As spring has finally sprung and we can get back to enjoying nature that little bit more, our planet is at the forefront of our minds. The theme of Earth Day 2022 is “Invest in Our Planet” — a fitting frame of mind for approaching our business models this year and beyond. The threat of global warming to our planet’s wellbeing is becoming more and more apparent. According to the latest IPCC report on climate change, approximately 3.3 to 3.6 billion people live in environments that are highly vulnerable to climate change. We need to avoid the global temperature rising by 1.5 degrees Celsius, as this would cause “unavoidable increases in multiple climate hazards and present multiple risks to ecosystems and humans.” According to earthday.org, to avoid this rise in temperature, we need to reach net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. We can all play our parts in this effort, and whether you’re an office manager, a team leader, or a CEO, there are plenty of ways to drive down your workplace’s carbon footprint. As more and more businesses move to a hybrid work model, we’ve gathered five ways to encourage your hybrid workforce to be more environmentally friendly. Encourage hybrid work While some of your teammates may be embracing the hybrid work model, many others may find it hard to break from their traditional schedules. The first step in making your hybrid workplace more eco-friendly is to encourage hybrid working in the first place, as it holds huge benefits for your carbon footprint. Less air and noise pollution from commuting cars, less single-use plastic from breakfasts and lunches, less energy waste from office buildings — the eco-benefits of working from home stack up quickly. While there can be some debate as to whether working from home really cuts carbon emissions with heating and energy costs, the consensus is that it is far preferable to commuting to work, with one study even finding that net carbon emission reductions of 77% can be achieved from working at home. Trial an equipment sharing model One of the benefits of a hybrid working model is that office equipment does not need to be supplied and replaced at such a high rate. Tech turnover can have massive eco-implications, from the mining for materials to the e-waste produced when a piece of equipment needs to be retired. Set up an equipment sharing model with your hybrid workplace, and see how much technology can be shared or saved by staying at home. For example, if a team member has their own computer suitable for work use, offer an incentive for them to use this, rather than request a new laptop. Avoid doling out new technology just for the sake of it. Many of your employees may not need a company phone to do their work, for example, while others may work fine without extras like headsets or external hard drives. If one or more of your employees work part-time or flexible hours, investigate whether they could share their equipment on a rotational basis, passing it between them on the days they need it. Measure office power usage When your teammates do work from the office, there is an opportunity to reduce the amount of power your building uses. Research when your office has the highest capacity, and see if you can reduce the power consumption in off-peak hours. For example, there should never be a need for your office to have full power on overnight. You can also invest in light sensors and LED bulbs, which are both great ways to reduce the need for constant power usage. Depending on the size of your organization, you may be able to switch to a greener energy source for the entire office, such as solar or wind power. Talk to your office manager or the leadership team and state your case for why this investment could be worthwhile. Set up a recycling drive Making an effort to be more environmentally friendly doesn’t have to be a chore. There are plenty of ways to turn your efforts into fun, team-building activities for your team. Why not organize a recycling drive or a local area clean-up for your employees to mingle and do some volunteer work? You could also organize a clothes swap or a furniture flipping competition to let your workers see how going green can be fun and fashionable. Getting everyone involved is key to ensuring your eco-efforts go the distance, and it’s a great excuse to get together outside of work. Offer green incentives If you currently operate a rewards system in your workplace, why not offer more green perks and incentives to your best-performing employees? There are plenty of eco-friendly swag items to choose from, like reusable coffee cups or water bottles, compostable phone cases, or clothing and tote bags made from recycled materials. Go the extra mile and offer these items at your next event or conference, and make your mark as an eco-conscious company. Find the right software for your team to stay connected While working from home, it’s crucial that your employees have the tools they need to collaborate and be productive so that we can all reap the benefits of less time commuting. A collaborative work management system like Wrike allows your team to work together from anywhere. With features like real-time proofing and approvals, over 400 app integrations, customizable workflows and views, and robust security features, it’ll be like you never left the office. Find out more with a free two-week trial.
