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Monday, 27 May 2013 09:33

Getting the Message Right!

Getting the Message Right!

After 15 years of working in the field of internal communications/internal marketing, I have realised that companies are just spending more and more money on the critical task of getting their employees to know, believe and understand their business and its objectives.


Yet after many years of using the same approach, there was clearly something wrong with the recipes being applied. We know that the drumming workshops do not work anymore, and the long road shows with gorgeous presentations have no lasting effect. The question is why?

Published in Employer Branding
Monday, 08 April 2013 00:00

Personal Space, Please

Personal Space, Please

The contemporary office has taken over. We now all sit open plan, and everyone knows everything about the people around them. We have transformed how we work - and the office will never be the same again.


So what happens when we long for our own space, or a bit of privacy? For a space where we can bury ourselves in our work, concentrate and tackle important activities?

Published in Wellness & Ergonomics
Monday, 29 October 2012 11:09

Supporting Collaborative Workstyles with the Modern Office

Supporting Collaborative Workstyles with the Modern Office

How does one go about equipping the office for the “we” rather than the “I” way of working?

In today’s working environment, we are focused on collaboration more than ever before. If you had to do an office survey, it would prove that over 85% of people need a partner or assistance to carry out their work. Indeed, collaboration doesn’t just happen in meeting rooms, but should be happening all the time - at desks, in passageways, on Skype, or even just through informal and spontaneous meetings or chats. People are always communicating. Smartphones also allow people to communicate more often and in different ways. You no longer need to be stationed at your desk to receive a call but can be mobile while still getting your job done.

Offices need to keep up with the new and demanding ways of working, and it is vital that workspaces support the collaborative trend. To effectively work this way, an office needs to cater for different kinds of working styles.

The first type of work style is “I work” – this requires quiet, private space. It is often where experts need to work. A space where people can focus without constant interruptions.

The second type of work style is “You and I work” - this involves work between two people and relatively simple communication.

The third type of work style is “we work” – this type of work involves a team of people working together. It is the highest level of work in that it usually involves multi-tasking, and various disciplines are intertwined. It also very often involves people from different locations.

Steelcase recorded that 70% of workers waste 15 minutes just looking for a space to sit - before they can work or hold a meeting, and 24% waste up to half an hour. Clearly, this means that we have to look carefully at the way in which workspaces are impacting productivity, and make the necessary changes.

At most companies there are standard, static workspaces and meeting spaces with very little choice of where and how to work. Most meeting facilities need to be booked in advance, which means that people need to plan how they work for the day and doesn’t allow for spontaneity.   Technology also impacts how we work. How would it transform a person’s day to be able to connect on a tablet or smartphone and hold a conference call from any space in the office - rather than having to book a set space days in advance?

Organisations can address these problems by redesigning their workspaces around the following “workstyle” principles:

  1. Focus on the main activities. Employees need space to be able to concentrate and focus, and they need space for social exchanges e.g. passageways, meeting and training rooms. These can also be ‘Think Tank’ areas.
  2. Allow for a variety of different sized workspaces and different technologies in various rooms. Collaborative work happens in spaces that accommodate a group of four to eight people - physically or virtually - or in a larger team space where people can still see each other. Internet access is always very important.
  3. Provide collaborative tools – such as whiteboards - which allow people to record ideas, illustrate their thoughts and allow others to visualise what is on their minds. These tools provide information persistence and shared knowledge.
  4. Give project teams their own dedicated space – it is great for project teams to have a unique space where they can strategise (not a space that is shared with clients and needs to get packed up every time). It gives a project its own identity and allows others to share in the knowledge.

By sticking to these principles, a more collaborative – and ultimately more productive – office culture can be achieved.


Published in Wellness & Ergonomics
Friday, 14 September 2012 12:47

Central Planning for Business?

Central Planning for Business?

How outdated budgeting and forecasting methods are affecting the corporate bottom line

I’ve lost count of the number of companies I’ve seen where a central office, usually the accounts department, dictates to another group of employees what their budget should be – and then acts all surprised when reality at the end of the year doesn’t match their expectations.

Sales people are burdened with targets, with no consideration of their unique circumstances or input, despite the fact that the people in the field in each region have the best “feel” for what may happen in their territory over the next year – which of their big customers are losing market share, which competitors may enter the area, whether the year is going to be tough or prosperous. Providing your team with a budget with a 10% increase slapped onto last year’s sales target is not only unfair, but also unrealistic.

