3 Simple, but Powerful Ways to Boost Company Culture

Boost Company Culture

In September 2016, The Alternative Board interviewed hundreds of business owners to discover what helps boost company culture. Not only did the results reveal that company culture plays a huge role in driving productivity and profits, but the study also showed that company culture requires a lot more than team building exercises to be effective.

According to the results, 86% of entrepreneurs agree that company culture is a major contributor to their success. What was less unanimous is how that company culture is established.

More business owners who identified their company as having a “strong company culture” believe that flexible schedules (78%), telecommuting (36%) and continuing education (82%) boost productivity than business owners who identify their company as having  “average or weak” culture (58%, 23%, and 77%, respectively).

In this blog post, we’ll take a look at how these 3 factors help boost company culture.

1. How & Why Flexible Schedules Boost Company Culture

A study led by Clare Bambra at Durham University measured employees with flexible working arrangements (self-scheduling, non-traditional office hours, flextime, etc.) vs. employees whose schedules were strictly dictated by their employers. The results showed positive impacts on the health and well being of employees who were given more flexibility, including improvements in sleep, mental health and even blood pressure. In fact, one study found a decrease in systolic blood pressure and heart rate as a response to flexible scheduling.

It’s not surprising that the traditional work schedule causes stress on the mind and body. Having little-to-no time to get personal tasks done during the workweek turns weekends into to-do lists rather than much needed recharge breaks. Not being able to pick up the kids from school or the dry cleaning before the shop closes are unnecessary stressors that distract employees from peak productivity.

Matt Fiedler, TAB Member and CEO of Vinyl Me, has found that flexible work schedules are incredibly important (and valuable) to his employees, allowing them to “catch up on whatever they need to do, while allowing them freedom to do laundry, run errands, take a long weekend, etc.”

Many companies that emphasize flexible schedules also encourage employees to use the time to hit the gym midday. Not only does this boost afternoon energy, but it ensures employees are healthier inside and out.

After experimenting with taking an exercise break midday for a week, Twitter cofounder Evan Williams found that he needed fewer breaks and less coffee throughout the day. “It feels weird (at first) to leave the office in the middle of the day,” said Williams, “but total time spent is nearly the same with higher energy and focus across the board.”

remote work

2. How and Why Remote Work Boosts Your Company Culture

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the average travel time to work in the United States is 25.4 minutes. That’s 4.23 lost hours a week and 220.13 hours a year. Long traffic-filled commutes often get in the way of getting a good night’s sleep, starting your day off right, among other surefire productivity killers.

A survey from TINYpulse, an employee engagement firm, titled “What Leaders Need To Know About Remote Workers” compared responses from full-time remote employees to employees with more traditional working arrangements. According to the results, the average remote worker rates their happiness at work as 8.10, compared to other workers, whose average score was 7.42.

While more traditional employers worry that remote work will compromise communication and culture, employers who have tried remote work in their office disagree. “Working remotely means not having to deal with culture sucks [commute, hours, etc.], and we can still create a fun, positive environment to work in,” says Dave Nevogt, Co-Founder of the fully remote Hubstaff.com. “In fact, we can take time saved from meetings and commuting and use it to get to know our employees better.” So it’s no wonder remote work can boost company culture.

Continuing Education

3. How and Why Continuing Education Boosts Your Company Culture

A study from Louis Harris and Associates revealed that 41% of employees with little-to-no training opportunities were committed to leaving their company’s within a year. Meanwhile, of those who rated their company’s educational opportunities as “excellent,” only 12% had any intentions of leaving.

According to Inc. Contributor Lou Dubois, “Investing in your employees through a continuing education program shows that you value their contributions and want to see them succeed.” Dubois recommends implementing a continuing education program for employees through local university departments, certification instructors and/or tuition reimbursement.

“Investing in employees’ future is more important than immediate compensation,” says Eric Rolfe Greenberg, AMA’s director of management studies.” Programs that improve work skills and future career development are seen as particularly effective.”

