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You're wasting money if you don't have a system in place for digitally storing the millions of pages of documents and files your business produces. Here's the lowdown on digital archiving...
Discover M-Disc the 1000 Year Archive
Businesses in Canada and the United States make more than 1 billion photocopies every day and spend more than $25 billion a year to file, store and retrieve their paper documents. In many cases, records and information systems often represent as much as 50 percent of the total cost of doing business.
With the technologies that are available today, however, it doesn't make good business sense to spend large amounts of capital to store and maintain hard copy information. As with all aspects of a company's business, using technologies that will increase productivity and reduce costs is vital to your profitability and success.
Because of the cost-savings available, many companies are changing their attitudes toward data storage and are looking at innovative ways to handle the flow of data. Today, there are several inventive and cost-effective technologies available that can streamline the processing and storing of hard-copy data, which, in turn, will save you money--money that you can use to improve systems and invest in the future of your business. Let's take a look at one of these new systems.
Defining the Solution
Digital archiving, also known as scan-to-file, is one of the best methods around for processing and storing documents. Simply put, digital archiving is the process of converting paper information to a digital representation of the original document. These highly cost-effective conversions allow information to be stored and accessed easily, enabling companies to save time, storage space, money and resources, and increase their productivity and security.
Over time, digitally storing information will reduce the costs of document storage. It will reduce employee workload associated with filing, retrieving and re-filing paper documents. Additionally, it provides easy access to search, retrieve, read, print and e-mail imaged files.
Digital archiving also allows for expedient file transmission over the internet or an internal network. And it creates a flexible, electronic database of corporate documents, such as financial statements, required regulatory documentation, client and patient files, tax and legal documents--all of which can be password-protected to restrict printing and content extraction.
And there's more good news: The process is simple. Information is scanned and stored on one of a number of forms of media, most often on CD-ROMs (M-Disc is the most secure), but also on hard disks or other file formats. You then store the digital data in a secure location, either onsite or away from your business. The digitally stored information can easily be retrieved by simply loading a CD-ROM or disk onto any computer. The document appears just as it did in its original hard copy form and can be saved to the computer, e-mailed or printed.
Digital archiving enables companies to put unlimited amounts of information onto CDs. Imagine taking 35,000 pages of paper and converting it to three CDs.
If you think digital archiving may be right for your company, here are a few questions to ask your visual communications partner:
How is information scanned? Who does it and how long does it take?
Information can either be hand-scanned or fed into a scanner based on the type of data being scanned. Scanning should be done by a team of professionally trained and certified digital specialists, who know how to scan and archive your important documents. Scanning times will vary based on the amount of information being converted. For example, 1,200 pages can take up to four hours to complete.
Is the information secure while it's being scanned for digital archiving?
Most likely it is, but you need to ensure that the vendor has a dedicated and secure digital archiving imaging area designed with your sensitive documents in mind. Additionally, you need to verify that the information won't be shared with any outside source, and your vendor should return all documents upon completion. In some cases, you and the vendor may determine that the scanning should be done at your location.
Where is the information stored? Will the CDs be given to me to store or will I need to have the vendor to store them in a secure location?
Typically, your vendor should store the information on CDs that will be returned to you for storage.
What format will the digitized documents be in?
At a minimum, documents should be converted to PDF because that's the widely accepted format for digitized information. Additionally, PDF formatting is approved and in use by a host of local, state and federal agencies. However, based on your needs, files can also be created in Word and other industry-specific software.
Click HERE to Learn More About Small and Large Format Scanning
Source: Entrepreneur | entrepreneur.com
There are lots of reasons to use direct mail, and you may have heard many of them. So here are three statistics on the value of direct mail marketing that you may not have heard...
Go Direct for Best Results
1. Direct mail has higher value in persuasion.
According to a recent study by Canada Post and True Impact Marketing, direct mail generates a motivation score that is 20% higher than digital media. The study found this score to be even higher when direct mail creative uses print enhancements (for example, special coatings, dimensionality, and print-to-mobile technologies).
2. Direct mail is easier to understand.
A wide variety of studies confirm that information provided in print is easier for people to understand and process than information provided in digital form. In the case of the True Impact study, direct mail was found to require 21% less cognitive effort. That means your message is absorbed more quickly and effectively.
3. Direct mail results in higher brand recall.
Not only is information in direct mail easier to process, but it is more likely to be retained. True Impact found that brand recall was 70% higher among participants who were exposed to direct mail ads rather than to digital ones.
