Remote Work Digest: August 24, 2015

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

Image from Coloradohomeexplorer.com

Image from Coloradohomeexplorer.com

Keep Virtual Workers Engaged From the Start With These 4 Simple Onboarding Practices | Entrepreneur.com

When you work with remote employees, an exceptional and thorough onboarding program is critical. It’s even more challenging to keep remote workers engaged. Setting the right tone at the onboarding stage will improve engagement, productivity and employee satisfaction.

If your company utilizes remote workers, here are Beth Miller‘s four best practices to set up your entire team for success.

1. Recognize that onboarding starts at hiring
Always look for signs that candidates are self-starters and will thrive in an often isolated work environment. It’s important to remember that working remotely is very different from working on site. Assessing skills is important, but it is equally imperative to assess a candidate’s ability to thrive while working from a distance.

2. Deploy the right technology
Choose your technology based up on the needs of the group, and be sure that your company has the bandwidth and capabilities to keep those technologies up and running. These technologies humanize the digital experience, and foster a connection with remote employees that’s stronger and better that a phone call or email.

3. Maintain a continuous connection
Remote employees and managers should speak each day for the first two to three weeks. During those check-ins, managers should make sure the employee is clear on his or her priorities and what needs to be done.

4. Help telecommuters help themselves
Managers aren’t the only team members challenged by telecommuting. The employees themselves also face challenges. Working from home can be isolating, and employees face a daily onslaught of distractions. Virtual workers can also face challenges when it comes to establishing connections with team members and colleagues.

Through strong hiring practices, the strategic deployment of technology, continuous communication and some creative thinking, managers can set the tone for a great working environment for even their most geographically distant team members.

Is Remote Working Right For You? | Worksmart.org.uk

Is working from home right for you? Taking a telecon in a hip cafe; commuting ten paces to work in your pajamas; fitting a trip to the gym into a long lunch hour…what’s not to like about the attractive and endlessly flexible ways of modern remote working? But is the grass really as green as it looks? Here are a few things to consider if you are considering asking to telework.

The pros

Remote workers can look forward to saving time on commuting, and having more control over their working time, often helping them to reconcile work and home life.

Benefits to workers include:

  • the potential to work virtually anywhere you want
  • freedom from the time-consuming distractions of the office
  • contact with other teleworkers could help stimulate more creative approaches to your own work

Employers can also benefit. They save on desk space to cut office overheads, and create more agile workforce. There is also evidence that trusting staff to organize themselves effectively to do their job can boost morale, nurture greater responsibility and pride in their work, and ultimately deliver better results for companies and organizations.

The cons

There are some great benefits to teleworking for both employees and employers. You should weigh these against the pitfalls of teleworking. Here are just a few;

  • People working from home often find themselves going ‘stir-crazy’ after a day or two away from the social life of the office.
  • Slowly losing some of the workplace social and professional skills you need to keep aquiring to develop in your career.
  • Slipping into bad work habits is very easy without traditional work structure around you.
  • Flexible working needs boundaries and it’s easy for your colleagues to assume you are absolutely flexible and perpetually ‘on call’.
  • Teleworking: your rights

If you have started to telework but found it isn’t for you, you should be able to change your mind.

Why Home-Based Jobs for Moms Work for Stay-at-Home Mothers | Latinospost.com

There are so many opportunities online that only require a little of your time, and you can earn money, which you can use for perhaps, additional budget on groceries. You just need to treat technology as your best friend and know which websites offer legitimate work.

If you have experience doing administrative or technical tasks, you can check out Upwork, formerly known as Elance – oDesk, or FlexJobs, where you can search for data entry, medical transcription jobs and the like. If you are considering a full-time career even while at home, there are so many available jobs out there that you can fit in your busy schedule. Here are some jobs being offered online.

  1. Call center representative/ Tech support specialist
  2.  Writer / Editor
  3. Online Teacher / Tutor
  4. Web Developer / Designer

Having a work from home career is very stressful at first, but if you have the support of your family, this will be easy as a pie in the long run.

How to Take Advantage of your Brain’s Hidden Productivity Powers | Fastcompany.com

If you think keeping everything you need to know neatly packed away in your head is a smart way to run your life, you’re probably hurting your productivity and stifling your creativity. Mental lists, like keeping track and remembering appointments, meetings, deadlines, and to-dos, distract you from more productive uses of your brain like solving problems. According to Scott Shafer, associate dean and professor of management at Wake Forest University School of Business, Mental lists are more difficult to manage than physical lists. Shafer recommends doing a brain dump and to – do lists out of your head and onto a physical list and calendar.

Brain Dumps Fill Your Calendar

One a week, set aside a half hour and write or type all the loose thoughts in your brain about what you have to do or need to remember. Capture this information in whatever way feels most comfortable to you, says Shafer, such as in a Word document, Excel file, task list or legal pad.

Brain Dumps Can Also Jumpstart Creative Projects

According to Barnet Bain, producer of the Oscar – winning film What Dreams May Come and author of The Book of Doing and Being: Rediscovering Creativity in Life, Love, and Work, “You need to be willing to let your inner censor take a break, just as you would suspend criticism of a child who is sharing an idea with you or showing you an art project.”

