Thursday, 9 August 2012

Take a stand for health!

Hi everyone,

Our modern, miniature computing devices are pretty darned light. That makes a desk capacity of half a ton overkill. Monitors no longer are a team effort to move, and computers aren’t the size of single family homes! This means that sit-stand desks are a more real possibility for your home office.

At its simplest, a standing desk could be little more than some milk crates and plywood stacked up on an existing desk. It’s ugly, but works just fine.

Ergotron is the undisputed leader in the purpose built standing desk field, but not the only ones moving in this niche...check out a treadmill desk! But did you know Standing Desks are Manly as well? And they need not be expensive? Check this one from for those who are budget conscious.

This might be a bit too “Sci Fi” for many… but its heart is in the right place
For the DIY crown, here’s a treadmill desk you could make by hitting Kijiji and a hardware store!

Technology has changed the way we work in numerous, sometimes unintentionally unhealthy ways. It also has the capacity to be a catalyst for a major turn around if employed in the right manners. As we move further from traditional technology, doesn’t it make sense that our workspaces evolve in tandem? Take a stand, move away from the traditional work environment, and chew on an App or two. Small changes add up to big results!

I am actually looking into this for my home office, and I promise that if I do this I will take photo's and share them on the blog! What do you think?  Would you like to try this instead of sitting for hours at a time?   

Ta ta

Tuesday, 17 April 2012

Why Flexible Hours Inspire Performance!

Hey there, have you missed me?  I have missed all of you!! I have been so busy lately, but have some fantastic news to share with you. Recently, our ATB Investor Services Compass Portfolio Series was honoured by Lipper as the “Best Asset Class Group”. Lipper Awards are handed out once a year to the funds that demonstrate excellence in delivering risk-adjusted returns. We were very excited to accept this award, and we even made the Calgary Herald and Edmonton Journal!
While all this was happening, the Workplace 2.0 Pilot team concluded the pilot and began gathering all the data, crunching the numbers, reading all the comments. They even did interviews with pilot members, leaders, internal customers, and non pilot participants to ensure we understand how this pilot has impacted everyone touched by it!
I would love to share some of the preliminary results with you;
  • For associates and leaders who were in the pilot they maintained or increased their engagement because of WP 2.0.
  • We were able to reduce our carbon footprint and give back to the environment!
  • We reduced our real-estate footprint and used space in a creative and multi-purpose way.
My most favorite result that I am going to share is that we had 5 cases where associates were approached by other firms who made solid offers to recruit them, and they choose not to leave Investor Services.  I'm sure there are many reasons each person chose to stay, but there was 1 common denominator and that was the flexibility of WP 2.0. Having leaders who trust them to get the results and not caring at what time of the day they get the results.
Take a moment to read this fun article, and ask yourself how your job affects your performance!
Ta ta

Friday, 10 February 2012

GUEST POST: Jodi Ulrich, Workplace 2.0 Pilot Member

Hi there! My name is Jodi, I'm the Senior Manager of Communications for ATB Investor Services, and I’m pleased to be guest blogging for Sherri this week while she is on vacation.

As a pilot member of the Workplace 2.0 project, I thought I’d really test the boundaries by working from Los Cabos, Mexico for two weeks. My husband and I have rented a condo here with a strong internet connection and I brought a briefcase full of devices (think laptop, iPad, Blackberry, chargers coming out the ying yang, and of course the amazing Aruba!) making my Cabo office feel just like my Calgary office…minus the snow. I know Sherri has touched on it before, and I can confirm that a flexible work environment is completely reliant on technology! When devices aren’t working, production stops very quickly. This is my fourth day in and I’ve had several interesting hiccups already and they are all related to technology.

Example #1: Two days before I left Canada, the screen went dead on my Blackberry rendering the phone useless. Due to the lack of time, I took a cell phone belonging to my colleague Alex, and was hoping I could get Telus to switch it over to my phone number and email address once I got down here. When I called on Monday, I learned that Alex’s Blackberry is not an international phone and would not work in Mexico. Shoot! So for the few phone conferences I have booked while I’m here I have been using my husband’s cell phone. Not the end of the world, but a little tricky when we both had calls scheduled and I had to rebook mine.

