A paperless office is one of the simplest ways a company can minimize clutter and mess, and also help contribute to making business operations more green and environment friendly. Having a paperless office essentially means drastically decreasing the use and consumption of paper in the office. Of course there will always be a need to use paper for some things, but reducing the paper you consume can save you a lot of money and at the same time help the environment. There are many ways to go about doing this. One is to invest in equipment and technologies to make paper use more efficient for when you do need to use it – for example, printers that allow you to print on both sides or scale down images. Here are some other actions you can take: Digitize your hardcopy files so that you have soft copies as well as reliable backups. Assess which paper records you can recycle (or shred then recycle) – this also reduces your document storage space. Release online memos instructing people to avoid or eliminate unnecessary printouts (such as printer test pages). Send web links through email or IM instead of printing a webpage to share. Distribute presentations on flash drives instead of printing them for your audience, or use websites such as SlideShare.com that allow you to share online. When you use less paper, you save on paper and printer ink costs. Minimizing the paper you store also saves you valuable office space. In fact, one company saved $30 million in lease costs when they went paperless. Of course, we can’t really completely eliminate our use of paper. But even small changes can go a long way toward a paperless office and healthier environment – and lower operating costs. Resources: http://188.8.131.52/workplace/index.html http://www.microsoft.com/smallbusiness/resources/technology/communications/6-tips-for-a-paperless-office.aspx#tipsforapaperlessoffice http://www.ismckenzie.com/eight-ways-to-eliminate-paper-and-clutter-in-your-office/
From the heavyset computing devices of Charles Babbage to today’s simple novelty items, electronic devices and gadgets have become smaller, more functional, and more integrated into our daily lives. With mobile phone calls, SMS, and email we are seemingly in constant need to be in touch with other people electronically. And therein lies the problem. Many people seem to put such a high priority on immediately replying to electronic communication that they often unintentionally offend the people they are actually physically with. For example, how does that colleague doing the “Blackberry Prayer” during a meeting – hunched over a handheld device, texting and emailing – make you feel? Here are a few etiquette tips when using our electronic devices: When in meetings, turn your phone off – or at least put it in silent mode. Check your messages and return calls and emails after meetings, not during them. It’s much more polite to explain to a caller or email sender that your response was delayed because you were in a meeting rather than explaining to everyone with you that the person on your phone is more important than them. If you are expecting an urgent call you must take, inform others about it before the meeting begins. When your phone vibrates, excuse yourself quietly and take the call outside. Never wear an earpiece while in a meeting. Don’t use your mobile phone or PDA while you are talking to somebody – it gives the impression that the person you are talking to is unimportant and insignificant. Loud ringtones are inappropriate for certain settings, so make sure they’re off at the right times. If you need to use speaker phone, ask the person on the other line for permission first, and announce who else is in the room with you. Many people are (understandably) uncomfortable not knowing who else may be listening to them. While in video conferences, treat the people on the other end of the line as if they were actually in the room with you. No discreet playing of Plants vs. Zombies on your iPhone while the brand manager from the other end of the line is giving his sales report – regardless of how boring it may be. Remember: electronic correspondence can never replace actual human interaction and conversation. Even though we’re in the electronic age, the old saying still applies: “Politeness is to human nature what warmth is to wax.”
Carpal tunnel syndrome and eyestrain are two of the most common conditions that affect habitual computer users. Whether or not these conditions pose serious health risks remains a subject of debate, but it’s safe to say that no one wants to suffer them. Both conditions are painful, and can affect your productivity. The good news is that there are simple ways to prevent suffering from either condition. How to prevent eye strain: Never stare too long at your monitor. Blink occasionally and use eye drops to avoid dry eyes. Rest your eyes regularly for about 2-3 minutes. If you have time, take a power nap (5-15 minutes) – this not only gives your eyes a rest, but also gives your brain and body a well-deserved break. Use glare-resistant glasses or a glare reduction screen for your monitor. Avoid working in too-bright environments. Reduce the brightness of your computer screen. Place your monitor at least 20 inches from your eyes. If you can’t read the screen, increase the size of your windows. You may also want to visit an optometrist to see if you need glasses or a new prescription. How to prevent carpal tunnel syndrome: Adjust the height of your chair so that your arms and wrists are level with the keyboard. Move and click on your mouse lightly. Perform this wrist exercise several times throughout the day: Stretch your arms out in front of you, palms facing out – as if you were doing push ups. Hold for 5 seconds. With arms still stretched, straighten your wrists and relax you hands. After a few seconds, make tight fists and point them downward with your wrists. Hold for 5 seconds. Repeat step 2. Let your arms hang at your sides and then give them a gentle shake Try incorporating these easy, quick, and safe tips into your daily routine. If they become habits, they’ll help you avoid the inconvenience and pain of carpal tunnel syndrome and eyestrain.
