Are office-sanctioned breaks counter-productive? Here are 3 reasons that prove otherwise

The cognitive and overall health benefits of taking scheduled office breaks are virtually unlimited. People work better when they aren’t mentally fried, too hungry to focus or sore from sitting still too long. Some argue that periodic bouts of detachment from work-related duties enhance mental acuity, focus and overall productivity. Others assert that time away from the job does little more than lower employee output. Here are three reasons why all employees should be getting up from their desks and engaging in other activities at various intervals throughout the day.

Mental Focus Is Like A Muscle

The brain really is a lot like a muscle. The more people use their brains, the more mentally adept they become. However, just like a hamstring or bicep, the brain can become overworked by sustained use. Rest gives the mind a chance to recover, and this means people will be better able to concentrate on complex tasks and use their problem-solving skills when they take moderate breaks during the day. Much like a bodybuilder, a person who flexes his or her brain and then allows it to relax and refresh before re-engaging will become increasingly skilled at focusing on major or complex tasks for extended periods of time. In this way, regular breaks can be a great way to build up the productivity and overall efficacy of an in-house team.

When Mental Focus Slips, So Do Employees

One of the most important reasons to establish office-sanctioned breaks is that employees are going to tune out regardless of whether they’ve been granted permission to do so. The lure and accessibility of personal technology is simply too high and many people know that taking a quick break to update social networking profiles, check their personal email and perform other activities will give them a well-needed mental break. This is true even among professionals with a strong work ethic. Once mental focus starts to wane, the ability to resist the temptation to surf the web for pleasure wanes as well.  Giving people a scheduled opportunity to handle personal duties and focus on other things will limit the amount of downtime that your workforce actually experiences.

Breaks Mitigate Repetitive Strain Injuries

Preserving employees’ physical health is a critical part of talent asset management. Routine breaks are essential for lowering instances of repetitive strain injuries and the workers’ compensation claims that often follow. Allowing employees to get up, stretch, move around, and engage in other activities can prevent loss of manpower as a result of repetitive strain injuries. This in turn helps firms avoid the costs of having to find and train temporary replacements or implement expensive Return to Work programs. Ultimately, scheduled breaks from redundant actions are just as important as installing ergonomically designed furnishings at work stations.

Office-sanctioned breaks are vital for improving productivity and maintaining a healthy and robust workforce, and their duration and efficacy have become a lot easier to track. PerfectForms offers workflow apps that turn real-time data into major insights, allowing companies to see exactly how breaks are impacting productivity and employee focus. From time tracking forms to employee surveys and 360-degree appraisals, there are numerous tools that will eliminate the guesswork. By utilizing these resources, companies can know exactly how workers’ time away from focused duties is impacting their bottom lines.

How To Maintain Productivity While Your Employees Are On Summer Vacation

Rested employees are more productive employees. Everybody knows that. The trouble is that while employees are out of the office, whether for vacation or any other reason, work isn’t getting done. And when work isn’t getting done, your business isn’t running at maximum efficiency.

Vacations and other forms of time off allow employees to relax, recharge their batteries, and return to work with a renewed sense of purpose and enthusiasm. Breaks from the day to day grind of working give employees a renewed sense of purpose and are better able to handle the stress of their workday world. Recent polls show that employees who return to work after a vacation are far more productive than when they left.

The trouble with employees taking time off, especially when they are away from work for extended periods, is that work isn’t getting done, which can in many cases make business grind to a standstill. Still, managers are responsible for making sure business continues smoothly, especially during summer vacation time when employers can find themselves seriously understaffed.

Mapping Out What You Are Dealing With

One good way to help managers better plan for what they will be dealing with when vacation season starts is to ask employees to submit vacation requests ahead of schedule. This way employers are able to lay out a schedule during vacation season to let them see where there might be labor shortfalls and make plans to deal with them. It’s also a good idea to make the vacation schedule public, so everyone knows when understaffing problems might be an issue.

There are also workflow software programs such as those provided by PerfectForms, which allows employers to automate workflows, making them easier to monitor and make changes before they become a problem. PerfectForms allows users to automate many functions of a human resources department, workflow planning and vacation scheduling being only two of them.

