The Busy Professional’s Guide to Gifting for Secret Santa

Work Life Balance

19 December 2019

The Busy Professional’s Guide to Gifting for Secret Santa

  • Posted by Awfis Editorial

As far as popular holiday traditions go, the Secret Santa would have to be among the last few surviving ones. Yet, in the midst of finishing the end-of-year reports and fighting winter blues, the pressure of Secret Santa gifting at work can be rather distressing. So, here’s our guide to help you find the right gift for the right person.

But first things first, have you ever wondered where Secret Santa originated from? Larry Stewart, an American who anonymously handed out cash to the less-fortunate during Christmas received the nickname of ‘Kansas City’s Secret Santa’. And it is this legacy of anonymous gift giving which continues on as the Secret Santa tradition practised the world over.

Whether you love it or hate it, Secret Santa at office is a good way to end the year, offering everyone something fun to look forward to. Are you ready to navigate the sometimes tricky gift-giving process at the workplace?

For the Boss

Nothing evokes warmth like a DIY gift. Set aside your boardroom differences and gift your boss something that is thoughtful and handmade. Whether it is painting, carpentry, or baking that you count among your many skills, roll up your sleeves and make something from scratch. More than the price of the gift, it is the thought behind it that counts, they say. Gratitude on your mind? No? Well, in that case, you can just pick up a gift voucher!

For the Frenemy

It’s all about appearances in this case. And everyone loves to look good – whether they care to admit it or not. So, how about gifting a face mask to your frenemy? It’s like killing two birds with one stone. On the one hand, it says you care enough to pamper them. It also says that you’re shrewd enough to know when they’re putting their best ‘face’ forward. The market is flooded with options for both men and women.

For the New Recruit

Want to make the new employee feel welcome and at home? How about tickets to a show, an exhibition, or even coffee as the ‘+1’ option? This could give you a chance to hang out, chat and bond. Even if your giftee doesn’t choose you to go with, it will still provide you with enough material for a follow-up conversation.

For the Work Buddy

This is, perhaps, the easiest and least stressful of the lot. You know him or her best, so this should be no challenge. In fact, you can afford to exercise your creativity here – a seemingly innocuous inside joke, possibly – without the worry of causing offence. Or else, how about an office aromatherapy kit? It’s an almost instant stress buster. Everyone on the floor benefits, plus you get brownie points for the ‘inclusive’ thoughtfulness.

For the Intern

Just because he/she is not a permanent member of the company yet, there’s no reason to make them feel left out. Right? Usually fresh out of college and raring to go, interns are a joy to gift to. You can encourage their enthusiasm and creativity with personalised notebooks, cute sticky notes or funky USB drives. Customised laptop stickers and souvenirs are good gifting options too.

For the Opposite Sex

If you feel like you are treading on a pretty slippery surface, we suggest you proceed with care. It is better to avoid any controversial gifts. In other words, no clothes, colognes, diet charts, or prank gifts. Instead find out if they enjoy tea or coffee more, and gift them their favorite brew. Best to keep it simple.

The not-so-secret rules to Secret Santa

While it may not be possible to please everyone, it is just as easy to offend anyone. Therefore it is important to make sure that you are not hurting anyone’s religious, political or personal sentiments with your choice of gifts.

Secret Santa isn’t just about the presents. It is a great way to bond with your colleagues in a more meaningful way. You could use this opportunity to show your appreciation. It’s about spending quality time with your co-workers, de-stressing at the office, and celebrating the end of the year on a positive note. Wish you a Merry Christmas!

5 Work Practices that will Stay with Us Post COVID-19

Work Life Balance

27 July 2020

5 Work Practices that will Stay with Us Post COVID-19

  • Posted by Awfis Editorial

As the world order continues to change, pushing us to a whole new system of working, it has given rise to new trends and practices that will define the future of organizations. Employers will need to rethink operations with a new perspective, make it more purpose-driven, explore newer possibilities, and harness the potential of this new system to work and make it effective. From employee management to process planning, performance evaluation, and customer experience, major business functions are going to see a new day.

Some of the major long-term changes that are imminent are:

Being Digital-first

Businesses have been toying with the idea of transforming themselves to fit into the ever-expanding digital landscape. Now, it has become more of a need than a want. Particularly the customer-facing service industry has woken up to the critical benefits of being digital-first. By integrating cloud-based operations, process automation, machine learning, etc., businesses will not only improve their functions but will also manage their costs better, boost productivity, and balance human and tech resources.

Complete digitalization of day-to-day work practices will continue, whether it is in a physical or virtual office space. Daily functions like project management, customer/client interaction, evaluation, feedback, etc. will also see heavy usage of digital tools in the coming years.

Decentralized and distributed workforce

In the wake of the pandemic, businesses have learned that distributing your human resources will only make your business stronger. The virtual work environment will continue and provide more opportunities for temp roles, independent contractors, stay-at-home parents, etc., thus amplifying the culture of remote working. This will allow businesses to expand operations across geographies without any hefty establishment costs or entry barriers. Thus, the new workforce will be diverse in their skills and can support customer/client needs across different locations, eventually boosting production volumes.

Increased focus on employer branding

The new generation workforce seeks transparency, inclusivity, and security. And now more than ever due to a major health scare. Employees today want to be part of an organization that pays attention to their lives and not just job skills. Organizations which openly communicate about the physical and mental impact of the current situation will stand out to be the progressive ones. Focusing on establishing an employer brand that nurtures and nourishes its human resources, amid all odds, will also attract top talents when hiring and help retain them.

Transition from readiness to resistance

While operational efficiency is essential, resilience is needed to sustain the efficiency. And resilience comes from agility. As of today, companies that have made themselves adaptive to change are stronger than ever and are the ones who can thrive better in the future. The agility of business functions comes from cross-functional training and expanding skillsets of your workforce. There will be more emphasis on skill upgrade and flexible work practices so they can thrive despite disruptive scenarios.

