Archive

Archive for September, 2014

How Often Do You Unplug?

September 25, 2014 Leave a comment

Here’s a chart that’s both surprising and unsurprising.

People in the United States rarely unplug from gadgets according to a survey by CivicScience. As you can see, 43% of those polled say they never unplug. And 17% say a few times a year.

CivicScience seems to have cast a very wide net for its definition of “unplug” with TV, internet, smartphones, etc. counting.

For what it’s worth, I would say I never unplug entirely. I always check the internet even when I’m on vacation. I enjoy it. I like seeing what’s going on in the world. I don’t check email as much, but that’s about it. It doesn’t stress me out too much, unless I see the wrong email.

Anyway, what about you? Do you unplug, do you feel like you need to, or even want to?

Unplug

The story was originally published in the Business Insider.

About 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.

 

4 Things You Thought Were True About Time Management

September 16, 2014 Leave a comment

I don’t know anyone who doesn’t struggle with how to make the most of their time at work. How do you stay on top of an overflowing inbox? How do you get work done when your day is taken up by meetings? How can you get through a continually expanding to-do list? How do you even find time to make a list in the first place?

To make matters worse, there are lots of misconceptions about what time management really comes down to and how to achieve it. Let’s look at some of the most common suggestions and assess whether they’re actually true.

It’s about managing your time. False.

Time management is a misnomer, says Jordan Cohen, a productivity expert and author of “Make Time for the Work That Matters.” He says that it’s really about productivity: “We have to get away from labeling it ‘time management’. It’s not about time per se but about how productive you can be.” He likens it to the difference between dieting and being healthy. “You can diet all you want,” he says, “but you won’t necessarily be healthier.” In the same way, you can pay close attention to how you spend your time, manage your email, etc., but you won’t necessarily be more productive.

Teresa Amabile, the Edsel Bryant Ford Professor of Business Administration at Harvard Business School and coauthor of The Progress Principle, whose expertise in this area comes from reading thousands of work diaries of workers who documented their struggles to get work done, says it’s more about managing your overall workload. Many managers simply take on too much. “If you don’t keep an eye on the commitments you’ve made or are making, there is no time management technique that’s going to solve that,” she says. Sure, this might be an organization-level problem — many managers overload their team members ­— but she says that most professionals have more control over their workload than they might admit. “It is possible to say no. It is possible to negotiate,” she says. Cohen agrees: “While your schedule may not be yours per se, you can be judicious about what you go to and how you manage it.”

You just need to find the right system or approach. False.

“Having a system can be useful, but it takes more than that,” says Amabile. “And what works for each person, like spending an hour and a half on focused work at the beginning of the day, will not necessarily work for another person.” The key is to continually experiment with techniques. “Some things may or may not work in a particular context or situation,” says Cohen. Try lots of different approaches — really try them. Don’t change the way you check email for a week and declare it a failure. Set metrics for measuring success, give the approach time, and consider involving someone else — your boss or a coworker — to help you evaluate whether it really worked.

You need to devote time to change. Somewhat true.

One person I spoke to said her biggest challenge was finding time to put time management systems into place. She didn’t have the day or two she felt she needed to set aside. Amabile says this may not be necessary: “Small tweaks can make a big difference. The best approach is to start out with a few small things. Progress in this context might mean that you find yourself with some additional time each day when you can reflect and think. Even if it’s just an additional 20 or 30 minutes each day, that’s progress.” But it depends on how bad your situation is and how desperate you feel. Amabile mentioned one person who decided to use her vacation week for a major overhaul to achieve less stress. She looked at how she was using her time, her level of commitments, and experimented with a few techniques that people had suggested. “She felt things had gotten so out of control that she wanted to give herself this gift. But that was an extreme measure that was necessitated by the extreme situation,” says Amabile.

It’s up to you — and only you — to get it right. Somewhat true.

This may be partly true. “There is no one who’s responsible for how productive you are,” says Cohen. In that sense, this rests on your shoulders. He is clear: “You’re expected to be productive, so you better take this puppy on yourself.” But Cohen and Amabile both say you can’t do it alone. “If you’re in an organization where there are pressures for immediate responses or turnarounds on all requests or there is no room for any kind of slack, it’s very tough to do time management on your own,” says Amabile. She points to Leslie Perlow’s research about small tweaks you can make in any work environment. Still, it may be tough. “Organizations unknowingly put a lot of barriers in front of you to get your work done — unclear strategy and clumsy processes, to name just a few,” Cohen says.

If this sounds like your company, Amabile suggests you make attempts to change the culture. “I would urge people to push back in ways that they believe will be effective,” she says. Raise questions like, “How can we be more productive around here?” This can often be more effective than focusing on getting out of your own bind. “You have a responsibility to push back on the organization,” she says. Cohen also thinks it’s worth talking with senior management, because it’s often bigger than any single manager. “It requires a redesign of how work gets done, where decisions get made, how they get made. There’s only so much that a system can take,” he says.

