How Can My Team Benefit from Business Collaboration?

Better collaboration equals better results. Companies are constantly adapting to provide the most efficient and productive work environments for their employees. In today’s business environment, it is no longer the individual, but the whole team that is the vector for business success. Business collaboration empowers organizations to be more competitive in the global market and drive innovation within.

Technology reigns supreme in today’s teamwork-driven workplace, connecting more employees than ever before. Corporate investments in collaboration technologies now include team workspaces, group chat, social intranets and video conferencing . The future of the collaboration landscape is projected to experience some substantial growth and influence in the coming years. According to PGi’s Benefits of Collaboration Infographic:

  • 2 in 3 companies will adopt bring-your-own-device (BYOD) programs by 2017
  • The total collaboration market is expected to grow to $33.8 billion by 2018
  • 35% of collaboration services will be cloud delivered by 2018
  • 85% of North American users across organizational levels connect with peers via video – the most of any region

Millennials in particular seek collaborative work cultures. They have been a key driver in changing the modern landscape of both workplace environment and office culture. Recent research has produced some interesting statistics on the millennial workforce as shown in the Benefits of Collaboration infographic:

  • 88% prefer collaboration over competition
  • 50% of the workforce will be Millennials by 2020
  • 25% want a chance to prove their leadership ability on the workplace

Key Benefits

Improved Time to Market
Time to market will always be crucial to business operations as well as organizational success. Interconnected team communication significantly reduces the time it takes to bring an idea to fruition. Better workplace a and fewer approval levels can reduce time to market by 20%.

Greater Innovation and Creativity
Great ideas bubble to the surface when diverse strengths and perspectives work together. Employees collaborate with colleagues outside the team, bringing information and ideas back to the group, resulting in 35% increase in both innovation and creativity.

Improvement in Communication
When individuals connect, the team becomes stronger; bringing into play the concept that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Members will continue collaborating together outside of formal gatherings, such as meetings and debriefings, contributing to a 50% improvement in overall communication. 

Fresh Ideas
Collaboration can be a conduit for new and innovative ideas to flow through the organization. Bringing together individuals from different departments can open up new ways to reach organizational goals. The fresh ideas that result can challenge everyone to consider alternate concepts that would never have been identified and promoted when working in traditional individual roles.

Are you ready to experience the future of video conferencing? Request a free, live demo of iMeet today!

The Problem with Docs, Drops and Camps

If you work in marketing, you know all about the pain points associated with the “Docs, Drops and Camps” approach to getting work done.  Pains like limited file storage, awkward sharing with internal teams and external vendors, and having to use a variety of tools which are not integrated.

Each of these tools has limitations in key areas. What you need is a complete business solution.  One that is purpose built for marketing teams by marketing experts to let you collaborate holistically within your teams and with key stakeholders as well as outside agencies and vendors.

Watch the video The Problem with ‘Docs, Drops and Camps and you’ll learn how iMeet Central from PGi meets all these criteria.  And after you’re done watching, request a consultation and we’ll show you how iMeet Central can help streamline communication and increase productivity.

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Vendor Soup and Productivity Drains

If your marketing department is like ours, the number of players on your roster keeps growing. Simply managing the quantity of meetings these relationships require is overwhelming. Now add the internal folks competing for your attention along with deadlines, answering emails, keeping track of documents and the constant stream of requests from executives.

Read the article “Vendor Soup and Other Productivity Drains” and you’ll learn what factors are causing marketers to lose valuable time and productivity.  Factors such as “partial” legacy tools or point solutions ill-equipped to handle modern collaboration needs.  The good news is that when you implement next-generation collaboration technologies — like integrated document, content and project management, you fare much better and your performance can actually improve.

How a Business Calendar App Cuts Costs & Improves Productivity

In order to keep pace with trends in mobile technology, modern businesses are evolving to adapt to the ideas of flex work, telecommuting and remote work. To support a more mobile workforce, many companies are adopting a policy that allows employees use their own technology and mobile devices to work.

As BYOD becomes commonplace, there’s an increasing need for a solution to keep remote workers productive and in sync with the business while keeping costs low. That’s where business calendar apps come in.

A business calendar app unifies calendars and provides one-touch access into calls, scheduling features and much more. Here’s a list of how the features of a business calendar app can help companies cut costs and improve productivity:

Reducing Costs: With business calendar apps like Agenday®, companies can cut costs on roaming and international mobile calls by automatically dialing into meetings using the most cost-effective number. By connecting calls through the most local route, you’ll reduce surprise spikes on your company’s next mobile bill. Some business calendar apps will take mobile calling a step further with active group calling, accessible directly from the application.

