Remote Work Digest: April 29, 2021

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

Remote work meeting overload: 10 ways to ease your team’s pain | Stephanie Overby, Enterprisersproject.com

Now is the time to get serious about improving your meeting culture. Elizabeth Freedman, executive advisor and head of consulting at executive coaching and assessment firm Bates Communications (recently acquired by global strategy consultancy BTS), says, “One of the most important things that leaders can do right now that would have a significant, powerful, and positive impact on the company is to have fewer, better meetings – more than any other corporate initiative push for growth, or effort to reduce costs.”

Poor or excessive virtual meetings drain an organization’s energy, engagement, and expenses. Here’s what you can do about them in 2021:

1. Conduct a meeting audit

Make a list of all the meetings you currently lead or attend and eliminate those that are low value.

Not sure where to start? Freedman suggests pulling up your calendar and asking questions. Are there any meetings that can be killed without further discussion? Would there be consequences if you stopped attending the meeting? How would meeting attendees evaluate its effectiveness? Can you describe the purpose of the meeting in one sentence? Do attendees prepare for the meeting?

2. Don’t substitute a meeting for connection

“My key recommendation is businesses should train managers and employees that meetings are not a substitute for informal office chats or a water cooler,” says Cynthia Watson (formerly Spraggs), CEO of Vitira and book author. “Businesses need to introduce collaboration workspaces where informal updates can occur 24-7, synchronously, and asynchronously.”

3. Go back to basics

Consider each meeting’s purpose, necessary attendees, and length before considering setting it up. Then choose the right platform for the purpose. “Failure to consider these factors contribute to energy-sapping meetings, be they in person or online,” says Axelrod. 

4. Send agendas ahead of time

“People do not want to be caught off-guard or appear to be stupid during a meeting,” says Axelrod. “Having meeting materials ahead of time increases certainty, which in turn reduces meeting stress.”

5. Embrace meeting excellence

“High-performing teams create guidelines for how they will engage with each other during meetings – from defining a meeting purpose, to making decisions, to handling conflict, to preparing for meetings,” says Freedman. “The best teams we’ve worked with don’t leave good meetings up to chance or assume people will just automatically know what to do. They take the time to get very concrete and specific about defining the relevant behaviors, processes, or actions that will create meeting success.”

6. Incorporate breaks

Taking frequent breaks allows time for the brain to go idle, which increases the possibility that insights will occur.

7. Normalize turning off the camera

Sure, face time is important, but allowing employees to dial in can reduce the pressure to “look good” on-screen and thereby relieve associated tension.

8. Inject some humanity

This is particularly important when real social interaction is at a minimum. “Some of our clients start their meetings with a quick round of weekend updates. Others start their meetings with questions like: What would you like people to know about you that they wouldn’t know by looking at you?” says Axelrod. “These questions build connections between people, which in turn makes the work go smoothly.”

9. Assign rotating roles

This can increase engagement and also improve outcomes. Some roles to consider, says Freedman: notetaker, meeting facilitator, timekeeper, and devil’s advocate (someone appointed to deliberately challenge or present an opposing view to an idea).

10. Try to establish meeting-free days

If that’s not possible, cut meeting times in half or reduce their frequency. “At a minimum, better manage meeting time itself,” advises Freedman.

How to Ask Your Boss To Work From Home Permanently | Julia Wuench, Forbes.com

If you want to continue working remotely but aren’t sure how to approach the conversation with your boss, implement the below suggestions. The goal is to engage in a productive dialogue with your boss that supports your goal of a more permanent work-from-home arrangement while also expressing its immense benefits to your employer.

1. First, schedule a call with your boss. Make the goals of the call clear up front: Send them a formal written request in advance to continue working remotely instead of returning to the office.

Within your request, illustrate your reasoning for permanent remote working and explain how working from home permanently will benefit your employer. Some examples could include:

  • Detail your productivity on specific work from home projects
  • Suggest the ability to use fewer PTO or sick days because you’re able to work through mild illnesses, be home for sick children, etc.
  • Highlight your faster turnaround times due to increased focus outside of typical office distractions.
  • Cite your past/current availability and flexibility both inside and outside of traditional office hours.
  • Illustrate the recently enhanced team creativity, streamlined project functionality and stronger working relationships gained through new collaboration and communication tools.
  • Express your commitment to upholding your work contribution and quality while simultaneously gaining the capability to address out-of-work circumstances.

2. Next, propose a potential work schedule and communication cadence to put your employer at ease, set expectations and create a visual of how working remotely can function successfully.

  • Determine how many days you’d like to work remotely.
  • Volunteer to make office visits as needed for in-person meetings, gatherings, events, etc.
  • Commit to maintaining outstanding communication to ensure nothing falls through the cracks.
  • Reassure your availability during work hours through phone, email, text and chat with collaboration tools.
  • Plan to announce your daily arrival and departure everyday as you did your office.
  • Dial into all meetings and use video whenever possible.

Lastly, express your gratitude for your employer’s consideration of remote work; it is a privilege, not a right.  If your employer is uncertain, suggest a trial period to see how remote work affects your performance and team collaboration.

5 Ways Lean Teams Can Work Smarter and Get More Done | Peter Daisyme, Entrepreneur.com

Entrepreneurs are obsessed with productivity, and for good reason. Most startups work with small teams on short timelines, which means they need every member contributing at their highest level.

Here are five proven ways to make your team more productive and efficient.

1.Set achievable goals and benchmarks

The best goals are SMART — specific, measurable, actionable, results-oriented and time-bound. They should be challenging but still achievable. If goals are too big or too long-term to feel achievable, break them down into smaller short-term goals. It can also be helpful to track your team’s progress visually and celebrate important benchmarks.

2. Automate routine tasks

Whenever you’re trying to get more done with a small team, one of the fastest ways you can boost productivity is through automation. According to a McKinsey report, 45% of all work activities can be automated using existing technology. You can automate tasks in HR, marketing, sales — the sky’s the limit — but it’s best to start with tasks that consume a lot of resources. 

3. Allow team members to design their own workdays

Research shows that employees who have the freedom to set their own schedule put in an additional 7.4 hours per week. Additionally, 73% of people who engage in “windowed work” report greater productivity. Essentially, these workers break up their day into “windows” of work time and personal time. These windows can change to accommodate meetings, errands and childcare around blocks of focused work.

4. Keep meetings to a bare minimum

The average employee attends eight meetings per week, with more senior employees attending up to 17 meetings. But it’s not just the time lost to the meetings themselves that impact productivity. Poor scheduling wreaks havoc on critical thinking and your team’s ability to engage in deep work. This is why some of the brightest minds have ruthless tactics for avoiding wasteful meetings.

5. Use project-management software to keep everyone on the same page

The best way to keep track of projects and tasks is project management software, especially if your team is dispersed. This ensures your team stays on top of goals without duplicating work and keeps important tasks from falling through the cracks. 

Small teams can be incredibly powerful, but only when each individual is firing on all cylinders. Micromanaging your employees goes against the principles of building a lean team, and it can lead to disengagement that erodes productivity. It’s far better to make changes through scheduling, automation, and workflow optimization to free up your team to do their very best work.

5 mindful ways to enjoy work from home | Deblina Chatterjae, Pinkvilla.com

Mindfulness productivity is the ability to be in sync with inner feelings and emotions. Garima Juneja, Psuchologist, founder of Lightroom Therapy and Counselling, talks about 5 mindful ways to work from home.

Kick start your day on a good note

We all like to dive directly into the pool of our phone into social media waking up every morning letting ourselves drench in the excessive useless information. This clutters our minds and makes us anxious or sad or cranky. This is certainly not a good way to start our day.

Create a mindful workspace

External environment clearly has a significant impact on setting the tone for our internal well-being. Creating a clean workspace undoubtedly works wonders for internal calmness.

One thing at a time

Concentrating on one thing or task at a time is always more beneficial. It improves your work quality and keeps you away from overthinking.     

Go slow

Eat slow, work slow, listen attentively. Doing everything slowly provides the edge of micromanagement and increases proficiency. And most importantly, working in a slow pace makes you enjoy every moment of work and life.

Love yourself

Shower yourself with love. Meditate and work out daily. These will help in the release of endorphins which is a hormone responsible for your happiness. Spend time with your loved ones. Take breaks as they enthuse you with fresh energy to bounce back. Resting at the end of the day is pivotal. Fill in the gratitude and accomplishment journal. Pat yourself on your back, give yourself that pep talk.

Remote Work Digest: March 30, 2021

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

Start fresh or anew: Remote work is available to entry-level job seekers | N.F. Mendoza, Techrepublic.com

The job market appears to be improving, and many companies are moving to either permanent remote/hybrid workplaces. Job seekers without much experience now have the option to secure jobs that don’t require going into the office.

Entry-level job openings are available in nearly every job category, according to Remote.co’s list of jobs, which listed in alphabetical order, positions that meet the following criteria:

  • Fully remote/work-from-home jobs
  • Entry-level career level (0-2 years of experience required)
  • Active as of March 25, 2021

It’s no surprise that for the best jobs on the market, competition is fierce. Because tech work can be found in pretty much every industry, it opens up the possibilities further.    

Remote.co’s career expert Brie Reynolds outlined four key strategies to help job applicants stand out.

  1. Discuss your skills that prove you’ll be a competent remote worker. “Include the specific skulls that make you a good remote worker, such as written and verbal communication, independent worker, organized and productive, great time and task manager and having a growth mindset are all good ones,” Reynolds said.
  2. If you’ve already worked remotely, highlight that info. Any position in which you’ve worked at a distance from your coworkers, across time zones or physical distances counts.
  3. One application does not fit all. Customize your resume for each remote job application. “You don’t have to rewrite the whole resume, but you should absolutely spend time making sure your document is keyword-rich in at least those top two sections, summary and key skills, using the same language from the job description.”
  4. Expect to be asked “Why do you want to work remotely?” Talk about how “you’re better able to focus, or you’re not worrying about catching a train home” or battling traffic at the end of the day or because you plan for a home office space that energizes and focuses you on your work. “Don’t discuss the personal benefits because employers already assume these things like getting more time back in your day and having better work-life balance.”

Guide to protecting the business when staff are working from home | Nicki Robson, Thehrdirector.com

With many companies planning to introduce software to monitor staff productivity remotely, HR experts have highlighted top steps to protect business owners when staff are working from home.

Here are the steps you can take to protect your business when staff are working from home:

1. Provide key training around the GDPR legislation

It is a key requirement for all business to train their staff on GDPR legislation. Ensure that you are providing adequate training for your team and have a data protection policy in place.

2. Sharpen management skills

Implementing good management practices that employers can follow while staff are working from home can increase staff efficiency and trust without the need for micromanagement and productivity monitoring software.

3. Strengthen communication

Make sure your business has robust communication mechanisms in place to keep employee/employer relationships strong.

4. Offer technology training

Provide employees with the opportunity to take up technology training or computer refresher courses. Once staff members are aware of how to use their technology, they will also be less likely to accidentally breach data protection laws while remote working.

It is important that you comply with data protection legislation and have adequate policies and procedures in place.

5 most common mistakes project managers make |Angela Scott-Briggs, Techbullion.com

Too often we forget how much of a difference this can make in delivering a project on time. Thus, instead of stressing about the outside factors, you should first take a look inside your own company and review how things are done. A faulty process will cause you to miss a lot more deadlines than any other factor.

To help you get started, here are the 5 most common mistakes project managers make. Correct them and you will be on your way to a more efficient timely process.

1.Lack of direction

One of the most common reasons for missing deadlines is ineffectiveness. Instead of working on a project, teams and companies lose a lot of time in trying to determine what should be done next. Thus, wasting valuable time and resources on something that should already have been done.

2. Lack of information

Similar to not knowing what should be done next, teams can also struggle to deliver work on time if they are unsure of what the task is. While it is clear to the manager what each work item entails, this information is often lost in the communication and thus time is spent on clarification.

