Remote Work Digest: July 19, 2017

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

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5 Tips To Create An Employee-Friendly Office Space For More Productivity | Harshil Barot, Justwebworld.com

The common designs of offices today- – joining heaps of glass and chrome; dark, white, and dim; and stunning craftsmanship – make for ravishing photograph spreads. Nevertheless, they may not be the sort of condition where representatives feel the most casual and focused. Instead, use these five tips to create a welcoming space for your employees:

1. Try not to be reluctant to include personality
Try not to be reluctant to deck out the workplace with individual things, photos, craftsmanship, blurbs, dynamic stationery, indoor ball loops, interesting knickknacks, collectibles – anything that includes a touch of humor and liveliness and conveys the way of life of your group.

2. Go Green
Including a touch (or different touches) of nature to your office can keep it from seeming sterile and frosty. Plants, blossoms, a drinking fountain or even an aquarium would all be able to include a touch of nature and freshness to your office space.

3. Add Some Party Color
Many corporate workplaces are overwhelmingly dim, white or beige, so including some fun party favor ideas like adding sprinkles of color can brighten up the office, add identity and fresh air into the space. Another approach to animate your office space is to include a few varieties in surface – like finished cushions, upholstery, materials or mats.

4. Say No To Fluorescent Lighting
Despite the fact that this is functional, it’s certainly not stylishly engaging or even comfortable for humans. This lighting is brutal, and can make a work space feel excessively clerical. Adding modified lighting to a working environment is certain to make it feel cozier, more surrounding and all the more welcoming.

5. Flexible work space is important
Make your common space perform in multiple apps like you can remove conference hall by creating areas for sitting, and furnish them with funky coffee tables or sectional sofa. Also, you can start using desk-on-wheels so every time you require a bigger space for conference, you can make one.

6. Remember To Have Fun
Many businesses now look forward to set playful, fresh tones to motivate innovation. Try adding interesting art pieces, and more importantly, purely-for-fun elements like pool table, foosball, Ping-Pong, etc.

If your office space can be uplifting, inspiring and warm, then why settle for a full, lifeless cubicle? Try all the five tips and you’ll be able to create one amazing office for your workers. Good environment, happy employees!

How To Make Better To-Do Lists | Robin Camarote, Inc.com

Lists are the most basic time-management tool we have. We all (obsessively) use them. They’re supposed to help us prioritize our work and avoid feeling overwhelmed. But rarely do the lists we make do either of those things.

So, what are we doing wrong? Do you:

Have multiple lists in multiple places?
Have dozens of items included–some that have taken up permanent residency?
Mix and match long-term and short-term items like “get a PhD” and “go to the car wash”?
Rarely actually consult your list once it’s made?
Start with the easy stuff?
Add more stuff in the morning, as you first read your email with a cup of coffee?
Tie your self-worth–or at least your view of whether it was a “good day”–to the number of cross outs?

Avoid these listing pitfalls by sticking with these four rules.

1. Pick one place for your list. Just one. There are many great list-making and time-management tools out there.
2. Write everything down. Once it’s on the list, you can relax a little.
3. Clear the clutter. It’s OK to have a handful of stretch items on your list, but if they’re hanging out more than a week, let them go. If you want to be able to come back to them, put a running list in a separate file on your computer. This can be a resource the next time you’re feeling stuck in a rut and need something new to do.
4. Organize your tasks. All of my thinking and writing tasks are together because they take more dedicated brain power, and I know the time of day that’s most conducive to making progress on these items.

Listing is a basic time and energy management tool, and one that I can’t live without. Lists help us get focused and organized–when used appropriately. They can also help build a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction, when you’re actually checking things off your list. But when used improperly, lists can just lead to guilt and feeling overwhelmed.

Self-discipline comes when you have your list updated. Picking just three important things that tie directly to your goals or commitments each day is a great place to start.

3 Soft Skills to Consider for Improved Employee Return on Investment | Lynette Reed, Business.com

Soft skills can be just as important as the hard skills in your company’s return on investment. These three are in particular are vital.

Reinforcing and monitoring soft skill behaviors within the workplace supports a robust and cohesive environment that shows an increase in productivity, which ultimately increases your profits.

Here are three soft skills to consider for improved employee return on investment:

1. Supporting corporate culture
Companies with a durable set of words to determine the behavior of the company offer employees a strong sense of identity. You can identify potential fractures within the organizational design by gauging how well an employee’s behaviors match the words that define your company’s culture. If the company words are “helpful,” “efficient” and “friendly,” then employees can be measured by how well the behavior supports the culture. Terms such as “happy” would not work, as you cannot always control whether you are happy.

Take time to create a resilient culture with these behavior words so that your employees have a reliable measure of authenticity. Authentic companies minimize employee behaviors that are not in keeping with the culture. Supporting corporate culture reduces time spent on behaviors that distract from the underlying framework of the organization and encourages skillful and engaged employees.

2. Matching words and actions
You offer your company cohesion by matching words and action. Employees are accountable for their commitments to both the company culture and the work. Breaks in cohesion can occur both internally and external to the organization. Make sure that your employees’ words match actions when working with other team members and your customers. Building trust in your company creates a more resilient workplace that can better withstand challenges and conflicts.

3. Managing personal judgments
Judgment takes time and energy away from the company. Think about how many hours employees spend in a week talking about how badly someone did their work, or how someone was wrong for doing work a certain way. Keep employees focused on the work by reminding them that there is no good or bad, or wrong or right. Concentrate on overcoming challenges, and keep work moving in a forward momentum. Remind employees to find solutions and make plans to achieve goals even when difficulties occur or work is not correctly completed.

Fractures created by employees who struggle with these soft skills are time-consuming, disruptive, and distracting to your product and your goals. When you manage and maintain these soft skills, you offer your employees a durable framework that increases the return on investment for you and your organization.

6 Ways To Have Structure When You’re Working From Home | Prachi Gangwani, iDiva.com

Working from home also has a dark side. If you are the lucky one who doesn’t have to show up to an office in order to make money, you will know that establishing a routine and staying motivated are the challenges of this lifestyle. When there’s no set in-time or out-time, why should you wake up early and try to have a routine? At some point, everybody who works from home begins to lose motivation. You realize that you need some sort of structure, but how do you establish that when you don’t really have to?

