Remote Work Digest: October 27, 2016

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

shutterstock_222984970_workfromhome_640x366

Image from Onecom.co.uk

How to Reduce Distractions, Improve Productivity and Leave On Time | Julia Naughton, Huffingtonpost.com.au

Whether it’s your never-ending inbox or finally working on that creative project you didn’t get to during the working day, we can all agree that in 2016, staying back late doesn’t exactly reflect flawlessly on your time management skills.

Though, it’s not entirely your fault.

Michael McQueen, author of Momentum: How to Build it, Keep it, or Get it Back explains the modern workplace doesn’t make it any easier for us.

“The rise of technology has placed immense pressure on us in the form of expectations, both from others and the expectations we place on ourselves, which can be detrimental to our productivity,” McQueen told The Huffington Post Australia.

Ahead, McQueen reveals his top 6 productivity tips for canceling out the noise and ticking off your to-do list so that you can get home on time.

1. Turn off notifications… all of them!
“Interruptions are an inevitable part of modern life, but by simply turning off all notifications for new mail, texts, alerts and requests you will immediately lessen the blow.”

2. Make this new approach known
Basically, if you’re only doing your emails in batches three times a day, let your colleagues know so they understand and adjust their expectations around receiving an immediate response.

3. Make friends with your phone’s “Do Not Disturb” function
“When you hear the ping of your phone, even if you have no idea what the alert is about, knowing it’s there impacts your ability to focus,” McQueen said.

4. Get out of the office
Remove yourself from the environment by heading out to a cafe, park or a quiet room.
“Even if the cafe is a little noisy, you still would have removed other distractions like conversations happening around you and interruptions from other colleagues.”

5. Put your headphones in
“If you can’t get out of the office, try plugging in some headphones,” McQueen said.
Depending on what kind of work you are doing, McQueen said listening to some music or even some white noise will help you to focus on the task at hand.

6. Set clear boundaries
“The big trend in the last five years is having office workers work from home one day a week,” McQueen said.
While this has many positive effects including increased productivity due to less people spending time commuting and a decrease in cost for office space, McQueen said many people, especially those who are extroverted struggle to stay motivated in the absence of accountability.
“Sure, you have less colleagues interrupting you but at home there might be kids and piles of dirty washing waiting for you — so there’s a whole set of new issues.”
This is where setting clear boundaries becomes important otherwise any distraction that comes up becomes an opportunity to procrastinate,” McQueen said.

10 ways to help employees achieve better work-life balance | Lauren Steed, Hrmorning.com

Many American simply feel overworked — despite what the numbers say.
As a result, people are clamoring for more of a work-life balance.
Sometimes what’s needed isn’t more time off, but the right time of day off. In most instances, employees want to find a way to juggle both work and their personal lives.

Here are 10 ideas that could help your company create that balance:

1. Make sure management is promoting the right image. Each employee has a different work style. But some managers may be workhorses. And guess who’s setting the expectations and culture for the workplace? Your managers — and not every employee can match a feverish pace set by a manager without risking burnout. Solution: Consider having managers promote more short breaks throughout the work day.
2. Draw a hard line on work hours. Some employees take work home with them or answer emails at night or during the weekend, making their actual work hours harder to track — and setting yourself up for overtime liability. Establishing defined boundaries can help prevent burnout and overtime headaches.
3. Offer flexible scheduling or a work-from-home option. This is always a good option to help people manage their various responsibilities, if it’s the right call for your workplace.
4. Promote vacation time. Some employees need convincing to take their vacation time. Make sure they know it’s not only OK to do so, but it’s also encouraged.
5. Allow pet (or kid) visit days. One way to help people balance their working and personal life is to occasionally allow the two to mix. It helps boost morale around the office by giving people a much needed quick mental break.
6. Ban tech from face-to-face meetings or corporate outings. Sometimes emergencies do spring up, but chances are it’s going to do more good to completely disconnect from the digital world.
7. Remind people hours aren’t a competition.

An efficient employee may not need a full eight hours to finish his/her work for the day, while another may have a more relaxed working style and need more time to complete his/her tasks.
8. Allow specific time off to contribute to a charity. Giving people some time off or incentives to go out and pursue a cause they find meaningful boosts their sense of fulfillment. The fact that your company will back employees looking to volunteer also boosts its image and propels it into the spotlight when trying to attract top talent.
9. Help employees accomplish their everyday tasks. This could be as simple as providing on-site coffee so people don’t have to go out for their own, or offering dry cleaning services once a month.
10. Finally, educate employees. Providing time-management training to employees can help them help themselves achieve the work-life balance they seek.

Guidelines for Better Time Management and Getting Things Done | Dave Jones, Iamwire.com

Here are methods that bode well with managing time and getting things done by Dave Jones, manager of Live Tecs.

Characterize you needs
Prioritize things that are an absolute necessity, an ought to or a need. Arrange your day around the ‘must’, planning in the rest of stuff from the ought to and need list. Simply make certain to remember what you have to finish in the short term to work towards your bigger, long haul objectives. This conveys me to the idea of significance versus criticalness.

Make a schedule
Schedules will shift incredibly individual to individual, yet they do work best in the event that they genuinely turn into a propensity. For instance, you may begin your day with 30 minutes of activity, drink some espresso while you audit your calendar, and listen to the news. Whatever works for you!

Start your day with the most significant work, end with the simplest
It’s been found that when individuals have remarkable things on their schedule, whether it is everyday family tasks or imperative undertaking for work, thinking simple and focusing gets to be troublesome. So by accomplishing your all the more difficult work right in the morning, your mind can unwind and concentrate on whatever else comes up.

Take a shot at your responsibility each day
Whatever work you have planned, make it a point to do it consistently. The work or discovering that you do day by day will include fundamentally after some time.

Build up a rhythm
You may might be great at maintaining focus for 1, 2 or even 3 hours. The trick is to test and find what works for you, and afterward plan your work in these augmentations, with little breaks in the middle.

Overlook states of mind
You’re not in the mood to work? Gracious well. Show up in any case. This may be the hard, however it’s unquestionably legitimate. On the off chance that something is imperative to you, then you have to do it, paying little mind to whether you need to or not. This will go far in helping you finish your objectives.

Cut the diversions
What intentional things do you invest your time in that suck time and vitality? Online networking or email? Television? Whatever it is, simply stop. At any rate when you have booked your major time for your work. Individuals are bad at opposing enticement, so help yourself out and evacuate it totally.

Cluster comparable undertakings together
It’s best to do comparative assignments together to keep your brain from expecting to switch gears.

Pinpoint why you linger
Do you abstain from taking a shot at a task since you are exhausted? Do you not know how to accomplish something? It is safe to say that you fear feedback? Consider every option and truly make sense of what the issue is. When you know, you can do your best to manage it and proceed onward.

Figure out how to say no
We as a whole are continually besieged with solicitations. Begin adjusting these solicitations to your needs, and say no to the things that don’t affect your objectives.

Remote working, without a remote experience | Adrian Hipkiss, Itproportal.com

Research shows that company culture is key to attracting great employees, with HR leaders considering culture and engagement their number one challenge.
Company culture can be described as the personality of your business, and it’s the personality of the environment in which your employees work that is likely to keep them with you.

The traditional forms of employee interaction to help the work environment prosper – from daily meetings, to after-work drinks, to even simple things like cakes on birthdays – are noticeably more difficult when employees spend barely any time in the same office. However, the key is to focus on bringing your team together virtually if they cannot be brought together physically.

Here are a few questions to ask yourself when considering how to improve collaboration in your virtual office:

Is your communications system fit for purpose?
The first place to start is with your communication system. Do you have a platform that can be easily accessed by all of your staff? Does it really make your life easier – and that of your employees? Ideally, this should be a unified communication system that is simple to use. If you need to have a lot of conference calls, choose a system that is easy to dial in to – complicated passwords and IDs aren’t always the best way to begin a productive call.

Does your remote time often end up being down time?
When most of your team is working remotely, this means everyone has to essentially take some responsibility for the technology they use. As an employer, you need to make this as easy as possible by ensuring that your back office systems are up-to-date and reliable.

