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6 Tips on Designing the Perfect Remote Office

6 Tips on Designing the Perfect Remote Office

As we’ve said in the past, the future is in remote working. But the question remains: How can we create a home office environment that is both conducive to productivity and overall work satisfaction – a place that encourages us as professionals and human beings? Working from home is, in the end, a way of seeing your life wholly; everything is in one place, and sometimes it’s hard to keep all those ends from bleeding together or from spreading us too thin. We have a few tips to help you with that.

1. Incorporate nature

Today we spend most of our time indoors, surrounded by the soft glow of laptops with the dulcet tones of Pandora drifting around us. We don’t often venture outside, at least, not nearly as much as we used to, and that’s a shame. Research has shown that nature has a direct effect on a person’s sense of wellness. Sunlight, in particular, is beneficial. It releases serotonin, a delightful chemical that helps us to wake up in the morning when the sun rises, as well as acting as a deterrent for work dissatisfaction, inefficiency, and depression.

So what do you do?

Choose a workspace with lots of windows, for plenty of access to all that healthy sunshine. And if you want to really make that home office comfortable, you could choose a room with a good view. The elements of the natural world can help alleviate stress and increase performance level.

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2. Choose the right colors

Article after article has been written on the science of color, especially in conjunction with productivity, and everyone pretty much says the same thing: Stick with the blues and the greens, the cool colors that inspire serenity. But Angela Wright, an expert on color, had more to add.

Colors, she’s learned, have distinctive impacts on us. For instance, blue is good for the mind, yellows are for emotions, red stimulates the body, and greens promote balance. The colors you choose should encourage the kind of work you’ll be doing. Blue helps you think, but utilizing accents of red or orange with it will help keep you energized throughout the day. So view your office as a cohesive whole, not just one color but a few colors that complement each other and your needs.

3. Keep yourself healthy

There are several ways to keep your health in mind while working from home. Simple steps like avoiding snacking and taking your eyes off the computer screen to give them a rest are obvious, so we have two other less salient options for you.

Since you are no longer obligated to even get out of your PJs to work, you don’t have to commute. Use that extra 20 to 60 minutes to your advantage: you could catch up on much needed sleep or exercise, preferably outside. Remember outside, where the sun shines?

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Now for the part that will give you nightmares, the second option that you may have missed: stand up desks. “What?” you say with a laugh. “Stand up desks aren’t scary!” And you’re right. Stand up desks aren’t scary, but the reason you should use one is…(Cue the foreboding organ music.)

Studies have found that those who spend most of the day sitting are 54% more likely to die from a heart attack. The results are the same for smokers and non-smokers, those who exercise regularly and those who don’t. Yep. Your chair is killing you. Have fun trying to sleep tonight!

Stand up desks are a remedy for such a chilling statistic, and while you may not want to fork over the cash for one or build one like Bob Vila, we still recommend getting off your butt often. Taking a break every half-hour to stretch and walk about for a bit and standing while making phone calls are both good alternatives. Working on your feet burns 60 more calories per hour than sitting, improves circulation, relieves your back and your backside, and straightens your posture, and who doesn’t want that?

4. Stay up to date and celebrate your progress

Solid contact through team updates is extremely important. Research suggests loneliness can have major effects on the brain, which can lead to depression and the deterioration of your overall health. One way to mitigate this risk is by feeling connected through reminders of who’s doing what. At Sqwiggle, we use lots of tools, but the best tool for great asynchronous updates is a simple yet powerful tool called iDoneThis.

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This awesome tool sends a daily digest of everything that’s been accomplished during the day to everyone on your team! Tools like this are an important part of staying connected with the people you work with.

5. Minimize distractions

It’s difficult to keep yourself focused on work when you’re all alone at home and endless cat videos on YouTube are just a click away, but nothing makes it harder to be pleased with your job than feeling unproductive, so avoiding diversions is key.

Coming up with a routine that suits you is a simple solution. We love the liberty of working from home, but the majority of us need structure or we’ll become ineffectual.

If you have children or roommates and have a hard time keeping them out of your area you could lock them out or make a sign to alert them to your need for privacy.

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Establishing that your work space is only for work is also important, not only in keeping curious little hands away from important paperwork, but also for keeping you in the right frame of mind while you’re working. Using that space for other activities transforms it into the room where you waste your life eating cheese puffs and playing World of Warcraft, so don’t hang out in your office, don’t eat meals there, and close the door when you leave.

