Remote Work Digest: March 7, 2016

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

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5 Key Design Factors for an Effective Home Office | David Adams, Entrepreneur.com

Every entrepreneur faces difficulty when working from home. Designing the perfect home office environment can be a great solution in order to avoid stress all together. Here are David’s five tips to help you there:

1. Preserve the bedroom logic.
If your living arrangements don’t allow you to keep your office in a separate room, subdivide your studio to create areas for work and rest.

2. Choose the right furniture.
You’re going to be sitting in your desk chair for a long time, so find one that best suits your needs.

3. Light it up.
Strike a balance between natural light and artificial. Try out different rooms in your house and different desk placements withing each room. Finding the right light environment won’t help your daytime productivity; it will also ensure you get a good night’s rest.

4. Keep your space organized.
The neater your office, the neater your mind. Going wireless cuts out one of major bugbears: cables. Ditch as many cables as you can by adopting Bluetooth-enabled devices, and keep the essential ones wrapped and routed to their appropriate location.

5. Don’t hate on distraction.
Everyone has different working habits. Some people hate distractions while others crave them. Find the right level of distraction to boost your productivity.

Motivation is fleeting, but discipline is the lifeblood of any entrepreneur. If you keep your focus and create the right environment, you’ll set yourself up for success.

Remote Control: How To Pick The Best Remote Employee | Taylor Tomita, Business.com

When looking for a remote employee, employers should begin by understanding how both the employee and the employee benefit from remote work.

Before interviewing the perfect person for the job, keep in mind that every person work differently. Someone who needs constant direction, interaction and validation might not be the right fit for the position. This doesn’t mean they aren’t a fantastic employee, it just means they might need to be placed elsewhere.

How do you know if a person will be more independent or need a more hands on experience? Let’s start with understanding why someone wants to work remotely in the first place.

Why Does an Employee Prefer Remote Work?

Don’t just hire a remote worker because that is what fits best for the company strategy. To get the best work and overall potential out of employees, the recruiter should understand why this person needs or wants to work remotely in the first place.

How Do I Know If My Employee Will Do Good Work?

Skill assessments are absolutely essential before bringing on any candidate. The perfect person should be able to get all tasks finished in a timely manner, be able to finish all work independently, and communicate efficiently in written form (and often). This is why it is always a great idea to allow as much time as possible between the interview and hiring date.

How Do I Know If They’re Actually Working?

Require your candidate to get a reasonable task finished within a short time (maybe a couple of hours) and see how well they were able to deliver. If they don’t finish or are missing areas, then they aren’t able to follow direction properly. The other option is they may have been doing other activities during what should have been strict work time.

Although extra time might be required during the hiring process for remote employees, these workers can and will do equally impressive work (if not better) as office employees. Finding someone with a flexible schedule, pinpoint time management, and independent work skills can be truly invaluable to a workforce. In the long run, this employee is likely to be more loyal, do fantastic work, and might even be happier on the job.

Thanks to tech, it’s time to telecommute | Marc Saltzman, Usatoday.com

With traffic on the rise in major city centers, not to mention all the nasty weather hitting many states, you might be tempted to ask to work from home – even if it’s just a day or two a week.

The good news is telecommuting is much easier in today’s day and age, thanks to technological tools like high-speed internet, mobile devices, and secure cloud services that remotely host your files.

The following is look at some of the factors to consider, along with a list of 5 tech items that can make the move to a home office a smoother one.

PROS

For the employee: Staying at home paves the way for a better work-life balance. A Stanford University report, and a joint study by the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and Northwestern University, both found those who work from home are less stressed and more productive than those who work a 9-to5 job out of the home.

For the business: Those who work from home are often happier and more productive, which is good for company morale and efficiency.

For the environment, and other cubicle dwellers: Not only can telecommuting save time and money, but it has an Eco-advantage, too: fewer cars on the road reduces the amount of gas emissions that contribute to pollution and global warming

CONS

For the employee: While it may sound appealing to work from home, many have trouble staying motivated without a supervisor or boss looking over their shoulder.

For the business: Without physical proximity with your employees, there’s an increased security and privacy risk; not only could it be easier for a disgruntled at-home worker to wreak havoc, perhaps by stealing data, but even accidental breaches can happen (like giving your teen the wrong USB stick) or a breach in the network connection between the office and the home. (This is why a secured cloud solution for those with administrative privileges is a smart consideration.)

Given the advantages and challenges, a business interested in telecommuting must first assess whether it’s practicable for employees to work from home – obviously, some positions aren’t conducive for this option – and companies should asses whether the person is self-motivated enough.