Making Lists

The to-do list is perhaps one of the greatest labor saving efficiency devices known to American business. Unfortunately, it is a device that is greatly underused. Every worker should be encouraged to keep a to-do list of tasks, both long-term and short-term. This is especially true when employees might be responsible for carrying out projects that belong to someone who is on vacation as well as their own. To-do lists should also include contact information for those who need to be reached while an employee is away.

Divvy Up the Work

Making sure that everyone does their fair share of work to cover that performed by someone who is on vacation is an important part of workflow management. This task is made easier when work is properly scheduled and everyone knows the functions they are to perform in another employee’s absence. This can be made easier, especially in the case of mundane tasks such as answering the telephone, by hiring outside temporary help.

Employees deserve time off to relax and recharge their batteries. In order to maintain efficient business operations, adequate plans must be made so that work continues to be done efficiently. Fortunately, with some planning, extra effort, and some help from technology, covering these lean periods is something virtually any business can handle.

Office Organization Tips Perfect for Summer

Be prepared this summer to keep your office in, tip-top shape by planning ahead for those going on summer vacations.  This will help temporary employees and coworkers that are vacationing do what they need to do in the absence of the permanent team member. In just a few hours’ time, you can teach team members tips or tricks that will keep the office running swiftly and smoothly during their absence.  In addition, organizing the office eliminates the need for employees to wait for absent team members to return. This will help increase your company’s productivity, and will decrease the amount of wasted time. Achieving that smoothness boosts office productivity during the summer.

Create a Log Book for Staff of Customer Issues

One of the most prevalent customer pet peeves is having to tell their story and ask their questions multiple times. A log book for these occasions could make the customer feel important when they return. This log could be an electronic form on the computer for easy reporting and legibility.

Create a FAQs Sheet That Details the Most Common Visitors Questions

Are there particular questions your clients or customers tend to ask the most? A FAQ question sheet should include them in layman’s terms for the temporary team member. These questions might include office hours, where to find the right forms, what is needed for service, i.e., driver’s license and whatever else commonly gets asked. The permanent team member might even include questions asked by other team members to ensure the smoothest transition. After all, an office should be able to serve the customers, clients and coworkers of other departments at peak efficiency at all times.

Develop a Chart/Roadmap for Temps to Find Files and Supplies

Although temps often get a tour of the office, finding the things they need during the course of the week or month can be challenging. Creating a chart and/or roadmap will help them transition into their temporary position. Plus, it comes in handy for the arrival of new team members. Permanent team members benefit from these as well if they need a refresher.  If the person out on vacation was the one everyone goes to for answers, this tool will help them find the things they need.

Make Sure Your Office Has PerfectForms 

Every office needs forms. Creating online forms with PerfectForms form software makes this process simple. They let the maintenance man know what items need repair. They pass information to other team members in concise format. The right forms will ensure efficiency among a temporary team.

A well-organized office will make all of those summer vacations begin and end on a good note. Plus, it doesn’t leave the employee with a pile of messy work on their return. What tips do you implement each summer to help promote a well-organized office?

Ultimate Back-to-School Checklist for School Admins

With summer coming to a close, it’s time for school administrators to start preparing for their students to return. The process always seems to begin early enough, but never finishes until the day before school starts. Check out this checklist for school administrators to ensure that their students and building are ready for another nine months of learning.

The Buildings:

  1. Do a walkthrough to determine what needs painting, repairing or replacing.
  2. Identify machinery, vehicles or other important items that need to be inspected for safety.
  3. Fill out the proper forms. (Don’t have computerized versions? Update with PerfectForms)
  4. Instruct and monitor janitorial staff in what needs to be cleaned outside their regular back to school duties.
  5. Establish the timeline with maintenance staff.
  6. Hire outside workers as needed for maintenance staff.
  7. Run a pre-final walk through.
  8. Follow up with additional task for staff.
  9. Run final walkthrough.

