Remote Work Digest: January 23, 2018

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

1

Image from Shutterstock.com

4 keys to working from home successfully | MT Staff, Managementtoday.co.uk

There are a plethora of benefits for both employers and employees to working from home including a reduction in commuting time, decreased amount of sick days taken, increased productivity and a significant saving in office rent. However, the lack of supervision is a large drawback for employers offering working from home to its employees.

Consequently, we have collated advice from a range of experts who provide their top tips on how to make the most out of working from home to benefit both employers and employees.

1. Communication is key
Before offering remote working to employees, clear communication methods need to be set. How often you will speak and if this will be expected to be via the phone or Skype need to be clearly indicated to all participating. Frequent communication will prevent duplication of tasks and avoid mistakes occurring from a lack of communication.

2. Establish Clear Objectives
Karen Meager and John McLachlan, co-founders of Monkey Puzzle Training, suggest that if an individual is not fully briefed on a task then mistakes are highly likely, which can be costly for a business as time and money is wasted. Also confusion can be demotivating for employees and can lead to them becoming easily distracted at home since they are not enjoying their work.

3. Prioritize a healthy work-life balance
When working from home the boundaries between ‘home’ and ‘work’ can easily become blurred, so separate the two as best as you can. This could be achieved through having a set-apart office for work or working in coffee shop or libraries. This separation helps your mind realize it is time to work and creates a more productive environment which can boost your concentration.

4. Stay Motivated
Susanne Jacobs, author of Drivers suggests the best way to combat this and stay motivated is through focusing on your sense of purpose. Remember your strengths and break down a goal into achievable smaller tasks to help retain your sense of purpose and productivity.

7 Simple Ways to Motivate Yourself to Exercise | Robert J. Davis, Time.com

If one of your New Year’s resolutions was to get in shape, now comes the hard part: sticking with it. This is the time when many of us begin to see our efforts derailed by an array of obstacles, including jobs, family responsibilities, a dislike of exercise or simple inertia.

Seek instant gratification
The key is identifying what the short-term payoff of exercise is for you. Is it sounder sleep? A better mood? Clearer thinking? Less pain? More patience? Such benefits may not be instantly evident if you’re new to exercise, so determining which ones apply to you can take a little time. But once you figure it out, keep those rewards in mind – or better yet, post them on your bathroom mirror, fridge or anywhere else you can readily see them – so they provide a nudge, especially when you feel your willpower flagging.

Set goals
While your goal should be challenging, it shouldn’t be unrealistic. For example, if you’ve never run before, it’s not reasonable to expect to run a marathon in a month. Nor is it realistic to think that walking for 30 minutes a day will give you a beach body. Setting goals such as these can lead to discouragement and cause you to give up when you fail to achieve them.

Keep track of your progress toward your goal. For some people, wearable fitness trackers or smartphone apps can be useful by providing hard data and encouragement. But you don’t have to use technology if it’s not your thing. Keeping a journal of your activity is perfectly fine. What’s important is to record your activity, in whatever way works for you, so you can see how well you’re doing.

Have a game plan
Just as your goals should be realistic, so should your planning. For example, if you tend to be too tired or busy with family duties at the end of the day, don’t schedule a workout then; find another time that’s better suited to you. Likewise, if you plan to exercise at a park or a gym, choose one that’s nearby. The farther out of your way you have to go to work out, the more likely you are to blow it off.

Shorten your workouts
A lack of time is one of the main reasons for not sticking with exercise. But a growing body of research suggests that so-called high-intensity interval training, or HIIT, can greatly reduce the amount of time you need to exercise while producing benefits that are the same as—or even greater than—what you get from conventional moderate-intensity cardio workouts.

Entertain yourself
Like fitness game apps, other forms of entertainment, such as books on tape, podcasts, movies or TV shows, can reduce boredom while you work out and provide a distraction from any discomfort you’re feeling. Saving certain entertainment — a series on Netflix you’ve been wanting to watch, for example — for only when you’re exercising can be especially motivating. That way, you’ll have something to look forward to and associate your workout with a treat that you don’t otherwise get.

Work out with a buddy
This boost in motivation happens when others around you are just moderately better than you. If they’re far more advanced at an activity, the result can be just the opposite: You may be more likely to get discouraged and quit. That’s why if you’re, say, just beginning to jog, it’s probably not wise to work out with triathletes.
Of course, finding a suitable workout partner or group isn’t always possible. And some people simply prefer to go it alone. If you’re a solo exerciser, you may still be able to get the motivational benefits of a workout buddy or group via social media. In a study of people who participated in a Web-based walking program, those who were randomly assigned to an online community where they could communicate with other walkers were more likely to stick with the four-month program than those who had no access to the community.

Pay yourself
Being rewarded for hard work can be a powerful incentive to continue. A review of 11 randomized studies collectively involving about 1,500 people concluded that using money as a reward makes recipients more likely to exercise and stick with it for up to six months and possibly longer.

Putting your own money at stake can be an effective motivator, according to research. In one study, employees of a large company who made fitness commitments backed by their own funds went to the gym 50% more often than those who didn’t have this incentive.

Millenials Are Ready To Be Leaders: Here’s How They’re Doing It | Larry Alton, Forbes.com

According to research from the Harvard Business Review, the average age of first-time managers is 30, and the average age of people in leadership training is closer to 42. This poses an interesting problem for most managers, who don’t receive training until they’ve been on the job for 10 years (if they receive training at all), but it also shows that we’re falling squarely into an age with Millennials taking the helm of their own teams.

So how are Millennials succeeding in these roles, and how are they changing the workplace?

Why Millenials Are Ready

Let’s look at some of the main reasons why Millenials are prepared on leadership roles:

  • Age and experience. With a decade or more of experience under their belts, they’re ready for bigger roles.
  • Numbers. Millennials have officially become the largest generation as of last year, and represent the largest percentage of the workforce.
  • Autonomy and confidence. Millennials crave autonomy, and have confidence in their skills; those characteristics drive them to take charge of more people and more responsibilities.

How Millenials Are Changing Things

So how are Millenials leading in ways different from their older generational counterparts?

  • More and better feedback. Only 19% of surveyed Millennials said they received routine feedback, but nearly all Millennials wanted feedback regularly; they also refused to ask for it. This urge for feedback and understanding of feedback’s importance will likely follow them into leadership positions, except as leaders, they’ll have the power to institute a powerful system.
  • More fluid adoption of new technology. According to Karoline Holicky of Meisterplan, “Millennials trust the power of technology, and know that adopting better systems is the most efficient way to make better decisions.” Overarching platforms, like project portfolio management software, may become more common as Millennial leaders rely on its abilities to make better decisions and organize resources.
  • More flexibility and fewer rules. According to a Bentley University study, 77% of Millennials agreed that more flexible working hours would make their generation more productive. Carrying this philosophy into a position of leadership, Millennial leaders will likely instate more flexibility, including customizable hours, more remote work, and even more relaxed rules in the office.
  • Higher demands for brand values and company culture. Values have always been an important cultural institution for Millennials, when choosing an employer or a supplier, and now they get to create and enforce those values within the context of their own teams.
  • Preparation for generation Z. Millennials are aging, and will likely be looking over their shoulder as the next generation—usually referred to as “generation Z” or the “post-Millennial” generation—as they start rising through the ranks themselves. Millennial values are starting to fade, and workplaces won’t remain under their firm vision or leadership for long.

