Remote Work Digest: January 23, 2018

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

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4 keys to working from home successfully | MT Staff, Managementtoday.co.uk

There are a plethora of benefits for both employers and employees to working from home including a reduction in commuting time, decreased amount of sick days taken, increased productivity and a significant saving in office rent. However, the lack of supervision is a large drawback for employers offering working from home to its employees.

Consequently, we have collated advice from a range of experts who provide their top tips on how to make the most out of working from home to benefit both employers and employees.

1. Communication is key
Before offering remote working to employees, clear communication methods need to be set. How often you will speak and if this will be expected to be via the phone or Skype need to be clearly indicated to all participating. Frequent communication will prevent duplication of tasks and avoid mistakes occurring from a lack of communication.

2. Establish Clear Objectives
Karen Meager and John McLachlan, co-founders of Monkey Puzzle Training, suggest that if an individual is not fully briefed on a task then mistakes are highly likely, which can be costly for a business as time and money is wasted. Also confusion can be demotivating for employees and can lead to them becoming easily distracted at home since they are not enjoying their work.

3. Prioritize a healthy work-life balance
When working from home the boundaries between ‘home’ and ‘work’ can easily become blurred, so separate the two as best as you can. This could be achieved through having a set-apart office for work or working in coffee shop or libraries. This separation helps your mind realize it is time to work and creates a more productive environment which can boost your concentration.

4. Stay Motivated
Susanne Jacobs, author of Drivers suggests the best way to combat this and stay motivated is through focusing on your sense of purpose. Remember your strengths and break down a goal into achievable smaller tasks to help retain your sense of purpose and productivity.

7 Simple Ways to Motivate Yourself to Exercise | Robert J. Davis, Time.com

If one of your New Year’s resolutions was to get in shape, now comes the hard part: sticking with it. This is the time when many of us begin to see our efforts derailed by an array of obstacles, including jobs, family responsibilities, a dislike of exercise or simple inertia.

Seek instant gratification
The key is identifying what the short-term payoff of exercise is for you. Is it sounder sleep? A better mood? Clearer thinking? Less pain? More patience? Such benefits may not be instantly evident if you’re new to exercise, so determining which ones apply to you can take a little time. But once you figure it out, keep those rewards in mind – or better yet, post them on your bathroom mirror, fridge or anywhere else you can readily see them – so they provide a nudge, especially when you feel your willpower flagging.

Set goals
While your goal should be challenging, it shouldn’t be unrealistic. For example, if you’ve never run before, it’s not reasonable to expect to run a marathon in a month. Nor is it realistic to think that walking for 30 minutes a day will give you a beach body. Setting goals such as these can lead to discouragement and cause you to give up when you fail to achieve them.

Keep track of your progress toward your goal. For some people, wearable fitness trackers or smartphone apps can be useful by providing hard data and encouragement. But you don’t have to use technology if it’s not your thing. Keeping a journal of your activity is perfectly fine. What’s important is to record your activity, in whatever way works for you, so you can see how well you’re doing.

Have a game plan
Just as your goals should be realistic, so should your planning. For example, if you tend to be too tired or busy with family duties at the end of the day, don’t schedule a workout then; find another time that’s better suited to you. Likewise, if you plan to exercise at a park or a gym, choose one that’s nearby. The farther out of your way you have to go to work out, the more likely you are to blow it off.

Shorten your workouts
A lack of time is one of the main reasons for not sticking with exercise. But a growing body of research suggests that so-called high-intensity interval training, or HIIT, can greatly reduce the amount of time you need to exercise while producing benefits that are the same as—or even greater than—what you get from conventional moderate-intensity cardio workouts.

Entertain yourself
Like fitness game apps, other forms of entertainment, such as books on tape, podcasts, movies or TV shows, can reduce boredom while you work out and provide a distraction from any discomfort you’re feeling. Saving certain entertainment — a series on Netflix you’ve been wanting to watch, for example — for only when you’re exercising can be especially motivating. That way, you’ll have something to look forward to and associate your workout with a treat that you don’t otherwise get.

