The Life Spans of Animals

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The Sundance Company                                                                
Established in 1976, The Sundance Company has the experience to help you with your commercial real estate needs throughout the Boise Valley. If your requirements include property management, leasing, real estate development, project planning, construction or space planning then look to us. The Sundance Company has more than 1.5 million square feet of office and industrial space available in prime locations in the Boise metropolitan area. More information is available at www.sundanceco.com or 208.322.7300.

Memorial Day 2020

The Sundance Company                                                                
Established in 1976, The Sundance Company has the experience to help you with your commercial real estate needs throughout the Boise Valley. If your requirements include property management, leasing, real estate development, project planning, construction, or space planning then look to us. The Sundance Company has more than 1.5 million square feet of office and industrial space available in prime locations in the Boise metropolitan area. More information is available at www.sundanceco.com or 208.322.7300.

Working From Home: Defeating Distraction

woman lying and typing on laptop
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Under normal circumstances, study after study found that workers’ productivity increased when they shifted from working in an office setting to working from home. Of course, in the current pandemic, school closures have thrown a wrench in the gears for working parents. And across the board, parenting or not, a plague of pandemic anxiety is no help.

But according to Harvard Business School Researcher Prithwiraj Choudhury, who authored one of the aforementioned studies, working from home can yield great results. It simply requires forming and sticking to routines that help you focus.

“When you’re at home, you have more distractions and disruptions to take into account,” Choudhury told The Boston Herald. In fact, distraction lurks around every corner: the laundry room, the kitchen, the dog that wants to go for a walk, the cacophony of social media trying to lure your attention away from the daily grind.

Defeating distraction and passing on to the next level of work-from-home success is easier said than done, but here are a few of the most tried-and-true recommendations.

  1. Define Your Routine

Good news: Adopting a routine can make you more productive. Now all you need to do is put it in place.

“Make sure your routine sets boundaries for yourself and whoever you live with,” Choudhury said. “This will, in turn, create a strong balance in both your work and personal life. Once you find it, follow it religiously.”

Get up and dressed for the day, carve out time for yourself in the morning as best you can, and once you arrive at your desk — whether that’s in your pristine and luxurious home office, at a worktable strewn with extension cords you’ve rigged up in your garage, or at your breakfast table — keep it sacred.

Experts recommend replicating your office desk as closely as you can, or improving on it, and creating a space in which you want to work. Pay attention to factors like ergonomics, natural light, and noise pollution.

Then, as needed, set a mood of productivity, whether that is silence, noise-blocking headphones, or programming the right soundtrack. Brain.fm — “functional music to improve focus in 15 minutes” — and Focus@Will (“personalized focus music”) each create focus-friendly soundtracks for your workday.

  1. Avoid Multitasking

Folding laundry or other seemingly “mindless” side tasks during conference calls have more of an impact than one might guess: According to researchers at the University of Southern California, a recent study found that participants who multitasked while carrying out tasks related to their job experienced an IQ score decline similar to those who have stayed up all night. Some of the multitasking men had their IQ drop 15 points, leaving them with “the average IQ of an 8-year-old child.”

Once you get to work, “keep the boundaries,” organizing and productivity expert Julie Morgenstern recommended on CNBC. “Do your work during your workday and only stop for self-care. That’s it. Do not do household chores.”

In the category of self-care, Morgenstern files activities including eating lunch, taking breaks to stretch and get fresh air, and anything else utterly demanded in the scope of maintaining one’s sanity.

  1. Get Your Web Surfing Under Control

If your distractions of choice are of a more digital persuasion (attention: Facebook and Twitter addicts), there’s an app for that. Freedom and LeechBlock are two that help you block apps and websites, thus allowing you to lock yourself out of your biggest online distractions for whatever length of time you choose.

For a lighter touch, Mindful Browsing is a browser plug-in that issues gentle reminders instead of barricading access.

Phones and email inboxes are other irresistible muses that tend to pulverize productivity. If your job allows, only look at your phone or email at certain intervals. Tools like the Tomato Timer, which breaks work into 25-minute increments per the Pomodoro Technique, may help.

