Tag Archives: productivity

Tumbleweed Logo

Tumbleweed Center Relocates Phoenix Headquarters

Tumbleweed Center for Youth Development will expand and relocate its headquarters from Downtown Phoenix to Siete Square II, 3707 N. 7th St. in Midtown, according to Cushman & Wakefield of Arizona, Inc.

Tumbleweed was established in 1972 with a mission to provide a safe space for collaborating with youth and young adults in the community who are vulnerable or experiencing homelessness.  The organization serves more than 3,000 young people each year, ages 12 to 25 years.

“Tumbleweed made a very shrewd decision to expand and relocate its headquarters at this time, locking in to today’s historically low rates.  This allowed us to lower occupancy costs over the long term,” said Paul Andrews of Cushman & Wakefield.  “This strategy cut thousands of dollars in future rent expense that now can be redirected back into the organization’s much needed programs that serve Metro Phoenix’s teenage youth.”

The local non-profit has leased 13,047 square feet at the garden office complex and will locate from 1419 N. 3rd Street in fall of 2013.

Siete Square II is one of four buildings within the larger Siete Square garden office complex.  The Indiana Farm Bureau owns Siete Square II.  Paul Andrews of Cushman & Wakefield of Arizona, Inc. represented Tumbleweed Center for Youth Development in its lease negotiations.

Phil Breidenbach and Lindsey Carlson of Colliers serve as exclusive leasing agents for Siete Square II, representing the Indiana Farm Bureau.

WellsFargoLogo

Wells Fargo Plans 410,000 SF Expansion in Chandler

By Eric Jay Toll, Senior Correspondent for Arizona Builder’s Exchange |

Special to Arizona Commercial Real Estate magazine

 

Wells Fargo unveiled its 410,000-square-foot Chandler campus expansion to a neighborhood meeting in the East Valley September 16. Arizona Builder’s Exchange broke the story Monday night that the bank filed a rezoning application with the city to allow a pair of four-story buildings on the northwest corner of Price and Queen Creek roads in the Price Corridor.

More than 2,500 additional employees will work in the new Wells Fargo buildings, bringing campus employment to more than 5,000 workers.

The bank has selected an architect, but has not named the contractor for the project. A formal announcement with construction schedule is expected shortly. AZBEX reports sources saying the project could cost as much as $90 million.

The building shapes, design and materials are intended to mirror Phase I of the campus. The offices will rise to 64 feet. Three more buildings and parking garages are projected for future phases. The city has not set a hearing date for the zoning. Wells Fargo has not yet announced its construction schedule.

Read the original story here.

 

Eric Jay Toll is the senior correspondent for Arizona Builder’s Exchange. His freelance work appears in a number of regional and national publications, including upcoming stories in AZRE and AZ Business.

Tailoring Jobs

Tailoring In The Workplace May Lead To A Better Fit

A good fit between employer and employee ups the chances that the employee will find his or her job fulfilling and be more productive. This was confirmed by a study sponsored by WorldatWork, “Organizational Culture and Total Rewards: Person-Organization Fit (2010),” which found that employees who share similar values with their organizations tend to be more satisfied with the total rewards packages offered by those organizations. And that kind of employee satisfaction enhances employee engagement.

But wait, it’s not as simple as it sounds. Surprisingly, the same study found that employees who are more satisfied with their organization’s standard benefits package are less likely to be engaged in their work. That’s because benefits packages, which are uniformly distributed among employees of a similar classification, are perceived differently than other rewards such as bonuses, which are performance based.

“This research has several practical implications for employers,” said Ryan Johnson, vice president of research for WorldatWork. “If organizations want to have engaged employees, it makes sense for them to attract and hire people who share similar values to the organization. It’s also important for them to offer a total rewards package tailored for their employees and not just a standard benefits package.”

Employee engagement is a key ingredient among workers who are committed to the mission and goals of their organization. Employees are more committed to organizations whose values align with their own. If an organization is socially minded, it would do well to hire employees who value corporate social responsibility. If a hospital’s mission is to provide integrated health care, it will have an easier time attracting and retaining physicians who value collaboration. If a company’s goal is to revolutionize digital music, it ought to hire creative people with an appetite for some risk.

Sounds like all one has to do to ensure productivity is to hire employees with similar values to begin with, right?  Not necessarily, says Johnson.

“For innovation-driven companies, hiring like-minded employees could have a negative impact on innovation within the organization. You need to consider all the factors.”

productivity

Top 6 Useful Productivity Apps

  1. Evernote

    Evernote website screeshot
    Ever have a idea that you need to jot down and not forget? Evernote does this and more. With Evernote you can sync all your notes from your computer, phone and the web.

    This useful app does more than just note taking. You can type, a note, clip a web page, snap a photo and use voice notes.

    To make things easier they offer organizing tools to help you search by keywords, titles and tags. My personal favorite is the ability to search images that have handwritten notes and snapshots of documents. www.evernote.com offers a collection of useful suggestions on how to take advantage of this powerful web app.