Need more reasons to love direct mail? Just ask! Click Here » to learn more.
 “A Bias for Action” (Canada Post and True Impact Marketing, July 2015)
VICTORIA BC– The British Columbia Construction Association (BCCA) has published a follow-up to its Innovation Report (February 2016), which revealed BC’s construction sector lags behind other jurisdictions when it comes to innovation. The new report is called “Procuring Innovation” and lays out the case for the sector to recognize the procurement process as the key for driving innovative projects and sector development...
“The culture of lowest bid does not drive innovation in our industry”
“The culture of lowest bid does not drive innovation in our industry,” observes Chris Atchison, President of the BCCA. “Margins are tight and businesses have to operate profitably, yet if we don’t innovate we’re in danger of undermining our collective ability to compete. The sector has to introduce whole-life value to the process.”
The “Procuring Innovation” report acts as a comprehensive overview of the types and methods of procuring construction services, assesses emerging procurement practices being developed elsewhere, and offers recommendations for different approaches based on the unique circumstances of the project.
“We hope readers will gain a new sense of the key role that the approach to procurement plays in setting the foundation for a project,” says report author Helen Goodland of Brantwood Consulting. “There are tremendous benefits to incorporating new technologies, processes and solutions into construction projects, but innovation has to be championed by clients and owners who are committed to achieving the best value for their project.”
The report is intended to offer owners and clients best practice examples, and help architecture, engineering and construction firms set up their competitive response processes, so they can bring their best to projects that push technical and logistical boundaries.
Using mass timber as a case study, the authors demonstrate how the procurement process can be best deployed to accommodate project specific R&D, allow for new technologies and processes, and encourage project team creativity.
A full copy of the Construction Innovation Project Report can be downloaded Here »
Source: British Columbia Construction Association Report Author: Helen Goodland
Design decisions are increasingly directed not by architects but by marketing executives, writes Crystal Bennes...
IS DESIGN [ARCHITECTURE] OR MARKETING
We tend to think of marketing as something of the mind, the 21st-century equivalent of Satan’s whisperings to Eve in the Garden of Eden, rather than as something which has physical form. But of course marketing is often rooted in tangible objects, and nowhere is the relationship between product and advertisement more distempered than in the built environment. We must ask the question, where does architecture end and marketing begin?
Take the housing industry. While the familiar marketing apparatuses of print adverts and occasional video commercials still make an appearance, the primary tricks of the trade are construction hoardings and mocked-up sales showrooms. In most instances, both of these tools themselves require planning permission and effect visible change in the built environment. They are of course pop-ups - here today, gone tomorrow - but when read as a now-requisite extension of many major building projects, these forms take on new power.
For one thing, not all temporary marketing remains temporary. Despite a 1909 circular published by the American Institute of Architects stating that ‘advertising tends to lower the standard of the profession, and is therefore condemned’, Californian property developer Harry Chandler had no such qualms. In 1923, Chandler erected a giant billboard in the hills of LA to market his new housing development: Hollywood. Chandler’s sign has become so famous as a landmark in its own right that we’ve forgotten it was originally a pop-up advertisement. Indeed, in many respects it continues to function as shorthand for a glamorous lifestyle many associate with the Hollywood Hills.
What the example of the Hollywood sign illustrates is the extent to which the construction of new housing has historically gone hand in hand with marketing. In today’s car-centric western USA, large billboards are often found on the edges of motorways or other busy roads. Targeted at domestic buyers, these billboards don’t push an aspirational lifestyle to those sat in their cars, stuck in traffic. ‘If you lived here, you’d be home by now’ exemplifies the US approach. It’s not the aesthetics of luxury, but a shorter commute that seals the deal. Or think of the vogue for Hollywood-esque X-marks-the-spot signage on everything from FAT’s Villa in Hoogvliet to Will Alsop’s Peckham Library: Chandler’s legacy lives on, enfolded within contemporary building design.
"Increasingly, hoardings begin to function as a kind of architectural cross-section - where the Platonic ideal of the interior architecture, as an expression of lifestyle, is made publicly visible on the building’s exterior before it is built..."
