One of the pieces of news that caught my eye this week was that people are becoming ‘screen slaves’ by continuing to work long after the office closes: during the daily commute, at home and on holidays.
This didn’t surprise me in the least. Smartphones, tablets and laptops give people a more flexible working environment and have the potential to help with their work / life balance. Unfortunately, it is becoming apparent that instead they are contributing to a new era of workaholics. This isn’t good for businesses or people’s personal lives, but here are some simple tips to help set screen slaves free:
1. Break your addiction
Do you find yourself checking your phone after dinner just because of a lull in conversation? You always do it and then start to get bogged down answering emails. If so, break the habit! Turn it off when you come home from work. Create a new routine that doesn’t involve checking emails. The key to kicking the habit is finding something to replace it with.
2. Be clear about your availability
If you use a mobile phone or web-accessible email, establish clear boundaries around your availability and highlight that you will not be contactable outside of these times, even if the other person deems it ‘urgent’.
3. …and stick to it
If you say you will not be available outside of specific times, never make an exception – doing this once will lead to colleagues and clients expecting you to be available out of hours on a regular basis.
4. Set clear parameters
If you operate a flexible-working policy in your business, establishing clear parameters is crucial to ensure a happy and productive workforce. Always pactice what you preach, so that your staff understand your expectations and what is acceptable.
5. Agree a hierarchy of urgency and importance
We all understand that there are issues which require urgent attention and there will be times outside of our working day where we will need to respond to an emergency. However, this should be the exception rather than the rule. Agree with colleagues exactly what constitutes an emergency – and this does not include running out of toner.
6. Be clever online
It is important that you don’t get sucked into the world of social media addiction. While tweeting regularly is important for maintaining visibility and engaging with your customers and employees, this does not mean that it must take over your life. Set a regular time each day to update your feeds and take advantage of systems such as Tweetdeck that can help you schedule tweets throughout the day in one go, so you’re always there, but not…
7. Do not, under any circumstances, check your emails before bed
The bedroom should be a no-go area for smartphones. Do not use your phone as an alarm, as it is far too easy to slip in to the habit of checking your emails or messages before bed. You must be able to completely switch off before going to sleep in order to be well rested and keep a healthy balance in your life.
8. Cut yourself off
Ensure you take time away from work by putting yourself in different environments, where it is not possible to reach for your smartphone, tablet or laptop. This could include anything from an exercise class or the cinema. For me, it is kayaking, which allows me to completely re-focus my attention – with the added bonus of a spot of exercise.
9. Don’t allow late-night emails to become the norm
Working extra hours outside of the office can relieve pressure in the short-term, but when you’re doing it every single night, there is something that needs changing. It’s sometimes difficult to spot when staff are over-worked, but regular late-night emails could be a sign that all is not well.
10. Create boundaries to keep your work and personal life separate
It is important that the boundaries of your personal life and your work life are not blurred. Weekends and holidays should be for family and friends only. Record a message on your voicemail telling callers that you are unavailable and switch off.
This article was featured in Management Today on Friday 13th July, 2012.
Welsh rail commuters faced chaos this morning as they were hit by a major power outage during rush-hour, Wales Online reported.
Electrical supplies were lost between Swansea and Newport, with Pontypridd, Caerphilly, Bridgend and Barry also affected.
Commuters in Wales had to face delays of around 2 hours, with knock-on effects causing further delays to rail services throughout South West and some London trains. The impact was felt by businesses all over Wales and the South West (we had a few of the Gradwell team stuck), but the pain the commuters suffer could be softened by capitalising on internet technologies.
If you enable your employees to set up an office in their own home and create a backup plan when disruption strikes, you can save your business time (employees won’t be late) and money (no lost business due to absences).
But what if an important client calls?
They will be able to answer it! Using Business VoIP, phone numbers are not tied to a physical location. For example, the Gradwell office has an 01225 area code. If an employee lives in Bristol, say in the 01179 area code, and needed to work at home, they can. They simply take their VoIP phone home, plug it in and their 01225 number rings through to their 01179 location.
All you they need is a broadband connection and VoIP phone. This is all possible because the number is tied to the account on Gradwell servers, not the physical connection like BT lines. As an added benefit, your business will also reduce your bills on calls charges and line rental.
But what about their emails?
Not a problem. Use a Hosted Exchange service and your employees have ‘anywhere access’ to their email, contacts, calendar and tasks, whether that be through Outlook, a web browser or on a smartphone like the iPhone. They can send and receive mail as if they were at their desk! All the information is held in ‘the cloud’, so anything you do when away from the office is synced with the servers, so you only ever have the most up-to-date information.
But what if they need access to files on their computer?
There are two options. Your employees can either use a remote access service, such as LogMeIn, to access and control their computer from their home PC. Or they can use a sharing service like Dropbox that allows you to share folders (and the files within them) on your computer with colleagues. You can then either install a Dropbox folder on your home computer or access the files from a web browser.
If you add all the simple and affordable services to your business, your employees won’t be among the thousands losing working hours when stuck at home.
And those stuck members of the Gradwell team? They simply turned around, went home and did exactly as suggested above, worked from home using our internet technologies.
Talk to our sales team about how Business VoIP and Hosted Exchange can help you and your business decrease commuter stress and enable home working on 01225 800 808.
(Image by John Seb Barber)
1. Customise keys
Your phone comes with lots of keys. Some of them might be useful to your every day tasks, some of them not so much. For this reason snom phones come with a number of customisable keys to help you create the phone that you need to work quickly and efficiently.
You may think you no longer need your conferencing button and would benefit from a new mute button – you can do that.
Simply login through your phone’s web interface, navigate to the function keys setting and change the key’s functions using the comprehensive list of programmable key options available on the snom knowledgebase. Read the rest of this entry »
Telephone numbers are a key part of your business. Without it, communications with your company are limited to email which can be impersonal and take too long. Therefore you need to ensure that you are making the most of your telephone system.
There are many things to consider, such as call groups, recorded messages and caller ID routing, but something simpler can have a much larger impact: your phone number.
Before they call you, a lead can form an idea of your business thanks to your digits.
Memorable numbers offer a wide range of benefits to a business, including: Read the rest of this entry »
It may be great for backing up your photos, but what good is it for businesses? Read the rest of this entry »