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Author Archives: Kate Lister



Kate Lister

Fifth biennial benchmarking study reveals big shifts in workplace strategy
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Fifth biennial benchmarking study reveals big shifts in workplace strategy

Many of what we once considered alternative workplace strategies, have now become mainstream. Now in its fifth year, this benchmarking study was conducted by Advanced Workplace Associates (AWA), Global Workplace Analytics, and Haworth Inc., and additionally supported by Workplace Evolutionaries, a community of practice within the International Facilities Management Association. Over 130 organizations representing over 2.3 million global employees responded. The results were compared to longitudinal data collected across four similar surveys fielded since 2008.

Source: globalworkplaceanalytics.com

The 'Once Alternative Workplace Strategies Report’, reveals significant changes in how and where people work. Some of the more interesting findings include:

  • The worry over a loss in productivity when people are able to work anywhere is entirely unfounded.
  • People impacts, rather than cost savings, are now the primary measure of success
  • Internal mobility has more than doubled since 2008; External mobility (working at home, coworking places, outside the office) has remained flat
  • Nearly half of employees are still permanently assigned to one space; no change since 2008
  • Employee involvement in the planning, implementation, and evaluation of workplace change programs has decreased significantly

The free 50+ page report can be downloaded at http://we.ifma.org/resources/we-research/.

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01 Jun 2018
Do you have a hard time getting stuff done just before a meeting? Here’s the reason and a solution.
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Do you have a hard time getting stuff done just before a meeting? Here’s the reason and a solution.

You've got a full hour until your next meeting. But you probably won't make the most of that time, new research suggests. In a series of eight studies, both in the lab and real life, researchers found that free time seems shorter to people when it comes before a task or appointment on their calendar.

Source: www.sciencedaily.com

According to a study in the Journal of Consumer Research, free time seems shorter when it precedes a meeting, appointment, or even lunch with a friend.

So, if you ask a person how much time they had to read in a free hours, on average they'd say 50 minutes. They pad it with a "just in case factor." If they have a meeting scheduled an hour from now, they double the padding and estimate 40 minutes. These results were consistent with real life studies and, by the way, the opposite was true also. People get more done when their time is not bounded by stop time. 

 

So how do we get that time back? The author has two suggestions: 1) stack meetings close together for part of the day and leave the balance for unbounded work, and 2) train yourself to remember you actually have more time than you think.

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01 Jun 2018
Is business travel killing you?
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Is business travel killing you?

"Americans took more than 500 million domestic business trips in 2016. And while many workplace health programs for business travel provide immunizations, information about avoiding food-borne illness, and alerts about civil or political unrest, few focus on a more a common threat to health: the stress, sleep interruption, unhealthy eating and drinking, and lack of exercise that are common side effects of being on the road."

Source: hbr.org

The study found that compared to those who spent 6 nights or less away from home, those who traveled for business 14 or more nights a month had higher body mass scores and were more likely to report symptoms of anxiety, depression, alcohol dependence, physical inactivity, and poor sleep. For extreme travelers, those who spent 21 or more nights a month traveling for business, were 92% more likely to be obese.

 

The HBR article suggests employers:

  • Rethink the need for employee travel
  • Increase employee awareness of the need to eat, exercise and sleep well while traveling
  • Provide stress management and sleep hygiene training
  • Book travelers at hotels that offer fitness options and/or provide gym memberships they can use wherever they travel

 

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31 May 2018
Has the link between happiness and productivity been proven? Yes.
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Has the link between happiness and productivity been proven? Yes.

"Some firms say they care about the well-being and “happiness” of their employees. But are such claims hype or scientific good sense? We provide evidence, for a classic piece rate setting, that happiness

makes people more productive."

Source: www.journals.uchicago.edu

This rigorously academic study,  showed employee happiness predicted a 10-12% increase in productivity across three different styles of experiment. The opposite proved true as well. 

 

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31 May 2018
Rigorous study measures dramatic improvement in employee performance factors following 2.5 day well-being course 
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Rigorous study measures dramatic improvement in employee performance factors following 2.5 day well-being course 

"Programs focused on employee well-being have gained momentum in recent years, but few have been rigorously evaluated. This study evaluates the effectiveness of an intervention designed to enhance vitality and purpose in life by assessing changes in employee quality of life (QoL) and health-related behaviors."

Source: journals.sagepub.com

Johnson & Johnson's Human Performance Institute teamed up with Tufts University to study the impact of an intensive 2.5 day well-being intervention that focused on energy management. Six months later, they measured marked improvements in participants' vitality, general health, mental health, social functioning, sense of purpose, and sleep quality.

 

It's a heavy read with 10 authors, 48 footnotes, and a heap of statistics, but it's an important one. It shows, among other things, that we need to measure what matters. Though wellness interventions have scored poorly in reducing medical expenses, their ability to improve employee performance could be far more impactful.

