Remote Work Digest: April 28, 2020

The latest on all kinds of information, news, and resources that help you make working remotely better.

5 reasons companies are adopting the distributed team model | Moira Alexander, Techrepublic.com

Business company managing telework online

Some of the top remote companies to work for, including Amazon, Intuit, and Johnson & Johnson, have recognized the benefits of hiring a distributed workforce, and this has only been further reinforced by the recent COVID-19 pandemic and its resulting business disruption.

Here are five reasons your company should consider hiring a distributed or hybrid team.

  1. Improve your skills-based hiring. To be successful, your company should be tapping into a broader talent pool, and this means finding employees or contractors who can help you achieve project-specific goals rather than employees who are located near your office. Hiring solely based on skill and fit increases the likelihood that you’ll be satisfied with your hire and the quality of their work.
  2. Save money. By not having to pay for a larger commercial space and all the associated utilities and maintenance costs, remote employers are able to offer more competitive salaries and benefits to their distributed workforce.
  3. Increase your employees’ satisfaction. OWLLabs reports that remote workers say they’re happier in their jobs 83% more than on-site workers and that they would take a pay cut of up to 10% in order to work remotely. Travel to and from the office as well as politics and conflict within the office add significantly to costs and stress.
  4. Lower your turnover. Most people can agree that higher salaries combined with more work-life balance, opportunities for career progression, and less conflict increase the chance of staying with an employer for the long haul.
  5. Increase employee ownership and buy-in. When employees or contractors are part of a distributed team, they’re far more likely to develop a sense of ownership and buy-in and work harder in general. In fact, remote workers say that they work more than the expected 40 hours a week 43% more often than on-site workers.

With current events throwing companies into a tailspin, your company should adopt a distributed or hybrid team to attract talent. By offering a better work-life balance, less stress, and higher pay, your company wins through increased employee buy-in, higher productivity, and lower turnover.

Work From Home Guide for First-Time Remote Workers | Nikola Baldikov, Allbusiness.com

home-office-300x235Even before the current situation around COVID-19, remote work has been on the rise. A recent study released prior to the coronavirus pandemic found that 50% of employees globally worked remotely for at least half of the week. This has been matched by a similarly positive trend in employee preference when it comes to remote work. The same study found that when faced with similar job offers, 80% of employees would refuse the offer that didn’t offer a flexible work option.

All of this means that whether you’re ready or not, remote work is here to stay. The logical question now becomes how can you not only survive in this new reality, but thrive. Luckily, there’s an abundance of collective knowledge on remote work gained by early adopters. Read on to find some practical tips and tools that will help you make the most of this situation.

Establish a routine

Perhaps the biggest challenge to adapting to a new work arrangement is finding your routine. Humans find comfort in the familiar, so until you become used to working from home you’ll likely feel out of place.

We all have our office routine, usually revolving around peak productive times, meetings and down time for things like lunch and coffee. Just because you’re working from home doesn’t mean that you can’t recreate something similar.

Morning exercise – Previously you may have walked to work, climbed some stairs, left the office to get lunch, etc. Compensating for this is important for your physical and mental health.

Get dressed for work – Just because you can spend all day in your pajamas doesn’t mean you should. In order to set the right tone for yourself, take the time to prepare yourself for the day just as you would if you were going to the office.

Breakfast and personal time – Breakfast is the perfect opportunity to do something for yourself: catch up on the news, read a book, just look out the window, or anything else that brings you joy.

Create a plan for your workday – Taking time in the morning to outline your tasks and goals for the day is a great way to maintain focus.

Work smart – When you feel that you need a break, take one. In the office you would find ways to clear your mind and stretch your legs.

Finish work at a set time – Set a clear end time for your work every day. Of course this can be adjusted in certain cases, as in the office. However, sticking to strict working times can create an important separation of your work and your personal life.

Don’t forget to take time for yourself

One of the biggest challenges of working from home is the feeling you’re always connected. Too often people get up, turn on the computer, begin working, and don’t stop until late in the evening, putting in much more than an eight-hour day. Partly this comes from a drive to “prove” you’re working, a mindset that you should try to overcome as you become more comfortable with remote work.

Just because your home has now become your office you shouldn’t feel obliged to be available during all waking hours. In fact, now more than ever, it’s important to take time for yourself in order to maintain your physical and mental health.

Find ways to interact in person

One of the biggest challenges of working from home is the loss of human-to-human connection that you find in the office. You’ll quickly come to value, and miss, those in-person interactions. Humans are social beings, and we need to feel connected. In fact, research shows that 19% of remote workers report loneliness as their biggest challenge. That’s why when working from home it’s crucial to find ways to interact in person.

Find the right tools

Too often people hope for a technological solution to a human challenge. Using the right tools can certainly help you feel more connected and increase your ability to collaborate. However, tools are a means rather than an end, and it’s much more important to nail down the points above before considering technology.