The Office

  1. Hire any staff members (Hey, schools can create custom HR forms and workflows for this too)
  2. Organize replacement and substitute teachers.
  3. Distribute supplies, including textbooks, writing utensils and dry erase markers.
  4. Check budgets.
  5. Print sufficient citations, behavior levels, discipline code sheets to ensure everyone has access to them from the beginning.
  6. Print out dress code for students, teachers, parents and staff.
  7. Prepare and/or publish schedules for recess duty, after school duty, before school duty, detention, library hours, computer availability, as well as any school specific rotations.
  8. Solicit staff member volunteers for clubs and committees.
  9. Prepare agenda for back-to-school staff meeting.
  10. Consider planning a welcome back activity for staff.
  11. Put opening message on the school voicemail.
  12. Obtain security code and passwords for new employees.
  13. Drop former employees from infrastructure systems.
  14. Revise school map with new classrooms, grade level, and name changes.
  15. Develop Proposed Schedule for Disaster Drills, Back-to-school and Open House dates.
  16. Record events on the Master Calendar and those of all administrative professionals. Some of the dates school administration might need to add to the calendar, including the following events:
  • Testing
  • Staff Meetings (certificated & classified)
  • Evaluation Timelines
  • Picture Day
  • Staff Development days
  • PTA
  • Staff Appreciation days/weeks
  • Award Assemblies
  • Camps
  • Field Trips
  • Back-to-school Night
  • Leadership Team
  • Open House
  • Team Day
  • Read Across America
  • Radio checks
  • Assistant Principal Meetings
  • Principal Meetings
  • Leadership Team Meetings
  • 1st & 2nd Year Principals’ Meetings
  • Parent-teacher conferences
  • Fire & Disaster Drills
  • Program Facilitators’ Meetings.
  • Christmas Break
  • Easter Break
  • Last Day of School
  • Holidays

17. Get PerfectForms to automate your online forms and workflow processes.

PerfectForms can help the preparations for the beginning of the school year get off on the right foot. Schools can use PerfectForms to develop custom student registration forms, inform the maintenance person in detail the jobs he or she must perform, and create lists like this one. PerfectForms is the perfect way to organize your to-do list.  How would you use PerfectForms in your back-to-school activities?

Case Study: University of Tennessee at Martin

Each year, the University of Tennessee Martin (UTM) Business Affairs department had the task of taking incoming student’ ID pictures and processing them during orientation. It’s a busy time of year, and as new students flood the campus and old ones return, office administration tasks are the last thing on anyone’s mind.

The method the school had been using was to set up six digital camera stations during orientation, each one manned by an employee. Students would be sent to the photo stations during registration, with a goal of approximately 300 ID photos taken within a short amount of time. The pictures would be processed and uploaded to the school’s ID card program, CBORD, and the cards would be printed later that day.

Students would then go back to the registration area, line up by the photo stations and wait for their cards to be handed out. It’s a time when students should have been exploring campus or spending time with their families, but they were spending it waiting in line. It was also time that the administration be used for something else, so this was inconvenient for both the school and the students. Then they found PerfectForms.

Mike Abney, process improvement facilitator of the University of Tennessee Martin, said that “With PerfectForms, we took an entire department paperless – automating 20 processes in 2 weeks with just one resource!”

Mike Abney had spent 23 years in IT support services with the school when he was named to the newly created position of process improvement facilitator. With a low cost of just $360 a year for a full user license, he found PerfectForms was the solution he needed. He was looking for a SaaS offering used to develop form-heavy web applications that could be tailored to the needs of business users with no prior knowledge of programming. Because of our ease of use, power and affordability, he chose PerfectForms.

With the PerfectForms form software, the school did away with its old system and automated the entire student ID process. Instead of standing in line for hours, students can go online to request their ID before they even arrive on campus and upload their own photo. If a student forgets to register for an ID, the system detects this and automatically e-mails them, asking for a photo. The entire process is now completed before move-in day, and the students have their ID cards waiting for them when they arrive.

This saves not only time and hassle, but it eliminated the cost of hiring photographers and staging photo areas. The school now even has student assistants who supervise the process, freeing up regular staff for other projects.

