Hybrid Working

Is the new office jargon a sign that hybrid workers feel disconnected?

Hybrid working is changing the way we communicate with our colleagues.

According to a recent national survey by leading research agency Perspectus Global and commissioned by The Access Group, 91% of those polled agree that hybrid working has changed the way we talk and communicate with our colleagues in the workplace.

69% of respondents felt the impact of the pandemic and subsequent trend towards hybrid working has increased the amount of specialist language and terminology being used in the workplace.

Of those surveyed, “touch base” was deemed the most annoying phrase (35%) at work, followed closely by “keep me in the loop” (31%), while “ping an email over” was identified as the third most irritating phrase (29%) in a post-pandemic workplace.

As more employees have been working from home and away from the office, the terms that have irritated them the most show there is a feeling of disconnect among employees, even though we are still “seeing” colleagues every day, albeit online.

Others on the list include “get the ball rolling”, “you’re on mute” and “on the same page”. To view the full list of annoying office phrases highlighted in the survey click here.

Our language is being shaped by our technological environment

Claire Scott, Chief People Officer at Access said many of these phrases reflect how most employees are still working remotely from their colleagues, with a high number of meetings continuing to take place online.

She said: “It is interesting how the top three most annoying phrases can be linked to people feeling disconnected from their colleagues and wanting to know more about what people are working on.

“The phrases we are hearing used a lot more in the last two years show that an increase in remote and hybrid working makes it difficult for workers to communicate and shows a desire for people wanting to constantly know what work is being done.”

Can technology help a hybrid workforce feel more connected?

It is an issue that affects employers and staff alike, from an employer’s perspective effective communication is key to a happy and productive workforce. From a worker’s perspective feeling connected and part of a team is important for individual productivity, feeling valued, career progression and overall well-being.

Aiming to strike the right balance in hybrid working has employers posing a brand new HR question – how do I ensure my workforce feels connected at work?  At Access, we are seeing many businesses opting to invest in people management software designed specifically to support workforces and ensure teams and individuals can connect.

Can hybrid or remote working hinder career progression and access to training and development?

The survey revealed that over half of the workers polled (54%) felt that face-to-face communication between workers and colleagues would continue to decline over the next 5 years.

Longer term issues in communication can have a potential knock-on effect on career progression and training, some remote workers may feel they could be overlooked in promotions and training opportunities, so how can employers ensure an equal opportunities workplace?

Some businesses are choosing to take their training online with digital learning solutions such as eLearning courses and Gamefield Learning Apps which means workers can learn and progress at their own pace and are supported throughout their training.

At Access our digital learning solutions support performance and development while ensuring industry compliance, learning platforms integrate with Zoom or Teams and schedule and manage learning events, so there is no reason for employees to be suffering from FOMO at work!

Original article can be seen here.

Business MOT

Does your business need a mid-year MOT?

Conducting a performance review at the halfway point can be a great way to keep your business evolving and root out problems before they arise.

Businesses are a lot like cars; you push all the right buttons and pull all the right levers to make it trundle along at a steady pace, but every so often you’re going to need to take a look under the hood to make sure everything is still in working order.

Giving your business a once-over has never been more important in this current economic climate; soaring inflation, a frightening cost-of-living crisis and residual challenges from Covid have put businesses, especially SMEs, under pressure to stay afloat. A mid-year MOT gives SMEs an opportunity to redesign, rethink and change things, says business coach Melitta Campbell. SMEs can make changes more quickly because they have less corporate bureaucracy.

“Businesses are always evolving, but sometimes our goals and plans tend to get filed away without a check-up to see whether they are working or not. It is really important to keep checking these plans for businesses to continue growing in ways that are effective and to remove outdated processes that will hold them back.”

Don’t point fingers 

So how does a business go about performing a mid-year MOT? Campbell says there are several important questions leaders need to ask themselves, including assessing what has worked well so far, what they’ve accomplished, what hasn’t happened and being honest about why. Avoid pointing the finger or shifting blame. Often things don’t happen because they were not a priority, or maybe they didn’t have the right people working on them.

