Freedom at Work – What Does It Take to Strike the Right Balance?

Business How To’s

31 August 2017

Freedom at Work – What Does It Take to Strike the Right Balance?

  • Posted by Awfis Editorial

Autonomy at work is a popular topic of conversation at a time when the work culture is gradually becoming more relaxed in most organisations. The transition from the strict corporate work culture to an employee-friendly workplace is apparent. However, like any transitory phase, people usually undergo bouts of hesitation and niggling doubts about what is ideal or necessary and what isn’t. It is no different for work culture.

New lines are being drawn and organisations are slowly going out of their way to bend the rigid conventional rules and guarantee better work experience for their employees. That explains why coworking spaces are becoming the latest trend. They offer the convenience and flexibility in terms of location and work hours. These shared office spaces have broken out of the formulae, and are providing entrepreneurs and their employees the independence of opting for flexi-timings, across their multiple locations.

However, the new work ideal is not yet clearly defined. Most organisations are deliberating over what degree of autonomy would be the best for them, as a company, and at the same time benefit their employees. It may be a tough decision to take since freedom is unquantifiable. Perhaps, the secret lies in finding the perfect balance between structure and autonomy.

So, what is autonomy at work?It is the freedom to choose how, where and when to work. It also empowers the employees to determine the sequence of their tasks at hand as long as they meet the stipulated deadlines. The opportunity to take independent decisions as an individual and as a team also makes them autonomous to a certain extent.

Autonomy at work can also be defined as the trust that the organisation invests in their employees to eke out the best from them. It includes:

Freedom from Micro Management

Trusting employees to self-manage their work boosts their confidence and increases their self-esteem, which in turn enhances their quality of work.Leaving them on their own, after a certain period of hand-holding, moulds them to think independently. In a matter of time, they grow to drive important business decisions and become an asset for the company.

image 1Image Courtesy: Trello Blog

Freedom to Work Individually and As A team

While organisations may encourage employees to plan their own work schedules, they might run the risk of creating an isolated company culture. Organising group activities or assigning more than one employee for a project gives them the freedom to hone the skill of teamwork by engaging with their peers.

Freedom from Rigid Practises

Organisations tend to stick to the time-tested rules rather than undertake the risk of going against the conventional norms. Allowing employees the independence to work in a way that they feel would enhance their work productivity is an exhilarating experience indeed!

Freedom from Set Rules Regarding Breaks

Flexible lunch hours, a growing workplace trend, encourage the workforce to set their own goals, take breaks accordingly and come back rejuvenated. What’s more, employees are free to even lunch at their work desk, if that suits them better, or when work deadlines keep them away from joining their colleagues for lunch.

Organisations are also gradually moving away from the stringent norm of allowing employees not more than one break in a workday and that too at a fixed hour of the day.In contrast, companies now want their employees to go for multiple breaks to refresh their mind frequently.They are reposing trust in them and the freedom to choose the time and the number of breaks they take.

Freedom at Work – What Does It Take to Strike the Right Balance?Image Courtesy: Glassdoor

Freedom to Enjoy Work

Employees are now offered the independence to listen to music as long as they don’t disturb their colleagues, start a meaningful conversation with co-workers in a low voice or play a game of foosball. As long as they don’t lose their sense of accountability to the organisation, they enjoy the autonomy to schedule their work according to the required deadlines.

As opposed to micromanaging every task that they work on, it may be a smart decision to supervise their performance through online tracking platforms and offer feedback. It takes a two-way process between the top management of organisations and employees to strike the right balance. Evolved work ethics that ensure transparency between the management and the workforce provide the latter with a sense of freedom at work. This, in turn, boosts their efficiency. After all, happy employees are the most productive employees.

Share with us what gives you a sense of freedom at your workplace.

Freedom at Work – What Does It Take to Strike the Right Balance?Image Courtesy: Personnel Today

7 Board Games to Hone Your Leadership Skills

Business How To’s

21 October 2019

7 Board Games to Hone Your Leadership Skills

  • Posted by Awfis Editorial

Unconventional workspaces can boost creativity, and have you looking forward to Mondays. What if we told you that you could up your leadership game by simply indulging in some fun evening games? The world of gaming requires focus and undivided attention.  Imagine if you could harness this same level of dedication and apply it to solving real problems at work, developing products or services or simply learning a new skillset.

Here’s how you can simply press play on the following board games to enhance your leadership quotient at work.

Power Grid

Train your mind to see the big picture with Power Grid, the English language edition of the multiplayer German game called Funkenschlag. Each player in the game represents a company that owns power plants to supply electricity to cities. It tests you on parameters like how well you use the available resources. The game helps players hone important skills to sidestep hasty and wasteful decisions, which can cost the business dearly.

