October Employee Spotlight: Jacqui Jansen

Jacqui-JansenCaregivers play a very important role in the lives of any cancer patient.

In honor of Breast Cancer Awareness month, we wanted to give a special shout out to one of our Teammates for her amazing volunteer work in helping the patients and family members in their fights against breast cancer.

Assistant Vice President, Jacqui Jansen, has been with Barrister Executive Suites, Inc. for 25 years. What many people don’t know is that she has been a dedicated volunteer helping people find hope in their own struggles with breast cancer. For years, Jacqui has participated in Revlon’s Walk/Run for breast cancer, even being a Team Captain in 2010. Every Tuesday night, for the past 8 years, Jacqui can be found volunteering at the oncology center at St. John’s Hospital in Santa Monica. She felt a strong need to find a way to give back to her community, and make a difference in the lives of people who needed it most. Which is how she found herself in the oncology center.

At the time, the oncology department of St. John’s didn’t have as many volunteers because of how difficult it was emotionally, so Jacqui went where she was needed most. Getting to provide the patients and their families with support and comfort during such an emotional time is one of the most rewarding aspects of her life, and something that is very dear to her heart. Along with her weekly visits to the oncology department, Jacqui was a caregiver to a close friend of hers who was suffering from her own battle with cancer. She was by her friend’s side at every chemotherapy treatment, and opened up her home to her to ensure she received the best round the clock care Jacqui could provide. She held her hand through every step of the way to recovery. To Jacqui, there is nothing better than giving back and putting a smile on someone’s face, and being able to shine a light during such a dark time.

For more information on breast cancer awareness, or if you would like to donate/volunteer, please go to http://www.nationalbreastcancer.org/breast-cancer-awareness-month.

 

 

 

Free Online Tools for a More Efficient Workday

More Efficient Workday

If you find yourself wasting time–or notice an employee is wasting time, there are so many online tools that are great for improving efficiency. Your competitors might already be using them, so make a change today in how your team uses their 40 hours.

 

Time Trackers
Being aware of where you spend your time is the first step in diagnosing where your time is wasted. The website Toggl is a quick and simple tool that helps you track your time and sends you weekly reports automatically. Simply create a free account and start tracking those projects! Toggl also offers other timer services that can be used in meetings to help you stay on schedule.

 

Password Sharing Extensions
Cyber security is a huge concern for businesses of all sizes, so it’s important to have secure passwords. Sharing on email can leave you or your clients vulnerable to hacking, and writing them down on paper is both time consuming and unsafe. The browser extension LastPass can help solve this problem. Passwords are saved right to your computer under one login. While this extension is completely free, if you need to share passwords with other team members, you can look into their paid version as well.

 

Communication Platforms
To cut down on the number of emails coming into your inbox, it’s often helpful to have a separate reciprocal for internal conversations. For this, the Google platform is the most efficient way to communicate and share documents. Use the Google Drive interface to organize folders on the cloud that can be shared quickly with team members. Notify them with the Google chat that’s built into Gmail, it’s free and highly efficient.

 

Feedback Software
An often overlooked part of running a business is implementing constructive criticism from employees. It can be daunting for employees to give feedback to their managers, but all good managers know it’s a vital part of making a more inclusive and efficient workplace. Try using the website SurveyMonkey to create a questionnaire that enables team members to offer feedback or complete a self-review. Depending on the type of feedback you seek, you can send out secure, anonymous surveys. The free version enables you to send up to ten questions and view up to 100 responses.

 

Self-Monitoring
Time can be wasted on certain websites if you aren’t always accountable to someone else monitoring your browsing history. So, whether you’re a manager that’s noticed your employees spending too much time on social media or you’re doing it yourself, try using the browser extension StayFocusd. You set which websites you’d like to spend less time on and it’ll block you based on the time of day, day of the week or whatever parameter you set. Encourage employees to do this for themselves if they find they’re becoming unproductive.

How to Make Your Commute More Bearable

Make Your Morning Commute More Bearable

Depending on how you travel to work, the morning commute can either be a relaxing experience or the worst part of your day. Starting with a mindset that it is a high point in your day can be the first step in creating a better commute for yourself.

 

Prep the night before
Your morning routine should really begin the night before. In order to cut down on time spent on your morning routine, do what you can in advance. Pick your outfit, make your lunch, and pack your briefcase. Feeling prepared in the morning rather than stressed can set the tone for the rest of your day. Leaving earlier can help you feel less rushed during your travels.

