Remote Work Digest: March 20, 2018

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

How To Become The Type Of Manager People *Actually* Like Working For | Erin Bunch, Wellandgood.com

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Some seriously successful boss babes weigh in on how to conquer the imposter syndrome most first-time managers experience and become the type of leader that your team (it’s your team now!) would be excited to work for.

Tips on how to successfully transition into a management role:

1. Avoid micromanaging
Stephanie Horbaczewski, founder and CEO of the Marketing Services Agency and Media Company StyleHaul, first and foremost calls out an all-too-familiar misstep she’s watched new managers make: micromanaging. “The most consistent misjudgment I see in managers is not recognizing when to have enough confidence in their teams to work autonomously to produce great results,” she says. To remedy this, she suggests allowing individuals to have more ownership and accountability for their own projects. “When team members grow, the company does, too,” she says.

2. Become “radically candid”
Communication, my boss babes say, is also key. “One of the biggest management challenges is [learning how to be] radically candid, or giving feedback that is direct, thoughtful, and ongoing,” says Katerina Schneider, founder of the buzzy supplement company Ritual. “I’m still learning how to do this, but the best mentors and leaders I’ve ever encountered are masters at helping their team constantly evolve and grow through feedback that is honest and caring.”

3. Tailor your management style to each person
It’s also important to recognize that cookie-cutter techniques may not be the most efficient way of dealing with individuals, says Sakara Life co-founder Danielle DuBoise. “Each person needs to be managed in their own unique way, and you have to adapt your communication styles accordingly,” she says. “This way of building a team is very effective because people feel seen and heard as individuals, rather than as worker bees.” Getting to know a person’s specific strengths and weaknesses will also, she says, help you to assign projects accordingly.

4. Teach, don’t tell
Meanwhile, Meg He, co-founder of Aday, posits that the most effective communication sometimes involves less talking and more doing. “Telling rather than teaching [is a big mistake I see new managers make],” she cautions. “This approach does not enable an employee’s growth.”

5. Allow others to be “smarter” than you
Whitney Tingle, co-founder of Sakara Life, agrees with this approach. “One of the biggest mistakes I see managers make is thinking they have all the answers instead of asking the right questions,” she says. “True leadership isn’t about having all the answers; it’s about surrounding yourself with amazing and intelligent people and making sure all that effort is aligned with the company’s mission.”

6. Start slow
Bandier founder Jennifer Bandier, meanwhile, cautions against a management mistake that can rankle a new team right off the bat. “New managers tend to come in and want to create immediate change; however, I believe that you should first learn about the existing processes and listen to your teammates and employees,” she says.

7. Celebrate success
In today’s fast-paced work environments, it can be tough to slow down enough to appreciate progress, Aday co-founder Nina Faulhaber says. She tells me that she loves to be “in the weeds” with her team, from creation to execution of a project or idea, but that sometimes she’ll move on too quickly once a project’s been completed. “This means I often forget to celebrate wins,” she says. “I’m so grateful when our team reminds us of successes and the moments we should cherish together.”

9 traits of successful programmers that kids can develop now| Mike Melnicki, Venturebeat.com

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Qualities like curiosity, perseverance, and empathy are critical and, frankly, harder to learn the older we get. If you want to equip your kids with the skills and traits they’ll need to make it as a software developer, start early and get them to go beyond the keyboard.

1. Focus
While there are lots of ways to foster focus in kids, I encourage parents to go the route of giving their child unstructured time to dive deep into whatever they enjoy doing. Let them understand what it feels like to be totally absorbed in something. Whether they’re shooting hoops or drawing, they’re building the muscle memory they need to see a task through to completion.

2. Collaboration
Making software is a team sport: It takes developers, designers, product managers, marketers, and customer support engineers. So what better way to learn how to work with others toward a common goal than by playing a team sport? Or if your kid isn’t interested in athletics, they can form a band, build a clubhouse with friends, or team up to work on a project. All of these collaborative activities teach kids how to divvy up the work, play their positions, and support each other.

3. Leadership
Providing opportunities to practice leadership at home can also lighten the load for parents. Find something your child can be in charge of: a flower bed, one day of your next family vacation, Grandma’s birthday gift, etc. It’s not about making them do it all themselves (delegating is an important skill, too!), it’s about giving them ownership of something. Let them make decisions about what gets done, and how.

4. Emotional Intelligence
Empathy is the key not only to creating software your customers love but to being a great teammate as well. Experts have written extensively about how to build empathy in kids, but I have a few favorites. The classic game of “what does that cloud look like?” introduces young kids to the idea that different people have different perspectives.