Gear up

And now onto some suggestions for five types of tech products you’ll need to get going:

Laptop: A personal computer is the most important consideration for a teleworker. It’ll likely be your primary work tool for productivity, communication and information.
Multifunction printer: Invest in an inexpensive printer that can also scan, copy, and (if you need it), fax, as well. It’ll save you money and space in your home office.
Powerful router: Along with needing fast and reliable high-speed connectivity from your Internet Service Provider (ISP), be sure to have a decent router, as well, which distributes your Wi-Fi signal around your home.

External hard drive: An external hard drive is a smart local back-up solution that offers ample storage (opposed to an online “cloud” backup), but be sure to make more than one copy of your backed-up files (to hedge your bets) and keep the drives in separate dry locations.

Wireless headset: Go hands-free with a Bluetooth wireless headset for a mobile device or perhaps a DECT 6.0 model for a land line, and you’ll find it’ll be easier to multitask ask well as you walk around your place while chatting. A speaker phone is also ideal, but a headset will sound better to the people on the other end of the call.

3 Time Management Hacks for Busy Entrepreneurs | Josh MacDonald, Business2community.com

Everyone gets a full 24 hours a day to work with, but for some reason, it feels like it’s never enough. Especially if you’re an entrepreneur. With so many things on your plate on a day to day basis – ranging from meetings and sales calls, to personal time with your family, it’s definitely tough to juggle everything into place.

Here are Josh MacDonald‘s 3 time management hacks that will allow you to make the most out of your 168 hours a week.

1.) The Pomodoro Technique
If you’re the type of person who thrives under pressure, you’ll surely love the Pomodoro Technique. The main reason why it’s effective is because it allows you to laser focus on a specific task at a given time while avoiding burnout. To get you started, you can download your personal “pomodoro” on Google Play Store or the App Store.

You will appreciate the true impact of the Pomodoro Technique once you use it religiously. Use it today and see how much time you can really save.

2.) Get Momentum
Momentum lets you focus on just one thing at a time, which further boosts your productivity for the day. It eliminates distractions and helps you work in peace.

The best practice is to put in that ONE THING you really need to get done. After you finish, you can then write in your new “focus” for the rest of the day.

3.) Hire a Virtual Assistant
Most entrepreneurs want to handle things on their own. And that’s normal. You probably wouldn’t be in the position you’re in right now if you weren’t hands on with pretty much everything.

But there comes a time where you should be able to let go of certain tasks and have someone else handle them for you. This is where your personal virtual assistant comes in.
A VA can get basic tasks done for you. It might not be much, but if you audit how you handle your time, you’ll be able to see that you’re actually wasting plenty of hours on things that a VA can actually do for you.

The 24 hours per day can be a myth if you’re smart about how you handle your time. So how about trying out these time management hacks, and start optimizing your hours today!

5 Stress-Relieving Daily Habits for Entrepreneurs | Larry Alton, Entrepreneur.com

Choosing to become an entrepreneur can lead to a fun, exciting journey – but it can also be rife with stress. Even if you don’t feel especially stressed in the moment, the pressures can add up over time and bring serious consequences for your health and well-being.

The dangers of excess stress

It’s no secret that stress can be damaging, to both body and mind. The symptoms might begin innocuously, making you irritable, leaving you susceptible to bouts of worrying and leaving you with low levels of energy.

The time crunch

Time management is one of the biggest challenges entrepreneurs face. You’re probably working excessive hours, often through the weekends, and no matter how many tasks you manage to fit in a day, there always seem to be more around the corner.

5 Daily Habits

Try these five habits on a daily basis to start fighting back against stress.

1. Start (or end) the day with exercise. Getting some exercise in before you go to work can set you up for a productive, lower-stress day, but that’s not your only option. You can also work out when you get home to rid yourself of some of the stress you’ve accumulated throughout the day.

2. Drink green tea. Green tea has been shown to have powerful anti-anxiety effects. It can help you to relax in stressful situations while still providing enough caffeine to get your morning started.

3. Stretch and break away from the screen. Use physical stretching as a break from your daily tasks. This will force you to give yourself breaks throughout the day, reduce the eye strain from your digital screen, help you relax and improve your blood circulation – all at the same time.

4. Reduce your commitments. To reduce the stress, cut down the number of commitments you accept. If this sounds impossible to you, try making it a daily habit, and you’ll see how easy it can become.

5. Surround yourself with scents. Aromatherapy has consistently been found to reduce stress, and there are multiple scents that work, including lavender. Candles, incense and diffusers are all options here, depending on your preference.

There are several ways to create a new habit, from designing a behavior chain to planning a process rather than a result. How you do it is up to you. The key is to start managing your stress now while you still have considerable control over the state of your health.

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