Using your head as a place to store information and ideas is not an effective use of your brain, nor is it an efficient way to keep track of your work, says Shafer. “Trying to keep track of everything that way just creates mental and physical stress,” he says.

10 Ways to Identify a Bad Manager! | Linkedin.com

There are several books, articles, and papers that show you ways to be a good manager. Here are ten characteristics of a bad manager:

Manages everyone the same – Bad managers manage everyone the same. It doesn’t matter to them whether you are able to perform at the same level as other members of the team, the expectations are the same.

Picks their favorites – Bad managers pick favorites. Not necessarily because they are better performers than you, but because they simply like them better than you. The favorites will get the best assignments, the most kudos, the best yearly reviews, and the biggest raises.

Their point of view is the only point of view – Bad managers are terrible listeners. They neither want to hear nor do they accept others’ opinions and even if they do listen, they will come up with an excuse why that won’t work in their department.

Technical to management – Technical people are good at managing technical things, not necessarily managing people. They simply don’t have the people skills and empathy to deal with subordinates’ problems, both work-related and personal. Technical people, for the most part, should stay technical.

Heart is not in the game – Bad managers really don’t want to manage. They don’t want to put in the time, energy, and effort to become better managers. If you want to be a manager, then you really need to want to manage people.

Lack of empathy – Bad managers don’t care about their subordinates. They spend more time finding things that their subordinates are doing wrong instead of rewarding things they are doing right. They have little tolerance for people who may need help and don’t want to take the time to train, coach or improve each member of the team.

Lack of management skills – Many managers have never taken a management, leadership, or communication workshop or class. Many have never managed people before. Many don’t believe they need to take any training, seek any advice, or accept any coaching to be able to manage people. They are wrong.

Lack of time – Bad managers don’t want to invest the time necessary to become good managers.

Lack of effort – Managing people takes effort. It doesn’t happen overnight and it doesn’t happen by chance. It is an ever-learning process where the emphasis is on the end result of being able to effectively coach, mentor, and improve your subordinates.

Lack of smart goal setting – Bad managers set terrible goals. They are generally nonspecific, non-measurable, non-attainable, non-realistic, and not time bound so it is up to the manager to determine if the subordinate actually achieved the goals set forth.

Bad managers come from those who realistically do not want to manage people. If you have the heart, and are willing to put in the time and effort, you can be more than a manager. You can be a good coach and mentor, which is what all managers should strive for anyway.

 

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Worksnaps client upgrade

We are currently rolling out the upgrade to Worksnaps client to our users. The new client provides enhanced functionality and better stability. Based on the current version that you are using, you might be required to upgrade. In such case, upon logging in, you will see a message that prompts you to upgrade Worksnaps client. The following is an example.
client_upgrade_process

If you see such message, you can click the link in the dialog window and you will be brought to a page where you can download the newest version of Worksnaps client. You can simply download the new client program, uninstall your current Worksnaps client, then install the newly downloaded one. All it takes should be less than 5 minutes.

Here is a help link on how to uninstall a program on Windows:

http://windows.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/uninstall-change-program#uninstall-change-program=windows-7

If you have any question, feel free to open a ticket or send your question to support@worksnaps.net.

 

 

Remote Work Digest: August 6, 2015

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

Image from Ph.jobsdb.com

Image from Ph.jobsdb.com

5 ways to keep your employees happy | Bizjournals.com

No one seems to work nine-to-five anymore, not you or your employees. To explore this work flexibility, a new study conducted by the business-to-business division of Staples gets at the heart of the employee attitudes toward the shifting ways we work, and what keep employees happy at their jobs.

Study results

The study revealed surprising statistics that cause companies to look at workplace happiness in a new way and, more importantly, motivated and productivity staff. While 52% of office workers say they are suffering from burnout as a result of the hours they work, 86% are still happy at work and motivated to rise in their organizations, so there’s more to workplace happines than what we might initially think.

According to Dan Schawbel, founder of WorkplaceTrends.com, employees are overworked and burnt out, yet they are still happy, loyal and interested in moving up to management in the next few years. Here are five tips to keeping that upbeat feeling:

1. Hours aren’t everything

Encouraging employees to work outside “normal” hours – flexible scheduling – can result in better, more productive work and increased happiness.

2. Invest in your employees

Spending to provide employees with the latest and greatest technology will ultimately mean happier, more loyal staff.

3. Encourage breaks

Encouraging breaks for staff helps them recharge and increase both productivity and morale.

4. Implement a telecommuting/flex work policy

Implementing an official flexible work policy will encourage employees to work in the environment that suits them.

5. Go green

The happiest workers are more likely to work in companies with Eco-friendly policies of some kind (74%). Sustainability plays a huge factor in talent retention and helps keep employees motivated.

Small changes can go a long way to keeping employees happy and loyal. After all, a happy, motivated employee is a productive employee.

