The Rise of the Remote Worker

Even with rising unemployment, the number of remote workers continues to climb according to the Dieringer Research Group Inc. 

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Demographically…

What does the average teleworker look like? Would you have guessed, 40-years-old 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

 

Everything You Need to Know before your Video Conference

Video conferencing is a good way to save on overhead costs and the cost of client meetings altogether by eliminating time and capital used in commuting.

Here are some essential tips to make sure your next video conference is a success.

Internet Connection

Make sure that you are using a hard-wired Ethernet connection, and not any kind of Wi-Fi, for video conferencing. Wi-Fi crashes much more often than Ethernet connections – the advantage is clear. Test the internet connection BEFORE the meeting, not during or (even worse) after the meeting has crashed.  It may even be wise to have an entire back-up computer ready to video-conference, in case your computer crashes mid-meeting. Or, ask if your meetings and conference centre carries out test calls prior to the video conference.

 Ensure your Webcam/Camera is Set-up Correctly

Make sure your webcam/camera is set up perfectly to include all your participants’ faces. One of the most important features in video is the lighting. The room should be well-lit so that the participants can see one another, and lighting should come from behind the webcam (in front of you) to avoid glare.

Maintain Proper Posture and Appearance

Be conscious of the body language that you are displaying to the other participants. Just because you are not in the same room with your colleagues and clients does not make it acceptable to slouch, relax or put your feet up. Fidgeting, paper-shuffling, leg-humping or pen-tapping are sources of distraction and can leave a bad impression with the other participants. Pen tapping and paper-shuffling sounds are amplified and can be very irritating to your audience.

Clear Communication

Speak clearly into the microphone and take proper care to enunciate every word – especially when conferencing with people who do not share your first language. Background noise should be kept to a minimum. To provide further clarity use the name of the person to whom you are addressing when speaking, as open discussions fast become confusing over teleconferencing mediums.

Decide on Meeting Dynamics

Elect a chairperson to Emcee the event – someone who can facilitate the meeting going forward, as well as trouble-shoot any technical problems that may arise. An agenda for the meeting, outlining all points of discussion, will help to keep things on track. Make sure that the participants follow the agenda. The agenda should include a period for introductions, outline who is to speak on each point, the order in which the points are to be covered, and as well as include time for Q&A.

Share Handouts

Share necessary files to all parties involved in the meeting, and ensure that all participants are literally on the same page. The most important documents should be shared via email well before the meeting date, to ensure that everyone has had adequate time to review these documents. Sharing the meeting’s agenda well in advance will prepare the participants and help to focus the meeting on the important issues.

Keep Focus and Avoid Inside Jokes

Side conversations and jokes distract others from the meeting. As a general rule of thumb  press the mute button while not speaking. Making a joke to lighten the mood can be beneficial to the meeting, but be sure to include everyone – don’t just whisper into a co-workers ear. Not only may this be seen as excluding the others, some may consider it very rude and may misunderstand a joke as being at their expense. It is best to not distract yourself with anything outside of the meeting. Always remember that you’re on camera!

Good Luck!

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Increase Office Productivity with a Little Feng Shui

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 with Feng 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-Gua. The 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.

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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.

Sources: 

http://fengshui.about.com/od/thebasics/qt/fengshui.htm

http://www.inc.com/guides/2010/05/create-productive-office-environment.html

http://www.fengshui-4u.com/office-feng-shui.html

http://www.care2.com/greenliving/the-feng-shui-office.html?page=1

http://www.hidden-wealth-keys.com/office-feng-shui.html http://books.google.ca/books?hl=en&lr=&id=3h5lS33_h60C&oi=fnd&pg=PP1&dq=feng+shui+history&ots=8zNKeOr49c&sig=A5yLqpLeYQRV-Nx0oRwLU7ridx8#v=onepage&q=feng%20shui%20history&f=false

 

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.

Team Building should have 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.

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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. Read more

Canadian Art Fans in for a Treat at High Tea

An original work of Canadian artist, Audrey Garwood one of the country’s very finest of landscape painters will be part of a collection being auctioned for charity at the Rostie Group’s second annual High Tea on June 7. Curating the auction will be Colette French, Director of Cooper’s Fine Art Gallery, who initially exhibited Garwood’s paintings at Painted City Gallery and currently represents the artist’s estate.

Proceeds from the auction will be donated to the Association of Administrative Assistants (AAA) and to ‘The Freedom Walk – Journey for Justice’ which hopes to educate Canadians on the impact on victims of crime, abuse and bullying. The Rostie Group’s second annual High Tea is an appreciation event for Administrative Professionals and Executive Assistants from Toronto. Patrons can expect free massages, live music, a fashion show, prizes and much more according to organizers.

French, whose own successful painting career included shows at the Equinox Gallery in Vancouver and the Nancy Pool Studio in Toronto, said she was “delighted to offer an original work of art created by Garwood for the upcoming Charity Auction” at the High Tea which will run from 11.30 a.m. to 2.30 p.m. French will be on hand to speak briefly about the artist’s exceptional work, as well as answer questions about collecting and displaying art in personal and professional places.