 

Take a different transportation approach
Once you create the space in your morning for a longer commute, take advantage of it! If you drive to work, see if there are any back roads you can take in place of the high-volume highways that get clogged with traffic during rush hour. Try downloading apps like WAZE that’ll map out alternative routes to take. Also consider alternative public transit options. Barrister Executive Suites has a location in Mission Valley right next to a Trolley stop. Ride sharing like Uber, Lyft and Zipcar are a greener solution to your commute, as well as local bike sharing.

 

Practice Mindfulness
Whether you’re on the train, in the car, or on your bicycle, there are safe ways to meditate. From podcasts to other guided meditation apps, utilize technology to lead you to a tranquil state of mind. Get in the habit of being observant of your surroundings and try to see the beauty in changing seasons or landscapes you pass on your route. If your route isn’t quite scenic, try out an audiobook or app to learn a new language. Time spent driving can still be productive!

 

Wear Comfortable Shoes
Both women and men can experience discomfort associated with their office’s dress code. However, there’s no reason to subject yourself to comfortable footwear while you’re commuting. By simply leaving a pair or two of shoes in a box under your desk, you would be surprised at how much your commute will improve. If you walk an extended distance to or from the office from your mode of transportation, this quick fix will have a huge impact on your day.

 

End The Commute Altogether
The workplace is changing today, and some businesses are opting to not even have a physical workplace. If you’re a business leader who doesn’t want to deal with a commute, see how virtual offices can enable you to lower your overhead while continuing your mission. Services offered by Barrister Executive Suites enable businesses to have a prestigious southern California address, have access to a receptionist, and even have their mail handled.

How to Run a Highly Efficient Meeting

Running a Highly Efficient Meeting

Creating a cohesive team dynamic demands face time with the people in your workplace. Daily or weekly meetings with coworkers or employees can cost time and money if they’re used inefficiently. A ten-minute meeting between six employees is the equivalent of an hour of your company’s time–a resource that must be spent consciously.

So, whether you’re a team member or a leader in your company, it’s important to make sure you remain a stakeholder in the efficiency of the meeting. No one wants to have their time wasted discussing line items that are irrelevant to their work agenda. To make sure that your meetings remain productive, even with clients or individuals outside your team, there are good habits you can start getting into today.

  1. Create a physical document outlining the meeting agenda. This is an all-time best practice for business leaders organizing a meeting. If your superior managers aren’t doing it, show initiative and suggest you create one as a meeting facilitator. Staying on-topic is preeminent in getting results out of your meeting. When everyone involved can visually see what needs to be covered, they can get a sense of how much time is left to self-monitor. Disseminating an agenda prior to the meeting enables participants to prepare for the meeting so time isn’t wasted pulling up emails or other documents.
  2. Optimize Meeting Attendants. It’s important to keep in mind whose time is being spent at a meeting. If a team member seems unengaged or quiet during the meeting, it may simply mean that they cannot contribute to what’s being discussed. Review who will be participating in the meeting and follow up with individuals to see if they feel they should be involved. Wasting someone’s time is money wasted for the company. Being on top of this policy makes team members feel like their time is valued.
  3. Create a Timing Procedure. Aside from establishing a start and end time to the meeting, make sure to monitor how much time each person spends contributing to the conversation. It might take some getting used to, but curbing wandering, off topic comments will slowly but surely get the team in a habit of staying focused. While it may feel rude to interject, participants will appreciate the meeting’s brevity. It’s important to stay positive and encourage creative problem solving, while still getting back to the task at hand. Try these phrases to cut down on off-topic conversations:
    • “That’s a great idea, I’ll include it in our meeting minutes and table it for another brainstorming session”
    • “That could work, lets flesh out that idea at another time so we can focus on getting today’s agenda accomplished”
    • “I appreciate your creativity, let’s talk about that privately on a one-on-one meeting later this week”
  4. Take Notes & Use Them. Meeting minutes may be difficult to collect at first, but they can be helpful in implementing ideas generated during the meeting. If your team doesn’t have the luxury of having an administrative assistant, an intern or participant could volunteer to do so. Once the meeting is over, send out a memo to all participants as well as stakeholders who should be briefed on meeting outcomes. You’ll begin to see that your meetings will produce more deliverables once you know that there are others waiting to receive documentation on what transpired during the course of the meeting.

 

If you need a professional conference room to hold a meeting with high-profile clients, explore meeting rooms by the hour offered by Barrister Executive Suites in Southern California.