Occasionally, entire cities, such as Milton Keynes, and more recently Gurgaon (India’s version of Silicon Valley) have been designed and built with marketing tactics almost as first principles. In Milton Keynes, an initiative to market the project as a ‘city in the trees’ resulted in planning guidelines which stated that no building was to be built taller than the tallest tree, leading to a low-rise mat plan. In Gurgaon, new homes for India’s emerging middle classes are sold on hoardings and billboards which explain why nearly all new housing in the vicinity takes the form of giant, gleaming towers: ‘Let the Skies Sense Your Arrival. Live. Every Moment’, reads a vast poster for the Upton-Hansen Architects-designed Michael Schumacher World Tower, depicting a hovering helicopter about to land. Another boasts ‘360 Degree Living, 100% Privacy’. In Gurgaon, towers have come implicitly to promise privacy and luxury - the lines between the built form of development and its simplistic marketing narratives are blurred.
Of course, such iconography is primarily aimed at the luxury housing market where often the only difference between what is being sold is the marketing itself. Like many goods in the luxury market, brand, perception and desirability are more important (and easier to manipulate) than intrinsic value, something the developers are well aware of. ‘Many residences can pamper you with luxury. Only the rarest few can refresh the soul,’ reads an advertisement for The Cascade, a tower built in Bangalore by Tata Housing, subsidiary of one of India’s largest multi-national conglomerates. What marketing enables there is to turn the architecture inside out, flipping traditional notions of public and private architecture as a sales tool. Increasingly, hoardings begin to function as a kind of architectural cross-section - where the Platonic ideal of the interior architecture, as an expression of lifestyle, is made publicly visible on the building’s exterior before it is built. Marketing showrooms, by contrast, take this inversion of public-private architecture to its logical conclusion by building the ‘lifestyle’ of construction hoardings in physical form. An apt example is the marketing suite of Neo Bankside, the £275m Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners development for the Duke of Westminster’s property company, Grosvenor. A stand-alone two-storey mini tower-cum-marketing suite, it is built using the same cross-bracing and exterior cladding as the development itself. Elsewhere in London, marketing suites for the mid-market have seen the conflation of the showhome with longer-lasting amenities. At the construction site for Bellway Homes’ Pembury Circus development, large arrows on the hoardings lead the way to an oddly shaped, double-height marketing suite and sales showroom. While you might assume that these poorly constructed showrooms finish up on the slag heap of sales-suite history, at Pembury Circus, the marketing suite is billed to be ‘transformed’ into a long-term community centre. Its marketing becoming architecture in the most literal sense.
"While you might assume that these poorly constructed showrooms finish up on the slag heap of sales-suite history, at Pembury Circus, the marketing suite is billed to be ‘transformed’ into a long-term community centre. Its marketing becoming architecture in the most literal sense..."
If marketing suites and showhomes represent selling housing through the cracked lens of lifestyle, we can see the same thing happening elsewhere with the turn to statement architecture by luxury fashion brands and tech companies as a form of brand promotion. That Frank Gehry’s Guggenheim is now synonymous with the regeneration of Bilbao suggests that architecture and marketing were tethered long before the fashion pack caught on. Architecture has always been about creating narratives, which has perhaps made it all too easy to be co-opted by the narrative-weaving of marketing executives.
Consider luxury brand LVMH’s commissioning of a 54-metre-high UNStudio-designed flagship store in Japan, or the Fondation Louis Vuitton in Paris by Gehry (AR Nov 2014). The brand isn’t interested in a high-quality built environment: rather, LVMH understands how a futuristic architectural aesthetic can be used to peddle expensive perfumes and bags. Similarly, the Neo Bankside suite isn’t about selling the quality of design but a perceived lifestyle through carefully staged interiors perfectly pitched to appeal to the income, race, gender and tastes of the small group identified as target buyers.
Architecture and marketing have blurred into an unproductive muddle, detrimental to all but those who profit from uninformed consumer choices. But if marketing and its highly effective tactics could be harnessed for the good of the urban realm, they might become powerful allies for better cities. This would not be unprecedented: think of Bruno Taut’s utopian exhibition pavilions of the 1920s, which inspired a generation to build in glass - and which doubled as marketing suites for the German steel and glass industries. If we do not recalibrate the balance between commerce and public good, the future of design holds little more than lowest common denominator-driven showhome architecture for all.
Source: The Architectural Review
Getting decent sales results can be challenging. With so many ways to communicate it's not as black and white as it use to be. I mean, 30 years ago all you had to choose from was a traditional sales calls or in-person meeting. Should I call them or knock on their front door.
