Remote Work Digest: June 30, 2020

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

5 Ways To Engage Employees During Work From Home | Ruman Talwar, Entrepreneur.com

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During the current pandemic, many employees have become accustomed to working from home setting. It is, therefore, important for companies to ensure that they keep motivating their employees with various campaigns and programmes. Here are a few ways to engage.

Online virtual games

Organizing games and quizzes have proven to create active participation rather than a passive immersion. Conducting games and quizzes online isn’t that difficult. All you need is a PC/laptop/mobile with reasonable Internet speed.

Health and wellness

With the help of online video conferencing software, a group yoga session or a mindfulness series can be organized online to foster mental peace. Additionally, virtual health challenges such as pushups, sit-ups and planks will ensure that organizations flourish with a healthy workforce.

Recognition and awards

Adjusting to the home setting can be a bit of a hassle, which is why it imperative to reward people for specific actions. A personalized message or a virtual gift card expressing gratitude for the work they have been accomplishing can make them feel happier and fulfilled.

Communication

Effective communication within the organization is the need of an hour. Proactive, clear and impactful, and two-tone communication can make employees feel that their ideas are valued and that they are a pivotal part of the organization.

Upskilling and reskilling

Corporates across the various sectors are getting used to this new norm and are spending ample time in identifying the solutions to bridge the skill gaps in employees. One way could be providing bite-sized learning material to the employees. A lot of e-learning platforms have paid and free courses that employees can take to get skilled. Further, employers should encourage social learning, where employees can share their experiences and support each other.

4 Reasons Remote Work is Here to Stay | Ray Nelson, Devprojournal.com

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Even as states reopen and some employees begin returning to the office, remote solutions are here to stay – not just as a safety net in the event of a secondary wave, but because of their value to employers and their workforce.

  1. Increased Productivity

Two-thirds of managers report that employees who work from home increase their overall productivity, while 86 percent of employees say they’re more productive working from home, free of office distractions. No longer do water cooler conversations eat into the day or loud colleagues distract their coworkers. Employees instead report that being close to family and friends encourages them to work faster and more efficiently.

  1. Decreased Stress

Fundera found that 82 percent of telecommuters report lower stress levels than when they were physically in the office, and 80 percent note that their morale is higher when working remotely. Reduced anxiety and better attitudes translate to better, harder workers, while also having the potential to reduce healthcare costs from stress-related illnesses.

  1. Reduced Absenteeism

With remote work solutions, employees have the option to stay home and telework without spreading minor illnesses throughout the workplace. It also allows parents to stay home with sick children, or for employees to work if inclement weather makes it unsafe to commute.

  1. Low Operating Costs

From office snacks, coffee and utility bills to the largest culprit: rent, teleworking eliminates – or at least significantly reduces – the need for these expenses. In fact, some 77 percent of businesses say that transitioning to remote work solutions may lead to reduced operating costs, per FlexJobs. Even technology giants like Twitter, which employs nearly 5,000 people, recently announced that workers may choose to work from home permanently. Meanwhile, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg predicts that half of the company could be working remotely within the next five to 10 years.

There’s no question that the trend towards working remotely is increasing, and the last few months have provided a global case study into the benefits of telecommuting. Factor in things like Gen Z’s preference for working remotely, and it’s likely that we’ll see a 30 percent increase by 2030, according to Gartner. COVID-19 was the catalyst for the expedited push toward remote work, but the trend’s momentum isn’t expected to slow any time soon. In fact, we’re likely to see it extend to other realms, including education.

What Work From Home Teaches Us: How To Create A Great Experience | Tracy Brower, Forbes.com

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With the necessity of social distancing, masks and less amenities like cafeterias and coffee bars, the pre-vaccine workplace won’t offer all it once did. But it can still be an experience people want, that fulfills key needs. Here are a few to consider:

Provide For Connections

The most effective workplaces provide for connections that are both informal and formal. It’s the opportunity to run into a colleague in the hallway or the chance to solve a problem with a teammate during a weekly meeting. Creating offices—intentionally—where people can gather, collaborate and build ideas will best apply lessons from home and be most attractive to employees.

Provide For Choice

One of the hardest things about being home is the lack of options it has offered. Based on brain science, we know humans crave variety and stimulation and being home constantly has been predictable and monotonous for many. As a welcome alternative to home, the workplace should offer plenty of possibilities. Choice is made available through a variety of settings, surroundings and arrangements, but control is also key. People must have autonomy to sit away from a workstation—moving to an enclave for privacy or a work café to collaborate, working alone or in the midst of a buzzing community.

Provide For Safety

Creating a positive work experience mirrors the safety we perceive at home. When people feel secure, they can be their most creative. And when they feel the most appreciated, they can take bigger risks and step out on a limb toward new thinking and new innovations. The work experience can supply this kind of psychological safety by fostering strong bonds among team members and ensuring leaders are both visionary and empathetic.

Provide For Meaning

Work is part of life and the chance to spend more time with our inner circle has reminded many of us about what we find most important in life. In addition, staying home to avoid spreading the coronavirus has given us a sense of significance—a contribution to the broader community. This sense of meaning is also important for work. People are most motivated by work which is connected to a broader purpose and to which they can make a unique contribution. Leaders should align people’s talents and skills with their responsibilities, so they feel they’re adding real value.

Provide For Boundary

Work is important because it’s a critical way we contribute to society and feel valuable. But a healthy mix is important as well. All work, all the time leads to burnout and less effectiveness. The lesson from home is to give people the opportunity to manage their boundary between work and home and to empower them to have as much of both as possible.

Working from home is both exhausting and enjoyable, frustrating and fulfilling, monotonous and motivational. It is complex, but we can take what we’ve learned from working at home and inspire work experiences that provide for connection, choice, safety, meaning and boundary. It is these aspects of work and life which will be important as we go through the pandemic and—eventually—as we move beyond it.

Remote Jobs that Pay Well and Let You Travel the World | Africanexponent.com

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Thanks to the wide range of remote working tools (like time tracking apps, conference tools, file-sharing extensions, etc.) available, employers now have more efficient and reliable resources for tracking the amount of time remote employees spend on their projects. As such, managers can ensure that productivity stays unhindered.

So, what are actually the top jobs for remote work today? Is it only developers, English tutors, and writers who can live the dream?

Digital Tour Guide

These days, a lot of travelers prefer to embark on independent exploration adventures. At times, all they need are a few knowledgeable tips from a professional wanderer. If you have visited a lot of places or simply know an area, city, or even a region as the back of your hand, you can try writing sightseeing guides or help fellow travelers navigate to the best restaurants and nightspots in the city.

Social Media Manager

It is not uncommon for businesses to invest both time and money into creating comprehensive social media campaigns to build up their brand presence. If you know your way around Instagram, Twitter, or TikTok and have what it takes to adjust to the ever-changing trends, you may find your skills in great demand by a vast pool of employers.

Bitcoin Trader

If you know more about Bitcoin than the average person and are willing to take the time to gain more expertise in the area, you may just become one of the trailblazers into the world of financial freedom for those eager to invest. As Bitcoin belongs to no particular country and allows for flexible money transfers between both individuals and institutions, you may find a variety of employment options in the Bitcoin trading field.

Data Analyst

An analyst’s ability to scrutinize the collected data and leverage it into strong decision making can make or break a brand. If you don’t mind spending a lot of your time going through Excel sheets and numbers do not make your dizzy, a career in data analytics may give you the freedom to stay out of the cubicle and under the sun.

Remote Personal Assistant

Times have changed and these days, quite a lot of the assisting actually goes on online. From posting content on social media and making Amazon purchases to answering email and filling in Google Calendar events, there are lots of tasks in the online world that one might want to hire a remote personal assistant for. Some of the skills you will need for the job include diligence, organization, and a pinch of agreeableness.

How about you? Have you thought about making the transition into working remotely?

Remote Work Digest: May 29, 2020

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

4 Key Employee Engagement Success Factors | Kellie Wong, Business2community.com

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Fully engaged employees have been shown to be 21 percent more profitable. Address employee disengagement in the workplace can help your business’s bottom line and overall success. Here are some of the biggest employee engagement success factors, and how to make improvements that raise both motivation and productivity.

Employee engagement success factors to cultivate

Employee engagement boils down to the quality of your company’s relationship with its people. Do you show workers appreciation? Do you give social rewards in addition to monetary ones? Do employees feel comfortable and empowered to speak their minds, share good ideas, and encourage coworkers?

Here are some of the major factors that affect employee engagement and how to improve them.

  1. Company culture

Your culture is made up of values and behaviors. Make engagement itself a value and encourage engagement as a behavior. Seek to increase collaboration as much as possible and support making social connections.

Explain your company’s overall mission and tell every employee how their individual work helps to further that mission. This gives your team a sense of purpose and belonging, which are important for a strong culture of engagement.

  1. Employee participation

Everyone has ideas and encouraging employees to share their thoughts has benefits: you not only show that you value their intellectual capabilities, but you might get some useful information, as well.

Give employees a platform where they can easily share their ideas with all levels of the organization. Allow people to have open conversations about work, education, or even on social topics. Because even conversations that aren’t directly about how to work better can strengthen social ties and cohesion.

Finally, encourage employees to recognize each other’s accomplishments. Not only does it spread warm, fuzzy feelings between coworkers, it makes people feel they are empowered to give praise.

  1. Good management

Employees need managers they can respect: competent, smart leaders who aren’t in it for the sake of their own egos. You need to coach your management team on engagement strategies, ensuring they watch employee progress while constantly giving feedback and emotional engagement.

  1. Frequent recognition

Without the work employees do every day, your company couldn’t exist. Make sure to express this! It’s especially important that managers and leaders give recognition, as it’s proven to be a powerful form of reinforcement. Recognition should be frequent, as 85 percent of employees who were recognized weekly said they felt satisfied, and 75 percent of employees who were recognized by management at least once a month reported high levels of job satisfaction. And yet, most employees do not receive recognition from management frequently enough.

Make it a priority to recognize your employees on a frequent basis and make the act of recognizing a social activity everyone in the company can get involved in. Recognition is the leading driver of employee engagement; don’t lose sight of this massive opportunity to improve your business and employee experience through recognition.

10 Surprising Work-From-Home Franchise Opportunities | Don Daszkowski, Forbes.com

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Within franchising, there are a surprising number of home-based business opportunities. And what’s even more surprising is that you don’t need to be an expert or especially skilled in any certain field. For example, you can run an educational franchise without a teaching certificate. Generally, the skills needed to run most franchises are business acumen and motivation. The franchisor will teach you the rest.

Below are 10 business sectors you might never have considered for work-from-home opportunities.

Education

Often run as after-school enrichment programs, they require relationship-building skills to generate business. Owners develop partnerships with schools, daycares and community centers and offer add-on programs to existing curriculums. Once the relationships are in place, the business owners enjoy recurring revenue and can introduce additional programs, such as camps.

B2B Services

Being in a business that serves other businesses usually means recurring revenue and large-ticket jobs. Although many are home-based, these businesses usually require several vehicles and the ability to lead a crew of workers. Many times, franchisors have relationships in place with large companies, allowing the franchise owner to walk right into big contracts.

Business Consulting

As a work-from-home consultant, you can be trained to run a business that helps other professionals. These “white collar” franchises offer services like career coaching for individuals. They also work with businesses and provide services such as reducing expenses or acquiring funding.

Franchise Consulting

A career as a consultant can be extremely rewarding for folks who like to help people and make a difference. Offering a great work-life balance, franchise consultants can choose a part-time or full-time schedule and reap the rewards of the effort they put in.

