Archive for the 'MSN Staff Series' Category

Published by admin on 03 Oct 2013

The Workplace Revolution Project: Standing Desk Implementation

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What?

Some days I get home from work after sitting all day and I am tired, so tired I don’t feel like doing anything. I have asked my self how I could be so tired because I was sitting all day, but maybe I am tired FROM sitting all day.  During the time when we were first thinking about our Workplace Revolution project I started hearing great things from some of my friends about standing desks. Not only does research show that sitting all day is unhealthy I was feeling the effects myself, so a standing desk sounded intriguing. Our work as a contact center requires most of our staff to be stationary the majority of the day.  We decided to look at how standing desks could be implemented in the contact center environment for employee health and wellness, but also to increase engagement and productivity.

 

Why?

The Mayo Clinic reports that sitting for long periods of time can be associated with metabolic issues, blood pressure problems, high blood sugar, excess body fat, high cholesterol, increased risk of heart disease and cancer. Other studies show that extended sitting can cause fatigue, back problems, diabetes and a host of other dangerous and uncomfortable conditions. Those that use standing desks burn 33% more calories in a day, report improved health, improved mood and increased energy and focus. If these results were true then implementing standing desks would meet our Workplace Revolution goals; beneficial for our employees and beneficial for our company and clients with increased productivity and performance. Check out our educational information sheet for more information.

Our team reports about their standing desks:

“I love my new standing desk! I have more energy throughout the day because of the option to stand.  Since a recent back surgery having the option to stand and switch positions assists me in following my Doctors orders in keeping my back healthy for my future.”-Mickie Watters, Inbound Agent

“My new standing desk is awesome! I love the fact that I can stretch and have lots of energy through my work week. I told my nurse I use a standing desk at work and she gave me a thumbs up!”-Melissa Parker, Inbound Agent

 

How?

We began our standing desk process by researching best practices for standing desk implementation and usage. We took that research and created a model for implementation and a document that suggests best practices for our team members that choose to convert their station to a standing desk. We wanted to ensure that we provided the tools to make this a safe transition with education about the ways to maximize the benefits of their standing desks. Check out our best practice document for our team members who chose to convert their station to a standing desk.

We tested the conversion on a vacant station and researched the best higher chairs that could be used at the stations as well as antifatigue floor mats. We settled on the most affordable comfortable chair and a comfortable floor mat.

One of our workplace goals is affordability. There is certainly a cost associated with setting up a standing desk station because we had to purchase both the chair and floor mat for  a total of $194.08 per station. This is affordable, but we decided to implement the stations in phases to spread out the cost and minimize any potential disruption to daily work activity.

We then sent out a launch email to our team asking for volunteers for our pilot launch of 3 stations. We expected a few people to respond and that most would not be interested in, or educated on, the benefits of a standing desk at this point. We immediately received over 20 requests for standing desks! Some people shared with us medical concerns that would be helped by a standing desk option. We knew at that moment that we were offering something valuable to our team. We created a list in order of response and piloted the three stations with the first three responders. To convert the stations we followed a simple process:

  1. We talked with the individual who requested the desk to discuss the best practices and make sure that a standing desk was a good fit for their needs.
  2. We measured their height and established the ideal location for the desk height to create optimal ergonomics.
  3. We adjusted the desk height.
  4. We installed the chair and floor mat.
  5. We provided education and a best practice document on how to utilize their station for optimal benefit.
  6. We followed up to make sure they were comfortable at their station and to see if they had any additional questions or feedback.

 

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Find us on twitter @MarkSuppNet
on facebook at Marketing Support Network
or find me directly on twitter @rebaschenk

Published by admin on 26 Sep 2013

The Workplace Revolution Project: Asana

 

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What?

Asana is the self-proclaimed “modern way to work.” It is a collaborative productivity game changer and super task tracker. Gone are the days when you need to pick up the phone, send an email, or open an IM application for every communication. Asana allows for interdepartmental task management and productivity tracking. A creative can send a trouble ticket to someone in IT. Someone in IT can send send a request for a poster design illustrating IT workflow to the design department and managers can access staff to-do lists in real time.

The basic premise of Asana is that anyone can assign a task to anyone else that they are connected with. This means that team leaders can designate tasks to their team but the team can also designate tasks to the team leader. This creates a more parallel and collaborative work environment where both staff and management are able to see the full scale of a project. With custom workflows Asana one-ups most other task management platforms. Accountability is no longer simply measured as “task completed” but by the ability of each participant to see every step of the larger work flow as it happens.