6. Find a balance

Working from home has a way of encroaching on the rest of our lives. Your work isn’t merely ‘following you home’. Your work has moved in and is crashing on your couch eating Frosted Flakes out of the box, and it’s important for your sanity and that of your family – if they live with you – to fix boundaries.

Set time aside to do non-work related activities, and know when to quit working. Life is more than deadlines, and devoting time to the people we love reminds us of that.

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Published on March 20, 2019

How to Write a Powerful Mission Statement for Your Business

How to Write a Powerful Mission Statement for Your Business

Have you ever felt lost in the minutia of your job?

As a business owner, I can relate to getting bogged down in the day to day operations of my business. Things like inventory, payroll, scheduling, purchasing and employee management take up the bulk of my day.

While these things are important and need to get done, focusing too much on the details can make you lose sight of the big picture. This is why having a good mission statement comes in handy.

What is a Mission Statement?

Put simply, a mission statement is an internal document that provides a clear purpose for the organization. It provides a common reference point for everyone in the organization to start from.

In other words, after reading your company’s mission statement, managers and employees should be able to answer the question “What are company’s main objectives?” For example, Southwest Airlines mission statement reads:[1]

“Southwest Airlines is dedication to the highest quality of Customer Service delivered with a sense of warmth, friendliness, individual pride, and Company Spirit. We are committed to provide our Employees a stable work environment with equal opportunity for learning and personal growth.”

In this single statement, Southwest conveys the company’s goals of providing the highest level of customer service as well as providing a good working environment for their employees.

Mission Statement VS. Vision Statement

While the mission and vision statements are related, there are subtle but distinct differences the you should be aware of.

First of all, a mission statement is designed primarily as an internal company document. It provides clarity and direction for managers and employees.

While there’s nothing wrong with sharing your company’s mission statement with the outside world, its intended audience is within the company.

While a mission statement provides a general framework for the organization, the vision statement is usually a more inspirational statement designed to motivate employees and inspire customers. Going back to Southwest Airlines, their vision statement reads:[2]

“To become the world’s most loved, most flown, and most profitable airline.”

This statement inspires good feeling from the customer while motivating the employees to achieve that vision.

What Does a Good Mission Statement Look Like?

When coming up with a mission statement, it’s important to take your time and do it right. Too often, people (especially entrepreneurs) just write down the first thing that comes to mind and they end up with worthless or (worse yet) a generic mission statement that is utterly useless.

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Remember, a mission statement should provide a common framework for everyone in your organization.

When writing a mission statement, you should always try to incorporate the following;

  • What we do?
  • How we do it?
  • Whom do we do it for?
  • What value are we bringing?

Now, you can see how tempting it is to just come up with something generic that ticks off those four boxes. Something like “We provide the best widgets available online for the consumer.”

After all, that did check off all the boxes:

What we do? Provide widgets.

How we do it? Online.

Who do we do it for? The consumer.

What value we bring? The best widgets.

The problem with this mission statement is that it could apply to any number of companies producing the same widget. There is nothing to distinguish your company or its widgets from any of your competitors widgets.

Compare that mission statement to this one:

“We provide the highest quality widgets directly to the consumer at an affordable price backed up with a 100% satisfaction guarantee. If our clients aren’t 100% satisfied, we’ll make it right.”

What’s the difference?

Both mission statements answer all the same questions of what, how, whom and value. But in the second statement, they are differentiating their company from all other competitors by answering the question “what makes us unique”.

Another way to read that is, “Why you should buy from us.” In this example, it’s because our widgets are of the highest quality and we stand behind them 100%.

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You might have noticed the statement didn’t say that we sell widgets at the lowest possible price. That’s because we are emphasizing quality and satisfaction over price.

A different company’s mission statement may emphasize selling widgets at the lowest possible price with little to no mention of a guarantee.

Hallmarks of a Good Mission Statement

1. Keep It Brief

Your mission statement should be no longer than three sentences. This is not your company’s magnum opus.

You should be able to distill the what, how, who and why questions into a succinct message.

2. Have a Purpose

A company’s missions statement should include the reason it even exists.

Make clear exactly what the company does with statements like “We strive to provide our customers with …….”

3. Include a “How”

Take this as an opportunity to differentiate your company from its competitors.

How do you provide a product or service that’s different or better than how your competitor provides it?

4. Talk About the Value You Bring to the Table

This is where you can really set yourself apart from the competition. This is the “why” customers should buy from you.

Do you offer the lowest prices? Fastest delivery? Exceptional customer service? Whatever it is that sets you apart and gives your particular products, services or company an advantage talk about it in the mission statement.

