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SMB Nation has been serving the Bainbridge Island area since 2001, providing IT Support such as technical helpdesk support, computer support, and consulting to small and medium-sized businesses.

Tips to Create an Office Space That Increases Staff Retention

People take a great deal of pride in their work, and they want their efforts to be as meaningful to employers and society at large as they are to them, on a personal level. But having more authority, more responsibilities, and a friendlier boss doesn't cut it these days. You'll find out soon enough that there's only so much you can do, as an executive, to keep employees running on all cylinders and happy on the job, before you turn to office interior design.

But what could a designer do to address staff retention problems? Typically, it should start with an in-depth analysis of how employees work, what they need throughout the day to carry out tasks effectively and what they Office Spacerequire to take a break and come back to work feeling refreshed. This knowledge should be a major source of information to help turn your business premises into the ideal workplace environment and commission the right office fit for your company. The idea is that a more employee-centric design would not only draw prospective candidates to your company, but also help existing employees focus and feel at ease at the office. As any designer would tell you, optimizing design and managing noise levels more efficiently fosters creativity and innovation. Here's how:

1. Take a Page from the University's Book
Switching from college desk to corporate office is a slow and sometimes painful transition. Working on the go is something graduates continue to yearn for even as their office looks nothing like the campus. It's entirely achievable with an office that focuses on flexible and movable furniture created for remote and spontaneous work.

2. Go from Unisex to Universal
It used to be that an inclusive work environment meant one where men and women worked together in harmony. Today, it's about catering to people of all abilities and ages. In other words, your office interior design needs to make work accessible to everyone, using specific types of furniture that is the right weight and placed at just the right height or distance. To round it off, you need to back up this approach with the latest technology and the right kind of general office attitude toward diversity.

3. Listen to What 'Mother Nature' Has to Say
Green never goes out of style. If there's one thing a plant will never be, it's 'outdated'. So, swap expensive end-to-end, turn-key designs for low-maintenance plants and trees that can turn your décor into something truly inspirational.

4. Light Up with Excitement
It goes without saying that people need fresh air and daylight aplenty to give it their best on the job. Don't let seasonal affective disorder or bad mood hold them down. If your windows aren't large enough, resort to glass, mirrors and other shiny and reflective surfaces to make the most of the light ingress.

5. Look Outside the Cage
Considering all aspects of office, check one last thing before you give the designer the go-ahead. Is it pet-friendly? Studies suggest one in two people worldwide have at least one pet, and it's not unusual to have a pet awareness day at the office every now and then. Some companies even go out of their way to have their own workplace pet. If that sounds like something you'd like to have for your employees, then it could be time to start making the office feel at home to more than one species.

6. Be Smart with Art
Is the photo frame on your desk the one and only accent piece at the office? You need only say the word, and your office interior design will be brimming with character. Opt for youthful colour schemes and don't be afraid of unusual contemporary combinations, such as mint and copper, blush and gold, soft Greek blue and silver, etc.

Author Bio:

Reno is the founder and director of Enigma Visual Solutions, a leading office interior design and office fit-out Company in London, specializing in retail designs, graphic productions, signage systems, office refurbishment, event branding, office space planning and much more. He specializes in experiential marketing and event productions. He enjoys sharing his thoughts on upcoming marketing ideas and design trends. Feel free to follow him on twitter.

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What Are Advantages & Disadvantages of an Open-Plan Office Space?

by Shari Parsons Miller

An open-plan office space layout has pros and cons both for a firm’s personnel and its bottom line. In an open-plan work environment, there are no distinct rooms or fully enclosed spaces. Instead, workstations are positioned together -- sometimes separated by short screens or panels -- within one exposed floor plan. The openness may improve communication and collaboration among your workers, but it also may reduce concentration and productivity.