If you’ve started using Wrike and are wondering about “proper manners” when collaborating with remote team members, then allow us to suggest these 11 rules of Wrike etiquette. Incorporating these rules into your daily work should smoothen collaboration and make it much more pleasant for your team, no matter where they may be working.
As 2021 draws to a close, many employees are still working remotely across the world. With this in mind, businesses are looking at how they can involve everyone within their organizations in a fun and memorable virtual Christmas party. In this guide, we’ll provide practical insight into the planning and hosting of virtual Christmas parties. Keep reading to discover the tips, tricks, and tools you need to create a successful digital event your team will actually enjoy. How to get everyone involved in a virtual Christmas party Engaging an audience of remote workers seems challenging at first. They’re already used to virtual events but not necessarily the fun kind. In order to make your virtual Christmas party exciting, you’ll need to follow some best practices for planning virtual events. The three hallmarks of improving engagement at any virtual event are the inclusion of a physical component, an interactive process, and being able to see other attendees. A physical component of a virtual event can include something sent to an attendee’s address ahead of time that they can use on the day. For a virtual Christmas party, this may be a funny themed hat or a present. Most companies choose to do virtual gift cards as their Christmas party presents for employees. Instead, make the day more exciting by sending a physical gift to every attendee. Creating a gift box or basket that people can actually open will make your virtual Christmas party that much more memorable. An interactive process requires audience participation before, during, and after the event. For example, you can spark engagement from the moment you first invite guests by using a virtual registration process that gets them excited about the event. For large groups or events, registration should be done at least two weeks in advance. And just like at an in-person event, your virtual Christmas party team leads should interact with the confirmed attendees ahead of time through fun event reminders and announcements. Pro tip: Having a virtual event registration process helps differentiate your virtual Christmas party from other digital office gatherings. It shows that this is more than just a calendar invite for a training session or regular meeting. E-cards such as the festive holiday cocktail party ones from Paperless Post are great for this. Finally, host your virtual Christmas party on a video call platform and not just on a one-way livestream or audio-only app. Require cameras to be on throughout the event. Create opportunities for guests to use every feature of the event platform. For example, you can play part games and designate teams by having Team A use the raised hand emoji and Team B use the heart emoji on Zoom. You can also use breakout rooms to create smaller groups for team building activities and Christmas-themed challenges. Top tips for planning a virtual Christmas party Planning a virtual Christmas party can feel and look a lot like planning a virtual work meeting. Here are some ways to make these two events different yet well organized: Designate a charismatic host who can keep track of the event timeline and keep everyone engaged. Use a team collaboration software like Wrike to project manage your virtual Christmas party. Ask your team what they’d like to see happen at the virtual Christmas party so they can feel involved in the planning process too. Include team building activities and icebreaker games to kick off the social part of the evening. Double-check that your host WiFi is strong and guests can hear and see you clearly. Your party should be scheduled for a Friday night instead of a Saturday afternoon if you want to maximize attendance. If you decide to go all out, make sure to provide alcohol-free transportation or driver services. If you organize a virtual Christmas party during work hours, make certain that your team is prepared to handle the additional workload. Go all out with your background decorations to make the event feel truly special. This can be a physical background filled with a Christmas tree and gifts or a customized virtual background everyone can use that has a festive design. Virtual Christmas party ideas and games your team won't hate Host a sommelier-led wine or hot cocoa tasting complete with nuts, candies, and cheese. Participate in a remote escape room experience. The winning team gets a Secret Santa gift. Have a Christmas cookie decorating competition with management as the judges. This requires some prep ahead of time but will be a visual feast for all attendees. Dress to a theme and host a contest for the best ugly sweaters, Santas, and other Christmas character outfits. Bring in classic board games such as bingo, charades, and virtual Apples to Apples. Look for