Remote Work Digest: August 6, 2015

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

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5 ways to keep your employees happy |

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, 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 |

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 |

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 |

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 |

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.


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