The university’s new system actually took first prize at the Professional Development Group’s First Annual Best Practices Awards. This award recognizes colleges that implement the best and easiest to manage programs that save money for the school.

That award let Mike Abney know he was on the right path. It was only the beginning of hundreds of processes across campus that his team would automate. He has now involved the enrollment and admissions process, plus student vaccination forms and purchasing forms.

What is Workflow Software All About and How Can It Improve Your Business?

What exactly is workflow software? It’s a tool that’s designed to make your life easier. A workflow program does tedious or monotonous work for you so you’re able to focus on the important things with your business. These programs handle most any common computer task more quickly and efficiently than even your fastest employee can.

Just how can workflow software improve your business? Here’s a look at some of the advantages.

Reduces Errors and Missed Tasks

Workflow software drastically reduces errors and missed tasks by removing the human element. Nobody is perfect, and we all make mistakes. Maybe some data gets logged into the wrong category, or you enter “09″ instead of “90.” Or maybe you get busy with one task and totally forget about a “little” thing that was due. An automated process won’t miss a thing, though. Everything is exactly where it’s supposed to be when it’s supposed to be there.

Saves Your Company Money
With workflow automation software, many of your mundane office tasks are done automatically. These tasks often take up time that could be spent working on something else. If you’ve ever worked on a project near a deadline, you know things can often go longer than anticipated. If your employees are stuck working on the little things, this can lead to overtime hours – time you perhaps hadn’t planned on. If those little things are already handled though, the big things will be handled in plenty of time.

Saves Your Company Time
Common computer tasks like data entry or scanning and filtering hundreds of e-mails takes up your valuable time. This software can be set up to run in the background of your computer, so you’re free to focus on what matters. Everything from the simplest task to complicated procedures that are specific to your business can be automated. And since administrative errors are eliminated, you’re no longer spending time tracking down lost or misplaced information. You’ll know exactly where to look.
Improves Efficiency and Productivity
We’ve already established that automation provides consistency. That alone allows your company to run more efficiently. But since your employees aren’t tied down to those tasks, they’ll be able to focus on the things that are important to your company like introducing new ideas or improving on what you’re already doing.

Companies that put an automated workflow system in place will usually see a return on their investment almost 5 times alone during their first year of implementation alone! You’re not just saving money, but your company is making more of a profit.

Virtually every industry can benefit from some sort of automation. NASA has used it to archive daily radar animations, and TV Guide saved over $50,000 in supplies alone after using this type of software.

Workflow software saves time, saves money, reduces errors, improves efficiency and productivity and even helps increase profits. What’s not to love? Make the decision today to start improving your business with automation software.

Case Study: Houston Community College

Houston Community College was relying on traditional paper forms for their business tasks when they decided it was time to change. During an exhaustive audit, they found that over 200 forms were used to handle basic requests. They implemented PerfectForms to not only take paper forms out of the picture, but to eliminate redundant practices.

The paper forms were only served as a sign of broader workflow problems the college faced though. Requests that were rather routine like budget adjustments or requests to transfer equipment from one campus to another could literally take weeks to finish. Tiresome paperwork and finding the right person to sign off on a form significantly slowed down operations.

In September 2010, the college tested several web based workflow management tools in an effort to save time and money. They not only needed to automate certain processes, but needed something that was intuitive and easy to use. They also needed a solution that was versatile enough to handle a multitude of processes they needed to automate. They found their answer in PerfectForms.

Belinda Allison, Web Services Manager of Houston Community College, said that “Digitizing our paper forms forced us to examine the business processes associated with each form. PerfectForms enables us to automate our work flows, resulting in tremendous time and cost savings.”

Several technologies were tested before the college ultimately decided on PerfectForms because of the product’s extensive functionality, affordability and ease of use.

Allison was able to use PerfectForms to quickly digitize several paper forms and the processes that went along with those forms. Budget adjustment request forms used by executive management went from being a hassle to being handled quickly. Digitizing those forms significantly reduced the time required to process the requests from origination to final approval. Once that process became automated, users only had to intervene manually on rare occasions, expediting the processes and significantly decreasing time to approval.