versions with a holiday or Christmas twist. Invite guest performers to do stand-up comedy, play live music, or even do magic while dressed as Santa. If children are in attendance, screen a Christmas movie like “A Muppet Christmas Carol”. If it’s adults only, watch something like “Die Hard”. Host a creative workshop such as cocktail making, scarf knitting, or ornament crafting. Invite a local school, church, or community group to sing Christmas carols during the event. Start a Christmas-themed trivia game for prizes. How do you make a virtual Christmas party inclusive? Although there are various holiday celebrations and festivities that happen throughout the year, they seldom get the same attention that they deserve. An inclusive approach encourages employees to recognize that they come from a variety of faiths, traditions, and cultures. To make your virtual Christmas party more inclusive, leaders should make their employees feel valued by turning it into a virtual office holiday party instead. Or, if hosting a true Christmas celebration is important to the majority of your team, make sure you’re upfront about it. Sometimes an employer will announce a regular holiday event that ends up feeling, looking, and sounding a lot like a Christmas party. But according to the experts at the Society for Human Resource Management, it’s much better to be upfront about which holiday or holidays will be represented at your party than mislabeling it for the sake of inclusion. If you do host a virtual Christmas party, make sure to also acknowledge and give the appropriate time off for other winter holiday celebrations for employees who celebrate those instead. How to plan a virtual Christmas party with Wrike Wrike is an online task management system that manages to-do lists and multi-department projects, including events like virtual Christmas parties. Its advanced features allow it to efficiently organize groups of people. To start, it's important that the virtual Christmas party planning team has a centralized folder for each major portion of the event running at the same time. This way, they can easily identify which parts of the plan are complete and which ones are still in progress. Next, each team has its own subfolders, which can be organized into areas of responsibility and major initiatives. This system also keeps all of the important details organized, allowing each team to set its own deadlines and work seamlessly with the other event crew. For virtual Christmas parties, this means keeping track of everything from mailing invitations and gifts to arranging live performers. After, Wrike users can add a registration folder to their virtual Christmas party project. The registration folder contains all the necessary information related to attendee registration. From there, tasks can be broken down into specific sub-tasks with more detail. For example, if your task is to host a cookie baking contest, your sub-task list may include the item “draft contest rules by December 15”. In addition to adding dates to tasks and sub-tasks, members of the event management team can add custom tags to each item. This will make tasks easier to find, sort, and assign to the appropriate team members. Each team can customize their tag options in Wrike to fit their own guidelines for breaking down tasks into action items. For example, teams can designate certain tasks as “Administrative” to automatically sort logistics-based tasks into one skimmable list. Once you've created a list of tasks, you can start scheduling them in Wrike. Doing so in the timeline view will help organize them nicely and ensure that your announcements, invitations, RSVPs, and party shopping all get done on time. There are lots of ways to view tasks once you have them created and assigned. Drag-and-drop tasks can be organized in a timeline view. You can also group them into predefined hierarchies. And if one task is dependent on another (such as waiting for RSVPs to come in before putting together the gift baskets), Wrike allows users to connect tasks and send automated notifications and reminders to the appropriate people when it’s time to move on to the next steps. Having task dependencies makes it easier to identify which tasks are dependent on which part of your virtual Christmas party plan. Also, it saves you time when you need to update the status of a specific task since Wrike will trigger these reminders for you. And after your virtual Christmas party is over, you can simply just drag and drop the entire folder into a "Past Events" folder for next year. Create a templated version of your planning process to streamline future event planning and organizing. Or simply keep a record of the fun everyone had and how you brought it to life. No matter how you use the information, it’s handy to have on file within your project management system for future reference. Ready to get your virtual Christmas party organized and on track to be a big hit? Get started today with Wrike’s two-week free trial to take advantage of our detailed task management capabilities.