3. Lack of visualization

Another big mistake when we talk about meeting deadlines is not visualizing your process and monitoring the flow of tasks. To make sure everything is going according to plan, it is important to track progress and identify which blockers can affect your timeline.

4. Lack of employee engagement

Employee engagement is a crucial part of any project’s success. A motivated team will deliver better results faster, while those with less incentive will be more prone to missing deadlines. But how can you engage your team without punishing them about a missed deadline? Try to involve them in the decision-making process.

5. Lack of actionable decisions

Lastly, one more mistake that causes your team to miss deadlines is too many report meetings and too few decisions. Surely, meetings are important to get in touch with your team and find solutions to issues, but too often this time is used to only report on status. In such cases, everyone simply presents what they are doing at the moment and which issues they may be facing, but no actionable decisions are discussed. Leaving the person in trouble with no help.

To make sure your meetings are about troubleshooting and helping your team, use your project management tools to track progress and evaluate project status. This way, you will not need to spend time learning what everyone is doing at the moment, and can instead discuss solutions for issues or improvements to your process. Time is the most valuable resource of any project, so make sure you spend it wisely.

How to Improve Your Work-From-Home Experience (Even After Months of Doing It) | Lucas Miller, Entrepreneur.com

In a January 2021 survey from PWC83% of employers felt that their company’s adaptation to virtual work has been successful. Also noteworthy: 55% of employees said they would prefer to work remotely three or more days per week even after pandemic concerns have completely subsided.

Of course, some people would love to return to a normal office environment, but find that corporate policies are keeping them at home a while longer. Still others are enjoying the remote-work lifestyle, but find it could use some improvements. Here are a few ways to enhance your experience.

Set clear boundaries

When you work in the same place that you live, it’s all too easy for the boundaries between work and home life to blur. This is a problem that goes both ways. If you are answering work-related messages at the dinner table, your family won’t be too thrilled with you. On the other hand, if you allow your family to constantly interrupt you throughout the day, your productivity will go down and you’ll need to work longer hours to get everything done.

Schedule regular breaks

Taking a short break every hour will actually make you more productive, not less. Breaks help you avoid decision fatigue and stay motivated to complete the task at hand. By refreshing your mind with a short break, you can also improve creative thinking.

So, if you’ve gotten into the rut of trying to get everything done all at once so you can be done with your current task before your kids need you again, call a mental mulligan. Set an alarm for each hour if needed, but don’t neglect your breaks.

Clean up your workspace

If you’ve been working from home for several months, chances are you’ve allowed a fair amount of clutter to accumulate in your workspace. However, as Joel Falconer explains for Lifehack, “Even if you are anti-minimalist, you should declutter. We’re defining clutter here as distracting material, including mess. Nothing is worse for your mental state than living and operating in a mess. Expect lethargy and crankiness and a particular level of apathy towards your state of affairs. Anything you don’t use on a daily basis should be put away, and anything you don’t use should be thrown straight in the bin.”

There is no denying that while working from home can be convenient for many, it also comes with its own unique set of challenges. By taking these steps to improve your work environment, you will be able to better enjoy your day-to-day routine, while still remaining productive.

Remote Work Digest: February 28, 2021

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

4 Simple Ways to Boost Employee Productivity | Ashley Macdonald, Feedsportal.com

With so many people now working from home, you can’t police your employees’ social media habits or discourage mindless scrolling. What you can do is free up their workday for meaningful tasks by helping them avoid busywork.

Here are a few innovative ways you can save your employee’s time:

  1. Create a Corporate Wiki

Creating a corporate wiki puts all this information in one place. A corporate wiki is a central database of information employees can use to share knowledge. They can update information as policies change, and then that information is available to everyone. It eliminates confusion around outdated documents and preserves the knowledge of your entire staff.

2. Change Your Email Culture

The best way you can save your workers time in their inbox is by changing your workplace email culture. Encourage employees to talk through complex projects in person or on the phone instead of relying on email. Discourage the practice of CCing people who don’t need to be included, and set clear expectations for email response times. Urgent matters that need to be addressed immediately shouldn’t be communicated via email. When your employees aren’t expected to respond instantly, they’ll spend less time checking their inbox and more time actually working.

3. Let Employees Create Their Own Schedules

As your employees return to the office, see if you can shift to a more flexible schedule. Some employees are most productive in the morning, so they may want to shift their workday earlier. Others might get more done if they’re allowed to hit the gym in the middle of the day. It’s better to judge employees based on their output rather than hours spent at their desk.

4. Avoid Recurring Meeting That Don’t Serve a Specific Purpose

To reduce the hours in lost productivity, be judicious about the number of meetings and who’s required to attend. Consider eliminating routine meetings or holding them monthly or biweekly instead. Any meeting that involves an entire team or department should have a clear agenda.

If you can’t bring yourself to cut out the weekly meeting, set a hard time limit at 30 minutes. Much longer than that, and your team’s attention will start to drift to those piles of work on their desks. (This is especially true if you’re conducting these meetings via Zoom.) If the meeting’s purpose is just to keep your team motivated, consider a 10-minute stand-up huddle instead.

These changes may seem small, but they can be transformative. Empowering your employees to find their own answers makes the company more efficient at every level. Communicating with purpose, avoiding time-wasters, and letting employees optimize their schedules allows everyone to get more done. When your employees are free to spend their day contributing at the highest level, you’ll have a passionate, productive team.

26 Highest-Paying Jobs That Let You Work From Home | Gabrielle Olya, Finance.yahoo.com

FlexJobs identified the best work-from-home jobs in several fields where the salaries reach six figures. If you don’t want to deal with a daily commute but don’t want to sacrifice pay, it might be time to consider these jobs that allow you to make $100,000 or more.

Product and Project Manager Jobs

  • Product Manager
  • Salary: $83,188, according to PayScale

Product managers determine the demand for a product a business offers and oversee the development of products to meet this demand. 

  • Project Manager, Operations
  • Salary: $71,781, according to Payscale

Project managers in the operations field oversee customer support, communicate with external and internal stakeholders and lead teams to create, test and revise project processes.

  • Senior Project Manager, IT
  • Salary: $113,565, according to PayScale

Senior IT project managers must not only be masters of the technologies that they are working with but also be able to supervise junior employees.

Sales and Business Development Jobs

  • Business Development Manager
  • Salary: $72,129, according to PayScale

Business development managers create plans to help their companies generate more revenue and improve relationships with customers or clients. 

  • Channel Sale Manager
  • Salary: $124,220

Channel sales is the selling of services or products using a third party, like a reseller or affiliate. Managers in this role hire and work with these third parties and make sure that their company’s products are represented properly. 

  • Senior Account Manager
  • Salary: $72,869, according to PayScale

These managers act as leaders of a sales team to increase revenue, and they are responsible for solving problems the team faces. To get this role, you should be both organized and analytical.

  • Senior Sales Executive
  • Salary: $78,216

These executives work to strengthen relationships with existing clients and bring in new clients. The top 10% of senior sales executives can earn $129,000 per year.

Software Developer Jobs

  • Front-End Developer
  • Salary: $71,400, according to PayScale

Front-end developers are the engineers who make sure that everything you see on a website looks as it should and functions properly. This is a complex job that usually requires a bachelor’s degree in information technology, and may also require additional certifications such as the SUN, IBM, Microsoft or Oracle developer certifications.

  • Java Developer
  • Salary: $73,905, according to PayScale

These developers use Java to create complex website functions. E-commerce sites usually employ this type of developer.

  • Mobile Developer
  • Salary: $73,258, according to PayScale

If you’ve ever used an app on your smartphone or tablet, you have a mobile developer to thank for that. These app creators have a strong understanding of programming languages such as Objective-C, HTML, Java or XML, and may hold special certifications.

Marketing Jobs

  • Marketing Communications Director
  • Salary: $81,074, according to PayScale

Marketing communications directors oversee the programs that market products and services to specific populations. They use analytics and data to make their decisions and have strong leadership skills to help steer their teams to meet performance goals.

  • Marketing Director
  • Salary: $86,811, according to PayScale

Marketing directors oversee the entire marketing team to ensure a company’s marketing campaigns are successful. Their job tasks include developing concepts and budgets for marketing campaigns, resolving issues that arise within their team and maintaining open communication with their company’s clients and vendors, as well as with other managers within their company.

  • Senior Product Marketing Manager
  • Salary: $123,276, according to PayScale

The primary responsibility of a senior product marketing manager is to create marketing strategies that increase brand loyalty and sales.

  • Vice President of Marketing
  • Salary: $145,967, according to PayScale

These VPs develop strategies to improve or maintain the market shares for the goods or services their company sells. They also oversee the various departments that provide the data that help them create these strategies. 

Computer Security Jobs

  • Cybersecurity Analyst
  • Salary: $98,350

These analysts implement the security measures necessary to protect an organization’s computer networks and systems. Cybersecurity analysts typically have a bachelor’s degree in a computer-related field as well as experience in a related occupation.

  • Privacy Office
  • Salary: $81,189, according to PayScale

Privacy officers make sure all departments within their company follow company privacy practices, and they perform privacy-related departmental audits to ensure that this is the case. They help assess and reduce risks to privacy and respond to privacy breaches.

  • Security Consultant
  • Salary: $85,610, according to PayScale

Security consultants can work in various fields, usually for companies that have large digitized databases. These consultants design or improve systems that protect their institution against internal and external data theft, and come up with emergency plans for what to do in case of a data breach.

Medical Jobs

  • Clinical Trial Manager
  • Salary: $98,120, according to PayScale

Clinical trial managers create and carry out protocols for clinical trials to meet regulations and standards. They also manage budgets and schedules for clinical trials, track and write reports on the progress of trials, develop enrollment strategies and come up with solutions for day-to-day issues.

  • Medical Director
  • Salary: $223,633, according to PayScale

Medical director is the highest-paid work-from-home job on this list. These directors manage the operations of a healthcare organization. 

  • Psychologist
  • Salary: $79,010

Becoming a psychologist typically requires a doctoral degree and certification. Some psychologists work in research roles, while others work directly with patients to help improve their cognitive, social or emotional behaviors. Those with a private practice can easily work from home by either having a home office or conducting sessions using a video messaging service.

Computer & IT Jobs

  • Cloud Architect
  • Salary: $121,566, according to PayScale

Cloud architects design, manage and monitor cloud computing strategies for companies. If you want to be a cloud architect, you should have experience with networking, programming languages, operating systems and cloud security, according to FlexJobs.

  • Senior Solutions Architect
  • Salary: $132,769, according to PayScale

Solutions architects turn business objectives and requirements into products and services that meet these needs. Senior solutions architects typically oversee developers and junior architects. 

  • Technical Support Manager
  • Salary: $77,229, according to PayScale

These managers resolve customer issues, identify problems and come up with improvements for technical support processes. They also oversee a company’s technical support team.

Engineering Jobs

  • Research Engineer
  • Salary: $118,370 per year

Research engineers invent and design innovative approaches to technology and find new uses for existing technology. This fast-growing occupation typically requires a master’s degree.

  • Senior Systems Engineer
  • Salary: $103,784, according to PayScale

Senior systems engineers are in charge of the planning, design and implementation of system engineering projects. They are proficient in Windows/Linux servers and usually also have a special area of expertise such as storage, virtualization or large-scale platforms.

  • Software Engineer
  • Salary: $105,590

These engineers develop applications or systems for computers and similar devices. Software engineers typically have a bachelor’s degree in computer science as well as strong computer programming skills.

Eight Tips To Create A Work From Home Sanctuary On A Budget | Felena Hanson, Ellevate, Forbes.com

I’ve always been drawn to the feng shui principles of elements in a space. You don’t have to fully feng shui your house (unless you want to) to create a productive environment. When I came up with the concept for Hera Hub coworking space back in 2011, I wanted to be sure to bring those feng shui principles into the workspace. Many of these elements are what we see in a wellness center or spa, so I coined the term “spa inspired” workspace.

You can also bring these elements into your home workspace to create an inspiring environment.