Staff Advantages
A lack of walls or other physical barriers in open-plan office spaces makes it easier for employees to interact with each other on a regular basis. The constant intermingling not only generates a sense of camaraderie among personnel, it also enhances the flow of information and teamwork. Colleagues can turn to each other for advice or assistance without having to knock on doors or schedule a formal meeting. Interactions in an open-plan office space generally are more frequent and informal than in closed environments where everyone has a separate office space.

Business Advantages
The increased collaboration resulting from an open-plan work space can lead to business innovation and advancement. At the same time, an open-plan layout can benefit the business economically by reducing costs tied to construction, utilities and office equipment. For example, fewer walls mean less time and materials required to create the office space. Having a single work space also may reduce heating/cooling and electricity expenses thanks to improved flow of air and light. Businesses can save on equipment investment as well, since communal spaces promote shared use of resources, such as printers, copiers and staplers. An open-plan space also provides greater flexibility to accommodate evolving personnel needs.

Staff Disadvantages
On the downside, the high level of everyday interaction that takes place in an undivided work space may lead to noise and distractions that make it difficult for employees to focus on their work and conduct business. Lack of privacy is another potential problem with open-plan office spaces, where computer screens are easily visible by those walking by and telephone conversations are likely to be overheard. Open-plan layouts also facilitate the spread of disease, so if a colleague comes to work with a cold, it can affect the health of the entire staff.

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7 Steps to Start Your First Content-Marketing Campaign

You've heard about all the amazing benefits of content marketing. You want to jump in. But . . . how? Here's how.

Content Marketing

 

Jayson DeMers

Founder and CEO, AudienceBloom

By now, you've heard about all the amazing benefits of content marketing. You know that with the right strategy, you can earn more traffic, build a better reputation and see compound growth in both areas over time without greatly increasing your budget.

In fact, content marketing is truly one of the most cost-efficient marketing strategies around, but its rewards are proportional to the quality of your strategy and execution. That's why more experienced writers and marketing agencies charge more, and why long-running strategies perform better.

So, what if you have no experience with content marketing at all? It would seem that someone totally unfamiliar with this strategy stands no chance of success at all. But, at the same time, everyone has to start somewhere, right?

The truth is, you can enter the content-marketing game with no experience. You might not live up to your full potential right off the bat, but if you follow the approach described below, you'll be publishing with the best of them in no time. Here's how:

1. Get a briefer.

Your first job is to get a briefer on what content marketing involves. Yes, as you're reading this, you probably have a grasp of the basic concept, but you need to dig deeper into the details. Familiarize yourself with the beginning, middle and end of a piece of content's life, how you're going to measure your results and your ROI and the process you'll use to build your empire.

Also, get a high-level perspective on the strategy before you start mastering those details -- you'll be glad you did. If you need help getting started, I presented a webinar about a year ago on this subjectt, which will teach you the basics of content marketing and how those basics relate to search engines.

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Top Sales Training Best Practices Successful Managers Follow

Sales training is one of the most important investments most companies make, because it allows them to close the gap between current performance and potential performance. Nevertheless, around 80 percent of respondents to a recent study by the Rain Group Center rated their own training as being between average and poor.

Here, we take a look at some of the best sales training practices the most successful managers follow.

Use of Simulation or Role-Playing

Many organizations still utilize classroom-based, instructor-led training, which can be incredibly effective. However,Sales Training it is important to balance it with practical learning as well.

Without applying learned information quickly, most expenditure on corporate training is wasted, because unfortunately people forget new information extremely quickly. Precisely how much knowledge is lost - and how quickly - is difficult to say, as studies vary significantly, but most agree that the majority of information is lost within a week.

"Role-playing [also] provides a safe environment to encounter [new] scenarios for the first time, which builds confidence in team members that can help them in their day-to-day roles," explains John Buelow, executive vice president of the Shapiro Negotiations Institute.

Sales Coaching and Reinforcement

Successful sales training requires newly acquired sales skills to be reinforced regularly, or else staff revert to old habits, and coaching is one of the best solutions. For this reason, coaching is often one of the most important things for a sales manager to learn and is a key component of most sales management training programs.