Example #2: Another techno-glitch occurred just this morning. The power went out in our complex which meant the wireless router and Aruba were not working, and I had zero connection to emails or Office Communicator. I also knew that my laptop battery would only last for a few hours before it would die. Once again, my husband’s trusty cell phone came in handy when I sent a quick note from his email account to my team back in Calgary letting them know they could reach me on his email address if they needed anything while I was offline. Thankfully the power came on after about an hour and now I’m back in business!

With all of that being said, either of these situations could have just as easily happened at home. Regardless of where I am working in the world, I know my ability to produce results is almost entirely done through technology. The wonderful thing is, so is the rest of the world! To mitigate my phone problem I can walk down to the grocery store here in Cabo and by a pre-paid cell phone that is actually cheaper on a $ per minute basis than my Alberta phone. As well, there is a Starbucks four blocks away that has free wi-fi and plug-ins (not to mention a stunning view of the ocean) that I could use if necessary. The wireless world has made it simple to overcome any of these predicaments, which is just another reason why I am such a huge supporter of the Workplace 2.0 pilot. It has truly changed my life….especially this winter!

P.S. Coincidentally, Sherri and her family are on vacation in Cabo just a few minutes from where my husband and I are staying. Here’s a pic from our awesome dinner date last night! And of course, being the working girls that we are, we spent some time talking shop while we were together. When the guys were chatting about sports, I was able to bring Sherri up to speed on what she has missed at work for the last 10 days and we also discussed a plan for a few upcoming meetings; all this while sitting beside the ocean. It was quite amazing!

Friday, 27 January 2012

6 Myths about Results-Only Work Environment

It was funny yesterday, when I showed up at the office, one of my non-Workplace 2.0 colleagues joked "You're actually working today!?" We hadn't seen each other in-person for a while, and clearly when they can't see me, they assume I am not working...  I was a little taken aback, but before I could respond one of the ladies on my team yelled from the collaboration space, "That's SLUDGE!"

I was so proud! It was another confirmation for me that our pilot members have really paid attention to the recommended readings, listened to all the conversations, discussions and feedback we had been trying to share with them! Our Workplace 2.0 initiative really will not work if we don't have buy-in from the participants.

I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to meet Cali Ressler and Jody Thompson last year at an event held by the City of Calgary at Heritage Park. These ladies (pictured left) are the 'inventors' of the ROWE concept, and inspired my team and I to create our 'workplace of the future'... Later known as Workplace 2.0
Cali and Jody co-authored one of my favorite books, Why Work Sucks and How to Fix It, which I have previously blogged about. In the book, they define SLUDGE as: "the negative commentary that occurs naturally in a workplace and is based on outdated beliefs about time and work" (page 30). The ROWE concept is based on 'smashing the clock' and not working on a time-based schedule, but a results-based schedule. This 'paradigm shift' is bound to conjure up some sludge in your workplace, so prepare for how you are going to deal with that before implementing.

Cali and Jodi's new company CultureRX has a blog, which is a fantastic source of information To start you off, I want to direct you to one of my favorite articles: 6 Myths about Results-Only Work Environment.

ta ta

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Is working from home what you expected?

Is working from home all it's cracked up to be? Thomas Klassen argues 'No' in last week's Globe and Mail article, but what do you think?

It was so odd for me to read this article as I have not had the same issues as Thomas.  I would love to hear what the other pilot members think.

Ta ta

Monday, 23 January 2012

What are the non-Workplace 2.0 associates thinking?

This week I was in Edmonton at an internal learning session, and had an insightful conversation with one of our Senior Financial Advisor's about Workplace 2.0, and more specifically the OCS technology we use.

He brought up a valid point - what do non-Workplace 2.0 or even non-Video Enabled associates think or understand about how we work inside Investor Services? What should we be doing to educate our partners in other lines of business about these work philosophies?

