Remote Work Digest: May 16, 2019

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

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Ways for parents to make money from home | Punchng.com

To get you started on your job search to fit your unique parenting situation, interests and skills, here are 18 job ideas and businesses that require little to no start-up costs and can done from home.

College application/financial aid consulting business
From 2003 to 2013, the number of college applicants who used a “private admissions consultant” or independent educational consultant” tripled.

A college application consultant may have a background in guidance counselling, college admissions or teaching – there is no accreditation or degree required except experience and the ability to shape a candidate’s application so that it’s complete, on time and presents candidates to the best of their abilities. Naturally, having an understanding of the college scene and what individual schools can offer and are looking for will help your clients.

Freelance writer/editor
Define some areas where you already have contacts and knowledge, and make sure you have a website that showcases your best work and features your contact information. (If you don’t have samples of published work, then that’s where you need to start.) The average base pay for a freelance editor is $51,104.

Some places to start looking include the part-time jobs website FlexJobs, which features writing gigs in specific categories, such as gaming, financial or medical writing; Freelanced, a freelancer social network where you can search for jobs and share your portfolio; and FreelanceWritingGigs, which lists freelance writer and editor jobs across a variety of industries.

Transcriber
Transcription jobs can be done remotely — all you need are fast and accurate typing skills, typically 80 words per minute. The average salary for a transcriptionist is $26,882. To get started, you can do a search of “transcription” or “transcriber” on job sites, such as Glassdoor. Or you can register as a freelance transcriber on job marketplace sites, such as TranscribeMe, Go Transcript and UpWork.

Tax Accountant
As an accountant, you prepare tax returns and reports and stay current on tax regulations and reforms. Tax work clearly isn’t for everyone, but good accountants are always in demand. The skills needed for this job are knowledge of accounting procedures, attention to detail, familiarity (or ability to learn) accounting software and, of course, good math skills.

Grant Writer
Certain skills are required for this position. Obviously, you need to be a good writer. You’ll be writing what is essentially a proposal for why a funding agency should give money to the organisation you are working for. Also, you need to be good at research and getting answers. Many grant applications require particular information on the organisation seeking a grant, and the grant writer’s job is to track down the information and present it within the funding agency’s guidelines. Finally, you need to be deadline driven.

Bookkeeping services
“You can sign up for a bookkeeping course at a community college or online,” recommends Entrepreneur.com contributor John Rampton. (For example, there’s this free course from the Accounting Coach.) The services that you can offer are providing income statements and creating balance sheets and monthly, quarterly and annual financial reports. What’s more, you can take advantage of free invoicing and online payment tools.

Virtual Recruiter
To be a recruiter, you definitely need to have solid communication skills and be able to read people in order to closely match them with jobs and the work culture. While you don’t need a bachelor’s degree for this work, you should have at least an associate’s degree or related experience. Go to any job site and type in “virtual recruiter” to find available positions.

4 Quick Tips To Make Working From Home Work From You | Tomas Svitorka, Thriveglobal.com

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To be productive and make the most of your day working from home, you need to create the right environment. Here are some tips to make working from home work for you:

1. Know what stimulates you best and work with it.
Make a list of things that you know would help you get into work mode and keep you focused, then do what you can to include what you can into your setup. Be aware of what’s really important, however. Sure, maybe one more motivational poster in a glass frame would look great, but if it clutters more than helps, don’t force it.

2. Get the lighting right.
A well-lit home office is much more conducive to work than a dim one. Dimness could trigger your mind to start winding down – something that’s much more tempting when you know your bed is close by.

3. Avoid parking.
This can mean one of two things: First, it’s when I start or carry out an activity in the wrong place. For example, when I’m on my way to make myself some coffee, and I stop in the middle of the kitchen to respond to an email or a message, and then another, and then another. Or it might refer to “parking” things into a temporary place instead of putting them back into their proper places. These things pile up, and before you know it, you’ve been “parking” documents, books, notebooks and pens for weeks and it just becomes less appealing to restore the order.

If it’s time for a break, take a break and leave the work at your desk. If you won’t need that document again for the rest of the day or even week, put it back where it should be. Don’t be your own disruptor of your environment.

4. Keep the distractions at bay.
If you use your laptop or tablet for work and games, try to use it only for work while you’re in your home office, and go to the living room to play. In the same way that bringing work into the bedroom is discouraged, respect your work environment enough to keep whatever distracts you away from it.
However much – or little – you have to do to improve your workspace, what matters is that you keep it that way. There’s no point in a cleanout or room makeover if, within a few weeks’ time, it’s back to how it was before. An environment conducive to creativity and success is not just a matter of creating, it’s a matter of maintaining – until you can again take it to the next level at least.

