Remote Work Digest: March 31, 2020

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

5 Productive Things You Can Do While In Quarantine | Blair Flood, Money.com

Life's short, spend it productively

If you’re among the thousands of Americans who suddenly find themselves with extra time in their day due to new work from home policies (less commute time) or temporary leave, we came up with these 5 productive things you can do while in quarantine to help you keep your sanity.

1. Learn about the stock market to be prepared

Market sell-offs create huge buying opportunities. A Motley Fool Stock Advisor membership provides you with the market research you need to navigate these difficult times.

Once you figure out what to buy, you’ll need to figure out how to buy. In just a few years, Robinhood has become one of the largest stock trading apps in the country, offering commission-free trading and an easy way to start investing. They offer you the ability to start with as little as $1 and buy fractional shares, so if your favorite company’s stock is a little too expensive, you can still get involved.

2. Make sure your credit report is in good shape

Don’t make the same mistake! There are sites that allow you to see a free copy of your credit report and services that help you monitor your credit in real-time. This will allow you to catch any errors before you go to apply for a loan or credit card. Spending a few minutes now to make sure that your credit report is in good shape could save you a ton of time down the road.

3. Keep your mind busy by learning a new language

Learning a new language has been on my to-do list for years, and I’m finally checking it off. I want to be fully prepared once it’s safe to travel again, and to be honest, it’s not taking nearly as much time as I thought.

4. Use this time to compare prices on your home and car insurance

If you don’t own a home, but are still looking to save some money, getting an updated car insurance quotes is a great way to find savings. MONEY’s recent article The Best Auto Insurance for 2020 is a great place to find a few companies to get quotes from. Even if you don’t end up switching, it’s a good idea to see what you can save.

5. File your taxes

If you’re sheltered in place, tax preparation software is the way to go. Most companies offer free online software, but charge extra for assistance. I learned the hard way that paying the extra fee can be worth it if you have a complicated filing (like getting a letter from your city saying that you owe them taxes from over 4 years ago… You can always add on the assistance later if you need it, so start with the free version and see how far you get.

Now, Relax!

You’ve earned it. Call that friend you’ve been wanting to video chat with for a while, relax with a glass of wine delivered to your door, read that book that you started over Christmas break and never finished, or spend time making a home-cooked meal.

How to maintain employee performance during COVID-19 | HRD, Hcamag.com

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The majority of organisations have focused on scenario planning and necessary operational responses to ensure business continuity during COVID-19, according to Brian Kropp, chief of research for the Gartner HR practice.

However, these plans often do not address, nor impact, employees’ ability to focus on their work, Kropp added.

According to Gartner, HR should help managers at all levels do six specific activities to ensure employees get the requisite support to tackle the emotional response:

Sense employees’ need for support

Managers need to recognize signs of distress among their people, both directly through conversations and indirectly through observation.

To facilitate regular conversations between managers and employees, HR should provide managers with guidance on how best to broach sensitive subjects arising from the COVID-19 pandemic, including alternative work models, job security and prospects, impact to staffing, and tension in the workplace.

Promote dialogue to build understanding

Two-way communication with managers and peers provides employees with the information and perspective they need, while allowing them to express and process negative emotions and improve their feelings of control.

HR leaders should help managers create opportunities for two-way dialogues that focus on a realistic picture of both the positive and negative implications of the current COVID-19 outbreak.

Use objectives to create clarity

Clear objectives and regular updates on possible changes will help ensure employees maintain focus, energy and a sense of purpose.

HR leaders can help managers reassert the link between employees’ work and organisational success by providing visibility into the current organisational goals and translating the organisation’s vision into their employees’ context.

Reinforce organisational values to reduce the like hood of misconduct

Apart from modeling the right behaviors, managers should encourage whistleblowers to call out unethical behaviors, remind staff of the channels for reporting misconduct, and highlight punitive measures for noncompliance.

Tailor recognition to acknowledge employee efforts

Recognition can take many forms other than monetary rewards — public acknowledgment, tokens of appreciation, development opportunities and low-cost perks.

For organisations facing a slowdown in business, managers can take this opportunity to provide development opportunities to employees who normally do not have capacity. This reinforces the organisation’s commitment to the long-term success of the employee.

Drive engagement via innovation

While managers and employees may understandably become more risk-averse in this uncertain environment, it is these times of change and disruption that innovation and risk-taking become even more important for employee engagement and organisational success.

The disengaging effect of constraints on innovation and risk-taking are particularly severe for high-potential (HIPO) employees who tend to have a stronger desire for these types of opportunities.

15 easy kitchen hacks that will transform your life during lockdown | Laura Nightingale, Getsurrey.co.uk

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With the nation on lockdown, if you get bored at home these tricks will certainly inspire you.

