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Spring Forward

Why your next meeting should be laptop-free…

By | Spring Forward, Work Better

Spring Forward

Part 4

Welcome to the final part of our current monthly theme – Spring Forward! Now that the clocks have changed, we’re looking at ways to make the most of the daylight hours by boosting our energy. If you’ve been feeling a bit sluggish at work during the long winter months, why not follow this blog for the next few weeks to get some energetic ideas?

It’s undeniable that technology has revolutionised the way we work, and loads of innovations have been targeted at meeting rooms. From smart whiteboards to note-sharing software, many teams are embracing the chance to use computers inventively in a meeting environment.

But evidence increasingly points to one negative use of technology in a meeting space – employees bringing their own laptops. We examine the arguments against having multiple computers in the meeting room…

Firstly – what are the benefits?

A famous Chinese proverb states that ‘the palest ink is better than the best memory’. If you apply this logic to meetings, the conclusion is clear – it’s all very well intending to remember what’s been said, but you can’t beat writing it down.

Many people want to bring their laptops in to meetings in order to take notes in the quickest possible way. By typing their notes immediately, many employees argue that this makes their note taking more efficient and thorough than if they hand write (and then have to create a digital copy later for circulation).

Also, having a laptop can be a way to conduct rapid research on a topic during a discussion. For example, if someone wonders ‘have any other companies done this?’, a laptop user may be able to answer that question before the meeting is over.

However, while these points might seem like laptops are essential for productive meetings, in reality, the opposite appears to be true.

1. Your laptop distracts you…

Let’s be honest – if a notification pops up on your laptop half-way through a meeting, are you tempted to click it?

Many people argue that they can multitask, and quickly firing off an email in the middle of the meeting won’t prevent them contributing. But in actual fact, it has been scientifically demonstrated that our brains can’t effectively or efficiently switch between tasks – and we have a much lower retention rate of what we learn while multitasking.

So you might think replying to emails makes you more productive, but it actually makes you worse at all the tasks you’re taking on. So why not wait until the meeting is over, when you’ll not only write a better email, but you’ll have made better contributions too?

2. …and distracts everyone else!

One of the less expected drawbacks of using a laptop in meetings is the effect it has on everyone else. Research at York University and McMaster University in Canada tested the effect of laptops being used in lectures, specifically looking at the effect on those who weren’t using them. They discovered that the presence of laptops was negatively affecting not just the person using them, but also those seated immediately around them too.

This does make sense when you consider that you may well be distracted by the exact same things that your laptop-using neighbour is distracted by – if emails and messages are arriving out of the corner of your eye, or someone ends up quickly scrolling through a news article, you might find yourself glancing over.

Interestingly, research at the United States Military Academy also found that laptop and tablet use in classrooms was negatively affecting everyone’s learning – even in conditions where tablets were laid flat on the desk so professors could monitor them (so no sneaky Facebook-checking was taking place).

3. It’s easy to come across the wrong way

You might be thinking the points above about distraction seem a bit unfair – maybe you go into every meeting with your WiFi disabled, and only ever type notes on your laptop that are strictly relevant to the subject at hand.

However, it’s important to bear in mind that not everyone in the meeting can see the diligent notes you’re taking – they can just see that you’re switching focus between the presenter and your screen. So while that might be fine for the designated note-taker in your team, for everyone else, it might come across like you’ve decided to switch your attention away from the topic at hand.

4. Writing is better for your understanding than typing

The New York Times examined a series of experiments at Princeton University and the University of California, which found that students using laptops to take notes during a lecture had a substantially worse understanding of the material than those who used pen and paper to take notes.

The theory goes that because students can type faster than they can write, the lecturer’s words were flowing into their typing fingers without stopping for substantial processing by their brains.

So if you’re trying to wrap your head around new ideas in meetings, then typing them up might not be the best approach.

That’s all from me this week, but I hope you enjoy trying out laptop-free meetings!

Join us next week for the first part of a new topic!

If you’ve got thoughts on what you’d like us to cover next, why not get in touch with us on social media? We’d love to hear from you!

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Want to be more productive throughout 2018?

