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To Work from Home; or Not to Work from Home

homeofficeTo work from home; or not to work from home. That is the question.

I like going to work by going to work. Ya know what I mean?

What I’m trying to say is, I like to wake up, say my prayers, read my Bible, take a shower and drive to an office.  Generally, I think that an environment focused on just the company is productive in today’s workforce.

But am I right?

According to Forbes.com, “Employees Who Work At Home Are More Productive Than Office-Dwellers.”

In an article written by William Craig of WebPageFX, a Stanford University study that was performed by economics professor, Nicholas Bloom was quoted.

“Over a nine month period in which he studied a Chinese travel center called Ctrip, Bloom found that the company’s at-home employees didn’t just “measure up” to the on-site employees – they handily outperformed them. Bloom and his team discovered that the employees who worked from home were quite a bit more productive in a given week than they’d been at the office; at-home employees made, on average, 13.5% more calls per week than their counterparts in the office. This translated into roughly a whole extra work day every week, and all because of a simple change in scenery. Maybe it goes without saying, but the company’s at-home employees also boasted a higher rate of job satisfaction.”

For me there are factors and/or circumstances involved that help or hurt my production level when I’m working from home. Below I’ve listed some Advantages and Disadvantages:

DISADVANTAGE: DISTRACTIONS

As I get older, I’m getting much better at keeping my focus and not making the mistake of putting on the TV or getting involved in personal projects. However, other distractions can come from unplanned places like children, spouses, neighbors ringing the doorbell, etc.  The only way I can effectively beat these odds and keep productive is to ensure that my wife and kids won’t be there to interrupt my day.

ADVANTAGE: NO DRIVE TIME

I discovered this recently and noticed a huge difference in my production. As of now, my average daily drive time is two hours. That’s two hours less sleep or two hours less family or two hours less me time. In addition to the drive time, add another hour for grooming time. If I don’t have to walk out all those steps, a few positive scenarios happen:

  • I can get more sleep. As Americans, none of us get enough sleep and I’m no exception. I average 5-6 hours a night–maximum.
  • I can get started sooner and either finish sooner or work longer.
  • I don’t take as many breaks. If I’m sitting in front of my home computer in my PJs, I have unlimited coffee and food available, I’m more relaxed and have a better overall peace around me. That calm demeanor produces positive results.
  • I’m more inclined to open my home office ‘after hours’ and get ahead of the next day’s work duties or catch up on anything I’m behind in.

DISADVANTAGE: STAYING CONNECTED

Yes, with e-mail, text and video conferencing, we can pretty much stay connected to our employers and employees anywhere we go. Unfortunately, while we can keep in contact, there is still a little bit of a disconnect when it comes to collaboration or team driven activities.

ADVANTAGE: CREATIVITY

As a creative person, when I feel pushed and someone is over my shoulders, my production slows down. I can use the task-driven side of my mind if I’m doing a specific job that requires very basic thinking and focuses on fast levels of production. But if I’m working in a career role where I need to invent and create, I do much better when I’m working in an environment that supports that. One of the biggest companies on the planet completely understands this principal. Google gives “employees plenty of time to play with their own ideas.” Seattle PI wrote. “Engineers are encouraged to spend up to twenty percent of their work hours (a full day per week) doing whatever they want – which can range from taking time off to pouring their hearts into projects they passionately believe in. The policy is rather part of a conscious effort to optimize creativity.”

 

In his Forbes piece, Craig applauded some distractions. He said working from home “you have the means to allow yourself minor distractions, whether it’s taking a walk around the block to clear your head or spending some time each day playing with your cat. Indulging in these distractions once in a while might actually work in your favor.”

Having worked from home almost once a week the last couple of months, I’ve noticed a change in my opinion on the subject as I’ve actually gotten more done on those days than I do when I’m at the office.

Something to think about!  Have a great day!


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The Not-So ‘Foo Foo’ Advice for a Successful Expo

mic_speakOver time, I’ve given you some great tips on this blog and on our iTunes podcast, about how to have a successful show as an Exhibitor. Based on my own experience and the expertise of many others I interviewed, I have given you some sure fire points that will help your company succeed on the convention floor.

Don’t ignore my previous advice.  Absorb it and apply it.

However, while those kind of fun and fluffy ideas will all lead to positive results for your business, I want to tighten the bolts a little and point you towards some heavier approaches.  I want to introduce you to a way to turn it up a little and add some practices that most companies don’t have the knock-a-cheekies to attempt.

         [Definition: Knock-a-cheekies (noun)- a made up word that I can say in front of my                    kids because only I know that it refers to a part of the male anatomy synonymous with                courage and boldness]

InsideSales.com self-proclaimed ‘inside sales evangelist’. Ken Kroque, writes a blog for Forbes.com. In one of his recent posts, Kroque wrote, “Never go to a show that you can’t speak at. Enough said. And sitting on a panel with 4 other people isn’t the same as speaking, but it’s better than nothing. If you can’t speak, make your own event that you can speak at and invite everyone in your database to come hear you speak at the show. Oh, and speak well.”

