Remote Work Digest: May 11, 2016

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

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Image from Decoist.com

5 easy steps to create the perfect home office | Josh Nicholas, Businessinsider.com.au

For employees, working from home can provide much needed flexibility, allowing for more time with loved ones, and to pursue other interests.

Remote workers often report greater satisfaction, as they skip the daily commute, see more of their kids, and even eat even better. But working from home can require more than a computer and a stable internet connection.

Here are some key aspects to focus on if you want to do have the perfect home office setup.

1. Create a separate space
Having a separate space has other benefits as well. Not having to pack and unpack your work gear means you have a consistent work environment – your files or other tools are always in the same place. It provides a space for you to be in “work mode”, something that you can leave behind at the end of the day.

2. Ergonomics
Relative heights are an important aspect of setting up your work space – ensure your desk, computer monitor, keyboard, mouse and chair are in the correct position to ensure good posture – bad posture can impact both your body and your mind. Once you have your space sorted, remember to move around regularly to keep the blood flowing.

3. Manage distractions
A good way to manage distractions is to send a signal – close a door, put on some headphones or wear a “uniform”. Ensure others can tell that you’re busy and shouldn’t be disturbed.

Alternatively, depending on the task at hand, being distracted may be exactly what you need. Researchers have found that introducing more stimuli can foster more creativity, allowing your mind to create connections and wander down new pathways.

4. Include greenery and light
Office aesthetics don’t end with decor. How you organize your desk can have big impact on productivity and peace of mind. As much as you can, don’t over-clutter you desk – try and leave one side free. Eschew piles of papers and tools, using tools and files to organize your workflow. Stash rarely used items in draws or someplace else you can’t see them.

5. Play the right ambient music and sounds
Not everyone works well in silence, and different ambient noises and music can suit different work and environments.

If music doesn’t work for you, you may want to try some of the various apps and tools that offer ambient sounds. There’s Coffitivity for coffee shop sounds, plenty of white noise on Youtube, and play lists for the ocean, and even Wikipedia edits.

 

Three Ways To Create A Productive Working Space | Rob Clark, Minutehack.com

When planning an office space, various factors need to be taken into consideration; the availability of technology around the office, the quality of equipment, as well as the visual design and structure of the space.

Here are three top tips on creating productive office space.

Make your office look good

An attractive environment doesn’t just improve employee well-being. Research shows that visually stimulating spaces can actually influence buying behavior, whether it’s shoppers or potential business clients. Business which provide a visually stimulating working environment can reap rewards in terms of productivity and business success.

Don’t run a marathon to access technology

if you’re relying on centralized technology models in your business, chances are your employees are running a marathon – and wasting a lot of time! A successful office space is equipped with technology that is accessible. If business rely on centralized models, the reality is that productivity could be impeded.

Collaborate, collaborate, collaborate

Today’s business environment calls for increased collaboration and knowledge sharing, in order to drive creativity and efficiency for companies looking to maintain that innovative edge. Modern work spaces, therefore, must encourage the idea of the ‘connected employee’.
Productive working spaces, then, rely on a mix of thoughtful landscaping, accessible technology and using collaborative whiteboards and projection in order to encourage employees to interact.
7 Smart Ways to Increase Employee Productivity | Akinde Hafiz, Business2community.com

It’s quite normal for employees to experience dips in their performances due to factors like stress, personal problems and organizational gaffes. However, it’s the duty of every manager to help employees get their grooves back in order to achieve the set goals.
So if you’re looking to get the best out of your employees, you should put in place certain measures that would boost their productivity levels. Here are 7 smart ways to do that without losing a drop of sweat.

1. Set realistic goals
It is obvious that goal setting plays a central role in achieving productivity at work. But these goals have to be clearly defined and realistic. Realistic goals are not determined by how complex they are. Rather, they should be assigned based on priority and time-bound.
2. Create a sense of ownership
Every employee must be made to take ownership of all issues in their buckets. This attitude will create a sense of accountability, allowing them to focus on the most important aspects of their jobs.
However, you must realize that employees don’t take ownership when they’re treated like employees. In other words, you should create a sense of belonging for each and every team member, make them feel valued, and make the system as transparent as possible.

3. Provide an outstanding reward system
There’s a popular cliché that the reward for hard work is more work. But then employees need more than just work to stay on top of their game. You’d be surprised at how much impact a small gift card can make. This has nothing to do with the monetary value attached to the gift but the feeling that their efforts are being appreciated.

4. Operate a virtual office
The advantages of going virtual are quite numerous. They include lower equipment and installation cost, good communication network, and all-round accessibility. On the part of employees, virtual offices provide flexibility and freedom, reduces stress of commuting and increase morale. So it’s not the question of whether or not running a virtual office really boosts productivity, it’s a question of why you’re not yet leveraging it.

5. Empower them
Empowering your employees involves training them to work independently without being micro-managed, appreciating their contributions and innovations, encouraging self-improvement, and presenting new challenges and opportunities. With this kind of atmosphere, employees will feel more engaged at work and might even exceed expectations.

6. Invest in the right tools
Providing the right tools simplifies the work process and ensures that employees get prompt and accurate results. It increases efficiency and prevents early burnout. Thus workers can work productively and keep customers happy.

