Remote Work Digest: October 27, 2016

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

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Image from Onecom.co.uk

How to Reduce Distractions, Improve Productivity and Leave On Time | Julia Naughton, Huffingtonpost.com.au

Whether it’s your never-ending inbox or finally working on that creative project you didn’t get to during the working day, we can all agree that in 2016, staying back late doesn’t exactly reflect flawlessly on your time management skills.

Though, it’s not entirely your fault.

Michael McQueen, author of Momentum: How to Build it, Keep it, or Get it Back explains the modern workplace doesn’t make it any easier for us.

“The rise of technology has placed immense pressure on us in the form of expectations, both from others and the expectations we place on ourselves, which can be detrimental to our productivity,” McQueen told The Huffington Post Australia.

Ahead, McQueen reveals his top 6 productivity tips for canceling out the noise and ticking off your to-do list so that you can get home on time.

1. Turn off notifications… all of them!
“Interruptions are an inevitable part of modern life, but by simply turning off all notifications for new mail, texts, alerts and requests you will immediately lessen the blow.”

2. Make this new approach known
Basically, if you’re only doing your emails in batches three times a day, let your colleagues know so they understand and adjust their expectations around receiving an immediate response.

3. Make friends with your phone’s “Do Not Disturb” function
“When you hear the ping of your phone, even if you have no idea what the alert is about, knowing it’s there impacts your ability to focus,” McQueen said.

4. Get out of the office
Remove yourself from the environment by heading out to a cafe, park or a quiet room.
“Even if the cafe is a little noisy, you still would have removed other distractions like conversations happening around you and interruptions from other colleagues.”

5. Put your headphones in
“If you can’t get out of the office, try plugging in some headphones,” McQueen said.
Depending on what kind of work you are doing, McQueen said listening to some music or even some white noise will help you to focus on the task at hand.

6. Set clear boundaries
“The big trend in the last five years is having office workers work from home one day a week,” McQueen said.
While this has many positive effects including increased productivity due to less people spending time commuting and a decrease in cost for office space, McQueen said many people, especially those who are extroverted struggle to stay motivated in the absence of accountability.
“Sure, you have less colleagues interrupting you but at home there might be kids and piles of dirty washing waiting for you — so there’s a whole set of new issues.”
This is where setting clear boundaries becomes important otherwise any distraction that comes up becomes an opportunity to procrastinate,” McQueen said.

10 ways to help employees achieve better work-life balance | Lauren Steed, Hrmorning.com

Many American simply feel overworked — despite what the numbers say.
As a result, people are clamoring for more of a work-life balance.
Sometimes what’s needed isn’t more time off, but the right time of day off. In most instances, employees want to find a way to juggle both work and their personal lives.

Here are 10 ideas that could help your company create that balance:

1. Make sure management is promoting the right image. Each employee has a different work style. But some managers may be workhorses. And guess who’s setting the expectations and culture for the workplace? Your managers — and not every employee can match a feverish pace set by a manager without risking burnout. Solution: Consider having managers promote more short breaks throughout the work day.
2. Draw a hard line on work hours. Some employees take work home with them or answer emails at night or during the weekend, making their actual work hours harder to track — and setting yourself up for overtime liability. Establishing defined boundaries can help prevent burnout and overtime headaches.
3. Offer flexible scheduling or a work-from-home option. This is always a good option to help people manage their various responsibilities, if it’s the right call for your workplace.
4. Promote vacation time. Some employees need convincing to take their vacation time. Make sure they know it’s not only OK to do so, but it’s also encouraged.
5. Allow pet (or kid) visit days. One way to help people balance their working and personal life is to occasionally allow the two to mix. It helps boost morale around the office by giving people a much needed quick mental break.
6. Ban tech from face-to-face meetings or corporate outings. Sometimes emergencies do spring up, but chances are it’s going to do more good to completely disconnect from the digital world.
7. Remind people hours aren’t a competition.

An efficient employee may not need a full eight hours to finish his/her work for the day, while another may have a more relaxed working style and need more time to complete his/her tasks.
8. Allow specific time off to contribute to a charity. Giving people some time off or incentives to go out and pursue a cause they find meaningful boosts their sense of fulfillment. The fact that your company will back employees looking to volunteer also boosts its image and propels it into the spotlight when trying to attract top talent.
9. Help employees accomplish their everyday tasks. This could be as simple as providing on-site coffee so people don’t have to go out for their own, or offering dry cleaning services once a month.
10. Finally, educate employees. Providing time-management training to employees can help them help themselves achieve the work-life balance they seek.

