Remote Work Digest: July 18, 2018

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

The Rising Digital Workforce: Six Tips for Small Business Owners Managing Remote Workers | Chanell Turner, Myasbn.com

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Allowing employees to work from home is proven to lower the turnover rate and decrease real estate and overhead costs, two things from which small business owners can benefit. So, how do you help your employees manage this perk? Read on for six tips for working with and managing workers who work at home.

Establish Expectations

If done correctly, remote work can increase productivity and the overall employee performance. However, you have to be clear about what you are looking for from these workers. Is there a specified period during the day that they need to be accessible for calls? Are there specific programs you need them to use to track time worked? Whom do they need to contact if they need to take time off? It is crucial to be upfront about what you are looking for from them to ensure everything runs smoothly from the beginning.

Set-Up Regular Meetings and Short Check-Ins

It helps to carve out at least five to ten minutes a day for remote workers to ask questions and reveal what their projects are throughout the day. It also helps to meet with the entire staff at least once a week and involve remote workers through video or conference call. This act can help everyone feel they are on the same page.

Utilize the Right Tools

One of the best ways to do this is to invest in project management and virtual communication systems. Project management software programs allow you to delegate tasks, monitor progress and even project how long a job would take to complete. Many of these can be integrated with virtual communication systems that enable workers to talk with each other as they complete tasks. These programs allow remote workers to stay in the loop and reveal their progress throughout the week.

Be Wary of Time Zones

Communication is probably the most crucial part of ensuring a smooth and well-run work environment, and time plays a considerable role in this.

Make Sure They Feel as If They Are a Part of The Team

It is easy for remote workers to feel invisible, so take as many moments as possible to let them know you see how they are assets to the company. Also, make a point to include them in fun office activities creatively.

Final Thoughts

While sometimes challenging, the process of managing employees who work from home does not have to bring chaos. By setting clear expectations, putting communication front and center, and ensuring they feel like a part of the team you can set remote workers up to thrive in your company.

5 Foolproof Strategies To Find And Land Your Next Remote Gig | Abdullahi Muhammed, Forbes.com

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Before you can enjoy the benefits of being a gig worker, you have to get some of those gigs lined up. Quantity isn’t the issue. There are plenty of low-paying gigs out there. What can be challenging is finding jobs that are consistent and that pay a decent wage.

Then there’s the matter of competition. Predictions are that the freelance workforce will increase to 43% by 2020, and you can be sure a good number of those workers will be remote workers. To find good positions, you have to be savvy. Here are five foolproof strategies to help you get started.

1. Conduct a skills inventory first
The most effective way for a freelancer to land remote work is to think of herself as a small business and focus on marketability,” said Nancy Van Brunt, Director of Freelancer and Agency Success at Upwork. “The skills needed today are constantly evolving so those who are proactive about skill-related education and development are more likely to possess the skills businesses are seeking today.”

2. Browse both job search boards and communities
Don’t ignore the potential of niche online communities and organizations to help in your job search either. Many of these are a great source of advice and insights about the job search. Some even have job listings for members. You can also find recommendations from more seasoned gig workers. There are multiple subreddits dedicated to remote/freelance work on Reddit as well.

3. Develop you CV and portofolio
Your portfolio should include detailed information and images of your best work. Remember to keep it up to date. Don’t forget to optimize your portfolio for relevant search phrases as you’ll want it to be findable by potential clients. You’ll also want to create a great CV that lets potential employers know exactly what you can do for their business. The key here is to ensure that the most important elements stand out.

4. Research a company before signing on
Before you accept a gig, always research the entity behind the offer. If you’re going through a gig worker platform, check the poster’s profile. This is often easy as most gig worker platforms, which exist to match, create trust between and protect parties to a gig project, make it easy to see the track record of the job poster.

5. Plan and work for sustainability
There are two categories of gig workers. First, there are those who are happiest picking up one short term job after another and doing one off assignments. If this is you, chances are you don’t need to sweat the interview process. Just build your reputation and you’ll be in business for the long term. Then there are those gig workers who seek long term relationships with companies who hire remote workers. If you want to pick up longer term work with companies that hire remote workers, you should expect the recruiting and hiring process to work just as it does with regular employment. This includes being interviewed.

Be prepared to work the gig you land

It does no good to land that next gig if you aren’t prepared to work it. Make sure you have the following taken care of:

  • A workspace that allows you to be productive. Consider a home office, coffee shop, or coworking space.
  • An internet connection that you can count on. It may be time to upgrade to a business package if you plan to work from home.
  • The tools that you need. Is your computer up for the job? Do you have the right productivity apps, word processing software or video conferencing app?

Follow these tips, then ensure you are prepared to be effective and productive.

Wasted Employee Time Adds Up: Here’s How to Fix it | John Rampton, Entrepreneur.com

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This guide is for everyone else. While occasional breaks are great for the mind, excessive time waste leads to lost productivity, lower morale and decreased employee retention. Even employees who would otherwise be high performers can get caught in time-wasting traps, so leaders need to step in before things get out of hand.

To avoid low productivity and improve employee time management, follow these tips.