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Improve Your Environment

By | Spring Forward, Work Better

Spring Forward

Part 3

With better spring weather finally on it’s way, it feels like everything outside is becoming fresh and new! Which is why lots of people are thinking about refreshing their office environments too – so we’re being kept busy with customers wanting to buy new furniture for their workspace.

We’re all for making your work environment feel fresh and new – whether you need to fit some new team members into your workspace or simply refresh some old, tired workstations.

But with Earth Day coming up on Sunday 22nd April, we think it’s important to consider the world outside your office too – so why not challenge yourselves to implementing one environmental policy for every new change you make? Here are our suggestions for how you might do it…

IDEA ONE:

Switching Your Furniture?

Redecorating an entire office can seem like a daunting prospect from the outside – with so many individual furniture items to consider, and so many places to start, it’s not surprising that a lot of companies will put off making major changes to their work environment for as long as possible.

Thanks to near-constant design and manufacturing innovations, there are so many emergent approaches to working – like sit-stand desks and workstations, for example – that are growing more popular and more affordable every day.

 

There’s never been a better time to update and refresh your work environment – which is why this spring we’re running our Big Spring Furniture Sale, with over 200 products currently listed!

…Why not switch your printing at the same time?

Many offices are currently trying to reduce their paper usage, and in the most extreme cases, going almost completely paper-free. One estimate for the amount of paper wastage from printing and copying errors alone is a staggering 60% of paper used – making paperless operation an even more valuable choice, both for the environment and for economy.

However, not every office can go 100% paper free – the UK is particularly fond of hard copies when it comes to forms and documentation, and there are plenty of situations where having only a digital copy is either impractical or simply unsuitable.

That’s where a service like Managed Print can help – by providing you with a better way to track your usage and keep an eye on costs, you can work on reducing your print resources more effectively (and streamline the supply chain of ink and toner to boot!)

Plus, you can really reduce your printing impact by switching to recycled paper. Paper recycling has come a long way in recent years – many of us still picture the more coarse, off-white sheets of the recycled paper of years past, but nowadays there’s usually almost no way to tell a sheet of recycled paper from a regular one.

With such improved paper quality now readily available, making the decision to switch to more responsibly sourced, recycled paper is now an easy choice for many offices. Plus, while recycled paper is generally more expensive than regular paper, the actual price difference is usually only very marginal, and the gap will close with increased volumes.

IDEA TWO:

Making a new plan for your office?

When it comes to picking a style or visual theme for an office environment, not everyone will necessarily have a fully formed picture in mind of exactly how they want it all to come out. Style choices aside, there are also meaningful practical considerations involved with redecorating an office – the arrangement of the furniture can radically change the feeling and the usefulness of a space, and by extension dramatically influence the mood of a room, potentially affecting the productivity of those working.

Something as simple as an abundance of natural light has a demonstrable effect on behaviour; those who sit near a window or in a well-lit space are often more relaxed and less irritable than those who work in darker environments, or under harsher artificial light. Also, don’t forget how much temperature can affect your employees – positioning someone right underneath an air conditioner will give them a vastly different experience to their colleague sitting by a sun-drenched window.

To help you avoid some of the many pitfalls of space management, we offer a free Space Planning service as part of our comprehensive furniture range (just get in touch to find out more).

 

…make a new plan for your team!

As with so many things in life, switching products and tools to be more environmentally friendly is only half the battle – the other, often more difficult half is to change the attitudes and habits of those who are using them. For this reason, it can be beneficial to have an officially appointed Environmental Awareness leader or team, to better organise and implement new ideas and strategies to reduce the company’s environmental impact.

At Office Needs we have our own setup, geared towards what we’ve found works for us – a representative group of staff gather for a yearly review, led by our Head of Sales and designated environmental lead, in which ideas are suggested and reviewed in order to form a realistic action plan for the year ahead.

So far, some of the strategies we’ve adopted include:

  • Switching to electric vehicles in our fleet of delivery vans
  • Installing solar panels on our building that generate a meaningful percentage of our power usage
  • Switching to exclusively energy efficient lighting throughout the office and warehouse

and so much more!

That’s all from me this week, but I hope you’ve enjoyed reading, and you’re ready to start implementing some new environmental ideas!

