Awesome Music by: Matt West – “Let’s Move”

Show Transcription:

You’ve been staring at your computer screen for so long you can see your presentations, spreadsheets and documents when you close your burning eyes.  These tasks take forever.  You know there’s a better way, but how?  You want to improve your presence in meetings, but how?  Stop working so many hours.  Become the authority for reporting at work.  Fix work problems before they happen.  This is THE Business Intelligence Podcast.   Plug into the business intelligence reporting community at www.getreporthelp.com.  You’re not alone, and yes you need help.

So I’ve been working on making my job something that I can do remotely. I’ve been working at this for the last year and a half or so.  It started by just taking an afternoon off and working from home.  Then I kind of stretched it into a day where I was just working from home and I’ve kind of been building this up and have been kind of easing the company into it.  I’ve been doing it by handling a lot of my activities by e-mail or phone.   As a matter fact when I go in for conference calls or meetings I just dial into the conference call instead of actually attending the meeting and I’ve noticed that this has been an increased activity across the board – not just me but everybody in the company seems to be doing this because you can handle it from you where you are.  You know, if the part of the conversation isn’t related to you then you can take care of some other activities.  But for me and for this working remotely, it’s a huge benefit because people don’t seem to care where you are as long as you’re participating and getting things done.  Now some people call this work-shifting or telecommuting, but it’s something that I’ve been working on and ultimately I’ve had some really good success with.  There’s been some information that’s been researched on this and so the people that are telecommuting or “work shifting” will actually save, on average, six hours out of their work week.   I think it’s mainly from the just driving to and from the office, but the interesting fact, and the one for employers, is that most of those work-shifters will actually donate four hours back in that situation.  So they are saving six hours on all their commute time but because there are already at home and it’s all ready they can just log on and they usually start a little bit earlier and stay a little bit later so the company actually gets more productivity in that scenario.  So this has been an activity that’s been going and I’ve actually had some really interesting results. I’ve been able now to go on vacation, take one week off for vacation, and then work remotely for another week.  That extends the vacation for my family, you know they can go and do all their other activities and I just have to go to a coffee shop and get some work done for a week.  That just allows them to do more and the company doesn’t have a problem with it.  It’s been something that’s been very successful for me and I’ll keep you posted as to how it goes.

And now the feature segment.

The term I want to discuss today is “inelasticity.”  Man that’s a great term!  It’s so verbose and kind of weird sounding and yet you kind of know what it means because it sounds like “elastic” which it kind of, I mean, you’re familiar with that but you don’t know what it really means.  It’s an economic term and it’s something that’s been researched and used in papers all over the place so when you bust that out into a business context – it’s golden.  People look at you like “wow!”   You know you’re just really separating yourself out.  So it’s really cool.  So ,inelastic is very simple, okay?  It means slow to react or respond – that’s it.  It’s just slow to react.  So, inelasticity is the study or the use of something that’s slow to respond.  In an economic scenario, when you talk about an inelastic variable you are talking about it describing one that does not change much in response to parameters.  It’s like a ratio of the percentage change in one variable to the ratio percentage change in another variable.  Okay.  Fancy stuff, it’s slow to react.  That’s it.   You can use this thing in all sorts of ways.   So if we are using it – well, let me give you a couple examples here.  So I when I go out and buy milk I don’t really look at what the price is for milk.  Right now I think the price for milk is somewhere around two dollars a gallon but it could be two dollars and ten cents a gallon or a dollar ninety a gallon – it’s not going to change my behavior, I’m still going to buy the same amount of milk.  So knowing that, we can say that the milk is price inelastic or there is an inelasticity to milk because it’s slow to react, I mean, it’s not really a big change.  Contrast that with something like when I go and buy gasoline.  When you go to buy gasoline you are going by the gas station and you’re always looking at that price.  It’s marked up there and you’re like, “Oh, that one’s a penny cheaper than that one.  Okay.  So I’m probably going go with the one that’s a penny cheaper.  Wow, really?  A penny?  On how many gallons, say 10 gallons, that’s 10 cents. You know.  Is it really that?  But it does – it drives behavior.  You will drive and go to that other gas station because that price is cheaper, so in that situation we’re saying gas is price elastic.  Okay?   It’s quick to respond.  Remember inelastic means that it’s slow to respond.  It’s just that simple.