  2. Scr.im


    Are you afraid to post your email address on the web? Then scr.im is the right tool for you. This useful little web app is like a url shortener but for your email address.

    Posting your email address in places like forums, twitter or comments area is a easy spam target. What this app does for you is takes yourname@gmail.com and converts it for example to http://scr.im/yourname. If a person wants to email you, they will go to this URL and take a simple humanity check to reveal the protected email address.

  3. Permatime


    When working with clients or colleagues from different time zones, setting up meetings based on your local time can be a hassle. Instead of calculating the time difference in your head or searching for the time zone your contact is in, use permatime.com.

    What Permatime does is generates a link you can share with others that will show the time in their own local time zone.

  4. TitanPad


    Need a quick easy way to work on a text document simultaneously with others, then try titanpad.com. If you love to collaborate and take advantage of cloud computing then try out TitanPad. This web app offers a no sign-up, write instantly solution.

  5. DocsPal


    Have you ever worked with someone that sends you a file that you don’t have the application for and all you need to do is view what they sent you? Try www.docspal.com. This quick and easy free file converter will save you the headache of wondering what that file looks like. DocsPal allows you to view documents and images they convert directly in your browser.

  6. OpenWith.org


    Similar to DocsPal this website is geared towards helping you view a file you can’t open. What www.openwith.org offers is a resource to finding free applications to download and open that file.

Cohesive Workplace

Cohesive Sustainable Workplace Environment

The summer of fun in Arizona has arrived. What are some of the exciting topics around the water cooler this season? Consider these: A splendid May that has seen unseasonably cool temperatures; our Phoenix Suns vying for a championship; environmental disaster in the Gulf of Mexico; this little thing called Senate Bill 1070.

Did you just feel the air go out of the break room? Regardless of personal and political ideology, the recent piece of state legislation (with national implications) brings to light a workplace issue that should be at the forefront of managers minds: How do we build a cohesive and sustainable workplace?

Cohesion in the workplace drives company loyalty, reduces employee churn, increases efficiency and productivity, and creates an environment where people desire to work. What does this mean from a business sustainability standpoint? Better people, better work, and better potential profit. A workplace environment in which employees dread coming to work, do not feel engaged, and are not valued does not equate to a prudent business model. An organization that embodies employee respect and engagement has a framework for success and sustainability.

In the midst of our state’s economic and social uncertainty, here are some ideas to help foster a more cohesive environment in your workplace:

Stakeholder Engagement:
You will be amazed at the innovative ideas and solutions that your employees possess. Provide your employees, at all levels, with the opportunity to “co-create” their future and the future of the organization in concert with you, the manager.  Buy-in, especially by those most closely tied to the organization, is always in style.

Employees as Assets:
Don’t marginalize or alienate the greatest asset in your workplace; employees. Make a concerted effort to develop and advance your employees professional and personal life. You will be amazed how a little development will produce a lifelong raving fan that works harder and better for the organization.

Create a nurturing environment:
Workplace stress can have deleterious effects on employee behavior, health, and family life. Combat this by making the workplace one in which people have fun, interact, and look forward to coming to each day.

Arizona is a beautiful state that is home to a diverse and pluralistic community of individuals that provide us with a rich culture. Naturally, this permeates into our collective workforce. While businesses should always act in a manner that complies with the current legal framework, they should also make a concerted effort to establish a more cohesive environment for its diverse workforce and act in a more sustainable manner.

What are your success stories in creating cohesive and sustainable business environments?

hr_director_lg_biz

2009 Large Business HR Director Of The Year Finalists

Christine NicholsName: Christine Nichols
Title: Human Resource Manager
Company: Human Capital Strategies

Years with company: 1
Years in current position: 1
Company established: 2007
No. of employees in AZ: 980
No. of employees in HR dept.: 2
www.hcscando.com

Christine Nichols has a take-charge attitude that she applies to all her duties as human resource manager at Human Capital Strategies.

Nichols is thorough in establishing and implementing human resources programs such as employee orientation, and in providing proper training for employees so they can build value in the Mesa-based employment and human-services company. She also monitors staff efficiency by coaching employees on their assigned projects.

Known for her open-door policy, Nichols has established forthright communication that cultivates a sense of trust within the company and allows employees to participate in the firm’s growth. Each employee’s opinion is given respectful attention, and issues, concerns and ideas are appropriately addressed under Nichols’ leadership. In addition to encouraging employees to further their education and professional development through classes, Nichols also makes sure their responsibilities overlap into other departments, so they can carry out the duties of other staff members and are better candidates for promotion.

To encourage quality performance, employee accomplishments are recognized at biweekly staff meetings and quarterly team-building events.

