Sunday, 21 June 2015

Relationships in the office environment

Relationships in the office environment are, sometimes, the nightmare of HR. I'm not talking about romantic relationships - that's a completely different chapter. I'm talking about the "common" person-to-person relationships that people tend to form with those around them. Once considered "a waste of working time" and "a burden to productivity", now, they seem to be approached under a more positive light as something with a potential to boost productivity, creativity and employee loyalty.

'Cow Bell' by jar (away) under
a CC license

Working in an environment where you know that you can count on people, not only as co-workers but also as human beings creates a feeling of safety and helps motivate people and brings out higher levels of commitment on their behalf. Good relationships at work creates a very positive environment that reflects to the organisations and can also be visible further beyond to customers or other third parties.

The problem with interpersonal relationships is that they may be unpredictable. People have their bad days, employees experience stress, bad things happen that spoil moods, etc. And, guess what, bad relationships can easily poison the work environment, negate the aforementioned benefits and lead to penalties for both productivity and creativity.

So how does on manage the human reationship side of the work environment?

Sunday, 7 June 2015

Trialability is key to adopting the right innovations

Trialability is the possibility that a client or a user, in general, is given to test a particular product for a finite amount of time in order to test its characteristics and, ultimately, its suitability for a set purpose. Trialability has long been recognised as one of the 5 factors influencing the adoption rate of innovation.
'Mannequin in Venice Shop Window'
by Michael Summers under a CC license

Indeed, trialability is normally available for a wide range of products and services and is not restricted solely to the innovative ones. Depending on the country, common goods, such as clothes, video games, household equipment, electronics, etc. can be tried for a short time and then returned for a refund if they are unsatisfactory. Rules do apply for this process, e.g., goods need to be returned in good condition. I've also heard of gallery owners that give their potential customers the possibility to "try" paintings or other art objects in their premises for a while before finalising their purchase. Such practice is also becoming increasingly common in high-tech, high-price equipment, such as digital cameras, camera lenses, etc.

Manufacturers of industrial equipment typically offer trial leases of their equipment to potential clients, possibly offering a pilot scale piece of equipment or provide access to actual scale equipment within their premises.

Software products also follow that trend with developers offering feature-limited trial versions, full-featured but limited time trial versions or online trial versions.

The benefits of trialability come at a cost, which corresponds to the cost of making and providing a trial version of the real thing together with a reasonable level of support.

But what happens with products that normally require considerable customisation before becoming fit for the client? And since trialability is a sought feature for innovative (and regular) products that, however, comes at a cost, does it actually hinder new small players entering the innovation game?

Monday, 1 June 2015

Office common space as a tool for collaboration

Often it is people that define the success of an organisation. Making the most out of them is essential. The various different approaches in organisational structures are meant to contribute to that. Using talented people as units or in teams in a balanced and effective way is another way to add to the boost. Increasing casual interaction, even if that is not directly work-related may be another, fun way to get better efficiency at the workplace. For the latter to happen, the way that the office space is structured is important.
'A coffee machine at work' by
Wolfgang Lonien under a CC license

Academic environment aside, common spaces in the workplace are considered by some employers as procrastination hot spots or, at best, temptation areas where employees lose valuable work time. Likewise, third parties, i.e., people outside an organisation may often perceive negatively the practice of employees spending time in common spaces provided within their organisation.

However, today, it is increasingly realised that the interaction among co-workers in the common spaces of a workplace can be beneficial for the organisation.