Then came the internet which opened up a whole new ballgame - email communication - and what a revelation that has been. And now, here we are in 2017 and the channels just keep growing.
The birth of social media has made a great impact on how we communicate and today there are more ways to contact a lead than I can count on my own two hands. There is one in particular that I find very effective, especially when it comes to B2B selling, and that's LinkedIn...
6 Creative Ways to Make Your LinkedIn Message Stand Out
Click HERE » To View the Full Article
Source: Hubspot Written By: Michael Pici
It's a bit of a read, but it's one of the top feature articles of 2016.
The last 10 years have seen enormous changes in the acceptance of commercial and institutional landmark signs, both static and digital, as well as urban and community wayfinding systems...
With that in mind, new research undertaken on behalf of the International Sign Association (ISA) and the Signage Foundation—a non-profit organization dedicated to expanding knowledge of the purposes of on-premise signage—has explored the various ways signs enhance cities’ downtown areas, helping to increase tourism, development and consumer spending. By reviewing the importance of different attributes of exterior landmark signs, this research study has compared the effectiveness of different approaches to create a clearer picture of how signs play an important role in their communities.
Click HERE » To View the Full Story
Source: SignMedia Written By: Craig Berger
Alfred Waugh, the principal of Formline Architecture in Vancouver, presented the "Indigenuity in Architecture" session at the Wood Design and Solutions Conference held on Feb. 28 in downtown Vancouver...
First Peoples House UVIC
Waugh detailed the Nicola Valley Institute of Technology, based in Merrit, B.C., as the basis for his firm's further work on wood projects.
It was decided at first to have two separate entrances, but a First Nations elder pointed out "we've been going through separate entrances for 200 years" so the design changed to one large entrance, along with a circular space in the middle of the structure.
Teepees were used in the Nicola Valley for hunting and fishing which are natural air funnels, and the climate elements of the building used that methodology as a design inspiration. Yellow cedar was also used in the building envelope.
Waugh also designed the First People's House at the University of Victoria, and he said the building's quadrangle shape is meant to integrate and blend in with the surrounding land.
"It's one of the few heavy timber buildings in the centre of the campus, surrounded by concrete buildings," Waugh said.
The building is meant to be a celebration of water, Waugh said, which is an important element to the Coast Salish people. Stormwater is handled on site and the lower roof is a green roof.
The idea of the building is to share culture as students and others walk through the building, Waugh said, and as such has been a success, with both First Nations and other students using the structure.
Longhouse design was another key point of inspiration, but it also worked as a way to enable displacement ventilation. The design allows for passive cooling and uses "100% fresh air." Computer fluid dynamic modelling was used to calibrate ventilation requirements to occupant load.
The main air supply is provided through a "ventilation totem" outside the building, which sends air down to the mechanical ventilation systems.
Wood, Waugh said, was used in the Nicola Valley structure through glulam columns supporting concrete structure.
"A forest of columns replaced the forest of jack pines we had to displace," Waugh said.
Waugh also worked on the Squamish Lil'Wat Cultural Centre, which is designed similarly to longhouses, and he said the building was meant to be inviting and a way to share culture rather than a "black box."
"We wanted it to be a plank house, but a transparent one," he said.
A hybrid post and beam system inspired by the plank house theme meant using paired glulam columns and beams joined by steel connectors and glulam rivets. It also used a suspended glazing system, which allowed for "shingled glass."
The First People's House on the UVic campus used an interpretation of the slotted post and beam connection for the Coast Salish Long House part of the structure, using glulam columns and beams.
Waugh highlighted the O'Siyam Pavillion in Squamish, which uses curved glulam to create a bandstand.
"It's an expression of the locale, where the mountains meet the sea," Waugh said, and the roof reflects that with its undulating shape.
Waugh also pointed to the Liard River Hot Springs in Liard River, B.C., a project where they were not allowed to use any electrical or mechanical elements. The project was a replacement of existing change room facilities and washrooms, but they made minimal impact during construction to preserve endangered snails in the area. There we no lights allowed, so the structure made use of natural light.
The Indian Residential School, History and Dialogue Centre on the University of British Columbia Vancouver campus is a building meant to highlight a dark period in Canada's history. The idea for the building was for the landscape to "penetrate" the structure, so that it blends with the land and provides areas for outdoor learning.