White noise lessens distractions.

Yes, headphones work, but you may not be able to wear headphones all day. (Perhaps you need to keep an ear out for other family members.) Running water – real, flowing fountains are elements we put into every location.

Lighting brightens your mood.

This makes a big difference, not only for Zoom calls, but just for overall wellbeing. If you don’t have good natural light, I recommend purchasing a bright desk lamp with a warm light bulb. Cold overhead lighting is not only bad for video, it’s also harsh on your eyes.

Art adds inspiration.

Put something on the walls that inspires you. It could be art or a mural or inspiring quote. We feature local artists in our spaces (it’s great to support local art). Do splurge, if you can, because this is something you’re looking at day-in and day-out. 

Live plants improve wellbeing.

Houseplants are good for your health — they release oxygen and absorb carbon dioxide. This not only freshens up the air, but also eliminates harmful toxins. Extensive research by NASA has revealed that houseplants can remove up to 87% of air toxins in 24 hours.

Plants, especially those with broad leaves, will help regulate humidity and increase levels of positivity — seeing greenery and nature help us feel more relaxed and calm, which in turn benefits our mood.

Seating doesn’t have to be a chair!

Want a cheap, fun, ergonomic seating option? Buy a stability ball to sit on — without a stand! It will improve your posture and help you strengthen your core. We recommend buying a slightly larger version (potentially 75cm) so your height is ergonomic to your worktable. Plus, pumping it up is a good arm workout!

Candles set a mood.

They not only smell good, but they also set the mood and can be a centering point for you. 

Separate your space.

If you don’t have a spare bedroom for a private office, then try to at least create a designated corner and use shoji screens to section off your area from visual distractions.

Spa water keeps you hydrated.

It’s that little, healthy twist that can make your workday more enjoyable. Cucumber/lemon is always refreshing. I also love rosemary/lemon water (which lasts for days). It can even be as simple as cutting up a fresh orange and putting it in your water.

It’s these small details that can make a big difference in how you feel throughout your workday, and may even be the inspiration to launch your own business someday!

Leaning Into Remote Work: Tips For Perfecting WFH For The Long Haul | Nicole Silber, Forbes.com

Once we are past this crisis, the workforce won’t return to what it once was. We need to be prepared to make working from home a healthy and productive long-term solution. Here are some ways to maximize your working hours, while also maintaining your well-being in a combined living and working space.

Creating Boundaries

It’s important to establish new methods of transitioning in and out of work. If you have a role where you haven’t had a set work time (such as being an entrepreneur or working for a company with flexible hours), you can pick a time to be on and off the clock. You can even have variations of start and end times throughout the week, as long as you are intentional each day about when you want to start and end your work time. You may even want to set alarms on your phone as a reminder of when your day starts and when it ends.

Try creating rituals at the beginning and end of your work day to establish clear transitions, otherwise it may be unclear when you are in work mode versus personal time.

Before starting work make a point to not check work emails or slack until you are “at work” for the day. You can find routines that are customized to your interests to help as an indicator and transition into your work day. That may be a short walk or exercise routine, making breakfast without work distractions, checking the stock market or news, engaging in a short meditation or anything else that you enjoy doing in the mornings.

Transitioning out of work is equally important. Microsoft Teams (an application you can use) now features the option to schedule “virtual commutes,” wherein, for example, employees are reminded that the end of their workday is approaching, and that some tasks on their to-do list should be moved to tomorrow. You can also use other methods to wrap up your current work day and begin planning for the next day.

Sustaining Human Connection

Collaborating with your colleagues can be beneficial for your work and also your well-being. Working in a silo can help with getting tasks completed, but you may also run the risk of missing a perspective or direction you haven’t thought about. 

Have regular coffee meetings, even as brief as 15 minutes, with different colleagues to check in with them to see what they have been working on, want to work on or in general how they are doing. You can also meet with individuals from different departments to expand your network and knowledge of what other arms of the company are working on.

Maximizing Productivity

Make your office space one that is conducive to uninterrupted work as much as possible. Even if you don’t have the means or space to set up a separate room, creating a designated work space is possible. Purchasing a room divider screen is a good option to create a separate working environment if you don’t have an extra room and it can also act as a nice background for your video meetings. 

We know that remote work isn’t going away any time soon, and it may be the wave of the future. There are some great things about that and some frustrating things, but ultimately the best way forward is to establish proper boundaries between work and home, connect with colleagues to benefit from human interaction, and create a workspace that inspires and supports your creativity. With these tools the benefits of remote work will shine even more brightly, and our lives will be richer for it.

Remote Work Digest: January 30, 2021

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

Top Work From Home Essentials For Small Business | Daniel Atkinson, Londondailypost.com

To ensure a productive work from home experience that helps in increasing revenue, here’s a list of some important elements that are necessary for small businesses to incorporate in their work lifestyle:

Remote Meeting Software:

Business owners and managers need effective means of conducting virtual meetings with employees to discuss work and collaborate on various assignments.

A remote meeting software not only allows you to host business discussions without any travel expenses, but also allows everyone to be on the same page about important work information.

Time tracking app:

To keep schedules organized, time tracking apps are an ideal way to understand how much time is being spent on a given activity. It not only helps you be more aware of your work progress but also highlights your low-productivity and high-productivity hours.

High speed internet connection:

A high speed internet connection is integral for connecting with clients, sharing important documents with colleagues and communicating work progress to managers.

A dedicated workstation:

To work efficiently, a distraction free zone with comfortable seating arrangements is a must. Business owners must provide employees an allowance to invest in a comfortable chair, an adjustable desk and a monitor.

A storage system:

Remote work requires an organized file storage space at home that will ensure you do not end up losing important documents. You can invest in a sturdy filing cabinet or utilize some furniture at home to store important documents.

Conclusion:

With the help of above-mentioned information, small businesses can build a productive work environment for successful results.

How to Motivate Fatigued and Stressed Employees in the New Year | Lisa Rabasca Roepe, Shrm.org

It’s been nearly a full year since employees started working from home or following COVID-19 protocols in the workplace.

Even if staff took some extra time off to unwind during the holidays, most employees probably haven’t returned to work with the renewed sense of purpose that is typically associated with starting a new year. Instead, the first quarter of 2021 will likely feel like more of the same – endless Zoom meetings, no clear end to the pandemic, and home and work lives thoroughly enmeshed.

Here are four ways managers can help motivate employees in 2021.

Have an honest, one-on-one conversation. Even though managers may have conducted a performance evaluation for work done in 2020, now is a good time to have a different type of one-on-one conversation with employees. “Rather than focusing on work, focus on their family, mental health and how they are doing personally,” Halpern said. Ask open-ended questions and, if they say everything is fine, encourage them to be honest by sharing your own concerns and challenges, Halpern said. “If you’re vulnerable and candid, they will respond in kind.”

The purpose is to understand each employee’s current state of mind and what he or she needs to succeed, said Kym Harris-Lee, an executive coach in Atlanta. Consider asking, “As you think about this new year, what are your goals, what do you want to accomplish, how can I help you?”

Encourage employees to think strategically. One lesson most managers learned from 2020 is that employees don’t appreciate back-to-back virtual meetings, because it doesn’t give them much time to think or get actual work done, Harris-Lee said.

She recommended that managers give employees permission to decline one to two meetings a week during the first quarter of 2021, provided they use the time they aren’t in a meeting to reflect on their work.

Create easy wins. Rather than setting long-term quarterly or mid-year goals, set monthly goals that focus on actions staff can control, Halpern said.

Be gentle with feedback. “For the first half of 2021, be selective and intentional with feedback,” Halpern said. “Focus on trends and patterns versus one incident. If you see someone [making a mistake] once, let it go.” Rather than giving an employee feedback on what she did wrong, suggest a way that you can help her succeed.

Time is money: 8 time management tips to help you work smarter | Fool.co.uk

To help you make the most of your workday, here are eight simple time management tips.

  1. Plan your day

Start the day with a clear idea of what you plan to achieve. Write a to-do list the night before so you can get started right away the next day. Set specific, measurable and realistic goals.

2. Turn off distractions

Don’t let messages distract you from the workday, even if you’re working from home.

3. Designate a workspace

Whether it’s the kitchen table or an office, it’s important to label a certain area as your workspace. Over time, your brain associates that space with work and mental focus, so it’s easier to concentrate and get work done.

4. Prioritise tasks

Prioritise tasks based on how important and urgent they are rather than how easy they are to achieve. For example, if something’s both important and urgent, make this the first job on your to-do list.

5. Set time limits

Set clear time limits for each task and stick to them. Otherwise, you could end up spending much longer on a job than is strictly necessary.

6. Track your time

Wonder where your time’s going during the workday? Start tracking it. Set a timer and check how long it takes you to complete specific tasks.

7. Know when you’re most productive

While some of us can be through multiple tasks first thing in the morning, others prefer burning the midnight oil. Don’t fight these natural tendencies – embrace them instead.

8. Take regular breaks

Whether you go for a (socially distanced) walk around your local park or curl up with a book, don’t forget to step away from your work from time to time. Regular breaks give your mind a chance to ‘recharge’.

Time management is crucial to feeling in control of your workday, whether you run your own business or you’re working from home right now. The best part? It’s something everyone can learn, and you can start right away.

Begin with small changes to your daily routine, build on the improvements you make, and find out what productivity hacks work best for you. 

The basics of culture-building in a new hybrid workplace | Sonal Jain, Peoplematters.in

Reshaping culture in a partial or a completely hybrid workplace does not have to be a mammoth task. Keeping the workforce’s needs and lived experiences at the center of management decisions is the first step. Then come the four unassuming, but significant changes that leaders should make to ensure culture becomes a catalyst for success in the new normal –

Be intentional about communication – Create guidelines around how you communicate, how often you communicate and think about ways in which you can avoid the ‘Zoom fatigue’ from kicking in.

Keep traditions alive – Everything that once drove formal and informal culture in the physical workplace needs to be reformatted to ensure inclusivity and connection between the physical and virtual workforces. This includes team-building activities, wellness sessions, happy hours and milestone celebrations, that allow members of a team to preserve social attachments with each other.

Don’t forget D&I – Pivoting policies, ensuring equal access to technology for all employees, and digitizing the work of Employee Resource Groups are some ways in which companies can maintain a shared collaborative and cultural mindset even with a staggered workforce.

Get workplace culture right can be advantageous all around. The shared experience of adapting to the same extraordinary circumstances makes culture more important than ever. And thoughts can only translate to actions with constant reflection, deliberation and collaboration to thrive in this new reality.

Remote Work Digest: December 31, 2020

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

Why remote working and working from home aren’t the same – and how to accommodate both options | Jason Aten, Inc, Businessinsider.com

Too often we confuse remote work with working from home. The two aren’t the same. It isn’t just semantics, either. The words we use, and the way we talk about things is important. It communicates what we value, and using the wrong words can not only cause confusion, it can devalue your team members and the way they work.

Working from home is a temporary thing you do every once in a while.

It means that the work you usually would do in your office at your desk, you do from home for a day, or maybe two. In many companies, working from home is what you do on Thursdays because you don’t have any meetings, so you figure you’ll get caught up on the presentation you’re working on without the interruption of a colleague stopping by your desk.

Remote working is not just a circumstance, but rather a way of working.

If you work remotely, you don’t have a desk at your company’s office somewhere. Instead, you’re probably responsible for providing your own desk in your own workspace, usually somewhere in your own home. 

When you work from home, you still use the tools and technology your company gave you, you just log on to your own internet connection. It’s OK if you don’t have everything you need at home, because you’ll be headed back to the office tomorrow anyway.

That’s not the case with remote work, and it requires a completely different set of tools and systems. Often, you have to create your own systems, and the place you work gets a lot more attention since it’s likely what your colleagues will see every time you log on to Zoom. Don’t underestimate the level of stress that goes into having the perfect background — or at least, one that isn’t cluttered with toys and laundry and pets. Or, as we call it at our home, real life. 

