Archives for posts with tag: workplace

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Whether you’re an avid basketball fan who knew the starting lineup of every NCAA team, or a novice basketball fan who just caught a game here and there, you most likely noticed that March Madness owned the airwaves over the past few weeks.  If you are still unfamiliar with this annual college basketball sensation, look at your social media platform of choice and you’ll see at least one disparaged fan mention their busted bracket.

The March Madness basketball tournament garners excitement in basketball fans and basketball beginners alike.  There is an opportunity for workplaces to create this same excitement, energy, and competitive spirit with their own contests or competitions.

Try some of these ideas to pump up the energy in your office while adding an element of friendly competition:

  • Spring Cleaning Food Drive Contest:  Place co-workers in teams and have a contest on who can bring in the most canned food, clothes, or home goods to donate to a local charity
  • Throwback Thursday:  Co-workers wear a throwback clothing item (throwback jersey, band shirt, etc) and the person with the best item wins
  • March Madness Inspired Contest: Match team members (or teams) up with each other to create friendly competition.  Instead of points in a basketball game, they advance to the next round by having the higher chosen workplace performance metric.   For example: Your Customer Support team could be based on the number of customer touchpoints, your sales team could have the number of sales calls, etc.

March Madness creates a contagious energy where millions of people are completely engaged in an athletic event.  Athletes perform some of the best games of their careers because of the high-energy atmosphere, cheers and fan support.  Our workplaces can also perform exceedingly well by increasing the energy and engagement of employees.  Think about implementing a fun contest or competition in your workplace to increase employee morale and build group cohesion through teamwork.

What games, contests, or competitions do you implement in your organization?


cold weather blues

If there is one thing this seemingly never-ending winter has taught me, it’s how to find joy in life when it’s nothing but white, gray, and dark brown outside.  There were days when it seemed like even the sun didn’t want to come outside—and who could blame it?  Negative 50 degrees?  No thank you!  However, as someone who has bills to pay and work to do, I had to brace myself and venture out into the Midwestern version of the Arctic Tundra.  Since I prefer being outside to enjoy the bright colors of spring, summer, and fall, this winter was particularly rough.

One of the things that helped me this winter was finding new challenges, both personally and professionally.  There’s a clichéd New Year’s Resolution that a lot of people make to “Try Something New Every Day.”  I’m a bit of a creature-of-habit, so that doesn’t really appeal to me.  However, since this winter continues to drag out, I’ve had to broaden my horizons a bit.  Some areas I have been more adventurous in include.

  • Trying new recipes. Who knew I would actually like quinoa and kale chips?  Granted, this stemmed from my goal to eat a little healthier this year, but I was pleasantly surprised.
  • Be more creative.  A few of my friends and I recently took a painting class, and it was a great experience.  I’m no Van Gogh, but I enjoyed it regardless.  I also have a cake decorating class on my list of to-dos.
  • Challenge myself with new workouts.  Working out (along with the healthier eating as mentioned above) is a necessity, whether I like it or not.  This winter I have tried some more challenging HIIT (high intensity interval training) workouts, hot yoga, and strength training.  Exercise is a great way to boost your mood!
  • Tackle that last item on your to-do list.  I’ve found that since I have more time to stay inside, I’ve accomplished quite a few things.

Along with trying new things, another way to boost your mood if you have the winter doldrums is through interactions with other people.  Staying engaged with activities at work, visiting friends, even something that seems insignificant like going out to eat can brighten your day, since interacting with other people can often take your mind off of your troubles.

Last and certainly not least is to relax and take time for yourself.  Feel like spending the day lounging on the couch in your PJs with a good book?  Do it!  (As long as it’s a weekend!)  Go out for a spa day with some friends, go shopping, take a weekend trip, or eat that piece of cake that you maybe don’t need…all of these things will help you feel better.

It’s important to remember that, even though it doesn’t feel like it, the seasons will change and winter will be over soon enough.  However, with the cold days lingering, and the hint of snow still in the air, don’t forget to take a little time for yourself to keep those blues away.

How do you battle the bad weather blues?

1944 collage

What do Diana Ross, Michael Douglas, Stockard Channing, George Lucas, Danny DeVito, and HON all have in common? They all turn 70 this year!