  1. Mind Your Mental Health

Per physicist and theologian Blaise Pascal, “I have discovered that all the unhappiness of men arises from one single fact, that they cannot stay quietly in their own chamber.”

Researchers have found that focus is like anything else, one can only do it for so long before efficacy begins to erode. Quick, refreshing breaks — like going for a walk (even if it’s just walking around the room), making a snack or taking a shower — are crucial when it comes to staying productive.

Portions of this article originally appeared on the BISNOW website. 

The Sundance Company                                                                
Established in 1976, The Sundance Company has the experience to help you with your commercial real estate needs throughout the Boise Valley. If your requirements include property management, leasing, real estate development, project planning, construction, or space planning then look to us. The Sundance Company has more than 1.5 million square feet of office and industrial space available in prime locations in the Boise metropolitan area. More information is available at www.sundanceco.com or 208.322.7300.

 

Top 10 Modern Construction Marvels

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The Sundance Company                                                                
Established in 1976, The Sundance Company has the experience to help you with your commercial real estate needs throughout the Boise Valley. If your requirements include property management, leasing, real estate development, project planning, construction or space planning then look to us. The Sundance Company has more than 1.5 million square feet of office and industrial space available in prime locations in the Boise metropolitan area. More information is available at www.sundanceco.com or 208.322.7300.

Building Better Teams

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“Hire the best.”

For managers, that bit of business wisdom goes without saying. When you recruit new employees, recruit the most capable. When you build a team, build one with the most proficient members. The idea is so widely acknowledged and so obviously right that it barely merits acknowledgment.

It also often happens to be wrong.

Harnessing a diversity of skills rather than a roster of pure talent is often a better team-building strategy, according to a new paper co-authored by Jonathan Bendor, the Walter and Elise Haas Professor of Political Economics and Organizations at Stanford Graduate School of Business.

“The conventional wisdom is implicitly set in a world of certainty. Further, it’s a world where there is agreement on goals,” Bendor says. “When you move from a world of certainty to one of uncertainty and/or from one of happy, calm agreement on goals to one in which there are sharp disagreements under the surface—then this wisdom falls apart.”

Challenging the Assumptions

To test conventional wisdom, Bendor, and his longtime collaborator Scott Page from the University of Michigan built a model to consider various cases where the best approach might be a less obvious choice. The model built by Bendor and Page rests on a few fundamental assumptions.

First, people have different tools at their disposal. Engineers building a smartphone, for instance, may have a variety of different battery technologies to choose from. One of these batteries might have the highest probability of success, but other types may still be worth exploring. (Tools can be technology such as this or a technique such as one of the four DNA sequencing techniques used by biochemists.)

Second, different people have different abilities with various tools. One engineer may be an expert on lithium-ion batteries, another on aluminum-ion batteries. A third may be an expert in nickel-hydrogen batteries.

Third, group and individual goals aren’t always aligned. “As any coach knows, sometimes there are too few basketballs for the egos on the team,” Bendor says. Individuals at a company may want their team to succeed, but they also have their own careers, their own ambitions to consider. “Consequently, what they would like best of all is for the team to succeed and to have it succeed because they solved the problem.”

When the Best People isn’t the Best Policy

With this foundation, the model quickly illuminates scenarios that are both easy to imagine and that favor a managerial strategy other than simply hiring the best when teams work on hard problems.

Consider, Bendor says, a team of two people, Mary and Peter. Each is expert in a different tool, and their employer faces a challenge in which the tool that Mary knows best has a pretty good probability of finding a solution whereas the tool Peter knows best has a lower probability. On top of this, Mary completely dominates Peter in ability; any tool that Peter has in his repertoire Mary can actually apply better.

“Conventional wisdom suggests that the manager would never put Peter on a team with Mary,” Bendor says. Just put together a bunch of Marys. But this ignores the fact that because one tool has a higher probability of success, every Mary on the team might opt to use it, and so the manager gets a team of people all trying to solve a problem in the same way. When everybody’s swinging hammers and no one’s sawing lumber, the house won’t get built.