SMEs also need to check whether their finances are on track. Campbell says leaders will need to balance costs to see where finances can be improved or lowered. This is especially important, as it is quite easy for SMEs to forget about their finances as they don’t have a dedicated finance department who do this on a regular basis.

Campbell says it is preferable for a CEO to kick-start the process and then compare notes with other departments to get a broader picture of the company’s successes and missed opportunities. This way everyone can agree on where to go next.

Discovering strengths 

Campbell does warn, however, that leaders should not wait until they see warning signs – in fact, it should be the other way around. The MOT will provide business leaders with the signs that something might be amiss within the company. If leaders don’t go looking for issues, then they will continue operating in the same way without hitting their goals at the end of the financial year.

But when leaders take a serious look at potential problems, Campbell encourages them to start with everything that has gone well this year, rather than solely focusing on the negatives.

“As humans, we always focus on what’s gone badly. But when you focus on what you’ve accomplished, you can start to understand where your strengths really lie. Quite often I get leaders to list their company’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. When it comes to outlining their strengths they really struggle and a lot of things they see as weaknesses are actually strengths. There’s a real misunderstanding of just how well they are doing and to find that out can build up a leader’s confidence and trust of their employees.”

Leaders – don’t wait until there’s a problem. Stay ahead of the game by checking in with your business at the halfway point.

Original article here.

Socotec Bretby project

As part Sototec’s growth ambition in 2021, they undertook a project to refit the Bretby laboratories.

Project Managing 36 different work packages within this consolidation process, whilst ensuring all day-to-day operational tasks continued seamlessly, all during a worldwide pandemic was both challenging and invigorating in equal measures.

Four fully functioning buildings were surrendered, Numerous laboratories & welfare areas were refurbished, a brand-new yard area created and a Lean Lift introduced providing additional growth capacity.

The togetherness and can-do mentality of the Scootec/4D Team ensured that the project was successfully delivered within the 9-month timeframe.

Find out more about Socotec here.

Rene Carayol

The real meaning of “taking the knee”

Many leaders are out of touch with a generation for whom inclusivity and solidarity are non-negotiable.

Since the tragic murder of George Floyd, I’ve made a short posting on LinkedIn every day about inclusion. The odd one hits a nerve.

With the European football championships, ‘taking the knee’ by England players has become the current bane of objection for a vocal minority of fans. I mentioned Gary Lineker’s provocative Tweet -“If you boo England players for taking the knee, you’re part of the reason why players are taking the knee” – and quoted the England manager, Gareth Southgate: “We encourage those that oppose this action to reflect on the message you are sending to the players you are supporting.”

Southgate has oozed class and role modelled inclusive leadership that many CEOs could learn from. He has the backing of all his players because they have his. The government and FA have shown the opposite.

Within hours, we had a febrile atmosphere but because it was on LinkedIn (and it’s not anonymous), it was better behaved than what you often see on social media, but the disagreements were real and forceful.

We have learnt the hard way that racism is not logical, and you cannot have a logical discussion with racists. The more intemperate and nasty postings started to be deleted as they caused outrage. Senior executives from the companies of the aggressors entered the fray to apologise, and protect the values and reputation of their businesses.

I was contacted by one head of people as a colleague had let themselves down with some strong, offensive views. I explained that I didn’t feel they were overtly racist, but were wise to delete their posts. They had directly apologised, claiming it was ‘in the heat’ of the moment. Businesses are having to do the job that social media companies should be doing.

This sort of boorish behaviour clearly would not be tolerated at work. The nonsense we heard online about this being a protest against the Marxist BLM organisation is a laughable cover for racists.

Some said rather ridiculously to keep politics out of sport – please, do me a favour.

From Jesse Owens at the 1936 Berlin Olympics to Tommie Smith at the 1960 Mexico Olympics. Who can ever forget Nelson Mandela at the 1995 rugby world cup final, and the impact it had on the fledgling Rainbow Nation? Should England lose, it will be Black players that will be singled out for nasty, unrelenting racial abuse online. Politics?

