Remote Work Digest: October 13, 2017

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

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Image from Goodhousekeeping.com

5 Key Practice Of Successful Remote Work Teams | Daniel Newman, Forbes.com

Nowadays — as more people continue to work remotely — leaders must find new ways to unite employees who are spending an increasing amount of time apart.

Studies show nearly 40% of today’s employees work offsite on a regular basis. While that’s great when it comes to saving on company overhead, it does present some challenges for leaders in terms of creating a singular culture that all employees—regardless of location — can rally behind. Indeed, as I wrote in my article Digital Transformation Cannot Succeed Without the Right Culture, culture and vision are what hold companies together in times of change and perceived chaos. Ironically, digital transformation is also making it increasingly difficult to build those bonds. Luckily, there are things leaders can do to foster a strong culture, despite differences in location and time zone. The following are just a few tips:

Use The Technology Available
As a leader, it’s important for you to “walk the walk” and take time to use new technology like telepresence robots, chat apps, video conference, and other unified communication channels to get your team on board with communicating this way in their daily lives.

Make Time For Homeroom
Even with many remote employees, you can still create consistent communication standards throughout the enterprise. The purpose of homeroom was to allow everyone to connect, discuss the day’s goals and capacity issues, and ask for help where needed. The best part: teammates were empowered to call their own homeroom meetings if needed, throughout the rest of the day. It doesn’t matter if you call it homeroom, all-hands, or daily update — the point is, consistent communication is a must.

Be Clear About Availability
It’s possible to allow for flexibility while also establishing clear virtual “office hours” for remote employees so your in-house workers know they can rely on their entire team to be available via chat or telepresence when needed. Doing so will help establish trust and consistency across all departments.

Get To Know Employees as People
It can be easy to forget to involve your remote employees in impromptu onsite conversations, or to forget that they also have lives, interests, and strengths outside of their initial job functions. Take time to get to know your remote employees as people, rather than just task managers.

Meet Face to Face
There’s nothing better than putting a face to a name — no matter how much easier it is to text, email, or chat about what we need. I know of at least one company that has established “unplugged” days where people are required to speak in person rather than via technology whenever possible. You’d be surprised how many people who worked in the same building ended up meeting one another for the first time.

Even companies with all employees working onsite experience challenges creating effective employee culture. And though it may be difficult, it is not an insurmountable task. Involve your employees in the process. Empower them to use their voice to make a difference. Use the tools available to you. That’s the way of the future. That’s the only way your company will succeed in a mobile working world.

Managing Your Schedule Like a Boss: Tips the Experts Never Tell You | John Rampton, Entrepreneur.com

Lou Gerstner, the former CEO of IBM, once said, “Never let anyone own your schedule.”

I don’t know about you, but I love that quote. It’s so simple, yet true. After all being deliberate with your time is one of the best ways to have a happy life in the business world. Of course, try as hard as you can, that’s not always the reality. Life is kind of known for throwing a monkey wrench into your plans every now and then.

But, it’s still possible to manage your schedule like a boss by following these can’t-beat tips.

Create a routine.

Start by blocking times for specific activities, such as checking emails, exercise and spending time with your family. You can then convert your calendar into a series of blocks for you to place activities in the prepared spaces. If something isn’t planned and placed into a block, don’t do it.

Keep in mind that your routine will probably change throughout the year. But, it’s better to have a plan that changes than no plan at all.

Carry a schedule and record all your thoughts, conversations and activities for a week. 

“This will help you understand how much you can get done during the course of a day and where your precious moments are going,” write Joe Mathews, Don Debolt and Deb Percival on Entrepreneur.

“You’ll see how much time is actually spent producing results and how much time is wasted on unproductive thoughts, conversations and actions.”

Add time buffers to manage your schedule.

A buffer is something like this:

You just landed a new client for your freelance business. They assign you a deadline to complete the task. Instead of entering their exact deadline, your put your own deadline that’s 24-48 earlier. Those hours are the buffer.

Why’s that such a big deal? When you have a buffer, and something happens that you can’t control, you still have those 24-48 hours to meet the deadline.

Schedule your calendar like a to-do list. 

If you have things on your schedule that have to be done, I personally like scheduling out time on my calendar for them. Much like a meeting, they have a set and scheduled time for this task to be accomplished.

For some people like myself, this includes blocking out time for working out, eating, walks and other important activities in my life. If I don’t make time for them, other things will always get in the way. I find that when I block out those times on my schedule, I’m much more proactive as well as I feel better about myself.

Use batching and time-blocking.

Batching is basically where you find similar tasks and then lump them all together to make a task-batch. You then sit down, set a timer, and focus only on those similar tasks. For example, setting aside 6 am to 7 am to check emails and then 8 am to 10 am to write blog posts.

Another strategy that you should try is using time-blocks. When you have outside meetings, block two and a half days per week for those meetings. Only attend those outside meetings during those time-blocks. To make blocking more effective, color-code your calendar so that you can visually glance at your calendar.

Optimize time for different meeting types.

Here are some suggestions on the types of meetings that you might want to book and schedule:

  • 45-minute meeting that’s outside of the office. Allow 15 minutes for travel and 30 minutes for the meeting over coffee.
  • 30-minute weekly staff meeting.
  • 30-minute meeting in the office to get to know colleagues or catch up.
  • 15-minute daily standup if you’re a startup or leading an engineering team.
  • 10-minute phone call to offer someone advice.

Whatever meetings you decide to hold a meeting, you should group them into blocks. If you think that a particular meeting needs more or less time, then you can adjust the block accordingly.

Still, just remember that it’s impossible to get everything done. “Also remember that odds are good that 20 percent of your thoughts, conversations and activities produce 80 percent of your results,” say Mathews, Debolt, and Percival

7 Creative Ways to Show Remote Workers You Care | Jennifer Parris, Flexjobs.com

In a remote work environment, showing your workers that you care can require a little more effort. The good thing is that it’s easy to make your remote workers feel special, no matter where they are working in the world.

Here are some creative ways to show remote workers you care:

1. Talk to them.

Schedule a check-in with your remote workers at least once every six months or so to see where they’re at in terms of work and also their personal life. It gives your employee the chance to air any grievances, clear the air, and also reconnect with you and the company if he’s starting to feel a little disengaged.

And, as an employer, you can address any issues and find out a little more about what your employee is experiencing, both at work and at home.

2. Reward their work.

What worker doesn’t want to feel that their hard work is appreciated by the organization? Even for the most introverted of employees, you can include a “rock star of the month” award to spotlight your employees’ efforts in the company newsletter.
Acknowledging employees who went above and beyond the call of duty is a great way to show that you both recognize their hard work and appreciate their contribution to the company.

3. Make it memorable.

Make it a point to keep track of your workers’ important dates, such as work anniversaries, birthdays—even their wedding anniversaries and kids’ birthdays. You can send flowers or a gift basket for the big ones, and just jot off an email to wish your worker a happy anniversary or happy birthday to a child.

That little bit of extra effort can go a long way towards making your remote worker feel all warm and fuzzy inside.

4. Include their partners.

Let’s say that you’ve organized a meet-up for some of your workers who live near each other. Don’t just limit the invite to employees, though.

