Boost Your Productivity with Online Collaboration

When you have to meet a deadline, and your information is lost in various inboxes, strewn across separate projects, or scrawled on stickies or notepads, try to make use of employee collaboration opportunities to your advantage.

In an article entitled “The Importance of Collaboration in the Workplace” by Sebastien Boyer, the author makes the point that “the success of any business is whether or not its employees are able to perform together as a team.”

And there are numerous advantages to this. One is that employees are given the chance to brainstorm ideas and work towards the same goal. This then creates a sense of purpose. Collaboration enhances problem-solving, given the pooled talents, and the increased ability to spot strengths, weaknesses, and the bigger picture. It also opens up the opportunity to experience continuous learning. Other benefits of a collaborative workforce are speeded-up solutions and more efficient use of employee expertise.

Facilitating this collaboration is an array of powerful online applications. Team management applications allow you to create projects and tasks, assign them to team members, track work progress, upload attachments, set goals/deadlines/milestones, organize to-do lists, post announcements and updates, hold team chats, and systematize all the assets and notes everyone needs to accomplish their work. What’s more, these actions can be taken virtually by members outside of the office, city, or even members who are in another time zone. Many of these applications connect to third-party Gantt chart apps (with the exception of Trello) that give a critical visual representation of project timelines.

Given the many choices of project management apps, you may be wondering which one you should go with (and you may find you like using more than one). Here are just some of them: Asana, Basecamp, Trello, and Slack. These four work best for small to mid-size companies.

Sadie Cornelius of We Rock Your Web, in her article “Best Online Collaboration Tools 2018: Slack vs. Basecamp vs. Trello vs. Asana vs. Teamwork vs. Wrike & More!”, gives her take on which application best suits each task and also lists their shortcomings.

Cornelius picks Basecamp as the best in task management for everyday users. Known for its simplicity, Basecamp can keep track of projects and tasks, embed media files, host written discussions, and organize all email chains into one particular task or topic. It can also host an unlimited number of users, can integrate more than 100 apps and ad-ons, and be accessed with email, Android, Mac, PC, iPad, and iPhone. On the negative side, there is no reporting feature to track employee contribution and no time tracking.

Slack is excellent for virtual team non-verbal communication which can eliminate unnecessary emails. Being user-friendly, it does not take much training to master this application. Another plus of Slack is a reputable privacy policy which is good for sharing sensitive information. On the downside, it contains no project management tools.

Asana gets the author’s nod for being the best all-in-one app for overall team collaboration. It integrates with other sites such as Slack, Google Drive, Google calendar or iCalender. With Asana, one can color code important tasks and view progress reports. It also has the advantage of being free for up to 15 members. Users should keep in mind that due to the number of features, the learning curve is steep.

Trello performs best in collaborative brainstorming. It serves as an action item service for working with team members. It is easy to comprehend but has limited capabilities.

There is no doubt about it: technology immensely boosts productivity. Once you ease one–or more–of these online collaborative tools into your team’s daily routine at work, efficiency and fulfillment will come into play.

Online collaboration tools, however, may never fully take the place of personal contact in the office. As Boyer states, “Progressive companies are increasingly realizing the value of collaboration and looking for ways to foster it within their teams, both traditional and virtual.” There are too many work situations that require personal interactions, such as company-wide meetings and one-on-one exchanges between supervisor and subordinate.

To accommodate these interactions, organizations will need the ideal workplace. For organizations who are looking for property built by one of the top developer companies in the Philippines, look at Alveo Land’s office space portfolio in BGC, Makati, and Cebu, giving you opportunities to collaborate both online and offline at any time. Learn more about Alveo Land’s office options–as well as choice condominiums for sale–here.

Organic Farm-Hopping: A Quick Guide to Must-Visit Organic Farms in the South

Cavite may be well on its way towards becoming a prime urban center in the south, but its agricultural roots can never be ignored. In fact, organic farm tourism continues to rise in the province, thanks to the allure of farm-to-table fare that complements a healthy lifestyle.

Simply put, organic farming is a method of crop and livestock production that does not use synthetic-based pesticides and fertilizers. Knowing how each ingredient is carefully and thoughtfully prepared ensures that you’re only ingesting what’s good for your body, sans the preservatives and chemical-sounding ingredients found in packaged and processed food.