Speaking of politics, Boris Johnson made another screeching U-turn on his stance on England’s footballers “taking the knee”, stating fans should not heckle players. He had backed his ‘base’, saying that he didn’t support players adopting the pose. “On taking the knee, specifically, [he] is more focused on action rather than gestures,” a spokesperson said.

This is not the leadership needed. After cutting feedback from Gordon Brown and Keir Starmer, Downing Street came back: “The prime minister respects the rights of all people to peacefully protest and make their feelings known about injustices”, and he “would like to see everybody get behind the team to cheer them on, not boo”. This had an instant ‘cooling’ impact on the atmosphere on our social media.

‘Taking the knee’ is a proud show of solidarity between the England squad against the evils of racism, and the players have reiterated this. It allows Black players to feel they are supported, much like the singing of “You’ll never walk alone” does for all at Liverpool FC. Previous generations of Black players had zero support, and the racism was far more overt and crushing.

We sadly saw the Russian fans boo the Belgian players for ‘taking the knee’. That’s their usual abject racism. Let’s stop the hypocrisy and not play to the divisive ‘culture wars’ – racism is racism.

After Southgate’s strong stance, Steve Clarke, Scotland’s manager, said: “For our match at Wembley, we will stand against racism and kneel against ignorance.”

‘Taking the knee’ has tabled the debate. It affords a strong sense of solidarity for all Black players. Maybe for the first time, football feels ‘joined up’ and is making a collective stance against racism. This starts at the top, but it needs more than Southgate.

Unfortunately, our leaders in society are out-of-touch with a much more assertive generation for whom inclusion isn’t a matter of political debate or a fashionable point of view, it’s a way of life, a matter of non-negotiable human rights.

Inclusion is not just being allowed to be there but being valued for being there. We’ve managed to get to the moon, now let’s try and get to racial justice.

Original story can be found here.

Andrew Williams

How to keep grounded as a leader

As you rise through the corporate ranks, the impact of your decisions increases and your role becomes more and more important. You do not.

Failure to recognise this can lead to all sorts of problems. Leaders who think they’re better than the people they lead will lack empathy, alienate people, lose touch with the reality of their business on the ground, and become dangerously overconfident.

The best leaders know how to keep their ego in check, but is this something you can do deliberately? Andrew Williams, who’s been CEO of FTSE 100 company Halma for nearly 16 years, shares some tips.

“I went to a Cardiff comprehensive school that was… not the best. But while I may not have got a great academic education, my social education was fantastic. I’ve never been in awe of people above me, and I’ve always tried to treat people lower down the organisation with respect.

“That’s important – I’ve seen as many people struggle because they can’t be authentic around their boss as I have people who get ahead and then forget where they came from.

“A good starting point is to find friends who aren’t interested in what you do for a living. I still play football every week on a Thursday night [out of lockdown], and though it’s a different part of the country, they’re the same kind of friends I had 30 years ago.

“And of course as soon as you walk through the front door at home, you know you’re not the boss any more: my kids treat me with the appropriate lack of respect.”

Original article can be found here –

Business as usual

How to balance business transformation with business as usual

Future-facing projects need to be designed for speed and tolerant of failure, says corporate innovation specialist Chris Locke.

This year may well be remembered as the year of the retail apocalypse, with iconic brands including Thomas Cook and Mothercare succumbing. However, it’s not just the retail sector that’s felt the pinch. Across every business segment we are seeing giants of industry failing to respond quickly enough to market forces, leaving shareholders paying the ultimate price.

Herein lies the challenge for all established companies – how to manage these external changes when everything within the organisation is geared towards maintaining business-as-usual. As futurist Ray Kurzweil outlines: “we won’t experience 100 years of progress in the 21st century — we’ll experience 20,000 years of progress.” Unfortunately, static business models don’t marry well with these exponential market dynamics.

