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.

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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.

9361efca19911999dbde6b779ac4341e_SSS-Light-Blue-Office-6-814-363-cImage from Classycareergirl.com

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.

 

 

Remote Work Digest: January 23, 2018

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

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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.

 

Remote Work Digest: June 9, 2015

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

Image from Communitytable.com

Image from Communitytable.com

The Remote Worker’s Guide to Office Etiquette | Life Hacker India

Communicating with your coworkers is much harder when you’re working remotely. Alan Henry from Gawker Media, says that, a little empathy can keep you happy on any remote team set up. Face to face interaction may be completely avoided but it doesn’t mean that there won’t be any awkward silence when in conference calls or online meetings. In order to avoid that, here’s a helpful list of office etiquette that shouldn’t be forgotten:

  • Respect Everyone’s Time Zones and Busy Time
  • Use Technology to Make Remote Communication Easier, Not Harder
  • Navigate Office Chat Like a Pro
  • Communicate Clearly: Your Works Matter More Without Non-Verbals

Working remotely has a lot of benefits, Henry explains that you’ll have to put in a little extra effort and make sure you’re clear when you need something, respect other people’s boundaries, and reinforce your own. As long as you can get those things down you’ll be fine.

12 Ways to Stay Focused and Productive When You Work From Home | Lifehack

Having the option to work from home brings a lot of benefit to employees and employers alike. You can set your own hours, dress how you want and work in a way that maximizes your time and skill set. However, working from home, whether it is on a part time basis or full time job, is not without challenges.

Here are Kristen Brown’s best ways to make working from home easier:

  1. Be Honest
  2. Designate a Space
  3. Make it Pretty
  4. Stick to a Schedule
  5. Dress for Success
  6. Take Breaks
  7. Go Public
  8. Multi-Communicate
  9. Be Human
  10. Create a Calendar
  11. Find Your Tribe
  12. Prioritize Right

Following the tips mentioned above will greatly help you increase your productivity levels while still enjoying the perks of working from home.

Does Working From Home Really Save You Money | Bplans

There are countless benefits when working remotely, such as having control over work schedule and personal life, expenses, and greater productivity. There is no longer a need to question why so many people choose to become virtual employees. On the other hand, working from home also adds a few lines to the budget that might not have been there previously.

If you’re thinking about making the switch to a home office, here are Kelly Gurnett’s list of financial pros and cons you keep in mind:

Pros:

No More Commuting Costs

Even if you ride the bus or own a car, commuting a long distance is not really helping you save money at all. There are more expenses that just gas to take into account such as tolls, parking, vehicle wear and tear and maintenance, and the lost time spent driving or commuting when you could be doing other important things.

No More (or At Least a Lot Less) Eating Out

Eating right helps you work better, think better and play better. When you work from home, it’s a lot easier to find the time and motivation to make healthy and budget-friendly meals.

Childcare Savings

Childcare can be really expensive, but working from home allows you to spend more time with your kids depending on the schedule you have established.

No more peer pressure purchases

We might feel the need to keep up with everyone and sometimes you have to spend money to do so. Working remotely relieves you of peer pressure and unnecessary purchases.

Cons:

Healthcare

Cutting ties with a traditional job also means losing your healthcare coverage and if you’re used to having your insurance covered, this can be a big adjustment.

Taxes

In order to know more about working from home tax implications, you should do more research and ask a CPA to fully understand how taxation works. There are a number of rules, and the rules differ depending on whether you’re self-employed or an employee.

Misc. Business Expenses

If you want a smooth work flow, spending extra for computer upgrades, higher internet speed and additional equipment is a must. The good thing is you might be able to write off a number of them come tax season.

How to work from home efficiently | KnowHowNonProfit

With long commutes and budgets cuts, more people are working from home. But how can you make sure you do work and not watch TV? Stephanie Hill shares her tips on how to work efficiently.

1. Know the flexible working policy of your organization.
Flexibility can be challenging, especially in small organizations. In order to get a clear understanding, you should take time to ask your HR department for their homeworking policy.

2. Prepare your workload the day before

3. Set up your home office
Creating a home office that provides comfort and contains everything you need to work with is very important if you want to be more productive in what you do.

4. Be present from home
Take advantage of modern technology to establish an online presence. If you want to ask a question or discuss work related issues, don’t be afraid to call the office as well.

5. Review it
Is working from home right for you? Make notes of what works and what does not.

4 Challenges of Managing Remote Teams | ReadWave

Telecommuting is getting a lot of attention lately. According to the research, there are more than 53 million Americans working remotely, on a freelance basis. The report says that approximately 20% of the entire global workforce work on a telecommuting basis and about 29% of them work from home at least part of the week while 10% of them work full-time from home.

Working from home is a dream, but for many, it also has its pitfalls. Christoper Calhoun, from ReadWave, writes about the challenges of building and managing a team remotely.

Communication

Every member of the team must have great communication skills and share a common vision and culture. Aside from the occasional video conferences, you should also take advantage of the numerous tools that can help virtual teams communicate better. Skype, GoToMeeting and Yammer are just some of them.

Security

Telecommuting will always bring with it certain security issues. Thankfully, Proxy Networks says that most of the security problems a remote help desk team may encounter can be sold.

Company Culture and Team Building

Building a company culture remotely can be a true challenge. Slack, Uncover and Google Hangouts are some of the tools that can help you build a team that knows how to have fun remotely and not just work remotely.

Concentration and Focus

Concentrating while in the comfort on one’s home can be challenging with so many distractions near by. This can be solved when your team is properly motivated and everyone are all professional and driven.