How to Become a Virtual Assitant So You Can Work From Home | Jamie Ballard, Womansday.com

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This job, though not for everyone, could be the perfect fit someone who is organized, sociable, and knows how to use a computer.

What does a virtual assistant do?
According to FlexJobs, a virtual assistant often works for businesses or entrepreneurs, handling a variety of tasks, from customer support, to administrative tasks, to social media management.

Personal finance site DollarSprout has some information about some of the things virtual assistants frequently do, which can include:

• Responding to emails or messages, processing orders or returns, communicating about products/services with clients, etc.
• Entering data, managing calendars, scheduling meetings, booking travel arrangements, etc.
• Posting to the organization’s social media channels or website, moderating comments, updating profiles, editing or writing posts, etc.
• Emailing newsletters, designing email templates, updating email lists, etc.

The duties of a virtual assistant are determined by the business’ needs and what you can offer to it. Ashlee Anderson, who runs the blog Work From Home Happiness, suggests picking a niche and emphasizing any specialized skills you bring to the table, like basic programming or proofreading.

Where can I find virtual assistant jobs?
There are people or businesses seeking virtual assistants on sites like Indeed, Monster, and Upwork. You can also find gigs on other virtual-assistant-focused websites including Fancy Hands, Belay, and Time Etc.

In the mean time, build up your own online presence through a simple website and professional social media channels.

How much can I make as a virtual assistant?
According to Glassdoor, a virtual assistant can expect to make $22,000 a year, on average. Many of these jobs pay hourly, and rates can be anywhere between $9/hour on the lower end, or $25/hour on the higher end, according to Glassdoor’s salary reports. Some companies may also pay monthly or weekly for your services, so it’s worth checking before you commit to taking on a job.

How can I grow my virtual assistant business?
Once you’ve worked with a couple of clients, you can ask them to provide reviews or testimonies that you can share on your own site or social channels. Ali the Happy VA, who blogs about working from home as a virtual assistant, suggests asking clients for feedback shortly after delivering a project so that your hard work is fresh in their minds. Having these testimonials available for prospective clients can go a long way in building your virtual assistant business.

12 Time Management Mistakes That Set You Up for Failure | John Rampton, Entrepreneur.com

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It’s not shocking that we seek out as much time management advice as possible. Unfortunately, much of this information is so unhelpful it is setting you up for failure.

1. You think there isn’t enough time
Complaining that you don’t have enough time isn’t going to grant you any more time magically. It may make you feel better, but only momentarily. It’s not getting to the root problem, which may be that you’re lousy at time management. Admit to yourself that there is enough time — you don’t know how to get the most out of it. Now, you can start improving your time management.

2. Believing that there’s a one size fits all solution.
Instead of relying on a tool with all the bells and whistles, find out where you’re struggling and what’s essential for you. For example, if scheduling is taking you away from product development, then you could use a scheduling tool like Calendar that uses machine learning to automate most of your scheduling needs. If you’re wasting too much time on email, then consider using a tool like SaneBox to help tame your inbox.

3. Failing to distinguish being busy and productivity
Believing that just because you’re busy means that you’re productive. That’s great that you cleaned out your inbox and spent some time connecting with customers on social media for the last couple of hours. But, was that the best use of your time at the moment?

Here’s how you can be productive instead of just busy:

  • Identify what is both important and necessary, as opposed to focusing on something that can wait.
  • Implement an organizational strategy. For example, every night I have a routine where I lay out my clothes, list my three most important tasks, review my schedule, and make sure I have all my gear for tomorrow. A little prep the night before ensures I have a smooth and productive day.
  • Eliminate distractions, like email and text messages.
  • Don’t worry about being perfect.
  • Only say “yes” to time requests that serve a purpose.
  • Be willing to make certain sacrifices, like quitting an organization that is no longer beneficial.
  • Surround yourself with other productive people.
  • Weigh the pros and cons before jumping on a trend.
  • Be honest about your progress.

4. You’ll have less anxiety.
Take the favorite Getting Things Done method. This system requires five steps: capture, clarify, organize, reflect and engage in everything you have to do. Phone calls, emails, meetings, shopping and the projects you have to do around the house. For some, this is going to cause anxiety and overwhelm.

Time management is only useful when you’re aware of your limitations and don’t let the system dictate your entire life. In other words, when you don’t tread lightly (especially at first), time management can add more stress to your life.

5. Miscalculating the time needed for specific tasks.
The best course of action is to track your time for a couple of weeks. You can manually do this by jotting down your daily activities in a notebook and calculating how long each will take and see if you are realistic. By having a more accurate idea of how you’re spending your days, you can dedicate the right amount of time to specific activities.

