Remote Work Digest: September 21, 2016

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


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11 time-wasting habits that are hard to quit, but you’ll be glad you did | Aine Cain,

It’s important to identify and drop harmful time-wasting tendencies before they seriously mess up your career.

Here are 11 awful time management habits that are tricky to quit — but you’ll thank yourself once you do:

1. Multitasking
Contrary to what you might think, multitasking doesn’t boost your productivity.
It’s easy to trap yourself into this work style by convincing yourself that you’re being hyper-efficient. However, the evidence just isn’t there.

2. Procrastination
This is probably one of the hardest bad habits to quit, but it’s possible to break free of procrastination’s stranglehold on your precious time.

3. Neglecting deadlines
Flaunting deadlines is a terrible habit to get into. One of these days, you’ll cross a deadline that really wasn’t meant to be crossed. It’s important to start managing your boss’s expectations — or, you know, just start respecting deadlines.

4. Inability to streamline
In our chaotic, technology-heavy world, this is an easy trap to stumble into. It’s crucial to make the effort to streamline your life a bit — otherwise, you risk becoming disorganized and discombobulated.

5. Never saying no
Try to stick up for your time and become less of a yes man. This can be difficult if you’re a bit of a pushover, but it’s necessary if you’re going to fix your terrible time management habits.

6. Not setting goals
If you have no clue about your destination, you’re probably just going to get yourself lost. It can a bit daunting to sit down and outline all this, but think of it this way: without short and long term goals, you have no foundation to build your schedule upon.

7. Failing to ‘eat a frog’
No, eating an actual frog won’t help your time management skills. This just refers to Mark Twain’s famous quote: “Eat a live frog first thing in the morning and nothing worse will happen to you the rest of the day.”

Eat your live frog first thing in the morning. Get all the tasks you’ve been dreading done first. That’ll jump start your productivity for the rest of the day.

8. Forgetting that perfect if the enemy of good
Perfectionism is a hard tendency to drop, but it’s important to realize that this is a trait that can kill, rather than boost, your career.

9. Burning yourself out
Burn out is terrible. Stop killing yourself trying to do everything and start focusing on doing a handful of things very well.

10. Failing to prioritize
Certain tasks are more deserving of your time and attention than others. Unless you’re carefully ranking each item on your list, you risk lacking priorities throughout the day.

Lack of priorities puts you at risk for cutting through busy work while ignoring truly important projects.

11. Forgetting to write things down
You don’t actually have to write things down on paper — using an app to manage your time is great too. You just need to find some way to hold yourself accountable and stay organized.

A Remote Workforce and Its (Non) Impact on The Environment | JTRipton,

Being able to work from home is a dream for many people, particularly those of us with long commutes and dreary offices. Between 80 and 90 percent of the US’s workforce admits they would like the option to work remotely, ideally two or three days each week.

Remote work offers various benefits, not least from an engagement perspective. Research shows that those who work remotely from time to time tend to be more engaged in their work than those who are never given the chance to work from home. Telecommuting is an ideal solution for employees with mobility issues, as well as parents looking to relieve child-care costs.

Beyond these, however, telecommuting is of major benefit to the environment. In this day and age, taking a green approach to business is incredibly important, and adopting a more environmentally-aware mindset will help businesses cultivate a more eco-friendly operation.

Here are four benefits remote working offers businesses today.

# 1: Less Gas Emissions and Expenditure
Traffic is a problem for drivers, for businesses facing widespread lateness, and for the planet itself.

Businesses which offer employees the chance to work remotely can help to increase productivity, cut wasted gas, and help reduce congestion even a little. Research shows that each 1 percent reduction in vehicles can create a three-fold drop in congestion.

# 2: Remote Working Encourages Smaller Business Space
Companies reducing their in-house staff can create a cultural shift resulting in less demand for business properties. One major knock-on effect of this could be a reduction in deforestation and less strain on land resources.

# 3: Remote Work Reduces Businesses’ Carbon Footprints and Energy Usage
Research suggests that businesses allowing employees to work remotely even just half the time can save as much as $11,000 per year through reduced overheads.
Workers based in their own home will be responsible for maintaining a green lifestyle, but a business will need less electricity for lighting, air conditioning, and other essentials.

# 4: Working From Home Leads to Less Food and Drink-Related Waste
For employees working at home, refreshments can be taken from your own kitchen rather than using vending machines or driving to a nearby coffee shop or convenience store. Not only is this more cost-effective, it also leads to less non-recyclable containers, bags, and wrappers being tossed in bins. Even if fewer recyclable items are purchased, this places less strain on recycling plants.

By reducing the amount of waste-materials you direct into bins every day, telecommuting employers and employees can reduce their carbon footprint.

In order to ensure a cleaner, healthier environment for ourselves and future generations, businesses must embrace a greener ethos. Allowing staff to work from home is a major step in reducing carbon footprints, creating a happier workforce, and cutting overheads. By embracing remote work, companies of all size can help to create a safer, brighter future, maximizing their budgets and resources alike.

Work from anywhere: What it takes to be a digital nomad | Monty Majeed,

According to the 2016 Deloitte Millenial Survey, the most important things that millenials look for in jobs are flexibility, work-life balance and a sense of meaning from the work they do. This is exactly why we are seeing an emergence of remote workers and digital nomads in almost all industries. Unlike remote workers, who are based out of office or out of the location where their employers are, digital nomads are not based anywhere in particular. They are constantly on the move. They are those intelligent ones who combine work and their passion to travel the world – and no, you don’t need to be a travel writer to do that.

Who can be a digital nomad?

Marianne Cantwell, career coach, author, Founder of the Free Range Humans concept and a digital nomad herself, calls such people Cubicle Cage Humans. The whole idea of becoming a digital nomad started with the idea of not having “to be trapped to get paid,” says Marianne. “A free range human chooses when, where and how they work,” she says. “They have freed themselves from societal expectations of fitting into a career-shaped cage and now get paid to do what they really want to do.”

According to author and digital nomad Jodi Ettenberg, of, these are a few jobs you can do on-the-rod:

  • Media-related jobs (translator, content writer, journalist, editor, proofreader, technical writer, blogger, photographer, videographer, podcaster, digital marketeers)
  • Finance jobs (e-commerce, product promoter, accountants, insurance agents, online trader)
  • Organisational support roles (virtual assistant, researcher, customer service executive, travel agent)
  • Teaching
  • Computer-related jobs (programmers, database managers, web designers, software developers, software testers, UX designers)

Now that you are armed with a list of jobs that you can pursue while travelling around the world, here are some tips to stay productive while at it.

Keep your connections posted
Let people you work with know at what times you are available for work, meetings and other communication. This will help you manage work communication efficiently and divide your time productively.

Divide work and play times
Divide your time in a day for work and set aside time to relax. A digital nomad has the freedom to work for two hours at a stretch, take a five-hour break and then resume his or her work. Whatever be your schedule, make sure that during your work time, you remain focused on getting things that get you paid done in the best possible way.

Make backups of your work and important documents
You may get lost, get robbed, get stranded in a place with no internet or lose your phone. Work out solutions and alternatives for such problems before you set out. You could use cloud space to securely save your data online, carry portable modems and routers for net connectivity, chargers and power banks for your batteries and so on.