Internal Communication: For remote workers, effective communication is key to making sure they’re in sync with daily business. Agenday can also serve as an additional internal communications touchpoint by sending vital information to mobile workers through banner announcements right inside the app, all managed from a central dashboard.

Aggregation: One of the main functions a business calendar app performs is aggregation of your work and personal calendars, as well as other useful information like contacts. You’ll have access to all of your appointments, contacts and meetings in one easy-to-use interface, eliminating the time spent switching between apps looking for relevant information.

Relevant Information: Because of seamless aggregation, your business calendar app will also be able to enhance your workday with relevant information. From directions to offsite meetings to local weather and LinkedIn profiles of the person your meeting with, a business calendar app will help you access relevant information to navigate through your day.

Business calendar apps are more than just aggregators; they’re applications built to help remote and mobile workers stay productive while allowing companies everywhere to leverage powerful features to solve business needs like cost savings.

If your business is looking to support a more mobile workforce, check out the new Enterprise features of PGi’s business calendar app, Agenday, available in iTunes and Google Play.

How Can I Improve My Presentation Skills?

Presentations can be considered a necessary evil in most modern workplaces. As a presenter, your job is to relay information to your audience in the most efficient and engaging way possible and sometimes that task can seem out of reach. Whether you’re a presentation novice or an experienced executive, polish up your skills with these tips and tricks to make the most of your next presentation:

Presentation

Make it interesting:
Colors, fonts and designs have a lot of power when it comes to creating a successful presentation. There are plenty of easy-to-use tools like Prezi or SlideShare that can take your design to the next level. When creating your presentation—whether it’s in the form of video, slides or handouts—use colors strategically to evoke different emotions in your audience.

Keep it simple:
Keep your presentation simple by covering only one idea, preferably in a 10 minute meeting. If your presentation must cover more than one topic, follow an outline that includes an introduction, body and closing and try to wrap the meeting up in 30 minutes or less.

If you’re presenting with an application like PowerPoint, keep your slides to 20 words or less so your audience won’t feel overwhelmed with information. Also avoid “information fatigue” by keeping the presentation to 30 slides or less.

Delivery

Engage your audience:
One of the most important aspects of a successful presentation is keeping your audience involved and engaged. Research shows that the average adult’s attention span has fallen to five minutes, compared to 12 minutes just 10 years ago.

Taking this into account, combat reduced attention spans by engaging your audience in intervals with question and answer or brainstorming sessions. In a small group setting, call on individuals to give their input. In larger groups, encourage the audience to call out answers to questions.

Tone of voice:
Keep your voice confident, but not overpowering. Some of the best presenters keep their voices soft so their audiences are forced to concentrate on their words. This practice will keep your audience from multitasking or having side conversations.

After you’ve taken into consideration all of these tips and tricks, don’t forget to practice! The old saying “practice makes perfect” is especially applicable to the art of presenting. The more familiar you are with the information you’re presenting, the less you’ll rely on notes and your presentation slides—giving you confidence and an air of credibility with your audience.

Ready to take your presentation to the next level? Check out PGi’s free eBook, The Little Black Book of Presentation Ideas.

The Daily Grind

Did you know productivity at work has increased by 84 percent over the last four decades thanks to advancements in digital technology? For every overflowing inbox and complicated schedule there’s a digital solution to take control of your workday.

Learn how to leverage the latest technology to amp up your personal productivity in PGi’s infographic, “The Daily Grind: How Technology Empowers Productivity”:

5 Ways Bad Business Etiquette Ruins Your Productivity

If you think business etiquette is a thing of yesteryear, you couldn’t be more wrong.

Today’s digital workforce communicates and collaborates more than ever, which means your odds of slipping up have increased. And when you do, bad business etiquette can cost not only you but also your entire team in terms of productivity at work.

Here are five ways your bad business etiquette cripples productivity and holds you back from being a MVP at work:

1. Multitasking hurts your work performance. Bad news: if you’re sending emails during online meetings or writing reports during conference calls, you’re likely not doing your best on any of these tasks. Only two percent of people can really multitask, according to studies. Not only are you being noisy and disengaged to meeting participants by multitasking, but you’re also probably in the 98 percent that won’t perform as well.