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31 May 2018
Automation and its impact on the workforce: Results from a survey of 900+ global employers
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Automation and its impact on the workforce: Results from a survey of 900+ global employers

The 2017 - 2018 Willis Towers Watson Global Future of Work Survey reveals how employers are moving beyond workplace automation myths as they determine how to manage the many emerging work options, from contingent labor to AI and robotics. It examines not only where breakthroughs are needed but also how to plot a course of action.

Source: www.willistowerswatson.com

The results of this Towers Watson survey suggest employers are unprepared for how automation will change the nature of work, the workforce, and how both are managed: 

  • 27% of respondents say they require fewer employees due to automation today; that jumps to 49% by 2020.
  • Respondents said 83% of work is currently being done by full-time employees. They expect this to drop to 77% by 2020. Work performed by the following categories of talent is expected to rise during that timeframe: Part-timers (7% now, 10% in 2020),  free agents (4% now, 6% by 2020), workers on loan from other organizations (1% today, 2% in 2020), free agents from online talent platforms (.2% now, 1% in 2020). Work performed by consultants and outside agencies is expected remain flat at 4%. 
  • 69% or respondents feel automation and the changing workforce mix will require breakthrough approaches in performance management. Over two-thirds say it will require new organizational structures.
  • More than a third of employers say they are unprepared to deconstruct jobs toward identifying which tasks can be automated.
  • Over half say automation increases workplace flexibility today; 68% say it will do so in 2020.
  • 38% say they are unprepared for the task of re-skilling those who will be effected by automation.
  • 45% say by 2020 they will be redesigning jobs so the can be done by people with higher skills, 42% say they will be doing the same so jobs can be done by people with lower skills.

 

Their report elaborates on the following suggested course of action:

  • Understand how technology and automation will impact work
  • Define the re-skilling pathways
  • Lead the change to new ways of working

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30 May 2018
The why and how of ‘play’ at work
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The why and how of ‘play’ at work

When we play, we improvise, imagine, and inspire—all of which is good for business. Here’s how to add playfulness to business strategy.

Source: www.bcg.com

The article suggests that somewhere between improvisation and imagination lies inspiration and play is essential to all three. It asserts that play is not the opposite or work, that's leisure. Play is part of productive work, especially where innovation is concerned. To encourage an atmosphere of play, the authors suggest we:

  1. Eliminate the risk of rejection or embarrassment
  2. Forget about goals; only then can your mind wander
  3. Create boundaries, areas where play is welcome and encouraged
  4. Encourage spontaneity and impulsiveness
  5. Be patient. Sometimes play yields great new ideas and sometimes it doesn't, at least not right away. 

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30 May 2018
Think driverless cars won’t impact your business? Think again. 
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Think driverless cars won’t impact your business? Think again. 

Fast food, real estate, military operations, even home improvement — many large industries will have to shift their strategies in the wake of driverless cars.

Source: www.cbinsights.com

The article points to 33 industries that stand to win or lose when humans take a back seat to driving. The more interesting ones include:

  • Parking garages/lots: According to Mckinsey, driverless cars could eliminate the need for 61 billion square feet of unnecessary parking space. Remaining spaces will need to be reconfigured for the new normal.
  • Residential real estate: Bloomberg predicts a devaluation of urban residential space allocation of space. An increase in urban sprawl is predicted by many. Homeowners may repurpose garages as living space.
  • Commercial real estate: The phrase "location, location, location" will lose its importance.
  • Healthcare: Collision-free driving could reduce US healthcare costs by $500B/year. 
  • Insurance/Legal professions: 94% of car crashes are due to human error. Driverless cars will shift the insurance burden to the manufacturers/fleet owners and reduce litigation.

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29 May 2018
Unassigned desk trend makes the WSJ
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Unassigned desk trend makes the WSJ

Group workspaces at the office are going mainstream, but employers must work to make the transition from assigned seats a smooth one.

Source: www.wsj.com

The WSJ featured Perkins + Will, Fifth Third, and Unilever in this article about the trend in unassigned desks. The message is, they may hate it at first, but in the end they're love it. It ends with a list of good transition tips that emphasize the importance of rules, technology, and choice.

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15 May 2018
Google, SAP, and others are using mindfulness to ease digital disruption woes
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Google, SAP, and others are using mindfulness to ease digital disruption woes

SAP and Google have adopted workplace mindfulness programs that address job disruption caused by artificial intelligence and other emerging tech. Are they on to something CIOs should know?

Source: searchcio.techtarget.com

Not long ago the concept of mindfulness would have brought a round of giggles and guffaws in the boardroom. Those days are gone. SAP has delivered mindfulness training to over 6,000 employees, another 5,000+ are patiently waiting for their turn.

While the concept bombed with senior leadership when it was termed 'mindfulness training', 'attention training' was an instant hit. Google uses it to help employees prepare for new roles as AI replaces jobs.

Takeaways:

  • Watch your language. 'Stress training,' for example, may turn off those who aren't stressed.
  • Make it your own. It's not necessarily about incense and sitting cross-legged. 
  • Lead with knowledge. Hard research will dissuade naysayers.

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24 Apr 2018
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