It is empowering to be able to work from anywhere and have full control over your schedule. However, do not forget that working from anywhere comes with its own set of challenges. Make sure that you have access to a reliable internet connection, a well-planned schedule and proper backup systems to turn you into a rather productive and efficient digital nomad.

7 Ways to Help Younger Employees Improve | Rieva Lesonsky,

Randstad and Future Workplace conducted a survey of Millennial and Generation Z employees and found that, while the majority of both generations believe their educations prepared them well for their current jobs, there are some important gaps. If you want to get the most from your younger employees, how can you help them improve? Here are seven steps to take.

Tips for Managing Young Employees

1. Set Expectations
One-third of Generation Z employees and 29 percent of Millennials say their education did not prepare them to work long hours, and one-fourth of Generation Z workers say it did not prepare them to manage their time effectively.

2. Provide Opportunities for Collaboration
Since project-based work is the number-one way Gen Z likes to learn new skills, try putting younger employees in teams with older workers so they gain experience in getting along with different generations. (Make sure the older workers are prepared and willing to provide some guidance to the younger ones.)

3. Educate Millennial Employees in Management and Conflict Resolution Skills
More than one-fourth of Millennials say their educations did not prepare them to manage others or resolve conflicts. These interpersonal skills are critical as Millennials move into managerial positions. Pair new Millennial managers with more experienced managers who can mentor them.

4. Communicate Often and Honestly
39 percent of both Millennial and Gen Z workers say the most effective way to communicate is “in person.” In other words, you don’t have to text, IM or Snapchat to reach young workers — simply walk around and talk to them.

5. Provide Ongoing Feedback
Forty-six percent of both Millennials and Generation Z say providing quality feedback regularly is the best way to help them excel. Among the highest-performing companies in the survey, nearly one-third provide feedback to young workers on a regular basis (that is, after every project, assignment or task), and 22 percent provide daily feedback.

6. Design a Workspace that Enables Both Collaboration and Focus
An open, collaborative workspace isn’t always the most conducive to focus. Help younger employees focus better by setting up an office space that includes quiet areas for focused work.

7. Help Them Lessen Stress
Regularly review workloads so employees aren’t burdened with more than they can realistically handle. Suggest or teach time management strategies that can help with stress. Create a culture that encourages breaks and downtime in addition to hard work.

Taking the steps to help your young employees improve can pay off big. More than 80 percent of both Generation Z and Millennial employees want to take leadership roles at work. Start now, and you can shape the next generation of leaders to fit your business’s needs.

Remote Work Digest: August 18, 2016

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


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5 Rules To Follow When Working From Home | Spandas Lui,

Working from home is something that a lot of people desire and small business owners often have the luxury of doing so. But the home is full of traps that can distracts us from getting work done, which is why setting up some ground rules is so important.

Over at small business blog Flying Solo, Emma Heuston-Levack, talked about her experience of working from home for the past 18 months and the commandments that she follows in order to stay disciplined and keep herself in line:

  • Separating your workspace
    A separate space is important to help you ‘leave the office’ each day so you’re not tempted to work around the clock.
  • Set your space up with good equipment
    Make sure your home work space is set up with the right things to ensure you can work smoothly and comfortably throughout the day.
  • Exercise discipline
    Don’t just roll out of bed and start working in your pyjamas at noon; get up, get dressed and sit down at your workspace by a certain time each day.
  • Ensure you take regular breaks
    You won’t have office buddies remind you that it’s lunchtime, so you should be mindful to take regular breaks or risk burning out.
  • Get out of the house
    You don’t get to interact with people on a daily basis like you do in a real office so make sure you schedule some social catch-ups regularly. Otherwise, you’ll end up becoming a hermit.

You can read more about Heuston-Levack’s work from home commandments over at Flying Solo.

How to win at working from home | Tracy Ramsden,

A new study reveals that over half of UK employees think they are more productive working from home, let’s take a moment for the procrastinators and the easily distracted out there. We asked Jason Downes, MD at Powwownow, the company behind the Smarter Working Initiative for his advice on how to make working from home work for all of us.

1. Have a plan (and stick to it)
Before you get started, write a to-do list and make sure you stick to it. This will help create a structure for your day and establish an end goal.
2. Have a routine (and don’t stay in your Pjs)
It’s a good way to remind yourself that you are still working even though you are at home and to stop you from feeling lethargic and unfocused.
3. Create a workspace (probably not the sofa)
Having your own space will help you stay focused and organised and also let anyone else who may be at home that you are working.
4. Be truly flexible (that means to a cafe sometimes. Win)
It’s important that the confines of an office, is not replaced by the confines of your home. Changing location and working from a library or coffee shop can help stimulate the creative juices.
5. Stay connected and communicate (so sync your email with your iPhone)
The changes in technology means that we now have the ability to communicate and work effectively from home. The use of quick conference calls can be frequently used to catch up with remote staff to prevent people feeling isolated and helps set the agenda for the day.
6. Take a break (i.e. you may not have to walk to Pret but don’t forget lunch)
Working from home should not turn into a bigger task than it has to be. Make a nice lunch or go for a walk as you would when popping out to get lunch from the office, don’t just sit by the computer all day.
7. Be clear with your manager regarding targets (like a virtual to-do list)
This helps to establish structure in your day, can act as a huge motivator and makes sure that you and your manager both understand what outcomes to expect– this avoids any miscommunication, crossed wires or finger pointing come the end of the day.
8. Leave work (it’s 5pm, you can close your laptop now)
When it’s time to finish work and you have done all the things you need to do, then you should stop working. It’s important to know when to finish for the day and maintain a good work-life balance. Just make sure you have achieved the goals that you set out to achieve.
9. Talk to other flexible workers (it’s good to share ideas, people #PassItOn)
Speak to other flexible workers to share thoughts on what does and doesn’t work well. We have just created the Smarter Working Initiative so that all companies that offer their staff flexible working can come together to share positive experiences and companies that don’t currently encourage this way of working can sign up to try it.

6 signs your hobby is benefiting your career | Aine Cain,

Today, “get a hobby” is usually a rude thing to say. It’s typically meant to signify that you’ve got too much time on your hands.
But as it turns out, it’s pretty good advice.
You should get a hobby. Committing time to an activity that makes you happy can do wonders for your life — not to mention your work performance. Hobbies are good for you.
Here are six signs that your hobby is paying off big time:

Your hobby helps you structure your time
Try taking on a hobby to see if it boosts your time management skills. As the Harvard Business Review previously reported, conventional time management solutions have become increasingly less effective. Scheduling time for your hobby might be a surefire way of avoiding distractions both at work and after hours.

Your hobby balances you
Citing a Bain & Co. study of MBA students, The Boston Globe reported that work-life balance is an increasingly important issue to workers, despite the fact that businesses have been slow to catch on to the trend.
By taking on a hobby, you can begin to prioritize your own work-life balance and capture this sense of contentment.

It allows you to pursue your passion – realistically
The platitude “follow your dreams” is typically a lot of fluffy nonsense. Most of our “dreams” are pretty impractical. For most people, it’s far better to get a decent job doing something you really like and are good at than to set off on a quest to find your “calling.” Perfect is the enemy of good, and all that.

