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The Illusion of Busyness

illusion of busyness perkspot culture

“I’m so swamped”
“Just trying to keep my head above water”

You may have uttered one of these phrases at some point this month, week or even just a few hours ago. But is it busyness that has us feeling overwhelmed or, like a mirage in the desert, is it merely an illusion?

Technology has advanced at such a rapid pace I wonder if we are really as busy as think or if we simply have an unhealthy relationship with time. In fact, I think deep down some of us like saying these phrases as if they somehow make us feel important or purposeful. Multi-tasking is no longer a skill that only the most successful possess, but something that inundates the ins and outs of our everyday lives. But while we may get things done when we multitask, we often neglect to do things well.  We find ourselves running around from one task to another all for the sake of feeling “busy”, but never really accomplishing anything. Priorities are out of line and our work begins to suffer.

So how do we dispel the illusion of busyness in our lives? Is it even possible?

First of all, breathe. I think many of us grab our coffee and sit in front of our inbox dreading the day to come. When we let the weight of our tasks overwhelm us, it’s easy to lose sight of the big picture. Take a breath in the morning and spend time planning out your day. Prioritize tasks based on their importance and deadline. With a clear vision in front of us, the work will seem less monumental and more manageable.

Secondly, do something that you’re passionate about. We spend a lot of time just going through the motions of our days without focusing on the things that truly make us happy. If you’re truly passionate about your work (and I hope that you are!), spend time developing a new skill, read an educational book, or attend a seminar. These activities will renew your passion and keep you moving forward. If your passion lies outside your nine-to-five, jump into a cooking class, take photography lessons, or just spend time with your friends and family. Prioritizing our passions can refresh us and more importantly, give us purpose beyond our full agenda.

Remove the word “busy” from your vocabulary and start prioritizing. At the end of the day, you may not respond to every email in your inbox, but that doesn’t mean you weren’t productive.

Technology and the Office: Not Just for Silicon Valley

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When we think of company culture, words like “employee engagement”, “recognition” and “opportunity for growth” come to mind. But where does Technology rank when it comes to our values as an organization or company, and how is this affecting our employees?

As the CHRO of cloud-based finance and HR software Workday, Ashley Goldsmith, eloquently states, “We’ve found that you can’t create a culture just through values, new processes, or an organizational restructure. Those things are necessary, but we like to think of values as the beating heart of culture, processes and organizational structure as the brain, and technology as the nervous system that makes sure heart and head are working together to move us forward.”

Technology improves communication flow.

Cloud-based systems, video-conferencing software, and the like are paving the way for smoother communication in the workplace. The bonus is that many of these applications have free versions available. These tools enable employees to work smarter, not harder.

Technology fosters feedback.

Similar to improving communication, we use technology at PerkSpot to develop more ways to generate feedback, both internally and externally. We use platforms that allow our employees to respond to customer service issues quickly and efficiently. Meanwhile, internally, we use a system to monitor everything from typos on our site to larger kinks that need attention. In this way, we spend less time dealing with issues and more time finding solutions.

Technology encourages collaboration.

Messaging applications are great for encouraging collaboration amongst employees. While many feel that this constant communication decreases productivity, studies show that even when coworkers drift away from the task at hand, laughter shared helps promote creativity and innovation.

In the same way that the body cannot function properly without the nervous system, our offices cannot survive without technology.

What are some ways you use technology in your workplace? Leave us a note in the comments!

Introducing the “Pre-Cation”

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In the land of start-ups a new trend is emerging called the “Pre-cation”.

If you’ve ever interviewed for a job, chances are one of the questions you were asked throughout the process was, “how soon can you start?”. Most of us jump right in after the obligatory two-weeks notice in our former roles just to fall into the same old trap of limited vacation days and fears of what will happen if we actually do decide to leave the office for a few days.

As a way of dispelling these fears companies like Atlassian, have taken a fresh approach by offering new hires paid time off before they even work their first day. As they put it,  “This is all in the spirit of our “Build with Heart and Balance” value, in which we encourage all new teammates to start refreshed, recharged, and revitalized so they can bring their A-game when they start work.” Especially if you’ve left a job that was frustrating and draining, this little break could be exactly what you need to start off on the right foot in a new role.

