Gaming and Productivity: Can They Go Together?

When we think about gaming, we often think of it as something you’d do sneakily while taking a break at your desk, or something that could interfere with your productivity. With the popularity of a range of online games, such as World of Warcraft (WoW), and the past success of games like The Sims, it’s easy to see how people can get absorbed in a digital gaming interface. With gaming receiving more attention as a way to engage with people, and to train our brains for better memory and other cognitive skills, has there been a shift in the concept of games and their contribution to the workplace? Here are just a few of the most popular gaming applications right now: 1. Knack As any ardent gamer will tell you, getting involved in a game is more than about just keeping yourself entertained, it’s also about being able to build up your own gaming personality, and allowing you to access different skills that you wouldn’t necessarily have the chance to in real life. An applicaiton that really puts the potential of gaming into perspective is an application called Knack, which gets people to play games in order to assess certain skills, and their ability to perform certain roles in the workplace. Used by individuals and businesses, Knack gives people the opportunity to showcase skills they might not have known how to demonstrate, and by setting up certain game scenarios to test certain skills. With these kinds of gaming tools, human resource departments have the ability to easily pinpoint people with particular skills, which can refine the hiring process considerably,... read more

New Year Resolutions: Using a Blueprint

As the first month of the year draws to an end, the resolutions and goals that we set are either slipping away or coming more into focus. While we might try to keep all of those promises to ourselves, just writing a list about what we want to achieve often just isn’t enough, and we need something more beneficial than a list of goals to keep up accountable and motivated. While the first three weeks of 2016 have already gone by, it’s not too late to get on track with a blueprint. Here’s more about one of the tools being used by productivity professionals to guide even the most manic of work schedules: 1. Start with Excel Excel is one of the most multifunctional kinds of software, but unless you’re number crunching or very good about drawing up a personal budget, how many of us really use it to its full potential? While some of us might be more used to Word or other kinds of word processing software, Excel, or any other number processing software, its actually very helpful in tracking the amount of time you spend on tasks. By creating a document called “[Your Name] Blueprint 2016”, you’re already on your way to managing your time better. 2. Block off times for tasks While we can write endless lists, and things to do in our diaries, wall calendars and even loose scraps of paper, what list really holds you accountable to what you want to achieve? Using a blueprint and sharing it with your family, friends and colleagues is a way to group all of your significant... read more

Time Management in Focus: Pomodoro Technique

The Pomodoro technique is based on the principle of doing focused work for a specific period of time, or “pomodoro”. Named because of the tomato kitchen timer originally used to test out the technique, the idea is to fit as many “pomodori” into your day as possible, taking a short break between each session, and a longer break after you’ve completed a number of these focused periods of work. However, it’s one thing to read about different time management techniques and think about the benefits they might provide and they ways they might streamline your routine. While it’s great to understand these techniques in theory, what happens when you actually apply the technique in practice? Here are 5 considerations we found when trying out the Pomodoro time management technique: 1. Decide on what time period works for you We worked on a time session of 25 minutes, which meant measureable sessions of 30 minutes in total including a short break. While it can be tempting to get involved in a task and go over the 25 minute mark, having this time limit in place is helpful in keeping you focused, and not wasting time on unnecessary tasks. 2. Enjoy your breaks It can be difficult to get up and move around when you’ve been solidly focused for 25 minutes, but getting up and away from your desk is an important part of this technique, as each break gives you a chance to refresh and recharge for the next session. 3. Use a reliable timer We used a computer based timer, which was convenient for tracking time because it fed... read more

