Remote Work Digest: January 15, 2019

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

9 Productivity Hacks for Working from Home | Margarita Tartakovsky, M.S., Psychcentral.com

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For writer and editor Kate Rope the biggest challenge in working from home is focusing when she doesn’t have impending deadlines. Sometimes, what helps her is an app called Focus Keeper, which involves working for 25-minute chunks and taking 5-minute breaks. Other times, Rope goes to her favorite coffee shop, where she can “just put my nose down,” and blast through her writing.

Below, you’ll find a variety of helpful hacks for being productive when working from home.

Address your exact challenges. The key is to name your biggest challenges—the obstacles that obstruct your productivity. Then channel your creativity to find helpful solutions for each one.
Designate a specific work area. Rope suggested dedicating a specific area in your home as your office, which “tells your mind, ‘it’s working time,’ when you sit down there.” This might be an entire room or the corner of the living room. If you’re very limited on space, you might even put a small desk inside a closet.
Commute to your home office. According to journalist Emily Price in her book Productivity Hacks: 500+ Easy Ways to Accomplish More Work—That Actually Work! including a commute where you leave the house for a few minutes helps you refocus and get into work mode. “The commute can be something as simple as leaving the house for a walk around the block or heading down the street to grab a cup of coffee.”
Identify your peak productivity. When are you most productive, energized, focused and creative? During those times, try to work on bigger projects. Work on less demanding tasks, such as responding to email, when you tend to be less productive.
Batch your errands. Might running all your errands in one day boost your productivity, too?
Have an accountability partner. Price suggests working alongside a friend who also works from home. If that’s not possible, she recommends checking out virtual options at Focusmate.com, and GetMotivatedBuddies.com.
Use a different browser for work. “Having a dedicated browser enables you to install browser plug-ins for a specific use and create a work-specific bookmarks bar that doesn’t get in your way when you’re surfing the web at work,” Price writes.
Tame tiny problems. Make a list of things that are bothering you, Price writes, and try to get them fixed ASAP.
End the workday with organization. Disorganization can crush productivity. Which is why taking a few minutes at the end of your workday to tidy up and organize can set you up for success the following day.

Working from home comes with all kinds of pros and cons—which will vary for each person. The key is to identify the cons, and find ways to work around them, so you can make working from home work best for you.

Working with Remote Teams? Here’s How You Can Grow A Positive Company Culture, Tosho Trajanov, Forbes.com

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Great company culture is not about ping-pong tables and office snacks. Employee loyalty, job satisfaction and work performance aren’t affected by a physical location. Whether you have one, 10, 100 or more remote employees, creating a positive company culture where they will flourish and thrive is essential for the success of any startup.

So, how do you achieve a remote-first culture?

Promote knowledge sharing.
Knowledge sharing is essential when working with remote teams because it empowers people to establish bonds and grow.

To have productive and collaborative remote teams, a major shift needs to occur. Building an organizational culture requires:

  • Removing the focus from the individual, the leader, the superstar performer, and focusing more on the team or on how remote employees work together to get results.
  • Providing infrastructure people can use to collaborate.

Provide employees with feedback.
Working with remote teams can be challenging and offering honest feedback can lead to a more positive company culture. There’ll be lower turnover rates, more engaged employees and sky-high motivational levels.

The bad news is that many managers have very little knowledge about the science behind giving proper feedback. (Let’s be honest, dealing with emotions isn’t taught in business schools.) So, how can you give proper feedback to your remote team to encourage a positive company culture? Here are a few tips:

  • When you give negative feedback, your employees’ fear sensors activate. However, approaching feedback with empathy can make a world of difference. A manager who supports employees is the real secret to employee engagement because good employee feedback is based on trust.
  • Get rid of annual performance reviews and focus on more short-term development. While their purpose is to reflect on the entirety of the past year, they often end up focusing on more recent events.
  • Set goals for your employees that include specific and measurable key results.

Creating rituals and traditions to get to know your employees.
Creating traditions with your remote team can help keep the team cohesive, effective and trustworthy. How else would you know who is obsessed with Stranger Things and who sleeps with their dog at night?

Here are a few ideas that will lead to a great company culture:

  • Regular video chats: Hold regular video chats to help your remote team communicate face-to-face. Discuss work topics but also ask about each others’ cultures, customs and hobbies.
  • Virtual coffees: Your remote team can use virtual coffee breaks, which are video calls, to take breaks and socialize. It’s a great way for employees to share what they’ve been up to lately outside of work.
  • Retreats: Weekend retreats (at least once a year) are an awesome idea to provide more personal interactions for a team that doesn’t get to collaborate in person very often.

Embrace your employees’ differences and put their skills to good use.
What is at the heart of every company? People. The secret ingredient to creating a company culture is a diverse team of talented individuals. And this is not just diverse with respect to gender, disability, age, ethnicity and sexual orientation, but diverse in mindsets and ways of thinking that people acquire through their experiences.

The companies that will succeed in this new world are the ones that strive to create a positive company culture that includes diversity in the workplace. In this workplace, everyone will thrive and each employee will have a wealth of perspectives and ideas to share.

To conclude, companies that embrace a positive company culture will find a number of benefits, including increased employee loyalty, higher rates of employee morale and boosted levels of engagement. Through knowledge sharing, honest feedback, open communication and diversity, you can create an uplifting atmosphere that will, in the long term, keep employees happy and the business competitive.

15 tips for losing weight when you work from home | Julia Guerra, Thisisinsider.com

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Working from home is a blessing and a curse. On the one hand, you have the freedom to dress however you’d like, finish assignments from the comfort of your living room couch, and have an entire kitchen at your disposal whenever the afternoon munchies come on strong. It’s great unless you’re trying to lose weight.

Under these super convenient, incredibly comfortable circumstances, how can you can you lose weight when you work from home? Here are a few expert tips on how to do just that.

Invest in workout equipment you can use at home.
You don’t need fancy machines and clunky equipment to achieve your weight loss goals. In fact, the director of fitness from Daily Burn, Amanda Murdock said you don’t even have to have a gym membership. You will, however, benefit from investing in a few basic tools to help speed things along.

Find activities you genuinely enjoy doing, and you’re more likely to stick with a plan.
Oftentimes, fitness is looked at as a chore — something that has to get done in order to reach your weight loss goals. Although it’s true that physical activity is an important component, it shouldn’t feel like a burden, and it doesn’t have to. The key is to find exercises and activities you genuinely enjoy doing so that the time you commit to doing them feels like time well spent.

Clock in the right amount of quality sleep.
Nutrition and fitness are two of the most important elements of weight loss. The third is sleep — getting the right amount, and the right quality of it. And because when you work from home, your living space is also your workspace, it’s important that you not only set parameters for yourself, and know when to shut down, it’s also important that you create a sleep space that’s designed for sleep, not work under the covers.

Create a space in your home that can be your designated workout area.
Kelly Borowiec, CPT, founder of Keebs Fitness suggested that, after setting up a designated workout area in your home, fill it was a few basic pieces of equipment, like a set of 5-10lb dumbbells and a thick mat, to start.

“As you begin to exercise more frequently at home, you can reward yourself by buying more exercise equipment,” Borowiec said.

Plan your workouts around the times you’re most energized.
Are you a night owl? Early bird? Do you prefer afternoons to morning and evening hours? When you figure out what exercises you’re most likely to enjoy, your next task is to figure out when you’re most likely to exercise.

Be mindful of your meals and snacking options.
Nutrition is just as, if not more important when it comes to losing weight — whether you work from home or otherwise — so if you have a sweet tooth, you’ll just have to find ways to nip mindless cravings in the bud. One foolproof method Borowiec swore by was filling your fridge and pantry with healthy snacks, and preparing nutrient-dense meals in advance so that when you go grazing, you already have good-for-you options at the ready.

Don’t skimp out on cardio.
Walking from the bedroom to your couch or dining room isn’t much of a commute, but when your career can be done from the comfort of your living room, it’s easy to forgo cardio altogether. Joanna Stahl, the founder of Go2Practice told INSIDER this is a major, common mistake.

Cardio is key to most weight loss goals, so even though your work doesn’t require you to get up and out of the house, “there needs to be a concerted effort to put the pencils down and get in a workout daily,” Stahl said.

Drink a ton of water, but don’t sip on a glass with meals.
According to The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, the average adult should be drinking two liters, or eight cups, of water per day. However, the key is to drink these eight cups between meals, not during them.