 

Keyboard Tricks You Need to Know to Enhance Productivity

Keyboard-Tricks

The idea of getting more hours in the day is something professionals dream about. Finishing work at a faster pace is the only way to stretch your time out and something that holds a lot of people back is their technology. User error, or simply not utilizing technology to its full potential is a pitfall of employees of all pay grades.

One vastly underutilized tool everyone has in their office is their keyboard. Whether you use a Mac or a PC, keyboard shortcuts are hiding right beneath your fingertips. If you know them well, you can increase your efficiency by not wasting time squinting at your computer screen attempting to find the right buttons to click.

Common tricks like copy/cut/paste are typically common knowledge, so this list consists of little-known shortcuts that can be useful for professionals prone to multitasking.

Here are some keyboard shortcuts all PC users should know:

  • F5 : refresh active window
  • Alt + Tab : Switch between open apps open on the desktop
  • Alt + Left Arrow : Go back one page
  • Alt + Right Arrow : Go forward one page
  • Ctrl + A : highlight all items in a document or window
  • Ctrl + F or F2 : Search the document or window
  • Ctrl + Y : Redo an action
  • Ctrl + Z : Undo an action
  • Ctrl + Scroll Mouse : Zoom in or out

 

Here are keyboard shortcuts all Mac users should know:

  • Command + Q : Quit an app
  • Command + R : Refresh window
  • Command + Tab : Switch to last used app
  • Command + [ : Go back one page
  • Command + ] : Go forward one page
  • Command + A : highlight all items in a document or window
  • Command + F : Search the document or window
  • Command + Shift + Z : Redo an action
  • Command + Z : Undo an action
  • Shift + Command + (plus sign) : Zoom in
  • Shift + Command + (minus sign) : Zoom out

 

Budget Friendly Tips to Decrease Your Company’s Carbon Footprint

DecreaseYourCompanysCarbonFootprint

Large corporations looking to save money, improve their image, and even do their part to save the planet have turned to experts on how to make their organization more environmentally conscious. As climate change becomes harder to ignore every year, customers and clients are choosing to do business with sustainable companies. Beyond “going green” by printing less, there are many ways to decrease the impact your company has on the environment. And most of them can save you money, too.

Install Renewable Energy Sources
Something as simple as a few solar panels can have a huge impact on your electric bill. That’s why so many corporations have started installing solar on their campuses. The ROI for renewables is significant as well, as they can be paid off in a few years. Most solar panels will realize 10-30% annual returns after they’re paid off.

Motion Sensored Lights
The majority of your office’s carbon footprint likely comes from your energy usage. Though you might not be able to control what powers your building, you can control how much energy you drain from it. Motion Sensored lighting automatically turns off when no one is in the room, which reduces the amount of energy wasted from keeping lights on all the time. It also mitigates the security risk of keeping lights off, as they’ll automatically turn on when someone’s in the building.

LEED Certification
In California, water is scarce, so conservation is a necessity. If your company needs guidance on how to begin to conserve more water and create a sustainable building, look into LEED Certification. It’s a set of guidelines that combines energy, water, and material usage to ensure your building meets the sustainability standards of the modern world. As this is a priority for Barrister Executive Suites, several landlords go beyond the requirements set in place by LEED guidelines. Hines and Douglas Emmett have outstanding records to model after.

Shut Down & Unplug Policies
Developing clear and concise policies for your organization’s sustainability practices helps get everyone on the same page about how they can do their part. For example, once employees leave the office, they should make sure their computers are shut down, not on standby mode. All nonessential items should be unplugged when they’re not in use, as electricity is still drawn from the wall. The Department of Energy estimates that devices plugged into the wall on standby mode can account for up to 10% of your electricity bill.

Green Your Breakroom
Lots of waste can occur in the break room–and not just your time! Purchase reusable utensils, plates, and cups for a one-time expense that keeps single-use plastic out of landfills. Encourage employees to put names and dates on food to limit waste. About 40% of food in the United States is never consumed and it creates methane gas in landfills, a potent and dangerous greenhouse gas. Make sure employees know which items can and should be recycled with clear signs that your recycling service can likely supply for you.

Desk Organization Life Hacks

desk organization

When you’re establishing yourself in a new office, it can feel like you have a fresh start on keeping your workspace neat and organized. When you feel more organized it can be easier to take on the day and be more productive. A cluttered desk can be stressful, there are even studies to prove it. One such study done by Princeton University Neuroscience Institute found that clutter limits your brain’s ability to properly process information, thus making you less productive. It seems that Einstein was wrong about one thing, when he said, “If a cluttered desk is a sign of a cluttered mind, of what, then, is an empty desk a sign?”