Guidelines for Better Time Management and Getting Things Done | Dave Jones, Iamwire.com

Here are methods that bode well with managing time and getting things done by Dave Jones, manager of Live Tecs.

Characterize you needs
Prioritize things that are an absolute necessity, an ought to or a need. Arrange your day around the ‘must’, planning in the rest of stuff from the ought to and need list. Simply make certain to remember what you have to finish in the short term to work towards your bigger, long haul objectives. This conveys me to the idea of significance versus criticalness.

Make a schedule
Schedules will shift incredibly individual to individual, yet they do work best in the event that they genuinely turn into a propensity. For instance, you may begin your day with 30 minutes of activity, drink some espresso while you audit your calendar, and listen to the news. Whatever works for you!

Start your day with the most significant work, end with the simplest
It’s been found that when individuals have remarkable things on their schedule, whether it is everyday family tasks or imperative undertaking for work, thinking simple and focusing gets to be troublesome. So by accomplishing your all the more difficult work right in the morning, your mind can unwind and concentrate on whatever else comes up.

Take a shot at your responsibility each day
Whatever work you have planned, make it a point to do it consistently. The work or discovering that you do day by day will include fundamentally after some time.

Build up a rhythm
You may might be great at maintaining focus for 1, 2 or even 3 hours. The trick is to test and find what works for you, and afterward plan your work in these augmentations, with little breaks in the middle.

Overlook states of mind
You’re not in the mood to work? Gracious well. Show up in any case. This may be the hard, however it’s unquestionably legitimate. On the off chance that something is imperative to you, then you have to do it, paying little mind to whether you need to or not. This will go far in helping you finish your objectives.

Cut the diversions
What intentional things do you invest your time in that suck time and vitality? Online networking or email? Television? Whatever it is, simply stop. At any rate when you have booked your major time for your work. Individuals are bad at opposing enticement, so help yourself out and evacuate it totally.

Cluster comparable undertakings together
It’s best to do comparative assignments together to keep your brain from expecting to switch gears.

Pinpoint why you linger
Do you abstain from taking a shot at a task since you are exhausted? Do you not know how to accomplish something? It is safe to say that you fear feedback? Consider every option and truly make sense of what the issue is. When you know, you can do your best to manage it and proceed onward.

Figure out how to say no
We as a whole are continually besieged with solicitations. Begin adjusting these solicitations to your needs, and say no to the things that don’t affect your objectives.

Remote working, without a remote experience | Adrian Hipkiss, Itproportal.com

Research shows that company culture is key to attracting great employees, with HR leaders considering culture and engagement their number one challenge.
Company culture can be described as the personality of your business, and it’s the personality of the environment in which your employees work that is likely to keep them with you.

The traditional forms of employee interaction to help the work environment prosper – from daily meetings, to after-work drinks, to even simple things like cakes on birthdays – are noticeably more difficult when employees spend barely any time in the same office. However, the key is to focus on bringing your team together virtually if they cannot be brought together physically.

Here are a few questions to ask yourself when considering how to improve collaboration in your virtual office:

Is your communications system fit for purpose?
The first place to start is with your communication system. Do you have a platform that can be easily accessed by all of your staff? Does it really make your life easier – and that of your employees? Ideally, this should be a unified communication system that is simple to use. If you need to have a lot of conference calls, choose a system that is easy to dial in to – complicated passwords and IDs aren’t always the best way to begin a productive call.

Does your remote time often end up being down time?
When most of your team is working remotely, this means everyone has to essentially take some responsibility for the technology they use. As an employer, you need to make this as easy as possible by ensuring that your back office systems are up-to-date and reliable.

Having a suitable system in place can also ensure downtime is kept to a minimum, which stops your remote employees from being stranded without a connection to the virtual office.

Are your employees comfortable?
The next thing to consider is if your employees are able to communicate in the way that is most comfortable for them. This may mean a discussion about the devices they use to communicate – would they prefer to contact you and other members of the team by smart phone, tablet or desktop computer?

Are you in a routine?
Without regular, routine interaction, great company culture cannot be built naturally. Regular rewards are part of this – scheduling in time to talk about success is a really important part of keeping your employees in the loop and enhancing the bond between your team.

Is your collaboration integrated?
Using apps is a great way to keep employees engaged with one another, and nowadays there are plenty of user-friendly programmes that can be used to improve remote communication. For example, Skype can now integrate with an organizations’ unified communications solution, which means that employees can not only use their favorite device but also combine elements that are familiar to help them unify their personal and business life.

It is easier to “get to know” your employees when they have a personalized profile they can share! Overall, with the right tech behind you and your team, working remotely doesn’t have to be a remote experience.

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