6. Focus on time management, instead of task management.
“Task management is the process of managing a task through different stages: planning, development, and completion,” writes Laura Sima in the Teamweek Journal. “It works both on an individual and on a group level by getting people to accomplish their goals.”

“Effective task management involves all the steps from planning it to setting a priority, including status, outlining the necessary resources for completion, notifications, and observation,” adds Sima. Tools like “online calendars, workflow software, and even project management software” will “help you outline different projects, tasks and clear statuses from all of them.”

7. Always grabbing the low hanging fruit.
To be the most effective — don’t pick the “low-hanging fruit,” meaning the easiest. Devote your energy to your most important priorities — and know which work will provide you with the most production. Quickly find a way to have menial tasks either automated, delegated, or saved to do during your energy lulls.

8. Having to wake up early.
If you get up early — you can’t stay up all night. You have to have a bedtime schedule — and stick with the routine. Many people suggest that in order to improve your time management you have to wake up early.

If you’re not a morning person, then don’t force yourself to change. Instead, base your schedule around your specific ultradian rhythms.

9. You’ll reduce your workload.
Remember, when it comes to productivity, follow the 80/20 productivity rule. Instead of loading up on even more work, use those open slots to meditate, daydream, or add flexibility to your schedule.

10. Get everything done in the shortest amount of time possible.
Remember that Aesop Fable “The Tortoise and the Hare?” The same idea applies to time management; slow and steady wins the race. There’s a misconception that if you get as much work done as quickly as possible, you’ll be more effective and productive. This notion that you’ve done more only works temporarily before you burn yourself out. Even machines need to be shut down and rebooted occasionally.

11. Never, and I mean never, waste your time.
Instead of working all day — take some time to read, listen to a podcast, exercise, or catch-up with an old friend or colleague. It may sound counterproductive. But, wasting time can be an asset preventing burn out. You’ll unwind, it’ll spark creativity, and give you a chance to reevaluate your priorities.

12. Not taking control of your life.
Instead of letting others control your life, take over the reins. Set boundaries on when it’s time to work and when it’s not. Only help others when you have the availability. Accept meetings when they have a purpose, and if you already have plans, don’t try to commit to something else in addition to what’s already in your calendar.This set of suggestions is the key to time management. Knowing when to accept and deny new projects, clients, appointments, and social functions.

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Remote Work Digest: March 21, 2019

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

Can’t Concentrate? 5 Insidious Ways Your Office Design Can Make You Less Productive | Monica Torres, Huffpost.com

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Office design can influence how much productive work you get done in a day. If you regularly find yourself listlessly staring at your work, you may want to consider whether the following environmental factors and work space design choices are holding you back from your full potential:

1. The Stale Office Air You Breathe
If you work in an office, most of your time is likely spent indoors. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimates that the majority of Americans spend 90 percent of their time indoors. And the air you are breathing in these enclosed spaces could be impairing your cognitive function.

Bringing more fresh air inside, or having a good ventilation system, is linked to better employee performance, according to a 2017 study by researchers at Harvard University, Syracuse University and SUNY Upstate Medical.

2. The Poor Lighting You Endure
Being close to natural sunlight can make or break an employee’s experience. Employees prioritize natural lighting so much that in a 2018 poll by research firm Future Workplace, they picked it as the top office perk over having a cafeteria, a fitness center, or on-site child care.

And no wonder: A lack of natural sunlight can take a physical toll on our bodies, according to a study on 313 office employees led by Alan Hedge, a professor in the Department of Design and Environmental Analysis at Cornell University. Employees exposed to more natural light reported fewer instances of eyestrain and headaches.

3. The Colleagues You Sit With
Office seating plans may not take into account how proximity to certain types of colleagues can influence your work. In a 2016 Harvard Business School study that analyzed the speed and quality of 2,000 workers’ performance at a tech firm, researchers found that sitting within a 25-foot radius of a high performer could positively boost the performance of colleagues by 15 percent.

But bad habits can be contagious, too. The study found that sitting close to a toxic neighbor — defined as someone who was fired — increased nearby employees’ risk of being fired. “Once a toxic person shows up next to you, your risk of becoming toxic yourself has gone up,” said Dylan Minor, one of the authors of the study.

4. The Temperatures Your Colleagues Can’t Agree On
In a CareerBuilder survey of 3,321 employees, 53 percent said they were less productive when it was too cold, and 71 percent said productivity suffered when they were too warm.

Even researchers have different conclusions on the ideal workplace temperature. One 2006 study from researchers at Helsinki University of Technology and the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory Environmental Energy Technologies Division found that employees’ productivity peaked at around 71.6 degrees Fahrenheit, while a separate Cornell University study found that a warmer 77 degrees Fahrenheit was the optimal temperature at which workers would make fewer typing errors and produce more work.