Soon, generation Z will start graduating from college and flooding the marketplace, and Millennials will be able to join their generation X and baby boomer counterparts to complain about a new host of youthful characteristics. Until then, Millennials will have a brief period of enjoying the energy of youth alongside the experience necessary to drive true changes in the workplace.

Bust a Myth: You Can’t Create Strong Teams with People Who Are Remote | Carey Woodhouse, Business2community.com

Creating a high-performing team can be hard enough; is it too big of a risk to expect great results from a team with freelancers, or is it just a simple change in mindset?

First, let’s talk about some characteristics that make a team a good one—and then look at how remote professionals can not only help teams align with these traits but ultimately help them grow stronger.

Communication is the thread that ties every team together, whether you’re talking about a two-person startup or 100-person teams spread across different countries. It doesn’t matter if you’re in the same room or working from home; poor communication can happen in any team, and when it unravels, so can a strong team. Similarly, lack of communication and passing the buck when mistakes happen can sometimes foster doubt and mistrust, and weaken a team structure.

Remote work reality: Remote workers are independent professionals who know trust is ultimately key to their own success.
The right mix of technology can help create a more tight-knit vibe between professionals, making “remote” a smaller part of the equation. That said, solid communication comes down to the individual more so than the tools they’re using. Holding important meetings via video conferencing“ can create a solid foundation for collaboration and communication that feels as “in person” as possible.

Trust is a two-way street. Be sure to be timely in communication, provide adequate feedback on the work delivered (positive or constructive), and respond to invoices—remote workers will respond by delivering great work.

Strong team trait #2: Cooperation, collaboration, and support
We’re living in the heyday of collaboration tools. Team members can easily contribute no matter where they are, thanks to tools that provide a snapshot of a project and visibility into deadlines and milestones. It all boils down to seamlessly working together and keeping the ball rolling, and there’s no shortage of apps designed to help you do just that.

Remote work reality: Remote workers help teams be results-driven where it counts
If the success of your team is at all measured by its output—both quality and quantity—supplementing your team with remote workers dedicated to performing specific projects can be the difference between meeting and missing production goals and tackling tight turnarounds. Results-driven work cultures are all about holding each member of a team accountable for the work he or she is to execute, a model that lends itself particularly well to working with remote workers.

If you have an existing team, set them up for success with a hybrid team model so no one is stretched too thin. Quick deadlines and increased production demands put stress on everyone in an organization, especially teams already operating at capacity. Help your business move faster by giving projects to remote team members. This can also prevent burn-out and cut down on the rush to get things done, which often leads to a decrease in quality and more room for error.

Strong team trait #3: Innovation and willingness to take on new challenges
A team that pushes one another, rather than one that makes excuses, is a team that continually grows and improves. Finding a better way to get something done (even if the current process isn’t malfunctioning) is a clear sign of a high-functioning team.

Remote work reality: Freelancers bring innovation with flexibility, focus, and specialized, niche skill sets you don’t have in-house.
Teams that leverage freelancers can boast impressive results, expand capabilities, and break ground with new and cutting-edge skills. It can be difficult for a professional working 40 hours a week to find the time to learn something new, but continuing to evolve—especially in areas like engineering and development—can help teams thrive.

When you value every member of your team but want to try a new tool or program (say, turning data analysis into business intelligence), freelancers can step in and help when and how you need it. Remote workers can move things forward whether it’s bringing in the expertise just to advise your team on the new tool or program or to set up a whole new program for success.

Strong Team Trail #4: Relationships and respect that go beyond workplace formalities
You don’t have to be best friends outside of work, but building a rapport and taking the time to learn about the people you work with demonstrates respect in nearly all cultures—and is a big part of the remote work equation.

Remote work reality: Freelancers are people, too, and with a little up-front effort, it’s easy to establish relationships based on trust, respect, and enthusiasm.
Although freelancers are small (or sometimes bigger) businesses, you’re still communicating with a person. Although a majority of your communication happens online (and what modern relationship doesn’t have some degree of the digital?), that doesn’t mean you can’t tailor that communication to be personal and respectful. Bookend conversations with casual questions and chatter and your working relationship will reap the benefits. Video chats make it easier than ever to create face-to-face interactions and pick up on visual cues.

Conclusion
At first glance, it might seem like having remote workers who aren’t all under the same roof might make some of these attributes a challenge—or maybe even impossible. But the way we work is changing, and modern teams that adjust to this new work reality are the ones that stand to thrive.

 

Advertisements

Remote Work Digest: December 23, 2017

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

vero-remote-work-800

Image from Getvero.com

Working from home? Four excellent ways to make it count | Tania Ngima, Sde.co.ke 

The holidays are around the corner. Are you one of the few people going to be fortunate enough to be off work with no demands on your time?

The idea of no dress code, ad hoc meetings and the liberty of walking into the kitchen to fix a snack whenever the need arose seemed like a dream.

The reality, though, is a bit starker. Say you work from home and the usual interruption come knocking. A phone call from a family member – they have an emergency and need help.

Or a friend has a crisis at work and needs a listening ear and shoulder to cry on. If you’re working from the office, it is very easy to say no, albeit apologetically.

When working from home though, it is much harder because you, in reality, could drop what you’re working on and help. But the question is, should you?

Set work hours

Block up a chunk of time to focus on your work. A time that doesn’t allow for other activities.

Grace Saunders, a time management coach says blurring the lines between your work time and personal time is a dangerous precedent. Other research shows that the way the human brain is wired is that if you have work related tasks that need to be completed, especially those that have deadlines, they will be constantly taking up space in your consciousness.

Create structure

Structure your day for success. First, avoid meetings or conference calls during your most productive hours.Most of us know when our most high energy levels are. Use these to work on reports, do analysis and respond to the very important emails.

Disable the notification that comes with your emails and chat messages for this period of time. Become deliberate about what time you sit to work, when you take breaks and when you have lunch.

Set boundaries

Be clear that you’re not simply at home but that you have a task list and need to get work done by the time you knock off.

Stay out of sight for the whole time you are working so it is understood that you’re not game for a quick chat or to play, especially if you have kids.

Be responsive

Working from home may be seen as shirking work-related responsibility.

For this reason, you will need to be available for the conference calls or meetings you have committed to, as well as on email or for important phone calls.

If you do not, the out of sight out of mind adage may apply and lead to you being seen as a less than effective team player.

Yes, You Can Run a Successful Business with a Remote Workforce | Andre Lavoie, Business.com

Distributed teams are difficult to manage – especially with employees in different time zones. Also, collaborative projects and team-building exercises are tougher to accomplish with remote workers.

Even so, success is possible with teams distributed across the country, or globe. Here are three steps to achieve it.

1. Overcome a lack of trust

When you’re not able to physically see employees working, it’s easy to assume they’re slacking off. When you don’t get immediate responses to questions, you can’t tell if the message was received.