1. Tissue box

Fill an empty tissue box with carrier bags, bin bags or food waste bags and pull them out as you would a tissue.

2. Egg cartons

Don’t waste that last drop of sauce. Instead pour it into plastic egg cartons to make single serve portions.

3. Freeze milk

There are lots of foods that can be frozen which you might not realise, including milk.Frozen milk should be thawed before it is used and be sure to give it a big shake before you pour it to ensure all the solids and liquids have been fully mixed.

4. Microwave bread

You can make bread in the microwave, yes really. Plus it takes just 90 seconds to cook. For the full recipe click here.

5. Pasta recipe

Did you know you can make pasta from scratch with just four ingredients and it takes under 10 minutes to make? Watch this video here showing how to make it in a flash.

6. Jam jars

Clean, empty jam jars can be used for a whole host of things including tea light holders, mini vases for wild flowers and, our favourite, for keeping food in.

7. Hang cleaning products on a rod

If the cupboard under your sink is a mess and you can never find that bottle of kitchen cleaner, make a rail for them. Screw a metal rod into the cupboard and hang the handles on it to make more space.

8. Saucepan handles

If you didn’t know, the reason why there is a hole in a saucepan handle is so that you can rest a wooden spoon in it.

9. Put paper towels in the salad drawer

Kitchen roll absorbs the condensation that vegetables generate as they chill. So put a layer of paper in the fridge draw to keep them fresher for longer.

10. Wine bottle watering can

Use your empty wine bottles as watering cans to feed the plants. Alternatively, they make a fancy water carafe for the kitchen table.

11. Coffee jar vase

Bigger than a jam jar, they make excellent vases.

12. Planter box milk cartons

Simply cut them in half, fill with soil, pop in seeds and watch your flowers or herbs grow. It’s great fun for kids and they can decorate the boxes too.

13. Banana pancakes

If you can’t get hold of flour, eggs or milk, you can still enjoy pancakes with this healthier alternative. Just mash one banana, blitz an handful of oats into a flour consistency, mix them together and then fry in a pan.

14. Nice cream

Nice cream as opposed to ice cream because it’s nice and healthy. It’s virtually fat free and has no refined sugars. All you need to do is cut a ripe or over ripe banana into chunks and freeze. Once frozen remove and blend it with a splash of milk to a thick and creamy texture. You can customise it however you like. We like blitzing frozen strawberries with it too for yummy strawberry and banana nice cream.

15. Flip your cereal bag before opening

Hate finding crumbs at the bottom of your cereal packet? Don’t throw them away or suffer with a mushy breakfast. Just shake the bag each morning to distribute all those little bits.

6 productivity tips for staying on schedule when working from home | Hope Reese, Techrepublic.com

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Working from home can also bring distractions from friends, family, social media, new obligations at home––especially if you’re sharing space with others––and reinventing schedules. All these things are likely to throw you off your routine. As a result, it’s easier to lose track of time or miss out on the regular reminders about important workplace meetings.

Here are six tips from productivity experts about how to stay on schedule and not miss out on important workplace meetings:

1. Create a new alert infrastracture

Gretchen Rubin is the author of the international bestseller The Happiness Project. As someone who has dedicated a lot of thought to examining the best way to live a productive and fulfilling life, you could call her an expert on setting healthy habits.

“I’m losing my sense of time,” Rubin told TechRepublic. “I usually know exactly what time it is, and what time of day it is, and it’s getting lost. So, even if you don’t usually depend on calendar alerts and putting Post-it notes up, you might find you need to build up more infrastructure.”

2. Make it clear to others that you are home, but you are still working

If you have roommates, a partner, or kids at home, working at home might make it seem as though you’re more available for activities around the house or hanging out. And while the great benefit of working from home is the increased flexibility, it’s critical to make sure you maintain a healthy boundary between your home life and your work life.

Gently inform others who might be distracting you from your work schedule that you need to stick to your schedule. If it’s you who is creating the distractions, make sure that you keep yourself accountable by setting hours and sticking to them. Close the door to your office area, if possible, or put in headphones to block outside sounds.

3. Stop messing around on Instagram

To counteract your social networks’ ease of use during work hours, remove them from your browser shortcuts and, according to Fast Company, log out of every account. You might even consider working primarily in a private or incognito browser window. This ensures you stay signed out of all your accounts and each web search you conduct doesn’t autocomplete the word you’re typing. It’s a guarantee that you won’t be tempted into taking too many social breaks during the day.

4. Write down your schedule – and stick to it

Rubin suggests writing things down on paper to stay on track. “Without the infrastructure and the social aspects of seeing people come and go, you might forget. You might have to prepare something for Friday, but you feel like Friday is an eternity away,” she said. “Yet time is still passing, so you might need to write things down more explicitly.”