7. Make work fun
Normally employees do have twenty minutes or thereabout to observe power naps. But you could make it fun by allowing them bring their mats. You could also create a yoga room for the yogis among employees, just as smokers have designated areas in the work place to smoke.
Allow them to decorate their individual work spaces with inspiring quotes, pictures and other decors. This has the power to sustain the positive mood and energy that are required to focus on their tasks.
Lastly, it goes without saying that these tips are not just mere speculations. They’re capable of producing great results regarding employee productivity. Because in the end, you’ll realize that only a productive workforce is capable of meeting organizational goals, and ultimately increasing Return on Investment.

 

16 Jobs That Allow You to Be a Digital Nomad | Maria Onzain, Tech.co

Having experience, enough knowledge and the right set of skills you can start your own online business, which will give you massive independence. However, before you take any risk, there are many possibilities out there to start your nomad career as a freelancer or consultant. This transitional stage will give you the know-how and confidence you need to start your entrepreneurial adventure.

These are 16 good examples of jobs that will allow you to become a digital nomad.
Freelance Writer
As content marketing importance increases, professionals with copy writing skills are more demanded by companies. You can also start a blog sharing your travel adventures as you go along. Once you have a number of well-written articles on your portfolio, it is time to start your career as a freelance writer.
Graphic Designer
If your talent is in visual arts, the graphic design industry may be a wise choice. Being a graphic design freelancer is a very creative job that will give you a huge freedom to travel the world.

Illustrator
This type of work is highly-demanded both online and offline, so create a profile showing your skills on the main online workplace platforms and search for some interesting projects to work on.

Front-End or Back-End Developer
Working remotely as a developer is now very common, all you need is to find the right projects on the freelancing platforms mentioned before.

Photographer
There are a number of specialties within photography that you could focus on: photojournalism, food photography, landscape photography, sports…the list is endless!

Online Marketing Strategist
If you already have experience in online marketing you can share your know-how with other companies as an online marketing strategist. Analyzing their existing marketing and working as a consultant to improve their communications may be a good way to start.

SEO Specialist
You could also specialize in the area of digital marketing you are best at and offer your expertise as an SEO consultant, for instance. You can either only work on the strategy or get hands on implementing the changes the website needs to improve their online visibility and rankings.

Social Media Manager
If your favorite part of online marketing is social media and you are good at it, you can help companies with their social media communications.

UX Developer
Crafting an appropriate user experience for both websites and mobile apps is an increasingly demanded job. If you are either a generalist or a specialist UX developer, you are in a great position to start your digital nomad adventure.

Translator
There are a number of online platforms where you can create a profile and offer translation and transcription services. If you are bilingual, this option may be perfect for you.

Online Language Tutor
There are millions of people around the world willing to learn another language and very handy online platforms such as Verbalplanet that connect them with a suitable teacher.

Guitar Online Teacher
Using communication tools like Skype or Google hangouts you can teach whatever you are good at, independently from your location. A good way to start is by creating a YouTube channel showing off your skills and joining Take Lessons as a teacher.

Virtual Personal Assistant
If you are organized and have excellent admin skills, a remote personal assistant opportunity may be for you. To become a virtual PA you may want to check out Ask Sunday.

Photo Editor
This may sound a bit peculiar but there are so many companies and entrepreneurs looking for people to edit their photos and this job doesn’t always require previous experience or qualifications.

Restaurant Critic
To take the first steps towards this fascinating career you will need to have excellent writing skills and an extremely audacious palate. If these are your strengths, work on your portfolio before applying for restaurant critic jobs.

Restaurant Marketing Strategist
If you have run a restaurant before, you can help other restaurant owners to get more clients and improve their services. This includes menu creation, customer service, improving ordering systems and restaurant consultancy in general.
Another option to make this life changing decision would be to negotiate a remote work arrangement in your actual job. This is a good way to take the first step without any risk.

 

Earth Day Message From The Planet — Please Telecommute | James Conca, Forbes.com

Also known as remote work, telework, teleworking, flexjob, home-sourcing or working-at-home, telecommuting is a work arrangement in which employees do not commute to a central workplace, but work at some other location, usually their home. In the information age, this arrangement becomes more and more possible, and the benefits more and more obvious.
According to Global Workplace Analytics, almost half of all jobs in the United States are telecommuting-compatible at least half of the time. If these jobs became telecommuting, the annual economic benefit would total over $700 billion.

The overall advantages to employees, employers, the nation and the world would be enormous. Annual savings in real estate, electricity, absenteeism, turnover and productivity would exceed $500 billion, or more than $11,000 per employee. National productivity would increase by 5 million man-years or $270 billion in net worth.
The nation would save:
– about 90,000 lives from traffic-related injury or death, saving at least $10 billion a year in related costs
– over 119 billion miles a year of wear and tear on our nation’s highways, saving hundreds of millions of dollars in highway maintenance
– over 640 million barrels of oil, a third of our Persian Gulf imports, valued at more than $60 billion
– 54 million tons of greenhouse gas emissions, the equivalent of taking 10 million cars off the road.
Employees themselves would save:
– two to three weeks of free time per year, time they’d have otherwise spent commuting to some workplace
– between $2,000 and $7,000 in transportation and work-related costs
– after-school and elder care costs would decrease in most cases and most workers would qualify for home office tax breaks.

Telecommuting even reduces many of the workplace employee problems like sexism and racism since one is not forced to work alongside others in close quarters under sometimes hostile conditions. It also allows women to participate in the workforce in cultures that otherwise do not allow women in the workplace.

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