If you enable your employees to work where and when they like, at any hour of any day, you’ll likely see big gains in productivity. With traditional network infrastructure, when employees are away from the office—because they’re traveling for business purposes are or are taking time off—collaboration is impossible and productivity is lost. As a result, many companies are helping their employees to work remotely. A 2007 study by Nemertes Research revealed that 83 percent of organizations now consider themselves virtual, with workgroups spread across multiple locations and geographies. In addition, 91 percent of employees work outside of headquarters, and 96 percent use some form of real-time collaboration tools. A mobile workforce may involve: Real-time access to desktops and documents; Internet and instant messaging access through mobile devices; Real-time collaboration tools (such as editing documents simultaneously); and Audio and video conferencing. Companies that effectively enable a mobile workforce: Improve productivity through ongoing access to information; Drive business responsiveness through constant communication between employees and clients; and Support work-life balance and improve job satisfaction—which helps attract and retain talent. However, there are challenges to enabling a mobile workforce: Deployment can be disruptive to your current IT infrastructure; Devices and applications may be incompatible with your current infrastructure; Employees may not know how to use new tools; and Mobile devices and data may not be protected. We can help you avoid these problems when enabling a mobile workforce—and at the same time, minimize your investment in technology with products that scale to support your evolving needs. Contact us for more information.
Do you frequently struggle with creating PDF documents, sending large files through email, and converting various file types from one to another? If so, you may have found that some mainstream solutions are complicated and time consuming. But there are some online solutions that can help you with these common tasks without requiring you to learn complicated applications and workflows, or even install anything on your computer. CutePDF – makes PDF a piece of cake PDF files ave become a standard in document exchange between professionals around the world. The only problem with this is that you usually need expensive programs like Adobe InDesign or Photoshop to generate them, but thankfully CutePDF is here to save the day. CutePDF is an online tool that converts all compatible documents, such as MS Word or MS Excel files, into PDF format, which you can then send out. Simply download the easy-to-understand free version, and convert your documents to PDF in a jiffy. You can also purchase a pro version with more features if you need them. Send large files through YouSendIt If you exchange files on the web – especially audio or video files, or programs and installers – then you’ve probably been frustrated by most email servers’ inability to handle large files. Now you can use YouSendIt, a free online service that lets you send files up to 100MB easily and quickly. Just upload the files you want to send and enter the email address, and the recipient will get an email with instructions for downloading the files from the YouSendIt servers. If you register for a free account, you can opt to have your own email address appear as the sender. Again, there is also an optional paid version that increases the maximum size limit. Convert your files using YouConvertIt File conversion is yet another tricky and frustrating issue. Opening .docx (MS Office 2007) documents, for instance, in older versions, or using some video and audio files in foreign formats, requires the user of a special converter. The problem with converters is that you have to scour the internet looking for the specific converter you need for each situation, and often each operates differently. With YouConvertIt, you simply enter your email address, upload the file you want to convert, choose output file type, click convert, then follow the instructions given. It’s a simple as that. The more professional and long-winded approaches to accomplishing these tasks do have their merits, but most of us don’t need or want the hassle. With these free, online solutions you can quickly accomplish what you need in just a few simple and easy steps.
Apparently, the well known adage “All work and no play make Johnny a dull boy” isn’t just some excuse to be laid back and take a break from the drudgery of work (hah, drudgery), but is really a fact based on science. At least as far as the fellows from the University of Melbourne in Australia are concerned. A recent study conducted by the University’s Department of Management and Marketing has shown that moderate internet browsing for personal uses during working hours (and MODERATE is the operative term here) actually increases productivity among workers. This a big “Ha! I knew it.” moment for many, with most employers preferring that their employees not be posting new status messages on Facebook or checking out the latest sensation from Britain’s Got Talent from YouTube. Their reasoning being that it wastes company resources and makes employees lazy. 300 employees from different companies were made part of the study, where it was found out that workers who use the internet for personal reasons, called “Workplace Internet Leisure Browsing” or (WILB) in the study, for less than 20 percent of their working hours were 9 percent more effective, focused, and therefore productive in their respective jobs. WILB activities usually encompassed searching for and researching about products to buy online, reading blogs and news websites, social networking (like Facebook, MySpace or Friendster) activities, playing online games, and watching streaming videos from sites like YouTube and Veoh. Professor Brent Coker, the man behind the research, explains that people need short breaks to reset their concentration. According to him, focusing on a certain task for too long degrades the level concentration, making “zoning out” from time to time essential in maintaining an optimal frame of mind to be able to accomplish a work task efficiently. But before you lug your gaming CDs to the office or prepare for marathon runs of your favourite Facebook application, Dr. Coker is quick to remind everyone of the term MODERATE usage. Anything beyond that, he says, will then result in loss of productivity. So don’t feel too guilty when you watch Susan Boyle belt her heart out on YouTube for a couple of minutes or post a comment or two on Facebook. As long as you get right back to work afterward, no harm, no foul.