That’s where these tips will help you…

1. Have a separate office space
Have a separate room, or a corner where you have a desk, your laptop and the stationery you need, to make an office. Do not make personal phone calls, or eat your meals at this spot. This is for work. When you want to do something other than work, move to a different spot in the house.

2. Wake up, and go to bed, at the same time every day
Contrary to what many people believe, having a routine doesn’t restrain us, it actually frees us. When the basics like waking up and going to sleep, our meals, shower time, etc, are in place, it reduces reasons to be stressed, and frees our mind to be productive.

3. Have fixed working hours
Fix the time you start working, and the time you stop working, and follow this religiously. There’s nothing that can’t wait till tomorrow.

4. Take frequent breaks
Research shows that we work better if we take breaks in between, rather than pulling 8 hours straight. So, every once in a while, get up from your desk, move a bit, and get yourself a cup of coffee.

5. Socialize
Stay in touch with your friends and family, and make sure you have at least one evening a week dedicated to socializing. Everything else is futile without a solid social circle.

6. Get out every single day
Go for a walk, go to the local grocer, maybe get your morning cup of coffee at a neighbourhood café, meet a friend for dinner, hit the gym. There are many reasons to step out of the house, and none why you shouldn’t.

Remote Work Digest: June 15, 2017

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

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Image from Education.co.za

 

How Millenials Are Making Flexible Benefits Possible, Sarah Landrum, Forbes.com

It’s no secret by now that the world’s in the midst of great changes, and many of them are driven by millennials coming of age. Thanks to today’s widely-available technologies, we’re enjoying opportunities for work and play that wouldn’t have been possible for a previous generation.

Working From Home

It might not be a “right,” but working from home is certainly a positive and beneficial thing — for employee and employer alike. Working from home reduces a company’s overhead and can help employees improve productivity and morale, since familiar surroundings foster peace-of-mind.

Flexible Hours

We’re finding there are fewer and fewer reasons to stick to the familiar nine-to-five scheduling paradigm that’s shaped so many decades of economic progress. Put more simply, it just makes good sense to let employees follow a less rigid schedule. Emergencies happen. So do children, appointments, dates and impromptu sushi outings with friends.

Unlimited Maternity and Paternity Leave

We’ve been operating under the false assumption that when given the opportunity to slack off, people will abuse that opportunity. The thing is, formal studies reveal that folks who are free to pursue their obligations and interests on their own terms will pleasantly surprise you almost every time.

Countries as near as Canada are even testing the theory that providing a basic universal income would free our schedules and minds to pursue innovation, improve ourselves, learn new skills, start businesses, invent things and generally engage in turning the wheels of progress. So far, things look promising.

What Is The Future Of Work?

It’s really not too early to start talking about that world. We seem comfortable speaking of a future where office employees can take vacations nearly at will — are we also ready to talk about what happens when we have millions fewer truckers and manufacturing plants filled with hundreds of robots but just a dozen humans?

The conversation is already underway — partially thanks to technology and partly because we’re handing the economy’s reins off to millennials. As the future of work becomes larger on the horizon, we’ll quickly find that unlimited PTO is just the tip of the “What comes next?” iceberg.

4 simple hacks to becoming a morning person | Kristen Edge, Kelownanow.com

To all the night owls out there, morning people are like an alien life form which cannot be understood. How do they do it?

Don’t fret! Getting up at 6 a.m. and taking on the day like a boss will be your forte in no time. Remember, it only takes 21 days to form a habit and go from morning hater to lover!

Here’s a list of simple hacks you can try to become a go-getter in the morning!

Make the most of the night before – including showering!
Setting out your outfit for the next day, replenishing your gym bag and preparing your meals can all be evening tasks that set you up for a smoother morning. Plus, it’s time better spent than lounging on the couch and staring into your TV screen, which actually prevents you from falling asleep, leaving you feeling groggy the next day. In other countries, it’s actually considered super weird to shower in the mornings, because there’s just too much to get accomplished and get going. Wake up with dry hair-ready to style!

Stretch it out
Your body and mental stability will thank you for putting aside just a few minutes a day for stretching. Stretching increases your blood flow and energy levels, finding some time for yoga in the morning helps you find your zen and set your intentions for the day!

Eat Breakfast
A light, nutritious meal is all you need to fuel your brain and tackle the day ahead. You could also try drinking a mug of hot water with a lemon slice and some honey-you’ll be ditching the need for coffee in no time!

Give yourself a pep talk
Self love is so important and there is no shame in practicing it! So go ahead and give yourself some confidence to take with you throughout your day. Who knows, it could even lead to a raise!

You know what they say, ‘the early bird catches the worm!’ What are some of your life hacks to get you up and going in the morning?

3 Ways Office Lights Can Increase Employee Productivity | Jeff Charles, Smallbiztrends.com

Numerous factors impact our creativity, happiness, and productivity. That is why companies work to manicure their offices to elicit the best out of their teams.

The Connection Between Office Lighting and Productivity

Recent studies have revealed a significant connection between office lighting and productivity. The American Society of Interior Design found that 68 percent of employees are discontent with the lighting in their offices. That is an important statistic to keep in mind, because an even larger number may not even be aware that the light in their offices is impacting them in any way.
But the connection between lighting and depression, lighting and creativity, and lighting and overall productivity is significant.

These are three things business owners need to know about office lighting:

Manage Stress

Stress is an intractable problem in every company. The good news is, the human body naturally copes with stress by emitting cortisol, sometimes called the ‘stress hormone’. When circumstances pressure the mind into difficult decisions and panic begins to set in, cortisol rushes to the rescue and normalizes our responses.

The problem is, artificial light reduces our cortisol levels. Suddenly narratives from the movie Office Space begin to make more sense. When we are deprived of our natural cure for stress, we act erratically. There are tens of thousands of offices that are all but designed to damage our stress management just by virtue of their lighting.

Boost Productivity

It goes without saying that harsh, bright lights damage productivity by making us depressed and stressed out. But science suggests that there is a type of light that boosts our productivity, and that is cool light.