Encourage them to bring along their spouses and significant others, just as they might if it were a traditional office get-together.

After all, your remote employees might feel awkward if they’re meeting each other for the first time, and having their loved ones there can help break the ice. Plus, it shows that the company cares not just for them, but for their sweeties, too.

5. Support their outside endeavors.

As a part of their company culture, some companies are very supportive of their workers’ outside interests. That might be their humanitarian work, their contributions to their communities, and so on.

You can mention their work in the company newsletter or even reward them for their outside work. Offer a small stipend for any volunteer hours worked as a way to encourage their humanitarian efforts.

6. Be empathetic.

Don’t let the distance of a remote work environment create distance between you and your remote employee. Instead of being sympathetic, try to be empathetic and relate to your remote worker. Not only will it build stronger bonds between the two of you, it will show that you truly care.

7. Look for ways to create new opportunities and experiences for them.

Sometimes, you can show your remote workers that you care for them by giving them more work! No, not the kind that makes them feel bored at work, but the kind that they really want. Find ways to reward their work by giving them the work they really want to do, whether it’s in the form of a plum new assignment or a shiny promotion.

Showing your remote workers that you care for them should be a big part of your management style. It will help retain the top-level talent you already have, and become a natural part of your company culture that will help you attract new talent to your organization.

10 Ways to 10x Personal and Organizational Productivity | Deji Atoyebi, Business2community.com

Being productive is all about doing the best quality work within a reasonable amount of time. Therefore, it’s a no-brainer that to become a successful entrepreneur or an employee, productivity must be your strong suit. It’s equally important for managers to strive at improving employee productivity in order to grow their business. In view of these, this article will walk you through 10 pragmatic ways to increase both personal and organizational productivity.

#1. Use a Standing Desk: 

Standing is assumed to aid productivity through various ways. First, it improves health and provides energy bu reducing back and neck pain, burning calories, among other things. Second, standing decreases one’s tendency of falling asleep while working. Also, there are claims that it generally helps to increase creativity.

#2. Take Occasional Breaks: 

Taking occasional breaks while working is a good way to stay productive for a relatively longer time. Breaks tend to rejuvenate, rekindle attention and restore motivation. They can also prevent “decision fatigue”; in fact, a ‘walking rest’ is considered to help prolong memories and improve learning.

Don’t overwork yourself when you could avoid it; take a break as soon as you start finding it difficult to focus on the job at hand. Managers should also schedule appropriate break sessions for employees.

#3. Delegate When Necessary and Possible: 

To boost your productivity, you must learn when to let go of and prioritize work. Delegate tasks that you’d be better off not doing and trust those to whom you delegate them.

Don’t be a multitasking control-freak!

#4. Tidy Up Your Workspace:

A clean work space would most definitely make your focus more on the job at hand by freeing your mind of potential distractions that could sway you away from your work. Things like your mobile phone and random documents are good examples of such distractions.

In a nutshell, reduce the clutter and save yourself from being overwhelmed.

#5. Use Effective Analytic Technologies:

Businesses with relevant, large enough datasets and effective tools for manipulating them are more privileged than those without. But in what way does analytics boost productivity, you ask? Simple.

Well-analyzed data makes it easier to make good business decisions and even fastens the process. Without these data, it’s amazingly easy to gloss over necessary facts and delay the execution of a project.

#6. Use Time-Management/Tracking Software:

Although there are various options to help in tracking and managing time, special software for such a purpose are usually the best way to go. A good time-tracking software will make it easier for you to determine the period in the day in which you’re most productive and the type of work you’re generally faster at doing. Therefore, it’d enable you weigh your options and ultimately improve your productivity.

#7. Prioritize Knowledge Acquisition:

You need to strive for a better knowledge-base either at the personal or organizational level. A manager who provides effective training programs for employees would be turbo-charging their confidence and making them more productive performers.

#8. Get Enough Sleep:

Getting enough sleep improves memory, strengthens focus, increases energy and facilitates quite a number of things that soars productivity and which sleep deprivation naturally impedes.

#9. Make Use of Effective Collaboration Tools:

There are tools to help facilitate collaboration and thus aid coordination. A good example is Github, which is primarily a platform for software developers to jointly work on software and commit changes, independently. Some other general-purpose collaboration tools that aid work-flow are Slack, Trello, Google Keep and a host of others. They all have the potential of making you more productive in your daily work.

#10. Minimize Face-to-face Interactions:

Even in a not-so-crowded workplace, there’d be times when you, as an employee, would have to put your job on hold in order to talk to someone who needs help for something quite trivial or who just wants a tête-à-tête. This scenario can be frustrating and more frequent than normal.To avoid this, it’s reasonable to avoid things that could lead to face-to-face interactions while working. Many software developers are known to wear headphones for this purpose.

 

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Remote Work Digest: September 21, 2017

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

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Image from Thenextweb.com

7 Tips For Training Remote Teams | JTRipton, Trainingzone.co.uk

Remote work enables professionals (both salaried and freelance) to perform their duties without having to commute to an office, while employers have fewer overheads to cover. However, to achieve the best results, your team of remote workers require the same in-depth training as your in-house employees.

Here are 7 key tips to help you train your remote teams better than the rest.

1. Consider Meeting in Person First
If this is simply impossible due to time or geographical restraints, that’s fine. However, bringing them into your workplace and immersing them in your company culture helps to build a stronger bond, foster a deeper knowledge of the business’s operations at an early stage, and helps the team get to know each other better.

If this can’t be done, there are other options, including video conferencing.

2. Embrace Video Chat
Video chat is a terrific alternative to bringing remote workers in for an initial introduction. You can still take them on a tour, introduce them to colleagues, and engage face-to-face.

Video chat should be used to check-in, whether this covers upcoming tasks, brainstorming sessions, or just to discuss progress. This collaboration and bonding helps to form a more cohesive company, but choosing the right service is key.

3. Cover Every Tool
One early priority in your training should be to educate remote workers on the tools they will be using, and ensure these are as free of bugs as possible. Remote workers can be seriously hampered by inefficient platforms, and in-house tools should be as user-friendly for them as everyone else.

Don’t expect remote workers to know exactly how to use your bespoke software without any training, and always have information to hand for their own reference.

4. Set Homework to Build Workers’ Knowledge
Provide remote workers with a wide range of company-specific files to read at their own leisure. This will help to develop their knowledge of your business, your mission, your company values, your working practices, and other critical areas. The better remote workers understand your company’s culture and profile, the more their work will suit your expectations.

5. Record Training for Future Reference
Recording training sessions helps to save time and enables more individuals to get involved. Rather than expecting one or two employees to handle training, you can give others the details they need to get future remote workers up to speed.

6. Allow Remote Workers to Progress Their Own Way
Even with the best training and the most in-depth resources, some remote workers may need a little more time to settle into your business’s style of communication, your schedule, your project-management, and other aspects.

Be patient, and offer the help workers need without pressuring them to ‘fall in line’.

7. Keep Your Door Open
Any businesses which fail to be welcoming or keep their doors open to remote workers may find that mistakes are made, or that telecommuters quit at the first opportunity. Misunderstandings and questions are common in the early days of a working relationship, but ensuring remote workers feel happy to say when they’re uncertain helps to inspire loyalty and drive.