Risk

Invented by French filmmaker Albert Lamorisse, Risk is one of the most popular board games of all times. It assesses the players’ diplomatic skills as they form alliances with other players in a bid to expand their political territory. No man is an island, this is especially true at a workplace with multiple minds, opinions and ideas. Develop your professional relationship-building skills to organise a collaborative, harmonious team that works towards a common goal.

Agricola

Learn to become a masterful juggler, finding your expert balance and rhythm with Agricola. The focus here is on a middle-of-the-road strategy. Players are farmers (like in the popular social network game Farmville) who tend to their fields, sowing, ploughing, collecting wood, building stables for their animals, and expanding their farms to feed their families. Narrow vision is penalised, balanced approach rewarded.

Pandemic

Are you a good team player? Pandemic will help you find out as you discover cures for diseases that threaten mankind with extinction. Victory in this game (which seems straight out a Robin Cook novel) depends on cooperation rather than competitiveness. As you don the roles of a dispatcher, medic, scientist, researcher, operations expert, or quarantine specialist, the game will test your ability to negotiate effectively and put yourself in someone else’s shoes.

Chess

Pure tactical brilliance and competent problem-solving – these are qualities that define a great leader. And there’s no game like Chess to help you hone those skills. Believed to have been derived from Chaturanga, a 7th century AD Indian board game, this popular board game teaches you to make the right moves to tap into lucrative opportunities. After all, a worthy leader is someone who can predict his opponent’s strategies and goes in for the kill. Checkmate!

Cashflow 101

Cashflow 101 is perfect for all start-up owners, especially self-funded ones. It will teach you important lessons in financial accountability. Buy, sell, invest, and raise your monthly income to accumulate a cash flow of $50,000. Financial statements replace conventional score cards so you know where your money is going. Sound financial planning is the key to success – in the game as well as at work.

Rubik’s Cube

This 3-D combination puzzle – named after its inventor Ernő Rubik, Hungarian sculptor and professor of architecture – was originally advertised as having over three billion combinations with only one solution. Rubik’s cube helps you analyse your response-rate to problems. Do you resolve obstacles calmly by identifying step-by-step solutions? This is a great game to train your mind to think like a leader.

To sum up

These board games are an entertaining way to hone leadership qualities that’ll help you become a game changer at work. How about introducing a fortnightly game night at office? Besides being great stress-busters, these are effective tools for team-building too. Without further ado, let the games begin!

5 Global Trends that are Disrupting Businesses in 2019

Business How To’s

05 September 2019

5 Global Trends that are Disrupting Businesses in 2019

  • Posted by Awfis Editorial

We are living in a dynamic world, all thanks to disruptive trends that are frequently redefining the way we interact with it. It goes without saying that this has a significant impact on businesses; competition is growing manifold every minute in the face of volatile market conditions and fickle consumer demands. Curious to know all that is dictating the way businesses function in 2019? Here are 5 major trends that are here to stay.

Corporate and start-up collaborations

Large corporations are increasingly realising the enormous potential of start-ups in terms of predicting and adapting to disruption. Plus, coworking spaces are also enabling more collaborations between corporates and start-ups by bringing them under one roof. This growing trend is especially true for start-ups with a highly specialized focus as they are more likely to face domain-specific challenges early on in their journey as compared to large organizations.

A case in point is the collaboration between Coca Cola and Wonolo, an on-demand stocking platform, to streamline its supply chain. This reduced Coca Cola’s stocking costs by 75% per outlet and increased its coverage 25-fold, while Wonolo raised $5.7 million in funding.

Mobile-first technologies

Everything digital is going mobile-first, be it products, services, or even communications. In fact, mobile phones have long surpassed desktops as the primary way to access the internet. A recent CIODive report revealed that up to 70% of web traffic happens on mobile devices. And companies have started recognizing the potential of mobile phones in digital transformation. Flipkart’s progressive web app is the company’s second-largest channel in terms of transactions and attracts over 70% of new customers!

Phygital experience

Whether the Internet of Things (IoT) will redefine consumer experience remains to be seen, but it certainly has introduced the world to phygital experience. The opportunities this presents are immense; several industries will no longer be the same as we know them today. The US jewelry retailer, Tiffany & Co., has already integrated the phygital experience in its stores with an Engagement Ring Finder app that allows shoppers to use the camera in their mobile device to preview how different rings will appear on their beau’s finger.

