By Gregory Pings, manager of Content Marketing, Xerox

“It depends on what I’m trying to do.”

No answer to a simple question is ever easy.

Beth Richmond

“Once you start using the tools right, you gain a lot of efficiencies.” – Beth Richmond, Manager, BSR

“If I’m writing a report, I’ll work from home or find a cubby to hole-up for the day, and I’ll shut off the email notifications,” Beth Richmond said.

Richmond is a manager for BSR (Business Social Responsibility), a global nonprofit network of 250 companies that are dedicated to a just, sustainable world. (Xerox has been a member since 2004.) Beth’s work centers around the nuts and bolts of how businesses manage corporate social responsibility (CSR). Broadly speaking, issues like the environment, women’s empowerment, privacy and more dominate BSR’s work.

“For instance, our Future of Fuels collaboration supports companies working toward reducing the carbon footprint of their freight, by developing tools and engagements around things like carbon emissions, alternate fuels, and available technology,” Richmond explained. “Fuel requires infrastructure and long term investment.”

“Collaboration is important on these issues,” she added, “because they are bigger than any one company can solve on its own. We gather and synthesize information from a network of technical experts to make it decision-useful for our members.”

For more information about Corporate Social Responsibility at Xerox see our Report on Global Citizenship.

Get the work done

“I develop PowerPoints for a living,” Richmond joked, but she pointed out that her computer is essential. “I have a lot of ‘deliverable production’ in my job.”

Underpinning all those documents are the relationships and conversations she has with people around the world – BSR colleagues as well as partners and peers. Communicating live – talking to people, understanding what they think makes the rest of her job possible.

“I interview stakeholders in the field, and I learn what they’re thinking, so that our team can provide insights to our members,” Richmond explained.

And then there’s project management, internal systems for billing, and collaboration tools that make it possible for Richmond to focus on her work.

“I’m tethered to my laptop,” Richmond said. “It puts me on conference calls, instant messaging and email. It facilitates access to SharePoint and Salesforce, which link our projects and offices together. My laptop does everything for me.”

Productivity and technology

The entire point of Xerox’s Set the Page Free campaign is to talk about ways technology makes you more productive. Even if your job revolves around “deliverables,” your “page” transcends PowerPoint presentations and IM. But sometimes you have to turn these page-makers off when you’re trying to hunker down and write.

“Email has the potential to make us constantly answer email,” Richmond said. “It just isn’t possible for me to multitask and be truly thoughtful at the same time. I have to be mindful of how I handle technology because the notifications are distracting.”

On balance, Richmond believes that technology makes her (and her team) more productive. “Once you start using the tools right, you gain a lot of efficiencies. You’re able to know what your team is doing without having to pull them away from their focus.”

The Modern Workplace series is published each Friday on Xerox Connect. Subscribe to this blog so you won’t miss a thing, or retrieve your favorite Modern Workplace articles here.

The modern work environment

“I’ve been working for 10-plus years. I’ve always had a laptop. I’ve always had the ability to work from home, and I’m used to that being culturally acceptable,” Richmond said. “But I’ve always liked being in the office with colleagues because it allows for meetings at the water cooler. Without these chance meetings, interactions with colleagues can become very transactional. The BSR team is full of interesting people, with diverse backgrounds, working on incredibly important issues and I’m always amazed by what I learn just standing in our kitchen.”

But it all depends on what you’re trying to do.