Many companies are creating personalized controls for each employee. That means that those who like brighter light can get their work done in an environment more conducive to their own productivity without forcing their neighbor to endure the same experience. Customization is key.

Be More Alert

We do not have good eyesight in the dark and as a result many of our customs and evolved behaviors are impacted by the changing of day to night and night to day. Investigating your office environment to ensure you are not accidentally putting your employees to sleep is important.

When your whole team is alert, fewer mistakes are made, more work gets done, and everyone is more creative. All of that is the outcome of better lighting.
Small businesses employ the largest percentage of American workers and command the largest number of offices. It is important to invest in small innovations in order to keep the workforce healthy and productive. Founders and executives who are looking for investments they can make this year to enhance their teams should look outside the box for solutions.

How to Find the Best Remote Jobs That Don’t Require a College Degree | Jessica Mattern, Womansday.com

There are all kinds of new and intriguing listings for positions that don’t require anything more than a GED or high school diploma, according to Brie Reynolds, the senior career specialist at Remote.co. The job opportunities cover a variety of fields and industries, and include both part-time and full-time work-from-home positions.

“Some of the most high-demand fields for flexible workers that don’t need a bachelor’s degree include data entry, administrative, software development, sales, customer service, and writing,” Brie told WomansDay.com. You can also obtain jobs in education, design, health care, marketing, and more.

Here are five remote jobs currently open to workers of all education levels.

Customer experience specialist: In this role as an online advisor, you’ll be responsible for corresponding with customers via email, social media, and live chat functions, and provide support to the company for their online projects.

Medical coding: In this full-time opportunity, you can receive free training on the latest medical coding technologies and systems to ensure you’re up-to-date on the latest practices in your industry.

Virtual assistant: Support staff and customers, coordinate scheduling, and manage timelines and projects among other tasks in this remote position.

Human resources business partner: This job will focus on creating and improving strategies for management, customer satisfaction, and business performance, and supporting leaders in the company.

Transcriptionist: This incredibly flexible job allows you to choose how many hours per week you want to work. This start-up company pays you according to the work you complete making it ideal for motivated individuals.

See the complete database of job listings at Remote.co.

Remote Work Digest: May 9, 2017

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

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These 10 tips will help you enjoy working from home | Joshua Trudell, Rare.us

Having a home office and working from home can be a blessing and a curse. Here are 10 tips that’ll help you enjoy working in your own space.

1. Figure out tax repercussions
To write off home-office costs, you must use the area for work only and on a regular basis. You should be able to write off 100 percent of costs associated exclusively with your home office — everything from buying a work computer to office supplies.

2. Create a daily work schedule
If you work for one company, try to set well-defined work hours to avoid phone calls and emails without boundaries on your personal time. If you are a well organized self-starter with time management skills, you’ll be better off.

3. Keep your visibility high
People who work from home are often saddled with an unfair label that they can’t really manage others while working from home.

To help ward that off, make an effort to show-up on a regular basis for meetings and other office gatherings.

4. Be an extrovert
Co-workers can also be envious of your freedom, so make the effort to get out of the house and get in an out-of-the-office lunch or coffee with them to avoid the hard feelings.

5. Network electronically
Look into judicious use of social media – particularly those outlets that can relate to your profession, such as LinkedIn. Comment on posts and contribute your own to display your expertise and get that connected feeling.

6. Get dressed (or not)
If you’re going to be more comfortable and can stay focused on work while in jeans and a T-shirt – that’s one of the benefits of working at home. if you are going to be meeting or videoconferencing with co-workers or clients, you should dress appropriately.

7. Be prepared to be your own IT department
If you’re an employee, try to butter up someone in the IT department, who you can reach out to in a pinch. If not, invest in some training – possibly an inexpensive class at a community college or know the quickest route to the Apple store in your neighborhood.

8. Become familiar with web-based applications
Know the cloud, love the cloud – it’s your friend.

9. Don’t forget about insurance
Most home-business owners have little or no coverage from their homeowner’s policy. What’s more, if you file a homeowner’s (or renter’s) claim for losses that stemmed from an undisclosed home-based business, your insurer may not cover it.

10. Set up your computer so you don’t waste time online
Try setting up two user accounts – one for work, which allows the apps and sites you need to get work done, and another for personal use. If you continue to have issues, try getting a laptop for personal use and put it somewhere inconvenient during the day.

Make Your Workforce Smarter By Letting Them Work Remotely | Boris Dzhingarov, TgDaily.com

In a society that has mostly valued hard work in the form of manual labor over the creativity and problem-solving of the mind, it’s rough being creative when your skillsets and talents don’t function on the typical work cycle of Monday through Friday from the crack of dawn until sunset. Thankfully, many tech industry employers are catching on to the need to allow their workers more freedom both inside and outside of the office. Companies like eBay, Facebook, Google, and even Apple – with their relaxed environments and remote work forces – are all setting an example of what it looks like to prepare for a future of absolute genius.

Problems are solved unconsciously

If you’re like most businesses, you probably have creative team members functioning in various roles who need to solve problems as part of their jobs. The dilemma is that solutions are not likely to come while they’re sitting at their desk looking busy. Solutions are found when the mind is not engaged in rational or deep thought. These solutions come at times when the conscious mind is free – in the car, in the shower, while taking a walk, or upon arising from a nap.

Getting the conscious mind out of the way

When the conscious mind is running the show, the prefrontal cortex is in charge. The prefrontal cortex provides the ability to focus and meet deadlines; however, it also kills creativity because when logical and rational thought are engaged, the brain brushes off creative solutions before the conscious mind picks up on them.

How freedom affects productivity

Remote workers have been proven to be happier and more productive than those who work the traditional 9-5 schedule. Statistics show that the average 9-5 office worker only gets about 3 hours of work done per day. That’s a huge difference!

Traditional schedules don’t work for all-around

If you want to see better results in your business, before you buy the next best system for success, try allowing your staff to work from home a couple days out of the week. You’ll probably be surprised to see your staff’s happiness and productivity rise at the same time.