5. Create your own workspace

It’s key to make a space that feels like it’s meant to get work done. That means avoiding your bed and sofa, if possible. “I think a lot of people would benefit from reimagining their space,” Rubin says. “You might even need to move your childrens’ bedrooms around to make a work or study space.”

6. Double-check your tech

Many of us have experienced the dreaded moment when your conference call has started, but you’re not able to get into it. Maybe your internet connection is slow. Maybe you haven’t downloaded the proper software. Maybe you haven’t checked your audio. For those working at home in the age of COVID-19, the problems could be amplified––maybe other people in your space are loud, and you can’t hear the meeting. Or you’re juggling multiple meetings online and finding it hard to keep track which one you’re supposed to join.

Remote Work Digest: February 28, 2020

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

10 Reasons Why Time Management is Important | Mark Pettit, Thriveglobal.com

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The ability to manage your time effectively is important if you want to have more time for the people that matter and to reach your goals quicker.

Effective time management leads to improved productivity, quicker results and more success in business and life.

Understanding the importance of time management can create more time, more opportunities, less stress and the achievement of bigger goals.

Here are 10 time management tips to help you manage time and reach your goals quicker:

  1. Create a time audit

Time audit will help you identify activities to eliminate and activities to invest more time on. Simply list all of the activities do you in a week and time spent on each. Then ask yourself if that time investment is the best use of time.

Eliminate activities where appropriate and spend more time on the activites that will help you reach your goals quicker.

Focus on results not time spent.

  1. Become a planning master

If you’re clear on your goals, lay out clear plans to achieve those goals. This should include quarterly planning, monthly planning, weekly planning and daily planning. If you have no direction or focus for your day or week then you can easily become distracted and waste time.

  1. Focus time on your most important activity

Multi-tasking can waste hours of time every day. Choose the one thing and use time blocking to remove distractions. This will help mind and body stay focused and energised.

  1. Use the Pareto Principle to manage time

Use the Pareto Principle, otherwise known as the 80:20 rule, to prioritise your time and energy. This rule suggests that 20% of something produces 80% of the results. Using the Pareto Principle look at how you can focus less time to produce a bigger result.

The Pareto Principle is all about leveraging a small amount of time and effort to deliver bigger results.

  1. Don’t worry about being perfect

Perfectionists think that nothing will ever be perfect so they spend too much time tweaking and amending to ensure that a project is perfect. Nothing will ever be perfect. Use your best capabilities to start a project and then work with someone else or delegate the rest.

  1. Prioritise your time

By focusing, and staying away from low value work you can achieve more by working less. This focus comes from being clear on your goals and an ability to prioritise and work on projects in blocks of time until completed. If you can free up an extra hour of time a day think how much more productive you’ll be.

  1. Celebrate progress

There are always things to celebrate and achievements made in every day. At the end of each day list three you’ve achieved. This will ensure you end your day feeling motivated and energised.

  1. Achieve goals faster

Many people have big goals that they don’t achieve. But without understanding the importance of time management, you may always big goals that you don’t achieve.

The reason. Too short deadlines.

If you want to achieve goals faster, set bigger goals with longer deadlines and smaller goals with shorter deadlines.

Every goal achievements build progress and momentum so make it easy on youself to achieve your goals.

  1. Increase energy by freeing up time

The answer is to take more time our of your business and life for rest and rejuvenation. This could be taken just for you or to spend with the people in your life that are most important.

More time out increases energy and motivation.

  1. Create time to do more of what you love

In business focus more of your time on the activities that you’re great at and love to do.

When you spend more time doing things you’re passionate about with people you want to work with, you creat a much bigger impact.

In your life, spending more time doing the things that you love is exciting and motivating.

What to Look For in a CV When Hiring a Remote Candidate | Andrew Fennell, Theundercoverrecruiter.com

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Hiring a remote candidate is a little different from hiring someone to work in-office or on-premises. Remote workers have certain attributes that make them awesome at working independently and as any recruiter knows, there will be little “tells” hidden and sometimes not so hidden in a remote candidate’s CV.

What should a recruiter look for in a remote worker’s CV?

Commitment

A remote worker has to be committed and dedicated to getting their job done. If you can find that perfect level of commitment in a candidate, you can be sure that despite any of the comforts or distractions of working from home, and with the trust of working unsupervised, they will get their job done, and well.

Self-discipline

Self-discipline could be seen as the ability to consistently achieve or to regularly perform an activity, by using willpower to overcome distractions or hurdles.

Enthusiasm and passion

A remote worker doesn’t have a team to bounce ideas off or someone they can look to for words of encouragement. Their willingness to complete their tasks and do so well needs to come mostly from within themselves. This takes the form of enthusiasm and passion for what they do and who they do it for. If a remote worker doesn’t enjoy what they do, they won’t do it well.

