Remote Work Digest: January 15, 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Remote Work Digest: December 17, 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Remote Work Digest: 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?

Remote Work Digest: June 16, 2018

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

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

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

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

The burden of self-promotion

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

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

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

Working in a lonely solo void

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

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

Struggling with your calendar

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

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

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

Scope creep

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

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

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

Chasing clients for payment

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Remote Work Digest: April 24, 2018

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

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

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

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

Can you actually make your business remote?

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

Considerations to make include:

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

Consider your transitional strategy.

How should you go about doing this?

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

Establish your software platforms.

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

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

Test your remote work structure.

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

Depending on your business, this will take different forms:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here are 15 of the most surprising flexible jobs:

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

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

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

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

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

  1. Invest In Noise-Cancelling Headphones

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  1. Organize Your Workspace With A Minimalist Vibe

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

  1. Be Honest With Friends and Co-Workers

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

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

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

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

Optimize Your On-Boarding Process

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

Create a Unified Culture

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

Leverage the Right Telecommunication Tools

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

Communicate Emotion in Chats

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

Be Flexible, But Keep a Backbone

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

Remote Work Digest: February 19, 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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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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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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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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.