Training remote teams as best you can is vital to motivate workers and reduce the risk of costly mistakes. Follow the tips explored above to improve your chances of building a successful relationship with your remote workers for years to come.

Have you tried any of these techniques, and if so, how did they affect your business?

Why online etiquette in remote workplaces matters | Robyn Shulman, Thenextweb.com

Remote workplaces can differ significantly from the traditional office spaces that Baby Boomers and Generation-X workers know so well. Given the lack of face-to-face interaction and a global workforce filled with cultural differences, etiquette, communication rules and understandings can vary. In turn, this can make digitized workspaces a challenge to navigate.

Whether you are communicating in an online group, or sending an email, the tips below can help you best navigate your online workspace while providing advantages for all members.

Tone of voice

One of the biggest issues with remote or digital workspaces is the ease with which tone can be misconstrued by those posting and commenting. Often when we communicate digitally, our sound can get lost in translation. Before commenting in a remote workplace community, it’s best to read your comment twice before you post. You can also read the statement out loud or share it with a family member who can provide feedback. In turn, this ensures that your true intentions get across properly.

Don’t let your emotions get in the way

Reacting immediately to a problem or statement can be problematic in face-to-face conversations, but becomes even more troublesome in remote or digital workplaces. Because our words online are never truly deleted, it’s imperative to think twice before posting anything. If you’re angry or upset, it may be a good idea to take the time to cool down and organize your thoughts before making a comment or sending an email that may sound rash and filled with emotion.

Consider cultural differences

Given the flexibility of working online, people from various cultures and beliefs can make up one working community. When different countries come together to work, it is in your best interest to research cultural habits, behaviors and expectations. Having an understanding of where your colleagues come from and how they work can help to enhance active communication, prevent arguments, and promote compassion.

Maintain a positive space

While remote work lifts the travel burden, it’s important to remember that digital working forums and communities are still professional places of communication. It is important to keep the community clear of attacking others.

A good rule of thumb to remember: If you wouldn’t say something in the brick and mortar office, don’t say it online.
By working as a team, you can promote a balanced presence in your remote workplace, and can also help your colleagues thrive.

Consider privacy

Be aware of your online surroundings when you share information and resources. Consider the private lives of the community and those involved when deciding what to share with your online group.

It’s easy to take your emotions out on the computer and walk away. However, any comments, whether negative or positive, can have a significant impact on your career immediately or ten years down the road.

This Is How To Actually Work Smarter, Not Harder | Gwen Morgan, Fastcompany.com

What does it really mean to work smarter?

“It means figuring out better, faster ways to work,” says personal productivity expert and trainer Peggy Duncan. But before you enroll in a time management course or start playing “beat the clock” with your project list, consider these counterintuitive ways to get more done.

Don’t Dive Right In
Write down what you’re doing, how long it’s taking you, and who is interrupting you and what they wanted. “Because the biggest time-management mistake people make is not realizing how much time they waste. When you analyze it, you see what’s going on,” Duncan says. And you’ll have a good data set to figure out how you can shift your time usage, minimize interruptions, and learn a few key lessons.

Let Someone Else Do It
For Tomer Yogev, cofounder of leadership and performance consultancy Tandem Spring, working smarter means focusing on the areas in which you’re strongest—and letting go of things you’re doing for other reasons. To be more effective, you’ve got to ask for help and enlist people who are better at certain tasks and functions than you are, he says. That requires taking a hard look at your strengths and having the humility to admit that there are some areas you’re more skilled in than others.

Work When You Feel Like It
Paying attention to your energy cycles is critical to working smarter, says performance consultant Heidi Pozzo. When you’re feeling focused and energetic, you’re going to get more work done in a shorter period of time. “A lot of people are really good at high concentration work in the morning. So, if you can, block your day in a way that the first thing you work on is the most impactful,” she says. Of course, if you’re not a morning person, shift that advice to when you feel at your best.

Prepare For Your “Wasted” Time
Duncan recommends preparing to make the most of that time. Cloud-based tools that let you work from anywhere and a to-do list that reminds you of calls that need to be made, email messages that need to be written, and work components that need to be completed keep you ready to use those pockets to get more done.

Read The Manual
Investing time in reading the instruction manual and getting appropriate training can yield many hours of return on investment. Macros, shortcuts, and other time-savers may not be immediately apparent, but can simplify your work.

Be More Bureaucratic
Look at the tasks you perform on a regular basis and how you can create a more efficient way of getting them done. Are you wasting time scheduling many appointments every day? Look at automating that function with a scheduling app. Are you managing a project with many contributors and version control issues? Look at how you can create a system of capturing feedback and ensuring everyone has the most current information, perhaps with a cloud-based collaboration system that color-codes and date-stamps feedback for easy tracking.

Lay Off The Junk Food
If you’re tired and feeling bad because you’re not getting enough sleep, good nutrition, or exercise, that’s going to reflect in your efficiency and productivity. The Centers for Disease Control call insufficient sleep a public health problem that costs the U.S. up to $411 billion per year in lost productivity.

Stare At A Photo
Think about the reason you want to work smarter and not harder. Do you want more time for yourself to do the things you love to do? Are you just feeling burned out? Do you want more time to spend with loved ones? Whatever the reason, put a photo or group of photos that represent those reasons nearby so you can see them, Duncan suggests. This will act as a touchstone to help keep you on track when you’re procrastinating, spending too much time on social media, or otherwise undermining your efforts to get your work done in less time.

 

Remote Work Digest: August 23, 2017

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

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Image from ThriveGlobal.com

 

How to Run a Remote Startup Across Time Zones | Steve Williams, Entrepreneur.com

Times have changed, and anyone with an eye on trends could have seen it coming. As the world went web-based, so did the traditional office space. A study by Global Workplace Analytics says, “Regular work-at-home, among the non-self-employed population, has grown by 115 percent since 2005.”

Innovative communication tools have evolved to accommodate this new work force. There are tools, apps and programs galore to reconcile time zone differences, connect people virtually and back up the promises of increased productivity.

If you are considering a remote startup, here is some advice on how to set up for success.

Cast a wide net.

One of the most noteworthy benefits of remote teams is that the talent pool instantly becomes global. In other words, your potential team is no longer dictated by the boundaries of your head office’s city and suburbs.

There are plenty of remote job boards to tap into.

Adjust for time zones.

While some say that time zones are outdated and counter-productive, we still currently live with them.

Instead of installing six clocks set to different times on your home office wall, consider tools like Every Time Zone or World Time Buddy. Easily customized, you can add cities at your will and watch a tracker in real time so you’re not expecting your colleague to answer a question at midnight.

Create a water cooler commons.

There are some excellent ways to create a virtual space where everyone is included but no one needs to wear pants. The two most popular options are HipChat and Slack, with Slack edging ahead of the competition. The virtual communication tools connect team members and offer messaging sub channels, direct messages, customized calendars, task assignments and so on. You can start a channel dedicated to awesome high-five gifs or unexpected animal friendship videos. This can be instrumental in building a company culture for people to become invested in.

Stay organized.