Senior Care

This valuable service helps keep seniors in the comfort of their own homes longer. Services include everything from bathing and meal preparation to running errands. Many senior-care franchisees start out in a home-based setting and scale into bigger operations that are run from outside offices.

Home Services

Most home-services franchisors are looking to partner with people who can run businesses. They generally have low overhead and high margins and, depending on the business, they can offer a great work-life balance.

Property Management

Investments in rental properties are at an all-time high and have created a demand for property management services. With little overhead, many business owners can run the entire operation themselves, with no need for employees.

Vending

Today’s machines operate with sophisticated technology that automates payments and alerts owners when more stock is required. Because of a demand for healthier options, you will see them filled with items like protein bars, trail mix and gluten-free pretzels rather than candy bars and chips.

Mobile Businesses

As a business owner, they are generally fun and easy to run and provide a built-in marketing vehicle — literally. Whether it’s a food truck or a service van, whenever you are out on the road or parked at a job, your wrapped vehicle will grab attention and generate business.

Pet Services

If you love animals, you can find a home-based business that caters to our furry friends. There are pet grooming, pet training and even pet poop pick-up services. These are feel-good businesses that can bring in repeat business and word-of-mouth referrals.

If working from home during quarantine has you thinking about making the leap to owning your own business, franchising offers a wide array of choices for different interests and skill sets.

Productive remote workers do these 5 simple things every day | Elizabeth Grace Saunders, Fastcompany.com

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As a time management coach, I’ve been partnering with my clients in navigating the transition from working in the office to working at home and back again. And I have found those who use these five strategies have been able to increase their overall productivity when working from home.

  1. They convert their commute

Among the individuals who have found working from home to be a welcome change, I’ve seen a fairly similar pattern of converting their commute time into exercise time. Typically in the morning, they’ll workout (or at minimum walk their dog). And in the evening, they’re often choosing to go on more leisurely walks either on their own, with their dog, or as a family.

  1. They block focused time

One good thing about being at home is that you have physical distance from your coworkers, so you can block focused time and stick with it. I recommend that you either have recurring focused time in your calendar, such as for an hour or two in the morning. Or that on a weekly basis you block in some chunks of time for the key activities you want to get done, such as putting together a report or writing an article.

  1. They schedule meetings

To further increase your predictability and productivity, ask your colleagues to schedule a meeting with you to talk, especially if the meeting will require any forethought. It’s helpful to have meetings scheduled, so you can effectively plan your tasks around them and so that you’re in the right headspace to be present.

That being said, these meetings don’t have to be long. If you think something should only take 30 or even 15 minutes to discuss, ask for a meeting of that length to be scheduled on your calendar. There’s no need to stretch every conversation out to an hour.

  1. They update their status

In order to be fully mentally engaged in what you’re working on during your focused time, in can also be helpful to update your online status. That could mean designating yourself as “away” on Slack or otherwise unavailable on IM or other internal communication tools. This declaration of your intention to not be available at a certain time can insulate you from the thoughts in the back of your head that “someone might have messaged me about something important” or “I might miss something and annoy someone.”

  1. They resist the urge to self-distract

With all external distractions eliminated, our mind can sometimes unhelpfully search for ways to distract itself. Especially for extroverts, when the environment is most calm, the drive to find more stimulation is most high.

If you find yourself in that kind of situation, look for ways that you can increase the stimulation in your environment without reducing your productivity. That might look like listening to music that helps you get in the flow, using a standing desk, or simply placing your laptop on top of a high counter or bureau, so you can shift your weight as you work.

You may find yourself returning to the office soon, or you may find that working from home has become your new lifestyle. Wherever you see yourself on the spectrum, these strategies can allow you to be most effective on the homefront.

Eight Benefits Of Encouraging Employees To Disconnect On Time | Forbes Human Resources Council, Forbes.com

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Knowing when to pack it in for the day is as important as knowing when to start working. Below, eight associates of Forbes Human Resources Council examine the benefits that come with encouraging employees to disconnect after a long day’s work, and how this could help both the business and the employee in the long run.

  1. Avoiding Employee Burnout

It is too easy for employees to feel the need to answer every email. One practice is to ensure managers are not contacting employees after hours. An easy fix is for managers to schedule emails to be delivered during work hours. Encourage employees to take vacation time — you can deactivate their service during their vacation and reactivate when they return. – Patricia Sharkey, IMI People

  1. Promoting Work-Life Balance

Promoting a culture of work-life balance will lead to increased employee engagement, enhanced employee productivity, reduced attrition and improved company brand perception. – Ochuko Dasimaka, Career Heights Consulting, Inc.

  1. Improving Efficiency

Research shows that humans need downtime and brain breaks for maximum efficiency. We’ve found that our staff is more productive and eager to work when they’re well-rested, healthy and have taken some time for themselves. That’s why at our weekly all-hands we do a green/yellow/red check-in to be sure we’re all in a good headspace to start the week. – Yolanda Lau, FlexTeam

  1. Higher Productivity Levels

While leaders should encourage work-life fluidity, an important aspect of that is taking the appropriate amount of time to truly be “offline.” When people are happy in their personal lives, they’ll be motivated to succeed at work. And, when people have time to disconnect, they are given more mental capacity to bring creativity into their work. – Lisa Sterling, Ceridian

  1. Increased Creativity and Engagement

We find that when employees are given the opportunity to unplug at night and on weekends, they are recharged and refreshed and come back to work with higher levels of creativity and engagement. When employees are more engaged they are more innovative and productive! – Diane Strohfus, Betterworks.com

  1. Higher Retention Rates

When employees are encouraged to disconnect at the end of the workday and on weekends, they come back to work with increased creativity, higher job satisfaction, and increased retention rates because they aren’t burned out. Employees who can take time off to unwind also tend to feel more valued by the company as an individual, rather than feeling like a replaceable piece of the business. – Laura Spawn, Virtual Vocations, Inc.

  1. Building Respect and Loyalty

If workers know that they are treated as whole humans, then they will return the favor by committing to their employer. Retention of refreshed, productive and energized employees will result in successful execution of goals and will create impactful careers. Both employees and companies benefit from protected downtime. – Jessica Delorenzo, Kimball Electronics Inc

  1. Honoring Employees As People

Employees need a chance to recharge. Using evenings and weekends as personal time empowers employees to pursue personal interests, spend time with their families and rest. During work hours, they can be fully engaged in their work, and perhaps even more creative because their brains and bodies are refreshed. It’s also a way of honoring employees as full people rather than as cogs in a machine. – Courtney Pace, Ph.D., FedEx Employees Credit Assoc.

Remote Work Digest: March 31, 2020

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

5 Productive Things You Can Do While In Quarantine | Blair Flood, Money.com

Life's short, spend it productively

If you’re among the thousands of Americans who suddenly find themselves with extra time in their day due to new work from home policies (less commute time) or temporary leave, we came up with these 5 productive things you can do while in quarantine to help you keep your sanity.

1. Learn about the stock market to be prepared

Market sell-offs create huge buying opportunities. A Motley Fool Stock Advisor membership provides you with the market research you need to navigate these difficult times.

Once you figure out what to buy, you’ll need to figure out how to buy. In just a few years, Robinhood has become one of the largest stock trading apps in the country, offering commission-free trading and an easy way to start investing. They offer you the ability to start with as little as $1 and buy fractional shares, so if your favorite company’s stock is a little too expensive, you can still get involved.

2. Make sure your credit report is in good shape

Don’t make the same mistake! There are sites that allow you to see a free copy of your credit report and services that help you monitor your credit in real-time. This will allow you to catch any errors before you go to apply for a loan or credit card. Spending a few minutes now to make sure that your credit report is in good shape could save you a ton of time down the road.

3. Keep your mind busy by learning a new language

Learning a new language has been on my to-do list for years, and I’m finally checking it off. I want to be fully prepared once it’s safe to travel again, and to be honest, it’s not taking nearly as much time as I thought.

4. Use this time to compare prices on your home and car insurance

If you don’t own a home, but are still looking to save some money, getting an updated car insurance quotes is a great way to find savings. MONEY’s recent article The Best Auto Insurance for 2020 is a great place to find a few companies to get quotes from. Even if you don’t end up switching, it’s a good idea to see what you can save.

5. File your taxes

If you’re sheltered in place, tax preparation software is the way to go. Most companies offer free online software, but charge extra for assistance. I learned the hard way that paying the extra fee can be worth it if you have a complicated filing (like getting a letter from your city saying that you owe them taxes from over 4 years ago… You can always add on the assistance later if you need it, so start with the free version and see how far you get.

Now, Relax!

You’ve earned it. Call that friend you’ve been wanting to video chat with for a while, relax with a glass of wine delivered to your door, read that book that you started over Christmas break and never finished, or spend time making a home-cooked meal.

How to maintain employee performance during COVID-19 | HRD, Hcamag.com

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The majority of organisations have focused on scenario planning and necessary operational responses to ensure business continuity during COVID-19, according to Brian Kropp, chief of research for the Gartner HR practice.

However, these plans often do not address, nor impact, employees’ ability to focus on their work, Kropp added.

According to Gartner, HR should help managers at all levels do six specific activities to ensure employees get the requisite support to tackle the emotional response:

Sense employees’ need for support

Managers need to recognize signs of distress among their people, both directly through conversations and indirectly through observation.

To facilitate regular conversations between managers and employees, HR should provide managers with guidance on how best to broach sensitive subjects arising from the COVID-19 pandemic, including alternative work models, job security and prospects, impact to staffing, and tension in the workplace.

Promote dialogue to build understanding

Two-way communication with managers and peers provides employees with the information and perspective they need, while allowing them to express and process negative emotions and improve their feelings of control.

HR leaders should help managers create opportunities for two-way dialogues that focus on a realistic picture of both the positive and negative implications of the current COVID-19 outbreak.

Use objectives to create clarity

Clear objectives and regular updates on possible changes will help ensure employees maintain focus, energy and a sense of purpose.

HR leaders can help managers reassert the link between employees’ work and organisational success by providing visibility into the current organisational goals and translating the organisation’s vision into their employees’ context.

Reinforce organisational values to reduce the like hood of misconduct

Apart from modeling the right behaviors, managers should encourage whistleblowers to call out unethical behaviors, remind staff of the channels for reporting misconduct, and highlight punitive measures for noncompliance.

Tailor recognition to acknowledge employee efforts

Recognition can take many forms other than monetary rewards — public acknowledgment, tokens of appreciation, development opportunities and low-cost perks.

For organisations facing a slowdown in business, managers can take this opportunity to provide development opportunities to employees who normally do not have capacity. This reinforces the organisation’s commitment to the long-term success of the employee.

Drive engagement via innovation

While managers and employees may understandably become more risk-averse in this uncertain environment, it is these times of change and disruption that innovation and risk-taking become even more important for employee engagement and organisational success.

The disengaging effect of constraints on innovation and risk-taking are particularly severe for high-potential (HIPO) employees who tend to have a stronger desire for these types of opportunities.

15 easy kitchen hacks that will transform your life during lockdown | Laura Nightingale, Getsurrey.co.uk

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With the nation on lockdown, if you get bored at home these tricks will certainly inspire you.

1. Tissue box

Fill an empty tissue box with carrier bags, bin bags or food waste bags and pull them out as you would a tissue.

2. Egg cartons

Don’t waste that last drop of sauce. Instead pour it into plastic egg cartons to make single serve portions.

3. Freeze milk

There are lots of foods that can be frozen which you might not realise, including milk.Frozen milk should be thawed before it is used and be sure to give it a big shake before you pour it to ensure all the solids and liquids have been fully mixed.