According to the majority of business owners who completed TAB’s Company Culture survey, the #1 function of company culture is to “empower people.” Flexible schedules, working at home, remote work and continuing education all help to empower employees by allowing them the freedom and resources to thrive.

Of course, you don’t have to jump in the deep end with any of these strategies. Get started by offering flex time on a probationary basis, or offer one work-from-home day a week – and do look into some tips on how to work in a remote team. Or perhaps offer each employee $500 per quarter for the continuing education of their choosing. Start small and measure the effects. If it could boost your bottom line, it’s certainly worth a try!

Jodie ShawJodie Shaw is the Chief Marketing Officer for The Alternative Board (TAB). Prior to joining TAB, Jodie was the Global Chief Marketing Officer and CEO of a global business coaching franchise, which operated in 50+ countries. Results orientated, Jodie is focused on growing TAB’s presence on a local, national and global level.

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Introducing Fleep for Business

Fleep for Business

Today we are thrilled to announce Fleep for Business for organizations who want administrative control over accounts, conversations and teams in Fleep.

Why Fleep for Business?

We have built Fleep for everybody and we want everybody to use it. That means you get unlimited message history, teams, integrations and everything you’ll ever need for free. We don’t want to put essential things behind a paywall.

We have also built Fleep in a way that would minimize administrative overhead. So for example, everyone can add and remove members from conversations and teams, or change the settings for them. As there’s always visibility into who has changed something through the system messages, this works fine for many of our users.

However, what we’ve also been hearing year after year is that many businesses need administrative control over their employees’ Fleep accounts, conversations and teams.

It’s not so much that businesses don’t trust their employees. In the end, you just want to prevent accidents, have a smooth way to bring people on board and inevitably some day, remove people from your company’s Fleep conversations.

So, we developed Fleep for Business to offer a powerful set of admin features designed specifically to address the needs of businesses using Fleep, and help the managers sleep peacefully at night, knowing they have full control over their company’s Fleep content through the Admin panel.

Fleep for Business

More control, fewer worries

You don’t have to just take our word for it. This is what pilot users of Fleep for Business have said:

“With 100+ employees all around the world, automation is key for us. The benefits of an admin control panel allows us to create predefined teams and conversations, so when on-boarding a new member of staff its a simple as adding in an email address and selecting the correct team, they are operational in minutes.” – Jo from WUN

“While our team has been very dependable and trustworthy regarding staying organized in Fleep, centralized administrative control is a feature we have wanted for quite some time now. The feature gives us peace of mind that accidental history disclosures and unauthorized configuration changes are a thing of the past. Also, seeing our own logo in the Fleep client is awesome!” – Devin from Oxide Network

In addition to all of our functionality that will remain available for all free users, here are the additional, new features available now with Fleep for Business.

  • Admin controlled accounts

In the free version of Fleep all users own their accounts. Admin controlled Fleep accounts belong to the organization paying for Fleep for Business. This means the organization admins can deactivate and delete the admin controlled accounts, for example.

Do note that any free user can be invited to Fleep for Business. Then, they need to accept the invite to hand over the account to the organization. Also, all admin controlled accounts can be removed from the organization, and thus converted into free accounts.

  • Admin controlled conversations and teams

In the free version of Fleep, everyone can add and remove members to conversations and change the settings. With Fleep for Business, you have admin control over conversations. This means the admins have full control over the membership and settings of these conversations. Same applies to admin controlled teams.

In addition to that, admin control means that when someone is removed from a conversation, it is now possible to remove their access to the message history. This is not possible with the free version of Fleep.

  • Use your own logo in Fleep

Fleep for Business organizations can use their own shiny logo in Fleep. This means the logo you upload will be shown to all of the admin controlled accounts in their desktop version, instead of the Fleep logo. For example, if Google started using Fleep for Business, this is how Fleep would look like to them:

Fleep for Business

Additionally, all admin controlled accounts will have the organization’s name shown in their Profile. So, in any communication across organizational borders, you’ll be identified with your organization.