It’s no secret that we struggle to find that perfect balance between work ethic and being a workaholic. By rewarding employees before they even start, the “pre-cation” helps to ensure new they leave the stress behind and start fresh. And what’s more is that by eliminating stress, retention levels are higher which can actually save employers funds they would have otherwise spent on recruitment and development.

Of course, the “pre-cation” is not without its faults. Starting a new job can be stressful in-and-of itself, so many people may find they are unable to relax and clear their minds before jumping into their new position. Not to mention, someone is paying for this time off. Unless you’ve come into a huge round of funding or already manage a very successful business, most companies cannot afford the luxury of giving employees this time off. Many of us are hiring to fill a void and therefore simply cannot afford to wait.

While flexible time-off policies may be trending, it seems the “pre-cation” notion may take some getting used to.

The good news is that you don’t have to offer your employees a “pre-cation” to be a great employer. Start by offering your employees exclusive perks through PerkSpot.

Team Building Activities Just in Time for Summer!

The sun beams down warming your face through the window. You can smell the fresh air peeking through as you take a sip of your iced tea, relaxing in your chair. Your eyes wander and your mind is clear. Summer is here.

But, unfortunately, this isn’t you on a tropical vacation. This is the distraction of summer making its way into your office. As the temps warm up, our minds tend to dream of greener pastures.

Don’t fight the feeling: take your work and your team outside and engage in some fun team-building activities.

team building activities perkspot culture employee engagement

Fox Business states, “When the global marketing firm McCann WorldGroup surveyed 7,000 Millennials in 2011, it found more than 90% of those surveyed rated “connection and community” as their greatest need.”

I know what you’re thinking, but we aren’t talking about blindfolding someone and leading them through a maze or practicing trust falls. These age-old activities are outdated and more likely to make your team groan. True team-building happens when you have fun, laugh and share an experience together.

Here’s a few ways to build up your team this summer:

Give Back

Take some time this summer to give back. Encourage employees or coworkers to volunteer in the community. Find ways to give back at volunteermatch.org or catchafire.org. In fact, when employees spend their time on other people, they often feel like they have more time to spare!

Ready, Set, Sports

There are many ways to use sports to bring your team together. Grab your colleagues and join a city league. David W. Ballard of the American Psychological Association says this of teams who practice physical activities together, “Employees have lost weight and report a higher awareness of wellness issues, strengthened sense of community, improved morale, and increased motivation.”  For the observers, check out a baseball game or cheer on your company athletes as they go for the gold.

Strap On Your Fanny Packs

Summer is the perfect time to explore your city. Visit famous monuments, tour a museum or hop on a Segway tour. You’ll create memories and learn something along the way.

Learn Something New

For many offices, summer is a slow season. Take the opportunity to learn something new together through professional development courses or attending a conference. This will leave your team rejuvenated and impassioned upon returning to work.

Save money on your next office adventure with exclusive tickets, entertainment and even local discounts through PerkSpot!

Does This Office Make Me Look Fat?

We spend a lot of time with our coworkers. For better or worse, we pick up their habits. Which means, the office could be the demise of our well-intentioned diet plans.

Stay slim with these tips, even in a candy-bar filled office.

Eat breakfast before you get to work.

We get it. It’s early. You’ve snoozed five times. The last thing you want to do is make breakfast. However, everyone knows breakfast is the most important meal of the day. You’re less likely to eat once you leave the house and start on your endless inbox, so instead of grabbing a protein bar at work, make some quick overnight oats, or the oh-so-trendy avocado toast.

Make time for meals.

Ok, workaholics here’s looking at you. We know, those 30 minutes at lunch are precious moments where you can wrap up that email or send off that report. Don’t compromise on meal time. Make sure you take time to eat lunch so you’ll come back to your desk refreshed, re-energized, and focused.

Don’t forget the H20.

None of us drink enough water. It’s easy to forget to fill up on H2O between coffee cups, but instead of sipping on that third cup of coffee at 10am, reach for your water bottle. And for the truly unmotivated, try this clever Pinterest hack to stay on top of your water game.