One of the biggest trials is keeping your team on task and organized. Communication is key here, and using tools to create a virtual white board work well. Trello is a popular one that allows users to make boards, lists, and cards to stay organized and set priorities.

You also need a system to make it easy to share large folders and documents, like Dropbox Paper, which has added functionality for collaboration.
While having clear tasks is necessary, it’s also a good idea to organize and stick to a schedule for a weekly Skype session or time when everyone can join a Google Hangout. Having this kind of clear, reliable communication means that fewer things will slip through the cracks and trust between teammates will build.

Mandate a buddy system.

Remote work can get lonely, and without person-to-person contact, productivity can slip.
One interesting way companies combat this is by having mini team check-ins. It’s like a buddy system where you have an assigned colleague/friend. But, instead of making sure they are on the bus with you, you connect to make sure they’re on track with their job.

Bring it all together, now.

By now, your business should be taking off because you’ve hired the best people from around the world and have implemented the most cutting edge productivity practices, so you can afford it.

Having your remote team meet up at relevant trade shows kills several birds with one stone.It allows your remote folks work together as a face-to-face team, hone their sales and marketing skills in a direct environment, and gives them valuable feedback from clients and prospects.

If you ask remote employees why they pursued their remote position, the answer will often be because they didn’t feel productive or happy in an office setting. As a business owner or manager, this creates an interesting opportunity to capitalize on.

Running a tight ship takes strategy, diligence and flexibility. But, you might as well take a chance. If you don’t, you might get left behind.

It’s 2017: Do You Know Where Your Telecommuting Security Policy Is? | Informationsecuritybuzz.com

According to a recent New York Times report, more than 40 percent of employees work from home at least part- time, and the option to telecommute is a highly sought-after perk among job seekers.

While multiple studies have shown the benefits of telecommuting in terms of productivity and employee morale, that doesn’t mean that it’s without risks. In fact, allowing employees to work remotely can create security risks. From data breaches to malware, without the right security policies in place, allowing employees to telecommute could be the equivalent of leaving your business wide open to hackers.

The Risks of Telecommuting

Remote workers can put your company’s data and networks at risk in a number of ways.

  • Using unsecured networks. Employees working from home typically use their own internet connection, which may or may not be secure. Even worse, when they work away from home (such as at a local café) they may even use public Wi-Fi networks to work, potentially exposing sensitive data to hackers.
  • Engaging in non-work activities. Particularly in BYOD environments, employees are going to use their computers and mobile devices for non-work activities such as playing games or using apps that require different levels of access, opening up the possibility of malware or hacking.
  • IoT devices. Internet of Things security is a major concern these days, with most connected devices lacking strong security. Employees working from home may be unaware of these risks, and unknowingly put your company networks in peril.
  • Lack of physical security. Often, people working from home don’t follow the same level of security as an office. They may leave their computers unattended, fail to follow password protocols, leave offices and filing cabinets unlocked, or fail to follow other basic security protocols, creating risk.

Telecommuting Security Policies

The best way to strike a balance between security and flexibility is to develop a comprehensive security policy for those employees working away from the office.

  • For full-time employees who will be working outside of the office, most experts recommend supplying hardware. That way, companies can define acceptable use, as well as better manage security protocols such as updates and patches.
  • Antivirus protection. A security policy should also address the antivirus protection standards for employee machines. Again, providing equipment allows you to control the installation and updating of antivirus software, but if that isn’t an option, providing guidelines and access to tools like a free virus scan can help protect against threats.
  • Establishing Virtual Private Networks helps you have more control over how your employees access your network. Not only does a VPN keep hackers out, you can also encrypt data and restrict what your employees can access.
  • There are plenty of applications that allow your employees to collaborate, share and send information and data, and save files. Your policy should address which tools and applications are acceptable, and which are prohibited.
  • Physical security. While you cannot control what employees do in their homes, you can require that work devices be password protected, have two-factor authentication in place, and enforce acceptable-use policies to protect the physical security of devices.
  • A disaster plan. What should employees do when things go wrong? Your policy should tell them what to do and who to call if they suspect a security issue.

An effective telecommuting security policy can mean the difference between a safe and secure remote work environment, and a costly data breach. By educating your employees about the risks and providing rules and guidelines for working securely, you can feel more comfortable letting employees work from home.

Is Remote Working Healthier? | Remote.com, Thriveglobal.com

It’s the latest debate on the table, and we’ve got a few thoughts about it.
While new stats are coming in every day, there are quite a few factors that are already contributing to the argument that remote working is healthier for humans than commuting to and working from an office. From cutting out the commute to getting more sleep, here’s what the numbers are telling us so far.

1. Remote Working Cuts Out Commuting
A Gallup survey reveals that longer commutes correlate with more recurrent neck and back problems. Those who have long commutes are also more likely to have been diagnosed with high cholesterol and obese BMIs, two factors which certainly aren’t doing the body any favors.

2. Remote Workers Eat and Sleep Better
CoSo Cloud, the trusted private-cloud solutions provider for Adobe Connect, found in a recent study that 42% of remote workers reported eating healthier than they do while working from a traditional office environment. To further the argument that remote workers are living healthier lives, the same study found that 45% of remote workers are getting more sleep.

3. Remote Workers Exercise More
The aforementioned CoSo Cloud survey reported that a whopping 35% of remote workers are getting more physical exercise than they did when they worked in an office. When you cut out the commute and can take those middle-of-the-day yoga classes you’ve always dreamt about taking, why wouldn’t you want to exercise more?

4. Remote Working Lowers the Risk of Getting Sick
A survey conducted by Wakefield Research found that 69% of working Americans don’t take sick days, even when they’re ill. To further make you cringe, the Wakefield Research also found that 62% of employees have gone to work sick. Ever caught a cold from a cubicle mate? Yup, that doesn’t happen with remote working.

5. Remote Workers Are Less Stressed
PGi, a leading global provider of collaboration software and services, revealed that 82% of remote workers reported lower stress levels according to their study. Makes sense to us. It’s amazing the amount of stress that glides off of one’s shoulders when someone isn’t constantly looking over them, right? Right.

Save Money and Boost Productivity by Upgrading Your Technology | Kim Lindros, Businessnewsdaily.com

Small business budgets are tight, especially where IT is concerned. But technology upgrades can pay for themselves quickly by improving IT performance and enabling employees to accomplish more in less time.

Here are a few steps you can take to make sure your business technology is functional and up to date.

Run the latest operating system
Older operating systems, like Microsoft Windows 7, have potential security flaws that hackers take advantage of, making a system more vulnerable to malware and other attacks. It’s not enough to run a current protection suite, such as one that combines antivirus, antispyware and a firewall, because the operating system itself may contain security holes. With new cyberattacks being launched daily, your organization could easily fall prey to a ransomware attack or malware infection.

The latest OS lets employees take advantage of a host of new apps and programs that boost productivity. And because Windows 10 runs on all kinds of devices, including smartphones and high-end laptops, your employees get a consistent user experience regardless of which device they use.

Update hardware technology
Keeping old equipment in use might seem like a money saver, but it requires more maintenance than new equipment in the form of upgrades and repairs. And waiting until your server crashes to replace it is risky, potentially setting your business back for days at a time and resulting in loss of revenue. Consider an upgrade cycle of every three years for computers, or more often if you can afford it.