  • Priority support

We value your time as much as you do – we understand that in a high-performing business, any questions and problems must be addressed quickly. This is why support requests coming from any Fleep for Business user (admins as well as regular admin controlled accounts) will be highest priority for our support team.

How to get started

All you need to do is start the free 30-day trial on our Pricing page or just head directly to fleep.io/admin.

If you’re a Fleep user already, it couldn’t be easier to convert your existing team – it will be offered to you after you start your trial. All the team members will be invited to join your Fleep for Business organization, and the team and its conversations will be converted into admin controlled ones. All of this is reversible, if you decide to go back to free use of Fleep.

Fleep for Business is €5 per account per month (when paid annually). Learn more at fleep.io/pricing or in this Help Center article: What is Fleep for Business?

Launching a paid subscription allows us to build a sustainable business model. This in turn allows us to deliver the best messaging solution to all of our users. It’s a win-win!

This is the beginning of Fleep for Business. Your feedback and requests will play a crucial role in what will become of it. So do let us know what you think via support@fleep.io . Let’s also stay in touch through our social media channels. We’re on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram.

15 Myths about Productivity

15 myths about productivity

It seems like the topic of productivity has been completely covered. Oh, it’s so covered… we can’t even recognize its essence under the pile of tips. Have you ever noticed how the most common productivity tips are making you less productive when you implement them?

That’s because they are myths. Today is the time to expose them in all their falseness and hollowness. We’ll list the top 15 myths about productivity.

1. The More You Work, The More You Accomplish

Oh no, no, no! All those articles keep telling you to wake up early and seize the day. Well, guess what: quantity does not always mean quality. One hour of work beyond your capacity will easily lead to a burnout.

Let me remind you again: what does productivity mean? Achieving more by doing less.

You should find a strategy that helps accomplish more not by working more, but by working more productively.

2. Focus on the Big Picture

Yes, the big goal matters, but so do the small steps you take towards it. When you’re too focused on the big picture, you tend to lose the details. Why don’t you focus on the entire picture instead?

3. Multitasking Equals Efficiency

The multitasking “productivity tip” actually hurts your efficiency. If you’re preparing a meal while working on that paper, you’re distracted again. Yes, the pasta may cook itself while you do your work. However, the thought of the meal being prepared will constantly be at the back of your mind. It won’t let you focus completely.

When you’re working on a specific task, devote all of your energy to it. That’s the only way to achieve full efficiency.

4. Create a Quiet Working Space

Yes, that might work for some – those who like working in quiet. But what about those who don’t?

If you feel like you’re working better at a coffee shop, library, or even a noisy office, use the work environment that suits you.

15 Myths about Productivity

5. Always Busy Means Always Productive

Saddle yourself with unnecessary tasks that take a lot of time is one of the most useless things one can do. You should avoid this behavior as much as you can. Instead of focusing on the things that have little results for your work, do something really important.

6. You Work Best Under Pressure

No, you don’t. This tip just justifies procrastination. Procrastination is never good. Start your work on time, without being pressured by the deadline.

7. Wage Inspires You to Be More Productive

A bonus or a raise may inspire you to work more effectively… for some time. But, keep in mind that your employer won’t be constantly raising your pay so that you could stay productive.

Why are you doing what you do? If it’s just for the money, you can’t achieve full productivity. You have to look for other motivation, such as personal and professional growth.

8. Breaks Are a Waste of Time

Did you know that American workers took less vacation when compared to the workers of any other high-income nation? Did you know that they were also more stressed? Make the connection. Breaks are necessary.

9. Remote Work Is Less Effective

If time organization is all on you, it’s most likely that you’ll slip. That’s a myth!

If you organize your schedule according to your productivity patterns, you can be much more productive than what the office environment can allow.

15 Myths about Productivity

10. Clear Your Desk, Clear Your Mind

Clear working environment works for some people. Others feel stressed when working in a space that’s too organized and sterile.

11. No One Can Do It Better than You

That’s another myth.