So you can use this thing in all sorts of scenarios.  Say somebody has called you and you responded very quickly to their need or their report or whatever it is.  You can say you’ve been very elastic with your service level.  Likewise somebody hasn’t been getting you the information that you needed and you’ve been waiting for it a while – you know their service level is quite inelastic, gotta say.  You bust that thing out in a business context and you know you sound all fancy but it’s very simple.  Inelastic just means slow to respond.  I think a lot of people think about inelasticity and they get confused and they want to say that it’s good or it’s bad and it’s not.  It’s its own separate thing.  It just means it’s slow to respond.  So if I’m in a company and I make a change in our pricing and I see that, you know, volume increases.  We have an increase in sales.  Well okay, so I change my price and then I see a big change in sales.  In that situation I’d say that our pricing is very elastic.  It’s quick to respond.  In this situation, it’s a good thing.  Likewise if the price decreases, I’m sorry, say we increase the price and sales go down, you know, well it’s still price elastic and it’s still quick to respond.  It’s not that it’s good or bad it just means that it’s quick to respond.  Again, inelastic is just slow to respond.  So you hold that and depending on the situation – I mean you could be talking about supply, you could be talking about pricing, you could talk about a purchase behavior or any of those things and it’s not really that it’s good or bad that inelastic is good and that elastic is bad it just means that one is slow to respond and the other one isn’t.  So people get that kind of confused or they want to hold that price inelasticity is a good thing or a bad thing.   Well, it depends on who you are and the context of the situation and that’s why I give you these examples so you can kind of understand the term and be able to apply it to your own scenario.

And now the actionable information you’ve desperately needed.

When I went on vacation this last time I realized that I needed a checklist for following these steps before I left for vacation.  Now the vacation was kind of a spur of the moment thing.  It was like I wasn’t sure if it was going to happen this day or in the next couple days and bam – it just happened and I realized at that point that I needed this checklist.  So I actually wrote a blog post on this.  You should go to www.getreporthelp.com and check out this blog post that I put up which was a check list for vacations.  I go into a lot more details on this.  But I wanted to at least give you the five steps that you need to follow before going on vacation.  It’s good to kind of just have this checklist and then work through it.

So the first one is to know what meetings you need to reschedule.  Now the second one is to know what meetings you can cancel.  I make that distinction very clear because when you look at your calendar, not every one of those meetings needs to be rescheduled.  It’s not like you just bump every one of those to next week.  Some of those can get trimmed.  You know, you’re out, you’re not going to be around so let’s handle it by e-mail, okay?  It’s a little easier, a little faster, so knowing which of those meetings that you want to reschedule – handle those first, move those off.  The other ones you can just flat-out cancel.  Cancel the meeting and say, “I’m going to be on vacation.  Send me an e-mail and let me know” or whatever.    So make that distinction.  It saves you time.  When you get back into the office it’s not like you just had to cram in every one of those meetings into the next week which just makes you dread coming back to the office and just getting snowballed with all of this extra work.  Some of it can be trimmed because you’re going on vacation.  Bear that in mind.  So step one was to know what meetings you need to reschedule.  Step two – know what meetings you can cancel.  Step three – turn your out of office e-mail assistant on.  I know, everybody knows to do this but hey, it’s on the checklist make sure you get that done.  Make sure to put when you’re going to be back in the office and who they need to contact if it’s an emergency.  I always like to add in a little bit of humor there.  It makes it a little more memorable and kind of sticks with people.  Otherwise, the generic out of office, people will see it and then they will forget it.  They will forget that you’re out of office.  But if you make a little humorous it kind of sticks with them and you’ll get a little less e-mail traffic because of that.  Step number four – notify the people who need to know you are leaving.  Now, obviously, you want to let your boss know that you are going to be on vacation – that you’re taking off.  But there are probably two or three other people that you want to know – clearly the people that you include in your “out of office.”  So if you say, “For this problem, go to Joe.”  Well, you want to let Joe know that you’re on vacation.  Because there is    nothing more frustrating than when you have something, you reach out to someone and they say, “Contact this other person.”  Then when you reach out to the other person, they’re out on vacation and they send it back and say, “Contact the first person.”  It’s so frustrating.  So you want to take care of that first.  Notify the people that need to know that you’re leaving.  The last one is forward your phone to your cell phone.  Now some people would indicate that you shouldn’t do this, but I make the case that you should and here’s why:  you are going to save yourself time when you get back into the office.  The reality is if people are calling your cell phone you can always just let it go to voicemail and deal with it later.  But if you’re just in a situation where you’re waiting in line or something and a phone call comes in  – hey, you can handle that now and that saves you that much more when you get back to the office.  Sometimes it’s just these simple things like,  “Hey, I needed to blah, blah, blah,” and you can just answer that in thirty seconds or a minute call.  If you don’t answer that, then you’ve got a voicemail – they are probably going to shoot you an e-mail to follow-up on that.  And then when you get back into the office you’ve got this e-mail and voicemail and you have to follow up on all of that stuff.   You know, if it’s something you can handle in a quick call, man, just do it.  So most business phones now have this functionality already set up in there.  So you can just get your phone forwarded to your cell phone while you are on vacation.   It just makes it that much easier.  If you don’t know how to do that just contact technical support or reach out to your phone person and just ask him, “Hey – is there any way I can get my work phone forwarded to my cell phone.  I’m going to be on vacation.”  Chances are they are more than willing to set that up and again, it just saves you that much more of a headache when you get back into the office.  For more information on that, like I said check out the website.  I go into more information on each one of these and a couple other pieces there so check that out and thanks for listening.

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One Response to Elasticity

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