Remote Work Digest: June 20, 2016

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

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Image from Entrepreneur.com

5 best workplace practices for employee productivity | Waqar Hassan, Examiner.com

Most business are wondering what can be done to get the most out of their employees and attract better workers. Here are some of great workplace practices that should be implemented for improved employee security and productivity:

Clear expectations: Most employees get demotivated and frustrated when they don’t know exactly what they are expected to do. A business needs to establish a culture where the goals, rules, vision, behavior and values should be clearly stated. There should be proper guidelines for reporting, results, time lines, quality standards and priorities. Expectations regarding policies, safety and communication should be made clear and questions should be encouraged and answered.

Finding the right people and giving them right remuneration: Another important practice is to hone the selection process and set high standards for finding staff and managers with the right set of values and skills. Be upfront about the hours, pay, holidays and remote work. This reduces the number of complaints from employees, reduces employee turnover, increased productivity and promotes good word of mouth about the business.

Provide proper resources, environment and equipment: Employees need a safe, good and quality environment and the right equipment and tools for doing their job properly. This includes access to people or information, computer software and hardware, availability of tools and furniture and other communications technology. Provide your employees with proper identities such as ID cards. Use custom lanyards for the ID cards so employees can wear them around their neck, which makes them easily recognizable and distinguishable for visitors. This enhances their security and also makes them part of the team.

Give opportunities for using skills: Boredom and frustration are counterproductive, which makes it necessary to match employees with the right skills to the right jobs. Talent needs to be recognized and used. If you hire employees for a role and then not allow them to use their skills, they will not be productive and motivated.

Encourage idea contribution and decision making: Gone are the days when an authoritative style sufficed in a work environment. These days, it is better to involve your employees, listen to their ideas, ask for their opinions and pay attention to their feedback and advice. An environment where they can make a difference and have the power to decide promotes job satisfaction.

5 Reasons Why Remote Management Improves Your Sales Teams | AJ Agrawal, Huffingtonpost.com

Remote working is on the rise, with 37% of US workers now working from home on occasion. This has forced businesses to change the way they operate. For the first time, managers are having to come to terms with the fact that their sales teams could be working from home.
It can be done, but it requires some planning. You need the right manager in place who will facilitate remote working. But why are more successful entrepreneurs starting to operate their sales teams remotely?

Better Managers

Good managers are able to build relationships, manage projects, and be accountable. This applies doubly so when working with remote workers. Their responsibilities have increased and so it’s even more important that these attributes are in place.

Better Retention Rates
The more motivated your sales team is the more likely they are going to stay with you. Furthermore, if they ever have to stay home or move for personal reasons they can continue to work for your company.
By constantly having positions filled, you are going to retain industry knowledge and save money. It’s twice as costly to train a new salesperson than it is to retain an existing salesperson.

A Bigger Pool of Employees
Finding the best talent means you need to cater to them. One of the ways to do this is through offering remote working options. Some of the best talents in the world don’t enjoy the office environment or they have commitments at home.
Meeting them half way through remote working could convince them that you’re a company to work for. Remote working allows you to hire the best talent regardless of location.
Preparing for an Emergency
Emergencies happen all the time. Things like natural disasters and snow days are creating the next generation of remote workers. Accidents can and do happen, and they are not always within your control.

Collaborating in the virtual environment gives teams the skills needed to operate even when they have to work from home. You are more vulnerable than you think, so it makes sense to prepare for the worst case scenario now.

It Can Be Cheaper
There’s an increasing trend where companies are not renting out office space at all. They are working in the virtual environment using online chat rooms. There are employees across the world who have never met each other in person, and that is increasingly becoming a viable option.

Conclusion – The Future is Coming
The future is coming and it’s closer than you might think. Organizations are increasingly looking to remote working options to run their businesses.