Work out with a buddy
This boost in motivation happens when others around you are just moderately better than you. If they’re far more advanced at an activity, the result can be just the opposite: You may be more likely to get discouraged and quit. That’s why if you’re, say, just beginning to jog, it’s probably not wise to work out with triathletes.
Of course, finding a suitable workout partner or group isn’t always possible. And some people simply prefer to go it alone. If you’re a solo exerciser, you may still be able to get the motivational benefits of a workout buddy or group via social media. In a study of people who participated in a Web-based walking program, those who were randomly assigned to an online community where they could communicate with other walkers were more likely to stick with the four-month program than those who had no access to the community.

Pay yourself
Being rewarded for hard work can be a powerful incentive to continue. A review of 11 randomized studies collectively involving about 1,500 people concluded that using money as a reward makes recipients more likely to exercise and stick with it for up to six months and possibly longer.

Putting your own money at stake can be an effective motivator, according to research. In one study, employees of a large company who made fitness commitments backed by their own funds went to the gym 50% more often than those who didn’t have this incentive.

Millenials Are Ready To Be Leaders: Here’s How They’re Doing It | Larry Alton, Forbes.com

According to research from the Harvard Business Review, the average age of first-time managers is 30, and the average age of people in leadership training is closer to 42. This poses an interesting problem for most managers, who don’t receive training until they’ve been on the job for 10 years (if they receive training at all), but it also shows that we’re falling squarely into an age with Millennials taking the helm of their own teams.

So how are Millennials succeeding in these roles, and how are they changing the workplace?

Why Millenials Are Ready

Let’s look at some of the main reasons why Millenials are prepared on leadership roles:

  • Age and experience. With a decade or more of experience under their belts, they’re ready for bigger roles.
  • Numbers. Millennials have officially become the largest generation as of last year, and represent the largest percentage of the workforce.
  • Autonomy and confidence. Millennials crave autonomy, and have confidence in their skills; those characteristics drive them to take charge of more people and more responsibilities.

How Millenials Are Changing Things

So how are Millenials leading in ways different from their older generational counterparts?

  • More and better feedback. Only 19% of surveyed Millennials said they received routine feedback, but nearly all Millennials wanted feedback regularly; they also refused to ask for it. This urge for feedback and understanding of feedback’s importance will likely follow them into leadership positions, except as leaders, they’ll have the power to institute a powerful system.
  • More fluid adoption of new technology. According to Karoline Holicky of Meisterplan, “Millennials trust the power of technology, and know that adopting better systems is the most efficient way to make better decisions.” Overarching platforms, like project portfolio management software, may become more common as Millennial leaders rely on its abilities to make better decisions and organize resources.
  • More flexibility and fewer rules. According to a Bentley University study, 77% of Millennials agreed that more flexible working hours would make their generation more productive. Carrying this philosophy into a position of leadership, Millennial leaders will likely instate more flexibility, including customizable hours, more remote work, and even more relaxed rules in the office.
  • Higher demands for brand values and company culture. Values have always been an important cultural institution for Millennials, when choosing an employer or a supplier, and now they get to create and enforce those values within the context of their own teams.
  • Preparation for generation Z. Millennials are aging, and will likely be looking over their shoulder as the next generation—usually referred to as “generation Z” or the “post-Millennial” generation—as they start rising through the ranks themselves. Millennial values are starting to fade, and workplaces won’t remain under their firm vision or leadership for long.

Soon, generation Z will start graduating from college and flooding the marketplace, and Millennials will be able to join their generation X and baby boomer counterparts to complain about a new host of youthful characteristics. Until then, Millennials will have a brief period of enjoying the energy of youth alongside the experience necessary to drive true changes in the workplace.

Bust a Myth: You Can’t Create Strong Teams with People Who Are Remote | Carey Woodhouse, Business2community.com

Creating a high-performing team can be hard enough; is it too big of a risk to expect great results from a team with freelancers, or is it just a simple change in mindset?

