settle into a comfortable routine at your new job.

SOURCE: BUSINESS INSIDER

How to Ask for a Raise

A Guide to Asking for and Getting the Raise You Deserve

Asking your manager for a raise can be nerve-wracking, so much so, that some people wait for months or even years before asking for a raise they deserve.

The truth is, there’s nothing wrong with asking for a raise that reflects the hard work that you do, but there are some approaches and best practices that will always get better results than others.

Even though your manager has data on the hard work you’ve been doing, you still need to present your case for why you deserve a raise and you need to be prepared to negotiate.

This guide will cover: preparing to ask for a raise, how/when to ask for and justify your raise, the right questions to ask, negotiating with your manager and recovering from an unsuccessful ask for a raise.  

How to Prepare

You should never ask for a raise without preparing for this conversation. No matter how good your relationship is with your manager, they will be expecting you to prove that you deserve the salary you’re asking for and won’t respond favorably if it seems like you did not prepare.

Before broaching the subject of a raise, always:

Build your Case: Look back to recent projects and periods of time where you went beyond what was expected and provided real value for your company. Always use specific performance data when possible.  

Know your Worth: Glassdoor’s Know Your Worth™ salary estimator gives you a clear idea of the raise you should be asking for, by giving you an objective figure to compare your current salary against.

Just enter your job title, location, years of experience, and a few other pieces of information to get a free, personalized estimate of what the market value of your skill set is. This way, you can both understand if you’re getting paid fairly and have a concrete number to bring to the table when it comes time to negotiate your salary.

When to Ask for a Raise

Picking the right time to ask for a raise is just as important for preparing for this discussion.

When picking a good time to ask for a raise, find out when your company’s fiscal budget planning takes place so you can be sure that you aren’t asking for the impossible.

A few great times to ask for a raise are:

Annual Performance Reviews: A natural time for this conversation may be at your annual performance review, when the topic of salary is not only timely, but often expected.

After Completing an Important Project: A great time to ask for a raise is after successfully completing an important project or showing excellent work.

When your Manager is Happy: Asking for a raise during of a stressful or hectic period will guarantee that your manager is short on time and patience. Wait to ask for a raise until the dust has settled and you have, once again, proven your worth.

What to Say to Get a Raise

After preparing your evidence for why you deserve a raise and choosing a good time to talk to your manager, it’s important to think about what you’re going to say during your raise conversation.

You don’t need to have a strict script, but you do need to be clear and specific in your delivery and it helps to have a few phrases up your sleeve to help guide the conversation.

Be clear

An easy way to begin a raise discussion is to say something like: “As I’m looking forward to working and growing with the company, I’d love to discuss my salary.” Or “I’m interested in discussing my salary, is now an appropriate time?”

Be specific

Mention your desired salary number and specifically outline how you came to this conclusion. Bring a copy of your Know Your Worth salary estimate.  Also, be clear about when you’d like your new desired salary to be effective, and any other details that are pertinent to your desired compensation.

How to Act

The way you act during a raise conversation is just as important as the tone of voice you use, so be sure that you balance confidence, graciousness and enthusiasm for the work you do.  

Be confident

How is an employer going to feel comfortable giving you a raise if you’re unsure yourself?

Express gratitude

Expressing gratitude and appreciation for what you currently have at the company is a gracious and professional preface to an ask for more money.

Express enthusiasm

Sharing excitement for your future goals, and for the future goals of the company, is a way to show you’re invested in doing your job well.

Source: Glassdoor

How to Survive Hot Weather with Style

It’s easy to look good in the fall – you have an unlimited options of clothes to throw and layer together.

But when it comes to style when the temps are up, it can be a huge challenge, especially if you have an office dress code.

When it comes to your clothes, your body gets hot in two ways:

  1. Air getting trapped – Fabrics like wool and cashmere are great in the winter because their fibers create little pockets that trap air. Those little air molecules are trapped, getting heated by your body to keep you warm.
  2. Direct exposure to the sun – This one is fairly simple. Sun hits directly onto your skin, your skin gets hot.

That means in the warmer months, we want the exact opposite of these two things to happen. We want to move air away from our body and get some shade our skin to keep it cool!