How To Manage Distractions, Connect With Clients And More When You Work From Home | Natasha Burton, LearnVest, Forbes.com

To help ensure that you’re on the right track while working remotely, LearnVest consulted work-from-home veterans who shared their top tips for staying productive – and thriving – in their careers.

Tips for … Outfitting Your Office
Whether you have a whole room dedicated to a home office or prefer working from the couch in your living room, having the right setup can keep you productive while on the clock.

Make sure you have the equipment you need.
“It’s important to invest in the quality of your workspace by getting equipment that helps you do the best work you can. When I transitioned to an at-home employee, I went out and bought a similar version of the computer I was used to working on so that my productivity levels wouldn’t suffer from an inferior, slower setup.”
– Brit Casady, 24, Lehi, UT, graphic designer

Tips for … Managing Distractions
Let’s face it—distractions run rampant wherever you work, whether it’s in an office with coworkers or in your own kitchen.Keep productivity zappers at bay with these strategies.

Get organized with the three-minute rule.
“I allow three minutes to tend to anything I feel I need to respond to immediately that is not on my to-do list. Give yourself three minutes every hour of your official ‘work hours’ to scan and respond to important emails, put shoes that accumulate around the doorway in the closet, etc.—if it takes no more than three minutes. It puts your mind at ease and reduces at-home work distractions without derailing your day. It also helps you spend less time cleaning the house and dealing with administrative tasks when the workday ends.”
—Stephanie Taylor Christensen, 38, Columbus, OH, freelance writer, yoga instructor and mother to a 6-year-old

Minimize online distractions.
“One of my favorite productivity hacks comes with the help of an app called StayFocusd. When working from home, Facebook and Twitter can be a major distraction. StayFocusd helps you avoid these distractions by restricting the amount of time you can spend on them. The Google Chrome extension lets you set specific time restrictions on certain websites with a 10-minute default option. Once your time has been used up, the sites you have selected to block can’t be accessed for the remainder of the day.”
– Lori Cheek, 43, New York City, founder and CEO of Cheekd.com, an online dating app

7 ways to make yourself actually work in your home office | Norah Martin, Sheknows.com

Young professionals set on bringing in peak profits home are in love with in-house offices that offer greater flexibility compared to the traditional workplace. Having survived several home office redesigns, Norah Martin of SheKnows.com came up with the winning productivity formula for my house-based workplace.

1. Keep it away from private quarters
Even if you live alone, designating a part of the living room for the office is a really bad idea, as reminders about your private life will be constantly popping up and disrupting your focus. If possible, move the office as far away from the living area as the home perimeter allows.
2. Quality furniture is a lifesaver
Working from home means flexible work hours, and once your career takes off, you may wind up spending more time in your home office than you originally bargained for. For this reason, quality furnishings such as sit-to-stand desks and height-adjustable chairs are a godsend, and I believe they are worth every cent.
3. Updated lighting for eye health
When picking the room to transform into the office, bear in mind sunlight intensity at daytime and consider updating light fixtures for optimal luminosity for all-nighters.
4. Modular designs are not a good idea
When furnishing the home office, stick to conventional, sturdy designs: A daybed or ottoman is comfier and lasts longer than a convertible sofa, so if you want an office spot to lie down on during a work break, opt for bedding that will not go to bits after a few months. The same goes for multifunctional workstations: High-end, adjustable-height desks are stable and durable, but cheap workstations with multipurpose labels are usually a waste of money.
5. Invest in tech upgrades on time
Regular tech upgrades are an investment in long-term business sustainability, and if you think that you can wish away PC glitches, you are terribly mistaken.
6. Tidiness is essential to success
Keeping the desktop mess-free and relevant files logically organized will help you stay calm and focused and avoid wasting time during work.
7. Wallscape that maximizes profits
Last but not the least, rethink the wallscape to increase productivity, boost focus and promote calmness and creativity during home-based work hours. Colors that work best for me include soft peach, light green and ivory as they produce minimal visual noise while reflecting lots of light.

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