Having a suitable system in place can also ensure downtime is kept to a minimum, which stops your remote employees from being stranded without a connection to the virtual office.

Are your employees comfortable?
The next thing to consider is if your employees are able to communicate in the way that is most comfortable for them. This may mean a discussion about the devices they use to communicate – would they prefer to contact you and other members of the team by smart phone, tablet or desktop computer?

Are you in a routine?
Without regular, routine interaction, great company culture cannot be built naturally. Regular rewards are part of this – scheduling in time to talk about success is a really important part of keeping your employees in the loop and enhancing the bond between your team.

Is your collaboration integrated?
Using apps is a great way to keep employees engaged with one another, and nowadays there are plenty of user-friendly programmes that can be used to improve remote communication. For example, Skype can now integrate with an organizations’ unified communications solution, which means that employees can not only use their favorite device but also combine elements that are familiar to help them unify their personal and business life.

It is easier to “get to know” your employees when they have a personalized profile they can share! Overall, with the right tech behind you and your team, working remotely doesn’t have to be a remote experience.

Remote Work Digest: September 21, 2016

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

telecommuting-1

Image from News.filehippo.com

11 time-wasting habits that are hard to quit, but you’ll be glad you did | Aine Cain, Uk.businessinsider.com

It’s important to identify and drop harmful time-wasting tendencies before they seriously mess up your career.

Here are 11 awful time management habits that are tricky to quit — but you’ll thank yourself once you do:

1. Multitasking
Contrary to what you might think, multitasking doesn’t boost your productivity.
It’s easy to trap yourself into this work style by convincing yourself that you’re being hyper-efficient. However, the evidence just isn’t there.

2. Procrastination
This is probably one of the hardest bad habits to quit, but it’s possible to break free of procrastination’s stranglehold on your precious time.

3. Neglecting deadlines
Flaunting deadlines is a terrible habit to get into. One of these days, you’ll cross a deadline that really wasn’t meant to be crossed. It’s important to start managing your boss’s expectations — or, you know, just start respecting deadlines.

4. Inability to streamline
In our chaotic, technology-heavy world, this is an easy trap to stumble into. It’s crucial to make the effort to streamline your life a bit — otherwise, you risk becoming disorganized and discombobulated.

5. Never saying no
Try to stick up for your time and become less of a yes man. This can be difficult if you’re a bit of a pushover, but it’s necessary if you’re going to fix your terrible time management habits.

6. Not setting goals
If you have no clue about your destination, you’re probably just going to get yourself lost. It can a bit daunting to sit down and outline all this, but think of it this way: without short and long term goals, you have no foundation to build your schedule upon.

7. Failing to ‘eat a frog’
No, eating an actual frog won’t help your time management skills. This just refers to Mark Twain’s famous quote: “Eat a live frog first thing in the morning and nothing worse will happen to you the rest of the day.”

Eat your live frog first thing in the morning. Get all the tasks you’ve been dreading done first. That’ll jump start your productivity for the rest of the day.

8. Forgetting that perfect if the enemy of good
Perfectionism is a hard tendency to drop, but it’s important to realize that this is a trait that can kill, rather than boost, your career.

9. Burning yourself out
Burn out is terrible. Stop killing yourself trying to do everything and start focusing on doing a handful of things very well.

10. Failing to prioritize
Certain tasks are more deserving of your time and attention than others. Unless you’re carefully ranking each item on your list, you risk lacking priorities throughout the day.

Lack of priorities puts you at risk for cutting through busy work while ignoring truly important projects.

11. Forgetting to write things down
You don’t actually have to write things down on paper — using an app to manage your time is great too. You just need to find some way to hold yourself accountable and stay organized.

A Remote Workforce and Its (Non) Impact on The Environment | JTRipton, Theenergycollective.com

Being able to work from home is a dream for many people, particularly those of us with long commutes and dreary offices. Between 80 and 90 percent of the US’s workforce admits they would like the option to work remotely, ideally two or three days each week.

Remote work offers various benefits, not least from an engagement perspective. Research shows that those who work remotely from time to time tend to be more engaged in their work than those who are never given the chance to work from home. Telecommuting is an ideal solution for employees with mobility issues, as well as parents looking to relieve child-care costs.

Beyond these, however, telecommuting is of major benefit to the environment. In this day and age, taking a green approach to business is incredibly important, and adopting a more environmentally-aware mindset will help businesses cultivate a more eco-friendly operation.

Here are four benefits remote working offers businesses today.

# 1: Less Gas Emissions and Expenditure
Traffic is a problem for drivers, for businesses facing widespread lateness, and for the planet itself.

Businesses which offer employees the chance to work remotely can help to increase productivity, cut wasted gas, and help reduce congestion even a little. Research shows that each 1 percent reduction in vehicles can create a three-fold drop in congestion.

# 2: Remote Working Encourages Smaller Business Space
Companies reducing their in-house staff can create a cultural shift resulting in less demand for business properties. One major knock-on effect of this could be a reduction in deforestation and less strain on land resources.

# 3: Remote Work Reduces Businesses’ Carbon Footprints and Energy Usage
Research suggests that businesses allowing employees to work remotely even just half the time can save as much as $11,000 per year through reduced overheads.
Workers based in their own home will be responsible for maintaining a green lifestyle, but a business will need less electricity for lighting, air conditioning, and other essentials.

# 4: Working From Home Leads to Less Food and Drink-Related Waste
For employees working at home, refreshments can be taken from your own kitchen rather than using vending machines or driving to a nearby coffee shop or convenience store. Not only is this more cost-effective, it also leads to less non-recyclable containers, bags, and wrappers being tossed in bins. Even if fewer recyclable items are purchased, this places less strain on recycling plants.

By reducing the amount of waste-materials you direct into bins every day, telecommuting employers and employees can reduce their carbon footprint.

In order to ensure a cleaner, healthier environment for ourselves and future generations, businesses must embrace a greener ethos. Allowing staff to work from home is a major step in reducing carbon footprints, creating a happier workforce, and cutting overheads. By embracing remote work, companies of all size can help to create a safer, brighter future, maximizing their budgets and resources alike.

Work from anywhere: What it takes to be a digital nomad | Monty Majeed, Yourstory.com

According to the 2016 Deloitte Millenial Survey, the most important things that millenials look for in jobs are flexibility, work-life balance and a sense of meaning from the work they do. This is exactly why we are seeing an emergence of remote workers and digital nomads in almost all industries. Unlike remote workers, who are based out of office or out of the location where their employers are, digital nomads are not based anywhere in particular. They are constantly on the move. They are those intelligent ones who combine work and their passion to travel the world – and no, you don’t need to be a travel writer to do that.

Who can be a digital nomad?

Marianne Cantwell, career coach, author, Founder of the Free Range Humans concept and a digital nomad herself, calls such people Cubicle Cage Humans. The whole idea of becoming a digital nomad started with the idea of not having “to be trapped to get paid,” says Marianne. “A free range human chooses when, where and how they work,” she says. “They have freed themselves from societal expectations of fitting into a career-shaped cage and now get paid to do what they really want to do.”

According to author and digital nomad Jodi Ettenberg, of LegalNomad.com, these are a few jobs you can do on-the-rod:

  • Media-related jobs (translator, content writer, journalist, editor, proofreader, technical writer, blogger, photographer, videographer, podcaster, digital marketeers)
  • Finance jobs (e-commerce, product promoter, accountants, insurance agents, online trader)
  • Organisational support roles (virtual assistant, researcher, customer service executive, travel agent)
  • Teaching
  • Computer-related jobs (programmers, database managers, web designers, software developers, software testers, UX designers)

Now that you are armed with a list of jobs that you can pursue while travelling around the world, here are some tips to stay productive while at it.

Keep your connections posted
Let people you work with know at what times you are available for work, meetings and other communication. This will help you manage work communication efficiently and divide your time productively.