With that said, there are some broad categories of tools that can help you and your team stay in touch and maintain productivity. Your choice will depend on many factors, including your current setup, your team’s specific needs, the size of your team, the size of your budget, etc.

Team communication solutions

Your choice will ultimately need to reflect your team’s specific needs, for example, whether you need to keep in constant touch and be able to collaborate in groups, or you do most of your work individually.

Here are a few examples of tools to help orient you in your search:

Zoom: A remote conferencing service that’s gaining a lot of attention during the current crisis for its work, educational, and social uses. Zoom offers a range of tools for online meetings, chat and collaboration.

Slack: Slack allows you to structure your communication by teams and topics. There’s also the ability to integrate an unlimited number of apps, which can help streamline your remote communication.

Microsoft Teams: A good choice if you’re looking for a more comprehensive collaboration solution for your remote work.

Organization and productivity apps

Staying focused and on task is difficult in the best of circumstances. Without the structure that an office environment provides, it can become even more difficult. There are a range of apps developed to help teams stay organized and productive. From time tracking and scheduling software, to project planning and workflow organization, there’s an app for pretty much every need.

Dealing with change

Suddenly being forced to switch to a home office setup due to external factors is just such a situation. By approaching this change with an open heart, open mind, and of course, a good plan, you can turn a challenge into an opportunity for growth!

5 tips to staying productive during the quarantine | Kelly Broderick, Wmar2news.com

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Because your days may be stuck behind those four walls for a bit, we’re taking a look at some tips to help improve your productivity during these trying times.

  1. Create a Flexible Schedule

Be realistic about your tasks and if you feel like you’re being drained by the end of the day, try to space the things out. One of the aspects about this pandemic is how emotionally and mentally draining it can be on an individual. If you feel like you need a break from things for a while, do that. But try to be productive about those decisions.

Productivity coach Rose-Anne Uwague weighed in on this topic with Forbes saying, “Honesty is key. If you don’t feel like doing something because you are drained, overwhelmed or tired, it is better not to do it. If the lack of desire is merely laziness, then dump the excuses and get up and go!”

  1. Prioritize your to-do list

This may be an obvious one, but try to choose the tasks based on what has to get done that day. If you can, try to pair activities together! Now that’s not saying you should try your new workout routine while learning how to cook, but if you have to do some work on the computer, why not do your laundry at the same time? Things you can pair are tasks that can be paused if one of them needs to take priority.

  1. If you’re looking for a job, start building up your resume!

Working on your resume, strengthening your LinkedIn page or even creating a website is something that will keep you on top of your game if you do hit the hard times.

  1. Learn a new skill!

Learning a skill doesn’t have to be a monumental thing. In some ways, it can just teach you something new or give you something to add to that resume we talked about.

  1. Know when to take a break

If you have the ability to, go for a walk or step outside for 10 minutes. If you’re unable to leave your house at this time, try to do some stretches or schedule quick phone calls with family when you need a break from work.

Rome wasn’t built in a day, so if its a struggle to stay motivated, realize you are not alone.

19 Jobs You Can You Can Do Without Leaving the House | Stacy Rapacon, Aarp.org

Studying with video online lesson at home

Working from home, in many ways, is the only solution for older workers who tend to be more susceptible to severe cases of COVID-19, the illness caused by the new coronavirus. The good news is you can find an array of work-from-home jobs across all industries and at varying experience levels. Here are 19 work-from-home jobs currently hiring.

  1. Teacher

Who’s hiring: Outschool, K12, Prof360

Pay can vary widely, depending on what exactly you teach. For example, the median hourly pay is about $15 an hour for an elementary school teacher and $33 an hour for a postsecondary professor, according to PayScale. Outschool, a marketplace for online classes, says its teachers make $30 to $40 an hour, on average.

  1. Telehealth Nurse

Who’s hiring: AxisPoint Health, Forward

Telehealth had been growing in popularity before the coronavirus hit the U.S. and has gotten an extra boost in demand as the health care system has been inundated with COVID-19 patients. Indeed, AxisPoint Health is looking to hire full-time telehealth nurses to answer questions specifically about COVID-19 and help manage the current health care crisis from the safety of their own homes. Other opportunities are available for part-timers. Just be sure to check on licensing requirements.

  1. Transcriptionist

Who’s hiring: Literably, Pactera Technologies

If you can listen and type, you can be a transcriptionist. Some positions, such as in the medical field, may prefer applicants with technical knowledge of the subject matter. But plenty of opportunities — including those at Literably (a reading assessment service for students from kindergarten through eighth grade) and Pactera Technologies (a global digital consulting firm) — require no prior experience and provide on-the-job training.

  1. Consultant

Who’s hiring: Various companies

This can be a particularly attractive move for pre-retirees in a variety of industries hoping to ease into retirement, as it lets you trim back your hours as you see fit but maintain your senior-level pay rate if you stick with your area of expertise. You might even be able to talk to your current employer about transitioning a full-time position into a contract role. Otherwise, a number of online job boards — such as Upwork and FlexJobs — and staffing agencies — such as Wahve (which specializes in working with pre-retirees) and Robert Half — can help connect you with clients.