Allison said that she plans on continuing to use PerfectForms to automate workflows across multiple campuses. By the end of the first quarter of 2011, Houston Community College had completely integrated PerfectForms with its PeopleSoft application to streamline the workflow around the hiring of part time faculty. Demographic information from the college’s HR department is already populated on hiring forms, as well as budget information from the financial application, streamlining the on-boarding process.

The ability to create forms easily has proven to be an incredible time saver for the college. Now, a select group of employees has the ability to create and modify forms without having to involve the IT department.

PerfectForms’ integration with systems already in place, like PeopleSoft, has enabled forms to be populated with information that already exists like demographic and financial information. Eliminating redundant data entry processes has saved both time and money.

What Makes a Company Great?

Lots of companies are considered great examples of fantastically built businesses. What makes them great? That depends on what criteria are used to define a company’s prominence.  Think of it this way, great companies come in all shapes and sizes. They don’t even have to be global companies or large businesses. They might be small or large, but they all have several things in common that makes a good company get awarded the status of ‘great’.

Define their Company Culture 

Company culture is the organization’s values, visions, norms, working language, systems, symbols, beliefs, and habits all working together to project an image that resonates with their employees and their customers. A great business has a cohesive company culture that clearly supports their business’s image. For example, a company with visible family values might close their offices on holidays and pay their employees for the day.

Possess Strong Foundation

The most successful companies have something that other businesses in their field do not possess as assets. For example, Burlington Northern has miles and miles of track they own. No one wants to build more railroad tracks, so Burlington Northern has a leg up on its competition. UPS has built a huge network. Because of the network, it has a monopoly on shipping, limiting the success of every other budding logistics company.

Hire Great Employees

The vision of a company and its properties are nothing without the workers. A great company makes an effort to hire only the best employees, retains them with excellent pay and invests in their training. All of these factors enable an employee to go the distance in their field. And they will likely stay and grow with the company, because they feel valued.

Choose Quality not Cost 

Investing the company smartly is the purpose of upgrading equipment and developing new product lines. Choosing quality rather than the cheapest equipment will pay off with longer use of the equipment. While these concepts start with the company’s machinery, equipment and office supplies, it also extends to their products. The company, which offers great quality products will outlast the cheaply made ones. Customers will flock to the quality company after word gets out about the short life span of the product

Use Fantastic Workflow Automation Software

Your employees are valuable assets. Not giving them the tools they need to perform their jobs in the most efficient matter is the same as giving someone a trowel to dig a moat. PerfectForms offers one of the best workflow automation solutions available on the market. With PerfectForms, workers can build web forms, surveys or applications without any knowledge of coding.  The forms, surveys and applications built by the workflow automation tool allows employees in education, human resources, financial investment firms and other industries to track, record and improve their workflow for peak efficiency. Great companies streamline their workflow, so they can reduce their expenses and use their employees wisely.

Great companies have a lot in common and it’s not just making ruthless decisions. A great company looks to the future by not only putting aside a nest egg for the downturn, but by looking for the best employees, focusing on buying quality (rather than cheap) materials, using a great workflow automation software, and establishing an amazing company culture. Which companies do you believe deserve a gold star and the status of great?

 

FAQs About PerfectForms

Everybody has to fill out forms for their driver’s license, a new copy of their birth certificate, and to get married. Forms are everywhere. A great business uses customized forms to track logistics, inventory, and about a hundred other things. That’s where PerfectForms can help your business, school, or organization to customize their forms. Custom forms help streamline the processes within that company.  Our name, PerfectForms, sums up the primary use of the software, yet we often get questions about what we do. Below are just a few of the most common questions about our great software.

What Is PerfectForms?

PerfectForms is a software application that makes custom forms and applications for businesses, educational institutions, and other organizations with the need to process large qualities of data quickly and successfully.

How Much Technical Knowledge Is Required?