Digitize and centralize documents
The low cost of online storage makes cloud services a good business value, and documents are available 24/7 from any computer or device. Another plus is that you don’t have to maintain backups yourself. Cloud service providers back up your data automatically as part of their core services, and rescuing data that’s been accidentally deleted is much like fetching files from the Windows Recycle Bin.
Worried about security? With proper folder organization, you can set simple user and group permissions to prevent users from accessing documents they shouldn’t see.

Maintain a reliable, high-speed network
A high-speed network connection that’s available 24/7 enables organizations to run modern applications, like office suites and customer relationship management software, that might tax older, slower networks. Employees appreciate an optimized network connection that allows them to complete work faster and move on to the next task.
Another important benefit of a reliable network is collaboration. Online collaboration services let staff use voice or video applications to meet one-on-one or in teams, and they make remote employees feel like they’re an active part of the office.

Crafting a technology refresh plan is one way to support your organization’s mission, goals and strategies, and to keep employees working productively.

 

Remote Work Digest: July 19, 2017

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

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Image from Add-on.com

5 Tips To Create An Employee-Friendly Office Space For More Productivity | Harshil Barot, Justwebworld.com

The common designs of offices today- – joining heaps of glass and chrome; dark, white, and dim; and stunning craftsmanship – make for ravishing photograph spreads. Nevertheless, they may not be the sort of condition where representatives feel the most casual and focused. Instead, use these five tips to create a welcoming space for your employees:

1. Try not to be reluctant to include personality
Try not to be reluctant to deck out the workplace with individual things, photos, craftsmanship, blurbs, dynamic stationery, indoor ball loops, interesting knickknacks, collectibles – anything that includes a touch of humor and liveliness and conveys the way of life of your group.

2. Go Green
Including a touch (or different touches) of nature to your office can keep it from seeming sterile and frosty. Plants, blossoms, a drinking fountain or even an aquarium would all be able to include a touch of nature and freshness to your office space.

3. Add Some Party Color
Many corporate workplaces are overwhelmingly dim, white or beige, so including some fun party favor ideas like adding sprinkles of color can brighten up the office, add identity and fresh air into the space. Another approach to animate your office space is to include a few varieties in surface – like finished cushions, upholstery, materials or mats.

4. Say No To Fluorescent Lighting
Despite the fact that this is functional, it’s certainly not stylishly engaging or even comfortable for humans. This lighting is brutal, and can make a work space feel excessively clerical. Adding modified lighting to a working environment is certain to make it feel cozier, more surrounding and all the more welcoming.

5. Flexible work space is important
Make your common space perform in multiple apps like you can remove conference hall by creating areas for sitting, and furnish them with funky coffee tables or sectional sofa. Also, you can start using desk-on-wheels so every time you require a bigger space for conference, you can make one.

6. Remember To Have Fun
Many businesses now look forward to set playful, fresh tones to motivate innovation. Try adding interesting art pieces, and more importantly, purely-for-fun elements like pool table, foosball, Ping-Pong, etc.

If your office space can be uplifting, inspiring and warm, then why settle for a full, lifeless cubicle? Try all the five tips and you’ll be able to create one amazing office for your workers. Good environment, happy employees!

How To Make Better To-Do Lists | Robin Camarote, Inc.com

Lists are the most basic time-management tool we have. We all (obsessively) use them. They’re supposed to help us prioritize our work and avoid feeling overwhelmed. But rarely do the lists we make do either of those things.

So, what are we doing wrong? Do you:

Have multiple lists in multiple places?
Have dozens of items included–some that have taken up permanent residency?
Mix and match long-term and short-term items like “get a PhD” and “go to the car wash”?
Rarely actually consult your list once it’s made?
Start with the easy stuff?
Add more stuff in the morning, as you first read your email with a cup of coffee?
Tie your self-worth–or at least your view of whether it was a “good day”–to the number of cross outs?

Avoid these listing pitfalls by sticking with these four rules.

1. Pick one place for your list. Just one. There are many great list-making and time-management tools out there.
2. Write everything down. Once it’s on the list, you can relax a little.
3. Clear the clutter. It’s OK to have a handful of stretch items on your list, but if they’re hanging out more than a week, let them go. If you want to be able to come back to them, put a running list in a separate file on your computer. This can be a resource the next time you’re feeling stuck in a rut and need something new to do.
4. Organize your tasks. All of my thinking and writing tasks are together because they take more dedicated brain power, and I know the time of day that’s most conducive to making progress on these items.

Listing is a basic time and energy management tool, and one that I can’t live without. Lists help us get focused and organized–when used appropriately. They can also help build a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction, when you’re actually checking things off your list. But when used improperly, lists can just lead to guilt and feeling overwhelmed.

Self-discipline comes when you have your list updated. Picking just three important things that tie directly to your goals or commitments each day is a great place to start.

3 Soft Skills to Consider for Improved Employee Return on Investment | Lynette Reed, Business.com

Soft skills can be just as important as the hard skills in your company’s return on investment. These three are in particular are vital.

Reinforcing and monitoring soft skill behaviors within the workplace supports a robust and cohesive environment that shows an increase in productivity, which ultimately increases your profits.

Here are three soft skills to consider for improved employee return on investment:

1. Supporting corporate culture
Companies with a durable set of words to determine the behavior of the company offer employees a strong sense of identity. You can identify potential fractures within the organizational design by gauging how well an employee’s behaviors match the words that define your company’s culture. If the company words are “helpful,” “efficient” and “friendly,” then employees can be measured by how well the behavior supports the culture. Terms such as “happy” would not work, as you cannot always control whether you are happy.

Take time to create a resilient culture with these behavior words so that your employees have a reliable measure of authenticity. Authentic companies minimize employee behaviors that are not in keeping with the culture. Supporting corporate culture reduces time spent on behaviors that distract from the underlying framework of the organization and encourages skillful and engaged employees.

2. Matching words and actions
You offer your company cohesion by matching words and action. Employees are accountable for their commitments to both the company culture and the work. Breaks in cohesion can occur both internally and external to the organization. Make sure that your employees’ words match actions when working with other team members and your customers. Building trust in your company creates a more resilient workplace that can better withstand challenges and conflicts.

3. Managing personal judgments
Judgment takes time and energy away from the company. Think about how many hours employees spend in a week talking about how badly someone did their work, or how someone was wrong for doing work a certain way. Keep employees focused on the work by reminding them that there is no good or bad, or wrong or right. Concentrate on overcoming challenges, and keep work moving in a forward momentum. Remind employees to find solutions and make plans to achieve goals even when difficulties occur or work is not correctly completed.

Fractures created by employees who struggle with these soft skills are time-consuming, disruptive, and distracting to your product and your goals. When you manage and maintain these soft skills, you offer your employees a durable framework that increases the return on investment for you and your organization.

6 Ways To Have Structure When You’re Working From Home | Prachi Gangwani, iDiva.com

Working from home also has a dark side. If you are the lucky one who doesn’t have to show up to an office in order to make money, you will know that establishing a routine and staying motivated are the challenges of this lifestyle. When there’s no set in-time or out-time, why should you wake up early and try to have a routine? At some point, everybody who works from home begins to lose motivation. You realize that you need some sort of structure, but how do you establish that when you don’t really have to?

