Sunday, July 13, 2014

How To Make Workplace More Productive

Productivity in the workplace is vital, not just for the company’s bottom line but for the workforce’s well-being as well. Productive people are happy people, and happy people make up a healthy organization. 
That said, here are five things to do to boost workplace productivity: 

1. Create a manageable to-do list 

To-do lists growing into paralysis-inducing behemoths aren’t unheard of. People feeling stressed, overwhelmed and useless as a result aren’t new news, either. According to Robert C. Pozen, a Brookings Institution senior fellow and Harvard Business School senior lecturer, our lists should be “derived from larger goals and include tasks that move us toward those big-picture endeavors” instead of a catch-all for every task thrown our way. In short, create manageable lists by knowing which tasks to prioritize. Author and online marketing expert Michael Hyatt sets himself up the night before and creates a to-do list with top three must-dos, the operative word being “must.” 

2. Stand during meetings 

If you’re concerned about the long-term ill effects of sitting for too long in one place (now pegged as the new smoking), standing and treadmill desks are workplace implements gaining in popularity. Non-sedentary workplace setups are not just hip. Aside from their health benefits, studies – click here and here – have shown they improve workplace productivity, too. There’s another added benefit to standing – standing during meetings, that is. Anecdotal evidence shows standing meetings can cut meeting times by 25%, in that standing eliminated distractions such as notifications from the intranet system or the urge to type up an email whenever meetings go the boring course. A new research also found that standing meetings improve creativity and teamwork, as “the teams who stood had greater physiological arousal and were less territorial about ideas than those in the seated arrangement.” 

3. Communicate, communicate, communicate 

Just because you sent out a memo first thing in the morning doesn’t mean everybody’s on the same page. If anything, making assumptions instead of conducting follow-ups can cost your business a lot of money. According to a 2008 IDC white paper commissioned by Cognisco,US and UK companies lose $37 billion (£18.7 billion) a year because employees do not completely understand their jobs. 
Whether verbal or written, being articulate is fundamental to effective communication. We all know that communication is a two-way highway. Doling out instructions is just half the battle. Ensuring that those instructions are clearly understood makes up the second half. And unless your team is in it for the brain exercises, leave no room for guesswork in your communication strategy. 

4. Don’t micromanage 

You want the project to succeed, and no one can fault you for that. But obsessing over the font type and size used in the presentation slides? Or having people report on the status of their tasks every hour of the day? Sure, the devil is in the details, but sweating all the small stuff can also drive sane people crazy. There’s a saying that says, “People quit their bosses, not their jobs.” 
Besides, a high level of achievement cannot be expected of employees who see themselves as mere puppets in the overall scheme of things, and people who believe they are being explicitly monitored tend to perform at a lower level. Bottom line, talents must be recognized for what they are – talents with their own work style and techniques. Give them freedom and the ability to think for themselves, and what you reap is another vital productivity factor called accountability. 

5. Encourage, reward and recognize 

Some people get the kick out of sarcasm or disparaging remarks, whether from a client or a manager, but that can’t be said of the general population. One reason people stay motivated to perform their level best is because they feel valued by their employers and that their contributions help propel the company forward. While monetary perks are definitely welcome, rewards and recognition can take many forms – vacations and holidays, paid conferences, or an occasional team luncheon at a nearby restaurant. A pat on the back or a simple congratulatory message can sometimes do the trick, too. A genuine gesture of appreciation, no matter how small, can go a long way. Being recognized for hard work is an effective morale – hence, productivity – booster. 

See also:
- Free unified communication tools
- Hipchat alternatives
- Slack alternative
- Free inside sales tools
- Zoho CRM free
- Online team task manager

Bitrix24 is world's fastest growing social productivity platform created for small organizations. It is 100% free for 12 users or less. Use promocode TIP10 when registering your free Bitrix24 account to get extra 10GB

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Free Social Intranet - It Exists!

«Social HR» is a confusing term. It seems that every social HR expert uses it differently – for some it's all about the company’s Twitter/Facebook policies, others talk about using LinkedIn to recruit top talent and the rest talk about a private social network used internally.