3 Ways Virtual Workers Make Organizations More Effective | Munira Rangwala, Yourstory.com

Technology has made it possible for startups to hire the best talent from all across the world at sensible rates. Startups are recognizing the importance of creating and managing virtual teams and the big billion dollar companies are soon following suit. One survey reports that 73 percent of employees believe that the challenges that virtual teams pose are overshadowed by the benefits. Today, entrepreneurs are readily outsourcing duties that are not within the main scope of their business to virtual employees.

Here are three ways in which virtual workers make organizations more efficient.

Best talent available

If companies begin to feel that managing a virtual team is creating more work for them, they are bound to give up on the idea of remote working. The solution to this is to create a common framework so that managers as well as virtual employees can work together effectively once they have found each other. Virtual assistant companies do just that. They add an important layer of management to the freelance economy which benefits the companies that hire them and the talent that works for them.

Effective administration

Virtual employees are often better at operating social tools that help streamline teamwork and collaboration. This allows virtual workers to be effective at tasks that generate maximum value for their company.

Allotment of resources

By reducing the number of on-site employees, a lot of small and mid-size organizations are reconsidering the traditional office expenditures. However, virtual talent doesn’t come cheap. If companies want to hire the best, they should be open to shelling out larger paychecks.

If you still aren’t sure about outsourcing work, look at your motivations and see if they align with the benefits of outsourcing. Consider the amount of time, money, and management efforts outsourcing will save your company and only then go ahead with the decision.

How to Make an Awesome Remote Team | Kirsten Helvey, Fortune.com

Here are some strategies for helping your own team work effectively, wherever its members may be:

Use the best collaboration tools
It can be easy for people to begin to feel disconnected and thus disengaged, so make sure you utilize the best technology to enhance your remote workplace.

Foster team spirit
The office should be a social place where relationships are built. Although it can feel awkward at first, video conferencing can really help remote teams get to know each other. Also, try to partake in employee celebrations for major milestones, such as birthdays, work anniversaries, and big accomplishments.

Flex your work schedule
Remote workers should have the freedom to choose not just when they work, but how they spend their work hours.

Engage with your manager
Regular check-ins with managers are foundation to successful remote working relationships. The more a manager understands your day-to-day activities, the better. I find that documenting tasks and goals for both the near term (weekly and monthly) and the long term (quarterly and annually) is crucial to staying on track.

Working remotely requires strong communication, established goals, and clear expectations. If you can stick to these guidelines, you’ll end up a happier and more engaged employee.

Remote Work Digest: April 10, 2017

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

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8 Little Time Management Tips for People Who Are Always Procrastinating | Grace Beuley Hunt, Purewow.com

You have a big work project looming over your head, and you’re ready to get down to business…until you notice a stain on the rug. Hmm, maybe you should buy some rug cleaner. Or just get a new rug. Are there any sales at West Elm? Let’s check the website. Oooh, what a cute end table. Hey, procrastinator. You’re not alone. Here are seven unexpected tips to kick your habits to the curb for good.

Build a Procrastination – Free Zone
Designate a space whose sole function is serving as your perch for getting sh*t done. Set up a study if space allows, carve out a small nook in the living room for a writing desk or even consider renting a shared workspace. Keep this zone neat, orderly and distraction-free (read: leave your cellphone elsewhere).

Surround Yourself with Color
A study published by Frontiers in Human Neuroscience found that red, for example, has been shown to increase attentiveness, and a separate study by the University of British Columbia found that blue can boost creativity.

Experiment with surrounding yourself with more color across the board—from rainbow-hued desk accessories, to your wardrobe, and even bringing more color into your diet.

Take More Showers
There’s nothing better for jump-starting a productive stretch than literally giving yourself a fresh, clean slate.

According to a study published in the Journal of the Public Library of Science, quality of work may benefit from that shower break.

Spend More Time with Doers
Prioritize spending time with the people in your life whom you consider hard workers, go-getters and all-around inspiring human beings. Their can-do energy and company will be good for your soul, as well as a serious motivator.

Assign a Procrastination Police Officer
Ask someone whose respect you value (whether that’s your S.O., close friend or family member) to act as your procrastination police. According to findings from the American Psychological Association, shame can be hugely motivational. But in this case, that “shame” will actually come from a safe and positive place.

Wake Up Earlier
Getting something accomplished first thing in the morning is truly the antithesis of procrastination. So challenge yourself to rise an hour or two earlier and see how many to-dos can be checked off before you even leave for the day.

Get Playful When It Comes To Getting Organized
Play can boost output. So whether it’s flipping heads or tails to decide if you’ll tackle those thank-you notes this evening or singing out your to-do list every morning, find a state of play and humor in the banal…and reap the rewards.

Stop Comparing Yourself with Others
Instead of sizing up the competition, focus on your own vision. That means no need to “research” a project for five hours before getting started—just start it already. You’ll feel so much better, we promise.
3 Ways to Overcome Remote Hiring Challenges | Holly Wade, Business2community.com

Whether or not you set out to look for remote workers, they may be the best hires for your organization. Because remote workers do not have to travel and generally feel more productive and happier about their jobs, they are more likely to work beyond the 40-hour work week. This is just one of the benefits of hiring remote workers as well as higher employee engagement and improved health and well-being. Some studies show that telecommuting also saves organizations money. According to one report, allowing employees to work from home about half of the time would save as much as $11,000 per year.

1. Interview with Video – If your employee will be working remotely, it makes a lot of sense to interview them remotely too. Screening with video will also allow you to screen candidates more heavily without an additional time commitment, and you can ensure standardization of questions for all candidates.
2. Know Where/How to Look – If you’re looking for a freelance remote worker, try searching websites dedicated to seeking freelancers, and avoid highlighting the job’s remote needs unless you’re prepared to wade through more applicants.
3. Set Expectations – Employee trust and communication are vital to allowing individuals to work remotely because business leaders need to trust that workers are doing their jobs.