4. Microwave bread

You can make bread in the microwave, yes really. Plus it takes just 90 seconds to cook. For the full recipe click here.

5. Pasta recipe

Did you know you can make pasta from scratch with just four ingredients and it takes under 10 minutes to make? Watch this video here showing how to make it in a flash.

6. Jam jars

Clean, empty jam jars can be used for a whole host of things including tea light holders, mini vases for wild flowers and, our favourite, for keeping food in.

7. Hang cleaning products on a rod

If the cupboard under your sink is a mess and you can never find that bottle of kitchen cleaner, make a rail for them. Screw a metal rod into the cupboard and hang the handles on it to make more space.

8. Saucepan handles

If you didn’t know, the reason why there is a hole in a saucepan handle is so that you can rest a wooden spoon in it.

9. Put paper towels in the salad drawer

Kitchen roll absorbs the condensation that vegetables generate as they chill. So put a layer of paper in the fridge draw to keep them fresher for longer.

10. Wine bottle watering can

Use your empty wine bottles as watering cans to feed the plants. Alternatively, they make a fancy water carafe for the kitchen table.

11. Coffee jar vase

Bigger than a jam jar, they make excellent vases.

12. Planter box milk cartons

Simply cut them in half, fill with soil, pop in seeds and watch your flowers or herbs grow. It’s great fun for kids and they can decorate the boxes too.

13. Banana pancakes

If you can’t get hold of flour, eggs or milk, you can still enjoy pancakes with this healthier alternative. Just mash one banana, blitz an handful of oats into a flour consistency, mix them together and then fry in a pan.

14. Nice cream

Nice cream as opposed to ice cream because it’s nice and healthy. It’s virtually fat free and has no refined sugars. All you need to do is cut a ripe or over ripe banana into chunks and freeze. Once frozen remove and blend it with a splash of milk to a thick and creamy texture. You can customise it however you like. We like blitzing frozen strawberries with it too for yummy strawberry and banana nice cream.

15. Flip your cereal bag before opening

Hate finding crumbs at the bottom of your cereal packet? Don’t throw them away or suffer with a mushy breakfast. Just shake the bag each morning to distribute all those little bits.

6 productivity tips for staying on schedule when working from home | Hope Reese, Techrepublic.com

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Working from home can also bring distractions from friends, family, social media, new obligations at home––especially if you’re sharing space with others––and reinventing schedules. All these things are likely to throw you off your routine. As a result, it’s easier to lose track of time or miss out on the regular reminders about important workplace meetings.

Here are six tips from productivity experts about how to stay on schedule and not miss out on important workplace meetings:

1. Create a new alert infrastracture

Gretchen Rubin is the author of the international bestseller The Happiness Project. As someone who has dedicated a lot of thought to examining the best way to live a productive and fulfilling life, you could call her an expert on setting healthy habits.

“I’m losing my sense of time,” Rubin told TechRepublic. “I usually know exactly what time it is, and what time of day it is, and it’s getting lost. So, even if you don’t usually depend on calendar alerts and putting Post-it notes up, you might find you need to build up more infrastructure.”

2. Make it clear to others that you are home, but you are still working

If you have roommates, a partner, or kids at home, working at home might make it seem as though you’re more available for activities around the house or hanging out. And while the great benefit of working from home is the increased flexibility, it’s critical to make sure you maintain a healthy boundary between your home life and your work life.

Gently inform others who might be distracting you from your work schedule that you need to stick to your schedule. If it’s you who is creating the distractions, make sure that you keep yourself accountable by setting hours and sticking to them. Close the door to your office area, if possible, or put in headphones to block outside sounds.

3. Stop messing around on Instagram

To counteract your social networks’ ease of use during work hours, remove them from your browser shortcuts and, according to Fast Company, log out of every account. You might even consider working primarily in a private or incognito browser window. This ensures you stay signed out of all your accounts and each web search you conduct doesn’t autocomplete the word you’re typing. It’s a guarantee that you won’t be tempted into taking too many social breaks during the day.

4. Write down your schedule – and stick to it

Rubin suggests writing things down on paper to stay on track. “Without the infrastructure and the social aspects of seeing people come and go, you might forget. You might have to prepare something for Friday, but you feel like Friday is an eternity away,” she said. “Yet time is still passing, so you might need to write things down more explicitly.”

5. Create your own workspace

It’s key to make a space that feels like it’s meant to get work done. That means avoiding your bed and sofa, if possible. “I think a lot of people would benefit from reimagining their space,” Rubin says. “You might even need to move your childrens’ bedrooms around to make a work or study space.”

6. Double-check your tech

Many of us have experienced the dreaded moment when your conference call has started, but you’re not able to get into it. Maybe your internet connection is slow. Maybe you haven’t downloaded the proper software. Maybe you haven’t checked your audio. For those working at home in the age of COVID-19, the problems could be amplified––maybe other people in your space are loud, and you can’t hear the meeting. Or you’re juggling multiple meetings online and finding it hard to keep track which one you’re supposed to join.

Are you suited to be a remote worker?

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Do we need traditional office spaces anymore? Because remote work statistics and research prove we don’t.

2015 study by Stanford University pointed out the benefits of employees working remotely — such as less time spent commuting, lower costs, and greater autonomy. Over the years, experts have given advice on how to be more productive at home, and on remote work trends.

But what about the actual, on-the-job requirements? What do professionals need to do to succeed as remote workers? And are companies investing in these employees just as much as their on-site counterparts? How much training do remote workers get, and how is this remote workforce training delivered? This survey answers all these burning questions.

We took a peek inside the notebooks of 450 remote workers.

We asked remote workers how they work on a daily basis. We used their responses to reveal some new remote work statistics that portray the state of global employment.

We also used our data and answers provided by remote workers to create a quiz and help you determine whether you’re suited to be a remote worker. Fingers crossed you are!

As of 2019, the number of companies with remote workforce is getting bigger — 66% of companies allow remote work and 16% are fully remote.

Time to know if you’re suited to join them, and how to do it.

Remote work: What is it?

Remote work comes in different forms. There are people who work remotely a few days a week, and others whose companies are hundreds of miles away, so their entire work is remote.

No matter its rising popularity, remote work is still in its infancy. So, businesses are still testing different models to see which ones work for them.

In this survey, we defined remote workers as those who work at least 3 days a week remotely and only have one employer at the moment.

 

Remote workforce training: Viable, popular, valuable.

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Businesses are investing in training now more than ever. For instance, Siemens invests $500 million a year in employee training. Training remote workers cannot be an exception.

In fact, 87% of remote workers get regular training, with 70% receiving it directly from their company. And, as for those who do want training but their company doesn’t provide it, they choose and pay for courses they find online.

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No matter who pays for training, it seems like remote workers want more of it.

Sixty-seven percent of remote workers say they need more work-related training, and it comes as no surprise that 85% receive it online.

More specifically, 50% take online courses, 22% use their mobile phones to learn, and 13% attend webinars.

Fifteen percent receive training by attending seminars.

Whether you want to onboard or train them in regular intervals, remote employees work in a completely different way. Do you want to know how? Keep reading to find out.

Remote work: A business life choice.

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Remote work is gaining popularity. And not just because more businesses understand what remote work is and decide to run without a physical office.

So, 85% of remote workers say that remote work was their decision because they wanted more flexibility, to make their own hours, and to live a carefree lifestyle.

But do they get what they want?

Flexible and remote: A big, fat myth.

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Sixty percent of respondents have to follow a 9-5, 5-days-a-week work schedule. How’s that more flexible than an on-site, average job?

Regardless, working wrapped up in a blanket, in your PJs, is far cozier.

This could be the reason only 20% of those who work from the comfort of their own home would rather go back to working in a company office.

A day in the life: Profiling the home office scouts.

Let’s take a more extensive look at our remote work survey statistics and demographics.

Most of our remote workers are women (58%), married (46%) with no children (41%), and an income between $25,000 and $80,000, earned by working remotely in the US. Thirty-nine percent are university graduates and 20% have finished high school.

Seventy percent of employees working remotely are between 25 and 44 years old. Of course, as the age rose, both income and educational background rose as well. This finding alone suggests that remote workers advance naturally within their company — exactly as if they worked on site.

Our respondents come from many different industries, and they’re all employed for wages. For the record, 72% found their jobs online, with Indeed, LinkedIn, and Glassdoor taking the first three places.

Contrary to popular belief, only 28% of our remote workers describe themselves as introverts. Thirty-eight percent identify themselves as ambiverts and 34% as extroverts.

When they feel lonely, 43% use communication apps, 37% visit the office, and only 15% work from a public space.

Apps: Combating 9-5 loneliness.

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The general feeling of loneliness remote workers might feel became more obvious when we asked them about the tools they use the most. Three out of the top 4 apps they use are all about communication — either with their team or their friends.

With 14%, Dropbox is the first non-communication tool remote workers use. With only 3%, Trello is the second one.

Other apps remote workers use include Asana, Zoom, Evernote, as well as apps made by their company.

Loners: Productivity freaks.

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Some remote workers might feel lonely, but almost no one feels unproductive.

Ninety percent feel they get more work done when working remotely. To boost their productivity, they’ve worked on skills like organization, communication, and time management.

But what about staying focused?

Noise: The sound of remote work.

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Spending most of their time in front of a computer, remote workers rely on their ears to stay focused. Twenty-five percent work with their TV on to feel like someone is talking in the background (hello again, 9-5 loneliness), while 21% focus in silence.

As for the music they like? Forty-two percent work with music on, whether meditative or loud, and 11% prefer new-age, ambient sounds.

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Home tour: Where do remote workers really work from?

Most remote workers want to keep working from home. Do you want proof of that? Take a look at their floor plan. Most of our respondents have invested in creating a special, dedicated space to work from.

More specifically, 31% work in a home office; a finding which proves remote workers are, indeed, changing the housing market and help the home office furniture market grow.

In any case, looks like remote workers need a separate, distraction-free space to increase remote work productivity, gather their thoughts, and work.

Satisfaction and remote work: A love story.

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As for what the future of working from home holds, 35% of remote workers want to work more days remotely, while 16% want to go freelance someday and work with multiple employers.

However, 6 in 10 remote workers would like their job less if they had to say goodbye to their home office and visit their company every day to do the exact same job.

Remote work: Highly recommended.

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The truth is that word of mouth favors remote working. A lot.

A whopping 88% of those surveyed would recommend a remote work career to a person they love and care about.

Go ahead and ask a remote worker you are friends with. You must know one or two. And if you don’t, with this growing pace of change, you’ll definitely meet one in the near future.

Do you have what it takes to be a remote worker?

As part of the TalentLMS Remote Work Survey, we asked our respondents to pick the most important skills a successful remote worker should master. Some of them include:

  • Time management
  • Organizational skills
  • Communication
  • Self-discipline

After combining the data, and remote work statistics aside, we created this quiz to help you determine whether you are a good fit for a remote work career.

This article was originally published on Talentlms.com, a super-easy, cloud LMS to train your employees, partners and customers. It is fully customizable to your own needs, with simple and comprehensible analytics about everything that happens inside your eLearning environment. You can create your eLearning portal with TalentLMS in just 30”, here: https://www.talentlms.com/create

 

Remote Work Digest: June 20, 2019

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

5 Tips For Working From Home With Kids | Anthony Caruana, Lifehacker.com.au

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In this era where working from home and freelancing from a home office is common, there’s a new challenge to overcome. While working from home can help with the work/life balance, there are times when the kids can tip the scales away from work at exactly the wrong moment. After almost a decade of working from home with kids around, and after speaking with a few similarly challenged friends and colleagues, here are some of our favourite tips.