Garwood was a member and exhibitor with the Ontario Society of Artists, Royal Canadian Academy and Women’s Caucus of the Arts and has successfully presented multiple one-woman shows. She was a member of the generation that was deeply inspired by the famous Canadian Group of Seven, as is evident in her stunning vibrant landscapes.
In a career that spanned five decades, Garwood received many awards for her artistic accomplishments. The honours bestowed upon her were significant: the Sterling Trust Award for Canadian painters; the Canadian Society of Printmakers Print Award; the San Francisco Art Festival’s Purchase award. She was also the youngest person and first woman to ever win the Forester Award.
Her work is now recognized by serious collectors and is represented in both private and public collections all across Canada as well as internationally.
Most recently Garwood’s work has been displayed at Coopers Fine Art Gallery, located at 111 Bathurst Street in Toronto. A new exhibition of Garwood’s paintings and prints is scheduled to open next month on Thursday, June 21.

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.

Colette French

Admin Professionals Do More Than Book Meeting Rooms

Even if you have never given it much thought before, it’s easy to appreciate the sheer number of industries supported by admin professionals and how pervasive the role is in terms of keeping CEOs and managers on the right track.

Just how much has the profession evolved?

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In early human history, great leaders were traditionally accompanied by advisers or scribes  who were also of critical importance because of their role in capturing important information. As gender roles evolved the once male-dominated scribe/confidant became the more familiar personal or private secretary.

As the role of secretaries expanded and more women demanded shorthand skills in particular, more schools opened up and associations like the Canadian National Secretaries Association was formed (in 1951).

Today many admin professionals are committed more than ever to improving in their field as well as wear many hats and carry out distinctive tasks on a daily basis. Today’s administrative professional does more than book meeting rooms but must understand software for word processing, presentations and spread sheets inside and out and be able to fix copiers and fix fax machines in stride. In many cases, the AA is the glue that binds it all together and their jobs can serve as launch pads to managerial positions.

Admin professionals are constantly directing the flow of never-ending office bustle that ensures they quickly become comfortable balancing numerous tasks simultaneously. Above average people skills are either brought to the table to be begin with or developed out of necessity in this profession.

AAs need to not only communicate with customers and vendors, but also with executives and managers. Being an AA means you are most likely to have a good idea of what’s going on because you are deeply involved in so many different things. AAs often know more about what’s going on in the organization and therefore it’s important that they can speak to these things that are ongoing in the environment when the job requires them to.

How to Make an Effective Presentation in the Meeting Room

Whatever your philosophy is on making presentations in the meeting room there are some basic tenets that prevail. Here are Five critical points to observe when preparing a presentation.
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  1. Research – Conduct the necessary research so that your presentation ideas are well adapted to your audience’s technical level and needs. Connect your presentation objective/message/idea to the interests of your audience. If possible, when preparing your presentation, gather info on the needs, age, educational background, language, and culture of the target audience. Even on the day of the presentation the audience’s body language will give cues that may require the you to adapt your presentation style.
  2. Compact – A good presentation should be focused and in iterative. There should be a preview, an ‘in-view’ (the actual presentation) and a review so that ‘the BIG idea’ of the presentation is communicated effectively.
  3. Engage – Use eye contact with your audience, face them squarely and smile. Your facial expression and posture will affect your tone of voice and the tone of the presentation. Avoid letting your voice trail off as you transition from slide to slide or segment to segment of your presentation.
  4. Rehearse – Practice the presentation to make sure it flows and to ensure you have allocated time for introductions, questions and answers. This is a good time to make sure that all tools and equipments are working well.
  5. Have Fun – Doable? Yes. Present in a way that communicates your passion for the topic. Energy and enthusiasm is contagious!! See?

Dispel these 6 Meeting Room Myths

1. Everyone has to be present in the meeting room before the session starts

A punctual start should be followed with interactive activities that require those in attendance to think about what they bring to the table in the context of the current meeting agenda. Encouraging groups or pairs to talk about certain concerns will yield dynamic results. Beginning with fruitful activities at the outset that set the tone for the meeting will motivate people to be on time.

2. Memos should be read in the meeting room

New information takes too much time to process for a real decision to be made on it during the meeting. Meetings are for processing and decision making not being tested on new info.

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3. Space and arrangement of tables and chairs is of little consequence

The goal of the orientation of the meeting room space should be to provide an environment that is comfortable, determines a focal point in the room, minimizes distraction and increases the ease and likelihood of interaction opportunities. Members should to see each another and the recording sheets on the wall or whiteboard to serve a ‘group memory’.

4. The leader of the meeting is responsible for its success

Willing and collaborative group member participation is critical to a meeting’s success. A leader or facilitator’s input is secondary to group participation.

Groups can maximise their input by

• Discussing only one topic at a time;

• Using one process at a time;

• Balancing participation;

• Eliciting disagreements and respecting other viewpoints; and

• Agreeing on meeting responsibilities and roles.

• Asking “naive” questions like, “How much detail do we need to move this item?” or “Which process are we using now?”

5. Packing as many items  as possible into the agenda will accomplish more

Instead, prior to the meeting, list agenda items and then find alternate ways to address at least half of them. Block enough time for the remaining items for the group to understand, deliberate, and decide.

6. A meeting can be successful without planning

Meeting design is key to effective meetings. Each agenda item and its specific goals, processes and functions should be clear to the group. Set outcomes for each agenda item.

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