Organization and time management

A remote worker’s CV should either visibly demonstrate or infer that the candidate is organized. If a remote worker loses focus or gets behind in their task, the impact for a business may be greater as it might not be noticed immediately.

Attention to detail

Remote workers are usually expected to submit completed work of one kind or another or perform duties that might not be checked by another employee. It’s mistakes in particular that will be costly to employers especially errors that aren’t picked up, perhaps until a customer is impacted.

Communication skills

Although they might not need to communicate, or even report in all the time, it is expected that when they do that communication is accurate and concise. A remote worker needs to be able to convey, perhaps even in an email or by telephone, if they are having problems or need a task carried out by a colleague.

Positions of trust

If you can see a remote working candidate has held a position of trust, this illustrates they were relied upon by another business to get their job done, effectively. And, it doesn’t have to be a remote position of trust. A supervisory or management role indicates a candidate had less supervision and was expected to be self-disciplined as well as making sure others performed their roles effectively.

An aptitude for technology

Technology is empowering remote working; employees can work as seamlessly remotely as they could in the same building with colleagues and on-premise technology. Remote workers need to use, sometimes multiple, communication and collaboration platforms.

Problem-solving skills

When working alone they’ll need to be resourceful when facing a challenge, as they may not be able to contact another employee or a manager immediately for assistance. Equally, a remote worker can’t be on the phone to a head-office or senior every five minutes.

Ability to work independently

A remote worker is unlikely to be successful if their personality is such that they excel only in a team environment. Look for jobs that show a remote working candidate has worked predominantly alone and enjoyed it.

Remote working experience

With the number of remote working jobs growing daily, the pool of available and experienced remote workers is falling, especially those with plenty of experience. As such, it’s the soft skills and attributes above, and others, either innate or gained during other work experience that will indicate if a candidate has what it takes to be a high-performing remote worker.

5 Breathtaking Ways to Inspire Your Employees in 2020 | Jacklyne Kweyu, Thriveglobal.com

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Here are some tricks that you can use to keep your employees inspired.

  1. Respect your employees

Always treat an employee, the same way you would want someone else to treat you. Be courteous, polite, and kind while dealing with them. Put in mind the voice tone that you use and body language displays; matters too. Whenever an employee speaks to you, learn to listen first before reacting. By doing so, you inspire your employees; they have no reason to look for work elsewhere.

  1. Invest in your Employees

Experts say that investing in your employees is synonymous with investing in your company’s future. If you do not invest in them, turnover will be high, hampering your success.

You can have individual development plans for all your employees. Have them set and write down both their short term and long term goals. Do a follow up in cooperating one-on-one coaching if need be to help them achieve these goals.

Another way to invest in your employees is by organizing team building activities. Not only will they make work to be fun, but they will also create friendship and encourage teamwork.

  1. Be Transparent

Be open about what’s happening within your business that employees have a right to know. In a working environment, transparency inspires your employees and creates positivism by eliminating fear. Moreover, it makes employees open up about their achievements and shortcomings.

  1. Give Incentives

Always strive to inspire your employees by giving them an incentive whenever they do a good job. This is among the oldest known psychological principals of inspiring employees.

Create monthly awards and recognition events where people who worked exceptionally well get to be recognized and rewarded. You can give them a promotion if a vacancy is available or a handwritten thank you note. This will create healthy competition that business needs.

Inspiring your employees is all that it takes. Always recognize them whenever they do a good job, be open with information. Give them price incentives and above all respect them.

Once you perfect these motivation strategies, you will create a perfect working environment, and your result will definitely be superior dedication and optimistic perception of the company’s future. On top of it, your employees will be happy and your turnarounds will be minimal.

10 remote leadership jobs for virtual workers | Esther Shein, Techrepublic.com

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The 10 remote leadership jobs listed by FlexJobs all offer some type of remote work arrangement, ranging from partial remote work to 100% remote, the company said. The positions include average salary information from PayScale, which may slightly differ depending on location, FlexJobs said.

Some common executive-level remote job titles include director, executive director, vice president, medical director, and various C-level jobs such as COO, CFO, and CEO.

Chief Marketing Officer

The CMO oversees developing marketing plans that help companies gain brand recognition and customers. The CMO needs to understand the company’s marketplace position and heavily rely upon performance analytics to develop detailed strategies in this remote leadership job.

Chief Technology Officer

A CTO is in charge of the technological needs of a company or organization. The role finds and implements technology solutions to help a company succeed and leads the development and maintenance of a technology road map.

Director of Communications

Communications directors help create a positive image of a company to the public by overseeing strategy and messaging. They may act as a spokesperson and contact for journalists and also monitor the public perception of the company.

