Tag Archives: Work Life Blend

Death of my blog?

I really intended to stop blogging on my hosted WordPress blog. I had planned to call this blog “the last post” or “Bye,Bye blog” – something whimsical perhaps, something that meant a lot to me. I had spent sometime reviewing the variety of topics I had talked about over the last ten years.

Looking back and learning will enable you to move forward eileenb Amastra Eileen Brown motivational quote

I have a new blogging site using self-hosted WordPress on http://amastra.com/blog My last few WordPress posts were geared up to moving my regular readers to my new location.

I included links to my new blog location and I intended to – well – just leaving the past behind as I stopped posting on my old post. I’d even planned what I would write.

I would do a retrospective post. I would touch on the highlights of the last ten years and muse on how things have changed in social publishing and engagement since I started blogging back in 2004.

But when it came to it, I just could not do it. Over the past ten years I’ve posted over 2000 articles. Most are not relevant any more. Software has been updated, opinions have changed, my job has morphed into something totally different more than once, and technology has moved on dramatically. In some ways a lot of this blog is now obsolete.

But not for me.

This is a record of the last ten years of my life, the trips I went on, the experiences I had. It really is a trip down memory lane for me. Even though I migrated the posts over to the Amastra web site and blog, I can’t leave this old blog to  site and away and die.

Blogging has been a big part of my career journey – and what an amazing journey it has been. It has not all been good. The bad bits have given me some great life lessons, and some of it has been painful, some parts have been boring and some has been filled with anxiety.

But its still my journey. And I can’t let it go.

So to compromise, I’m going to post to https://eileenbrown.wordpress.com occasionally.The Amastra blog will now be my main blogging platform whereas my hosted WordPress blog will be updated from time to time. Hopefully these posts will never go stale, become out of date, or slip away and disappear. They will continue to be my link to my past.

Am I holding on to an out-dated blog out of some misplaced sentimentality?.  Am I doing this just to preserve a record of my longevity in this fast moving social interactive world? Am I reluctant to embrace the new and leave behind the old? All of them are probably true.

But killing this old blog off permanently is a step too far for me. I’ll be leaving my digital footprint here for a while longer I think – until it is really time to leave my musings and experiences to decay in the ethereal reaches of the digital void…


Unified communications and the sustainable business



I like working from home.  I’m where I want to be, I’m more productive, I’m happy.  I’m close to the coffee machine, close to the garden.

Unified communications technology means I can keep in touch with everyone I need to from my home office. 

Tools like Citrix GoTo Meeting, Microsoft Lync, and Cisco WebEx  means I’m close to any of my clients who want to send me an instant message, start a web chat or invite me to a conference call.

So why are so many workers still making the commute into work? 

This doesn’t demonstrate commitment to the socially optimised business, nor does it improve employee productivity.  Employees that spend hours and hours on the road travelling to work every day, tend to be less productive than those who work from home.

Commuting is hell.  When I worked for Microsoft, i lived 130 miles away.  On the days I went into the office, I could expect a 5 or 6 hour round trip.  Travelling into London from where I live is an hour on the train – and then there’s the journey on the underground to contend with before I get to my destination. 

There are many jobs that lend themselves perfectly to the working from home model. Programming, any type of writing /editing / blogging, and call centre work can all be done remotely.  And workers are proud to work from home too, praising the company attitude to working from home and the commitment to the environment.  Working from home is not without its challenges though, but the benefits are far reaching.

The University of Oxford cited teleworking as a key factor in reducing carbon emissions with almost 10% of the working population in the UK now working from home:

Teleworking has been linked with lower absenteeism, improved recruitment and retention, higher productivity, good work-life balance and good quality of life. Teleworkers tend to work longer hours than non teleworkers, and identify this as one reason for their improved performance, but see reduced stress and better concentration as more important factors.

The World Wildlife fund Workplace to anyplace report ties virtual meetings and telecommuting to a decreased ecological footprint and higher quality of life: 

Managers no longer have to keep an eye on someone sitting at a desk which is a pretty out-dated and ineffectual means of optimising productivity and effectiveness

In addition to organisations enforcing  no travel days for their staff to keep the environmental budget down, companies might consider implementing work from home Friday – not only to save the cost of the commute, but save the cost of the building facilities, heating, air conditioning and lighting.

That’s definitely worth considering a conference call instead of a face to face meeting… Smile

Image credit: Flickr

Eileen is a social business strategist and author of Working The Crowd: Social Media Marketing for Business. Contact her to find out how she can help your business extend its reach.

Hiding something?: Questions to uncover corporate culture


I’ve been reflecting on my Being ‘nice’ limits your earnings potential post from the other day.  Surely there must be some companies that have a great culture.  but how do you find them?  Scott Ginsburg lists 7 interview questions to uncover corporate culture and there are some really interesting topics.  Here they are:

1. If you could describe your corporate culture in three words, what would you say?

2. If you were going to give public tours of this company, what stops would the guide make?

3. If the local paper were going to run a four-page article about your company’s culture, what would be impossible not to include?

