The evolution of working patterns for the demand generation

July 15, 2016 2:32 pm
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Across all social media platforms, the quest for an effective work/life balance is never far from the top of my newsfeed. Articles titled ‘Which companies have the best culture?’, ‘What do great managers do to engage their teams effectively?’ and ‘Which country has the best work/life balance?’ are common. Millennials have driven this debate thus far, and long gone are the days when working a typical 9-5 Monday to Friday shift was the norm. So what changed?

The question is probably better phrased as ‘who’ changed… As we’ve seen from studies and of course my colleagues’ musings on the topic, millennials joined the workforce and had different expectations from those of their employers. This included a more flexible and demand-driven working pattern. Previous blogs such as Unleash a Millennial in your Business… It May Just Be the Best Thing You Ever Do and Motivating Millennials will support the perception that millennials do not respond well to traditional management techniques. By embracing new flexible working patterns you will help your business to successfully attract, manage, develop and retain this new generation of employees in your workforce.

A strong correlation has been found between poor time management, long hours and stress. Studies show that individuals with a good work/life balance make for happier and more engaged employees. In whichever way you approach flexibility; whether it be allowing an early finish to attend the kid’s school play, or splashing out on team drinks; as a manager you need to ensure everybody is treated the same regardless of their circumstances.

So which country does work/life balance best?

According to The Independent, Denmark takes the lead for the European nations with the highest Better Life Index. The Better Life Index was launched in May 2011 by the organisation of Economic Co-operation and Development. It was the first attempt to merge internationally comparable measures of wellbeing across areas such as work, environment and housing. Those lucky Danes enjoy a shorter working week than the average and a family-friendly working environment, meaning the majority can strike a work/life balance many of us merely dream of.

The digital revolution has played a major part in blurring the lines between work and play for many of us, but it also allows employees greater flexibility than ever before. Whether you see it as a good thing or not, we are always connected to our devices; phone, tablet or laptop; and more often than not this inadvertently means we are connected to our work. In December 2011, Volkswagen launched an initiative whereby their server would stop sending emails thirty minutes after an employee’s shift ended, and would only start again an hour before they returned to work. Recognising the potential stress of an overflowing inbox, VW were consciously trying to raise their profile as the employer of choice, promoting an effective work/life balance and culture for anyone choosing to pursue a career with them. While initiatives such as this do crop up from time to time, it is notoriously difficult to gain buy in from all parties. Leaders can sometimes be the worst culprits, reluctant to switch off and lead by example. It is the leadership team’s responsibility to promote a healthy balance thus setting the trend for the rest of the organisation.

Research shows that only 2% of the Danish workforce consider themselves as having to work ‘very long hours’ (the Better Life Index denotes this as exceeding 50hrs per week). Unsurprisingly, 13% of Briton’s felt they worked more than 50hrs per week. As the skills shortage continues, pressure to find the very best talent for your organisation mounts. Creating a desirable working culture for your employees can really help with your attraction and retention strategy.

Transparency

If a happier team with higher levels of engagement doesn’t tick enough boxes, initiatives such as Glass Door put the power in the hands of the employee, allowing staff and alumni to tell the world what it is (or was) really like to work for your organisation. Attracting and retaining the best talent in the marketplace ought to be at the top of every hiring manager’s agenda, while always being mindful of what motivates your employee’s. Allow your team to have the confidence to switch off out of hours and spend time doing the other things in life which they truly value, and they’ll continue to value their employer too.

Glass Door recently named Nottingham as the 3rd best town to work in in the UK, taking job vacancies, house prices and average salaries into consideration. And would you have it, Coriolis are based in Nottingham…!

 

Written by Georgie Duffield, Coriolis Ltd

References:

http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/work-life-balance-the-five-countries-that-came-out-top-from-the-oecds-better-life-index-a6727091.html

http://www.personneltoday.com/hr/right-request-flexible-working-changes-10-things-employers-can-learn-existing-case-law/

https://www.glassdoor.co.uk/List/Best-Cities-for-Jobs-UK-LST_KQ0,23.htm?utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_content=BEST_CITIES_UK16&utm_campaign=July2016_UK

https://hbr.org/2016/07/give-yourself-permission-to-work-fewer-hours?referral=00563&cm_mmc=email-_-newsletter-_-daily_alert-_-alert_date&utm_source=newsletter_daily_alert&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=alert_date

Life hacks for content cramming: living life at break neck speed

July 15, 2016 10:21 am
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How often do you feel as though there aren’t enough hours in the day? For many of us, life has become a juggling act both in and out of the workplace. We find ourselves prioritising tasks during the working day to maximise our time as effectively as possible, and meticulously planning evenings and weekends to make the very most of our free time. Like most people, my weekends flash by in a haze of chores, DIY, meals or drinks out, visits to family and friends, and cooking. Before I know it it’s Monday morning again and the cycle starts over, figuring out the priorities for the week and shunting unnecessary tasks to a quieter time (like that elusive month of Sundays).