That’s where these tips will help you…

1. Have a separate office space
Have a separate room, or a corner where you have a desk, your laptop and the stationery you need, to make an office. Do not make personal phone calls, or eat your meals at this spot. This is for work. When you want to do something other than work, move to a different spot in the house.

2. Wake up, and go to bed, at the same time every day
Contrary to what many people believe, having a routine doesn’t restrain us, it actually frees us. When the basics like waking up and going to sleep, our meals, shower time, etc, are in place, it reduces reasons to be stressed, and frees our mind to be productive.

3. Have fixed working hours
Fix the time you start working, and the time you stop working, and follow this religiously. There’s nothing that can’t wait till tomorrow.

4. Take frequent breaks
Research shows that we work better if we take breaks in between, rather than pulling 8 hours straight. So, every once in a while, get up from your desk, move a bit, and get yourself a cup of coffee.

5. Socialize
Stay in touch with your friends and family, and make sure you have at least one evening a week dedicated to socializing. Everything else is futile without a solid social circle.

6. Get out every single day
Go for a walk, go to the local grocer, maybe get your morning cup of coffee at a neighbourhood café, meet a friend for dinner, hit the gym. There are many reasons to step out of the house, and none why you shouldn’t.

Remote Work Digest: June 15, 2017

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

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Image from Education.co.za

 

How Millenials Are Making Flexible Benefits Possible, Sarah Landrum, Forbes.com

It’s no secret by now that the world’s in the midst of great changes, and many of them are driven by millennials coming of age. Thanks to today’s widely-available technologies, we’re enjoying opportunities for work and play that wouldn’t have been possible for a previous generation.

Working From Home

It might not be a “right,” but working from home is certainly a positive and beneficial thing — for employee and employer alike. Working from home reduces a company’s overhead and can help employees improve productivity and morale, since familiar surroundings foster peace-of-mind.

Flexible Hours

We’re finding there are fewer and fewer reasons to stick to the familiar nine-to-five scheduling paradigm that’s shaped so many decades of economic progress. Put more simply, it just makes good sense to let employees follow a less rigid schedule. Emergencies happen. So do children, appointments, dates and impromptu sushi outings with friends.

Unlimited Maternity and Paternity Leave

We’ve been operating under the false assumption that when given the opportunity to slack off, people will abuse that opportunity. The thing is, formal studies reveal that folks who are free to pursue their obligations and interests on their own terms will pleasantly surprise you almost every time.

Countries as near as Canada are even testing the theory that providing a basic universal income would free our schedules and minds to pursue innovation, improve ourselves, learn new skills, start businesses, invent things and generally engage in turning the wheels of progress. So far, things look promising.

What Is The Future Of Work?

It’s really not too early to start talking about that world. We seem comfortable speaking of a future where office employees can take vacations nearly at will — are we also ready to talk about what happens when we have millions fewer truckers and manufacturing plants filled with hundreds of robots but just a dozen humans?

The conversation is already underway — partially thanks to technology and partly because we’re handing the economy’s reins off to millennials. As the future of work becomes larger on the horizon, we’ll quickly find that unlimited PTO is just the tip of the “What comes next?” iceberg.

4 simple hacks to becoming a morning person | Kristen Edge, Kelownanow.com

To all the night owls out there, morning people are like an alien life form which cannot be understood. How do they do it?

Don’t fret! Getting up at 6 a.m. and taking on the day like a boss will be your forte in no time. Remember, it only takes 21 days to form a habit and go from morning hater to lover!

Here’s a list of simple hacks you can try to become a go-getter in the morning!

Make the most of the night before – including showering!
Setting out your outfit for the next day, replenishing your gym bag and preparing your meals can all be evening tasks that set you up for a smoother morning. Plus, it’s time better spent than lounging on the couch and staring into your TV screen, which actually prevents you from falling asleep, leaving you feeling groggy the next day. In other countries, it’s actually considered super weird to shower in the mornings, because there’s just too much to get accomplished and get going. Wake up with dry hair-ready to style!

Stretch it out
Your body and mental stability will thank you for putting aside just a few minutes a day for stretching. Stretching increases your blood flow and energy levels, finding some time for yoga in the morning helps you find your zen and set your intentions for the day!

Eat Breakfast
A light, nutritious meal is all you need to fuel your brain and tackle the day ahead. You could also try drinking a mug of hot water with a lemon slice and some honey-you’ll be ditching the need for coffee in no time!

Give yourself a pep talk
Self love is so important and there is no shame in practicing it! So go ahead and give yourself some confidence to take with you throughout your day. Who knows, it could even lead to a raise!

You know what they say, ‘the early bird catches the worm!’ What are some of your life hacks to get you up and going in the morning?

3 Ways Office Lights Can Increase Employee Productivity | Jeff Charles, Smallbiztrends.com

Numerous factors impact our creativity, happiness, and productivity. That is why companies work to manicure their offices to elicit the best out of their teams.

The Connection Between Office Lighting and Productivity

Recent studies have revealed a significant connection between office lighting and productivity. The American Society of Interior Design found that 68 percent of employees are discontent with the lighting in their offices. That is an important statistic to keep in mind, because an even larger number may not even be aware that the light in their offices is impacting them in any way.
But the connection between lighting and depression, lighting and creativity, and lighting and overall productivity is significant.

These are three things business owners need to know about office lighting:

Manage Stress

Stress is an intractable problem in every company. The good news is, the human body naturally copes with stress by emitting cortisol, sometimes called the ‘stress hormone’. When circumstances pressure the mind into difficult decisions and panic begins to set in, cortisol rushes to the rescue and normalizes our responses.

The problem is, artificial light reduces our cortisol levels. Suddenly narratives from the movie Office Space begin to make more sense. When we are deprived of our natural cure for stress, we act erratically. There are tens of thousands of offices that are all but designed to damage our stress management just by virtue of their lighting.

Boost Productivity

It goes without saying that harsh, bright lights damage productivity by making us depressed and stressed out. But science suggests that there is a type of light that boosts our productivity, and that is cool light.

Many companies are creating personalized controls for each employee. That means that those who like brighter light can get their work done in an environment more conducive to their own productivity without forcing their neighbor to endure the same experience. Customization is key.

Be More Alert

We do not have good eyesight in the dark and as a result many of our customs and evolved behaviors are impacted by the changing of day to night and night to day. Investigating your office environment to ensure you are not accidentally putting your employees to sleep is important.

When your whole team is alert, fewer mistakes are made, more work gets done, and everyone is more creative. All of that is the outcome of better lighting.
Small businesses employ the largest percentage of American workers and command the largest number of offices. It is important to invest in small innovations in order to keep the workforce healthy and productive. Founders and executives who are looking for investments they can make this year to enhance their teams should look outside the box for solutions.

How to Find the Best Remote Jobs That Don’t Require a College Degree | Jessica Mattern, Womansday.com

There are all kinds of new and intriguing listings for positions that don’t require anything more than a GED or high school diploma, according to Brie Reynolds, the senior career specialist at Remote.co. The job opportunities cover a variety of fields and industries, and include both part-time and full-time work-from-home positions.