Nichols’ department offers telecommuting and flex time for employees, especially when an illness strikes or the unexpected occurs in employees’ personal lives. These arrangements are particularly convenient for staff with children or elderly parents who need extra attention. Human Capital Strategies has found telecommuting and flex time highly beneficial; missed days are minimal and productivity is high. These arrangements also improve employee retention.

Diversity at Human Capital Strategies is based on the belief that quality people are not exclusive to a specific background.


Patti SorourName: Patti Sorour
Title: Director of Human Resources
Company: Westin Kierland Resort & Spa

Years with company: 1+
Years in current position: 1+
Company established: 2002
No. of employees in AZ: 1,000
No. of employees in HR dept.: 5
www.westin.com

Patti Sorour is putting her 25 years of human resources experience to good use at the Westin Kierland Resort & Spa. Using a variety of programs, including those for employee development, incentives and recognition, Sorour works to keep employee morale and retention at a high level.

As director of human resources, Sorour looks for ways to help the Scottsdale resort’s employees follow the Westin philosophy of living and working well. Her department has disseminated tips on how to stay healthy during the flu season. The resort’s “Live Well. Be Well.” electronic newsletter also provides suggestions for healthy eating and fitness.

Sorour helps maintain a strong level of internal communication for both management and staff through daily and monthly newsletters. Employees are recognized for their hard work and dedication on a daily, monthly and yearly basis. Management also receives similar recognition quarterly.

Through Westin Kierland University, employees participate in classes that not only help them on the job, but also in their everyday lives. Classes have been offered for CPR, retirement planning and behavioral interviewing. The Phoenix Police Department’s “Don’t Be A Victim” program also has been incorporated into the classes.

Under Sorour’s guidance, the resort offers a six-month employee development program in which staff members are schooled on operational and leadership skills through hands-on experience and shadowing department heads. The aim of the program is to help participants prepare for leadership positions.

To help promote diversity at Kierland, Sorour recruits seasonal employees from other countries who work in a variety of departments, including culinary, dining and recreation.

hr_director_sm_biz

2009 Small Business HR Director Of The Year Honoree

Camille McCalebName: Camille McCaleb
Title: Vice President of Human Resources and Operations
Company: Creative Business Resources

Years with company: 4
Years in current position: 4
Company established: 1997
Employees in AZ: 25
Employees in HR department: 3
www.cbri.com


Progressive companies know there’s more to filling job openings than simply interviewing people and hiring warm bodies. At Creative Business Resources, Camille McCaleb has taken the lead in ensuring that new hires are a good fit for both the job and this Phoenix-based human resources outsourcing company.

As vice president of human resources and operations, McCaleb brought personality profiling into the hiring process and became certified in personality testing so she can analyze the results. The profiles show the natural tendencies of recruits and how they likely will interact with other employees and clients on a personal and professional level. This insight gives the human resources department an indication of whether a prospective hire will be successful at the company. Taking the process one step further, all Creative Business Resources employees review one another’s profile results to help them relate to each other in times of success and failure.

McCaleb implements additional measures to help new employees succeed. Before they are allowed to interact with clients, new hires go through three months of training that gives them the knowledge they need to start client relationships. In addition, the entire staff participates in extensive customer-service training during which service expectations are communicated. Each department sets goals aimed at helping to achieve overall company objectives. Departmental goals are posted around the office.

Under McCaleb’s steady hand, Creative Business Resources has taken steps to make employees’ lives easier. Two years ago, McCaleb and other executives made the decision to open a second office in west Phoenix. This eased employees’ commutes and increased productivity. New technology helps employees work at home, also increasing productivity.

McCaleb is credited with doing an outstanding job in the areas of employee relations and recognition. Time is set aside at each department and company meeting to recognize employees for personal triumphs, professional successes, company anniversaries and birthdays. McCaleb leads this outreach to employees to make them feel special and to motivate them to do an even better job. The human resources and risk management departments also publish monthly newsletters that keep staff and clients informed about happenings at the company and in its industry.

Employee achievements also are recognized with gift cards and spa days. Bonuses are handed out based on company profit for the year and successful job performance. The company also helps employees with a Christmas savings club. Employees who put $1,000 into the club receive $250 from the company in time for holiday shopping and travel. Thanksgiving and Christmas bonuses are given to all employees, as well.

Diversity is a key pillar of the business model at Creative Business Resources and McCaleb works diligently to blend this concept into the corporate culture and the manner in which the company conducts business with clients. To lead the way, the human resources and risk management departments are bilingual.

McCaleb also encourages employees to be active in the community. Employees volunteer for Project C.U.R.E, the Phoenix Rescue Mission and Special Olympics on a regular basis. In addition, Creative Business Resources gives employees a paid day off to volunteer.

Table & Chairs alone don't make a workspace comfortable

You Need More Than A Table And Chairs To Make A Conference Room Inviting And Efficient

A 2005 Microsoft Corp. survey of personal office productivity found that people spend an average of 5.6 hours each week in meetings. That meeting time may be spent in a well designed, comfortable conference space. Or it can be in an uncomfortable chair with no plug for the laptop or light to read presentation notes, or with the sun glaring in your face. It is only then that we wonder, did anyone think about the comfort and utility of this space?

