Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

TED Talk: Why work doesn’t happen at work

Thursday, December 9th, 2010

Some interesting points in this TED talk by Jason Fried of collaboration company 37 signals.


He raises the point that ‘The Office’ is very important in most companies, in terms of cost, and the management desire to force people to attend one – and yet very often is not the place where productive work is done.

His argument is a little more nuanced than ‘so don’t use one’. Jason recognises that people are individual, and have different needs and tastes with regard to how they give their best. For example, some people are more creative late at night or at weekends. Some work needs to be done without the distraction inherent in ‘Management By Wandering Around’ practices.



In my own experience, I have found that I am very good at doing routine tasks in an office environment, sat close to other staff. But I simply for the life of me cannot script an original presentation.

For that, I have to go in a quiet room – and speak it out loud. I experiment with how several of the lines sound, with how I want to express ideas. I will make sure that key points scan well – so they sound nice. I pace up and down like an idiot. I don’t know why I do that; I know it sure does look off-putting to other staff – and I know that if I don’t do it, my thought processes stop.

I suspect I am not alone. Okay; maybe I *am* alone in my own specific weirdness – my wife seems to think that – but I reckon we all have something similar. Some individualistic ‘not-quite-the-done-thing’ way of getting the best out of us on behalf of our team. Some way that a typical office setting is not flexible enough to accommodate.

It’s at this point I would recommend taking that brave management decision: what do you really want? The best from your individual, talented staff? Or to do the done thing and follow The Rules ™ which clearly state that at all times, all staff are seated at a desk?



Interesting – as always – TED talk. What are your experiences? Any aspect of your work that you do better outside of the confines of the office?




Is working in the office a skive?

Friday, December 3rd, 2010

Office worker lazing in chair with book from www.sxc.hu/photo/1269293

(inspired by this BBC article)

As UK snow levels rise and desire to venture out falls faster than a thawed snowman’s scarf, we ask ourselves ‘can working in an office ever be a skive?’.

The received wisdom appears to be that remote workers cannot be trusted to do anything other than watch Jeremy Kyle (UK daytime TV; US readers simply breathe a sigh of relief. You simply do not want to know -ed). As a result, many are forced to difficult, depressing and often dangerous travels to an office somewhere.

So, conclusive proof. Home work equals skiving. The solution is simply to stick said skiver in an office, where skiving – so it is believed – is impossible.

But must we home skivers really accept this? Is there really no way we can practice our beloved skiving away from home comforts?

We sent our roving investigators out to an office somewhere in the frozen wastelands of the UK to find out if anything could be done.

We found that all was not lost.

Such were the findings that our reporters hid their notes, fearing reprisals. But we found them on wikileaks.ch anyway. Here is what they discovered:

The Watercooler Technique

Rather satisfyingly, a basic technique that is rather easy to pull off, requiring only equipment readily found to hand. The plastic cup is held firmly in the right hand and filled with water. A quick glance around the office should be enough to attract an accomplice. A cursory ‘Did you get that project plan?’ should be all that is needed to attract the accomplice over, and proceed to discuss just how poor last night’s match was, and how rubbish iPhone battery life actually is. All essential business stuff.

The Reverse Telecommute

Modern technology leaves no stone unturned, and the most popular technique we investigated was the Reverse Telecommute. Requires web browser access. From the sumptuous comfort – and free coffee, lighting, heating and internet – of your office chair, simply log in to your personal finances! Buy christmas presents online! Even arrange redeliveries of your friend’s sofa! All without even making a sound.

For extra effect, a few looks of concentration every now and then, as if on some difficult problem, should be enough to secure not only success but probably an Oscar.

The Stores Run

Modern business cannot survive on words alone. There are staplers, pens, stamps, envelopes, tea, milk, sandwiches, the office group lottery ticket. These items don’t appear magically you know! Someone has to get them. Our investigators were told the word ‘shop’, but in fact heard ‘opportunity’. They found that, on average, a shop run to buy a pint of milk lasts 1:42min 13 seconds, and involves several essential visits to the gadget shop, Oddbins, Tesco and that place that sells cheap SD cards for digital cameras.

The Clipboard

Our researchers found ‘The Clipboard’ was by far the most efficacious technique, but can only be pulled off with a certain amount of skill. Advanced skivers only. The props are simple. One needs a clipboard, pen, and a sheet of A4 paper on the clipboard with some arcane notes.

