Productivity

The Perfect To-Do List

Is there such a thing?  I’m sure that, if there is, it’s a Revolutionary Assistant that’s come up with it.  We Revolutionary Assistants rely on our to-do lists, and we’ve each got our own way of creating one that motivates us and keeps us on track.  But we went out to the Internet, anyway, to see what other people were doing – just in case we hadn’t thought of everything.

Turns out, there are all kinds of ideas out there.  Let’s take a look at some suggestions and ideas you might not currently be using.  Some of them contradict each other but, hey, we’re not all alike!

to do listWrite your list the night before – Coming off of your eight (ten, twelve?) hour work day, you know what you finished, what you left behind to do tomorrow and what kind of things are going to come up.

Do the hardest thing first – While you’re fresh, jump into the hardest task on your list and get it out of the way.  You’re already successful before you hit item number two!

Limit (or go all out with) the number of items on your list – Some successful to-do list users claim that having any more than three items on your list just sets you up for failure.  If you’re like me, you put EVERYTHING on your list, because crossing stuff off motivates me to do more.  What’s your magic number of items?  Take a moment to figure out how many line items work for you.

Assign time estimates – How long do you think it’ll take you to do each item?  Take a moment to jot it down so you can see if you have enough time in your day to address them all.

Batch similar tasks together – If you’re spending a certain amount of time answering correspondence and then need to look at emails…well, those are actually similar tasks.  They require the same kind of energy, and it could be easier to plan to go right from one to another.  Similarly, creating a Powerpoint presentation and reviewing data for a report require different parts of the brain.  Don’t pair those up, they won’t go well together.

Divide the list into sections – You may want to have three sections to your list: a list of meetings you have to attend, what needs to be accomplished in those meetings, and items to be done that don’t have anything to do with those meetings.

Put your list out there for people to see – This is something I do with some success.  I make my little white board public so that my co-workers can make their comments.  I hear, “Wow, you’re almost done!” or “Hey, you’ve got a lot left to do!”  I work hard on my list to hear more of the former and less of the latter comments!

Evaluate your items…especially what’s left at the end of the night – I’ve had a couple of things on my list that I think, “That’s been there for weeks and not done, do I really need to do it?”  You might want to eliminate it all together.  Stop for a moment to think about how urgent each of the items on your list are.  Will a bad situation get worse if you don’t address it right away?  Is it important for that item to get done so that other parts of a project can move forward?

Understand the difference between a task, a project, and a goal on your list – I have a “list of lofty goals” I create every year on January 2.  These are items I’d love to do but may or may not get to.  Another is a list of projects I need to complete.  Finally, a list of tasks.  Those tasks lead into completed projects, and those projects might even be portions of my lofty goals.  It’s helpful because I can see all the pieces that need to be done, but I don’t get overwhelmed by looking at projects and goals as a whole.

In the end, the perfect to-do list is the one that motivates you to get things done.  Your list might have some of the features above, and you may have tried others only to find that they didn’t really work for you.  These are only suggestions by people who’ve found they work.   Everyone’s job and list should be different, and the only perfect list is the one that works for you.

 

Next post:  Wednesday, November 29

Purpose

As a Revolutionary Assistant, my purpose was to make my manager bigger, further reaching and more accessible than he would be without me.

That was my mission from the moment I sat down at the desk outside his office.  I made it known to everyone that I was there for this purpose.  They understood that if they needed him, I would find them time, if he was responsible for X, Y, and Z, I would take on Z so that he could give his all to X and Y.  It’s the fundamental core of what being an assistant is all about.

PurposeKnowing your job description is good, but understanding your purpose takes you to a whole new level of job engagement.  So, I’m asking you… what’s your purpose?

It might seem logical that every Revolutionary Assistant’s purpose is pretty much the same, but this blog alone would tell you that there are many niche areas of expertise that you can focus on, and many areas where your manager might need help.  There are ways you can match your passions and skills to what your manager needs.

Think about what you like and how you can incorporate it into your day – When I started as an assistant, there was one thing that I really did well that most others could not:  I could write.  I loved writing, and I could always lend my manager a hand with his communications.  What started out as a test of my skills to see if I could take a memo or two off my manager’s plate ended up being a full-time deal.  What do you do best?  Maybe you have a gift for numbers and enjoy digging into a good balance sheet.  See how you can use those skills to help your manager.