Published in Budgeting
Wednesday, 29 August 2012 09:49

Should your company move to the cloud?

Should your company move to the cloud?

Cloud-based communications has clear benefits, but whether those benefits will accrue to your organisation depends on a number of factors. If your enterprise answers to any of the questions in the checklist below, you may be in the market for a hosted PBX.

Are you likely to expand?

Entities with significant potential for branch-like expansion – such as a medium-to-large-footprint bank, a retail chain or a service station franchise – can derive the most value from cloud telephony. Every time a new branch of franchisee comes on-line, the expense of an on-site PBX has real potential to sink the business case. With cloud, the franchisor or corporate head office can offer hosted telephony into the bargain, significantly lowering the entry barrier for local businesses. In addition, this model of telephony is much easier to roll out and manage for uptime, and the "on-net" savings possible with cloud further lift the business case.*

Are your employees mobile?

Is a significant portion of your workforce mobile, either by virtue of being constantly on the road or remotely stationed? A cloud communications configuration can provide satellite working units with full enterprise collaboration and unified communications at low cost. Even user administration tasks can easily be done via Web portal, from any operating platform (device).

Do you need flexible communications capacity?

Cloud computing operates on a "virtualised" design principle, where physical separations between resources like disk drives or servers are irrelevant – all the computing power represented by these resources are pooled together in an amorphous "cloud" of divisible capacity. In such a scenario, you're not bound by the limitations or excess capacity of discrete servers; you can simply procure just enough virtual capacity for your use in any given month (or shorter time increments). This makes sense for campaign call centres or varying seasonal demands on your business communications.

Is your power supply unpredictable?

Cloud data centres are amply provided with protection against power surges and cuts. The alternative is unappealing – a high-end UPS (uninterruptible power supply) that only keeps you going for so long, or costly on-site power generation.

Does your business rely on collaboration?

You may want to employ cloud techniques to give access to at least some applications, such as hosted enterprise resource planning (ERP) for managing suppliers, or hosted collaboration applications for shared workflow. It is also highly advisable to have hosted communications to cheaply bring partners "on-net" if there is a business relationship requiring constant communication. This applies, for instance, to retailers getting purchasing authorisation from a customer's credit card institution.

Do you need to standardise?

Cloud also makes sense where you want group businesses to standardise on certain applications, such as financial and ERP.

These scenarios are by no means exhaustive, and new usage cases are constantly emerging. Chances are that you will discover a few of your own if you see benefit in having access to shared or centralised ICT infrastructure with best-in-class business continuity assurance.

* On-net savings can accrue between branches, to head office, and even to business partners if the installation provides for it.