If you have the budget to delegate part of your work, do it! You’ll get more time for your other tasks. The entire work will be completed much faster, with even bigger effectiveness. Isn’t that what productivity is all about?

12. Eat the Frog First

In other words, tackle the biggest, most challenging task first thing in the morning. That may work for some people.

However, the strategy doesn’t work for everyone. Productivity has its ups and downs, which are different for each person, but repetitive throughout the days. You may feel more productive in the morning. Maybe it’s during the afternoon. Whenever it is, you can eat the frog then.

13. Learn!

“The more you know, the more productive you become. It’s important to keep learning.”

That’s just a myth. Knowledge without application is useless. Stay focused on developing skills and knowledge you could actually use. Learning for the sake of learning is overestimated.

14. A System Will Make You Inflexible

No, it won’t. A system can be flexible enough to allow you to respond to unforeseen events. Adopting a system means you know what your priorities are and you can arrange your time accordingly. You really need a system.

15. There Are Universal Productivity Hacks

No, there aren’t. I think we made that clear by now.

Some of the most popular productivity tips on the Internet are completely useless. Why do you need to know about them? So you’ll stop applying counterproductive strategies that actually kill your productivity. Now that you’re aware of them, you can finally tackle your own productivity from a fresh perspective.


Zoe Carter Zoe Carter
is a lifestyle blogger, ESL teacher and editor at BestDissertation.com. She is always in search for innovative ideas for learning languages and developing writing skills. You can find her on Facebook and Twitter.

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Fleep quarterly review and plans for Q4 of 2017

quarterly review

September is here! We’ve been busy working towards our mission of radically improving how people manage their work conversations, tasks and email.

Most recently, we sat down to plan our product developments for the next 3 months, and we’d love to share them with you. But first, a quarterly review of what we got done in the last couple months:

  • Android push notifications 2.0 – as Android recently made some changes to how push notifications work, we had to make some changes to make sure our push notifications work in a reliable way.
  • Storage limit – we have started calculating how much storage the files you’ve uploaded use up (but we do not enforce any limit just yet).

That’s it?! Well, yes. It was a short 2-month “quarter” (as we switched our quarterly plannings around a bit) and most of our engineering time actually went into making underlying architectural changes in preparation for Tasks feature improvements and My Tasks. Also, one of the 2 months included vacations for all of our team members.

But what do we have planned next? Here are our plans for the next 3 months (Sept, Oct, Nov), that is Q4 of 2017:

  • Tasks API 2.0 & Event Stream API – we’re almost done with the behind-the-scenes improvements to Fleep Tasks, along with some architectural updates to the message flow. We will start testing these in the coming weeks, but even when we release this to live – if all goes well, you will not notice any significant changes. As our CTO said, it’s never a good time to rewrite major parts of your architectural code… But it is necessary once in a while.
  • My Tasks – as soon as we’re done with the new Tasks API, we’ll start working on a view where you’ll be able to see all tasks assigned to you.
  • Other Tasks improvements – Private tasks, Column view, Tasks notifications… You have no idea how great our Tasks will be.
  • Reactions – YES! While reactions were neglected for a while, they’re back in the plans now.
  • Fleep for Business – while the public launch of Business is literally around the corner, we’re going to continue adding some functionality to the subscription. These improvements will make admin controlled conversations and teams even more powerful.
  • Storage limit 2.o – we are taking the next step in storage usage calculation, and now working to calculate used storage based on files accessible to the user.
  • Stats server setup – we’re building our own statistics system, to get better and more reliable insights into how our people use Fleep. This will make it even easier to make Fleep better for you!

We hope you like the direction we’re going in. If you have any questions or feedback, don’t hesitate to contact us at support@fleep.io. Let’s also stay in touch through our social media channels. We’re on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram.

5 Communication Tips for Successfully Managing Virtual Teams

managing virtual teams

Working remotely is an employment choice brimming with positives for both the employee and employer. It can noticeably cut down on business expenses by removing the need to pay for office space, it enables us to pool talent from all over the world and it gives us the opportunity to manage our working timetable, within reason, so that childcare, housework and other responsibilities no longer make our lives difficult.