TIP #1: SWITCH OVER TO SPRING FABRICS

There’s a good chance you’ve stocked your closet with shirts in fabrics better suited for cold months, like wool. Even if you’re more of a cotton shirt guy, your fall/winter gear is generally going to be on the thicker side. They’re designed to trap in heat, which means you’ll be a swampy mess by the end of the day.

We want fabrics that let the air flow, not trap it.

Make the switch and get a set of shirts made in more spring/summer appropriate fabrics.

Linen is a hot weather staple, and you’ll find a lot of men’s clothing for the warmer seasons in linen. Linen can be naturally stiff, so you’ll also find it blended with fabrics like cotton or silk to soften it up.

Other options include: Lighter cotton, ramie and my personal favorite, cupro. Cupro is a silk-like fabric made from the throwaway parts of the cotton plant. It’s extremely breathable and stays relatively cool to the touch.

TIP #2: STOCK UP ON SUMMER APPROPRIATE STYLES

16oz raw denim in the middle of summer? It ain’t happening

When it comes to wardrobes, it makes sense to follow the concepts of an essential wardrobe, but adjust the pieces to suit hotter and humid weather.

This means getting clothes with the right details – whether that’s fabric weight, details like lining, even a little help from technology.

TIP #3: LOOSEN UP YOUR FIT A BIT

The tighter your clothes are, the hotter you’re going to get and feel. This goes back to airflow.

Summer is one of the few times where it’s ok to loosen up a bit and relax about getting the “perfect” fit.

Go for roomier cuts, or even size up. Give your skin some room to breathe – get a looser t-shirt, dress shirt, pants and shorts.

Think about how men in hot Middle Eastern countries dress: It’s usually loose, flowing clothes and robes in breathable, light fabrics.

TIP #4: DON’T BE AFRAID TO ADD SOME COLOR AND PATTERN TO YOUR LOOK

Summer is one of the few times where you can get a pass for wearing bright colors and wild patterns, especially if you aren’t the type of guy that normally wears that stuff.

For the most day-to-day versatility, I still recommend sticking to neutral colors like navy, white, khaki, olive. These color combinations mix easily with one another.

Take this advice and adapt to it to a work environment. Wear lighter fabrics and looser fitting clothes in the office for a cooler stress free work day!

By swapping out just one item in your look – like your usual white button-up -for something like a floral print can give your look some much needed personality.

SOURCE: THE ESSENTIAL MAN

How to Start Working Remotely One Day a Week

Ready for a life of flexibility and potential? Baby steps. Here are all the tips you need to work remotely one day a week.

How to talk to your boss about working remotely

Be prepared: your manager’s going to have some questions. He or she is going to wonder where this conversation is coming from and if he or she can trust you with the flexibility and freedom that comes with working remotely. The best way to prove it to your manager is by coming to the meeting prepared and in excellent standing.

Be up front with your “why”

During this conversation, it’s important to be transparent with your employer about why you want to work remotely one day a week so that you can earn their trust or build upon an already great working relationship. That being said, make sure that you’re wording your ask in a way that positions the business’ interests first. Be clear about the fact that you’re interested in working remotely because you strongly believe it will lead to further success within your role.

Say this: Working remotely once a week will allow me to dive deeper into the projects that I’m working on, give full attention to my professional goals, and attain the flexibility to work during the hours in which I am most productive.

Not this: I want to work remotely one day a week because I’m too distracted by my coworkers. I can’t get anything done here and think that I’d be better off working in a different environment. I’ll work harder and be able to do so on my own terms.

Pitch it as a trial run

Many times, managers are concerned that by allowing you to work remotely he or she will be setting a precedent for your coworkers. During these initial conversations, come out ahead of that concern and make it clear that what you’re proposing is a trial or a pilot that comes with no commitment unless it works as well, or better, than your current situation.

Say this: I want to try working remotely one day a week and see if I can increase my productivity and expand my creativity. We can track my performance for a set period of time and see if I improve. If not, there’s no pressure to continue piloting this idea.

Not this: I want to work remotely one day a week starting next month. I know that I will be successful, so there is nothing to worry about. I’ve heard a few of the other team members are interested in a similar situation, so I could lead the way as soon as you give me the go-ahead.