Evolved work ethics

The pandemic has brought to light a lot of ethics concerns with respect to work practices, organizational decisions, and overall employer-employee experience. This has been a learning period for all, and organizations are now realizing its impact on the bottom line. In the coming time, we can expect to see more well-defined work ethics in terms of awareness and being proactive to health and safety, work-life balance, and improved organizational culture.

Some of these trends can be seen as an impact of current circumstances, while the others are only a step- up from earlier practices that were long due, only accelerated by the changing times. No matter what the cause, the effect will only be of an evolved work landscape.

How to keep your team connected when working remotely?

Work Life Balance

20 July 2020

How to keep your team connected when working remotely?

  • Posted by Awfis Editorial

In the wake of the global pandemic, many organizations are now working remotely from their homes. While the work environment has changed, the need to keep it running smoothly hasn’t. In fact, constant communication, especially within teams, has become more necessary than ever. Despite innovative tools and techniques, people still feel something is amiss in the new set up. Whether you are a seasoned remote worker or a WFH newbie, virtual team management could be a challenge and yet is vital to ensure that the new work setup is a success.

Here are a few tips to make your internal communication more effective and teams more collaborative.

Make the most of communication tools

While working from home, one of the major issues that both employers and employees face is staying connected constantly. Thanks to online communication tools that issue can be easily dealt with. As of today, almost every office operation can be managed using collaborative tools for project management, communication, meetings, and more. You might not have the flexibility to talk across your desks and get an instant response, but you can still recreate the same system using instant group messaging tools like Slack and Google Hangouts. To make the most of team meetings, use video calls and conferencing apps instead of audio-only options so you can maintain your original team environment.

Be responsive at all times

Whether you are a team lead or manager or just a team member, being responsive is vital to stay connected to your coworkers and ensure that work is flowing smoothly. However, since WFH keeps you away from a visible office environment, it can make you lax. To avoid that, be online at all times and respond to queries and approvals instantly, so your team knows you are around and available. It also helps in resolving issues and addressing problems without any time lapse.

Set meeting schedules

WFH or virtual office is still pretty new for a lot of people. To streamline the workday, it is important to set a schedule and maintain a routine, just like you would in a physical office space. If you used to have a daily team meeting at the start and end of the day, then continue to do so, only inform your team in advance and stick to the set times, unless, of course, there is an emergency.

Be proactive

Being proactive is the key to an organized work practice but more so when you are away from your team and other coworkers. When taking breaks, inform your team members, so everyone is aware and know when and when not to expect you. Encourage the same from other team members as well.

Be inclusive

Social distancing doesn’t mean social isolation. People might be working remotely, but they still have the need for socializing and sharing their day-to-day events. Encourage people to interact with their work buddies as much as possible. If feasible, plan group lunches on a video call and use the time to talk about things of common interest and bridge the gap that often comes with a virtual work environment. From problem-solving to brainstorming creative ideas, do it as a group, and bring the human touch to your team communication.

Making your team members feel connected and included at all times, especially in these challenging circumstances, would only ensure better coordination and thus higher productivity.

6 Must-Have Remote Work Tools to Help You Work Seamlessly from Home

Work Life Balance

24 June 2020

6 Must-Have Remote Work Tools to Help You Work Seamlessly from Home

  • Posted by Awfis Editorial

Although the idea of virtual office space and remote working is no unicorn in the professional landscape, the Coronavirus pandemic has pushed us to adopt this culture more widely and seriously. And now that it has become a norm, it’s important to master the practice and use the right tools to increase productivity and continue to work efficiently.

Here are some of the best remote work tools to have:

TeamViewer

If you need basic desktop access, this is the perfect tool to use. With instant file transfers, clipboard transfers, and video-enabled interactions, you can easily replace your physical office space. Maintain social distance and yet be present for your team. TeamViewer is available for Windows, OS X, iOS, Linux, and Android, and it is free for personal use.

Slack

Contrary to its name, this communication platform will never let you slack on your work updates. You can create workgroups, lock confidential messages, alter message retention for security, and integrate it with your Google Drive, Dropbox, and Mailchimp for instant file transfers and uploads. It also allows you to enable instant notifications on your email or phones while you are away from your work desk.

Zoom

Video conferencing is now made easy with apps like Zoom. It is best for teams that require frequent meetings. It’s an open-source app, available for all devices, so you don’t have to spend a dime. You can enable chats while conferencing and ensure 360-degree communication. Zoom meetings are now password protected, which makes it more secure than ever.

Drawpile whiteboard

Sometimes, while briefing, it is easier to draw it out than talk or write. Whether you miss scribbling notes in a meeting or pen down creative ideas, Drawpile lets you present your thoughts graphically. It also fulfils the need of a whiteboard in a meeting room. It’s real-time, allows collaboration from other connected users and is great for designers, planners, and work that requires artistic application/visual presentation.

Basecamp

Ever since it was launched, this web-based project management platform has been a go-to tool for people working virtually. With key features like task management, instant messaging, email, team collaboration, file sharing, message scheduling, creating reports and more, it makes your day to day office tasks easy and efficient. For an annual cost of $99, and available for unlimited users, Basecamp also makes it worth the investment.

Toggl

While instant communication and seamless project management are essential in a virtual workspace, it is also important to keep track of how everyone is utilizing the available time. Toggl works as a time tracker to assess the work hours spent and find out how productive you have been. It is great for time-bound projects, and it’s a free tool, available for all devices.

Whether you are working out of your home office space, or in a co-working space, these essential work tools and software will keep you connected to your teams and make your remote working as much effective as the physical one.