First, let’s talk about some characteristics that make a team a good one—and then look at how remote professionals can not only help teams align with these traits but ultimately help them grow stronger.

Communication is the thread that ties every team together, whether you’re talking about a two-person startup or 100-person teams spread across different countries. It doesn’t matter if you’re in the same room or working from home; poor communication can happen in any team, and when it unravels, so can a strong team. Similarly, lack of communication and passing the buck when mistakes happen can sometimes foster doubt and mistrust, and weaken a team structure.

Remote work reality: Remote workers are independent professionals who know trust is ultimately key to their own success.
The right mix of technology can help create a more tight-knit vibe between professionals, making “remote” a smaller part of the equation. That said, solid communication comes down to the individual more so than the tools they’re using. Holding important meetings via video conferencing“ can create a solid foundation for collaboration and communication that feels as “in person” as possible.

Trust is a two-way street. Be sure to be timely in communication, provide adequate feedback on the work delivered (positive or constructive), and respond to invoices—remote workers will respond by delivering great work.

Strong team trait #2: Cooperation, collaboration, and support
We’re living in the heyday of collaboration tools. Team members can easily contribute no matter where they are, thanks to tools that provide a snapshot of a project and visibility into deadlines and milestones. It all boils down to seamlessly working together and keeping the ball rolling, and there’s no shortage of apps designed to help you do just that.

Remote work reality: Remote workers help teams be results-driven where it counts
If the success of your team is at all measured by its output—both quality and quantity—supplementing your team with remote workers dedicated to performing specific projects can be the difference between meeting and missing production goals and tackling tight turnarounds. Results-driven work cultures are all about holding each member of a team accountable for the work he or she is to execute, a model that lends itself particularly well to working with remote workers.

If you have an existing team, set them up for success with a hybrid team model so no one is stretched too thin. Quick deadlines and increased production demands put stress on everyone in an organization, especially teams already operating at capacity. Help your business move faster by giving projects to remote team members. This can also prevent burn-out and cut down on the rush to get things done, which often leads to a decrease in quality and more room for error.

Strong team trait #3: Innovation and willingness to take on new challenges
A team that pushes one another, rather than one that makes excuses, is a team that continually grows and improves. Finding a better way to get something done (even if the current process isn’t malfunctioning) is a clear sign of a high-functioning team.

Remote work reality: Freelancers bring innovation with flexibility, focus, and specialized, niche skill sets you don’t have in-house.
Teams that leverage freelancers can boast impressive results, expand capabilities, and break ground with new and cutting-edge skills. It can be difficult for a professional working 40 hours a week to find the time to learn something new, but continuing to evolve—especially in areas like engineering and development—can help teams thrive.

When you value every member of your team but want to try a new tool or program (say, turning data analysis into business intelligence), freelancers can step in and help when and how you need it. Remote workers can move things forward whether it’s bringing in the expertise just to advise your team on the new tool or program or to set up a whole new program for success.

Strong Team Trail #4: Relationships and respect that go beyond workplace formalities
You don’t have to be best friends outside of work, but building a rapport and taking the time to learn about the people you work with demonstrates respect in nearly all cultures—and is a big part of the remote work equation.

Remote work reality: Freelancers are people, too, and with a little up-front effort, it’s easy to establish relationships based on trust, respect, and enthusiasm.
Although freelancers are small (or sometimes bigger) businesses, you’re still communicating with a person. Although a majority of your communication happens online (and what modern relationship doesn’t have some degree of the digital?), that doesn’t mean you can’t tailor that communication to be personal and respectful. Bookend conversations with casual questions and chatter and your working relationship will reap the benefits. Video chats make it easier than ever to create face-to-face interactions and pick up on visual cues.

Conclusion
At first glance, it might seem like having remote workers who aren’t all under the same roof might make some of these attributes a challenge—or maybe even impossible. But the way we work is changing, and modern teams that adjust to this new work reality are the ones that stand to thrive.

 

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