Archive for the ‘Productivity’ Category

Remote Meetings – Rules of Engagement

May 19, 2020

Over the past few weeks from toddlers to elder lemons, we have all had a baptism of fire when it comes to remote meetings.  

While we are well used to them at this stage you can see already an A to Z of how people are great or not so great using them so I thought it was worth writing this as we can all get a little bit better – it’s all about Communications!

Love them or hate them, they are here to stay, so I have some tips that have helped me through this new way of working and could help you as well.

For us at Fuzion, it gives us the opportunity to say that we are very much open for business, sleeves up and ready to help. And it’s working for us – we even have won new business for the first time ever without ever having met the client face to face!

When the lockdown was announced first, we thought that was the end of all of our Social Media and Media Training as well as our Brand and Communications Workshops, but we quickly adapted and we have been busier than ever thanks to Zoom.

Remote meetings will never replace the valuable face to face connectivity but if we can get remote meetings right, think of the time we can save, not to mind the benefits to the environment and our pockets. 

It could mean that when the world “reboots” if we embrace remote meetings we will be far more productive and effective as individuals and as organisations and we might even win back some more quality of life.

Here are some of my learnings since conquering the fear of my laptop camera!!

  1. Be mindful of your image

Treat remote meetings as if you are all in the same room.

Wear work appropriate clothing and be mindful of your backdrop. If you have a home office, how about using one of your company’s pop ups, or if that’s not feasible either have a blank wall, or a backdrop that is clutter free.

The first week I just wore my gym gear – who cared…. It turns out I did. 

Part of my ability to thrive and not just survive during this time is keeping to my rituals and that includes giving myself time to look well every day – that way, if there is a last minute meeting – well I’m ready for my closeup!!!

  1. Turn your camera on – don’t hide

Pre Covid the majority of people kept their camera off and blamed the wifi! Now it’s becoming less acceptable to have your camera turned off.  

Now most people almost resent it where people leave their camera off.  You almost feel that they are hiding something, or that they don’t want to engage with you fully.

In most cases no one will say anything but they will see you (or not at all!) in a different light if you are the hidden one.

  1. Have the right light

Don’t sit with your back to the window or to strong lighting – all people will see is your silhouette. Use soft natural light to illuminate you in front or to the side. 

If you don’t have good lighting, invest in an LED Ring Light – They are great value, can plug into your laptop and offer a variety of lights and strengths depending on the natural light in the room.

In my room, I work with the light behind me, so I have positioned my laptop on books to the side with one of these LED lights behind the camera, so when I’m on a Zoom call, I turn the light on and it really softens the lighting.  

  1. Frame the camera correctly

Try out a number of positions/locations for the camera – which may also change during the day depending on light. 

Show all of your face. Place the camera at eye level or higher. Looking up at the camera makes you look more engaged (so they say!!)  And look into the lens, not at the screen. That’s where the people are, and that is how you make eye contact.

I have been on one or two meetings, where the other person’s camera was pointed at the ceiling, which is definitely worse than not having the camera on at all!!!

  1. Drown out noise

If you are in an environment where there are other people working near you, or there might be other distracting sounds you might consider using headsets. They could be the typical ones that come with your phone.

I’m working in an office on my own so I find the mic and the speakers on my laptop work fine, however some colleagues that run workshops and webinars prefer to use headphones or a headset with a mic.

Click this link that I found on the Zoom help resources on best cameras and headsets

  1. Sit up straight and proud

Don’t slouch, sit on a chair, rather than a couch if possible, so it feels more like a meeting setting. Don’t move as much as you might during an in-person meeting, and stay within the camera frame.

Saying that, I work from a couch, with cushions supporting my back as I work. 

I have my laptop to my side, connected to a big screen on a coffee table in front of me and my cordless keyboard on a tray on my lap. Very comfy as as it makes room for my new work colleagues – my dogs Honey and Bert either side of me!!! 