Meryl Johnston, Founder & CEO, Bean Ninjas Bean Ninjas is an online bookkeeping firm that caters to online businesses. They’re not your traditional bookkeepers. Bean Ninjas were named Xero Bookkeeping Partner of the Year (QLD) in 2017 and were finalists in the Bookkeeping Firm of the Year at the 2018 Australian Accounting Awards. Meryl is a Chartered Accountant and entrepreneur. Prior to Bean Ninjas she ran a cloud accounting consulting firm, worked in both commercial accounting roles, as an auditor (BDO), and as a lecturer in accounting and audit. Process is the backbone of productivity. Teams thrive on routines and processes to keep work organized and goals on track. However, sometimes poor processes are detrimental to productivity. If processes are inefficient or ignored, things fall through the cracks and people start pointing fingers. When it came time for us to evaluate our processes, we found a lot of room for improvement. As a team of 12 distributed across six countries, it was extremely important for us to establish an efficient process for getting work done. As the number of managers grew across teams, so did the need for automatic reporting. Since Trello wasn’t able to provide that level for reporting, we decided to look into changing our processes and tools altogether. Coordinating across time zones is a project in and of itself. Requests, approvals, and revisions can take weeks just corresponding back and forth. The three biggest challenges for our distributed team when we considered why work from home pros and cons were: Uniting on communication and culture Finding and accessing important information Rolling out and learning a new tool We needed to figure out a way to streamline our processes so our distributed team could function like a well-oiled machine. Embracing change management It can be a difficult and time-consuming project to change the software that underpins your business. Giving your team the option of using a new tool can result in a less than 30% adoption rate—at which point, there really is no point in having it at all. So it’s very important to get the right buy-in upfront from everyone who will be using the new software. We found there are three distinct phases of change management and key steps to successfully get your team on board with a new software: 1. We involved the team in the buy-in If you fail to prepare, you prepare to fail. Have an open discussion with your team from the start and involving them in the process of evaluating a new tool will increase your chances of adoption and usage. Here are the steps I recommend: Obtain feedback: We had everyone in the loop from the start. We discussed why we planned on changing tools and how we thought everyone would benefit from it. Conduct a survey: We created a survey that asked our team what their biggest pain points are with the current software. What do they like? What would they like the change? Agree on qualifications: We decided what capabilities are a must-have in our new software and aligned on how this tool was going to help us achieve our goals. Rank contenders: We listed out the softwares we were vetting and ranked them based on which ones met the most qualifications. Test software: We chose a couple to test out. Then had a team member check out the areas of the software that were most important to our team. Select software: Once our team came to a consensus on which tool is best, they were motivated and excited to start using their new tool. Our Wrike implementation was easier because we received upfront buy-in on why we needed to change systems. We also understood the pain points of different team members and were able to explain how the new software would solve them. 2. We prioritized implementation Implementation is such a crucial process when changing work management tools. Wrike is a flexible tool and we wanted to ensure we set it up so that we could map it to our goals in the best way possible. Here’s how we onboarded with Wrike Identified our internal Wrike Champion: Scheduled an initial kickoff call with our Wrike Champion and managers to go over goals and expectations. Tested Wrike: Identified an accountant who would be the lead in rolling out the first test. After two months of testing, we rolled it out to the team. Set up training: We set deadlines for everyone on the team to complete the training and created our own training videos on how we want our team to use the software. Once training ended, we had different team members present a screenshare in Wrike so we could make sure they understood the new workflow. Obtain feedback: We frequently touched base with our team and asked for their input on the new setup. They’re much more likely to follow a new process when they’re involved in creating it. 3. We continually monitor & optimize Be patient and don’t expect everyone to learn and adopt the new software in a week. We continue to monitoring our team’s usage and feedback so we’re open to new ways of using the tool. We’re constantly asking ourselves: How can we optimize new features? What existing integrations would be useful for our team? We want to ensure we make the most of our powerful new project management software. This means seeking to review the way we are working and to make incremental small improvements. Key lessons learned Change management doesn’t have to be hard. Here are some key lessons we learned when implementing a new tool. Devote time for trainings. We significantly underestimated how many hours it would take us for implementation which created internal resourcing issues. Diversify trainings. Schedule group training, but also host one-on-one sessions to ensure that each team member is understanding the nuances of the new system. Motivate teams to use the tool. Encourage managers to lead their team with the adoption of the new software or set up some reward for their first completed project to incentivize them. Be patient. Understand that adopting a new tool takes time, but continue to monitor and make sure usage is improving. Be open to feedback. Where there is push-back from the team about the new software listen to their concerns and look into whether there is a better way to organize work by automating repeatable tasks.
