Remote Work Digest: August 2, 2021

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

How Leaders Can Maintain Efficiency During Difficult Times | Josee Larocque Patton, Forbes.com

In the years to come, there will likely be studies on how the past 16 months have changed the business world, whether it’s for better or worse. Since the future of business is unknown, it is up to leaders to continue to create the best employee experience they can. Leaders are just like everyone else – they can excel, they can make mistakes and they, too, need guidance to stay abreast of trends.

Here’s what leaders can do to help themselves while supporting others:

1.You don’t have to know everything.

Showing vulnerability is actually a good thing. If you want to be a progressive, fair and equitable business, then 100% honesty is the way to go. Not everyone will like it; however, I truly believe they will respect you for it and that is what matters.

No matter who we work with — peers, subordinates, clients — we all want to feel we are being treated with respect. There really is no substitute for this. Own the fact that you do not know everything but will do your best to help.

2. Work on your time management.

Time management is about prioritizing how much time you are willing to give to tasks or even social events.

Leaders need to have good time management to be able to teach their team about efficiency. One of the worst mistakes a leader can make is to not use their time effectively. I have heard many times how people feel there are too many meetings, too many calls, meetings to discuss the agenda of meetings, etc.

3. Offer clear direction.

Over the years, I have adapted the “interpret after me” mechanism. If I am sharing something with a client or direct report, I ask them to reiterate what I am sharing with them in their own words to be sure they understand the task/message. Or, for example, if you are sending out a company-wide message, always ensure it could be read and understood by a 5-year-old. This is not to dimmish anyone’s intellectual abilities, but drafting a simple message is a great way to feel confident that everyone will understand what you are trying to share no matter their age, language ability, etc.

These are just a few suggestions of what leaders can do to help get through unchartered territory. There is no doubt that we all want to do what is best for the company we work for as well as the employees who are part of our team. But when we are unfamiliar with what comes next, we can only do our best to help navigate the future. The three tips above are transferrable to any organization, any industry and are relevant no matter the situation. 

As leaders, it is important to know that our role is to set others up for success and, by doing so, we get to be teachers and learners at the same time.

How Technology Can Boost Your Business Productivity | Analyticsinsight.net

In the business world, technology has revolutionized almost all industries and became a lifeline for several companies. Nowadays, businesses are always on the lookout for innovations that can enhance their efficiency. Here are some notable ways how technology can significantly affect the productivity of your business.

Connect employees

Technology helps companies ensure that everyone remains connected. You can now hold virtual meetings through the use of video conferencing tools such as Google Meet, Skype, Zoom, Microsoft Teams, GoToMeeting, and Cisco Webex. Messaging applications also allows your employees to efficiently communicate with one another, improving business communication and employee productivity. With the help of technology, you can efficiently expand your workforce in a more cost-effective way. 

Improve collaboration

Technology redefined how employees collaborate. If you want your employees to have a certain degree of autonomy in handling their tasks, there are several web-based project management tools that you can utilize such as Basecamp and Zoho Projects. Additionally, your managers can proficiently coordinate with their teams and oversee their tasks without the need for face-to-face meetings. 

Enhances customer service

Innovations such as chatbots and artificial intelligence can efficiently manage customer transactions, enhancing the overall customer experience. These tools are also more cost-effective in the long run.

Strengthens marketing

With the help of digital marketing, you can now reach a more comprehensive network and target a more diverse clientele. To drive more traffic to your business, you can leverage on social media, as it is a proven effective marketing tool. Aside from social media, establishing a website, utilizing search engine optimization, and using data analytics can also further boost your business productivity and yield stronger results.

Reduce business expenditures

Since employees are working at home or remotely, companies can save on overhead costs. As a business owner, you have the option to move your operations and scrap the need for a physical office. Doing so can give you a lot of savings while ensuring that your employees are safe. Aside from saving money for the overhead expenses, you also don’t need to spend on expensive office furniture and equipment. 

Facilitates continuous employee education

An online learning management system can enhance your staff’s knowledge and expertise, which can heighten their engagement and retention. By continuously providing skill development training to your employees, it will make them more appreciative of their work, making them productive and motivated to stay in your company. 