Divide work and play times
Divide your time in a day for work and set aside time to relax. A digital nomad has the freedom to work for two hours at a stretch, take a five-hour break and then resume his or her work. Whatever be your schedule, make sure that during your work time, you remain focused on getting things that get you paid done in the best possible way.

Make backups of your work and important documents
You may get lost, get robbed, get stranded in a place with no internet or lose your phone. Work out solutions and alternatives for such problems before you set out. You could use cloud space to securely save your data online, carry portable modems and routers for net connectivity, chargers and power banks for your batteries and so on.

It is empowering to be able to work from anywhere and have full control over your schedule. However, do not forget that working from anywhere comes with its own set of challenges. Make sure that you have access to a reliable internet connection, a well-planned schedule and proper backup systems to turn you into a rather productive and efficient digital nomad.

7 Ways to Help Younger Employees Improve | Rieva Lesonsky, Smallbiztrends.com

Randstad and Future Workplace conducted a survey of Millennial and Generation Z employees and found that, while the majority of both generations believe their educations prepared them well for their current jobs, there are some important gaps. If you want to get the most from your younger employees, how can you help them improve? Here are seven steps to take.

Tips for Managing Young Employees

1. Set Expectations
One-third of Generation Z employees and 29 percent of Millennials say their education did not prepare them to work long hours, and one-fourth of Generation Z workers say it did not prepare them to manage their time effectively.

2. Provide Opportunities for Collaboration
Since project-based work is the number-one way Gen Z likes to learn new skills, try putting younger employees in teams with older workers so they gain experience in getting along with different generations. (Make sure the older workers are prepared and willing to provide some guidance to the younger ones.)

3. Educate Millennial Employees in Management and Conflict Resolution Skills
More than one-fourth of Millennials say their educations did not prepare them to manage others or resolve conflicts. These interpersonal skills are critical as Millennials move into managerial positions. Pair new Millennial managers with more experienced managers who can mentor them.

4. Communicate Often and Honestly
39 percent of both Millennial and Gen Z workers say the most effective way to communicate is “in person.” In other words, you don’t have to text, IM or Snapchat to reach young workers — simply walk around and talk to them.

5. Provide Ongoing Feedback
Forty-six percent of both Millennials and Generation Z say providing quality feedback regularly is the best way to help them excel. Among the highest-performing companies in the survey, nearly one-third provide feedback to young workers on a regular basis (that is, after every project, assignment or task), and 22 percent provide daily feedback.

6. Design a Workspace that Enables Both Collaboration and Focus
An open, collaborative workspace isn’t always the most conducive to focus. Help younger employees focus better by setting up an office space that includes quiet areas for focused work.

7. Help Them Lessen Stress
Regularly review workloads so employees aren’t burdened with more than they can realistically handle. Suggest or teach time management strategies that can help with stress. Create a culture that encourages breaks and downtime in addition to hard work.

Taking the steps to help your young employees improve can pay off big. More than 80 percent of both Generation Z and Millennial employees want to take leadership roles at work. Start now, and you can shape the next generation of leaders to fit your business’s needs.

Remote Work Digest: May 11, 2016

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

natural-walnut-home-office-furniture

Image from Decoist.com

5 easy steps to create the perfect home office | Josh Nicholas, Businessinsider.com.au

For employees, working from home can provide much needed flexibility, allowing for more time with loved ones, and to pursue other interests.

Remote workers often report greater satisfaction, as they skip the daily commute, see more of their kids, and even eat even better. But working from home can require more than a computer and a stable internet connection.

Here are some key aspects to focus on if you want to do have the perfect home office setup.

1. Create a separate space
Having a separate space has other benefits as well. Not having to pack and unpack your work gear means you have a consistent work environment – your files or other tools are always in the same place. It provides a space for you to be in “work mode”, something that you can leave behind at the end of the day.

2. Ergonomics
Relative heights are an important aspect of setting up your work space – ensure your desk, computer monitor, keyboard, mouse and chair are in the correct position to ensure good posture – bad posture can impact both your body and your mind. Once you have your space sorted, remember to move around regularly to keep the blood flowing.

3. Manage distractions
A good way to manage distractions is to send a signal – close a door, put on some headphones or wear a “uniform”. Ensure others can tell that you’re busy and shouldn’t be disturbed.

Alternatively, depending on the task at hand, being distracted may be exactly what you need. Researchers have found that introducing more stimuli can foster more creativity, allowing your mind to create connections and wander down new pathways.

4. Include greenery and light
Office aesthetics don’t end with decor. How you organize your desk can have big impact on productivity and peace of mind. As much as you can, don’t over-clutter you desk – try and leave one side free. Eschew piles of papers and tools, using tools and files to organize your workflow. Stash rarely used items in draws or someplace else you can’t see them.

5. Play the right ambient music and sounds
Not everyone works well in silence, and different ambient noises and music can suit different work and environments.

If music doesn’t work for you, you may want to try some of the various apps and tools that offer ambient sounds. There’s Coffitivity for coffee shop sounds, plenty of white noise on Youtube, and play lists for the ocean, and even Wikipedia edits.

 

Three Ways To Create A Productive Working Space | Rob Clark, Minutehack.com

When planning an office space, various factors need to be taken into consideration; the availability of technology around the office, the quality of equipment, as well as the visual design and structure of the space.

Here are three top tips on creating productive office space.

Make your office look good

An attractive environment doesn’t just improve employee well-being. Research shows that visually stimulating spaces can actually influence buying behavior, whether it’s shoppers or potential business clients. Business which provide a visually stimulating working environment can reap rewards in terms of productivity and business success.

Don’t run a marathon to access technology

if you’re relying on centralized technology models in your business, chances are your employees are running a marathon – and wasting a lot of time! A successful office space is equipped with technology that is accessible. If business rely on centralized models, the reality is that productivity could be impeded.

Collaborate, collaborate, collaborate

Today’s business environment calls for increased collaboration and knowledge sharing, in order to drive creativity and efficiency for companies looking to maintain that innovative edge. Modern work spaces, therefore, must encourage the idea of the ‘connected employee’.
Productive working spaces, then, rely on a mix of thoughtful landscaping, accessible technology and using collaborative whiteboards and projection in order to encourage employees to interact.
7 Smart Ways to Increase Employee Productivity | Akinde Hafiz, Business2community.com

It’s quite normal for employees to experience dips in their performances due to factors like stress, personal problems and organizational gaffes. However, it’s the duty of every manager to help employees get their grooves back in order to achieve the set goals.
So if you’re looking to get the best out of your employees, you should put in place certain measures that would boost their productivity levels. Here are 7 smart ways to do that without losing a drop of sweat.

1. Set realistic goals
It is obvious that goal setting plays a central role in achieving productivity at work. But these goals have to be clearly defined and realistic. Realistic goals are not determined by how complex they are. Rather, they should be assigned based on priority and time-bound.
2. Create a sense of ownership
Every employee must be made to take ownership of all issues in their buckets. This attitude will create a sense of accountability, allowing them to focus on the most important aspects of their jobs.
However, you must realize that employees don’t take ownership when they’re treated like employees. In other words, you should create a sense of belonging for each and every team member, make them feel valued, and make the system as transparent as possible.

3. Provide an outstanding reward system
There’s a popular cliché that the reward for hard work is more work. But then employees need more than just work to stay on top of their game. You’d be surprised at how much impact a small gift card can make. This has nothing to do with the monetary value attached to the gift but the feeling that their efforts are being appreciated.

4. Operate a virtual office
The advantages of going virtual are quite numerous. They include lower equipment and installation cost, good communication network, and all-round accessibility. On the part of employees, virtual offices provide flexibility and freedom, reduces stress of commuting and increase morale. So it’s not the question of whether or not running a virtual office really boosts productivity, it’s a question of why you’re not yet leveraging it.

5. Empower them
Empowering your employees involves training them to work independently without being micro-managed, appreciating their contributions and innovations, encouraging self-improvement, and presenting new challenges and opportunities. With this kind of atmosphere, employees will feel more engaged at work and might even exceed expectations.

6. Invest in the right tools
Providing the right tools simplifies the work process and ensures that employees get prompt and accurate results. It increases efficiency and prevents early burnout. Thus workers can work productively and keep customers happy.

