Archive for July, 2014

Don’t Fall Prey to the Summer Productivity Slump

Monday, July 21st, 2014

summer slackingAccording to a survey done by the Captivate Network, workplace productivity tumbles about 20% in the summertime. Of the 600 workers surveyed throughout various industries, most of us feel distracted, we take longer to complete projects, go on longer lunch breaks, and even have a drop in workplace attendance. You may be less productive because you’re distracted by summer activities or the fact that business has slowed. Maybe your managers and colleagues are on vacation so your normal hustle and bustle office environment is quieter than normal. Whatever the reason, Here are 5 things you can do to boost your productivity at work this summer.

Adjust the thermostat
I know it sounds silly, but research has proven that if the temperature inside your office is too high or too low, your productivity can suffer. Citing research from the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, it states the optimal office temperature is between 70 and 72 degrees (Fahrenheit). For every degree over 77 degrees, productivity drops by 2%, and below 68%, error rates increase dramatically. They also found that 10% of employees also waste time arguing over the office temperature, so if everyone could just agree on 70 to 72 degrees, we would all be more productive.

If there’s no work, find some
If you’re not productive simply because things around the office are slow, use this time to get a jump start on upcoming projects or new initiatives that might take more time to launch. The longer you wait for things to pick back up, the longer it will take for things to pick back up.

Switch up your routine, or the scenery
If work is starting to feel a little stale, you may be able to kick-start simply by changing your routine or environment. Try getting outside more during the workday. Go for a walk or have meetings outside. Or if you tend to do the same things at work in a set order, consider switching things up. The summer is a great time to start a new task and challenge yourself.

Don’t fall prey to lowering your output
Managers most-likely won’t accept poor performance because it’s a slower time of year. As long as your are getting your paycheck, your boss is assuming you are working to the best of your ability, regardless if others are vacationing at the beach.

Don’t think showing up equates to productivity
Just keep in mind that achievements trump hours spent. Just because you are in the office for the required eight hours doesn’t mean you’ve done your job. The summer is not a ticket for slacking off, so don’t do it!

It’s a Woman’s World

Monday, July 21st, 2014

women managing womenI recently came across an article published by Inc. Magazine titled “Women Managing Women.” It was written by Nan Mooney in March of 2006. Since Preferred Corporate Housing is a certified woman-owned business, and females make up 91% of our team members, naturally this article piqued my interest.

With the exception of the now outdated Census Bureau statistics, I was pleasantly surprised at how relevant this article still is even though it was published more than 8 years ago. Women employees and leaders make up a large percentage of the corporate housing, relocation and multi-family apartment industries, and I know we can all benefit from advice on how to navigate through the often tough terrain of women managing women. Here is the article in its entirety.

Women Managing Women – by Nan Mooney
Just because a woman business owner hires other women doesn’t mean everyone will magically get along. Here are a few of the more common problems women encounter when managing other women, and how to avoid them.

The latest Census Bureau statistics reveal that women owned businesses are hotter than ever. Between 1997 and 2002 women started businesses at twice the national rate. Women-owned businesses with more than $1 million in revenue went up by 18% and those with more than 100 employees went up by 10%.

One upshot of all this growth is that now there are more women in leadership positions than ever. Whether they head their division or head the whole company, these women are in a position to do something they may have wanted to do for a long time. Hire other women.

Women like working with other smart, savvy women. There’s often less ego involved and more willingness to collaborate. As woman leaders, we can create a culture where success doesn’t have to mean trying to become “one of the guys.” But our idealistic visions of women working together do not always translate smoothly into practice. There’s no guarantee that just because we hire other women, everyone will magically get along. Here are a few of the more common problem areas we can encounter:

Boss or Buddy?
When Giselle became Editor-in-Chief of a new women’s magazine, she told her all female staff that they had a say in every editorial decision and that her door was always open no matter how small the concern or how late the hour. “I didn’t want them to see me as the big bad boss,” she explained. “I wanted them to like me.”

Instead, Giselle created an environment in which there was too little structure. Employees took her open door policy literally and dropped in to chat about personal problems or petty disagreements they should have been able to resolve on their own. Even worse, when Giselle made executive decisions her staff seemed to resent her adopting any authority.