Snack time is the best time.

Snacks are what make or break you when it comes to your diet. Make sure you pack healthy snacks to keep you satisfied between meals, such as almonds, yogurt, or fruit.
office is where we go to diet

Show your employees you’re dedicated to their personal wellness by offering exclusive discounts through PerkSpot! From gym memberships to restaurant gift cards, there is something for everyone. 
Contact us to find out how!

Thursdays are the New Fridays

It’s no secret that the workplace has changed dramatically in the last 50 years. There are 53% more women in the workforce, The Family and Medical Leave Act allows employees to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid protected leave, and minimum wage has increased dramatically. It’s pretty amazing to see the progress we’ve made, but there’s one change that’s yet to make its way to the U.S.: The Four Day workweek.

In many European countries, four-day workweeks are the rule, not the exception. The Netherlands boast average annual wages of $47,000 and average only 29 hours of work per week. But for many companies in the U.S., the trend remains that working longer hours means an increase in productivity. But what if this isn’t the case? Whatever happened to “less is more”? Can this apply to our workplace?

four day work week perkspot culture thursdays are the new fridays

No Time to Waste

Let’s be honest, there are plenty of times we procrastinate on projects or reschedule meetings until the last possible minute. With shorter workweeks, employers have found that there is less time to waste, so workers are more likely to remain focused and motivated. And for those who still need those 40 hours, some businesses have incorporated the four-day workweek by simply working longer hours during these four days. Workers then have the weekend to catch up on errands, spend time with loved ones, and get refreshed for the next week.

Thinking About Making a Switch?

Keep in mind these “Dos and Don’ts” for a successful transition.

Don’t: Make it a seasonal thing.

Some companies tend to offer shorter, summer hours, which is a great start, but often employees start resenting those days when they have to stay until five instead of leaving at three, or whatever the case may be.

Do: Make it a regular thing.

Spring, Summer, Winter, Fall – you wouldn’t require your employees to work only one part of the year, so why shorten their hours only during summer? To increase motivation year-round many companies start by offering a shorter workweek even in the winter months.

Don’t: Go all in.

Incorporating the four-day workweek means a huge change in the office, so make sure you think before you leap. Don’t make the change overnight but give your employees time to adjust.

Do: Take baby steps.

When it comes to big changes at the office, it’s best to take baby steps. For example, some employers start by having early release on Fridays instead of jumping right into the four-day workweek. They then examine productivity and employee engagement levels to ensure the plan is right for their office environment.

Don’t: Stay silent.

You may know the famous quote “Where there is no vision, there is no hope”. Don’t just make the change without stating the whys, whos, and hows.

Do: Provide clarity on the “fifth day”.

Are employees expected to be available on the fifth day? What extra work does this require for the other four days? It’s important to think through all the questions employees may have and provide clarity before incorporating this new policy. There’s nothing more frustrating than walking in the dark, so if you’re thinking about making the switch, be sure to shed light on the new changes.

Keep Employees Happy

One of the challenges many human resources departments face is keeping employees happy and engaged. Training new talent is expensive and time-consuming, so when focusing on employee retention, many companies are beginning to consider the four-day workweek. For companies that cannot afford raises or other employee benefits, this can be a great perk to offer employees who have been loyal to the company.

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Be a Better Leader

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Many of us have an innate desire to inspire others like Martin Luther King, Jr., change the world like Bill Gates, or save lives like Marie Curie. But before they became these great world-changers, they all lived very ordinary lives. There are traits each of us can develop in our everyday lives to be a better leader and inspire those around us.

Practice humility.

Humility is a lost art in our culture. We are quick to seek recognition and put our own needs before others. But great leaders start by first serving the people around them. Ask yourself how you can better serve your team. Be transparent and apologize when you make mistakes. Demonstrate a willingness to learn – a teachable attitude goes a long way.

Stay positive.

This can be particularly tough even in the greatest of work environments. The stress of work and home often cause us to focus on the negative. Try starting your day by writing down three things you’re grateful for. This positive attitude will carry you throughout your day and others will be inspired by your optimism. And when issues arise, focus on finding the solution instead of the problem.

better leader perkspot culture

Be yourself.

