Going Green at Work

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!

Making Your Resolutions Work, at Work

New Years Goals

For most people, making New Year’s resolutions takes place right after Christmas. You’ll sit down, think about all the things that worked this year for you and the things that didn’t, as well as the things that you accomplished and the things that you didn’t accomplish. You might write them down, or they may stay in your head. It’s really up to you.

You’re probably thinking to yourself, “I really want things to be different this year. I want to be successful in my resolutions as opposed to prior years.”

So how do you make it happen? How can you make things different? Here are some things to consider and possibly implement:

  • If you haven’t written your resolutions down, do it. Put them somewhere at work where they will be in your face all the time.
  • Find a friend at work that can help you stay accountable with your resolutions. After all, you spend a big part of your day at work, so why not enlist people who can support you? Conversely, ask your friend how you can support them.
  • Turn your resolutions into SMART goals. Make them very specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and timely.
  • Set up reminders in your scheduling program of choice.
  • Don’t get into comparing and despairing- you may see someone at work who has made a similar resolution getting faster results. The only person you should be competing with is yourself.
  • Set up milestones and reward yourself for reaching them. There’s a tendency to discount the progress that you’ve made along the way.

As you achieve these milestones and keep your resolutions, you’ll gain credibility with yourself as well as the confidence to try even bigger things in the future.

Do not make resolutions

Tips for Creating a Fitness Club at Work

Office Fitness Clubs

The New Year is often a time for people to focus on change, and usually, you hear things like “I want to get in shape” or “I need to lose some weight”. January is a perfect time to kick-off a Workplace Wellness Club!

Chances are you and some of your coworkers may put on a couple extra pounds at the company holiday party, not to mention all the family get-togethers. You’re all probably feeling just a little bit sluggish right now, and the energy just isn’t there. So what can you do?

The best thing that you can do is to help each another get back on track not only with your work goals but also with your physical goals. Note that we’re avoiding the R word… as in resolution, because we all know where those go very quickly after the first of the year.

What better way to support one another in taking those few pounds off than by starting a fitness club? Here are some suggestions:

  • Make the club as welcoming as possible. No one should be out to prove anything to anybody. You’re there to support one another and to enjoy each other’s company.
  • Set up a consistent schedule. The club should meet either before or after work so as to not to conflict with the day-to-day business operations of the company.
  • Set up a rotating leadership so that everybody takes ownership of the club and nobody is burdened to be there all the time.
  • The club is whatever you want it to be. It could be as simple as everyone taking a walk as part of their lunch hour, or just during a short break. It could also include everyone joining a sports team. It’s really up to you.

Before you know it, your clothes won’t be as tight, and chances are you’ll wonder why you didn’t start the fitness club sooner!

Here are some ways to keep people engaged:

  • Create a challenge board! It encourages employees to complete the daily physical activities each member selects. They can be fairly simple, such as do 20 squats once an hour or walk around the building 5 times today.  The challenge board shows everyone’s progress and helps keep people accountable.
  • Volunteer in the community – you can work with local youth clubs for coaching sports or leading activities, for example. Not into sports? Check with your local animal shelter or rescue organization to see if they need dog walkers!
  • Utilize technology – devices like FitBit and Jawbone are great for keeping track of daily activity, sleep, and even calories. It’s also easy to friend the people in the fitness club!

 

For more ideas, SnackNation has put together a list of over 100 Employee Wellness Program ideas that were submitted by people around the globe http://www.snacknation.com/blog/employee-wellness-program-ideas/

Networking at Work

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The idea of networking can conjure up some strong imagery and emotions.

For some people, it might mean going to a mixer (usually outside work) where you make small talk, exchange business cards, become thoroughly bored, and start creeping toward the nearest exit. For others, it may be a struggle, especially if you’re an introvert and don’t have many social experiences to draw upon. Yet for others, it may mean being something you’re not, putting on airs, and engaging in a certain level of fakery. Finally, it might mean wearing an embarrassing badge that says “Hello, my name is….” and filling in the blanks.

Regardless, you can’t work in a vacuum. It doesn’t matter what profession you’re in; you cannot be successful on your own, and to believe that you can make it alone is a fallacy.