That is awesome advice.  Most expos are teased and advertised almost a year in advance.  Organizers don’t have a solid ‘line-up’ of speakers, seminars and education training–sometimes up to one month before the doors open.  And even if shows have scheduled a good range of speakers and events, they are very aware that as showtime gets closer, cancellations are a reality.  They will want to overbook or have a back up list.

So…find the niche’ that you can teach and present it.  But as Kroque advises in his piece, your presentation can’t be all about you and your company.

Ken continued, “When you speak, don’t pitch your stuff. Grow your industry. If your content and research is really good, people will flock to you. If you sell your stuff on stage, they flock away from you. If you help them provide answers to difficult questions, they turn to you to help them in their business. But people hate sitting through a sales pitch masquerading as a seminar… don’t do it. It hurts you. Have faith in your content and value.”

Be a resource first.  They will remember you for it.  Give them a way to reach out to you following your event and then sell them outside of your training session.  Read the rest of Ken Kroque’s piece here.

Good stuff!

Have a great show!


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Managing Modern-Day Employees

dontjuststandthereI read a great article over on Forbes.com written by Best Selling author, Jacob Morgan. The piece was called “5 Must-Have Qualities of the Modern Manager” and Jacob does a great job breaking down some important considerations team leaders need to make when managing employees of this day and age. I recommend you check out the entire piece he wrote even though I’m gonna summarize it here for you and add my own thoughts with his.

First, Jacob suggests that managers lead from the front meaning “we’re all in this together and none of us are too good to do anything needed to help this company succeed”. I couldn’t agree more.  If your garbage is full, take it out.

In his next point, Morgan said that understanding technology is very important.  I have had first hand experience with upper-level management in large corporations who don’t even understand Facebook, let alone the latest apps, SmartStuff or trends. And there are still a good number of folks in today’s workplace who rebel against modern technology. What are these folks gonna do when they way to their unemployment filing comes through an app on a phone they don’t own?

Jacob’s next point was about leading by example. He’s saying basically that managers need to roll up their sleeves and do the job with their staff.  I have experience with this.  In my last job as a Sales Director at a car dealership, I frequently would run around the lots pulling up cars for my team, taking new cars back to be washed, driving cars to the gas station to fill them up, etc.  At first, my team was confused.  They wondered why I didn’t use a porter or ask them to handle these trivial duties.  The reason for my extra efforts was because I needed them to see that I wasn’t too good for anything and that as a manager, I was gonna help make their jobs easier so they could stay productive.

Morgan then spoke about embracing vulnerability.  What he meant was, yesterday’s manager had to be strong, all about the rules and never allowed to show emotion. He wrote, “we aren’t running our organizations like the military anymore.” Being vulnerable is a quality that gives your staffer some peace at work.  Today’s employee works more efficiently when not threatened. To add to that, I want to remind you that we live in a different time and age, where relationships are all built around personal biographies on social media.  If managers of today want to connect with their team, they have to open up and bring them in to their world.

Finally, Jacob advises his readers to share the decision making process.  Make your workplace a collaborative environment so your team feels like they are making a difference and part of something bigger then just a 9-5 job.

Great stuff.  I appreciated reading that this morning.

Before I wrap it up, I want to share a quickie with you from my Sales Director gig that I mentioned earlier.

I did very well as the director.  The majority of the team appreciated the fact that I was so engaged in their sales process and always doing whatever it took to help them succeed.  Seriously, all the points Jacob mentioned in his piece was exemplified in my day to day.

Unfortunately, no matter how hard you try, you’re not going to win everyone over.  You’ll never please everyone in life, even if it’s your goal to.

I had a couple of old timers on my staff that had decent sales numbers because of their many years in the game, but they were more ornery, negative and disruptive then anyone I’ve ever met. Their production kept them employed, but not one wanted to work with them.

I treated them the same way I treated the rest of the team, becoming actively involved with them, with their customers and helping wherever I could.  Somehow, I couldn’t win them over.  I threw them free sales deals (spoons) I got, I handled a lot of tedious tasks for them and always went to bat for them in management meetings. It didn’t make a difference.

Not only did they not like me, on one occasion they went over my head, trying to throw me under the bus with my boss by submitting a false accusation against me regarding my management decisions. Thankfully, I had written evidence that showed that their claim was ridiculous.  The unfortunate part of that situation was, when I produced the proof that vindicated me, the evidence also showed their performance as poor.  In other words, they ended up making themselves look worse–something I would have protected them from had we all played nice.

In any event, I moved on, left that gig and from what I’m told almost 6 months later, the company hasn’t been able to successfully fill my position.  No one they bring in has been able to do all the things I did.

And the most satisfying part of the whole thing is…both of those stubborn employees have telephoned me on several occasions telling me that they miss having me there and wish I was still their supervisor. Additionally, little birdies I know that still work in that office have advised me that the same two staffers who always moaned about me being their boss, now constantly moan that they wish I was still their boss.

The lesson here?  Be true to the modern-day management style and your team will appreciate you–even if it takes some of them longer then others.