Remote Work Digest: December 31, 2019

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

The Importance of Regular Feedback | Rob Press, Business2community.com

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With the increased expansion of the gig economy, and when remote work is slowly becoming more and more common everyday (with 16 percent of U.S. companies fully remote), we need to find ways to make our teams, both in-house and remote, engaged and motivated to stay for the long run.

Let’s dive right in and explore how you should embrace feedback and make it a part of your company culture.

Why is feedback important for employees?

In order to motivate your team and increase their productivity and motivation, feedback is crucial.

There are companies out there that are only looking to get the most of their employees and don’t actually care about their wellbeing and motivation. There are also companies that want their employees to feel valued and thrive.

The moral of the the story is this: no matter which category of employee/employer you fall into, regulare feedback will improve your work life, in one way or another, as it:

  • Boosts employee engagement and productivity
  • Provides clear goals and milestones
  • Allows employees to recognize their strengths and work on their weakest points
  • Improves connections between employees and managers

Why is feedback important for managers and leaders?

When you are looking to improve employee performance, you should never forget about optimizing yourself as the manager.

You may be trapped in a feeling of “providing feedback takes time and effort, and I’m not quite sure what to say”. While all of this might truly represent how you feel, when you look at the benefits you as a manager and team leader will tap into, you might want to reconsider the ROI of your time and effort put into feedback:

  • You will know where each employee stands in terms of performance and goals
  • You will be able to help your employees overcome the hard stuff
  • You will have insider knowledge for future hires

Knowing your team this well makes it easier to understand your team’s culture and hire strong fits.

How will company culture change when you start providing regular feedback?

Once you start listening and providing regular feeback, several things will happen across your organization:

Feedback is a great tool for combating the inevitable snags in the road every business will face in its lifetime.

What kinds of feedback do you need to establish?

There is more than one kind of feedback you need to incorporate into your company culture:

  • Manageer to team member
  • Team member to team member
  • Team member to manager
  • Top level manager to lower level managers

Don’t make the mistake of thinking ‘feedback’ means telling your employees what they are doing well, and what they are doing wrong. Feedback should operate on multiple plains if you are to reap its fullest benefits.

Team members also need to provide feedback to their fellow team members. This will establish better communication between them, help them get to know each other’s strengths and weaknesses, and provide a whole new perspective on their work.

Never forget that you also need to ask for feedback from your team: and they need to feel they can be completely honest. Never make them feel bad or let alone punish them for criticizing any aspect of your work. You want to build trust with your employees and you can do so by 1) listening to their feedback and 2) taking action.

Finally, top level management should also provide feedback to the lower levels of management and let them know how their work is affecting the big picture.

How to deliver positive feedback

Below are some quick tips on how to effectively deliver positive feedback:

  • Be specific, so the person knows exactly what you are talking about
  • Explain how the well done fits into the bigger picture
  • Make it know to more than just the person you are praising and give company-wide recognition
  • Deliver feedback in real-time and as close to the time of achievement as possible
  • Personalize your message and be thoughtful
  • Mean it!

Once you grasp a clear understanding of what motivates your team and how often they would prefer to receive and five feedback, you can come up with a system that works specifically for your workforce.

How to deliver negative feedback

  • Never do it in public
  • Never do it over email if you can prevent it
  • Do not pile it on
  • Start with something positive
  • Be precise and always give examples of how to improve
  • Listen before you speak
  • Never use it as a way to vent or punish someone
  • Be prepared to be proved wrong and accept it
  • Never let your emotions run away and remain calm
  • Follow up

Establishing a regular feedback routine will take time, effort, a lot of dedication, and getting used to. Expect some initial shock and even resistance from your employees. But onve it becomes the norm, expect to see all of the positive side effects of feedback we have been discussing above. Good luck!

50 Work-Life Balance Jobs for Anyone Who Wants to Leave Work at Work | Leigh Weingus, Parade.com

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If you want to pick a job or career that will get you off on the right foot, there are surprisingly a lot of them. Don’t believe us? Here are 50 best work-life balance jobs in various categories.