Join us next week for Part 4 of ‘Spring Forward’!

If you’ve got thoughts on what you’d like us to cover next, why not get in touch with us on social media? We’d love to hear from you!

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Want to be more productive throughout 2018?

Keep up with this blog for tips, tricks and great products to help you!

Why taking tea breaks makes you more productive…

By | Spring Forward, Work Better

Spring Forward

Part 2

Welcome to the second part of our new monthly theme – why taking tea breaks makes you more productive! Now that the clocks have changed, we’re looking at ways to make the most of the daylight hours by boosting our energy. What better way to do so than with a nice cup of your favourite brew?

A good tea break can work wonders – whether it’s stepping away from a stressful task, bonding with colleagues or getting a little energy boost before a big meeting. However, research by Appliances Direct suggests that office workers spend over 100 hours a year making tea, so is the tea break really a productive use of time? We present some arguments in favour of this office institution…

1. What should be in your cup?

The short answer is… depends what you want out of it! Here’s a quick fact file on some of the nation’s favourite brews…

Coffee

  • Amount of caffeine: roughly 100mg of caffeine per mug of instant coffee
  • Research has shown that three to four cups of coffee a day might have health benefits (although the exact relationship is still unclear)
  • Coffee contains a high amount of antioxidants (both regular and decaf)

Tea

  • Amount of caffeine: roughly 30-50mg of caffeine per mug of tea, depending on how it’s brewed
  • You are less likely to have a caffeine crash when drinking tea than coffee or fizzy drinks. This is because the high levels of antioxidants in tea slow the absorption of caffeine, which results in a gentler caffeine increase in your system and a longer period of alertness with no crash at the end.
  • Research has suggested that drinking black tea may slow cognitive decline
  • Choosing green tea is suggested to have multiple health benefits – from lowering the chance of breast, lung and stomach cancers to improving cholesterol levels.

Herbal Teas

  • Many herbal tea blends are caffeine-free
  • Different ingredients have different benefits – from the immune-boosting properties of echinacea to the digestion aids of peppermint and chamomile. It’s best to check the individual properties of the flavour blend you want to try, as there’s lots of great combinations with different positives and also different health advice!
  • Combining herbal tea with honey is not only sweeter, but soothing when you have a cold

2. Should you take longer… by making a brew for other people?

Offering to make someone a cup of their favourite brew can be a great way to bond with a colleague – even if it just gives you an excuse to chat over your opinions on tea making etiquette (like the great milk first debate – we like Yorkshire Tea’s handy guide!)

While some people prefer not to form close relationships at work, having a few friends can be a big productivity booster. Research by Gallup shows that close work friendships boost employee satisfaction by 50%, and people with a best friend at work are seven times more likely to engage fully in their work.

So the extra time taken to make multiple cups might actually make you a better employee – meaning that time has been very well spent!

3. Should you take a tea break at all?

We’ve written before about the importance of taking breaks in a previous blog post – and we stand by our opinion that knowing when to take a break is crucial for good workplace productivity.

It’s important to recognise when you’re getting burned out, since tired minds are less focused and less productive than well-rested ones – so making a nice cup of tea or coffee can be a good excuse to give your overwhelmed brain a break.

By getting up from your desk, having a stretch and then walking to the kettle, you can get a bit of blood pumping again, and start your body releasing mood-boosting endorphins (they also help you keep alert!).

Plus, we don’t need to tell you that staring at a screen literally all day is bad for you – giving your eyes a break while you go to the kitchen is a benefit in itself!

So don’t just see your cup as a source of caffeine – it’s also a way to make you take the break your body genuinely needs.

That’s all from me this week, but I hope you’ve enjoyed reading – if you haven’t made yourself a brew already, why not pop the kettle on now?

Join us next week for the first part of a new theme!

If you’ve got thoughts on what you’d like us to cover next, why not get in touch with us on social media? We’d love to hear from you!

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Want to be more productive throughout 2018?

Keep up with this blog for tips, tricks and great products to help you!