Why?

Every team can customize workflows to bring tasks that have multiple stages of work and multiple participants together under one task. Not only does this allow for fewer items (zero inbox, anyone?) but it also allows for everyone on the team to go back through the conversation and history surrounding a more complex task. This means more productive meetings (and fewer meetings) because details have already been handled through conversations on Asana, so the team can focus on big picture items instead of the mundane.

How?

Asana implementation is not for the faint of heart. Our team continues to find new and innovative ways to increase our efficiency in Asana (e.g. keyboard shortcuts.) Getting your whole team on board will take some convincing, but if you can do it you will save the time and frustration that occur when people miss forgotten deadlines, ask repetitive questions, or lose track of document changes. Asana turns task management from a chore into a vibrant conversation. Start the conversation with your team at www.asana.com

 

If you and your team implement Asana we’d love to hear about any tips or tricks you uncover.

Find us on twitter @MarkSuppNet
on facebook at Marketing Support Network
or find me directly on twitter @dougnorthcook

Published by admin on 20 Sep 2013

2013 MSN Leadership Retreat

 

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MSN took a day for the annual leadership off site meeting this week in beautiful downtown Pittsburgh.  We met at the meeting venue owned by Smith Brothers, right next to PNC Park which you can see in the background.  Thanks to Suki and her folks for making us feel at home.  It was a great day to review what we do and to work on new offerings for our customers coming soon this fall.

Published by admin on 19 Sep 2013

The Workplace Revolution Project

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Many of us once had dreams when we were idealistic students of what our working world would look like. Perhaps those dreams involved instant respect, credibility, and success. Some of us may have had delusions of grandeur where we envisioned ourselves starting out at the top. Maybe your dreams included an imaginary office you created in your mind where people save the world.

It seems for most of us those dreams quickly fade as we settle into what we think is the inevitable reality. Maybe your boss, your co-workers, or your family even told you “welcome to the real world” when you expressed your disappointment. Starting out at the top turned into an “entry level” position of running personal errands for your boss and making coffee, while doing all the other tasks that no one else wanted to do. The team concept was traded for survival mode and you spend your days navigating office politics, and wondering if your work even matters.

But what if things could be different? What if those dreams of yours were not just dreams, but could be a reality? What if your work could be fulfilling, purposeful, and awesome? What if you could work with a team of talented people that COULD change the world? What if you chose not to accept the “welcome to the real world” mentality and instead could change your work world for the better?

A small group of thoughtful people could change the world. Indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.
Margaret Mead

Marketing Support Network has a heritage of 32 years of success in customer support and marketing services and the contact center industry. In a competitive market, MSN has continued to grow in large part because of the core values, integrity, and passion for excellence instilled by our founding partners. It is these values embodied by our team, and delivered through our services, that makes us proud to seek out partners whose needs we can meet. We are inspired to take this foundation and build on it, attracting amazing people to our team, so that we can serve our clients better than ever.

In this technological age we face additional challenges in the workplace, especially in the contact center industry. We want to be very intentional about encouraging teamwork, fostering creativity, and maintaining an enjoyable physical working environment, all while continuing to grow and being progressive in our technology and services.

This is how our Workplace Revolution project was born. We brought together representatives from all of our departments and brainstormed how we could do life at work better together. We talked about how we could make changes that will positively impact employee engagement and retention, as well as client service and productivity. We wanted to develop ways that we could better serve our team, so that they could better serve our clients and their customers.

Through our Workplace Revolution we hope to make sustainable changes that benefit both our internal team and our clients and their customers. Change can be challenging, even when positive. We agreed that the changes need to be incremental so that they would not be a distraction from the important work that we do. We also decided that the changes must be affordable for even a small business so that they can be easily replicated and implemented anywhere. We hope that you will follow our efforts in this endeavor and be inspired to rethink the dreams of your former idealistic self.

We are striving together as a team towards a common purpose. To begin this journey you need the core foundation of a solid team mission, vision, and values that we are thankful to have at MSN. Will you join us? Will you revolutionize your workplace for yourself, your team, and for your customers? We invite you to share your ideas and feedback on positive things you have done in your workplace. We look forward to hearing from you!

Published by admin on 01 Nov 2012

We Hope You Had a Happy & Safe Halloween!

Our staff looks forward to any and every day designated to celebrate and bring in treats! We shared in some good humor by a few strategically placed plastic spiders on keyboards and enjoyed lots of candy. Emily treated us with delicious homemade pumpkin & chocolate biscotti (Thank You, Emily!) We’re not sure who (or what pumpkin) took over Cathy’s desk, though!

