Tuesday, February 19, 2013

One Two Buckle My Shoe...

My thoughts for this post were to explore the fascination we have with lists and numbers. By far the most popular posts on blogs and most read articles in magazines are those with numbers in the titles...lists.
Five Ways to Cook That Chicken, Ten Ways to Say I Love You...that sort of thing. There are apparently numerous studies about why we're drawn to them. I believe they promise a succinct presentation...step by step instructions of whatever they're telling you to do or not to do. I started to commit here to writing all of my posts with numbered lists for the next month but as I started writing that post it occurred to me that while I am drawn to those types of posts myself, I am not a person who thinks in numbers.

I'm a person drawn to generalities. I had colleagues in the meetings industry that can walk into any conference space and tell exactly how many square feet it has. I walked into space and thought it was big or medium or small. It could fit 'a lot' of people or 'not very many' people. I'm also a person drawn to music and stories. Some people remember facts and figures. I can remember them as long as they're connected to a story. I could make an A on any history test if I could listen to a good lecture on the material. I could remember and pull out details from long presentations if they were told to me as a story. So I'm sticking to that style here in my basement corner office.

Not to say that I won't publish posts with list or with titles with numbers in them. I'll pull out a 'Five ways to' post every so often because those are valuable and I like them. But I will tell stories here...the why behind the facts, not just the facts. I'm a southerner, we're storytellers by birth. I believe that being a storyteller is the most effective way to market to and sell to your clients.  I think stories are so important and here are four reasons why :-)

1-Stories give us something to relate to
Stories provide a context for someone to relate to you, your message or your brand. When I hear a story about a woman in her 40's who is starting a business I'm interested. I can relate. I will listen to that pitch when I might not listen to the same company whose presentation starts off telling me simply what they do. I feel a sisterhood with the company from the outset. I'm already a warm prospect at that point. The Subaru commercial of the father talking to the little girl in the car who drives off a teenager is a story most parents of teen drivers relate to...a great story for their brand.

2-Stories are memorable
A song is just a story set to music. Think of how many song lyrics you can remember from years and years ago. I've met a lot of people who I remember by a story they told even when I couldn't remember their names. I remember bits and pieces of stories I've heard told in the past. I remember stories that I've heard so many times that I feel like I was 'there' when the events in the story transpired.

3-Stories are viral
How many stories have you told over and over again? How many stories have you heard someone else tell that you then found yourself sharing, if not stealing? How many stories have you heard and wished they were yours? A great story gets spread around...your cousins in California here it from their aunts in Kansas.

4-Stories have staying power
My mother tells the same stories about my sister and me arguing as children every single time she hears our children arguing. I tell my children the same stories over and over again about the nights they were born on their birthdays. My husband and I relive the same stories from our awesome wedding every year on our anniversary.  'Remember that time when' is a frequent conversation starter when I'm around a group of old friends. Talking to your clients or prospective clients in stories is powerful.

Just a few of the reasons that I've made peace with being a storyteller. I often take far too long to make a point and not everyone appreciates my need to build a beginning, middle and ending to an explanation or sales call. But we all have to bloom where we're planted as my grandmother used to say. I hope you'll pull up a chair here often for my stories.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

More productive in Pajamas?

I'll admit that title is a bit off of the mark-during consultations I discourage people from working from home in the same clothes that they slept in on most days. But the statistics on the increased productivity of telework over 'office' work is staggering. One report on the Telework Research Network website says " According to the Telework Savings Calculator™, if those employees who held telework-compatible jobs (50% of the workforce) and wanted to work at home (79% of the workforce) did so just half of the time, it would increase national productivity by 5 million man-years or $270 billion worth of work annually".  $270 BILLION DOLLARS...

Those numbers are huge and I believe are at the least accurate, but more than likely much lower than reality. Why is productivity higher at home? Again, many articles and studies on this but I'm going to tell you why I think teleworkers are much more productive based on my experiences and those of my colleagues and friends.