7. Make work fun
Normally employees do have twenty minutes or thereabout to observe power naps. But you could make it fun by allowing them bring their mats. You could also create a yoga room for the yogis among employees, just as smokers have designated areas in the work place to smoke.
Allow them to decorate their individual work spaces with inspiring quotes, pictures and other decors. This has the power to sustain the positive mood and energy that are required to focus on their tasks.
Lastly, it goes without saying that these tips are not just mere speculations. They’re capable of producing great results regarding employee productivity. Because in the end, you’ll realize that only a productive workforce is capable of meeting organizational goals, and ultimately increasing Return on Investment.

 

16 Jobs That Allow You to Be a Digital Nomad | Maria Onzain, Tech.co

Having experience, enough knowledge and the right set of skills you can start your own online business, which will give you massive independence. However, before you take any risk, there are many possibilities out there to start your nomad career as a freelancer or consultant. This transitional stage will give you the know-how and confidence you need to start your entrepreneurial adventure.

These are 16 good examples of jobs that will allow you to become a digital nomad.
Freelance Writer
As content marketing importance increases, professionals with copy writing skills are more demanded by companies. You can also start a blog sharing your travel adventures as you go along. Once you have a number of well-written articles on your portfolio, it is time to start your career as a freelance writer.
Graphic Designer
If your talent is in visual arts, the graphic design industry may be a wise choice. Being a graphic design freelancer is a very creative job that will give you a huge freedom to travel the world.

Illustrator
This type of work is highly-demanded both online and offline, so create a profile showing your skills on the main online workplace platforms and search for some interesting projects to work on.

Front-End or Back-End Developer
Working remotely as a developer is now very common, all you need is to find the right projects on the freelancing platforms mentioned before.

Photographer
There are a number of specialties within photography that you could focus on: photojournalism, food photography, landscape photography, sports…the list is endless!

Online Marketing Strategist
If you already have experience in online marketing you can share your know-how with other companies as an online marketing strategist. Analyzing their existing marketing and working as a consultant to improve their communications may be a good way to start.

SEO Specialist
You could also specialize in the area of digital marketing you are best at and offer your expertise as an SEO consultant, for instance. You can either only work on the strategy or get hands on implementing the changes the website needs to improve their online visibility and rankings.

Social Media Manager
If your favorite part of online marketing is social media and you are good at it, you can help companies with their social media communications.

UX Developer
Crafting an appropriate user experience for both websites and mobile apps is an increasingly demanded job. If you are either a generalist or a specialist UX developer, you are in a great position to start your digital nomad adventure.

Translator
There are a number of online platforms where you can create a profile and offer translation and transcription services. If you are bilingual, this option may be perfect for you.

Online Language Tutor
There are millions of people around the world willing to learn another language and very handy online platforms such as Verbalplanet that connect them with a suitable teacher.

Guitar Online Teacher
Using communication tools like Skype or Google hangouts you can teach whatever you are good at, independently from your location. A good way to start is by creating a YouTube channel showing off your skills and joining Take Lessons as a teacher.

Virtual Personal Assistant
If you are organized and have excellent admin skills, a remote personal assistant opportunity may be for you. To become a virtual PA you may want to check out Ask Sunday.

Photo Editor
This may sound a bit peculiar but there are so many companies and entrepreneurs looking for people to edit their photos and this job doesn’t always require previous experience or qualifications.

Restaurant Critic
To take the first steps towards this fascinating career you will need to have excellent writing skills and an extremely audacious palate. If these are your strengths, work on your portfolio before applying for restaurant critic jobs.

Restaurant Marketing Strategist
If you have run a restaurant before, you can help other restaurant owners to get more clients and improve their services. This includes menu creation, customer service, improving ordering systems and restaurant consultancy in general.
Another option to make this life changing decision would be to negotiate a remote work arrangement in your actual job. This is a good way to take the first step without any risk.

 

Earth Day Message From The Planet — Please Telecommute | James Conca, Forbes.com

Also known as remote work, telework, teleworking, flexjob, home-sourcing or working-at-home, telecommuting is a work arrangement in which employees do not commute to a central workplace, but work at some other location, usually their home. In the information age, this arrangement becomes more and more possible, and the benefits more and more obvious.
According to Global Workplace Analytics, almost half of all jobs in the United States are telecommuting-compatible at least half of the time. If these jobs became telecommuting, the annual economic benefit would total over $700 billion.

The overall advantages to employees, employers, the nation and the world would be enormous. Annual savings in real estate, electricity, absenteeism, turnover and productivity would exceed $500 billion, or more than $11,000 per employee. National productivity would increase by 5 million man-years or $270 billion in net worth.
The nation would save:
– about 90,000 lives from traffic-related injury or death, saving at least $10 billion a year in related costs
– over 119 billion miles a year of wear and tear on our nation’s highways, saving hundreds of millions of dollars in highway maintenance
– over 640 million barrels of oil, a third of our Persian Gulf imports, valued at more than $60 billion
– 54 million tons of greenhouse gas emissions, the equivalent of taking 10 million cars off the road.
Employees themselves would save:
– two to three weeks of free time per year, time they’d have otherwise spent commuting to some workplace
– between $2,000 and $7,000 in transportation and work-related costs
– after-school and elder care costs would decrease in most cases and most workers would qualify for home office tax breaks.

Telecommuting even reduces many of the workplace employee problems like sexism and racism since one is not forced to work alongside others in close quarters under sometimes hostile conditions. It also allows women to participate in the workforce in cultures that otherwise do not allow women in the workplace.

Remote Work Digest: April 14, 2016

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

1076x615-home-office

Image from Zliving.com

Simple Ways to Add 2 Hours More to Your Day | Laura Vanderkam, Fortune.com

Easy ways to reclaim two hours to spend on the good stuff.

If you free up two hours to spend on the good stuff, that’s the next best thing to manufacturing time. Here’s how to escape the ceaseless ticking, according to Laura Vanderkam.

1. Plan you days
Figuring out what’s most important keeps you from losing hours as you blindly respond to whatever comes in. It also encourages investing time in high-yield activities such as mentoring new employees. By thinking through your days, you can also match the right kind of activity to the right time. Deep focused work is best done when you have a lot of energy.

2. Manage distractions
Between social media alerts, emails, and drive-by visits, people can be distracted dozens or more times per day. One study found that people take 25 minutes to resume interrupted tasks (after dabbling, on average, in more than 2 other “work spheres” in the meantime), pushing distractions to predictable times can easily save hours. One study also found that people spend 47% of their time on the internet procrastinating.

3. Don’t do what others can do (or that doesn’t need to be done)
If you’re in upper management, you can easily spend 50% of your day in meetings, which comes out to 4 (or more) hours a day. If 25% of those meetings didn’t need to happen – a conservative figure based on surveys, and how much people despise meetings generally – killing them would buy you an hour per day right there. It is also hard to rescue the time once a meeting starts, and many people are so busy going from meeting to meeting that they don’t triage their schedules ahead of time. The solution is getting in the habit, on Friday afternoons, of looking at your calendar for the next week and asking what can be skipped or killed. Five minutes can buy back hours.

4. Change your schedule
Chances are, the reason you want more hours in your day is that you’re too busy with work and family obligations to tackle your personal priorities. But most people, even busy professionals, have leisure time. The problem is that much of it occurs late at night when people are too tired to do anything but watch TV. The solution? Go to bed earlier, and wake up earlier. Most people feel more productive in the morning, so turning the TV off earlier turns unproductive evening hours into productive morning hours.

5. Telecommute
To be sure, even in most information jobs, working from home daily won’t fly. But once or twice a week buys back massive time on those days. It’s not just the 50 minutes of average daily commuting telecommuters save on the days they work from home.

10 Secrets to managing remote teams | John Doyle, Finextra.com

The secret to successfully managing remote teams is in recognizing that it’s more a leadership role than a manager one.