With World War II drawing to a close, our founder C. Maxwell Stanley foresaw a post-war housing boom. He had the idea to start a manufacturing company that would put returning G.I.s to work making steel kitchen cabinets for use in new homes. He invited his brother-in-law, Clement T. Hanson, a successful advertising executive, and H. Wood Miller, an industrial designer, to go into business with him. They called their business “Home-O-Nize,” and they incorporated in 1944.

Before we fast forward 70 years later, let’s take a quick look back at 1944 (it turns out we were in good company!):

  • #1 Song: “Swinging on a Star” by Bing Crosby
  • Best Picture at the 16th Academy Awards®: Casablanca
  • #1 Book: A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith
  • TIME Magazine® Man of the Year: Dwight D. Eisenhower
  • Famous Entertainers: Rita Hayworth, Lauren Bacall, Fred Astaire, Humphrey Bogart, Clark Gable, Bob Hope, Katharine Hepburn, etc.
  • Famous Musicians: Benny Goodman, The Andrews Sisters, Frank Miller, Frank Sinatra, Perry Como, etc.
  • World Series Champions: St. Louis Cardinals
  • NFL Champions: Green Bay Packers
  • Wildly popular board game, Clue®, is born!
  • U.S. Forest Service creates its beloved Smokey Bear
  • Franklin D. Roosevelt seeks his 4th term in office

12 Presidents, 7 decades, and only 3 logo changes later – we’ve certainly come a long way. A philosophy of fairness, honesty, integrity, and respect have made us a leader in workplace furniture. Every moment is an opportunity to build momentum. We’ve seized each and every one to build a legacy you can be proud of and to prepare for a future that keeps getting brighter. HON is ready.

Cheers to another 70 years, and happy birthday to those that share our birthday year!

sticky notes

It’s Monday morning and the amount of projects you have to get done this week or number of meetings you have to attend is paralyzing. Okay, maybe that’s a little dramatic, but there are days you come into work and may not know where to start. This causes you to spin your wheels wasting valuable time. Try some of these strategies to get your projects and tasks organized.

Note reminders – This is a popular way to create a list or reminders of tasks to do. The physical sticky notes are nice to stick to a notebook, on a wall by your desk or even on your computer monitor to serve as an ever-present reminder of things that need to be done. They can be easily removed, added to or, my personal favorite, checked off to show what has been completed. However, in the age of technology, if you prefer not to have sticky notes draped around your workspace, most computers offer note programs that allow you to post a digital sticky note onto your desktop.

Planner or paper calendar –A planner or calendar can be carried with you into a meeting or in your workbag, allowing you to easily access and visualize deadlines or timelines. With a range of sizes to chose from, physical planners and calendars give you ample opportunity to organize important dates.

Email calendar & tasks synced to your phone – An email calendar is a great way to set reminders at specific times when a meeting or task due date are coming up. Additionally, we all are typically carrying our phones with us, so having the ability to sync our calendar straight to our phone gives us the ability to get reminders on the go.

Files for each customer or client you work with – As you work with customers and clients, the information you share with each other grows exponentially. Keeping this information organized can begin to become difficult. To keep this wealth of information organized, create a personal file for each of these customers, both in a file cabinet and digitally. This way when something from a previous project is referenced, you can quickly pull out their file and find what you need.

A final note on organizing tasks; give realistic timeframes. If you look at your sticky note or calendar and see a particular time is busy, express this and work to set a timeline that can be accomplished. At times, you may not be able to adjust a deadline, so work on a priority basis and complete the tasks with the most priority first. However, if there is flexibility, give a realistic timeline, because it’s better to deliver before the deadline than late.

The key to staying organized is to find what works for you and follow it – even if your workstation is covered in neon sticky notes.

What organization strategies do you use to stay ahead of the game?

9000028112_ffcef87f9f_zWithout fail, there are always moments in my day when I’m asked to be creative and imaginative. Usually I greet these moments with open arms, but other times, I’m not mentally prepared. This usually stems from being focused on analytical and logical projects all day and not completely utilizing my creative, right-brain capabilities. Nonetheless, these requests for creative inspiration still occur and it’s my job to deliver my thoughts and insight. I’ve found that the tactics outlined below help fuel my creative capabilities.