Wearable Technology and Productivity in 2016

We often talk about technology as something we use with our fingers, like a laptop, keyboard or something we initiate with the flick of a switch or a swipe. While there continues to be ongoing developments in the improvement and refining of technology such as laptops and smartphones, what about the smaller items that we actually attach to our own bodies to monitor everything from our heart rate to our levels of productivity? At the beginning of a new year, here’s a round up of some of the more popular examples of wearable technology that will be used in 2016: 1. Pebble A smartwatch that connects to either your iPhone or Android device, the Pebble is available in a variety of different styles, from the simple Pebble Time to the slicker Pebble Time Steel. With a week’s worth of battery life, a colour display and the ability to connect you to important data, Pebble is one of the many wearables that will help you to manage your day from your wrist. 2. Apple Watch In true Apple style, the Apple Watch is designed to complement the use of other similar devices. You can use it to manage tasks, track your fitness and even reply quickly to messages with the option of a few standard responses to save time. With a focus on personalising the smartwatch experience, you can even send your own heartbeat rhythm to another Apple Watch user, or a silly sketch. 3. Jawbone UP We all need a little bit of encouragement sometimes to keep active, even if it just means getting up at regular intervals to... read more

The Future of Jobs: What Roles Will Last?

With the marketplace evolving at a rapid rate, access to digital technology is re-evaluating the need for certain jobs. The truth is that technology has been evolving for centuries to meet changing human needs, but it’s the rate at which certain skills are becoming redundant in an ever-competitive marketplace that is of concern from an economic perspective. While the traditional concept of a job might become obsolete in itself, here are some of the professions that are becoming less and less prominent as the future of jobs continues to shift: 1. Clerical Work In a traditional office or business setup, there are people assigned to certain roles such as answering the phone, managing inventory, compiling sales data or typing out documents. While there may always be a need for someone to be available to talk to customers on request, advances in technology means that often several clerical tasks can be integrated into a single software platform. Software such as Salesforce for example combines clerical tasks such as quoting and managing other administrative tasks with the use of additional applications, which means that theoretically one person could perform the tasks of an entire small-business office. 2. Call Centre Agents The growth of text-based applications such as Whatsapp, Skype and even online chat means that often there is no need to talk to someone directly when making a sales transaction. While it might still be necessary on occasion to talk to someone directly to resolve a problem, the thought of being put on hold with a ridiculous tone playing in your ear is making text-based troubleshooting much more feasible and convenient.... read more

3 Techniques to Maximise Your Time Management

Minute by minute, hour by hour, how effective are you really at getting items ticked off your to-do list? Some of us might find that it’s easier to get certain tasks done in the morning, with the rest of the day spent on planning and meetings. Others might prefer to get meetings and planning out of the way first before getting stuck into a to-do list. Either way, life happens and it can be difficult to manage our time effectively if we don’t have some kind of plan. To structure your work schedule, and allow for unexpected interruptions, here are three time management techniques that can assist in getting the most out of your day: 1. Pomodoro Technique Brainchild of Italian entrepreneur, Francesco Cirillo, the Pomodoro Technique is named after a tomato-shaped kitchen timer that he used to time his work schedule during university. A very simple technique, it allows you to be more productive by timing shorter but more frequent bouts of undistracted work, ideally twenty-five minutes, with short breaks in between. Each unit of undistracted work time is called a “pomodoro”, and after every four to five pomodoros (or pomodori to be precise), you can take a longer break. While the number of pomodoros done each day depends entirely on your schedule, this method allows you to fit more focused time into your schedule, whilst making sure that you take regular breaks, which further enhances your ability to accomplish more during the course of a given day. 2. Getting Things Done (GTD) David Allen developed the Getting Things Done (GTD) method as a time management method that... read more

The Future of Work: What Will Change?

As we continue to work harder and find more productive ways to achieve our goals, how are our workspaces going to evolve in relation to this? We all know that technological developments are changing the way we work as well as the tools at our disposal. There will no doubt also be physical changes that will take place to accommodate or counteract all the technological developments in our working environments. To get an idea of just some of the ways our workplaces are set to change, here are just five approaches to the future of work: 1. Incorporating Nature While we may be heading towards a world of densely populated cities and interconnected digital devices, that’s not to say that nature will not play an important role in the future of work. Something as simple as an office plant is used daily to invigorate a dull space, but nature is also being incorporated into the workplace on a greater through the implementation of biophilic design. This approach to interior and exterior design incorporates natural elements into all aspects of a workplace, from surfaces to building material, all of which has a profound effect on our sense of wellbeing. 2. Interactive Technology A recent video from software behemoth Microsoft delves into what the future of technology might look like. From holograms to interactive screens, the process of working and sharing information is shown to be as simple as swiping a finger. While touchscreens may be a relatively new introduction in the greater scheme of things, the fact that we’ve become so accustomed to them in relatively short space of time... read more

Robots in the Workplace: Scary or Helpful?

