5 office hacks we can’t live without.

  1. Slack.

We admit it, we’re addicted to Slack. We love this tool and find it essential to our day-to-day operations in the office. Slack is in (very) simple terms is Whatsapp for the workplace. But in reality it’s so much more than that. You can integrate it with your dropbox, Google Drive, set up specific channels for different projects/groups of people and much more.

Oh and their explainer video is just the best, which gets them extra points from us.

      2. Uber Conference

This site is particularly useful if you live in a part of the world where Skype is not available and you rely heavily on video conference for remote meetings. The free version of this allows conference calls and screen sharing, while the paid version allows video calling as well. We do advise you make sure that other participants get the timing of the call spot-on though, otherwise the hold music will drive you crazy.

      3. Weekly debate club

What started as a way for us to make sure we all proactively stay on top of industry news, technology advances and other relevant information has turned into the highlight of our week in the office. From an educational POV, the nature of a debate means that we all have to thoroughly research and really understand the subject matter ahead of the session. This means we’re all reading more, sharing more and having more conversations. (Amazing what a little gamification can do, isn’t it?). What’s more, is that our debate club has evolved into a sacred half an hour of social time where we all leave our laptops and gather round for the discussion. It’s where we really bond as a team, share ideas, shout at each other and have a LOT of laughs.

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       4. Whiteboards

As integrated marketing communications strategists, we often have to navigate a maze of thoughts and ideas before we find our path and for this, we find that a good scribble can often save hours of brain crunching. We’re lucky in our office to have large glass surfaces attached to all the walls on which we can host discussions, write up thought starters or share quotes that resonate with us. But don’t let a lack of surface area deter you – a good old fashioned pen and paper works just as well!

     5. Timesheets

We know. Yawn, right? But seriously, since implementing our time sheet system we find we’re so much more productive cause we can see where our hours are being spent. It also means we have a clear indication of when projects run over and we know we’ve not allowed for enough hours, allowing us to be more efficient in future.

Do you have an awesome office hack that you would add to this list? Hit us up in the comments and let’s swap secret weapons!

We don’t do blame in this family.

“The disastrous impacts of a blame culture work environment.

When I was growing up, “we don’t do blame in this family” was a mantra within our family unit. The motto of our parents that was rolled out whatever the situation; be it a way to diffuse a sibling squabble, a joke that was cracked when an exit off the M8 was missed, or simply when making a comparison to the approach of other families around us.

I remember as a child being so frustrated by this phrase. We don’t do blame in this family but it’s all HER fault I would proclaim, casting daggers at my younger sister. I didn’t get it. Understandable at the age of 8. However, as I have grown up it has stayed with me as a constant throughout both my personal and professional lives, and become the phrase that has shaped my outlook.

In recent years I have spent time at both ends of the spectrum; from a relaxed, friendly work place, to an authoritarian blame culture where the premise upon arrival was “trust no-one”. Having lived-through (read: survived) both, I can safely say the former is a much more enjoyable and productive environment to be part of.

If your employees are too scared to speak up out of fear, imagine how many ideas/suggestions/brainwaves that you’re missing out on because it becomes easier (safer!) just to stay quiet, keep your head down and do the bare minimum. If employees see others around them get blamed for things going wrong when their intentions were nothing but good, what message does this spread to the rest of the workforce?

How does a blame culture thrive, and what can be done to stop it?

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1) It stems from the top.

In order to facilitate a no-blame environment, it has to be endorsed right from the top and will not work with a “do as I say, not as I do” attitude. As a leader, it is their role to take the most arrows, even if it means taking some for the team from time to time.

2) No blame does not mean no accountability.

The concept of blame, I believe, stems from a lack of taking responsibility for one’s own actions, and therefore the easiest thing to do is to point the finger at someone else. A work-place blame culture greatly reduces the effectiveness of a team as employees fight to carve out their niche, rather than work together towards a common goal.

However, this does not mean that people will not be held accountable for their actions. A simple way to implement this is to put in place KPIs and metrics for every project. If expectations are clearly defined throughout the process, it’s more difficult to shift blame.

3) It’s not an excuse.

Having a no-blame policy in the workplace does not mean that employees are allowed to get away with out-of-order behavior. The difference is in the response to dealing with such behavior. Instead of wasting time and effort appointing blame, issues are examined, and a clear strategy for improvement is derived.

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Image Credit: Sonya Teclai

 

It is not an easy feat. And ultimately, it begins with trust – from both sides.

Looking to the market, Netflix is a great example of how a large corporation is approaching this. Their Culture Deck  has become an industry benchmark for how to set the tone of a workplace. They believe that trust is a two-way entity and empower their employees through this outlook. Employees are encouraged to take control of their own approach to the company, managing their own deadlines, holidays and workload.

As one of the earliest employees to join Bravo Romeo by AJ, I find myself in the fairly unique position of being able to help shape the culture of our workplace. Add to this the fact that we are a startup, it means we have carte blanche to set the tone of the company and not be tied to existing workplace policies that other more established companies are often faced with. I am determined to ensure that the company grows up with the right values, and stays true to them as we expand. 

With this in mind, I believe blame to ultimately be a completely redundant emotion, both in leading a business and in life in general. It erodes collaboration and breeds toxicity. The time you spend blaming someone for something can be much better spent solving the problem, or working out how to improve in future. Here’s hoping I can learn from the stellar example that my parents set, and always practice what I preach. 

Featured Image Credit: Shutterstock