However, that doesn’t mean you need to give up on your other pursuits entirely. You can make time to sculpt, do stand up, or crochet after hours. If you fiercely guard that hobby time, you’ll find that you’re able to continue to pursue your passion in life, even if it’s not your main career. Who knows — you might eventually get so good at your side hustle that it will eventually become your full-time job!

It keeps you healthy
If your hobby involves physical activity, you could be boosting your memory and cognitive abilities, according to a Stanford University psychological experiment.

It can be difficult to schedule time for exercise into your busy life, so working out during our hobby is also extra efficient.

It allows you to connect with others outside of work
It’s great to make friends at work. However, workplace relationships don’t necessarily blossom at every company — some offices are too toxic, competitive, or transitory to sustain lasting friendships.

Making friends through your hobby is different. You’re not just bonding over circumstances, you’re getting to know each other through a shared interest!

It makes you less stressed
Some worry that taking on a hobby might add to the stress in their life. In fact, hobbies have the opposite effect — they relax you.

A San Francisco State University study discovered that employees who pursue creative hobbies are able to recover better from the demands of their job.

“Creative activity was found to have both indirect effects and direct effects on performance-related outcomes, but the effects varied by the type of performance-related outcome,” the study found. “The results indicate that organizations may benefit from encouraging employees to consider creative activities in their efforts to recover from work.”

What Are Best Practices for Employee Retention and Recruitment? | Lindsay Wissman,

There is good news for entrepreneurs with growing businesses: it doesn’t have to be rocket science. Here are some simple things you can do to provide a meaningful experience for your employees — and why you can’t afford not to think about your employee retention strategy.

Hire the Right Managers
When hiring managers, it’s common to look for someone who will fit in with the culture. However, Forbes recommends that hiring someone whose skill-set aligns with the job is the best route. The thought process here is that a person with the proper skill-set is better equipped to succeed in their role and motivate direct reports to do the same.

Provide Career Navigation and Growth Strategy
Experts suggest hiring people that are planning their careers with the company, rather than just filling roles. During interviews, ask candidates what their goals are, what motivates them, and then assess whether those answers coincide with what your company can provide for them. Once you’ve hired the person you feel will be the best fit, be sure to sit down with them and outline an individualized path for success.

Staff Recognition
It’s important to remember that motivation is not a one-size-fits-all system. While monetary rewards will be the catalyst for one person, it could be investment shares, a gift card, or extra vacation time for another. Be flexible in your rewards system and be willing to negotiate if the winning employee would like to tweak the prize just a bit. It doesn’t mean they aren’t appreciative — they are just trying to tell you what works for them.

Why Employee Retention Matters
A popular argument for pushing employee retention strategy to the back-burner is that the cost of losing an employee is difficult to monetize. Yet, it doesn’t take a whole lot to realize the impact turnover can have on your business. Poor morale, lower productivity, more frequent mistakes, and disengagement are all issues that can cost your company dearly, but do not have a price sticker.

An employee retention strategy is often overlooked in small businesses that are otherwise strapped for resources. Not investing time in such areas can have a drastic and costly effect on your businesses. As J.W. Marriott famously said, “If you take care of your people, your people will take care of your customers, and your business will take care of itself.”

Remote Work Digest: July 22, 2016

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


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4 Signs You’re Not Cut Out to Work From Home | Shereisa Ngo,

Being able to work from home full-time is great, but it’s not right for everyone. Do you have what it takes? Here are a few clear signs that you don’t have what it takes to maintain employment in a work-at-home arrangement.

1. You’re too relaxed about work
Do your best to stay on top of deadlines and submit quality work. Now is not the time to kick back and relax. Don’t forget that you still have an employer to answer to. Show your appreciation for being able to work from home by doing your best work. You can relax on your own time.

2. You have poor time management
If you don’t know how to manage your time well, the day can easily slip away from you. Try creating a to-do list of everything you need to accomplish for a specific work day. This will help you stay on track and stay focused on what you need to do.

3. You’re lazy
If you need help finding your get-up-and-go, enlist the help of a work buddy who also works from home. You can check in with each other throughout the day and help each other stay motivated. Also try to create a strict work schedule for yourself so that you can reduce opportunities to waste time.

4. You have too many distractions
Think about some of the things that get you off track during the work day. Is there a TV in your office space? Get rid of it. Are your children yelling and screaming all day? Hire a reliable babysitter or ask a family member to take over for a couple of hours. You’ll be surprised to see how much more productive you can be with just a few small changes to your environment.

How To Fix Three Of The Biggest Project Management Problems Your Business Faces | Maren Hogan,

97% of organizations believe project management is critical to organizational success and business performance. Something so crucial to small business success shouldn’t be taken lightly, and the wrong project management processes can completely destroy business growth.

Problem No. 1: Your Team Doesn’t Understand The Project
One of the most obvious problems occurs when your team doesn’t understand the project. This is the result of a lack of communication between upper management, the project manager and you. As the owner of the company, it’s your duty to ensure your management team and project managers (PMs) are equipped with the tools they need to seek accurate information regarding the projects.

Problem No. 2: The Project Manager Is Either Too Relaxed Or Uptight
Not everyone is cut out to be a project manager, and having someone who is too lax about deadlines or the work that needs to be involved leaves your team idle and frustrated. On the other hand, a project manager who is too rigid and micromanaging can overwhelm and demotivate your team. If you have a project management novice, make sure to pass out peer evaluations after major projects.

Problem No. 3: The Goal Time Line Is Impossible
If your PM can’t envision the big picture and understand the team’s workload, then projects will never be finished on deadline. PMs need to be able to see that every member of the team contributes to each ongoing project and foresee the end results.

If you already have or are thinking about delegating project management, be on the lookout for these three issues. Be proactive in fixing these problems, and consider how project management software may help you. Don’t forget to conduct peer reviews after projects are completed, and give your PMs access to all important information they need to complete the work. After all, the success of your business is ultimately dependent on the performance of your team.

3 Modern Products For The Work-At-Home Entrepreneur | Melanie Nathan,

As a professional, you already understand that organization is one of the key components to the success of any venture. Thankfully, there are new tools that you can pack in your toolkit to help you also stay well-rested, healthy and stimulated — making work-at-home life a little easier.

Blackout Blinds
Blackout blinds are ideal for the business owner who needs to grab some shut-eye during the daylight hours. Blackout blinds cover the window completely and are well-sealed, so there will be no bright rays of sunshine peeking through while you sleep. (created by an entrepreneur), offers an effective product created especially for those in need of sleep during daytime hours. Whether your business requires shift work or you are a night owl with the height of your productivity occurring at night, these will help you get the rest you need whenever you need it.

Treadmill Desks
Many health reports though, tell us that sitting for extended periods of time is not good for your overall health. Apparently our bodies were made to move.
The Lifespan treadmill desk takes the idea of moving around while at work one step beyond the sit to stand desks (which we will discuss below). With the treadmill speed set ideally at less than two miles per hour, they offer ample space to accommodate your laptop or monitor and keyboard (though jogging and typing simultaneously is not advised), as well as smart phone and other desk utensils.

Sit to Stand Work Space
Maybe you are not so inclined to enjoy the advantages of the treadmill desks, but you still do not want to acquire the fabled “secretary’s spread” from sitting at your desk all day.
The height adjustable sit-to-stand Varidesk is a great option for those looking to move around more while working. This is the height adjustable base that can be placed on top of your desk and raised or lowered, accommodating your need to sit or stand at various periods during your work day. This style has room for single or dual monitors, keyboard and note-taking.