3 Reasons 2 Screens are Better than 1 Increasing your employees’ online workspace by expanding it across two or more monitors can significantly improve productivity with minimal cost investment. In the past, multiple monitors have been the domain of programmers. Visit Google headquarters, for example, and you’ll see awe-inspiring configurations of screens: two, four, even six monitors, stacked side-by-side or one on top of the other. However, multiple monitors can also benefit just about any type of office worker. Increased Multitasking According to a number of studies by specialists in human-computer interaction, the bigger your employees’ screen space, the more work they can see and therefore the more work they can do. For example, employees can keep their email and chat screens open on one monitor while working on a Word or Excel document on the other. They no longer have to spend time switching between one or the other, and can respond to each more quickly. Higher Productivity In a study commissioned by the electronics company NEC and conducted by researchers at the University of Utah, office workers were asked to perform several basic tasks using various monitor configurations. The workers using two 20-inch monitors were 44% more productive than the workers using a single 18-inch monitor. Minimal Cost Multiple monitors may not have been feasible in the past due to cost, but the price of LCD panels fell by almost a third in 2008, and the trend is likely to continue through much of 2009, according to market research firm iSuppli. Ready to enable your employees to get more done in less time? To upgrade to two monitors, in addition to the extra monitor you’ll need two video cards or an upgraded card with two outputs. Read more here, then contact us to help make it happen.
It’s All in the ‘How’ Have you ever wondered how to fix a leaking pipe or a broken light? Or how to check your car’s coolant or radiator fluid? How about maintaining a lawn, or tying a Windsor, or cooking a tasty meal for you or your kids in less than 30 minutes? The answers to these questions and more can be found in self-help sites such as eHow and WikiHow. These sites are databases of how-to articles presented in a clear, concise, and simple manner that anyone can easily understand. Unlike other guides that drown you (albeit unintentionally) in so much technical jargon that you end up completely lost, these sites make it a point to keep things uncomplicated – it’s all about helping you get something done right, and done fast. You can always learn the mechanics of why or how it works after you’ve gotten it done. Here, results are the primary consideration. Both websites offer a variety of subjects to browse through. If you’re looking for a specific topic, simply enter the inquiry in the search box. Certain topics even have video tutorials and/or illustrated guides that make the learning process even easier. However, if you don’t have anything particular in mind, then you can browse through topics that are classified by category. Navigation is intuitive and user-friendly. Another good thing about these websites is that the information is absolutely free – you don’t even have to register an account to gain access to them. And with WikiHow, if you feel like sharing a bit of your own knowledge, you can contribute your own how-to articles and become part of the WikiHow community. eHow also accepts entries that, depending on how you play your cards, can even help you earn a bit of extra money (there’s an eHow article to help you get started). So the next time you find yourself in a spot with anything from a stubborn stain to treating a bee sting, try visiting these sites since they just might have the simple and straightforward solution you’re looking for.
Are you avoiding instant messaging (IM) for fear that it will distract your employees and cut productivity? In fact, the opposite may be true. What is IM? IM is software that allows you to communicate in real time with other people who have the same software. It’s like email, but instantaneous. IM was originally considered a way to stay in touch with friends and family, but lately it’s taken off in the workplace. That’s because IM offers a fast, convenient way for employees to interact with colleagues or clients in real time. In fact, many cutting-edge employers now encourage their employees to use IM instead of phone calls or e-mails. Benefits include: Increased productivity: Workers can remain at their workstations instead of walking across the office or picking up the phone to obtain information, and the need for time-consuming meetings is reduced. Real-time communication with vendors and customers. Connection of traveling employees through mobile devices. Where can you get it? While there are many free IM services available such as AOL, Yahoo!, Skype, and MSN, many companies now offer solutions specifically designed for business. We can work with you to determine the best solution for your specific needs How to get started: Select a single provider. Expand services as needed. While basic IM may be adequate for some small businesses, others may benefit from expanded offerings, such as text conferencing, pop-up messaging, and email integration. Make sure your information is protected from external threats such as hackers and viruses. Create a usage policy to avoid internal misuse. Ensure that all employees know the rules and have installed the software on their systems. To be effective, your IM application should be carefully integrated with your existing IT system and workflow. Give us a call today and we’ll help you through these steps to implement a secure and productive IM solution.
Research conducted by SIS International Research and sponsored by Siemens found that small and midsized businesses (SMBs) with 100 employees could be leaking a staggering $524,569 annually as a result of communications barriers and latency. The study identifies these top five pain points, in order of estimated cost: inefficient coordination waiting for information unwanted communications; customer complaints barriers to communication In addition, researchers determined that the time spent per week dealing with communications issues was more than 50 percent higher in companies with more than 20 workers. In hard costs, your company could be losing up to half a million dollars each year by not addressing employees’ most painful communications issues! The good news: we can help you implement applications and services to greatly improve your inter-company communications, including collaboration tools such as email and shared calendards and address books, social media technologies such as blogs and wikis , and IP-based communication tools such as instant messaging (IM) and Voice-over-IP ( VoIP ). Call us today and let us help you stop this expensive leak.Related articles: Report: SMBs Expected to Spend More Online (searchenginewatch.com) How Collaboration Tools Bring Cost Savings, Business Alignment (searchcio-midmarket.com) Inefficient Communications Costs SMBs $5000 per Employee (SMBnow.com)