Establish some ground rules
Set some ground rules and stick to them. For example, if the kids see you with headphones on, they need to know that means you’re on a call and can’t be disturbed unless it’s urgent.

Communicate
Firm communication that teaches them about your work day and commitments is key. For example, while I was working yesterday, both my step-sons were home from school. I explained to them that I had an important call and that for those 30 minutes I needed them to keep a little quieter than usual.

Schedule time for work and kids
It may be a work day but if the kids are around you need to make time for them. Plan your day so there’s a mix between work, play and other activities. For example, schedule meal breaks and allow for time every hour to chat, organise an activity or to join in with play time.

Be creative
If you’re planning to work from home, have a list of different activities you can use to keep the kids busy. Mix up the indoor and outdoor play – six hours of iPad time is not a good way to encourage healthy life habits.

On the work side, if you need an escape hatch with some quiet, why not take calls and process email in the car, where it’s quiet, while it’s parked in the driveway and the kids are playing outside.

Involve the kids in your work
When you plan your work day, look for opportunities to involve kids in your work. For example, when I think about story ideas I sometimes ask the kids what stories they think are most interesting and why. I get them to read some of my work and ask them to write about things that interest them. That way, we’re working together.

How to take a Working Vacation That Actually Works | Serenity Gibbons, Thriveglobal.com

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Not all “workations” are created equal. A productive one takes planning and balance: Too much work and too little vacation (or vice versa) can defeat the purpose. But done correctly, working vacations are an opportunity to experience the world without having to worry about falling behind.

Ready to try a working vacation? Before you book:

1. Get your team on board.
Remote work may be a staple at many companies, but not all of them are used to team members taking working vacations. Make sure everyone knows you’re not totally unplugging; you’re working intermittently.

Once your team knows you’re not going AWOL, determine your priorities together. Outline what you want to accomplish while you’re gone. Even if you’ll have access to phone and email the whole time, account for times when you won’t be strictly available, such as on flights.

2. Choose the right destination.
Your working vacation should be somewhere you actually want to go, of course, but that shouldn’t be your only consideration. Think about the factors that might influence the work you’re doing and how productively you’re able to do it.
Wherever you go, make sure the place you stay at has internet, phone service, and anything else you need to get work done. Get an international cell phone if you frequently take calls. Pay for a hotspot if you’re worried about Wi-Fi reliability.

3. Plan your workplaces.
Cafes and libraries aren’t always what they appear from online photos. That coffee shop might be so busy you can’t find a seat. The library might only offer Wi-Fi to library card holders, and you may need a local address to get a card.

Plan for those moments by creating “always,” “sometimes,” and “never” lists. You might have a nearby friend, for instance, whose house has Wi-Fi you can always use. Starbucks is another good option for your “always” list. Local coffee shops and grocery stores should be “sometimes” choices.

4. Give yourself some breathing room.
A working vacation should still be a vacation. Give yourself at least three free hours during each workday, and plan at least one day when you don’t work at all. To give yourself stress-free time away, productivity site Calendar suggests communicating those hours to your second-in-command.

We all need vacations to feel relaxed and satisfied with our lives. When we overwork, we steal from our future for the sake of the present. Taking a working vacation is the best way to balance the two.

8 Side Hustles You Can Use To Supplement Your Remote Work | Abdullahi Muhammed , Forbes.com

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Getting a side hustle becomes a necessity from time to time. With no guarantee of a paycheck if you are freelance, you have to keep money flowing in. The key is finding something that works with your schedule, and is lucrative enough to shore up your income when you need it. As you start exploring your options, consider the following eight side hustles.

1. Consulting
With consulting, you take your existing skills and use them to help other businesses. There’s a great market for this as so many businesses need help, but aren’t able to bring on full-time staff. So no wonder that consulting is a $250 billion industry.

2. Running an ecommerce store
E-commerce is a low-cost, low-barrier way of starting your own business. You can set up shop online, and sell products from all over the world. Thanks to dropshipping and other schemes like Amazon FBA, you don’t even have to purchase stock or manage inventory/logistics. Even better, you set up your online store quickly and easily with the help of Shopify marketing experts.

3. Teaching and tutoring online
There’s a growing market for online education. Students and their parents need help from skilled tutors. Others are seeking alternatives to formal education when it comes to developing skills they need to get ahead. If you already have the in-demand expertise, and an ability to break concepts down so they are easy to master, teaching and/or tutoring online might be for you.

4. Flipping websites
Not every entrepreneur wants to build a website from scratch. Others prefer to take existing sites, and turn them into profitable ventures. You can get in on this by flipping websites on the side. There are loads of websites that no longer serve their owner’s interests, or have been abandoned altogether. As a website flipper, you find these pages, purchase them, and sell them at a profit.

5. Affiliate marketing
If you have an active blog or website, affiliate marketing is a natural next step towards building a passive income stream. With just a little effort, you can market the products and services you like to others on your website.

6. Writing an ebook or creating other digital assets
With digital products you create something once, then sell it multiple times. You can share your expertise with an eBook, provide your target customers with templates, even use your own photographs to sell as stock images.

7. Real estate
Real estate is both the most popular and most lucrative side gig that can pay up to $90/per hour. This could be due to the fact that you have so many options for entering this niche. You can take a course and obtain your real estate license, and work selling properties on the side. You can pool your money with other investors to purchase and sell properties.

8. Working as a translator/interpreter or voice tester
If you’re proficient in two or more international languages, you can make good money off of that. You can offer translations services on freelancing websites or join a company like Para Plus Translations where you get the opportunity to work on exciting projects involving translation or interpretation services.

There’s no need to enter the world of full-time employment to enjoy the benefits of good wages. Instead leverage your skills and flexibility to land a side gig.

9 Ways to Stay Productive When Working from Home | Sophia Bernazzani, Learn.g2.com

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It’s easy to assume working from home leads to less productivity, but in reality, it’s usually quite the opposite. Keeping remote employees engaged and on track isn’t impossible. In fact, it can help boost productivity. As 52% of employees work from home at least once per week, remote work is beneficial for a reboot and recharge while maintaining a strong work ethic away from the office.

To help you with time management and remain optimally productive, we’ve compiled this list of 9 ways to stay focused when you’re working from home.

1. Find an optimal space to remain productive
It’s important you have a space that signals to your brain that it’s time to focus. Plus, it’s equally critical you save spaces like your bedroom for relaxation, so you can continue to have good work-life balance. Otherwise, you might find yourself checking your email from your bed at 9 p.m. because you haven’t mentally left the office.

2. Keep a consistent routine
To ensure productivity, a time management tip is to kick off your day with the same routine you’d use if you were heading to the office. Make some coffee, take a shower, and put on a pair of jeans rather than staying in your bathrobe and slippers. Maintaining a morning routine helps you to mentally prepare for the day and get in a productive state-of-mind.

3. Stick to a schedule
When you’re working from home, there are often other demands you need to pay attention to: cooking, taking your dog for a walk, picking a child up from daycare, or switching laundry from the washer to the dryer, to name a few. To maintain focus throughout the day, it’s crucial to set a schedule and stick to it.
For instance, if you’re most productive first thing in the morning, try tackling your most difficult tasks right when you wake up. Later in the day you can complete easier tasks, like responding to emails or editing a blog post while you multitask on some of those other non-office-related responsibilities.

4. Eliminate distractions
If you think casually checking email or quickly opening Facebook isn’t a big deal, consider this: research from the University of California, Irvine found that the typical office worker spends only 11 minutes on a task before getting interrupted, but once interrupted, it takes them about 23 minutes to get back on track. To ensure long-term productivity, implement strategies to ensure you don’t get interrupted in the first place.

5. Take breaks
To ensure you’re consistently making wise professional decisions, take breaks to mentally refresh. While it might seem counter intuitive, regular breaks can actually make you more productive, particularly if your breaks include a form of exercise.

Additionally, breaks can help prevent decision fatigue. A study found Israeli judges were more likely to grant parole to prisoners after their two daily breaks. As decision fatigue sets in, however, the rate of granting parole dropped to nearly zero percent because judges resorted to the easiest option – just saying no.

6. Be transparent about when you’re online and offline
You’ll be more productive if you set clear online and offline boundaries. If you need to take your dog for a walk, set an “Away” status on your Slack. At 5 p.m. (or whenever you choose to be done working for the day), don’t respond to any more emails, so coworkers know you’re unreachable until tomorrow. If possible, incorporate those times into your Gmail calendar so when you’re offline, your coworkers will know why.

7. Make a to-do list
Checking off a to-do list is one of the simplest pleasures of a work day. When working from home, it’s necessary to have specific goals you need to meet to ensure you stay on track when Netflix or your bed is calling your name.

8. Have a set end time
To ensure proper balance, try setting up a logoff routine at a reasonable end time each day, regardless of how much you’ve finished. Jot down a to-do list of tasks you want to tackle the next day, set an away status on your messaging apps, and put your work supplies back away until the morning.

9. Maintain relationships with coworkers via messaging or video conferencing software
Working from home could hinder your ability to catch up with coworkers and form those deeper bonds like you would if you ran into them in the office kitchen. To combat this, it’s vital to maintain connections with them through internal communication tools like Slack or video conferencing software tools like Zoom. Set up regular 1:1 virtual meetings simply for the purpose of catching up so you’re never out of the loop.

Remote work is hard work
Even though you might have the luxury of sitting on your sofa while working from home, it doesn’t mean you’re not working. The work you do from home can be as productive – if not more productive than your time in the office. Don’t second guess yourself!

Remote Work Digest: May 16, 2019

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

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Image from Pgi.com

Ways for parents to make money from home | Punchng.com

To get you started on your job search to fit your unique parenting situation, interests and skills, here are 18 job ideas and businesses that require little to no start-up costs and can done from home.

College application/financial aid consulting business
From 2003 to 2013, the number of college applicants who used a “private admissions consultant” or independent educational consultant” tripled.

A college application consultant may have a background in guidance counselling, college admissions or teaching – there is no accreditation or degree required except experience and the ability to shape a candidate’s application so that it’s complete, on time and presents candidates to the best of their abilities. Naturally, having an understanding of the college scene and what individual schools can offer and are looking for will help your clients.

Freelance writer/editor
Define some areas where you already have contacts and knowledge, and make sure you have a website that showcases your best work and features your contact information. (If you don’t have samples of published work, then that’s where you need to start.) The average base pay for a freelance editor is $51,104.

Some places to start looking include the part-time jobs website FlexJobs, which features writing gigs in specific categories, such as gaming, financial or medical writing; Freelanced, a freelancer social network where you can search for jobs and share your portfolio; and FreelanceWritingGigs, which lists freelance writer and editor jobs across a variety of industries.

Transcriber
Transcription jobs can be done remotely — all you need are fast and accurate typing skills, typically 80 words per minute. The average salary for a transcriptionist is $26,882. To get started, you can do a search of “transcription” or “transcriber” on job sites, such as Glassdoor. Or you can register as a freelance transcriber on job marketplace sites, such as TranscribeMe, Go Transcript and UpWork.

Tax Accountant
As an accountant, you prepare tax returns and reports and stay current on tax regulations and reforms. Tax work clearly isn’t for everyone, but good accountants are always in demand. The skills needed for this job are knowledge of accounting procedures, attention to detail, familiarity (or ability to learn) accounting software and, of course, good math skills.

Grant Writer
Certain skills are required for this position. Obviously, you need to be a good writer. You’ll be writing what is essentially a proposal for why a funding agency should give money to the organisation you are working for. Also, you need to be good at research and getting answers. Many grant applications require particular information on the organisation seeking a grant, and the grant writer’s job is to track down the information and present it within the funding agency’s guidelines. Finally, you need to be deadline driven.