Since you’ve just read my opening gambit you’d think I’d have been over the moon yesterday when I stumbled across an article titled one simple trick to become way more productive. Hastily clicking on the link I thought I’d struck gold. While the browser loaded I’d already envisioned ticking off several of the week’s tasks by lunchtime. As it turned out, the article raved about a Youtube hack which enabled the viewer to speed up video content to 1.5x or even 2x normal speed.  ‘Speed up Youtube to 1.5x and you’ll be surprised at being able to follow content as easily as you would at normal speed. Voila, you’ve already saved 33% of viewing time…’ Other than being able to watch more content in the same amount of time, increasing the tempo apparently did wonders for your engagement levels and staved off boredom.

I was horror-struck. My thoughts immediately leapt to my ex-colleagues at the BBC pouring blood, sweat and tears into every minute detail of their programme-making. I imagined editors poring relentlessly over just a few seconds of footage, assessing the best camera angle in which to capture the character’s expressions. All that effort purely to convey the right emotion in those cinematic moments of dramatic pause and suspense.

Something had definitely gone amiss… when did life become so busy that we had to start finding ways to speed up media content purely so that we could cram more of it in?

Despite my reluctance to speed up my favourite TV show, a popular editor’s adage tl;dr (too long; didn’t read) has definitely crept into our everyday lives. I can’t deny I find myself experiencing the tl;dr thought process all too often. Like when I’ve not checked my phone for a few hours and am confronted by 146 notifications on one What’s App group… frantically I start the skim read (is everyone OK? did I miss a wine-related meme?) but quickly realise it’s the Love Island finale tonight thus all is well in the world.

We are constantly bombarded with excellent new TV shows and other content recommended by friends, social media and advertising. We have seemingly hundreds of different ways in which to watch this content whether it be through online streaming sites, smart TV, phones, tablets or otherwise. The choices are endless and it’s difficult to decide what to watch first. But don’t we have to make the same sorts of decisions every week when we do the food shop? When faced with 75 different loaves of bread you don’t buy 20 of them and hope you’ve managed to scoff them all before the next big shop. In reality you make a decision easily, relying on what you’ve liked previously (maybe drama, or comedy?), cost (Netflix or Youtube), and maybe the health benefits or pitfalls (the latest instalment from Attenborough, or Love Island…).

With linear TV viewing becoming increasingly rare, media consumption is becoming a more and more solitary affair. And you can see why. You want to make a start on Breaking Bad, if for no other reason than to stem the cries of outrage from your peers when they discover your dirty little secret. The problem is your significant other’s still not even STARTED Peaky Blinders (seriously I’m not making it up, Tom Hardy IS in it). Interestingly, we experienced the same shift in habits with reading text. Ancient Greek and Roman text was merely transcription, so a lack of punctuation and spacing between word forms often made the meaning difficult to decipher. During the Middle Ages scribes began to introduce these elements to text, and scholars were able to read alone for the first time. When reading had traditionally been a group activity, this new way of consuming text meant that academics were not bound by the speed of speech, thus releasing people from the ‘sluggishness of the spoken word’. Historians believed this enabled an ‘intellectual, scientific — and spiritual — blossoming’ across Europe.

Despite this ‘blossoming’ occurring from the evolution of grammatically coherent written text, I’m loath to agree that the same can be said for speeding up our favourite drama series.

But if you do disagree with all of the above (Shame! Shame!), here’s some useful hacks so that you can watch all three series of Peaky Blinders on Netflix on Saturday night (Ben, take note…)

http://www.inc.com/bill-murphy-jr/this-simple-information-trick-will-make-you-way-more-productive.html

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2016/06/22/i-have-found-a-new-way-to-watch-tv-and-it-changes-everything/

 

Written by Kayleigh Tarrant, Coriolis Ltd

Personal efficiency & effectiveness: practising what we preach

July 11, 2016 10:03 am
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Managing and developing performance in our client’s businesses while working on projects can often mean we get so sucked into the detail that we forget to sharpen the saw so to speak…

If we take a simple production line as our example, we know that machine downtime reduces efficiency and ultimately leads to less outputs achieved.  Causes can include the length of time behind a shift start-up, engineering issues and staff breaks, plus many more eventualities.

We know that by understanding and addressing these problems or opportunities at our client’s sites we can help unlock improved performance. But what personal interruptions or issues do we face on a day-to-day basis that would improve our own performance? And which of these can be addressed and ultimately free up time to re-invest in greater value-adding activities?