Overcome this challenge by encouraging brief but frequent check-ins throughout the day. These can be as simple as a brief status update. Even notice of snack breaks and the like will let you know that the employee is online and connected.

Investing in the right project management software can also help you overcome any trust issues. This software allows workers to see their own tasks and how their personal work factors into the overall project completion. Many platforms also allow you to leave notes and questions to promote frequent communication with employees.

2. Place a priority on communication

Beyond work conversation, it’s important to help remote workers feel connected on a personal level. Don’t overlook the importance of small talk. Online chat platforms allow employees to post thoughts and funny photos, and also notify fellow team members about brief interruptions (lunch breaks, dog walks).

While immediate feedback isn’t always possible with distributed teams, you can still schedule one-on-one project update sessions at least once a month. Connecting in this way creates a greater sense of belonging and loyalty.

3. Be creative with team-building opportunities

It’s difficult to get a distributed team in the same place at the same time. However, that doesn’t mean team building has to suffer. You just have to be creative to keep remote workers connected.

For instance, schedule virtual holiday functions or social video chats. It’s important for employees to see each other and interact on a personal level, rather than an atmosphere of strictly business all the time.

Other fun ways to stay connected include shared music channels and innovative challenges or games. This prompts conversation about preferences and encourages workers to let their guards down.

It’s possible to embrace the growing trend of remote work while still making productivity and inclusion priorities in your company. Through frequent communication and creating an atmosphere of camaraderie, your distributed workforce will feel connected to each other as if they were all in the same office.

Exactly How To Work From Home Without Losing Your Sanity | Christine Chen, Thriveglobal.com

A quick checklist of  things you’ll need before you see if you’re cut out for it.

1. Great Internet – When it comes to that all important video conference with the CEO on your first day working from home, you need your upload speed just as much as your download speed so pay attention to this. It’s worth paying that little extra for FTTC+ rather than scrimping on ADSL and hoping nobody ever calls you or needs you to do anything. You’re not hiding away; you’re boosting your productivity.

2. Space – Prepare yourself a comfortable workspace. This doesn’t have to be an office – though it could be. The dining table is not in use during the day or even your bedroom dressing table could be turned into your workspace with the right amount of tweaking.

3. Collaborative Tools – Something to keep you in touch with the people in the office effectively. This could be anything from Skype to Slack to WhatsApp. Your business needs to or already has made a decision to what they use for communications, this just needs to be extended outside of the office.

4. Cloud Storage – It’s no good being accessible if all your hard, collaborative work ends up stored on your laptop where nobody else can see it. Onedrive, Sharepoint, Dropbox and the likes provide the rest of your organisation access to work on the document you just slaved over all day and gives your boss a clear view of the amount of work you’re doing.

5. Breaks – Go out for lunch if you want to, pop to the gym, walk the dog. It’s just as important to balance your work / rest when you’re in your home workspace as it is when you’re in the office to avoid burnout.

6. Reliable Equipment – Finding the correct office headphones is one of the most significant things that every proficient businessman will need. Selecting the right headsets for desk phones that deliver clear audio and can be used lively is exceptionally essential if you want to uphold high standards and look professional. Selecting a headset for desk phone may appear like a straight forward procedure but with a number of varieties obtainable it can simply become an intimidating task.

7. Dog – Right, maybe not a dog but you will need something to keep you sane. There will be days where you don’t hear from anybody and are fully focused on completing that project with the tight deadline. This could be a really good Spotify playlist, the radio, your secret knitting hobby.

8. Cookery Skills – If you don’t want to be buying food when you’re working at home and know you’ll get fed up with beans on toast everyday then work on your cooking skills.

9. Windows – Imagine looking around in distraction as you remove your eyes from the screen and seeing nothing but walls, notepads and coffee cups. Fresh air and a little scenery go a long way.

10. The Right Company – The company you work for needs to trust that you can be left to your own devices (literally) and help you on that journey. The company you keep in your workstation is crucial. If the thought of making conversation with your parents all day is mind numbing then working at your parents’ house is not for you. Perhaps having your friend over from another company would get you through the day – you’ll find the perfect fit eventually.

How to Discourage Workaholism in Your Remote Workforce | Greg Kratz, Flexjobs.com

In order to avoid this problem, managers should take steps to actively discourage the development of workaholic tendencies among remote employees.

Here are a few suggestions to help discourage workaholism among your employees:

Set clear and reasonable expectations.

Talk to your remote employees about their goals and the company’s plans. Assign tasks and projects that will let them grow, develop, and stretch themselves, but that won’t require them to ignore their personal lives and focus only on work.

Establish regular working hours.

This may be tricky, since remote workers sometimes put in time outside of the normal 9-to-5. It can also be complicated if your virtual team is scattered across different time zones across the country or around the world. Despite the challenges, make the effort to clarify when you expect them to be “on” and available.

Communicate effectively and frequently.

Schedule regular one-on-one meetings via video conference, so you can both see and hear each other while you talk. Be available via email, instant messaging, and online portals, as well. Figure out how they prefer to communicate, and use that method most frequently.

You must be in close contact with them if you want to make sure they’re succeeding, but not tipping over into workaholism.

Build a support system.

Create online chat areas for your team and encourage office personnel to engage their remote coworkers in conversations. It may also help to bring those remote employees into the office for a week or two now and then, to further strengthen those bonds. Not only should this help virtual team members engage with others, but it also could give them friends who will help them fight against workaholic tendencies.

Encourage both short and long breaks from work.

With no external influences nearby, your remote workers may get so engrossed in a project that they work for hours without taking a break. Or, even worse, they may work for weeks and months without escaping for a few days of vacation. Again, this might seem good from a productivity standpoint, but the reality is that people need both short and long breaks from work to relax and recharge.

Offer wellness programs.

Make sure your remote employees can get equivalent benefits, whether that means membership to a local gym or counseling sessions with therapists near them. When you meet with your virtual team members, check that they know how to take advantage of those benefits, and encourage them to do so. Physical and emotional health will help them stave off workaholism.

Pay attention to warning signs.

Do your remote workers seem to be frustrated more frequently? Are they quick to anger, when they were always calm in the past? During your conversations, can you sense they are becoming disconnected from family or friends? Are they starting to turn in sloppy work or miss deadlines? Do they look tired when you’re communicating via video? If you notice any of these things, investigate. Ask about their work habits, and make sure they’re not overdoing it.

Remember that one of your responsibilities as a manager is to make sure all of your employees have the tools and assistance they need to be as productive and successful as possible. While you may think a short-term boost in productivity as the result of sliding into workaholic behaviors is a positive thing, it won’t last. By following these suggestions, you can help your remote workers avoid that problem and build healthy behaviors that will keep them engaged and effective over the long haul.

 

Remote Work Digest: November 24, 2017

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

remote-work-gear-patrol-970-1

Image from Gearpatrol.com

 

Four Ways to Improve Your Focus When You Work from Home | Stephanie Vozza, Fastcompany.com

Working from home can be a lot more productive than working in an office if you set some parameters.