Depending on your own personal work habits, the number of knickknacks you keep on your desk can positively affect your mood, which increases productivity. However, an unkempt desk can cause you to lose track of lists, documents, and memos which can hold back your performance.

Here are some ways to keep your desk organized to increase productivity:

Go Vertical
When you’re organizing anything, sage advice is to always go vertical with your space. If you work in a cubicle, or just don’t have an expansive desk, work with the space you’ve got. Creating a “place” for everything helps you file things away and retrieve them again quickly when you need them. Keeping paper vertical instead of horizontal seems to defy physics but it’s actually a helpful way to separate documents. When papers sit flat on your desk, stacks can easily become disorganized. This makes it a good idea to immediately file papers away, either in a drawer or on your desk where it’s in your line of sight.

Arm’s Length Test
Whenever you’re adding an element to your desk, make sure whatever’s within arm’s reach is used day-to-day. If it’s a souvenir from vacation, keep it closer to the edge to make room for more important items. Filers, writing utensils, coffee mug, notebook–whatever you use to get through the day–should be some of the closest things to you.

Add Some Green
Nature is calming and decreases stress levels, which can help improve your productivity. Adding a small plant within your line of sight can create a brighter, happier space. If you stare at a computer screen for most of your day, a small plant can be an inviting refuge. Desk plants are great for sunny workplaces and even in offices that use LED and fluorescent lights. Make sure to put a small plate under your plant so that you don’t damage the desk from watering!

Desk Lamp
Adding yellow light from a small desk lamp helps break up the blue light emitted from computer screens. They’re calming and help you focus on documents if you’re going through them with a fine-tooth comb. Desk lamps can also be great if they have built-in outlets, so you never have to crawl under your desk to plug in a charger again.

Organize Your Digital Desktop
It’s the end of a productive workday day, and you’re closing down all of your windows, only to be inundated with icons once you get back to your home screen. Think of your digital desktop like your physical one–organize with files! Getting into this habit may take some time, but immediately storing documents away into desktop files keeps your desktop clear and your hard work is right where you need it to be.

Busy Parent’s Guide to Having Kids Home All Summer

GuideHavingKidsHomeSummer

Millions of working parents all face the same dilemma with their children during summer months–without school, what should kids do? Juggling babysitters, daycare, and summer camp can be stressful, but it’s important to make the most out of the time you have with them in the warmer months. Nice weather means there are usually more things to do!

Get A Planner
The first thing parents should do when keeping track of summer schedules is finding a great planner to stay organized. If your child is starting a new camp in a few weeks, make sure you have a record of it somewhere to keep track. Planners are vital if you have more than one child, as their age gap probably prohibits them from doing all activities together. Planners can help make sure that your child’s summer isn’t wasted watching television or playing on a tablet. Involving them in the planning process can help you both find activities worth spending time and money on.

Start a Flexible Summer Schedule
If your employer is open to it, see if they let you start a more flexible summer schedule so you can spend some more hours at home. With high school and college students off for the summer as well, explore your options for babysitting during the hours you’ll need to be at work. Sometimes, you can even pair up with another working parent to find a babysitter that can take care of both kids at a lower cost to both parties.

Find Events to Attend
You don’t want to miss those special summer fairs and pop-up events that only come around once a year. Find social media sites that promote local events happening in your area to stay in the loop about what’s happening on the weekends. Check out your public library for flyers about local events, or even to find out about free educational events they often hold in the summer.

Explore Local Green Spaces
Kids love getting dirty, and taking them out into nature is great for your stress levels and their boundless energy. Take a walk before or after dinner at a park, or explore nature reserves on weekends. Take the time to get away from screens and into the current moment. Showing your children unspoiled nature at a young age helps them to appreciate it once they’re older.

Try a New Hobby
As your kids grow up, they’re finding out who they are and what they’re interested in. Support their imagination and help them pursue new hobbies, whether that’s through enrolling in classes or spending quality time on weekends learning with them.

Involve Them In Housework
There are seemingly always things around the house that need to get done. Within their capabilities, involving kids in your to-do list helps you check things off as well as spend time with your child. The skills kids learn from their parents aren’t taught in school, and you’ll be thankful they can land on their own two feet when they move out and don’t call asking how to change a lightbulb.