Source: Journal of Commerce / Blog
In Chicago, there’s a famous restaurant called Alinea. It’s one of only a handful of restaurants in America that have earned the coveted 3-star Michelin rating, making it one of the best restaurants in the world. But if you ask people who’ve dined there what makes it unique, most will tell you that, somehow, it’s not just the food.
Alinea is an experience. The food, artistic and delicious as it is, wouldn’t garner its full effect if each course (there are about 20 in all) didn’t arrive just in time, perfectly ordered, with each dish complementing the one before it and simultaneously enhancing the one scheduled to arrive next. There’s a natural flow to the meal -- a rhythm. Each course serves a purpose, like the individual instruments of an orchestra.
The end result is something enticing, captivating, and memorable -- and fun. Really fun. Most importantly, the end result sells people. It compels them to write glowing Yelp reviews. It makes Alinea the topic of conversation. The end result drives people back again and again.
As a marketer, if you want to sell people like a Michelin 3-star restaurant, you have to execute like one. In other words, you have to 1) produce something remarkable and 2) present it correctly, logically.
If you don’t know how to do that, here’s a proven copywriting formula that will guide you ...
Bob Stone's 7 Step Formula
Bob Stone was a giant figure in the advertising world. His colleagues called him “Mr. Direct Marketing” because he wrote countless successful direct mail pieces, selling everything from surgical dressings to business club memberships.
How did he do it? He had a trick: an adaptable formula made up of seven simple, logical steps he used to hook readers and keep their interest until the last line (at which point many readers did what he asked them to).
Stone’s formula -- referred to by marketers as “Bob Stone’s Gem” -- was originally used to write sales letters and other direct response advertisements. But in the decades since its invention, it’s been proven to work in virtually any type of promotion, from blog posts to landing pages to sales emails. Try it yourself and watch your response rates rise.
But first, let's break down each step. You'll notice that I've provided an example sentence (or two or three) under each to show how a copywriter might use Bob Stone’s Gem to create a blurb of copy (which, in this instance, is selling that beaut of a restaurant: Alinea).
1) Begin with your strongest benefit.
In the advertising world, features tell and benefits sell. That’s what makes Bob Stone’s Gem so compelling: it forces marketers to focus on and, therefore, highlight the benefits of their product, service, cause, program -- what have you. Of course, features should also be present in the promotion you create but, ultimately, they’re not closers. Only benefits are.
That’s why you have to sculpt your copy around a target persona, highlighting the benefits you know to be most important to her.
In this example, I’ll be writing to Foodie Francis, a married, middle-aged lawyer with two adult children. She loves cooking and is particularly fascinated by molecular gastronomy.
Let’s get started:
"Dine at Alinea, and join the I’ve-Eaten-the-Best-Food-in-the-World club."
2) Expand on the most important benefit.
Make your main benefit difficult to ignore by describing the actual positive impact it can make on your target persona’s life. Change your reader’s perspective. Plant a seed.
"A club that will open your culinary head, forever changing the way you look at food and, perhaps, even the way you understand ingredients."
3) Explain exactly (and in detail) what the prospect will get.
You’ve planted the seed, now water it. This is where you can drop some features. You can do so by painting a picture, which will give your reader something to visualize and gestate. Just don’t over-do it. Leave room for your reader’s imagination. After all, it exists for a reason ...
"At Alinea, dine on tempura-fried pheasant breast, while experiencing the delights of a Midwestern fall -- even if it’s January. At Alinea, eat an apple masquerading as a helium balloon."
4) Back up your statement(s) with proof.
By this point, your reader has given you her attention, time, and effort. But she’s not a sucker, you know. She’s a leery, 21st century consumer. And if she’s to be sold, she is going to need some proof.
This is your chance to flash some facts, statistics, testimonials, awards -- anything that’ll give credibility to your claims.
"At Alinea, experience the weight of 3 Michelin stars: the bites, the service, the art of it all."
5) Tell them what they’ll lose if they don’t act.
Bob Stone included this step because he knew that people are far more driven to avoid pain than they are to acquire pleasure. As a species, we’re constantly striving to prevent suffering and avoid discomfort. That’s why it’s important to incorporate some negativity into your copy.
"But if you choose not to make a reservation, rest assured you'll go on living, laughing, and loving like you always have. Nothing will change. And wouldn’t that be unfortunate?"
6) Sum up the most important benefits.
You just took your reader to the darkside, now bring them into the light again. Recap all those terrific benefits that captivated your reader in the first place, reminding her why she should pull the trigger.
