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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Image from Mashable.com

 

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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Image from Pixabay.com

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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Image from Lifehacker.com.au

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.”

Remote Work Digest: July 22, 2016

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

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Image from Pcsupportgroup.com 

4 Signs You’re Not Cut Out to Work From Home | Shereisa Ngo, Cheatsheet.com

Being able to work from home full-time is great, but it’s not right for everyone. Do you have what it takes? Here are a few clear signs that you don’t have what it takes to maintain employment in a work-at-home arrangement.

1. You’re too relaxed about work
Do your best to stay on top of deadlines and submit quality work. Now is not the time to kick back and relax. Don’t forget that you still have an employer to answer to. Show your appreciation for being able to work from home by doing your best work. You can relax on your own time.

2. You have poor time management
If you don’t know how to manage your time well, the day can easily slip away from you. Try creating a to-do list of everything you need to accomplish for a specific work day. This will help you stay on track and stay focused on what you need to do.

3. You’re lazy
If you need help finding your get-up-and-go, enlist the help of a work buddy who also works from home. You can check in with each other throughout the day and help each other stay motivated. Also try to create a strict work schedule for yourself so that you can reduce opportunities to waste time.

4. You have too many distractions
Think about some of the things that get you off track during the work day. Is there a TV in your office space? Get rid of it. Are your children yelling and screaming all day? Hire a reliable babysitter or ask a family member to take over for a couple of hours. You’ll be surprised to see how much more productive you can be with just a few small changes to your environment.

How To Fix Three Of The Biggest Project Management Problems Your Business Faces | Maren Hogan, Forbes.com

97% of organizations believe project management is critical to organizational success and business performance. Something so crucial to small business success shouldn’t be taken lightly, and the wrong project management processes can completely destroy business growth.

Problem No. 1: Your Team Doesn’t Understand The Project
One of the most obvious problems occurs when your team doesn’t understand the project. This is the result of a lack of communication between upper management, the project manager and you. As the owner of the company, it’s your duty to ensure your management team and project managers (PMs) are equipped with the tools they need to seek accurate information regarding the projects.

Problem No. 2: The Project Manager Is Either Too Relaxed Or Uptight
Not everyone is cut out to be a project manager, and having someone who is too lax about deadlines or the work that needs to be involved leaves your team idle and frustrated. On the other hand, a project manager who is too rigid and micromanaging can overwhelm and demotivate your team. If you have a project management novice, make sure to pass out peer evaluations after major projects.

Problem No. 3: The Goal Time Line Is Impossible
If your PM can’t envision the big picture and understand the team’s workload, then projects will never be finished on deadline. PMs need to be able to see that every member of the team contributes to each ongoing project and foresee the end results.

If you already have or are thinking about delegating project management, be on the lookout for these three issues. Be proactive in fixing these problems, and consider how project management software may help you. Don’t forget to conduct peer reviews after projects are completed, and give your PMs access to all important information they need to complete the work. After all, the success of your business is ultimately dependent on the performance of your team.

3 Modern Products For The Work-At-Home Entrepreneur | Melanie Nathan, Huffingtonpost.ca

As a professional, you already understand that organization is one of the key components to the success of any venture. Thankfully, there are new tools that you can pack in your toolkit to help you also stay well-rested, healthy and stimulated — making work-at-home life a little easier.

Blackout Blinds
Blackout blinds are ideal for the business owner who needs to grab some shut-eye during the daylight hours. Blackout blinds cover the window completely and are well-sealed, so there will be no bright rays of sunshine peeking through while you sleep. Blackoutblinds.ca (created by an entrepreneur), offers an effective product created especially for those in need of sleep during daytime hours. Whether your business requires shift work or you are a night owl with the height of your productivity occurring at night, these will help you get the rest you need whenever you need it.

Treadmill Desks
Many health reports though, tell us that sitting for extended periods of time is not good for your overall health. Apparently our bodies were made to move.
The Lifespan treadmill desk takes the idea of moving around while at work one step beyond the sit to stand desks (which we will discuss below). With the treadmill speed set ideally at less than two miles per hour, they offer ample space to accommodate your laptop or monitor and keyboard (though jogging and typing simultaneously is not advised), as well as smart phone and other desk utensils.