When it comes to meetings, I lean toward the edge of the couch, sit up straight, turn towards the camera which is to the side, so that the backdrop is the wall rather than all the cushions surrounding me. It keeps me focused sitting at the edge of the couch and I have my cordless keyboard and mouse on a tray, so I am able to access the screen if I need to.

  1. Look engaged

Remember it’s not a mirror, so don’t go fidgeting with your hair, or don’t click away on your computer keyboard while someone is talking. If you really have to click away or if there is any external noise like the dogs (or the kids) acting up, then mute when you are not speaking.

I was at a meeting the other day, where one of the ladies kept on tying her hair up and then down. She forgot that everyone could see her.

I think I preferred her hair down lol!!!

  1. Be on time

And that means joining the meeting a few minutes before the start time, to make sure your connection is working OK.

It’s sort of like getting the meeting room ready for the meeting. When I worked in the office, I’d always make sure the room was in order before the meeting and this is my way of making sure I create the best possible impression by being on time and that everything is working properly.

  1. Keep Meetings Short

Some people find remote meetings more draining than face to face meetings. So try and keep them to less than an hour. After the meeting walk around for a few minutes, grab a coffee or give the dog (or kid) a treat for behaving during the meeting!!

I find that I have to focus much more during remote meetings. I want to be sure I hear what everyone is saying and that I’m 100% engaged. So afterwards I feel really drained, but I find it helps keeping them to under an hour if at all possible.

  1. Go Zoom

I know there were some security issues regarding Zoom during the first week or so of the lockdown, but we find this platform really reliable and the quality of audio, visual and screen sharing functionality really good. 

It’s free to use to host meetings if they are under 40 minutes and it’s also free to use if you are just joining in on a meeting. You just need to download the app the first time you use it.

Their website is really great as well for tips on how to use the platform as well as general help with organising webinars, meetings or just working from home. Click here for a blog post from them I found really useful – tips on how to meet like a pro while working from home.

The biggest reason for using Zoom at this stage, is that it is quickly becoming the standard. People are becoming very familiar with it and if it is a meeting, a training session or a webinar make it as easy as possible for them and don’t place any barriers to entry, such as another platform they may not know.

So, that’s all from me – I hope you find these simple tips really useful, and you never know I could be meeting you soon, on Zoom or even better in person!  

Deirdre Waldron, Fuzion Communications, PR ConsultantDeirdre 

Deirdre Waldron is the founding partner of Fuzion Communications, a Marketing, PR, Graphic Design and Digital Marketing agency with offices in Dublin and Cork, Ireland

 

Working from home: Coffee, skipping and a cat called Gizmo!

April 2, 2020

Heading into the end of Week Three of our #WFH and there has been a LOT of people offering top tips on “how to work form home successfully” as blog posts, infographics, downloadable white papers, illustrated series of Insta Stories and so on.

And the most successful thing that I have done to date is not read any of them!!

But I have learnt a few things about myself, which are based on nothing more than my own thoughts (and one or two are based on anecdotal observations by members of my family).

I drink way more coffee at work than I do at home, and I have access to 7 different electrical, mechanical and gravitational methods of making coffee at home, as opposed to the massive tub of half caffeinated dust/half pure crack cocaine that sits in the cupboard in work.

I have three different types of coffee beans from three different roasteries, AND I have an in-house trained barista on a COVID-19 based sabbatical on call in the front room. And with all of these amazing elements at my disposal, I have reduced my coffee intake from 5 cups a day to one, perhaps two.

I don’t know why… It’s just an observation. (I also have a large jar of Blue Maxwell House that is out of date since 2018 for emergencies!!)

Some of you may know that I am a cyclist, a commuter cyclist, I do approximately 9.7km a day, five days a week, in the sun, in the dark, in the rain, in the snow, and hot diggity, I miss it.

As dangerous as the roads are ordinarily – and they are dangerous, there isn’t a day that someone decides that either their journey is more important than my life, that the phone call is *that* important (Do drivers not know about Siri etc?), anecdotally, within the cycling community, drivers are currently being less rational, and more irresponsible at a time when really and truly they have ample room on the road to be more observant, more careful and slower – for the first time in a long long time, I am hesitant to head out (within the 2km radius, obvs.)