Think about the work that’s excited you the most – One of the things I loved best was events, because I could be creative and really reach people with a message or a mission.  I could connect people emotionally to the company’s agenda and strategies and watch it happen in real time.  It required me to draw on my creative juices, but it also made me learn about space contracts, food and beverage, and much, much more.  I loved it!  Think about what kind of projects you have most enjoyed and why you liked them so much.  Can you incorporate that into your purpose?

Think about where you want to be 10, 20 or 30 years from now – The business climate and technology is changing at the speed of light, but that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t give some thought to what the 50- or 60-year-old you is going to be doing for a living.  Are you learning the things you need to learn in order to be that person?

Your job description is a list of bullet points, but your purpose can really be anything you want it to be.  Think about what you really stand for every day at the office, and how you can play on those strengths to live up to your purpose!

 

Next Post:  Wednesday, October 4

What’s Better: A Satisfied Employee or an Engaged Employee?

Companies spend a lot of money to find out just how engaged their employees are, and they’re right to do so: turnover costs organizations thousands and thousands of dollars.  In fact, if an employee makes a salary of $40,000 a year, it can cost $30,000 in recruiting and training fees to replace him.

Not so good for the bottom line.

SatisfiedAccording to McKinsey, an organization that conducts employee engagement surveys on behalf of companies looking to stay in touch with their team members, there’s a difference between a satisfied employee and one that’s engaged.  And you want the engaged type of employees.

A satisfied employee just “does his thing” at the office.  He’s happy with his current situation, doesn’t go out of his way to get involved or help others but turns in his work on time and done right.  That doesn’t sound like such a bad deal, right?

An engaged employee, on the other hand, takes steps to understand his role within the company and how he affects the bottom line and how his work fits into the scheme of things.  He goes out of his way to help others, he’s an ambassador for the company and its brand, and he may even look for additional work, take on additional projects, or identify and capitalize on opportunities to improve company performance.

Companies usually have a mixture of satisfied employees and engaged employees, but it’s those engaged employees that really drive the organization forward.  So, logically, companies want to understand just what their “mix” of employees is, and work on improving the company’s relationship with those team members so that engagement (and quality of work) increase.  How does a company like McKinsey help them to do that?

McKinsey weighs employees’ responses against engagement “drivers.”  They ask questions specific to areas their research tells them impacts engagement.  These areas include things like your relationship with your coworkers, work-life balance, and even compensation and benefits.  After asking the organization’s employees to agree or disagree with a variety of statements, they’re able to determine their levels of engagement.

Companies that find their number of engaged employees is a little disappointing might think they need to spruce up their office a bit, but that’s not always the case.  Moving in a ping pong table or buying the team lunch may be a great gesture of goodwill, but sometimes better communication and an enhanced rewards and recognition program may more efficiently address the situation.  Engagement survey results are usually prescriptive, and companies are often willing to share the tips and tricks that worked best for them.

I’m using McKinsey as an example, but there are plenty of companies out there that run engagement surveys and offer similar results.  In the event your company is small or doesn’t want to make a huge investment, survey apps like SurveyMonkey offer suggestions and tips on creating your own engagement survey.  There’s no need to guess if your employees are engaged or just satisfied…ask them!  It can be the start of a more productive environment!

 

Next Post:  Wednesday, September 20

Surviving the 24/7, High-Intensity Workplace

High Intensity WorkplaceIf all work and no play makes Jack a very dull boy, then some of us are about as boring as we can get.  If she manages a busy executive, a Revolutionary Assistant may have to be available 24/7 even in a low-key workplace.  But in the world of Wall Street or other 24/7, high-intensity businesses, a Revolutionary Assistant can work herself to death if she’s not careful.

I’ve been reading my Harvard Business Review again, and the June 2016 issue talks about the unrealistic expectations being placed on employees in a high-intensity industry.  It can be difficult to “find your place” in a workplace that demands you be available at 3PM and 3AM, and in order to cope, employees must make adjustments in their lives.  In fact, “Managing the High Intensity Workplace” authors Erin Reid and Lakshmi Ramarajan say that they find three employee strategies emerging within those “always available” cultures:  accepting, passing, and revealing.

These three strategies each have their merits, and they emerge based on the employee’s innate tendencies.  There are benefits and pitfalls to each.

Accepting – These are the employees that grit their teeth and do what’s expected of them.  When that call comes in at midnight, the employee not only answers but possibly does a little bit of work to address the issue.  If they manage subordinates, they expect them to take the same approach to their careers.