Having a boss or colleague who is “all business, all the time” gets stale very quickly. Take time to get to know your teammates and share personal anecdotes. Invite them to watch the game or workout together. You don’t have to unload your whole life story, but letting them in is a great way to show you care and you’re interested. They’ll appreciate your vulnerability and respect you more for it.

Challenge the status-quo.

One thing all great leaders have in common is that they push the limits. Don’t be afraid to speak up when you think things (or people) can be better. Great friends and great coworkers challenge each other to think deeper and go farther.

Have tips for being a better leader? Let us know in the comments!

The Art of Single-Tasking

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The convenience of the smartphone has turned us all into expert multi-taskers. We can listen to music, read our email, chat with friends and ride the bus, all at the same time. But how effective is multitasking really? Sure, we may get things done more quickly, but at what cost?

Here are a few reasons why you should choose to single-task:

Single-tasking focuses your attention.

When we switch rapidly from one task to another, our minds are never fully engaged in the work we are doing. Have you ever talked on the phone and driven at the same time only to discover you took a wrong street or drove a little too fast? This is because our brains were built to focus on one thing at a time. Choosing to do only one task at a time helps us focus our attention in a single area, so we are able to think critically about the task at hand.

Single-tasking requires taking your time.

So many of us receive an email and feel the need to respond within minutes – no matter if we’re sitting at the lunch table or getting ready for bed. But when we reserve bedtime for bedtime and work time for just that, we are much more efficient and less likely to make mistakes. Don’t send that email while you’re tired; wait until the morning to visit your inbox and make sure you’re responding with a clear head. Have a client who wants an immediate response? Shoot them a quick reply to let them know you’ll think about it and get back to them, or better yet, set the expectation before you leave the office that you prefer to respond with fresh eyes in the morning. You don’t always have to respond with an answer- chances are just acknowledging their request will be enough until the morning.

Single-tasking makes you present.

One thing that annoys me, but that I often still find myself doing, is leaving my phone out during meals. I have to say the majority of my coworkers at PerkSpot are good about keeping their phones put away during lunch, and I find that it fosters much better relationships and conversations. When we are constantly distracted, we are less likely to make memories and engage with others. Practice engaging in conversation without your phone beside you and you may be surprised at the memories you’ll make.

How-to Single-Task:

These tips will have you single-tasking in no time.

1. Incorporate #TablessThursdays

Pick a day of the week where you limit the number of tabs you’re using in your web browser. By choosing one day to be ultra-intentional about single-tasking, you’ll be amazed at how much you can get done.

2. Try the Pomodoro Technique:

  • Choose a task to be accomplished. If you’re embarking on a larger project, split it into a series of small, specific tasks.
  • Set your timer to 25 minutes (the length of one “Pomodoro”).
  • Work on your task until the timer rings.
  • Take a short break (up to 5 minutes).
  • After every 4 Pomodoros take a longer break (15-30 minutes).
  • Turn off phone notifications.
  • Set aside specific times for checking email throughout the day.

3. Use technology to your advantage.

Download extensions like Momentum, which reminds you of your to-do list every time you open a new tab in your browser, or One Tab, which consolidates all your tabs into one so you can go back later and review.

Work Ethic or Workaholic? (The Billion Dollar Question)

work ethic perkspot culture workaholic

The 12.3 Billion Dollar Question, actually.

I recently came across an article on how Elon Musk spent days sleeping at the Tesla factory in order to reach his production goals. While his passion is admirable, the poster of the article praised Musk for his “work ethic”. But can you really call sleepless nights in a cold factory “ethical”? If the boss is staying late at work, what kind of work life is he promoting to his junior employees?

The 10,000-Hour Rule

The Millennial Generation has grown up hearing things like Malcolm Gladwell’s 10,000-hour rule. Gladwell states in his book, “Outliers” that if you practice a skill for 10,000 hours or more, you will undoubtedly become an expert, or rather, an outlier. Outliers are people like Bill Gates, Kobe Bryant, Oprah Winfrey… to name a few. These examples are experts in their field and have reached a significant level of success that one could only hope to imitate. His conclusion is based on research from Anders Ericsson and Simon and Chase’s “Skill in Chess”, which, to oversimplify, states that the more time you spend on a skill (on average 10,000 hours), the better you become. Seems pretty obvious, right?