It also means having a different set of skills. Setting your calendar and agenda for the day is different when you work remotely. Productivity and accountability look different as well. It’s time we start treating them that way. 

X Misconceptions Related To Employee Tracking | Bhok Thompson, Greenprophet.com

Not too long ago, time tracking was time consuming.

While tracking time has been widely accepted as a viable way to improve productivity, filling out lengthy Excel sheets has commonly been viewed as an additional task.

As a result, the practice of time tracking has been known to face a lot of resistance in corporate scenarios.

However, things have changed. Today, there are specialized time tracking software that automate the part of time tracking that feels like a “task”.

Time Tracking Leads to Micromanagement

Many employees dread the idea of time tracking because they believe that it will lead to micromanagement. Now, there is no denying that there are many examples of micromanagers in almost all organizations. Be that as it may, if a manager isn’t someone who likes to micromanage their team, a time tracking software is not going to change that.

In fact, after the initial adoption period, employees can use their own historical time tracking data to justify a realistic workload and make realistic commitments to their managers.

Time Tracking Leads to Employee Burnout

This point is especially worrying to many nowadays when remote working is becoming popular. With blurring boundaries between homes and offices, the rigid office timings are also blurring and many professionals are reporting working well beyond their ‘normal’ working hours.

Contrary to popular belief, time tracking can help organisations and individuals solve this problem. With time tracking, employees can stay productive during the actual office hours and set boundaries that allow them to have personal time. At the same time, organisations will be able to ensure that their employees are giving their best during their official working hours.

Employees Will “Forget” Tracking Time

Nowadays, time tracking is automated to a large extent. Therefore, there’s not much left to ‘forget’.

Moreover, it is important for employers to communicate the individual benefits of time tracking to their employees. This way, they will be more motivated to keep track of their own time and the ‘forgetting’ incidents will be limited to a minimum.

Conclusion

The fact that there are so many misconceptions surrounding time tracking has been a significant deterrent in the adoption of this awesome productivity technique. However, we hope that this article will help you see the benefits of time tracking and implement it in your organization.

Checklist: How to effectively lead your remote employees | MYRECRUITMENT+, Smartcompany.com.au

How to lead remote employees effectively is a question on the minds of many SME owners. HR, managers, and executives control a workforce that exists mainly through virtual encounters, and must reassess operations and procedures to ensure efficiency is embedded in every process. 

To assist you in your learning to lead a remote workforce, here’s a checklist for you to use as a guide in revealing where your strengths are and where you can improve.

Communication

  • Do I implement a seamless communication system?
  • Do my colleagues have someone else to communicate with if I’m unavailable?
  • Even when I’m unavailable, do my colleagues know how to contact me in case of an emergency? 
  • Have I implemented scheduled hours? Why/why not?
  • Have I confided in my colleagues and employees whether they are content with the current communication channels?

Collaboration

  • Is there any tension between colleagues that I’m aware of?
  • Do I receive regular feedback from colleagues/employees? 
  • Does the business provide the appropriate tools & resources for efficient collaboration? 
  • Have I put daily/weekly exercises in place for team bonding (thus more effective collaboration)? 

Training

  • Do I have standardized training material?
  • Do I have a procedure in place to ensure the new hire receives training material specific to their department? 
  • Do I have a system in-place that allows full transparency so I can view who has completed their training, and who hasn’t?
  • Do I have a system in-place that allows full transparency so I can view which employee is up-to-date in the latest training material, and which employee requires more training? 
  • Do we take advantage of an LMS? 

Why is this checklist relevant?

Communication

It’s the key to running a remote workforce. 

If employees have a question, they must receive answers within a suitable time frame. In order to overcome misunderstandings, you need to eliminate processes that encourage miscommunication. 

A strategy for this? Ensure all employees have contact numbers and someone they can contact at any time (in the working day) for immediate assistance. You, as a leader, must act as the glue that keeps your team well bonded and functioning holistically.

Consider using tools that provide you with a 2-way bulk sms and email communication channel. This will allow you to quickly and efficiently provide stakeholders with recent updates.

Collaboration

Regardless of the company’s location (remote or in the office) teamwork is crucial for productivity. Employees that are motivated have higher job satisfaction, thus higher productivity.

So, how do you incorporate company culture to a workforce that is spread over states, and perhaps even the country? 

Organize weekly meetings, perhaps a Monday morning (to talk about weekly goals), and Friday afternoon (to discuss achievements). Make it compulsory for everyone to attend. Whilst working from home allows flexibility, don’t forget that working your standard 9-5 job comes with requirements and responsibilities, so don’t be afraid of maintaining compulsory activities.

Training

The global pandemic has resulted in consistent updates regarding operational regulations and restrictions. In order to be compliant with these regulations, your employees must be up to date with training of current workplace procedures.

This includes hygiene practices, wellbeing exercises, operational restrictions, social distancing strategies etc. The consequences of being noncompliant (internally or externally) results in large fines, and an increased risk of contracting COVID-19.

Business owners should consider investing in a LMS system so new hires and existing employees receive identical training material. This promises consistency in knowledge and expectations.

Communicate, collaboration and training are closely entwined, and are the three main components to be considered when deciding a strategy to lead remote employees due to the dire consequences of overlooking their significance.

15 Ways to Maximize Your Productivity and Earnings | Kim Porter, Dollarsprout.com

Though you might use an eight-hour workday to benchmark your productivity, research suggests workers are only productive for about three hours during that time frame.

Here are 15 ways to boost your productivity and earning potential.

  1. Find your most productive hours.

To find your golden hours, listen to your body to get a sense of when you feel focused and motivated to tackle big projects. Plan your day so you’re doing the highest-priority work during your most productive hours, while routine tasks can be done when you don’t need as much concentration.

2. Figure out which office lifestyle is best for you.

Some people work best independently, while others thrive in an office setting. “In my experience, introverts really tend to enjoy working from home because they are energized by alone time,” says Alexis Haselberger, a productivity, time management, and leadership coach. “Extroverts tend to have a harder time working from home for the opposite reason; they are energized through time with others.”

3. Track and limit time spent on each task.

After a few months in the same role, you probably know how long it takes to complete your normal, routine tasks. When you need to schedule one, allot a reasonable amount of time and aim to get it done within that time frame.

4. Schedule your week.

Racheal Cook, business strategist and productivity expert, says she creates a weekly Google Calendar and first blocks out time for family, friends, and fun. She then blocks out major work tasks during defined hours to help create boundaries between work and her personal life. If you don’t make time for both, “then work can quickly take up every available moment in your week,” Cook says.

5. Give yourself periodic breaks.

Working at 100% capacity at all hours just isn’t sustainable. “If you don’t take regular breaks, you risk burnout,” Haselberger says.

6. Make time for personal and career development

Career development could include attending a training course for the next step in your career, watching a self-development seminar, or reading a book. Investing time in yourself might mean skipping billable client work now, but it boosts your earning potential over time. And focusing on personal goals can help you round out your work-life balance.

7. Avoid meetings if possible.

While meetings can be an efficient way to collectively brainstorm ideas and create solutions, more than $37 billion per year is spent on unproductive meetings, according to one estimate. But if you must have one, Haselberger offers these tips:

  • Ensure every meeting has an owner. This person schedules the meeting, sets the agenda, and facilitates the discussion.
  • Only include necessary attendees. Information can be disseminated to others on a need-to-know basis via other means.
  • Always have an agenda. The owner sends the agenda to all attendees. It should state the objective, items for discussion, and any relevant materials to prepare attendees.
  • Define the goal for the meeting. If you don’t know what you hope to accomplish, don’t schedule a meeting.
  • Decision vs. discussion. Decide whether the purpose of the meeting is for decision-making or brainstorming and discussion.

8. Outsource or delegate work if you can.

Whether you’re running a business or part of a large project with co-workers, everyone has a strength and a role. Delegating or outsourcing work means “letting others do what they can do, so you can do what only you can do,” Marshall says.

9. Avoid time wasters.

Distractions can torpedo your workday. These come in the form of household chores, co-workers or kids, and emails and notifications. “Most people check email on average 37 times a day,” Haselberger says. “Every time we are interrupted or distracted, it takes, on average, 23 minutes to refocus.”

10. Create your own work processes.

Creating resources like processes, checklists, and pricing structures allows you to do the thinking and the work just once. Having the documentation will also help if you plan to grow your business in the future, Marshall says.

11. Automate tasks when possible.

Collaborating with project management tools, using accounting software, and scheduling social media posts are some other ways to automate tasks.

12. Exercise regularly.

Exercise does so much more than lower your blood pressure and help you fit into your jeans. In one study, employees who visited the gym said they were more productive, managed their time more effectively, and had smoother interactions with their colleagues. Exercise can also:

  • Boost your concentration, memory, and creativity.
  • Help you learn faster.
  • Lower your stress levels.

13. Take time to rest and recharge.

Rest will look different for everyone, but here are a few ways to make it happen:

  • Block off at least one day a week where no work is allowed.
  • Practice self-care, which generally means sleeping enough, eating well, and exercising.
  • Take a “mental health day” if you need it.
  • Make time to visit friends and family. But don’t be afraid to say “no” to social visits if you’re feeling overwhelmed.

14. Get enough sleep.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 1 in 3 adults don’t get enough sleep. What’s considered “enough” varies by age and person. But generally, adults should get between seven and nine hours of sleep each night, the CDC says. Here are some ways to help that happen:

  • Save caffeine for the morning, and cut it from your afternoon and evening.
  • Get into a consistent sleep schedule by going to sleep and waking up at the same time each day, including on weekends.
  • Don’t use smartphones and other devices right before bedtime. They emit light that can mess with your circadian rhythm and ability to fall asleep.
  • Avoid exercising and eating close to bedtime.

15. Make good food choices.

While any food generally fuels your body, some types of food are better at promoting productivity. Here are some general guidelines:

  • Have healthy food choices available. In particular, fruits and vegetables have been shown to promote curiosity, motivation, and engagement. Nuts are also a healthy option.
  • Don’t skip breakfast. A meal full of protein and complex carbohydrates gives your body the energy it needs to get through the day.
  • Graze. Hunger can lead to lower levels of productivity, so have a steady stream of healthy snacks on hand to eat throughout the day.

Learning strategies to harness your focus and energy will help you use your time more meaningfully and efficiently.

This list serves as a starting point for taking care of yourself, setting goals, and squashing the time wasters that don’t contribute value to your work or personal life. You can start with one or combine a few into a more comprehensive strategy. Whether you’re freelancing or pushing for a raise at your full-time job, one thing is true: greater productivity equals more money in your pocket.

Remote Work Digest: November 29, 2020

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

How to be more productive working from home: 9 rules for the “now normal” | Jonathan Thompson, Atlassian.com

A major new global study into remote working, conducted by Paper Giant for Atlassian, found that 40% of respondents felt that working from home translated to significantly longer hours.

The good news is that it doesn’t have to be this way. As we move away from traditional office spaces, there are a number of hacks and tricks you can deploy to boost your own productivity. The goal? To hit all of your targets without impinging on your wellness or work-life balance whatsoever. Read on for our nine science-backed, expert-approved principles of self-productivity.

1. Master desk-scaping

First, try “zoning” your home office, by creating separate spaces for reference materials, supplies, and long-term projects, before assigning discard dates to as many as possible. Then clear your desk itself and only replace items that are essential for daily use.

Finally, add pops of color wherever you can – from a picture on the wall, to a screensaver or even your choice of mug. Color can have a major impact on mood, with greens and blues particularly proven to increase productivity, so reach for that ocean vista or add a leafy plant to the proceedings. 

2. Embrace mono-tasking

The brutal truth is that very, very few of us can efficiently multi-task. In fact, it’s roughly 2% of the population, according to Professor David Strayer of the University of Utah, an expert in cognitive distraction. The problem is that when we bounce from task to task, we aren’t actually getting more done. Instead, we’re forcing our brains to constantly switch speeds, steering through tasks more erratically and burning out our internal gearboxes. The answer is to slay the multi-tasking monster, and embrace mono-tasking.

