Remote Work Digest: September 23, 2015

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

Image from Lifehack.org

Image from Lifehack.org

10 Tips for Working from Home | Emily Schuman, Thefashionspot.com

Blogger Emily Schuman has worked at home for almost seven years. According to her, procrastination has been a part of her day and then she would work late into the night just to get the next day’s post finished. Here are the changes she made in order to be much more productive when working at home.

  1. Staying in pajamas may sound more appealing but getting dressed and doing your hair will make you feel that you are ready to conquer the day.
  2.  Set up an office space. It will help differentiate the times when working or when hanging out at home.
  3.  Set specific hours. It’s easy for the lines to get blurred and shutting your office door when the days ends reinforces the idea that work is done for the day.
  4.  Always make it a point to take a morning walk and regularly have small breaks.
  5.  Working for yourself means you may lose certain perks like access to employer’s retirement plant and health insurance. Implement a plan with those types of benefits and/or work with a reputable accountant to manage taxes and payroll.
  6.  Socialize. Schedule a couple of lunch meals out with friends, several meetings and a nighttime event.
  7.  Remember to take advantage of flexibility.
  8.  Stock healthier foods. It’s hard to stay away from the refrigerator when your procrastinating and picking on fruits, nuts and crackers are better options.
  9.  Make a to-do list. Using work flow programs like Asana can help keep you accountable.
  10.  Take a minute or two to tidy up your work space. It’s nice to come in the next day and feel inspired instead of dejected because of a mess.

5 Traits of the Most Productivity Startup Teams | Larry Alton, Entrepreneur.com

Productivity is a make or break quality for startups. You’ll be dealing with a shakier foundation, less working capital, fewer workers, and fewer customers providing a smaller stream of revenue. Here are Larry Alton’s list of five critical qualities for a productive startup team:

Specialized.

The most productive startup teams do have specialists who focus on one area of the business. Those overflow “leaks” are few and far between, and for the most part, each expert is exclusively responsible for his/her own domain. Such a model doesn’t prohibit teamwork, however, since multiple experts can get together to solve common problems. The advantage to keeping each specialist as separate as possible is limiting the possible distractions that could cause them to perform tasks inefficiently or limit them from making progress in their own realms.

Uninterrupted.

Rigid break schedules, rapid re-prioritization of tasks and frequently initiated conversations all distract a team similarly. Some interruptions are, of course, warranted, but the fewer, the better.

Flexible.

The more flexibility you allow for your individual workers, the more likely you’ll maximize each employee’s productivity.

Passionate.

With a passionate worker, such external motivations, while nice, aren’t necessary. These people motivate and actively enjoy coming to work every day. You never have to worry about how hard they’re working, because they like what they’re doing and they want to do good for your company.

Trusting.

Trust is tricky because it can’t be purchased, instated, or pursued in any conventional sense. You can hire people who seem more trustworthy on a surface level, but for the most part, the only way to develop trust is to let it evolve naturally over time.

These five qualities can’t guarantee productivity, but they can maximize your chances at achieving it.

Follow the Wi-Fi: A worker’s guide to working more flexibly | Lindsay Brown, Businessspectator.com.au

The office exists because it contains the tools and technology to do one’s job – forcing us to make the daily commute from home. With devices and applications becoming more affordable and accessible, we now have the power to work from practically anywhere – well anywhere with a solid internet connection that is.

The internet is the most important ingredient to work flexibly and often the most neglected. Whether you are using devices supplied by your organization or the hardware you have at home, network connectivity is ultimately the deciding factor in how productive you are.

If you love coffee and free WiFi, there are a number of resources available to point you in the right direction in terms of a productive work space. CubeFree for example, uses Foursquare to provide flexible workers with a community ratings list of near-by Wi-Fi friendly cafés. These apps can also be used as great way to find new work spaces outside the office cubicle. Specifically designed for mobile workers, these apps can locate nearby co-working spaces, libraries and outdoor Wi-Fi spots. So if you’re a business that requires staff to travel in-and-out the office frequently, these kind of apps can save time and money commuting by quickly finding a location with reliable Wi-Fi to get the job done.

