Remote Work Digest: September 30, 2020

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

6 Ways to Save on Your Energy Bill When Working From Home | Lesly Gregory, Apartmentguide.com

Working from home can create a huge drain on your utilities, but there are ways to cut back. Remembering these simple steps can help save money on your energy bill.

  1. Control vampire appliances

Vampire appliances are everyday items that continue to suck electricity when they’re not in use. Simply keeping them plugged means they’re stealing away valuable energy and costing you extra. Some of the biggest culprits in this category are:

  • Cellphone and laptop chargers
  • Video game chargers and console plugs
  • Computer printers
  • TVs
  • Stereos
  • Coffee makers
  • Electric toothbrushes

You can unplug most of these items when they’re not in use. It’s easy to keep chargers next to outlets, but not always plugged in at ready. When you remove electronics from their charger, simply unplug the charger, as well.

2. Drain the power

Consider only charging your device in short spurts during the day to give it an energy boost. A perfect time for a recharge is when you walk away for lunch or take a bathroom break. Concentrate on getting it back up at 100 at night, when you’re done working.

Doing this not only helps you save on your energy bill, but it’s also good for your device’s battery. According to TIME, fully charging your battery stresses it out and can wear it down faster.

3. Put it to sleep

Does your computer stay on even when you walk away from it? Have you turned off sleep mode to make sure you don’t miss a single notification during working hours? Is so, you’re burning up electricity. Engaging power management features or putting your computer to sleep can save you up to $50 per year on your electric bill.

4. Manage your lighting

Whether your home office is at a kitchen table, inside a closet or in a dedicated office space, lighting is key. It’s also expensive. If you haven’t already, convert the bulbs in your office to LEDs. They do not help you save on your energy bull, but the average LED bulb lasts about 25,000 hours. An incandescent bulb only makes it 12,000 hours. If you’re working in an area with windows, open up the blinds. Rely on natural light, if you can, for at least part of the day, giving your bulbs a break.

5. Control the temperature

When you’re not home, it’s possible to adjust your thermostat to temps that make it less likely to run as often. It’s important to have a comfortable temperature when working, which means you’re using more electricity to regulate the temperature in your apartment. When you’re not home, you don’t need to maintain that temperature. Just a single degree adjustment can save you money. This slight change isn’t noticeable either, so consider it a way to save a few bucks.

6. Cut back on data usage

Maxing out your data limits each month not only means your devices are working overtime to raise your electricity bill, but you’re at risk for paying internet overages. Being resourceful with your internet usage can work hand-in-hand with lowering your electric bill. Just remember, even when you’ve put your computer to sleep, it could still drain your data.

To avoid this, make sure to:

  • Turn off location services on your phone while you’re home
  • Download music and videos instead of streaming
  • Use an internet browser that automatically compresses data like Google Chrome
  • Turn off the streaming device on your TV before you turn off the TV. They all keep streaming even when the TV isn’t on.
  • Use some of your phone data instead of Wi-Fi. This saves electricity too!

Save on your energy bill

There are a lot of easy ways to make big changes in your electricity bill, and even save some internet data in the process. The trick is to turn these small actions into regular habits.

10 Time Management Tips for Working Remotely | Barbara Weltman, Thestoryexchange.org

Six months into the pandemic, many of us are still working from home. Here’s advice from expert Barbara Weltman.

Here are 10 ideas to help you with time management while working remotely:

  1. Check your calendar at the start of the day.

There may be special meetings or events scheduled. Take a deep breath and begin your day knowing what’s been planned. As new things come up, note them on the calendar.

2. Use single tasking

Instead of multi-tasking (handling a household chore while trying to work), put full attention into one task. Complete it (or at least a set phase of it) before moving on.

3. Make a list of must-do items

If there are deadlines, be sure to note them. As my mentor told me many times, “do the best you can in the tie you have.”

4. Prioritize activities

There are different theories on how to do this. Some suggest putting the most important items up front and begin to tackle them. Others say to handle the little activities first so you can concentrate on important matters.

5. Schedule time for checking email.

Some prefer to limit viewing and responding to communications at a set time (e.g., before starting on other business tasks). Others use emails viewing to break up their work time. Learn what works better for you.

6. Watch the clock.

Whether you use a wall clock, the clock on your computer or mobile device, or a wristwatch, check where you’re at. Compare the actual time to what you have done and what you need to do before the end of the day.

7. Delegate activities.

Call upon others to help where needed. For example, those with young children at home need. For example, those with young children at home need to arrange supervision. If there are two working parents, it’s likely one must take charge to enable the other to work.

8. Communicate with employees.

One of the key problems for employees is understanding what’s expected of them and whether they’re doing it. Even without regular meetings, good communication can help employees with their time management.

9. Use software time management tools.

Businesses that want to track employee work hours can use software for this purpose.

10.  Plan ahead.

As the day draws to a close, assess what’s been accomplished and what remains to be done tomorrow. As Scarlett said in Gone With the Wind, “Tomorrow is another day.”

Corporate travel reset: 5 tips to improve productivity | Craig Fichtelberg, AmTrav, Phocuswire.com

If you create a program that eases the way for traveling employees, they’ll deliver more value by being more productive, which improves output.

