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10 Ways technology can declutter your workspace

Here’s how to tell if it’s time to declutter your workspace, and which tools will help you actually keep your area cleared.

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Let’s do an exercise together

Look up from your computer. Don’t worry; I won’t go anywhere. Just examine your work area and notice if it’s clean or messy.

Are you back? Great! You barely kept me waiting. What does your work area look like? Is there clutter everywhere? A few pictures on your desk is fine. But if you can’t move your laptop an inch without knocking pens and papers off the side of your desk, then you’re in trouble.

You might think this clutter doesn’t bother you. However, it does affect how you work.

Why you should declutter

You shouldn’t just declutter because it looks messy. You should declutter so you work more efficiently.

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Clutter competes for your attention, which makes it more difficult for you to focus and be productive. Clutter distracts your brain from concentrating on your work. Your brain can’t efficiently process the information of the work you’re trying to get done. This happens because it’s trying to process the information of the clutter on your desk at the same time.

Decluttering your workspace will lead to you being more productive. Luckily for you, technology can be used to help with the decluttering process. Here are ten ways technology can declutter your workspace!

1. CableBox Mini

How many times a day do you have to step over the cords of your laptop charger, Ethernet cable, etc.?

These cables make your workspace look messy. Use a CableBox Mini to store these cords. Your charger is usually much longer than you need it to be. Stick it in your CableBox Mini, and slide it under your desk so it’s not a distraction.

2. Scan your documents

One of the most popular forms of clutter is paperwork. Documents can compile on your desk at a rapid pace and build up to a tower of unorganized files.

These documents need a place to be stored, and there’s no better place than your computer. Scan your documents and organize folders on your computer. You’ll still have all the paperwork you need while keeping your workplace organized.

3. Get a Kindle

I’m sure you’re always learning. If you’re in college, then you probably have textbooks all over your room. If you aren’t in college, you probably have a bunch of informational books in your office.

These books can be distracting. The best way to combat this is to purchase a Kindle or any e-book reader. Shelves of books are now held in a tiny tablet, and will clear a lot of space.

4. Separate computers

Do you use the same computer for everything? Do you have your computer, tablet, and phone out on your desk as you work?

Your work computer is the only thing that should be in your workspace. Your tablet or phone will only be distracting, and you’ll feel the urge to pick it up and take your focus away from your work.

5. Charging station

Are there gadgets lying around your office? Store them all in a charging station.

Charging stations are shelves where you can charge all of your electronics. These stations look nice and provide a home to your technology when you aren’t using it. This’ll help you keep everything organized instead of leaving your electronics on the desk or floor.

6. Touchscreen tablet

Want to know how to keep pens and papers off your desk? Get a tablet.

With a touch screen tablet, you can write everything down and store it on your tablet. You can get a stylus to help you write.

7. All-In-One printer

The clutter made from four machines can now be narrowed down to one. Now you can recycle those other clunky machines and save room with an all-in-one printer, since most printers can now scan, copy, and fax documents.  You can find many popular models online or in-store for your convenience.

8. The Boogie Board

Want another way to save paper? Try The Boogie Board Sync.

This electronic notepad lets you write down notes. You can then save it to the board as a PDF file, or you can send it to your smartphone. You can also connect it to your PC via USB cable. Now your hand-written notes are easily saved electronically.

9. Use your smartphone

Your smartphone can pretty much do anything you need it to do. You can use the calendar to remember dates, notepad to jot down notes, and you can send any document you want.

A lot of your clutter can be saved on your phone and stored in your pocket.

10. Multiple computer screens

Clutter can exist on your desktop too. Too many tabs or programs open can be distracting and make you work less.

Get multiple computer screens at work. This will help you organize everything you’re doing, and you can concentrate better on your work.

The takeaway

Clutter can seriously affect your productivity. It’s time to go to your workspace and do a little spring cleaning! Do you have any tips for decluttering your workspace that aren’t mentioned here? I’d love to know what works for you in the comment section below!

#Declutter

Megan Ray Nichols is an editorialist at The American Genius, and is a technical writer who's passionate about technology and the science. She also regularly writes at Smart Data Collective, IoT Times, and ReadWrite. Megan publishes easy to understand articles on her blog, Schooled By Science - subscribe today for weekly updates!