Typically, a day in an organic farm consists of a tour around the area, getting up close with plants and animals, and learning about agricultural techniques. Capping off the tour is a delicious meal featuring organic farm-grown ingredients.

Nestled within the urban landscape of Tagaytay in particular are the following organic farms to visit:

Nurture Farmacy

Nurture Farmacy in Amadeo is a 4,000-square meter farm and eco-tourism wellness destination for those looking for a reprieve from hectic city life.

Upon entry, you’ll be treated to a tour of the phytotherapy garden, laid out like different anatomical body systems. Each plot contains herbs and vegetables that provide medicinal cures to the organs that they represent.

Up next is Balay Tinggian, where local farmers called “farmacists” demonstrate the art of coffee-making from bean to cup. Amadeo, after all, is dubbed as the country’s coffee capital.

Nurture Farmacy serves Chavacano and Abra dishes prepared using ingredients that come directly from the farm-–including wild boar and chicken. Try warek, a variant of dinakdakan that uses non-fat yogurt and wild boar meat.

Photos from Nurture Farmacy.

Gourmet Farms

As one of the first organic farms established in the Philippines, Gourmet Farms in Tagaytay is already a familiar household name. After all, many of Gourmet Farms’ organic products are now being sold in major supermarkets and used in many hotels, restaurants, and cafes nationwide.

Gourmet Farms’ 11.5-hectare land is filled with different kinds of herbs like rosemary, coriander, thyme, parsley, dill, and tarragon, as well as a wide variety of local vegetables and various kinds of lettuce. Aside from using chicken manure as fertilizers for these plants, Gourmet Farms also promotes the proliferation of carnivorous insects like ladybugs and praying mantises to act as natural pesticides.

Touring around Gourmet Farms allows you to learn about their organic farming methods and recycling management. They also offer in-depth lessons on herb planting, harvesting, drying, cooking, and even salad-making.

Gourmet Café also offers excellent organic teas, salads, brewed coffee, pizza, pasta, sandwiches, and fruit and herb blends-–all made from the farm’s fresh produce.

Photos from Gourmet Farms.

Sonya’s Garden

Though not exactly an organic farm, Sonya’s Garden is one of Tagaytay City’s most popular bed-and-breakfasts and wedding destinations, thanks to its lush gardens, tranquil ambiance, and delectable gastronomic offerings.

The lush and verdant backyard of Sonya’s Garden is an abundant source of ingredients for the restaurant’s alfresco dining experience. You may create your own salad from the variety of greens and fruits like lettuce, arugula, cucumber, mango, jackfruit, pineapple, and edible flowers. You may also indulge in freshly baked whole wheat bread and homemade chocolate cake from Sonya’s panaderia.

Photos of Sonya’s Garden from their Facebook page.

 

Living in Kasa Luntian easily places you right within the radar of these organic farms. As one of the many condominiums for sale developed by Alveo Land,  you can allow yourself to indulge in a truly satisfying healthy dining experience at your leisure. Learn more about Alveo Land’s properties in their showroom, which is available for viewing onsite, or on the website here.

 

The Power of Imagination: How to Kick-start Innovation at Work

“Making money is art and working is art and good business is the best art.”–Andy Warhol

Nobel Prize winner, physicist Robert R. Wilson, was a professional sculptor. Alibaba chief Jack Ma’s background in English was instrumental to his meeting the people who taught him how to navigate the Internet. HBO CEO Richard Plepler attributes his dogged pursuit of success and innovation to inspired reading of Ralph Waldo Emerson. And former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina maintains that her degree in Medieval History and Philosophy did not prepare her for the job market, but it did so for life.

Taking a cue from inspiring global leaders, investing in creativity can help make good business and foster innovation in the workplace.

As the digital revolution makes life easier for us, the finest AIs can only simulate human traits. This makes human-only qualities–empathy, introspection, innovation, and creativity, for example–priceless for business.

In recent years, global firms have turned to arts-based learning to explore non-arts topics, such as leadership, team building, and customer relations. Locally, the trend is gaining steam, with institutions like Hyundai Philippines, Getz Pharma, Jollibee, HSBC, and the Department of Labor and Employment organizing arts-based training for their employees.