Anne Elizabeth Hamilton and architect Nathan Leblang, AIA, both with the architectural and design firm of Orcutt Winslow Partnership, have given conference rooms plenty of thought. In fact, they recently finished designing new administrative offices for Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Arizona, which included conference and meeting space. Here are their thoughts on creating a conference room:

Corporate culture
Think about the culture of your organization. Is there a need for privacy and separation or does your work style favor an open and team-oriented space? The level of visual and acoustic privacy should also be considered. Does the space need to be “dressed to impress” or do you want to create a level of comfort and informality? The company’s identity/culture should be clearly communicated so the space can reflect and showcase that identity to visitors.

Room size and shape

Design always impacts function. A room’s proportions — the height and the width of the room — are important. If a room is small and cramped, it cannot serve a large number of people. If a room is too large, it’s like having an intimate lunch in a train station. A large room needs a higher ceiling to “breathe” or it feels claustrophobic and oppressive. Lighting, color and window walls can make a small room feel spacious.

Tables and seating
Integrate flexibility wherever possible. Tables should be designed to work together or pull apart depending upon the use of the space. Estimate the average number of people who might be using the space. Every person who attends the meeting may not need a seat at the table, and benches or chairs along the sides may provide additional seating. Many conference room tables today are “sight-line” tables, which allow each participant to have a good view to a front screen and create a definite front-of-room layout. Storage space in large conference rooms for chairs, tables or equipment also should be considered.

Materials and lighting
The selection of materials impacts the toxicity of a room. It’s important to select nontoxic laminates, cabinets without formaldehyde, carpet without off-gassing VOCs (volatile organic compounds), “green” paint and wall coverings.

Provide as much natural light as possible, as long as it can be controlled for glare. Avoid placing windows behind a speaker podium or where a presenter will be standing. A comprehensive light plan includes low-energy, high-output lighting with good lighting over the table, flexibility in lighting control to separate perimeter lighting, task lighting, and accent art lighting. Automatic turn-off when the room is not occupied is an available and essential extra. Drop-down electric shades with perforated material for transparency and a second roller for room darkening can add drama by timing all the shades to drop together. Coordinate this with dimming lighting controls to set an anticipatory mood for a presentation.

Technology
The interface between technology and room design is critical. A room that works great otherwise won’t be used if there isn’t a sound system to allow people to hear the presentation or if there are no outlets integrated into the table or floor space to plug in laptops and projectors. Provide connections in the center of the table or in recessed junction boxes in the floor below the table for electrical/data/Internet. Place ceiling speakers throughout a large conference room to distribute sound.

You also can have built-in, ceiling-mounted projectors. For video and Web conferencing and presentations, ceiling-mounted screens, LCD TVs, white boards, wall-mounted chart holders and teleconferencing systems integrate cleanly into well-designed spaces.

Students/employees succeed post-recession

New Program At Thunderbird Aims To Help Students And Employees Succeed Post-Recession

Lately, the national and international media have been reporting that the economy is recovering. The chatter is that many of the key indicators (other than unemployment) are starting to predict that we may be just a quarter or two from the “light” at the end of the tunnel.

That light, however, could be snuffed by yet another crisis — a crisis in sustainable leadership. The loss in human potential caused by the high demands and increased stress related to reductions in human resources and development of remaining talent could be catastrophic for businesses.

Sure, many of the cost reductions in companies and organizations have had a positive impact on margins and liquidity, but will this be sustainable? Many executives have shared their doubts about whether the changes and strategies they put in place during this recession will make their organization more capable of reaching their future targets. Even worse, they question their own energy and capacity to continue to try to keep up, let alone get ahead.

This is the crisis at the end of the tunnel. There will be many opportunities that emerge from the post-recession economy. Unfortunately, too many leaders and organizations still will be in survival mode because they are numb, tired, foggy and lack the passion to really capitalize. In short, they won’t have the gas in their tank to use the knowledge they have to bring their business back to the level it should be.

The last year has been a time of less. Less people, less investment in the people remaining, less optimism, less outward focus (on the customers and the opportunities) and less training. Unfortunately, it also has led to a lack of high-performance behaviors. In order to see the light at the end of the tunnel businesses and organizations must change the paradigm to one of MORE. More energy, more passion, more productivity, more preparation, more focus and more design.

The Thunderbird School of Global Management recognizes this missing link in the executive world. This is why it is collaborating with Tignum to incorporate sustainable high performance training into the school’s own work force and educational experiences. The aim is to ensure its employees, graduates and executive education clients not only garner the business and cultural skills needed to run sustainable organizations, but also the personal capacity to maintain their own long-term performance and competitive edge.