3. Plan tomorrow, tonight

The Paper Giant study discovered that 44% of workers believe it’s now more important to know how to motivate themselves apart from the parameters of office life. One of the best ways to do that is with a to-do list – and the best time to make that list is the night before.  

4. Make a not-to-do list

You’ve made your to-do list now, but if you want to be truly productive, you’ll need the opposite, too. A not-to-do list should be a permanent addition to your workspace, featuring all of the time-wasters that are obstructing your daily goals – from checking social media, to clicking on cat videos, to wandering into the kitchen to wash the dishes.

5. Block out your flow times

Your “flow” time is when you’re most efficient: a period of hyper-focus when you work most smoothly. For some people it’s early in the morning, for others it’s the afternoons or evenings. Once you’ve identified yours, block out 90 minutes in that window each day for pure, deep work on your biggest tasks. 

6. Prioritise Pareto and Pomodoros

Named after Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto, the Pareto Principle (also known as the 80-20 Rule) states that 80% of your results come from 20% of your actions, and vice versa. In other words, to become more productive, you must identify the 20% of your work that is having that 80% impact, and always prioritise it. 

Next, you should maximise your minutes spent working on this crucial 20% via the Pomodoro Technique – a series of 25 minute focused “sprints” on a task, followed by a complete five minute break each time.

7. Learn to nap like a pro

The secret is to harness your body’s natural circadian rhythm and employ a 20 minute power nap (sometimes called a Stage 2 Nap) in the mid-afternoon, to boost your memory, cognitive skills, and creativity.

By restricting yourself to just 20 minutes, you reap the aforementioned benefits without falling into deeper REM sleep, which will leave you feeling groggy and disoriented. To maximize your energy, drink a cup of coffee immediately before your power nap. Researchers have found that caffeine takes about 20 minutes to show its physiological effect, so it will kick in just as you’re waking.

8. Dress for success

When you’re working from home, it doesn’t really matter how you dress – or even if you dress at all below the waist. But not making a sartorial effort is a major mistake when it comes to your productivity levels. The act of preparing for the day ahead, including the selection of slightly smarter clothes, sends a message to your brain that it’s game time – and that sparks more mental energy.

9. Set up a “force quit” to your work day

“Overworking can lead to stress and burnout, harming not only your productivity but also your overall mental health and wellbeing,” says Graham. “Instead, set a firm time to bring your work day to a close and stick to it at all costs.” If you struggle with this, find an accountability partner – a colleague, friend or manager – and set up a call to officially end the day. A hard finish not only means a softer start to the following morning after a good rest, it also means you’ll work faster and more efficiently each day, knowing that your finish time is non-negotiable.

Put these tips to work right now

Want to get the most out of the advice in this article? Pick two tips and implement them right now.
And then, if it happens to be the end of the day where you are, call it a night and start fresh in the morning. Tip #9 makes good sense, right?

Five things to consider when organizing a remote work Christmas party | Kate Palmer, Globalbankingandfinance.com

Things will have to be a little different this year due to the ongoing disruption caused by the coronavirus pandemic. While the easiest, and cheapest, option for employers is to not go ahead with their annual festive plans, in the spirit of keeping Christmas alive some may choose to organize a remote party.

Some important things that employers should be aware of.

  1. Even with something that can be considered a ‘treat’ for employees, people who are working carers, have been struggling with work-related stresses, may not want to partake in a Christmas party this year, however well-intentioned it may be on the employer’s part. It is therefore advisable that remote parties should be optional and not constrained to a certain timeframe in which staff must be in attendance.
  2. Employers should ensure that those in attendance do not feel excluded from any activities during the party. For example, if an employee does not drink alcohol and a virtual wine tasting activity makes up the bulk of the event, such a person would not be able to contribute to the fun and may therefore feel left out.
  3. When attendees and potential attendees, have been established and the activities have been finalized, it is in the best interest of the company to send out emails to them. It should detail what is expected of them at the event and highlight that the same conduct is expected of them at a remote party as it would be at an in-person event.
  4. Similarly, employees should be made aware that the same grievance produce applies – to ensure that if company rules are broken by an employee or a grievance with the company itself, the affected employee will be able to raise this with the company.
  5. Finally, while employees can use their social media accounts in their own personal time, including at work social gatherings, employers must ensure that the use of social media should be done in a manner that does not adversely affect the company’s reputation.

Remote parties are the perfect way to ensure that social distancing rules are adhered to and that employees are rewarded for their efforts, there should be a mutual sense of responsibility on the part of the company and its employees.

Remote work and self-care: The place you work and live | Sima Baldisserri, Iamexpat.nl

How can you manage to work remotely while creating the healthiest environment for your physical, mental, and emotional well-being? Here are a few self-care tips that may help to create your flexible workspace:

Your office at home

Create a space that is as separate from the rest of the house as possible.

No matter how small your living space is, do not work everywhere, because this will make you work beyond work hours. Instead, you want to maintain a distinct mental separation of your home and associate each room or corner of your living place with its own function.

Brighten your day

Choose a corner in a well-lit room and if you could place your desk near a window that would be perfect!

Having a well-illuminated office/desk by natural light produces several positive effects on your well-being: better quality and duration of sleep, greater predisposition to physical activity, prevent eyestrain and, in general, increased quality of life.

Life is in the air

Increase ventilation by opening doors and windows at least three times a day for 10-15 minutes. This is also the best practice to protect from viruses and bacteria. Living in a healthier and more comfortable environment improves mood and quality of life and reduces the risk of complaints, such as headaches, eyestrain, and feeling of tiredness or drop in concentration.

Declutter your workspace as often as possible

It is much better to manage the little space you have effectively as a home and office than to completely turn your whole living space into an office, a clean and clear workspace can reduce your stress, help you focus, and also keep work from interfering with your home/personal life.

Sense of smell

When working remotely, some of the most common complaints are decreased attention and performance, as well as mood swings, which often have an effect on the quality of sleep. The ability to smell comes from the olfactory sensory neurons, these cells connect directly to the brain. This is a reason why essential oils can be a very valid help: it is sufficient to have a diffuser where you add from 5 to 7 drops of chosen essence.

A better work-life balance

These self-care tips for remote working can apply to anyone looking for better ways to manage their lives, time and have a better work-life balance. Your home and workspace is an extension of your energy field, by taking care of it, you are a step further away from physical and mental complaints, and a step closer to your well-being, and when you feel good, your relationships and work benefit from it.

6 Best Employee Appreciation Ideas your Staff will Love | Sofia Peterson, Thehackpost.com

If a company wants to grow, it must ensure that its employees are working efficiently as well as effectively.

But how can you manage the work of your employees? How can you know if they are dedicated or not? These questions can be answered by providing employee motivation or employee awards. These are some ways in which you can show your staff that you care –

1.The employee of the month.

If you start selecting an employee of the month based on employees to work performance and give them any hike in salary or prize for this, the employees will work harder due to increased competition and desire to win.

2. Certificates of appreciation

If you provide every employee with certificates whenever they perform a task marvelously, their pride will increase, and they will feel motivated to perform more such tasks as everyone wants pride, self-esteem, and respect.

3. Company journals or magazines

Whenever any employee performs an exceptional task, you can mention his name in the company’s journals or magazines. This will make him feel attached to the work, and their pride will be enhanced. Nothing is the biggest motivator than self-esteem.

4. Small get together or celebrations

Many times employees have to make lots of efforts for a particular task which makes them feel that the work is tedious and their efficiency reduces. To avoid such situation, you can organize small get-togethers or small celebrations after every radius task. It will ignite the fire of motivation in employees.

5. Monetary incentives.

Suppose an employee has become the reason for earning unrealistic profits, you can give him a share in profits. Similarly, if employees are working on festivals or doing night shifts for meeting the deadline, you can provide them with a bonus.

6. Performance-based pay.

Suppose there are workers in a manufacturing unit, you can give them pay according to their performance. For example, if a worker makes eight units, he will get 50 rupees per day, but if a worker makes 12 units per day, he will get 70 rupees per day. It will motivate workers to work more so that they can earn more.

Financial incentives can be bonuses, free transport, gifts, etc., while non-monetary ones include more respect, pride, and recognition in the company. Once employees start to feel themselves to be a part of the company, they will work in a much better way. Just motivate your employees and make your company touch the sky.

Remote Work Digest: October 30, 2020

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

The 10 Best Ways To Make The Most of 2020 | Amy Blaschka, Forbes.com

From a global pandemic, countless natural disasters, growing social and racial unrest, and a substantial political divide to balancing working from home and remote learning, navigating the uncertainty has been challenging.

The good news is that we still have a chance to salvage the year. Here are the 10 best ways—one for each week left of the year—to finish strong

1.Protect your time

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. When you master time-management, you’ll learn to say no, do, decide, delegate or delete tasks, batch routine tasks, eliminate distractions, embrace mono-tasking, get to know—and work—your own rhythms, and build in breaks to recharge.

2. Become more self-aware

Self-awareness is not just about knowing how you move through the world; it’s about knowing how your energy affects others. This perspective allows you to understand that everything is connected—your interactions with other people, how they perceive you, your attitude, and your responses to them in the moment—and all can be enhanced through better self-awareness.

3. Brush up on your soft skills

Last year, LinkedIn released its annual Global Talent Trends report, which explored the four big trends fueling the future of the workplace. Topping the list? Soft skills. 

This finding underscores a fundamental truth: At its core, business is about relationships. No matter your job function or title, to succeed, you must interact with other people. And those who find a way to combine their hard skills with soft skills create environments that empower and ignite their teams, delight their customers, and fuel sustainable growth.

4. Embrace four words to communicate and connect better

No matter your industry or profession, four words have the power to change your results instantly: It’s not about you.

The finest leaders understand that by putting others first and adopting a service mindset, they can improve their communication and connection, establish trust, deepen relationships, and build business.

5. Get curious

When you’re curious, you’re open. Open to exploring new ideas, experiences, and possibilities. Open to meeting new people and learning new things. Open to leaving behind outdated mindsets and limiting beliefs to make room for your highest and best self. And it’s that openness—that curiosity—that fuels growth.

6. Dare to be a “career contrarian”

“Career contrarians” share the ability to adopt an often unpopular perspective and make it work for them. Instead of conforming to conventional or practical approaches, education, or paths, they seek alternative means to career fulfillment.

7. Listen more than you talk

The benefits of listening are numerous. Active listening demonstrates respect, builds trust, and makes people feel valued. It creates a virtuous cycle: we naturally gravitate toward those who listen to us, and when we feel heard, we open up and share.

8. Stop hiding behind fear

Fear is a powerful emotion. It often masquerades as a cloak of protection, keeping us from doing things that may cause us harm. But sometimes, the real damage comes from the inaction that fear enables.

We avoid at all costs those things that make us uncomfortable, but there is no growth in the status quo. Sooner or later, that caution and those fears that prevent you from getting hurt or put on the spot stagnate you.

9. Share your wisdom

Wisdom is the ability to think and act using knowledge, experience, understanding, common sense, and insight. But it transforms into something truly powerful when it is shared.

Why? Because all the wisdom in the world is meaningless without application.

10. (Re)tell your career story

Properly crafted, your career story helps to differentiate you from your competitors, highlight your value, and to draw others to you. It provides a common thread that weaves together your personal and professional experiences, as well as your transferable skills, making it easy for others to connect the dots.

5 Reasons To Invest In An Employee Time Tracking Software | Thebossmagazine.com

Working remotely comes with its challenges. One of the major challenges is keeping a check on work productivity, which can be made easier with the help of an employee time tracking software.

Tracking Productivity

The biggest benefit of a time tracking software is that you (as the manager) get to see how your employees spend their time. Once you are aware of this, you can set work priorities in order to achieve optimum results within a given timeline. This in turns helps in maximizing work productivity.

Measure of Progress

An employee tracking software helps you gain an insight of the employee’s current position and provides a measure of his overall capacity. With this knowledge you can motivate them to work on a particular aspect that is lacking from their end.