“Working from home can be successful only if organizations and individuals embrace work-life integration instead of work-life balance,” says Holger Reisinger, author of Get S#!t Done! and senior vice president of headset manufacturer Jabra. “Rather than trying to balance work and personal lives, employees should organize their work so it seamlessly blends with family and recreational time. This enables employees to achieve tasks when they’re most productive, and when it’s most convenient.”

Instead of fleeing to the local coffee shop, maintain your business focus at home by using these four tricks:

1. FOLLOW YOUR ULTRADIAN RHYTHM
Find your rhythm by keeping track of the time of day you feel most focused and the time you feel fatigued. During those left-brain cycles, tackle important tasks, and during right-brain cycles, take advantage of working from home and by using the time for your favorite activities like reading a book, practicing yoga, or grabbing your favorite snack from the kitchen.

2. ASK FOR PRIVACY
If you work from home and there are others around, don’t just assume they’ll know you’re busy or need to concentrate—tell them, says Reisinger.
“You’re rarely interrupted if your spouse or kids truly understand that you’re under pressure to perform,” he says. You can also use a subtle reminder, such as closing the door to your home office or putting a “Do Not Disturb” sign on your desk.

3. SET YOUR OWN BUSINESS HOURS
When you’re working in an office, you can clearly see when colleagues are signing on and off for the day, but when you work from home you will likely create your own schedule. If your employer allows for a flexible workday and you aren’t needed to be online or available at a particular time, then form your own workplace traditions , says Doherty, whose company recently implemented a “work-from-anywhere” policy, encouraging employees to work wherever they feel most productive.
“The beauty of being a remote worker is having the flexibility to tailor your workday to your personal needs,” he says. “Embrace it.”

4. GET IN THE RIGHT MIND-SET
Focusing at work can be easier, because being in the space reminds you that you’re there to work. When you work from home, however, you don’t have that separation, so you might need to rely on tools to get in the right mind-set, says Patric Palm, CEO and cofounder of the planning and collaboration app Favro.

“Use noise-conflation earphones,” he says. “Even if you’re in a quiet area, there’s something about noise-conflation earphones that get you in the zone to focus. Additionally, listening to instrumental music with a good rhythm can minimize distractions while working from home.”

Would a Remote Tech Team Work Out for Your Startup? | Sanchita Das, Entrepreneur.com

For a lot of startups, before building the business side of things, getting the product right is of utmost importance. Here comes in the tech team – the coders and believers who stay up until late hours furiously coding on their laptops until they have a eureka moment and the product runs perfectly. But their work doesn’t just end with product development. Given the changing needs of the audience, the product needs to be improvised at every step while ensuring there are no bugs or failures. So, needless to say the tech team is core to the growth of the business.

Outsourcing The Tech

Abhishek Daga, co-founder of Thrillophilia, who does have an outsourced department, believes that the need arises if you are working on specific technology and you aren’t finding the right resources in your city to match the pace of development. While he agrees that outsourcing could get expensive, he said that it is advisable if one already has an in house technology team.

“The people working remotely should be individual contributors, engineering managers working remotely seldom works. Also, having freshers or people with less experience in remote teams in initial few years is not advisable. They need to be an integral part of the product and adopt the culture of the company. However, this way, you can hire across the globe and build capability fast,” said Daga.

Better Access to Talent

Ashwin Ramesh, from Synup agrees that it is talent that drives most of these remote tech teams. At Synup, they create tech products for US clients, where they become the remote tech team. “The cost is significantly lower for our clients while also giving them access to some of the best tech talent in the world. With technology like Slack or Skype where one can easily communicate and align their tasks with the clients, collaborative work from far off locations has seen a huge boost,” he said.

For them at Synup, it also becomes easier to allow their employees to work out of anywhere, giving them flexibility of timing as well. Talking about how coding and creating a product is a process that requires a lot of mental thought, Ashwin believes it gives their employees the ease to work better and increase efficiency. “Now, our employees work out of anywhere be it from a cafe or if they are working from home or even while they are travelling, giving them a break from monotonous work schedules,” he said.

Communication Plays an Important Role

While functioning with a remote tech team, brainstorming too becomes complicated. In remote teams, someone needs to own the workflow as interaction with other business unit gets challenging, believes Daga.

So, a clear communication process is essential when you have a remote team. Having said that, most entrepreneurs agree that the pros of outsourcing your tech far outweighs the cons. With collaborative softwares that enable the process, it leaves the entrepreneur focus on expanding the business operations while having the technology sorted at the same time.

5 signs you’re appreciated at work (and what to do if you’re not) | Anna Johansson, Nbcnews.com

Studies show that employees who feel appreciated and are shown signs of gratitude can be up to 50 percent more productive. On top of that, appreciated employees have higher morale and satisfaction, leading to lower rates of turnover.

If you’re not appreciated at work, you’ll get less work done, you’ll be unhappy and your entire environment may become less conducive to collaboration and productivity. So how can you tell if you’re not being appreciated, and what can you do if it’s affecting your performance?

Signs of Appreciation

The following signs of appreciation are general indicators that you work in a positive workplace:

  • Verbal praise. Verbal praise is one of the simplest and most effective forms of appreciation. It costs nothing, can be given in a matter of seconds, and can easily make someone’s day. A simple comment like “excellent work on that project,” at least a few times a week, is usually enough to make employees feel appreciated. If you aren’t getting any at all, it’s a problem.
  • Raises and promotions. As a complement to the verbal praise, your company should be doling out at least occasional raises and promotions. These don’t need to be constant, and don’t need to be extensive, but even a small raise as a reward for a job well done can give employees the positive feedback they need to maintain their productivity.
  • Employee appreciation events. Employee appreciation days are also effective ways to show employees they’re valued. Again, these don’t need to be expensive or grandiose; something as simple as a lunch party in the middle of a Friday can be enough to make people feel good.
  • Feedback. Strangely enough, even negative or critical feedback — telling employees they need to improve or have missed their goals — can be an effective tool to making them feel more integrated with the group.
  • Peer commentary. Showing support for your fellow employees with words of kindness, sympathy, or even acknowledgment can make people feel like an engaged part of the community.

4 things you can do if you feel under appreciated on the job

Do you feel under appreciated? It might seem like a helpless situation, since appreciation comes from other people. However, there are some key strategies you can use to make yourself more appreciated in the workplace:

  • Talk to coworkers more openly. Be more open in talking to your coworkers and colleagues; give them feedback on their work, support them when you collaborate, and make them feel appreciated.
  • Request more feedback. Tell your supervisors and bosses you’d like to receive more frequent, critical feedback on your performance, and thank them when they give you the opportunity.
  • Prove your worth. If you want to receive extraordinary feedback, consider accomplishing more extraordinary feats. For example, you could take on new projects outside your usual realm of responsibilities, or put in extra hours to demonstrate your full potential.
  • Consider finding a new environment. If you aren’t receiving the benefits of an environment of mutual appreciation, consider moving to an environment where you can.

Employee appreciation isn’t especially common, but it’s incredibly valuable for any work environment. Working with your coworkers and supervisors, it’s possible to create a more robust, appreciative environment— and one where both you and your colleagues can be happier and more productive.

