Let’s talk about paper

It’s been a week of talking about paper. Specifically, organisations that continue to insist on printing & sending information to customers, whether they like it or not.

In 2018 there’s really no excuse for doing that. The common refrain is, “well, we’ve always done it like that”. However that doesn’t mean you should be.

Last weekend I recorded a video about accountants posting financial statements to their clients for signing, without any explanation of what these statements mean. It’s a practice that many accountants have used for decades, but what we found in our research before we launched Ashton McGill was that clients really dislike this. They often don’t understand what they’re being asked to sign, it feels cold and impersonal, and there’s no attempt to explain or educate.

That video generated a lot of interest and people shared their individual stories with us. We got a bunch of enquiries on the back of it, and so for we’ve won 3 new clients as a result. There’s a message there for the luddites who insist on continuing to send stuff out in the mail……

The second example this week was a local college whose finance department insist on posting paper invoices out to customers. This seems to be a practice that many education institutions still use. They also expected us to phone them to make payment. I mean, really?!? Their process couldn’t have been less customer-friendly if they had tried.

And yet we see this sort of thing time and time again. Systems designed around the needs of the organisation, without any thought for the user or customer. Systems that are never reviewed, they just do it that way because……..well, because that’s how they’ve always done it.

Surely we can do better than that? You have my email address, you know my name, company, and our physical address (because you insist on mailing stuff there!), so why not email me a copy instead? It’s costing you money to post documents to me. Not only the paper cost, the ink, the envelope, the postage, but also the cost of someone’s time to do this.

Then I’ve got to do something with the paper documents. I’ll sign them if I have to (assuming I understand what I’m signing!), scan them, then email them back to you (see the irony there?) before shredding them. What a waste of time.

So, come on. If you’re the recipient of this type of behaviour, then insist they change (unless you like receiving mail!). And if you’re printing, stuffing envelopes, sticking on a stamp, then mailing them – ask yourself why? More importantly, ask your customers what they want.

We don’t need to print. Not only will it save you time, it’s also better for the environment. It’s time to be better.

The best ideas are usually stolen from someone else….

Yesterday’s post about standing out from the crowd seemed to strike a chord. I got a tonne of responses across Facebook, twitter and LinkedIn. Thank you.

One of those was from my buddy Kev Steel. We worked together when I lived in Aberdeen. I’ve had some great times with Kev, one of which involved the Vaccines in CitizenM Glasgow, but that’s a story for another day. Then there was that time we drank far too much whisky with Mich Barclay in Musa, but again, I digress….

Kev made a really good point on Facebook. To quote…

I think the inverse of this is just as important – the hiring organisation needs to tailor its job advertisement to attract the “stand out from the crowd” candidates you speak about. Old school and established recruitment consultants (there are good boutique firms out there) have a lot to answer for here.

Just log on to S1Jobs.com and have a look at the listings – 95%+ all generic job and candidate specs that look like they have been churned out via systemised process.

This will put off candidates sending any kind of “stand out CV” – after all, why would they think an organisation would want something different if the advertisement doesn’t convey this? A big factor is the (potentially misplaced) fear that anything other than a standard CV would come across as unprofessional.

What’s the likely % of advertisements that actually say “we’re looking for something different in terms of your application – so be creative!”. I’m betting pretty low.

Why are job advertisements not written in blog format with human language (not the usual WE ARE LOOKING FOR AMBITIOUS MOTIVATED INDIVIDUALS shite) that speaks directly to the ideal candidate?

You can rely on Steely to hit the nail on the head. So basically that’s today’s post. Written by Kev. What a trooper!

It’s also a call to action. If you’re a business owner, and you want to recruit people, then make an effort. Otherwise don’t complain when you get a pile of uninspiring CVs.

Cheers Kev!

Working 9-5 what a way to make a living!

*** this post was originally published back in 2011, however the message is as relevant today as it was back then. I’ll be interested in your thoughts ***

Working 9-5, what a way to make a living!

So sang Dolly Parton back in 1980. And in those days, before the Information Age, she had a point.

31 years on and a revolution has taken place in the world of work. We’re constantly connected in a 24×7 world where customers expect instant responses via Facebook, Twitter, or plain “old” email.

But here’s the thing. Unless you’re in retail, or you’re a tech startup, then the world of work is still organised around those “core” hours that the Queen of Country sang about way back then.

Why?

Well, we’ve moved forward in leaps & bounds in those 31 years. Those were the days of Command & Control structures, where staff were there to be bossed around & shouted at and in many ways abused. Nowadays that behaviour would see you in court! The computer has transformed our working lives and we’re all way more productive. Some jobs have been consigned to history, and being networked and connected is where it’s at.

