Remote Work Digest: December 9, 2015

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

Image from Kiplinger.com

Image from Kiplinger.com

The 5 best Time Management Productivity Apps | Cormac Reynolds, Tech.co

There are great productivity apps out there that help lower our stress levels and make us feel better about our lives. Let’s take a look at Cormac Reynolds‘ top five time management apps to make your day more productive.

In Time

In time alters the way we deal with traffic and setting alarms in the morning, setting up a wake-up and leave system that’s based on how long it will take you to arrive at your destination safely. The alarm automatically monitors your trip and adjusts in accordance with traffic, ensuring you’re always on time.

Headspace

Tapping into this app can teach you how to meditate in only 10 minutes per day. The Headspace podcast will guide you through modern meditations for issues such as how to take time truly appreciate your food, how to have a stress-free daily commute, and how to fall asleep easily and quickly.

GPS for the Soul

Presented by HeartMath, bLife and the Huffington Post, this app uses the camera lens on your phone to measure your level of stress, and then invites you to correct it through photos of your loved ones, breathing exercises, poetry, music and much more.

Sunrise

This calendar app is visually appealing and sync with Exchange, iCloud and Google Calendar calendars. There are several features on the app that makes it possible to organize your time better such as reminders, time zone support, location tagging, background syncing, and fast event entry.

Any.do

Any.do is a task-managing app packed with features and makes it possible for users to create notes, reminders and to-do lists for getting things done. It is easy to input tasks. You can either dictate them or type them in. The app features a touch screen interface that allows you to drag and drop tasks into categories.

These five apps are among the most up and coming and well worth taking a look at if you want to become happier and more productive.

Cybersecurity for Freelancers: Protecting Your Clients’ Data | Nicole Fallon Taylor, Businessnewsdaily.com

According to Nicole Fallon Taylor of Business News Daily, full-time freelancing affords professionals the opportunity to be self-employed, set their own schedules and regularly work on new projects. But there’s one aspect of this type of remote work that both freelancers and businesses sometimes fail to consider: cybersecurity.

Here are a few best practices to keep your clients’ data secure.

Always work from a secure connection

Public Wi-Fi hotspots are some of the biggest sources of potential problems for people connecting outside of a secure office network. If you’re working in a public space, you should tether your smart device to your laptop or use your own mobile modem or hotspot, if possible, as these are more secure than public networks, advised Lysa Myers, a researcher at security software provide ESET. Regardless of whether you are using your own private hotspot or a public one, it is a good idea to encrypt as much traffic as possible. Additionally, Myers advised cropping down your list of “trusted” public Wi-Fi networks that you’ve accessed in the past.

Keep software and operating systems up to date

When you don’t install the latest version of a program, you leave yourself open to any security holes that may have been left open in the previous iteration. Anyone working outside of a secure enterprise network to keep their personal devices, operating systems, applications and other software updated and patched at all times.

Invest in a backup solution

You likely use a cloud storage solution like Google Drive or Dropbox to store, share and synchronize files for client projects. But there’s a difference between storage and backup, and anyone who wants to securely preserve and manage their work should consider a backup solution.

Encrypt and scan your data

As a freelancer, you are technically a self-employed business owner. Therefore, you should look into protecting your work devices the way a business would. While you likely can’t afford top-of-the-line enterprise-security solutions, you should use an encryption solution to help secure the information on your device, advised Michel Bechard, director of service provider technologies at Internet security provider Comodo.

For a side-by-side comparison of the best encryption software, visit Business News Daily’s sister site Top Ten Reviews.

Ask clients for access to resources

If you have any doubts about your ability to secure a client’s data, ask your point of contact if you are allowed access to the company’s security resources as a freelancer.

Even if the access is limited, your data and activity will likely be safer with enterprise-level firewalls, filters, encryption and backup than on your own personal devices, and the cost is significantly lower to you.

Have Young Kids? Here’s How You Can Still Be Productive Working From Home. | Elle Martinez, Entrepreneur.com

Work-life balance is an absolute necessity for home based entrepreneurs to get the job done well. Kids have bad days, and to be honest, so do clients, with last minute changes and deadlines. Staying on top of things doesn’t require superhuman skill, but it takes effort.

After speaking with several entrepreneurs, Elle Martinez enumerates the critical keys to their successes.

1. Design your schedule to minimize disruptions.
It can be easy to miss appointments and double book when an entrepreneur has to manage professional and family obligations. Whether it’s using an online calendar on the phone or going old school with a wall calendar for easy access, seeing your workload allows you to parse out your time accordingly to meet deadlines and maintain quality work.
2. Lighten and share your load.
The idea that you can do it all is a myth – especially for parents who work from home. Delegating and outsourcing certain tasks are essential to success.