Sustainable high performance training was first introduced to Thunderbird’s faculty and staff during a kickoff event on Aug. 18. Later that month, similar presentations were made to new full-time students. Thunderbird now is integrating the program into campus life through follow-up workshops and an on-campus communication campaign. School officials say the goal is to help participants overcome habits that lead to burnout by building a solid foundation that can sustain high performance throughout their careers.

Thunderbird and Tignum also are working to develop a sustainable high performance program for corporate clients who come to the school for executive education.

“Incorporating sustainable personal leadership training with Thunderbird’s No. 1-ranked global business education furthers the school’s mission to produce global leaders who make a lasting impact in the world by creating sustainable value for their companies and communities,” Thunderbird President Ángel Cabrera said in a statement. “In order for individuals to create lasting value, it is imperative they be equipped with strong global business skills combined with a socially responsible and global mindset and the capacity for their own sustainable high performance.”

The fact is, the knowledge, skills and strategies that have gotten businesses to this point will no longer be sufficient to achieve long-term goals in the future if companies do not invest in the sustainability of their people.

Recently there was a special issue of the Harvard Business Review called Leadership in the New World. The name of this issue alone explicitly implies that what we knew in the “old” world won’t work in the future. The habits that you’ve used to be successful in the past won’t be enough to ensure your success in the future.

The New World will require energized, responsive, agile, creative and attentive leaders. It will require that they energize and inspire others so they can meet their customers’ desires and stay two steps ahead of the growing and gainingcompetition. This will require new personal habits to increase their energy, resilience, brain performance and capacity. In the past, too many executives saw these things as a “nice to have,” but now these things are a “strategic must.” Your own personal energy and resilience are your foundation upon which all of your performance is built.

Sustainable high performance is a condition where you are highly motivated, your self-esteem is strong, your excitement to handle challenges is evident and your physical energy is abundant. People perceive you as present,grounded, responsive and focused. You implement sound judgment and innovative solutions, maximizing your impact on your team, company, brand and the world. Sustainable high performance is showing up consistently with your best game on.


old computers, electronics

Do You Know What Happens When Your Company Chucks Its Old Computers?

It’s time to swap out your old clunker computer for a fast, new one. You discuss your needs with your systems manager, she buys a new machine and makes the swap. Where does that old computer go after it leaves your desk? Do you need to care?

Electronics waste, or e-waste, is getting increasing attention from environmentalists and policy makers around the world. There are a number of reasons why. One is that computers and IT equipment contain heavy metals, in particular lead, which could pose a health concern. While you’re using the computer these metals are safely stuck inside the machine. The concern is that after the computer is disposed of those metals could get out and cause harm.

Policy makers around the world are developing regulations that aim to make sure electronics are designed more safely and are collected and recycled at the end of their usefulness. Europe has a region-wide mandate for both design and recycling of electronics. While there is no federal e-waste recycling law in the U.S., 19 states have mandated systems to collect and recycle electronics. Arizona has yet to enact e-waste legislation, but it would not be surprising if a national law is developed in the next few years.

From the standpoint of complying with current laws, businesses in Arizona need to be aware of U.S. Environmental Protection Agency rules relating to cathode ray tubes (CRTs). Due to their lead content, CRTs are considered hazardous waste, and above a certain threshold there are regulations on how they are to be disposed. There also are rules relating to exporting used CRTs for reuse or recycling.

The notion of corporate social responsibility, increasingly part of business strategy, calls on businesses to move beyond environmental compliance to tackle proactive action so as to “do the right thing.” But what is the right thing to do with e-waste?

It turns out that manufacturing computers and other IT hardware is surprisingly environmentally intensive. For example, if you replace your office desktop computer every four years, the energy to make the computer is about equal to the amount you used while it was plugged into to wall. This means that extending the lifespan of computers can have a big effect on reducing energy use and other environmental impacts by cutting down the number of new computers purchased. Extending lifespan also reduces the amount of e-waste generated.

One way to extend lifespan is to use computers longer. Obviously it doesn’t make sense to sacrifice productivity with sluggish computers, but on the other hand, a new computer doesn’t always mean better job performance. Upgrading CPUs (central processing units) and memory are strategies to squeeze more performance. It’s also important to keep in mind the labor and hassle associated with swapping machines.

Even if a machine is deemed too slow to be appropriate for your firm, there are others who might be able to use it. There are organizations such as AZStrUT, a partnership between local schools and businesses, that accept donations of used computers, and refurbish and provide them to schools and students.

The export of e-waste abroad is an important issue to be aware of, as well. A lot of e-waste in the U.S. gets shipped to China, India and other countries for reuse, which is good. But the e-waste also ends up in backyard recycling, which is bad. In backyard recycling, primitive methods are used to recover materials, processes that cause significant harm to the environment. For example, to recover copper from wires, wires are pulled and piled up and then set on fire to remove the insulation. The emissions from this type of fire are very harmful. While the export of used equipment has the benefit of making IT more accessible abroad, it’s important to export usable equipment instead of junk intended for recycling. Whether your firm sells a computer for reuse, contracts recycling or throws it in the trash, data security also is something to be careful about. Deleting a file doesn’t mean the data is completely wiped from a hard drive; there are tricks people can play to recover the file. You could be shipping your firm’s confidential data right out in the bin. There are special software tools that rewrite over hard drives, so as to destroy all previous stored data.

