The Industry Snapshot: The Office of the Future

Thanks again to everyone who completed the Practically Perfect PA Industry Snapshot survey. We had some really interesting feedback and I want to share some of that with you today. We asked you a few questions regarding the environment you currently find yourself working in and what your offices might look like in the future. Here are some of your thoughts…

Has the design of your office changed in the last five years?

  • We are working towards a paperless office within the next two years
  • Yes, we now have an open plan office with hot desks and more people working from home
  • We have had a total office renovation with modern furniture – office desks for standing or sitting. Updates on all of our hardware & software, including touch screen telephones with face-view and better communication system. We also have live chat with our IT support desk
  • Yes with health being a focus so think office gym equipment, stand up desks etc.
  • Our office is much more eco-friendly
  • Agile working is the way forward for our office
  • The meeting rooms in our offices are much more flexible with movable walls, digital whiteboards etc.
  • We’ve reduced the amount of storage space to encourage staff to go digital
  • We have more informal meeting spaces
  • I now work from home
  • We have consolidated people into less space to save money on office rent
  • We now have a zero tolerance policy for paper left on desks over night
  • We moved buildings and all of the assistants were assigned desks next to each other

Do you work in the same location as your Executive?

I asked this question to see whether assistants were working more remotely from their Executives but the answer was a resounding no, with 87% of you still working in the same location. I would imagine that most assistants still sit outside their Executive’s office or pretty close by and I can’t imagine this changing any time soon!

Are you able to work remotely (from home or out of the office)?

64% of you answered yes to this question which is slightly higher than previous years. It looks like organisations finally understand that assistants can work very productively while out of the office!

On average, how often does your Executive travel for business?

I asked this as the number of people travelling on business continues to rise and many Executive’s now spend more time on the road than they do in the office. Your answers certainly seem to reflect this trend with 70% of you saying your Executive travels at least once per month. This will certainly change how assistants work with their Executive’s particularly around the use of technology.

Some of your favourite technology

Here is some of the technology you use on a regular basis…

  • Google docs
  • SharePoint
  • Scannable
  • Bloomberg & Reuters
  • Jabber
  • DocuSign
  • Huddle, Doodle, Prezi, Sway
  • Zoom
  • Telepresence rooms
  • WebEx
  • Evernote
  • Blackboard
  • Travo
  • Echo Smartpen
  • Slido
  • Google Hangout
  • Skype

In a typical month, which types of apps do you use on your smartphone for work?

I was surprised at the mixture of responses for this question with many of you happily listing your favourite apps while others said they did not or were not allowed to use their smartphones for work purposes. Many organisations, for security reasons, do not allow staff to use their own devices for work including access to emails etc. I wonder what effect this has on work life balance for assistants within these types of organisations? It would certainly stop you checking emails at ungodly hours, which can only be a good thing!

For those of you who do use your smartphones, here are some of your preferred apps:

  • Whatsapp
  • National Rail, TFL,
  • Banking apps, maps, stocks, Uber, restaurant apps
  • Travel Apps: Tripit / flight apps / Hotel apps / City guides etc.
  • Concur for expenses
  • Trello
  • The Calculator – all the time!
  • Skyscanner
  • Outlook mail & calendar, Yammer, OneNote, OneDrive, Google, MSN Weather, Office Lens, Skype for Business
  • MobileDay, Waze, Amazon, Concur, Uber, WhatsApp, Skype and Amex
  • American Airlines, FlightStats, Open Table, Google Maps, Weather Channel, CNN, Apple Notes, FaceTime, InstaCart, Uber, Curb, Amazon, WhatsApp (International Texting when my Executive is travelling abroad), Facebook, Twitter, Marriott, Goodreads, Transit Tracker
  • Citymapper
  • The Trainline
  • XE

We have also put together a handy infographic with all of the information, please feel free to share this with your colleagues and network!