5. An Office With No Plants Nearby
Natural greenery in your line of sight is not just good company ―it can also help people concentrate, research on attention restoration theory has found. The theory holds that you can rejuvenate your attention capacity by looking at nature because when we enjoy nature, we are using effortless attention.

Before you even sit down at your desk and get started on the day’s work, there are a multitude of visible and invisible ways your productivity is being affected by your environment. You can probably add a plant to your desk, but you may not be able to switch to a seat with a high-performer nearby or to a desk near natural light. If you notice your workspace environment is less than ideal, speak up about it to your manager or human resources.

You spend more than 2,000 hours a year at work. It is best for everyone to make those hours count for you.

How managers can prevent developer burnout: 10 Tips | Alison DeNisco Rayome, Techrepublic.com

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Burnout is a common phenomenon in the tech industry, particularly for developers: Close to 60% of developers report suffering from burnout, according to Blind, for reasons including poor leadership and unclear direction, work overload, and toxic work cultures.

Here are 10 ways that managers can help prevent their developers from burning out.

1. Allow remote work and flexible scheduling
Particularly in areas where most workers have a long commute, allowing at least part-time work from home can make a huge difference in reducing stress and burnout. If possible, no meetings should be scheduled on work from home days, to allow developers time to focus on their work, said Cristian Rennella, CTO and co-founder of elMejorTrato.com.

Flexible scheduling can also reduce stress, said Paul Wallenberg, senior manager of technology services at LaSalle Network. “Can they start earlier and leave earlier, start later and leave later, can they maybe condense their work week and work 10 hour days for four days, or even work remotely and still engage successfully in your standups? If the answer is yes, give them the autonomy to do so and create a schedule that works for them,” Wallenberg said.

2. Encourage vacations
This may require some cajoling, said Mark Runyon, a senior consultant with Improving technology management and consulting firm. “This can seem strange, but as developers we often get so wrapped up our projects and tight delivery deadlines that we feel it’s never a good time to take our much needed PTO,” Runyon said. “It’s essential to get away, clear your mind and relax so you can come back with a fresh perspective. If you always push vacation away for another day, you’ll continue to wear yourself down, and be less effective in your job.”

3. Set realistic deadlines
Some startups take pride in the “let’s be bold” mindset by setting unrealistic deadlines for developers—a sure way to burn out your team, said Flo Defontis, founder and CTO of Air360.

“Even if we all like some adrenaline sometimes, there’s so much one can take,” Defontis said. “For developers who take pride in their work, being forced to write code in a hurry (which usually results in bad code) is just horrible. Especially also because they also share responsibility when something breaks and customers are impacted.”

4. Create a culture of recognition
“What’s worse than having too much work to complete is the lack of appreciation for the work that is done just to keep up with demand,” Shanks said. “Burnout can manifest from a lack of a reward or even just appreciation for their efforts.”

5. Encourage physical activity and wellness
Allowing time for physical activity, even just taking a walk, during the workday can help avoid hitting blocks in coding, Runyon said. A physical break from the computer can help clear a developer’s head and allow them to see new solutions or facets of the problem they are solving, he added.

6. Build variety into the schedule
Managers must create the right combination of business-driven work and more challenging, creative work, said Megan Power, Agile Scrum Master at Salt Lending Holdings. “Working in a business environment means that certain types of more ‘grunt work’ are sometimes unavoidable to meet business objectives,” Power said. “But if a developer is given only this type of work, they are likely to burn out faster than if they have some more challenging and creative work mixed in.”

Developers need to work on new projects over time, rather getting stuck on one with a long timeline, to keep the work feeling exciting and fresh, said Kristen Youngs, co-founder of Coaching No Code Apps.

7. Offer professional development and training
Allowing developers to learn new things beyond their current job can keep their work more interesting, said Clare Watson, operations director at Zolv. “When you work with the same software or language every single day, it can be easy to, eventually, burn out,” Watson said. “Look to learn a new method of accomplishing your current responsibilities. Learning a new coding system, for example, is a great fix for keeping things fresh.”

8. Keep the team balanced
As teams grow over time, their tasks will change, which means managers must constantly reassess and realign talents and responsibilities, Orser said. “If that means new roles open on a team, a manager can modify the way the group is operating, allowing higher performers to take on new responsibility and try leadership roles,” Orser added. “They can then backfill the roles people have outgrown or add in skills and specializations from new hires to fill identified gaps.”

9. Clearly define roles and goals
Clearly defined roles and objectives alleviate stress in that developers are not left uncertain or guessing what their responsibilities are, Cooper said.