Move towards remote employment

Statistics reflect a general global shift towards remote employment. According to West UC, 1.75 billion people over the world (that’s more than 40% of the globe’s employed workforce) will be working remotely by the end of this decade. One can only begin to imagine what the working world might look like by 2050. There is evidence that working at home boosts productivity. But even so, the virtual workspace is not all cupcakes and party streamers. Managing a team of remote workers can be a particularly challenging role and one that takes some getting used to.

Virtual managers may find the responsibilities of remote project management quite stressful if they’ve not been sufficiently trained to get the best out of their online team. Trying to pull all the people together virtually can be a challenge in itself. The good news is that there are a number of procedures and solutions that can help us become effective virtual managers, most of which are easy to implement and offer relatively speedy results.

1. Stay connected and offer real support

Staying connected and getting to know your team will also help you to gauge when certain members need more support. Not all employees speak up when they’re feeling unsure, unhappy, undervalued, or just plain overwhelmed. As managers, if we’re in constant contact with our members of staff, we’ll be able to pick up on any problem areas before they get out of hand and we end up losing a valuable member of the team to another company.

Also, as a manager, part of our job is to find solutions. There are tools that help manage distributed teams, but team culture is just as important. If our team knows how to contact us and receives relatively timely responses to all needs and concerns, we build a reputation as someone who can be relied on; a golden quality in a manager and one that most employees would be loathe to lose.

2. Choose your communication style wisely

Communication in a remote team is especially important. Conversations that relate to contractual changes, pay or promotions are best not handled via email, for example. As managers, it’s foolish to think that remote employees don’t deserve the opportunity to look us in the eye when discussing certain matters, particularly as there are so many ways in which we can choose to communicate.

There are team chat tools, video calls or even short recorded videos. When providing professional training or implementing a new process, for example, a video might actually be a much more effective way of engaging and communicating with our team, as opposed to a long, convoluted email.

3. Make an effort to understand cultural differences

One of the great advantages to managing remote teams is cultural diversity. If we’re managing a global startup and we want to reach a range of consumers worldwide, our global team can offer essential (and free) insight into the detailed intricacies of each market. At the same time, however, we are challenged as managers, because we must adapt to account for cultural differences within the workforce.

What might seem like acceptable manager behavior in one country, could actually be perceived as quite offensive in another. We need to research, ask questions and follow through with regular staff evaluations in the early stages to get a real grasp of what it means to work with each member of our team, whether they might be from Japan, India, Argentina, Italy or the U.S.

4. Choose your management tools and then actually use them

There’s nothing that can make the administrative side of our jobs easier than the correct selection of communication and management tools. Scheduling tools, audio and video calling, time tracking tools, chat for teams, screensharing, payroll systems and shared document folders and so much more.

We cannot manage the work of others remotely without having the right resources to hand. It’s also vital that, once we have these tools in place, we train our staff to make proper use of them. We must also remain a stickler for the rules by encouraging them to follow company protocol and communicate via the channels made available.

managing virtual team

5. Make time for professional reviews and rewards

A remote team still needs to be motivated and remember, not everyone is motivated by money. Indeed, when professionals choose to make the move to remote employment, many of them are happy to take a pay cut if it means they can have more control over their working day. There are so many ways in which you can reward your team, above and beyond a pay rise or monthly bonus.

Consider the idea of providing all your employees with the cash needed to invest in a decent laptop, offer to install programs for free on their computers, reward with more vacation time (either paid or unpaid) and give them a valuable contract with job security, decent healthcare and the chance to invest in a private pension. Whatever kind of reward you’re able to offer, the most important thing is to schedule regular (at least quarterly) professional reviews to give employees the chance to raise concerns and to give you the chance to tell them how fantastic they are. Everyone thrives on praise, so make time for it.


Contribution from freelance writer Jenny Holt. Jenny’s previous experience in business has allowed her to specialize in the sector, although she also enjoys writing about entrepreneurship, leadership and new technology.

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