Director of Content Strategy

In this remote leadership job, typically more than 10 years of experience in marketing, communications, or publishing can qualify you for this role. Common duties include determining a company’s content strategy based on the company’s and users’ needs, managing writers, creating an editorial calendar, and conducting SEO research.

Sales Director

Sales directors lead sales teams by providing vision and guidance. Approving sales projections and budgets, hiring sales managers, and working with marketing and logistics teams are some typical tasks.

Vice President of Business Development

This executive-level role develops and executes an organization’s sales and marketing plans. Creating new client relationships, writing proposals, managing a sales team, and setting team and company-wide goals are tasks of this job.

Vice President of Engineering

A VP of engineering will manage a team to get products completed. This role has a big-picture view of what stakeholders or clients need and the route to meet these needs. Many times, seven to 12 years of experience are needed to qualify for this executive-level job.

Vice President of Operations

An operations VP most often works with the company president to assist with daily operations. With a thorough understanding of company operations, this role will provide business performance leadership, monitor finances, and evaluate operational procedures.

Vice President of Project Management

This role provides direction and leadership on project management tasks. A project management VP handles developing road maps, prioritizing projects, communicating with key stakeholders, and creating best practices.

Remote Work Digest: January 31, 2020

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

Extra-small business are an appealing escape from the corporate jobs we hate | Allison Baum, Qz.com

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As we transition to a more digital, distributed, and data-driven world, the future of work will be built  not by the largest companies in the world, but by the smallest. If the past decade in tech was defined by unicorns, here are five reasons why the next decade will be shaped by XSMBs.

1. Working a regular job is no longer a reliable way to create wealth – but starting your own business is

Corporate profit margins are near all-time highs. However, the riches are going disproportionately to executives in investors, pushing US income inequality to its highest level in 50 years, while technology is increasing business efficiency but displacing workers, causing wage growth to decouple from productivity. And that trend is only the beginning, as AI accelerates the replacement of workers.

2. Younger generations are more entrepreneurial, and entrepreneurs tend to be more politically active than their corporate counterparts

Freelancers in the US tend to more politically active than their corporate counterparts, and 72% claim they would cross party lines for candidates that support independent work. So it’s no surprise that policies designed to protect freelancers and XSMB owners are gaining momentum.

3. Minorities will soon the new majority, and they are leaning out of structures that aren’t built for them to succeed

As of the end of 2019, women make up the majority of US workforce. By some estimates, minorities will make up the majority of the American workforce by 2045. They already make up an increasing share of the millennial and Gen Z populations, suggesting their influence will only continue to grow in both the workplace and the consumer economy.

4. Automation hurts traditional workers while helping entrepreneurs and employees at XSMBs

Business owners and freelancers are already reaping the benefits of technology, as software has slowly dismantled the gatekeepers who previously prevented newsomers from competing with the established elite. Not long ago, post-secondary degrees in business, technology, or science were considered by many to be non-negotiables for gaining the credibility, confidence, and network to start a company. Today, you can find much of the same type of content in bootcamps, coding schools, online courses, or digital degrees.

5. We are redefining what success looks like

The lonely cubicle is being replaced with the freedom to work at our own pace, at our time choosing, in the space we desire. we are also seeing a reversal in the responsibilities of the boss and the individual. Your employer can’t provide you with a path to long-term stability, nor can they tell you how to create the most value in your role today (even if they wanted to).

Whether you are an investor, an employer or an employee, you should be paying attention to the rise of XSMBs. The mainstreaming of micro-entrepreneurship is already quietly changing how we work today, and it will define the workforce of the next generation.

Things to Avoid Before and After Becoming a Remote Worker | Andriana Moskovska, Ceoworld.biz

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People tend to choose this work model for various benefits, such as more flexible timetables, less stress, more time for loved ones, better health, etc. Still, there are plenty of things to watch out for, as most people make simple mistakes during and after the process of transitioning to the remote work lifestyle.

What to Bear in Mind Before Going Remote

Being a remote worker ultimately depends on your manager or boss. Thus, you should remember that it all starts with asking to telecommute. If you are not sure how to do it, read on.

You need to be fully prepared for such a conversation. No matter how successful you are, or how many people you have under you, take this conversation seriously—your superior must see that you have entertained this idea for some time now.

Some questions you can expect are:

  • What makes you a good worker in comparison to others?
  • How do you think other team members will be affected by your work model?
  • Will this be a good example for others to follow?
  • What makes your work position remote work worthy?

Once you have all those questions covered, you are ready to talk to your manager.

Put professional benefits first. Remote workers reap the benefits every day. They are often more likely to manipulate their schedule to balance both personal and professional life and usually have a more flexible approach to working hours.

Once you meet with your manager or boss, make sure to propose the following.

