The Telework Trend (Part 1/3)

Telework 101

Telework also sometimes referred to as telecommuting, involves the use of information technology which enables workers to work outside a traditional office environment. Mobile workers enjoy a flexible schedule and can work either a normal forty hour week, or on an occasional basis. Typically most telework occurs only a day or two a week. Implementation of a telework program offers significant benefits to employees, employers and their surrounding communities.

The Canadian government has been less active in promoting telework than the United States. However, several Canadian municipalities have supportive initiatives in place, with the City of Calgary leading the way.

Private organizations are becoming more active in raising awareness of the benefits and best practices for telework in Canada. Nortel Networks is a Canadian company that has become a world leader in the telework trend. They have made flexible work arrangements a top priority, which has in turn yielded higher employee productivity.

Companies that engage in telework and telecommuting programs, allow employees to communicate through email and video conferencing. The long term effects of this trend point to an increased need for improved mobile technology and a decrease in the amount of required office space as employees work remotely.

Benefits: less commuting, saving time, better for the environment, less demand on infrastructure, increased productivity, less office politics, less overhead costs, less traditional office space needed, can work on off hours

Challenges: lack of direct communication, less access to management, data accessibility is hindered, poor visibility into colleagues activity, possibility of duplicating work

Remote Working on the Rise

Even with rising unemployment, the number of remote workers continues to climb according to the Dieringer Research Group Inc. 
What does the average teleworker look like? Would you have guessed, 40-year-olds and at least a college grad? Half of the teleworkers out there have a college degree, on top of that 25% have a post-graduate degree in addition to college. Teleworkers are mostly knowledge workers. The option to telework is increasingly offered to salaried employees (97%); but is few and far between for workers earning an hourly wage (11%).
“Home” is less Popular
“Home” still tops the list of locations that teleworking occurs, but “satellite center” and “hotels” are on the rise. Unfortunately, teleworking while “on vacation” is on the rise too – a practice that lowers the resiliency of workers, and leaves them tired and less productive when back from their (theoretical) vacation. For the first time “co-working office” was given as an option to where teleworking occurs, 12% of teleworkers confirmed that they use a co-working space.
Teleworking is a Reward
Employers see telework as a benefit to employees, and employees are in agreement viewing the ability to work remotely as a reward. Few companies employ large numbers of full-time remote workers, with the biggest exception being the telemarketing industry. 75 percent of employers admit that these privileges have a positive effect on employee engagement, morale, retention and motivation.
*Read the entire report here

Increase Office Productivity with a little Feng Shui

“Feng Shui is the art of adapting residences of the living and dead to cooperate and harmonize with the local currents of the Cosmic’s Breath”
-Encyclopedia of China, 1917
Think you’re maximizing your work space. Many believe that the way you arrange your office can combat low initiative, morale and focus or even draw in wealth and prosperity. Many Asian business-people consult withFeng Shui experts before moving an office or buying a property; and as well there are countless tales of organizations rescued from the brink of bankruptcy thanks to this ancient Chinese wisdom.
The following are some tips to bring Feng Shui into your office and start taking advantage of the benefits of this age-old knowledge:
1)      Understand the Ba-GuaThe Ba-Gua is an octagonal grid that arranges the symbols of the I Ching ; the I Ching being one of the oldest Chinese texts, that the principles of Feng Shui are derived from. Understanding the Ba-Gua will clarify the connection between the Feng Shui areas of the office and the Feng Shui areas of life. When the Ba-Gua is placed over the office floor-plan one can identify the areas that are influenced by each aspect.
2)      Exterior Considerations. The exterior aspects of your business play just as important a role as the interior. Firstly, choose an office that is in a prosperous neighborhood and make the main entrance as inviting as possible. Flowing water represents prosperity and wealth, making the entrance to your office the ideal place for a water fountain. If this is not a possibility, then pictures and art of flowing water and fish will help.