3 Practical Tips To Stay Active At Work | Sharon Schweitzer, Huffingtonpost.com

Staying physically active can reduce your chances of coronary heart disease, high blood pressure, and type 2 diabetes. It can also give you more energy, help you handle stress, and activate your mind for productive tasks – all important skills to succeed in your professional career.

Here are 3 ways you can stay active at work and the numerous health benefits you can gain.

1. Implement a Workout Session Dopamine is what gives us the natural high after going on a jog or working out at a nearby gym. Workout sessions will release these happy chemicals and create a stronger bond among coworkers and make the everyday work atmosphere fun and exciting.

2. Move Around Every Now and Then If you’re feeling sleepy or unmotivated at work, get up and walk around the office for a couple of minutes. Try to walk to the nearby coffee shop or take the stairs instead of the elevator. Stretching your body can also help you feel more focused and ready to work.

3. Customize a Personal Workout Plan If you’re a morning person, motivate yourself to take a jog before work. Working out early in the morning jump starts your metabolism, regulates your body, and avoids the afternoon slump, or nap time. If you’re a night owl, utilize the treadmill or do yoga at least 2 hours before you sleep to avoid post-workout alertness before going to sleep. It’s important to know your strengths and weaknesses to customize the most ideal workout plan.

Don’t let laziness get the best of your health and well-being. Stay active at work by implementing these three practical steps to help you achieve personal and professional accomplishments.

 

 

 

5 Tips for Managing Remote Workers

Effectively Manage Remote Employees

cats

Remote work offers a number of advantages for employers and employees alike, including cutting down on employee commute time, saving on office space expense, and enabling work to get done wherever an employee may be. However, there are also drawbacks to remote work which can cause anticipated productivity gains from the practice to fall short of expectations. These include:

  • Lack of oversight resulting in reduced remote worker productivity
  • Difficulty with communication due to a lack of face-to-face contact
  • Difficulty in working together as a team
  • Distracted working behavior due to suboptimal working conditions

The tips outlined below are designed to help you overcome these and other potential pitfalls of managing remote employees.

Be Transparent

transparancy_1501710992-1024x682

It takes more effort, generally speaking, to get remote workers to learn and buy-in to a company’s corporate culture. On-premises employees often naturally pick up your company’s goals, objectives, and way of doing business by social interaction as much as by reading company manuals and guidebooks. Given that remote workers aren’t able to take advantage of this effect, you should go out of your way to make sure that remote employees are kept informed of the company’s objectives and expectations.

Transparency is crucial for accomplishing this. Being transparent means informing workers about not only the company’s goals, but also the progress the company is making to achieve them and what it means to the company (and its employees) to achieve those goals. In other words, what success looks like. Being transparent about an employee’s role in achieving company objectives helps generate buy-in and improves overall worker productivity.

Written documentation is key to fostering transparency by providing material employees can search through for information regarding company policies and procedures at a time of their choosing. Remote workers should be provided with access to any and all general information that they need to function on a team.

Lack of access to this type of information, or selective disclosure of it, can lead to suboptimal results or even failure to achieve team objectives. Sharing information of this type with team members has been made easier by the development of collaboration tools which facilitate communicating and sharing information.

One such tool is Slack, which allows you to make updated data relating to your team’s progress available to all team members in a format where they can communicate with you and others about the project. This type of transparency helps you keep everyone on the same page about a project’s goals and progress.

Track Performance and Stress Accountability

Stressing accountability is a must when it comes to getting the most out of remote employees. While remote work offers cost savings, it also makes it more difficult to determine how much work an employee has completed. To ensure that remote employees aren’t using the lack of direct supervision to slack off, perform rigorous tracking of their productivity. A variety of tools can assist you in this process by logging hours worked and progress made on specific tasks.

Inform remote employees that their performance will be tracked. This lets them know that they will be held accountable for working productively. This ties into the idea of using transparency to help promote beneficial outcomes. If employees understand that working remotely does not imply any lack of accountability when it comes to what is expected of them, you improve your ability to maximize the value of using remote workers.

Emphasize Communication

Remote workers can’t chat over coffee in the employee lounge or walk across the floor to ask a colleague a question. This makes it incumbent on you as the manager to take steps to make sure that communication issues don’t prevent your remote team members from being as productive as possible. Taking steps to provide a communications structure that helps to avoid miscommunication is highly recommended.

In an on-premises scenario, miscommunication can often be smoothed over by face-to-face contact. This is not the case when it comes to remote teams, so paying careful attention to the communication channels and procedures used for remote team communication is necessary to reduce the chances of encountering problems of this type.

To address communications issues, you can take the following steps:

  • Make yourself as available as possible to talk with your team members if they should have any questions about a project or task
  • Emphasize that team members should err on the side of over-communicating
  • If team members have any questions or comments about a project or policy, encourage them to call, email, or message someone on the team to seek clarification

There are a variety of communications apps that can be helpful when it comes to effectively managing remote employees. Video conferencing apps such as Skype allow you to speak face to face with distant employees, while teamwork management apps make it easy to message and collaborate with remote employees. Make sure to clearly specify to your team which communications tools should be used and how they should be used.

Host Meetings on a Regular Basis

When holding remote meetings, make them subject to the same preparations and procedures as meetings that take place in person. Work up an agenda with action items and prepare any slides or videos necessary for the presentation. Visual images can help keep a remote audience engaged, so try to include at least some visuals in your meetings when possible. Given their nature, remote meetings should be short and to the point. Keep attendees engaged so their attention doesn’t wander.

These meetings should be held on a regular basis to ensure that remote workers feel that they are connected to their colleagues and valued by their employer. In addition to a functional component, such meetings also have the social purpose of increasing team member buy-in. Taking the time to speak with team members voice-to-voice or face-to-face, either via voice or video conference calls or having them meet on-premises from time to time, is essential for building a strong bond among the team.

Given their nature, remote meetings should be short and to the point. 

Help Remote Workers Be Productive

Working remotely, for all its advantages, can present the opportunity for workers to pick up some unproductive habits. These can take a variety of forms, including:

  • Procrastination
  • Unproductive multi-tasking. For instance, watching TV while working.
  • Atrophied social skills due to infrequent human interaction
  • Working remotely can blur the distinction between a worker’s home and work life, leading to workaholism, which can hurt an employee’s productivity in the long-term.

To help remote workers overcome these and other challenges of distance working, there are a variety of steps you can take. One of these is emphasizing positive work habits by stressing the need to take time to attend to one’s physical and mental health.

This could include physical work-outs, eating healthy, taking mental breaks, practicing yoga, meditation, or some other relaxation or contemplation technique that helps keep an individual focused and happy. Different approaches will be appropriate for different people, of course, but, in general, promoting a holistic view to work-life balance among your team members can pay dividends by enhancing remote worker productivity.

Another aspect of remote work worthy of focus is the work environment. Remote workers who work mainly at home may find that they must deal with a plethora of distractions, including spouses, significant others, kids, roommates, television, neighbors, and the list goes on. It can be helpful to advise workers in such a situation to establish an alternate work site so they can avoid facing these distractions on a continual basis. Such sites could take the form of a quiet coffee shop, a local workspace colocation facility, or some other location where they can get away from the home environment to avoid distractions from time to time.