While some projects need developers to burn the midnight oil close to a deadline, “as managers, our responsibility is to set clear goals for our team so they can avoid the firedrills which can be 100% prevented,” said Nancy Wang, senior manager of product management at Amazon Web Services (AWS). “Make sure to plan out your sprints and milestones, and give your team enough buffer time in case a Sprint takes longer than it should.”

10. Communicate the business purpose (and in general)
Regular one-on-one meetings between managers and developers can help ensure both receive constant feedback and make changes if needed, Power said. Considering a team member’s input and implementing it where needed will also help them feel more engaged and motivated, she added.

Lacking a support system to talk through ideas or struggles can lead to developer burnout, Youngs said. “Communicating regularly with developers that their work is helpful and appreciated can make a significant difference,” Youngs said. “It helps assure them in their job role and also gives them satisfaction over the work they’ve done. I also like to have a completely open-door policy and ongoing dialogue about any issues with work. It can be a huge relief just to talk through a problem out loud with someone who understands the situation.”

4 Essential Mental Health Tips For Freelance And Remote Workers | Abdullahi Muhammed, Forbes.com

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A remote work arrangement often enables you to establish better work/life balance; spend more time with family and reduce the pressure/distractions of working in large open offices. But freelancing also comes with an emotional toll. Stress and on-the-job burnouts are no strangers to the independent worker.

Per recent survey conducted by Epson in the U.K., 48% of freelancers working from home admitted that they find their tenure to be “lonely” at times and 46% claim freelancing is “isolating.” Indeed, freelancing can aggravate your mental health issues unless you invest in establishing healthy routines. Here are four essential tips to help you work in that direction.

1. Learn how to negotiate with yourself
Learn how to negotiate with that critic sitting inside you. Get better at creating more realistic daily to do lists; celebrate your accomplishments every day and practice gratitude. Cognitive scientists say that people who regularly do the “three good things” exercise — name three good moments or things that happened during the day — witness considerable improvements in mental health and overall happiness. So give it a try as well!

2. Socialize beyond your niche
Socialization and networking are often prescribed as the best recipe for dealing with the “lonely freelancer” syndrome. “Regularly interacting with other people is utterly important for those working solo,” said Cynthia Telles, Director, UCLA Hispanic Neuropsychiatric Center of Excellence. “However, despite the common line of advice, freelancers should stop seeking company of other freelancers. When the people you see the most experience the same woes and deal with the same anxieties, you can find yourself trapped into a feedback loop of pressure and stress, aggravated by the experience of your peers.”

3. Budget for more expensive forms of self-care
Investing in better things for yourself — a more comfortable chair, a better laptop, warmer socks — means investing in your business. The better you feel on a daily basis, the more motivated you are to do the work and earn more money.

4. Learn how to handle rejection
Fear of rejection and criticism is one of the common issues holding people back from becoming freelancers. Working for yourself means that every negative comment will land right in front of you. A lot choose gig or freelancing work as a better way to channel their passion for design, writing or coding. And that’s why rejection and criticism for freelancers often feels more personal than for corporate employees.

Beverly Flaxington suggests trying the following techniques:

  • Practice reframing. Change the narrative from, “I’m talentless, no one will hire me!” to a more positive statement, “Finding the first freelance job is hard for everyone. I’m no different.”
  • Channel your self-confidence. Make a daily list of things that you’ve done well. Regularly review your achievement and celebrate them.

But here’s some good news as well: learning how to deal with rejection strengthens your mental health. A stronger mental health means that you can resist other daily downers and remain productive and contemporary with your line of work.

How to Make Money Working from Home in 2019 | Brian O’Connell, Thestreet.com

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With the advent of digital technology, it’s relatively simple to not just make extra cash working at home, but make a good chunk of money doing so.

Plus, there’s no commute, you’re your own boss, and nobody is calling you into a snooze-inducing two-hour meeting where nothing is resolved and no action taken.

Who needs that when you can set up shop in the comfort of your own home and make a decent amount of cash in the process?

Intrigued? Ok – let’s get your work-at-home campaign started with a full menu of great ways to earn money at home, where you’re the CEO, and where corporate America can’t bother you.

Great Ways to Make Money from Home

1. Start With Work-at-Home Job Sites
Zip Recruiter and Flex Jobs are great places to start. Pop in your areas of specialty and both sites will send you job opening alerts when they arise.

2. Handle Data Entry or Bookkeeping Online
You really don’t need a degree in accounting to handle basic office tasks like data entry, payroll or bookkeeping. Just study up online and leverage your digital skills to full advantage. Good digital office help can easily earn $25 or more per hour.