5. Curiosity
If you aren’t constantly learning and growing, your skills will atrophy and you’ll eventually be left behind. As with focus, unstructured time to explore an interest is a good way to foster curiosity. Better yet, parents can nurture their child’s curiosity by connecting them with books, activities, and documentaries on whatever subject they’re into. Bonus points for parents who demonstrate passionate curiosity about their own interests.

6. Growth mindset
Kids whose parents set an example by admitting what they don’t know (and inviting their child to come along and find the answer) have a leg up when it comes to developing a growth mindset. See also: kids whose parents take the time to explain complex concepts or systems to the best of their ability. Answering tough questions with “Well, that’s just the way it is” is expedient in the moment but does no good in the long run.

7. Writing
Very young kids can get a head start by telling you about what they did at school (and don’t hold back on the follow-up questions!). Parents of older kids can encourage journaling or writing short stories. When they’re ready, encourage them to write to companies whose products they use or to their representatives in government to advocate for things they are passionate about.

8. Storytelling
Asking kids to recount things that happened at school is a good way to foster this skill. So is making a short adventure movie with a smartphone for their friends – the more drama the better. As a bored teenager, I and my group of friends started organizing a show-and-tell event in the neighborhood where we’d tell a story about an object and why it was meaningful to us. It began with five attendees and grew to beyond 50 people on a monthly basis.

9. Teaching
Most kids love to show off what they know, so channeling that energy into teaching usually isn’t a hard sell. They can help younger siblings learn how to tie their shoes, fold clothes, braid hair, skateboard … whatever. Older kids can hone their teaching skills even futher by becoming peer tutors at school.

Learning and enrichment are the keys to future success, but burn-out is real. Heed the warnings of those child-athlete-gone-bad documentaries and encourage your kids to find their own path through early life and then send me their resumes in 10 years so I can hire them! A well-rounded childhood sets them up for a fulfilling career in software development, or wherever they ultimately choose to go.

Avoid Making These 7 Mistakes When Designing Your Home Office | Annie Pilon, Smallbiztrends.com

A home office can offer entrepreneurs a low-cost, convenient and comfortable place to run a business. But if it’s not designed well, it can also lead to plenty of distractions and loss of productivity.

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Blake Zalcberg is the president of OFM, a furniture manufacturer and distributor based in North Carolina. In addition to his design acumen, Zalcberg is also familiar with the importance of an effective home office due to the fact that a good portion of the OFM team works from home on a regular basis. So he’s familiar with a lot of the concepts that go into designing an effective workspace, along with some of the most common mistakes.

If you’re working to design your own home office, here are some missteps to avoid.

Designing Your Office as an Afterthought
Zalcberg says, “A lot of people just end up putting the office in that old formal living room that used to have plastic over the couches because it’s just not really used or they think they don’t need a dedicated office space at that time, even if they will in the future.”

Even if you don’t have a ton of space options for your office, try to choose or outline a space that will actually be conducive to good work, rather than just throwing a desk in the corner of the dining room.

Putting the Office Near Distractions
Distractions can be different for each worker. Some people can work with the TV on but get distracted if they see people walking down the street. So while it may not be possible to eliminate every potential distraction while working from home, think about the things that are most likely to derail your work and try to limit those as much as possible.

Failing to Soundproof your Office
No matter what your distraction levels might be, there’s value to having some level of soundproofing to your home office, whether that involves acoustic wall tiles or a solid wood door to shut out the rest of the house.

Zalcberg says, “Think about if you’re on a conference call. Do you want the person on the other line to hear the dog barking and doorbell ringing and kids running around, or do you want them to feel like you’re really focused on what they’re saying?”

Include Subpar Lighting
Poor lighting can also be a major hindrance to good work. If your office is in a room with minimal windows and you don’t have adequate overhead lighting, you’re likely to strain your eyes and get tired or worn out quickly. However, even if the only space you have is the basement, you can install bright LED bulbs in your overhead fixtures and then add table lamps to your space to make a big difference.

Forgetting About Comfort
Another source of distraction for some home office workers is the furniture. If you have an old desk and uncomfortable chair, it can make your office an unwelcoming space and even lead to back and neck problems. Instead, find an ergonomic chair that feels comfortable for you.

Failing to Plan for Avoiding Clutter
Once you outline the space to use and eliminate potential distractions, you then have to think about how to lay everything out effectively so that all of your items and documents have a set space. Think about your typical workday and the items you use most often to make sure that nothing will be left just floating around your desk or workspace.