When it comes to fostering social interaction, holding frequent meetings, even if they are short ones, offers remote workers the chance to establish a social bond with their coworkers and avoid feeling isolated by their work. In terms of procrastination, using productivity tools can cut down on this tendency and help workers be productive by providing them with reminders of deadlines and milestones relating to important tasks.

Nuvro is a robust online project management tool that helps you manage your entire team whether they’re across the room or on the other side of the world. With Nuvro you can gain control and peace of mind over all of your projects, tasks, team members, workload and everything else important to your company. In addition to the project, task and collaboration features found in most PM tools, Nuvro also provides a company dashboard, a team dashboard, team member performance reviews, secure document management, an internal alternative to email and more. Nuvro is perfect for busy teams looking to accomplish more. Learn More…

Building Trust for Remote Employees with Time Tracking

We live in a society that puts real-time information at your fingertips by use of computers and other electronic devices. Technology has made it possible for many employees to work from their homes and other remote locations, which means that telecommuting is steadily on the rise. However, many managers have concerns that keep them from taking advantage of telecommuting.

Some are afraid that productivity and/or quality of work will suffer due to lack of control over the remote employee. Security is also an issue but tracking software is available to help managers maintain control and keep information secure. With the right resources, employers can keep track of these employees without spying on them or creating trust issues between employee and company.

Continue reading

Remote Work Digest: October 13, 2017

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

gallery-1462830703-index-work-from-home

Image from Goodhousekeeping.com

5 Key Practice Of Successful Remote Work Teams | Daniel Newman, Forbes.com

Nowadays — as more people continue to work remotely — leaders must find new ways to unite employees who are spending an increasing amount of time apart.

Studies show nearly 40% of today’s employees work offsite on a regular basis. While that’s great when it comes to saving on company overhead, it does present some challenges for leaders in terms of creating a singular culture that all employees—regardless of location — can rally behind. Indeed, as I wrote in my article Digital Transformation Cannot Succeed Without the Right Culture, culture and vision are what hold companies together in times of change and perceived chaos. Ironically, digital transformation is also making it increasingly difficult to build those bonds. Luckily, there are things leaders can do to foster a strong culture, despite differences in location and time zone. The following are just a few tips:

Use The Technology Available
As a leader, it’s important for you to “walk the walk” and take time to use new technology like telepresence robots, chat apps, video conference, and other unified communication channels to get your team on board with communicating this way in their daily lives.

Make Time For Homeroom
Even with many remote employees, you can still create consistent communication standards throughout the enterprise. The purpose of homeroom was to allow everyone to connect, discuss the day’s goals and capacity issues, and ask for help where needed. The best part: teammates were empowered to call their own homeroom meetings if needed, throughout the rest of the day. It doesn’t matter if you call it homeroom, all-hands, or daily update — the point is, consistent communication is a must.

Be Clear About Availability
It’s possible to allow for flexibility while also establishing clear virtual “office hours” for remote employees so your in-house workers know they can rely on their entire team to be available via chat or telepresence when needed. Doing so will help establish trust and consistency across all departments.

Get To Know Employees as People
It can be easy to forget to involve your remote employees in impromptu onsite conversations, or to forget that they also have lives, interests, and strengths outside of their initial job functions. Take time to get to know your remote employees as people, rather than just task managers.

Meet Face to Face
There’s nothing better than putting a face to a name — no matter how much easier it is to text, email, or chat about what we need. I know of at least one company that has established “unplugged” days where people are required to speak in person rather than via technology whenever possible. You’d be surprised how many people who worked in the same building ended up meeting one another for the first time.

Even companies with all employees working onsite experience challenges creating effective employee culture. And though it may be difficult, it is not an insurmountable task. Involve your employees in the process. Empower them to use their voice to make a difference. Use the tools available to you. That’s the way of the future. That’s the only way your company will succeed in a mobile working world.

Managing Your Schedule Like a Boss: Tips the Experts Never Tell You | John Rampton, Entrepreneur.com

Lou Gerstner, the former CEO of IBM, once said, “Never let anyone own your schedule.”

I don’t know about you, but I love that quote. It’s so simple, yet true. After all being deliberate with your time is one of the best ways to have a happy life in the business world. Of course, try as hard as you can, that’s not always the reality. Life is kind of known for throwing a monkey wrench into your plans every now and then.

But, it’s still possible to manage your schedule like a boss by following these can’t-beat tips.

Create a routine.

Start by blocking times for specific activities, such as checking emails, exercise and spending time with your family. You can then convert your calendar into a series of blocks for you to place activities in the prepared spaces. If something isn’t planned and placed into a block, don’t do it.

Keep in mind that your routine will probably change throughout the year. But, it’s better to have a plan that changes than no plan at all.

Carry a schedule and record all your thoughts, conversations and activities for a week. 

“This will help you understand how much you can get done during the course of a day and where your precious moments are going,” write Joe Mathews, Don Debolt and Deb Percival on Entrepreneur.

“You’ll see how much time is actually spent producing results and how much time is wasted on unproductive thoughts, conversations and actions.”

Add time buffers to manage your schedule.

A buffer is something like this:

You just landed a new client for your freelance business. They assign you a deadline to complete the task. Instead of entering their exact deadline, your put your own deadline that’s 24-48 earlier. Those hours are the buffer.

Why’s that such a big deal? When you have a buffer, and something happens that you can’t control, you still have those 24-48 hours to meet the deadline.

Schedule your calendar like a to-do list. 

If you have things on your schedule that have to be done, I personally like scheduling out time on my calendar for them. Much like a meeting, they have a set and scheduled time for this task to be accomplished.

For some people like myself, this includes blocking out time for working out, eating, walks and other important activities in my life. If I don’t make time for them, other things will always get in the way. I find that when I block out those times on my schedule, I’m much more proactive as well as I feel better about myself.

Use batching and time-blocking.

Batching is basically where you find similar tasks and then lump them all together to make a task-batch. You then sit down, set a timer, and focus only on those similar tasks. For example, setting aside 6 am to 7 am to check emails and then 8 am to 10 am to write blog posts.

Another strategy that you should try is using time-blocks. When you have outside meetings, block two and a half days per week for those meetings. Only attend those outside meetings during those time-blocks. To make blocking more effective, color-code your calendar so that you can visually glance at your calendar.

Optimize time for different meeting types.

Here are some suggestions on the types of meetings that you might want to book and schedule:

  • 45-minute meeting that’s outside of the office. Allow 15 minutes for travel and 30 minutes for the meeting over coffee.
  • 30-minute weekly staff meeting.
  • 30-minute meeting in the office to get to know colleagues or catch up.
  • 15-minute daily standup if you’re a startup or leading an engineering team.
  • 10-minute phone call to offer someone advice.

Whatever meetings you decide to hold a meeting, you should group them into blocks. If you think that a particular meeting needs more or less time, then you can adjust the block accordingly.

Still, just remember that it’s impossible to get everything done. “Also remember that odds are good that 20 percent of your thoughts, conversations and activities produce 80 percent of your results,” say Mathews, Debolt, and Percival

7 Creative Ways to Show Remote Workers You Care | Jennifer Parris, Flexjobs.com

In a remote work environment, showing your workers that you care can require a little more effort. The good thing is that it’s easy to make your remote workers feel special, no matter where they are working in the world.