Sign up for classes to hold you accountable.
If you’re struggling to find motivation, Stahl told INSIDER that either signing up for a workout class at a studio, gym, or online is a great resource. Not only will you have committed to be at the gym at a specific time, but classes that come at a price up the ante, because you’ve not only committed time, you’ve put down payment, too.

Remember that small adjustments to your schedule can make a difference, too.
Liana Hughes, certified personal trainer and coach at Gixo said you can become more active by making some small changes like “planning a time to exercise each day, setting alarms to get up and walk around each hour, stretching while you are making your morning coffee, and getting up and walking around during conference calls.”

Walk whenever and wherever you can.
“You don’t have to take a 60 minute cycling class or run miles and miles because small changes can mean big differences,” she told INSIDER. “For instance, taking walk breaks during the day will not only get you disconnected from your computer, but will count towards that weekly minimum. Go outside and take a walk and add in some power walking for a block to raise your heart rate to bring in cardio to your daily routine.”

Set up shop as far away from the kitchen as possible.
Does just being in the same vicinity of food initiate temptation? If so, set up your workspace far away from the kitchen to avoid wandering into the kitchen when you aren’t actually hungry.

Get dressed for work in the same way you would if you were going to an office.
It’s easy to fall into the mindset that because no one’s going to see you, working in your pajamas or baggy sweats is acceptable. On the one hand, it is, but on the other, getting dressed in the morning the same way you would to go to an office building will take you out of a lazy mindset.

Practice mindful eating.
“Eat in the common work kitchen area or an empty conference room,” American College of Sports Medicine Certified Personal Trainer, V Shred‘s lead trainer, and an expert in nutrition, Benjamin Suyematsu suggested. “Use the time to really be mindful about your meal. Taste the food. Take your time and enjoy the meal as opposed to rushing through which only adds air to your stomach leading to bloat and even indigestion.”

Cut back on sugar, alcohol, and high-fat foods.
“The biggest things to stay away from while trying to lose weight are sugars, alcohol, and high-fat foods,” CruBox trainer, Brian Evans said. “It is important to eat a super balanced diet and additionally, stay away from food that is labeled low fat or sugar-free. Typically those food have to either added fat or sugar for taste than the normal full calorie options.”

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Remote Work Digest: December 17, 2018

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

What Job Hunters Should Expect in 2019 | Hannah Morgan, Money.usnews.com

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If you’re starting to think about looking for a new job, there are new protocols and “rules” to learn before dropping your resume on every online job board. Here’ what you need to know to and a new job in the new year.

Learn how ATS works
Almost every company uses an applicant tracking system to process resumes and build a database of candidates. Recruiters search the resumes for keywords to pare down the results to a smaller number of candidates who exactly match their criteria. Because of how prevalent these systems are, it’s so important that you take time to customize or refocus your resume for each job you apply to and ensure it includes the appropriate keywords and skills.

A one-page resume hurts more than it helps
For you to adequately highlight your work accomplishments (not just regurgitate your job description) and keep the font size readable, your resume may run onto a second page, especially if you have more than five years of work experience. 2019 may finally be the year to dump the old notion that your resume should fit on a single page.

The interview process will be rigorous.
You may be asked to complete an online personality assessment, work simulation assignment or video interview, or to participate in an interview over a meal. As a result, the hiring process will take longer than you expect. Be patient and understand that the employer wants to hire the best match for the role, considering more factors than just your skills.

Know your worth.
It’s relatively easy to research salaries using online salary calculators, but don’t stop there. Talk to people who work in your desired city and ask them what the going rate is for the work they do. This is especially helpful if you are changing careers or pursuing your first job after college. Using both these methods to research salaries allows you to command more respect when negotiating salary.

Join employer communities.
In order to join these communities, you must first identify companies that interest you. This is often as simple as thinking of your current company’s competitors or companies that appear on “best of” or “top employer” lists.

Find someone to refer you.
With your list of companies, begin meeting with people you know and ask them who they know who works for companies on your list. If you state that you are looking for more information about the company and its culture, you’re more likely to get help than asking for a job within one of those companies.

Look beyond the job boards.
Job boards will help you research the job market, keywords and job titles so you can target the appropriate types of roles. But don’t count on any one source to uncover job opportunities.

In fact, the highest quality new hires don’t come from job boards; they come from employee referrals. Expect to see more employees sharing job opportunities on social networks as companies incentivize their employees through referral programs.

Freshen up your LinkedIn profile.
Today’s savvy workers understand that a vibrant LinkedIn profile helps tell their career story.

Use your summary section to answer the question, “Tell me about yourself.” Explain what motivates you and provide information that would help a potential employer understand what makes you tick. Even more importantly, a LinkedIn profile carefully crafted with the appropriate keywords and skills helps recruiters discover potential candidates.

Watch for job ads on social media.
The next time you’re on Facebook or Instagram, pay attention to the ads you’re seeing. While every company is on LinkedIn, they realize that employed individuals may not check LinkedIn regularly. To catch the attention of employed individuals, expect to see more companies posting advertisements on other social networks, too.

Don’t forget to consider remote work.
Working remotely is growing in popularity among employees and employers. Just watch out for scams by carefully vetting all opportunities prior to providing any information online or through email.

Practical Time Management Tips to Make Life Better In and Out of Work | April Joy, Thebossmagazine.com

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While we are always stuck with the same 24-hour period every single day, there are easy ways we can improve our time management and pave the way for a much better life both in and out of work. Here are some practical time management tips for your consideration:

Prioritize
Prioritization simply means focusing first on those things that are very important. In the office, for example, there will always be tasks that demand your utmost attention while there are also those that can be deferred for another time. The same is true in the house. You’ve got to check which ones will be requiring your attention first. Unfortunately, this means you’ve got to have a system that will help you assess each situation in an objective manner.

Delegate
Delegate the tasks that you think other individuals can safely and effectively carry out. Leave the more important ones to you. Keep in mind to check the capabilities of the person to whom you are delegating. Give only those tasks that you are confident they can handle with ease.

Select a Target
When you set a target, make sure that it is realistic. This requires a deeper understanding of what needs to be done. You have to look at the difficulty of completing the task including other factors that may have an impact on the accomplishment of said task.

Don’t Procrastinate
Procrastination doesn’t only affect your productivity; it also shows your lack of respect for the others who are working their butts to complete their tasks. Additionally, you are wasting your energy by engaging in non-essential activities.

Take a Short Breather
Working for eight continuous hours is not only counterproductive, it also exposes you to a number of health problems, including stress. You may start the day feeling energized but as the day progresses, your energy levels dwindle, often compounded by work-related stress. If you continue, you will find yourself unable to complete anything. The best remedy is to take a short 5- to 10-minute breather just to “recharge” yourself. This will help you complete more tasks as the day progresses.

Time management need not be difficult. Whether it’s in the house or in the office, you can employ these tips to make the most out of your daily 24 hours.

The 4 Work-From-Home Secrets No One Talks About | Rieva Lesonsky, Smallbiztrends.com

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A recent survey of 1,000 employees—including those who work at home full time, work at the office full time, or split their work time between home and office—delved into the downside. Here are four things few people will admit about working from home, and how to keep these problems from getting out of control.

1. It Makes People Jealous
Full-time office workers are less likely than remote or split-time workers to be satisfied with their jobs overall, their compensation, their career growth opportunities and their work-life balance. They’re also less likely to feel that their employers value them. Overall, 78% of all survey respondents believe people who work from home are happier.

Solution:
If people with certain job descriptions get to work remotely and others don’t, those stuck at the office can feel slighted. Think of other perks you can provide to enhance their morale. Take advantage of their presence in the office to provide lots of feedback, and make the effort to connect with them on a daily basis.

2. It can get lonely
Three of the top four things work-at-home employees miss about the office involve colleagues:

  • Being around other people: 38%
  • Office camaraderie: 35.2%
  • Free coffee: 29.6%
  • Parties/social events: 23.1%

More than half (51.2%) of work-at-home employees admit feeling lonely during the day, and 48.1% say they plan to return to an office environment eventually.

Solution:
Plan regular interactions to keep work-at-home employees in the loop. Video conferences, conference calls or monthly in-person meetings can help them feel part of the team. If you use chat tools like Slack, be sure to include remote workers in the discussions, too.