Focus on remote work benefits and opportunities

After going into the background behind why you want to work remotely one day a week, get to the point of this conversation: how remote work will positively impact your work and the business’ bottom line. Be ready to talk through your individual performance, goals that you want to achieve related to productivity, and professional development and what you need from the company in order to be successful. As you walk through these points, provide a few ways that remote work will act as a solution in each situation.

Say this: Over the past three quarters, I have exceeded my sales goals by X%. I know that if I were able to work remotely one day a week I could increase that number to X because of the flexibility my remote schedule would create. Working remotely once a week would also give me the ability to attend a professional development class in the morning, and work in the evenings when I am more productive.

Not this: I’ll be happier when I can work remotely once a week. I’ll be doing the same tasks that I do everyday in the office, I just won’t be physically at my desk as I do them. You won’t even notice the difference.

How to work remotely effectively

You did it! You impressed your boss and have gotten the OK to work remotely one day a week.

First of all, we just want to say how proud we are of you. You rocked it.

Second, we’d like to offer some advice to make sure this goes as smoothly as possible.

Set goals and develop a strategy to reach them

Think of this opportunity as a once-a-week chance to prove to your boss that you can be trusted with more autonomy. During your initial conversation, set clear goals and KPIs that you can measure as you work remotely so that you can show professional progress.

Say this: My goal after three months of working remotely once a week is to bring in X number of new clients more than I did last quarter. To do so, I am going to implement x, y and z strategies that are now possible because I will be working remotely. Let’s check in once a month to see my progress on this goal and pivot if necessary.

Not this: Let’s try this out for a few months and see how it goes!

Check in and set expectations

As a remote employee (even a part-time one), the most important tool that you can lean on to ensure success is communication. While you’ll still be spending most of your time in the office, make it a point to stay connected to your teammates on the day that you are working remotely. Whether that is through Slack or over email, it’s important that everyone understands that, yes, you are actually working and that you can be relied upon throughout the day.

In addition to day-to-day communication, set up monthly meetings with your manager to check-in on how your remote work agreement is going. Has it been a success so far in their eyes and, if he or she feels like there are improvements to be made, what can you adjust to ensure that you’re doing your job to the best of your ability? These check-ins will not only alleviate any concerns that you may have about your performance, but also remind your employer that you are committed to a successful outcome.

SOURCE: REMOTE YEAR

YOUR OFFICE DESERVES A GOOD SPRING CLEANING

In keeping with the freshly rejuvenated feel that springtime brings, many people take advantage of this energy by doing some much-needed spring cleaning after the long winter months. Why shouldn’t the workplace join in the fun? In this blog, we’ll explain how a fresh and clean office can benefit your employees and your business as a whole – and just as importantly, how to go about tidying up properly.

Why Your Office Needs to Be Kept Clean
Regardless of the industry you operate in, chances are that your business relies on technology solutions in order to function properly. From this conclusion, it can be inferred that if your solutions were to go on the fritz or even break down entirely, you would find yourself experiencing downtime and the associated lack of productivity.

Keeping your solutions and the environment they are stored in clean and organized is key to maintaining their functionality. Without the proper care and maintenance, your technology doesn’t stand a chance for very long, which can (and will) cause no small harm to your business.

To combat these effects, there are plenty of solutions you can deploy to assist you, along with some traditional cleaning methods and basic organizational strategies.

Digital Methods
There are plenty of ways to improve your organizational functionality, starting with your document organization solution. What is the current state of your retained files? Are they well-organized into a hierarchy, such that everyone in the business who needs access can gain it by following the system? Are they fully digitized and backed up, or are they squirreled away in metal boxes that take up valuable real estate? Going paperless is an environmentally conscious and admirable strategy, not to mention a good way to save some capital.

Organizing and Optimizing Your Computer
While you’re occupied with dealing with your file storage and organization, it also doesn’t hurt to take a look at some of your other technology solutions to ensure that everything is as it should be where they are involved. Take, for example, your email solution and its inbox.

It’s no secret that email messages have a tendency to pile up and become unmanageable if left unorganized for too long. By auditing the messages you receive and setting up filters to automate their organization, you can make your inbox largely independent.