2. If time is money, poor etiquette is like the person who thinks money grows on trees. Sometimes your funny forwards really do cheer up your colleagues, but when it becomes excessive, you’re sucking precious time out of their schedule. Every email coded in text lingo that requires a Google search adds up, and each time you’re late to a video conference eats into everyone’s precious time.

3. Poor etiquette can spread like wildfire. Your lack of self-control can socially influence everyone around you to slip into the same bad habits, according to research. Just remember the Golden Rule when it comes to business etiquette. If you wouldn’t want a colleague to “CC” you on mass emails, then respect their inbox, too.

4. Bad manners cost teams big time in motivation and productivity. Your lack of self-restraint can make colleagues feel disrespected, resulting in stress and poor morale. Poor employee morale leads to disconnected workers, decreased motivation and poor work-life balance when the stress of discourtesy in the office follows workers home.

5. Bad business etiquette holds you back at work. Even if you don’t care if your teammates hate your bad etiquette, you probably will when it stumps your paycheck’s growth. In fact, people value business etiquette so much that roughly 85 percent say it impacts career prospects in a recent survey.

Now, for the good news: changing bad business etiquette is easy! With the right etiquette rules for today’s business climate, you’ll be well on your way to collaborating like a superstar and climbing the corporate ladder.

 

3 Simple Productivity Tips to Track Time During Your Workday

Where does the time go? At the end of your workday, do you hope for more time to complete a task, wish for one more hour to read the articles you bookmarked, doubt you’ll ever get ahead or feel too overwhelmed to tackle that side project?

As Benjamin Franklin said, “Lost time is never found again.” But you can do something about it.

To make strategic, life-changing moves to increase your productivity, you need to track and analyze your use of time. All of those shortcuts, hacks and productivity tips don’t ensure progress unless you know which ones you need most.

Think about time tracking like a financial budget and your time as a monetary value (after all, time is money). By evaluating your use of time, you can find out which areas of your workday you’d like to spend more or less time on so that your precious minutes are used for what’s most meaningful.

With this type of personal assessment, you can make better decisions to manage your time. You can cut down on time-wasters, you can delegate responsibilities or you can eliminate bad habits altogether.

Clicking stopwatches and filling spreadsheets to track your time may eat up even more time in your day, though. To be a smarter, modern worker, take advantage of free mobile apps and web applications to track your time during the workday:

1. The Taskmaster: Toggl is a free, simple way to record how you spend every second. Just input your task and click the big stop button when you’re done. You can even add tags in the free version so you can break down your workday and track categories like emails, meetings and research.

2. The Smart Calendar: We all know meetings can be one of the most time-sucking parts of the workday. A free smart calendar app like Agenday not only helps you stay on track for meetings with instant notifications but also offers easy access to mobile meetings with one-click joining (so you can skip the commute). To take it a step further, you can even use a smart calendar to schedule goals for your workday like a 30-minute slot for brainstorming or a 10-minute break to recharge.

3. The Web Browsing Monitor: What just happened on Twitter? I can’t believe she posted that to Facebook! Social media, online shopping, BuzzFeed quizzes and other fun sites divert our attention away from work tasks more than we think. An application or browser extension like Time Tracker for Chrome records all of the websites you visit, including how much time you spend on each, and shows you just how much the seconds you spend elsewhere really do add up to time lost.

In addition to cubicle commuters, virtual teams also benefit from time-tracking tools like these. Team leaders can encourage telecommuters to use their time wisely with these methods without resorting to micro-management.

Teleworkers struggling for work-life balance (or embracing work-life integration) can even track time throughout the entire day to see the big picture of what happens as time ticks away before and after the workday.

Of course, finding the best tool to track your time really depends on your style of working. Download our free ebook today to find out Which Type of Teleworker Are You?

Integrating a Smart Calendar into Your Online Meetings

A busy day filled with imminent deadlines and back-to-back meetings may be a normal day for you. If it is, you may struggle with trying to keep up with all of the day’s activities. Remembering different phone numbers, passcodes and meeting locations can quickly become overwhelming.

So, why not use a smart calendar that can help keep you organized and remember all of your meeting information? Agenday, a free smart calendar app, can help you take control of your day.

Try these 4 ways to integrate Agenday into your next online meeting:

  1. Dial into any conference call

Every conference call has its unique dial-in numbers and passcodes. Don’t waste your time trying to remember where you wrote down all the different numbers. Agenday automatically pulls your conference information and gives you one-touch entry to your online meeting.