3. Design systems to maximize productivity.
With children, some entrepreneurs have found it beneficial to get them on a routine. Having activities planned helped for when they had to take calls for business or handle a quick client emergency.
4. Take time away from kids.
Parents who work from home realize that balance can mean hiring an occasional sitter, signing up the kids in part-time daycare or having a family member watch them from time to time.
5. Roll with the punches.
Of course, there are times when work and family don’t go as smoothly as expected. While it is common to rehash mistakes, entrepreneurs seeking to grow use those opportunities to refine their systems.

Working from home with kids can be overwhelming periodically, but all agree its an opportunity they didn’t want to pass up.

8 ways to keep your employees productive and motivated | Amit Ghosh, Yourstory.com

Keeping employees motivated and productive can be a challenging task for a self-made entrepreneur. But following these seven tips by Amit Ghosh can keep their happiness and output at an all-time high.

Host a white elephant party
Holiday parties are common during Christmas or any other festive season, but a white elephant party can add an exciting level of anticipation and amusement among employees

Innovative interior design and working areas
Natural air with dynamic ambience and soothing colours keep you cheerful. Nap regulations with flexible timings also helps.

Tap your employees’ interests and strengths with open arms
Employees are most productive when they use their strengths at work and are open-minded without fear or anxiety. Tapping into what they excel at will help them feel a personal connection with your brand, which in turn will boost self-motivation.

Participate in local games and social activities
Creating bonding time by participating in local games like marathon runs or spreading a cause with an NGO will not only get the blood flowing to the brain to help boost productivity, but also ensure that employees enjoy supporting a good cause.

Bring in some doughnuts or surprise goodies
A little thoughtfulness from you can increase work efficiency on many levels, leading to a happier work environment.

Give them some time off
Allow someone to go home without docking their hours when they have a cold. Your employees will be grateful.

Family ties
You can have a family day or picnic where there is no boundary between the employer and employee and interact with the family members. This creates a bonding between the employee and the brand and also helps in workforce retention.

Slow down every now and then
Slowing down a little every now and then can re-energize your employees and your company while ultimately boosting productivity in the long run. Take some time to celebrate success.

Building and maintaining employee productivity and motivation is vital to the success of your company. By following these seven tips, you will ensure that your employees are crucial assets to your bootstrapped company. Fostering a work environment that keeps employees happy and motivated will reflect the foundation of the company and its owner, ultimately leading to success.

5 Bad Leadership Habits That Undercut Your Team’s Productivity | Larry Alton, Entrepreneur.com

In the entrepreneurial world, every second counts. In the early stages of a startup, you’ll only have limited resources despite operating under high pressure and tight deadlines. Every decision you make could potentially set a course for success or failure.

The last thing you’d want is for a simple, seemingly innocuous habit to start interfering with this delicate balance. We all have good habits and bad habits, but as the leader and entrepreneur of your company, your actions set a tone for the organization and bear more weight when put into practice.
These five habits, in particular, can have a negative and disruptive effect on your team’s productivity:
1. Managing the details.
Set a general course or a general goal that you want your employees to achieve, and let them worry about how they want to get it done. If you don’t trust them to do that alone, you probably have the wrong person for the job.
2. Neglecting the individual.
While it’s a good idea to establish a general work culture that appeals to the type of people you want to work with, not everybody works the same way. It’s your responsibility to know each person’s strengths and weaknesses, and cater to those as much as you can.
3. Not making your expectations clear.
If you have expectations, or a clear idea in your head, you need to make that clear, otherwise, don’t be surprised when your employee submits something different and needs to start the whole project over again.
4. Indecisiveness.
The inability to commit to decisions leads to a productivity halt for your entire business. Your employees won’t know which work to start and which to ignore, and they won’t have faith in the direction of your business overall. Commit to decisions, even if you’re not 100 percent sure of the outcomes. A bad decision is still better than no decision.
5. Refusing to delegate.
Some entrepreneurs view this as a merit-worthy habit. They take on as much work as possible by themselves, delegating little to the employees below them. While on the surface this might seem a noble effort to avoid overworking your underlings, the reality is it can detract from your productivity as a group.

It pays to be aware of your own habits, despite their tendency to slip by unnoticed. Pay close attention to how your actions affect the members of your team, especially in a tight-knit startup setting. Work to make positive changes to your approach over time.

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