To make things simple, social HR tools should be divided into external (Twitter, LinkedIn, HootSuite, etc) and internal ones, which fall under the Social HR software category. Because Social HR software as a category is still rather broad, let's look at social HR tools one by one.

#1 – Social Intranet

Social intranet and enterprise social networking are frequently used interchangeably, but technically that is not correct, because some vendors (like Bitrix24) have a social intranet and ESN combined into a single solution, while others, like Microsoft, require that you install both SharePoint (intranet) and Yammer (enterprise social network), if you want to have social intranet in your company.

The distinction between social intranet and ESN is simple – social intranet is about work, because it simply wraps intranet tools into a social interface, while enterprise social network is about internal communications – replacing email, at least to some extent, with a private social network. So while social intranet by definition can always be used as an enterprise social network, ESN (unless it has intranet already built in) does not typically have all the necessary intranet functions.

Social intranet consists of the following components:

Activity Stream
Activity Stream In Bitrix24

An Activity Stream is a unified, interactive update feed where all the changes and new additions to the intranet are listed. These include company announcements, new posts, polls, comments and replies. Unlike a traditional intranet, a social intranet activity stream is personalized, so while everyone receives important companywide news and announcements, each employee sees activities only relevant to him or her. This prevents information overload.

Workgroups or user groups
Workgroups in Bitrix24

Workgroups and user groups unite employees who work in the same department (i.e. HR or Sales), collaborate on a project (i.e. Cost Cutting Committee) or share the same interests (i.e. Humor or Ride Sharing). User groups in a social intranet serve several functions – they keep information relevant to the recipients, limit access to pertinent users, and assist in self-organizing.

Communication tools
Group chat and videoconferencing in Bitrix24

Unlike traditional intranets, social intranets offer multiple ways for employees to communicate with each other and the company. Typically these include companywide announcements, conversations (posts that others can and are encouraged to comment on), instant messages (chat and group chat) and videoconferencing.

Company resources and search
Employee search in Bitrix24

A social intranet typically includes an employee directory, company photo gallery, employee manuals, HR and service request forms, and other resources. In order to find a needed person or file, a search box is available on all pages.

Work Tools
Employee workload management in Bitrix24

As stated above, a social intranet is about work and not mindless chatter, so its interface is designed to provide access to tools that are used on a daily basis. Typically these include things like document and project management. Some social intranets, like Bitrix24, also come with CRM. Workflows (like document approval, records management or lead assignment) are frequently built into social intranets, too. These will be covered in great detail in future posts.

Social HR Explained - Social Intranet
Social HR Explained - Employee Self Service
Social HR Explained - United Communications
Social HR Explained - Mobile HRMS
Social HR Explained - Social Task Management
Social HR Explained - Social Document Collaboration

Wednesday, May 07, 2014

Top 10 free sales management tools

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Free Unified Communications Servers And Software

Just a few years ago unified communication (UC) platforms were limited to large corporations – they were expensive, would typically take months to implement and, frankly, were of little value to small businesses. Bitrix24 is world’s first free online unified communications solution that’s been created specifically for small organizations. 

The list of unified communications tools in Bitrix24 includes: 
  1. Private social network
  2. Intranet
  3. Extranet
  4. Instant messaging and group chat
  5. Mobile communications
  6. E-mail connectors for employees
  7. E-mail marketing for clients
  8. Telephone calls
  9. Videoconferencing
The idea behind Bitrix24 UC platform is brainlessly simple. Every day you work with e-mail, use your mobile phone, send and receive instant messages, talk to your employees and customers – so why not keep all your communications in one place? This is exactly what Bitrix24 does. 