More Sleep
Functioning without proper sleep has proven to be as dangerous as driving while intoxicated and over half of Americans don't get enough sleep. I consider more sleep as one of my top benefits of working from the basement. I sleep approximately two hours longer each night because I don't commute. I am one of those people who is far more focused, patient and pleasant when I've had enough sleep. When I worked in the city I had to factor an hour to an hour and a half of commute time each morning. I can now add that sleep back into my total. I also had to get up and get dressed for work in DC...which meant suits and pantyhose (yes, even in the summer time), make-up to last for hours, and hair that was coaxed and sprayed into submission for the long haul. While I do encourage people in my coaching sessions to dress every morning but one (another post on that later), I don't encourage them to dress to the level required of a professional job in an office. That saved me personally another 30 minutes or more.  Because I wasn't fighting traffic back home for 60-90 minutes each evening I ended my day more relaxed. That made falling asleep easier for me.

Extended  Work Day/Time
My office hours are between 8am and 5pm during the week. My morning routine is to get up, see my husband off (he still commutes), grab something to drink and a snack, watch a little morning news and head downstairs around 8ish.  If I'm awake earlier and the news is boring, I head into my office earlier. If the phone rings and I hear it at 7:45 I almost always answer it.  In the afternoon I have the same luxury. I can work as long as I'm in the zone because I don't have to worry about catching the train or heading out into the horrible traffic.  I also find it easier to get into the office on the weekend. I work so much more from home than I ever did in any office.

I just arrive at my office in such a better mood without the commute,or the weather, or the lack of sleep. I feel somehow less worn down by the process of getting to work. And since I know I'll arrive back 'home at the end of the day in a better mood as well, my attitude about my work seems a bit lighter. None of that is to say that I had a bad attitude in an office or that I dread going out to meet with clients or teach, but on a day to day basis, I enjoy my work more because of the convenience of teleworking and that enjoyment translates into higher productivity. I also believe that parents with younger children also feel less stressed about the time they're working when they feel they have more control over their time. Again, with an extra 30 minutes to two hours depending on where you live and how far it is to your office recovered, you don't feel as stressed away from your children and you still have a full work day. And for me, that extra two hours of sleep makes a huge difference in my attitude as well...just sayin.

Work Space Design
Not everyone has a spectacular office space designed by a professional in their home. I don't but I do have a great view of my backyard, access to all of my favorite snacks, and a cat to keep me company. I have a tiny sock monkey and a dog figurine painted by my six year old niece on my desk. I have a fireplace and a couch. I can pace when I talk on the phone and put my feet on my desk when I'm listening to webinars. My space is comfortable for me and I am most productive when working within a comfortable environment.

I'm sure there are many other reasons for increased productivity at home but these are the ones that I feel most benefit me. What do you feel contributes to your productivity at home or at the other office?


Monday, February 11, 2013

Telework, Telecommute, Work from Home...Just do it

People have mentioned to me over the past few years how 'clever' the title of my blog/website is. When this happened in the past I would thank them but never realized that many people thought it was just a title and didn't realize that it was a real description of my work space. I have always just assumed...and yes I know the danger there...that my support of telework/telecommuting/working from home was implied. I have decided to stop merely implying and to start emphatically stating my commitment to that way of work and of life.

While the blog will continue to have post that are varied and more personal life than work life it will also be more focused on working from home. The benefits are too numerous to list but I'm going to hit the highlights here.

  • More productive work
  • More energized work
  • Less traffic during rush hours
  • Smaller carbon footprint
  • Greater feeling of control of one's life
  • Ability to have more diversified workforce
  • More consistent workforce
  • Less downtime from illness or disaster 
  • Better communication among staff
If you have an interest in telework please stay tuned. If you have a small business or are considering starting one, I hope this is the blog for you. If you're the parent of 20-something year old 'children' that won't leave home, this is still the blog for you. :-)

I am also beginning to blog at the new Commute-Free Office blog www.commutefreeoffice.com and I hope you'll read there as well. Those posts will be strictly information surrounding the commutefreeoffice movement.

Tomorrow I'll review some stats on the productivity of home office dwellers and start to talk about how I am productive in my basement corner office.