4. What’s the best part about working in this environment that I won’t be able to see from just a walk around the office?

5. What are the most common complaints employees make about your company culture?

6. May I speak with a few of your veteran employees or new hires?

7. What do you love best about the culture here?


These are great questions, and ones I wish I’d asked in several of my previous jobs.  I’m sure some of the words I’d have heard would be passion, energy, drive, determination, success, long hours, drinking, parties, travel, etc.  I’m sure you could add a fair few to this list too…

Is rudeness part of your corporate culture?  Sites like Glassdoor, often give a glimpse about life once inside the corporate environment, but what if you wanted to discover for yourself, what the environment is life. 


After all, the interview is just a point in time experience.  You’ll be at work for much much longer.


These questions, might just swing your decision for you…

Image credit: Flickr


Eileen is a social media consultant and author of Working The Crowd: Social Media Marketing for Business. Contact her to find out how she can help your business extend its reach.


Do smartphones boost productivity?: Unbalancing our work life blend


I had some interesting comments after my post the other day showing smartphone market share ratiosThe graph obviously shows US data – and Symbian isn’t called out specifically as a smartphone, is it therefore a feature phone? 

It would be interesting to view this from a global perspective – but of course, the stats are hard to gather in this way.  We look at the world the way we see things.   

In the UK we see a lot of Android phones here  – but is that the case in other parts of the world?  It’s difficult to get an all up view of the market – every region has such differing usage patterns – but here in the UK, we’re not usually seen without a mobile device of some sort in our hands…

The Grapevine has an interesting post viewed from a UK specific perspective.  In order to work smarter – not harder, staff pressure companies to integrate technology and are pressurising their bosses to give them smartphones and make them more productive.

In our world of always on, always connected, always locatable, always available, the question must be:

Are you always productive?

…or are you using your smartphone to pass the time because you’re bored?

Does owning a smartphone make you more productive at work?  Does the fact that you’re constantly available online make for a better work life blend?  Here are 5 things to think about and consider whether you are actually productive for work -  or not

      1. If you triage your email as soon as you wake, are you really focusing on your work?  Is your home life equilibrium being compromised by the fact that you’re ‘on duty’ as soon as you get up?  How many hours of home life each week are you spending with your thoughts and activities focused on work?
      2. If you commute into work by train, do you really focus on that important business email that you’re sending via your smartphone?  Do you send an abbreviated message because you can’t face typing the full email with links etc. from your hand held device?  Do you really read that email, or do you scan it to get to the next email in the list?
      3. Do you check your social feeds from your device at home?  Do you check your social feeds in the office?  If you’re checking your email at home, then surely it’s ok to check your social feeds at work?  Does  time spent on each activity balance out 50: 50? Do your social activities interfere with your concentration at work?
      4. Do you walk along the road checking your feeds on your device?  Have you ever bumped into someone because you were distracted?  If you have a free few moments – say you’re waiting for someone, do you stand and wait, or do you check your email, or social feeds
      5. Do you limit the time you spend checking your email?  Do you work for your company 8 hours a day, 10 hours or more?  Are these hours really productive? Are you really happy with your work life balance?

Smartphones are an amazing add on to our digital life.  They are a enabler for our thirst for knowledge and the need to be connected to our contacts and friends.

But do we honestly work any more efficiently with them?  or do they just add to our ever increasing workload as we struggle to keep up? What do you think?

Eileen Brown is a social media consultant and author of Working The Crowd: Social Media Marketing for Business.

Contact her to find out how she can help your business extend its reach.

Image credit: Flickr


Does IT make you happy?

I’m not sure I agree with the research reported by the BCS showing that IT makes you happy. Whilst social networking sites like Facebook enable older people to keep in touch with their families and connect with their extended friends, there’s a darker side to it all.



Often people become so wrapped up in online, multiplayer games that they spend an inordinate amount of time on their laptops, games consoles and Xbox live, that they lose all sense of time and reality.  They don’t get enough sleep and they don’t spend enough time with their families. Kids suffer at schools due to their inability to concentrate and there’s a new book out that argues that our brains are becoming rewired to a shorter attention span so we can’t concentrate   Some women have even broken off a relationship due to excessive gaming.

I see people with full time, 9-5 jobs (it’s more like 8.30 – 6 now though) online on Twitter and Facebook well after 10pm.  I can ask myself what am I also doing on Facebook and Twitter at that time?  I’m certainly not just using these tools for social reasons – but to see what the rest of the world is saying (It’s afternoon in the US).  I try to limit my time when the family is here – but it’s not always possible. I’m sure other families must feel the same and resent the time lost.

But what impact does this have on families, when we’re sitting in front of the TV, distracted?  Do they suffer in silence as you smile when an amusing retweet comes in?  Or do they seethe that your attention is directed away from home and family life – on to your virtual connections somewhere – anywhere else but at home.

I think it does…

So whilst the report talks about enabling access to the internet making people happier, it doesn’t factor in the heartache caused by the excessive use of internet and social sites – at the expense of human social relationships

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