Working from Home? 6 Free Tools That Boost Your Productivity | Business.com

According to the 2010 U.S. Census, 13.4 million Americans telecommute at least one day per week, up substantially from the 9.5 million who did so in 1999. A study by the Harvard Business Review found that working from home dramatically improves productivity and increases employee happiness.

Here are 6 helpful apps and tools that make it easy to organize your work flow, enhance your productivity and leave yourself with some time to unwind when you’re a remote worker.

1. Evernote: Keep Everything Organized

Evernote is an all-in-one app that allows you to collect your ideas, notes, and tasks in one place. Think of it as an external hard drive for your brain. You can draft quick notes, attach documents and emails, set up to-do lists, and organize everything by category.

2. Wunderlist: Balance Personal and Professional Tasks

Wunderlist helps you organize and prioritize everything you need to accomplish. You can arrange your tasks by category and due date, set up recurring reminders, and check off items once they’re completed.

3. Hours: Manage Your Time

Track the time you spend on different tasks throughout the day. Set up as many task categories you need and set a timer with a simple thumb tap.

4. How Much Speed Do I Need Tool: Increase Digital Productivity

Do some research and find out how much Internet speed you need. You may find that the productivity gains of faster Internet more than makeup the added service costs.

5. Boomerang: Schedule Emails for Later

Boomerang lets you schedule emails in advance. If you’re a night owl, you can type out emails when you’re most productive, click “Send Later”, and have them sent out during daytime hours.

6. Timely: Track Your Hours

This app lets you track how much time you spend completing tasks throughout the day. You can set goals for completion and organize tasks by level of priority.

With these apps and websites, you can ding the tools you need to make the most productive use of your at-home work time.

How Good Design Can Make Telecommuting Work for You | Metropolismag.com

Spurred by shifting family dynamics, an upswing in non-traditional work environments and in increasingly digital age, employees and independent contractors are giving up office walls for the convenience and confines of their homes. This shift has spurred contract furniture manufacturers to add or expand their home-office furniture collections.

Define a Work Space

Clearly defined spaces devoid of distractions like TVs and gaming consoles help to keep the stay-at-home worker on task. Creating a dedicated work space, especially in a small apartment, can be as simple as hanging a curtain or erecting partitions that can also double as a storage.

Aesthetics, Aesthetics, Aesthetics

Incorporate your personality into a space by adding curios of interest. But restraint is a virtue, as the addition of unnecessary distractions might actually keep you from getting tasks fulfilled.

Ergonomic Furniture is Key

Invest in comfortable and ergonomic furniture that can help you concentrate over extended periods of time. Sit/stand desks can help introduce a new level of activity into your workday, while a chair with an adjustable seat and backrest can help avoid repetitive injuries.

Four tips to help start up founders develop high performance remote team | Startupsmart.com.au

Flexible work options have become an important tool for start ups wishing to attract high quality candidates, and retain them over the long term.

But business leaders still struggle to adapt traditional management practices to this new way of working. So how do you manage your remote workforce in a way that delivers results?

Here are four strategies that are essential to developing a high performance remote team:

Find the right people

Remote work isn’t for everyone. It usually means working alone without the social aspects of an office environment. This means you need people who are self-motivated and can manage their own work flow.

Work to outcomes

Rather than tracking daily activities and tasks, agree on project milestones and deadlines with your team. Give your staff the flexibility to manage their own time to achieve those results.

Communicate consistently

It’s important to establish clear rules for how and when interaction will take place. This provides a sense of stability and structure for your team.

Build a team culture

Working remotely can leave people feeling invisible and unappreciated. It’s important to give regular feedback and recognize good work. Constructive criticism is equally important. It ensures your relationship is focused on progressing, learning and achieving your goals together.

3 Management Mistakes That Could Destroy Professional Services Business | Entrepreneur.com

A professional services business is only as the work it does for clients. If projects fails, a business can lose clients and revenue or even worse, kill the business.

As professional service business continue to see record employment growth, now is the perfect time to focus on three common project management mistakes businesses make and how to avoid them.

1. Client communication failures

With growing teams and bigger projects, it’s impossible to keep track of every small detail using traditional manual approaches, such as copying and pasting or multiple all-hands meetings. While new collaboration tools are trying – unsuccessfully – to replace email entirely, the real solution is to use project management software that integrates with email automatically, tracking conversations and treating the content of their messages as assets to share across the team.

2. Inaccurate budget tracking

Even when firms attempt to properly track time, managers are often in the dark around budgets and time spent by team members when it matters most: while the project is running. Our study found that only about 30 percent of professionals use a time sheet connected to their project management software. The vast majority, about 69 percent, track time spent on projects manually or not at all, leaving them uninformed and risking financially catastrophic project failure.

3. Assuming projects are too short for management

Professional services businesses are only profitable if they can effectively manage projects and keep clients happy. Unhappy clients lead to loss of business and poor project organization leads to loss of profits. Without clients or profits, a professional services business cannot succeed. These matters are made even worse as businesses grow out of old processes. All growing businesses should re-evaluate their project management capabilities and consider new technology to ensure long-term success.