The Industry Snapshot: The Office of the Future

Top websites for free images

Today’s blog post is a down and dirty list of my favourite websites for free images. As you can imagine, I use loads of these websites for Practically Perfect PA and I wish I had known about them while I was an assistant. They are much easier to navigate than Google Images. In no particular order, here are my favs…

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Tech of the week: Seat Guru

What is Seat Guru

In October 2001, frequent flyer Matthew Daimler launched with a single colour-coded interactive airplane seating chart. Having experienced firsthand the vast differences between airline seats, he was determined to collect this useful information and share it with other travellers.  In 2007, SeatGuru was purchased by TripAdvisor, and they now have seating charts for practically every airline. Seat Guru is a website and you can also download their app.

Tech of the week: Seat Guru

What does it do?

Basically, Seat Guru is a database which allows travellers to check which is the best seat on the plane. The database is made up of recommendations from frequent flyers.

Why does it benefit assistants?

This is great if your manager is fussy with their airline seat! You can type the airline, the flight number and the date and the app will tell you which is the best seat on the plane.

Why is it Practically Perfect PA’s tech of the week?

I’ve been using this app for a few years now. I had a particularly fussy Executive who liked to have a specific seat. If he travelled anything other than British Airways he would get a bit panicky. Seat Guru helped me reassure him that he still had a good seat!

Assist Travel

For more tips on business travel please do take a look at our Assist Travel Conference. Taking place on Friday 9th September in London. This is the only business travel event exclusively for assistants. If you book complex trips this is a must attend!

Tech of the week: Seat Guru

Using Instagram for business

I’ve been using Instagram for a few years now and I love it! Although since I’ve had kids, I don’t feel the urge to Instagram my life as much as I used to (who needs to see me covered in milk, pureed vegetables and goodness knows what else!) Anyhoo… I’ve been looking into how I can use Instagram for the blog and have found a few really good tips that I thought I would share with you today. Firstly, you may need to explain to your Executive why Instagram is a good social media platform to use for business but once you get over that hurdle there are a lot of benefits. Let me give you a few reasons you can fire at them…

  • There are over 500 million users on Instagram (more than Twitter) and the majority are active on the platform
  • 70% of users have at some point looked up a brand on Instagram and 62% follow a brand because they like the content being posted
  • There is no hard sell required on Instagram. If users like the images being posted they will soak up the sales messages.
  • Here is a quote from Mike Hayes, Digital Marketing Manager of Ben & Jerry’s: “Since its launch, Instagram has provided us with an amazing platform to connect with our fans and tell our story visually.” 

So where do we start with Instagram..?

Here is a great overview of how to set up your Instagram account for business. There are the obvious tips like – set up a separate business account rather than a personal account, connect all of your social media channels so that your followers can see all of your content and ensure you have the Instagram Analytics available to track your progress.

Once you have your business account set up the next step is to create a clear strategy. These are my Instagram goals for Practically Perfect PA:

  • To showcase our events
  • To raise awareness of the blog
  • To build the Practically Perfect PA community
  • Share news and updates

I would image your business would have similar goals for their marketing activities. If you are looking after your business social media or your Executive’s it is important that you come up with objectives for using the platform, what you want your Instagram account to look like and the content you will publish. It is also really important that you understand the type of audience you will attract on Instagram. For example, roughly half of internet-using young adults ages 18-29 (53%) use Instagram and 25% of 30-49 year olds use it. That is a young audience – but one that might stick with your brand for years to come if they like what they see.