But actually, many employers would quite like it if everyone could still work those core hours. 9-5 please, ‘cos that’s what we’ve always done and it works. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

I had coffee earlier this week with a good friend of mine and we were discussing this very point. We both work flexible hours, we start early, maybe take some time out during the day to swim or ride the bike, and then we’re back online later in the day. Working, socialising, connecting & engaging. We get the balance that suits our own lifestyle & habits.

In both of our companies we still ask people to shoe-horn into our “Business Hours”. However we’ve realised that if we want to get the best out of our people, then we need to give them that same lattitude. We’re not asking them to work 24×7, far from it. But we’re both going to look at how we can make the working day better for them.

If you live out of town, hate the traffic, and aren’t a morning person, why not start at 10 and work through to 6. In fact, why not start at noon and work until 8? Likewise, if you’re like Mark & I – a morning person – then come in at 6 and finish up at 2. As long as we’ve got cover to support our customers throughout the day, then why not? We pay the rent for 24 hours, so why are we only using a third of what we pay for? That doesn’t make sense.

What about you? If you’re running a business what do you think? If you’re an employee, what would you like?

It’s time to re-invent the way we work.

The Future of Work

For most of the 20th Century we got used to the term “job for life”. It wasn’t uncommon for someone to spend their whole lives with one company or organisation. You got a Gold Watch for 25 years service!

Towards the end of the century, however, things started to change. The advent of the internet and of mobile communications meant that it was no longer necessary for everyone to have to commute to a central location (office) to do a job of work. It was a natural extension then for the concept of freelancing, or self-employment, to take off.

And take off it did! In the UK now (2010) the freelance community is estimated at 1.4 million people. However, that’s nothing compared to what the experts predict will happen over the next decade.

Thanks to the rapid development of affordable technologies, many organisations are moving to new operational models, which are less about fixed places of work, regular hours, or full-time employment. These models are more about bringing the best available talent together online, at a point in time, for specific projects or objectives, and then just as quickly disbanding them.

Research shows that the average desk is only occupied 43% of the time, even during conventional working hours. In this era of austerity it makes no sense to be paying for something that gets used less than half of the time! Offices will reduce in size, and in many cases cease to exist. Get ready for your office to become Virtual, with meetings via Skype rather than face to face; Twitter or Facebook chat will take the place of the morning watercooler banter. Co-work spaces will pop up all over the country.

Also, did you know that Britons collectively waste 4.6 million hours a day commuting to work? A DAY! In these time-starved days can we really afford that?

So get ready for the era of self-employment, where the majority are freelance. You choose the work that you do, if you don’t like it, leave and find something else. People will have the kind of “portfolio careers” envisaged by business gurus Charles Handy & Tom Peters in the Eighties. To some that might sound scary; to others it’s empowering.

You are your own Brand – You Ltd. Start working now on your LinkedIn profile and your social media strategy. Security in this next decade will come from learning to live with insecurity!

Are you ready ?

Working 9-5 what a way to make a living!

So sang Dolly Parton back in 1980. And in those days, before the Information Age, she had a point.

31 years on and a revolution has taken place in the world of work. We’re constantly connected in a 24×7 world where customers expect instant responses via Facebook, Twitter, or plain “old” email.

But here’s the thing. Unless you’re in retail, or you’re a tech startup, then the world of work is still organised around those “core” hours that the Queen of Country sang about way back then.

Why?

Well, we’ve moved forward in leaps & bounds in those 31 years. Those were the days of Command & Control structures, where staff were there to be bossed around & shouted at and in many ways abused. Nowadays that behaviour would see you in court! The computer has transformed our working lives and we’re all way more productive. Some jobs have been consigned to history, and being networked and connected is where it’s at.

But actually, as employers, we’d quite like it if everyone could still work when it suits us. 9-5 please, ‘cos that’s what we’ve always done and it works. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

Do you think we’d have an iPod or an iPad if Steve Jobs thought like that?

I had a coffee this morning with a good friend of mine, Mark Griffiths, the MD of Aberdeen-based Codify and we were discussing this very point. We both work flexible hours, we start early, maybe take some time out during the day to swim or ride the bike, and then we’re back online until we go to bed. Working, socialising, connecting & engaging. For us it’s 24×7 because we love it. But we also get the balance that suits our own style & habits.

But in both of our companies we still ask people to shoe-horn into our “Business Hours”. However we’ve both realised that if we want to get the best out of our people, then we need to give them that same lattitude. We’re not asking them to work 24×7, far from it. But we’re both going to look at how we can make the working day better for them.

If you live out of town, hate the traffic, and aren’t a morning person, why not start at 10 and work through to 6. In fact, why not start at noon and work until 8? Likewise, if you’re like Mark & I, a morning person, then come in at 6 and finish up at 2. As long as we’ve got cover to support our customers throughout the day, then why not? We pay the rent for 24 hours, so why are we only using a third of what we pay for? That doesn’t make sense.

And what about you? If you’re running a business what do you think? If you’re an employee, what would you like?

It’s time to re-invent the way we work.