There are some things at work that you won’t be able to do without collaborating with people, and depending on the scope of the project you’re working on, it could involve just a few people or several large teams of people. There’s just no getting around it; you’ll need to network with people within your business to see your project through to completion.

There are several reasons you need to master the fine art of networking:

  1. You need to be seen. Hiding in your office or inside your cubicle makes you a lone wolf and creates the impression that you’re not a team player.
  2. You need to establish relationships and form alliances. You’ll never know when you might need to have someone advocate for you, especially if it means keeping your job in the face of budget cuts and downsizing.
  3. Today’s ally may become tomorrow’s boss. Some of these people will be on an upward trajectory within the company and establishing a relationship with them right now may also aid you in furthering your career with the company. You never know who will be promoted and may need additional support in their new role.
  4. You need to become knowledgeable about the company and how it works. This doesn’t mean that you engage in idle, malicious office gossip, but it does mean that you keep your proverbial ear to the ground in order to become aware of any sea changes within the organization.
  5. You need to gain credibility within the organization in terms of what you have accomplished, what you can do, and what you might be able to do in the future.

 

Finally, how do you become a networker extraordinaire?  Here are seven tips to networking success:

  1. Be yourself. People can smell inauthenticity and hidden agendas a mile away.
  2. Be seen at company get-togethers. Don’t be the type of person who tries to make themselves invisible in the back of the room.
  3. Get to know people before making a request of any type. You may learn in the process that while this person might be great to know, they also may not be the go-to person you may need in the future.
  4. Create the evidence that you are trustworthy and reliable. Make sure your words match your actions. Don’t just say you’re going to do something to be a people pleaser, but follow through. Above all else, don’t flake.
  5. Know the players. If you are going to a networking event, find out who’s going to be there and familiarize yourself with their key accomplishments.
  6. Stay positive! The worst thing you can say at any networking event or meeting is “Man, I hate these things, don’t you?”
  7. Ask questions and make it about the other person. Pick their brains in a nice way so that they don’t feel like they’re being manipulated.

 

Barrister Executive Suites offers a unique opportunity to also network with people from other companies. Whether it’s having coffee in the breakroom or attending one of our suite events, it’s great to be able to get to know the people around you.  We hold regular mixers and parties so that tenants can mingle, network, and get to know the amazing community that we have in our Barrister Executive Suites!

Now get out of your comfort zone, emerge from your cubicle or office, and get to know the people that will be mutually beneficial.

Holiday Party Dress – Decoded!

Holiday Party Dress Code

The holidays are here and along with the responsibility we all carry, holiday office parties are at the top of the list. Feeling obligated to your boss or client to attend is sometimes daunting, but socializing is also an important aspect of doing business.

When attending said parties, it’s also important to be dressed appropriately. The first step is to find out if this is a casual, work casual, cocktail, or formal party. And yes, there is a difference!

Casual Parties could easily be jeans, sneakers, and the obligatory holiday sweater, so it’s fine to look cute but comfortable. Keep in mind, though, as casual is it may be, it’s never appropriate to show up in anything that others would find offensive, so keep it clean and presentable because you are still with work colleagues and not college buddies.

Casual Holiday Party

Work / Business Casual means you step it up a little. No need for suits necessarily, but a put-together-look that is fun and festive for the holiday, but not too casual. This can mean slacks and a nicer sweater or button-down, and for the ladies a nicer dress or slacks with a nice blouse. Work casual is generally only a little bit ‘fancier’ than your everyday business casual attire.

Business Casual Holiday Party

Cocktail Parties are a further step up. A dress, jumpsuit, slacks, suit, or sports jacket with some nice shoes, and maybe a little evening hairdo and accessories are safe bets. This is when you leave the work behind and get to have grown up fun time. Often you can bring a date to these events.

Cocktail Party Holiday Party

Formal Events are when you pull out all the stops. We all have our favorite little black dress or suit that we save for special occasions, or perhaps it’s time to pick up something new. Either way, you want to dress to impress! If someone is spending the money, time, and effort into throwing a formal party, this is when you want to look your absolute best.

Formal Holiday Party

Looking and conducting yourself in the best possible manner is not only good for your business relationships, but also your personal ones. You never know who you might meet at these events, and you want to be remembered in a good light. That may mean that you may have to dress a touch more conservative than you would for your own party, or drink a bit less than if you were hanging out with friends. Though everyone deserves to let their hair down and have a good time, it’s easy to go overboard, so the best way to keep your reputation intact is to remember that there is a time and a place for everything!