This is your last opportunity to sum up the value your product or service will bring to the reader’s life. This is your chance to push the reader over the threshold, so make it personal and emotional for your target audience.
"Because beautiful and delicious and exciting as the Alinea experience is, it's nothing compared to what could be. It's nothing when pitted against the future -- your future -- after your mind is awakened to the potential of ingredients and the possibilities of food."
7) Present your call-to-action.
If you don’t ask your reader to take a specific action at the end of your copy -- if you don’t tell her what to do next -- you might as well have never written it in the first place. I don’t care how compelling your words have been, if there isn’t a clear next-step, your copy is almost certainly going to fail.
So keep your call-to-action simple and direct. Don’t force your reader to think.
"Be our guest. Reserve your table on our website, www.AlineaRestaurant.com, today."
The Finished Product
When stitched together, Alinea’s promotional blurb is short and sweet. Depending on the circumstances, it could be expanded or even shortened. But for the purposes of this article, I think it reads just right:
"Dine at Alinea, and join the I’ve-Eaten-the-Best-Food-in-the-World club.
A club that will open your culinary head, forever changing the way you look at food and, perhaps, even the way you understand ingredients. At Alinea, dine on tempura-fried pheasant breast, while experiencing the delights of a Midwestern fall -- even if it’s January. At Alinea, eat an apple masquerading as a helium balloon. At Alinea, experience the weight of 3 Michelin stars: the bites, the service, the art of it all.
But if you choose not to make a reservation, rest assured you'll go on living, laughing, and loving like you always have. Nothing will change. And wouldn’t that be unfortunate?
Because beautiful and delicious and exciting as the Alinea experience is, it's nothing compared to what could be. It's nothing when pitted against the future -- your future -- after your mind is awakened to the potential of ingredients and the possibilities of food.
Be our guest. Reserve your table on our website, www.AlineaRestaurant.com, today."
Is this copy going to sell everybody who reads it? Of course not. But then again, it wasn’t designed for everyone. It was designed for Foodie Francis, remember?
So, will it sell her? Perhaps. Nothing’s a sure thing. But thanks to Bob Stone’s Gem, I like my chances.
Written by Eddie Shleyner @VeryGoodCopy | Source: Hubspot
How to Get Unstuck
Why do people feel so miserable and disengaged at work? Because today's businesses are increasingly and dizzyingly complex — and traditional pillars of management are obsolete, says Yves Morieux. So, he says, it falls to individual employees to navigate the rabbit's warren of interdependencies. In this energetic talk, Morieux offers six rules for "smart simplicity." (Rule One: Understand what your colleagues actually do.)
Source: TED / Presenter: Yves Morieux
Everything Starts With An Idea
Here's a twist on Creativity and The Big Idea. Nothing is original, says Kirby Ferguson, creator of Everything is a Remix. From Bob Dylan to Steve Jobs, he says our most celebrated creators borrow, steal and transform. And how does copyright come into play. Embrace the remix.
Source: TED / Presenter: Kirby Ferguson
How to get your ideas to spread
In a world of too many options and too little time, our obvious choice is to just ignore the ordinary stuff. Marketing guru Seth Godin spells out why, when it comes to getting our attention, bad or bizarre ideas are more successful than boring ones.
Click HERE » for additional TED Talks to discover... Where Ideas come from.
Source: TED / Presenter: Seth Godin & Various Others
One Small Adjustment
What can you learn about perception from a social psychologist and body language expert? If you’re one of the 16 million people who have already watched Cuddy’s compelling TED talk -- you know there’s plenty to learn. Cuddy discuses how body language and even physical posture can affect not only others' perception of you, but your own self-perception as well. Could changing your posture change your life? It just might. Watch Cuddy’s TED talk and decide for yourself if an adjustment could alter your course.
Source: TED / Presenter: Amy Cuddy
Still one of the most popular TED Talks in existence, filmed in 2009, this TED Talk by Simon Sinek has over 16 million views. He’ll have you thinking about the importance of your why and the reason that “why” truly makes all the difference in the world. While most people and companies start from the outside “what they do,” and work their way in, Sinek shares that true innovators start at the core addressing the “why” first, and then work from the inside out for great success. His examples include Apple, Martin Luther King, and the Wright brothers ...
Wondering about Dominion Blue's "Why"
We're printing for your success and we believe that printing and should be stress free. This really is why people choose us. Click HERE » to find out what customers are saying.