  • Remote workers show an increased level of productivity
  • When employees work remotely, they cut transportation costs, save money on office supplies, utilities, etc.
  • Remote workers can work from anywhere. Therefore, if an employee wants to move elsewhere, the company will not suffer.
  • Some people are more productive and stress-free when they work in the comfort of their own home.

Do not let the first “no” get the best of you. The first conversation of this type might just boil down to this word. If it does, take it slowly. Next time, suggest working remotely for a day each week. It will ease your superiors into this work model, and show them you are determined to get your way without being disrespectful.

Be honest with yourself and others. Ask yourself whether you will be equally or even more productivity once you leave the office. Take  into account whether you need to talk face-to-face with your colleagues to be able to collaborate adequately, or virtual work spaces will suffice.

What Happens When You Become a Remote Worker?

You have to prove to your superiors and colleagues you can pursue everything you bargained for. Here are some tips on how to do it.

Do not overwork yourself to leave the impression that you are still doing your job. Avoid burnout at all costs by remaining connected to your virtual workspace and the people you previously shared the office with. Stay in touch daily, hold each other accountable, and try to be as available as you can for your colleagues. You will be seen as reliable, and in turn, you will feel much better.

Do not isolate yourself entirely. Working hours are long, and being isolated for such large chunks of time is unhealthy.

Stay true to your previously set goals, know what to expect, and use your redefined timetable your full advantage. Think about your personal goals and things you want to pursue as a remote worker.

Remember that you need to keep up with the times and that not all coworkers will always be available. Make sure you install relevant productivity apps that let you work and stay in touch with your colleagues.

Yes, there are several things to look out for before and after starting to work remotely. Most of them include your coworkers and superiors, which is why you need to work smart and be ready for collaboration.

Still, if you are confident that the remote work model is the right choice, you can prosper and break your everyday work routine. There is a lot to gain and not much to lose. Make time for self-reflection and give remote work a try.

How To Launch A Profitable Startup In 2020 | Abdo Riani, Forbes.com

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Remote work is at an all-time high, unprecedented access to global talent, startup investment keeps increasing, paid advertising channels are becoming more effective, and the list goes on. To launch a profitable startup in 2020, you should get started. A lot can happen in twelve months. “When you want something, the whole universe conspires to help you,” Paulo Coelho.

The three steps below can be accomplished in six months even if you work on your startup part-time.

1. Scan Your Idea

The first step is to test your idea before moving forward and committing significant resources. Ask ten potential buyers about their needs and expectations. The goal is to uncover the urgency of a need for a better solution. Products that make things just a little better will make your goal of building a profitable business this year a lot harder. By the end of this phase, you should refine your idea by identifying a problem worth solving.

2. Scan It One More Time

Building a product will take time and money but sketching your idea is relatively quick and cheap. Run product designs by those first ten potential users and ten more. This simple test can help you avoid an expected bias from the first group while seeking everyone’s feedback and comments that will help you identify key product features.

The second thing you can do is offer your product for sale while rewarding the first buyers. Perhaps with a discounted yearly offer or even a lifetime offer for the first 50 buyers. This will not  only provide you with a strong validation signal but also, help you fund the next stages of the business.

3. Build Your Product

If you’ve validated your idea through conversations, designs and resales, you’re more than half-way through building a profitable business this year because this year building a product is the easy part. If you know what to build, the right team will make it happen. In the meantime, your job is to get more of the people you interviewed excited and committed to the solution.

This is a quick road map for your path to launching your idea this year. If you don’t do it now, the path won’t change next year. It’s up to you!

5 Of The Best Jobs For Working From Home | Luke Fitzpatrick, Bbntimes.com

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Whether it’s looking after children, caring for a sick or elderly family member, having an injury or illness yourself, or simply wanting to embrace a more nomadic lifestyle, working from home is fast becoming a normal and acceptable way to earn a primary or secondary income.

1. Freelance Writer

There are dozens of ways to make money in writing, whether it’s blogging, ghostwriting, editing, or proofreading.

2. Graphic Designer

Whether it’s designing logos or company collateral, t-shirts or clothing, being a graphic designer from home allows you to work with multiple clients and on multiple projects at once, meaning your job is interesting.

3. Virtual Assistant

Virtual assistants need exceptional organizational and time management skills. Excellent communication skills are also a prerequisite. Being a virtual assistant from home means you’re not bound to one particular company or client as well, which can be a wonderful way to to ensure your job has variety.

4. Massage Therapist

Being a professional massage therapist may mean working for a company or another individual, but it can easily also mean working for yourself, which really is the beauty of the profession. Whether you’re just starting out or looking for a change, setting up a massage therapist business from home isn’t as hard as you may think.