Setting aside the joys of working from home and not having to commute, workers collaborating remotely have to deal with a lot of extra pain. The added pressure it places on their shoulders comes from the difficulty of creating immediate, visible value from afar. They struggle to be more "present" to their colleagues via the communication channels available to them — sometimes unsuccessfully. It's important to realize the extra pressure remote workers feel when you converse with them, and why remote work is important in the first place. Sometimes, jokes about "laziness" or how many hours they "actually" work can hit a nerve, and careless statements regarding work may cause a lot more harm than you think. For optimal remote collaboration, here are five specific sentences to stay away from: 1. "I tried to contact you, but I couldn't wait for you to get back to me." Possibly the biggest fear of your remote colleague is missing out on urgent tasks and direction-changing meetings that impact the work already being done. Saying something like the above hits home for an insecure remote worker already trying to compensate for not seeing people face-to-face. Especially if he is in a different time zone! It's tantamount to saying, "I Skyped you and emailed you (at midnight in your time zone) but since you never got back to me (because you were sleeping), I had to go ahead without you." This might be inevitable in a fast-paced business, but don't make a habit of leaving your remote workers out — especially on tasks they might want to be involved with. 2. "Oh sorry, that decision was already made last week." While there may be decisions made quickly at the home office, make sure you keep everyone in the loop. If you've been working on a project together and the project direction changes drastically, be kind enough to inform all stakeholders and collaborators properly so they're not left high and dry wondering what happened. Include them in decisions and give them enough lead time to give their feedback on important issues. 3. "Stop asking me questions, read the project brief." Remote workers don't always have all the context and will probably ask more questions than someone who sits one desk away from you. If their questions disturb your workflow, don't shut down communication with harsh words. Gently push back by saying you will get back to them when you're free. By saying something like "Stop asking me questions!" you're effectively telling your teammate you don't want to help and that their requests for information are annoyances. If your work culture is based on bureaucracy and selfish fiefdoms of knowledge, then you have more problems to solve. But if your culture is one of sharing and company-wide collaboration, you've just created a roadblock that might prevent your team from asking for help in the future. Don't burn those bridges. 4. "Let's cancel this morning's meeting since X and Y aren't here." While it might be morning where you are, it could be 10PM in your remote colleague's time zone. Which means she had to wait up for this scheduled call, or perhaps even cancelled a night on the town. Canceling last minute presupposes that your time is more important than your remote colleague's time, hence you can do things on a whim and she has to accept it. At the very least, cancel meetings early — minimum 24 hours notice is ideal — so that remote workers can plan in advance. For pointers, here's a great article about the polite way to cancel an appointment. 5. "Aw man, you had to be there to see it!" Remote workers don't just feel like they sometimes miss crucial information and context to do their work, they also often feel like they're missing out on the camaraderie in the office. By saying this, you're effectively isolating them from the team even more. Instead, why not try capturing and sharing a video of that awesome dance move that the CEO did during Friday cocktails? Or set up some sort of video wall/always-on video conference (a la Shutterstock) so remote workers can drop in and join the fun. Remote Workers Have Feelings Too In the end, collaborating with remote colleagues is a matter of being sensitive to the needs of all concerned. People need timely information, and they need to be made to feel part of the team. And it's your job as project manager to ensure communication goes smoothly and team morale is high. Read Next:• 5 Tips for Remote Collaboration with Wrike• 4 Common Problems with Virtual Meetings that You Can Fix