  • Benefits – They’re blending in well and living up to expectations
  • Pitfalls – They may burn out quickly; they may also have a hard time developing promoteable employees

Passing – These employees make it look as though they are available for work 24/7, but they really aren’t.  They just aren’t letting on.  They might respond to an email right away, but say, “I’m working on it, will be back to you in a few hours” and then go on about their lives until they have a moment when they can address the issue.

  • Benefits – This employee protects his career but still enjoys other aspects of his life.
  • Pitfalls – Not only are they probably not building close relationships at work (for risk of being “found out”) but they also perpetuate the “ideal employee” myth by fulfilling unrealistic expectations

Revealing – The most “rebellious” of the three strategies, the employee simply says, “I will get to this later tonight.  I’m at my daughter’s swim meet.”  They reveal themselves as resisting the norm and may think that the 24/7 culture needs to change

  • Benefits – These employees enjoy open relationships with colleagues, protect their free time and have lives outside of work
  • Pitfalls – They could damage their careers by not “playing along” and may not be credible enough to move the organization away from the high-intensity culture should they try.

The article goes on to recommend changes to each of these employees’ strategies – accepting workers should carve out time for their personal lives and not expect subordinates to behave like they do; passing employees should try to develop relationships with a small group of co-workers and reinforce to the boss that outside activities don’t hurt performance; revealing strategists should focus on results instead of time spent and encourage others to be open about carving out personal times in an effort to change the culture.

But what of the Revolutionary Assistant?  If she supports an executive, it’s pretty likely that executive is one of those “accepting” sorts, and while many of them learn early on that they shouldn’t expect 24/7 from their subordinates, Revolutionary Assistants are often caught in the cross-fire of last-minute travel and off-hour meeting scheduling.  Here are some suggestions that might work:

Revolutionary buddy system – If you know you’re going to be away for a few days or over a weekend, alert your manager and arrange for a member of your admin network to cover for any emergencies that might come up.  Reinforce with your manager your need to detach and recharge your batteries for a few days before you leave.

Carve out time for you and the family – If having dinner with your family is important, then make sure that you’re free during that time.  Turn off your mobile device and enjoy them, and after everyone has gone to bed, check in one more time to see if there are any last-minute needs.  Let your manager know that this will be your daily practice.

Encourage your manager to step away from this kind of culture – Sure, time is money, but well-rested, many-faceted employees make a better company.  S/he should take a few hours away from work each night, a couple of weeks of vacation each year…and set an example for the subordinates.

As a high-powered Revolutionary Assistant, I’ve done the 24/7 thing and burnt myself out plenty of times.  Be a great employee…take time for yourself.

 

Next Post:  Wednesday, August 9

 

 

 

The Co-workers Who Resist Change

The only thing that’s constant is change, right?  Companies have to change with the needs of the customers it helps, or they’re just not going to be around in a few years.  It’s a fact of business, and it’s also a fact that employees within those companies are going to resist any alteration to the status quo they’ve become accustomed to.Resist

So, what can a Revolutionary Assistant and her manager do?

Most of the time change is thrust upon employees and they’re told to deal with it.  That approach has met with some success, but it’s not always the kindest of procedures.  Better still is to understand that employees resist change because

  • They aren’t confident change will succeed
  • They don’t trust those who are leading the change initiative
  • They think the change isn’t necessary
  • They fear for their own personal position in the company
  • They have a harder time than most handling the disruption

When your manager is trying to initiate change, he or she may enlist your help to ensure a smooth implementation of the project.  That could mean interacting with and influencing these change resisters.  Change management experts across the globe have offered up some suggestions that might help:

Respect, respect, respect – You might feel a very strong urge to just tell these change resisters to “shut up and do it” but it may not be in your best interest.  If resisters haven’t been consulted, they could feel like important information (which they possess) has not been considered, or they may just feel that they missed their chance to be a part of the change conversation.  Encourage your manager to set up time with these resisters so he can hear their point of view and give it thoughtful consideration.

Encourage open discussion – This change affects everyone, and if it’s a new “thing” than perhaps not every angle has been studied.  Encourage plenty of conversation and feedback throughout the process…and be a great listener, otherwise the feedback and conversation will grind to a halt.  No one wants to talk to someone who’s not really listening.

“Diagnose” the resistance – Your manager has to give careful thought to the feedback she’s hearing.   Do you consider that point of view more thoroughly, or do you dismiss it and move on to the next point of interest?

Involve them in the change implementation – Resisters will often take more ownership for the change if they play a part in making it happen.  Hands-on work, and being called upon to bring other co-workers up to speed, is an education for the resister.