Shares Cecilia “CB” Garrucho, president of the Philippine Educational Theater Association (PETA), “Theater offers a whole battery of experiential exercises that aim to draw out the creative talent in each participant. Our artist-teachers are trained to customize training modules based on the needs analysis of our clients. Arts-based learning teaches participants to approach problem solving in an out-of-the-box way, using not just the mind but the entire body. The improvisational nature of theater, for instance, exposes participants to be alert, flexible, and to think on one’s feet.”

“Our strategy and methodology are creative and culture-based and not limited to theater. It can be more of visual arts or creative writing, or a combination of both with other art forms,” furthers Bong Billones, director of the PETA School of People’s Theater. “We have worked with lawyers on conducting cross-examinations. This skill is particularly helpful when dealing with children and victims of abuse. We have also worked with doctors on improving their bedside manners. Largely, we [talk] about [using] the arts as a way to develop empathy.”

Think like an artist

According to San Francisco State University psychology professor Dr. Kevin Eschleman, hobbies in general afford a “sense of mastery” because one is challenged to learn a new skill. The further a hobby is from your day job, the greater its impact on your performance at work will be. This is not a question of mastering two disciplines (even if you can). Spending a reasonable amount of time on a creative pursuit should lay the groundwork for innovation. For example, Warren Buffett plays the ukulele to keep sharp, while Meryl Streep knits to clear her mind.

Immersion in the arts eases you into the realm of quiet, where all five senses are activated, honing your observation skills.

The visual arts–drawing, painting, sculpting, and crafts (like bead work and pottery)—make you more perceptive of the fine details of line, shape, form, space, color, and texture. Notice how people draw or paint the same subject differently as they each perceive it in their own way? Similarly, openness to diverse views brings a wealth of approaches to problem-solving in the workplace.

Music, on the other hand, can make you more sensitive to the subtleties of rhythm, pitch, melody, timbre, and tempo. Learning to play a musical instrument helps you develop listening skills, the patience and discipline to master theories and, eventually, the flexibility and confidence to experiment and create your own “sound.” Such qualities may then be applied to effective team management, as according to MIT professor Wanda J. Orlikowski, author of Jazz-inspired Approach to Change Management, “The organizations most responsive to change are often the ones that replace the orchestral model with a new one–the jazz combo.”

Poetry and literature present a wide array of world views that open your mind to alternative ways of thinking and seeing the world. These enable you to discover new meaning and connection among ideas and events. Take former Disney CEO Michael Eisner. He took up English literature and theater in college, swearing by the economic value of his discipline as it helps him understand how people “tick,” whatever business you are in. This is also probably what motivated AirAsia CEO Tony Fernandes to blog. As his first post on The Entrepreneur reads, “In between meetings, trips and other commitments, it’s hard to stop and chat with those around me. Now with this blog, I not only have a space to say what I think and feel, but also hear what you guys have to say as well.”

Finally, the performance arts, like theater and dance, nurture teamwork and collaboration. The discipline of theater builds trust and fosters a sense of being part of something bigger. It also helps develop self-confidence, flesh out ideas, improvise, and tell engaging stories–which all put you at an advantage when making pitches and client presentations. “When you’re improvising, you’re always listening….You’re always building on what your scene partner is saying to you,” says Sandy Marshall, vice president of Second City Communications, which conducts “improv” comedy classes for over half of all Fortune 1000 companies.

It pays to pursue your passion

Engaging in the arts quiets the rational mind and focuses on the heart and the spirit. Extended to the work place, it can improve moods, boost self-confidence, nurture bonding, inspire innovation, and generally make you more sensitive and observant.

So go ahead and flex your imagination. This can be what you need to spark a light bulb moment, and can very well be the next big thing for you and your team. Surprise yourself with your ability to spot the untapped talent and opportunities around you.

Also consider how office design and location are critical to satisfying your passion and sparking creativity in the workplace. Once you make location a top priority, you get to free up more time to indulge in innovative pursuits.

When buying property in Manila, discover great office locations in Makati, BGC, and Cebu with Alveo Land, one of the top developer companies in the Philippines. Finding the best space for your means spending more time sparking innovation in your workplace.

EXPERIENTIAL DESIGN

With a fusion of conscious aesthetics, programmed engineering and functionality, technology is becoming indispensable in today’s ecosystem.

Design in technology continues to push beyond the extremes, and exploring boundaries that were previously unimaginable. The market’s discerning taste continues to evolve, and as years go by, design is no longer just about how a product looks but also about how it is made relevant and useful in diversifying environments.