Automatically Going with “Office Style”
According to Zalcberg, there’s been a major shift in home offices over the past several years. Before, offices in the home strongly resembled traditional offices, with similar furniture styles and generic office decor. But now, more entrepreneurs and professionals are taking the opportunity to get creative and make the office feel more like a part of the home. This doesn’t mean you should avoid generic office furniture. But you certainly don’t have to opt for this style just because you’re designing an office space.

The BEST lifehacks for a good night’s rest – including exercise and sex | Jeff Parsons, Mirror.co.uk

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According to The Sleep Council, nearly half of Brits are only getting about six hours of sleep a night. And an alarming four out of five people complain of disturbed or inadequate (or ‘toxic’)sleep.

Thankfully there are a range of techniques compiled by that can be used for a better night’s kip.

Here’s ten of the best from GPDQ, the UK’s first GP on-demand app:

1. Develop a sleep routine
Start developing a sleep routine a couple of hours before bed, to get your body and brain prepared for a restful night.

Firstly ensure that you go to bed at the same time every night, and as tempting as it may be to have a lie-in, it is also important to get up at the same time each morning.

Secondly, become a creature of habit, repeating the same bedtime routine every night to help to regulate your inbuilt body clock, (the circadian rhythm) and give your brain the cue it may need to know when it’s time to unwind and go to sleep.

2. Avoid white light before bed
Watching TV or using your computer or phone before bed may be considered a good way to relax before bed, but it can sometimes be detrimental. Namely because the bright light emitted, may act as an environmental cue to your body that it is wrongly day time, and therefore hinder any biological desire to fall asleep.

3. Take a warm bath
As well as the relaxation-factor it provides, research has shown that if you take a warm bath one to two hours before bed, the rise in temperature, followed by the drop-in temperature when you then enter a colder room induces sleep.

4. Listen to electronic music
A state of relaxation can be achieved in many ways including by reading, or listening to music. The influence of music in relaxation has becoming increasingly studied – most will listen to classical music or piano playlists; however an acclaimed DJ is encouraging people to turn to electronic music. DJ Tom Middleton, has created a sleep album called ‘Sleep Better’ designed to help Britons drift off, and it’s backed by science.

5. Reschedule your potential nightmare worries
If anxieties keep popping into your head, stopping you from falling asleep, acknowledge and accept them, but avoid feeding them with too much of your time. Rather than ruminating over these worries, write them down and pick them back up in the morning with a fresh head.

6. Learn relaxation techniques
Gentle relaxation exercises like simple yoga stretches, combined with steady breathing can reduce your blood pressure and heart rate to help you relax. Other practises such as mindfulness and meditation may be useful to get into a calming state.

7. Pamper yourself
Self-care can also be a big part of relaxation – pampering yourself in the evening with soothing oils or body lotion can make starting a bedtime routine an enjoyable process.

8. Exercise regularly
Exercising is an important part of our physical and mental health, and is a good way to manage stress and anxiety through endorphin release.

We also know that exercising in the day can improve sleep quality, however if you’re having difficulty sleeping and considering hitting the gym a couple times a week to help catch some Zs, just keep in mind that you need to make exercise a more frequent activity for a prolonged period before you begin to see tangible results.

9. Sex will make you sleepy
This is thought to be due to the production of oxytocin, a hormone that will counteract the stress hormone cortisol, allowing you to feel more relaxed and transition nicely into sleep.

According to nhs.uk: “Unlike most vigorous physical activity, sex makes us sleepy. This has evolved in humans over thousands of years.”

10. Optimise your diet
In general, avoiding eating heavy meals before bed and reducing caffeine intake (ensuring none is consumed for at least 6 hours before bed) is likely to help.
We also know that whilst alcohol is likely to send you off to sleep, it is also likely to result in poor quality sleep, waking you up several times through the night.

What experts say:

“The most important myth of sleep is the 8-hour rule,” said Nick Littlehales a sport sleep coach that recently partnered with Braun UK. to help people lower their blood pressure.

“If you tap it in your browser you’ll realise that when that lightbulb was invented, we always slept in a polyphasic way. This means to sleep in shorter periods more often. People worry about sleep and try to do it all at night for 8 hours or more, which is really difficult,” he added.

“In sport we use a polyphasic approach where you sleep in shorter periods more often, by using naps at midday and early evening. We should aim to change our perspective of sleep and view it as recovery in 24 hours, instead of recovery eight hours at night.”