“Some of the most high-demand fields for flexible workers that don’t need a bachelor’s degree include data entry, administrative, software development, sales, customer service, and writing,” Brie told WomansDay.com. You can also obtain jobs in education, design, health care, marketing, and more.

Here are five remote jobs currently open to workers of all education levels.

Customer experience specialist: In this role as an online advisor, you’ll be responsible for corresponding with customers via email, social media, and live chat functions, and provide support to the company for their online projects.

Medical coding: In this full-time opportunity, you can receive free training on the latest medical coding technologies and systems to ensure you’re up-to-date on the latest practices in your industry.

Virtual assistant: Support staff and customers, coordinate scheduling, and manage timelines and projects among other tasks in this remote position.

Human resources business partner: This job will focus on creating and improving strategies for management, customer satisfaction, and business performance, and supporting leaders in the company.

Transcriptionist: This incredibly flexible job allows you to choose how many hours per week you want to work. This start-up company pays you according to the work you complete making it ideal for motivated individuals.

See the complete database of job listings at Remote.co.

Remote Work Digest: May 9, 2017

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

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Image from Lifehacker.com.au

These 10 tips will help you enjoy working from home | Joshua Trudell, Rare.us

Having a home office and working from home can be a blessing and a curse. Here are 10 tips that’ll help you enjoy working in your own space.

1. Figure out tax repercussions
To write off home-office costs, you must use the area for work only and on a regular basis. You should be able to write off 100 percent of costs associated exclusively with your home office — everything from buying a work computer to office supplies.

2. Create a daily work schedule
If you work for one company, try to set well-defined work hours to avoid phone calls and emails without boundaries on your personal time. If you are a well organized self-starter with time management skills, you’ll be better off.

3. Keep your visibility high
People who work from home are often saddled with an unfair label that they can’t really manage others while working from home.

To help ward that off, make an effort to show-up on a regular basis for meetings and other office gatherings.

4. Be an extrovert
Co-workers can also be envious of your freedom, so make the effort to get out of the house and get in an out-of-the-office lunch or coffee with them to avoid the hard feelings.

5. Network electronically
Look into judicious use of social media – particularly those outlets that can relate to your profession, such as LinkedIn. Comment on posts and contribute your own to display your expertise and get that connected feeling.

6. Get dressed (or not)
If you’re going to be more comfortable and can stay focused on work while in jeans and a T-shirt – that’s one of the benefits of working at home. if you are going to be meeting or videoconferencing with co-workers or clients, you should dress appropriately.

7. Be prepared to be your own IT department
If you’re an employee, try to butter up someone in the IT department, who you can reach out to in a pinch. If not, invest in some training – possibly an inexpensive class at a community college or know the quickest route to the Apple store in your neighborhood.

8. Become familiar with web-based applications
Know the cloud, love the cloud – it’s your friend.

9. Don’t forget about insurance
Most home-business owners have little or no coverage from their homeowner’s policy. What’s more, if you file a homeowner’s (or renter’s) claim for losses that stemmed from an undisclosed home-based business, your insurer may not cover it.

10. Set up your computer so you don’t waste time online
Try setting up two user accounts – one for work, which allows the apps and sites you need to get work done, and another for personal use. If you continue to have issues, try getting a laptop for personal use and put it somewhere inconvenient during the day.

Make Your Workforce Smarter By Letting Them Work Remotely | Boris Dzhingarov, TgDaily.com

In a society that has mostly valued hard work in the form of manual labor over the creativity and problem-solving of the mind, it’s rough being creative when your skillsets and talents don’t function on the typical work cycle of Monday through Friday from the crack of dawn until sunset. Thankfully, many tech industry employers are catching on to the need to allow their workers more freedom both inside and outside of the office. Companies like eBay, Facebook, Google, and even Apple – with their relaxed environments and remote work forces – are all setting an example of what it looks like to prepare for a future of absolute genius.

Problems are solved unconsciously

If you’re like most businesses, you probably have creative team members functioning in various roles who need to solve problems as part of their jobs. The dilemma is that solutions are not likely to come while they’re sitting at their desk looking busy. Solutions are found when the mind is not engaged in rational or deep thought. These solutions come at times when the conscious mind is free – in the car, in the shower, while taking a walk, or upon arising from a nap.

Getting the conscious mind out of the way

When the conscious mind is running the show, the prefrontal cortex is in charge. The prefrontal cortex provides the ability to focus and meet deadlines; however, it also kills creativity because when logical and rational thought are engaged, the brain brushes off creative solutions before the conscious mind picks up on them.

How freedom affects productivity

Remote workers have been proven to be happier and more productive than those who work the traditional 9-5 schedule. Statistics show that the average 9-5 office worker only gets about 3 hours of work done per day. That’s a huge difference!

Traditional schedules don’t work for all-around

If you want to see better results in your business, before you buy the next best system for success, try allowing your staff to work from home a couple days out of the week. You’ll probably be surprised to see your staff’s happiness and productivity rise at the same time.

3 Ways Virtual Workers Make Organizations More Effective | Munira Rangwala, Yourstory.com

Technology has made it possible for startups to hire the best talent from all across the world at sensible rates. Startups are recognizing the importance of creating and managing virtual teams and the big billion dollar companies are soon following suit. One survey reports that 73 percent of employees believe that the challenges that virtual teams pose are overshadowed by the benefits. Today, entrepreneurs are readily outsourcing duties that are not within the main scope of their business to virtual employees.

Here are three ways in which virtual workers make organizations more efficient.

Best talent available

If companies begin to feel that managing a virtual team is creating more work for them, they are bound to give up on the idea of remote working. The solution to this is to create a common framework so that managers as well as virtual employees can work together effectively once they have found each other. Virtual assistant companies do just that. They add an important layer of management to the freelance economy which benefits the companies that hire them and the talent that works for them.

Effective administration

Virtual employees are often better at operating social tools that help streamline teamwork and collaboration. This allows virtual workers to be effective at tasks that generate maximum value for their company.

Allotment of resources

By reducing the number of on-site employees, a lot of small and mid-size organizations are reconsidering the traditional office expenditures. However, virtual talent doesn’t come cheap. If companies want to hire the best, they should be open to shelling out larger paychecks.

If you still aren’t sure about outsourcing work, look at your motivations and see if they align with the benefits of outsourcing. Consider the amount of time, money, and management efforts outsourcing will save your company and only then go ahead with the decision.

How to Make an Awesome Remote Team | Kirsten Helvey, Fortune.com

Here are some strategies for helping your own team work effectively, wherever its members may be:

Use the best collaboration tools
It can be easy for people to begin to feel disconnected and thus disengaged, so make sure you utilize the best technology to enhance your remote workplace.

Foster team spirit
The office should be a social place where relationships are built. Although it can feel awkward at first, video conferencing can really help remote teams get to know each other. Also, try to partake in employee celebrations for major milestones, such as birthdays, work anniversaries, and big accomplishments.

Flex your work schedule
Remote workers should have the freedom to choose not just when they work, but how they spend their work hours.