Instead, recruit Peter to the team; now the manager has somebody who, out of his own self-interest, will try using the tool with a lower probability of success because that is the tool he specializes in. “The manager then gets tool diversity out of these two agents because she didn’t hire the best,” says Bendor.

Of course, even with the right mix of tools and talents on a team, good managers must be aware that what they want and what their employees want won’t always align. Given this, managers need to think carefully about the interpersonal dynamics within each team and then offer rewards that reinforce cooperation.

“You can do exercises that enhance the weight people place on the team objective, but at the end of the day effective team management takes into account powerful personal goals, such as career interests, which may mean that the choices people on the team want to make won’t be the choices you want them to make,” he says. “What you want to do at a high level of generality is to reward people as much as possible for group success and then, as much as possible, suppress payoffs for the individual.”

Portions of this article originally appeared on the Fast Company website.

The Sundance Company                                                                
Established in 1976, The Sundance Company has the experience to help you with your commercial real estate needs throughout the Boise Valley. If your requirements include property management, leasing, real estate development, project planning, construction or space planning then look to us. The Sundance Company has more than 1.5 million square feet of office and industrial space available in prime locations in the Boise metropolitan area. More information is available at www.sundanceco.com or 208.322.7300.

 

Look Who’s Talking To Their Phone

 

The Sundance Company                                                                
Established in 1976, The Sundance Company has the experience to help you with your commercial real estate needs throughout the Boise Valley. If your requirements include property management, leasing, real estate development, project planning, construction or space planning then look to us. The Sundance Company has more than 1.5 million square feet of office and industrial space available in prime locations in the Boise metropolitan area. More information is available at www.sundanceco.com or 208.322.7300.

Top Five Tips To Elevate Employee Engagement

With such a competitive environment for talent, organizations are seeking strategies to keep current employees engaged and energized now more than ever. They are also looking to attract the best and brightest to their doors. Higher engagement among employees has amazing, positive ripple effects that can impact the bottom line and go beyond the organization’s four walls. When employees are excited about where they work; they are more likely to promote the workplace to others who could be that competitive advantage an organization is seeking. Many companies are looking at how physical changes to their workplace can support their business goals and improve the employee experience.

Measuring engagement within the workplace happens in many ways. Here are five key steps and tools, within the lens of change management, to help organizations maintain and/or elevate engagement when undertaking a workplace improvement project or relocation:

1) Communication Strategy

Determining your audience(s) and developing the right message for each is a key component to ensuring smooth change management. Whether the audience is leadership, employees or the core project team; each deserves an appropriately crafted message that is relevant to them. The communication plan should overlay with the design schedule, identifying the right times to tap into each audience for information and when to articulate the message back out to each group. Showing renderings paired with the ‘why behind the design’ to employees so they can visualize the layout of their workspaces and further understand how it aligns with the business goals, provides them an opportunity to provide feedback and further engage in the process. However, showing a rendering too early and without messaging, can have a negative effect. For example: showing a team of employees, who all have separate private offices, a rendering of an open workspace before they have been given the message of the “why” behind the new design can cause chaos and confusion. A clear and well thought out change management communication strategy can set the tone for a smooth and easy transition.

2) Want Engaged Employees? Give them a Voice.

Workplace changes and projects are often determined by the leadership of an organization and do not always involve employee input. Employee input, however, can be extremely valuable and serve as a guide in the preferences of a future workforce (particularly if you are able to collect generational data in correlation to preferences). For example, we leverage a very simple survey tool that provides employees a voice without setting an expectation for change. How do we do that? We ask very simply, current state questions aligned with the built environment that employees rank on a satisfaction scale. Both client and designer gain better insights into project priorities and message alignment back to employees, demonstrating that “we have listened” and “within the design, here are those ways we listened.” This is just one tool that engages employees in the process.  Another way could be through a company intranet site where employees can ask questions or gain project updates along the way. The key to these sites is having a way of taking in information but also articulating information back out so that employees are responded to. Other ways to engage employees is by allowing them to vote on certain furniture upgrades if you are replacing or modifying workstations or give them an opportunity to name a new conference or huddle rooms.