Bookkeeping services
“You can sign up for a bookkeeping course at a community college or online,” recommends Entrepreneur.com contributor John Rampton. (For example, there’s this free course from the Accounting Coach.) The services that you can offer are providing income statements and creating balance sheets and monthly, quarterly and annual financial reports. What’s more, you can take advantage of free invoicing and online payment tools.

Virtual Recruiter
To be a recruiter, you definitely need to have solid communication skills and be able to read people in order to closely match them with jobs and the work culture. While you don’t need a bachelor’s degree for this work, you should have at least an associate’s degree or related experience. Go to any job site and type in “virtual recruiter” to find available positions.

4 Quick Tips To Make Working From Home Work From You | Tomas Svitorka, Thriveglobal.com

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To be productive and make the most of your day working from home, you need to create the right environment. Here are some tips to make working from home work for you:

1. Know what stimulates you best and work with it.
Make a list of things that you know would help you get into work mode and keep you focused, then do what you can to include what you can into your setup. Be aware of what’s really important, however. Sure, maybe one more motivational poster in a glass frame would look great, but if it clutters more than helps, don’t force it.

2. Get the lighting right.
A well-lit home office is much more conducive to work than a dim one. Dimness could trigger your mind to start winding down – something that’s much more tempting when you know your bed is close by.

3. Avoid parking.
This can mean one of two things: First, it’s when I start or carry out an activity in the wrong place. For example, when I’m on my way to make myself some coffee, and I stop in the middle of the kitchen to respond to an email or a message, and then another, and then another. Or it might refer to “parking” things into a temporary place instead of putting them back into their proper places. These things pile up, and before you know it, you’ve been “parking” documents, books, notebooks and pens for weeks and it just becomes less appealing to restore the order.

If it’s time for a break, take a break and leave the work at your desk. If you won’t need that document again for the rest of the day or even week, put it back where it should be. Don’t be your own disruptor of your environment.

4. Keep the distractions at bay.
If you use your laptop or tablet for work and games, try to use it only for work while you’re in your home office, and go to the living room to play. In the same way that bringing work into the bedroom is discouraged, respect your work environment enough to keep whatever distracts you away from it.
However much – or little – you have to do to improve your workspace, what matters is that you keep it that way. There’s no point in a cleanout or room makeover if, within a few weeks’ time, it’s back to how it was before. An environment conducive to creativity and success is not just a matter of creating, it’s a matter of maintaining – until you can again take it to the next level at least.

How to Become a Virtual Assitant So You Can Work From Home | Jamie Ballard, Womansday.com

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This job, though not for everyone, could be the perfect fit someone who is organized, sociable, and knows how to use a computer.

What does a virtual assistant do?
According to FlexJobs, a virtual assistant often works for businesses or entrepreneurs, handling a variety of tasks, from customer support, to administrative tasks, to social media management.

Personal finance site DollarSprout has some information about some of the things virtual assistants frequently do, which can include:

• Responding to emails or messages, processing orders or returns, communicating about products/services with clients, etc.
• Entering data, managing calendars, scheduling meetings, booking travel arrangements, etc.
• Posting to the organization’s social media channels or website, moderating comments, updating profiles, editing or writing posts, etc.
• Emailing newsletters, designing email templates, updating email lists, etc.

The duties of a virtual assistant are determined by the business’ needs and what you can offer to it. Ashlee Anderson, who runs the blog Work From Home Happiness, suggests picking a niche and emphasizing any specialized skills you bring to the table, like basic programming or proofreading.

Where can I find virtual assistant jobs?
There are people or businesses seeking virtual assistants on sites like Indeed, Monster, and Upwork. You can also find gigs on other virtual-assistant-focused websites including Fancy Hands, Belay, and Time Etc.

In the mean time, build up your own online presence through a simple website and professional social media channels.

How much can I make as a virtual assistant?
According to Glassdoor, a virtual assistant can expect to make $22,000 a year, on average. Many of these jobs pay hourly, and rates can be anywhere between $9/hour on the lower end, or $25/hour on the higher end, according to Glassdoor’s salary reports. Some companies may also pay monthly or weekly for your services, so it’s worth checking before you commit to taking on a job.

How can I grow my virtual assistant business?
Once you’ve worked with a couple of clients, you can ask them to provide reviews or testimonies that you can share on your own site or social channels. Ali the Happy VA, who blogs about working from home as a virtual assistant, suggests asking clients for feedback shortly after delivering a project so that your hard work is fresh in their minds. Having these testimonials available for prospective clients can go a long way in building your virtual assistant business.

12 Time Management Mistakes That Set You Up for Failure | John Rampton, Entrepreneur.com

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It’s not shocking that we seek out as much time management advice as possible. Unfortunately, much of this information is so unhelpful it is setting you up for failure.

1. You think there isn’t enough time
Complaining that you don’t have enough time isn’t going to grant you any more time magically. It may make you feel better, but only momentarily. It’s not getting to the root problem, which may be that you’re lousy at time management. Admit to yourself that there is enough time — you don’t know how to get the most out of it. Now, you can start improving your time management.

2. Believing that there’s a one size fits all solution.
Instead of relying on a tool with all the bells and whistles, find out where you’re struggling and what’s essential for you. For example, if scheduling is taking you away from product development, then you could use a scheduling tool like Calendar that uses machine learning to automate most of your scheduling needs. If you’re wasting too much time on email, then consider using a tool like SaneBox to help tame your inbox.

3. Failing to distinguish being busy and productivity
Believing that just because you’re busy means that you’re productive. That’s great that you cleaned out your inbox and spent some time connecting with customers on social media for the last couple of hours. But, was that the best use of your time at the moment?

Here’s how you can be productive instead of just busy:

  • Identify what is both important and necessary, as opposed to focusing on something that can wait.
  • Implement an organizational strategy. For example, every night I have a routine where I lay out my clothes, list my three most important tasks, review my schedule, and make sure I have all my gear for tomorrow. A little prep the night before ensures I have a smooth and productive day.
  • Eliminate distractions, like email and text messages.
  • Don’t worry about being perfect.
  • Only say “yes” to time requests that serve a purpose.
  • Be willing to make certain sacrifices, like quitting an organization that is no longer beneficial.
  • Surround yourself with other productive people.
  • Weigh the pros and cons before jumping on a trend.
  • Be honest about your progress.

4. You’ll have less anxiety.
Take the favorite Getting Things Done method. This system requires five steps: capture, clarify, organize, reflect and engage in everything you have to do. Phone calls, emails, meetings, shopping and the projects you have to do around the house. For some, this is going to cause anxiety and overwhelm.

Time management is only useful when you’re aware of your limitations and don’t let the system dictate your entire life. In other words, when you don’t tread lightly (especially at first), time management can add more stress to your life.

5. Miscalculating the time needed for specific tasks.
The best course of action is to track your time for a couple of weeks. You can manually do this by jotting down your daily activities in a notebook and calculating how long each will take and see if you are realistic. By having a more accurate idea of how you’re spending your days, you can dedicate the right amount of time to specific activities.

6. Focus on time management, instead of task management.
“Task management is the process of managing a task through different stages: planning, development, and completion,” writes Laura Sima in the Teamweek Journal. “It works both on an individual and on a group level by getting people to accomplish their goals.”

“Effective task management involves all the steps from planning it to setting a priority, including status, outlining the necessary resources for completion, notifications, and observation,” adds Sima. Tools like “online calendars, workflow software, and even project management software” will “help you outline different projects, tasks and clear statuses from all of them.”

7. Always grabbing the low hanging fruit.
To be the most effective — don’t pick the “low-hanging fruit,” meaning the easiest. Devote your energy to your most important priorities — and know which work will provide you with the most production. Quickly find a way to have menial tasks either automated, delegated, or saved to do during your energy lulls.

8. Having to wake up early.
If you get up early — you can’t stay up all night. You have to have a bedtime schedule — and stick with the routine. Many people suggest that in order to improve your time management you have to wake up early.

If you’re not a morning person, then don’t force yourself to change. Instead, base your schedule around your specific ultradian rhythms.

9. You’ll reduce your workload.
Remember, when it comes to productivity, follow the 80/20 productivity rule. Instead of loading up on even more work, use those open slots to meditate, daydream, or add flexibility to your schedule.

10. Get everything done in the shortest amount of time possible.
Remember that Aesop Fable “The Tortoise and the Hare?” The same idea applies to time management; slow and steady wins the race. There’s a misconception that if you get as much work done as quickly as possible, you’ll be more effective and productive. This notion that you’ve done more only works temporarily before you burn yourself out. Even machines need to be shut down and rebooted occasionally.

11. Never, and I mean never, waste your time.
Instead of working all day — take some time to read, listen to a podcast, exercise, or catch-up with an old friend or colleague. It may sound counterproductive. But, wasting time can be an asset preventing burn out. You’ll unwind, it’ll spark creativity, and give you a chance to reevaluate your priorities.

12. Not taking control of your life.
Instead of letting others control your life, take over the reins. Set boundaries on when it’s time to work and when it’s not. Only help others when you have the availability. Accept meetings when they have a purpose, and if you already have plans, don’t try to commit to something else in addition to what’s already in your calendar.This set of suggestions is the key to time management. Knowing when to accept and deny new projects, clients, appointments, and social functions.

Remote Work Digest: April 25, 2019

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

7 Signs of a toxic work environment | Hrdrive.com

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HR departments must regularly assess all employees on an individual basis and look for instances of discriminatory beliefs, lack of accountability, hostile leadership styles, retaliation and information guarding. With an infrastructure that doesn’t tolerate these behaviors, it becomes much simpler to steer clear of a toxic workplace environment.

1. Employees Aren’t Taking Vacation Days
Workers fail to take their vacation days because of a fear of falling too far behind or that none of their co-workers can take on their workload. Encouraging workers to plan their vacation days ahead of time increases the likelihood the employees will take them.

2. Lack of Bonuses and Incentives
Employers lose talented employees left and right when appreciation isn’t common in the workplace. A sure-fire sign of a toxic work environment is when there’s a lack of bonuses and incentives.

Extra paid vacation time and even small bonuses can translate into happy employees. Gifting employees with branded items, like portable speakers and coffee mugs with company logos, has a two-fold benefit: it shows appreciation and serves as an effective way to increase brand awareness.

3. Employees Stuck Behind a Desk All Day
Sprucing up the office with standing desks is a feasible way to encourage workers to stand more often. These desks easily switch back and forth between sitting and standing desks, which makes it simple for workers to stand when they want and sit and relax during downtime. Standing desks are also known to improve employee morale because workers tend to engage with their coworkers more when they don’t feel so tied to their desks.

4. Lack of Proper Training
No one wants to come to a job each day when they don’t know how to adequately perform their duties. Training employees shows you’re willing to invest in their future and that you’re truly concerned with how they perform. Training should begin when workers are hired and should continue on a regular basis.

5. No Break Room
Your employees need an area to step away from their desks and simply relax. Ideally, you will have an indoor and outdoor break area. These are the places employees can congregate and talk about the latest twists on their favorite TV shows and which of their kiddos won an award at school.

6. Everyone’s Gossiping
Gossip tends to trickle through poor communication channels, and it starts at the top. When senior-level employees engage in gossip, it sets an example to lower-level workers that gossip is tolerated. Did you know gossip is actually a form of workplace violence? It’s the HR department’s job to create and enforce a strict no-gossip policy with reasonable consequences to any violations.