Keep in mind that improving productivity in a travel program (or any other operation) is all about reducing input while increasing output.

Here are five ways to achieve that in your travel program:

Make data-driven decisions about in person vs. video call meetings

To create a data-driven travel program, rank past trips on a 5-point scale from most to least successful according to the outcome. Then, when travel resumes, use video calls to replace travel for the lowest ranked categories of meetings, and focus your travel budget on trips that are more likely to produce higher returns.

Keep monitoring the results, evaluating outcomes and ranking them in terms of productivity on the same five-point scale so you can continue to invest in the most productive trips.

This approach allows you to follow the data and make adjustments as needed to keep travel productivity high.

Maximize traveler satisfaction

Providing employees with travel amenities like minimal connecting flights, priority seating, airline club access and 24/7 assistance to manage disruptions and flight changes is a better approach.

This reduces traveler stress and boosts productivity, and continuously measuring traveler satisfaction with standard surveys produces more data that can be monitored via a dashboard to continuously improve the program.

Consider a monthly subscription fee program to simplify travel

A subscription fee-based partnership gives you access to comprehensive travel services for one fee. In most cases, the more trips your employees take, the less it costs per trip.

That eliminates the temptation to book outside the partnership to keep fees down, which means traveling employees always have access to the full range of services, which improves their productivity.

A simpler process with predictable costs also enhances travel manager productivity by reducing management hassles.

Address the unused tickets issue by tracking them and encouraging credit use

Since rogue travelers typically book their travel through multiple websites, it’s easy to lose track of what unused ticket was booked where.

The best solution is a reporting system that provides a summary, including unused ticket totals and expiration dates.

Fewer unused tickets reduce the input required for the travel program, which contributes to better productivity.

Implement safety measures to reduce risks

Ensuring employees are safe and productive requires extra measures, like keeping an eye on outbreaks and blocking travel to regions that are COVID-19 hotspots.

It’s also a good idea to be able to ensure employees are staying at facilities that meet safety and cleanliness standards.

Another safety measure to keep in mind: make sure you can reach travelers at any time with updates as conditions evolve.

Few sectors felt the impact of COVID-19 as acutely as the travel industry, but now is the time to rethink your approach to employee travel.

9 Easy Ways To Motivate Employees (Without Money) | Michael Dinich, Yourmoneygeek.com

Motivation and engagement are crucial for businesses to retain employees, and it is more important than ever to keep quality employees. Keeping employees happy while also understanding their personal needs can be a difficult task.

Most people would like a raise, but employers are not always to offer additional compensation. This post details the best way to motivate employees without having to pay them more.

While many companies are strapped for cash due to the state of the economy, it is no longer only the employees feeling the pinch. To address some of these top concerns, here are the nine best ways to motivate employees.

  1. Pay Your Employees – Faster!

We have all heard of payday loans and the insanely high fees associated with them. However, many employees are forced to take out these unethical loans so they can feed their families.

This is where employers can offer a fantastic benefit of partnering with companies that allow them to have early access to the money they have already earned.

2. Evaluate Schedules

The events of 2020 have forced many employers to think outside of the box in regards to teleworking. A large number of companies have actually increased their efficiency by using non-traditional schedules and working from home options.

3. Include Employees In Goal Setting

All too often, employers make decisions without first surveying their line-level employees. Often the employees have the best ideas when it comes to improving performance and increasing efficiencies.

As an employer, you can motivate employees by giving them a seat at the table and a voice when determining the company’s goals and strategies.

4. Increase Transparency

Employees like to know the “why” behind many decisions and processes. By allowing employees to see behind the scenes and the reason for a current direction, employees are given the option of buying into the mission. By creating buy-in, companies can motivate employees to take on the employer’s mission as their own.

5. Focus On The Employee

Recognizing the work of an entire team serves a purpose, but motivating employees is accomplished when they feel a personal connection to their leadership. This is done by being human and treating employees as unique individuals – rather than one large entity.

6. Develop Leaders

Develop a training program and curriculum for employees who desire to take over a leadership role one day. Show them you believe in their potential and give them the tools and resources to accomplish their goals.

When employees feel motivated to further their careers through leadership, their enthusiasm can translate into increased productivity and a contagious work ethic.

7. Be Available

Create or maintain an open-door policy that allows open and effective communication between the employer and the employees. When employees feel their employer values and respects communication with them they are more motivated to help achieve the organization’s goals.

8. Create Incentives and Games

Think of things not necessarily tied to monetary compensation. For instance, the employee who creates the most widgets next week gets a front parking spot, etc. Think outside of the box and see what you can come up with or what you can come up with or what your employees want to win.

9. Focus On Positivity

Just like a smile is contagious, so is attitude. Leave your home life at home so you can focus on work and encourage your employees to adapt and maintain a positive attitude.

Employees are motivated when they enjoy coming to work. Make the work site as enjoyable as possible with a positive attitude.

It doesn’t always require money to encourage employees to stay motivated. Often solving some of their problems is the best way to earn their trust. Small steps like making their money available to them a few days earlier with a paycheck advance app like Rain is a great incentive that doesn’t cost the company any money.

Small benefits and incentives are extremely powerful and can motivate employees more than you may realize.

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