Every little helps – but a lot helps more!
1/ Pomodoro apps – have you heard of the Pomodoro technique?
It all began in the late 1980’s, when Francesco Cirillo was cramming for his first-year finals at university.
Instead of drinking copious amounts of coffee and working himself into a state of hyperactive stress, Cirillo grabbed his kitchen timer, which just happened to be in the shape of a tomato, set it to time for 10 minutes, and worked, without distractions, until the timer rang.
This was the genesis of the “Pomodoro technique.
After extensive testing, Cirillo refined the technique into the system we recognise today. 4 25 minute blocks of intense, distraction free work, followed by a 5-10 minute break, with a longer break of, say, 25 minutes between each block of 4.
It’s not rocket science, but it does work, and the technique has spawned a thousand copycat apps.
Some are free, others paid – since the principle behind Pomodoro is a basic one, we recommend starting with a freemium app, which gives you the option to use the skeleton service, or upgrade to Pro.
Try Pomodoro Keeper, a mobile app for iOS with a bold and simple interface, that helps you to “work with time, not against it”.
Most startups will be aware of Slack, but how many teams are using it effectively?
In essence, Slack allows enterprises to set up different “channels”; for projects, for different teams, or company wide. Everyone in the team can participate, or private channels can be created for more specific tasks.
Direct messaging and calling are also available, files and links can be added and shared with anyone; archived chats are fully searchable, and notifications can be set up to suit requirements.
In short, it beats sifting through your clogged-up email inbox to find that nugget of info you half remember a team member on the other side of the world sent you a few months back. Slack say that, on average, customers see a 48.6% reduction in internal email when using its service.
Save your email for the important stuff, like SEO spam and messages from the US government about that $4.5 million in back taxes you are owed!
3/ Microsoft Office Teams
We’ve said it before – let’s say it again, Sam!
Your Microsoft Office subscription gives you all kinds of tools you may be tempted to download elsewhere, and pay for – don’t do it!
Microsoft Teams is a great example; as you might imagine, Microsoft has effectively created a Slack style interface for a captive audience, with channels, topics, departments and projects – or even, MS say, “just for fun!”. Because Bill Gates has a lighter side?
File sharing, notes, apps and sites can be safely stored within channels, and video calling is also available – from within a chat. There’s even a scheduler, too, as well as access to SharePoint and One Drive.
When you leave work and the PC behind, it’s easy to switch to mobile.
To repeat, Microsoft may have simply watched, waited, and then delivered all the functionality developed by rival “disruptive” service providers. But, you know what – it works!
You can do that when you have the dominant OS across almost every PC on the planet, but kudos to Microsoft for staying relevant, and understanding what works. Now they have LinkedIn, MS are right back in the modern startup mixer!
Whatever they’ve been putting in Gates’ tea, its having the right effect.
4/ Motivii – Motivii is an “idea management” play developed by Londoner and serial entrepreneur Eamon Tuhami. The app “makes work better” and is aimed at managers who want to gauge how motivated their teams feel, and get feedback about what they are working on and how they feel about those projects.
Motivii have created a suite of mobile and web based applications to “help every manager save time, improve team feedback and boost performance.”
Motivii keeps things simple – staff are asked to submit a weekly list of 3 things they have achieved by the end of the week, and three things they hope to achieve the following week, as well as submitting a weekly “motivation score”, of between 1 and 100.
It may not sound like much, but over time the scores and lists create a powerful data store which can be sliced and diced via bespoke management dashboards, and used to inform company direction going forward.
Using an app like Motivii can save managers, team leaders and founders, as well as their staff, serious amounts of time, whilst avoiding the flim-flam of the quarterly staff review, which let’s be honest, in today’s working environment, is well and truly over.
5/ Sideways 6
Announcing a £0.5 million round of funding this week, backed by Brent Hoberman amongst others, Sideways 6 is another idea, or innovation management tool.
In this case, you won’t need to ask your team to download an app – Sideways 6 goes straight to the source – using Yammer, or a staff email address, to go straight to the source and gauge employee sentiment.
Sideways 6 say that using this approach can result in up to ten times the engagement, and ten times the results, of their competitors.
Founder Will Read says: “We’ve already seen a lot of interest from large companies who are committed to listening to their employees, and employees that are really enthusiastic about having their voice heard, too.”
Sideways 6 are working with the likes of Virgin Trains, British Airways, BP and British Gas.
The company are looking to hire engineers, marketing, and biz dev types too, HHH’ers ; )