7. Weak Foundation
A toxic workplace can’t be created unless it has fertile ground to take root in, and the values and ethics of a company’s leaders play a large role in that.

Want to be irresistible to hiring managers? Avoid these 6 mistakes at all costs | Peter Yang, Cnbc.com

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From verb tense to resume length, hiring managers notice even the tiniest details. Here are six common resume mistakes they spot almost immediately:

1. Using an unprofessional email address
This is a big red flag to hiring manages because it makes you look incredibly unprofessional. In today’s world, employers want tech-savvy individuals — even if the job they applied for has nothing to do with tech.

2. Deleting important details because you think your resume is ‘too long’
A 2018 study of 20,000 resumes found that hiring managers were more than twice as likely to prefer two-page resumes. So don’t feel the need to delete important details if your resume comes out to more than one page.

3. Using an over-the-top template
Hiring managers actually prefer the boring, old-fashioned templates because it’s much easier for them to quickly skim and digest. Submitting a crazy, over-the-top design will not only frustrate them, but can lead to wonky formatting issues. Also, applicant tracking systems are very common these days, and if your fancy template isn’t compatible, it won’t be parsed properly. If you’re a strong candidate, the content — and not the colors — on your resume will speak for itself.

4. Being inconsistent with sentence structure and verb tense
When describing your previous job history, all bullet points should start with an action verb. And if you choose to write in complete sentences, be consistent and stick to it. Otherwise, you’ll have a sloppy resume that doesn’t flow well. While this may sound like pretty basic stuff, you wouldn’t believe how often applicants make this careless mistake.

5. Not including your LinkedIn profile
If you have one, make sure it’s updated and include it at the very top of your resume. If you don’t have one, create an account immediately and start adding people in your network. A study from earlier this year found that applications who submitted a link to a “comprehensive” LinkedIn profile on their resumes were 71% more likely to get an interview.

6. Not including basic skills
Hiring managers receive piles and piles of jargon-filled resumes that it’s difficult for them to assume what skills you do or don’t have. Play it safe and include even the most basic soft skills, especially the ones that are listed under the “minimum requirements” section of the job listing.

3 Ways To Stay Healthy When Working From Home | Uwe Dreissigacker, Zumper.com

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You need to stay healthy, it should be a number one priority. In fact, since it can be too easy to neglect it and fall into the trap of not leaving the house just because you don’t have to. Well, the good news is that you can do both, work from home full time and stay healthy.

Here’s how:

1. Set up a personal work station
Consider separating yourself from everyone, and claim a corner as your personal work station. Make sure you have a good chair that supports your posture and doesn’t strain your back, and that you can work from there uninterrupted.

The sooner you can enter a deep state of concentration and focus – the sooner you can finish your work and move on to personal time. So, it’s better to get used to being able to finish all your work from one specific place in order to get into the habit.

2. Take frequent breaks
Working for long periods of time without breaks leads to stress and exhaustion. Taking breaks refresh your mind, and replenishes your mental resources so that you can come back with a fresh state of mind. If you continue giving a single task more attention, even when you feel like you’ve hit a brick wall, you’re just going to be more unproductive in the long run.

3. Set a schedule and stick to it
Essentially, if you can afford to have extra time, through time-management, you can afford to be healthy and more productive. It can be tempting to stay up late and start working whenever you feel like it, but your mental health and body will thank you if you set up a schedule and stick to it instead.

While waking up early might feel like a chore if you’re working from home, it’s a great way to start your day. Now, you don’t have to get up as early as 4 am, like some entrepreneurs suggest, but setting up your alarm a little earlier than usual can give you a lot of extra time in the evening.

This way, you can either use that extra time to go to the gym or exercise at home in the morning, or finish working earlier than usual – and then spend some time working out. Either way, the idea is to finish your workload earlier than before and then spend that time being healthy.

Conclusion
Winging it doesn’t really work when you’re working from home. If you start to associate where you live with a workplace you don’t enjoy being in, due to work, it’s really easy to get depressed and want to quit.

Meanwhile, if you set some time aside to stay healthy and look after yourself, you’re more likely to be more productive and efficient in the long run.

After all, a healthy mind resides in a healthy body.

4 Ways to Prepare for a Remote Job Interview | Maurie Backman, Fool.com

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Remote interviews and in-person interviews are very different beasts. Maintaining an engaging discussion with an interviewer can be difficult when that person isn’t actually in the room with you, and technology issues can make connecting remotely all the more difficult. If you have a remote interview coming up, here are a few key things you can do to prepare for it.

1. Establish the right space
If you happen to already have a home office, doing it there is probably your best bet. Chances are, that space already looks somewhat put-together, and it also shows your prospective employer that you do, in fact, have a suitable area in your home for doing your job. If that’s not an option, then aim for something neutral — perhaps a corner of your living room, or a chair at your dining room table. No matter what spot you choose, just make sure there’s no visible clutter peeking out to distract the person you’re meeting with.

2. Look the part
Just as it’s important to dress professionally during an in-person interview, you should also do so for a remote interview. Dressing the part sends the message that you’re taking the opportunity at hand seriously.

3. Do a tech test run
Chances are, your interviewer will indicate what sort of software you’ll be using to connect remotely, whether it’s Skype or something else. Before your interview, try a test run with that platform to make sure it works for you. This way, you’ll have time to troubleshoot hiccups to avoid having to deal with them on the spot.

4. Eliminate distractions
When you’re participating in a job interview from home, there are a number of potential distractions that can throw you off your game, like a persistently ringing landline or a doorbell that sounds at the least-opportune time. To avoid getting too distracted during your interview, aim to address these potential trip-ups beforehand.

Interviewing for a job remotely can be challenging in its own right, especially if it’s your first time doing so. But as is the case with an in-person interview, the more you prepare, the more confident you’ll feel going into it.

Remote Work Digest: February 14, 2019

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

Hosting Your First Webinar? 3 Tips for Success | Syed Balkhi, Business.com

2cee678cef0f84b7694202d8def5ca98A webinar is a presentation where a host shares information with an audience. The information can be anything, so long as it educates your audience by giving them new and exciting information, or provides value to them via information that may be much harder to understand without the host. According to a study by the Content Marketing Institute, 61 percent of B2B content marketers use webinars as an effective tool for marketing their business.

Here are three tips to help you nail your first presentation.

Consider Content Over Your Pitch
Imagine if you were invested in an upcoming webinar, only to find out that it was a big sales pitch. Two things would likely happen. First, you’d probably be disappointed in the host, and second, you would be less likely to go back and watch the next webinar from that creator.

Harvard Business Review cited in their findings that webinars are at their most efficient when they teach a newly emerging technology. The reason for this is simple — people are looking for trustworthy information from a reputable source. Immediately jumping to the pitch can destroy your chances at appearing credible.

There’s nothing wrong with working on your sales pitch and perfecting it. However, your primary concern should be educating and engaging with your audience.

Use Time to Your Advantage
A general rule of thumb is you want to avoid the first and last day of the work week for your target audience. This is usually a time of getting new projects started or closing up existing projects and loose ends.

Webinar Ninja did discover a “sweet spot” as it pertains to time though. Typically, you can expand your reach by hosting your webinar between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. on “good” days for your audience, and in their time zone. They found that during this time, their webinar presentations had a 47 percent attendance rate. When mid-low 20s is the average attendance rate, it’s safe to say there is a proper time to host your first webinar.

Use All of Your Marketing Channels for Promotion
You’re going to want to bring out the big guns, create social media ad campaigns via Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn or whatever other outlets you frequent. Make sure you market your target audience, explain the benefits of the webinar and the cost (if applicable).

At the same time, every customer who comes to your website should know that your webinar is coming. You can create custom optin popups for customers and encourage them to sign up for your mailing list for more information on the webinar as the date of the presentation approaches.

Finally, you’re going to want to send out reminder emails to your lead lists leading up to the webinar. A good rule is to send a two-week reminder, one-week reminder, one-day reminder, and two day-of reminders.

Conclusion
There’s no doubt that it takes nerves of steel to do your first live webinar — but it’s so worth it. The experience and personal interaction you get with your customer base are unmatched. You’ll be able to reach a wider audience, provide valuable information about emerging technologies and ideas, as well as your brand and how you can help.

If you’re using insights to track your traffic and sales post-webinar, you’ll be able to see if your event had a marked impact on your business.

Pros and Cons of Working From Home | Robin Madell, Money.usnews.com

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Just like working in an office, remote work comes with pros and cons. To explore both the benefits of working from home as well as the drawbacks, I conducted informal interviews with more than 100 people with remote working jobs. Below are some of the top themes that emerged about remote workers’ favorite aspects of telecommuting and the challenges that come with a work-from-home lifestyle.

The pros and cons of working from home are:

  • Pro: You have flexibility to take care of appointments and errands.
  • Con: There is no physical separation between work and leisure time.
  • Pro: There are fewer interruptions from meetings and chitchat.
  • Con: It is easy to misread cues via electronic communications.
  • Pro: There is no commute time or expense.
  • Con: You have to make the effort to get a change of scenery.

Pro: You have flexibility to take care of appointments and errands.
When you work from home, while you still have to meet your deadlines and be available when you say you will be, you generally have wider bandwidth to tend to other responsibilities without jeopardizing your job.

Con: There is no physical separation between work and leisure time.
“It’s a constant balancing act to make sure you’re taking enough time for your family and yourself,” says Carrie Hill, co-founder of Ignitor Digital Marketing, who has been working from home for the last six years. “The pitfall is that there’s always a computer on and available, so setting boundaries and sticking to those boundaries is pretty important.”

Pro: There are fewer interruptions from meetings and chitchat.
It’s easier to get into a flow state of deep work when you’re in your home office without colleagues dropping by and sitting down impromptu to talk about their weekends. Limiting unnecessary interruptions from your colleagues and boss is a big plus of working from home and is one reason why many remote workers are more productive than office-based workers.

Con: It is easy to misread cues via electronic communications
“Just like in relationships, it can be easy to misconstrue tonality of someone’s messages. We’re often blind without body language and facial expressions to rely on, and we assume the worst. Therefore, there needs to be extra effort made in maintaining positive communications,” says Michael Sunderland, managing director of Full Stack Talent.

Pro: These is no commute time or expense.
You can save a lot of money and avoid wasting hours that others spend simply getting to and from work when your office is right down the hall. Avoiding traffic battles and long-distance schleps tops the list of benefits for some of those who work from home.

Con: You have to make the effort to get a change of scenery.
What can be a blessing can also become a curse in the form of cabin fever. Some freelancers and others who work from home lamented that the place they work during the day is the exact same place they’ll be sitting later that evening and that getting involved in their work often translates to spending a huge portion of the day indoors. Many stressed the importance of scheduling lunches and other meetings to keep them in the mix and avoid the rut of never leaving the house.

Remote work has clear benefits, but no situation is perfect. Understanding the reasons to work from home – as well as the reasons not to – can go a long way in learning how to work from home successfully.

Look Before You Leap: 8 Things to Know Before Taking the Dive into Self-Employment | Melissa Thompson, Axcessnews.com

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Working from home is a completely different experience than working in an office and there are many things you need to think about when becoming self-employed. It can be easy to overlook some of them with the buzz of taking the leap.

But if you read this guide to eight things you need to know before becoming self-employed, you’ll feel much more prepared.

1. You’ll Need Space To Work
Working from home may need a bit of reorganization of your space.

It helps to have a dedicated work space, even in your house. This will help you make the distinction between work life and home life. So when you are sat at your desk, you’re at work.

It will also help you keep all your work supplies and paperwork in one place and prevent you from losing things.