Going Green at Work

We all must do our part to care for the environment and reduce our personal carbon footprint. Though it’s easier to control that at home, we can easily turn our workplace into a Green Zone, and there are many ways that we can make a big impact at our workplace with proven results from experts in the field.

Going green in your business also produces green for your business. There are a lot of cost-effective ways to reduce your use, which helps the Earth and your budget.

  • Companies large and small are switching to predominantly electronic communication and have drastically reduced printing of documents and presentations which can easily be shared electronically and/or screened for viewing purposes. The money that is saved on paper, ink, and copy machine maintenance really adds up, but it also means that fewer trees are being cut down and less air is being polluted to make the paper. Recycled printing paper is also readily available.
  • Energy efficient LED lights use up to 90% less energy than traditional bulbs and last up to 20 years! And taking it a step further, adding dimmers and timers are quick and efficient.
  • Blue recycling bins for paper are pretty common but it is just as easy to set up recycling bins in a common area for batteries, light bulbs, and ink cartridges. They all are toxic if thrown into the trash, which only ends up in the landfills.
  • Switching to filtered water instead of bottled water is cost effective and makes a huge environmental impact.
  • Traveling to a meeting takes time, money, and causes pollution, so instead of always filling a conference room with employees for one meeting, try an interactive conference call option which allows everyone to communicate with one another without the sometimes unnecessary commute.
  • Many businesses have seen an improvement in productivity from employees who are allowed to work from home either part-time or on occasion. For many, being able to work from the comforts of their own home is a huge bonus, but it also helps reduce commuter traffic and saves on gas. For the worker, it could also mean less dry cleaning and less wear and tear on their vehicles.
  • Sharing your commute can save both money and aggravation. Taking turns in a carpool to work take more cars off the road and allows colleagues to bond and catch up before arriving for work. You can also implement a “no work talk” rule to keep it social and light until you clock in.

Creating an office environment that is cognizant of its impact on the environment declares its compassion for its employees and clients. Going green is not only easy, but an obligation that will impact everyone for decades to come.

Breakfast of Business Champions

Breakfast Business

It’s a universally accepted fact that Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and that it absolutely sets the tone and the pace for the rest of your day.

Why is it, though, that we neglect self-care in this area? We need the energy, but according to some surveys, more than half of adults opt out; they know that it’s important, but for some mystifying reason, they choose not to make the time for breakfast.

Keep in mind that children learn by example. If you show them by your actions that breakfast isn’t a priority, guess who’s going to model that behavior? Bingo —  your children. Guess who’s going to defend their actions when you get on them about eating their breakfast because of what they’ve seen with you? Bingo again.

According to a 2013 Harvard Study, men who skipped breakfast (and thus engaged in prolonged fasting) increased their risk of heart disease. According to study author Leah Cahill, “As we sleep all night we are fasting, and so if we regularly do not ‘break fast’ in the morning, it puts a strain on our bodies that over time can lead to insulin resistance, hypercholesterolemia and blood pressure problems, which can then lead to heart disease.” (Forbes, July 23, 2013).

So what can companies do to provide a solution to this problem? Technically, it’s really not their problem, but when their employees are stressed out because they’re not eating properly, an intervention might be in order.

 

The Office Breakfast Club

When we think of “The Breakfast Club”, we might think of a movie about a group of teenagers who bare their souls as they serve detention, but this isn’t the case. This concept might just make the difference between lethargy and productivity and maybe save a few lives in the process.

Depending on the company’s bottom line, it might well serve the company to offer cost-efficient breakfast items, but if the budget doesn’t allow for that type of program you should consider offering breakfast items for sale at cost. Even prior to that, the company might consider doing an anonymous survey to gauge the employees’ interest level.

Some foods that you might consider offering include:

  • Whole wheat bread (and a toaster) for toast
  • Bagels
  • Oatmeal (Steel Cut oatmeal is the most nutritious)
  • Fruit
  • Cereals (staying away from the sugary stuff)
  • Yogurt (keep it low fat and as close to sugar-free as possible)

Back to the idea of The Breakfast Club, the club members should not be eating at their desk; this could lead to grazing throughout the day which could lead to weight gain.  They should be enjoying each other’s company in a designated area away from their work area, like the break room or employee lounge.

There’s nothing like breaking bread together to reduce friction between co-workers and develop a sense of community.  Talk shop if you must, but it can be beneficial to sit down and socialize with your co-workers without discussing your work day – save that for your morning huddle!