To sum up, my advice on managing IT hardware in a greener way is:

  • Extract maximum use from the equipment while it’s in the firm.
  • Donate or sell usable old machines when possible.
  • Selling abroad is fine, but make sure it’s usable.
  • Contract recycling for junk equipment.
  • Finally, before letting a machine leave a business, make sure data is properly erased or that the contractor will do this.

operational nightmare

Prevent An Operational Nightmare At Your Company

Imagine this scenario: Your business has superior processes and efficiencies in place for R&D. As long as payroll is made on time, sales are coming in and operations are otherwise running smoothly, you don’t question what is going on in your non-development related departments. Then, the person who’s been running your human resources department for 10 years leaves.

All of a sudden, claims are slipping through the cracks, payrolls are missed and there are major issues with your vendors. These are the very real problems that arise in businesses every day when they rely too much on the knowledge of their long-term employees and fail to transfer that knowledge into systems. In many companies, there always seems to be that one person in every department who has been there the longest and knows the most. But this knowledge does not last forever. Once this person leaves the company, you may have to start over in many ways — and that’s when time and money are lost.

You’ve likely gone to great lengths to implement processes with your development team so your products don’t fail. Now is the time to do the same with your other teams so your business doesn’t fail.

Hands-off the tactical work
For starters, you can outsource, locally, the operations that are imperative to running your business. Customer service and HR are two areas that are worth looking into, along with sales-lead generation, training and technical support. This doesn’t always mean you have to cut your own teams. Many times, companies find that the managers they already have in place running sales, support and HR, can be much more effective overall when the more mundane and automated tasks are outsourced. Pairing internal technological systems with outsourcing to companies that specialize in any one area not only can improve efficiencies, but also prevent disaster when the internal manager leaves. Companies that outsource their operations see many benefits, including:

  • More efficient operations that are automated and run seamlessly, no matter what’s going on inside the company.
  • Fewer missed deadlines, as results aren’t dependent on one person who may be the bottleneck, preventing operations from moving freely.
  • Better performance from employees who are freed up to work more on big-picture strategy.
  • Better team work and company culture, as there is less confusion over who handles which responsibilities.

Find the technology
It’s amazing how many companies are still using manual spreadsheets and logs to track things such as benefits, billing and sales leads. What good is your best salesperson’s lead-generation strategy, for instance, if it’s recorded on a document that only he or she can decipher? Your business needs visibility into how results are accomplished every day, in every department, so work doesn’t ever miss a beat.

So what technology solutions does your company need? CRM (customer relationship management)? Online time sheets? Benefits tracking? Start with those managers who are hoarding all that great knowledge. Ask them to research and implement solutions that will easily capture and communicate the processes they’re putting into action every day. The greatest benefit here is that once others have visibility into how your internal “experts” are working, they can learn from those experiences and improve their own performance. The expertise of your best players isn’t being put to full use if those who work alongside them aren’t learning from it. Additionally, if everything is being captured and shared correctly through these systems, then any new person should be able to step in and take over rather seamlessly.

If you do explore the outsourcing route, the vendors you use may also be able to point you to the best technologies available to help streamline the processes. For instance, your HR company should be able to help you find timesheets, reporting and other tracking systems that easily integrate into their own systems. Same with your lead generation company, which should be able to recommend the best CRM or CMS (content management system) for your business. This may seem like a tedious and expensive undertaking, but most companies find they save money and improve productivity (and their bottom line) greatly over time.

Hiring the best people to run your various operational needs is an important task for every company. But hiring the best expert you can find is only the first step. Do your business a favor for the long-term and make sure that expertise is shared and supported in a way that ensures smooth operations.

ear, drawing, woman

Customer Service And Reliability Are Two Important Factors In Selecting The Right Telecom Provider

With the evolution of the information age, corporations are continually looking for new ways to increase productivity. Executives are faced with hundreds of service options on a daily basis and need help answering at least one of the many important operational questions they might have: How to choose the right telecommunications provider.

When you think of your telecom provider, you should think of a successful business partner that understands the needs of its clients, offers reliable service that can be flexible when you need it most, and is known for fast and friendly local personnel that are second to none.

Understanding business needs
Whether you own a flower shop, run a system of hospitals or work with a government agency, it’s important that you look for a provider that offers a product suite that meets your needs, offers the expertise to service your company and has a genuine understanding of your business climate.