3)      Remove Clutter. Clutter stops the clean flow of chi and can leave one feeling stressed, confined, time-strapped and unable to cope in general. Clear out the clutter even from hidden areas like closets and cupboards. Arrange the layout of the furniture in a manner that flows; hide all loose cables etc.; and get rid of anything you don’t love. Respect your files and keep them in order, as they represent the past, present and future business inflows. The act of organizing serves as therapy to clear one’s mind while enhancing the flow of Chi throughout the office space. It is also the first step to bringing Feng Shui to the office.
4)      Arranging the Office. Sit in the corner of the room furthest from the entrance to assume a Command position, and sit with your back to a tall building to gain the support of a mountain. Never have a desk in-line with a door as this is in the direct path of negative Chi. Placing your computer in the North or West enhances creativity, whereas positioning the computer in the South or West enhances the generation of income. Lastly, balance the Yin and Yang when decorating the office – balance light & dark, rough & smooth, soft & hard textures when choosing paint, flooring and window treatments.
5)      Quality of Air and Light. High quality air and light are essential to allow Chi to flow through the office, so therefore the office should not be dimly lit, windowless, or stuffy. It is important to open the windows often to let in fresh air. If this isn’t possible, then use an air purifier as well as  air-purifying plants  (palms, ferns, lilies, ivies) throughout the office. Have as much natural light shining into the office as possible, and where this is not possible contemplate using full-spectrum light bulbs. Vitamin D deficiency is directly related to a number of ailments including depression, muscle weakness, asthma, diabetes and cancer.
6)      Symbols of Wealth. The South-East area of the office, according to the Ba-Gua, influences wealth; therefore symbols of wealth (such as diplomas, awards of achievement, a lotus flower, a lucky red envelope containing money, or anything red for that matter, etc, etc) should be placed there. Using Feng Shui crystals in this space will energize the area and draw in wealth Chi. Place a Feng Shui money tree (Crassula Ovata & Pachira  Aquatica are two examples) in this space, and be sure to take exceptional care of it. Also, this area is ideal to place a pond with flowing water, fish, or both. Keep this area particularly tidy, and always fix anything that is in disrepair. A leaky tap is symbolic of waste & wealth leaving the business, and will have especially negative effects in the wealth area. Any needed supplies should be kept well stocked and visible, as a further symbol of wealth and prosperity.

6 Telecommuter Tips

Develop a Pre-work ritual. Have one thing in the morning that indicates to you that it’s time to work. It could be something as simple as jumping into the shower at a certain time or flipping your laptop lid open at your desk.
Batch. Don’t make a list of a gazillion tasks to complete. simplify things by batching similar tasks and prioritizing. Differentiate the urgent from the important to make your days more productive.
Work in blocks. Set certain time blocks for completion of tasks, jobs, projects. This will ensure you do not end up working into the wee hours of the night and that you are structured, efficient and productive.
Structure your everday responsibilities. Don’t leave the structure just for your 9-5. The more organised you are across the board the more you and everyone around will benefit, not just colleagues, family and friend included.
Maximise your work area. develop a filing system that keeps you organized and will help you maintain your especially productive bursts.
Invest in communication. Take the time to learn new technology that keeps you in touch with colleagues and even friends and family. This will help you maximise your time and make better decisions more quickly and confidently.

Make Sure Team Building has a Business Purpose

Team building exercises at the beginning of meetings and training sessions or at retreats can give employees the shot in the arm they need to feel rejuvenated about their organization, their fellow employees and the work they do. Not to be overestimated however, ice breakers and team building cannot be long term solutions to an organization’s problems.
Avoid team building sessions that have a glaring disconnect from the reality of the company and it’s employees. Honesty in the way these sessions are dealt with will go a long way to how relevant they are deemed by those participating.
Don’t lose productive hours at the cooler with employees complaining about the irrelevance of the team building activities. Don’t invest time, energy and money into team building for team building sake.
Use team building sessions to reinforce what is positive and healthy about your culture and your company’s stated vision and mission. Encourage employees to share motivational stories and philosophies that align with that vision and mission.