2. You Are the Team
If you have been working for an organization, you were probably part of a team. But if you’re going to become self-employed, you’ll be on your own.

That means there won’t be an IT department to call if you are having tech issues. There won’t be anyone to do your filing or tidy up after you, and there won’t be someone to pick up the slack if you are snowed under.

3. No One Will Sort Out Your Taxes
You may have had all of your taxes taken care of if you worked for a larger company. But if you are self-employed, your taxes are your responsibility.

But don’t be too daunted! There is plenty of advice available online about your tax responsibilities that will help you estimate what you owe.

4. Self-Employment Needs Financial Planning
If you are used to a regular paycheck each month, becoming self-employed can be a bit of a shock to the system.

It’s unlikely your income will be that consistent, especially in the first few months. So you need to plan for this and budget accordingly.

Work out the minimum you need to make, and what your essential expenses will be, and always have a back-up plan. Make sure you won’t be overstretched when you first start out, there will be enough to worry about!

5. Saving Is a Must
Because your income and your tax are your responsibility, it is important that you put money aside for your tax bill.

Whether you factor it into your regular budgeting or set up a specific savings account, it is essential you save some money.

6. Insurance Is Your Responsibility
Things like health insurance, dental plans, life insurance, and earnings protection will be down to you to sort out.

If you are the main breadwinner in your family, then insurance is even more important, as anything that prevents you from working can be really serious.

7. Keep Your Contacts
While it might feel like a relief to walk away from your old job, you should still try and leave on good terms. Becoming self-employed can be a risky venture, so you will need as many contacts as possible.

You never know when your old business contacts or old colleagues may come in useful in the future, whether as clients or just to ask advice. So keep hold of that contact list.

8. You Still Need a Schedule
It can be easy to get distracted when you work at home. When you don’t have a manager or a team to coordinate your schedule with, it is easy for your working day to lose some structure.

Even if you are not arranging meetings you should still create a daily schedule and stick to it.

So those are eight things you should know before you switch to self-employment.

You will need to be organized, manage your finances and your taxes, and take care of your own benefits. But hopefully it will reap rewards and you won’t look back.

5 Tech Careers You Can Do From Home | T2conline.com

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Are you currently in the tech field or hoping to make a transition into the field in the near future? Maybe you feel as though the daily grind and commute to work is just taking too much time out of your schedule, and making it hard to keep the household running smoothly where the kids are concerned. If so, it may be time to look into careers you can do from home, in particular tech careers.

Here’s a look at five that may just be exactly what you are looking for.

PCB Designer
Because technology is becoming more of a requirement in businesses across all industries, there are constantly new plans and projects being pieced together and then implemented. This is where an IT project manager comes into play. They will build the project, set up the team, identify issues, track all the steps and milestones, and ensure that everything moves smoothly.

Web Designer
As a web designer, you’ll be responsible for building websites from scratch and re-designing existing ones. This means your coding skills need to be on point.

IT Project Manager
Because technology is becoming more of a requirement in businesses across all industries, there are constantly new plans and projects being pieced together and then implemented. This is where an IT project manager comes into play. They will build the project, set up the team, identify issues, track all the steps and milestones, and ensure that everything moves smoothly.

System Administrator
For many businesses out there, a system administrator is a crucial part of their team, as this administrator is who ensures their computer system runs efficiently and properly at all times. You will work to configure and upkeep the servers and computers, which thanks to technology can all be done remotely nowadays.

Software Engineer
In this position, you will work to create and then develop software for systems and computers. Most likely you will be working as part of a remote team, which can also be a benefit for those who like to be part of a group and collective atmosphere.

Each of these careers can prove to be an excellent choice for anyone looking to pursue an at-home tech career which provides all the flexibility you’re after.

Remote Work Digest: January 15, 2019

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

9 Productivity Hacks for Working from Home | Margarita Tartakovsky, M.S., Psychcentral.com

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For writer and editor Kate Rope the biggest challenge in working from home is focusing when she doesn’t have impending deadlines. Sometimes, what helps her is an app called Focus Keeper, which involves working for 25-minute chunks and taking 5-minute breaks. Other times, Rope goes to her favorite coffee shop, where she can “just put my nose down,” and blast through her writing.

Below, you’ll find a variety of helpful hacks for being productive when working from home.

Address your exact challenges. The key is to name your biggest challenges—the obstacles that obstruct your productivity. Then channel your creativity to find helpful solutions for each one.
Designate a specific work area. Rope suggested dedicating a specific area in your home as your office, which “tells your mind, ‘it’s working time,’ when you sit down there.” This might be an entire room or the corner of the living room. If you’re very limited on space, you might even put a small desk inside a closet.
Commute to your home office. According to journalist Emily Price in her book Productivity Hacks: 500+ Easy Ways to Accomplish More Work—That Actually Work! including a commute where you leave the house for a few minutes helps you refocus and get into work mode. “The commute can be something as simple as leaving the house for a walk around the block or heading down the street to grab a cup of coffee.”
Identify your peak productivity. When are you most productive, energized, focused and creative? During those times, try to work on bigger projects. Work on less demanding tasks, such as responding to email, when you tend to be less productive.
Batch your errands. Might running all your errands in one day boost your productivity, too?
Have an accountability partner. Price suggests working alongside a friend who also works from home. If that’s not possible, she recommends checking out virtual options at Focusmate.com, and GetMotivatedBuddies.com.
Use a different browser for work. “Having a dedicated browser enables you to install browser plug-ins for a specific use and create a work-specific bookmarks bar that doesn’t get in your way when you’re surfing the web at work,” Price writes.
Tame tiny problems. Make a list of things that are bothering you, Price writes, and try to get them fixed ASAP.
End the workday with organization. Disorganization can crush productivity. Which is why taking a few minutes at the end of your workday to tidy up and organize can set you up for success the following day.

Working from home comes with all kinds of pros and cons—which will vary for each person. The key is to identify the cons, and find ways to work around them, so you can make working from home work best for you.

Working with Remote Teams? Here’s How You Can Grow A Positive Company Culture, Tosho Trajanov, Forbes.com

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Great company culture is not about ping-pong tables and office snacks. Employee loyalty, job satisfaction and work performance aren’t affected by a physical location. Whether you have one, 10, 100 or more remote employees, creating a positive company culture where they will flourish and thrive is essential for the success of any startup.

So, how do you achieve a remote-first culture?

Promote knowledge sharing.
Knowledge sharing is essential when working with remote teams because it empowers people to establish bonds and grow.

To have productive and collaborative remote teams, a major shift needs to occur. Building an organizational culture requires:

  • Removing the focus from the individual, the leader, the superstar performer, and focusing more on the team or on how remote employees work together to get results.
  • Providing infrastructure people can use to collaborate.

Provide employees with feedback.
Working with remote teams can be challenging and offering honest feedback can lead to a more positive company culture. There’ll be lower turnover rates, more engaged employees and sky-high motivational levels.

The bad news is that many managers have very little knowledge about the science behind giving proper feedback. (Let’s be honest, dealing with emotions isn’t taught in business schools.) So, how can you give proper feedback to your remote team to encourage a positive company culture? Here are a few tips:

  • When you give negative feedback, your employees’ fear sensors activate. However, approaching feedback with empathy can make a world of difference. A manager who supports employees is the real secret to employee engagement because good employee feedback is based on trust.
  • Get rid of annual performance reviews and focus on more short-term development. While their purpose is to reflect on the entirety of the past year, they often end up focusing on more recent events.
  • Set goals for your employees that include specific and measurable key results.

Creating rituals and traditions to get to know your employees.
Creating traditions with your remote team can help keep the team cohesive, effective and trustworthy. How else would you know who is obsessed with Stranger Things and who sleeps with their dog at night?

Here are a few ideas that will lead to a great company culture:

  • Regular video chats: Hold regular video chats to help your remote team communicate face-to-face. Discuss work topics but also ask about each others’ cultures, customs and hobbies.
  • Virtual coffees: Your remote team can use virtual coffee breaks, which are video calls, to take breaks and socialize. It’s a great way for employees to share what they’ve been up to lately outside of work.
  • Retreats: Weekend retreats (at least once a year) are an awesome idea to provide more personal interactions for a team that doesn’t get to collaborate in person very often.

Embrace your employees’ differences and put their skills to good use.
What is at the heart of every company? People. The secret ingredient to creating a company culture is a diverse team of talented individuals. And this is not just diverse with respect to gender, disability, age, ethnicity and sexual orientation, but diverse in mindsets and ways of thinking that people acquire through their experiences.

The companies that will succeed in this new world are the ones that strive to create a positive company culture that includes diversity in the workplace. In this workplace, everyone will thrive and each employee will have a wealth of perspectives and ideas to share.

To conclude, companies that embrace a positive company culture will find a number of benefits, including increased employee loyalty, higher rates of employee morale and boosted levels of engagement. Through knowledge sharing, honest feedback, open communication and diversity, you can create an uplifting atmosphere that will, in the long term, keep employees happy and the business competitive.

15 tips for losing weight when you work from home | Julia Guerra, Thisisinsider.com

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Working from home is a blessing and a curse. On the one hand, you have the freedom to dress however you’d like, finish assignments from the comfort of your living room couch, and have an entire kitchen at your disposal whenever the afternoon munchies come on strong. It’s great unless you’re trying to lose weight.

Under these super convenient, incredibly comfortable circumstances, how can you can you lose weight when you work from home? Here are a few expert tips on how to do just that.

Invest in workout equipment you can use at home.
You don’t need fancy machines and clunky equipment to achieve your weight loss goals. In fact, the director of fitness from Daily Burn, Amanda Murdock said you don’t even have to have a gym membership. You will, however, benefit from investing in a few basic tools to help speed things along.

Find activities you genuinely enjoy doing, and you’re more likely to stick with a plan.
Oftentimes, fitness is looked at as a chore — something that has to get done in order to reach your weight loss goals. Although it’s true that physical activity is an important component, it shouldn’t feel like a burden, and it doesn’t have to. The key is to find exercises and activities you genuinely enjoy doing so that the time you commit to doing them feels like time well spent.

Clock in the right amount of quality sleep.
Nutrition and fitness are two of the most important elements of weight loss. The third is sleep — getting the right amount, and the right quality of it. And because when you work from home, your living space is also your workspace, it’s important that you not only set parameters for yourself, and know when to shut down, it’s also important that you create a sleep space that’s designed for sleep, not work under the covers.

Create a space in your home that can be your designated workout area.
Kelly Borowiec, CPT, founder of Keebs Fitness suggested that, after setting up a designated workout area in your home, fill it was a few basic pieces of equipment, like a set of 5-10lb dumbbells and a thick mat, to start.

“As you begin to exercise more frequently at home, you can reward yourself by buying more exercise equipment,” Borowiec said.

Plan your workouts around the times you’re most energized.
Are you a night owl? Early bird? Do you prefer afternoons to morning and evening hours? When you figure out what exercises you’re most likely to enjoy, your next task is to figure out when you’re most likely to exercise.

Be mindful of your meals and snacking options.
Nutrition is just as, if not more important when it comes to losing weight — whether you work from home or otherwise — so if you have a sweet tooth, you’ll just have to find ways to nip mindless cravings in the bud. One foolproof method Borowiec swore by was filling your fridge and pantry with healthy snacks, and preparing nutrient-dense meals in advance so that when you go grazing, you already have good-for-you options at the ready.

Don’t skimp out on cardio.
Walking from the bedroom to your couch or dining room isn’t much of a commute, but when your career can be done from the comfort of your living room, it’s easy to forgo cardio altogether. Joanna Stahl, the founder of Go2Practice told INSIDER this is a major, common mistake.

