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Words from a Veteran Telecommuter

Posted by Betsy Herrick

Wed, Aug 09, 2017

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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

How My Company Keeps Me Loyal

Posted by Tara Lasker

Thu, Jul 13, 2017

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As a Research Director at CMB, part of my job is attracting and retaining top talent. I meet dozens of candidates each month, and even though I interview for a variety of different positions, everyone asks how long I’ve worked at CMB.

As LinkedIn reminded me recently, that answer is 17 years. 

The average American stays with their company for just 4 years. Being here for 17, I’d say I’m pretty lucky to have found a company that’s kept me interested, engaged, and loyal after all this time.

What is it that keeps me happily returning to work each day? Interviewing candidates offers me the opportunity to reflect and share what I love about CMB:

  1. Variety: We’re a full-service custom research firm whose focus is on helping solve our clients’ biggest, most complex business challenges. And since our clients include everyone from national financial institutions to Silicon Valley-based tech companies, no two challenges are the same. I’m constantly exposed to new challenges and therefore consider myself a “professional learner"—it never gets old.
  1. Flexibility: Professional services can be a demanding environment, but we strive to create a culture that honors work/life balance. Not only that, we have flexibility to work from home if the occasion calls for it, while some CMBers work remotely full-time. As a mom of two young kids, I especially value this flexibility!
  1. Growth: I’ve held several roles since starting at CMB, each of which has been an opportunity to explore different career paths while leveraging my strengths. I’ve tried and tested and now, as a manager of a large team, encourage my direct reports to explore and grow. It’s extremely satisfying to support the promotion of my colleagues and encourage their professional development opportunities.

Variety, flexibility, and growth have been the cornerstones of my CMB experience. We have a wonderful company culture that values creativity, hard work, and individual growth.

Interested in learning more? Check out our open positions and feel free to ask me questions in the comments!

Tara Lasker is a Research Director on CMB's Technology and eCommerce practice and is grateful to have found her professional home here.

Topics: Chadwick Martin Bailey, Market research

CMB Lights the Night for Cancer Research

Posted by Athena Rodriguez

Thu, Oct 13, 2016

Once again CMB is participating in Light the Night, a fundraising campaign for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, culminating in a walk on Boston Common on October 20th.  Our participation began back in 2008, when our coworker, Catherine, was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma.  After two rounds of chemo, a stem cell transplant, and proton radiation therapy, I’m happy to report that she recently celebrated six years in remission!  

The money raised is used to fund research for new therapies and treatments (including those that saved Catherine) and ensure patient access to treatments.  Last year alone, LLS invested $67.2 million in blood cancer research.

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Over the past 8 years, we’ve raised over $80K—not bad for a 65 person company!  LTN is truly a company-wide endeavor, we host bake sales, BBQs, silent auctions, and a very competitive cornhole tournament.  This year we've raised over $6K, and we're still going strong. We'd like to give a big thank you to all of our clients, partners, and friends who've donated!

If you’d like to join us in the fight against cancer, please donate here or meet us on Thursday October 20th at 5PM on the Boston Common.

That's not the only way to join the CMB team, whether you are an innovation guru, a tech whiz, or a strategic selling machine, we’re looking for collaborative, engaged professionals:

Check out our open positions!

 

 

 

Topics: Chadwick Martin Bailey, our people, CMB Careers, Light the Night,

How to get the most ROI from TMRE 2016

Posted by Julie Kurd

Wed, Oct 05, 2016

Knect365’s (formerly IIR) TMRE conference is the diva of the insights conference world—from October 17th to the 20thyou can expect thousands of attendees, six tracks running simultaneously, and terrific keynote speakers like Freakonomic’s Stephen Dubner. All of this adds up to a significantly higher price tag, so let’s talk about how you’re going to communicate conference ROI to your CMO. 

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Plan prior to the conference:

  • Write your elevator pitch: Whether you’re reserved or chatty, you’re going meet a lot of new people at TMRE, so take a minute to prepare your elevator speech:
    1. “My name is ___ and I work for ___, the makers of ___.”  If you work for Amazon, people understand that, but if you work for SC Johnson or Coca Cola, specify the product line.
    2. “In the coming year we’re focused on improving our ___, and for that we’re interested in ___.”  Here’s an example: “We just finished up a big journey study, which will help us drive the right messages to the right people at the right moments.” You can follow that up with something like: “In the coming year we’re going to do a lot of messaging optimization and concept testing to bring those moments into focus by segment.” That’s your hook, and your reason for the conversation you’re having.   
    3. Next comes your question. You’ve offered a bit about what you do, but who are you talking with?  If they are a peer or competitor, ask, “How about you?”  That’s it.  You need to bring this information back to your company.  If they are a supplier of research, ask, “How would you approach this if you were pitching to me?” 
  • Highlight the agenda: Figure out which sessions you want to attend. Tip:  I circle my agenda based on who will be speaking vs. the topic itself.  I want a mix of dot com, financial services, technology, healthcare, hospitality, and consumer goods, so I circle every brand that interests me and then I go back and take a look at the titles.  If I’m interested in mobile/geotagging more than dashboards (or vice versa), then I can narrow it down from there.
  • Block your calendar for the October 17-20 dates: Activate your out of office message and be sure to mention that you’re WORKING offsite all day.  At the price of any conference, it’s really a crime to be dialing in to staff meetings or writing emails in your hotel room.  Plan ahead…if you have a big deadline, consider moving it.  The Conference ROI of you missing the conference…it’s not pretty.