 

 

Keeping Up During the Holidays

Keeping up during the holidays

 

As much as we want to enjoy the holidays, it’s a very hectic time of year both at home and at work. When we get consumed with tasks, it can take the fun out of it – so relieve the stress by getting organized early. We may laugh at people who start their shopping in September, but they may be on to something! So order your holiday cards early, make a gift list, and actually have the time to check it twice for a change.

Here are some ideas that might help make your holiday season run just a little smoother this year.

Gifts & Cards

Getting an early jump on your holiday cards and gifts will take the pressure off, and by ordering ahead of time you give yourself extra time to have them delivered or shipped. Plus, you can then focus on getting those last minute business or personal gifts that everyone tends to forget. And since people usually send cards to the same people each year, print addresses on labels that you can use every year (with the occasional update here and there).

Invitations

Keep track of all the events you have going on by adding them to your phone or computer calendar with an alert. It’s just too hard to keep track of them all in our heads! And since it may not be possible to attend all of the holiday parties, make sure to send a note to inform your host that you will not be able to attend. It tells them that you appreciate the relationship and taking the time to respond shows that.

Consolidating

The holidays come along and time seems to disappear. To keep productivity high and workers happy, see if there are some meetings that can be combined or condensed, and make sure the meeting stays on target to get the most out of it. Efficiency helps everyone increase productivity, and no one wants to sit through a two-hour meeting that could have been accomplished in sixty minutes. No one.

Make a plan for the New Year

Businesses tend to slow down for the holidays, so this is an ideal time to review the past year and analyze what went well and what could have been better.  Reevaluating your company’s goals and targets for the New Year will also give you the opportunity to come back from the holidays with new focus and vision. Creating a plan for how to increase productivity, efficiency, and customer/worker incentives can help start the New Year in the right direction.

Handling Stress & Keeping Perspective

There is no doubt that the holidays also create a tremendous amount of stress both inside and outside of the office. Juggling responsibilities for work along with obligations for family and loved ones can become daunting. Try to get organized with gift ideas, holiday plans, and keep your calendar up-to-date with parties and events. Then take a deep breath and make a mental list of all the things you are grateful for. We move so fast that we often lose sight of what’s really important. The holidays are the time of year that we gather our friends and families, granting us the opportunity to tell them how much they mean to us.

Have a safe and happy holiday season!

Making time for your own marketing (or personal branding)

Making Time for Marketing

Keeping your customers happy and coming in on time for projects is a priority, so it can be challenging to find extra time for your own company’s branding.

The first step in helping conquer the time factor is to be organized and plan ahead. Clearly lay out your goals for the year and back that up by creating a schedule that devotes a specific amount of time each week or month towards your company or personal branding goals. And whenever possible, collaborate and delegate with partners or co-workers.

This is also a good time to evaluate your business and the direction it is moving in. Check back in: Are you on target? Do you have the right tools? What are your biggest strengths? How are you doing personally? Based on those answers, you can more easily create a plan for success.

Also look at how you are communicating. There are many ways to self-promote, most importantly with a smart and attractive website that informs a potential client of who you are and what you have to offer. Strongly consider your color schemes, language and photos since they all affect how people react to your brand. Over time you might need an update or a revamping to keep it up to date. Staying on top of social media pages and promotional tools are also an imperative component to your business.

No matter how long you have been in business, research is key! Look to see if your service has changed in the market place. Is what you do in demand? How can you stand out from others in your field? There is so much to learn from research, but you cannot let it deter you; instead, use the research to strengthen your plan.

If you are just starting out or perhaps rebranding yourself, pay attention to how people are reacting to your service or product and try to determine how you can improve upon it. There is always room for growth, but that can only happen if you are honest with yourself. Look at other successful branding examples to see what works and why. This is also the time to bring in people that you know who can assist and advise you with feedback to keep you on track.

Staying on top of all social media and producing smart memorable content will help you as you continue towards growing your business and establishing your brand.

Top Ten Tips to Maintaining Your Online Reputation

Brand Reputation

Imagine you’re a start-up company that has been working extremely hard the first year or so in business. It’s been a struggle to be seen in the marketplace and to get your name out there. You have many satisfied customers. Everyone seems to be happy with your products and services.

