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Tag Archives: Use of Technology



Email is integral to the way that many of us work. Yet there is no universally accepted standard for its use, which leaves many of us struggling to find strategies that will help us work effectively without also overstressing or causing email fatigue.

This article, originally published in  The Conversation explores how people feel about email and gives hints and tips on how to manage the ever-increasing number of emails we received while at work.

 

There is no shortage of self-help books and time management gurus who argue that email zen is possible. But with so much research being conducted in different fields there is a risk that populist volumes and consultants simply cherry-pick the data and findings to fit their point of view – that is, if their recommendations are even evidence-based at all.

We were commissioned by UK workplace experts ACAS to produce a systematic literature review across the fields of psychology, human-computer interaction and management of the strategies people use to try and deal with the torrent of work email. This approach examines published data in a rigorous way, and after excluding many papers that didn’t fit our sifting criteria, we settled on assessing 42 papers.

From these, we identified a number of themes relating to how email is used today, which were then matched against markers of productivity and well-being. Finally, these themes were sense-checked in a qualitative study with 12 representative participants.

What did we find? It became apparent that there is no one-size-fits-all set of strategies that improve both people’s productivity and well-being across job roles and industries. For example, a strategy such as catching up with email outside of work hours might help people feel more in control of their work, but it does not tangibly reduce work overload – and can create conflict in families where work is brought home.

But we were able to identify a number of strategies that research indicates are generally beneficial, and these can be used to dispel many of the popular myths about work email and how we “should” be using it. Here are the top five work email myths – busted by science. (more…)


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Free Acas Learning OnLine modules provide a useful e-learning resource for anyone wanting to refresh their knowledge and improve their approach to employment relations issues.

Through a series of online courses, you will have the opportunity to work through the theory, explore practical case studies, and test your knowledge through interactive questions and a test.

Acas Learning OnLine packages are particularly useful for managers, supervisors and anyone responsible for improving business or operational performance.

Learning OnLine topics include: (more…)


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A shift in attitude from having a job for life to continuous learning in work can keep the UK workforce relevant and as agile as the changing marketplace

According to an article by Martin Martindale of Raconteur, the UK is in the middle of a skills crisis, with sectors ranging from engineering to hospitality and accounting to customer services, all reporting difficulty in attracting suitable staff, according to a recent survey by the Recruitment and Employment Confederation.

Against this backdrop, training and development has become more important than ever, both in developing the skills organisations require now or in the future, and in attracting and retaining talent. Research by recruitment firm Hays found 39 per cent of employees would be willing to sacrifice a job offer if there was no prospect of receiving further training, while 78 per cent described themselves as “ambitious”.

With the skills businesses require also changing – the World Economic Forum estimates 65 per cent of children today will end up in careers that don’t even exist yet – it’s also clear organisations need to update their approach to learning and development.

“Individuals and companies that succeed in the future will be those who adopt the philosophy of lifelong learning,” says Nigel Heap, managing director of Hays UK and Ireland. “Businesses that facilitate the resources, tools and time to support learning will not only have employees who are more engaged, but their business will be better placed to face challenges and remain innovative.”

Having senior leaders and managers back the concept is essential, says John Yates, group director at ILM, a City & Guilds Group business, and director of New Ventures. “At a very basic level, leaders are instrumental to rewarding and recognising efforts made to upskill, and they also need to develop their own skills and be seen to be doing so,” he says. “As a strategic priority, it must also be led from the very top and resourced accordingly.”

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Design thinking is more than just coloured pencils and Post-its. Here’s a primer on how it fits into leadership education.

Design thinking is a problem-solving strategy that encourages the use of imagination, intuition and systemic reasoning to explore new possibilities for solutions. It’s also a lot more fun than a traditional brainstorming session, said Liz Glaser, director of integrated talent management for e-commerce solutions company Pitney Bowes; she teaches design thinking in its Early in Career (EIC) high performers programme.

In these workshops — and in many design thinking courses — participants are likely to find piles of coloured pencils, play dough, toys and white boards covered in colourful drawings, and they are encouraged to use them all for inspiration. “Giving people the ability to be creative is how you find answers,” Glaser explained. “It’s a lot less confining than a traditional learning environment.”

Learn with Toys - Sham Desai, director of telesales and digital linkage at Pitney Bowes, completed the EIC course last year. He said at first, he was surprised by the toys and colouring tools, but he later found them to surprisingly helpful. “A three-day course can be gruelling, but having something simple to play with frees your mind to pay attention,” he explained. He has since applied the philosophy to his own team, providing them with coloured pencils and pads of paper at every meeting. “It helps them stay engaged.”

A lot of the reasoning behind using these seemingly childish tools has to do with giving people permission to work visually and collaboratively without a predefined outcome, said Shelley Evenson, San Francisco-based managing director of organisational evolution at Fjord, a design and innovation consultancy acquired by Accenture www.accenture.com in 2013. “When people are having fun, they think more broadly about solutions, which gets ideas flowing.”

Of course, design thinking is more than just fun and games. It is a scientifically tested approach to problem-solving that brings together three core elements that are critical to innovation: business needs, technological possibilities and the human element, Evenson said. Her team is dedicated to teaching Accenture employees and clients how to master design thinking.

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