5. Make Sure It’s Plausible

It’s okay to shoot for the stars just to settle for the moon, but not in a mission statement.

Being overly ambitious will only set you and your employees up for failure, hurt morale and make you lose credibility. You will also scare away potential investors if they think that you are not being realistic in your mission statement.

6. Make It Unique and Distinctive

Imagine if someone who knew nothing about your business walked in and saw how it was operating, then they read your mission statement. Would they be able to recognize that mission statement was attached to that business? If not re-work it.

7. Think Long Term

A mission statement should be narrow enough so that it provides a common framework for the existing business, but open enough to allow for longer term goals. It should be able to grow as the business grows.

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8. Get Feedback

This is very important, especially from managers and employees.

Getting their input can clarify how they currently see the company and their role within the organization. It’s also a good way to get people “on-board,” as studies show that people are more likely to go along with an idea if they feel included in the decision making process beforehand.

9. Review Often and Revise as Necessary

You should review the missions statement often for two reasons.

First, as a reminder of what the essence of the company is. It’s easy to forget when you are in the day to day grind of the business.

And two, to make sure that the mission statement is still relevant. Things change, and not everything can be anticipated at the time a mission statement was written.

For example, if a mission statement was written before the advent of the internet, a company that use to sell things door to door now probably has a website that people order from. You should always update the mission statement to reflect these changes.

The Value of Mission Statements: Why Go Through All of These in the First Place?

It may seem like a lot of work just for a few sentences that describe a company, but the value of a well written mission statement should not be discounted.

First of all, if you are an entrepreneur, crystallizing the what, how, whom and value questions will keep you focused on the core business and its values.

If you are a manager or other employee, knowing the company’s basic tenants will help inform your interactions with both customers and colleagues alike.

Strategic Planning

A relevant mission statement acts as a framework for strategic planning. It provides guidance and parameters for making strategic decisions for the future of the company.

Measuring Performance

By having the company’s mission in a concrete form, it also allows for an objective measurement of how well the organization is meeting its stated goals at any one time.

Management can identify strengths and weaknesses in the organization based on the criteria set forth in the mission statement and make decisions accordingly.

Solidifying the Company’s Goals and Values for Employees

Part of a well run organization is nurturing happy and productive employees.

As humans, we all have an innate need for both purpose and to be part of something larger than ourselves. Providing employees with a clearly defined mission statement helps to define their role in the larger organization. Thus, fulfilling both of these needs.

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Now I’m not saying that a mission statement can overcome low pay and poor working conditions, but with everything else being equal, it can contribute to a happier and more productive workforce.

To Hold Management Accountable

By creating a mission statement, a company is publicly stating its highest values and goals for the world to see. By doing so, you are inviting both the public and your employees to to scrutinize how well the company lives up to its ideals.

So if you state that you only provide the highest quality products, and then offer something less, it’s fair for both the public and the employees to question, and even call for a change in management.

If management doesn’t take the mission statement seriously, no one else will either; and the legitimate authority that management rely’s on will be diminished.

To Serve as an Example

This is the opposite side of the coin from the previous statement. If the highest levels of management are seen taking the mission statement seriously and actively managing within the framework of the statement, that attitude filters down throughout the organization.

After all, a good employee knows what’s important to their boss and will take the steps necessary to curry favor with them.

Finally, use the company’s mission statement as a way to define roles within the company. You can do this by giving each division in the company a copy of the mission statement and challenge the head of each division to create a mission statement for their respective departments.

Their individual mission statements should focus on how each department fits in and ultimately contributes to the success of the company’s overall mission statement. This serves as both a clarifying and a team building exercise for all parts of the organization.

Final Thoughts

Developing a mission statement is too often just an after-thought, especially for entrepreneurs. We tend to prioritize things that we perceive will give us the biggest “bang for our buck.”

Somehow, taking the time and effort to sit down and think seriously about the what, whom, how and value of our business seems like a waste of time. After all, we got in the business to make money and become successful, isn’t that all we need to know?

That mindset will probably get you started okay, but if you find yourself having any success at all, you’ll find that there really is such a thing as growing pains.

By putting in the time and effort to create a mission statement, you are laying the groundwork that will give you a path to follow in your growth. And isn’t building long term success what we are really after?

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Featured photo credit: Fab Lentz via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Southwest Airlines: About Page
[2] Fit Small Business: 10 Vision Statement Examples To Spark Your Imagination

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