Gadgets Galore
There are a ton of fun but functional gadgets to bring more ease into your world and break up the monotony without taking you off course for the day.

Establishing your boundaries to separate your business hours from the daily meanderings of home life is key to your sanity. The aesthetics and functionality of your work at home space will encourage your productivity and help to keep you on task. Ensuring that you have all the business tools, technology and gadgets you need, you are setting yourself up for complete work-from-home entrepreneurial success.

8 Managers Share The Best Way To Ask For A Raise (And Get It) | Elana Lyn Gross,

How do you ask for a raise and get it? Elana Lyn Gross asked managers to share best practices for asking for a raise.

1. Share your goals and ask for feedback.
Have an honest and open conversation with your manager. “If you’ve been in your current role for at least six months, then in a non-pushy or self-serving way, have a conversation with your supervisor to let them know that, while your first priority is to excel in your current role, your long-term goal is to advance and that you want to make sure you’re doing everything that you can to set yourself up for success,” says Danielle Harlan, Ph.D., the founder and CEO of The Center for Advancing Leadership and Human Potential.

2. Take on more responsibility.
“My best advice to fast-track a promotion is to dress for the job you want — and the job you have,” recommends Jenna Tanenbaum, the founder of the smoothie delivery service, GreenBlender. “First, command the tasks and responsibilities in your current role, and then start solving the problems that your soon-to-be self would be working on. The only way to effectively do this is through careful time management. Understand the core strategy of your organization, ask lots of hard questions, and align your priorities with that of the company. You’ll be running the show in no time,” she says.

3. Proactively communicate wins.
Jenn Grasso, vice president of product at the fashion subscription service Le Tote, says she gave an unplanned promotion to a product manager. “The most important thing she did was consistently exceed expectations in terms of her current role and job responsibilities. She always took on more than was expected of her, and managed these projects as well as her more senior colleagues,” she says. And she didn’t wait to share all of her accomplishments at once. “She was also great at proactively communicating her accomplishments to me. When she approached me with her request for a promotion, I already knew she deserved it! Every step of the way, she made it easy for me to see that she was a star performer who deserved a better title and salary.” Moral of the story? Share your accomplishments early and often.

4. Demonstrate your accomplishments and added value.
Show your value. “You want to be able to demonstrate that you have taken on additional responsibilities, as well as provide specific details about your accomplishments. Share examples of projects you have completed and how they’ve positively impacted the business. Was there an increase in revenue? Did you save a customer? If you’ve received positive feedback from colleagues or other leaders regarding your work, be prepared to share that with your manager as well. These are not only good indicators of your contributions, but also of your future potential,” recommends Kim Mullaney, executive vice president and chief human resources officer at Monster.

5. Focus on why you deserve it (not why you need it).
Before you can convince your boss that you deserve a raise, you need to believe that you’ve earned it. “The best approach to asking for a raise is to focus on deserving one versus needing one. Too often, people argue that a raise is important because of very real costs in their lives, however, an employer is looking to give raises to people based on performance,” says Beth Monaghan, CEO and co-founder of the public relations firm, InkHouse.

6. Practice your pitch and anticipate questions.
“This sounds strange and unnatural to a lot of people, but conversations in which you are asking for something almost always go better if you’ve rehearsed in advance and have considered the many possible responses that you’ll get to each of your requests, and how you’ll address these responses. After role-playing the part of a resistant boss, having the actual conversation with her will be infinitely easier—and you’ll have more confidence since you will be able to anticipate their responses and know how to address them,” says Harlan.

7. Do you research.
Use sites like PayScale, Glassdoor, and to find out the market rate for your role or intended one. It will be useful when your boss asks you for the amount you’d like to make or tells you the amount she’d give. Researchers at Columbia Business School found that it’s best to give a precise number instead of a round number because it makes the person seem informed. They found that people who gave a precise number were more likely to get conciliatory counteroffers. Instead of saying you want $60,000 or $65,000 ask for $63,500. It’s also helpful to know the average raise is between one and five percent. You don’t want to suggest a number that is completely unrealistic.

8. Talk about the future.
Show you’re invested in the company. “Every manager values loyalty. Start the conversation on a positive note, and explain how much you like working for your manager and the company. Then explain what you want to do in the future, and how you plan to contribute to grow the business,” explains Mandy Gilbert, founder of the recruitment firm Creative Niche and tech school RED Academy. Volunteer for a project or create one by being a proactive problem-solver.

9. Be prepared to hear no.
Don’t be discouraged by a no. “If you don’t get the pay increase or new position you requested, it doesn’t have to be the end of your negotiation. Request an interim performance appraisal with clearly defined goals and salary adjustment before your next annual review. This puts you in line for a possible increase sooner and also communicates how seriously you take your career,” says Julia Bonem, a senior career consultant at Resume Strategists. If a raise and promotion isn’t going to happen right now, she suggests asking for things beyond salary such as bonus, incentives, professional development opportunities, or more vacation time.
The worst that can happen is that your boss says no. Either way, you’ll learn to advocate for yourself and understand and appreciate your worth. And there’s not much chance you’ll get more money if you don’t ask!

Remote Work Digest: June 20, 2016

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


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5 best workplace practices for employee productivity | Waqar Hassan,

Most business are wondering what can be done to get the most out of their employees and attract better workers. Here are some of great workplace practices that should be implemented for improved employee security and productivity:

Clear expectations: Most employees get demotivated and frustrated when they don’t know exactly what they are expected to do. A business needs to establish a culture where the goals, rules, vision, behavior and values should be clearly stated. There should be proper guidelines for reporting, results, time lines, quality standards and priorities. Expectations regarding policies, safety and communication should be made clear and questions should be encouraged and answered.

Finding the right people and giving them right remuneration: Another important practice is to hone the selection process and set high standards for finding staff and managers with the right set of values and skills. Be upfront about the hours, pay, holidays and remote work. This reduces the number of complaints from employees, reduces employee turnover, increased productivity and promotes good word of mouth about the business.

Provide proper resources, environment and equipment: Employees need a safe, good and quality environment and the right equipment and tools for doing their job properly. This includes access to people or information, computer software and hardware, availability of tools and furniture and other communications technology. Provide your employees with proper identities such as ID cards. Use custom lanyards for the ID cards so employees can wear them around their neck, which makes them easily recognizable and distinguishable for visitors. This enhances their security and also makes them part of the team.

Give opportunities for using skills: Boredom and frustration are counterproductive, which makes it necessary to match employees with the right skills to the right jobs. Talent needs to be recognized and used. If you hire employees for a role and then not allow them to use their skills, they will not be productive and motivated.

Encourage idea contribution and decision making: Gone are the days when an authoritative style sufficed in a work environment. These days, it is better to involve your employees, listen to their ideas, ask for their opinions and pay attention to their feedback and advice. An environment where they can make a difference and have the power to decide promotes job satisfaction.

5 Reasons Why Remote Management Improves Your Sales Teams | AJ Agrawal,

Remote working is on the rise, with 37% of US workers now working from home on occasion. This has forced businesses to change the way they operate. For the first time, managers are having to come to terms with the fact that their sales teams could be working from home.
It can be done, but it requires some planning. You need the right manager in place who will facilitate remote working. But why are more successful entrepreneurs starting to operate their sales teams remotely?