 

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Remote Work Digest: June 9, 2015

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

Image from Communitytable.com

Image from Communitytable.com

The Remote Worker’s Guide to Office Etiquette | Life Hacker India

Communicating with your coworkers is much harder when you’re working remotely. Alan Henry from Gawker Media, says that, a little empathy can keep you happy on any remote team set up. Face to face interaction may be completely avoided but it doesn’t mean that there won’t be any awkward silence when in conference calls or online meetings. In order to avoid that, here’s a helpful list of office etiquette that shouldn’t be forgotten:

  • Respect Everyone’s Time Zones and Busy Time
  • Use Technology to Make Remote Communication Easier, Not Harder
  • Navigate Office Chat Like a Pro
  • Communicate Clearly: Your Works Matter More Without Non-Verbals

Working remotely has a lot of benefits, Henry explains that you’ll have to put in a little extra effort and make sure you’re clear when you need something, respect other people’s boundaries, and reinforce your own. As long as you can get those things down you’ll be fine.

12 Ways to Stay Focused and Productive When You Work From Home | Lifehack

Having the option to work from home brings a lot of benefit to employees and employers alike. You can set your own hours, dress how you want and work in a way that maximizes your time and skill set. However, working from home, whether it is on a part time basis or full time job, is not without challenges.

Here are Kristen Brown’s best ways to make working from home easier:

  1. Be Honest
  2. Designate a Space
  3. Make it Pretty
  4. Stick to a Schedule
  5. Dress for Success
  6. Take Breaks
  7. Go Public
  8. Multi-Communicate
  9. Be Human
  10. Create a Calendar
  11. Find Your Tribe
  12. Prioritize Right

Following the tips mentioned above will greatly help you increase your productivity levels while still enjoying the perks of working from home.

Does Working From Home Really Save You Money | Bplans

There are countless benefits when working remotely, such as having control over work schedule and personal life, expenses, and greater productivity. There is no longer a need to question why so many people choose to become virtual employees. On the other hand, working from home also adds a few lines to the budget that might not have been there previously.

If you’re thinking about making the switch to a home office, here are Kelly Gurnett’s list of financial pros and cons you keep in mind:

Pros:

No More Commuting Costs

Even if you ride the bus or own a car, commuting a long distance is not really helping you save money at all. There are more expenses that just gas to take into account such as tolls, parking, vehicle wear and tear and maintenance, and the lost time spent driving or commuting when you could be doing other important things.

No More (or At Least a Lot Less) Eating Out

Eating right helps you work better, think better and play better. When you work from home, it’s a lot easier to find the time and motivation to make healthy and budget-friendly meals.

Childcare Savings

Childcare can be really expensive, but working from home allows you to spend more time with your kids depending on the schedule you have established.

No more peer pressure purchases

We might feel the need to keep up with everyone and sometimes you have to spend money to do so. Working remotely relieves you of peer pressure and unnecessary purchases.

Cons:

Healthcare

Cutting ties with a traditional job also means losing your healthcare coverage and if you’re used to having your insurance covered, this can be a big adjustment.

Taxes

In order to know more about working from home tax implications, you should do more research and ask a CPA to fully understand how taxation works. There are a number of rules, and the rules differ depending on whether you’re self-employed or an employee.

Misc. Business Expenses

If you want a smooth work flow, spending extra for computer upgrades, higher internet speed and additional equipment is a must. The good thing is you might be able to write off a number of them come tax season.

How to work from home efficiently | KnowHowNonProfit

With long commutes and budgets cuts, more people are working from home. But how can you make sure you do work and not watch TV? Stephanie Hill shares her tips on how to work efficiently.

1. Know the flexible working policy of your organization.
Flexibility can be challenging, especially in small organizations. In order to get a clear understanding, you should take time to ask your HR department for their homeworking policy.

2. Prepare your workload the day before

3. Set up your home office
Creating a home office that provides comfort and contains everything you need to work with is very important if you want to be more productive in what you do.

4. Be present from home
Take advantage of modern technology to establish an online presence. If you want to ask a question or discuss work related issues, don’t be afraid to call the office as well.

5. Review it
Is working from home right for you? Make notes of what works and what does not.

4 Challenges of Managing Remote Teams | ReadWave

Telecommuting is getting a lot of attention lately. According to the research, there are more than 53 million Americans working remotely, on a freelance basis. The report says that approximately 20% of the entire global workforce work on a telecommuting basis and about 29% of them work from home at least part of the week while 10% of them work full-time from home.

Working from home is a dream, but for many, it also has its pitfalls. Christoper Calhoun, from ReadWave, writes about the challenges of building and managing a team remotely.

Communication

Every member of the team must have great communication skills and share a common vision and culture. Aside from the occasional video conferences, you should also take advantage of the numerous tools that can help virtual teams communicate better. Skype, GoToMeeting and Yammer are just some of them.