  1. Learn more about your meeting attendees

Every once in a while, you are scheduled to meet with someone for the first time. Agenday analyzes your calendar and shows you information relevant to your day, including the LinkedIn profiles of your meeting participants. With this smart calendar app, you no longer have to wonder if you selected the right Lauren Williams out of the 20 different possibilities. After scanning your calendar, Agenday will automatically pull the right profile.

  1. Stay on schedule

It’s common for meetings to run over. However, when it does, it may cause you to show up late to your next meeting. If you’re running late, it’s best to update other meeting attendees so they are aware of your delayed status. With one touch, you can send a smart message via Agenday, which allows you to message all meeting attendees.

  1. Connect with Salesforce

Save time by using Agenday to log your sales calls and add contacts directly into your Salesforce premium account. And this is a free integration meaning no in-app purchases are required.

Agenday provides a perfect solution for workers who have a lot going on and are always on the go. The smart calendar keeps you organized and help you maintain your productivity throughout the day.

Are you interested in learning more about the free mobile calendar app? Download it today at the App Store or Google Play.

Master iMeet Agenday and #TakeBack60

People are working longer and harder. Our recent #TakeBack60 survey shed some light on current work conditions. An astounding 88 percent of survey respondents said they work more than 40 hours a week.

Innovative technology has made it possible to stay connected no matter where you are. Although this can help free you from your desk throughout the day, constantly being connected can also begin to cause stress and hinder productivity.

It’s important to learn how to work smarter not harder. If you’re smarter about scheduling your workday, you’ll be able to increase productivity and gain extra time in your day. What would you do with an extra 60 minutes of free time?

iMeet Agenday is a free smart calendar app that will help you take more control of your day. It’s various features will help simplify your workload and help you work smarter.

  • Salesforce Integration

Agenday is now integrated with Salesforce.com. This allows you to log your sales calls and add contacts directly into you Salesforce Premium account via iMeet Agenday. This new feature is free and does not require any in-app purchases.

  • One master calendar

You may use a variety of different calendars. One for business, one for personal and others. Instead of constantly scrolling through different calendars, iMeet Agenday has the ability to combine all of your calendars into one master calendar. The simple interface helps you easily see any upcoming meetings while the one-touch access allows you to enter your conference calls and web meetings in seconds.

  • Learn more about your meeting guests

Every once in a while, we are scheduled to meet with someone whom we’ve never met. As a professional, you generally like to know a little about the person before meeting. Agenday analyzes your calendar and shows you information that’s pertinent to your meeting. This even includes the LinkedIn profile of your meeting guests. No more wondering if you’re looking at the right LinkedIn profile. iMeet Agenday automatically pulls up the correct person.

  • Stay on schedule

You’ll never be able to get some extra time in your day if you’re constantly running late. iMeet Agenday can help you keep your day on track. If you’re driving to your next meeting, iMeet Agenday provides turn-by-turn directions.

Even though iMeet Agenday comes equipped with several features, they’re all very easy to learn and use. You’ll become an iMeet Agenday master in minutes.

Feel like you’re ready to #takeback60? Download iMeet Agenday today from the App Store or Google Play.

Agenday online meetings app

Gain an Hour at Work — Use Online Meetings to #TakeBack60

Once a year, workers gain an hour in their day during a magical time known as Daylight Savings, but what if employees could enjoy this same time savings every day of the year? After results of our survey revealed that a vast majority of employees are working well beyond the typical 40-hour work week, we decided it’s time to #TakeBack60 minutes of the workday. One vital way everyone in the company can gain time is by switching to online meetings.

The Case for Online Meetings

Between software and hardware setup and connecting from multiple endpoints, online meetings may seem like more of an inconvenience. But with the right tools, online meetings can actually run much more efficiently than in-person meetings and with minimal hassle. You’ll save time waiting on everyone to arrive in person, file into a physical room and quiet down, and you can stay on track better without interruptions (See rule 24 for running effective meetings, “Master the Mute”).

Most importantly, everyone in the meeting can save time on travel by connecting from anywhere and on any device. Employees can work from home and still hear about that product update, the boss can check in from out of town and parents can duck out early to catch the kids’ soccer games.