Screening candidates more efficiently and searching for them the right ways can help you locate the right remote worker that you trust to work independently, communicate well and get the job done.
How to change your mindset when you go from full-time to freelance | Lindsay Deutsch, Usatoday.com
To prepare for the changes, USA TODAY’s Lightpost lays out an expert-sourced comprehensive plan to help you ease into this life transition. When you’re just getting started, remember to keep these tips in mind:

Monitor your finances more closely.
As a freelancer, you need to play a more active role. A good app to track your finances and spending is Mint. ShoeBoxed can also help you scan and organize receipts, business cards, create expense reports, track mileage and more for expensing and tax purposes, as well. It may also be worth checking out the services available from Intuit Small Business.

Don’t pass along the blame.
When something doesn’t work out during the span of your 9-5 traditional job and it’s not your fault, it’s easy to pass along the blame and move on with your job. As a freelancer, you need to things to work out. That means you need to figure out how to best work with the person who is going to pay you so you can complete the gig and actually get paid. So, take a deep breath before you reply to a frustrating email and brainstorm ways you can make things work.

Be deliberate about your downtime.
You need to be more deliberate about your productivity and downtime. Think about the money you could be making while you’re wasting time on mindless social media. What could you do with your time?! AND CO is a good time tracking (and tool for expense tracking, invoicing, payments, and reporting services) for freelancers and small businesses that could be helpful.

5 Ways To Train A Remote Workforce | Chip Espinoza, Training.co.uk

Since remote work is on the rise, remote training is on the rise too. Unfortunately, remotely training employees can be easily blundered if an employer isn’t prepared for the challenges. Rather than leaving your employees stumbling or send them through inadequate training, take the time to prepare a useful and applicable training program for remote employees in order to maximize both productivity and employee satisfaction, decreasing the chance that they’ll quit out of stress or frustration.

1. Look for remote work experience
The best way to minimize the difficulties that could arise from training remote workers is to ensure that your employees are coming to you with some remote work experience to begin with. Although the remote workforce must grow by hiring inexperienced remote employees, prioritizing or looking for employees who have that experience will ease your training burden.

2. Establish peer-to-peer informal learning
Informal learning through fellow employees will help your training along by giving participants real life examples to model after and more resources to turn to for help. Avoid keeping your remote employees separate; connect them and encourage them to communicate amongst themselves, or set up some sort of employee social media network that will let them easily communicate and keep track of what other employees are doing.

3. Look for at least one face-to-face meeting
The best way to prepare an employee for training and bring them into the company fold is to begin with face-to-face meetings and training sessions before remote work can start. However, this is not an option for everyone; in that case, a series of Skype calls can substitute to help provide the face time and familiarity that in-person meetings offer.

4. Have all training documents prepared
If you’re just transitioning into remote work, it is critical you make sure that you have training documents, guides and manuals prepared for employees before they arrive. These documents should be extremely extensive and detailed – as detailed as you can. A good strategy for training employees is to assume nothing about the technical knowledge they bring to the table.

5. Give them flexibility in pace
Your remote employees are almost certainly going to be mostly left to complete work on their own, which means their training styles should follow a similar method. Although it’s critical to check in, talk to your employees, make yourself available to clarify when needed and follow up to see if they’re learning what they need to, it’s best to give your employees the information they need and let them travel through it at their own pace.

Remote employees bring unique challenges for employers. Standard training practices will not work for such an arrangement. By modifying your training to one that suits remote workers, you’ll have better success in training and retaining.

Remote Work Digest: February 10, 2017

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

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7 office décor tips that will improve productivity at work | Sangeeta Ghosh, Knowstartup.com

What makes everyone enjoy working there so much? The answer is simple: their design strategy is creative, customized to every location and the offices are not just sad places designed to bring money. We could learn a thing or two from those examples and make our own work spaces more enjoyable with these tips:

1. Smart Setup
A well-arranged office adjusts to the way employees work, and functions to create a convenient, easy-to-navigate environment. Workers are more relaxed and able to concentrate on the tasks at hand. Aesthetics are important in the modern office but should not take priority over efficiency.

2. A rooftop social space
Even if the office is in the middle of the city, away from forests and nature in general, there’s a way to revive that connection by creating a rooftop social area decorated with planters, perhaps even trees and from where the views can be admired.

3. Everything in it’s place
Invest in folders, filing systems, desk organizers, boxes- anything to prevent random stacks of paper. Not only will this likely reduce confusion, and time wasted sifting through piles of paper searching for the right document…but this strategy will also make your employees feel more organized and less stressed.

4. Choose stimulating colors
Colors can have a significant influence on the mood of the employees. It can also help with productivity, creativity, and concentration of the workers.

5. Plants
Interacting with nature can have very positive effects on the mood but while working it is not possible to spend much time in the sunshine and greenery. You can make use of plants to spruce up the working space.

6. Personal touches
Encourage your employees to style their desks with things they like. A little bit of office supply budget spent here will go a long way when it comes to employee happiness, productivity, and less absenteeism.

7. Natural light in the workplace
Properly utilizing daylight in your work space not only increases productivity but will save on energy bills. Place desks near to a window to maximize the amount of natural light which falls over your work space.

Environment is very important in a work setting, but it all depends on what kinds of work is taking place in the office. If the design of the office is not something that can be changed, simple changes can be added, like adding a few bright colors or plants. Think about the tone of your office space, and try a few of these additions. You might just notice a change in you and those working around you.

Working from home is the new key from breaking out of the daily grind | Victoria Heckstall, Groundreport.com

More scientists are concluding that 40-hour work weeks are damaging to our health. Sitting down in an office for long periods of time is bad for both our physical and mental health and could be contributing to the accelerated decline in brain power.
But why is it the case?

Office Culture is Toxic
Sitting in a room for 40 hours every week with people you don’t necessarily like is crushing to morale and motivation.

The Numbers Add Up to More Productivity
Many remote workers have stated that they feel more productive because they have full control over their work environment.

Leisure and Family Come First
Study after study has demonstrated that when employees can put leisure and family matters first they are more productive and more motivated to do better.

More Motivation Through Gaining Personal Responsibility
Personal responsibility helps us to encourage creativity and gives us the confidence to speak up when we believe we have a solution to a problem.