Better Managers

Good managers are able to build relationships, manage projects, and be accountable. This applies doubly so when working with remote workers. Their responsibilities have increased and so it’s even more important that these attributes are in place.

Better Retention Rates
The more motivated your sales team is the more likely they are going to stay with you. Furthermore, if they ever have to stay home or move for personal reasons they can continue to work for your company.
By constantly having positions filled, you are going to retain industry knowledge and save money. It’s twice as costly to train a new salesperson than it is to retain an existing salesperson.

A Bigger Pool of Employees
Finding the best talent means you need to cater to them. One of the ways to do this is through offering remote working options. Some of the best talents in the world don’t enjoy the office environment or they have commitments at home.
Meeting them half way through remote working could convince them that you’re a company to work for. Remote working allows you to hire the best talent regardless of location.
Preparing for an Emergency
Emergencies happen all the time. Things like natural disasters and snow days are creating the next generation of remote workers. Accidents can and do happen, and they are not always within your control.

Collaborating in the virtual environment gives teams the skills needed to operate even when they have to work from home. You are more vulnerable than you think, so it makes sense to prepare for the worst case scenario now.

It Can Be Cheaper
There’s an increasing trend where companies are not renting out office space at all. They are working in the virtual environment using online chat rooms. There are employees across the world who have never met each other in person, and that is increasingly becoming a viable option.

Conclusion – The Future is Coming
The future is coming and it’s closer than you might think. Organizations are increasingly looking to remote working options to run their businesses.

How To Manage Distractions, Connect With Clients And More When You Work From Home | Natasha Burton, LearnVest,

To help ensure that you’re on the right track while working remotely, LearnVest consulted work-from-home veterans who shared their top tips for staying productive – and thriving – in their careers.

Tips for … Outfitting Your Office
Whether you have a whole room dedicated to a home office or prefer working from the couch in your living room, having the right setup can keep you productive while on the clock.

Make sure you have the equipment you need.
“It’s important to invest in the quality of your workspace by getting equipment that helps you do the best work you can. When I transitioned to an at-home employee, I went out and bought a similar version of the computer I was used to working on so that my productivity levels wouldn’t suffer from an inferior, slower setup.”
– Brit Casady, 24, Lehi, UT, graphic designer

Tips for … Managing Distractions
Let’s face it—distractions run rampant wherever you work, whether it’s in an office with coworkers or in your own kitchen.Keep productivity zappers at bay with these strategies.

Get organized with the three-minute rule.
“I allow three minutes to tend to anything I feel I need to respond to immediately that is not on my to-do list. Give yourself three minutes every hour of your official ‘work hours’ to scan and respond to important emails, put shoes that accumulate around the doorway in the closet, etc.—if it takes no more than three minutes. It puts your mind at ease and reduces at-home work distractions without derailing your day. It also helps you spend less time cleaning the house and dealing with administrative tasks when the workday ends.”
—Stephanie Taylor Christensen, 38, Columbus, OH, freelance writer, yoga instructor and mother to a 6-year-old

Minimize online distractions.
“One of my favorite productivity hacks comes with the help of an app called StayFocusd. When working from home, Facebook and Twitter can be a major distraction. StayFocusd helps you avoid these distractions by restricting the amount of time you can spend on them. The Google Chrome extension lets you set specific time restrictions on certain websites with a 10-minute default option. Once your time has been used up, the sites you have selected to block can’t be accessed for the remainder of the day.”
– Lori Cheek, 43, New York City, founder and CEO of, an online dating app

7 ways to make yourself actually work in your home office | Norah Martin,

Young professionals set on bringing in peak profits home are in love with in-house offices that offer greater flexibility compared to the traditional workplace. Having survived several home office redesigns, Norah Martin of came up with the winning productivity formula for my house-based workplace.

1. Keep it away from private quarters
Even if you live alone, designating a part of the living room for the office is a really bad idea, as reminders about your private life will be constantly popping up and disrupting your focus. If possible, move the office as far away from the living area as the home perimeter allows.
2. Quality furniture is a lifesaver
Working from home means flexible work hours, and once your career takes off, you may wind up spending more time in your home office than you originally bargained for. For this reason, quality furnishings such as sit-to-stand desks and height-adjustable chairs are a godsend, and I believe they are worth every cent.
3. Updated lighting for eye health
When picking the room to transform into the office, bear in mind sunlight intensity at daytime and consider updating light fixtures for optimal luminosity for all-nighters.
4. Modular designs are not a good idea
When furnishing the home office, stick to conventional, sturdy designs: A daybed or ottoman is comfier and lasts longer than a convertible sofa, so if you want an office spot to lie down on during a work break, opt for bedding that will not go to bits after a few months. The same goes for multifunctional workstations: High-end, adjustable-height desks are stable and durable, but cheap workstations with multipurpose labels are usually a waste of money.
5. Invest in tech upgrades on time
Regular tech upgrades are an investment in long-term business sustainability, and if you think that you can wish away PC glitches, you are terribly mistaken.
6. Tidiness is essential to success
Keeping the desktop mess-free and relevant files logically organized will help you stay calm and focused and avoid wasting time during work.
7. Wallscape that maximizes profits
Last but not the least, rethink the wallscape to increase productivity, boost focus and promote calmness and creativity during home-based work hours. Colors that work best for me include soft peach, light green and ivory as they produce minimal visual noise while reflecting lots of light.

Worksnaps Mobile Version

We are happy to announce that Worksnaps mobile version is available in beta release. You can use the browser on your mobile device to go to our web site, then you will be directed to the mobile version once you log in. The mobile version allows you to easily check the stats of the logged time and view each user’s screen shots and detailed activity.

mobile_screen_shot_01    mobile_screen_shot_02

We hope that the mobile version will provide a convenient way for our users to check the project status and logged time on the go. It is a beta release now so there are still some details that we are working to refine. We will continuously improve it and provide better experience.

As usual, we welcome and appreciate any feedback and suggestions.




Remote Work Digest: May 11, 2016

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


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5 easy steps to create the perfect home office | Josh Nicholas,

For employees, working from home can provide much needed flexibility, allowing for more time with loved ones, and to pursue other interests.

Remote workers often report greater satisfaction, as they skip the daily commute, see more of their kids, and even eat even better. But working from home can require more than a computer and a stable internet connection.

Here are some key aspects to focus on if you want to do have the perfect home office setup.

1. Create a separate space
Having a separate space has other benefits as well. Not having to pack and unpack your work gear means you have a consistent work environment – your files or other tools are always in the same place. It provides a space for you to be in “work mode”, something that you can leave behind at the end of the day.

2. Ergonomics
Relative heights are an important aspect of setting up your work space – ensure your desk, computer monitor, keyboard, mouse and chair are in the correct position to ensure good posture – bad posture can impact both your body and your mind. Once you have your space sorted, remember to move around regularly to keep the blood flowing.

3. Manage distractions
A good way to manage distractions is to send a signal – close a door, put on some headphones or wear a “uniform”. Ensure others can tell that you’re busy and shouldn’t be disturbed.

Alternatively, depending on the task at hand, being distracted may be exactly what you need. Researchers have found that introducing more stimuli can foster more creativity, allowing your mind to create connections and wander down new pathways.