Just because we’re in leadership positions doesn’t mean we stop wanting people to like us. Women are raised to always be nice and nurturing to other women and, like Giselle, we can be wary of coming across as too tough or power hungry. But part of your responsibility as a leader is to call the shots. If employees see you as their best buddy, it can be confusing when you start telling them what to do or calling them on their mistakes. Try envisioning yourself as a leader who is respected by her employees rather than seeking unconditional love.

Banning the Micromanager
Many women abandon the traditional corporate world because they’re sick of a macho work culture where they have to do twice as much to prove themselves while someone’s always looking over their shoulder waiting for them to screw up. But once on our own, it can be difficult to relax these hyper-vigilant standards. This can be especially true with your own business, where everything that goes out the door has your name attached. But you’re going to have to learn to let go.

We’ll assume you’ve hired competent, innovative women to work under you. If you insist on supervising every last detail, you’re sending the message that you don’t trust them to handle anything on their own. That’s a sure way to breed apathy, or even worse, resentment. Because women are often more attuned to relationships and more sensitive to feedback, they can be especially prone to interpreting your micromanaging as criticism. It’s worth the risk to give them some autonomy and even allow them to make the occasional mistake. They’ll work harder if they feel like their input matters.

Work-Family Issues
It would be nice if all things were equal on the work-family front — if men took on just as many domestic responsibilities and were just as eager for maternity leave and flexible working schedules. But we all know this isn’t true. Women are still the primary care givers and they expect female bosses and employers to be more sensitive towards this struggle to balance work and family lives.

Before you institute policies, talk to your employees about what they need and be clear in your own head about what is possible from a financial standpoint. Be as generous and as creative as you can. Women with less personal stress make happier and more productive employees. But also be realistic about what the business can support. One of the worst things you can do in this department is make promises you can’t keep.

Above all, women leaders owe it to their female employees to practice what they preach. A charismatic, well-adjusted woman at the top goes a long ways towards creating a healthy office atmosphere. When powerful and highly visible women are seen helping other women by implementing women-friendly policies, acting as mentors and role models, or simply honoring their word, they set a standard for everyone else to come.

How to Stay Sane Post Vacation

Monday, July 21st, 2014

work after vacaySummer vacations are awesome! Whether you’ve taken a summer getaway to an exotic island, a family trip to one of the Disney parks or even a “stay-cation” in your own backyard you know that coming back to work after time away can cause enough stress to need another vacation. A colleague of mine said, “Coming back to work after a vacation is like a Monday on steroids.” Not only are your emails and daily tasks piled up, but if you’ve just spent the last week laying on the beach sipping pina coladas, its pretty hard to switch back to the office chair/cubicle mentality. Here are some tips to help you ease back into reality and productivity after your summer vacation.

Give yourself time to decompress
When you are planning your trip, schedule an extra day off on the back end of your vacation before returning back to the office. Give yourself time to unpack, do laundry and grocery shop. Taking care of these types of chores will make you feel better prepared to return to your routine. And if you can’t take that extra day off, don’t overbook yourself with meetings and commitments on your first few days back. Easing back into work mode from vacation mode can help save you from being distracted or unmotivated.

Plan your return
Even without a vacation, returning to the office on Monday after the weekend can be stressful. If Mondays are usually tough days for you, try returning from your vacation in the middle of the week instead. All the craziness of Monday will be long gone and it will be easier to ease back into your routine.

Beware of multi-tasking
When you’ve been gone from work on vacation, coming back to the office can be jarring. You have an inbox full of emails, backlogged tasks that need completing, clients that need attention as well as all your other usual day-to-day responsibilities. Your first instinct is to try to get through everything as quick as possible, but all the multi-tasking will only stress you out more. Use the Now/Soon/Later technique to prioritize your tasks and complete them accordingly. Take things one step at a time as to not to get overwhelmed. Focusing on a singular task will ensure you complete it correctly so you don’t have to revisit it later.

Get back into your routines
The best way to get back into work mode is to get back into your work routine. If you go to the gym every morning before heading in to the office, start that back up as quickly as possible. If you have scheduled weekly meetings, don’t put those off till you get caught up. By postponing your regularly scheduled activities, it will take you longer to get caught up, and it will be more difficult to get out of vacation-mode.

Tell the story all at once
If you were fortunate enough to visit an exotic destination, visit long-lost relatives, or just have an interesting vacation story to tell, you’ll probably want to share it with your co-workers. And they’ll probably want to hear it. To avoid telling the story over and overagain, offer to share your story and pictures at lunch. You’ll save yourself a lot of time, but you’ll save them a lot of time too.