Simplifies planning and time management

Utilizing time trackers or scheduling applications can help them accomplish their tasks within their deadlines. You can also keep track of their progress, which will motivate them to be more conscious of how they manage their time. 

Easy access to data

Having instant access to information will save your company valuable time. Investing in cloud computing or in a database system that enables your employees to have immediate access to their business files can help increase your business productivity. Your employees can exchange and retrieve sensitive documents eliminating the need for them to waste countless hours going through manual storage. These data management platforms also have security measures that can mitigate the chances of a cyber breach.

Technology has undoubtedly changed how companies do their businesses. Investing in the right technological innovations can help you improve your business productivity and boost your chances of success.

Best freelance websites 2021: Find jobs & remote work | Lena Borrelli, Zdnet.com

Today, there are many job websites that claim to help you find immediate employment, but the freelance gig industry is a world of its own. As a freelancer, your needs are far different from the average commuter and salaried employee, which is why a specialized freelance job website can better suit your needs.

Though seemingly similar, these services are much different from one another, not only in available jobs but also your membership structure. Pricing can include whatever charges and finder’s fees come with using a third-party provider of this nature. Accessibility and job quality can also vary based on the freelance website you choose. 

To help, we have compiled the five best freelance websites to find work in 2021. This is how they compare.

Upwork

For the new freelancer

Upwork is great for jobs both domestic and international. You can make a free profile to advertise your skills, and then you can either wait for jobs to find you, or you can take a more proactive stance to find and apply to jobs yourself. Upwork uses a currency called Connects that allows you to apply to jobs. Connects are refreshed on a monthly basis, and up to 200 can roll over each month. 

There are two plans that you can choose from. The Basic Freelancer plan is standard, or you can opt for the Freelancer Plus at a monthly subscription rate of $14.99 per month. With the Freelancer Plus, you receive a total of 80 Connects per month, plus a customized profile URL, confidential earnings reporting, and competitor insights when bidding on a job.

Fiverr

For the gig freelancer

Fiverr advertises that it has been used by over “11 million satisfied businesses” for freelance projects. It has an impressive client roster that includes notable companies like Facebook, Netflix, and Google. Through the Fiverr business plan, entire teams can use the platform to connect with freelancers who have proven business experience.

For freelancers, there are over 200 different categories with gig work and ongoing projects. It services a host of different professionals, such as graphic designers, developers, writers, musicians, social media marketers, and voiceover artists. To help out, there is also 24/7 customer support.

Freelancer

For the international freelancer

Based in Australia, Freelancer is a popular global platform for freelancers the world over to connect with employers. Employers hire for specific projects, choosing from a pool of more than 50 million freelancers possessing over 1,800 different skills. Freelancers bid on the projects they want and then wait for an approval or denial. 

Similar to Upwork, projects are either hourly or fixed-price. Payments are secured by the Milestone Payments System, so you do not have to worry about whether a client can pay. Payments are also available in 39 currencies, and there is 24/7 customer support if you have any issues. Freelancer takes a 10% fee for projects and contests and 20% off services.

Toptal

For the discriminating freelancer

Exclusivity is the name of the game with Toptal. The company has made a name for itself in hiring just 3% of freelance talent. The platform connects employers with specific freelance professionals, including software developers, designers, finance experts, product managers, and project managers. 

However, you have to apply and be approved before you can officially join. After approval, recruiters and industry experts help filter the applicant pool and pair freelancers with jobs. Hiring usually happens within 48 hours. 

LinkedIn

For the professional job seeker

LinkedIn is a great resource for the job-seeking professional. There is a strong emphasis on networking, and using your family, friends, and colleagues to build a professional network, collect references, and build recommendations. It is also known for excellent job opportunities for both corporate jobs and freelance positions, especially in copywriting, graphic design, and translation.

What is a freelance job website?

A freelance website is a service that links job seekers with employers. Users are able to advertise services, post jobs, interact, and complete work all within the service platform.

How does a freelance job website work?

Every service has different requirements to get started, but typically, you begin by creating an account. There will likely be terms and conditions that you must agree to before you can begin searching for work or advertising your services.

How much does it cost to use a freelance job website?