The technique involves bustling around the office at various locations, scrawling notes as you go. If various objects can be ‘examined’ along the run, this adds to the effect. The illusion – in the hands of experts – is complete: Important work! Deadline NOW!!

The additional master-level tactic is to wear a furrowed scowl throughout, to indicate that you are simply too busy to be interrupted with any other requests. For the professional skiver, this technique can actually go undetected for several weeks, especially if the luxury of ‘multiple departments’ is available.

It appears we skivers can all relax. The rumours of the death of skiving in the office have been greatly exaggerated.

I’d finish this piece with a witty sign out, but frankly – today, I’m working from hom….

Winners and Turkeys

Friday, November 26th, 2010

Two things of note this week:

Winners!

PowWowNow team receiving B2B Award for Best Limited Budget Campaign

Congratulations are due to our friends at PowWowNow who scooped up the award for ‘Best limited budget campagn’ at last night’s B2B awards. Great win for two reasons: Who doesn’t have a limited budget? And have you seen who the competiton was? Well done!

Turkeys!

A big Hi to our many Stateside customers!


Back here in chilly old Blighty, the 25th of November is pretty much a resting day between Fireworks Night (Nov 1) and mad pre-Christmas panic, which runs pretty much Dec 01 – Dec 24! Not so in the US of A, so I understand: Thanksgiving Day has been and gone.

We hope you had a great time, and managed to get to wish all of your family a very happy day. But in case you couldn’t quite travel round to see everyone, why not fire up Yuuguu and give them a conference call.

That’s right – the whole lot! Everyone! Mom, Pa, Aunts, Uncles, Grandparents – the works. It’s by far the cheapest and easiest way of getting all those people talking together by phone, all at the same time!



Removing the last barrier to working from home

Friday, November 19th, 2010

You know the scene …

Yuuguu cut out and keep working from home desk sign

You: Boss – I could really use a work-from-home day next friday, we’ve got some builders coming round. I don’t want them knocking the wrong wall down, so I want to meet them.


Boss: (looks furtively at a spreadsheet that has lines and numbers but no information of any use). Huh?


You: Work from home – next Friday – me!


Boss: Oh that. It’s too difficult. IT have said no.


You: They did say no, that’s true, but then I showed them this Yuuguu thing, remember? Last team meeting? Just works across our firewall out of the box?


Boss: Hmmm, Oh. Yeah. It did, didn’t it. But … errr … it’s too expensive.


You: Unlike your two iPads I see you’ve got there. Anyway … the free trial I talked about?… and did you actually check that pricing page I sent you?


Boss: Oh .. that … ah. Yes. Well. I … well it’s just not that simple, you wouldn’t understand.


You: ( ! )


Boss: I .. errr … The Company … errr …. ‘we’ need to make sure that we could contact you, you know, if anything errr, anything err comes up, unexpectedly.


You: Tada!




And you pull out this handy Cut out and Keep Desk Sign we are giving you AT NO COST!


Simply:



And leave on your desk, where everyone can see it. The perfect marriage of low tech and high. The perfect compromise between remote work and availability.

At last – the final barrier to remote work at your office removed.

Until next week, At your service pulling down tiresome arguments against remote work -

Al

Top 5 Lunches remote working finally allows you to enjoy!

Friday, November 12th, 2010

Remote work let's you eat these - onions!

It has come to the attention of Yuuguu Central that the Future of Work is even brighter than we first thought.

Yes, it’s greener. Yes, it’s cheaper. Yes it’s more flexible. This much we know. But the real scoop?

Lunch.

We identified lunch as a ‘High Level Hazard’ for the office bound employee. It’s a jungle out there. There are the social norms – who sits with who? Who dares break rank from the pecking order of the canteen queue? The IT security issues: Did you really remember to lock your PC? Or will you spend this afternoon apologising for all the fake emails sent from ‘you’ by the IT interns? And there are even moral dilemmas thrown into the mix. Do you endure the hard road of sticking to your diet and exercise regime? Or succumb to the comforting easy pleasure of the pub lunch (again)?

Our Risk Analysis Spreadsheet never looked so grim.

Or so we thought. Until we looked at the upside. And like most upsides, we found it by simply looking at the greatest hazard through creative eyes.

The most difficult water that the hungry office worker has to navigate is choosing what to eat. A simple thing? By no means. Dare you eat what you like – but risk breaking the binding social contract of Maximum Permitted Office Stench? Or do you simply follow the herd – play safe, and become consigned to a life of sweetcorn and mayo salad (no onions)?