We have a fantastic and unique sub-culture developing inside of Investor Services where we no longer assume someone is on holidays, slacking off or not being productive if they aren't physically at work.  We trust that they know the results they need to achieve, whether we can see them or not.

BUT if you are someone outside of our sub-culture, the only way you know of working is to be in the office by 8AM and not leave until after 5PM. It must be hard to wrap your head around the fact your Investor Services partners are truly working, even though you don't physically see them in the office or branch during that time period. 

One of the great points the SFA made to me was about our high adoption rate of OCS and the fact we all understand that we are reachable there most of the time. Barring that, we all have access to our cell phones or iPads. If all the people you work with are right next to you or down a hall way, taking advantage of the OCS techology does not enter into your daily activity. All you know is that we aren't there when you want to talk to us.

So how do we spread our message? How do we ensure our partners know we are still available to them anytime they need us, just by different channels of communication? Do we hold learning sessions on the technology so they can get us when ever they need?

Or is this even something we should be worried about?  Is it just a matter of time before the rest of the organization catches up to us?

Food for thought...

Ta ta

Friday, 20 January 2012

Are we ready for unlimited vacation time?

Give Your Employees Unlimited Vacation Time

Here is a question for each of you:
"Are we at ATB, or even just ATBIS ready to have a culture of unlimited vacation time?"

What would we need to ensure was in place to make this a reality? Would our associates embrace this? Would our leaders embrace this?

To me, this really is ROWE. You own your time, you own your performance plan, and you know what results you need to complete. In this case, when or how much holidays is totally up to you and how you assess your capacity and productivity.

I would love to hear others perspectives!

Ta ta

Monday, 16 January 2012

A frightening thought!

I sat in my home office today as usual, pumping through meetings, emails, project work and my personal life (yes that's right, while being super productive at work, I also made chili, took my grandma to a doctor's appointment, and loaded my dishwasher!!). When I logged on to write another blog post, I had a FRIGHTENING thought - Workplace 2.0 is only a pilot. A pilot that ends February 21st... AAHHHH!

What will happen if the productivity or engagement results or the footprint reduction falls below the minimum requirement? What if our business case doesn't result in the pilot being rolled out across the entire organization? I can't go back to a downtown office 100% of the time. This new way of working isn't something I think I can give up.

That is when it hit me. I am not trying this. I am not in a pilot. I have adopted this new way of working wholehartedly!

So to all my fellow pilot members out there, embrace Workplace 2.0 as your new way of working. Complete the weekly surveys, fill in the workspace log sheets at R.O.W.E. mile, do everything that is needed to gather all the positive data we need to ensure we prove Workplace 2.0 is here to stay. Without each of us taking the time to share our productivity, engagement level, what is working, what isn't, and talking to our leaders, we can't expect the big guns to have enough data to agree on rolling it out across the organization.

That is my thought for the day.

Ta ta


Friday, 13 January 2012

Imagine this...

I had meetings in Edmonton this week that couldn't be done virtually. This was actually wonderful, as I hadn't been to the Edmonton office in almost a year, and was missing the casual chats with all my collegues up there.

Two of my fellow associates were joining me on this adventure. Our flight left at 8:30 AM, so I suggested we all meet around 7:45-ish to go through security and grab a coffee. I arrived as planned to see that my associates had actually been there since before 7!! Both catching up on emails and prepping for the days to come. Now that's an example of work anywhere - when you think you will be productive and when you are on a tight deadline! I personally can't work at airports, it just doesn't work for me, so I hadn't even considered coming early. Heck no, I stayed snug in my bed as long as humanly possible!

Our flight was delayed (is anyone be surprised by this?) and we ended up running very tight on time for my first meeting. We decided the best plan of action was to go straight to the hotel, hope at least one of our rooms was available, I would take my conference call and my associates would work from the room until it was time to head over to the office.