Prioritizing of important tasks

A time tracking software gives a clear view of the progress of an ongoing project by the number of hours being spent on each task within the project. This enables the manager to prioritize urgent work by re-assigning resources for high-priority projects. 

Better project management

The better the management, the more confidently you can take up new work. Whether it is resource capacity estimates or the work timelines – all this data will help you establish your upcoming projects and even keep your budget in check.

Transparency in billing

Since time tracking is transparent, it removes confusion around what role each employee is fulfilling. It also clearly reflects how an individual employee is utilizing their time. This helps in reducing discrepancies regarding time and cost when discussing a new project with a client. 

Conclusion

Investing in a time tracking software can increase the revenue being generated whilst focusing on higher productivity at the same time. Every organization can utilize it in their own way and reap its benefits.

How to reduce your energy bills when working from home this winter | Naomi Gordon, Housebeautiful.com

With personal finances under strain and a long winter ahead, Michael Meiser at LED lighting specialists, Lumilum, gives his top tips for lowering your energy bill while working from home.

  1. Reorganise your workspace

If you aren’t alone in working from home, setting up a shared office space will mean you use less electricity for lighting and will stay warmer without heating the whole house. If you need to take a call or jump on a video conference, temporarily move to another room.

  • Be clever with your heating

‘Check the temperature your boiler is set to for hot water. Even decreasing it by 1°C could save up to 10 per cent on your heating bill,’ Michael reveals. ‘So that you only get the heat you need, put the boiler on a timer. You can also set your thermostat so that the boiler will kick in if the house gets too cold. An acceptable indoor temperature for office workers is 20 degrees.’

  • Switch off at the end of the day

Working from home means more devices will be powered and charged, but ensure that you fully switch off any device you are not using, chargers included. Even in sleep mode, devices use energy and lose charge, so avoid leaving them on standby. This simple change could save you an average of £80 a year, according to The Energy Savings Trust.

  • Get the right lighting

Aim to set up your workspace in a room with plenty of natural light to reduce your use of artificial lighting. Remove anything that’s blocking natural light and keep curtains and blinds fully open.

  • Find a better deal

Seeing as working from home and a more flexible approach to remote working is here to stay, it’s time to revisit your energy plan, and that means not settling for standard tariffs, which are often the most expensive.

  • Cut back in the kitchen

The kitchen is often seen as the forgotten cost of working from home. ‘If you’re a coffee or tea drinker, only boil the amount of water you need (it’ll be quicker too!), use the right size pots and pans to cook food faster, and defrost your dinner the natural way during the day,’ Michael explains. ‘Just like when you’re in the office, prepping lunch for the week ahead by batch cooking will save you time and energy.’

The complete guide to remote IT support for small business | Chris Souza, Itproportal.com

Here is a complete guide to help small businesses initiate remote IT services.

Begin with considering these critical aspects to support employees who work from home.

Check if employees have access to the required productivity tools

Your remote teams should have complete access to all the essential cloud-based productivity tools. This will help facilitate the sharing of files, effective communication, easy collaboration on projects, and initiation of meetings.

Consider a situation where employees experience technical issues with centralized productivity tools during a pandemic outbreak like the Covid-19 pandemic. This critical scenario demands the need for the availability of a robust remote platform that works offline while providing access to all productivity tools.

List tasks that can be handled remotely

This will help stakeholders plan the completion of important tasks to be prioritized and specifically handled from home.

Audit available technology resources

Obtain an overview of hardware and software resources that are available and if there is a need to purchase or upgrade resources. This will include an upgrade of internet packages and cloud-based productivity suites.

Take charge of cybersecurity

Remote employees should be educated about the sensitivity of data they will be handling and the risks that accompany this task.

For example, cybercriminals may take advantage of the current Covid-19 pandemic to entice victims into clicking on malicious links that offer information about a “cure.” Such instances can be better managed by having all the employees connect over a virtual private network (VPN) remotely.

Set a communication protocol

It is important to put into effect a protocol that defines how regularly communication among the team members needs to take place to improve collaboration. This should include the following:

  • Appropriately schedule check-ins and meetings, breakout sessions, and project updates on a particular time of the day
  • Have a structured facilitator and agenda to take care of the preparation work in advance
  • Ensure to send follow-up emails to summarize discussed points and outcomes of meetings
  • Test the technology used in advance when addressing a larger audience

Train employees on cybersecurity

Employees should be provided with comprehensive training on handling sensitive data, the features available in tools provided, and how best to use them. This kind of training will help them understand their responsibilities and remain productive.

Maintain helpdesk support services

It helps to maintain a 24*7 help desk support services for the remote workforce to address any technical or functional issue. This helpdesk support service should be able to troubleshoot and answer questions remotely.

Manage the team with empathy

A survey by Buffer reveals that remote employees grapple to unplug from work, tackle loneliness, and have problems with collaborating with their team. Organizations must address these social elements and use technology to overcome these challenges during a pandemic. Managers can plan one-on-one meetings or team meetings through video conferencing. They can also arrange for brainstorming sessions to generate ideas. 

Wrap up

Implementing effective work-from-home policies is slowly but surely becoming the new normal. The above-mentioned aspects and best practices will help organizations in the seamless transition of their workforce to the remote working environment. This information will also provide you with a deeper understanding of the significance of maintaining productivity tools and data security for the remote workforce.

Remote Work Digest: September 30, 2020

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

6 Ways to Save on Your Energy Bill When Working From Home | Lesly Gregory, Apartmentguide.com

Working from home can create a huge drain on your utilities, but there are ways to cut back. Remembering these simple steps can help save money on your energy bill.

  1. Control vampire appliances

Vampire appliances are everyday items that continue to suck electricity when they’re not in use. Simply keeping them plugged means they’re stealing away valuable energy and costing you extra. Some of the biggest culprits in this category are:

  • Cellphone and laptop chargers
  • Video game chargers and console plugs
  • Computer printers
  • TVs
  • Stereos
  • Coffee makers
  • Electric toothbrushes

You can unplug most of these items when they’re not in use. It’s easy to keep chargers next to outlets, but not always plugged in at ready. When you remove electronics from their charger, simply unplug the charger, as well.

2. Drain the power

Consider only charging your device in short spurts during the day to give it an energy boost. A perfect time for a recharge is when you walk away for lunch or take a bathroom break. Concentrate on getting it back up at 100 at night, when you’re done working.

Doing this not only helps you save on your energy bill, but it’s also good for your device’s battery. According to TIME, fully charging your battery stresses it out and can wear it down faster.

3. Put it to sleep

Does your computer stay on even when you walk away from it? Have you turned off sleep mode to make sure you don’t miss a single notification during working hours? Is so, you’re burning up electricity. Engaging power management features or putting your computer to sleep can save you up to $50 per year on your electric bill.

4. Manage your lighting

Whether your home office is at a kitchen table, inside a closet or in a dedicated office space, lighting is key. It’s also expensive. If you haven’t already, convert the bulbs in your office to LEDs. They do not help you save on your energy bull, but the average LED bulb lasts about 25,000 hours. An incandescent bulb only makes it 12,000 hours. If you’re working in an area with windows, open up the blinds. Rely on natural light, if you can, for at least part of the day, giving your bulbs a break.

5. Control the temperature

When you’re not home, it’s possible to adjust your thermostat to temps that make it less likely to run as often. It’s important to have a comfortable temperature when working, which means you’re using more electricity to regulate the temperature in your apartment. When you’re not home, you don’t need to maintain that temperature. Just a single degree adjustment can save you money. This slight change isn’t noticeable either, so consider it a way to save a few bucks.

6. Cut back on data usage

Maxing out your data limits each month not only means your devices are working overtime to raise your electricity bill, but you’re at risk for paying internet overages. Being resourceful with your internet usage can work hand-in-hand with lowering your electric bill. Just remember, even when you’ve put your computer to sleep, it could still drain your data.

To avoid this, make sure to:

  • Turn off location services on your phone while you’re home
  • Download music and videos instead of streaming
  • Use an internet browser that automatically compresses data like Google Chrome
  • Turn off the streaming device on your TV before you turn off the TV. They all keep streaming even when the TV isn’t on.
  • Use some of your phone data instead of Wi-Fi. This saves electricity too!

Save on your energy bill

There are a lot of easy ways to make big changes in your electricity bill, and even save some internet data in the process. The trick is to turn these small actions into regular habits.

10 Time Management Tips for Working Remotely | Barbara Weltman, Thestoryexchange.org

Six months into the pandemic, many of us are still working from home. Here’s advice from expert Barbara Weltman.

Here are 10 ideas to help you with time management while working remotely:

  1. Check your calendar at the start of the day.

There may be special meetings or events scheduled. Take a deep breath and begin your day knowing what’s been planned. As new things come up, note them on the calendar.

2. Use single tasking

Instead of multi-tasking (handling a household chore while trying to work), put full attention into one task. Complete it (or at least a set phase of it) before moving on.

3. Make a list of must-do items

If there are deadlines, be sure to note them. As my mentor told me many times, “do the best you can in the tie you have.”

4. Prioritize activities

There are different theories on how to do this. Some suggest putting the most important items up front and begin to tackle them. Others say to handle the little activities first so you can concentrate on important matters.

5. Schedule time for checking email.

Some prefer to limit viewing and responding to communications at a set time (e.g., before starting on other business tasks). Others use emails viewing to break up their work time. Learn what works better for you.

6. Watch the clock.

Whether you use a wall clock, the clock on your computer or mobile device, or a wristwatch, check where you’re at. Compare the actual time to what you have done and what you need to do before the end of the day.

7. Delegate activities.

Call upon others to help where needed. For example, those with young children at home need. For example, those with young children at home need to arrange supervision. If there are two working parents, it’s likely one must take charge to enable the other to work.

8. Communicate with employees.

One of the key problems for employees is understanding what’s expected of them and whether they’re doing it. Even without regular meetings, good communication can help employees with their time management.

9. Use software time management tools.

Businesses that want to track employee work hours can use software for this purpose.

10.  Plan ahead.

As the day draws to a close, assess what’s been accomplished and what remains to be done tomorrow. As Scarlett said in Gone With the Wind, “Tomorrow is another day.”

Corporate travel reset: 5 tips to improve productivity | Craig Fichtelberg, AmTrav, Phocuswire.com

If you create a program that eases the way for traveling employees, they’ll deliver more value by being more productive, which improves output.

Keep in mind that improving productivity in a travel program (or any other operation) is all about reducing input while increasing output.

Here are five ways to achieve that in your travel program:

Make data-driven decisions about in person vs. video call meetings

To create a data-driven travel program, rank past trips on a 5-point scale from most to least successful according to the outcome. Then, when travel resumes, use video calls to replace travel for the lowest ranked categories of meetings, and focus your travel budget on trips that are more likely to produce higher returns.

Keep monitoring the results, evaluating outcomes and ranking them in terms of productivity on the same five-point scale so you can continue to invest in the most productive trips.

This approach allows you to follow the data and make adjustments as needed to keep travel productivity high.

Maximize traveler satisfaction

Providing employees with travel amenities like minimal connecting flights, priority seating, airline club access and 24/7 assistance to manage disruptions and flight changes is a better approach.

This reduces traveler stress and boosts productivity, and continuously measuring traveler satisfaction with standard surveys produces more data that can be monitored via a dashboard to continuously improve the program.

Consider a monthly subscription fee program to simplify travel

A subscription fee-based partnership gives you access to comprehensive travel services for one fee. In most cases, the more trips your employees take, the less it costs per trip.

That eliminates the temptation to book outside the partnership to keep fees down, which means traveling employees always have access to the full range of services, which improves their productivity.

A simpler process with predictable costs also enhances travel manager productivity by reducing management hassles.

Address the unused tickets issue by tracking them and encouraging credit use

Since rogue travelers typically book their travel through multiple websites, it’s easy to lose track of what unused ticket was booked where.

