Remote Work Digest: January 15, 2019

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

9 Productivity Hacks for Working from Home | Margarita Tartakovsky, M.S., Psychcentral.com

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For writer and editor Kate Rope the biggest challenge in working from home is focusing when she doesn’t have impending deadlines. Sometimes, what helps her is an app called Focus Keeper, which involves working for 25-minute chunks and taking 5-minute breaks. Other times, Rope goes to her favorite coffee shop, where she can “just put my nose down,” and blast through her writing.

Below, you’ll find a variety of helpful hacks for being productive when working from home.

Address your exact challenges. The key is to name your biggest challenges—the obstacles that obstruct your productivity. Then channel your creativity to find helpful solutions for each one.
Designate a specific work area. Rope suggested dedicating a specific area in your home as your office, which “tells your mind, ‘it’s working time,’ when you sit down there.” This might be an entire room or the corner of the living room. If you’re very limited on space, you might even put a small desk inside a closet.
Commute to your home office. According to journalist Emily Price in her book Productivity Hacks: 500+ Easy Ways to Accomplish More Work—That Actually Work! including a commute where you leave the house for a few minutes helps you refocus and get into work mode. “The commute can be something as simple as leaving the house for a walk around the block or heading down the street to grab a cup of coffee.”
Identify your peak productivity. When are you most productive, energized, focused and creative? During those times, try to work on bigger projects. Work on less demanding tasks, such as responding to email, when you tend to be less productive.
Batch your errands. Might running all your errands in one day boost your productivity, too?
Have an accountability partner. Price suggests working alongside a friend who also works from home. If that’s not possible, she recommends checking out virtual options at Focusmate.com, and GetMotivatedBuddies.com.
Use a different browser for work. “Having a dedicated browser enables you to install browser plug-ins for a specific use and create a work-specific bookmarks bar that doesn’t get in your way when you’re surfing the web at work,” Price writes.
Tame tiny problems. Make a list of things that are bothering you, Price writes, and try to get them fixed ASAP.
End the workday with organization. Disorganization can crush productivity. Which is why taking a few minutes at the end of your workday to tidy up and organize can set you up for success the following day.

Working from home comes with all kinds of pros and cons—which will vary for each person. The key is to identify the cons, and find ways to work around them, so you can make working from home work best for you.

Working with Remote Teams? Here’s How You Can Grow A Positive Company Culture, Tosho Trajanov, Forbes.com

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Great company culture is not about ping-pong tables and office snacks. Employee loyalty, job satisfaction and work performance aren’t affected by a physical location. Whether you have one, 10, 100 or more remote employees, creating a positive company culture where they will flourish and thrive is essential for the success of any startup.

So, how do you achieve a remote-first culture?

Promote knowledge sharing.
Knowledge sharing is essential when working with remote teams because it empowers people to establish bonds and grow.

To have productive and collaborative remote teams, a major shift needs to occur. Building an organizational culture requires:

  • Removing the focus from the individual, the leader, the superstar performer, and focusing more on the team or on how remote employees work together to get results.
  • Providing infrastructure people can use to collaborate.

Provide employees with feedback.
Working with remote teams can be challenging and offering honest feedback can lead to a more positive company culture. There’ll be lower turnover rates, more engaged employees and sky-high motivational levels.

The bad news is that many managers have very little knowledge about the science behind giving proper feedback. (Let’s be honest, dealing with emotions isn’t taught in business schools.) So, how can you give proper feedback to your remote team to encourage a positive company culture? Here are a few tips:

  • When you give negative feedback, your employees’ fear sensors activate. However, approaching feedback with empathy can make a world of difference. A manager who supports employees is the real secret to employee engagement because good employee feedback is based on trust.
  • Get rid of annual performance reviews and focus on more short-term development. While their purpose is to reflect on the entirety of the past year, they often end up focusing on more recent events.
  • Set goals for your employees that include specific and measurable key results.

Creating rituals and traditions to get to know your employees.
Creating traditions with your remote team can help keep the team cohesive, effective and trustworthy. How else would you know who is obsessed with Stranger Things and who sleeps with their dog at night?

Here are a few ideas that will lead to a great company culture:

  • Regular video chats: Hold regular video chats to help your remote team communicate face-to-face. Discuss work topics but also ask about each others’ cultures, customs and hobbies.
  • Virtual coffees: Your remote team can use virtual coffee breaks, which are video calls, to take breaks and socialize. It’s a great way for employees to share what they’ve been up to lately outside of work.
  • Retreats: Weekend retreats (at least once a year) are an awesome idea to provide more personal interactions for a team that doesn’t get to collaborate in person very often.

Embrace your employees’ differences and put their skills to good use.
What is at the heart of every company? People. The secret ingredient to creating a company culture is a diverse team of talented individuals. And this is not just diverse with respect to gender, disability, age, ethnicity and sexual orientation, but diverse in mindsets and ways of thinking that people acquire through their experiences.

The companies that will succeed in this new world are the ones that strive to create a positive company culture that includes diversity in the workplace. In this workplace, everyone will thrive and each employee will have a wealth of perspectives and ideas to share.

To conclude, companies that embrace a positive company culture will find a number of benefits, including increased employee loyalty, higher rates of employee morale and boosted levels of engagement. Through knowledge sharing, honest feedback, open communication and diversity, you can create an uplifting atmosphere that will, in the long term, keep employees happy and the business competitive.