The iMeet® and GlobalMeet® Edge

With iMeet and GlobalMeet, you can gain even more time in your day through online meetings. Our web conferencing tools can save you an estimated 60 minutes with innovative, user-friendly features:

*Save 10 minutes on preparing. When you download Agenday, our free app, you’ll instantly have LinkedIn profiles for everyone in the meeting and meeting tips in your hands, saving you prep time for your next online meeting.

*Save 10 minutes on waiting. With iMeet and GlobalMeet, no one sits in awkward silence waiting on the meeting to start. Instead, all participants receive a call to their device to instantly join, saving everyone a potential 10 minutes or so of waiting time.

*Save 10 minutes on navigation. With intuitively-designed user interfaces, you and your participants won’t spend your meeting looking for buttons and features. Plus, both iMeet and GlobalMeet feature one-touch dialing and one-button connecting to online meetings, so you can say goodbye to dial-in numbers and pass codes.

*Save 30 minutes on troubleshooting. The software won’t start up, participants can’t connect online, the volume won’t work – it happens, but when you’re using a product with premium support, an expert is just a phone call or live chat away. Your employees will thank you for saving their time waiting, and your IT department will love you for taking that interruption out of their busy day.

You can experience iMeet and GlobalMeet now when you sign up for a completely free trial. Don’t forget to download our free Agenday app to experience the best time management tool for online meetings, and join us on Twitter to #TakeBack60.

Download the Agenday iOS app at the iTunes App Store, or get the Agenday Android app at Google Play.

Agenday online meetings app

Do Longer Work Weeks Equal More Productivity?

Advances in technology has made it extremely easy to access work documents and emails from anywhere with an internet connection. It’s become so easy that you don’t mind checking emails and editing documents while you’re at your child’s soccer game or even on vacation. This has caused the lines between work hours and personal time to blur.

Many believe more work hours means more productivity. However, the  Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD) and the Economist has data that proves otherwise.

In our newest infographic, we explore the various ways the 40-hour work week continues to evolve.

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Do you need a little help when it comes to increasing your productivity levels at work and managing your various personal and professional commitments? Download Agenday, PGi’s smart calendar app, for free today! All your personal appointments and work meetings will instantly be available in one, easily accessible place.

agenday2

Winding Down the Workweek

Think working longer hours improves your productivity at work? Statistics shows that despite the extra effort, employees that work beyond the typical 40-hour workweek do not actually experience better productivity.

Find out why you should work smarter, not longer, in PGi’s infographic, “Winding Down the Workweek“:

How Do You Measure Your Productivity

Why is a productive day such a hard thing to achieve? You can find countless articles that provide tips and tricks on how you can keep your productivity levels high throughout your work day.

Before you even begin on finding new, improved ways to effectively complete your work, you need to learn how to measure productivity. How can you increase your productivity, if you have no idea how productive you are today? And how do you know if you were successful if you can’t compare your new productivity levels to your past?

So, how do you measure productivity?

The biggest problem about productivity is you may not realize just how unproductive you are throughout the day. Just because you completed your responsibilities for the day doesn’t necessarily mean you were extremely productive. What if you could have completed more assignments or gone further in your projects?

Dragan Sutevski, from Productivity Tools, breaks down how he measures productivity. It involves simple math, but nothing too difficult.

First, he wrote out his day to easily see when he was productive during his 9-5 workday.

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During his eight hour day, he was productive for five hours. 5 ÷ 8 = 62.5. This means he spent 62.5% of his day working on important work-related items.

Once you’ve used this same equation to measure how productive you currently are, you will then be able to effectively set new strategies into your day to improve your productivity for the future.

So how should you get started? Start by setting goals that can easily be measured or monitored. Maybe you want to increase your productivity by 10 percent. Frequently check back on your goals and see how close you’ve come to completing them. Check back daily, once a week or every month. If you’re not on track, be sure to check out some of our productivity tips and decide what additional productivity hacks you can implement into your workday.

Productivity App Spotlight

To be successful, employees must maintain a high level of productivity. This can sometimes be difficult, especially when you’re stuck in back-to-back meetings that last all day. Although meetings are a great way to collaborate, they tend to leave less time to complete your various projects and assignments.

How do you attend all of your required meetings, but still get the rest of your work done? You must use your time wisely so you can successfully maintain a high level of productivity during your down time. Agenday by PGi is an app that can help keep your days organized by eliminating unnecessary steps throughout your day.