..So I’ve started skipping.

9am is a solid. 5:30 is a fluid.

I have saved approx €15 in the three weeks that I’ve been working at home by not buying lunch (I get one lunch a week from the Sandwich Stall in the English Market. Go there, thank me afterwards. And you will), but I spent €9 on ice creams in one go on a post-work walk (within the 2km radius, obvs.) the other day with some of my kids.

So I reckon that in the long run it will cost me more to be at home. Are ice creams tax deductible?

We have two cats. One is Lou. That’s an abbreviated name, which is short for Lucifer.

The other is Gizmo, who has a bionic leg from an accident involving a fence and, well, her leg. And she has become my Study Buddy. She sits up on the chair behind me, purring like a bloody Honda Goldwing.

Don’t tell anyone, but I enjoy her company!!

Finally, a note on the IOT.

I have a Sonos Speaker system. They are fantastic speakers. Loud, bassy, clear and bright. but when you are listening to Drum and Bass and you get a phone call, it’s a juggling act that Fosters Circus would be proud of, for me to take the call, find the app that controls the speakers, greet the person on the phone, scramble to open the volume control on the app, turn the volume down, NOT up, and carry on like the true, professional that I am.

So… how’s working from home going for you?

Jonathan

Jonathan Leahy Maharaj is the Creative Director of Fuzion Communications who are a full service agency with offices in Dublin and Cork, offering Marketing, PR, Graphic Design and Digital Marketing Services

 

Top tips for Remote working – for leaders and their teams 

March 26, 2020

Working from home

If you are fortunate enough to be able to work from home during this time, we wanted to share with you a few top tips to be as productive as you can be and also bust a few myths about working from home too. 

In a lot of companies the idea of remote working can seem daunting and a lot of people are very skeptical of it. “How do you know people aren’t slacking off?” is a common question people ask when the topic of working from home comes up. But effective remote working starts at the top with the leaders. 

There is a perception that if you can’t see your team working, then they are slacking off but any worker regardless of where they are working from can slack off if there isn’t proper communication in place. If someone understands clearly what work they are responsible for and works accordingly, they should be able to get the job done no matter where they are located. 

So the first tip is of course Communication! 

Communication is key. 

Offline working – A lot of remote workers might feel they need to constantly be online and show they are working at all times but if you need to delve in to a big task – communicate this and let your team know you might be offline working on a project for a few hours, add it to your calendar or your chat status. 

Speak in person – Hold a catch up call with your team and keep in touch, it’s not as easy to have a quick chat with your co-worker when you’re working from home but it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t. Check in with your teammates and see how they’re getting on – just make sure to brush your hair before the video call! 

Chat tools – Use chat tools like Google Hangouts, and Zoom. These tools can really make working from home and communicating with your team a lot easier. 

Track your workday as you normally would – set tasks and take breaks.

Task planning – It’s really easy to get distracted when working from home, so assign yourself a few big tasks you need to get done that day and try your best to get the worst one out of the way first.

Take your breaks – Working alone at home can be hard so take a coffee break/lunch break as you normally would – walk away from your work station/go to a different room and take a break, pet your dog, talk to you mom, call a friend, go for a walk or maybe even do a quick stretch but be sure to assign yourself a time to come back to your desk at, as it’s very easy at home to take too many breaks and get distracted so keeping yourself accountable will do wonders for your productivity. 

Remote working

Get dressed and set up a workstation away from your bedroom if you can. 

Sitting in your PJ’s all day will not help your productivity…as tempting as it is! 

Fuzion Cuppa

Create a remote team culture

Your company culture doesn’t have to take a hit during this time. Implement a fun way to stay in touch with your co-workers. For instance here at Fuzion we have our Fuzion Cuppa everyday at 11am where we make a cup of tea/coffee and catch up with our colleague and see how everyone is. This is a fun way to let everyone know it’s business as usual and we’re all still staying connected with each other. 