Source: TED / Presenter: Simon Sinek
One of my favorite things about working remotely -- which I do a few times a month -- is the freedom to get comfortable. When I work from home, I'm usually find myself in one of three positions: sitting up at the table, laying down with my laptop, or buried in a pillow avalanche on my couch. (Sound familiar to anyone?)
While most offices have a few full-time remote workers -- and probably a few that operate like I do -- the idea of more remote employees may be one companies need to get used to.
Why is remote work becoming such a big deal? Well, from where I'm sitting (currently "sitting up at the table"), it's simple: Because good candidates are asking for it, and technology's making it an easier thing to demand -- no matter what the position entails.
For employees, this is great news. They can live where they want, spend less time and money commuting, and wear their bathrobe to meetings. But what do companies get out of it?
According to research by online freelance marketplace Upwork, sourcing and onboarding in-office employees takes an average of 43 days, compared with three days for remote employees. Not to mention, being open to remote team members widens the talent pool.
So to help you sort through the operations and expectations that employers need to consider to make remote work effective, let's walk through some practices that make it easier for me to communicate and collaborate with my remote teammates.
How to Make Remote Work Work
On Setup & Technology
I have very little in the way of tech savvy, but I do know that a good operational and technical foundation helps remote workforces stay productive. This is where two key teams come into play: Finance & Accounting and IT.
It starts with a commitment -- if you're interested in making it -- to investing in your remote team as actual employees that will grow with the company. Not contractors. Not freelancers. That investment means working with Finance & Accounting to understand the administrative costs of paying employees in different states or countries. Are there visa costs you'll need to consider? Will employees need to travel to the office on a regular basis -- and if so, is the company financing it? Do they have the technology they need at home to communicate with you effectively? Again, are you financing it if they don't?
These questions extend to IT and the infrastructure they'll need to set up, too. They'll want to build in security measures for employee devices, and will need to equip your office with the technology your in-office team needs to communicate with remote team members. This includes chat software, remote meeting software, telepresence devices, and potentially some high-tech conference rooms to make coordinating all of that seamless. One of my teammates who works remotely half the week and works with our global offices quite a bit actually takes pains to dial into meetings on video, specifically. She found it difficult at first but says it made her far more productive being visually present in meetings, and is grateful to have the infrastructure to support that.
If you start with all of this built into your budget from the get-go, two things happen: 1) you're not hit with surprise costs, and you can do a much better job with hiring planning; 2) you end up with streamlined operations for onboarding remote employees so their experience starting with your company is as good as it would be for anyone else.
The best IT setup in the world doesn't help unless we're all using it toward the right ends. At the risk of being trite, the most successful relationships between in-office employees and their remote team members comes down to good communication from both parties. And figuring out what good communication means is kind of a beast. So bear with me while I try to break it down to its most pertinent parts for our purposes here.
Combat "face time" with over-communication.
One of the challenges remote work presents is the lack of "face time." Think about all those random one-off conversations you have in the hallway, or at the water cooler, that wouldn't be possible if you weren't in-office.
To combat this, you really need to nail the whole "regular and effective communication" thing.
Sam Mallikarjunan, who works from his home down south most of the time, found that a lot of the "random collisions" he used to have in the hallway don't happen anymore. (Obviously.) When I asked him how he makes up for it, he said "I just over-communicate. I have to proactively find opportunities to work with other people. I make a point of reaching out to people more often to tell them what I'm working on if I think it might be useful to them, and I actively talk to other people about their projects, too. There's a lot less 'the ball is in their court' mentality when I'm remote."
That proactive approach to communication is something that remote team members may start to pick up on just because they're experiencing the need for it first-hand, so it's equally important to have in-office employees reciprocate. Make it a practice in your company to systematize communication -- to me, that means in-person decisions and conversations are always formally recapped over email, in your group chat client (provided it's not in a room with only casual participation and monitoring), or for the big stuff, in a team meeting.
Use your words.
I have this theory that if street signs were properly punctuated we'd all be better writers. My favorite example is the "STOP CHILDREN" sign.
STOP THEM FROM WHAT?!