How to Get Your Boss to Offer Remote Working
Explain to them the benefits of remote working. Don’t think about what it will do for you think about what it will do for them. Focus on productivity benefits and how you’ve demonstrated the personal responsibility needed to separate your work and home life.

Working From Home is the Answer
If you’ve yet to convince your boss that you should be able to work from home, even on a part-time basis, keep trying. Make them see what it can do for their business.

4 ways to take care of remote employees | Dennis Healy, Employeebenefitadviser.com

Here are four ways you can keep remote workers in the loop:

1. Help them create personal connections with you and other employees. The only time remote workers get to interact with colleagues is on a conference call. Because I am a remote myself, it’s easy for me to remember to make time for “virtual water cooler talk” — I call my direct reports, who are also remote employees, to just catch up on whatever is on their mind.
2. Include remote workers in all-company events and activities. Does your company have an annual party? Make sure remote workers are invited and it’s easy for them to attend. Do you have company meetings? Don’t forget to set up a video chat or call-in number so that remote workers can participate.
3. Give them tools to be successful. There is so much technology available these days to help remote workers communicate and engage more effectively with coworkers. The most critical thing, especially for those of us who spend lots of time on conference calls, is quality audio. It may sound basic, but if the connection doesn’t pick up quiet or low talkers, it’s a real struggle to follow conversations and remain an active participant.
4. Encourage them to embrace the flexibility of working remotely.

The popularity of working remotely is only going to increase in coming years, particularly with millennials — a group that values flexibility, control and a good work-life balance. Having remote workers can be incredibly powerful when you do it right and make sure they feel like they are an integral part of the company.

How To Get Your Boss To Let You Work From Home | Nancy Collamer, Forbes.com

The key to getting permission to work from home: knowing how to ask.

Working from home has become increasingly popular and possible. According to a 2016 study by consultancy PWC, 38% of U.S. workers can work from home at least one day a week, a fourfold increase over the 9% in 1995. Small businesses are more likely than their larger counterparts to offer this flexibility. According to PWC, over half of small business workers telecommute, but only 26% of large-company employees do.

Since your employer might need convincing, here’s the best way to approach your boss about telecommuting and how to make working at home work well, according to Sara Sutton Fell, CEO and Founder of FlexJobs and Remote.co and the Q & A section of Remote.co:

7 Tips to Work from Home

1. Decide how much telecommuting you need or want. Options range from occasional telecommuting on an as-needed basis all the way up to a full-time work-from-home schedule. Try negotiating with your boss to start off working a few days a week from home and eventually you might find yourself telecommuting all of the time.
2. Focus on the benefits that telecommuting would offer your employer, not you. Explain how telecommuting will make you a more productive, focused and engaged worker. For example, less time spent commuting will give you more time for completing reports.
3. Anticipate your boss’s concerns. Make sure your boss understands exactly how often, and by what means, you’ll stay in regular contact with your colleagues and which tasks you’ll accomplish when you work from home.
4. Suggest a trial run. Your manager may be hesitant about letting you telecommute, so offer to do it as a trial run for a month or two. Then, the two of you can assess how it went and you can prove that the arrangement is beneficial to your boss.
5. Create a dedicated home work space. Jan Lindborg, who works remotely as a Global Sales Training Operations Director for Dell, recommended on Remote.co to treat your working space like a recording studio. “No red light, but when my door is shut, I am at work,” he writes. He also suggests switching off your laptop when finished for the day to delineate between your work hours and the rest of your life.
6. Establish disciplined work habits when telecommuting. “It takes a lot of discipline to work remotely, as you’ll find that it is very easy to put off a piece of work when you’re sitting at home,” warns Ben Dodson, who works out of his UK home as a full-time freelance ios developer. To help maintain his focus, Dodson puts on noise-cancelling headphones to serve as a signal that it’s time to get into work mode.
7. Keep connected with your employer and associates to combat feelings of isolation. “Consider what you will miss about the office environment and find ways to recreate it or compensate for it, says Lauren Antonian, who works as a full time remote manager in proposal development for Anthem. “For example, if you are an extrovert who enjoys socializing with colleagues, make a point to communicate with them via instant message or email as you would have if you were available in person.”

Andrea Bing, who works remotely as a project manager for Cigna, joins an assortment of company-sponsored virtual communities, such as a book club and finance group. She also schedules lunch dates with coworkers on a monthly basis. Sometimes, working remotely is just the next best thing to being there.

Remote Work Digest: December 13, 2016

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

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Six ways to keep employee productivity high during the holidays | Coadvantage.com

With so many major events crammed into a relatively brief period, the holiday season is often one of the busiest and most demanding times of year for everyone – employers and employees alike. That, in turn, can have a negative impact on productivity, if employees are distracted by being pulled in too many directions at once, or they are fretting over meeting all the demands on their time and energy, or the workplace is unprepared. Here are six tips for keeping productivity high during and after the holidays!

Relax. Consider online holiday shopping: many employers monitor such activity (48%) or even block online shopping sites (25%), per a survey by staffing firm Robert Half Technology. But those numbers have fallen over past years as employers have relaxed their vigilance.

Clarify. Confusion can be a productivity-killer, as can poorly articulated leave policies that inadvertently allow too many employees to take time off at the same time.

Adapt. Consider offering flexible hours during the holidays, whose extra demands on employees can result in burnout if not managed well.

Slow. This may sound counter-intuitive, but your office might consider allowing for extra time off (and thus lower productivity) during this period to promote greater productivity later.

Comply. Compliance can be a concern during the holidays; for example, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission requires that employers accommodate religious differences in the workplace, and that can impact how employers handle holiday-themed events and activities.

Appreciate. The holidays are a great time of year for employers to show that they appreciate employees. That, in turn, can boost employee morale and engagement. Employers can show appreciation through employee bonuses, small gifts, personalized thank you notes, catered events, fun outings, award ceremonies, etc.

How To Convince Your Boss To Let You Work Remotely | Rachel Ritlop, Forbes.com

If you are a part of the 84% of millennials seeking greater work-life balance, how can you join the roughly 25% of the US workforce that telecommutes and reports being happier as they enjoy greater flexibility and freedom? Check out these five negotiating tips to convince your boss to let you work remotely:

Timing is everything.
Figuring out the best time to have the conversation with your boss is vital. Tricia Sciortino, president of an all-remote workforce eaHelp, suggests it’s best “during peak season or other busy times.” The logic here, she says, is that “many times managers will be looking for employees to put in some overtime to meet deadlines”.

