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Monthly Archives: August 2013

  • 8 Tips for a Happier Workplace

    8 Tips for a Happier Workplace

     

    Workplace happiness once seemed unimportant. Workers came in to do a job. Whether they were happy about it or not was irrelevant. However, it actually turns out that happiness in the workplace matters a great deal. Psychology Today indicates that it can have a direct impact on everything from productivity to worker retention and profitability. Smart employers need to ensure that their workers are as happy as they can be. While that doesn’t mean you need to “coddle” them, it does mean that smart businesses should take certain steps. Below, you’ll find eight important tips to improve workplace happiness.

     

    1. Focus on Family

    Your workers split their time between the job and their families. Of the two, their families are ultimately the most important. Show that you care and put the focus on your workers’ families first.

     

    2. Build a Community

    Your workplace should be more than just a collection of different people busily going about their duties. There should be a sense of camaraderie, a feeling of togetherness. Your workplace should be a community itself. Inspire a feeling of community by encouraging mutual goals, group events and fostering connections between your workers.

     

    3. Share the Spotlight

    Your employees work hard for you and you need to give credit where it’s due. If your firm experienced a jump in profitability, share the credit with the departments and employees responsible (after all, your company didn’t jump up in the ratings on its own; someone had to put in the effort).

     

    4. Lead by Example

    If you routinely take time off, or ask employees to do things that you wouldn’t do yourself, you’re creating a negative workplace. Lead by example. If you ask your employees to follow certain policies, do so yourself.

     

    5. Consider Alternative Office Layouts

    One of the factors affecting your workplace’s level of happiness might actually be the layout of desks, cubicles and equipment. Be open to change. Look into alternative layouts that foster better traffic flow, let in more natural light and open the space up.

    Treadmill and Manual Height Standing Desk for Light Usage Treadmill and Manual Height Standing Desk for Light Usage

    6. Encourage Hobbies

    Let’s be realistic. Your employees aren’t all work and no play. In fact, chances are their true personality shines through in their hobbies and extracurricular activities. Encourage your employees to explore other interests and don’t denigrate hobbies and other pastimes in the workplace.

     

    7. Stock Snack Machines Smart

    Most offices have some sort of vending machines on the premises. Chances are yours are full of soda, cookies, crackers, chips and other junk food. Make a shift and encourage healthier eating. Bring in vendors who can supply high quality snacks and healthy foods/drinks, and your employees’ morale will rise.

     

    8. Encourage Breaks

    Break time equals less productivity, right? Wrong. If you actually encourage your employees to take periodic breaks, stretch, exercise and unwind a bit, they’ll be much more productive when they return to the job.

    Following these simple tips will help you create a happier, healthier workplace and you might even be surprised at just how much that benefits your business.

     

     

    Sources:

    http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/wired-success/201007/how-workplace-happiness-can-boost-productivity

    http://www.inc.com/geoffrey-james/happier-workplace-4-tips-from-iceland.html

  • Alternatives to a Traditional Workspace

    Treadmill and Manual Height Standing Desk for Moderate Usage Treadmill and Manual Height Standing Desk for Moderate Usage

    Whether you’re looking for a more ergonomic workspace or are just sick and tired of the ages-old chair and desk combo, there are alternatives out there. You’re not limited to sitting in an office chair and using a standard desk. What’s more, there’s evidence that going a nontraditional route can actually help prevent you from many common musculoskeletal injuries sustained during long-term desk and office chair use, as pointed out by UCLA. Here’s what you should know about your options.

     

    Standing Desks

    If you think a desk must be sat at to be used, you haven’t looked at the marketplace much in the last couple of years. More and more, standing desks are coming into vogue. That’s not just because of the “cool design” factor, either. It’s because standing at work can offer some serious health benefits. A number of studies have pointed out the correlation between standing at work and weight loss, as well as the ability to prevent many musculoskeletal problems that stem from sitting for long periods with poor posture.

    Standing desks are exactly what they sound like. They’re designed to allow the user to do pretty much anything they could at a sit-down desk, but in a standing position. You’ll also find desks that can adjust to both standing and sitting positions, which is important. It’s impossible to do certain tasks in a standing position – typing for more than five minutes is better when seated, for instance. Any task that requires fine control or stable hands should be done when seated as well.

