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No Screens Attached: Balancing a Fast-Paced Development Career

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By: Ben Knier, developer / geek & creative @ wisnet

Life in the tech industry can be tempestuous.

Quality time away from work is just as, if not more important for career growth…

Whether you’ve been in the game for 30 years or are just starting out, staying on top of the latest trends, devices, programming languages, and everything else that goes into web development is part of being the best developer you can be. On top of that, you have to infuse those changes into your projects, lest you fall behind the times. With that in mind, you can’t just go to a conference for a day to get a break from the hubbub of the office: you have to engage with the speaker(s) and absorb the content. You have to follow blogs, read articles, watch tutorials, and take courses in order to bring the latest and greatest back to your customer (after all, that’s what they’re paying you for).

In a profession where processes and protocols change more frequently than my son’s diapers, it’s easy for any developer to become overwhelmed by it all (particularly one as green as myself). Some people simply can’t handle it: they bow out before their career takes off. Others will stick it out for a time, but will ultimately either drive themselves crazy trying to keep it together (think Bing Crosby when he first took on the farming life in “Holiday Inn”), or will stop growing as a developer and produce the same site over and over, with no regard to improvements and changes in the industry. The ones who will stick it out, however, are the ones who can use “the Force” to bring balance to their inner universe.

For me personally, I like to balance the speed of a web development career with what most people would call an uneventful, laid-back lifestyle. I’m a homebody: I prefer to spend my time away from wisnet at home with my family rather than going out. I have a couple acres of land that I enjoy mowing every five days in an unincorporated village where the average resident is in his/her 60s. My neighbors and I make a point of stopping to talk when we see each other outside or lend a hand when we see each other struggling with something. We even know each other by our first names (isn’t that a novelty nowadays).

My wife, son, and I spend most evenings outside away from all the screens (I spend the majority of the day in front of three after all). Whether we’re playing yard games, shooting basketballs, or sitting around a campfire looking out at the cornfield and listening to the crickets, we’re spending quality time together. More importantly, we are actively present while spending that time together. After all, family is even more important than work, so I strive to make sure that my family receives just as much attention as my career.

On top of quality family time, I enjoy reading and exercising. Science-fiction and fantasy novels, when joined with my over-active imagination, are an escape from both the rigors and doldrums of everyday life. My daily 5:00am weight-training session functions as my “me-time” and helps me shake loose from the shackles of frustration and stress.

In short, those are the activities and the lifestyle that balance out my fast-paced career. The peace and quiet of a relatively screen-free home-life gives me the ability to focus intently on my screen-laden work-life, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

If we plant it, will it grow?

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By: Tracy Freund, account manager / geek & creative @ wisnet

About this time last year, wisnet was lucky enough to become the owners of an LGarden.  It wasn’t until this year that we kicked ourselves in gear and purchased the soil, seeds, and plants and started planting. We were intrigued to see if our true “green thumbs” would yield an actual harvest.

For our first go-round (May 25, 2018), we planted Power Greens, carrots, celery, onions, cilantro, parsley, rosemary, radishes and salad onions.  In the hanging trays, we planted an array of flowers.

Now, a month later, we harvested our radishes and started on the Power greens.  Everything else we planted is flourishing. We are on a roll!

The greatest advantage besides the healthy treats for the office, is being able to garden standing up! No aching back or knees here! And, the little bit of upkeep/maintenance makes for a nice refreshing break away from our desks and computer screens.

Stay tuned for more about our LGarden as we continue our green-thumbery at the geeks & creatives office.

P.S. Check out this great LGarden website. I wonder who designed it… 😉

 

Freedom from email – during and AFTER vacation!

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By: Rick Kolstad, owner / geek & creative @ wisnet

Serious vacationing calls for serious email stress relief measures….

Deleting all your emails?
Seems a bit crazy.

But so is spending the next few days after vacation following up on emails that have already been addressed, social updates, links to cat videos, bike break updates, doughnuts and asparagus in the cafe (usually not at the same time), and messages that have passed their prime.

The office knows how to contact me if needed for emergencies, the rest can go to the email landfills.