The best solution is a reporting system that provides a summary, including unused ticket totals and expiration dates.

Fewer unused tickets reduce the input required for the travel program, which contributes to better productivity.

Implement safety measures to reduce risks

Ensuring employees are safe and productive requires extra measures, like keeping an eye on outbreaks and blocking travel to regions that are COVID-19 hotspots.

It’s also a good idea to be able to ensure employees are staying at facilities that meet safety and cleanliness standards.

Another safety measure to keep in mind: make sure you can reach travelers at any time with updates as conditions evolve.

Few sectors felt the impact of COVID-19 as acutely as the travel industry, but now is the time to rethink your approach to employee travel.

9 Easy Ways To Motivate Employees (Without Money) | Michael Dinich, Yourmoneygeek.com

Motivation and engagement are crucial for businesses to retain employees, and it is more important than ever to keep quality employees. Keeping employees happy while also understanding their personal needs can be a difficult task.

Most people would like a raise, but employers are not always to offer additional compensation. This post details the best way to motivate employees without having to pay them more.

While many companies are strapped for cash due to the state of the economy, it is no longer only the employees feeling the pinch. To address some of these top concerns, here are the nine best ways to motivate employees.

  1. Pay Your Employees – Faster!

We have all heard of payday loans and the insanely high fees associated with them. However, many employees are forced to take out these unethical loans so they can feed their families.

This is where employers can offer a fantastic benefit of partnering with companies that allow them to have early access to the money they have already earned.

2. Evaluate Schedules

The events of 2020 have forced many employers to think outside of the box in regards to teleworking. A large number of companies have actually increased their efficiency by using non-traditional schedules and working from home options.

3. Include Employees In Goal Setting

All too often, employers make decisions without first surveying their line-level employees. Often the employees have the best ideas when it comes to improving performance and increasing efficiencies.

As an employer, you can motivate employees by giving them a seat at the table and a voice when determining the company’s goals and strategies.

4. Increase Transparency

Employees like to know the “why” behind many decisions and processes. By allowing employees to see behind the scenes and the reason for a current direction, employees are given the option of buying into the mission. By creating buy-in, companies can motivate employees to take on the employer’s mission as their own.

5. Focus On The Employee

Recognizing the work of an entire team serves a purpose, but motivating employees is accomplished when they feel a personal connection to their leadership. This is done by being human and treating employees as unique individuals – rather than one large entity.

6. Develop Leaders

Develop a training program and curriculum for employees who desire to take over a leadership role one day. Show them you believe in their potential and give them the tools and resources to accomplish their goals.

When employees feel motivated to further their careers through leadership, their enthusiasm can translate into increased productivity and a contagious work ethic.

7. Be Available

Create or maintain an open-door policy that allows open and effective communication between the employer and the employees. When employees feel their employer values and respects communication with them they are more motivated to help achieve the organization’s goals.

8. Create Incentives and Games

Think of things not necessarily tied to monetary compensation. For instance, the employee who creates the most widgets next week gets a front parking spot, etc. Think outside of the box and see what you can come up with or what you can come up with or what your employees want to win.

9. Focus On Positivity

Just like a smile is contagious, so is attitude. Leave your home life at home so you can focus on work and encourage your employees to adapt and maintain a positive attitude.

Employees are motivated when they enjoy coming to work. Make the work site as enjoyable as possible with a positive attitude.

It doesn’t always require money to encourage employees to stay motivated. Often solving some of their problems is the best way to earn their trust. Small steps like making their money available to them a few days earlier with a paycheck advance app like Rain is a great incentive that doesn’t cost the company any money.

Small benefits and incentives are extremely powerful and can motivate employees more than you may realize.

Remote Work Digest: July 28, 2020

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

Feeling lonely despite lockdown lifting? Here are 8 practical hacks to help | Bianca London, Glamourmagazine.co.uk

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Claire Chamberlain, the author of UnLonely, share 8 practical hacks for beating loneliness. From improving self-care to cultivating relationships, she offers practical advice for looking after your mental and physical wellbeing, which is more important than ever before.

Embracing alone time

Sometimes, by turning your attention inward – to your own needs and passions – you can learn to form a deeper and more meaningful connection with yourself, helping to transform your loneliness into a productive and far less frightening state: solitude. By using your time alone to pursue creative, fulfilling, enjoyable and fruitful activities, you may find that the deeper connection you were seeking was within you all along.

Prioritise your wellbeing

In order to remain (or return to feeling) positive, looking after yourself is important. Simple things like taking a hot shower each morning and using your favourite shower gel, picking an outfit that makes you feel good, enjoying a hot cup of tea, doing a spot of mindful colouring, getting out for some exercise and cooking yourself a tasty dinner each evening can go a long way to boosting your mood and your self-esteem.

Consider your diet

Taking the time to look after yourself includes fuelling both your body and mind well, so that you have the energy and strength to maintain a positive mindset and feel physically great. Eating a good balance of lean protein (such as tofu, pulses, beans or lean meat), wholegrain carbohydrates (such as wholemeal pasta and bread) and healthy fats (such as avocados and oily fish), plus plenty of colourful fruits and vegetables, will keep you feeling energised all day. And, of course, the occasional treat doesn’t go amiss either. Eat mindfully, eat with joy and eat for happiness!

Be more mindful

Spending time focusing on your surroundings can help to ground you in the here and now, taking you firmly into the physical world and away from thoughts, worries and anxieties. Reconnecting in this way can help you feel more at one with the world. To get started, begin to notice your surroundings or your bodily sensations. If a thought arises that takes your mind away from “now”, acknowledge it without judgement, then draw your attention back to the present moment.

Get some fresh air (every day)

There are so many reasons why stepping outside into the fresh air each day is good for your mind, body and soul. Research has shown that regular walking can boost both your mood and self-esteem, while also easing feelings of anxiety and depression, and reducing stress levels.

Lose yourself in a good book

Reading can help you forget any worries or loneliness you may be feeling, allowing you to enter and inhabit a completely different world. What’s more, reading does not have to be reserved for your home: carry a book with you, so you can dip into it when you’re out and about, perhaps in your local park or while you’re waiting in a queue.

Cook from scratch

There is so much joy to be had in flicking through recipe books, discovering mouth-watering dishes, buying fresh ingredients and taking your time preparing a delicious meal. Making the effort to cook properly at least a few times a week can feel so rewarding, and it is a fabulous way to show yourself a little love.

Express gratitude

Taking time each day to think about all that you have to be grateful for in your life has been proven to have a positive impact on almost all areas of life, including enhancing self-esteem, increasing optimism, boosting energy, deepening relaxation, promoting feelings of kindness, improving sleep quality and – crucially – strengthening social bonds.

4 skill you can add to your resume that your’ve learned from working remotely during the pandemic | Hayden Field, HerMoney, Businessinsider.com

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In cover letters, job interviews, or conversations with your current employer, emphasize the skills you’ve built during the pandemic that can help advance your career, says Megan Fasules, a research economist at the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce. Be honest about your experience. Few people will want to hear that you handled everything perfectly during these challenging times, but many will want to hear how you handled it and emerged with strengths that you’re proud of, says Amanda Bates, a career services director at NC State University and career coach with The Muse.

Here’s a rundown of actionable career skills you may have reinforced over the past few months.

Communication

“Communication is king,” said Fasules. “That tends to be the number-one competency overall regardless of a pandemic, but it’s even more so now.” Since most workers aren’t able to interact in person during this time, they’ve had to hone communication skills in other areas, such as email response time and Zoom call etiquette. In an office, communication looks different, says Bates — you can see people, read people, walk up to someone, and share information. In the age of COVID-19, verbal and written communication skills are paramount.

And it’s not just about communicating with coworkers — those in client-facing professions have had to get creative in finding ways to connect and be persuasive without typical communication strategies. These skills are “transferable across all occupations,” said Fasules. For example, many health care professionals have pivoted to all-virtual visits via phone or video chat, and that can require additional expertise in communicating, says Bates.

Time management

During a global pandemic — and the stress, anxiety, and uncertainty that comes along with it — many have found time management much more difficult than usual. If that’s you (and you’re not alone), there are ways to turn what you’ve learned into successful takeaways for your career.

Think about the way in which you’ve approached your daily schedule, listened to yourself, and attempted to work smarter rather than harder, says Fasules — when you were in “work mode,” how did you focus, and in “home mode,” how did you separate yourself from email and Slack pings? “Many of us were in sink-or-swim mode for so long we didn’t actually realize we were building that muscle,” said Bates.

Productivity

In your next cover letter, interview, or review session, describe how you figured out your own work-from-home “rhythm” — how to set the priority levels of different projects, separate professional and personal time, double as your own manager, solve your own day-to-day problems — and how you’re going to apply those skills in your career, says Bates. For example, she says, in a cover letter, interview, or raise conversation, you could point out that during the pandemic, you learned how to meet the goals of an organization regardless of where you are and how to do it in an efficient way, using specific skills.

Conscientiousness

“You get hired for extraversion, and then you get raises for conscientiousness,” said Fasules. She cites research published in 2016, which suggests a correlation between extraversion and starting salary (but not salary growth), while on the other hand, “conscientiousness was unrelated to starting salary growth but significantly so to salary growth.” During a job interview, for instance, warmth and high energy often associated with extraversion could help a candidate’s odds of selection, but researchers suggest those qualities won’t necessarily propel a career forward as much as the intrinsic motivation and organization often associated with conscientiousness. “Figuring out how to prove you are a conscientious worker at the start is tricky and would be very beneficial,” said Fasules.

Try to break down the idea of being “conscientious” — in your view, what makes up that quality? It could incorporate empathy, focus, respect, efficiency, or determination, for example. So in your cover letter or interview, instead of saying you’re conscientious, you can show it with examples or by talking about the things that matter to you. For example, if you see empathy as a key ingredient in being conscientious, you could point out how during COVID-19, you threw out typical email jargon and replaced it with genuine phrasing, aiming to check in on the people you correspond with — clients, fellow employees — in a way that shows you truly care how they’re doing.

Don’t Procrastinate: Teach Your Kids Time Management Skills | John Rampton, Entrepreneur.com

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How can you teach your kids these basic time-management skills? Here are ten ways to accomplish that feat with some ideas that will stick throughout life.

The sooner, the better.

It may seem like over-parenting, but you can begin teaching basic time management skills to toddlers. Preschoolers are even capable of completing small tasks in short time blocks, such as brushing their teeth or putting away their toys.

Establish a routine and stick to it.

As your children get older, however, you’ll want to help them establish a daily routine. The reason? It lets them know “what is going to happen and who is going to be there, it allows them to think and feel more independently, and feel more safe and secure,” says Dr. Myers. “A disrupted routine can set a child off and cause them to feel insecure and irritable.”

In addition to some much-needed structure, this can help them become more accountable. And it gives you the opportunity to spend quality time with them.

Some obvious places to start setting simple time goals would be:

  • A morning routine, like eating breakfast and getting ready for school.
  • An after school routine, such as chores and homework.
  • An evening routine that could include dinner, brushing their teeth and reading before bed.

Have them make their own calendars.

Whether if it’s a DIY, old paper calendar, or an app like Cozi, get them involved in the calendar creating process. As a family, list your commitments and add them to the calendar. To prevent any confusion, use color-coding so that everyone has their own color for their own schedule. Most importantly, keep this in a location that’s easy to access and review.

Set priorities.

It’s essential kids learn to differentiate between ‘have-tos’ and ‘want-tos’ and learn to prioritize and self-monitor,” Marcia Grosswald, an upper-elementary resource teacher, told Scholastic. Grosswald uses the popular rock, pebble and water analogy, where students’ duties are represented by the rocks and pebbles.

The rocks, however, signify their most essential tasks, like school and sleep. The pebbles represent extracurricular commitments. And, the water stands in for want-to-dos, such as hanging out with friends.

I use a jar to represent a day,” says Grosswald. “The rocks go in first because they are things you have to do whether you like it or not. Next, come the pebbles. But there’s still some room in the jar, so we pour water until our jar — and the day is full.”