However communication tools alone are not enough for effective collaboration in small organizations, so Bitrix24 also comes with file sharing,document managementworkgroup calendarsCRMtasks and projects

In addition to being free for up to 12 users, Bitrix24 offers other advantages. For example, the self-hosted version of Bitrix24 comes with API and source code, so you can modify your UC platform and integrated with other tools and you see fit, something that most unified communications vendors don’t offer.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Best Free HR Tool

1. Bitrix24
Bitrix24 is probably the best and most popular free online HR suite. Essentially it’s a fully featured HRMS with features ranging from intranet to company orgchart to self-service portal to leave management and even employee training and onboarding. Well worth a look.
2. NaturalHR
Essentially a Bitrix24 clone with fewer functions but free is free.
3. Trello
Trello is a great free project management solution from Fog Creek Software. Personally, I am not a big fan of Kanban methodology, but there are a lot of people who swear by Trello.
4. WeekDone
Weekdone is an Estonian startup founded by former Skype engineers. Essentially Weekdone is a free workreport and employee feedback system. One of the few tools on this list, along with Bitrix24 and Trello that has a great mobile app.
5. Workflowy
The name may suggest that Workflowy is a workflow or business process automation tool, but it’s not. Rather it’s online organization tool that lets you create todo lists, brainstorm, and plan. Workflowy is quite popular among HR professionals.
6. NimbleCRM
You may wonder what a CRM system is doing among hr tools, but this social CRM can be used as great recruiting and resume management tool. Matt Charney of RecruitingBlogs explains. Nimble is 100% free for solo use.
7. AnyPerk
AnyPerk is not free, but at $5 per employee per month, it’s a steal, especially for companies that don’t offer any benefits.
Do you know of any other free HR tools that we overlooked? Make sure you leave a comment.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Free WorkETC alternative

If you are looking at free WorkEtc alternative, you in the right place. Even though WorkEtc has a lot of competitors, very few have all the features combined in a single solution. Let's take a look at Bitrix24 and the functions it offers, and compare Bitrix24 vs Work[Etc], because in my humble opinion, it makes a perfect replacement.

WorkEtc offers no free plans, Bitrix24 is 100% free for teams up to 12 users, after that paid plans come with unlimited users (Work[Etc] cheapest plan is $195 for 3 users).
CRM in Bitrix24 – core CRM, mobile CRM, free invoices, sales funnel, send&save integrations, flexible access rights, automatic e-mail to lead conversion, e-mail templates, IP telephony, workflow integration (business processes).
Project Management in Bitrix24 – workgroups, projects, Gantt charts, tasks, repeat tasks, task templates, task reports, check lists, Outlook integrations.
DocManagement in Bitrix24 – private and shared files, mulituser online editing, network drive mapping, Bitrix24.Disk (used as free Dropbox alternative), records management.

Bitrix24 Apps – iOS, Android, desktop apps for PC and Mac

Other goodies available in Bitrix24 (some features are not available in Work[Etc]) – Helpdesk and ticketing systemcore HRISvideoconferencingknowledge managementdynamic org chartshared calendarsemployee self service portalsocial intranetenterprise chat.

Obviously Bitrix24 is not the only Work[Etc] on the market – in fact this niche is packed with competitors (Do.Com, Huddle, JiveSoftware). But if you are bootstrapping your company and looking for something that's free or supercheap, because WorkEtc is too pricey for you, Bitrix24 is a great starting point.

Friday, January 03, 2014

Strange Ideas - Recycled Bottle Constructor

Tip of the day - Need company name? Try crowdsourcing
DANVILLE -- Steven Klein has invented water bottles that can be built into a toy airplane, a toy car, a robot and can even be used as insulation for homes.

Called the Eco-Connect Bottle System, the Danville resident is hoping his invention will come out on top of more than 4,000 products entered in Walmart's "Get on the Shelf" contest, an "American Idol"-type online competition in which the public votes for products presented in YouTube videos.

Three contest winners will receive free marketing support from Walmart and a shot at selling their products on The grand-prizewinning product also gets a chance to sit on Walmart shelves.

Klein, 68, a retired teacher and former educational toy store owner from Brooklyn, N.Y., invented a product, but he has been struggling to get it to market.