4. Include greenery and light
Office aesthetics don’t end with decor. How you organize your desk can have big impact on productivity and peace of mind. As much as you can, don’t over-clutter you desk – try and leave one side free. Eschew piles of papers and tools, using tools and files to organize your workflow. Stash rarely used items in draws or someplace else you can’t see them.

5. Play the right ambient music and sounds
Not everyone works well in silence, and different ambient noises and music can suit different work and environments.

If music doesn’t work for you, you may want to try some of the various apps and tools that offer ambient sounds. There’s Coffitivity for coffee shop sounds, plenty of white noise on Youtube, and play lists for the ocean, and even Wikipedia edits.


Three Ways To Create A Productive Working Space | Rob Clark,

When planning an office space, various factors need to be taken into consideration; the availability of technology around the office, the quality of equipment, as well as the visual design and structure of the space.

Here are three top tips on creating productive office space.

Make your office look good

An attractive environment doesn’t just improve employee well-being. Research shows that visually stimulating spaces can actually influence buying behavior, whether it’s shoppers or potential business clients. Business which provide a visually stimulating working environment can reap rewards in terms of productivity and business success.

Don’t run a marathon to access technology

if you’re relying on centralized technology models in your business, chances are your employees are running a marathon – and wasting a lot of time! A successful office space is equipped with technology that is accessible. If business rely on centralized models, the reality is that productivity could be impeded.

Collaborate, collaborate, collaborate

Today’s business environment calls for increased collaboration and knowledge sharing, in order to drive creativity and efficiency for companies looking to maintain that innovative edge. Modern work spaces, therefore, must encourage the idea of the ‘connected employee’.
Productive working spaces, then, rely on a mix of thoughtful landscaping, accessible technology and using collaborative whiteboards and projection in order to encourage employees to interact.
7 Smart Ways to Increase Employee Productivity | Akinde Hafiz,

It’s quite normal for employees to experience dips in their performances due to factors like stress, personal problems and organizational gaffes. However, it’s the duty of every manager to help employees get their grooves back in order to achieve the set goals.
So if you’re looking to get the best out of your employees, you should put in place certain measures that would boost their productivity levels. Here are 7 smart ways to do that without losing a drop of sweat.

1. Set realistic goals
It is obvious that goal setting plays a central role in achieving productivity at work. But these goals have to be clearly defined and realistic. Realistic goals are not determined by how complex they are. Rather, they should be assigned based on priority and time-bound.
2. Create a sense of ownership
Every employee must be made to take ownership of all issues in their buckets. This attitude will create a sense of accountability, allowing them to focus on the most important aspects of their jobs.
However, you must realize that employees don’t take ownership when they’re treated like employees. In other words, you should create a sense of belonging for each and every team member, make them feel valued, and make the system as transparent as possible.

3. Provide an outstanding reward system
There’s a popular cliché that the reward for hard work is more work. But then employees need more than just work to stay on top of their game. You’d be surprised at how much impact a small gift card can make. This has nothing to do with the monetary value attached to the gift but the feeling that their efforts are being appreciated.

4. Operate a virtual office
The advantages of going virtual are quite numerous. They include lower equipment and installation cost, good communication network, and all-round accessibility. On the part of employees, virtual offices provide flexibility and freedom, reduces stress of commuting and increase morale. So it’s not the question of whether or not running a virtual office really boosts productivity, it’s a question of why you’re not yet leveraging it.

5. Empower them
Empowering your employees involves training them to work independently without being micro-managed, appreciating their contributions and innovations, encouraging self-improvement, and presenting new challenges and opportunities. With this kind of atmosphere, employees will feel more engaged at work and might even exceed expectations.

6. Invest in the right tools
Providing the right tools simplifies the work process and ensures that employees get prompt and accurate results. It increases efficiency and prevents early burnout. Thus workers can work productively and keep customers happy.

7. Make work fun
Normally employees do have twenty minutes or thereabout to observe power naps. But you could make it fun by allowing them bring their mats. You could also create a yoga room for the yogis among employees, just as smokers have designated areas in the work place to smoke.
Allow them to decorate their individual work spaces with inspiring quotes, pictures and other decors. This has the power to sustain the positive mood and energy that are required to focus on their tasks.
Lastly, it goes without saying that these tips are not just mere speculations. They’re capable of producing great results regarding employee productivity. Because in the end, you’ll realize that only a productive workforce is capable of meeting organizational goals, and ultimately increasing Return on Investment.


16 Jobs That Allow You to Be a Digital Nomad | Maria Onzain,

Having experience, enough knowledge and the right set of skills you can start your own online business, which will give you massive independence. However, before you take any risk, there are many possibilities out there to start your nomad career as a freelancer or consultant. This transitional stage will give you the know-how and confidence you need to start your entrepreneurial adventure.

These are 16 good examples of jobs that will allow you to become a digital nomad.
Freelance Writer
As content marketing importance increases, professionals with copy writing skills are more demanded by companies. You can also start a blog sharing your travel adventures as you go along. Once you have a number of well-written articles on your portfolio, it is time to start your career as a freelance writer.
Graphic Designer
If your talent is in visual arts, the graphic design industry may be a wise choice. Being a graphic design freelancer is a very creative job that will give you a huge freedom to travel the world.

This type of work is highly-demanded both online and offline, so create a profile showing your skills on the main online workplace platforms and search for some interesting projects to work on.

Front-End or Back-End Developer
Working remotely as a developer is now very common, all you need is to find the right projects on the freelancing platforms mentioned before.

There are a number of specialties within photography that you could focus on: photojournalism, food photography, landscape photography, sports…the list is endless!

Online Marketing Strategist
If you already have experience in online marketing you can share your know-how with other companies as an online marketing strategist. Analyzing their existing marketing and working as a consultant to improve their communications may be a good way to start.

SEO Specialist
You could also specialize in the area of digital marketing you are best at and offer your expertise as an SEO consultant, for instance. You can either only work on the strategy or get hands on implementing the changes the website needs to improve their online visibility and rankings.

Social Media Manager
If your favorite part of online marketing is social media and you are good at it, you can help companies with their social media communications.

UX Developer
Crafting an appropriate user experience for both websites and mobile apps is an increasingly demanded job. If you are either a generalist or a specialist UX developer, you are in a great position to start your digital nomad adventure.

There are a number of online platforms where you can create a profile and offer translation and transcription services. If you are bilingual, this option may be perfect for you.

Online Language Tutor
There are millions of people around the world willing to learn another language and very handy online platforms such as Verbalplanet that connect them with a suitable teacher.

Guitar Online Teacher
Using communication tools like Skype or Google hangouts you can teach whatever you are good at, independently from your location. A good way to start is by creating a YouTube channel showing off your skills and joining Take Lessons as a teacher.

Virtual Personal Assistant
If you are organized and have excellent admin skills, a remote personal assistant opportunity may be for you. To become a virtual PA you may want to check out Ask Sunday.

Photo Editor
This may sound a bit peculiar but there are so many companies and entrepreneurs looking for people to edit their photos and this job doesn’t always require previous experience or qualifications.

Restaurant Critic
To take the first steps towards this fascinating career you will need to have excellent writing skills and an extremely audacious palate. If these are your strengths, work on your portfolio before applying for restaurant critic jobs.