Sit to Stand Work Space
Maybe you are not so inclined to enjoy the advantages of the treadmill desks, but you still do not want to acquire the fabled “secretary’s spread” from sitting at your desk all day.
The height adjustable sit-to-stand Varidesk is a great option for those looking to move around more while working. This is the height adjustable base that can be placed on top of your desk and raised or lowered, accommodating your need to sit or stand at various periods during your work day. This style has room for single or dual monitors, keyboard and note-taking.

Gadgets Galore
There are a ton of fun but functional gadgets to bring more ease into your world and break up the monotony without taking you off course for the day.

Establishing your boundaries to separate your business hours from the daily meanderings of home life is key to your sanity. The aesthetics and functionality of your work at home space will encourage your productivity and help to keep you on task. Ensuring that you have all the business tools, technology and gadgets you need, you are setting yourself up for complete work-from-home entrepreneurial success.

8 Managers Share The Best Way To Ask For A Raise (And Get It) | Elana Lyn Gross, Forbes.com

How do you ask for a raise and get it? Elana Lyn Gross asked managers to share best practices for asking for a raise.

1. Share your goals and ask for feedback.
Have an honest and open conversation with your manager. “If you’ve been in your current role for at least six months, then in a non-pushy or self-serving way, have a conversation with your supervisor to let them know that, while your first priority is to excel in your current role, your long-term goal is to advance and that you want to make sure you’re doing everything that you can to set yourself up for success,” says Danielle Harlan, Ph.D., the founder and CEO of The Center for Advancing Leadership and Human Potential.

2. Take on more responsibility.
“My best advice to fast-track a promotion is to dress for the job you want — and the job you have,” recommends Jenna Tanenbaum, the founder of the smoothie delivery service, GreenBlender. “First, command the tasks and responsibilities in your current role, and then start solving the problems that your soon-to-be self would be working on. The only way to effectively do this is through careful time management. Understand the core strategy of your organization, ask lots of hard questions, and align your priorities with that of the company. You’ll be running the show in no time,” she says.

3. Proactively communicate wins.
Jenn Grasso, vice president of product at the fashion subscription service Le Tote, says she gave an unplanned promotion to a product manager. “The most important thing she did was consistently exceed expectations in terms of her current role and job responsibilities. She always took on more than was expected of her, and managed these projects as well as her more senior colleagues,” she says. And she didn’t wait to share all of her accomplishments at once. “She was also great at proactively communicating her accomplishments to me. When she approached me with her request for a promotion, I already knew she deserved it! Every step of the way, she made it easy for me to see that she was a star performer who deserved a better title and salary.” Moral of the story? Share your accomplishments early and often.

4. Demonstrate your accomplishments and added value.
Show your value. “You want to be able to demonstrate that you have taken on additional responsibilities, as well as provide specific details about your accomplishments. Share examples of projects you have completed and how they’ve positively impacted the business. Was there an increase in revenue? Did you save a customer? If you’ve received positive feedback from colleagues or other leaders regarding your work, be prepared to share that with your manager as well. These are not only good indicators of your contributions, but also of your future potential,” recommends Kim Mullaney, executive vice president and chief human resources officer at Monster.

5. Focus on why you deserve it (not why you need it).
Before you can convince your boss that you deserve a raise, you need to believe that you’ve earned it. “The best approach to asking for a raise is to focus on deserving one versus needing one. Too often, people argue that a raise is important because of very real costs in their lives, however, an employer is looking to give raises to people based on performance,” says Beth Monaghan, CEO and co-founder of the public relations firm, InkHouse.

6. Practice your pitch and anticipate questions.
“This sounds strange and unnatural to a lot of people, but conversations in which you are asking for something almost always go better if you’ve rehearsed in advance and have considered the many possible responses that you’ll get to each of your requests, and how you’ll address these responses. After role-playing the part of a resistant boss, having the actual conversation with her will be infinitely easier—and you’ll have more confidence since you will be able to anticipate their responses and know how to address them,” says Harlan.

7. Do you research.
Use sites like PayScale, Glassdoor, and Salary.com to find out the market rate for your role or intended one. It will be useful when your boss asks you for the amount you’d like to make or tells you the amount she’d give. Researchers at Columbia Business School found that it’s best to give a precise number instead of a round number because it makes the person seem informed. They found that people who gave a precise number were more likely to get conciliatory counteroffers. Instead of saying you want $60,000 or $65,000 ask for $63,500. It’s also helpful to know the average raise is between one and five percent. You don’t want to suggest a number that is completely unrealistic.