Here are some creations from companies that manifest this new norm in the world of technology.

01 FAIRPH ONE 2 BY FAIRPH ONE

Fairphone 2 is a smartphone that has carefully melded ingenious design with social and ethical values. A modular mobile device, the phone is made from reused materials and conflict-free minerals. With a streamlined hardware look and feel, it is designed for long-lasting use and can easily be repaired with handy, household tools.
https://www.fairphone.com

02 SONOS PLAY:5 BY SONOS

Sonos, a smart network of wireless speakers, continues to break barriers with its surround sound system technology. Their biggest speaker yet is the PLAY:5. With over a thousand microscopic holes, six separate amplifiers, and three woofers, custom tuning ensures high-quality sound in any area it reaches. The PLAY:5’s uncompromising quality, superior technology, and understated design guarantee a remarkable sound encounter with each tune played.
http://www.sonos.com/en-us/home

03 GO WHEELCHAIR BY LAYERLAB

Go Wheelchair was developed with the goal to improve quality of life through human-centric mobility devices. It is an ultra-modern upgrade to the typical wheelchair—customizable and tailor-made to a user’s needs and biometric information. Details like textured push rims and high-grip gloves curtail the use of extra energy while reducing strain on the muscles. A user-friendly app allows additional personal preferences that make each wheelchair unique from one another.
http://layerdesign.com

04 SHHH OWERCAP BY SHHH OWERCAP

Made from premium waterproof and breathable fabric, it is a reinvention of the regular shower cap that promises functionality, form, and above all, style. Aside from a snug, flexible elastic band, each cap is lined with an antibacterial coating for added protection.The Shhhowercap is a total hair game changer with its turban silhouette, making it a chic and timeless bath time necessity.
http://www.shhhowercap.com

05 ADIDAS FUTURECRAFT 3D BY ADIDAS

Athletic performance is boosted as the Futurecraft vision brings a more personalized touch to running shoes. Through a simple treadmill test, the exact contours and pressure points of one’s feet are registered, then crafted into a pair of shoes that is practically the mirror image of the wearer’s feet. This type of technology results in fully flexible footwear with the perfect cushion to support dynamic and performance-driven activities.
http://www.adidas.com/us

Curating Your Own Workspace

PURPOSE DRIVEN | Establishing the purpose of your office will make it easier for you to arrange your space. Why are you putting up your own work space? Will it be your main office or an auxiliary one? Will it be a private office, or will you be meeting clients here?

KEEP DISTRACTIONS AWAY | Separate areas and di­viders also help keep distractions at bay, ensuring that your work area will remain professional.

LET THERE BE LIGHT | A dark and musty office is never inspiring, so keep your work area well-lighted and well-ventilated. Using natural-like lights are also a great option if placing your work area by a win­dow isn’t possible. An air purifier can also help keep your work area fresh. Keep the temperatures to a comfortable level too.

DAUB ON COLOR | Studies show that color can affect a person’s mood. Red and orange signify energy and action, while blue and brown are believed to encour­age people to be more focused or productive. Yellow and other bright colors on the other hand, are said to be distracting. However, choosing colors that you like, regardless of what science or popular opinion says, is often the best for you. Pick a palette that’s pleasing, and combine two to three colors for variety.


COMFORT IS KEY | Most professionals spend hours sitting in front of a desk or computer. Aside from rest¬ing your eyes and stretching every once in a while, in¬vest in ergonomic furniture that will lessen the strain on your body after hours of hard work.

PERSONALIZE YOUR SPACE | Place a few key pieces around your work space to inspire you. This could be a print of your favorite artwork, a figurine, or a photo of your loved ones.


STAY ORGANIZED | One of the challenges of any of¬fice is keeping clutter to a minimum. It’s distracting and can slow down productivity. Containers keep your items in place, things like zip ties or velcro loops lessen the mess of wires and cables. Don’t forget that organization extends to your digital files as well, and be diligent in performing backups.


POWER UP | No matter what kind of work you do or what work space you have, it’s important to have enough power outlets to accommodate your needs. Look for extension plugs that have a surge protector and individual power switches for each socket. Don’t forget to unplug the devices that you’re not using to save electricity and lessen the chance of a short circuit.

ESTABLISH BOUNDARIES | Keep clear guidelines of what you can and cannot do in your office. It would be ideal to keep this space specifically for work, and leave other things out.