Too often, managers try to manage remote teams as if they were locally based and it doesn’t work. Remote teams need to have more attention and more support than locally based teams. You have to compensate for the lack of interaction with other colleagues and you must see your role as their manager as a supporting one.

Managing remote teams is a full-time job, not just a task and it needs to be addressed that way. Here are John Doyle’s suggestions for the 10 things that you need to do to successfully manage a remote team are:

1. Have clear expectations upon deliverables. What this means is that when you assign a remote team member a task, you need to be clear about what you want them to do and what the deliverable will be.
2. Set accountability parameters. Be clear about accountability with remote teams as they don’t have the opportunity to pop their head round the door and ask you for advice when they have an issue. Encourage your team to tell what they’re doing and share the results of their task.
3. Lead your team. Don’t manage, lead. Leading is about providing the team with a vision they can follow, understanding their role in achieving that vision and then providing the support they need to succeed.
4. Celebrate personal and work achievements. A good leader will always take time to connect with team members on a personal level after all, that’s when you really understand people.
5. Instigate team meetings. Team meetings are vital to success, but they’re much more than reporting mechanisms. Try not to use them to report, that you can do on a one-to-one as part of the daily process of keeping in touch.
6. Have away days. Every 3 months at least, an overnight away day is essential to rekindle friendships, restate common goals and objectives and generally bond. Makes them feel that they’re a part of the whole.
7. Provide them with the right tools. The remote worker doesn’t have colleagues in the next room or a stationery cupboard or an IT department. If you want them to do a good job, you have to provide the right tools.
8. Encourage collaboration wherever possible. Remote workers, more than anyone, need to have ‘engineered companionship’ and they respond to the idea of a joint venture with enthusiasm.
9. Provide them with the right information. Most remote workers are the type of people who like a brief and then they get on and deliver. The disappointment they feel when they’re told it’s not quite what was wanted is palpable. It’s fine that they do the research, but if you can help you should do so.
10. Have a rolling feedback model and regular reporting. With remote teams this is much more difficult as specific calls need to be set up and you focus instead on milestones rather than being involved in the whole process. Regularly checking in with the team is vital to your joint success.

Obviously the talents of a successful remote team manager are different, but they ultimately call for an empathy and caring approach to managing people.

Your Ultimate Work-From-Home Productivity Guide | Rachel Grumman Bender, Learnvest.com

No morning commute. No open floor plan that makes it challenging to focus on your work. No boss looking over your shoulder or co-worker who insists on showing you photos of his cat every morning. The sweet freedom of working from home can seem like a dream come true for some—and the number of people doing so is growing.

Although statistics indicate that the trend is picking up steam, that doesn’t mean it’s easy to work from home successfully. Whether you’re telecommuting to a full-time job or running a home-based business, there are distinct challenges that come from merging your work and home lives.

To help you tackle the specific work issues you’re likely to face, Rachel Grumman Bender of Learnvest.com tapped three work-from-home experts for their tips on how to maximize four key areas of home-based office life so you can boost productivity and success.

Work-From-Home Tip #1: Turbocharge Your Space
Whether you’re working at the corner table next to the couch or have an entire spare room to devote to your home business, it’s important to create a space that helps get you into work mode and keeps your attention there.

A little separation is a good thing: If you can, carve out a designated space in your home as an office where you can keep your work organized.

Get your (organizational) act together: Having an orderly desk helps you stay focused, boosting productivity so you don’t lose precious time looking for that critical contract—or whatever it may be—under a messy pile of papers.

If your office is the kitchen table one day and the back porch another, consider putting your work projects in separate boxes so you can grab the one you need at that time, and then put it away when you’re done.

And remember, there may be tax benefits to creating a home office: Whether you rent or own your home, if you use part of the square footage regularly and exclusively for business, you may be able to do a home office deduction on your taxes, according to the IRS.

Work-From-Home Tip #2: Stay Connected
If you telecommute, it may be easier to set these boundaries with a work email that’s tied to your main office. If you have a home-based business, it can be trickier.

Customize your communication: Instead of handing out your primary personal email for work-related matters, create a second custom work email address, such as jane@yourcompany.com, for a more professional touch. To better manage your inbox, there are tools that let you schedule emails so they’re sent during business hours, rather than when you’re burning the midnight oil. You can also use apps to schedule texts to go out when you want, rather than pinging someone when you’re working on the weekend.

Streamline your phone system: Many small business owners have ditched their land lines and exclusively use a mobile phone for business. But if you use your primary number for work, it can be hard to gauge whether that incoming call is personal or business when you’re on—or off—the clock. If you’re using your own home phone or cellphone for business and don’t necessarily want your personal number out there, try using Google Voice, which lets you choose a brand new number from Google.

Work-From-Home Tip #3: Create a Schedule That Fits Your Life
If you’re telecommuting, your hours may be set by your boss. But if your office is flexible or you run a business out of your home, one of the perks is setting your own hours. While there’s freedom in that flexibility, it’s also easy for work-life balance to get really out of whack.

Block out your days with a hard stop: Morgenstern, , time management expert and author of Time Management From the Inside Out: The Foolproof System for Taking Control of Your Schedule—and Your Life, recommends thinking of your day in three blocks of time—morning, afternoon and evening—and factor in how much energy you have in each time period. “If you’re more productive in the morning, then get up and do your work then,” she says. You should also factor in what time you typically need to interact with co-workers and clients, as well as your family’s schedule.

Be realistic about your time: Anyone can write a to-do list, but completing every action is another feat entirely, especially if you’re overly optimistic about what you can reasonably accomplish in a day. Instead of creating a never-ending task list, Morgenstern advises asking yourself three questions: What do I need to do? How long will that take? When will I do it? Keeping in mind your deadlines for each, prioritize and block out your schedule to tackle these responsibilities during a time window when you can maximize your attention toward them.

Don’t forget to schedule breaks: In general, whatever schedule you choose, aim to work no more than 90 minutes at a time before taking a quick break. The combination will keep you productive and give you time to clear your head.

Work-From-Home Tip #4: Know That You Don’t Have to Do Everything
It can be overwhelming when you are your own tech support, accountant and executive assistant while working from home. So how do you make sure you keep your business running?

Get your go-to people in place: Luckily, this is easier than ever since there are plenty of businesses geared toward home-based workers that offer tech support, such as Support.com, and billing services, such as FreshBooks, at reasonable prices.

Go virtual: A virtual assistant can help with various tasks, such as bookkeeping and following up on outstanding invoices, creating a monthly newsletter or doing research for a work project. Having a virtual assistant saves you from getting bogged down in mundane tasks, allowing you to spend more time focusing on building your home-based business and reaping the rewards.

Four ways to improve security and productivity across a small business IT network | Paul Yung, Itportal.com

With business networks increasingly vulnerable to security breaches and constant pressure to increase office productivity, IT managers have a responsibility to ensure employees’ PCs and laptops are not a hindrance in these areas.

Here are Paul Yung’s four main considerations that will help ensure employees are protected in small businesses and new machines are future-proofed.

1. Update Windows
The benefits of keeping refreshed with the latest updates are three-fold. Firstly, many updates include security patches that plug potential security flaws in Windows and its components that may render the computer vulnerable to malware and/or hackers. Secondly, updates often fix any bugs or glitches in the operating system and thus help improve its stability and remove any annoying issues. Lastly, updates can sometimes include new features or functionality that benefit end-users.

2. Install anti virus
For most small businesses, Microsoft Security Essentials, which comes with Windows, will fulfill their initial needs. As businesses grow in size however, the need to have an enterprise-grade AV solution becomes necessary to protect multiple computers from a centrally managed console and benefit from additional features, such as more sophisticated scanning and rule creation and detailed reporting tools.

3. Maintain a healthy and optimized network
Proactively optimizing PCs now means reduced IT support costs in future, as well as happy employees as they work on fast, efficient machines.

4. Get a suite which suits
In today’s collaboration-focused business environment where cloud-based technology, SaaS products and file sharing tools are commonplace, some small businesses may see Microsoft Online alternatives suiting their needs. Free SaaS solutions, such as Google Docs, or open-source software such as OpenOffice are created with the basic productivity needs of businesses in mind, including word processing, spreadsheets, email and presentation builders. There are a few premium alternatives, such as LibreOffice, which also include drawing applications and database tools.