Here are some creative ways to show remote workers you care:

1. Talk to them.

Schedule a check-in with your remote workers at least once every six months or so to see where they’re at in terms of work and also their personal life. It gives your employee the chance to air any grievances, clear the air, and also reconnect with you and the company if he’s starting to feel a little disengaged.

And, as an employer, you can address any issues and find out a little more about what your employee is experiencing, both at work and at home.

2. Reward their work.

What worker doesn’t want to feel that their hard work is appreciated by the organization? Even for the most introverted of employees, you can include a “rock star of the month” award to spotlight your employees’ efforts in the company newsletter.
Acknowledging employees who went above and beyond the call of duty is a great way to show that you both recognize their hard work and appreciate their contribution to the company.

3. Make it memorable.

Make it a point to keep track of your workers’ important dates, such as work anniversaries, birthdays—even their wedding anniversaries and kids’ birthdays. You can send flowers or a gift basket for the big ones, and just jot off an email to wish your worker a happy anniversary or happy birthday to a child.

That little bit of extra effort can go a long way towards making your remote worker feel all warm and fuzzy inside.

4. Include their partners.

Let’s say that you’ve organized a meet-up for some of your workers who live near each other. Don’t just limit the invite to employees, though.

Encourage them to bring along their spouses and significant others, just as they might if it were a traditional office get-together.

After all, your remote employees might feel awkward if they’re meeting each other for the first time, and having their loved ones there can help break the ice. Plus, it shows that the company cares not just for them, but for their sweeties, too.

5. Support their outside endeavors.

As a part of their company culture, some companies are very supportive of their workers’ outside interests. That might be their humanitarian work, their contributions to their communities, and so on.

You can mention their work in the company newsletter or even reward them for their outside work. Offer a small stipend for any volunteer hours worked as a way to encourage their humanitarian efforts.

6. Be empathetic.

Don’t let the distance of a remote work environment create distance between you and your remote employee. Instead of being sympathetic, try to be empathetic and relate to your remote worker. Not only will it build stronger bonds between the two of you, it will show that you truly care.

7. Look for ways to create new opportunities and experiences for them.

Sometimes, you can show your remote workers that you care for them by giving them more work! No, not the kind that makes them feel bored at work, but the kind that they really want. Find ways to reward their work by giving them the work they really want to do, whether it’s in the form of a plum new assignment or a shiny promotion.

Showing your remote workers that you care for them should be a big part of your management style. It will help retain the top-level talent you already have, and become a natural part of your company culture that will help you attract new talent to your organization.

10 Ways to 10x Personal and Organizational Productivity | Deji Atoyebi, Business2community.com

Being productive is all about doing the best quality work within a reasonable amount of time. Therefore, it’s a no-brainer that to become a successful entrepreneur or an employee, productivity must be your strong suit. It’s equally important for managers to strive at improving employee productivity in order to grow their business. In view of these, this article will walk you through 10 pragmatic ways to increase both personal and organizational productivity.

#1. Use a Standing Desk: 

Standing is assumed to aid productivity through various ways. First, it improves health and provides energy bu reducing back and neck pain, burning calories, among other things. Second, standing decreases one’s tendency of falling asleep while working. Also, there are claims that it generally helps to increase creativity.

#2. Take Occasional Breaks: 

Taking occasional breaks while working is a good way to stay productive for a relatively longer time. Breaks tend to rejuvenate, rekindle attention and restore motivation. They can also prevent “decision fatigue”; in fact, a ‘walking rest’ is considered to help prolong memories and improve learning.

Don’t overwork yourself when you could avoid it; take a break as soon as you start finding it difficult to focus on the job at hand. Managers should also schedule appropriate break sessions for employees.

#3. Delegate When Necessary and Possible: 

To boost your productivity, you must learn when to let go of and prioritize work. Delegate tasks that you’d be better off not doing and trust those to whom you delegate them.

Don’t be a multitasking control-freak!

#4. Tidy Up Your Workspace:

A clean work space would most definitely make your focus more on the job at hand by freeing your mind of potential distractions that could sway you away from your work. Things like your mobile phone and random documents are good examples of such distractions.

In a nutshell, reduce the clutter and save yourself from being overwhelmed.

#5. Use Effective Analytic Technologies:

Businesses with relevant, large enough datasets and effective tools for manipulating them are more privileged than those without. But in what way does analytics boost productivity, you ask? Simple.

Well-analyzed data makes it easier to make good business decisions and even fastens the process. Without these data, it’s amazingly easy to gloss over necessary facts and delay the execution of a project.

#6. Use Time-Management/Tracking Software:

Although there are various options to help in tracking and managing time, special software for such a purpose are usually the best way to go. A good time-tracking software will make it easier for you to determine the period in the day in which you’re most productive and the type of work you’re generally faster at doing. Therefore, it’d enable you weigh your options and ultimately improve your productivity.

#7. Prioritize Knowledge Acquisition:

You need to strive for a better knowledge-base either at the personal or organizational level. A manager who provides effective training programs for employees would be turbo-charging their confidence and making them more productive performers.

#8. Get Enough Sleep:

Getting enough sleep improves memory, strengthens focus, increases energy and facilitates quite a number of things that soars productivity and which sleep deprivation naturally impedes.

#9. Make Use of Effective Collaboration Tools:

There are tools to help facilitate collaboration and thus aid coordination. A good example is Github, which is primarily a platform for software developers to jointly work on software and commit changes, independently. Some other general-purpose collaboration tools that aid work-flow are Slack, Trello, Google Keep and a host of others. They all have the potential of making you more productive in your daily work.

#10. Minimize Face-to-face Interactions:

Even in a not-so-crowded workplace, there’d be times when you, as an employee, would have to put your job on hold in order to talk to someone who needs help for something quite trivial or who just wants a tête-à-tête. This scenario can be frustrating and more frequent than normal.To avoid this, it’s reasonable to avoid things that could lead to face-to-face interactions while working. Many software developers are known to wear headphones for this purpose.

 

Remote Work Digest: September 21, 2017

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

graphicstock-young-beautiful-eastern-business-woman-outdoor-in-the-city-sitting-bar-using-computer-business-work-technology-concept_rTxo2IVqyb-796x531

Image from Thenextweb.com

7 Tips For Training Remote Teams | JTRipton, Trainingzone.co.uk

Remote work enables professionals (both salaried and freelance) to perform their duties without having to commute to an office, while employers have fewer overheads to cover. However, to achieve the best results, your team of remote workers require the same in-depth training as your in-house employees.

Here are 7 key tips to help you train your remote teams better than the rest.

1. Consider Meeting in Person First
If this is simply impossible due to time or geographical restraints, that’s fine. However, bringing them into your workplace and immersing them in your company culture helps to build a stronger bond, foster a deeper knowledge of the business’s operations at an early stage, and helps the team get to know each other better.

If this can’t be done, there are other options, including video conferencing.