5. Work Online

There are so many work-from-home options in the online world that it can be hard to keep up. Whether you’re a website developer, website tester or tech support, there’s a wealth of opportunity out there for those who are tech-savvy.

For web developers, you’ll help create or manage websites for other companies. Website testers are paid to test websites or mobile apps in their development stage to ensure all issues are ironed out before they go live. Tech support specialists are often hired by businesses to be on-call should their technology fail in-house. Often, you’ll enter their hardware or software remotely so you can sort out the problems, meaning you can be anywhere in the world and still be able to do your job.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Remote Work Digest: December 31, 2019

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

The Importance of Regular Feedback | Rob Press, Business2community.com

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With the increased expansion of the gig economy, and when remote work is slowly becoming more and more common everyday (with 16 percent of U.S. companies fully remote), we need to find ways to make our teams, both in-house and remote, engaged and motivated to stay for the long run.

Let’s dive right in and explore how you should embrace feedback and make it a part of your company culture.

Why is feedback important for employees?

In order to motivate your team and increase their productivity and motivation, feedback is crucial.

There are companies out there that are only looking to get the most of their employees and don’t actually care about their wellbeing and motivation. There are also companies that want their employees to feel valued and thrive.

The moral of the the story is this: no matter which category of employee/employer you fall into, regulare feedback will improve your work life, in one way or another, as it:

  • Boosts employee engagement and productivity
  • Provides clear goals and milestones
  • Allows employees to recognize their strengths and work on their weakest points
  • Improves connections between employees and managers

Why is feedback important for managers and leaders?

When you are looking to improve employee performance, you should never forget about optimizing yourself as the manager.

You may be trapped in a feeling of “providing feedback takes time and effort, and I’m not quite sure what to say”. While all of this might truly represent how you feel, when you look at the benefits you as a manager and team leader will tap into, you might want to reconsider the ROI of your time and effort put into feedback:

  • You will know where each employee stands in terms of performance and goals
  • You will be able to help your employees overcome the hard stuff
  • You will have insider knowledge for future hires

Knowing your team this well makes it easier to understand your team’s culture and hire strong fits.

How will company culture change when you start providing regular feedback?

Once you start listening and providing regular feeback, several things will happen across your organization:

Feedback is a great tool for combating the inevitable snags in the road every business will face in its lifetime.

What kinds of feedback do you need to establish?

There is more than one kind of feedback you need to incorporate into your company culture:

  • Manageer to team member
  • Team member to team member
  • Team member to manager
  • Top level manager to lower level managers

Don’t make the mistake of thinking ‘feedback’ means telling your employees what they are doing well, and what they are doing wrong. Feedback should operate on multiple plains if you are to reap its fullest benefits.

Team members also need to provide feedback to their fellow team members. This will establish better communication between them, help them get to know each other’s strengths and weaknesses, and provide a whole new perspective on their work.

Never forget that you also need to ask for feedback from your team: and they need to feel they can be completely honest. Never make them feel bad or let alone punish them for criticizing any aspect of your work. You want to build trust with your employees and you can do so by 1) listening to their feedback and 2) taking action.

Finally, top level management should also provide feedback to the lower levels of management and let them know how their work is affecting the big picture.

How to deliver positive feedback

Below are some quick tips on how to effectively deliver positive feedback:

  • Be specific, so the person knows exactly what you are talking about
  • Explain how the well done fits into the bigger picture
  • Make it know to more than just the person you are praising and give company-wide recognition
  • Deliver feedback in real-time and as close to the time of achievement as possible
  • Personalize your message and be thoughtful
  • Mean it!

Once you grasp a clear understanding of what motivates your team and how often they would prefer to receive and five feedback, you can come up with a system that works specifically for your workforce.

How to deliver negative feedback

  • Never do it in public
  • Never do it over email if you can prevent it
  • Do not pile it on
  • Start with something positive
  • Be precise and always give examples of how to improve
  • Listen before you speak
  • Never use it as a way to vent or punish someone
  • Be prepared to be proved wrong and accept it
  • Never let your emotions run away and remain calm
  • Follow up

Establishing a regular feedback routine will take time, effort, a lot of dedication, and getting used to. Expect some initial shock and even resistance from your employees. But onve it becomes the norm, expect to see all of the positive side effects of feedback we have been discussing above. Good luck!

50 Work-Life Balance Jobs for Anyone Who Wants to Leave Work at Work | Leigh Weingus, Parade.com

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If you want to pick a job or career that will get you off on the right foot, there are surprisingly a lot of them. Don’t believe us? Here are 50 best work-life balance jobs in various categories.