One study found that the average person dedicates 28% of their working week to reading, deleting, sorting and sending emails. Challenge yourself today to see how much of your time is spent working through emails, travelling and attending unnecessary meetings, as well as saying ‘yes’ to other demands on your time which stop you from ploughing through your ‘to do’ list and truly adding value during the working day. Consider this today, set boundaries and monitor them. And if you are spending too much time on non-value adding activities, take some food for thought as to what it’s doing to your productivity levels.

Now, about that to-do list…

Confusing quality with quantity is common. If I’m able to complete a lot of things in one day, it must mean I’m being productive, right?

Wrong. You can be doing plenty, but that doesn’t always mean they’re the right things to be doing, aligned with the right objectives and indicators that would constitute success.

If we consider the business landscape, a strategic position is not sustainable unless there are trade-offs with other positions. An example is an airline, who could choose to serve meals that would add cost and slow turnaround time, or it can choose not to, but it can’t do both without bearing major inefficiencies.

So what trade-offs could you make? Consider also whether you’re generally being ‘reactive’ or ‘proactive’ in the way you operate.

Deming’s Plan-Do-Check-Act cycle is a useful management tool which you can apply. In ensuring you don’t jump into ‘doing’ before planning, outline your objectives and categorise how important and relevant the activity is amongst your current workload.

It can sometimes be daunting to understand where to focus your energy on any given day. Try identifying only 3 crucial activities and results for each day and week to help you prioritise. Drafting the list on a Friday for the following week is often a good approach, and you can always review it if things change.

Be strategic with your energy and carry out your most important tasks first where possible, thus reducing the risk of not investing quality time by prioritising less meaningful tasks, or potentially having reduced energy levels later on when the task is at hand.

Would it be more suitable to outsource the less strategic tasks by completing an activity inventory? What is it that you are doing which is low skill/low impact, or that you may not need to be doing at all? If it is viable to carve out these activities and delegate them then this will undoubtedly improve your productivity.

Remember Parkinson’s Law of time management: “Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion”. Is your work day open-ended or have you set yourself a deadline or time you must finish by and leave the office? You might be surprised at how this influences what you manage to complete during the working day.

Through becoming more efficient and effective yourself, you can invest this new-found additional resource into improving that production line, your project, or wider enterprise.

Written by Paris Clark-Roden, Coriolis Ltd

References:

https://www.isixsigma.com/dictionary/deming-cycle-pdca/

https://processpolicy.com/parkinsons-law.htm

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/09/18/manage-inbox-email-overload_n_3921823.html

3-Dimensional Talent: How is it relevant in everyday life?

July 7, 2016 1:37 pm
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In a departure from my usual ‘engineering-y’ blogs, appropriately labelled by the long-suffering Kayleigh who often finds herself editing them, this month I decided to write about my interpretation of how 3-Dimensional Talent has a part to play in so many aspects of our work and personal lives.

 

At Coriolis, the cornerstone of our approach towards supporting clients is based on the application of “Three-Dimensional Talent”. We consider all problems from three different perspectives, those being behaviour, leadership and process. As a Business Unit Director at Coriolis, my role in finding new 3-Dimensional Talent to join our team involves a lot of reviewing CV’s and interviewing potential candidates, and while reflecting on our interview process recently, particularly in terms of getting to know our candidates and finding out about their interests, I began thinking about just how relevant the 3-Dimensional Talent model really is across a range of different life situations, and not just in our workplace.

For myself, there are a number of aspects of my life outside of work which have contributed to my experience and developing my own 3-Dimensional Talent, as well as experiences in the workplace too:

Scouting: I recently attended the memorial service of my old scout master and have considered the lessons he taught me over 30 years ago:

  • Process: the skills to live comfortably outside and to bridge rivers using logs and rope
  • Behaviour: The need to trust those around you to do their tasks right the first time, and every time
  • Leadership: the need to motivate individuals and mould them into a team

Plant Optimisation (1): Despite a newly commissioned, fully automated facility, one of our recently engaged clients was failing to achieve the required cycle times on their plant and asked us to do a short and focused analysis of the issues. After two days on site we concluded that there were a number if interrelated issues causing the delays:

  • Process: there were a number of plant items with recurring faults
  • Behaviour: the operational team were not owning the solution to the problems
  • Leadership: there was a lack of capability in the team to deal with non-standard conditions

Plant Optimisation (2): Another recent engagement found us on a 10-year-old plant where performance had declined over a number of years because of:

  • Process: a lack of understanding of the operation of key plant items
  • Behaviour: poor communication skills leading to conflict
  • Leadership: a confused reporting structure leading to the lack of a leader who could take the team forward

Sail Training: I feel privileged to be a skipper for the Rona Sailing Project. Taking young people out on the ocean for a week at a time, we aim to provide them with opportunities to acquire a sense of responsibility, resourcefulness and teamwork which will help them in their future. We do this by applying:

  • Process: we need to be safe and competent sailors
  • Behaviour: the crew and instructors need to have respect for one other as we live, eat and sleep in one common area for a week
  • Leadership: we need senior and junior leaders who can inspire the trainees to “give their best” throughout the week

Parenting: I am blessed to have two children aged 6 and 12. Parenting is an ongoing exercise in the application of 3-Dimensional Talent:

  • Process: children need to acquire certain skills so we help and police their homework
  • Behaviour: they need to learn to respect one another’s personal space
  • Leadership: we need to provide consistent, motivational direction and mix reward with fair discipline

3-Dimensional Talent applies to every situation I have experienced where people need to achieve things as a team. Understanding how it applies in any situation or process is critical to improving and enhancing the situation.

 

Written by Richard Jeffers, Coriolis Ltd

From Urban farm to fork: the (high)rise of vertical farming

July 7, 2016 10:32 am
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I read yesterday that the world’s biggest vertical farm is currently being built in New Jersey in an old steel mill on a 70,000-square-foot plot. The annual crop is expected to amount to over 900,000kg of vegetables, or about 2 million heads of lettuce… if google serves me well the average yield on a single acre of land is approx. 20,000 lettuces, so on a plot equivalent to 1.6 acres these are pretty impressive stats.

Vertical farming certainly isn’t a new concept. With a vast amount of the food we consume travelling long distances (US estimates the average journey at 1,500 miles), governments are not only under pressure to reduce the extent of food waste as we’ve talked about previously, but they are also burdened by the extensive carbon footprint.

What are the benefits?

Germany have led the charge in their retail sector, moving the farm in-house through a joint collaboration between InFarm and Metro AG. The venture saw Metro’s Cash & Carry employees cultivating and selling vegetables and herbs in-store. InFarm technology claims to enable optimal growing conditions through custom light recipes and climate control which gives farmers the ability to produce crops year round with controlled environmental factors. This allows the production of healthier and higher yields at a faster rate than traditional agriculture, with added resilience to climate change. InFarm have already forged relationships with some of the most progressive technology firms and innovation hubs in the world, and with sustainability so high on everybody’s agenda you can see why the bigger corporations are keen to get involved.

In the US it is predicted that 80% of the population will reside in cities by 2050, and vertical farms could help meet rising demand for fresh local produce in these heavily-populated urban centres without the associated carbon footprint. Vertical farms require 90% less land and 70-95% less water while harvesting 80% more per unit per area. Produce can grow even in times of drought, requiring no soil or natural sunlight, while further opportunities arise in being able to utilise disused industrial and commercial spaces and provide employment as well.

While vertical farms aren’t cropping up all over the city just yet(!), retailers have enabled us to become more self-sustainable and less wasteful of late. Ikea introduced the KRYDDA/VÄXER series enabling customers to grow their own produce affordably at home on a small scale, and terrariums are certainly not difficult to come by. I’m sure several of your friends/family/colleagues grow a little produce at home, whether they’re nurturing a miniature herb garden on their windowsill or balcony, or cultivating a little veggie patch out in the garden. Supporters of vertical farming believe that the introduction of small scale farms into stores will open consumer’s eyes to a more sustainable way of living in the future, encouraging more people to be self-sufficient and grow their own vegetables and herbs, even in urban areas with limited space.

What are the challenges?

High energy costs and limited food options have led to vertical farming taking a little longer to catch on, but Ray Kurzweil, head future engineer at Google defined the 2020’s as the decade of the vertical farming revolution, so maybe we have a couple of years of further advancements before vertical farming becomes the norm.

Is there enough demand?

As to whether vertical farms are worth the investment, demand for fresh veggies has never felt so prominent. Consumer’s eating habits have shifted in recent years, with more and more of us now pursuing lifestyle choices such as reducing the amount of meat we eat, taking up meat-free Mondays or challenging ourselves to a vegan week. Pret a Manger recently announced new stores would be introduced with vegetarian only dishes after their vegetarian options outperformed meat/fish equivalents, and the introduction of new grains from exotic shores seems like a weekly occurrence. And is anyone over avocados yet?

 

Written by Kayleigh Humphrey, Coriolis Ltd

References:

https://www.metrogroup.de/en/company/inside-metro/2016/02/23/the-high-tech-kitchen-garden-in-the-wholesale-store

http://gizmodo.com/the-worlds-largest-vertical-farm-is-being-built-in-new-1783152722

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3548797/Avocado-leads-superfood-surge-Sales-fruit-soar-health-conscious-Britons-ditch-lunchtime-sandwiches-salads.html

https://www.newscientist.com/article/mg22129524-100-vertical-farms-sprouting-all-over-the-world/

https://infarm.de/