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Betsy Herrick

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Words from a Veteran Telecommuter

Posted by Betsy Herrick

Wed, Aug 09, 2017

working from home.jpeg

I have the coveted corner office with a magnificent view. But it’s not the typical “corner office” you might be thinking of, the one perched thirty stories up, with floor-to-ceiling windows offering unobstructed views of the bustling city street below. Nope, my corner office looks out over the quiet, rural landscape of my backyard in Maine.

Even though my company’s headquarters are in Downtown Boston, for the past 11 years, I’ve been a full-time remote employee.

When I first started working from home in 2006, it wasn’t nearly as popular as it is today. The concept of working from home, or “telecommuting", as it’s come to be known as, seemed to be a perk that only startups offered employees, not "regular" businesses. To those who weren't familiar with the concept, they probably pictured remote employees as sitting at home with their feet up at their desk eating bonbons. But fortunately, even in the early days, CMB embraced the idea with optimism.

Over the last decade, telecommuting has gained tremendous popularity with the number of full-time remote employees in the US increasing by 115% between 2005 and 2015. I was the first CMBer to work remote full-time, and now we have more than five employees telecommuting with another group doing so part-time.

Both the employer and employee have much to gain from this arrangement, for example, higher productivity, fewer sick or weather-related absences, more flexibility, a generally happier workforce, etc. While telecommuting can be mutually beneficial, there are a couple key things that must happen in order for it to be a productive and successful arrangement.

In my eleven years as a remote employee, I’ve learned communication is integral to a successful telecommuting arrangement. And fortunately, today’s technology makes it really easy for communication to flow seamlessly between colleagues—ensuring I am connected and engaged, even when I’m hundreds of miles away in Maine. In addition to traditional email and good, old-fashioned phone calls (never underestimate the power of the spoken word!), we regularly use virtual meeting software equipped with screen sharing and video chat capabilities. These technologies enhance productivity and enable real-time responses.

A successful telecommuter must be able to prioritize tasks without much guidance and regular physical check ins. It’s their responsibility to keep up with important deadlines, and know which projects take precedence over others when priorities shift. In my case, as a graphic designer, it helps that I have a deadline-oriented job—I’ve been trained to work autonomously towards daily goals, but know when I need to rearrange my schedule if something unexpected pops up.

Working from home offers distractions that a traditional office setting might not—whether it’s the beautiful weather outside or a pile of laundry inside. To combat these distractions, it’s important for a telecommuter to have a designated work space away from their “home life”.  I treat my office space as exactly that, a place “away” from home where I go to work each day. It is a separate space with a desk, good lighting, and all the technology I need to do my job. I do not answer my home phone or go pull weeds in my garden during business hours, just as if I was at my company’s physical location… although I do enjoy having a cat on my lap occasionally while I work.

As telecommuting grows in popularity, companies are discovering other, less obvious benefits from this practice: better staff health, lower operating costs, greater loyalty (with less turnover) for the company, and fewer weather-related business interruptions, to name a few. But despite the pros, telecommuting is not for everyone. When you work remotely, you sacrifice the social aspect of going into a physical office—there’s no water cooler at my house and I regularly miss out on weekly company events.

But ultimately, my commute rocks, my productivity is high, my colleagues keep me “in the loop”, and I love my corner office with a view. I wouldn’t change my work situation if you paid me, and ironically, I already get paid to stay home.

Betsy is CMB’s Corporate Design Specialist, and does enjoy bonbons…just not during working hours.

Topics: Chadwick Martin Bailey

A Thousand Words: Using Graphics in Research

Posted by Betsy Herrick

Wed, Jul 01, 2015

 

Hcmb, betsy herrick, data visualizationow do you make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich? It’s a simple task, but using only words to explain the process makes it seem far more complex. Images are easier to interpret and comprehend quickly. Show an image of a PB&J, rather than detailed instructions, to a sandwich-making rookie, and you’ll get your sandwich a lot quicker.The human brain processes visual images 60,000 times faster than any other type of stimuli. The use of images is a powerful and efficient tool to help convey your message. In today’s digital world, not only are people using visual communication more than ever, they’re also communicating better.

Using visuals enables your audience to see the meaning behind complex or large amounts of information by breaking it down into digestible pieces, simplifying the communication process and enhancing comprehension. Graphics can demonstrate hard to understand information and increase recollection and retention of information. In fact, information presented visually is six times more likely to be remembered days later versus information presented orally.

Although visual communication alone is shown to be more impactful than purely textual communication, the most effective method combines both types of content since visual communication is sometimes ambiguous and needs clarification. According to a study by Robert E. Horn back in 2001, combining visuals and text enhances comprehension by as much as 89%.

We approach deliverables with this in mind, and since there are a variety of visual techniques that can draw out (pun intended) the story behind the numbers, we often have to decide on the best route. For example, simple charts can enhance comprehension
of data, and by adding color coding, iconography, and other graphic elements, a higher level of detail can be revealed. The data becomes more organized throughout by displaying structure and visually mapping relationships within the research results.

deliverables   betsy blogSome visual methods are designed for impact, and are more likely to be remembered and shared, which is something to keep in mind when considering socialization within an organization. Using an infographic or interactive presentation to report results is 30 times more likely to be read and absorbed than plain text. These powerful mediums can convey meaningful results faster and more effectively than a data-heavy report. They strike an attractive balance between content types while telling a compelling and relevant story. Infographics, in particular, can be very engaging, and their versatility makes them a value-add for any industry’s research results.

No matter what medium you use, insights are only valuable if they are provided in a way that makes them easy to implement. So whether you use video, posters, dynamic presentations, infographics or plain old PowerPoint, make sure you keep them clear, concise, and easy to understand by your audience.  

Betsy is CMB’s Graphic Design Specialist and has been in the market research industry for over 15 years. At work, she enjoys turning ugly ducklings into swans…and speaking of ducks, she lives on a 30-acre farm in rural Maine with her husband and once had a duck named Monty that thought he was a cow. 

Watch our recent webinar with Research Now to hear the results of our recent self-funded Consumer Pulse study that leveraged passive mobile behavioral data and survey data simultaneously to reveal insights into the current Mobile Wallet industry in the US.

Watch Here!

Topics: Chadwick Martin Bailey, storytelling