There needs to be a fundamental shift in how firms approach their business transformation programmes. Of course, you can’t neglect the core business – the cash cows that feed today’s profit margins must be maintained and optimised – but there must also be a recognition that these cash cows will eventually be put out to pasture. We therefore need to be actively managing our portfolio to search and develop the next generation of business models to drive growth.

Read more here.

Rabbit hole

How to escape the productivity rabbit hole

Want your staff to be more productive? Stop expecting them to do more in less time, says professional organiser Joshua Zerkel.

Management theorist Peter Drucker famously said, “Nothing is less productive than to make more efficient what should not be done at all.” For businesses, the need to boost team productivity is nothing new, however, with the rise of flexible working and the plethora of tools employees are feeling the pressure to simply “do more”. 

When businesses start rolling out new processes and tools there can be a tendency to fall down the productivity rabbit hole, focusing solely on employee output without considering whether their actions are driving efficiencies internally or just creating more work.

According to McKinsey, the average worker wastes 61 per cent of their time coordinating their work in meetings, email and chat rather than doing their actual work. This time could be better spent doing meaningful work that actually creates impact and drives the business forward. 

Read more here.


What Aristotle can teach you about leadership

2000 years ago, Aristotle, the world’s greatest philosopher, statesman and writer made a profound observation about Successful leaders.

As per Aristotle, all successful people have loads of something called koine aisthesis or sensus communis.

He describes this quality as the higher-order perception that humans uniquely possess but used properly only by a few. This acts as a kind of guide for the others, organising them as well as mobilising them in one connected perceptual apparatus.

In the Nicomachean Ethics, Aristotle defines this quality as a “master” virtue and a must for achieving success in life. He also terms this quality as phronesis, a term which combines ethics and action.

Phronesis has been interpreted in different ways, “prudence” is the most common one. But the definition that I like best is “practical wisdom.” Or “common sense”.

Let us see what Aristotle has to tell about practical wisdom-:

· Practical wisdom combines action, accompanied by reason and ethics required to prevail over a difficult situation.

· It does not depend on knowledge of the person. Rather it depends on a particular situation and a particular situation requires specific action.

· Practical wisdom is critical for decisions promoting Eudaimonia (Happiness or Leading a good life).

In a nutshell, Deliberation, Reasoning, and Action. This is the stuff of practical wisdom.

Aristotle considers this as the master virtue because this is the only virtue which keeps the other virtues in “check” or in other words, in perfect balance.

For example, too much “courage” in an impossible situation is foolishness. Similarly, Loyalty can degrade into “blind obedience” if done without thinking rationally. Likewise, too much of “self-confidence” can harden into a stubborn ego and so on.

Thus Practical wisdom “is the ability to do the right thing, at the right time, for the right reason.”

And In Book 6 of the Nicomachean Ethics, Aristotle lays out the skills and attributes a leader needs to develop in order to become practically wise.

Know your objective

Businesses form teams to achieve an objective that improves the quality of a service or product, reduces waste, or removes inefficiencies in a process. Successful teams have a strong leader who can guide the group toward the objective or goal.

The goals of the leader must align with the objective of the project and lead the team toward its mission.

Always remember a leader who does not understand his objective can never attain practical wisdom in it.

Understand the Perception.

Once in a while, businesses will encounter emergency situations that often need quick action. These moments are understandably challenging, as their outcomes largely depend on the leading capabilities of the leader in charge.

And this is precisely what Aristotle meant when he tells us that practical wisdom depends on a particular situation and a particular situation requires specific action.

To know how to act in a particular situation, we need to deftly perceive and understand the circumstances before us. What are the facts in this case? What’s the history here? How do others feel about it?

Successful leaders tailor their responses accordingly to the situation in hand and turn the tables deftly.

Seek the Truth

Great leaders are truth seekers. It enables them to deal with facts and act in the best interest of their business and their people.

And Aristotle believed that an understanding of absolute truth was necessary in order to be practically wise. Absolute truths act as boundaries for us while we exercise practical wisdom.