8. Talk about the future.
Show you’re invested in the company. “Every manager values loyalty. Start the conversation on a positive note, and explain how much you like working for your manager and the company. Then explain what you want to do in the future, and how you plan to contribute to grow the business,” explains Mandy Gilbert, founder of the recruitment firm Creative Niche and tech school RED Academy. Volunteer for a project or create one by being a proactive problem-solver.

9. Be prepared to hear no.
Don’t be discouraged by a no. “If you don’t get the pay increase or new position you requested, it doesn’t have to be the end of your negotiation. Request an interim performance appraisal with clearly defined goals and salary adjustment before your next annual review. This puts you in line for a possible increase sooner and also communicates how seriously you take your career,” says Julia Bonem, a senior career consultant at Resume Strategists. If a raise and promotion isn’t going to happen right now, she suggests asking for things beyond salary such as bonus, incentives, professional development opportunities, or more vacation time.
The worst that can happen is that your boss says no. Either way, you’ll learn to advocate for yourself and understand and appreciate your worth. And there’s not much chance you’ll get more money if you don’t ask!

Remote Work Digest: June 20, 2016

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

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Image from Entrepreneur.com

5 best workplace practices for employee productivity | Waqar Hassan, Examiner.com

Most business are wondering what can be done to get the most out of their employees and attract better workers. Here are some of great workplace practices that should be implemented for improved employee security and productivity:

Clear expectations: Most employees get demotivated and frustrated when they don’t know exactly what they are expected to do. A business needs to establish a culture where the goals, rules, vision, behavior and values should be clearly stated. There should be proper guidelines for reporting, results, time lines, quality standards and priorities. Expectations regarding policies, safety and communication should be made clear and questions should be encouraged and answered.

Finding the right people and giving them right remuneration: Another important practice is to hone the selection process and set high standards for finding staff and managers with the right set of values and skills. Be upfront about the hours, pay, holidays and remote work. This reduces the number of complaints from employees, reduces employee turnover, increased productivity and promotes good word of mouth about the business.

Provide proper resources, environment and equipment: Employees need a safe, good and quality environment and the right equipment and tools for doing their job properly. This includes access to people or information, computer software and hardware, availability of tools and furniture and other communications technology. Provide your employees with proper identities such as ID cards. Use custom lanyards for the ID cards so employees can wear them around their neck, which makes them easily recognizable and distinguishable for visitors. This enhances their security and also makes them part of the team.

Give opportunities for using skills: Boredom and frustration are counterproductive, which makes it necessary to match employees with the right skills to the right jobs. Talent needs to be recognized and used. If you hire employees for a role and then not allow them to use their skills, they will not be productive and motivated.

Encourage idea contribution and decision making: Gone are the days when an authoritative style sufficed in a work environment. These days, it is better to involve your employees, listen to their ideas, ask for their opinions and pay attention to their feedback and advice. An environment where they can make a difference and have the power to decide promotes job satisfaction.

5 Reasons Why Remote Management Improves Your Sales Teams | AJ Agrawal, Huffingtonpost.com

Remote working is on the rise, with 37% of US workers now working from home on occasion. This has forced businesses to change the way they operate. For the first time, managers are having to come to terms with the fact that their sales teams could be working from home.
It can be done, but it requires some planning. You need the right manager in place who will facilitate remote working. But why are more successful entrepreneurs starting to operate their sales teams remotely?

Better Managers

Good managers are able to build relationships, manage projects, and be accountable. This applies doubly so when working with remote workers. Their responsibilities have increased and so it’s even more important that these attributes are in place.

Better Retention Rates
The more motivated your sales team is the more likely they are going to stay with you. Furthermore, if they ever have to stay home or move for personal reasons they can continue to work for your company.
By constantly having positions filled, you are going to retain industry knowledge and save money. It’s twice as costly to train a new salesperson than it is to retain an existing salesperson.

A Bigger Pool of Employees
Finding the best talent means you need to cater to them. One of the ways to do this is through offering remote working options. Some of the best talents in the world don’t enjoy the office environment or they have commitments at home.
Meeting them half way through remote working could convince them that you’re a company to work for. Remote working allows you to hire the best talent regardless of location.
Preparing for an Emergency
Emergencies happen all the time. Things like natural disasters and snow days are creating the next generation of remote workers. Accidents can and do happen, and they are not always within your control.

Collaborating in the virtual environment gives teams the skills needed to operate even when they have to work from home. You are more vulnerable than you think, so it makes sense to prepare for the worst case scenario now.