3. Be a Good Neighbor
You can earn good money by accepting shipments from delivery companies like Fed Ex (FDX – Get Report) , UPS (UPS – Get Report) , and the U.S. Post Office for your neighbors, who may be at work or traveling. Just sign up at the site and start accepting your neighbor’s packages – at your house. You can earn about $3.50 for each delivery.

4. Drive Your Car
Sign up with ride-sharing sites like Uber and Lyft and make hundreds of dollars per week, driving folks around on your schedule. It’s not uncommon for drivers to make more than $500 per week on ride-sharing drives. If you’re comfortable behind the wheel, this gig could be for you.

5. Rent Out Your Home
That’s the idea behind home rentals like Airbnb.com, which enable homeowners to rent out their properties to travelers for a night or more. You’ll need to provide basic amenities, like towels and sheets, and must respond to potential renters within 24 hours. Airbnb hosts who rent out their homes regularly can make up to $30,000 annually.

6. Be a Babysitter
If you love children and have the time, you can open up your home as a babysitting service. Child care sites like Care.com and SitterCity will hire you (after you pass a background check.) The pay is good, depending on your experience – experienced baby sitters can make over $25 per hour.

7. Be a Virtual Assistant
Experienced virtual assistants can earn well over $50 per-hour, and can often set their own schedules. Sites like TaskRabbit can help you find virtual assistant gigs.

8. Be a Professional Tutor
Do you specialize in a particular academic category, like math, science or writing? Put that knowledge to work as an at-home (or online) tutor. The best path is to be certified by the National Tutoring Association. Once you do that, you can take training sessions, search jobs, and swap tips and educational strategies with other professional tutors.

9. Participate in Surveys
There’s a growing demand for professional survey takers, and there’s decent money in doing so. Professional survey sites like Swagbucks, Paid Surveys or Survey Junkie and earn up to $250 per month, or earn survey swag like gift cards and new products just for participating in free-to-take surveys.

10. Be a Web Site Reviewer
You don’t need any professional certification to do so – just be computer efficient, be diligent, take instructions well, and be good at writing up your thoughts on a given web site. Plenty of Fortune 500 companies partner with UserTesting, and regular web site reviewers can make up to $30 per hour.

11. Be a Freelance Writer
Sites like Freelance Success, Indeed.com, Contena, and LinkedIn regularly cater to freelance writers, offering job leads, advice, and even access to editors and content providers who hire freelance writers. Good freelance writers can earn over $100,000 annually if they specialize, and market their abilities to the right clients. Sites like Upwork and Guru.com also offer job leads, but the pay is often poor and you’re competing with loads of other writers for the best gigs.

12. Work With Focus Groups
Sites like Harris Poll Online, 2020 Panel, Brand Institute, and Engage will pay you cash or gift cards for an hour or two of your time participating in a focus group. You’ll study a product or a service, answer specific questions, and partner with focus group companies on market research campaigns.

13. Be a Digital Travel Agent
If you have the gift of passport wanderlust and know your way around an airline and hotel itinerary, becoming an online travel agent can be a profitable pastime. You’ll be working with excited clients who are passionate about their travel. Get started by partnering with travel agent hosting companies like the Airlines Reporting Corporation or the International Airlines Travel Agents Network, where you can get access to gigs, learn the craft, and earn hefty commissions helping people set up their travel plans.

14. Channel Your Inner Pet Sitter
Pet sitters are in high demand, as families who travel and business professionals who work late hours need someone to walk, fee and otherwise take care of their pets. Sites like Care.com, Rover and DogVacay can get you started. Before you know it, you can be making $20 or more hour for taking care of Fido.

15. Rent Your Vehicle
Sites like RelayRides, Turo and GetAround will advertise your vehicle to potential renters (you’ll need to keep your auto in pristine condition) and you can earn about 65% of the total ride cost by renting out your vehicle. Or, you can rent your vehicle out to Uber drivers at HyreCar and earn up to $12,000 annually for doing so, according to the company’s web site.

Remote Work Digest: July 18, 2018

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

The Rising Digital Workforce: Six Tips for Small Business Owners Managing Remote Workers | Chanell Turner, Myasbn.com

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Allowing employees to work from home is proven to lower the turnover rate and decrease real estate and overhead costs, two things from which small business owners can benefit. So, how do you help your employees manage this perk? Read on for six tips for working with and managing workers who work at home.

Establish Expectations

If done correctly, remote work can increase productivity and the overall employee performance. However, you have to be clear about what you are looking for from these workers. Is there a specified period during the day that they need to be accessible for calls? Are there specific programs you need them to use to track time worked? Whom do they need to contact if they need to take time off? It is crucial to be upfront about what you are looking for from them to ensure everything runs smoothly from the beginning.