3. It can encourage watching TV during work hours
More than three-fourths (76.1%) of work-from-home employees admit they’ve watched TV on the job at some point. Here’s what else home-based employees have done while they’re supposed to be working:

  • Personal tasks 64.6%
  • Shower 44.7%
  • Run errands 35.2%
  • Exercise 33.5%
  • Go out for coffee 27.6%
  • Leave the house without telling anyone 20.4%

Solutions:
If you’re concerned that household distractions are cutting into work-at-home employees’ productivity, however, institute some rules. Require employees to check in at certain points during the day or schedule daily team calls. Most important, make your expectations clear.

4. It can encourage poor personal grooming
Fewer than half of work-at-home employees regularly shower before starting their workday, and just 60% brush their teeth.

However, nearly one-fourth of office workers don’t brush their teeth in the morning, and 45% admit they don’t regularly take showers before work. I guess there are some secrets people don’t tell you about the office, either.

Solution:
You can’t control what employees do at home. For those in the office, consider putting mouthwash in your employee restrooms, and stocking up on air freshener for the office.

Conclusion:
Do work-at-home employees or office-based employees have it better? Surprisingly, the survey found that employees who split their time between home and office are the ones who have the best of both worlds. Split-time workers report the highest satisfaction with their family life, their work-life balance, and their co-worker relationships. They’re also most likely to feel that their employers value them.

7 productivity tips to wrap up work so you can enjoy the holidays (for once) | Karen Burns, Forbes.com

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You’re already busy at work. And now the holidays are coming! How to get it all done? Here are a few ideas.

End your year early. Step up the focus on your most critical projects now. Aim to get them wrapped up by midmonth. As much as possible, resist scheduling important tasks for the last week of the year.

Ritualize your work. Here’s how this works: Associate different tasks with different “rituals.” It can be as simple as always returning phone calls before lunch, for example, or only answering emails between 3 and 4 p.m. The more rigid and structured you are, the better this approach works.

Identify your “golden hour.” Determine what time of day is optimum for you, and schedule your hardest tasks for then.

Make lists for everything. Have work lists, gift lists, food lists, goals lists, etc. The buzz you get from crossing off items as you complete them boosts your energy level and helps you feel more in control.

Get away from it all. A few hours in a new environment can jostle your brain into high gear. Also, being away from your usual work site makes it harder for co-workers to find and interrupt you.

Bundle activities. When setting up meetings, for example, don’t schedule one for Monday, one for Wednesday and one for Thursday. Do them all on the same day, when you’re already in meeting mode and away from your regular routine/workstation.

Don’t forget to stay healthy. During the holidays it’s harder than usual to eat right and to get the exercise and sleep you need. So make these issues a priority (perhaps another list?).

Finally, consider that it may be impossible to do everything you want or even need to do. Plan to forgive yourself if something slides. Remember that saying no once in a while is OK.

Remote Work Digest: November 14, 2018

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

Hiring for the Holidays? 10 Ways to Find Great Hourly Workers | Jared Atchison, Business.com

c584e7d03f1e67028b2bcd7bef132d9bWith the busy holiday season approaching, you’re going to need to hire new hourly employees to keep up with demand.

As you’re looking for people to join your team, make sure you always look for quality and experience. Even if you are offering a part-time, holiday position, you don’t want to sacrifice quality for fast employees.

Below are 10 of the best ways you can find great hourly workers for your business.

1. Post on relevant job boards.
Some of the more popular job boards are Indeed, Monster and Zip Recruiter. You can post both remote and local positions on these platforms. You’ll get the ability to look through everyone who applies before contacting them. What makes this method ideal is the fact that you can set up deal-breaker questions on the application to save you time.

2. Use social media.
You can use your social media presence to entice followers to apply if you have an opening. A benefit of this method is that the people who are applying to the job are already familiar with your product or service. They follow your brand because they’re interested in what you sell or your brand’s identity – meaning they may be more likely to catch on if you decide to hire them.

3. Create an employee referral program.
When most companies set up a referral program, they usually offer a cash reward to get new hires – with stipulations, of course. For example, if you get an employee to refer someone new and that new employee works there for 60 days, both the new hire and employee who gave the referral get a $75 bonus.

Employers prefer this method because they know their employees better than anyone. If a superior employee offers a referral, they can have confidence that the person they referred to them is also a good worker.

4. Reach out to colleges.
There are plenty of colleges that will happily advertise your job to their students as a means for them to get an internship or a potential hire after their graduation.

Some colleges offer programs for students even if they graduated years ago. The students can come back to the college with their experience and see if there are any job advertisements. This is the perfect chance for you to reach out to fresh-faced potential employees with lots of energy.

5. Use Craigslist.
It takes just a few minutes to get online and post an advertisement every morning. Make it a routine until you fill the positions you have available. Wake up in the morning, get on your smart phone while you drink your coffee or orange juice, and post a quick ad letting people know that your company is looking for either seasonal or permanent employees.

6. Consider previous employees.
If you still have contact information of previous employees (and you should!), consider making phone calls to these employees to see if they would consider coming back to work on a part-time basis.

If former employees return, you could potentially save money on training time because they already know how the company works. A refresher course is a much less time-consuming process than a full training routine.

7. Contact job agencies.
Some people don’t like the fact that they have to work through a middleman. However, some prefer this method because it gives them a chance to look at the potential hires without directly contacting them. You get to pick the person you think best fits your needs.

8. Rent out billboards.
When you consider that hundreds of thousands of people live in moderate-to-large cities, you can totally get people to apply for your position if you put your billboard somewhere smart, such as a busy intersection.

9. Advertise on your website.
The most common method is by adding a “We are hiring!” button to your homepage. If a potential employee lands on your page, they can click the button and get right to the application and apply.

You can also add a “careers” page to your sitemap. If you’re constantly hiring, this is a great choice. As job opportunities become available, you can upload them to your careers page and hopeful employees can see what jobs are opening, view the requirements, and access the application.

10. Hire internally.
Do you have multiple employees who work on an as-needed basis? Perhaps they get online and take care of your social media. Maybe you have an employee who just manages your customer care emails for a flat rate every month. Look to these dedicated employees to see if they would be interested in coming aboard full time as hourly employees.

When it comes time to hire this holiday season, make sure you take advantage of all of these different opportunities. There are benefits and disadvantages to all of these methods, it all comes down to your business model and how many people you want to hire. Before your next round of hiring, consider the hiring technique that will save you time and find you the best employee. There are plenty of qualified candidates out there. All that’s left is to go out and find them!

5 Life Hacks to Get Ahead and Launch Your Own Startup Business | Richard Agu, Newsmax.comGroup of Business People at Starting PointStarting a business can be a scary undertaking since there are no guarantees of success.

Keeping it afloat is another daunting task. However, if you’re troubled and confused about startups, embrace these five life hacks to getting started and getting ahead.

1. Start a Business From the Resources Within You
One way to achieve this is by having an ownership mindset or adopting ownership approach to whatever we do. This will avail you the opportunity to start up a business with the resources at your disposal.

2. Engage in What You Love Doing and Be Patient
If you love what you do and the people you are with, the two (work and life) should be integrated. To remain sustainable, you should strive for work-life integration as an end result.

3. Be Immune to Fear and Criticism
Being gullible to fear and criticisms is a sign of weakness. You have to turn your fear into your advantage. An entrepreneur should be brave in the midst of turbulent and unpredictable nature of today’s business environment.

4. Don’t Be Content With Your Current State
Getting ahead requires not only having access to vital information, but harness such info in order to enhance your capacity to make critical business decisions. This could be in the area of service delivery, personnel management, sales promotion strategies, organizational culture etc. Seeking for ways to enhance your business performance to remain relevant in the industry. This can’t be achieved without having enormous info.

5. Have a Set Routine to Remain Healthy
There are times that the weights of your responsibilities and schedule can become overwhelming, you need to have specific strategies in place to combat that stress.

Make sure to take care of your physical health through daily exercise, mental health through daily meditation, and stay connected to family and friends each day to maintain a relational health.

Most importantly, don’t allow your business to revolve around you. Delegate tasks in order to raise leaders who can pioneer your business to greater height in your absence.

The Step-by-Step Guide to Firing a Remote Employee | John Rampton, Entrepreneur.com

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Startups with small teams are like families. Firing a member of that family is rarely easy — especially when the person in question works remotely.

Even with generous performance plans and every benefit of the doubt, sometimes a remote worker and company just aren’t the right fit. Once you decide to terminate one of your remote employees, follow this guide to keep the process as fair and painless as possible.