With PerfectForms software, there is no need to know how to wrangle any code. Users of PerfectForms don’t need to read or write CSS or HTML. That makes the software completely user-friendly. As long as the user has had some experience with using a mouse and can spare two hours to learn the software program, they will quickly become experts and able to create perfect forms for a variety of applications.

How Can PerfectForms Help My Company?

PerfectForms saves time. To create a digital form or application that can collect digitized data, many companies require an IT person who knows coding. Depending on the form, it could take weeks to code the form by hand. With PerfectForms, the same form takes 90 percent less time than coding it by hand.

What Can It Do?

PerfectForms can make any type of form or application. Current users have created forms and applications for inventory management, IT support requests, repair requests, asset tracking, absence requests, performance reviews, benefit management, time tracking, classroom safety lists, school thief reports, and customer service feedback forms. These forms can be sent to tablets, used online or offline, and embedded into websites for easy access and availability.

What Kinds of Companies Benefit the Most From Using PerfectForms?

All companies can benefit from the use of PerfectForms. Those in the education and financial industry need the ability to adapt their forms and track individual process regularly. Companies in these industries tend to have a higher need for PerfectForms. Human resource departments also regularly employ PerfectForms to create useful, functional, and customized forms for their department. That said, our tool can help streamline workflow processes of companies in any industry.

Which Is Better On Demand or On Premise?

There’s no single answer to that question. It depends on the company. On Demand is based on our servers. Thus, it takes up no space on the company’s computerized resources. Yet, it might be more practical for some companies to have it based on their servers. Both create perfect forms and applications time after time.

PerfectForms help businesses transform their day to day operations. It turns the complicated process of finding the right form, filling it out, sending to the right person, and having them add it to the database into a two-step process instead. A streamlined workflow sets great businesses apart from just good businesses. Have you tried PerfectForms yet?

Is Company Culture Part of Your Business Model?

What exactly is a company’s culture? In order to understand the relationship between company culture and a corporate business model, it is necessary to examine the component parts and break each down completely. The quick answer to the question of whether company culture is part of your business model is yes. But it is an indirect relationship that relies more on synergy than policy. It is critically important that a business owner understand how the parts of their business model affect the way their company is run.

What Is Company Culture?

Your company’s culture is the set of “unwritten rules” that develop as a result of the way you do business. For example, your company may have a mandate which makes it against company policy to re-negotiate signed contracts just to set two vendors against each other to get a lower price. In your company culture, it is important to honor agreements and act with integrity.

Your company culture also affects how employees interact with each other. If your company culture has a zero-tolerance for harassment of any kind, then employees should feel comfortable reporting incidents of harassment to management. In this way, company culture helps to foster a work environment based on trust and cooperation.

What Is A Business Model?

A business model is, in its simplest terms, the process by which a company generates revenue. Within that process are policies dictating how the company interacts with vendors, how the company treats customers, and how the company utilizes employees. The business model includes important company mantras such as the mission statement and the vision for the future.

How Does The Business Model Affect Company Culture?

The relationship between the business model and company culture can best be compared to the relationship between a map and a road trip. The map shows you where to go, but the road trip dictates how you get there. The business model outlines to the company the various goals of the company and the policies which the company will use to conduct business. The company culture develops as a result of the way the business model is written and interpreted by management.

Is Company Culture A Part Of Your Business Model?

At this point we can give the long answer to the question that we have been exploring. Without a business model, there can be no company culture. The business model directs the company on what it is supposed to do and the culture arises around the actions taken to execute that business model.

The important thing to remember is that the company culture and business model are extremely dynamic. When a manager indicates that something is “not the way we do things around here,” that manager is referring to the culture. But the genesis of that part of the culture can be found in the business model. When you change the company business model, you change the culture. The company culture then becomes a result of the business model, which would make it a part of the way the company does business.

A company is a very fluid organization that can change on a moment’s notice. Once a company culture is in place, it is handed down from one employee to the next. Any kind of action taken that is counter to what the culture stands for will normally result in discipline. Since that culture is firmly established by the mandates in the company business model, then it makes sense to conclude that the culture and the company business model are forever tied together.