1. Set specific productivity goals.
People who don’t feel like they have the support of their managers are more likely to feel stressed than they are to feel motivated. Give workers the tools they need, and make yourself available for questions and feedback; then, step back and let employees work toward the goals you helped them set.

2. Schedule tasks in chunks.
The same type of work should take about the same amount of time to complete. Help employees create timelines for different types of projects so they know how quickly things should move across their desks.

When employees understand how long projects take and how long it takes to complete each piece, they don’t have to scramble at the last minute. This steady stream of effort prevents workers from falling into a cycle of working overtime to compensate for earlier procrastination.

3. Show employees how their work affects the whole.
Employees who waste time typically do so because they don’t see the point in working faster. To them, the company and their co-workers do just fine, no matter how well they do their job.

In this case, the issue isn’t about time management — it’s about employee engagement. Keep employees in the loop about what the company is accomplishing, and tie their work to those achievements. Recognize the contributions of outstanding employees and departments. Constantly communicate the mission of the company and how employees help further that mission.

Financial bonuses for a job well done are nice, but people respond even more positively to personal praise. Write handwritten thank-you notes to employees who go above and beyond. Include employees on customer communications when they solve a problem or provide great service. The more employees see the effects of their work in action, the more motivated they become to work hard.

Employee time management has a cumulative effect. Engaged employees who get things done inspire others to follow suit. Those who have little to do (and those who don’t do what they should) bring others down. Use this advice to develop an office filled with productive, time-conscious teammates.

11 helpful tips on how to balance working from home + #momlife | Danielle Braff, Mother.ly

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If you dream of being a working mom and stay-at-home mom, take some tips from these mothers who’ve made the most of flexible work options (and a whole lot of inner drive).

1. Be honest with your clients
If you’re working from home, be transparent about that from the get go. That way, if a child does burst into your office or the dog starts barking while you’re taking a call, you can just keep going without having to explain away the background noise.

2. Get a gym membership
A gym with on-site childcare is essentially an on-call babysitter, says Traci Kantowski, communications director with Trust Transparency Center. “I regularly take advantage of gym childcare when I need to be able to focus, or have an important call because I know my kids are cared for,” Kantowski says. Bonus: You can also actually just hit the gym.

3. Designate an area of your home for work
Kantowski’s children know they need to knock before entering her office, but not every family can devote an entire room to mom’s workspace. If all your bedrooms are full, you can still carve out a designated area just for your work, even in small spaces. Closets can make great compact work spaces, thanks to DIY ideas and products like this closet-to-office conversion kit from the Container Store.

4. Get a hotspot plan
For many mamas, working from home is appealing because it also allows us to be away from our desks. Ballet practice, carpool duty, library time—these are all things you can make time for when you’re not commuting, but you might have to squeeze in some work while chauffeuring the kids around.

Make sure your cell phone plan includes hotspot access, so you’ll be able to sneak in work time from the carpool line, the pool and the indoor playspace, Kantowski says.

5. Use electronics in case of emergency
Screen time guidelines suggest parents keep video time to a minimum, but, one work-at-home mom, Julianne Robicheau says sometimes a little screen time goes a long way to helping mama get her work done. Robicheau started her skin care company, Robi Luxury Skin Care, when her child was a year old, and says that, in a pinch, Ryder and his team of pups have come to save the day.

6. Let them help
Robicheau often lets her 4-year-old help her when it comes to photoshoots and putting together shipments. “I’m raising them to just roll with it,” she says, explaining that she even brings her kids to most business meetings. “I shot a marketing video with a videographer from home with both kids around,” Robicheau says.

7. Reserve special toys for key work moments
When her children outgrew napping, Stephanie Woodson, who writes sewing and craft tutorials for her web site, Swoodson Says, transitioned them to quiet time with audio books and puzzles in their room so she still had a chunk of the day to herself. “Reserving special toys or crafts for busy days is key: A sensory bin or magazine collage activity can keep them happy for a long time,” she says.

8. Share childcare with other work-from-home parents
If you know of other work-at-home-parents, you can swap children with them, giving each parent a day to work while the other parent watches everyone’s kids, says Swoodson, who did this many times.

9. Wake up early
Allison Carter, creator of Confetti Party Plans, wakes up an hour earlier than her children to set her daily goals, check her email and plan her social media so that when her children wake up, she gets to focus on breakfast knowing that she already accomplished something before she actually started her day.

10. It doesn’t matter where you’re working from
Sonja Thompkins is a homeschooling mother of a 5 1/2 -year-old and an online business coach for brick and mortar boutique owners. She says she uses her gym, the library, fast food restaurants or even the car to work—as long as her child is entertained, and even takes video calls.

11. Batch work when you can
Thompkins’ husband is an army reservist and a firefighter who works in 48-hour shifts. But when he’s home, he takes over so she can crank out as much work as possible. “I use a project management app to keep me focused on the tasks I need to accomplish, which is great for my productivity,” she explains.

If you’re just starting out as a work-at-home parent, you’ll soon figure out that you’ll need to adjust your expectations, your technique and your methods as your family grows.

In the end, it’s all about flexibility. And isn’t that what working from home is all about?

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