1. Get your documentation in order.
After you commit to the firing — take the afternoon to make sure all your paperwork is in order.

Do you have documentation to support the firing? Have you consulted with HR to ensure you won’t run into any logistical problems? Lawsuits are rare — but don’t let your relationship with your employee prevent you from following proper procedure.

2. Book your flight.
Even if you only see your remote employee a couple times a year — do the noble thing and conduct the termination conversation in person.

The person being fired might not be the right fit for your company — but that doesn’t mean he or she won’t find success elsewhere. You can limit the pain of the blow, and potentially turn a rejected worker into a brand ambassador, by delivering rejection with respect.

3. Keep it personal.
It might not be personal to you — but to the person losing the job (even under justifiable circumstances), the decision is highly personal. Enter the conversation with the understanding that this person will take the news as a personal indictment.

If the termination is financially driven, explain why. Offer to provide a recommendation for future opportunities. If the termination is performance-based — outline the reasons for the decision briefly. There’s no need to belabor the point — anyone being fired for performance knows what went wrong.

4. Collect equipment and disconnect access.
This part can be tricky. You don’t want to treat your exiting employee like a criminal. You also want to protect your assets from retaliatory deletion or destruction. The correct policy when firing a remote employee is to assume the best but be prepared for the worst.

Let your head of IT know what time to terminate the fired employee’s access to company servers. When you meet with the employee explain that you need to collect any company equipment, like laptops and monitors, when you leave.

5. Communicate to the rest of the team.
Speak to your team the same day of the termination to stop gossip before it starts. Leave out the details regarding how and why you fired the worker. A few employees close to the situation probably know what happened. Even on a small team, there’s no reason to drag the person’s performance or behavior into the open.

Firing a remote employee might be unpleasant and difficult but don’t let the potential problems dissuade you from offering remote work options. Modern employees seek flexible benefits like remote work. You can attract higher quality talent by keeping remote options on the table.

3 Traps Work-From-Home Workers Need to Avoid | Daniel B. Kline, Fool.com

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For those who work at home, there are some traps to avoid. It’s easy to be taken advantage of or to make mistakes that hurt your career (or just waste your time).

1. Beware of needs from friends and family
Protect your time. Make it clear to anyone who asks for a favor that any time you spend not working will be time you have to make up in odd hours. That doesn’t mean you always have to say no. You just have to be the one making the decision.

2. Don’t lose touch with workmates
Staying connected takes work. Take advantage of any communications tools your office uses to make sure you engage in water cooler talk, not just work talk. It’s important to ask about people’s kids, talk about the game, or chat about mutually liked TV shows. If an opportunity to see people comes up, go out of your way to take it, whether it be a work event or a social opportunity.

3. Don’t take advantage of those with regular hours
Just because you have freedom and flexibility does not mean everyone does. If you work with people who maintain a traditional office schedule (or actually work in an office) you should roughly conform to their hours.

That does not mean you can’t do work at weird hours. It does mean that you should respond to email or calls when other people are working and at least be available during parts of the traditional workday.

It’s all about flexibility and balance
To make it work you need to be flexible and find the proper balance. For example, you may take a day off but still answer email or respond to messages. You might also attend a meeting or mix other work tasks into time spent not working because it’s convenient for other people.

Be considerate and open-minded, but also make sure to protect your own interests. Working from home does not mean you’re always working, any more than it means you’re always off.

Remote Work Digest: October 16, 2018

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

How To Stay Focused When You’re Working At Home & Distracted AF | Marisa Casciano, Elitedaily.com

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Unlike some people in this world, your commute to the couch is nonexistent. But, as sweet as working from home can be, it’s sometimes not the most ideal situation for when you need to hustle and bustle. Lucky for you, being a #girlboss and getting rid of those distractions is possible. Just take these eight tips, and you’ll be good to go.

1. CREATE AN OFFICE SPACE
Not working in a traditional office can be a fun and unique experience. However, you shouldn’t turn your pillow into a coworker. Learn to separate your living space from your work space within your own home, and create your own “office.” This could be a table with a coaster for your coffee in the morning, or one spot in your kitchen that you work in on the reg. See you later, distractions!

2. WORK OUT SOME PERSONAL DEADLINES
Don’t give yourself the time and energy to procrastinate. Every morning, write down the things you want to get done, and then stick to that schedule. Tell yourself that the press release needs to be done before your lunch break, or that the first stages of the marketing campaign need to be organized by 4 P.M. Just like that, you’re creating a work ethic and diving into your passions, too.

3. PICK A TIME FOR LUNCH
Just like creating those personal deadlines, pick a time when you’re going to eat lunch every day. This helps you stick to a normal schedule, and not steer off course. Truth is, when you get distracted and put your work off a bit, you tend to be stressed out later on. Get into a routine, and that won’t be the case.

4. STICK TO A MORNING ROUTINE
Truth is, when you don’t have to account for traffic along your morning commute and simply sign onto via your laptop, it’s easy to stay in bed a little bit longer. You often let yourself hit “snooze” one too many times, and find yourself rushing around your house, that first few minutes of your day. Break that bad habit right now, and your distractions will go down, simply because you’re more prepared to hit the ground running and get to work.

5. STAY OFF OF SOCIAL MEDIA
Do yourself a favor, and put that screen down, if you really want to focus while working at home. Tell yourself that you can’t check Instagram until you’ve handed in your next assignment, or give yourself five minutes every hour to check your phone and then throw it in a drawer on the other side of the room. Trust me, and then thank me later, OK?

6. GET OUTSIDE ON YOUR BREAK
Getting outside can be a great way to combat distraction. It gives you a change in location, and lets your mind wander past the laptop screen. (Not to mention, you might run into a pup or two! Um, yes please.) So, during your break, take a walk around your neighborhood or sit out on your deck. That sort of thing.

7. LET YOURSELF LAUGH IT OUT
Give into your distractions for a little while, and your brains naturally hits the refresh button. Look at your favorite memes, aimlessly scroll through social media, or watch a few videos on YouTube that have always made you smile or feel inspired. In no time, you’re back to work and feeling better than ever before.

8. ONE WORD: HEADPHONES
When in doubt, put in some headphones. The outside world can be so distracting. Did you hear that car going down the street? What’s your roommate making in the kitchen? Is that your neighbor’s pup that’s barking upstairs? Just like that, you’ve completely lost your train of thought and motivation to get work done.

So, stop the distractions before they even start, and play some music. Tune into some acoustic jams, and tune out of the nonsense going on around you. Working from home is a sweet deal most of the time, but when you need to buckle down and focus, sometimes you just need a little extra help. *Cue “Work” by Rihanna and let’s go.*

How to Discipline an Employee for Absenteeism | Priyansha Mistry, Thehrdigest.com

It is often difficult when trying to address employee absenteeism when it has become a habit. Hence, business managers try to work employee’s attitude towards absenteeism rather than correcting the event. Meanwhile, the task of employee absence management is one that requires careful measures. While you can’t force employees to be at work, those that would ridicule productivity need not remain in your team.

Here is a workable procedure to handle absenteeism among employees.

1. Design an employee attendance policy
As a manager, you are expected to design an attendance policy for your employees to make your fight effective. Most importantly, this policy must cut across every employee and must outline in details when and how they should work. In creating employee attendance policy, all issues related to attendance should be addressed. In addition, the policy should stipulate disciplinary actions for defaulters which should be based on the level of offense.

2. Ensure consistent enforcement
Consistent enforcement does not suggest a lack of empathy towards employees. It simply means that the policy should not be taken for a flake. Being immediate and proactive in policy enforcement shows the employees commitment to the management.

3. Find out the reason for absenteeism
As a manager, when you notice a consistency in absenteeism, you should call it out. Invite the employee and try to find out the reasons for their absence. Your findings will help any conclusion you need to make.

What kind of disciple should be taken?
One thing very clear is that, even with the policies and tight levels of enforcement, absenteeism will still happen. This means that some employees will be disciplined. However, the kind of discipline to be meted out will depend on the nature of the absenteeism. Employees who call in to inform about their absence may have a lesser case depending on their reasons. But for workers who form it as a habit to be absent and even neglect the place of pre-information, stricter measures should be taken. They should be written to and made to answer queries for their action.

You may want to reward employees who are consistent to work to encourage others. Also, studies have shown that employee engagement is also an effective tool to help them to show more commitment to work. However, the mentioned procedures on how to discipline an employee for absenteeism will help to keep everyone in shape.