Published in Software
Monday, 30 July 2012 13:03

Reshaping the Collaborative Experience

Kagiso Media

Having the right tools to collaborate are a huge part of the modern office.
Collaboration has become the new word in the office language, but what does it actually mean.
Collaboration is working together to achieve a goal. It is a recursive process where two or more people or organizations work together to realize shared goals, (this is more than the intersection of common goals seen in co-operative ventures, but a deep, collective, determination to reach an identical objective[
Creating spaces with the right technology can enhance the way people work. Today the world is accelerated and interconnected. Offices need to prepare themselves to work this way.Kagiso Media sml2
An interconnected workplace provides a diverse range of settings, organised into interrelated zones. Areas for people to sit, areas for people to stand or move throughout their day and choice and control as to how they work and where they work.
Offices need to support the latest infrastructure. Furniture and technology need to facilitate the ability to be able to collaborate in an easy manner.97% of workers want access to tools and technology, 98% want access to people and 99% want access to information.
Collaboration as a concept is not taught at school. It is something that is learnt only once in the workplace.
According to IIDA, attitude is one of the biggest drivers of change in the workplace. New generations grew up in homes, schools, and communities where the norm was a socially connected world and they expect to have the same connections in their work life.
The way we relate to one another has changed. There is more cross over between business and personal, more of a blur between our personal selves and our business beings. The way we relate with each has been significantly influenced by technology.
Innovation Group-smlFour years ago, the average conversation lasted 2,5 minutes. Now, the average conversation between people is 15 seconds. As a culture, we get straight to the point. Although we speak less we crave more information. Technology enables this and it is often that people are holding onto at least two electronic devices at any one time to keep them up to speed. Even in the office. This all leads to the concept that work can happen anywhere. You don't need to be in the office to get the job done. Especially those under the age of 35 are capable of working anywhere. They chose to go to the office to enjoy the space and see people that they want to see and engage with. The office also provides a place for people to exchange information in person.
In order for companies to be competitive it is imperative to offer an environment where people want to come to work. Giant Leap's motto being - "when work is a pleasure, life is a joy".
The way people get their work done has changed dramatically over the last few years. Companies are being challenged by the fast advancements in technology and the ability to keep up with it. Technology has allowed office spaces to be more versatile and leaner, and this has in many ways enabled the mobility and flexibility of work forces and spaces.Innovation Group sml
Companies are being challenged to be more forward thinking than ever, and to design solutions that will accommodate their needs going forward. Space needs to lend itself towards flexibility so that as technology or strategies change so can the workspace with ease. The workplace needs to enhance productivity, increase efficiency, attract and retain employees and offer more flexible work solutions. Companies are also seeing increased competition. Employers have realised the importance of the workplace and therefore need their space to say and do more than the guy next door. Companies need employee loyalty and their office space to work harder and smarter than ever before. Many companies are looking to achieve all of this on a lower budget and in smaller space to keep costs down and to retain and see their office space as a strategic asset. Design firms need to be creative and come up with concepts that can be rolled out taking this all into account.
It lends itself to design firms partnering with their clients and client teams, to look inside and understand how the organisation works. Not just what looks pretty and creative. It's important to understand people's current needs, beliefs, and processes and then look to future trends and what will be next. With this in mind a design firm can offer a client a fully integrated service whereby they should have top class office space and staff.

Published in Wellness & Ergonomics
UC projects fail when they don’t heed cultural impact on organisations

Unified communications (UC) is changing the way organisations operate, as their employees tend to be more available, productive and effective when invested with UC tools.

But report published in July from analyst firm Canalys points out that many UC deployments fail or don’t meet their goals because their cultural (people) impact and the related contexts of IT consumerisation ‘BYOD’ (bring your own device) and workforce mobility are ignored.

In Tellumat, we are in agreement that many UC failures can be avoided by approaching projects as a business transformation process in which the user experience is central.

Three key trends

Consumerisation is the increasing use by employees of technologies like smart phones, iPads, video and social networking tools in the enterprise.

As Canalys points out, organisations that fail to assimilate and take advantage of consumerisation (for instance, with a BYOD strategy) will find themselves increasingly at a disadvantage against competitors.

For example, organisations that aren’t visible on in social media will become remote from customers who want to communicate via an increasing number of channels. (Conversely, UC solution providers that do not recognise the touch points of the technology with consumerisation and BYOD will at the very least miss the opportunity to leverage existing consumer platforms.)

Vendors and partners must also advise customers on the impact of workforce mobility, on processes and information accessed by employees.

Workforce mobility is not a new concept, but due to the consumerisation of IT and BYOD, it is a rapidly accelerating trend, making it an IT priority.

The proliferation of mobile devices provides employees with greater access to tools like video collaboration. Increasingly, employees want to access business applications and social media while on the move. If mobility is not considered as an integral part of future UC strategies, then the investment will be wasted.

Expert guidance

To accommodate these trends in employees’ everyday workflow, organisations will need guidance from experienced UC partners. Issues that have to be thrashed out include:

  • The decision about which platforms to support (iOS, Android or BlackBerry),
  • The changing security ecosystem, and
  • Networking (the number of devices without Ethernet ports is on the increase).

But it goes deeper than processes and architecture, touching the very core of an organisation’s objectives. Technologies like UC, BYOD and mobility have impact far beyond the scope of just an IT department purchasing decision. They affect management, HR, marketing, sales, R&D and back-office integration, in countless new ways.