One app for everything

I’ve seen people fumble around looking for their work phone while holding their personal phones or vice versa. Things can get confusing when you have multiple devices for different uses. Why juggle your devices when you have the ability to store everything you need into one app.

Agenday eliminates the need to maintain separate calendars for your professional and personal lives. You can easily combine all of your important events, contacts and locations into one app. Some days you may have a morning meeting with a client, a coffee date with a friend, an afternoon doctor’s appointment followed by your child’s soccer game. You can store all of these appointments in Agenday, and set up customizable reminders so you never forget any important appointments, no matter if they’re professional or personal.

One-touch dialing

Have you ever dialed in late to a meeting because you wasted time fumbling through your papers and emails trying to find the phone numbers and passcodes? It can be difficult keeping track of all your important numbers, especially when you’re constantly on the go. Agenday stores all of your meeting information, so you can join your meetings with the click of a button.

Better prepare for meetings

Sometimes you may find yourself on a call where you know nothing about the person on the other line. Maybe you’re conducting an interview or speaking with a prospective client for the first time. Either way, you probably want to know as much as you can about them. Agenday has the ability to analyze your calendar and can show you information relevant to your day, including LinkedIn profiles of meeting participants. Instead of spending time researching individuals, Agenday can do it all for you.

Stay on schedule

Customizable meeting alerts help you stay on track throughout your day. If you’re running late to your next appointment, you can send all attendees an email informing them of your delayed status with the click of a button. If you’re driving to your meeting, Agenday can even give you turn-by-turn directions so you can make it to your location faster.

Agenday, recently named the Best Mobile Calendar App by the Best Mobile App Awards, is one of the best free calendar apps on the market. If you’re looking for an app that can help you stay organized, on schedule and replace four other apps, then you should try Agenday.

Are you interested in learning more about Agenday or trying it for yourself? Download the free calendar app for iPhone or Android today.

Dare to Go Slideless: 3 Reasons to Leave the Deck Behind

When it comes to presentations, PowerPoint® is still the king. It’s almost a foregone conclusion that when you go to a meeting, you’ll be forced to sit through a slide or twenty expounding on the next big idea in your organization. When done right, a slide deck can engage your audience, visually drive home your points and bring an entire presentation together.

But let’s face it, most slides are boring; 32% of audience member have fallen asleep during a boring presentation, and 21% would rather do their taxes!

It’s time to shake things up. For your next presentation, I challenge you to go slideless. Here are three reasons to leave the deck behind and discover the freedom and confidence you can gain with a well-prepared, deck-free presentation.

Slides are a Crutch

Did you ever have one of those dull teachers in school that simply read straight from the book? That’s what you sound like when you rely too heavily on your slides when giving a preso: dull, detached and disengaged. Slides have become our crutch, something we know we can rely on to avoid having to thoroughly prepare for a talk.

Leave the crutch behind and focus on the real star of the show: you!

Slides Make You Dumb

Did you know that scientific studies have shown that our memories work differently in the Google Age? When information is readily available, there’s no need to internalize it. We’ve started memorizing where things are, as opposed to what things are.

Relying on PowerPoint can have the same impact. Why bother internalizing those market stats or important metrics trends when you can just read off that snazzy pie chart you made that no one’s going to look at?

Steve Jobs, Apple’s legendary innovator, once said “People who know what they’re talking about don’t need PowerPoint.” Forget the pie charts, actively engage the data and internalize the information.  You’ll gain valuable industry or organizational knowledge and you just might impress a few audience members by rattling off some statistics from memory.

Slidelessness = Confidence

You know that cliché dream where you find yourself in front of a conference room full of people only to realize you’re in your underwear? That’s what ditching the slides might feel like at first; you’ll feel vulnerable and exposed. But even though it may be scary, it’s an incredible confidence-boosting exercise. When you can really speak to a topic, answer questions and deflect objections, you’ll gain the admiration of your colleagues and a little extra spring in your step.

How to Encourage More Creativity in the Workplace

Encouraging creativity within an organization is vital to its long-term success. Although often overlooked, an environment that fosters creativity and innovation helps a business grow and keeps its employees happy.

The terms creativity and innovation are sometimes used interchangeably, but they are actually two very separate processes that require different skill sets and environments in order to thrive. Creativity is the ability to see how something is done and attempt to find a way to do it more effectively or enjoyably. Innovation is the process of taking these creative ideas and finding ways to implement them in a way that improves the productivity and profitability of the business. Both are needed to generate successful growth.