Instagram tips

After lots of reading, this is what I have learnt about Instagram for business and how to make the most of the platform:

  • Like any social media platform your biography / description is the first introduction to the brand so make the most of this space. Most business’s include their slogan and a brief description.
  • Your profile picture should make it very obvious who you are. Most business’s use their logo. I would suggest you do the same.
  • You are only allowed to use one link on Instagram so that tends to be the business homepage. You can change this if you have a big campaign or product you are promoting.
  • What should you post about? This is the tricky part of Instagram and it really depends on your Organisation and its culture. Some brands focus solely on their products, others like to include pictures of their staff and activities within the business. This will have to be decided by you and your Executive. I’ve noticed the brands that use Instagram really well post a mixture of content including: behind the scenes images, product demos, fun images and inspirational quotes, visuals showing the human side of the business, customer stories and testimonials.
  • What should your pictures look like? The best thing about Instagram is that you can add filters, play around with the composition and generally make a picture look much better than the original. In everything I’ve read the general advice is – don’t post rubbish pictures. Try to make them look as good as possible and ensure your audience can see what you have actually taken a picture of!
  • You can add a caption with every image that you post on Instagram so again this is a space that can connect you with your audience. You can use 2,200 characters. But, most marketing experts suggest no more than three lines.
  • Instagram use hashtags in the same way that Twitter does. You can search for any subject via a hashtag and you will see all of the content related to that subject. Do your research on this one. What hashtags are your competitors using?
  • With everything social media related, consistency is key. Include information on how many times you are going to post into Instagram in your content plan. You can now use Hootsuite to schedule your posts in advance.
  • Remember to follow others, your clients, customers and colleagues. Following other people and liking their content is the key to increasing your followers.
  • You can also post short videos on Instagram. Having a mixture of visuals will help keep your audience engaged.

So these are the tips that I have picked up while sorting out my Instagram platform. I will let everyone know once I go live with it! In the meantime if you would like to know about Instagram for business, check out this great article from Social Media Examiner.

Tech of the week: Administrate

What is Administrate?

Administrate is a training management solution built for training companies and internal training departments that helps them run their entire operation. Where traditional solutions are focused primarily on the student experience, they are focused on making the administration of training easier, more efficient, and more visible through their CRM, reporting engine, automated communications, and workflow support.

Tech of the week: Administrate

What does it do?

No matter what you are learning or training to do, the fundamentals are the same. You’re going to need to pay for the course, get registered, take your test and get your certificate. Typically the training provider needs to manage all their students, their instructors and do their own marketing. They also need to manage their website, events and courses, financials, reporting and a host of other details that need to be kept track of. The Administrate software allows you to manage all of that online in a web-based tool that was built just for training providers to really automate that administrative burden.

How does it benefit Assistants?

This is a great product to suggest to your Executive if you work for a training provider or if you have an internal training company. If you do work for a training provider the chances are that you are carrying out a lot of the tasks that Administrate can automate, which means you can spend time on other more interesting projects (or go on the odd training course yourself)!

Why is it Practically Perfect PA tech of the week?

Mike McGrail the Director of Marketing at Administrate recently spoke at our Regional Events about technology that increases his productivity. I had a look at Administrate and realised that this technology could really help Assistants working in or for organisations that offer training to their clients and staff. As someone who also organises training events, anything that helps automate heavy duty administrative tasks an only be a good thing!

Tech of the week:

What is Doodle? is a website and an app that takes the pain out of finding the right date and time for a group of people to meet.

Tech of the week:

What does it do?

Doodle radically simplifies the process of scheduling events by using a voting process. Whether you want to arrange board or team meetings, dinners with friends, reunions, weekend trips or any other kind event, finding the perfect time is easy. All you have to do is send your colleagues a link to Doodle and ask them to select the dates and times they are available. You can then choose the date most popular with your attendees.

How does it benefit assistants?

PAs spend a huge amount of time scheduling and then rescheduling meetings for their organisations. This little website is a brilliant and easy way to make sure you get everyone together. I would suggest sending it to the other PAs in your organisation, so that you can use it between you rather than send it to the Executives. It is also great for parties, meeting up with busy friends and organising your personal life in general!

Tech of the week:

Why is it Practically Perfect PA tech of the week?

My super organised best friend, who is also an Assistant, just used Doodle for her Hen Do (bachelorette party) and it made the process so much easier to manage. I would recommend it for team away days and when organising meetings with other PAs outside of your organisation. It really does simplify the whole scheduling process.

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