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Tech News

Introduce AWS Panorama to add machine learning to any camera

(TECH NEWS) Amazon Web Services has announced a new hardware device that will add machine learning to any camera – AWS Panorama.

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Security cameras on a gray cement wall that can be outfitted with AWS Panorama to give machine learning.

At its learning conference, AWS re:Invent, Amazon Web Services (AWS) announced a new hardware device that will add machine learning to any camera. Named the AWS Panorama Appliance, AWS claims the tool will improve industrial operations and workplace safety.

The device lets you add computer vision (CV) to your existing on-premises internet protocol (IP) cameras, which is the standard type of digital video camera most companies use today. In doing so, cameras that weren’t built to accommodate CV can now be turned into smart cameras that do.

So, how does it work?

You register your AWS Panorama Appliance with AWS Cloud and install it on your network. Automatically, the device will identify camera streams and start interacting with the existing industrial cameras.

How will it help?

According to a press release, “Each AWS Panorama Appliance can run computer vision models on multiple camera streams in parallel, making possible use cases like quality control, part identification, and workplace safety.”

  • Manufacturing Quality Control
    AWS Panorama can automate monitoring and visual inspection tasks. For instance, it can detect defective items in a manufacturing line, and send you an alert in real-time. With this information, you can address and resolve the issue to improve product quality.
  • Reimagined Retail Insights
    Leveraging AWS Panorama’s control vision, you can get insights about the retail environment to improve operations and customer experiences. For example, the appliance can count customers and calculate the length of queues.
  • Workplace Safety and Social Distance Monitoring
    It can monitor site activity to ensure operating compliance is always in place, and notify you about any potentially unsafe situations. For instance, if a forklift is outside a designated area. You can take preemptive steps to remove it so it won’t come in contact with pedestrians.
  • Supply Chain Efficiency
    AWS Panorama can track barcodes, labels, or completed products. By doing this, it can help optimize work operations.

Alongside the AWS Panorama Appliance, AWS unveiled the AWS Panorama Device SDK (Software Development Kit). This software kit enables third-party manufacturers to build their own AWS Panorama-enabled devices.

According to AWS, with Panorama SDK, manufacturers “can build cameras with computer vision models that can process higher quality video with better resolution for spotting issues.” Although the SDK isn’t ready yet, AWS says it will be ready soon.

AWS Panorama Appliance is still in preview in US East (N. Virginia) and US West (Oregon) regions, so it isn’t available everywhere yet. However, you can apply for an AWS Panorama Appliance Developer Kit on their website to start building and testing your computer vision applications.

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Tech News

Create a pandemic-friendly sign-in with this touchless technology

(TECH NEWS) In an era where touchless communication is paramount, Wellcome brings touchless employee and visitor sign-in technology to the workplace.

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Logo page for Wellcome, a touchless technology sign-in.

Touchless technology is becoming more and more common these days and for good reasons — health and safety. Due to the COVID pandemic, social distancing is crucial in helping decrease the amount of positive coronavirus cases.

Unfortunately, some work environments require in-person employees, contractors, and visitors. And now, some businesses are even starting to bring more of their workforce back into the office. While we can hopefully assume they all have some safety protocols in place, the front desk interactions haven’t changed much. This makes it difficult to manage and see who’s in and out.

But to fill in that gap, meet Wellcome. Wellcome is a touchless sign-in platform for employees and visitors. According to their website, the app “helps you manage the workplace effectively, making it safe and easy for everyone” who’s in the office.

And the platform does this by implementing the following features in its tool.

Employee Touchless Check-in
By uploading a list of employees to the Admin, employees automatically receive an email with a one-click “Wellcome Pass”. This pass can be added to their Apple or Android digital wallet.

Once at work, employees scan their pass on an iPad at the reception desk. Then, they will see a customizable confirmation screen with the company’s health and safety guidelines messaging. This reminder can help ensure everyone is following the rules and staying safe.

Visitor Touchless Check-in
For visitors without a Wellcome Pass, they can still scan the QR code on the iPad using their device. The QR code will direct them to a customized check-in form where they can select their host and fill out a health questionnaire on their mobile device.