As for your desktop and the files found on it, treat the files there as you would the files in your document organization system. Are there any being stored on your individual device that should actually be stored in the company’s shared files? A hierarchy of folders can help you organize any files that are left after those that can be moved to shared resources have been migrated.

Keeping Things Tidy
Of course, what’s a good office cleaning without taking a few workstations and getting rid of any accumulated dust and grime? Have a trusted IT resource open up the devices and give them a thorough cleaning with some canned air, and clean out some of the exterior in the same way. You should also give your network infrastructure the same treatment. Once your computers and servers are cleaned out, it never hurts to rethink your cable management to minimize dust collection and reduce the very real tripping hazard these cables can create.

Finally, you should also participate in some more traditional spring cleaning. Clean your floors and bathrooms, and get rid of any “science experiments” left in the break room refrigerator. This will all make your office environment more comfortable, healthier, and thereby more productive.

Source: PCS

How to Work from Home on Snow Days

When meteorologists warn of blizzard conditions, chaos ensues.With proper planning, productivity doesn’t have to fall like the snow.

Schools announce closings. Storm warnings leap into in effect. Milk, bread and eggs disappear from supermarket shelves.  And, in major metros, offices close, meetings are rescheduled and professionals hunker down to work from home.

But snow days don’t have to bury business operations. With proper planning, your organization’s productivity can weather the storm as employees work from home.

Here are a few tips for how employees, working parents and managers can make working from home work for them.

For Working Parents

You love ‘em dearly, but your kids can be a major distraction when you’re working from home – especially if they’re running around singing “Do You Want to Build a Snowman” in their best Anna voice all day. Here are a few tips for getting work done on a snow day.

1. Make a Schedule 
If you want to get anything done, you’re going to have to set office hours and give the kids projects or screen time while you get work done. You can even make a game of it, where they’re “working” while you’re working. Whatever you do, make sure your family understands they must respect your “office hours” so when the door is shut, you’re off-limits.

2. Carve Out a Dedicated Office Space
If you don’t already have one, you’ll need to dedicate a home office when you’re working from home while the kids are home (and potentially stuck indoors). Make sure you’re office space is clean (no toys allowed!), with a desk, Internet access and anything else you’ll need to complete your work tasks for the day. “Even though you’re at home, you have to find a way to pretend that you’re going to a space where the kids are not there,” recommends Robi Ludwig, PSY.D, a contributor for Care.com.

3. Get Over the Guilt
It’s natural to feel guilty when you’re focusing on work instead of your children, but the reality is that you have a job to do and your team is counting on you to get it done. Remember that guilt too shall pass – and there’ll be time later for sledding and cocoa. “Your child will survive if you’re attending to something other than them for a couple of hours throughout the day,” says Ludwig.

For Managers

From an operational standpoint, a the unpredictability of a snow day makes it a bit more disruptive than typical telecommuting, but strategies for managing remote employees should be built to scale. Utilize those same strategies when your team is going to be working from home on a snow day, so that when the snow falls, your productivity won’t.

1. Set Clear Expectations
When employees are telecommuting, it’s super important that they have a clear understanding of what’s expected of them in terms of deadlines, goals, hours and reachability. According to the Society for Human Resources’ 2014 report on workplace flexibility, only 43 percent of respondents reported managers established specific goals or parameters with telecommuting employees.

2. Communicate. Communicate. Communicate
Out of the office doesn’t mean on an island. Regular contact via email, instant message, phone or even video conferencing is crucial for employee engagement. In the case of a snow day, use your “The Office is Closing” announcement to communicate how and when you want your team to stay in touch while working from home.

3. Provide Context
Snow days are different than typical telecommuting. They’re unpredictable – not only in terms of when they occur, but also what other obstacles they’ll throw at your workforce. For example, a power outage could knock out Internet access for your entire team. In the case of working from home during an extreme weather event, let your team know that this is a temporary arrangement; that you understand the difficulties of the situation and value whatever work they can accomplish.

Sending the clear message that you appreciate your team’s flexibility in spending a snow day working from home can boost morale and establish a measure of employee engagement among your temporary remote workforce.