These four steps will help encourage your employees to be more creative in the workplace:

Provide incentives

Some business leaders believe that because they have an open door policy, employees will just come in and present their ideas whenever they have one. Policies like these will not help encourage lower level workers to share their ideas with upper management. As a result, companies should provide incentives for submitting new ideas. Incentives can range from monthly awards that promote company-wide recognition to profit-sharing programs. Tangible motivation will help employees feel more comfortable and willing to bring their creative ideas forward.

Make innovative tools available

If you want your employees to be more creative, provide them with innovative tools. Today’s businesses have gone global, which has increased the need for global communications software. Online meeting tools that allow people to easily communicate with others across the world are ideal. Employees are able to brainstorm with others by using state-of-the-art features like whiteboards, screen sharing and file sharing.

Web conferencing tools such as these will help increase collaboration among employees and help make their ideas grow even bigger.

Allow some free time

While at work, most people are constantly in and out of meetings and inundated with other job-related tasks. This can cause burn out and leave no time to nurture their big ideas. If schedules and workload allow, try carving out time in the day so team members can explore industry-related topics that interest them. Not only will this help them flesh out their ideas, but it also gives them a mental break from their day-to-day responsibilities. Exploring new ideas will always get shoved to the back burner unless a company makes creative ideation an ingrained part of daily operations.

Follow-through

Follow-through may be one of the most important parts of encouraging creativity. An effective and delicate system must be in place so an idea can be thoroughly evaluated and determined if it is both practical and desirable.

Not every idea that’s presented by an employee will be approved. As a result, it’s important to follow-through with each individual and explain why their idea won’t or can’t be implemented. Your goal is to make everyone feel comfortable proposing one of their ideas and nothing is more discouraging than having an idea shot down without an explanation.

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Photo courtesy: fostersartofchilling

The Phenomenon of Attention: How to Overcome Technology’s Strike on Attention Spans

We’re a gadget happy world. And all those gadgets—namely smartphones, GPS and laptops—are killing our attention spans and perhaps even making us dumber. According to a Discovery News article:

  • GPS could actually contribute to the shrinking our hippocampus, the part of the brain that deals with spatial orientation and memory.
  • The Internet and its expansive volume of knowledge reduces focus, leading us to become unfocused and superficial thinkers by focusing on short-term memory, instead of lasting, long-term information.
  • Smartphones cause memory and natural processing speed to decline, due to distractions and readily available information that reducing long-term memory cognition.
  • Multitasking across devices and programs actually causes a lower IQ than sleep deprivation.

On the other hand, we all know that technology enables us to reach new heights, innovations and knowledge than ever before. So, how do we overcome technology’s strike on attention spans and retention? Here are five techniques for your business:

1. Ban (or severely limit) devices during in-person meetings. Every meeting, we see people banging away on laptops or checking their smartphones every other minute. These distractions are just that: distractions from the flow, content and ultimately success of your meeting.

2. When you do utilize technology, choose tech that encourages active engagement. With remote workers and remote teams all over the world, technology powers long-distance collaboration. Choose whiteboards, work apps and virtual meetings technology that engages attendees with real-time polls, webcam video for every participant, collaborative note-taking, chat and file sharing.

3. Schedule IM and email “on” times during the day. IM and email are leading villains in the battle against work distractions. Schedule IM and email “on” times during the day, where you’re available for real- or near-time communication and response. But, even more importantly, schedule “off” times when you need to really focus on a project.

4. Work around your natural rhythm. We’ve all heard the phrase “I’m not a morning person” or “lunch coma.” Everyone has their own natural productivity rhythm, so schedule tasks that require creativity and focus during your natural up times during the day.

5. Put some space between you and your smartphone. 90% of 18-29 year olds sleep with their smartphones and half of all users check their phones immediately upon waking up. These habits wreak havoc on our waking hours, leaving us groggy and distracted during the workday. Put your phone on sleep mode outside your bedroom, turn it completely off at dinner and avoid pulling it out at your desk just because you’re bored.

Gadgets are fantastic. They’ve given us the freedoms to work from anywhere and create a flexible, fun and social lifestyle. Yet, with great freedom comes great responsibility. Use these five tips to give your brain a workout and your body the rest it needs.

Want to learn more about how to be a better collaborator or create great collaboration environments in your business? Check out this free eBook, The Future of Business Collaboration.