     

    Alternative Seating

    Office chairs are both a comfort and bane to workers. A good office chair can keep you happy and comfortable through a long day as a desk jockey, but a bad chair (or bad posture in a good chair) can cause serious back, shoulder, neck and arm problems. Ergonomic chairs can help, but many offices are now turning to alternative seating arrangements.

    A good example of this type of seating is the ball chair. You can find these in two varieties – plain balls that require significant effort to balance and ball chairs mounted on a wheeled frame (like a regular office chair, but without the seat, arms or back).

    What benefits will you find with these types of seating? For one thing, the lack of arms and back forces you to sit properly, which alleviates back pain and muscle strain. They can also help improve balance and force you to work your abdominal muscles to stay upright. Some office workers switch between ball chairs and standard office chairs depending on the task at hand. Transitioning to this type of seating does require some time and effort, and it should be done incrementally to avoid problems.

    A nontraditional office space can offer significant benefits. Standing desks and ball chairs can help improve posture, alleviate the discomfort of musculoskeletal disorders and can even improve productivity in some instances. However, they’re not for everyone, so match your office furniture to your needs and your tasks.

     

    Sources:

    http://ergonomics.ucla.edu/homepage/back-safety/standing-vs-sitting-at-work.html

  • 5 Stress Reducers for Frazzled Parents

    5 Stress Reducers for Frazzled Parents

     

    Stress is unavoidable and inescapable. It’s part and parcel of our lives. In many ways, our bodies are built not only to handle stress, but to thrive on it. However, there is such a thing as too much. That’s particularly true for parents. Reducing your stress can have some profound effects on your family, and even on your relationship with your spouse (the converse is also true, so start cutting out those stressors now). If you struggle with stress in your family life (and most of us do), here are five important tips for parents to de-stress.

     

    Finances Kill

    The single largest source of stress in a family is finance-related. Money problems can take a happy home and turn it into a battleground. Money issues stress out parents, and that stress translates to the kids. It’s an endless, vicious circle. The best way to tackle stress from money problems is head on. Get a grip on your financial situation. Do what you need to do to get things back under control, even if there are some drastic measures needed (selling that second car, or downsizing your home, for instance). You’ll be amazed at just how much better you feel when you don’t have those bills (and bill collectors) hanging over your head.

     

    Spend More Time Together

    One factor that might be adding stress to your family life is not actually spending enough time together. If you, your spouse and your kids come home then head off to do your own separate things, try doing something different. Set up a family board game night each week, go see a move together, or engage in some other group activity that gets you all together.

     

    Find Hobbies

    Alternatively, the problem might stem from too much time together. Everyone needs a little alone time, and if you don’t get it, stress and resentment mount. Find a hobby that gives you a little bit of time do to your own thing. Start a garden, or pick up woodworking. Learn how to brew beer at home, or start scrapbooking.

     

    Date Night

    If it seems like it’s been years since you and your spouse were out on the town together, planning a date night can be just the thing to reduce stress and even rekindle that old spark. Let the grandparents watch the kids and go see a movie or a show. A nice dinner out, a concert together or just a stroll through the park can do wonders for your stress level.

     

    Learn to Delegate Tasks

    If it seems like you’re covered up with a never-ending list of tasks at home, it’s time to start delegating. No single person should be responsible for all the tasks and jobs around the home – it’s just not feasible in our modern world. Delegate to the kids and to your spouse, and then hold them to getting those things done.

    There are plenty of other ways for parents to beat stress, but the five items listed above offer immediate help with some of the most common stressors.

     

    Sources:

    http://stress.about.com/od/parentingskills/Positive_Parenting_Skills.htm

  • Setting Up a Home Office the Right Way

    Whether you work from home fulltime or you just need an office where you can take care of household paperwork, bills and keep your records, setting it up the right way is important. Ergonomics are generally thought of as being a workplace consideration, but that’s far from the truth. Any office space should be set up ergonomically, and anyone using an office area will find that doing things the right way can protect them from serious harm. Here’s what you need to know before you start.

     

    Plan Your Space Effectively

    Whether you’re setting up a home office in a separate room or you’re making use of your living or sitting room area for an impromptu office, you need to plan the space effectively. Part of your considerations here should be to ensure that traffic can flow through effectively. Obviously, this is more important in an office that will share space with other uses, but even an office set up in its own room needs to maximize space.