And then it happens… a bad review hits online, and it’s not just bad, it’s really bad. As a new business, you can’t afford negative reviews. Then business starts to go down because of that review or a few bad reviews. To make matters worse, you’ve noticed that when people do a search on Google, guess what shows up at the top or near the top of the list?

What can you do about it?  How can you recover?  How can you prevent it from happening in the first place?  Here are some tips to maintaining your online reputation.

Tip #1: Practice good customer service. Deliver on what you’ve promised. Meet and exceed expectations. Go above and beyond to make sure that your customers have a good experience.

Tip #2:  Follow up with your customers. Make sure they are truly happy with your products and services.

Tip #3:  Ask your customers to provide a quick testimonial for your website, or go to review sites such as Yelp and Google Business. Provide them with explicit instructions on how to post a review. Never offer any incentives for doing so – offering bribes will reflect badly on your business.

Tip #4: Contact those people who have left the bad reviews and ask them how you can turn their negative experience around in exchange for removing the bad review. Many online systems like Yelp have the ability to reply once you claim your company page.

Tip #5: If Tip #4 doesn’t work, then it’s important to create as much goodwill as possible. Create a lot of great content that will drive the negative reviews off the first page of Google. Those researching you will seldom, if ever, look past the first page of Google. The more positive press you receive, the more the seldom negative review will be taken seriously. People will perceive it as a fluke, or chalk it up to the fact that you can’t make everyone happy.

Tip #6: If you’re are a mover and shaker within your company, make sure that all of your profiles on social media are up to date.  Don’t leave anything open to misinterpretation.

TBarrister Suites Article - Managing Online Reputationip #7: Be careful about the statements you make online – all it takes is a screenshot of a negative comment to float around the internet and things can go south very quickly. Review what you’ve said on Facebook or Twitter or LinkedIn that could be taken out of context, or could have been said in the heat of an online argument.

Tip #8: Make sure that you check your privacy settings on all of your social media accounts.

Tip #9: Never say anything in writing that you wouldn’t say to someone in person. If you’re upset with something that has been said, then take a step back, count to ten (or twenty), if that will stop you from saying something you would regret later.

Tip #10:  As your business grows and you are unable to keep on top of reputation management yourself, consider hiring a reputation management firm.  Make it part of your marketing budget.

 

 

Striking a Balance in Social Philanthropic Businesses

Social Philanthropic Businesses

So you’re passionate about a cause and want to parlay it into a sustainable business that not only makes an impact on the cause, but also your bottom line.

It’s easier said than done; the challenge is to balance social responsibility with fiscal responsibility. It’s both easy and dangerous to go down a rabbit hole with your passion and suddenly one day find that your business is bleeding red ink.

Social Philanthropic Entrepreneurs need to give careful consideration as to the products and service they are going to offer.

Here are a few questions to consider:

Does the company have a solid business plan?

Has the business plan been vetted by trusted professionals who are supportive of the cause?

Has the business plan been vetted by professionals who aren’t part of the cause?

What are special needs that are specific to your cause that you can address without becoming overwhelmed by the enormity of your cause?

The first question is pretty self-explanatory, as well as the second question; the third question allows for objectivity that you or those within your inner circle may not have at the present moment.

The fourth question requires some soul searching: if you want to get involved in a specific cause, realize that you don’t have to take on the entire cause. Larger causes can be overwhelming, especially for start-ups! Start off with a subset of the cause you’re most familiar with – develop it, and then branch out from there.

Another area where balance is essential is in the area of marketing. Businesses with a social conscience need to treat marketing as a vehicle for education regarding the issue. That being said, it’s important to keep things in check and ensure that your marketing efforts don’t come off as being too preachy.  You want to enroll people in your cause – nothing will turn off a potential customer and potential partner faster than being lectured to.

As your business grows, don’t be afraid to expand your vision, and be ready to create a business that will outlast you long before you’re gone.

Finally, know that you will never know how many lives you will inspire and change; what you do can create a ripple effect that will touch many generations to come.  Not only that, you may be unknowingly planting seeds that others can grow and expand upon.

Go out and make a difference. Be true to your vision, but temper it with financial responsibility.