Be open to change yourself – Your idea about what this final product will look like may not be the way it actually looks when it’s done.  Your manager should not be married to any of his expectations.  This maelstrom of conversation and resistance is likely to result in something better than what was originally imagined, so keep minds open!

Organizations need to change in order to survive, and many fail to deal with change resisters in a productive way.  Don’t hit a dead end and create a critical situation for the company!  Encouraging conversation with resisters, considering their points of view and involving them in the change process helps your organization reach the finish line successfully.

 

Next Post:  Wednesday, July 26

Mergers and Acquisitions: A Recipe for Disaster?

So, big buzz in my office this past month: the number one player in our industry signed on the dotted line to purchase a huge up-and-come-er, mostly because of its e commerce success.  Our team members, and the team members of other industry players, watched the whole thing happen with eyes open wide.  Our competitor bought the company for an exorbitant amount of money.

Thing is, the company they bought is less than five years old and lost $100 million last year.

Our deep-pocketed competitor has acquired other e commerce companies in the past, and the results were not necessarily to their benefit.  They weren’t able to get their plans off the ground, and eventually the company, its mission and its success was just folded in with their larger counterpart’s business-as-usual practices.  Their mergers were not star-studded successes.

This is why my interest was piqued when I found an article in the June 2016 issue of Harvard Business Review, “M&A: The One Thing You Need to Get Right.”  In it, author Roger L. Martin states, “M&A is a mug’s game: typically 70%-90% of acquisitions are abysmal failures.”

UmpteenWhen I search the internet and other sources, I find that Martin is not alone in his opinion, but his declaration is out there a little further and a little bolder than most.  When companies look to obtain value for themselves – access to a new market or capability – they’re spotting the same opportunity that other companies see, and the value of that opportunity will be lost in the bidding war.  He says that when a company acquires or seeks to merge with another company to take what they have, the merger is not likely to be as successful as when they look to infuse the acquired company’s assets with their own to make it more successful.

When the company I work for was acquired by a private investment capital firm, they were looking to do exactly that.  They looked at our company as an investment and they did everything Martin recommended:

They were smart providers of capital – They wanted to see our company grow so their investment would pay off.  They provided capital so we could expand our national footprint with new locations, improve our distribution center, and so on.

They provided better managerial oversight – When our owners purchased us, we didn’t really have expertise in place.  They allowed us access to their marketing experts, their legal team, and so on.  They helped us hire our own experts and stand on our own two feet as a growing company in a whole new league from where we were before.  They managed us like a larger business, and we became one because of it.

They shared resources – Our investor’s collection of companies allowed us access to fabulous discounts and buying power we didn’t have before.

I don’t think our competitor purchased this company because they wanted to give the company an injection of their money and skills.  In fact, this acquired company was stealing customers right out from under them.  Our competitor is buying their customers back.  But the acquired company has converted them into unprofitable online customers, and the parent company is now going to be charged with the miracle of making those customers profitable again.

It remains to be seen if this will be a success or a failure.

Revolutionary Assistants aren’t often involved in mergers and acquisitions, and if we are we’re pushing the paper and watching it all fall in place from the sidelines.  But if your company is involved in a merger, whether you’re the buyer or the seller, it pays to know a little bit about what you’re looking at.  Take a moment to ask your manager to explain the circumstances, see if it passes the above test for success.  You might be surprised at what you find.

 

Next Post:  Wednesday, July 12

Women Book Travel Earlier Than Men (and Does It Matter?)

True story!  Women tend to book their business travel earlier than their male counterparts.  And, wait, there’s more.  This same study (led by Carlson Wagonlit Travel and highlighted in the June 2016 Harvard Business Review) showed that women book approximately 2 days ahead of men; that millennial women get the shortest head start on their male millennial counterparts; and the older you are, the earlier you book.

There are articles everywhere that dispense sage advice about when to book a flight, how to book a flight, how long out to book a flight…does any of it really matter?  What does the data really show?

In their January, 2017 article, “The Best Time to Buy Airline Tickets,” Conde Nast Traveler admitted, “Airlines change their fares multiple times a day, so you never really know.”  Indeed, it is like taking a blindfolded swing at a piñata, even when the last five players missed it entirely.  You book your flight and hope tTravelhat the cheapest option isn’t the Sunday evening flight out or the 6AM departure with the connection in Dulles.

All that aside, Expedia’s study of billions of airline transactions resulted in this sage advice:  buy your ticket on a Sunday.  They also recommended to purchase tickets more than 21 days in advance (47 days, if you want to go by CheapAir.com’s study) and, unless you’re headed to North Asia or China, include a Saturday night stay in your itinerary.

