Remote Work Digest: February 10, 2017

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

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Image from Mashable.com

 

7 office décor tips that will improve productivity at work | Sangeeta Ghosh, Knowstartup.com

What makes everyone enjoy working there so much? The answer is simple: their design strategy is creative, customized to every location and the offices are not just sad places designed to bring money. We could learn a thing or two from those examples and make our own work spaces more enjoyable with these tips:

1. Smart Setup
A well-arranged office adjusts to the way employees work, and functions to create a convenient, easy-to-navigate environment. Workers are more relaxed and able to concentrate on the tasks at hand. Aesthetics are important in the modern office but should not take priority over efficiency.

2. A rooftop social space
Even if the office is in the middle of the city, away from forests and nature in general, there’s a way to revive that connection by creating a rooftop social area decorated with planters, perhaps even trees and from where the views can be admired.

3. Everything in it’s place
Invest in folders, filing systems, desk organizers, boxes- anything to prevent random stacks of paper. Not only will this likely reduce confusion, and time wasted sifting through piles of paper searching for the right document…but this strategy will also make your employees feel more organized and less stressed.

4. Choose stimulating colors
Colors can have a significant influence on the mood of the employees. It can also help with productivity, creativity, and concentration of the workers.

5. Plants
Interacting with nature can have very positive effects on the mood but while working it is not possible to spend much time in the sunshine and greenery. You can make use of plants to spruce up the working space.

6. Personal touches
Encourage your employees to style their desks with things they like. A little bit of office supply budget spent here will go a long way when it comes to employee happiness, productivity, and less absenteeism.

7. Natural light in the workplace
Properly utilizing daylight in your work space not only increases productivity but will save on energy bills. Place desks near to a window to maximize the amount of natural light which falls over your work space.

Environment is very important in a work setting, but it all depends on what kinds of work is taking place in the office. If the design of the office is not something that can be changed, simple changes can be added, like adding a few bright colors or plants. Think about the tone of your office space, and try a few of these additions. You might just notice a change in you and those working around you.

Working from home is the new key from breaking out of the daily grind | Victoria Heckstall, Groundreport.com

More scientists are concluding that 40-hour work weeks are damaging to our health. Sitting down in an office for long periods of time is bad for both our physical and mental health and could be contributing to the accelerated decline in brain power.
But why is it the case?

Office Culture is Toxic
Sitting in a room for 40 hours every week with people you don’t necessarily like is crushing to morale and motivation.

The Numbers Add Up to More Productivity
Many remote workers have stated that they feel more productive because they have full control over their work environment.

Leisure and Family Come First
Study after study has demonstrated that when employees can put leisure and family matters first they are more productive and more motivated to do better.

More Motivation Through Gaining Personal Responsibility
Personal responsibility helps us to encourage creativity and gives us the confidence to speak up when we believe we have a solution to a problem.

How to Get Your Boss to Offer Remote Working
Explain to them the benefits of remote working. Don’t think about what it will do for you think about what it will do for them. Focus on productivity benefits and how you’ve demonstrated the personal responsibility needed to separate your work and home life.

Working From Home is the Answer
If you’ve yet to convince your boss that you should be able to work from home, even on a part-time basis, keep trying. Make them see what it can do for their business.

4 ways to take care of remote employees | Dennis Healy, Employeebenefitadviser.com

Here are four ways you can keep remote workers in the loop:

1. Help them create personal connections with you and other employees. The only time remote workers get to interact with colleagues is on a conference call. Because I am a remote myself, it’s easy for me to remember to make time for “virtual water cooler talk” — I call my direct reports, who are also remote employees, to just catch up on whatever is on their mind.
2. Include remote workers in all-company events and activities. Does your company have an annual party? Make sure remote workers are invited and it’s easy for them to attend. Do you have company meetings? Don’t forget to set up a video chat or call-in number so that remote workers can participate.
3. Give them tools to be successful. There is so much technology available these days to help remote workers communicate and engage more effectively with coworkers. The most critical thing, especially for those of us who spend lots of time on conference calls, is quality audio. It may sound basic, but if the connection doesn’t pick up quiet or low talkers, it’s a real struggle to follow conversations and remain an active participant.
4. Encourage them to embrace the flexibility of working remotely.

The popularity of working remotely is only going to increase in coming years, particularly with millennials — a group that values flexibility, control and a good work-life balance. Having remote workers can be incredibly powerful when you do it right and make sure they feel like they are an integral part of the company.

How To Get Your Boss To Let You Work From Home | Nancy Collamer, Forbes.com

The key to getting permission to work from home: knowing how to ask.

Working from home has become increasingly popular and possible. According to a 2016 study by consultancy PWC, 38% of U.S. workers can work from home at least one day a week, a fourfold increase over the 9% in 1995. Small businesses are more likely than their larger counterparts to offer this flexibility. According to PWC, over half of small business workers telecommute, but only 26% of large-company employees do.

Since your employer might need convincing, here’s the best way to approach your boss about telecommuting and how to make working at home work well, according to Sara Sutton Fell, CEO and Founder of FlexJobs and Remote.co and the Q & A section of Remote.co:

7 Tips to Work from Home

1. Decide how much telecommuting you need or want. Options range from occasional telecommuting on an as-needed basis all the way up to a full-time work-from-home schedule. Try negotiating with your boss to start off working a few days a week from home and eventually you might find yourself telecommuting all of the time.
2. Focus on the benefits that telecommuting would offer your employer, not you. Explain how telecommuting will make you a more productive, focused and engaged worker. For example, less time spent commuting will give you more time for completing reports.
3. Anticipate your boss’s concerns. Make sure your boss understands exactly how often, and by what means, you’ll stay in regular contact with your colleagues and which tasks you’ll accomplish when you work from home.
4. Suggest a trial run. Your manager may be hesitant about letting you telecommute, so offer to do it as a trial run for a month or two. Then, the two of you can assess how it went and you can prove that the arrangement is beneficial to your boss.
5. Create a dedicated home work space. Jan Lindborg, who works remotely as a Global Sales Training Operations Director for Dell, recommended on Remote.co to treat your working space like a recording studio. “No red light, but when my door is shut, I am at work,” he writes. He also suggests switching off your laptop when finished for the day to delineate between your work hours and the rest of your life.
6. Establish disciplined work habits when telecommuting. “It takes a lot of discipline to work remotely, as you’ll find that it is very easy to put off a piece of work when you’re sitting at home,” warns Ben Dodson, who works out of his UK home as a full-time freelance ios developer. To help maintain his focus, Dodson puts on noise-cancelling headphones to serve as a signal that it’s time to get into work mode.
7. Keep connected with your employer and associates to combat feelings of isolation. “Consider what you will miss about the office environment and find ways to recreate it or compensate for it, says Lauren Antonian, who works as a full time remote manager in proposal development for Anthem. “For example, if you are an extrovert who enjoys socializing with colleagues, make a point to communicate with them via instant message or email as you would have if you were available in person.”

Andrea Bing, who works remotely as a project manager for Cigna, joins an assortment of company-sponsored virtual communities, such as a book club and finance group. She also schedules lunch dates with coworkers on a monthly basis. Sometimes, working remotely is just the next best thing to being there.

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