Growing competition in the telecom industry has allowed providers of all sizes and specialties to enter the market. Some specialize in residential Internet or phone products, while others focus on providing communications services to the business sector. Very few have the resources and knowledge to do both well. While many of the primary services are similar, the needs of each sphere are extraordinarily unique. Before you hire a provider, ask yourself these questions:

  • Could you operate your business with the level of reliability you receive from your residential communications provider?
  • Is it important that your provider focuses its resources on developing new or upgraded business products?
  • How important is it that your telecom provider sympathizes with your business needs and concerns?

The greatest benefit a telecommunications company can offer its clients, aside from an outstanding and reliable service, is the ability to understand their business. Regardless of the provider you choose, the company should be prepared to qualify themselves to be your telecom adviser. Not only should the provider offer local staff that know and use your business, they should understand what it is your business does, the values that are important to your business, and what your business communication needs require.

Reliability is a driving force
Telecommunications reliability is affected by a number of factors. One is the network used to deliver a company’s services. Look for a provider that owns and operates its own fiber optic network. By owning the networks, the provider will have greater control of the network operations and maintenance.

Ask your prospective provider about their scalability. Voice and data providers often praise their ability to offer high speeds and extra bandwidth. Question whether they have the scalability to grow with your company’s needs and those of your clientele, while maintaining the current speed and size offerings they advertise.

Also, ask providers how flexible they will be as your communications needs evolve. After all, there will always be unexpected business ventures that require flexibility on your part and theirs.

Customer service in your community
People often forget to ask about customer service when they’re interviewing telecom providers. It’s not the first thing that comes to mind, but it will be top of mind when an unexpected storm blows through town or an accident disables your communication lines.

Telecom companies are accustomed to receiving questions about their customer service policies and procedures. Here are a few questions you should ask your current or potential provider:

  • If I have a problem, who do I call and where are they located?
  • What if there is an outage in the middle of the night?
  • Who is responsible for fixing my problem? Are the technicians, service representatives and executive management all located
    in Arizona?
  • Will I receive an estimated repair time when I call in?
  • If I have questions about my bill, will I have to talk to a machine or will a friendly person that can answer my question pick up the phone immediately when I call?
  • May I contact one of your current customers to discuss
    their experience?
  • Do you get an automated message or a friendly live person who answers the phone?

Like any good business partner, your telecom company should support your company needs at all times, while helping you achieve your long-term business goals.

organized desk

Creating More Efficient Workspaces Can Increase Productivity And Reduce Costs

Bracing for austere times ahead, office leaders have two obvious places to cut back: payroll and real estate. No one would suggest that cutting staff is an easy or enjoyable thing to do, but it can be an opportunity. Space freed by reductions in payroll can be reorganized to improve workplaces, bolster worker morale and raise productivity.

Even before the recent financial crisis took hold, Gensler’s research found that 36 percent of U.S. office space is considered by the workers using it to be ineffective. This is in large measure because the nature of work is changing. Formerly the domain of so-called creative industries, collaborative meetings and group work scenarios have assumed priority over individual focus time.

Reducing office space as a cost-cutting strategy can actually create inefficiencies if you simply shrink space and continue with the same workplace model. Gensler’s recent workplace survey found that firms that provide appropriate workplaces for the type of business conducted have higher levels of employee engagement, brand equity and profit, with profit growth up to 14 percentage points greater than those with less effective work environments.

If layoffs have left you with too much space for too few people, look into whether you can unload space through subletting or simply returning it to the landlord. There can be a real negative psychological impact among employees who always are aware that there’s an empty desk next to them. At the same time, a little more breathing room can boost spirits and productivity.

Before making any plans, take a look around the office and really understand how space is being used. Observe how people are working in the office, how areas are really utilized. What’s empty? What’s overcrowded? Where have people been doing workarounds to make space effective? Look for wear patterns, improvised equipment and furnishings, over-flowing desks, unused conference rooms, etc.

When you’re ready to take action, consider these possibilities:
Make sure you’re getting the most out of your space by converting as many spaces as possible from single-use spaces into multipurpose spaces. A reception area can double as a client area, employee café, community space and optional work area. This approach will require furniture that supports multiple uses.

Wireless capability makes your office one big workspace. Anyone can go to any corner of the workplace to huddle in groups or get away from everyone for some solitary focus time.

By strategically locating amenities, you can increase the opportunities for incidental, as well as intentional, collaboration among staff members.

Branding the workplace nurtures corporate culture and improves a sense of teamwork and pride in the work produced. Color, art, graphic images and printed messages used in strategic locations can be powerful.

Improve visual connectivity among colleagues to promote collaboration and social interaction. This can be achieved in several ways: employ an open office plan, install low-panel workstations and reduce the number of closed offices.

Create space by increasing density and clustering meeting rooms. Create collaborative social zones in the space outside of those areas. This energizes public areas while reducing space taken up by circulation paths.

Place workstations and open collaborative spaces along window areas, and put offices inboard to bring light deeper into the space. Natural light in workspaces raises productivity and reduces energy costs.