Restaurant Marketing Strategist
If you have run a restaurant before, you can help other restaurant owners to get more clients and improve their services. This includes menu creation, customer service, improving ordering systems and restaurant consultancy in general.
Another option to make this life changing decision would be to negotiate a remote work arrangement in your actual job. This is a good way to take the first step without any risk.


Earth Day Message From The Planet — Please Telecommute | James Conca,

Also known as remote work, telework, teleworking, flexjob, home-sourcing or working-at-home, telecommuting is a work arrangement in which employees do not commute to a central workplace, but work at some other location, usually their home. In the information age, this arrangement becomes more and more possible, and the benefits more and more obvious.
According to Global Workplace Analytics, almost half of all jobs in the United States are telecommuting-compatible at least half of the time. If these jobs became telecommuting, the annual economic benefit would total over $700 billion.

The overall advantages to employees, employers, the nation and the world would be enormous. Annual savings in real estate, electricity, absenteeism, turnover and productivity would exceed $500 billion, or more than $11,000 per employee. National productivity would increase by 5 million man-years or $270 billion in net worth.
The nation would save:
– about 90,000 lives from traffic-related injury or death, saving at least $10 billion a year in related costs
– over 119 billion miles a year of wear and tear on our nation’s highways, saving hundreds of millions of dollars in highway maintenance
– over 640 million barrels of oil, a third of our Persian Gulf imports, valued at more than $60 billion
– 54 million tons of greenhouse gas emissions, the equivalent of taking 10 million cars off the road.
Employees themselves would save:
– two to three weeks of free time per year, time they’d have otherwise spent commuting to some workplace
– between $2,000 and $7,000 in transportation and work-related costs
– after-school and elder care costs would decrease in most cases and most workers would qualify for home office tax breaks.

Telecommuting even reduces many of the workplace employee problems like sexism and racism since one is not forced to work alongside others in close quarters under sometimes hostile conditions. It also allows women to participate in the workforce in cultures that otherwise do not allow women in the workplace.

Remote Work Digest: April 14, 2016

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


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Simple Ways to Add 2 Hours More to Your Day | Laura Vanderkam,

Easy ways to reclaim two hours to spend on the good stuff.

If you free up two hours to spend on the good stuff, that’s the next best thing to manufacturing time. Here’s how to escape the ceaseless ticking, according to Laura Vanderkam.

1. Plan you days
Figuring out what’s most important keeps you from losing hours as you blindly respond to whatever comes in. It also encourages investing time in high-yield activities such as mentoring new employees. By thinking through your days, you can also match the right kind of activity to the right time. Deep focused work is best done when you have a lot of energy.

2. Manage distractions
Between social media alerts, emails, and drive-by visits, people can be distracted dozens or more times per day. One study found that people take 25 minutes to resume interrupted tasks (after dabbling, on average, in more than 2 other “work spheres” in the meantime), pushing distractions to predictable times can easily save hours. One study also found that people spend 47% of their time on the internet procrastinating.

3. Don’t do what others can do (or that doesn’t need to be done)
If you’re in upper management, you can easily spend 50% of your day in meetings, which comes out to 4 (or more) hours a day. If 25% of those meetings didn’t need to happen – a conservative figure based on surveys, and how much people despise meetings generally – killing them would buy you an hour per day right there. It is also hard to rescue the time once a meeting starts, and many people are so busy going from meeting to meeting that they don’t triage their schedules ahead of time. The solution is getting in the habit, on Friday afternoons, of looking at your calendar for the next week and asking what can be skipped or killed. Five minutes can buy back hours.

4. Change your schedule
Chances are, the reason you want more hours in your day is that you’re too busy with work and family obligations to tackle your personal priorities. But most people, even busy professionals, have leisure time. The problem is that much of it occurs late at night when people are too tired to do anything but watch TV. The solution? Go to bed earlier, and wake up earlier. Most people feel more productive in the morning, so turning the TV off earlier turns unproductive evening hours into productive morning hours.

5. Telecommute
To be sure, even in most information jobs, working from home daily won’t fly. But once or twice a week buys back massive time on those days. It’s not just the 50 minutes of average daily commuting telecommuters save on the days they work from home.

10 Secrets to managing remote teams | John Doyle,

The secret to successfully managing remote teams is in recognizing that it’s more a leadership role than a manager one.

Too often, managers try to manage remote teams as if they were locally based and it doesn’t work. Remote teams need to have more attention and more support than locally based teams. You have to compensate for the lack of interaction with other colleagues and you must see your role as their manager as a supporting one.

Managing remote teams is a full-time job, not just a task and it needs to be addressed that way. Here are John Doyle’s suggestions for the 10 things that you need to do to successfully manage a remote team are:

1. Have clear expectations upon deliverables. What this means is that when you assign a remote team member a task, you need to be clear about what you want them to do and what the deliverable will be.
2. Set accountability parameters. Be clear about accountability with remote teams as they don’t have the opportunity to pop their head round the door and ask you for advice when they have an issue. Encourage your team to tell what they’re doing and share the results of their task.
3. Lead your team. Don’t manage, lead. Leading is about providing the team with a vision they can follow, understanding their role in achieving that vision and then providing the support they need to succeed.
4. Celebrate personal and work achievements. A good leader will always take time to connect with team members on a personal level after all, that’s when you really understand people.
5. Instigate team meetings. Team meetings are vital to success, but they’re much more than reporting mechanisms. Try not to use them to report, that you can do on a one-to-one as part of the daily process of keeping in touch.
6. Have away days. Every 3 months at least, an overnight away day is essential to rekindle friendships, restate common goals and objectives and generally bond. Makes them feel that they’re a part of the whole.
7. Provide them with the right tools. The remote worker doesn’t have colleagues in the next room or a stationery cupboard or an IT department. If you want them to do a good job, you have to provide the right tools.
8. Encourage collaboration wherever possible. Remote workers, more than anyone, need to have ‘engineered companionship’ and they respond to the idea of a joint venture with enthusiasm.
9. Provide them with the right information. Most remote workers are the type of people who like a brief and then they get on and deliver. The disappointment they feel when they’re told it’s not quite what was wanted is palpable. It’s fine that they do the research, but if you can help you should do so.
10. Have a rolling feedback model and regular reporting. With remote teams this is much more difficult as specific calls need to be set up and you focus instead on milestones rather than being involved in the whole process. Regularly checking in with the team is vital to your joint success.

Obviously the talents of a successful remote team manager are different, but they ultimately call for an empathy and caring approach to managing people.

Your Ultimate Work-From-Home Productivity Guide | Rachel Grumman Bender,

No morning commute. No open floor plan that makes it challenging to focus on your work. No boss looking over your shoulder or co-worker who insists on showing you photos of his cat every morning. The sweet freedom of working from home can seem like a dream come true for some—and the number of people doing so is growing.

Although statistics indicate that the trend is picking up steam, that doesn’t mean it’s easy to work from home successfully. Whether you’re telecommuting to a full-time job or running a home-based business, there are distinct challenges that come from merging your work and home lives.

To help you tackle the specific work issues you’re likely to face, Rachel Grumman Bender of tapped three work-from-home experts for their tips on how to maximize four key areas of home-based office life so you can boost productivity and success.