Know your worth.
If you can quantify your value to your boss you will have greater leverage when making the argument that you will be more productive and creative while working from home with fewer distractions.

Get your facts straight.
Research supporting telecommuting has been overwhelmingly positive for both the employer and employee. For instance, many companies are looking to implement green initiatives, and by allowing employees to work from home a day or two a week, they will be significantly reducing their carbon footprint.

Anticipate concerns or red flags.
Many companies today deal in sensitive information that they may not want you to bring home. “[This] makes leaders uneasy to welcome telecommuting,” says Sciortino. Try to be mindful of this and other potential red flags or concerns your boss may have about you working remotely.

Suggest a trial run.
Your boss may be skeptical to let you work from anywhere on a whim. Ease into it with a trial run. “Ask for one to two days a week and see how it goes,” suggests Sciortino. She also recommends offering to come in for team meetings, and create a check-in schedule with your boss to gauge comfort and determine what could be improved on within the new working arrangement.

The more specific you can be with your boss in terms of how you will remain a part of the team, boost creativity and productivity, and track your progress on deadlines, the better of you both will feel. Once the trial run is successful and both parties are feeling confident about the roles, you can always re-negotiate for more flexible hours or remote days.

Everything You Need to Know About How to Land a Remote Job | Cameron Chapman, Skullcrush.com

Not everyone gets to have the same kind of natural transition into remote working, though. If you’re reading this, you’re probably wondering how you can purposely start working remotely.

Everything you need to know about how to get started working remotely is included in the completely update Ultimate Guide to Getting a Remote Job You Love.

If you’re not sure if working remotely is right for you, check out these amazing reasons:

Work From Anywhere
Home office, front porch, kitchen table, coffee shop, coworking space, RV traveling across America, an exotic beach somewhere, camping in the woods (thank you, 4G hotspot!), or pretty much anywhere else you can connect to the Internet.

Set Your Own Schedule
Not every remote job allows for this, but a lot of them offer at least some flexibility around when you work. That means if you find you’re more productive at a specific time of the day, you can roll with it.

Save Money
You won’t need an entire work wardrobe if you’re working from home every day. And you’ll save a lot by not commuting every day. You can also avoid the costs of the big city and choose to settle where the cost of living is lower, and your paycheck goes further.

Make More Money
That means you can live in the middle of nowhere but make the kind of salary you’d make in NYC.

Be More Efficient
This one might come as a surprise, but meetings done via Google Hangouts or Skype always seem to stay on task and operate more efficiently than those that happen in person.

The best paying remote jobs are almost all at least somewhat related to tech, whether it’s content marketing (design and basic HTML & CSS skills come in super handy there) or web development (which requires, you know, coding skills), tech knowledge makes you way more hireable as a remote worker.

5 Legal Risks Freelancers Face | John Rampton, Huffingtonpost.com

Being a freelancer and working from home can be great. You can wear whatever you want and not have to worry about having a boss. But the reality is that there are also disadvantages to becoming a self-employed freelancer. For instance, it might feel like you have several bosses if you don’t have good boundaries set with your clients.

If you are considering becoming a freelancer, here are 5 legal risks you need to know about.

Non-payment issues

Because you are providing a service instead of a product for them, it can be difficult to collect payment in these situations. Make sure you get a contract signed by your client that is clear about the service being provided and the payment you expect. In addition, check very carefully to make sure there are no errors or falsified information. Also have a 3-5 percent penalty per month if you are not paid on time.

Defamation of character

You must use caution in your wording when talking about other businesses or famous people to avoid a lawsuit for defamation of character. Do not make statements that slander or harm someone else and certainly do not make false statements or accusations.

Taxes

As we all know, paying taxes is unavoidable, and depending on the volume of work you are doing, you are probably paying quarterly self-employment taxes. What you pay every three months may seem steep, but it helps you in the long run when you file your tax return and send that final, somewhat smaller, check to the government.

Additionally, make sure you keep good records so you can avoid legal ramifications.

Remote Work Digest: August 18, 2016

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

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5 Rules To Follow When Working From Home | Spandas Lui, Lifehacker.com.au

Working from home is something that a lot of people desire and small business owners often have the luxury of doing so. But the home is full of traps that can distracts us from getting work done, which is why setting up some ground rules is so important.

Over at small business blog Flying Solo, Emma Heuston-Levack, talked about her experience of working from home for the past 18 months and the commandments that she follows in order to stay disciplined and keep herself in line:

  • Separating your workspace
    A separate space is important to help you ‘leave the office’ each day so you’re not tempted to work around the clock.
  • Set your space up with good equipment
    Make sure your home work space is set up with the right things to ensure you can work smoothly and comfortably throughout the day.
  • Exercise discipline
    Don’t just roll out of bed and start working in your pyjamas at noon; get up, get dressed and sit down at your workspace by a certain time each day.
  • Ensure you take regular breaks
    You won’t have office buddies remind you that it’s lunchtime, so you should be mindful to take regular breaks or risk burning out.
  • Get out of the house
    You don’t get to interact with people on a daily basis like you do in a real office so make sure you schedule some social catch-ups regularly. Otherwise, you’ll end up becoming a hermit.

You can read more about Heuston-Levack’s work from home commandments over at Flying Solo.

How to win at working from home | Tracy Ramsden, Marieclaire.co.uk

A new study reveals that over half of UK employees think they are more productive working from home, let’s take a moment for the procrastinators and the easily distracted out there. We asked Jason Downes, MD at Powwownow, the company behind the Smarter Working Initiative for his advice on how to make working from home work for all of us.