Yet, many sales managers continue to neglect their coaching responsibilities. Indeed, the CSO Insights 2016 Sales Best Practices Study revealed that just 32 percent of sales managers are currently spending sufficient time on coaching. In companies performing to a world-class standard, however, this figure rises to 88 percent.

A structured coaching program will allow leaders to work closely with staff to highlight issues, set targets and ensure new skills are put into practice. Meanwhile, reinforcement literature should also be made available. According to Aberdeen Group, 20 percent more reps achieve quota when post-training reinforcement is implemented.

Technology and Mobile-Friendliness

Finally, the most successful managers know that technology can be utilized to significantly improve both the quality of training and its results. In truth, technology can be deployed in an almost limitless number of ways, ranging from the use of virtual instructors in classroom settings, to bite-size video content.

One growing technology trend in corporate training has been the gamification of the learning process and eLearning Industry report that gamification features, such as the ability to progress to different levels, choose a difficulty setting, etc. can lead to a nine percent increase in retention rates. Meanwhile, adult learners who participated in gamified e-learning experiences scored 14 percent higher in skills-based knowledge assessments.

Furthermore, technology can be used to make learning a mobile experience. By ensuring that learning materials are available to access and use on mobile devices, sales skills can be improved even while outside the workplace, learning can become part of staff members' daily routines, and information can be reinforced on the go.

Conclusion

When it comes to delivering high-quality sales training, or sales management training, it is not just the quality of the information that matters, but the quality of delivery and follow-up. In particular, it is important to give staff the opportunity to put new information into practice quickly, to reinforce and personalize learning through coaching, and to make use of technology to improve all aspects of your training program.

Author Bio:

Monika Götzmann is the EMEA Marketing Director of Miller Heiman Group, a global sales training and customer experience company. It specializes in providing exceptional sales coaching and helps organisations develop business strategies to achieve sales success. Monika enjoys sharing her insight and thoughts to provide better sales and service training.

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The future of transportation is already here

Apr 13, 2017 / Alex Moura

Let’s shake ourselves out of our four-wheeled stupor, look at the vehicles and devices being developed, and reimagine how we’ll move around our cities, says TED technology curator Alex Moura.

Humanity has come a long way from traveling by horse, but when we consider the future of transportation in cities, too many of us are still stuck in the 18th century. We still envision our streets full of four-wheel chariots (minus the horses), and our future as relying on cars or car-like vehicles, because that’s all we know. Why this myopia? For most automakers and transportation companies, adhering to the status quo is more profitable than experimenting; their business models, even for forward thinkers like Tesla, depend on their keeping drivers tethered with maintenance and service. And builders and urban planners have learned to limit their thinking because existing regulations and clunky political processes have made it nearly impossible to innovate without years of negotiations. As a result, we’re laying the foundations for a transportation future that carries forward the problems of the past.

But there can be another way forward, a new vision of transportation that upsets the four-wheel chariot model. And signs of it are already rolling across the landscape. By looking at some of the most advanced vehicles and devices out there — not just concept cars and prototypes but vehicles that are already in use or being road-tested in the real world — we can start to see a more interesting, less car-based future. Based on this new crop of transportation-related devices, I’m making the following four predictions:

Car

Courtesy of i-Road.

1. Cars will become much, much smaller.

While SUV and truck sales have been on the rise worldwide, that trend has been boosted by low gasoline prices, which can’t last given the finite supplies of fossil fuels. As we move forward, personal urban transportation will be dominated by individual vehicles. In 2015, Toyota launched a trial run of its three-wheeled i-Road electric vehicles — which resemble an enclosed motorcycle and fit only a driver and perhaps a small passenger — through a network of sharing stations in Tokyo. (We road-tested them at TED, too.) The project is now expanding throughout Japan, a nation with more electric car-charging stations than gas stations. In a bid to become the first country to embrace smart transportation systems, government officials have gone as far as trying to create international car-charging standards.

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