Set-Up Regular Meetings and Short Check-Ins

It helps to carve out at least five to ten minutes a day for remote workers to ask questions and reveal what their projects are throughout the day. It also helps to meet with the entire staff at least once a week and involve remote workers through video or conference call. This act can help everyone feel they are on the same page.

Utilize the Right Tools

One of the best ways to do this is to invest in project management and virtual communication systems. Project management software programs allow you to delegate tasks, monitor progress and even project how long a job would take to complete. Many of these can be integrated with virtual communication systems that enable workers to talk with each other as they complete tasks. These programs allow remote workers to stay in the loop and reveal their progress throughout the week.

Be Wary of Time Zones

Communication is probably the most crucial part of ensuring a smooth and well-run work environment, and time plays a considerable role in this.

Make Sure They Feel as If They Are a Part of The Team

It is easy for remote workers to feel invisible, so take as many moments as possible to let them know you see how they are assets to the company. Also, make a point to include them in fun office activities creatively.

Final Thoughts

While sometimes challenging, the process of managing employees who work from home does not have to bring chaos. By setting clear expectations, putting communication front and center, and ensuring they feel like a part of the team you can set remote workers up to thrive in your company.

5 Foolproof Strategies To Find And Land Your Next Remote Gig | Abdullahi Muhammed, Forbes.com

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Before you can enjoy the benefits of being a gig worker, you have to get some of those gigs lined up. Quantity isn’t the issue. There are plenty of low-paying gigs out there. What can be challenging is finding jobs that are consistent and that pay a decent wage.

Then there’s the matter of competition. Predictions are that the freelance workforce will increase to 43% by 2020, and you can be sure a good number of those workers will be remote workers. To find good positions, you have to be savvy. Here are five foolproof strategies to help you get started.

1. Conduct a skills inventory first
The most effective way for a freelancer to land remote work is to think of herself as a small business and focus on marketability,” said Nancy Van Brunt, Director of Freelancer and Agency Success at Upwork. “The skills needed today are constantly evolving so those who are proactive about skill-related education and development are more likely to possess the skills businesses are seeking today.”

2. Browse both job search boards and communities
Don’t ignore the potential of niche online communities and organizations to help in your job search either. Many of these are a great source of advice and insights about the job search. Some even have job listings for members. You can also find recommendations from more seasoned gig workers. There are multiple subreddits dedicated to remote/freelance work on Reddit as well.

3. Develop you CV and portofolio
Your portfolio should include detailed information and images of your best work. Remember to keep it up to date. Don’t forget to optimize your portfolio for relevant search phrases as you’ll want it to be findable by potential clients. You’ll also want to create a great CV that lets potential employers know exactly what you can do for their business. The key here is to ensure that the most important elements stand out.

4. Research a company before signing on
Before you accept a gig, always research the entity behind the offer. If you’re going through a gig worker platform, check the poster’s profile. This is often easy as most gig worker platforms, which exist to match, create trust between and protect parties to a gig project, make it easy to see the track record of the job poster.

5. Plan and work for sustainability
There are two categories of gig workers. First, there are those who are happiest picking up one short term job after another and doing one off assignments. If this is you, chances are you don’t need to sweat the interview process. Just build your reputation and you’ll be in business for the long term. Then there are those gig workers who seek long term relationships with companies who hire remote workers. If you want to pick up longer term work with companies that hire remote workers, you should expect the recruiting and hiring process to work just as it does with regular employment. This includes being interviewed.

Be prepared to work the gig you land

It does no good to land that next gig if you aren’t prepared to work it. Make sure you have the following taken care of:

  • A workspace that allows you to be productive. Consider a home office, coffee shop, or coworking space.
  • An internet connection that you can count on. It may be time to upgrade to a business package if you plan to work from home.
  • The tools that you need. Is your computer up for the job? Do you have the right productivity apps, word processing software or video conferencing app?

Follow these tips, then ensure you are prepared to be effective and productive.

Wasted Employee Time Adds Up: Here’s How to Fix it | John Rampton, Entrepreneur.com

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This guide is for everyone else. While occasional breaks are great for the mind, excessive time waste leads to lost productivity, lower morale and decreased employee retention. Even employees who would otherwise be high performers can get caught in time-wasting traps, so leaders need to step in before things get out of hand.

To avoid low productivity and improve employee time management, follow these tips.

1. Set specific productivity goals.
People who don’t feel like they have the support of their managers are more likely to feel stressed than they are to feel motivated. Give workers the tools they need, and make yourself available for questions and feedback; then, step back and let employees work toward the goals you helped them set.

2. Schedule tasks in chunks.
The same type of work should take about the same amount of time to complete. Help employees create timelines for different types of projects so they know how quickly things should move across their desks.