     

    Lighting Considerations

    Light is a very important consideration for any office environment. Ideally, you’ll set up your office in an area with plenty of natural light. Set your desk so that sunlight comes in behind the computer monitor, though. Setting it up so that the monitor actually faces a window will force you to fight a glare, leading to eyestrain. If your office area doesn’t have any windows, make sure you invest in good lighting. Several lamps should be used to provide illumination even in an office where you’ll be primarily working with a computer (with a lighted monitor).

     

    ESI - PIXIE Small Profile LED Task Lighting ESI - PIXIE Small Profile LED Task Lighting

    Seating

    Avoid the temptation to buy a cheap office chair. While a good chair will set you back $100 or more, it’s important that you invest in a quality chair with an ergonomic design. Look for an office chair with good padding in the seat, adjustable armrests, adjustable seat height and good lumbar support. The chair should allow you to sit with your feet flat on the floor and your arms at the same level as the desk. If you cannot keep your feet flat on the floor, invest in a footrest or opt for a shorter desk (or a desk with an adjustable height work surface).

    Ergocentric - 24 Hour Task Intensive Ergonomic Chair ErgoCentric - 24 Hour Task Intensive Ergonomic Chair

     

    Computer Setup

    When setting up your computer workstation, it’s vital that you have the right amount of space and the right alignment. The monitor should be between 20 and 36 inches from your face, and it should be slightly below eye level when you’re seated in the chair. Your keyboard and mouse should be positioned just under your hand level (with a negative tilt), and if you’re using a keyboard drawer, it should be large enough for both the mouse and the keyboard.

    These simple tips will help ensure that you’re able to set up a home office that keeps you comfortable and prevents serious injuries over time. As far as décor and style go, feel free to go nuts.

     

    Sources:

    http://interiordec.about.com/od/ergonomics/Ergonomics_for_Home_Offices.htm

    http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/217409

  • 5 Ways to Build More Free Time into Life

    5 Ways to Build More Free Time into Life

     

    Feeling like you’re stretching yourself too thin? There just aren’t enough hours in the day, are there? While no one’s invented a time machine yet, or a way to stretch the space-time continuum and add a few extra hours per day, there are things that you can do to build in additional free time. In fact, chances are good that you have more time than you realize. You’re just not using it correctly. Here are five ways to boost your free time and make better use of the hours you have available.

     

    Cut Out Social Media

    Social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, G+ and the rest are lots of fun. They help you connect with people in your life, and even make new friends. However, they’re massive time sinks. How many hours per week do you spend mindlessly clicking that “like” button or re-sharing the posts of others? How many hours do you sink into Farmville? Chances are good it’s more than you think. Track it, and you’ll see.

    Make a To Do List

    Lists aren’t all that fun to make, but they can be valuable tools if you’re looking to make the most of your available time. Make a to do list and prioritize it in order of task importance. Check off each item as you complete it. This will help give you a sense of accomplishment and ensure that you’re making the most of your time rather than focusing on unimportant tasks.

    Delegate Items

    Whether you’re doing housework or managing a busy office, you can make more of your available time if you delegate responsibilities. Understand that you don’t have to be the person to complete every single task. Get your kids involved in doing dishes, tidying up the house, gathering laundry. Get your spouse to contribute. In an office setting, delegate responsibilities to appropriate team members.

    Get Organized

    If you’re like most of us, you spend more time hunting for documents, files, folders and other things than you do actually involved with doing something. Every minute that you spend searching for something that should be right in front of you is a wasted minute. Get organized and stay organized. That applies just as much to your home life as it does to your work life.

    Set Goals and Measure Progress

    This is another tip that applies equally to home and work life – set goals and then measure progress toward those goals. Perhaps you want to improve your department’s performance by 5%, or maybe you want to finally clean out that storage building. Set your goals, track your progress and then celebrate your successes.

    We all have more free time than we realize. The key is to identify where it’s being wasted. With the five tips above, you can cut out wasted time and free up a significant amount of time that you can spend in other, more productive ways. If necessary, start small (social media interaction, for instance) and work your way up to larger changes.

     

    Sources:

    http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/high-octane-women/201211/3-tips-make-your-free-time-more-productive

    http://www.cnn.com/2013/06/21/opinion/dunn-norton-time-famine

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