Understanding absolutes require an informed intellect. This gives us the necessary data to slice and dice and come up with a meaningful decision which ultimately brings Eudaimonia to all.

Learn from Experience

In the Nicomachean Ethics, Aristotle states that “practical wisdom is also of particulars, which come to be known as a result of experience, but a young person is inexperienced: a long period of time creates experience.

Aristotle firmly believed that practical wisdom could only be gained through experience. He often likened practical wisdom to a skill like carpentry or masonry. You can’t just read a book about carpentry and expect to become a master carpenter.

You become more and more practically wise, the more situations you face. And with every situation you face, you gain more experience, either good or bad. And this cumulative experience is the key to success.

You learn from your experiences and make informed right decisions.

Play the Devil’s advocate and then act on it.

According to Aristotle, “the person skilled in identifying multiple options would in general also be practically wise.” The heart of practical wisdom is deliberation.

Practical wisdom requires that we deliberate with ourselves the best course of action to take in a given situation. It’s a skill that we become more adept at through experience.

And Of course, all the reasoning and deliberation would be a waste of time if we do not Act on it. Over and over again in the Nicomachean Ethics, Aristotle states that “practical wisdom is bound up with action.”

It’s not enough to know what the correct thing to do is, you must actually do it.

Why is Common Sense So Important?

As organisations have become more complex, specialised, and bureaucratic, the opportunity to exercise practical wisdom has increasingly been replaced with reliance on rules, regulations, and incentives to achieve our goals. But rules don’t always work as intended.

However, Successful leaders always ensure that while rules and processes should be powerful enough to command discipline and commitment, but at the same time, they should be flexible and nimble to act effectively in unforeseen or unusual circumstances.

And this Flexibility to adapt comes from common sense. Common sense thus is a form of practical decision-making and the ability to imagine the consequences of something you do. It stops us from making irrational mistakes and makes it easier to make choices on what to do.

And we aren’t born with common sense, we develop it over time and with repeated practice.

As Aristotle has rightly said:

Men acquire a particular quality by constantly acting in a particular way.

Original story can be found here.

Sports person

How the Premier League became an export superstar

In July, the Brand Manager Pursuivant to the Royal Family will have awoken to the same sobering news that greeted the Chancellors of Britain’s noblest seats of learning on the Cherwell, Cam and Thames.

Pollsters Populus had surveyed 20,000 people from 20 countries and territories about 10 of the UK’s best-known institutions, companies and brands. Each one was rated for modernity, excitement, trust, global recognition and whether it enhanced the wider UK brand. The survey’s startling conclusion was that all the pomp and pageantry of our royal weddings, all the traditional excellence of our dreaming spires, simply didn’t stack up against a Monday night relegation dogfight between Crystal Palace and Huddersfield Town.

That is because that particular globally televised scrap – almost certainly taking place in the driving rain before a roaring crowd – is one of 380 annual fixtures in the Premier League which, the survey said, is simply the biggest British brand in the world.

Read more here.

The UK needs a manufacturing resurgence – and a weak pound

OPINION: Productivity growth depends on industrial investment, which demands an active approach to the national currency, argues JML founder John Mills.

Productivity growth in the UK economy is almost non-existent. Many people find this fact puzzling. However, there’s a simple reason why, and there’s a relatively simple solution too – if only we can bring ourselves to face up to it.

If we want to rebalance our economy, and get our productivity up, we need to make manufacturing profitable again. We need to create the conditions whereby it makes sense to site new manufacturing facilities in the UK instead of China or Germany or Holland.

But to do this, we need a much lower exchange rate. This would make the prices we charge for goods to be sold to world markets much more competitive. We might not all agree with this strategy but it is the only way we are ever going to crack the UK productivity puzzle.

The UK’s low productivity is the result of two factors. Economic growth stems very largely from investment. Currently, we invest a very small proportion of our national income compared to most other countries, and what we do invest in produces very small returns.

Read more here.