For Everyone

Working from home can be a challenge if you’re not used to it. But, as long as you have Internet, a phone, a computer and a plan, there’s no reason you can’t have a productive workday when the weather outside is frightful.  Here are a few tips to help you out.

1. Stick to a Regular Schedule
As much as possible, it’s important to stick to your normal workday routine when you’re working from home. Every day worked from home should “mirror” the schedule you’d keep in your regular office environment. This will make it easier for you to bucket tasks and stay on the same page as your team.  It may even help you get a jump on the day, since the commute isn’t going to be a factor.

2. Over-Communicate
Email, Skype and text messages will be your best friends when you’re working from home. If you want to have a productive workday, respond to emails promptly and make sure to keep your team in the loop about what you’re working on. And if you have to run out to shovel the walkway, make sure to tell your team that, too.

3. Prioritize Work and Home Tasks Separately 
Harsh winter weather adds snow removal to your already endless list of household tasks. It’s hard not to be distracted by dishes, laundry, child care and the like when you’re working from home. Avoid work and home tasks bleeding into one another by making separate to-do lists: one for home and one for work. If you think of personal tasks while you’re working, add them to the list – after all, the driveway isn’t going to snowblow itself.

SOURCE: CARE.COM

Create A More Stable & Healthy Work Environment

As a leader, it’s your job to make sure your employees are happy, healthy and enjoy working at your business. Turnover is expensive, and too much of it will create a very difficult environment to work and exist each day.

However, there are a few particular ways you can create a more stable atmosphere in the workplace that will help your employees keep their mental and physical wellbeing in check. The worst decision you can make is to look the other way and take no action at all for improving the conditions at your office. Hoping the situation will get better on its own isn’t a wise approach, so it’s worth your energy to figure out how you can help.

Know the Employment Laws & have Rules, Policies & Guidelines in Place

If you fail to educate yourself on state employment laws and regulations, you may find yourselves in deep water with the law. It’s beneficial to educate yourself and your fellow employees on workplace rights and policies. Seek help from an experienced employment attorney to help answer any questions you may have regarding your workplace rights. Also, proactively share company rules, policies, and guidelines with your employees, which will make your expectations at the office clear.

Offer training to your employees in both data protection and health and safety. If you’re unsure on how to improve your environment, bring in a consultant who can teach your employees how to create a strong password, to spot dodgy emails and how to store sensitive data. You should also only allow those who need access to sensitive data to have the login details; anyone else should not be permitted access.

Promote Work-Life Balance

Another way you can create a more stable and healthy work environment for your employees is to promote work-life balance. A few ideas include offering a work from home policy, a discounted gym membership and flexible hours. You could also bring in a coffee machine so that your workers can enjoy coffee that isn’t instant, and if the budget permits, you can bring in fresh fruit and some yogurt in for your employees to enjoy a healthy breakfast at their desks.

Your staff members have a life outside of company walls and the more you can help them to balance all of their obligations and responsibilities, the more productive and useful they’ll be at work.

Encourage Open Communication

Politics and side conversations can quickly turn a peaceful environment you once had at your workplace sour, so you should have a rule that although does not repress the opinions of others, states you need to be mindful of other people’s beliefs. Encourage open and honest communication to avoid sticky situations and people going behind each other’s backs.

Make sure whoever needs to be in the loop about a particular matter is and send emails and hold companywide meetings to fill your employees in on the status of how your operation is doing overall. As a boss, you may need to be a mediator every once in a while, or if you’re not comfortable in being one, hire a professional in this sector so that employee disputes are sorted out way before they can get out of control. You want to encourage conversation, but keep anything that may cause discomfort out of the office.

Assign Individual Coaches or Mentors

What’s going to help you hold your workers more accountable for doing their jobs well and give them a healthy outlet for sharing grievances is to assign each person a coach or mentor.

This way people will feel like their voice is always being heard and performance will be closely monitored throughout the year. You’ll create a more stable and healthy work environment when your staff feels like they’re being valued and have someone they can turn to in a time of need or if they have questions.

Conclusion

Keeping your employees happy and healthy should be a top priority at your workplace. It’s what’s going to help you reach your goals and get ahead of your competition. Use these suggestions for creating a more stable and healthy work environment that everyone can get behind and appreciate.

SOURCE: HAPPY