Remote Work Digest: December 13, 2016

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

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Six ways to keep employee productivity high during the holidays | Coadvantage.com

With so many major events crammed into a relatively brief period, the holiday season is often one of the busiest and most demanding times of year for everyone – employers and employees alike. That, in turn, can have a negative impact on productivity, if employees are distracted by being pulled in too many directions at once, or they are fretting over meeting all the demands on their time and energy, or the workplace is unprepared. Here are six tips for keeping productivity high during and after the holidays!

Relax. Consider online holiday shopping: many employers monitor such activity (48%) or even block online shopping sites (25%), per a survey by staffing firm Robert Half Technology. But those numbers have fallen over past years as employers have relaxed their vigilance.

Clarify. Confusion can be a productivity-killer, as can poorly articulated leave policies that inadvertently allow too many employees to take time off at the same time.

Adapt. Consider offering flexible hours during the holidays, whose extra demands on employees can result in burnout if not managed well.

Slow. This may sound counter-intuitive, but your office might consider allowing for extra time off (and thus lower productivity) during this period to promote greater productivity later.

Comply. Compliance can be a concern during the holidays; for example, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission requires that employers accommodate religious differences in the workplace, and that can impact how employers handle holiday-themed events and activities.

Appreciate. The holidays are a great time of year for employers to show that they appreciate employees. That, in turn, can boost employee morale and engagement. Employers can show appreciation through employee bonuses, small gifts, personalized thank you notes, catered events, fun outings, award ceremonies, etc.

How To Convince Your Boss To Let You Work Remotely | Rachel Ritlop, Forbes.com

If you are a part of the 84% of millennials seeking greater work-life balance, how can you join the roughly 25% of the US workforce that telecommutes and reports being happier as they enjoy greater flexibility and freedom? Check out these five negotiating tips to convince your boss to let you work remotely:

Timing is everything.
Figuring out the best time to have the conversation with your boss is vital. Tricia Sciortino, president of an all-remote workforce eaHelp, suggests it’s best “during peak season or other busy times.” The logic here, she says, is that “many times managers will be looking for employees to put in some overtime to meet deadlines”.

Know your worth.
If you can quantify your value to your boss you will have greater leverage when making the argument that you will be more productive and creative while working from home with fewer distractions.

Get your facts straight.
Research supporting telecommuting has been overwhelmingly positive for both the employer and employee. For instance, many companies are looking to implement green initiatives, and by allowing employees to work from home a day or two a week, they will be significantly reducing their carbon footprint.

Anticipate concerns or red flags.
Many companies today deal in sensitive information that they may not want you to bring home. “[This] makes leaders uneasy to welcome telecommuting,” says Sciortino. Try to be mindful of this and other potential red flags or concerns your boss may have about you working remotely.

Suggest a trial run.
Your boss may be skeptical to let you work from anywhere on a whim. Ease into it with a trial run. “Ask for one to two days a week and see how it goes,” suggests Sciortino. She also recommends offering to come in for team meetings, and create a check-in schedule with your boss to gauge comfort and determine what could be improved on within the new working arrangement.

The more specific you can be with your boss in terms of how you will remain a part of the team, boost creativity and productivity, and track your progress on deadlines, the better of you both will feel. Once the trial run is successful and both parties are feeling confident about the roles, you can always re-negotiate for more flexible hours or remote days.

Everything You Need to Know About How to Land a Remote Job | Cameron Chapman, Skullcrush.com

Not everyone gets to have the same kind of natural transition into remote working, though. If you’re reading this, you’re probably wondering how you can purposely start working remotely.

Everything you need to know about how to get started working remotely is included in the completely update Ultimate Guide to Getting a Remote Job You Love.

If you’re not sure if working remotely is right for you, check out these amazing reasons:

Work From Anywhere
Home office, front porch, kitchen table, coffee shop, coworking space, RV traveling across America, an exotic beach somewhere, camping in the woods (thank you, 4G hotspot!), or pretty much anywhere else you can connect to the Internet.

Set Your Own Schedule
Not every remote job allows for this, but a lot of them offer at least some flexibility around when you work. That means if you find you’re more productive at a specific time of the day, you can roll with it.

Save Money
You won’t need an entire work wardrobe if you’re working from home every day. And you’ll save a lot by not commuting every day. You can also avoid the costs of the big city and choose to settle where the cost of living is lower, and your paycheck goes further.

Make More Money
That means you can live in the middle of nowhere but make the kind of salary you’d make in NYC.

Be More Efficient
This one might come as a surprise, but meetings done via Google Hangouts or Skype always seem to stay on task and operate more efficiently than those that happen in person.

The best paying remote jobs are almost all at least somewhat related to tech, whether it’s content marketing (design and basic HTML & CSS skills come in super handy there) or web development (which requires, you know, coding skills), tech knowledge makes you way more hireable as a remote worker.

5 Legal Risks Freelancers Face | John Rampton, Huffingtonpost.com

Being a freelancer and working from home can be great. You can wear whatever you want and not have to worry about having a boss. But the reality is that there are also disadvantages to becoming a self-employed freelancer. For instance, it might feel like you have several bosses if you don’t have good boundaries set with your clients.

If you are considering becoming a freelancer, here are 5 legal risks you need to know about.

Non-payment issues

Because you are providing a service instead of a product for them, it can be difficult to collect payment in these situations. Make sure you get a contract signed by your client that is clear about the service being provided and the payment you expect. In addition, check very carefully to make sure there are no errors or falsified information. Also have a 3-5 percent penalty per month if you are not paid on time.

Defamation of character

You must use caution in your wording when talking about other businesses or famous people to avoid a lawsuit for defamation of character. Do not make statements that slander or harm someone else and certainly do not make false statements or accusations.

Taxes

As we all know, paying taxes is unavoidable, and depending on the volume of work you are doing, you are probably paying quarterly self-employment taxes. What you pay every three months may seem steep, but it helps you in the long run when you file your tax return and send that final, somewhat smaller, check to the government.

Additionally, make sure you keep good records so you can avoid legal ramifications.

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Introducing Always-Active Task

Sometimes, a user does not always use computer to do his work. For example, one might need to make phone calls, have meetings, read documents, or write notes. These tasks are not necessarily performed using computer. Even on computer, the user might just be having a Skype call, in which case he does not really need to interact with computer therefore he might appear to be idle. In order to facilitate the tracking of these activities, we have introduced a new feature called Always-Active task. When a user logs time by selecting an Always-Active task, the time logged is always considered to be active, regardless whether the user has been interacting with the computer or not. This way, when a user needs to go to do work off the computer, he can simply switch the task to an Always-Active task and keep logging his work time.

When creating a task, a Manager can set the option to make the task Always-Active. It is completely to the discretion of the Manager.

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After a user logs time to the Always-Active task, it appears slightly different on the Track Time page. The color indication is little different and the activity meter is always in full strength. Here is an example.

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By logging time using Always-Active task, you have the benefits of (1) eliminating the need to manually add offline time later, and (2) still keeping the screen shot record if you do work on computer such as Skype call or watching video.

We hope that you find this feature useful. For more information about the feature, you can find it in this help document.

As always, we will be glad to hear your feedback and comments.