3) Articulating the Why

Changes in the design of a workspace should support the organization’s future business objectives and embrace the culture of that organization. People are creatures of habit so employees can often get very focused on their own personal needs and rooted in how they work today, while the business objectives of the future may point to new workflows or environments to support innovation into the future. Having a “why” helps employees to mentally prepare for the greater change. This is where transparency comes into play. It is important for organizations to align future objectives, the culture of their organization with the place and technology solutions that are going to best support the future of their business. Some of the ways to do this is through newsletters, town hall discussions, interactive company intranet pages dedicated to the project as well as virtual reality that goes along with a messaging guide. These tactics introduce employees to the environments they may expect to see in the new space and what type of work can be done in that space. Particularly, on move-in day, it can be very beneficial to welcome employees to their new workstation with a welcome packet further explaining the ‘why and how’ of their new work environment. If supporting wellness within the workplace was identified as a key to supporting the business objectives, and workstations now have sit to stand desks, tell your employees this and help them understand how to best leverage this new feature. This helps place the focus on the future direction of the company; thereby evolving a possible “me” focus into a “we” mentality.

4) Behavior Alignment to Support Culture

To support the company culture at an organization, there must be an understanding of current behaviors and alignment on ideal future behaviors, particularly in an environment with new work settings and options. Observing current behaviors within a work environment can be a very informative tool that can help transition behaviors of the current work environment to a new one. One of our recent clients wanted to promote a more collaborative and vibrant culture. During observations and tours of the work environment, many employees were found eating at desks and we logged several small refrigerators and coffee pots in a whole host of locations scattered throughout their facility; this did not promote opportunities for cross-department collaboration. Through the new design, a centralized break area and work café for employees were introduced to further promote chance collisions and collaborations that can lead to relationship building and idea generation throughout the work environment. The key, however, is removing the multiple coffee pots and small refrigerators throughout the existing work environment and promoting a new behavior of taking breaks away from the workstation. The behavior shift started with leadership, who demonstrated their commitment to utilizing these spaces and resulted in a trickle effect on the employees to use these spaces more. In the common break area, a local higher-end coffee was provided, further incentivizing employees to use the break areas. These change management tools, leading behavior change and considering an incentive to further support a cultural shift can be simple, yet impactful. As a result, the employees at this location, are loving these spaces and use them daily beyond just a break location, they are also having quick collaborations and informal meetings in their new work café and break area.

5) Make it Fun

Involving staff members in any change management activity and providing fun initiatives along the way fosters an environment of inclusion and helps ease the transition. Celebrations of major milestones in project design and construction can also improve the experience. Some examples of fun ways to involve staff members include:

  • Tours and sneak peeks to let staff members see progress
  • Decluttering competitions
  • The naming of rooms competition
  • Artist display where staff votes on final selections
  • Sign the stud opportunity during construction
  • Wellness challenge to get staff excited about the new space
  • Firm-wide tournament (i.e. shuffleboard) to foster adoption of the space

Bottom Line

Transparency and communication with employees are key when considering changes in the workplace; providing avenues for employees to provide their voice and obtain updates while the project is being developed and underway is essential.  Change management requires a thoughtful approach and should support continuous feedback.

If your employee’s level of engagement is your benchmark, continue to track this and react. For your workplace project, consider looking to areas within those engagement scores where the built environment or technology can better support the way people work, interact or function within a space. This will give you guidance on where to prioritize and message with employees the things you may be doing to better support that area of engagement.

Portions of this article originally appeared on the Work Design website.

 

The Sundance Company                                                                
Established in 1976, The Sundance Company has the experience to help you with your commercial real estate needs throughout the Boise Valley. If your requirements include property management, leasing, real estate development, project planning, construction or space planning then look to us. The Sundance Company has more than 1.5 million square feet of office and industrial space available in prime locations in the Boise metropolitan area. More information is available at www.sundanceco.com or 208.322.7300.