More Than Higher Pay and Promotions, Millenials Value These 4 Benefits Most | Adam Robinson, Inc-Asean.com

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Recent data shows 60 percent of employees indicate benefits and perks are a major factor when accepting a job offer, and 80 percent of employees would choose additional benefits over a pay raise.

Realizing job seeker demands, some employers are getting creative when it comes to perks by letting employees choose their own. Below, I’ve outlined a few examples of flexible employee perks and the benefits of each.

1. Points of Budget-Based Perks
While your business might have standard options for healthcare, your bonus structure and other larger benefits, there’s much more room to be flexible with smaller perks. One company in particular is doing just this – N6A, a public relations agency based in New York, offers its employees points, which they can redeem to for free coffee, airline miles and more. The points are earned through both individual and company achievements.

Your business can take on a similar approach, either by offering a points-based system or a set budget for employee perks. Other perks might include discounted public transportation, professional development budget, bonus vacation days, and more.

2. Technology Spending Account
Depending on the individual and role, your employees might need different tools to be their most productive. For example, one employee might work best with noise canceling headphones while another needs a second monitor to complete projects more efficiently. To address this, consider offering employees a set technology budget when they start the job, but allow each employee to select their own tools.

3. Health and Wellness Options
Similar to the technology budget, consider offering employees a menu of different wellness options, including gym memberships, healthy lunch options, intramural sports teams, discounted bike rentals, and more. By giving employees the chance to choose their perks, they can opt for the wellness perks that will best serve their overall health, well being and productivity.

4. Flexible Holidays
Today’s workforce is increasingly diverse, so offering flexible holidays can help your team attract top talent across different faiths, cultural backgrounds and values. And according to a study from Harvard Business Review, more diverse workforces lead to increased creativity and faster decision making.

In today’s competitive job market with record-low unemployment, employers need to take extra steps to attract top talent. By letting employees choose their own perks, you can stand out from the competition when it comes to attracting and hiring engaged employees.

10 Motivation Tips For Freelancers Who Work From Home | Annie Ridout, Forbes.com

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According to science, motivated people have higher levels of dopamine – a chemical released by neurons (nerve cells) to send signals to other nerve cells. It’s this chemical that motivates us to get up and go for a run, rather than just sitting on the sofa and thinking about it. Or to start work.

Fortunately, it’s possible to trigger a dopamine release; meaning being motivated is something that can be learned; it’s not necessarily a genetic trait. So, if you find it hard to get started in the morning and need some tricks to kickstart your brain into work-mode, these will help…

1. Ditch the PJs
While still in your nightwear, your brain basically remains in sleep mode, so get up, showered and dressed before you start work. Just as you would if you worked in an office.

2. Swallow the frog
Propercorn founder Cassandra Stavrou has a workplace tradition of beginning the day with ‘swallow the frog’. Each employee has a toy frog on their desk and it represents that one, dreaded task. Complete it and the frog can leave your desk. You can then get on with the work you actually want to be doing.

3. Plan your day
Starting out with a full day ahead – and no plan of what you’re doing, when – can be overwhelming. So write a list of all the tasks that need doing – actually write it, rather than doing it on your phone, then you’ll have the satisfaction of striking off tasks once they’re complete.

4. Limit emails
Most of us are emailed multiple times a day – by clients, colleagues, employers, friends and family but also for marketing purposes. These emails easily distract from the task you’re working on, so set yourself email-checking times.

5. Take a break
As well as allocating set times for each job, designate breaks for yourself. A cup of tea between tasks is a good excuse for a break from the screen. It also signals that it’s time to move on to the next job. Equally, decide what time you’ll have lunch and try to eat it at the table, away from your work.

6. Set an end-time
You may have a work cutoff if you have kids in childcare who need collecting but even if you don’t: set your own end-time. Psychologically, this will help you to get started, as you know that once it hits 5pm (for instance), you’re free to relax. How you spend the rest of the evening is then up to you.

7. Fresh air and exercise
Starting the day with a run – even just a five-minute jog around the block – or a brisk walk will help to wake you up. The exercise gives you endorphins which energise you and make you feel happier; a blast of fresh air awakens all the senses.

8. Working unconventional hours
Keep realistic expectations: set yourself just an hour for work, knowing that after that you can head straight to bed or watch telly. Again, having the evening stretching out ahead with no set plan will feel daunting. Decide on your task(s) and get it done within the hour. Continuing work when you’re tired is pointless; it won’t be your best work. Keep it short and focused.

9. Use an app
If you find yourself feeling fuzzy-headed or in a muddle, and need to reset before you can continue with work, try a mind app. Headspace teaches you mindfulness and brings you back to the present, while Calm is good for slowing down your breath and busy mind. Hypnotherapy app Clementine has a power nap recording – if you need 30 minutes of shuteye – or sessions for both confidence and de-stressing. You can just sit back and listen.

10. Treat yourself
This doesn’t mean spend £60 on a massage – though you can, if you want – it means finding little ways to boost yourself throughout the day. For instance, drinking your morning coffee while standing in the garden, in peace. Or a relaxing afternoon bath. Maybe it’s a glass of wine at the end of the working day. Whatever it is, if it brings your some joy, make it part of your daily routine.

Remote Work Digest: June 16, 2018

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

How to Overcome the 5 Top Challenges of Remote Freelance Work | Andrew Medal, Entrepreneur.com

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Working remotely can feel isolated and lonely. You are no longer operating in your area of expertise and are constantly challenged by the burden of self-promotion and the struggles inherent in time management, travel between clients, invoicing and chasing after payments, to name just a few.

Here are some solutions to five of the top challenges I myself have faced:

The burden of self-promotion

Marketing doesn’t come naturally to many freelancers, yet a business cannot continue to grow without it. This means that a freelance cake decorator, dog groomer and technical writer all need to worry about ways to advertise their services.

The solution if this applies to you? Start creating content, whether it be video, audio (podcast) or written. Content is the key to showcasing your expertise. Content will allow people to discover you, and content will help solidify your expertise.

Follow contributors who write about topics you’re looking to provide your expertise on, and reach out on social platforms like Twitter or Instagram (Instagram DM still being the absolute best way to reach someone you’re hoping to connect with).

Working in a lonely solo void

While the freedom in remote freelance work may appeal to many, working in solitude may not, as FastCompany documented in a recent article. Human nature requires support and interaction, and constant isolation can wear you down. Our bodies only work at an optimal level for approximately 90 minutes at a time, so take your laptop and head to the nearest cafe for some company.

Co-working spaces are also all the rage these days, Harvard Business Review reported, as freelancers and small business owners are often looking to become part of a community. A well-designed work environment combined with a well-curated work experience enables coworkers to thrive in a way that office-based employees cannot.

Struggling with your calendar

I like to follow the Pomodoro rule for completing tasks. This technique can help you power through distractions, keep you hyper-focused and help you get things done in short bursts while taking frequent breaks to clean your brain and refocus. It’s sort of like short high-intensity weight training, versus long, slow cardio. The Pomodoro Technique consists of short bursts of work followed by a short rest break. You:

1. Create your list of tasks.
2. Prioritize the list.
3. Set the Pomodoro to 25 minutes (the Pomodoro in this context being a timer).
4. Work on the task until the timer rings, then put a check on your sheet of paper.
5. Take a short break (5 minutes is recommended, but play around with what’s best for you).
6. After every fourth Pomodoro, take a longer break (like 20 to 30 minutes).

The goal is to accomplish your tasks in short bursts. Ideally, each task can be done in one to two Pomodoros. The goal is to hold a limit to how many Pomodoros you do per day. Then, repeat the cycle the next day. I’ve found that my productivity shoots up under this technique. Here’s a great web app to track your progress called the Pomodoro Tracker.

Scope creep

What is scope creep? Scope creep describes those extra little client requests here and there. The need that that website you just created suddenly has for extra pages at the time of delivery. That graphic-design gig you took on that keeps accruing more and more changes …

Sometimes the creep is subtle, and sometimes it’s massive. But, if you let the scope creep once, it will never stop creeping.

The best, most obvious way to deal with scope creep is a thorough contract which clearly states that any additional work will be billed accordingly. I love BidSketch for quick, effective, template-rich contracts. If you create a contract once, you can save it and reuse it.

