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Are Employees Less Productive During Holidays? A Virtual Office Can Help.

Whether it’s decking the halls or planning for parties, the holiday season brings with it a host of distractions for workers. It’s only natural, then, that one-third (34 percent) of senior managers said their employees are less productive the week before a major holiday. A virtual office space can help employees be more productive year-round.

So said Accountemps. Specifically, managers were asked, “In your opinion, are employees more or less productive the week before a major holiday?” Six percent said employees were “much more productive.” Twelve percent said employees were “somewhat more productive.” About half (48 percent) said there was no difference. And 6 percent said employees were “much less productive.”

“Offices are often less productive during the holiday season than at other times of the year because of company parties, family festivities and other diversions,” says Max Messmer, chairman of Accountemps and author of Managing Your Career For Dummies. “It can be challenging for employees to strike a balance between personal and work obligations.”

Accountemps offers five tips to help employees juggle multiple priorities during the busy holiday season:

  1. Make a list, and check it twice. Examine deadlines for upcoming major projects and adjust them as needed due to holiday schedules. Check in with coworkers on their vacation plans to avoid unexpected delays or setbacks due to employee absences.

  2. Tie up loose ends with a bow. Don’t leave people hanging while you’re away. Before leaving the office early to attend a seasonal function or departing for holiday vacation, update your voice-mail and e-mail auto responses, and show coworkers how to find critical information.

  3. Exchange the gift of time. Delegate time-sensitive tasks and responsibilities to colleagues to take them off your plate and offer to return the favor when they’re out.

  4. Make merry selectively. Prioritize the events that are most important to you, and don’t feel pressured to attend every holiday function. Likewise, even if you aren’t traveling for the holidays, you can still take time off to shop, plan meals or attend to other year-end tasks.

  5. Remember, Santa’s not the only one with helpers. If your department is spread thin, consider interim staff to help with year-end projects. A staffing firm can help you identify skilled candidates.


These tips apply to all sorts of workplaces, from traditional office space to alternative workplaces like virtual offices. But a virtual office can help employees be more productive all year long. By eliminating the distractions of a traditional office, virtual office space sets the stage to work smarter, faster and more efficiently from January 1 to December 31.
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Lessons Learned from Alternative Workplace Studies, Part 2

Lessons Learned from Alternative Workplace Studies, Part 1

Preparing for Alternative Workplace Migration

Over the past few days, we’ve been exploring the alternative workplace. As part of that, we’ve relied heavily on findings from a benchmarking study from New Ways of Working.

“Alternative Workplace Strategies in the Current Economy: A 2009 Global Benchmarking Study by New Ways of Working” has yielded valuable insights about many aspects of the alternative workplace.

If you missed any article in this series, go back and do a little catch up. You’ll be glad you did. In this installment, we’re taking a look at managing the change process and planning for the future.

The study shows that although most organizations help prepare their employees for the changes involved in alternative workplace programs in some manner, almost one fifth (18 percent) of the companies provide no help with managing change. That one-fifth is mostly in the manufacturing sector.

Now, when looking at organizations that do include their employees in the alternative workplace program planning process—and that’s about 35 percent of all companies surveyed—81 percent ask for employee input and 64 percent include staff in program planning.

This is wise because the employees are the ones that are expected to continue working at high productivity levels and therefore need to be involved in expressing needs. A two-way dialogue between HR and employees will yield the best results as companies move to develop and implement alternative workplace strategies.

The study also revealed that the alternative workplace is expanding in almost all organizations that participated in the survey. Those plans, of course, vary widely. Some are looking toward improving online collaboration systems. Others are adding more drop-in centers. Still others are working to support collaborative work in other ways. But the trend is real—and it’s gaining momentum.

Don’t miss tomorrow for the last installment in this series on the alternative workplace.
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What Barriers Remain to Alternative Workplace Adoption?

The rise of the alternative workplace is nothing new, but the economy has accelerated the mandate of corporations to look for more cost-effective ways to house employees. Downsizing office space is preferable to downsizing human resources in a Knowledge Economy.

This week, we’ve been taking a look at a benchmarking study from New Ways of Working called, “Alternative Workplace Strategies in the Current Economy: A 2009 Global Benchmarking Study by New Ways of Working.” In this installment, we’ll take a look at the barriers that remain to mainstreaming alternative workplace strategies in corporate America, as well as how organizations measure success.

Indeed, obstacles do remain for the widespread adoption of the alternative workplace model. The study identified several key challenges: organizational culture, management concerns, resistance or fear of change, and executive buy-in and endorsement. These are all people issues, not economic issues. Essentially, the alternative workplace goes against decades of corporate norm.

With this in mind, the study authors are calling for more evaluation of alternative workplace impacts on issues such as attracting and retaining talent, employee satisfaction, and employee engagement. If companies can see clear-cut evidence of the value of alternative workplace strategies for the human resources side of the equation, that could lower some of those barriers.

Study participants that shared success with alternative workplace strategies cited several benefits, beginning with reducing the corporate footprint and saving money. But there are also softer benefits, such as employee satisfaction and engagement. About one-third of companies measure employee productivity as it relates to the success of alternative workplaces. However, this is an employee’s self-appraisal of productivity rather than a true measure based on schedules and budgets.
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