Security

Telecommuting will always bring with it certain security issues. Thankfully, Proxy Networks says that most of the security problems a remote help desk team may encounter can be sold.

Company Culture and Team Building

Building a company culture remotely can be a true challenge. Slack, Uncover and Google Hangouts are some of the tools that can help you build a team that knows how to have fun remotely and not just work remotely.

Concentration and Focus

Concentrating while in the comfort on one’s home can be challenging with so many distractions near by. This can be solved when your team is properly motivated and everyone are all professional and driven.

5 Million Hours Tracked

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We are happy to announce the milestone of 5 million hours logged on Worksnaps. It is a nice round number, but we understand that it is the result of lot of trust and support given by our customers to use Worksnaps to manage their work, time and teams. We have heard a lot of excellent feedback from our users. We will continue to prioritize them, translate them into product features and enhancements, and make our product better. In addition to addressing customer requests, we have many exciting features in our pipeline to be released, such as

  • Project Weekly limit — Manager can budget weekly hours allowed for all the users in a project
  • User Weekly Limit — Manager can budget weekly hours allowed for a user to log in all the projects
  • Auto-clicker Detection — A comprehensive mechanism to fend off fraud by using auto-clicker programs
  • Time Approval Workflow — A light weight work flow for submitting offline time by users and approve offline time by managers

We will write separate blog articles to introduce these features in the near future.

We are also actively working on upgrading back-end infrastructure to provide higher scalability and performance. We believe all these will give better overall user experience to our customers.

We would like to thank our users for your support. Your inputs are invaluable and we believe you are also our partners to drive our product better. Therefore, we look forward to hearing any idea, comment and feedback from you.

Worksnaps Reaches over 80 Countries

We are excited to announce that Worksnaps service is now being used by users from more than 80 countries around the world. There is strong evidence that more companies are turning to remote workers to augment their workforce, and online work has spread to many places around the world. While we see that we have strong user base in the traditional IT outsourcing hotbeds such as India, the Philippines and many parts of Eastern Europe, we are delighted to find users from countries such as Madagascar, Kenya, Andorra and Fiji.


Meanwhile, we are also happy to realize that the time tracked on Worksnaps system has now exceeded 2 million hours. Back in January of this year, we reached the milestone of 1 million hours. It has taken us about 8 months to achieve the second million hours. We want to thank all the users, especially those who give us feedback, suggestions and constructive criticisms. We understand that the 2 million is just a number. The most valuable asset we have is our user community. We will continue to humbly listen to our users and enhance the product to better serve their needs.

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Introducing our New Help Desk


In order to provide better customer support and user experience in the ticket process, we are happy to announce that we have upgraded our help desk system. We had been using OSTicket, an open-source ticketing system. OSTicket has been adequate in handling our customer issues and serving ticket workflow. However, with the growing customer base and the increasing demand for enhanced features such as streamlined email process, flexibility in customization and better integration with knowledgebase, we have chosen a new ticket system – Freshdesk. We met the Freshdesk team in this year’s Launch Festival in San Francisco. By talking with them in person, we were very impressed by their passion in providing the best customer service experience, something that we wholeheartedly share, let alone the comprehensive feature set in their product. We did a pilot run, simulated many use cases and tailored the system to our needs. We did run into a few bumps, but with their timely customer support, we were able to iron out the kinks easily. Now we feel that we are ready to move ahead to make Freshdesk as our new help desk system.

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Worksnaps Offers its Product via Founder Institute’s Partner Program

Worksnaps is excited to offer its time-tracking product via the partner program of the Founder Institute. The Founder Institute is the world’s largest startup accelerator. It operates across 40 cities and 24 countries. The Founder Institute has launched more than 750 startup companies in 2013 and is now on pace to launch over 1,000 companies per year.

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Worksnaps Launches Service End Point in Asia Pacific Region

Worksnaps is excited to announce the launch of its service end point in Singapore to better serve the customers in Asia Pacific Region.

We have seen great momentum in adoption of Worksnaps service in the Asia Pacific Region, especially in the Philippines, India and Vietnam. In order to allow those customers to have better connectivity and higher service reliability, we see a compelling reason to place a new service end point in the region. Singapore is known as a global tech center and for its advanced infrastructure, and it is why we choose to put our service end point there. Our engineers have worked hard to make the software architecture to be one that supports distributed services. With the enhanced architecture, we see ourselves better positioned to scale up and serve customers worldwide.

We look forward to many more improvements in the future.