Chasing clients for payment

Payments are undoubtedly the most aggravating and awkward part of freelance work. So, protect yourself: Ensure a contract is in place for every job, and stipulate that you charge interest for late payments. Set up automated email reminders upon invoicing.

A software like Invoicely can help you with invoicing, with reminders to make sure you are on top of your finances. Invoicely works well because it allows you to set up late fees for invoices that are paid late or not at all. This is another tactic to help make sure clients pay on time.

The best tip I have learned is that you should always wait to deliver the final project until you have the final invoice paid. That way you retain ownership of the work before a client can run off without paying.

Remote freelancing presents as many challenges as it does benefits, despite the allure of flexibility. But, if being a freelancer brings you one step closer to fulfilling your dreams, then don’t allow any obstacles to deter you. If you’re the type of person who dreams of working for yourself, you will have what it takes to make it. Stay focused, stay inspired and stay hungry — to learn and grow.

Convert Your Office Job To A Work-From-Home Arrangement | Manon DeFelice, Forbes.com

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A recent survey of over 5,000 workers by FlexJobs found that telecommuting 100% of the time is the most desired type of flexible work arrangement among job seekers. Such arrangements appeal strongly to working parents and others seeking better work-life balance.

Before you ask to switch to a telecommuting arrangement with your boss, consider the following tried-and-true tips.

1. Build your case with solid research. Instead of just listing all the personal reasons why you want to work from home, present your boss with a face-based presentation on how remote work arrangements can be a benefit to the company.

2. Offer examples of other companies’ flex policies. When you show your employer that other companies are going flex, he or she might be more inspired to implement a flexibility policy at your workplace. Present your boss or manager with sample flexibility policies, such as the nine examples included in this article from 1MFWF.

3. Try working flex once a week on a trial basis. If your manager needs convincing, let her test-drive your telecommuting capabilities one day a week to see how it goes. If your boss goes for it, use that day as an opportunity to show just how productive you can be when you work from home.

4. Be a communication whiz. Convince your boss how easy it is to stay closely in touch with you, no matter where you are. A wealth of technology can help teams stay connected around the world, from Skype and Google Chat to Basecamp, Slack and many more.

5. Offer to take a salary cut. Many people feel that working from home is a reward in itself, saving you the hassle of commuting and increasing your quality of life. You can assign a monetary value to it, and suggest a pay savings for the company by letting you telecommute.

6. Get another flexible job offer, and let your boss match it. A job offer from another company can be very motivating for your boss to let you switch to a work-from-home arrangement.

What if your boss can’t match the competing offer? Then maybe it’s time to make the move to a more forward-thinking company—and start living the work-from-home lifestyle that you envision for yourself.

4 Entry-Level Jobs That Will Prep You for Entrepreneural Success | Deep Patel, Entrepreneur.com

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If you crave the life of an entrepreneur, don’t let the barriers to entry get you down. Take one of the following entry-level jobs and use your time in the workforce to get the experience you need to launch your own business.

1. Sales
A job in sales will teach you to stop trying to convince people that they need what you have and start listening to what they want. Once you recognize that the market dictates what you sell, and not the other way around, you’ll be prepared to run a successful startup.

2. Human Resources
HR pros keep businesses running. If you work as one, you will quickly learn how much things like timely payment, accurate sick-day counts and health insurance matter to workers. To keep your team happy, you’ll need to know what employees consider to be important. What better way to learn that than to take a job where they let you know?

3. Customer service
Customers range from the kindest people you will ever meet to those who become enraged when they can’t double their coupons. As an entrepreneur, you and your team will deal with all of them. Learn how to respond to customer complaints on someone else’s dime, so that when it’s your turn to do so, your learning experiences won’t have a negative impact on your bottom line.

4. Leadership
To be a truly successful entrepreneur, you must learn how to lead a team. Leaders invariably learn some tough lessons at the helm, but if you wait until you are running the whole operation, those lessons could cost you some of your best workers.

These positions and skill sets provide invaluable lessons for entrepreneurs, but they’re hardly the only ones. Reporters, insurance adjusters, accountants, teachers and consultants — these jobs and many others are full of learning opportunities for aspiring entrepreneurs.

If you have to work for someone else before you found your own company, don’t treat the opportunity with disdain. Learn everything you can on the job, so that when your time comes you can use those lessons to lead your company to success.

8 effective time management tips for entrepreneurs working from home | Toby Nwazor, e27.co

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If you are working from home, you will understand how challenging it can feel at times to manage your time effectively so as to increase your productivity. Below are eight points that can help you do that.

1. Prepare your to-do list every night before you sleep
If you really want to manage your time effectively, then you should wake up with tasks on your mind. And the best way to do this is to make a list of the next day’s tasks at night before you go to bed. That way, you can maximise your morning hours and achieve a lot more before the rest of the world get to work.

2. Prioritise your tasks
It is not enough to prepare a to-do list, you need to prioritise your goals. Divide your tasks according to what you must do, what you should do, what you want to do just because it’s nice, what another person can do for you, and what must not be done.

3. Work out a schedule, and maintain it
Assuming you had to go to work, what would your schedule look like? Duplicate it for the house. If you decide to work from 7 am to 4 pm, so be it. Make the people you live with understand it. This means that there will be no running of errands around that time, neither would you decide to hang out with a friend that just came into town.

4. Define and own your workspace
A few weeks ago, I hired someone to redesign my office. I told him I wanted to have an ‘office feeling’ whenever I entered that particular room, and he did it. After that, I noticed that I work faster when I get into the office and focus on a particular task.
You should do likewise. This will help you more if you live with a someone. In that case, let them know that unless it is very important, your office is where you work and there should be no distractions.

5. Work when you are the most productive
Although you work at home, you need to find out when you are the most productive. The secret is to schedule your most important tasks at that period. That way, you will accomplish more in less time.

6. Cut off distractions
Cut off every distraction. This could entail telling your family, or the people you live with not to disturb you when you are at work. Make them understand your schedule.

7. Avoid clutter
Don’t allow your workspace to be cluttered. This includes arranging your system files and folders and managing your email better too.

8. Take brain breaks regularly
You must try to avoid having burnouts at all costs. This is especially important if your job requires creativity. Work at a stretch for some time, but make sure to schedule breaks into your plan. This is the time you get to rejuvenate, listen to music, call a friend, or maybe just read a novel.

When you do this, you will come back rejuvenated and ready to take on more tasks.

 

Remote Work Digest: April 24, 2018

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

How to Transition Your Business from an Office-Based Company to a Remote One | Russell Smith, Business.com

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Remote working is becoming increasingly popular in business. It can drive down costs and improve employee happiness. But how do you make your company remote?

The desire for employees to work remotely is on the rise. Workers value the flexibility, and employers can save thousands on operational costs. If your employees all work from home, that means no office space to rent, no bills for food, no more electric bills to power your office equipment. It can also open you up to new avenues of online business.

Can you actually make your business remote?

Companies considering a move to remote operation need to perform an analysis of their brand and establish whether or not it is actually beneficial, or even realistic.

Considerations to make include:

  • Efficiency and practicalities. How will remote working impact your ability to complete the tasks you and your workforce normally perform? Will it speed things up, slow them down or maintain similar output levels?
  • Consumer satisfaction. Is an office or storefront part of your core service delivery process? If so, moving remotely may impact how your customers perceive the value of your company.
  • Investment. Going remote may require investment into staff, equipment and work tools.
  • Growth opportunities. Could going remote hinder your ability to grow? While it could be beneficial in some circumstances, operating a physical location within vibrant, industry-leading areas can be important to attracting investors and building relationships.

Consider your transitional strategy.

How should you go about doing this?

  • Identify goals. What are your goals for going remote?
  • How will you achieve those goals? Establish how you will use remote working to achieve the goals you’ve set.
  • Timeframes and deadlines. Set broad deadlines for establishing your remote business. Then set firm schedules and timelines for specific steps of the transition within those deadlines.
  • Announcement. Inform clients and employees of the change. Allow enough time for questions to be asked and decisions to be made. Some employees and clients may be against the shift. They must be given time either to adjust to the change or to move on from your business, allowing you to fill gaps now. This is beneficial to both them and your company.

Establish your software platforms.

Software exists to manage all facets of remote working life, covering everything already in place in your typical workplace headquarters.