However, although staff want to be flexible, it’s important for there to be some level of consistency. Member-based co-working offices can provide this, a great example is Sydney’s Work Club which provides members with relaxed lounges, boardrooms, project rooms and bragging one of the fastest Wi-Fi speeds in the CBD for better collaboration and productivity.

By following the Wi-Fi, staff not only achieve a better work-life balance, but there is also an opportunity for them to draw inspiration and new ideas from these new environments – who knows – perhaps this journey will find much more than just Wi-Fi?

6 Time Saving Tips To Help You Get The Job Done | Jermaine Haughton, Managers.org.uk

Time is money, as the saying goes, and managers have an extra responsibility to manage theirs effectively to produce better decisions, coordinate staff and reach more successful results. Here are six more time-saving tips for managers to get the most from their working day, according to Jermaine Haughton.

FORWARD PLANNING
Keeping an up-to-date diary and calendar of the responsibilities, events and projects you are required to attend is an essential early step in organizing time effectively.

MAKE A DAILY TO-DO LIST
Either at the start of the day, or at the end of the previous, jot down in specific details the tasks you need to complete to end the day successful. Note-taking apps like Evernote and Simplenote or colourful sticky notes are equally useful. The key is to develop a relatively solid structure for your day ahead, but not rigid enough to be found vulnerable to unexpected changes.

ORGANISE THE CHAOS
When workloads are particularly intense, managers can often find themselves working a double-digit number of different projects at the same time, having to balance the responsibilities with equal care. In such a situation, finding clarity in the chaos is the best way of completing each task to be of your ability (and stop you from losing your mind).

PRIORITISE
As part of the clarity-finding process, ranking your work responsibilities for that day and week based on its importance and immediacy is also important in improving your time management skills.

DELEGATE TASKS TO OTHER PEOPLE
One of the key unwritten rules of being a boss is to be willing to accept that you can’t do everything. And, as part of that, appropriately delegating tasks to suitable staff and colleagues is both crucial to managing time and becoming a great leader.

JUST SAY NO
This final recommendation is probably the simplest, but one of the hardest to achieve for many – saying no to bosses, senior management or clients. Don’t be a pushover but don’t be abrupt. Say no but follow it up with a genuine reason that lets the other party know that you think the idea is good, but you have prior commitments.

5 Ways To Stay Healthy While Working from Home | Nancie George, Huffingtonpost.com

Whether you enjoy working from home or not, there are some emotional and physical benefits, like reduced stress and better work-life balance. But with the rise in telecommuting comes more challenges for business leaders to keep their employees healthy and happy. Here are Nancie George’s 5 ways employers can help cultivate healthy habits for telecommuters:

  1. Provide appropriate work equipment. Creating an ergonomic process – designing a work space to best fit employees and maximize productivity – can help prevent injury in people with desk jobs.
  2. Define work-life boundaries. Leaders should encourage to make time off a priority, and unplug after designated business hours.
  3. Consider the different “likes” of employees. Managers can help their employees stay healthy by remembering that each employee is different and may thrive with different wellness goals.
  4. Lead by example. The experts agreed that improved health and wellness often starts at the top.
  5.  Make physical activity a priority. The experts agreed that improved health and wellness often starts at the top.

Is Your Remote Work Arrangement Set Up To Fail? | Amy Sept, 15five.com

Whether you’re incorporating remote work because of demand from your team or because you see how it can amplify your business, could your remote work arrangements be headed for failure?

A flexible team is a happy team
Flexible work arrangements have been shown to boost productivity and balance while reducing our expenses, stress and commute time.

Use culture to stay connected
Through training, thoughtful policies and taking a hard look at your organization’s culture, you can bridge existing gaps and empower your team to succeed, whether they’re in the office or across the country.

Bringing it all together now
“It’s people, not technology, that are limiting teleworking effectiveness,” said Professor

With these cautionary tales in mind, what can your organization do to bring a distributed team together and ensure your team gets the support it needs?

  • (Re)consider how your organization measures contributions.
  • Ensure your managers have training to give them the skills they need to effectively manage a distributed team.
  • Investigate processes and tech solutions that support collaboration, innovation and fun.
  • Create policies and infrastructure that mitigate real risks to your business.
  • Get the most out of face time.

Finally, create a remote work policy for your organization to address important issues that are often otherwise overlooked, like workers compensation and insurance.

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