1. Have a plan (and stick to it)
Before you get started, write a to-do list and make sure you stick to it. This will help create a structure for your day and establish an end goal.
2. Have a routine (and don’t stay in your Pjs)
It’s a good way to remind yourself that you are still working even though you are at home and to stop you from feeling lethargic and unfocused.
3. Create a workspace (probably not the sofa)
Having your own space will help you stay focused and organised and also let anyone else who may be at home that you are working.
4. Be truly flexible (that means to a cafe sometimes. Win)
It’s important that the confines of an office, is not replaced by the confines of your home. Changing location and working from a library or coffee shop can help stimulate the creative juices.
5. Stay connected and communicate (so sync your email with your iPhone)
The changes in technology means that we now have the ability to communicate and work effectively from home. The use of quick conference calls can be frequently used to catch up with remote staff to prevent people feeling isolated and helps set the agenda for the day.
6. Take a break (i.e. you may not have to walk to Pret but don’t forget lunch)
Working from home should not turn into a bigger task than it has to be. Make a nice lunch or go for a walk as you would when popping out to get lunch from the office, don’t just sit by the computer all day.
7. Be clear with your manager regarding targets (like a virtual to-do list)
This helps to establish structure in your day, can act as a huge motivator and makes sure that you and your manager both understand what outcomes to expect– this avoids any miscommunication, crossed wires or finger pointing come the end of the day.
8. Leave work (it’s 5pm, you can close your laptop now)
When it’s time to finish work and you have done all the things you need to do, then you should stop working. It’s important to know when to finish for the day and maintain a good work-life balance. Just make sure you have achieved the goals that you set out to achieve.
9. Talk to other flexible workers (it’s good to share ideas, people #PassItOn)
Speak to other flexible workers to share thoughts on what does and doesn’t work well. We have just created the Smarter Working Initiative so that all companies that offer their staff flexible working can come together to share positive experiences and companies that don’t currently encourage this way of working can sign up to try it.

6 signs your hobby is benefiting your career | Aine Cain, Businessinsider.com

Today, “get a hobby” is usually a rude thing to say. It’s typically meant to signify that you’ve got too much time on your hands.
But as it turns out, it’s pretty good advice.
You should get a hobby. Committing time to an activity that makes you happy can do wonders for your life — not to mention your work performance. Hobbies are good for you.
Here are six signs that your hobby is paying off big time:

Your hobby helps you structure your time
Try taking on a hobby to see if it boosts your time management skills. As the Harvard Business Review previously reported, conventional time management solutions have become increasingly less effective. Scheduling time for your hobby might be a surefire way of avoiding distractions both at work and after hours.

Your hobby balances you
Citing a Bain & Co. study of MBA students, The Boston Globe reported that work-life balance is an increasingly important issue to workers, despite the fact that businesses have been slow to catch on to the trend.
By taking on a hobby, you can begin to prioritize your own work-life balance and capture this sense of contentment.

It allows you to pursue your passion – realistically
The platitude “follow your dreams” is typically a lot of fluffy nonsense. Most of our “dreams” are pretty impractical. For most people, it’s far better to get a decent job doing something you really like and are good at than to set off on a quest to find your “calling.” Perfect is the enemy of good, and all that.

However, that doesn’t mean you need to give up on your other pursuits entirely. You can make time to sculpt, do stand up, or crochet after hours. If you fiercely guard that hobby time, you’ll find that you’re able to continue to pursue your passion in life, even if it’s not your main career. Who knows — you might eventually get so good at your side hustle that it will eventually become your full-time job!

It keeps you healthy
If your hobby involves physical activity, you could be boosting your memory and cognitive abilities, according to a Stanford University psychological experiment.

It can be difficult to schedule time for exercise into your busy life, so working out during our hobby is also extra efficient.

It allows you to connect with others outside of work
It’s great to make friends at work. However, workplace relationships don’t necessarily blossom at every company — some offices are too toxic, competitive, or transitory to sustain lasting friendships.

Making friends through your hobby is different. You’re not just bonding over circumstances, you’re getting to know each other through a shared interest!

It makes you less stressed
Some worry that taking on a hobby might add to the stress in their life. In fact, hobbies have the opposite effect — they relax you.

A San Francisco State University study discovered that employees who pursue creative hobbies are able to recover better from the demands of their job.

“Creative activity was found to have both indirect effects and direct effects on performance-related outcomes, but the effects varied by the type of performance-related outcome,” the study found. “The results indicate that organizations may benefit from encouraging employees to consider creative activities in their efforts to recover from work.”

What Are Best Practices for Employee Retention and Recruitment? | Lindsay Wissman, Zanebenefits.com

There is good news for entrepreneurs with growing businesses: it doesn’t have to be rocket science. Here are some simple things you can do to provide a meaningful experience for your employees — and why you can’t afford not to think about your employee retention strategy.

Hire the Right Managers
When hiring managers, it’s common to look for someone who will fit in with the culture. However, Forbes recommends that hiring someone whose skill-set aligns with the job is the best route. The thought process here is that a person with the proper skill-set is better equipped to succeed in their role and motivate direct reports to do the same.

Provide Career Navigation and Growth Strategy
Experts suggest hiring people that are planning their careers with the company, rather than just filling roles. During interviews, ask candidates what their goals are, what motivates them, and then assess whether those answers coincide with what your company can provide for them. Once you’ve hired the person you feel will be the best fit, be sure to sit down with them and outline an individualized path for success.

Staff Recognition
It’s important to remember that motivation is not a one-size-fits-all system. While monetary rewards will be the catalyst for one person, it could be investment shares, a gift card, or extra vacation time for another. Be flexible in your rewards system and be willing to negotiate if the winning employee would like to tweak the prize just a bit. It doesn’t mean they aren’t appreciative — they are just trying to tell you what works for them.

Why Employee Retention Matters
A popular argument for pushing employee retention strategy to the back-burner is that the cost of losing an employee is difficult to monetize. Yet, it doesn’t take a whole lot to realize the impact turnover can have on your business. Poor morale, lower productivity, more frequent mistakes, and disengagement are all issues that can cost your company dearly, but do not have a price sticker.

Conclusion
An employee retention strategy is often overlooked in small businesses that are otherwise strapped for resources. Not investing time in such areas can have a drastic and costly effect on your businesses. As J.W. Marriott famously said, “If you take care of your people, your people will take care of your customers, and your business will take care of itself.”