  • Work connectivity. Cloud-based software allows you to connect your business to any location in the world. Many applications provide helpful tools for maintaining long-distance workplace connectivity.
  • Industry-specific software. Most industries have specifically tailored cloud-based software that supports remote work. You just have to do your research and find what works for your brand.
  • Task management. Task management apps enable management to establish task lists, set deadlines and monitor progress for both themselves and their team.
  • Time management. Time management apps exist to track everything from work logs to activity levels.
  • Client and team communication. There are many apps that work well for online workplaces, enabling multiple channels of conversation that range from direct messaging to large chatrooms with hundreds of individuals. You can also use video conferencing to add that personal face-to-face touch when chatting with clients or engaging in important internal conversations and meetings.

Test your remote work structure.

Plans on paper rarely translate perfectly to real-world scenarios. Therefore, to ensure your shift in direction doesn’t lead to calamity, a trial period is recommended. During this time, partial remote work should be exercised.

Depending on your business, this will take different forms:

  • If you have a large roster of clients and employees, split them up. Assign some clients and employees to continue working under the current office-based structure while others are moved to a remote work structure and practices.
  • For smaller companies, instead of transitioning some individuals to the new system, make a switch to part-time remote work and monitor the difference in processes.

Any issues that come up you can then evaluate and decide to either scrap the project or revisit the planning process, assessing better avenues based on feedback and performance. For example, you may find your software choices are ineffective in practice or that clients who initially responded positively to the idea are making the transition more challenging.

If you find remote working to be a triumph, now is the time to make the full commitment.

The 15 most surprising flexible jobs, according to Flexjobs | Kathleen Lavine and Rebecca Troyer, Bizjournals.com

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Not the 9-to-5 grind, these flexible jobs may surprise you.

Listed by Boulder-based Flexjobs, these varied positions — which go far beyond general office work or data entry — could involve telecommuting, freelance gigs or part-time work.

Here are 15 of the most surprising flexible jobs:

  1. Senior Food Stylist. Responsible for styling food and kitchenware products for photo shoots.
  2. Music Researcher. Handles responsibilities including recording music performances, conducting in-person research in businesses, photographing locations, and completing detailed reports.
  3. Gameplay tester. Responsibilities include helping discover creative approaches to various game features, identifying bugs, creating & executing test cases for specified features, and communicating issues & risks.
  4. Medical illustrator. Develops editorial imagery required for new products.
  5. Senior voice recording transcriber. Transcribe 30 to 60 minute audio files into transcripts that are near verbatim, differentiation between interviewer and participants’ remarks.
  6. Animal behavior counselor. Handles tasks such as providing on-scene behavioral trauma documentation, conducting behavior evaluations, reviewing and editing forensic behavior reports, participating in media interviews, and other assigned duties.
  7. Archivist. Lead projects, convert data and work to engage audiences.
  8. Mammalogist. Develop survey and research projects, identify informational needs, communicate information, and assist land managers.
  9. Opioid program specialist. Assists with developing or revising contracts, grant applications, and/or state and federal reports.
  10. Investigator – Civil rights. Responsible for completing investigative and mediation activities.
  11. Oceanographer. Lead, analyze, interpret, portray and input technical data, prepare environmental impact statements, serve as program lead.
  12. Organic certification specialist. Performs technical reviews of crop, wild crop, livestock, or processor applications.
  13. Pig idea and policy officer and stakeholder coordinator. Manages and supports implementation initiatives and queries that arise from users.
  14. Role player, assessment practice. Conducts phone-based role-play exercises and rates participants at a virtual assessment center.
  15. Construction control representative (civil). Responsible for overseeing dam modifications and civil construction projects.

Flexjobs also maintains a list of 50 current “surprising” flexible jobs as well as a database of the 50 most surprising jobs based on 10 years of aggregated research. Here’s the full report.

How To Tune Out Distractions & Get Things Done With These 6 Simple Tricks | Caroline Burke, Elitedaily.com

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When you work in an office, there are plenty of distractions that can get in the way of you doing your literal job, from noisy co-workers, to blasting music, to that “open workspace” vibe, which basically invites everyone to come talk to you at your desk every five minutes. But even if you work from home, there are distractions you have to avoid there, too, like playing with your pet floof, or toggling over to Netflix for 10 minutes or so for a “quick” break.

Here are six quick tips for drowning out the daily noise of your life and getting sh*t done faster.

  1. Invest In Noise-Cancelling Headphones

Sometimes the easiest way to get rid of distractions is to literally block them out. Investing in a clutch pair of headphones that block out the external noise of your life doesn’t have to bankrupt you, either; there are plenty of noise-cancelling headphones under $100 for you to consider.

  1. Schedule A Work-From-Home Day When Things Get Really Hectic

Working from home ensures you can actually run your day the way you want to, without dealing with unexpected meetings or co-workers who drop by “for a second” just to talk. You probably won’t be able to work from home all the time, depending on what you do, but taking that day for yourself every once in a while can definitely help you get back on track with your productivity.

  1. Use Your Calendar To Block Out Time On Your Schedule

Even if it’s purely for the visual aspect of it all, blocking out time on your calendar could be enough to a) keep people at work from bothering you, and b) organize your time in a way that ensures you get everything done, distraction-free.

  1. Map Out Exactly What You Need To Do Before You Do It

Consider taking time each evening to write down a set of notes about what you need to get done the next day. That way, you won’t have to waste time scrolling through calendars or asking your co-workers what they need from you.

  1. Organize Your Workspace With A Minimalist Vibe

Unless your brain only works via a series of sticky notes, try keeping your desk as minimalist as possible, allowing you to move through your workday without feeling totally overwhelmed by the clutter. Or keep it totally messy, if that’s what makes you feel better! It’s all about finding the environment that makes you feel best as you work.

  1. Be Honest With Friends and Co-Workers

Although it might feel awkward to tell someone to go away, everyone understands the feeling of being overwhelmed by the amount of work you need to get done, and for that reason alone, it might be best to be totally honest with your co-workers and friends about needing that distraction-free time.

Consider telling them you need an especially quiet day to get through all of the bullets on your to-do list, or opting to work during lunch to take advantage of the quiet and taking your break when everyone else comes back.

Tips to manage remote employees | Chris Smith, Knowtechie.com

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Remote work and freelancing is not all guts and glory and can become quite stressful for people. While this is rarely the case, there are ways to fix these issues and improve the relationship between managers and remote employees. Let’s explore some strategies.

Optimize Your On-Boarding Process

With proper expectations in place, remote employees are equipped with the skills and knowledge they require to succeed at a job. Create goals and timelines for projects and run new remote employees through the ropes to see how well they handle it and how on time each task comes in.

Create a Unified Culture

With a unified company culture, you can immediately weed out the weeds who don’t fit into your organization and don’t believe in its mission.People are motivated to work for companies they feel are larger than themselves. Create a sense of pride and direction for each employee, regardless of their status, to motivate them to do more. Loyalty and community lead to leadership and increased collaboration.

Leverage the Right Telecommunication Tools

There are so many tools out there to keep up with remote employees and communicate in real-time. Skype is an obvious one, but Slack is another great alternative that many companies now leverage. 43% of the nation’s richest 100 companies use Slack. For companies that rely on remote crews, crew trackers and attendance management systems allow managers to keep track of employees by location and project status.

Communicate Emotion in Chats

When you can’t communicate in real time, try to keep communication light and fun. It may sound stupid, but use gifs and emojis to convey emotion to freelancers and remote workers to make them feel a part of the team. Be sure to give praise when earned through emojis and announcements on Slack.

Be Flexible, But Keep a Backbone

Finally, it’s important to set schedules and deadlines for remote workers to adhere to. But you mustn’t forget the purpose of remote work, which is the ability to complete assignments freely and on your own timeline. Offer remote workers the freedom they need to work a night shift busting out content instead on the 9-5 grind. Of course, don’t let that mean remote workers are too free to give you the work months behind because they finally got to it.

Remote Work Digest: February 19, 2018

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

Working From Home? Use These 5 Tips to Stay Comfortable and Productive | Ronald Stanford, Classycareergirl.com

Working from home comes with certain challenges, especially for employees accustomed to working in an office environment. Read on to discover a few helpful tips for working from home, including ideas on how you can stay productive and comfortable so you can thrive at your job.

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1. Pin Down Your Work Habits
If you’re working from home, you may be setting your own schedule, and that means you need to learn to pay attention to how you manage your time.