We wish you a Happy November! We are already looking forward to what treats we can bring in and celebrate for Thanksgiving- it’s only 3 weeks away!

 

Published by admin on 19 Oct 2012

Secrets of Pittsburgh #17: South Side’s East Carson Street Offers Local Pittsburgh Foodies the Perfect Date Night!

Anyone who has ever visited or lives in Pittsburgh knows two things about East Carson Street on the South Side:

  1. It is full of great restaurants for any taste.
  2. If you are over 30 years of age, you might not want to be there after dark!

While East Carson has a reputation for the bars that line the street, the real gems are the unique restaurants like Ibiza, Fat Heads and NakamaEach year for my wife’s birthday (which was this week- Happy Birthday, Becky!) we meet at 2 of our favorite places in Pittsburgh, both being on East Carson Street.

First is Kassab’s Lebanese Cuisine - a small Mediterranean/Lebanese restaurant at the west end of East Carson Street near the 10th Street Bridge.  The walls are painted with different scenes from the Lebanese countryside and villages. The staff, food, and prices make the eating experience a delight.  Kassab’s has the standard dishes you would expect to find in most Mediterranean eateries like Lamb, Kafta, Gyros, Baba Ghannooj, and more. To start your experience, I recommend the spinach pie, meat pie or the plate of hummus with pita.

I break numerous of my restaurant rules when I go to Kassab’s:  1) I typically get the same sandwich each time and 2) I don’t order meat.  I pride myself on being as close to a true carnivore as there is, but Kassab’s throws a wrench in my love of cooked animals.  I love Kassab’s falafel and I don’t care who knows it – it is full of flavor and it is filling.  For those who don’t know- a Falafel wrap comes with Falafel balls (fried, spiced chick peas), Tabbouli and Tahini Yogurt all wrapped in pita bread.  I have had other items on their menu and I have never been disappointed. Do yourself a favor and try the Falafel!

If you walk the 5 blocks east of Kassab’s just past 17th Street, you’ll find our other favorite: The Milk Shake Factory. If you love chocolates, milkshakes, sundaes, ice cream… well, you get the point, anything sweet, make the trip and delight in their unique flavors. As you walk into the shop you are welcomed by, what seems, a never ending row of various chocolates and foods covered in chocolate. By the way, they frown on licking the glass, which I found out on my last trip.

In the very corner of the small room is the ice cream stand where you can get some of the best ice cream around.  My favorite flavors are Birthday Cake and Apple Pie.  Why, you ask? It takes what you know about flavored ice cream to a new level; most birthday cake ice cream has bits of cake mixed into the ice cream, but not The Milk Shake Factory.  It seems they take an entire cake or pie to mix with the ice cream.  It leaves chunks of cake and pie large enough to eat with a fork. It is incredibly delicious. On my most recent visit I decided to have the Spooky Halloween Milkshake, which consisted of Pumpkin Ice Cream with Chocolate Drizzle topped with Whipped Cream and a Marshmallow Ghost.  The Milk Shake Factory is a great way to cap off a night out. They have a large number of unique shakes and sundae flavors to entice your taste buds and increase your waistline…

If you love chocolate, you must visit the Milk Shake Factory! Endless rows of dreamy premium chocolates adorn the showcase by Edward Marc Chocolatier.

 

Post contributed by: Matthew Maners, Marketing Support Network

*All photos courtesy of Matthew Maners

Published by admin on 16 Oct 2012

Happy Boss’s Day!

From the entire staff at Marketing Support Network, today we would like to wish our senior management a Very Happy Boss’s Day with an extra special acknowledgement to MSN President Lin Cook & Vice President Sue Martens!

THANK YOU for all you do to provide such a wonderful place for us to work and for all of your hard work. We sincerely appreciate you!

 

 

Original Image Source: FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Published by admin on 28 Sep 2012

Secrets of Pittsburgh #15: A 21-Foot Tribute to a Pittsburgh Baseball Icon

If you’ve never been to PNC Park to see the Pittsburgh Pirates play ball, then believe me when I say there is not a bad seat in the house! The skyline and river backdrop is so picturesque; it looks as though you’re watching a baseball game in front of a life-size painting. No matter where you sit, from behind home plate to the upper grandstand, you can see every play and are surrounded by friendly and excited fans cheering, dancing, and eating peanuts, popcorn, cotton candy, hot dogs, cracker jacks, drinking Yuengling and IC Light, and of course a Primanti Brothers’ sandwich piled high with fresh cut fries and cole slaw!