Work-From-Home Tip #1: Turbocharge Your Space
Whether you’re working at the corner table next to the couch or have an entire spare room to devote to your home business, it’s important to create a space that helps get you into work mode and keeps your attention there.

A little separation is a good thing: If you can, carve out a designated space in your home as an office where you can keep your work organized.

Get your (organizational) act together: Having an orderly desk helps you stay focused, boosting productivity so you don’t lose precious time looking for that critical contract—or whatever it may be—under a messy pile of papers.

If your office is the kitchen table one day and the back porch another, consider putting your work projects in separate boxes so you can grab the one you need at that time, and then put it away when you’re done.

And remember, there may be tax benefits to creating a home office: Whether you rent or own your home, if you use part of the square footage regularly and exclusively for business, you may be able to do a home office deduction on your taxes, according to the IRS.

Work-From-Home Tip #2: Stay Connected
If you telecommute, it may be easier to set these boundaries with a work email that’s tied to your main office. If you have a home-based business, it can be trickier.

Customize your communication: Instead of handing out your primary personal email for work-related matters, create a second custom work email address, such as, for a more professional touch. To better manage your inbox, there are tools that let you schedule emails so they’re sent during business hours, rather than when you’re burning the midnight oil. You can also use apps to schedule texts to go out when you want, rather than pinging someone when you’re working on the weekend.

Streamline your phone system: Many small business owners have ditched their land lines and exclusively use a mobile phone for business. But if you use your primary number for work, it can be hard to gauge whether that incoming call is personal or business when you’re on—or off—the clock. If you’re using your own home phone or cellphone for business and don’t necessarily want your personal number out there, try using Google Voice, which lets you choose a brand new number from Google.

Work-From-Home Tip #3: Create a Schedule That Fits Your Life
If you’re telecommuting, your hours may be set by your boss. But if your office is flexible or you run a business out of your home, one of the perks is setting your own hours. While there’s freedom in that flexibility, it’s also easy for work-life balance to get really out of whack.

Block out your days with a hard stop: Morgenstern, , time management expert and author of Time Management From the Inside Out: The Foolproof System for Taking Control of Your Schedule—and Your Life, recommends thinking of your day in three blocks of time—morning, afternoon and evening—and factor in how much energy you have in each time period. “If you’re more productive in the morning, then get up and do your work then,” she says. You should also factor in what time you typically need to interact with co-workers and clients, as well as your family’s schedule.

Be realistic about your time: Anyone can write a to-do list, but completing every action is another feat entirely, especially if you’re overly optimistic about what you can reasonably accomplish in a day. Instead of creating a never-ending task list, Morgenstern advises asking yourself three questions: What do I need to do? How long will that take? When will I do it? Keeping in mind your deadlines for each, prioritize and block out your schedule to tackle these responsibilities during a time window when you can maximize your attention toward them.

Don’t forget to schedule breaks: In general, whatever schedule you choose, aim to work no more than 90 minutes at a time before taking a quick break. The combination will keep you productive and give you time to clear your head.

Work-From-Home Tip #4: Know That You Don’t Have to Do Everything
It can be overwhelming when you are your own tech support, accountant and executive assistant while working from home. So how do you make sure you keep your business running?

Get your go-to people in place: Luckily, this is easier than ever since there are plenty of businesses geared toward home-based workers that offer tech support, such as, and billing services, such as FreshBooks, at reasonable prices.

Go virtual: A virtual assistant can help with various tasks, such as bookkeeping and following up on outstanding invoices, creating a monthly newsletter or doing research for a work project. Having a virtual assistant saves you from getting bogged down in mundane tasks, allowing you to spend more time focusing on building your home-based business and reaping the rewards.

Four ways to improve security and productivity across a small business IT network | Paul Yung,

With business networks increasingly vulnerable to security breaches and constant pressure to increase office productivity, IT managers have a responsibility to ensure employees’ PCs and laptops are not a hindrance in these areas.

Here are Paul Yung’s four main considerations that will help ensure employees are protected in small businesses and new machines are future-proofed.

1. Update Windows
The benefits of keeping refreshed with the latest updates are three-fold. Firstly, many updates include security patches that plug potential security flaws in Windows and its components that may render the computer vulnerable to malware and/or hackers. Secondly, updates often fix any bugs or glitches in the operating system and thus help improve its stability and remove any annoying issues. Lastly, updates can sometimes include new features or functionality that benefit end-users.

2. Install anti virus
For most small businesses, Microsoft Security Essentials, which comes with Windows, will fulfill their initial needs. As businesses grow in size however, the need to have an enterprise-grade AV solution becomes necessary to protect multiple computers from a centrally managed console and benefit from additional features, such as more sophisticated scanning and rule creation and detailed reporting tools.

3. Maintain a healthy and optimized network
Proactively optimizing PCs now means reduced IT support costs in future, as well as happy employees as they work on fast, efficient machines.

4. Get a suite which suits
In today’s collaboration-focused business environment where cloud-based technology, SaaS products and file sharing tools are commonplace, some small businesses may see Microsoft Online alternatives suiting their needs. Free SaaS solutions, such as Google Docs, or open-source software such as OpenOffice are created with the basic productivity needs of businesses in mind, including word processing, spreadsheets, email and presentation builders. There are a few premium alternatives, such as LibreOffice, which also include drawing applications and database tools.

When making decisions on the tools available to small businesses, make sure to consider the nature of the business, its level of compliance and any regulations it must adhere to. Although online products offer increased flexibility, there comes attached a higher element of risk as documents are accessed via a password. While high productivity and collaboration are important to businesses, it should never be a trade-off for security.

7 Industries You Need to Keep an Eye on in 2016 | John Smith,

It can be quite daunting to keep a tab of this ever evolving world. To keep your feet on the ground, here are John Smith’s list on few industries you need to keep an eye on in 2016. Let’s check out on them.

1. Telemedicine
According to the experts of the industry, telemedicine is capacitated to improve the health status of patients by enhancing access to medical care as well as offering real-time responses at low costs.

2. 3D Printing
The experts predict that this industry has the capacity to revolutionize the manufacturing industry. You need to keep an eye on 3D printing this year.

3. Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP)
VoIP is best to be used by the businesses that need to make international phone calls as it brings down the cost. The expense of the local calls has been brought down by 40% whereas that of the international calls has come down by 90%.
With internet usage increasing every year, it does not appear at all surprising that most people would prefer to switch to VoIP.

4. Remote Staffing
Several companies have given the verdict that the companies of today need to give up restricting themselves to local talent pool in case they plan to keep pace in this fast moving world. You can expect this sector to take off with the demand for remote work escalating.

5. Gamification Service
Several companies have given the verdict that the companies of today need to give up restricting themselves to local talent pool in case they plan to keep pace in this fast moving world. You can expect this sector to take off with the demand for remote work escalating.

6. Virtual Reality
Virtual reality is all set to be bigger than mobiles and apps.
“Our entire way of learning, communicating and how we experience our existence with one another is going to take 3D form with virtual reality. Also, people won’t care what model phone you have — it’ll be what goggles you wear.”

7. Solar Energy Development
With the push for alternative sources of energy high, we can expect solar energy to make it big this year.

Now you know the industries that will make it big in 2016, which industries do you feel will rule in the next 5 years?