COVID-Safe Visitor Screening
Based on how a visitor answers the health screening questionnaire, it will grant or deny them access to the office. This health COVID screening will help HR managers “protect the office by restricting access to visitors that might be infected.”

Host Notifications
Via email, Slack, and/or SMS, Wellcome will immediately notify the host when they have a visitor and send them the visitor’s contact details. It will also let them know if their visitor was granted or denied access based on the health screening. If a visitor is denied access, the host is instructed to not meet the visitor, but contact them another way.

Contact Tracing
If there is a potential or confirmed COVID-19 case at work, Wellcome makes it easy to identify and notify anyone who may be at risk. To do this, the HR manager just needs to search by a person’s name and date range in the Admin. Search results will pull up anyone that could have come in contact with the infected person.

The Admin will also notify all employees and visitors that need to self-isolate and get tested. If needed, Wellcome also lets you download and submit a tracing report.

Manage Office Capacity
Wellcome tracks workplace capacity and occupancy data to help maintain social distancing. If occupancy reaches the capacity limit, the Admin will be notified to “take steps to reduce occupancy in order to stay within the required limits.”

In the Admin Dashboard, reports are available to view the status of current capacity. It can also predict what the occupancy will be each day so companies can plan ahead.

Book Workdays
Employees have the option to pre-book when they want to come into the office. The app displays how many slots are available for each day, and it can send out a calendar reminder. Through the Admin, HR managers can see who will be coming into the office. This is Wellcome’s other way of making sure capacity limits are always within range.

Also, setting up Wellcome is pretty simple. All you need is an iPad. You install the app on it and leave it at the reception desk for employees and visitors to check-in.

For companies who have employees and visitors in and out of the office. Wellcome does sound appealing, and it looks like they will benefit a great deal from the platform. And, if you’d like to check it out, Wellcome lets you use the app free for 14 days. Afterwards, you can select a plan that works best for you.

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Tech News

Scoring productivity: Is this new Microsoft tool creepy or helpful?

(TECH NEWS) Microsoft launched a new tool that helps monitor user data, but it’s not a work monitoring tool – it’s trying to judge productivity.

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Black and white data screens monitoring productivity.

Last month, Microsoft launched their new tool, “Productivity Score”. According to Microsoft, this new tool will help organizations understand how well they are functioning, how technology affects their productivity, and how they can get the most out of their Microsoft 365 purchase.

But to do all of this, the tool will keep track of how each employee is using Microsoft products. For instance, the tool will monitor how often video or screen sharing is enabled during meetings by employees.

It will keep a metric of how employees are communicating. It will show if employees are sending out emails through Outlook, sending out messages through Teams, or posting on Yammer. It will also keep track of which Microsoft tools are being used more and on which platforms.

So, Microsoft’s new tool is a scary work surveillance tool, right? According to Microsoft, it isn’t. In a blog post, Microsoft 365’s corporate Vice President Jared Spataro said, “Productivity Score is not a work monitoring tool. Productivity Score is about discovering new ways of working, providing your people with great collaboration, and technology experiences.”

Spataro says the tool “focuses on actionable insights” so people and teams can use Office 365 tools to be more productive, collaborative, and help make work improvements. And, while this all sounds good, privacy advocates aren’t too thrilled about this.

Microsoft says it is “committed to privacy as a fundamental element of Productivity Score.” To maintain privacy and trust, the tool does aggregate user data over a 28-day period. And, there are controls to anonymize user information, or completely remove it. However, by default individual-level monitoring is always on, and only admins can make any of these changes. Employees can’t do anything about securing their privacy.

So, user data privacy is still a large issue on the table, but privacy advocates can breathe a sigh of relief. Yesterday, they got a response from Microsoft they can smile about. In another blog post, Spataro responded to the controversy. “No one in the organization will be able to use Productivity Score to access data about how an individual user is using apps and services in Microsoft 365,” he said.

Although Productivity Score will still aggregate data over a 28-day period, it will not do so from an individual employee level. It will do it from an organizational one as a whole. Also, the company is making it clearer that the tool is a “measure of organizational adoption of technology—and not individual user behavior.”

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