Spring Clean Your Work Routine

By | Spring Forward, Work Better

Spring Forward

Part 1

Welcome to the first part of our new monthly theme – Spring Forward! Now that the clocks have changed, we’re looking at ways to make the most of the daylight hours by boosting our energy. If you’ve been feeling a bit sluggish at work during the long winter months, why not follow this blog for the next few weeks to get some energetic ideas?

Everyone talks about spring cleaning at this time of year – and it makes sense to give your work space a good deep clean, to make you feel refreshed and ready to work. However, there are a lot more ways you can make your workplace feel fresh and give you a nice energy boost. Read on for our thoughts…

1. Spring Clean Your IT

Its easy to spot when your desk is messy, but do you ever look at what mess is accumulating in your digital workplace too? One of the big benefits of the new General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is that it’s encouraging people to take another look at all the old data they have lying around, often out of date and unusable – but still a major security risk!

So when you’re spring cleaning your desk, why not give your computer some TLC too? Check what files you’re currently storing, make sure that unnecessary data is cleaned out (in line with your company’s retention policy, of course) and treat yourself to some secure external storage if you need to free up a bit of breathing space on an old machine.

2. Clean out your office’s kitchen

Most offices have the same problem when it comes to the kitchen – lots of different people, with different taste in food and drink, all sharing less cupboards and fridge space than the average home. Even the more generous workplace kitchens tend to run out of room very quickly, and it’s frustrating when you’re stashing things on your desk for want of a few more inches of space.

So why not suggest a proper kitchen clear-out to your colleagues? It’s a good way to take stock of what’s available to everyone – you can get rid of old chipped mugs and stale coffee, and free up room to get some better supplies in. Plus, if people don’t want to own up to the worrying Tupperware in the back of the fridge, you can encourage a ‘kitchen amnesty’ where everyone has a week of blame-free retrieval, prior to all the worrying stuff being thrown out!

 

P.S. don’t miss the chance to restock that kitchen with tasty Nescafe coffees and Kit-Kats – definitely what you need after a big clear-out…

SHOP FREE BREAK PACK OFFER

* While stocks last.

3. Stop Sitting on a Problem

You may be tired of us talking about how important a good chair is for your posture, but it genuinely might be your chair making you feel tired! Having posture problems is painful and can be exhausting, but a good, supportive chair can make the world of difference.

So if you’re sitting on an old office chair with no back support (or a new office chair with no back support!), why not take the plunge and ask your boss for some support? We’ve currently got great sale prices on both chairs and ergonomic accessories to make your current setup work better for you!

Shop Chair Sale         Shop Ergonomic Products Sale

4. Sort out those cupboards

Pretty much every office has one of ‘those’ cupboards – the kind that seems to be groaning at the edges with the sheer amount of stuff inside!

This is the perfect time of year to take stock of why your storage is overflowing – with the end of the financial year offering the ideal point to clear out some old paperwork, why not take a deep breath and work out what you simply don’t need to keep anymore?

If you’re facing a big clear out of confidential paperwork, don’t forget that a Secure Shredding Service can help you safely destroy large volumes of paper without any stress or hassle on your part. So don’t panic if you’re staring at a cupboard full of HR records and picturing a day spent in front of a shredder – we can securely take them off your hands!

Our Secure Shredding service offers secure destruction of confidential data – helping to protect your business.

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5. And finally… clean that desk!

We’ve said it before, but it bears repeating – the average desk is a lot dirtier than the average toilet seat! We prefer not to think too hard about how many microbes are in front of us, and instead focus on keeping things nice and clean.

Luckily, it’s easier than ever to keep your work space hygienic, now there are dedicated products for everything from phones to keyboards. We can help you out with pretty much anything you can think of to clean your office, but we particularly recommend keeping one of these neat Office Cleaning Kits to hand, in order to keep dust and germs at bay!

That’s all from me this week, but I hope you have a productive time getting your office spring cleaned and ready for an energetic start to the new financial year!

Join us next week for the first part of a new theme!

If you’ve got thoughts on what you’d like us to cover next, why not get in touch with us on social media? We’d love to hear from you!

Find Us On Facebook Follow Us On Twitter

Want to be more productive throughout 2018?

Keep up with this blog for tips, tricks and great products to help you!