When it comes to new technology and the thought of robots completing automated tasks in the workplace, an instinctive reaction is to be scared that these robots will take over from people. While there is research to suggest that increased automation can increase productivity and actually create jobs, the thought of robots in the workplace can still be an intimidating idea. While we all might be aware of the potential of robots to perform helpful tasks, what robots are currently being used in the workplace? We investigate four of the many being used and tested at the moment: 1. Medical Robots A machine might never be able to offer the same knowledge and bedside manner to a patient as a trained doctor, but robots in various forms are being used in the medical profession to facilitate learning and consulting with patients. From remote key-hole surgery to dentistry dummies that react appropriately to certain procedures, robots are helping medical professionals to refine their skills, and are giving them the tools to operate and examine patients remotely. Within hospitals, there have also been various robots developed to perform routine tasks like delivering clean linen, medicine and other supplies, as well as being able to operate elevators, open doors and avoid obstacles. Functioning on a more stationary level, there are also robots which have been designed to be stand-in as nurses or carers for the elderly, reminding them to take their medicines and to helping them to get in touch with a doctor when they are feeling ill. 2. Manufacturing Robots While machines are already an essential element of manufacturing, the use... read more

5 Tips for Dealing with Time Zones in the Workplace

In today’s global work environment, we often have to adjust our work schedules to fit in with different time zones. It can be a serious challenge to adjust our body clocks as we continue to travel internationally for work, as well as having to deal with colleagues both ahead of and behind us in time. While there are many different ways to cope with time zone differences, here are five tips to consider when working with people from various corners of the globe: 1. Maintain Regular Check-Ins While it can be difficult to enforce an exact time at which all concerned are available, scheduling a regular check-in can help to keep everyone on the same page. Collaborative platforms allow for easy task assignment regardless of time zone, but connecting in the same time and space, even digitally, can go a long way in ensuring that there is a consistent workflow. This can require a lot of forward planning but with a variety of digital tools to facilitate cross-continent communication, it’s really just a matter of making the time to connect. 2. Stay Connected Keeping everyone on the team connected, regardless of the platform, is essential to breaking down any potential barriers caused by distance. Being aware of everyone else’s time zone, and work preferences, can also prevent anyone from having to wake up at 2am on the other side of the world to deal with a crisis. WhatsApp and Telegram groups, for example, are a very easy way to keep a large number of people in the know, although it does help to have a clear focus for each... read more

Colour Psychology in the Workplace

We’re all affected by colour on some level, from the tint of our office walls to the clothes we choose to wear every day. Bolder primary colours make a more powerful impact on our conscious mind, but what about the other shades of the spectrum? From slick black corporate suits to bold red lipstick, how do the colours around us affect the way we work and interact, and what is the science behind it? Here are four considerations of colour psychology and how it can be applied to the modern workspace: 1. Bolder colours make a statement If we look at their psychological associations, colours have different effects on us depending on the way we actually process the colour physiologically. For example, bright red is the longest wavelength, and is associated with power, emotions and even aggression. Red in the workplace can also make a bold statement, such as the entrance to The New Yorker magazine’s head office in New York City, which emphasizes the publication’s status as an important cultural institution. Coca-Cola’s office in London also celebrates the qualities of the famous brand with the use of red in their workspace, often interspersed with white to ease the intensity. 2. Colours affects affect our mood and thinking While we might not always understand why, colours affect us on a physical level, sometimes just don’t resonate with us on certain days. Psychologically, blue is associated with calmness, serenity and clear communication, but can also be perceived as aloof and unfriendly. When it comes to enhancing elements of a workspace, the use of a variety of colours can have a... read more