15 tips for losing weight when you work from home | Julia Guerra, Thisisinsider.com

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Working from home is a blessing and a curse. On the one hand, you have the freedom to dress however you’d like, finish assignments from the comfort of your living room couch, and have an entire kitchen at your disposal whenever the afternoon munchies come on strong. It’s great unless you’re trying to lose weight.

Under these super convenient, incredibly comfortable circumstances, how can you can you lose weight when you work from home? Here are a few expert tips on how to do just that.

Invest in workout equipment you can use at home.
You don’t need fancy machines and clunky equipment to achieve your weight loss goals. In fact, the director of fitness from Daily Burn, Amanda Murdock said you don’t even have to have a gym membership. You will, however, benefit from investing in a few basic tools to help speed things along.

Find activities you genuinely enjoy doing, and you’re more likely to stick with a plan.
Oftentimes, fitness is looked at as a chore — something that has to get done in order to reach your weight loss goals. Although it’s true that physical activity is an important component, it shouldn’t feel like a burden, and it doesn’t have to. The key is to find exercises and activities you genuinely enjoy doing so that the time you commit to doing them feels like time well spent.

Clock in the right amount of quality sleep.
Nutrition and fitness are two of the most important elements of weight loss. The third is sleep — getting the right amount, and the right quality of it. And because when you work from home, your living space is also your workspace, it’s important that you not only set parameters for yourself, and know when to shut down, it’s also important that you create a sleep space that’s designed for sleep, not work under the covers.

Create a space in your home that can be your designated workout area.
Kelly Borowiec, CPT, founder of Keebs Fitness suggested that, after setting up a designated workout area in your home, fill it was a few basic pieces of equipment, like a set of 5-10lb dumbbells and a thick mat, to start.

“As you begin to exercise more frequently at home, you can reward yourself by buying more exercise equipment,” Borowiec said.

Plan your workouts around the times you’re most energized.
Are you a night owl? Early bird? Do you prefer afternoons to morning and evening hours? When you figure out what exercises you’re most likely to enjoy, your next task is to figure out when you’re most likely to exercise.

Be mindful of your meals and snacking options.
Nutrition is just as, if not more important when it comes to losing weight — whether you work from home or otherwise — so if you have a sweet tooth, you’ll just have to find ways to nip mindless cravings in the bud. One foolproof method Borowiec swore by was filling your fridge and pantry with healthy snacks, and preparing nutrient-dense meals in advance so that when you go grazing, you already have good-for-you options at the ready.

Don’t skimp out on cardio.
Walking from the bedroom to your couch or dining room isn’t much of a commute, but when your career can be done from the comfort of your living room, it’s easy to forgo cardio altogether. Joanna Stahl, the founder of Go2Practice told INSIDER this is a major, common mistake.

Cardio is key to most weight loss goals, so even though your work doesn’t require you to get up and out of the house, “there needs to be a concerted effort to put the pencils down and get in a workout daily,” Stahl said.

Drink a ton of water, but don’t sip on a glass with meals.
According to The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, the average adult should be drinking two liters, or eight cups, of water per day. However, the key is to drink these eight cups between meals, not during them.

Sign up for classes to hold you accountable.
If you’re struggling to find motivation, Stahl told INSIDER that either signing up for a workout class at a studio, gym, or online is a great resource. Not only will you have committed to be at the gym at a specific time, but classes that come at a price up the ante, because you’ve not only committed time, you’ve put down payment, too.

Remember that small adjustments to your schedule can make a difference, too.
Liana Hughes, certified personal trainer and coach at Gixo said you can become more active by making some small changes like “planning a time to exercise each day, setting alarms to get up and walk around each hour, stretching while you are making your morning coffee, and getting up and walking around during conference calls.”

Walk whenever and wherever you can.
“You don’t have to take a 60 minute cycling class or run miles and miles because small changes can mean big differences,” she told INSIDER. “For instance, taking walk breaks during the day will not only get you disconnected from your computer, but will count towards that weekly minimum. Go outside and take a walk and add in some power walking for a block to raise your heart rate to bring in cardio to your daily routine.”

Set up shop as far away from the kitchen as possible.
Does just being in the same vicinity of food initiate temptation? If so, set up your workspace far away from the kitchen to avoid wandering into the kitchen when you aren’t actually hungry.

Get dressed for work in the same way you would if you were going to an office.
It’s easy to fall into the mindset that because no one’s going to see you, working in your pajamas or baggy sweats is acceptable. On the one hand, it is, but on the other, getting dressed in the morning the same way you would to go to an office building will take you out of a lazy mindset.

Practice mindful eating.
“Eat in the common work kitchen area or an empty conference room,” American College of Sports Medicine Certified Personal Trainer, V Shred‘s lead trainer, and an expert in nutrition, Benjamin Suyematsu suggested. “Use the time to really be mindful about your meal. Taste the food. Take your time and enjoy the meal as opposed to rushing through which only adds air to your stomach leading to bloat and even indigestion.”

Cut back on sugar, alcohol, and high-fat foods.
“The biggest things to stay away from while trying to lose weight are sugars, alcohol, and high-fat foods,” CruBox trainer, Brian Evans said. “It is important to eat a super balanced diet and additionally, stay away from food that is labeled low fat or sugar-free. Typically those food have to either added fat or sugar for taste than the normal full calorie options.”

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