When communicating without the benefit of body language or tone, clarity with written and verbal communication is more important than ever. In an ideal world, everyone's already really good at finding the right words to say what they mean. But that's not reality, so we're left with a few options here:
1) Try to be better at it. If you're writing an email, take a beat to reread what you've written. See if you've really communicated what you're trying to say clearly and succinctly. Consider whether you've included enough context for everyone to understand what's going on. If you're having a phone or video conversation, take a moment before responding or posing a question. And if what you said makes no sense, own it and say, "Sorry I don't know what I'm trying to say, let me start over."
2) Know that reading comprehension matters. If you're on the receiving end of a communication ask clarifying questions before responding with an equally confusing answer. I try to either copy and paste the exact copy from the email, quote it, and then ask my clarification question -- or if it's a verbal conversation, repeat back what they said before asking my clarifying questions. It's important to avoid layering confusion on top of confusion.
3) Avoid reading into tone. People's tones suck sometimes. Especially over email. If a typically bubbly person didn't include a barrage of emojis or explanation points, they're probably just running late, or feeling stressed ... or something else that has nothing to do with you.
Put some alert metrics in place.
We've used the term "pothole" metrics before -- the numbers you report on regularly that, if they get out of whack, signify a deeper problem with a part of the business. I like to use that principle here as a way to be sure we're all catching everything that's going on if communication ever fails. I also like to expand that principle out to encompass the good stuff as well as the bad stuff.
These could be numbers that indicate someone's doing well or struggling -- for example, setting up traffic waterfalls if a team member's work is directly tied to hitting a traffic metric. But they can include non-numerical things, too -- like hitting project milestones for people that work in roles that are more about discrete deliverables that have changing definitions of success.
Frankly, this is a good exercise to go through for every team member -- yourself included -- whether in-office or remote. Really, it just means everyone knows what "good" looks like, and you're all able to break down "good" into its component parts so you know if you're making reasonable progress.
If managers are interested in hiring remote team members, they'll have some specific responsibilities to keep things chugging along nicely. Most of this is just about setting the right precedent for how to think about remote work for your team -- I've broken it down into the stuff you need to do proactively, and what you need to squash.
Over-communicate the work being done by remote team members, and the value of that work. Yes, they should do this on their own. We talked about that earlier. You have to be the champion of your own career, and self-promotion is part of life ... and all that jazz. But sometimes people forget. Or they do say it, but it'd sure help if someone else reiterated it.
This becomes particularly important when someone's work output isn't very visible. For example, if your job is to write one article a day, it's pretty easy for people to see that you're doing your job. You either wrote the article or you didn't, and everyone can see it. If your role is to build operational efficiencies into backend systems that four people in the company touch ... it's really easy for that work to disappear.
To that end, don't let resentment or pettiness build toward remote employees -- particularly those that are part-time remote. This starts to manifest itself in little comments like: "Oh is this one of the days so-and-so is in? I can't even remember." Letting that kind of stuff slide is what makes it seem like in-office employees inherently provide more value than those that are in less often. Worse, it perpetuates the notion that face time is more valuable than work output, which I think we're all on board with as being total bunk.
Encourage other people on your team that are in-office and have roles that allow them to work remotely ... to work remotely sometimes. That pettiness I was just talking about? It's a lot less likely to happen if working from home once in a while doesn't feel like a special privilege levied on a few special snowflakes.
This is where things can get tricky, too. Remote work only works when it works. Notice how I said you should only encourage remote work when people have roles that allow them to work remotely? We all know not every role makes that possible. But beyond that, not every person is always a good fit for remote work at every point in their career, either. I'll volunteer myself as an example of someone who, when starting a new role, would struggle to not be around people while I get my footing.
Or if someone is having performance issues, it may not be the right time to green light remote work. That's another reason giving feedback early, often, and candidly is important. And that rationale extends to remote employees that start having performance issues while they're already engaged in a remote work agreement with you.
Finally, always remember to do this:
We talked earlier about treating remote employees not like contractors or freelancers, but like actual full-time employees. That means they have career ambitions, and are probably interested in growth and promotion opportunities. Be sure to keep them in mind for new projects, promotions, and additional responsibility. If good people fall out of sight and out of mind, you might lose 'em.
After you've got the infrastructure set up, to me, most of this really comes down to good hiring. Get the right person, for the right role. If you've got capable people you can trust in a role, you should be able to trust that not only are they doing good work, but that they'll let you know if and when they need something different from you.
The right person can make even roles that you don't think will work in a remote scenario, work. (Unless that role is chef. Then you definitely need to be at work.
Source: Hubspot / Written By: Corey Wainwright