Help them measure time.

In order to make a realistic schedule, you need a good sense of how long things take,” says Grosswald. “I give them a chart that breaks the afternoon and evening hours into 15-minute intervals,” she explains. “Each time slot is followed by three columns: what kids plans to do, what they actually did and reflection.”

Make it fun.

As an adult, it’s hard to imagine how something like time management can be fun. But, it is possible by making it a game. Heck, you may even use gamification yourself to boost your productivity.

As for kids, I suggest you explore the Timex Time Machines app. In a partnership with Scholastic, there are interactive games, lesson plans and activities to teach children in Grades 1 through 3 core time-telling concepts.

Stop being a helicopter parent.

Let’s say that they just started a new school year. Because they have a new routine and teacher, which means new expectations and rules, they may be anxious. Instead of telling them how to handle this situation, let them voice their concerns and develop solutions to this problem.

When they’re older, let them create their own routine, and let them be flexible with their schedules so that they have free time. Your role, then, would be to coach and reward them as opposed to dictating every minute of their time.

Don’t over-schedule your kids.

What happens when you overcommit and pack your calendar too tightly? You probably feel like you’re always on the go. More troublesome, you may feel like you’re always behind. And, you don’t have the wiggle room to address the unexpected.

Designate a study zone.

If you’ve ever worked from home, then you know how important it is to have a dedicated workspace. I’d even go as far as to say that this should be a top priority when it comes to time management.

The reason? It lets you block out distractions like the TV or noisy family members, and it helps you distinguish between your work and personal lives.

The same idea is true when it comes to children. They should have a designated study area that’s quiet and free of distractions so that they can focus on their homework.

Be a role model.

Finally, the best way to help your kids get a better grasp of time management is to set a good example. As psychologist Eileen Kennedy-Moore explains, “Good modeling doesn’t guarantee that children will do what we want them to do, but telling children ‘do as I say, not as I do’ definitely won’t work.”

You’ll want to keep your own goals under control, meaning that if you’ve been emphasizing the importance of a schedule, and you’re failing at time management, they’ll pick-up on this inauthenticity.

5 ways to transform employee experience during the Covid-19 crisis | Yogita Tulsiani, Indianexpress.com

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The crisis is disrupting the work culture, helping companies induce new ways of working and communicating with employees. There are several different ways in which the management and leadership are driving an impeccable employee experience during the ongoing crisis.

Becoming a full-time leader in building trust

At this time, employees want to hear the words of encouragement from influencers in the company. The leaders are taking a bigger role in rebuilding trust and reconciling employee communication. By creating a clear plan of communication and connection with employees, engaging them to share their opinions and concerns during the crisis can help them bring sustainability and credibility at the workplace.

Focusing on employee’s resilience and well-being

To improve employee experience, companies must stay strong with their employees than having them left in the dark during the crisis. A clear understanding of challenges and their emotional and financial condition can help them reshape their experience. The main focus of leadership and talent management teams is to keep their employees well-informed, safe and positive during the time of uncertainty.

Embed relationship-building strategies

To build strong relationship strategies, managers can take potential actions in developing employee to employee relationships and make them come together to listen, talk and work on tasks like never before. Moreover, they can also embed the ideas of virtual talent shows and peer-recognition sessions to strengthen professional relationships.

Maintaining employee productivity and engagement

The Covid-19 crisis has made the companies worry about the employees’ productivity and efficiency. The better way to go is to make them understand the company’s vision and business goals. The visibility of a clear vision makes the employees be more productive and pay more attention to their designated tasks. For larger organisations, making the right use of communication technology can help in delivering the required message at the right time.

Nurturing growth through online learning

Companies should make a comprehensive plan for learning offerings for employees. They can build a team of talent managers, IT, and learning delivery partners for remote training of employees. Once the clear view of learning is in place, managers can prioritise what needs to be built.

To get a clear picture of how employee experience is going to create long-term sustainability for the company, establish a list of effective employee communication strategies. Powerful analytics can assist talent managers to have a better sense of employee experience. Besides, making effective use of technology can enable them to make the employees stay informed and productive while being more transparent and open to their managers. Evaluating different assumptions and understanding their implications on business post-COVID-19 is the key to improved employee experience.

Remote Work Digest: June 30, 2020

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

5 Ways To Engage Employees During Work From Home | Ruman Talwar, Entrepreneur.com

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During the current pandemic, many employees have become accustomed to working from home setting. It is, therefore, important for companies to ensure that they keep motivating their employees with various campaigns and programmes. Here are a few ways to engage.

Online virtual games

Organizing games and quizzes have proven to create active participation rather than a passive immersion. Conducting games and quizzes online isn’t that difficult. All you need is a PC/laptop/mobile with reasonable Internet speed.

Health and wellness

With the help of online video conferencing software, a group yoga session or a mindfulness series can be organized online to foster mental peace. Additionally, virtual health challenges such as pushups, sit-ups and planks will ensure that organizations flourish with a healthy workforce.

Recognition and awards

Adjusting to the home setting can be a bit of a hassle, which is why it imperative to reward people for specific actions. A personalized message or a virtual gift card expressing gratitude for the work they have been accomplishing can make them feel happier and fulfilled.

Communication

Effective communication within the organization is the need of an hour. Proactive, clear and impactful, and two-tone communication can make employees feel that their ideas are valued and that they are a pivotal part of the organization.

Upskilling and reskilling

Corporates across the various sectors are getting used to this new norm and are spending ample time in identifying the solutions to bridge the skill gaps in employees. One way could be providing bite-sized learning material to the employees. A lot of e-learning platforms have paid and free courses that employees can take to get skilled. Further, employers should encourage social learning, where employees can share their experiences and support each other.

4 Reasons Remote Work is Here to Stay | Ray Nelson, Devprojournal.com

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Even as states reopen and some employees begin returning to the office, remote solutions are here to stay – not just as a safety net in the event of a secondary wave, but because of their value to employers and their workforce.

  1. Increased Productivity

Two-thirds of managers report that employees who work from home increase their overall productivity, while 86 percent of employees say they’re more productive working from home, free of office distractions. No longer do water cooler conversations eat into the day or loud colleagues distract their coworkers. Employees instead report that being close to family and friends encourages them to work faster and more efficiently.

  1. Decreased Stress

Fundera found that 82 percent of telecommuters report lower stress levels than when they were physically in the office, and 80 percent note that their morale is higher when working remotely. Reduced anxiety and better attitudes translate to better, harder workers, while also having the potential to reduce healthcare costs from stress-related illnesses.

  1. Reduced Absenteeism

With remote work solutions, employees have the option to stay home and telework without spreading minor illnesses throughout the workplace. It also allows parents to stay home with sick children, or for employees to work if inclement weather makes it unsafe to commute.

  1. Low Operating Costs

From office snacks, coffee and utility bills to the largest culprit: rent, teleworking eliminates – or at least significantly reduces – the need for these expenses. In fact, some 77 percent of businesses say that transitioning to remote work solutions may lead to reduced operating costs, per FlexJobs. Even technology giants like Twitter, which employs nearly 5,000 people, recently announced that workers may choose to work from home permanently. Meanwhile, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg predicts that half of the company could be working remotely within the next five to 10 years.

There’s no question that the trend towards working remotely is increasing, and the last few months have provided a global case study into the benefits of telecommuting. Factor in things like Gen Z’s preference for working remotely, and it’s likely that we’ll see a 30 percent increase by 2030, according to Gartner. COVID-19 was the catalyst for the expedited push toward remote work, but the trend’s momentum isn’t expected to slow any time soon. In fact, we’re likely to see it extend to other realms, including education.

What Work From Home Teaches Us: How To Create A Great Experience | Tracy Brower, Forbes.com

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With the necessity of social distancing, masks and less amenities like cafeterias and coffee bars, the pre-vaccine workplace won’t offer all it once did. But it can still be an experience people want, that fulfills key needs. Here are a few to consider:

Provide For Connections

The most effective workplaces provide for connections that are both informal and formal. It’s the opportunity to run into a colleague in the hallway or the chance to solve a problem with a teammate during a weekly meeting. Creating offices—intentionally—where people can gather, collaborate and build ideas will best apply lessons from home and be most attractive to employees.

Provide For Choice

One of the hardest things about being home is the lack of options it has offered. Based on brain science, we know humans crave variety and stimulation and being home constantly has been predictable and monotonous for many. As a welcome alternative to home, the workplace should offer plenty of possibilities. Choice is made available through a variety of settings, surroundings and arrangements, but control is also key. People must have autonomy to sit away from a workstation—moving to an enclave for privacy or a work café to collaborate, working alone or in the midst of a buzzing community.

Provide For Safety

Creating a positive work experience mirrors the safety we perceive at home. When people feel secure, they can be their most creative. And when they feel the most appreciated, they can take bigger risks and step out on a limb toward new thinking and new innovations. The work experience can supply this kind of psychological safety by fostering strong bonds among team members and ensuring leaders are both visionary and empathetic.

Provide For Meaning

Work is part of life and the chance to spend more time with our inner circle has reminded many of us about what we find most important in life. In addition, staying home to avoid spreading the coronavirus has given us a sense of significance—a contribution to the broader community. This sense of meaning is also important for work. People are most motivated by work which is connected to a broader purpose and to which they can make a unique contribution. Leaders should align people’s talents and skills with their responsibilities, so they feel they’re adding real value.

Provide For Boundary

Work is important because it’s a critical way we contribute to society and feel valuable. But a healthy mix is important as well. All work, all the time leads to burnout and less effectiveness. The lesson from home is to give people the opportunity to manage their boundary between work and home and to empower them to have as much of both as possible.

Working from home is both exhausting and enjoyable, frustrating and fulfilling, monotonous and motivational. It is complex, but we can take what we’ve learned from working at home and inspire work experiences that provide for connection, choice, safety, meaning and boundary. It is these aspects of work and life which will be important as we go through the pandemic and—eventually—as we move beyond it.

Remote Jobs that Pay Well and Let You Travel the World | Africanexponent.com

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Thanks to the wide range of remote working tools (like time tracking apps, conference tools, file-sharing extensions, etc.) available, employers now have more efficient and reliable resources for tracking the amount of time remote employees spend on their projects. As such, managers can ensure that productivity stays unhindered.

So, what are actually the top jobs for remote work today? Is it only developers, English tutors, and writers who can live the dream?

Digital Tour Guide

These days, a lot of travelers prefer to embark on independent exploration adventures. At times, all they need are a few knowledgeable tips from a professional wanderer. If you have visited a lot of places or simply know an area, city, or even a region as the back of your hand, you can try writing sightseeing guides or help fellow travelers navigate to the best restaurants and nightspots in the city.

Social Media Manager

It is not uncommon for businesses to invest both time and money into creating comprehensive social media campaigns to build up their brand presence. If you know your way around Instagram, Twitter, or TikTok and have what it takes to adjust to the ever-changing trends, you may find your skills in great demand by a vast pool of employers.

Bitcoin Trader

If you know more about Bitcoin than the average person and are willing to take the time to gain more expertise in the area, you may just become one of the trailblazers into the world of financial freedom for those eager to invest. As Bitcoin belongs to no particular country and allows for flexible money transfers between both individuals and institutions, you may find a variety of employment options in the Bitcoin trading field.

Data Analyst

An analyst’s ability to scrutinize the collected data and leverage it into strong decision making can make or break a brand. If you don’t mind spending a lot of your time going through Excel sheets and numbers do not make your dizzy, a career in data analytics may give you the freedom to stay out of the cubicle and under the sun.

Remote Personal Assistant

Times have changed and these days, quite a lot of the assisting actually goes on online. From posting content on social media and making Amazon purchases to answering email and filling in Google Calendar events, there are lots of tasks in the online world that one might want to hire a remote personal assistant for. Some of the skills you will need for the job include diligence, organization, and a pinch of agreeableness.

How about you? Have you thought about making the transition into working remotely?