During the Conference:

  • Recap 3 of the sessions in writing so you can talk specifically about the cases during a future lunch and/or a staff meeting:  It is not enough to just go and listen to each session and then when you return to the office proclaim, “the conference was great.” You need to listen fiercely, with pen or tablet in hand, and write down who spoke, what they said and how it can be useful to your business. This is key, you need to find a way to weave in at least two of those three sessions into your future behaviors. TMRE should CHANGE the way you think, and the only way change happens is if you bring it on yourself. 
  • Make a few new acquaintances (and connect on LinkedIn): Because you need to keep actively learning in and across industries, use TMRE to expand your network. One of our clients recently told me, “I’m painfully introverted so I just go to the sessions.” But how are you going to remember that incredible speaker from ___ or that kind person from ___ unless you connect on LinkedIn?  It may seem awkward, but when it comes time to look for new methodologies, share best practices or recruit new hires, you’ll be happy you connected with a wider net of people.  Companies can get insular, so TMRE offers you the opportunity to interact with people you wouldn’t typically meet.
  • Bonus tip—take a photo of yourself with one of the famous authors and share it with your CMO: OK, you don’t NEED to do this, but you need to come up with one visual representation of you at work and broadening your horizons at the IIR TMRE. Best-selling authors including Stephen Dubner (Freakonomics, SuperFreakonomics), Zoe Chance (Better Influence) or Francis Glebas (The Animator’s Eye) will be there, so you can check out at least one of those books prior to the conference.  Or you can take a picture of the stage for one of your favorite sessions and share that.  A picture tells a great story!

Julie blogs for GreenBook, ResearchAccess, and CMB. She’s an inspired participant, amplifier, socializer, and spotter in the Twitter #mrx community. Talk research with her @julie1research.

Headed to TMRE? Stop by Booth 516 and say hello to Julie and the rest of the CMB team. And don't forget to catch CMB's Brant Cruz and Electronic Arts' (EA's) Jodie Antypas as they share how  EA leveraged insights to make a dramatic company turnaround: October 18th @11:15am.

 

Topics: Chadwick Martin Bailey, conference recap, Market research

OMG! You Won’t Believe the 3 Things Segmentation and BuzzFeed Quizzes have in Common!

Posted by Amy Maret

Wed, Aug 31, 2016

19t0cg.jpg“Which Starbucks Drink Are You?” “What Role Would You Play in a Disney Movie?” “Which ‘Friends’ Character Are You Least Like?” These are the deep existential questions posed on websites like BuzzFeedand PlayBuzz. My Facebook and Twitter feeds are continuously flooded by friends posting their quiz results, and the market researcher in me can’t help compare them to the segmentationwork that we do at CMB every day.

So let’s take a closer look at a few of the basic concepts segmentations share with Buzzfeed quizzes and learn why I’m not too worried about losing my job to BuzzFeed writers just yet:

  1. You answer a predetermined set of questions. In the Starbucks drink quiz, you might be asked to identify your favorite color or your ideal vacation spot, even though these questions have nothing to do with Starbucks. At CMB, we focus on the product or service category at hand, we make sure we include questions that measure real customer needs. That way, we know our final solution will have implications in driving customer behavior. It’s much easier to see the relevance of a solution when the questions we ask have face validity.
  1. You are assigned to a group based on your answers. While I don’t know exactly what happens on the back end of a BuzzFeed quiz, there must be some basic algorithm that determines whether you are a Double Chocolaty Chip Frappuccino or Very Berry Hibiscus Refresher. However, as far as I know, the rules behind this algorithm are entirely made up by the author of the quiz, probably based on hours hanging out at their local Starbucks. When we conduct a market segmentation study, we typically use a nationally representative sample, which allows our clients to see how large the segments are and what true opportunities exist in the market. We also ensure that we end up with a set of clearly distinct segments that are both statistically solid and useful so that our clients can feel confident implementing the results.
  1. Each group is associated with certain traits. When your quiz results pop up, they usually come with a brief explanation of what the results mean. If you are an Iced Caramel Macchiato, for example, you're successful, honest, and confident. But, if you are a Passion Iced Tea, you are charismatic and hilarious. As a standard part of our segmentation studies, CMB delivers an in-depth look at key measures for each segment, such as demographics, brand preference, and usage, to demonstrate what makes them unique, and how they can be reached. We tailor these profiles to meet the needs of the client, so that they can be used to solve real business problems. For example, the sales team could use these segmentation results to personalize each pitch to a particular type of prospect, the creative team could target advertisements to key customer groups, or finance managers could ensure that budgets are being directed towards those with whom they will be most effective.

I’ll be the first person to admit that personality quizzes are a great way to waste some free time and maybe even learn something new about yourself. But what’s really fun is taking the same basic principles and using them to help real businesses make better decisions. After all, a segmentation is only useful when it is used, and that is why we make our segmentation solutions dynamic, living things to be reapplied and refreshed as often as needed to keep them actionable.

Amy Maret is a Project Manager at CMB with a slight addiction to personality quizzes. In case you were curious, she is an Espresso Macchiato, would play a Princess in a Disney movie, and is least like Ross from Friends.

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Topics: Chadwick Martin Bailey, research design, market strategy and segmentation, Market research