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Office Space: May, 2011

by Editorial Staff--South Jersey Biz
The Conference Room: Facing the Music

Most workers—especially those in the Gen Y crowd—have an iPod, a Pandora account or other access to music at the office. But is allowing ear buds in the workplace a worthwhile morale boost or just a distraction? Two local execs weigh in.

Anne D’Amico, associate partner, Alloy Silverstein, Cherry Hill
“Young adults today were raised doing their homework and studying for exams with their iPods on; that’s how they are most efficient. We tried allowing it in the office on a limited basis at first—and we realized that when employees had their ear buds in, they weren’t talking to each other. The office was quieter, and our staff were more focused on the work they were doing. It seemed as if they were actually getting the work done more quickly.... We stopped managing the younger generation of accountants the way we were managed and starting adapting to the way they have grown up; they like to work with music playing. We haven’t encountered any problems, and clients walking through our office have never complained about it. Our employees keep the volume low enough so they can answer a telephone call or respond if they are paged over the intercom. Our staff work between 60 and 70 hours a week during tax season, and if listening to the music they like makes them more comfortable and increases efficiency, we are all for it. We have about 65 employees, and the last thing we need during tax season is 15 to 25 competing radios.”

Karen Roberts, director of human resources, Flaster/Greenberg, Cherry Hill
“We restrict the use of iPods, cell phones, MP3 players and anything that’s in that category, because they would interfere with the quality of work and productivity, and could also present a safety issue. For example, part of our administrative assistant’s job is to answer the phones and take and transcribe dictation. That, at times, involves headsets. Aside from the obvious issue of wearing double headsets, as a law firm it is highly critical that the information is accurate and is very time sensitive, and we’ve established that policy to maintain and manage that. High productivity and high-quality output are essential. We also want to maintain a professional environment for clients when we have meetings or events in the office. We don’t want to have someone walking through the halls with their iPod hanging out of their ears. It’s not just related to work quality and productivity, but it’s also a safety issue. Sometimes those things are pretty loud in the ears, and if something is happening, they could be the cause for potential accidents.”

On The Books: Summer Reading

Bring boardroom wisdom to the beach via these new biz reads.

The Next Convergence: The Future of Economic Growth in a Multispeed World. Take a macro view of globalization and evolving technology through Nobel Prize-winning economist Michael Spence’s latest work, which explores the implications of the new global economy. (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, May 2011, $27)

Fixing the Game: Bubbles, Crashes, and What Capitalism Can Learn from the NFL. Roger L. Martin peers at capitalism through the lens of pro football and offers a game plan for stabilizing the U.S. economy and fixing fundamental flaws in our markets. (Harvard Business Review Press, May 2011, $24.95)

The Long Tail from SmarterComics. Chris Anderson’s 2006 insta-classic—along with Sun Tzu’s The Art of War and other great business reads—is now available in graphic novel form. The book explores why the “future of business is selling less of more.” (Writers of the Round Table Press, April 2011, $12.95)

Supplies: Get Wired

Give your break room (or home kitchen) a boost with these state-of-the-art caffeine dispensers.

One-touch wonder.
Kick your old K-cups to the curb and opt for one-touch espresso instead, via the Illy Francis Francis Y1 espresso machine, a compact device that utilizes Illy’s iperEspresso capsules. ($295 or $125 with monthly capsule delivery)

Bells and whistles.
For true coffee devotees, the Bunn Tiger XL M automatic espresso and cappuccino maker will grind, brew and dispense hot or cold espresso drinks in seconds. ($11,999)

Hot stuff.
If cleaning the carafe is low on everyone’s to-do list, Hamilton Beach’s carafe-free BrewStation Coffeemaker is the answer. It keeps coffee hot and fresh without burning, and offers one-touch dispensing. ($59)

Crunching the Numbers

30%: Portion of state revenues that could be devoured by pensions, debt and other fixed costs within eight years, per Moody’s—compared to 13% today.

$53.8 billion The unfunded portion of New Jersey’s pension liabilities, according to the Pew Center on the States

63%: Portion of New Jerseyans who consider the state a good place to live, according to a Monmouth University survey—the lowest positive rating since the poll began 30 years ago.

84.8%: Increase in residential building permits issued in New Jersey from February to March, per the Federal Reserve in Philadelphia, compared with a 44.1 percent increase nationwide.

13.2%: Increase in permits issued in New Jersey in March over a year ago.

2016: The year when economists from Rutgers University predict the total number of jobs in the state will finally surpass peak 2007 numbers.

1 percent: Average expected annual employment increase in New Jersey from 2010 to 2020.

$1,000: Newly instated fine for excluding the unemployed from job opportunities in New Jersey, a figure that jumps to $5,000 for subsequent offenses.

Published (and copyrighted) in South Jersey Biz, Volume 1, Issue 5 (May, 2011).
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