Exercise 

If your day looks something like bed to chair to couch to bed then make sure you get outside and get some fresh air and some steps in. It’s not only important for you to get some exercise, but it’s also important for your mental health to get out of the house at least once a day. 

Have a dance party at home(sure nobody is watching anyway!!)

Know when to log off 

This can be one of the most challenging aspects for remote work, as the world is becoming increasingly connected but it is important to develop a habit of setting a time when you officially “log off” for the night. 

And last but not least: 

Embrace the perks of working from home. 

This is a tough time for us all, but if you are able to work from home enjoy the positive side of it. No morning commute, endless cuddles with your pets, nice views, midday dance parties, the memes, the tiktok’s, more time spent with our loved ones – the list is endless!

Michelle

Michelle Harrison is part of PR team at Fuzion Communications, working from our Dublin office

I had a great year because ….

January 1, 2019

Visualisation

For the last few years I have been doing this simple little exercise at the start of the year to help me get focused around things that are important both personally and professionally.

I have found it to be really useful and it has made a big difference and as I look back at last year I can see the things that I have achieved as a result of this focus. In Fuzion we also ask all of the team to do this – it is really important to us that everyone in the team achieves their own personal and career goals.

Making plans and actually achieving them is always challenging and at the start of the year we find ourselves at the start of that loop all over again making promises that often will never materialise!

Benjamin Zander - The Art of PossibilityA few years ago I was inspired by a book about goal setting in a different way called “The Art of Possibility” by Benjamin and Rosamund Zander (a really interesting motivational book by the conductor of the Boston Philharmonic Orchestra and his wife who is an executive coach).

Benjamin Zander, the conductor has the task every year of bringing out the very best from a large group of very talented musicians for his orchestra.

His approach is rooted in the power of visualisation – the simple idea behind this is that if you visualise what you want to achieve then there is a much better chance of it actually happening (disbelievers ….stop reading now !!)

This is my approach to his great idea to tap into all of Your Possibilities..

Take a quiet few moments so you can concentrate with a blank sheet of paper and a pen and do some visualisation – Take a few deep breaths and relax and close your eyes.

Now imagine the last working day of this year, just before you head out the door to do some last minute shopping and enjoy a well-earned rest. You are feeling really satisfied as you reflect on your fantastic achievements during the year. Some of these were personal things and some of these were professional things – you are feeling great!

Now open your eyes and start writing:

I had a great year because ….

Now off you go and list the things that will make this year a great one for you:.

Take your time and be as specific as you can including all of those business and personal goals that will give you that huge sense of satisfaction on that last work day.

Now you need to study this list and start figuring out how you can make this list come to life.

Put your piece of paper in a safe place so that you can refer to it throughout the year to make sure your wish list stays on track.

Enjoy realising all of your possibilities..

Happy New Year

This clip of Benjamin Zander is really motivational and well worth watching.

Greg Canty 

Greg Canty is a Partner of Fuzion Communications who offer Marketing, PR and Graphic Design services from our offices in Dublin and Cork, Ireland

How to Achieve your Goals in 2018

January 3, 2018

Design a Life you Love - Ciara Conlon

This year we will feature some guest bloggers on the Fuzion Communications blog, so we are starting with the fantastic and very lovely Ciara Conlon, who as well as being an author, is just brilliant at making people more productive and feeling much more fulfilled in their lives.

She has a gorgeous approach to Productivity Coaching, which we like to describe as ‘Positive Productivity‘ as its focus is about a better life for you.

Ciara refers to this as ‘Designing your life‘ ….very clever!

Over to Ciara..

Over the next few days and weeks most of us will start to think about change, about giving up bad habits and creating new positive habits.

Traditionally at New Year we think about how this year can be different, we are filled with hope, optimism and excitement.

Unfortunately the statistics for New Year Resolution success is poor.

Apparently only 18% of people succeed with their New Year’s Resolutions, but rather than focus on the negative statistic, what can we learn from the 18% of people who do achieve there goals each year?

1. They Understand the Need for Goals

We need goals if we are to achieve anything outside our normal routine, we need goals to inspire and motivate us and give us direction.