For the lone professional, getting control over your workload and schedule is daunting. But knowing the difference between what people say will work and what actually does may be the first step in the right direction.

The story was originally published in the Harvard Business Review.

About 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.

Workplace Design Trends To Increase Your Productivity

September 9, 2014 Leave a comment

Creating paths for chance meetings, including nooks, and designing agile, unique workspaces are solutions that designers say promote collaboration, creativity, and productivity in the modern office.

“In the last four to five years, we’ve all been focusing on sustainability and the impact technology has in an office,” says Kay Sargent, director of workplace strategies at infrastructure solutions provider Lend Lease. “During this time, we’ve forgotten that we’re designing for people. Now there’s a real focus on trying to maximize human potential, performance, and productivity.”

But what is productivity? It’s no longer about sitting at your desk with your head down working all day.

“I think of [productivity] as effectively creating ideas and solving problems and a lot of that has to do with being collaborative,” says Miguel McKelvey, cofounder and chief creative officer of coworking office space WeWork.

To help employees come up with their next great idea, McKelvey and Sargent provide the most current trends in workspace designs:

CREATE PATHS FOR CHANCE MEETINGS

In the past, people used to have to sit at their desks if they needed to answer emails, but today, anyone can do that–or any other work–from anywhere. This means that, from a creative perspective, it’s no longer necessary to make sure people are at their desks at all time.

“It’s more crucial to make sure people are connecting and brainstorming with each other,” says McKelvey, who leads design and architecture at WeWork.

“We’re very specific when we’re drawing work plans. We think about the chances of when a person gets off the elevator where they will go,” he says. “We think about how people get to a coffee machine, when they go and get their lunch, when they go to the bathroom.”

The chance encounters are necessary to increase familiarity and to hopefully create conversations that lead to solutions.

Sargent, former vice president of architecture and design at furniture manufacturer Teknion, says there is a popularity now for designs that help people move.

“There’s a huge movement now to design for human potential … for intellectual and emotional intelligence,” she says. “We see staircases are now designed to be in the center of offices and not in the back as exits.” This is because designers have realized that there are several chance encounters that could happen as people pass one another on stairs, simply going to and from their desks.

INCLUDE NOOKS NEAR COMMON AREAS

The best-case scenario when people run into each other is that brilliant conversations spark, resulting in innovative solutions. This is exactly why you should include nooks–areas where people can go and maintain some privacy–around these common areas and paths.

“When you start a conversation when you’re at the coffee machine, you can quickly sit down after and have a 20-minute meeting,” says McKelvey. “If you have to reserve a conference room to finish that conversation, then you lose time. It’s not efficient.”

McKelvey advises to put these nooks adjacent to social places, such as areas for eating, coffee, or printing.

BUILD CONFERENCE ROOMS DIRECTLY IN COMMON AREAS

Instead of the boring walls that usually put people to sleep, glass walls in the middle of a busy area can help keep the mind awake.

“Your mind is being spiked by the activity that’s swirling around,” says McKelvey. The downside is that this could be a problem for people who have issues concentrating.

INCLUDE BOOTHS FOR PRIVATE CONVERSATIONS

With the popularity of open floor plans, “it’s certainly important for people to have a sense of privacy,” says McKelvey. “People need a space that they can go to make a conference or Skype call.”

“It’s important to create those spaces and create a company culture that supports those spaces.” In other words, you don’t want to have a culture where the boss is always asking why someone isn’t at their desk.

People need to feel like they can go to a private area for a phone call or simply to work uninterrupted if they need to.

CREATE AN AGILE WORKSPACE

“We’re designing spaces today where every employee doesn’t have to sit in a specific spot,” says Sargent. “Rather than going to sit in one desk all day, it could be that I’ll start working at a bench, then I’ll go to a more quiet space for head-down concentration, then I’ll go to the social hub because I want to connect with my co-workers. We’ve moved beyond traditional offices to agile design.”

Sargent says agile designs make more sense because it feels more comfortable for employees. If you have a house, you go to the space designed for the task at hand instead of having to sit in one spot all day. This increases your movement, and creates an agile environment where people have choices, more control, and power.

“We still need to conquer how to control distractions. You can’t control all distractions, but you can get up and move.”

HAVE ADJUSTABLE DESKS AND CONFERENCE TABLES

Research shows that sitting too much is harmful to our health and employers should be concerned about the health of their biggest asset: their employees.

The solution to this problem is the adjustable desk, which is said to be a healthier alternative and can help people feel more alert throughout the day.

“Desks need to be in sync with our natural movements,” says Sargent. “If I want to stand, I should be able to stand and if I want to sit, I should be able to sit.”

Sargent says desks today should be able to adjust to any height and conference tables should do the same since research also shows that standing meetings keep groups more engaged and less territorial than sitting meetings.

The story was originally published on the website Fast Company.

 

About 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.

 

Labor Day By The Numbers

September 1, 2014 Leave a comment

About 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.