When making decisions on the tools available to small businesses, make sure to consider the nature of the business, its level of compliance and any regulations it must adhere to. Although online products offer increased flexibility, there comes attached a higher element of risk as documents are accessed via a password. While high productivity and collaboration are important to businesses, it should never be a trade-off for security.

7 Industries You Need to Keep an Eye on in 2016 | John Smith, Business2community.com

It can be quite daunting to keep a tab of this ever evolving world. To keep your feet on the ground, here are John Smith’s list on few industries you need to keep an eye on in 2016. Let’s check out on them.

1. Telemedicine
According to the experts of the industry, telemedicine is capacitated to improve the health status of patients by enhancing access to medical care as well as offering real-time responses at low costs.

2. 3D Printing
The experts predict that this industry has the capacity to revolutionize the manufacturing industry. You need to keep an eye on 3D printing this year.

3. Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP)
VoIP is best to be used by the businesses that need to make international phone calls as it brings down the cost. The expense of the local calls has been brought down by 40% whereas that of the international calls has come down by 90%.
With internet usage increasing every year, it does not appear at all surprising that most people would prefer to switch to VoIP.

4. Remote Staffing
Several companies have given the verdict that the companies of today need to give up restricting themselves to local talent pool in case they plan to keep pace in this fast moving world. You can expect this sector to take off with the demand for remote work escalating.

5. Gamification Service
Several companies have given the verdict that the companies of today need to give up restricting themselves to local talent pool in case they plan to keep pace in this fast moving world. You can expect this sector to take off with the demand for remote work escalating.

6. Virtual Reality
Virtual reality is all set to be bigger than mobiles and apps.
“Our entire way of learning, communicating and how we experience our existence with one another is going to take 3D form with virtual reality. Also, people won’t care what model phone you have — it’ll be what goggles you wear.”

7. Solar Energy Development
With the push for alternative sources of energy high, we can expect solar energy to make it big this year.

Now you know the industries that will make it big in 2016, which industries do you feel will rule in the next 5 years?

Remote Work Digest: March 7, 2016

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

more-productive-work

Photo from Investopedia.com

5 Key Design Factors for an Effective Home Office | David Adams, Entrepreneur.com

Every entrepreneur faces difficulty when working from home. Designing the perfect home office environment can be a great solution in order to avoid stress all together. Here are David’s five tips to help you there:

1. Preserve the bedroom logic.
If your living arrangements don’t allow you to keep your office in a separate room, subdivide your studio to create areas for work and rest.

2. Choose the right furniture.
You’re going to be sitting in your desk chair for a long time, so find one that best suits your needs.

3. Light it up.
Strike a balance between natural light and artificial. Try out different rooms in your house and different desk placements withing each room. Finding the right light environment won’t help your daytime productivity; it will also ensure you get a good night’s rest.

4. Keep your space organized.
The neater your office, the neater your mind. Going wireless cuts out one of major bugbears: cables. Ditch as many cables as you can by adopting Bluetooth-enabled devices, and keep the essential ones wrapped and routed to their appropriate location.

5. Don’t hate on distraction.
Everyone has different working habits. Some people hate distractions while others crave them. Find the right level of distraction to boost your productivity.

Motivation is fleeting, but discipline is the lifeblood of any entrepreneur. If you keep your focus and create the right environment, you’ll set yourself up for success.

Remote Control: How To Pick The Best Remote Employee | Taylor Tomita, Business.com

When looking for a remote employee, employers should begin by understanding how both the employee and the employee benefit from remote work.

Before interviewing the perfect person for the job, keep in mind that every person work differently. Someone who needs constant direction, interaction and validation might not be the right fit for the position. This doesn’t mean they aren’t a fantastic employee, it just means they might need to be placed elsewhere.

How do you know if a person will be more independent or need a more hands on experience? Let’s start with understanding why someone wants to work remotely in the first place.

Why Does an Employee Prefer Remote Work?

Don’t just hire a remote worker because that is what fits best for the company strategy. To get the best work and overall potential out of employees, the recruiter should understand why this person needs or wants to work remotely in the first place.

How Do I Know If My Employee Will Do Good Work?

Skill assessments are absolutely essential before bringing on any candidate. The perfect person should be able to get all tasks finished in a timely manner, be able to finish all work independently, and communicate efficiently in written form (and often). This is why it is always a great idea to allow as much time as possible between the interview and hiring date.

How Do I Know If They’re Actually Working?

Require your candidate to get a reasonable task finished within a short time (maybe a couple of hours) and see how well they were able to deliver. If they don’t finish or are missing areas, then they aren’t able to follow direction properly. The other option is they may have been doing other activities during what should have been strict work time.

Although extra time might be required during the hiring process for remote employees, these workers can and will do equally impressive work (if not better) as office employees. Finding someone with a flexible schedule, pinpoint time management, and independent work skills can be truly invaluable to a workforce. In the long run, this employee is likely to be more loyal, do fantastic work, and might even be happier on the job.

Thanks to tech, it’s time to telecommute | Marc Saltzman, Usatoday.com

With traffic on the rise in major city centers, not to mention all the nasty weather hitting many states, you might be tempted to ask to work from home – even if it’s just a day or two a week.

The good news is telecommuting is much easier in today’s day and age, thanks to technological tools like high-speed internet, mobile devices, and secure cloud services that remotely host your files.

The following is look at some of the factors to consider, along with a list of 5 tech items that can make the move to a home office a smoother one.

PROS

For the employee: Staying at home paves the way for a better work-life balance. A Stanford University report, and a joint study by the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and Northwestern University, both found those who work from home are less stressed and more productive than those who work a 9-to5 job out of the home.

For the business: Those who work from home are often happier and more productive, which is good for company morale and efficiency.

For the environment, and other cubicle dwellers: Not only can telecommuting save time and money, but it has an Eco-advantage, too: fewer cars on the road reduces the amount of gas emissions that contribute to pollution and global warming

CONS

For the employee: While it may sound appealing to work from home, many have trouble staying motivated without a supervisor or boss looking over their shoulder.

For the business: Without physical proximity with your employees, there’s an increased security and privacy risk; not only could it be easier for a disgruntled at-home worker to wreak havoc, perhaps by stealing data, but even accidental breaches can happen (like giving your teen the wrong USB stick) or a breach in the network connection between the office and the home. (This is why a secured cloud solution for those with administrative privileges is a smart consideration.)

Given the advantages and challenges, a business interested in telecommuting must first assess whether it’s practicable for employees to work from home – obviously, some positions aren’t conducive for this option – and companies should asses whether the person is self-motivated enough.

Gear up

And now onto some suggestions for five types of tech products you’ll need to get going:

Laptop: A personal computer is the most important consideration for a teleworker. It’ll likely be your primary work tool for productivity, communication and information.
Multifunction printer: Invest in an inexpensive printer that can also scan, copy, and (if you need it), fax, as well. It’ll save you money and space in your home office.
Powerful router: Along with needing fast and reliable high-speed connectivity from your Internet Service Provider (ISP), be sure to have a decent router, as well, which distributes your Wi-Fi signal around your home.

External hard drive: An external hard drive is a smart local back-up solution that offers ample storage (opposed to an online “cloud” backup), but be sure to make more than one copy of your backed-up files (to hedge your bets) and keep the drives in separate dry locations.

Wireless headset: Go hands-free with a Bluetooth wireless headset for a mobile device or perhaps a DECT 6.0 model for a land line, and you’ll find it’ll be easier to multitask ask well as you walk around your place while chatting. A speaker phone is also ideal, but a headset will sound better to the people on the other end of the call.

3 Time Management Hacks for Busy Entrepreneurs | Josh MacDonald, Business2community.com

Everyone gets a full 24 hours a day to work with, but for some reason, it feels like it’s never enough. Especially if you’re an entrepreneur. With so many things on your plate on a day to day basis – ranging from meetings and sales calls, to personal time with your family, it’s definitely tough to juggle everything into place.