Engage with your manager
Regular check-ins with managers are foundation to successful remote working relationships. The more a manager understands your day-to-day activities, the better. I find that documenting tasks and goals for both the near term (weekly and monthly) and the long term (quarterly and annually) is crucial to staying on track.

Working remotely requires strong communication, established goals, and clear expectations. If you can stick to these guidelines, you’ll end up a happier and more engaged employee.

Remote Work Digest: April 10, 2017

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

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Image from Pixabay.com

8 Little Time Management Tips for People Who Are Always Procrastinating | Grace Beuley Hunt, Purewow.com

You have a big work project looming over your head, and you’re ready to get down to business…until you notice a stain on the rug. Hmm, maybe you should buy some rug cleaner. Or just get a new rug. Are there any sales at West Elm? Let’s check the website. Oooh, what a cute end table. Hey, procrastinator. You’re not alone. Here are seven unexpected tips to kick your habits to the curb for good.

Build a Procrastination – Free Zone
Designate a space whose sole function is serving as your perch for getting sh*t done. Set up a study if space allows, carve out a small nook in the living room for a writing desk or even consider renting a shared workspace. Keep this zone neat, orderly and distraction-free (read: leave your cellphone elsewhere).

Surround Yourself with Color
A study published by Frontiers in Human Neuroscience found that red, for example, has been shown to increase attentiveness, and a separate study by the University of British Columbia found that blue can boost creativity.

Experiment with surrounding yourself with more color across the board—from rainbow-hued desk accessories, to your wardrobe, and even bringing more color into your diet.

Take More Showers
There’s nothing better for jump-starting a productive stretch than literally giving yourself a fresh, clean slate.

According to a study published in the Journal of the Public Library of Science, quality of work may benefit from that shower break.

Spend More Time with Doers
Prioritize spending time with the people in your life whom you consider hard workers, go-getters and all-around inspiring human beings. Their can-do energy and company will be good for your soul, as well as a serious motivator.

Assign a Procrastination Police Officer
Ask someone whose respect you value (whether that’s your S.O., close friend or family member) to act as your procrastination police. According to findings from the American Psychological Association, shame can be hugely motivational. But in this case, that “shame” will actually come from a safe and positive place.

Wake Up Earlier
Getting something accomplished first thing in the morning is truly the antithesis of procrastination. So challenge yourself to rise an hour or two earlier and see how many to-dos can be checked off before you even leave for the day.

Get Playful When It Comes To Getting Organized
Play can boost output. So whether it’s flipping heads or tails to decide if you’ll tackle those thank-you notes this evening or singing out your to-do list every morning, find a state of play and humor in the banal…and reap the rewards.

Stop Comparing Yourself with Others
Instead of sizing up the competition, focus on your own vision. That means no need to “research” a project for five hours before getting started—just start it already. You’ll feel so much better, we promise.
3 Ways to Overcome Remote Hiring Challenges | Holly Wade, Business2community.com

Whether or not you set out to look for remote workers, they may be the best hires for your organization. Because remote workers do not have to travel and generally feel more productive and happier about their jobs, they are more likely to work beyond the 40-hour work week. This is just one of the benefits of hiring remote workers as well as higher employee engagement and improved health and well-being. Some studies show that telecommuting also saves organizations money. According to one report, allowing employees to work from home about half of the time would save as much as $11,000 per year.

1. Interview with Video – If your employee will be working remotely, it makes a lot of sense to interview them remotely too. Screening with video will also allow you to screen candidates more heavily without an additional time commitment, and you can ensure standardization of questions for all candidates.
2. Know Where/How to Look – If you’re looking for a freelance remote worker, try searching websites dedicated to seeking freelancers, and avoid highlighting the job’s remote needs unless you’re prepared to wade through more applicants.
3. Set Expectations – Employee trust and communication are vital to allowing individuals to work remotely because business leaders need to trust that workers are doing their jobs.

Screening candidates more efficiently and searching for them the right ways can help you locate the right remote worker that you trust to work independently, communicate well and get the job done.
How to change your mindset when you go from full-time to freelance | Lindsay Deutsch, Usatoday.com
To prepare for the changes, USA TODAY’s Lightpost lays out an expert-sourced comprehensive plan to help you ease into this life transition. When you’re just getting started, remember to keep these tips in mind:

Monitor your finances more closely.
As a freelancer, you need to play a more active role. A good app to track your finances and spending is Mint. ShoeBoxed can also help you scan and organize receipts, business cards, create expense reports, track mileage and more for expensing and tax purposes, as well. It may also be worth checking out the services available from Intuit Small Business.

Don’t pass along the blame.
When something doesn’t work out during the span of your 9-5 traditional job and it’s not your fault, it’s easy to pass along the blame and move on with your job. As a freelancer, you need to things to work out. That means you need to figure out how to best work with the person who is going to pay you so you can complete the gig and actually get paid. So, take a deep breath before you reply to a frustrating email and brainstorm ways you can make things work.

Be deliberate about your downtime.
You need to be more deliberate about your productivity and downtime. Think about the money you could be making while you’re wasting time on mindless social media. What could you do with your time?! AND CO is a good time tracking (and tool for expense tracking, invoicing, payments, and reporting services) for freelancers and small businesses that could be helpful.

5 Ways To Train A Remote Workforce | Chip Espinoza, Training.co.uk

Since remote work is on the rise, remote training is on the rise too. Unfortunately, remotely training employees can be easily blundered if an employer isn’t prepared for the challenges. Rather than leaving your employees stumbling or send them through inadequate training, take the time to prepare a useful and applicable training program for remote employees in order to maximize both productivity and employee satisfaction, decreasing the chance that they’ll quit out of stress or frustration.

1. Look for remote work experience
The best way to minimize the difficulties that could arise from training remote workers is to ensure that your employees are coming to you with some remote work experience to begin with. Although the remote workforce must grow by hiring inexperienced remote employees, prioritizing or looking for employees who have that experience will ease your training burden.

2. Establish peer-to-peer informal learning
Informal learning through fellow employees will help your training along by giving participants real life examples to model after and more resources to turn to for help. Avoid keeping your remote employees separate; connect them and encourage them to communicate amongst themselves, or set up some sort of employee social media network that will let them easily communicate and keep track of what other employees are doing.

3. Look for at least one face-to-face meeting
The best way to prepare an employee for training and bring them into the company fold is to begin with face-to-face meetings and training sessions before remote work can start. However, this is not an option for everyone; in that case, a series of Skype calls can substitute to help provide the face time and familiarity that in-person meetings offer.

4. Have all training documents prepared
If you’re just transitioning into remote work, it is critical you make sure that you have training documents, guides and manuals prepared for employees before they arrive. These documents should be extremely extensive and detailed – as detailed as you can. A good strategy for training employees is to assume nothing about the technical knowledge they bring to the table.

5. Give them flexibility in pace
Your remote employees are almost certainly going to be mostly left to complete work on their own, which means their training styles should follow a similar method. Although it’s critical to check in, talk to your employees, make yourself available to clarify when needed and follow up to see if they’re learning what they need to, it’s best to give your employees the information they need and let them travel through it at their own pace.

Remote employees bring unique challenges for employers. Standard training practices will not work for such an arrangement. By modifying your training to one that suits remote workers, you’ll have better success in training and retaining.