The problem in our world of instant downloads is we want to clock those 10,000 hours as soon as possible. If we work 40 hour work weeks, 52 weeks of the year, we’ve only clocked 2,080 hours. Which means it’s at least five years until we reach the average number of hours it took for these “outliers” to achieve greatness. That is unless you work 100 hour work weeks or respond to emails while interacting with your kids, like Elon Musk.

Ok, enough bashing on Musk. He’s accomplished plenty of great things and we don’t presume to know the day in and day out of his personal life. However, the discussion of whether or not we should praise his “work ethic” is definitely up for debate.

Finding the Balance

While things like the 10,000-hour rule are prevalent in discussions about the workplace, possibly even more dominant is the need for work-life balance. It’s as if we live in constant contradiction. Achieve success by working hard, but not too hard. Work 100 hours a week so you can run a billion dollar company, but also make sure you spend time with your family, cook Paleo-perfect meals, and vacation for a week in Spain. Totally achievable.

Fast Company recently published an article “How to Advance In Your Career Without Becoming A Workaholic”. The article focuses on the quality of work we do, versus the quantity. The author suggests targeting a few key factors. These include staying engaged in your work, being more efficient, investing in relationships, asking questions, and learning when to say no. These traits are arguably more essential to a true work ethic and a healthy work-life balance. Isn’t it more ethical to leave at five knowing that you’ve done your work well, learned to delegate when necessary, and accomplish personal tasks with peace of mind?

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Hey Millennials, Quit Wasting Time

Time is a precious commodity in our 21st-century lives. But, social media and streaming tv aren’t the only things that steal our time. Here are some ways to be more productive and stop wasting time, provided by older generations of workers.

wasting time


Ask for help

It’s hard to balance confidence and humility in the workplace. Having a stubborn attitude when it comes to asking for help doesn’t demonstrate confidence, but can demonstrate arrogance or even ignorance. Everyone needs to be taught sometimes so instead of wasting time trying to figure it out on your own, don’t be afraid to ask for help. Your boss or coworker will admire your humility. This openness also creates a dialogue and builds trust in your relationship.

Focus on the positive

One of the biggest wastes of time can be focusing on our mistakes, others’ mistakes, or things we wish we could change. In my own experience, I’ve found dwelling on my mistakes actually causes me to make more errors. I get caught in my own head instead of remembering to double-check my work or again, ask others for help. When we fixate on the things we cannot change, it causes our creativity and innovation to stall, instead of moving forward.

How should we handle mistakes? A good friend of mine told me I need to allow myself to feel it. Once we feel the weight of it, we can forgive ourselves and move on. Be transparent and apologetic with others who may have been affected, learn from the mistake, and next time think hard before repeating the same error.

Choose happiness

It’s easy to spend time being unhappy in our jobs, relationships, or in other aspects of our life. I’m still a young professional, but I realized early-on my first choice for a career was not what truly made me happy. We spend a LOT of time at our nine-to-fives, so it’s important to leave each day feeling fulfilled. After some intense soul-searching, I decided to switch careers and have never looked back. Once I started doing work I enjoyed, I found other areas of my life felt more complete as well. Don’t waste time in a place that doesn’t provide value in your life.

This advice doesn’t just apply to our careers, but also in relationships or even the places we live. If the relationship isn’t healthy for you or the other person, get out of it. If you don’t love where you live, move. Frank Warren, the creator of the PostSecret movement, says “Be wise enough not to be reckless, but brave enough to take great risks.” Don’t make a rash decision because you’re fed up, but make sure you aren’t getting to a place where your unhappiness consumes you.

Don’t let your job define you

Lastly, it’s important to remember there is more to life than your work. Don’t let your whole life go by and regret not doing more because you spent all your waking hours at work, on your way to work, thinking about work, hanging out with coworkers… you get the point. It’s a big world out there and life is too short not to experience it. Plus, new experiences can make us more innovative in our workplaces. Win-win.

What’s some advice you would’ve given your younger self?