Give yourself a few minutes before you start your day to make sure you have everything you’ll need, from a notepad and pens to a pair of headphones and a cup of coffee. Set specific times for breaks, including a lunch break, during which you should take the time to stretch your legs and get some fresh air.

2. Create a Schedule
Set an alarm and wake up at the same time every day. Eat a healthy breakfast and go about your morning routine as if you were heading into the office. Set up in an office or bedroom where you can close the door and concentrate.

3. Be Comfortable, But Not Too Comfortable
One of the most common mistakes made by at-home employees who ultimately find themselves lacking in productivity is that they attempt to work in their pajamas from their beds.

Get up, get dressed, put on shoes, and sit upright at a desk or table. Studies have shown that this has a psychological effect for many people, putting them in a productive state of mind that helps to increase focus and improve results.

4. Get Rid of Those Distractions
Your smartphone can be a huge source of distraction, especially if you don’t have a supervisor hanging out over your shoulder. If you need to leave your smartphone on, turn it upside down on your desk and turn off all push notifications. Use apps specifically designed to block social media during set hours.

5. Remember to Eat Lunch
Forgetting to eat can you to lose motivation, get tired, and even become combative when you don’t need to be. Just remember to give yourself half an hour to an hour of lunch time.

Follow these tips, stay focused and energized, and you’ll have everything you need to be a model remote employee!

Why Offering Paid Leave Is Good For Your Business | Adam Uzialko, Business.com

Yes, paid leave policies represent an additional cost, but the benefits they provide pay for themselves and some.

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Image from Business.com

Researchers have demonstrated that offering paid leave results in higher productivity, greater employee morale, and a net cost savings for companies in the long run. So, while budgetary-minded business owners might initially be wary of the additional expenses added to the balance sheet, the numbers show that paid leave more than covers itself in the end.

Family and medical leave
In some states, paid family leave is offered through state-backed Temporary Disability Insurance (TDI) programs, meaning employees pay into the system but, generally, employers do not. In states without a TDI program, however, the only mandated requirement is that companies extend 12 weeks of job-protected leave – without pay – to employees under the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA).

Paid sick leave, on the other hand, is generally an employer-sponsored plan not mandated or supported by the government in any way. It’s important to note this distinction when discussing the types of paid leave policies and who is funding them. Each offers important benefits, though, to both companies and workers.

Greater productivity
In terms of paid sick leave, workers who would otherwise come into work sick – either because of a need to make money or fear of losing their position – are free to stay home, thereby protecting the rest of the workplace from infection. The spread of communicable disease has a devastating effect on productivity; for example, a New Jersey restaurant was forced to shut down for more than a week after a sick worker caused a mumps outbreak.

“Presenteeism is when people go to work sick and cause public health issues,” White said, “and the fact is that if people were able to take the time to stay at home and take care of themselves [with pay], this would not happen as often.”

On the family leave side, many employers already offer family leave, even if they are not required to do so by law. However, many small businesses do not or cannot extend paid leave to their employees. When workers have the security of knowing they won’t miss out on pay due to caring for a newborn or a family member, they tend to be less stressed in the workplace and more focused on their assigned tasks, reducing mistakes and increasing overall productivity.

“A happy, more satisfied employee who is not stressed out about family care issues is much more able to focus on doing a better job,” White said.

Heightened employee morale
Paid leave policies also have the impact of boosting employee morale, which leads to improved retention rates and better talent acquisition. By offering paid leave, companies are promoting a healthier work-life balance, which also contributes to the aforementioned stress reduction that translates into better day-to-day productivity.

“We did research on women in law firms, and what we found was that law firms invest an enormous amount of time and resources in hiring and training new attorneys, but if they don’t provide paid family leave, when female attorneys go off on maternity leave, they are less likely to return,” White said. “So off goes all those training dollars, time, and resources invested in that person.”

By offering a paid leave program and boosting retention rates, companies can avoid losing workers they’ve already substantially invested in and who know the way the workplace operates.

The case for paid leave
Paid leave, particularly family and medical leave, offers tangible business benefits that not only improve workplace morale but can help boost profitability in the long-term. From improved employee retention to heightened productivity, business owners reap the rewards of offering their employees what they need.

As Richard Branson, founder of Virgin Records has said, putting your staff first translates into success for your customers, your shareholders, and your overall business. Paid leave isn’t just a cost, it’s an investment in your staff, and it pays big dividends.

9 Time-Saving Life Hacks For Extremely Busy Working Women | Sonali Kokra, Swirlster.ndtv.com

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Image from Swirlster.ndtv.com

In the fast-paced, hectic and chaotic world we live in today, there are always too many things to do, too many places to be and too little time to do it all in. Fortunately, there exist life hacks that can make the ride a little bit smoother, by saving you little pockets of time on days when pulling off the balancing act between professional, personal and health commitments successfully can seem like an impossible dream. Here are nine life hacks that can help you in little ways every single day.

Learn to say ‘no’
Learning how to say no – politely, but firmly – is the single most important life skill to save time and be able to prioritise what’s truly important.

Buy a portable charger, already
It’s a pain in the posterior when your phone decides to blink with the annoying sign of a low battery at the precise minute you’re supposed to be on your way to keep an appointment. Save yourself some serious heartache by investing in a powerful battery pack for your phone.

Flip your mattress every three months
Flipping your mattress every few months will even it out and prevent it from sagging, which, in turn, will save you from a world of pain in the form of poor posture and backaches. Flipping your mattress will take a couple of minutes, but a hurting back will take a whole lot longer to deal with.

Keep snacking
If you take very long breaks between meals, your body will start tiring due to lack of glucose and productivity will dip. Snacking every couple of hours is not only good for your metabolism, but will also keep your energy levels high, enabling you to work at your optimum.

Keep salt, pepper, etc. in your drawer at work
You never know when you might need them and there’s nothing that can sour one’s mood faster than having to eat a bland meal because there was no time to run to the cafeteria for basic supplies.

Don’t incessantly check emails
Stopping what you’re doing to check every new email can distract you and make you lose focus on the current task. So allot specific times in the day to check and respond to emails – perhaps once when you start work, once before lunch and one before you wrap up for the day.

Unsubscribe from useless lists
Take 10 minutes every fortnight or so to unsubscribe from mailing lists you have no use for, especially e-commerce websites. They’ll draw you in with a product you never intended to buy and before you know it, you will have spent a lot of easily-saved time and money on the site.

Park your car a few lanes away
Force yourself to walk at least a little by parking your car a few lanes away from work. In addition to giving your body some physical exercise, it will give you time to think, which in turn increases productivity.

Keep wrist/ankle weights in your drawer at work
You may not have the time to go to the gym and do weight training, but there’s really nothing that is stopping you from stocking up from ankle and wrist weights at work and using them to tone and stretch your muscles a little. Use them while taking calls or during a brain-storming session with your peers to relax stiff muscles and get the blood flowing.

4 Common Sources of Job Frustration – and How to Cope with Them | Maurie Backman, Host.madison.com

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Image from Host.madison.com

Though no job is perfect, there comes a point when all of the negative feelings about one can really come to a head. If you’ve been down on your job lately, here’s how to get past some of the aggravation sources you might be dealing with.

1. Being micromanaged
Dealing with a micromanaging boss is never fun, especially if that person not only annoys you, but actually causes you to waste valuable time by constantly butting in and demanding updates on the work you’re doing. If you have the misfortune of reporting to a micromanager, your best bet is to figure out why your boss is constantly at your back. Is it a function of his or her personality, or is it something you did?

2. Having a packed meeting schedule
Be more judicious in the meeting invites you accept. Before you agree to attend a meeting, review its agenda and make sure your presence is truly required. If you can free up even an hour or two of time per week by saying no here and there, it’ll make a difference in your workload.

3. Your constant barrage of emails
Carve out a chunk of time each day to respond to emails, and ignore them otherwise. This way, you’ll be less likely to get distracted while working on important tasks.

Furthermore, having a set amount of time to address messages might enable you to vet them more properly.

4. Too much work and too little time
If you’re feeling overwhelmed by your workload, your best bet is to set priorities and arrange your schedule around them, if possible. This is something you can do on either a weekly or daily basis, depending on which works best for you. Knowing what items you really need to tackle will help you stay focused and avoid getting sidetracked by minor tasks that can wait.

We all go through bouts of frustration at work, but if you’re looking to improve your experience at the office, it pays to address those issues at the source rather than let them fester. Follow these tips, and with any luck, you’ll soon come to be more content and less disgruntled.