We realised immediately that we had a Future of Work winner on our hands. There is pure joy in being freed from office politics to be able to eat whatever you want, whenever you want it. So for your delight and delectation:

Team Yuuguu’s Top Five Remote Worker Lunches

  • 1. Curry

    Oh yes. A long time favourite of Team Yuuguu, something like a Chicken Pathia is sure to fire up the imagination in the afternoon. And possibly other areas. As a remote worker, the office-clearing properties of the garlic and chilli laden curry need only concern yourself. Result!
  • 2. Beetroot

    Our very own CTO Chris suggested Beetroot; that innocuous looking vegetable, with juice capable of rendering any office white shirt into something resembling the latest Saw movie. And yet all is well in the land of the remote worker. Your own, personal washroom facility and change of clothes is but a moment away.
  • And yes, we did ask: Beetroot? What – raw? The man must be an animal! Chris declined to expound further …

  • 3. Raw Onions

    Ah yes. Perhaps mild onions may be the edgiest thing you may dare to ask for on your salad whilst office-bound. Experience true freedom all the way up the onion scale! From freshly chopped strong onions all the way up to that slightly nauseous feeling found only on coaches on hot days where everyone took beef paste and onion sandwiches for lunch.

  • 4. Garlic German Sausage

    ‘Ist keine problem’ for the teleworker.

  • 5. Yesterday’s Blue Cheese and Tuna salad

    Blue cheese and tuna can leave an aroma that can test even the brave. Yet, prepared in the right hands, it can be a delight to eat (you probably want @phillColeman, and not @almellor on that job). We’re not quite sure if Mike’s suggestion of “yesterday’s” salad was borne from personal experience or not. But just when we thought we had covered all the benefits of remote work, in crashes another winner: You don’t even need to clean the kitchen if you don’t want to!


And as a bonus, perhaps the most intriguing suggestion:

6. Naked Lunch Friday

One of our staff, who shall remain nameless (@phillcoleman, whoops, slipped out, my backspace key seems to be broken…) suggested this gem. We’re not sure what’s more worrying, really. The sight of Phill eating his curry in one of his normal football shirts … or this. But either way, as a remote worker, even this ultimate option is available to you.

Do switch your video conferencing off, first, though.

Til next time –
Happy Unregulated Eating!

Al

Business advice: Trust that foot!

Friday, October 29th, 2010

Have you ever felt that work was driving you up the wall? Well, it did for us the other day. Literally!

Together with the team from PowWowNow we ventured to a bouldering place at London Bridge. Luckily (or unluckily, depending on how you see it) yours truly had a compact camera about his person that could take the odd video clip. So, for your delight and delectation:


Video will appear here.


Free business advice: Trust that foot!

And here’s some great and free life/work advice I picked up that day from our trainer: ‘trust that foot’.

There was a very specific moment when I needed to put all my weight on my right foot without having quite enough handgrips to keep me on the wall. It felt simply like I would fall off. I made a few half-hearted attempts to keep hold of the grips I had, and was never really able to move. But there was a small handhold a bit higher. The trick was to simply go for it. Put all your weight on that foot, push yourself up with it, and simply balance during the movement. The next handhold would become in reach before you fell off: ‘Trust that foot’.

It felt great to achieve that little thing. It struck me at the time though just how powerful both fear and encouragement actually are. Just those few words helped me override what my sensible – fearful – mind was saying, and do something that seemed impossible.

It never was. It just needed me to trust that foot.

Amazing what you can do when you will take a risk.

Have fun til next week -
Al ‘Man of Adventure’ Mellor ;)

Apparently we’re hot stuff – or is that you?

Friday, October 22nd, 2010

According to Britain’s Hot Talent 2010 (check page 84. That will be us)Britain's Hot Talent Report - front cover graphic

As the tears artificially well up in my eyes, and I finish thanking my producer, writer, director and mom, it’s nice to note that whilst awards and nominations are feelgood-fun, our business is about you; our dear user.

Like all tools, Yuuguu doesn’t actually do anything in and of itself. It’s some computers on the internet, some clever software for Mac, PC and Linux, and a whole bunch of ones and zeros flying across airwaves and copper.



Except that it isn’t. That picture changes completely when we add you.


Yuuguu helps you book your dream holiday – with confidence.