Here are Josh MacDonald‘s 3 time management hacks that will allow you to make the most out of your 168 hours a week.

1.) The Pomodoro Technique
If you’re the type of person who thrives under pressure, you’ll surely love the Pomodoro Technique. The main reason why it’s effective is because it allows you to laser focus on a specific task at a given time while avoiding burnout. To get you started, you can download your personal “pomodoro” on Google Play Store or the App Store.

You will appreciate the true impact of the Pomodoro Technique once you use it religiously. Use it today and see how much time you can really save.

2.) Get Momentum
Momentum lets you focus on just one thing at a time, which further boosts your productivity for the day. It eliminates distractions and helps you work in peace.

The best practice is to put in that ONE THING you really need to get done. After you finish, you can then write in your new “focus” for the rest of the day.

3.) Hire a Virtual Assistant
Most entrepreneurs want to handle things on their own. And that’s normal. You probably wouldn’t be in the position you’re in right now if you weren’t hands on with pretty much everything.

But there comes a time where you should be able to let go of certain tasks and have someone else handle them for you. This is where your personal virtual assistant comes in.
A VA can get basic tasks done for you. It might not be much, but if you audit how you handle your time, you’ll be able to see that you’re actually wasting plenty of hours on things that a VA can actually do for you.

The 24 hours per day can be a myth if you’re smart about how you handle your time. So how about trying out these time management hacks, and start optimizing your hours today!

5 Stress-Relieving Daily Habits for Entrepreneurs | Larry Alton, Entrepreneur.com

Choosing to become an entrepreneur can lead to a fun, exciting journey – but it can also be rife with stress. Even if you don’t feel especially stressed in the moment, the pressures can add up over time and bring serious consequences for your health and well-being.

The dangers of excess stress

It’s no secret that stress can be damaging, to both body and mind. The symptoms might begin innocuously, making you irritable, leaving you susceptible to bouts of worrying and leaving you with low levels of energy.

The time crunch

Time management is one of the biggest challenges entrepreneurs face. You’re probably working excessive hours, often through the weekends, and no matter how many tasks you manage to fit in a day, there always seem to be more around the corner.

5 Daily Habits

Try these five habits on a daily basis to start fighting back against stress.

1. Start (or end) the day with exercise. Getting some exercise in before you go to work can set you up for a productive, lower-stress day, but that’s not your only option. You can also work out when you get home to rid yourself of some of the stress you’ve accumulated throughout the day.

2. Drink green tea. Green tea has been shown to have powerful anti-anxiety effects. It can help you to relax in stressful situations while still providing enough caffeine to get your morning started.

3. Stretch and break away from the screen. Use physical stretching as a break from your daily tasks. This will force you to give yourself breaks throughout the day, reduce the eye strain from your digital screen, help you relax and improve your blood circulation – all at the same time.

4. Reduce your commitments. To reduce the stress, cut down the number of commitments you accept. If this sounds impossible to you, try making it a daily habit, and you’ll see how easy it can become.

5. Surround yourself with scents. Aromatherapy has consistently been found to reduce stress, and there are multiple scents that work, including lavender. Candles, incense and diffusers are all options here, depending on your preference.

There are several ways to create a new habit, from designing a behavior chain to planning a process rather than a result. How you do it is up to you. The key is to start managing your stress now while you still have considerable control over the state of your health.

Remote Work Digest: December 9, 2015

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

Image from Kiplinger.com

Image from Kiplinger.com

The 5 best Time Management Productivity Apps | Cormac Reynolds, Tech.co

There are great productivity apps out there that help lower our stress levels and make us feel better about our lives. Let’s take a look at Cormac Reynolds‘ top five time management apps to make your day more productive.

In Time

In time alters the way we deal with traffic and setting alarms in the morning, setting up a wake-up and leave system that’s based on how long it will take you to arrive at your destination safely. The alarm automatically monitors your trip and adjusts in accordance with traffic, ensuring you’re always on time.

Headspace

Tapping into this app can teach you how to meditate in only 10 minutes per day. The Headspace podcast will guide you through modern meditations for issues such as how to take time truly appreciate your food, how to have a stress-free daily commute, and how to fall asleep easily and quickly.

GPS for the Soul

Presented by HeartMath, bLife and the Huffington Post, this app uses the camera lens on your phone to measure your level of stress, and then invites you to correct it through photos of your loved ones, breathing exercises, poetry, music and much more.

Sunrise

This calendar app is visually appealing and sync with Exchange, iCloud and Google Calendar calendars. There are several features on the app that makes it possible to organize your time better such as reminders, time zone support, location tagging, background syncing, and fast event entry.

Any.do

Any.do is a task-managing app packed with features and makes it possible for users to create notes, reminders and to-do lists for getting things done. It is easy to input tasks. You can either dictate them or type them in. The app features a touch screen interface that allows you to drag and drop tasks into categories.

These five apps are among the most up and coming and well worth taking a look at if you want to become happier and more productive.

Cybersecurity for Freelancers: Protecting Your Clients’ Data | Nicole Fallon Taylor, Businessnewsdaily.com

According to Nicole Fallon Taylor of Business News Daily, full-time freelancing affords professionals the opportunity to be self-employed, set their own schedules and regularly work on new projects. But there’s one aspect of this type of remote work that both freelancers and businesses sometimes fail to consider: cybersecurity.

Here are a few best practices to keep your clients’ data secure.

Always work from a secure connection

Public Wi-Fi hotspots are some of the biggest sources of potential problems for people connecting outside of a secure office network. If you’re working in a public space, you should tether your smart device to your laptop or use your own mobile modem or hotspot, if possible, as these are more secure than public networks, advised Lysa Myers, a researcher at security software provide ESET. Regardless of whether you are using your own private hotspot or a public one, it is a good idea to encrypt as much traffic as possible. Additionally, Myers advised cropping down your list of “trusted” public Wi-Fi networks that you’ve accessed in the past.

Keep software and operating systems up to date

When you don’t install the latest version of a program, you leave yourself open to any security holes that may have been left open in the previous iteration. Anyone working outside of a secure enterprise network to keep their personal devices, operating systems, applications and other software updated and patched at all times.

Invest in a backup solution

You likely use a cloud storage solution like Google Drive or Dropbox to store, share and synchronize files for client projects. But there’s a difference between storage and backup, and anyone who wants to securely preserve and manage their work should consider a backup solution.

Encrypt and scan your data

As a freelancer, you are technically a self-employed business owner. Therefore, you should look into protecting your work devices the way a business would. While you likely can’t afford top-of-the-line enterprise-security solutions, you should use an encryption solution to help secure the information on your device, advised Michel Bechard, director of service provider technologies at Internet security provider Comodo.

For a side-by-side comparison of the best encryption software, visit Business News Daily’s sister site Top Ten Reviews.

Ask clients for access to resources

If you have any doubts about your ability to secure a client’s data, ask your point of contact if you are allowed access to the company’s security resources as a freelancer.

Even if the access is limited, your data and activity will likely be safer with enterprise-level firewalls, filters, encryption and backup than on your own personal devices, and the cost is significantly lower to you.

Have Young Kids? Here’s How You Can Still Be Productive Working From Home. | Elle Martinez, Entrepreneur.com

Work-life balance is an absolute necessity for home based entrepreneurs to get the job done well. Kids have bad days, and to be honest, so do clients, with last minute changes and deadlines. Staying on top of things doesn’t require superhuman skill, but it takes effort.

After speaking with several entrepreneurs, Elle Martinez enumerates the critical keys to their successes.

1. Design your schedule to minimize disruptions.
It can be easy to miss appointments and double book when an entrepreneur has to manage professional and family obligations. Whether it’s using an online calendar on the phone or going old school with a wall calendar for easy access, seeing your workload allows you to parse out your time accordingly to meet deadlines and maintain quality work.
2. Lighten and share your load.
The idea that you can do it all is a myth – especially for parents who work from home. Delegating and outsourcing certain tasks are essential to success.