But what is one of the coolest little known facts about PNC Park? The right field wall was built to stand 21-feet high, in honor of one of Pittsburgh’s greatest sports legends: Right fielder #21, Roberto Clemente. He has a statue in his honor, a bridge (a bridge!!) named after him, so it’s only fitting to incorporate his presence into our new ballpark. Pittsburgh loves you, Roberto!

We love taking our kids to PNC Park. They have a blast, and enjoy watching the games as much as we do! Here’s proof:

Next time you get the chance to visit PNC Park, glance over at the right field wall as a reminder of the great city we live in, and the impact Roberto Clemente has had on the city of Pittsburgh and the game of baseball.

Post contributed by Julie Pennington, Marketing Support Network

 

Published by admin on 21 Sep 2012

Secrets of Pittsburgh #14: Home to One of the World’s Greenest Buildings

 Image ©Phipps Conservatory                                                          Image ©Phipps Conservatory

Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens in Pittsburgh, PA is officially home to one of the world’s greenest buildings! The newly constructed 24,350-square-foot research, education and administrative complex consumes zero net energy and water. Here’s a few highlights of this amazing new building, the Center for Sustainable Landscapes, a landmark project and hopeful standard for the future:

  • Over the course of a year, the CSL will produce more energy than it consumes, having about the same effect on the environment as a flower.
  • Impressive design integrates the use of passive solar panels, a vertical-axis wind turbine, geothermal wells, permeable paving, and underground rain tanks as a source of water and energy, among many other systems that allow this building to be completely self-sustained.
  • On-site water treatment through a two-stage wetland cell system, which significantly reduces the municipal sewage treatment impact.

Designed and built by people from Pittsburgh and Pennsylvania as an innovation for the world, the CSL will serve as a model for how reconnecting with nature can inspire an abundant and harmonious future,” says Phipps Executive Director Richard V. Piacentini. “This addition will give visitors the opportunity to explore, find inspiration and immerse themselves in the beauty of green.” (Source: Feb. 28, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire)

The Phipps’ Center for Sustainable Landscapes meets or exceeds the three highest green standards:

  1. The Living Building Challenge
  2. SITES Certification for Landscapes
  3. LEED® Platinum

If you’re not a local to Pittsburgh, you may remember hearing about Phipps in the news when President Barack Obama chose the picturesque location to host world leaders at the official welcome dinner for the 2009 Pittsburgh G-20 Summit.

View their calendar HERE. For an exceptional experience, join in on their next event:

Friday Night Jazz in the Forest
Oct. 5, 2012; 7-10 p.m.
Looking for a unique Friday night adventure? Join us for small plate and drink specials at Café Phipps, and then journey into our Tropical Forest Conservatory to enjoy the smooth jazz stylings of the Nick Natalie Band as you soak up the beauty of our lush exhibits. Entertainment is free with paid admission, so bring someone special and spend a cool, melodious evening surrounded by blooms!

Don’t miss out! Visit Phipps and leave inspired! Sustainability is in everything that Phipps does and they want to get the message out that one person CAN make a difference by doing everything they can to be as green as possible!

 

Post contributed by: Julie Pennington, Marketing Support Network

Images ©Phipps Conservatory

Published by admin on 31 Aug 2012

Secrets of Pittsburgh #11: A Family Activity Space Dedicated to Building Legos®

Family Activity? It’s a Snap!

If you are looking for a great and creative family activity, you need look no further. Head out to Snapology in Bethel Park. This quote from the store’s website is a snapshot of the fun in the store. “Snapology is the science of snapping toys together.  Well, ok, not really. Snapology is the name we came up with to describe a new learning concept that combines play with education.”

When you enter the store, there is excitement in the air. With a seemingly endless supply of Legos and a little imagination, the sky is the limit in creativity.  No need to search through your stacks of Legos at home only to come up a few blue short of building your masterpiece. Whether you are creating a traditional building, a rocket, a dinosaur, or abstract art, you will find yourself in Lego heaven.

The story behind the Lego is very interesting as well. Here is a link to an interesting animation about the company: The Lego® Story

Snapology offers classes, themed birthday parties, and customized events. They will even pack up the goodies and come to your location if you prefer.

Visit the Discovery Center at:

70 Fort Couch Rd, 2nd Floor  ~  Bethel Park, PA 15241  ~  412-295-1545  ~  www.snapology.com

 

Post contributed by Annette Hough, Marketing Support Network

 

 

 

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