Accommodate telecommuting when appropriate. You can save on real estate, energy costs and demonstrate an interest in your employees’ work-life balance. With mobile workers, be sure you have space in the office that gives them easy access to the tools they require and the people they need to connect with.

Perhaps before going all in, make small changes and monitor the results. It is important to assess your workplace layout before making any changes and to evaluate the results after implementation. Observation and surveys are effective ways to validate what’s working. Once your workplace environment changes are complete and have been occupied for a few months, verify that your design is advancing workplace goals. Consider evaluating your space every two to three years to help keep your workplace effective.

Ask where you’ve captured real estate efficiencies. Have you been able to get double and even triple use out of some spaces? Is every part of your office space being deployed in the service of supporting work activities? Are your employees more connected, informed, collaborative and productive? Ultimately, your new design should deliver improved business performance.

Creating a more efficient, collaborative and accommodating workplace is something that pays dividends even in financially distressed times. A proud organization with employees who enjoy going to work and who feel the company cares about them will work harder and more effectively no matter the state of the economy.

For the first time, Dial Corp.'s research and development will be housed with the company's headquarters.

Dial Corp. Gets Ready To Move Into Its New Headquarters

By year’s end, Dial Corp. expects to have moved into a new 350,000-square-foot national headquarters in Scottsdale, and for the first time it will house its research and development operations under the same roof.

What’s more, Dial Corp. will be the first tenants in One Scottsdale, a luxury retail and lifestyle community at the northeast corner of Scottsdale Road and Loop 101. In addition to Dial’s presence, One Scottsdale will consist of high-fashion retail shops, upscale restaurants, boutique hotel rooms, office space and a diversity of residential housing.

The move from existing facilities in North Scottsdale was set in motion in 2005.

“Faced with an expiring lease at the end of 2008 on its R&D facility, Dial began searching for a new location,” says Natalie Violi, director of corporate communications for Henkel of America Inc., Dial’s parent company. “The goal was to purchase a large enough parcel of land to house a world class R&D facility and at the same time be located in a desirable location for our employees.

“It was during this process that Dial decided to also move its headquarters to the same location as its R&D facility to inspire collaboration between our scientists and businesses.”

Dial’s current R&D facility is located at 15101 N. Scottsdale Road in Scottsdale, where it has been for 32 years. It is near its current headquarters for the past 11 years at 15501 N. Dial Blvd. in Scottsdale. The current research center across from Kierland Commons likely will be razed as the new Scottsdale Quarters project takes shape. The owners of the existing headquarters building are looking for new tenants.

Violi says housing the headquarters and R&D facility under one roof is a first for Dial, including its former location on North Central Avenue in Phoenix, and before that in Chicago.

The amenities Dial employees enjoyed as neighbors of the Kierland Commons mixed-use development were a factor in choosing the new site, says Brad Gazaway, vice president and corporate counsel, who is the Dial executive in charge of the new building project.

“Finding a location that would afford similar — and possibly more — amenities was an important consideration in our selection process,” Gazaway says. “We believed this not only for the convenience that nearby hotels, restaurants, homes and retailers offer our employees and business on a day-to-day basis, but also the fact that such amenities and creative architecture and surroundings found in mixed-use developments can foster inspiring innovation and development that will bring about increased business productivity and results. Such environments also serve as a valuable platform for employee recruitment and retention.”

By relocating to One Scottsdale, Gazaway says, the move enables Dial to be “a part of an exciting and innovative environment in which our employees will thrive and flourish.”

Total cost of the project, says Gazaway, is “north of $100 million.”

Dial is looking for LEED certification for its new home. Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certified buildings are healthier work and living environments, which contribute to higher productivity and improved employee health and comfort.

Going “green” may add somewhat to the cost, but should result in savings and other benefits in the long run. The building has many “green” aspects, such as workstations designed to be safe, healthy, comfortable and functional.

Gazaway mentions other “green” features. Natural lighting is emphasized, and a roof garden on the fourth floor with trees and benches is ideal for employee use at lunchtime, and for parties and receptions, he says. All of the wood used in construction is from recycled material. Excess materials were separated — wood in one pile and paper products in another — for recycling. Sundt Construction, the project’s general contractor, spearheaded the recycling effort, Gazaway says.

Furthermore, an enhanced heating and air-conditioning system meets LEED standards for performance. Additionally, Dial will provide special parking spaces for carpoolers, spaces for bicycles, changing rooms and a fitness room.

“In today’s environment, Dial wants to be in the forefront of consumer products as far as sustainability measures,” Gazaway says. “We want to show that we’re building a new facility and we are taking our environment seriously. We want to provide a building that our employees can enjoy for years to come. It’s important for us to take a leadership role in establishing new buildings. We’re falling in line with the city of Scottsdale’s mandates. Scottsdale wants all new buildings to fall under this LEED certification. It sets the right tone.”

Violi adds that being environmentally conscious is a core value of Dial’s parent company, Henkel of America.