Travel budgets are a consistent target for trimming in today’s corporations, so a Revolutionary Assistant knows to be mindful of her manager’s travel schedule.  Still booking more than 21 days out isn’t always possible, and she’s not always hanging out on her computer on Sundays looking for the best deal for the boss (she has to have a day off, after all!).  The report suggests that while Sunday is the best day to book, those Monday-thru-Friday workers booking travel should definitely AVOID booking on a Friday, when fares are at their highest.

Back to the above study by Carlson Wagonlit, though…those women who book earlier than men, do they actually save their companies money?  “Controlling for other factors,” the article said, “women save about $17 a trip, or 2% of the ticket price.  For a multinational company with 21,000 travelers and typical gender and travel patterns, the researchers say, that could yield savings of $1 million a year.”

No small change.

Oh, and I should mention that this holds true for those travelers that don’t travel frequently.  When a traveler made upwards of 20 trips a year, the gender differences nearly disappeared.

Hm.

 

Next Post:  Wednesday, June 28

Keep Your Manager Out of Awful Airports

airportA lot of revolutionary assistants don’t travel as much as I do (because I love to travel).  So, when I tell you that an airport is easy to navigate and a snap to get in and out of, that’s an airport to remember.  When your exec is traveling, the last thing he wants is to be tangled up in a line waiting for assistance from an ornery airport employee.  Then, there are also issues with checked luggage, luggage getting lost, inability to get ground transportation, a trip around the world to get to the car rental place…well, the list goes on.

According to a study done by J. D. Power, the least satisfying airports to travel to or through are:

  • New York LaGuardia Airport
  • Newark Liberty International
  • Philadelphia International
  • Chicago O’Hare International
  • Boston Logan International

Having been to all of these airports, I can tell you one of the things they all have in common is that they’re older in design.  Efforts have been made to freshen up LaGuardia but it’s still old and tired.  That said, it’s a better airport than the other two New York airports (Newark and JFK) to use if you’re looking to get to New York City.  (New rejuvenation efforts have recently created some traffic jams for the small but well-used airport, which is why some are choosing to avoid it.)

Older facilities like those listed above often don’t have the ability to move people through quickly.  Logan Airport in Boston was built in the 1920s, and when you think about how travel has changed since then, you understand why it’s at a disadvantage.

In almost all these cases, you could avoid sending your exec to or through the airport, instead choosing  a nearby location (Midway instead of O’Hare or Providence instead of Logan, for instance), but sometimes the cost of the flight or proximal location dictate that they must be used.  Plan for extra time if that’s the case, so your manager isn’t late.

J.D. Power also cited the five best airports in the US:

  • Indianapolis International
  • Buffalo Niagara International
  • Southwest Florida International
  • Jacksonville International
  • Portland International (Oregon)

You’re likely to get great feedback from your manager if he or she is using one of these airports.  These are, for the most part, new or newly renovated to accommodate travel in the new millennium.  This doesn’t mean travel hassles don’t exist there, but they’re happier places in general.

It’s always good to be aware of where you’re sending your manager and what he’ll encounter when he gets there.  If you can’t be traveling and see it first hand, do your research and prepare for the best and the worst!

Next Post:  Wednesday, April 5

I’m on Vacation Right Now – Have You Taken Your Paid Time Off?

Yup, I’ve worked a little ahead, put up my blog post in advance, and while you’re reading this I’m hopefully having the time of my life visiting National Parks out west.  And, yes, I’m using two weeks of paid vacation from my day job.

Apparently, this puts my husband and me in a class all our own, because studies show that 41% of Americans don’t use their time off.  Why is this case?  In a 2015 interview with marketwatch.com, Glassdoor’s career trends analyst Scott Dobroski simply cited, “Fear.”

The answer is “fear” because, even as the economy is recovering from the recession a few years back, companies are trying to do more with less people.  Employees are carrying a bigger burden, the workload of one-and-a-half or two people (or sometimes even more) and they’re in an “employment at will” situation with their employer, which means they can be fired for any reason (or no reason) and get no severance upon departure.  In fact, only about 77% of Americans get paid vacation days to use…the United States is one of the only first-world countries that does not require a company to give its workers paid time off.

Let’s not just blame industry, though, because they’re not the only thing to fear.  If you trust your employer will not fire you or lay you off for taking a week out of the office, you need to be wary of your co-workers.  Other reasons cited for not taking a vacation include hopes that less time away means a better chance at a promotion or getting an edge over other employees in the office.