It Can Be Cheaper
There’s an increasing trend where companies are not renting out office space at all. They are working in the virtual environment using online chat rooms. There are employees across the world who have never met each other in person, and that is increasingly becoming a viable option.

Conclusion – The Future is Coming
The future is coming and it’s closer than you might think. Organizations are increasingly looking to remote working options to run their businesses.

How To Manage Distractions, Connect With Clients And More When You Work From Home | Natasha Burton, LearnVest, Forbes.com

To help ensure that you’re on the right track while working remotely, LearnVest consulted work-from-home veterans who shared their top tips for staying productive – and thriving – in their careers.

Tips for … Outfitting Your Office
Whether you have a whole room dedicated to a home office or prefer working from the couch in your living room, having the right setup can keep you productive while on the clock.

Make sure you have the equipment you need.
“It’s important to invest in the quality of your workspace by getting equipment that helps you do the best work you can. When I transitioned to an at-home employee, I went out and bought a similar version of the computer I was used to working on so that my productivity levels wouldn’t suffer from an inferior, slower setup.”
– Brit Casady, 24, Lehi, UT, graphic designer

Tips for … Managing Distractions
Let’s face it—distractions run rampant wherever you work, whether it’s in an office with coworkers or in your own kitchen.Keep productivity zappers at bay with these strategies.

Get organized with the three-minute rule.
“I allow three minutes to tend to anything I feel I need to respond to immediately that is not on my to-do list. Give yourself three minutes every hour of your official ‘work hours’ to scan and respond to important emails, put shoes that accumulate around the doorway in the closet, etc.—if it takes no more than three minutes. It puts your mind at ease and reduces at-home work distractions without derailing your day. It also helps you spend less time cleaning the house and dealing with administrative tasks when the workday ends.”
—Stephanie Taylor Christensen, 38, Columbus, OH, freelance writer, yoga instructor and mother to a 6-year-old

Minimize online distractions.
“One of my favorite productivity hacks comes with the help of an app called StayFocusd. When working from home, Facebook and Twitter can be a major distraction. StayFocusd helps you avoid these distractions by restricting the amount of time you can spend on them. The Google Chrome extension lets you set specific time restrictions on certain websites with a 10-minute default option. Once your time has been used up, the sites you have selected to block can’t be accessed for the remainder of the day.”
– Lori Cheek, 43, New York City, founder and CEO of Cheekd.com, an online dating app

7 ways to make yourself actually work in your home office | Norah Martin, Sheknows.com

Young professionals set on bringing in peak profits home are in love with in-house offices that offer greater flexibility compared to the traditional workplace. Having survived several home office redesigns, Norah Martin of SheKnows.com came up with the winning productivity formula for my house-based workplace.

1. Keep it away from private quarters
Even if you live alone, designating a part of the living room for the office is a really bad idea, as reminders about your private life will be constantly popping up and disrupting your focus. If possible, move the office as far away from the living area as the home perimeter allows.
2. Quality furniture is a lifesaver
Working from home means flexible work hours, and once your career takes off, you may wind up spending more time in your home office than you originally bargained for. For this reason, quality furnishings such as sit-to-stand desks and height-adjustable chairs are a godsend, and I believe they are worth every cent.
3. Updated lighting for eye health
When picking the room to transform into the office, bear in mind sunlight intensity at daytime and consider updating light fixtures for optimal luminosity for all-nighters.
4. Modular designs are not a good idea
When furnishing the home office, stick to conventional, sturdy designs: A daybed or ottoman is comfier and lasts longer than a convertible sofa, so if you want an office spot to lie down on during a work break, opt for bedding that will not go to bits after a few months. The same goes for multifunctional workstations: High-end, adjustable-height desks are stable and durable, but cheap workstations with multipurpose labels are usually a waste of money.
5. Invest in tech upgrades on time
Regular tech upgrades are an investment in long-term business sustainability, and if you think that you can wish away PC glitches, you are terribly mistaken.
6. Tidiness is essential to success
Keeping the desktop mess-free and relevant files logically organized will help you stay calm and focused and avoid wasting time during work.
7. Wallscape that maximizes profits
Last but not the least, rethink the wallscape to increase productivity, boost focus and promote calmness and creativity during home-based work hours. Colors that work best for me include soft peach, light green and ivory as they produce minimal visual noise while reflecting lots of light.