"It takes a lot of resources to bring it to market," he said. "It's a difficult task with my limited resources and no influential contacts in the beverage industry."

So he threw his hat in the Walmart ring with hopes that big things would happen.

But products such as the BungeeBand skateboard accessory, the Brush Buddy paint can top, and Big Papa's BBQ Sauce with a Cajun kick are offering stiff competition.

"I'm putting up a good fight," Klein said. "Obviously, I would like to win. But if I don't win, maybe someone will take notice."

Klein's idea for reusable connecting plastic bottles came to him four years ago in a dream. His plastic bottles look like ordinary water bottles, but they have additional threads in the bottom so they can be screwed together like Tinkertoys. Add connectors, and the bottles can be built into anything from soccer goals to forts to letters of the alphabet.

"Essentially, for something that was trash, I've repurposed it into something that can continue to be used. It's a very simple invention with a big vision."

His patent for the bottles went through in 2010. Klein hopes his invention will keep plastic bottles out of landfills and also inspire creativity in children.

"Once you connect the bottles at an angle, creativity becomes unlimited."

Klein envisions lights, stickers, wheels and remote controls as accessories for his bottles. He's trying to get Disney interested. Add arms and feet and screw the head of a Disney character into the top, and the bottles could be used for movie promotions and perhaps sold at McDonald's or Burger King, he said.

Klein said his bottles would be especially useful in developing countries where impoverished children could use them as toys. And because the air inside makes for a good insulator, the bottles could be stacked against walls and used as low-cost insulation for buildings.

The first round of voting in the "Get on the Shelf" contest ends Tuesday. The top 10 contestants then compete for three top spots. The winners will be announced after the second round of voting ends April 24.

[Via - MercuryNews.Com]

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Saturday, December 21, 2013

Free Basecamp Competitors

When people talk about Basecamp, they tend to either love it or hate it. I am not going to go into holywars here, but let’s just say that if you fall into unhappy category or want some of the same but free  - there is no shortage of Basecamp competitors and there are a lot of solutions to choose from. The two most popular FREE Basecamp alternatives are Bitrix24 and Asana. Let’s look at Bitrix24 here, because in my opinion it’s the best alternative on the market, far superior to Asana on several grounds.

Price – the fully featured Bitrix24 is free for 12 users. If you want to have unlimited users – that’s $99 a month.

Platform – cloud and self-hosted versions are available. The self-hosted version (i.e. the one that you host on your own server) comes with API and source code, so you can modify it as you please and integrate with other tools.

Migration from Basecamp – easy, special free migration app is available through Bitrix24 marketplace (must log into your Bitrix24 account to access it).

PM features – more or less identical to Basecamp. Tasks, subtasks (nested tasks), recurring tasks, project management, Gantt charts, mobile app,Employee Workload Planning (allocating time for specific tasks and seeing if time allowed is exceeded or not to control your labor costs), time tracking,time management, check lists, reports, workgroups, working with external users (extranet).

Workflow management (business processes) and records management – yes.

DocManagement – yes. Private and shared documents, document sharing outside your network, versioning for documents (version history), online document editing without MS Office, collaboration,  network drive mapping, Bitrix24.Drive (essentially free Dropbox alternative for your company). Integrations with Google Docs, MS Office, Office 365, LibreOffice, OpenOffice, etc.

Communications – intranet (activity stream), enterprise social networking,instant messaging, group chat, mobile enterprise messaging, videochat, videoconferencing, web phone.

CRM – yes, fully featured, integrated with project management and doc management.

Other features worth mentioning – HR tools, built-in HelpDesk, eLearning module, email connectors.

Bitrix24 is best Basecamp alternative when:

-    Your team is under 12 users and you want something that very powerful yet 100% free
-    You want to host Basecamp type solution on your own server and pay only once for it
-    You need project management solution that’s integrated with other business tools you are using (like CRM, intranet or document management, for example)
-    You want access to source code.

Like I said there are quite a few tools that can replace Basecamp, so stay tuned for reviews of other Basecamp alternatives.