Tips for Meeting Clients

When preparing for a client meeting there are some fundamentals that when observed greatly increase the chances of you winning new business, referrals and client confidence. Here are a few tips that we have compiled:
Research your client. He/she will be impressed that you took the time to find out about their industry and their needs. It will prevent you from making unproductive or even embarrassing assumptions and it will give you the professional image you need to instil confidence in the client that you will conduct all aspects of your business just as professionally.
Have an agenda handy and follow it. Clients will want you to take the lead. After all you're the expert. Prepare for questions that your client may have so he or she gets the right answers and not off the cuff responses that are not well thought out. Having an agenda will bring you closer to achieving a desired goal by the time the meeting is over. Ideally, you and your client should both feel some closure and that the meeting accomplished a clear valuable goal by the time you leave the meeting room.
Be concise and relevant. Since most of the initial meeting will be explaining what you have done in the past for other clients, it is important that you communicate effectively how your past experience is relevant to your client's current problem. This is why researching your client/prospect and their industry prior to the meeting is so important. Stick to the important points and answer your clients queries precisely and economically and they will be very impressed and grateful.
Location. Location. Location. Impress your client with a professional easy-to-access venue. Meeting in a coffee shop with its many distractions and less than professional atmosphere is far from the ideal. If you want your client or prospect to have confidence in you then you should find a professional business centre which will have a receptionist, waiting area, catering options as well as tech facilities in case you need to make a presentation or simply use the internet.

In Honour of the Ever Evolving Administrative Professional

TORONTO, ON, June 13, 2012 – Food, fashion and fascinators were in abundant supply at the Rostie Group’s Second Annual High Tea celebration held on Thursday, June 7 at the meeting and office space provider’s 20 Bay Street WaterPark Place location in Toronto’s thriving south core. The High Tea, which was originally held during Administrative Professionals week in April last year, is an appreciation event in honour of the city’s hardworking executive assistants and admin professionals.
Well-known Toronto-based designer Freda’s was featured at the fashion show which took place in “Rainy Lake” the Rostie Group’s largest meeting room where each one of the guests who was already outfitted with a classy, white fascinator and matching Chanel-esque shopper bag sat on either side of the runway.
Guests could also watch the show from outside of the Rainy Lake meeting room thanks to screens accessible from any conceivable vantage point which streamed the show live, thanks to technology provided by one of the event’s sponsors, GoToMeeting.
“Every day we interact with executive assistants. We know firsthand how hard they work and this High Tea event is owner Cynthia Rostie’s way of recognizing that and showing them the appreciation they deserve. The profession is evolving and these individuals deserved increased recognition for the increasing value of their input,” said Marketing Communications Specialist at the Rostie Group, John Aymes. “It’s not a bad day to be an executive assistant. At the Rostie Group High Tea you can have free massages, food, Godiva Chocolate, a salsa performance and lesson by P.O.S.E. Dance Studio, an intimate fashion show by Freda’s and of course tea served by a knowledgeable sommelier, Lynda Budd from Tea Alchemy.”
Guests could also be found in one of the Rostie Group’s more popular meeting spaces, the Pacific Room, vying for fine Canadian Art as part of a charity silent auction, with proceeds going towards ‘The Freedom Walk – Journey for Justice’ which hopes to educate Canadians on the impact on victims of crime, abuse and bullying. The auction was curated by Colette French, Director of Cooper’s Fine Art Gallery whose own successful painting career included shows at the Equinox Gallery in Vancouver and the Nancy Pool Studio in Toronto. French donated an original work of art created by Canadian painter Audrey Garwood to the Rostie Group’s silent auction.
Some 200 administrative professionals from the GTA attended the Rostie Group’s appreciation event and according to the company, feedback has been phenomenally positive.
“Based on the responses we’ve had here today there is no doubt that the Rostie Group High Tea has the potential to be a fixture on the city’s calendar in the near future,” Aymes stated.
About the Rostie Group: The Rostie Group has for the past 20 years provided commercial meeting, event, office and virtual space in Ontario. The company is known for its flexible service, wide range of amenities, competitive prices and great view of Toronto’s vibrant south core.
A model smiles for the camera during the fashion show portion of the Rostie Group's High Tea in honour of Executive Assistants. Famous Toronto-based designer Freda's was the featured designer.