To prepare for the impact of the new technologies and accommodate them, organisations must ask themselves what they want the technologies to achieve, and within what parameters. The following considerations are common:

  • Organisations must work through changing access modes and trust accords very closely and apply corporate policies as well as IT security measures accordingly.
  • Education of employees is a crucial aspect of a holistic UC deployment: employees must understand their responsibilities and obligations in a world where they are able to freely move sensitive data from device to device and location to location.
  • Equally, the corporate culture of the organisation must embrace trust and openness in a mobile, UC-driven, BYOD environment, so that employees are able to take more rapid but well-informed decisions.
  • UC deployments that incorporate collaborative tools and social media work most effectively when the deployment is aligned with business goals such as improving customer satisfaction or streamlining decision-making processes.
  • Collaboration must enable individuals to identify other individuals in order to be able to freely form communities that can quickly come together to tackle specific company issues.

All these and more must be keen focus areas in the purchasing decision, to ensure that the organisation is prepared for the big changes that UC can bring, and that benefits will be realised.

Published in Mobile
Monday, 18 June 2012 10:15

Mid-size Companies Make Collaboration and Transparency a Competitive Advantage


IBM Study says technology seen as means to enable increased collaboration and create relationships

Nearly twice as many mid-market CEOs see creating a more collaborative work environment with a higher level of openness and transparency as a top priority. This is a key finding from a new IBM global study of mid-market Chief Executive Officers (CEOs)

A total of 45 percent of mid-market CEOs see the need to create a more open business environment, a close to 50 percent jump from the findings from the IBM CEO study conducted in 2010.

Additionally, nearly 70 percent of mid-market CEOs aim to partner extensively with other companies as external relationships will play a more critical role to CEOs’ overall business strategies; 64 percent of mid-market CEOs are focused on creating a more collaborative environment to engage employees with a new way of making faster and better decisions in an increasingly changing business environment; and 71 percent are focused on improving their understanding of individual customer needs.

“Market dynamics and technological advances continue to force more organisational change, significantly impacting how midsize businesses engage with customers and employees and drive innovation. Mid-market CEOs are now looking to technology not only to make them more efficient but also to enable increased collaboration and create relationships – essential connections to fuel creativity.” says Jeannine Jennings, Executive for General Business at IBM South Africa.

Going social

CEOs are also considering carefully the “social” change they’re witnessing. Facebook, Twitter and other social media upstarts have changed the way products and services are marketed to customers. Despite the surge in social media adoption around the world, only 15 percent of mid-market CEOs are using social media platforms to connect with the individual consumer today. Three to five years from now, that number is poised to spike to 50 percent.

Organisations are under intense pressure to respond to not only how customers want products and services delivered, but also when and where. Businesses can profit from unique insights they discover about customers. In fact, 65 percent of mid-market CEOs identify customer insights as the most critical investment area.

To effectively engage individual consumers and clients, organisations must weave together insights about the whole person from a variety of sources.

They will need stronger analytics capabilities to uncover patterns and to act on insights.

Partnering to win

Rising complexity and escalating competition have also made partnering a core innovation strategy for many organisations. “As mid-market businesses become more geographically diverse and interact with other organisations, the importance of sustaining a collaborative business culture will only continue to grow.” Says Jennings. “Those that are perceived to be collaborative often find it easier to partner with other successful companies. “ In fact, about 50 percent of mid-market CEOs see partnering or collaborating as a way to stay on the path of innovation.

In addition, given the market pressures to operate with greater openness and transparency, CEOs are looking for employees who will thrive in this kind of atmosphere. CEOs are increasingly focused on finding top talent with the ability to constantly reinvent themselves. These employees are comfortable with change; they learn as they go, often from others’ experiences. CEOs regard interpersonal skills of collaboration (72 percent).

Mobile is a game changer

Mobility is also elevating customer expectations and creating new challenges for CEOs. Mid-market clients have a tremendous opportunity to create value out of immediacy to be ready with relevant services and information in the context of the moment.

As mobile commerce is expected to reach $31 billion by 2016, companies will need to take advantage of location based services and new forms of commerce in which mobile is integrated into a consumer's multi-channel experiences, tailored to the individual, to stay competitive.

"Mid-market CEOs are establishing more open and collaborative cultures — in which employees not only connect more with each other and the outside world to innovate, but to reinvent themselves. Learning from each other, they stay ahead of the skills curve and open to change," said Jeannine Jennings, Executive for General Business at IBM South Africa.

"Business leaders are embracing technology in completely new ways to spot oncoming threats, capture an immediate, unexpected business opportunity, address business challenges with a clear focus on partnering with other organisations to seize these opportunities to drive growth and innovate."

Published in Networking
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