Without them our future is not within our own control, we leave our future to fate.

Being aware of what needs to improve, is the only way that you can consciously make improvements.

Life is a journey that we can only strive to make better, daily, little by little.

Asking yourself a few key questions might help you to focus on areas to improve or change:

  • Are you wasting time doing things that don’t need to be done, or perhaps you are trying very hard and not getting the results that you had hoped for?
  • What can you do to make next year better?
  • What do you really want, but struggle to achieve every year?
  • What would you like to change about yourself?

These answers can be the starting point for setting your goals and they will give you a guideline if you don’t know where to start and help you to get clear about what it is you want to change.

2. They set Motivating Goals that they really want

It might seem pretty obvious but so many people are unclear about what they really want to change.

They set the same goals every year, the same goals as everybody else. Their new year goals become the desires of the masses rather than the needs of the one.

Do you really want to start in the gym on the 1st of January or would you like to start planning a new business or becoming more creative?

The reason why people fail is because they halfheartedly set goals for themselves focused on the things that they know they should be doing.

The problem is a lot of goals that people set don’t actually excite them or at least they haven’t found the motivation in these goals to go out and achieve them.

A goal needs to excite and motivate you – while pounding the pavement might never excite you, the idea of a strong healthy body in your skinny jeans might just do the job!

3. They Start Small

If you try to change everything at once you are setting yourself up for failure.

The key to positive change is to change one thing at a time – Master one habit before moving on to the next.

Charles Duhigg, author of the ‘The Power of Habit’ suggests we focus on what he calls keystone habits. In his book he explains the concept of keystone habits, that when focused on they have a positive and empowering effect.

Keystone habits don’t create a direct cause-and-effect relationship, but they can spark “chain reactions that help other good habits take hold“.

If you master the habit of running you can be guaranteed you will naturally start adopting other habits such as drinking more water and eating healthier. When you master the habit of rising early you will find it so much easier to meditate, journal etc.

These keystone habits are the ones to focus on, others include, family dinners, making your bed in the morning, meditation and planning your day.

So if you plan on making a change this year it may be a good idea to focus on one of these life changing ‘keystone habits’.

4. They Believe they can

Are you one of those people who reluctantly takes on a new habit?

Do you say you are going to do it but inside you don’t really believe it?

A lot of people have set themselves up for failure before they have even started – Deep down they don’t believe they can do it.

Your beliefs will generally determine the outcome so don’t waste your time if you don’t really believe it can be done.

So many people set the goal of losing weight every January but they feel so negative about the goal because they have tried so many times before and failed, that they don’t really believe they will do it.

If this is the case for you the first thing you must consider is, are you doing the same things time after time and failing?

Remember Einstein’s definition of insanity; doing the same things and expecting different results – what do you need to do differently this year?

If the goal is something you do really want, and you don’t understand why you can’t make it work, ask a close friend why they think you haven’t yet achieved your goal, and most importantly be willing to listen to the answer!

5. They are resilient

Successful people in general understand that failure is part of life.

They understand that on the road to getting what they want there will be potholes and barriers, but they stay with it.

Success takes determination and persistence.

The key to reaching your goals is to promptly get up each time you fall down. Try to preempt the challenges and plan for them, but if you fail, accept it quickly and move on.

It’s really important that you don’t waste time dwelling on the negative.

Monitor your thoughts and make sure you speak to yourself with encouragement rather than condemnation – Forgive yourself and move on.

It is your life and your responsibility to make it a good one, and with a little bit of focus and effort you can create the life you have always dreamed of.

Why not become the designer of your life in 2018?

Ciara Conlon

Ciara Conlon is a Productivity Coach and Motivational Speaker and respected thought leader working with individuals and organisations transforming behaviours in order to create more productive and happier people and workplaces.

You can find out more at www.ciaraconlon.com or on her Facebook page

Ciara will be running an evening event on January 25th in Wood Quay Venue, in Dublin called “Design a Life you Love”

A special “two for the price of one” offer is available until January 7th.

 


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