So imagine me at the hotel room desk, pulling up presentations on my laptop, using my blackberry as a speaker phone, and typing notes on my iPad. I looked comical if I do say so myself! That left one more chair and the bed, so one of the girls set up at the chair with the foot stool as a desk, and the other proped up on the bed. And that's where we all worked productively and happily for the next hour and a half!
We then grabbed lunch at the hotel, and dashed over to the office to mix and mingle before we went our seperate ways for meetings. We took over one "office" that was borrowed from one of my corporate partners while she was out with clients. So all of us eventually ended up back together hoteling in one office for the last 3 hours of our day.

We even talked about our productivity levels, our enagement levels since we got to hang out together and work. Honestly I had a blast, got everything I wanted to accomplished and WAY more!

Another example of working when it works for you, where it works for you as long as you get the results.

Ta ta


Wednesday, 11 January 2012

Workplace 2.0 made The Globe and Mail today!!

Workplace 2.0 made The Globe and Mail today. How great does our boss look working from his home office??

Collecting and responding to feedback

Every week we send out a survey to our pilot members. It's short and sweet so it doesn't take up too much of their time, but it provides us with really valuable feedback.

After a full month of receiving fantastic comments from our participants (both positive and negative), we decided to let them know how their responses are effecting Workplace 2.0. Last week we sent out a newsletter that listed just a few of the changes we have made to the project. These changes include policy, furniture and technology, and were all made because our pilot members told us that's what they needed. the feedback from the newsletter alone was really positive, so we are going to continue with it on a bi-weekly basis.

Here are a few of the really positive comments we have received. They really hit home the reason this project is so important:

"This week my daughter was ill on the usual day that I go into the office. Having the ability to work from home I was able to communicate to my team the change in my schedule to work from home, provide the care my daughter needed from home and get my job done from home! I love ATBIS and Workplace 2.0."

"On one of the days that I should have worked at the office, the weather was bad and the highway was very slippery so I stayed home that day since I had my laptop and did my work. I contacted the office and got someone to open the envelopes that were for me and got them to scan the docs to me so I could work from the scanned docs. It worked out really good."

Thursday, 5 January 2012

When I grow up...

My teammate Leeann Jarman stumbled upon this great video by Kevin Jones - she was kind enough to share it with me so I could share it with all of you!  It really captures why Workplace 2.0 is so on the money!

Check out the actual article where he has transcripted the words, including my favorite:
I want to make things up for my year end review.
Fight traffic to do work I could have done at home.
Be forced to attend worthless meetings.
Write reports that no one will read.

What do you want to be when you grow up? And really... don't you want to come and work for ATB now?



Wednesday, 4 January 2012

What am I missing when I work from home?

Yesterday marked my first day back to work in the new year!  It was a normal work from home day for me, I set myself up with my favorite cup of tea and iTunes playing in the background and dug into budgets.

As my day progressed and no one called or video chatted me, I started to wonder how everyone elses holidays had been, how their kids liked the presents from Santa and if they all had fun at New Years Eve...

In the past we would have all sat around with our coffee's and shared stories and got caught up on each others news and would have all felt connected.  I sure wasnt feeling connected. 

So I OCS'd one of my team members and she took me (via computer) around to say hi to the other team members who were in the office yesterday, we did a quick 5 minute catch-up and I felt so much better.

I then went back to my head-down work and was SO productive.  When I started to think about it, I asked myself "What did I not do today that I would normally have done if I had been in the office?"

  1. I didn't run out to grab a coffee from Tim's!  Hmmm that saved me money and productivity time.
  2. I didn't spend an hour catching up with different collegues in the office. Hmmm that saved me MORE productivity time.
  3. I didn't run out to buy myself something for lunch... Hmmm more money and time savings!
  4. I didn't sit in traffic or fight for parking... Saved me some sanity!
  5. I didn't run to my favorite shoe store.... you get the picture.
So I know I missed the social catch-up part, but that was easily accomplished in a very short period of time. And the other things, really if you look at what I gained versus what I 'lost', I think I am ahead of the game.

Just more food for thought.

ta ta