Cardio is key to most weight loss goals, so even though your work doesn’t require you to get up and out of the house, “there needs to be a concerted effort to put the pencils down and get in a workout daily,” Stahl said.

Drink a ton of water, but don’t sip on a glass with meals.
According to The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, the average adult should be drinking two liters, or eight cups, of water per day. However, the key is to drink these eight cups between meals, not during them.

Sign up for classes to hold you accountable.
If you’re struggling to find motivation, Stahl told INSIDER that either signing up for a workout class at a studio, gym, or online is a great resource. Not only will you have committed to be at the gym at a specific time, but classes that come at a price up the ante, because you’ve not only committed time, you’ve put down payment, too.

Remember that small adjustments to your schedule can make a difference, too.
Liana Hughes, certified personal trainer and coach at Gixo said you can become more active by making some small changes like “planning a time to exercise each day, setting alarms to get up and walk around each hour, stretching while you are making your morning coffee, and getting up and walking around during conference calls.”

Walk whenever and wherever you can.
“You don’t have to take a 60 minute cycling class or run miles and miles because small changes can mean big differences,” she told INSIDER. “For instance, taking walk breaks during the day will not only get you disconnected from your computer, but will count towards that weekly minimum. Go outside and take a walk and add in some power walking for a block to raise your heart rate to bring in cardio to your daily routine.”

Set up shop as far away from the kitchen as possible.
Does just being in the same vicinity of food initiate temptation? If so, set up your workspace far away from the kitchen to avoid wandering into the kitchen when you aren’t actually hungry.

Get dressed for work in the same way you would if you were going to an office.
It’s easy to fall into the mindset that because no one’s going to see you, working in your pajamas or baggy sweats is acceptable. On the one hand, it is, but on the other, getting dressed in the morning the same way you would to go to an office building will take you out of a lazy mindset.

Practice mindful eating.
“Eat in the common work kitchen area or an empty conference room,” American College of Sports Medicine Certified Personal Trainer, V Shred‘s lead trainer, and an expert in nutrition, Benjamin Suyematsu suggested. “Use the time to really be mindful about your meal. Taste the food. Take your time and enjoy the meal as opposed to rushing through which only adds air to your stomach leading to bloat and even indigestion.”

Cut back on sugar, alcohol, and high-fat foods.
“The biggest things to stay away from while trying to lose weight are sugars, alcohol, and high-fat foods,” CruBox trainer, Brian Evans said. “It is important to eat a super balanced diet and additionally, stay away from food that is labeled low fat or sugar-free. Typically those food have to either added fat or sugar for taste than the normal full calorie options.”

Remote Work Digest: November 14, 2018

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

Hiring for the Holidays? 10 Ways to Find Great Hourly Workers | Jared Atchison, Business.com

c584e7d03f1e67028b2bcd7bef132d9bWith the busy holiday season approaching, you’re going to need to hire new hourly employees to keep up with demand.

As you’re looking for people to join your team, make sure you always look for quality and experience. Even if you are offering a part-time, holiday position, you don’t want to sacrifice quality for fast employees.

Below are 10 of the best ways you can find great hourly workers for your business.

1. Post on relevant job boards.
Some of the more popular job boards are Indeed, Monster and Zip Recruiter. You can post both remote and local positions on these platforms. You’ll get the ability to look through everyone who applies before contacting them. What makes this method ideal is the fact that you can set up deal-breaker questions on the application to save you time.

2. Use social media.
You can use your social media presence to entice followers to apply if you have an opening. A benefit of this method is that the people who are applying to the job are already familiar with your product or service. They follow your brand because they’re interested in what you sell or your brand’s identity – meaning they may be more likely to catch on if you decide to hire them.

3. Create an employee referral program.
When most companies set up a referral program, they usually offer a cash reward to get new hires – with stipulations, of course. For example, if you get an employee to refer someone new and that new employee works there for 60 days, both the new hire and employee who gave the referral get a $75 bonus.

Employers prefer this method because they know their employees better than anyone. If a superior employee offers a referral, they can have confidence that the person they referred to them is also a good worker.

4. Reach out to colleges.
There are plenty of colleges that will happily advertise your job to their students as a means for them to get an internship or a potential hire after their graduation.

Some colleges offer programs for students even if they graduated years ago. The students can come back to the college with their experience and see if there are any job advertisements. This is the perfect chance for you to reach out to fresh-faced potential employees with lots of energy.

5. Use Craigslist.
It takes just a few minutes to get online and post an advertisement every morning. Make it a routine until you fill the positions you have available. Wake up in the morning, get on your smart phone while you drink your coffee or orange juice, and post a quick ad letting people know that your company is looking for either seasonal or permanent employees.

6. Consider previous employees.
If you still have contact information of previous employees (and you should!), consider making phone calls to these employees to see if they would consider coming back to work on a part-time basis.

If former employees return, you could potentially save money on training time because they already know how the company works. A refresher course is a much less time-consuming process than a full training routine.

7. Contact job agencies.
Some people don’t like the fact that they have to work through a middleman. However, some prefer this method because it gives them a chance to look at the potential hires without directly contacting them. You get to pick the person you think best fits your needs.

8. Rent out billboards.
When you consider that hundreds of thousands of people live in moderate-to-large cities, you can totally get people to apply for your position if you put your billboard somewhere smart, such as a busy intersection.

9. Advertise on your website.
The most common method is by adding a “We are hiring!” button to your homepage. If a potential employee lands on your page, they can click the button and get right to the application and apply.

You can also add a “careers” page to your sitemap. If you’re constantly hiring, this is a great choice. As job opportunities become available, you can upload them to your careers page and hopeful employees can see what jobs are opening, view the requirements, and access the application.

10. Hire internally.
Do you have multiple employees who work on an as-needed basis? Perhaps they get online and take care of your social media. Maybe you have an employee who just manages your customer care emails for a flat rate every month. Look to these dedicated employees to see if they would be interested in coming aboard full time as hourly employees.

When it comes time to hire this holiday season, make sure you take advantage of all of these different opportunities. There are benefits and disadvantages to all of these methods, it all comes down to your business model and how many people you want to hire. Before your next round of hiring, consider the hiring technique that will save you time and find you the best employee. There are plenty of qualified candidates out there. All that’s left is to go out and find them!

5 Life Hacks to Get Ahead and Launch Your Own Startup Business | Richard Agu, Newsmax.comGroup of Business People at Starting PointStarting a business can be a scary undertaking since there are no guarantees of success.

Keeping it afloat is another daunting task. However, if you’re troubled and confused about startups, embrace these five life hacks to getting started and getting ahead.

1. Start a Business From the Resources Within You
One way to achieve this is by having an ownership mindset or adopting ownership approach to whatever we do. This will avail you the opportunity to start up a business with the resources at your disposal.

2. Engage in What You Love Doing and Be Patient
If you love what you do and the people you are with, the two (work and life) should be integrated. To remain sustainable, you should strive for work-life integration as an end result.

3. Be Immune to Fear and Criticism
Being gullible to fear and criticisms is a sign of weakness. You have to turn your fear into your advantage. An entrepreneur should be brave in the midst of turbulent and unpredictable nature of today’s business environment.

4. Don’t Be Content With Your Current State
Getting ahead requires not only having access to vital information, but harness such info in order to enhance your capacity to make critical business decisions. This could be in the area of service delivery, personnel management, sales promotion strategies, organizational culture etc. Seeking for ways to enhance your business performance to remain relevant in the industry. This can’t be achieved without having enormous info.

5. Have a Set Routine to Remain Healthy
There are times that the weights of your responsibilities and schedule can become overwhelming, you need to have specific strategies in place to combat that stress.

Make sure to take care of your physical health through daily exercise, mental health through daily meditation, and stay connected to family and friends each day to maintain a relational health.

Most importantly, don’t allow your business to revolve around you. Delegate tasks in order to raise leaders who can pioneer your business to greater height in your absence.

The Step-by-Step Guide to Firing a Remote Employee | John Rampton, Entrepreneur.com

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Startups with small teams are like families. Firing a member of that family is rarely easy — especially when the person in question works remotely.

Even with generous performance plans and every benefit of the doubt, sometimes a remote worker and company just aren’t the right fit. Once you decide to terminate one of your remote employees, follow this guide to keep the process as fair and painless as possible.

1. Get your documentation in order.
After you commit to the firing — take the afternoon to make sure all your paperwork is in order.

Do you have documentation to support the firing? Have you consulted with HR to ensure you won’t run into any logistical problems? Lawsuits are rare — but don’t let your relationship with your employee prevent you from following proper procedure.

2. Book your flight.
Even if you only see your remote employee a couple times a year — do the noble thing and conduct the termination conversation in person.

The person being fired might not be the right fit for your company — but that doesn’t mean he or she won’t find success elsewhere. You can limit the pain of the blow, and potentially turn a rejected worker into a brand ambassador, by delivering rejection with respect.

3. Keep it personal.
It might not be personal to you — but to the person losing the job (even under justifiable circumstances), the decision is highly personal. Enter the conversation with the understanding that this person will take the news as a personal indictment.

If the termination is financially driven, explain why. Offer to provide a recommendation for future opportunities. If the termination is performance-based — outline the reasons for the decision briefly. There’s no need to belabor the point — anyone being fired for performance knows what went wrong.

4. Collect equipment and disconnect access.
This part can be tricky. You don’t want to treat your exiting employee like a criminal. You also want to protect your assets from retaliatory deletion or destruction. The correct policy when firing a remote employee is to assume the best but be prepared for the worst.

Let your head of IT know what time to terminate the fired employee’s access to company servers. When you meet with the employee explain that you need to collect any company equipment, like laptops and monitors, when you leave.

5. Communicate to the rest of the team.
Speak to your team the same day of the termination to stop gossip before it starts. Leave out the details regarding how and why you fired the worker. A few employees close to the situation probably know what happened. Even on a small team, there’s no reason to drag the person’s performance or behavior into the open.

Firing a remote employee might be unpleasant and difficult but don’t let the potential problems dissuade you from offering remote work options. Modern employees seek flexible benefits like remote work. You can attract higher quality talent by keeping remote options on the table.

3 Traps Work-From-Home Workers Need to Avoid | Daniel B. Kline, Fool.com

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For those who work at home, there are some traps to avoid. It’s easy to be taken advantage of or to make mistakes that hurt your career (or just waste your time).

1. Beware of needs from friends and family
Protect your time. Make it clear to anyone who asks for a favor that any time you spend not working will be time you have to make up in odd hours. That doesn’t mean you always have to say no. You just have to be the one making the decision.

2. Don’t lose touch with workmates
Staying connected takes work. Take advantage of any communications tools your office uses to make sure you engage in water cooler talk, not just work talk. It’s important to ask about people’s kids, talk about the game, or chat about mutually liked TV shows. If an opportunity to see people comes up, go out of your way to take it, whether it be a work event or a social opportunity.

3. Don’t take advantage of those with regular hours
Just because you have freedom and flexibility does not mean everyone does. If you work with people who maintain a traditional office schedule (or actually work in an office) you should roughly conform to their hours.

That does not mean you can’t do work at weird hours. It does mean that you should respond to email or calls when other people are working and at least be available during parts of the traditional workday.

It’s all about flexibility and balance
To make it work you need to be flexible and find the proper balance. For example, you may take a day off but still answer email or respond to messages. You might also attend a meeting or mix other work tasks into time spent not working because it’s convenient for other people.

Be considerate and open-minded, but also make sure to protect your own interests. Working from home does not mean you’re always working, any more than it means you’re always off.