If you know the Geeks & Creatives @ wisnet, you know that we work hard, and we work hard to have a strong culture to keep our team engaged both mentally and physically.  Time away from the office lets our brains recharge so we come back energized and full of new ideas and inspiration. Enjoying our time away from the office is an important part of making our team and culture as strong as possible.

The key to success for this unthinkable cultural shift is simple…

Encourage your team to COMPLETELY disconnect from work when on vacation.  

Here is how to do it:
1. Clearly state in your out of office message & subject that your messages are being deleted until you return. If information or questions are specifically for you, encourage them to email you back after your return.

2. Let your office team know that you are doing this – and you have some serious vacationing to do. Trust and know you have the right people in place. If emergencies arise, provide options to contact you for just these cases.

3. Let clients / vendors you communicate with often know you will be out and unplugged well in advance.

4. Provide alternative contacts clients and other email senders can work with in your absence.

5. Set up a delete filter in your email (or at least a filter to archive messages to temp folder if you want to cheat).

6. Make sure you use work email for work – friends and other social updates should run through your personal email

7. Kick back and chill. Enjoy your time off and breath easier knowing that emails will not be your main focus (a.k.a. a major pain in your….)  when you return.


Here is a sample ‘out of office’ that covers the bases:

SUBJECT:
Out Of Office – Your email to {insert name} has been sent to an email landfill

BODY:
I’ll be out of the office until {insert date here}. IMPORTANT FYI – ALL MY MESSAGES ARE BEING DELETED WHILE I AM OUT.  

Why, you ask? You just might want to give this a try next time you are out of the office.

If you need immediate assistance, please email {insert email} or call our office at {insert phone number}.

If it can wait – and you have information or questions specifically for me, please resend them in/after {insert your return to office date}.


Go ahead – copy/paste.

So, next time you are out of the office taking a brain break, we hope you give this a try (with support from your team of course).

Good luck – I’m out for the week!

Be more colorful & explicit at work

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Nope. Sorry. Not talking about cuss words around the office. We’re talking digital signage!

We know digital signage works for B2C… at point of purchase while shopping… figuring out what to eat off that menu board … or helping you find your way at the clinic.

But why & how does Markey digital signage work in our work lives?

1.Communication is EVERYTHING.

Many inboxes are overflowing. IMs and Slack even exploding. And, ugh, please not another meeting. Our very own team and so many others have found Markey digital signage as an amazing tool to not only tell the story of brands, companies or organizations, but more importantly, remind fellow associates of their purpose in their day-to-day work. Why the heck are we all here? Why should we be pumped up about it? Additionally, transparency about the day-to-day big and small matters in your organization SQUASH gossip and build a sense of ownership, inclusion and even pride.

2. It’s SUPER visual.

Visual cues in the workplace … be it the silly signs next to your coffee maker/keurig … or the couch next to your retro arcade game, have the power to influence the energy, attitudes and more in your workspace. They can sustain unspoken ideas, feelings and/or behaviors, good or bad. They can also be subtle ways of saying, “we care and we’ve got your back here” or “thank you for working so hard and sharing your talent here. Now take a break and bring out a fun, new side of yourself while at work.” These subtle attitude builders, behavior reinforcers and reminders of the awesome place you work are extremely important to building & supporting your positive culture. With Markey digital signage, throw subtleties out the window. There’s no time for that. Now you can be much more explicit in your visual stimulation and communication about what you believe and why your team rocks.

3. Made you look.

I mean, come on… who can’t help but look at a TV screen while they sit in the team cafe/ lunchroom or walk through the lobby. The beauty, in this case (maybe not when you’re trying to get your significant other to listen to you at home), is the distraction power. Pair that with some kickass messaging on your company core values or celebrating team members and you’ve got gold! At least that’s what we like to think.

Markey digital signage will be a great addition to your team.

What are you waiting for?
Try Markey digital signage for your workplace culture today!

 


Resources:
Culture Code from Culture Labx
12 Signs Your Company Has An Enviable Workplace Culture by Fast Company
6 Ways Visual Cues In The Workplace Impact Company Culture