When employees understand how long projects take and how long it takes to complete each piece, they don’t have to scramble at the last minute. This steady stream of effort prevents workers from falling into a cycle of working overtime to compensate for earlier procrastination.

3. Show employees how their work affects the whole.
Employees who waste time typically do so because they don’t see the point in working faster. To them, the company and their co-workers do just fine, no matter how well they do their job.

In this case, the issue isn’t about time management — it’s about employee engagement. Keep employees in the loop about what the company is accomplishing, and tie their work to those achievements. Recognize the contributions of outstanding employees and departments. Constantly communicate the mission of the company and how employees help further that mission.

Financial bonuses for a job well done are nice, but people respond even more positively to personal praise. Write handwritten thank-you notes to employees who go above and beyond. Include employees on customer communications when they solve a problem or provide great service. The more employees see the effects of their work in action, the more motivated they become to work hard.

Employee time management has a cumulative effect. Engaged employees who get things done inspire others to follow suit. Those who have little to do (and those who don’t do what they should) bring others down. Use this advice to develop an office filled with productive, time-conscious teammates.

11 helpful tips on how to balance working from home + #momlife | Danielle Braff, Mother.ly

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If you dream of being a working mom and stay-at-home mom, take some tips from these mothers who’ve made the most of flexible work options (and a whole lot of inner drive).

1. Be honest with your clients
If you’re working from home, be transparent about that from the get go. That way, if a child does burst into your office or the dog starts barking while you’re taking a call, you can just keep going without having to explain away the background noise.

2. Get a gym membership
A gym with on-site childcare is essentially an on-call babysitter, says Traci Kantowski, communications director with Trust Transparency Center. “I regularly take advantage of gym childcare when I need to be able to focus, or have an important call because I know my kids are cared for,” Kantowski says. Bonus: You can also actually just hit the gym.

3. Designate an area of your home for work
Kantowski’s children know they need to knock before entering her office, but not every family can devote an entire room to mom’s workspace. If all your bedrooms are full, you can still carve out a designated area just for your work, even in small spaces. Closets can make great compact work spaces, thanks to DIY ideas and products like this closet-to-office conversion kit from the Container Store.

4. Get a hotspot plan
For many mamas, working from home is appealing because it also allows us to be away from our desks. Ballet practice, carpool duty, library time—these are all things you can make time for when you’re not commuting, but you might have to squeeze in some work while chauffeuring the kids around.

Make sure your cell phone plan includes hotspot access, so you’ll be able to sneak in work time from the carpool line, the pool and the indoor playspace, Kantowski says.

5. Use electronics in case of emergency
Screen time guidelines suggest parents keep video time to a minimum, but, one work-at-home mom, Julianne Robicheau says sometimes a little screen time goes a long way to helping mama get her work done. Robicheau started her skin care company, Robi Luxury Skin Care, when her child was a year old, and says that, in a pinch, Ryder and his team of pups have come to save the day.

6. Let them help
Robicheau often lets her 4-year-old help her when it comes to photoshoots and putting together shipments. “I’m raising them to just roll with it,” she says, explaining that she even brings her kids to most business meetings. “I shot a marketing video with a videographer from home with both kids around,” Robicheau says.

7. Reserve special toys for key work moments
When her children outgrew napping, Stephanie Woodson, who writes sewing and craft tutorials for her web site, Swoodson Says, transitioned them to quiet time with audio books and puzzles in their room so she still had a chunk of the day to herself. “Reserving special toys or crafts for busy days is key: A sensory bin or magazine collage activity can keep them happy for a long time,” she says.

8. Share childcare with other work-from-home parents
If you know of other work-at-home-parents, you can swap children with them, giving each parent a day to work while the other parent watches everyone’s kids, says Swoodson, who did this many times.

9. Wake up early
Allison Carter, creator of Confetti Party Plans, wakes up an hour earlier than her children to set her daily goals, check her email and plan her social media so that when her children wake up, she gets to focus on breakfast knowing that she already accomplished something before she actually started her day.

10. It doesn’t matter where you’re working from
Sonja Thompkins is a homeschooling mother of a 5 1/2 -year-old and an online business coach for brick and mortar boutique owners. She says she uses her gym, the library, fast food restaurants or even the car to work—as long as her child is entertained, and even takes video calls.

11. Batch work when you can
Thompkins’ husband is an army reservist and a firefighter who works in 48-hour shifts. But when he’s home, he takes over so she can crank out as much work as possible. “I use a project management app to keep me focused on the tasks I need to accomplish, which is great for my productivity,” she explains.

If you’re just starting out as a work-at-home parent, you’ll soon figure out that you’ll need to adjust your expectations, your technique and your methods as your family grows.

In the end, it’s all about flexibility. And isn’t that what working from home is all about?