Yuuguu gets your architect talking to the site foreman, improving your new-build dream home.

Yuuguu gets you help from experts in your field around the globe when you are stuck.

Yuuguu helps you get your new business idea off the ground with low cost, personal sales.

Yuuguu lets your training expertise be heard worldwide. As it should be.

Yuuguu involves your clients in your design, so that they love what you deliver.


So while it’s nice Friday news to be recognised as a company of ‘Hot Talent’, I think the award belongs to you.

Take a bow.



Till next week – have a good one
Al



Yuuguu’s new look and feel

Friday, October 15th, 2010

New look website

Our new blue themed website, with its focus on web conferencing and collaboration

We have a lot of sympathy for the Chilean miners, who were so wonderfully rescued unharmed this week. It must feel utterly amazing to see light again, walk free again, smell fresh air again. One of those things that, plainly, if you weren’t there, you don’t know.

Our far lesser experience here at Yuuguu in the comparatively sunny suburbs of Manchester, UK has also resulted in something emerging: a brand new look and feel for both the Yuuguu website and the Yuuguu Desktop Client. We’re pretty pleased with it. And it does feel like being released from being trapped in a coding-monkey-mineshaft for a good long while.

It’s not all just pretty new graphics, though. We’ve simplified the way you get started using Yuuguu. You now create your account from the Yuuguu website, rather than the desktop client. It’s a subtle change, but it feels better. More people expect to sign up on websites these days, a tribute to how interactive the web has become. Once you download the desktop client, you can now get started straight away with it, as you already have your account.

We’ve also taken the opportunity to explain what it’s all about a bit more clearly. Yuuguu is about web conferencing and collaboration. And we’ve created a snappy little video to show what you see when you use it.

New look Desktop App

Well, be rude not to, wouldn’t it?

We’ve got a whole series of improvements to the desktop app planned, of which this is the first. After listening ( on twitter, and getsatisfaction ) to customers wanting a ‘less clunky’ and more appealing looking interface, we set to work.

Again, the change is a little bit more than just nicer graphics and new colours. Whilst at this point we have only made some minor tweaks to the workflow, we think you’ll like them. One change we have made is to drop the ‘Web Share’ wording completely. Nobody understood it – whereas everyone seems to get ‘web conferencing’. We’ve made that function easier by simply calling the button ‘Start’.

A nice workflow change I think is the tabs for Recent Chats rather than the old style ‘push-down panel’. The tab is at the bottom of the view. This just seems more obvious, and a bit cleaner visually in how it works. It also frees up vertical space.

Currently, the new client is only available to those creating new accounts (from today).

Hope you like it!  Whatever your thoughts – good, bad, indifferent – you know where to find us. And if you don’t, the information is now clearly on our new home page!

Till next time -

Take care from Al


Yuuguu: Officially more popular than Lichtenstein

Monday, October 11th, 2010

According to site Sharenator, Yuuguu is more popular than Lichtenstein.

Well, okay. I’ve taken a bit of artistic license there. Well, a lot, actually.

The site says that according to Alexa traffic stats – estimates – then the Yuuguu web site has more visitors per day than Lichtenstein has people living in it.

This is not exactly the same thing as saying ‘more people come to Yuuguu-land for their holidays as it is such a nice place’. And it turns out Lichtenstein is a nice place. It would appear to contain a picture-perfect Disneyesque castle:

Lichtenstein Castle courtesy of Andreas Tille / Wikimedia Commons



So it’s neither particularly accurate, nor particularly official. And it’s comparing apples with oranges, so to speak. But it did catch my eye as being quite interesting!


The rather splendid photo is courtesy of WikiMedia commons user Andreas Tille. More thanks to Yuuguu’s very own @phillColeman for finding the article.


The high flying world of Private Fly

Friday, September 24th, 2010

It’s always great to meet up with people who are using Yuuguu as a key part of their business. Better still if it is quite an interesting, high-profile business. And if you get to spend a day at an exciting place, with great people, in front of a camera – fantastic!

This is yours truly spending a day with PrivateFly.

Based in St. Albans, PrivateFly link up people who need to fly on private jets with private jets who need to fly people on them. Result. Owners Adam Twidell and Carol Cork explain what they do, and the part Yuuguu plays in their high flying world (sorry – didn’t spot the dreadful pun until I’d typed it. But left it in. Double sorry).


Yuuguu meets Private Fly produced by Greek Bloke Productions.