Start Writing

Jot down topics, words and phrases related to the creative project you’ve been presented with. Next, try seeing if any of these terms and phrases can overlap to create new meanings and ideas. Whenever I do this, I end up with a web-like chart sprinkled with some Venn diagrams, which reveal dozens of potential creative concepts. You just may find that creativity will spark by using something as simple as a pen a paper.

Explore Social Media

When my creative task calls for something more visual or tangible, I tend to look at other’s work for inspiration. Social platforms like Pinterest and Tumblr allow you to search by keywords for user-uploaded content. Of course you should only use these sites for inspiration and not duplication of somebody’s work!

Ask Questions

Sometimes the best answer to a question is another question. This Socratic method of discussion traces back to ancient Greece as a way to stimulate critical thinking and illuminate ideas. If you’ve been assigned a creative task, ask the project owner questions to get a better sense of what they’re looking for. Try asking others associated with the project for their thoughts and insight. Present possible ideas or concepts to someone whose opinion you respect.

As Albert Einstein once said, “Creativity is intelligence having fun.” I hope these quick tips have helped guide you on an enjoyable path to creative brilliance.

How do you get your creative juices flowing?

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It is a cold January evening in Iowa as I begin to write this post and my mind keeps wandering to my upcoming vacation.  My best friend is getting married at Disney World and I will be out of the office for a full week.  I noticed a couple of hours ago that I am quite calm.  This is a little troubling to me because it is quite different from the frantic way I usually get everything accomplished in the three days before going on vacation.  So this begs the question, “what is different this time?”

Upon reflecting, I have identified what I believe are the three contributing factors to my Zen-like state. Try using these tactics next time you plan to leave the office for a planned extended period of time:

Advance warning: My first step in preparing to be gone actually started several weeks ago.  This is when I blocked off my calendar, built my upcoming absence into project timelines, and began mentioning the dates I would be unavailable to the people I work with the most.  This advance communication has enabled everyone to plan accordingly.

Leave instructions:  My mom is a retired English teacher and I remember her writing copious notes for her substitute each time she had a planned absence.  While this may seem like a lot of work upfront, it lessened the chance that she was going to return to chaos.  I believe that we can be too focused on what must get done before leaving on vacation and not give enough thought to what is going to happen while we are gone.  This is why I have a project status sheet completed that gives a brief overview and also outlines the next steps.  I have also have scheduled a meeting on Friday to review this with my team and my manager.  This way, projects can keep moving and I will hopefully have fewer urgent requests when I return.

Remind Yourself that Vacations Help You Rest: One of my good friends has two-year-old triplets and he always struggles with taking time for himself.  He explained that he and his wife work through this by reminding each other that they are better parents after occasionally taking time for themselves.  I am not saying that being away from your family is the same as being away from work, but I do believe that the same concept can apply.  I know that I will come back from vacation refreshed and energized to jump back into my work.

I hope that you can use these tips before your next vacation to prepare yourself for a relaxing time.  And since I know you’ve been wondering . . . No, Mickey Mouse will not be attending my friend’s wedding, but we will meet him at a character brunch the next morning.

How do you set yourself up for a worry-free vacation?

Have you ever wondered why money is green or why school buses are yellow? You may be surprised to learn that there is science, not just personal preference, behind these color choices.  Color goes deeper than just all those aisles of paint chips at the home improvement store.  Color has an effect on us and our environment whether we realize it or not.

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Yellow can raise spirits and self-confidence.  It is generally happy and boosts creativity.  Yellow can help clear your head, allowing you to make good decisions and be organized.  It is also a universal sign of caution (i.e. school buses and crime scene tape).

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Red, the color of love, can raise blood pressure, stimulate the adrenal glands and increase your appetite.  Red can also incite feelings of anger or aggression.  Not to worry though, pink has the opposite effect as it is calming and nurturing.

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Olive Green can be associated with rot and can make us feel sick, but change the shade and you have a whole different effect.  Green can be calming and help us connect with nature.

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Blue is usually thought of as a depressing color, but this is only in the darker shades.  Lighten it up and it can help lower blood pressure and eliminate insomnia.

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We all know that white is the color of purity and cleanliness, but it can also aid our mental clarity and help us get a fresh start.  While these are certainly good things, white can also make us feel cold and isolated.

The next time you are creating a new workspace, renovating your office or just adding some decorations to your desk, consider the psychology behind your color choices.

What colors dominate your office?

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