3. Design systems to maximize productivity.
With children, some entrepreneurs have found it beneficial to get them on a routine. Having activities planned helped for when they had to take calls for business or handle a quick client emergency.
4. Take time away from kids.
Parents who work from home realize that balance can mean hiring an occasional sitter, signing up the kids in part-time daycare or having a family member watch them from time to time.
5. Roll with the punches.
Of course, there are times when work and family don’t go as smoothly as expected. While it is common to rehash mistakes, entrepreneurs seeking to grow use those opportunities to refine their systems.

Working from home with kids can be overwhelming periodically, but all agree its an opportunity they didn’t want to pass up.

8 ways to keep your employees productive and motivated | Amit Ghosh, Yourstory.com

Keeping employees motivated and productive can be a challenging task for a self-made entrepreneur. But following these seven tips by Amit Ghosh can keep their happiness and output at an all-time high.

Host a white elephant party
Holiday parties are common during Christmas or any other festive season, but a white elephant party can add an exciting level of anticipation and amusement among employees

Innovative interior design and working areas
Natural air with dynamic ambience and soothing colours keep you cheerful. Nap regulations with flexible timings also helps.

Tap your employees’ interests and strengths with open arms
Employees are most productive when they use their strengths at work and are open-minded without fear or anxiety. Tapping into what they excel at will help them feel a personal connection with your brand, which in turn will boost self-motivation.

Participate in local games and social activities
Creating bonding time by participating in local games like marathon runs or spreading a cause with an NGO will not only get the blood flowing to the brain to help boost productivity, but also ensure that employees enjoy supporting a good cause.

Bring in some doughnuts or surprise goodies
A little thoughtfulness from you can increase work efficiency on many levels, leading to a happier work environment.

Give them some time off
Allow someone to go home without docking their hours when they have a cold. Your employees will be grateful.

Family ties
You can have a family day or picnic where there is no boundary between the employer and employee and interact with the family members. This creates a bonding between the employee and the brand and also helps in workforce retention.

Slow down every now and then
Slowing down a little every now and then can re-energize your employees and your company while ultimately boosting productivity in the long run. Take some time to celebrate success.

Building and maintaining employee productivity and motivation is vital to the success of your company. By following these seven tips, you will ensure that your employees are crucial assets to your bootstrapped company. Fostering a work environment that keeps employees happy and motivated will reflect the foundation of the company and its owner, ultimately leading to success.

5 Bad Leadership Habits That Undercut Your Team’s Productivity | Larry Alton, Entrepreneur.com

In the entrepreneurial world, every second counts. In the early stages of a startup, you’ll only have limited resources despite operating under high pressure and tight deadlines. Every decision you make could potentially set a course for success or failure.

The last thing you’d want is for a simple, seemingly innocuous habit to start interfering with this delicate balance. We all have good habits and bad habits, but as the leader and entrepreneur of your company, your actions set a tone for the organization and bear more weight when put into practice.
These five habits, in particular, can have a negative and disruptive effect on your team’s productivity:
1. Managing the details.
Set a general course or a general goal that you want your employees to achieve, and let them worry about how they want to get it done. If you don’t trust them to do that alone, you probably have the wrong person for the job.
2. Neglecting the individual.
While it’s a good idea to establish a general work culture that appeals to the type of people you want to work with, not everybody works the same way. It’s your responsibility to know each person’s strengths and weaknesses, and cater to those as much as you can.
3. Not making your expectations clear.
If you have expectations, or a clear idea in your head, you need to make that clear, otherwise, don’t be surprised when your employee submits something different and needs to start the whole project over again.
4. Indecisiveness.
The inability to commit to decisions leads to a productivity halt for your entire business. Your employees won’t know which work to start and which to ignore, and they won’t have faith in the direction of your business overall. Commit to decisions, even if you’re not 100 percent sure of the outcomes. A bad decision is still better than no decision.
5. Refusing to delegate.
Some entrepreneurs view this as a merit-worthy habit. They take on as much work as possible by themselves, delegating little to the employees below them. While on the surface this might seem a noble effort to avoid overworking your underlings, the reality is it can detract from your productivity as a group.

It pays to be aware of your own habits, despite their tendency to slip by unnoticed. Pay close attention to how your actions affect the members of your team, especially in a tight-knit startup setting. Work to make positive changes to your approach over time.

8 Team Building Activities for Remote Teams

As technology evolves, more workers are allowed into telecommuting, thus; reaping the numerous benefits that come with it. However, sitting in a home office all day, without any kind of work mate interaction and water cooler conversations, may take its toll on one’s health and well-being. As most managers know, team building activities are useful for improving team dynamics, building trust, facilitating communication, and boosting teamwork. Here are 8 team building activities that will help your company build a team that is as productive as is focused:

Work Space Decorating Contest

Organize a virtual (desktop) or home office decorating contest. You don’t need an office or a cubicle to run a themed decoration contest. DIY contests are cheaper, and if you’re feeling generous, send your team members some supplies they’ll need. Ask them to take pictures then post it for everyone to see, or use video-conferencing so everyone can show off their creations. To get everyone involved, let them act as judges and vote for their favorites. Give out awards to the funniest and best effort.

Social Networking

Aside from project management tools, the Social Media can provide an excellent means for communication and collaboration. Create an exclusive Facebook group that is for your team members only, where they can post non-work-related photos, information, and other updates. Ask each team member to upload a few photos every week, describing how they spent their weekend. This gives them the opportunity to communicate on a personal level. Connecting co-workers on an entertainment level also increases engagement and productivity among them.

 

 

Host an Online Game

Challenge your work team to show off their gaming skills through a friendly competition. Choose a multiple-player online game that will encourage them to participate and strategize with their team mates. You can do this every Friday to prevent stress and burnout from the previous week’s work load. Aside from promoting camaraderie, it also promotes team leadership and sportsmanship.

 

Distribute Weekly Newsletters and Joke Emails

Keep your team members on the same page by distributing weekly updates and performance reviews. Don’t forget to recognize their contributions. Send out birthday cards virtually or through the mail. A newsletter offers some useful information that will help your team members shine and connect, while also building their essential skills. Encourage your team to provide honest feedback regarding key issues in your company. Add a little sense of humor by sending out lighthearted articles, comics, videos, photos and funny jokes. Break up the workday with some laughter to help reduce stress, improve blood flow, and even burn calories.

Eat Out or Hold Potlucks

Most remote teams don’t get the chance to meet personally, however, these may be possible for team mates who live in the same area. It may come as an effort to bring the team together, but meeting up and sharing some food can be a bridge in building a strong relationship between team members. A simple conversation between teammates can serve as a tool for better communication among members, which is essential for improved productivity.

 

Virtual Charades

team-building-3Unlike online games, virtual charades will only require installation of video-conferencing programs like Skype or Google Hangouts. Furthermore, not all of your teammates may be interested in video games. Like all team building activities, it coerces your team members to shed their inhibitions, participate in solving problems, and contribute their strengths for the success of their teams. Best of all, they can do all these while having fun at the same time.

 

Rotational Leadership

Leadership-Quotes-44Having a new leader every week will allow your team members to demonstrate their own leadership skills. Management and leadership have never been easy jobs, but this opportunity will give you the chance to see how they can personally impact the company. People are more energized when they feel that their contributions matter. Team members might not always bump into each other, but assigning a different leader every once in a while encourage them to reach out.

Annual Team Building Trip and Vacation

27063-happy-people-on-the-beachAs an employer or manager, it’s essential to understand the importance of taking the time off. There is nothing like creating the feeling of team spirit by going on trips with your team members. This may seem expensive, but the benefits that come along with it are considerable. It is important for employees to rest and relax, and come back to work feeling rejuvenated and more productive.

Taking employees out of their home office helps them bond, eliminate distractions, break down barriers, and have fun, all while improving communication, morale, productivity, and motivation at the same time. Organizing these events may be the hardest and most resource heavy activity for team building but it is definitely the most rewarding.

Images from: Lifehacker, Apriso, Mmogames, Admail, Meetup, RedBoothDesktopwallpapers8 and Vandebilt.edu