The cost to use a freelance job website depends on which service you use. It is common for freelance websites to take a commission off your earnings, but this percentage can vary. 

Which is the right freelance job website for you?

These are some factors to consider when choosing the best freelance website to find work:

Fees and penalties: The amount that a platform charges is important to consider when choosing a freelance site for work.

Payment: Some services may pay right away, while others may pay in milestones or require a waiting period.

Ease of use: Accessibility is important in a job website because you are likely to spend a lot of time on the platform. 

Membership requirements: While some sites help brand-new freelancers get started, a la Freelancer, others like Toptal have strict requirements and search for more experienced workers.

Customer support: If you hit a snag while racing to meet a deadline, you may need customer support to help out. That is why you should consider what types of customer support are available through your chosen site to help out during the hours you need it most.

Terms and conditions: All services will have their terms and conditions available for review, and you want to be sure that you agree to these terms before you accept any jobs and complete any work on the platform.

Are there alternatives worth considering?

Although these services did not make our top five list for 2021, they still may be worth your consideration based on your needs:

  • Craigslist: This is an email-based platform that allows users to post and apply to jobs via email.
  • FlexJobs: This membership-based service features handpicked jobs based on your skills and preferences.
  • TaskRabbit: This is a great option for the everyday person looking to make money off traditional gigs like shopping, errands, yard work, and home services.

Be sure to carefully explore your options and review the terms so you can find the best freelance website to get you back to work in 2021.

The Top 3 Soft Skills Of The Pandemic And How To Cultivate Them | Amy Blaschka, Forbes.com

According to Prudential’s latest Pulse of the American Worker survey, the top three soft skills workers gained last year include adaptability, problem-solving, and time management; here’s how to cultivate them in a post-pandemic world:

  1. Adaptability

In the business world, change happens—and not just during a pandemic. Between mergers and acquisitions, corporate restructuring, and management changes, those who remain flexible hold the key to career success. Maintaining the ability to adapt your thinking and actions to handle unforeseen circumstances can help position you as an indispensable member of the team who can roll with the punches.

To build your adaptability:

  • Challenge yourself to consider new possibilities instead of falling back on “because we’ve always done it this way” thinking.
  • Offer up alternative solutions, even—and especially— when initial ideas are turned down.
  • Keep calm and confident under pressure when faced with unexpected challenges and changing circumstances.
  • Move away from a one-size-fits-all mentality when managing your team, and instead, ask each person their goals and how you can best support them.
  • Look for opportunities to stretch yourself and showcase your adaptability by volunteering for new assignments and proactively increasing your skillset and knowledge base.
  • 2. Problem-solving

Problem-solving skills help you solve issues quickly and effectively and often use the additional soft skills of awareness, creativity, innovation, curiosity, and grit to be most effective.

To hone your problem-solving:

  • Use awareness to identify and anticipate issues. When you pay attention, you’ll notice details other people miss.
  • Change your mindset to see problems as hidden opportunities.
  • Employ creativity to come up with solutions. Creativity is the ability to perceive the world in new ways, find hidden patterns, make connections between seemingly disparate things, and generate innovative solutions.
  • When you implement and evaluate solutions (especially new ones), don’t get discouraged if they fall short. Use grit to determine what worked and what could be improved, and then make tweaks to keep going and find a way to solve the problem.
  • 3. Time management

Your ability to prioritize and focus your attention to tackle work projects is crucial. How and with whom you spend your time and your productivity while doing so demonstrate your focus and commitment to what—and who—matters most.

To master time management:

  • Learn to say no to things that don’t support your short- or long-term goals. 
  • Realize that not all tasks are created equal. Do, decide, delegate or delete tasks based on their urgency and importance.
  • Batch routine tasks (like responding to emails) by carving out specific times in the day for it—and let others know to call you if something is really important.
  • Eliminate distractions by turning off notifications, putting your phone on airplane mode, and closing your door.
  • Establish (and maintain) boundaries. You are not obligated to be on 24/7, so limit your availability. 
  • Embrace mono-tasking to make progress on one thing at a time.
  • Work with your own circadian rhythms, doing your most important work during your peak time, whenever that is.
  • Don’t forget to build in breaks to rest and recharge so you can tackle another day.

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