  1. Bookkeeper

Who’s hiring: AccountingDepartment.com, Beech Valley Solutions

Keep your accounting expertise at home and provide your services virtually. AccountingDepartment.com is hiring accounting professionals for a variety of full-time and fully remote positions that come complete with health insurance, a 401(k) plan and paid vacation time. Beech Valley Solutions is seeking hourly contract accounting pros for ongoing work.

  1. Virtual Assistant

Who’s hiring: Boldly

Provide administrative support from the comfort of your own home and schedule. Virtual assistants can perform a range of services, from scheduling and email management to social media strategizing and event planning. And you can seek to do it full time via an agency or independently on a gig-by-gig basis.

  1. Focus Group Participant

Who’s hiring: Consumer Opinion Services, Find Focus Groups, Focus Pointe Global

Get paid to share your opinions. While it’s not exactly a job, participating in surveys and focus groups can be an easy way to pick up a bit of extra cash — in some cases, a very little bit.

  1. Translator

Who’s hiring: CyraCom, Translate.com, Wikimedia Foundation

These workers translate the written or the spoken word, depending on the position. At CyraCom (which is currently seeking Swahili interpreters), you’d staff the phones and assist people communicating with doctors, insurance agents and even 9-1-1 operators. Translate.com offers work on a gig-by-gig basis, which can give you more flexibility. Just note that all gigs are first come, first served and can pay less than a penny per word.

  1. Mock Juror

Who’s hiring: Online Verdict, eJury.com, Jury Test

Mock jurors assist lawyers (and their clients) by reviewing legal cases and offering their feedback on how they’d rule. Like participating in focus groups, you can’t exactly make a career of this.

  1. Writer

Who’s hiring: Contently, NerdWallet

The ability to string a sentence together can land you a work-from-home job in a wide range of industries, whether you’re a rookie writer or a seasoned pro. Of course, the more experience you have, the greater your pay potential. Expertise in a certain field — be it sports, parenting, personal finance, technology or science — can also help boost your prospects, as well as narrow your job search.

  1. Customer Service Representative

Who’s hiring: Discover Financial Services, InfoCision, liveops, Prudential, Teladoc Health, Williams Sonoma

Make your home a one-person call center. You can assist customers by phone for a variety of businesses in a wide range of industries, from retail to health care to technology and everything in between. You may even be able to give your voice a rest and provide your services online, helping clients via email or online chat.

  1. Negotiator

Who’s hiring: Path One Group

If your communication skills are particularly persuasive, becoming a bill negotiation advocate could be right up your alley. Through its Autopilot product, the tech company Viv, a subsidiary of Path One Group, aims to help people lower their monthly bills for cable, cellphone plans, internet and other utilities. And they need negotiators to do the dirty work of haggling with the likes of Comcast, Verizon and other service providers most people would prefer not to talk to themselves.

  1. SEO Specialist

Who’s hiring: Coalition Technologies, Main Street ROI, Sure Oak

SEO experts review and analyze websites, identifying content and design issues that could be dragging them down and providing solutions for improvement. Many companies are seeking to fill this kind of position with full-time, part-time and contract workers.

  1. Claims Investigator

Who’s hiring: Amazon, Anthem, Bcforward

Put your sleuthing skills to work. Claims investigators perform in-depth online and database research to assess the legitimacy of an individual’s unemployment or insurance claim. The level of education and experience required varies by position, with senior roles possibly requiring specialized degrees.

  1. Speech Language Pathologist

Who’s hiring: ProCare Therapy, Soliant, VocoVision

Speech language pathologists work with K-12 students to identify communication disorders and develop individualized education plans to address their needs. And with schools currently practicing remote learning, school districts are seeking remote workers to provide this important specialized service via teletherapy.

  1. Fundraising Coordinator

Who’s hiring: InfoCision, MedGlobal, TrueSense Marketing

Help raise money for the causes you believe in. You can take on a full-time entry-level job that requires you to communicate directly with potential or existing donors.

  1. School Psychologist

Who’s hiring: ProCare Therapy, Soliant, VocoVision

Schools aren’t just for book learning; they also provide a safe haven for students where professionals can help assess and promote their well-being. School psychologists work with K-12 students to identify and address any academic struggles, learning disabilities, and behavioral and emotional issues. And with schools currently practicing remote learning, school districts are seeking remote workers to provide this important specialized service via teletherapy.

  1. Sales Agent

Who’s hiring: eHealth, Humana, Salesforce

Companies across a range of industries, from financial to tech to health care, are looking for star salespeople with various levels of experience (and a license to sell, if necessary) to push their products and services from a remote location.

  1. Software Engineer

Who’s hiring: Amazon, LocusLabs, Robert Half

In addition to full-time listings with the above employers and staffing agencies, you can find freelance gigs for software engineers and developers via online marketplaces, such as FreeUp, Remote and Upwork.

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