Digital empathy mapping

Empathy mapping is a key tool to analyze and anticipate behavioral shifts among customers. Traditionally, empathy mapping involved a group of marketers brainstorming to map out customer journeys with post-it notes. However, the growing adoption of digital platforms is rapidly optimizing the process, making it cleaner and more efficient. Data is a crucial aspect of empathy mapping, and given the vast amounts of data, businesses deal with nowadays, digitizing the process only makes more sense. A clear example of this can be seen in UI/UX design, where designers are leveraging empathy maps to understand user preferences and enhance their experience.

Social awareness

Consumers today have become more socially aware and prefer to subscribe to products and services that resonate with their world view. In fact, millennials are worth $1 trillion in consumer spending and 73% of them prefer sustainable goods. As such, there has been a growing trend of companies adopting renewable materials and greener practices in an effort to reduce their carbon footprint. The automobile giant, Ford Motors, serves as a great example. The Repreve seat fabric used in the company’s vehicles is made from fibers derived from recycled plastic bottles, helping displace over 5 million plastic bottles from landfills.

Conclusion

Technology is continuously blurring the lines between physical and digital and is ushering an era underpinned by innovation. These are the times when flexibility can make all the difference when small companies can very well break monopolies. Only time will tell how these trends impact the global business landscape. But one thing’s for sure, these trends will continue to drive innovation for the foreseeable future!

How Dropbox Grew from a 2-person Startup to a Billion Dollar Enterprise

Business How To’s

27 August 2019

How Dropbox Grew from a 2-person Startup to a Billion Dollar Enterprise

  • Posted by Awfis Editorial

Who hasn’t heard of Dropbox, right? The cloud storage giant provides services to over 500 million people across the globe and generates billions of dollars as annual revenue. Well, did you know that it began as a two-person startup? Read on to know the incredible success story of Dropbox.

The birth of a million-dollar idea

Dropbox founder Drew Houston was a tech prodigy who started coding when he was just 5 years old. The idea for Dropbox was born in 2007 when Houston was on a bus ride and suddenly realized that he had forgotten his pen drive, which had important files on it. The incident left him so frustrated that he pledged to solve the problem once and for all. And the idea for Dropbox was born!

The evolution into a business

With the help of Y Combinator, a startup accelerator, Dropbox received its initial funding of $1.2 million from Sequoia Capital in 2007. However, there was still a lot of work to be put in to get the product right. Dropbox was launched in 2008, a year after it received its initial funding.

Initial challenges

When Houston had taken his idea to Y Combinator, even though his pitch was well-received, the accelerator promised admission only on one condition – Houston needed to find a partner within two weeks. He turned to his alma mater, MIT, where he found Arash Ferdowski who was more than willing to drop out from college after seeing a demo video that Houston had put together.

Soon after the launch, Apple expressed interest in Dropbox with Steve Jobs even scheduling a meeting with Houston to buy the product. When Houston rejected the offer, Jobs said something on the lines of “Well, we’re just gonna have to crush you guys”! 10 years or so later, Dropbox is still going steady with a net worth of $8 billion despite cutthroat competition from Google Drive and Apple’s iCloud, all thanks to Houston’s unfaltering determination to build and nurture his own company.

Disrupting the market

Dropbox disrupted the market as soon as it launched. While there were several applications that enabled cloud storage, none of them were as stable, seamless, and robust. However, the challenge still lay in attracting as many users as possible to keep the venture profitable in the long run. Initially, Dropbox went for an outbound marketing strategy, investing in pay-per-click and PR campaigns. Unfortunately, this failed miserably, since the keywords they were bidding on were way too expensive.

This is when Dropbox focussed on adopting a consumer-first approach, going where the users were to build its own community and generate word of mouth.

Building a community

Initially, Dropbox had launched a private beta program while it was still in the development stage to generate interest in the product and gain valuable feedback to better the product. This helped Dropbox generate significant word of mouth and they capitalized on it by starting a referral that incentivized both, the recommenders and referrals with extra free space. They also rewarded their social media followers with 125 MB of extra free space. This simple initiative increased the number of new users by a whopping 60%!

Another key game changer was the use of a signup-driven homepage with clear layout and demarcations. It also had a 2-minute tutorial video to guide users through the product. This not only made the intent of the home page pretty clear but also helped anchor interest by showcasing how simple, effective, and beneficial the product is.

Conclusion

The key contributor to Dropbox’s success was that it solved a very basic problem. It thoroughly understood its users and the needs they had. A lot of users around the globe had already grown wary of carrying portable storage devices and wanted something that could solve their storage issues. Dropbox addressed the issue head-on by making cloud storage a simple, secure, and hassle-free experience. In the words of Drew Houston himself, “People do not choose Dropbox because it has this much space or gigabytes. They choose it for the experience.”