2. Embrace Video Chat
Video chat is a terrific alternative to bringing remote workers in for an initial introduction. You can still take them on a tour, introduce them to colleagues, and engage face-to-face.

Video chat should be used to check-in, whether this covers upcoming tasks, brainstorming sessions, or just to discuss progress. This collaboration and bonding helps to form a more cohesive company, but choosing the right service is key.

3. Cover Every Tool
One early priority in your training should be to educate remote workers on the tools they will be using, and ensure these are as free of bugs as possible. Remote workers can be seriously hampered by inefficient platforms, and in-house tools should be as user-friendly for them as everyone else.

Don’t expect remote workers to know exactly how to use your bespoke software without any training, and always have information to hand for their own reference.

4. Set Homework to Build Workers’ Knowledge
Provide remote workers with a wide range of company-specific files to read at their own leisure. This will help to develop their knowledge of your business, your mission, your company values, your working practices, and other critical areas. The better remote workers understand your company’s culture and profile, the more their work will suit your expectations.

5. Record Training for Future Reference
Recording training sessions helps to save time and enables more individuals to get involved. Rather than expecting one or two employees to handle training, you can give others the details they need to get future remote workers up to speed.

6. Allow Remote Workers to Progress Their Own Way
Even with the best training and the most in-depth resources, some remote workers may need a little more time to settle into your business’s style of communication, your schedule, your project-management, and other aspects.

Be patient, and offer the help workers need without pressuring them to ‘fall in line’.

7. Keep Your Door Open
Any businesses which fail to be welcoming or keep their doors open to remote workers may find that mistakes are made, or that telecommuters quit at the first opportunity. Misunderstandings and questions are common in the early days of a working relationship, but ensuring remote workers feel happy to say when they’re uncertain helps to inspire loyalty and drive.

Training remote teams as best you can is vital to motivate workers and reduce the risk of costly mistakes. Follow the tips explored above to improve your chances of building a successful relationship with your remote workers for years to come.

Have you tried any of these techniques, and if so, how did they affect your business?

Why online etiquette in remote workplaces matters | Robyn Shulman, Thenextweb.com

Remote workplaces can differ significantly from the traditional office spaces that Baby Boomers and Generation-X workers know so well. Given the lack of face-to-face interaction and a global workforce filled with cultural differences, etiquette, communication rules and understandings can vary. In turn, this can make digitized workspaces a challenge to navigate.

Whether you are communicating in an online group, or sending an email, the tips below can help you best navigate your online workspace while providing advantages for all members.

Tone of voice

One of the biggest issues with remote or digital workspaces is the ease with which tone can be misconstrued by those posting and commenting. Often when we communicate digitally, our sound can get lost in translation. Before commenting in a remote workplace community, it’s best to read your comment twice before you post. You can also read the statement out loud or share it with a family member who can provide feedback. In turn, this ensures that your true intentions get across properly.

Don’t let your emotions get in the way

Reacting immediately to a problem or statement can be problematic in face-to-face conversations, but becomes even more troublesome in remote or digital workplaces. Because our words online are never truly deleted, it’s imperative to think twice before posting anything. If you’re angry or upset, it may be a good idea to take the time to cool down and organize your thoughts before making a comment or sending an email that may sound rash and filled with emotion.

Consider cultural differences

Given the flexibility of working online, people from various cultures and beliefs can make up one working community. When different countries come together to work, it is in your best interest to research cultural habits, behaviors and expectations. Having an understanding of where your colleagues come from and how they work can help to enhance active communication, prevent arguments, and promote compassion.

Maintain a positive space

While remote work lifts the travel burden, it’s important to remember that digital working forums and communities are still professional places of communication. It is important to keep the community clear of attacking others.

A good rule of thumb to remember: If you wouldn’t say something in the brick and mortar office, don’t say it online.
By working as a team, you can promote a balanced presence in your remote workplace, and can also help your colleagues thrive.

Consider privacy

Be aware of your online surroundings when you share information and resources. Consider the private lives of the community and those involved when deciding what to share with your online group.

It’s easy to take your emotions out on the computer and walk away. However, any comments, whether negative or positive, can have a significant impact on your career immediately or ten years down the road.

This Is How To Actually Work Smarter, Not Harder | Gwen Morgan, Fastcompany.com

What does it really mean to work smarter?

“It means figuring out better, faster ways to work,” says personal productivity expert and trainer Peggy Duncan. But before you enroll in a time management course or start playing “beat the clock” with your project list, consider these counterintuitive ways to get more done.

Don’t Dive Right In
Write down what you’re doing, how long it’s taking you, and who is interrupting you and what they wanted. “Because the biggest time-management mistake people make is not realizing how much time they waste. When you analyze it, you see what’s going on,” Duncan says. And you’ll have a good data set to figure out how you can shift your time usage, minimize interruptions, and learn a few key lessons.

Let Someone Else Do It
For Tomer Yogev, cofounder of leadership and performance consultancy Tandem Spring, working smarter means focusing on the areas in which you’re strongest—and letting go of things you’re doing for other reasons. To be more effective, you’ve got to ask for help and enlist people who are better at certain tasks and functions than you are, he says. That requires taking a hard look at your strengths and having the humility to admit that there are some areas you’re more skilled in than others.

Work When You Feel Like It
Paying attention to your energy cycles is critical to working smarter, says performance consultant Heidi Pozzo. When you’re feeling focused and energetic, you’re going to get more work done in a shorter period of time. “A lot of people are really good at high concentration work in the morning. So, if you can, block your day in a way that the first thing you work on is the most impactful,” she says. Of course, if you’re not a morning person, shift that advice to when you feel at your best.

Prepare For Your “Wasted” Time
Duncan recommends preparing to make the most of that time. Cloud-based tools that let you work from anywhere and a to-do list that reminds you of calls that need to be made, email messages that need to be written, and work components that need to be completed keep you ready to use those pockets to get more done.

Read The Manual
Investing time in reading the instruction manual and getting appropriate training can yield many hours of return on investment. Macros, shortcuts, and other time-savers may not be immediately apparent, but can simplify your work.

Be More Bureaucratic
Look at the tasks you perform on a regular basis and how you can create a more efficient way of getting them done. Are you wasting time scheduling many appointments every day? Look at automating that function with a scheduling app. Are you managing a project with many contributors and version control issues? Look at how you can create a system of capturing feedback and ensuring everyone has the most current information, perhaps with a cloud-based collaboration system that color-codes and date-stamps feedback for easy tracking.

Lay Off The Junk Food
If you’re tired and feeling bad because you’re not getting enough sleep, good nutrition, or exercise, that’s going to reflect in your efficiency and productivity. The Centers for Disease Control call insufficient sleep a public health problem that costs the U.S. up to $411 billion per year in lost productivity.

Stare At A Photo
Think about the reason you want to work smarter and not harder. Do you want more time for yourself to do the things you love to do? Are you just feeling burned out? Do you want more time to spend with loved ones? Whatever the reason, put a photo or group of photos that represent those reasons nearby so you can see them, Duncan suggests. This will act as a touchstone to help keep you on track when you’re procrastinating, spending too much time on social media, or otherwise undermining your efforts to get your work done in less time.