Best work-life balance jobs in tech:

  1. UX designer. If you’ve got tech tech skills and a solid sense of design, considering applying for a position as a UX designer.
  2. Data scientist. Are you a stats and data nerd? With a median salary of $112,000 a year, you’ll be paid well.
  3. Mobile developer. Have you alwayd dreamed of creating an app?
  4. Social media manager. If you have a knack for Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, etc., a position as a social media manager may just be perfect for you.
  5. DevOps engineer. It’s no secret that engineers are in high demand and make a good salary, but it turns out they have great work-life balance, too.
  6. Research engineer. If you’re great at interpreting and analyzing research and have engineering skills, this may be for you.
  7. SEO manager. If keywords and work-life balance are both of interest to you, consider a job as an SEO manager.
  8. UI designer. UI designers are responsible for making sure mobile devices, computers, and more have a positive user experience.
  9. Technical account manager. If your tech skills are top-notch and you crave a good work-life balance, this may just be the job for you.
  10. Front end developer. If design and technology are both your strong suits, front end development will be, too.
  11. Game designer. The masterminds behind some of your favorite iPhone and video games have great work-life balance, too. Why not become one of them?

Best work-life balance jobs in communications:

  1. Corporate recruiter. Corporate recruiters are responsible for finding talented people to fill positions at large and small companies.
  2. Talent acquisition specialist. Talent acquisition specialists are experts at both assessing and analyzing the staffing needs of a company and finding good talent.
  3. HR manager. If your whole job is to help out employees, having a good work-life balance is pretty much your job.
  4. Strategy manager. This job requires fewer people skills, but it does require an ability to think long and hard about all the elements a company needs to succeed and grow.
  5. Creative manager. Advertising and promotions managers are skilled in finding smart ways to generate interest in a product or company.
  6. Marketing coordinator. Marketing coordinators have a knack for what sells and develop, implement, and coordinate marketing and advertising campaigns.
  7. Marketing assistant. Not at coordinator level just yet? Marketing assistant jobs have solid work-life balance, too.
  8. Content manager. Ever wonder who does all the writing, editing, and uploading of content to some of your favorite websites?
  9. Scrum master. A scrum master manages the process for how information is exchanged and helps a team self-organize and make changes quickly.
  10. Real estate agent. Most real estate agents are self-employed, meaning they can create their own schedule. The result? All the work-life balance they want.
  11. Tour guide. Got a lot of knowledge about your hometown or city and some great people skills?
  12. Project manager. Project managers usually have the option to work from home and have predictable, reasonable hours.

Best work-life balance service jobs:

  1. Substitute teacher. The hours may be unpredictable, but substitute teachers have a great sense of work-life balance.
  2. Hairdresser. Hairdressers don’t always have a typical Monday through Friday schedule, but they do have set hours and don’t bring their work home with them.
  3. Dental hygienist. Cleaning teeth for a living may not be the most glamorous job, but you’ll be able to leave it behind as soon as you walk out the door of your office.
  4. Civil engineer. Engineering jobs don’t just have to be mean software—civil engineers deal with design, construction and maintenance of bridges, roads, canals and more.
  5. Fitness instructor. Although you may have to work nights and weekends as a fitness instructor, it will give you a lot of flexibility. As a nice bonus, you’ll probably get a free gym membership and built-in workouts out of it.
  6. Office support. Whether it’s a secretarial job of office manager, most office suport jobs have a good work-life balance.
  7. Logistician. Although occasional overtime work is required of logisticians—who handle the oversight of bringing products and services to a customer—for the most part, the work-life balance offered is great.
  8. Research technician. It’s not the job for everyone—but if you have these skills and want to maintain work-life balance, this may just be the job for you.
  9. Registered nurse. While there’s no question that the job of a nurse is incredibly demanding, you usually have a set number of hours that allow you to leave work behind when you walk out the door.
  10. Medical assistant. Medical assistants, who provide a variety of administrative and clinical work, have much more flexible hours than a lot of people think.
  11. Home health aide. Home health aides can hand-pick their patients for the hours that fit their schedule.
  12. Medical coder. Medical coding jobs, which are crucial to large hospitals and medical centers, have set hours and great work-life balance.
  13. Sports coach. Whether it’s coaching kids at a school or a high-level coaching gig, this type of has flexible hours and good balance.
  14. Massage therapist. The job of a massage therapist is demanding, but it pays well and you can make your own hours.
  15. Bookkeeper. You have to be detail-oriented to be a bookkeeper, but the job is a straightforward one and allows for great work-life balance.
  16. Optician. Opticians have great flexibility, low stress level, and are paid well.
  17. Law Clerk. While law clerks have to work long hours at times, a lot of them can be done at home.
  18. Firefighter. Yes, firefighting is a stressful career, and it can entail night, weekend, and holiday work. Hours can be flexible, though, and firefighters often end up with a lot of free time during the day.
  19. Curriculum developer. Ever wonder who comes up with the curriculums that are handed to teachers?
  20. Speech pathologist. Whether you work for yourself or someone else, a career in speech pathology is a great way to make an impact and leave work at work.