So, in conclusion, I’m stupid for taking two weeks off to bond with my family and see a part of the world I’ve never seen before.

Maybe.  I went to my sister’s wedding in Las Vegas a dozen or so years back, and when I returned from those four days of celebration, I found that someone else had come in and taken my job.  I’m living proof that these fears can become a reality, and my tale of horror is proof that people should forget about vacations and stay at home.

American Gothic meets Disney Paris, 2014

American Gothic meets Disney Paris, 2014

WRONG.

Project: Time Off found in their 2014 study (linked above) that workers who left a large portion of their paid time off on the table were 6.5% less likely to get that raise or bonus they coveted than co-workers who did.  These same workers are also more likely to suffer stress and even heart attacks, and are more likely to suffer from depression.  If none of those things are happening, these workers, are at the very least, likely to engage in large arguments with their spouses and significant others about how much time is needed for their jobs.

I’m in a highly creative job, and getting away to recharge has always been a huge priority for me.  Even when I returned from my sister’s wedding and there was someone else sitting in my seat, I was happy and healthy, filled with memories of a wonderful experience.  The fact of the matter is, that would have happened whether I’d gone away for four days or not.  My former boss and I were not a match made in heaven, we only tolerated each other and I’d been looking for a new position anyway.

I have never hesitated to take a vacation.  I love to travel, and every time I come back, I’m ready to push myself to new heights, for my own benefit and for the company’s.  I’m a better employee for taking my time off and using it well, even though I come back and play a couple of days of catch-up, even though I’m in an at-will employment situation.  I’m good at what I do, and that speaks for itself whether I’m present or taking paid time off.

My former boss, however?  Maybe he should have more time off, too.  He was eventually shown the door.

What goes around comes around, right?

Be successful.  Go on vacation.

 

Next Post:  Wednesday, August 17

Open Workspaces – Couldn’t They Be a Little More Closed?

My office is in the midst of a remodel right now, and the plans are to take away my 72” cubicle walls and make them 48” so I can see all 45 of the co-workers sitting around me. I’m so thrilled about the new layout that I’m wondering how many days I’m going to have to work at home in order to get something done.

Now, I have some of the world’s best co-workers and we’re not likely to go around interrupting each other throughout the day just because our walls a little bit lower. But when a recent Gallup survey shows us that only 11% of workers consider themselves truly “engaged,” and noise and lack of privacy are workers’ chief complaints, why do we keep pushing for the “open, collaborative environment”?

Open office spaceThe words alone make me shiver.

It’s not just about the noise, though the noise in an office with no cubicles to absorb and block is bad enough. Back in 2010, author Patrick Skerrett (HBR, November, 2010) analyzed fifteen different noise studies and concluded that noise disrupts concentration, decreases productivity, and increases stress. It also isn’t good for blood pressure and your cardiovascular system.

My coworkers default to earbuds, and sometimes full-on headphones, to beat the distracting noise and ward off would-be intruders. Often, they aren’t even listening to any music, they’re just blocking out the cacophony of phone calls and copy machine conversations going on around them. Our HR person retreats to a closet with a phone in order to have private conversations with company employees. That’s a nice option for her, but if my husband calls to let me know the dog had an accident on the carpet, the whole office knows about it.

People’s need for privacy is as instinctive as their need for mixing and conversing with others of the human race. But in a world where information sharing has become so imperative, is team work and collaboration prized above all else? Or can there still be consideration given to the more introverted co-worker who is more productive when she can produce something she’s proud to put her name on?

The answer is a fairly simple one. In a world where every person has a slightly different working style, offices should provide open work spaces and places where people can find some privacy and get work done. “The question is not whether we need privacy in our office spaces,” writes Shane Ferro in his Huffington Post article “To Work, Open Offices Need to be a Little Less Open.” “The question is how to configure the space so that workers can move to the right type of environment for whatever task they happen to be working on.”

Studies have been done by office design firms Coalesse, Steelcase, and Knoll to try to determine the best combinations of space that allow creativity to thrive and workers to keep their sanity. The answer seems to be variety. As Donna Flynn, Director of Workspace Futures at Steelcase, puts it, “A big insight from our research was that the way each person controls distractions is very different.”

When an office remodel is underway, an assistant is often involved and policing the situation. A Revolutionary Assistant can get involved, do her research, and offer suggestions that ensure privacy and open collaboration areas are available for a variety of work styles. After all, the objective is to help elevate productivity!

Next post:  Wednesday, March 30