Best work-life balance jobs in finance:

  1. Economist. People who work in finance aren’t exactly famous for having great work-life balance. But if you work as an economist, you’re in good shape.
  2. Financial cleark. Financial clerks are responsible for making sure financial transactions are on track at at banks, doctors offices, government agencies, and more.
  3. Personal financial advisor. Stocks, bonds, retirement funds, ETFs! If these are terms you’re familiar with and you’re certified to advise people on them, you’ll be in a good position to leave work at work at the end of the day.
  4. Accountant. Helping people or companies out with their taxes, budget, finance reports and more is a great way to make a living while keeping a solid sense of work-life balance.
  5. Risk analyst. Risk analysts look at a firm’s investment portfolios and help them decide where they should take risks and where they should be more conservative.
  6. Investment advisors. These are the people who make sure individuals’ portfolios are in the best possible shape.
  7. Online tax advisor. As an online tax advisor, you can help people file their taxes without leaving your home.

5 Things To Ask Your Boss In The New Year | Avery Blank, Forbes.com

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Consider this your nudge. This is your push to ask for what you want in the New Year. Here are five things to consider asking for from your boss next year:

  1. Business goals.

If you do not understand why you are doing the work you are doing, it is difficult to understand the purpose of your work.

Ask your manager, “What are this year’s goals for the organization?” “What are your upcoming priorities?” The answers to these questions will help you understand how your role plays a part in reaching your company’s goals and helps to ensure that your efforts continue to meet goals.

  1. Expectations

To avoid confusion or misunderstanding, ask your manager what is expected of you. When you are clear about what people expect from you, you will increase your chances of meeting or exceeding expectations.

  1. Flexibility

If you think some form of flexibility would help you be more productive with work, inquire about it. Communicate how the change will help you with your work. If you are already demonstrating solid work, it will be easier for you to ask for more flexibility.

  1. Money

If you want a raise, ask for it. If you need more resources for a project, ask for it. Assuming you are producing quality work, ask for what you need to continue to be the best professional that you can be and produce great work.

  1. A promotion

If you continue to prove your worth, consider asking your manager for a promotion. Don’t run the risk of not asking and build up resentment that may undermine your work product and impact your relationships with colleagues.

A successful career is built on years of experience and climbing the ladder. The higher you go on the ladder, the move opportunity you will have to ask for what you want.
When you demonstrate your worth, you have the leverage to ask for things like flexibility, a raise or a promotion. Questions have answers. Ask the questions to know the answers and see the road that will help you reach your goals.

Want More Value Out of Your Day? Focus on Creating Time Blocks | Bruce Eckfeldt, Inc.com

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If you’re struggling to find the time to work on long-term strategy, try these steps to create more focused time for these important, but not urgent, tasks.

  1. Determine your allocations

Figure out how much time you ideally need to spend each week. Note if you need one big block of time or if you need to do a little each day. If you keep a good calendar, look back over previous weeks to catch things you may have missed on your list.

  1. Identify your peak times

Our hours vary wildly in terms of quality and focus. Before you plan your schedule, it’s important to know what time of day you should be working on which types of tasks.

If you’re a morning person, your best hours might be right after breakfast or even when you first wake up. For others, it might be after dinner when you can focus for longer stretches of time and be more creative. To identify your peak times, create a journal and make notes for a few days on the times you feel like you have the greatest mental focus and clarity.

  1. Allocate your time blocks

Once you have your prioritized task list and your peak times have been identified, you can begin mapping out your week. Start with the big blocks of time you need for focused, uninterrupted work. This could be each day, or this could just be one or two days a week. Better to start with too many than too few.

  1. Defend your schedule

When someone calls you for a meeting, make sure to offer them the box you had allocated for that activity. If you forgot to plan for it, give them one of your buffer blocks. But don’t move your other blocks! This is the key to this strategy. Make other people adjust to your plan.

  1. Adjust and optimize

Force yourself to shift things around to keep your blocks together as much as possible. Even if you need to move blocks between days and reschedule other meetings.

If you run out of time in a day, move blocks between days. And if you absolutely need to drop something, make sure you’re dropping the block that is the least important of all of your tasks. Don’t just delete the block that has the conflict; move things around to optimize your schedule.

Adopting this strategy can be hard at first. It will take time to figure out your most important tasks, optimal block size and timing, and your natural energy flow during the day. But once you dial it in, you’ll find yourself not only getting more done but getting more of the right things done to accomplish your biggest goals.

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