Best work-life balance jobs in tech:

  1. UX designer. If you’ve got tech tech skills and a solid sense of design, considering applying for a position as a UX designer.
  2. Data scientist. Are you a stats and data nerd? With a median salary of $112,000 a year, you’ll be paid well.
  3. Mobile developer. Have you alwayd dreamed of creating an app?
  4. Social media manager. If you have a knack for Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, etc., a position as a social media manager may just be perfect for you.
  5. DevOps engineer. It’s no secret that engineers are in high demand and make a good salary, but it turns out they have great work-life balance, too.
  6. Research engineer. If you’re great at interpreting and analyzing research and have engineering skills, this may be for you.
  7. SEO manager. If keywords and work-life balance are both of interest to you, consider a job as an SEO manager.
  8. UI designer. UI designers are responsible for making sure mobile devices, computers, and more have a positive user experience.
  9. Technical account manager. If your tech skills are top-notch and you crave a good work-life balance, this may just be the job for you.
  10. Front end developer. If design and technology are both your strong suits, front end development will be, too.
  11. Game designer. The masterminds behind some of your favorite iPhone and video games have great work-life balance, too. Why not become one of them?

Best work-life balance jobs in communications:

  1. Corporate recruiter. Corporate recruiters are responsible for finding talented people to fill positions at large and small companies.
  2. Talent acquisition specialist. Talent acquisition specialists are experts at both assessing and analyzing the staffing needs of a company and finding good talent.
  3. HR manager. If your whole job is to help out employees, having a good work-life balance is pretty much your job.
  4. Strategy manager. This job requires fewer people skills, but it does require an ability to think long and hard about all the elements a company needs to succeed and grow.
  5. Creative manager. Advertising and promotions managers are skilled in finding smart ways to generate interest in a product or company.
  6. Marketing coordinator. Marketing coordinators have a knack for what sells and develop, implement, and coordinate marketing and advertising campaigns.
  7. Marketing assistant. Not at coordinator level just yet? Marketing assistant jobs have solid work-life balance, too.
  8. Content manager. Ever wonder who does all the writing, editing, and uploading of content to some of your favorite websites?
  9. Scrum master. A scrum master manages the process for how information is exchanged and helps a team self-organize and make changes quickly.
  10. Real estate agent. Most real estate agents are self-employed, meaning they can create their own schedule. The result? All the work-life balance they want.
  11. Tour guide. Got a lot of knowledge about your hometown or city and some great people skills?
  12. Project manager. Project managers usually have the option to work from home and have predictable, reasonable hours.

Best work-life balance service jobs:

  1. Substitute teacher. The hours may be unpredictable, but substitute teachers have a great sense of work-life balance.
  2. Hairdresser. Hairdressers don’t always have a typical Monday through Friday schedule, but they do have set hours and don’t bring their work home with them.
  3. Dental hygienist. Cleaning teeth for a living may not be the most glamorous job, but you’ll be able to leave it behind as soon as you walk out the door of your office.
  4. Civil engineer. Engineering jobs don’t just have to be mean software—civil engineers deal with design, construction and maintenance of bridges, roads, canals and more.
  5. Fitness instructor. Although you may have to work nights and weekends as a fitness instructor, it will give you a lot of flexibility. As a nice bonus, you’ll probably get a free gym membership and built-in workouts out of it.
  6. Office support. Whether it’s a secretarial job of office manager, most office suport jobs have a good work-life balance.
  7. Logistician. Although occasional overtime work is required of logisticians—who handle the oversight of bringing products and services to a customer—for the most part, the work-life balance offered is great.
  8. Research technician. It’s not the job for everyone—but if you have these skills and want to maintain work-life balance, this may just be the job for you.
  9. Registered nurse. While there’s no question that the job of a nurse is incredibly demanding, you usually have a set number of hours that allow you to leave work behind when you walk out the door.
  10. Medical assistant. Medical assistants, who provide a variety of administrative and clinical work, have much more flexible hours than a lot of people think.
  11. Home health aide. Home health aides can hand-pick their patients for the hours that fit their schedule.
  12. Medical coder. Medical coding jobs, which are crucial to large hospitals and medical centers, have set hours and great work-life balance.
  13. Sports coach. Whether it’s coaching kids at a school or a high-level coaching gig, this type of has flexible hours and good balance.
  14. Massage therapist. The job of a massage therapist is demanding, but it pays well and you can make your own hours.
  15. Bookkeeper. You have to be detail-oriented to be a bookkeeper, but the job is a straightforward one and allows for great work-life balance.
  16. Optician. Opticians have great flexibility, low stress level, and are paid well.
  17. Law Clerk. While law clerks have to work long hours at times, a lot of them can be done at home.
  18. Firefighter. Yes, firefighting is a stressful career, and it can entail night, weekend, and holiday work. Hours can be flexible, though, and firefighters often end up with a lot of free time during the day.
  19. Curriculum developer. Ever wonder who comes up with the curriculums that are handed to teachers?
  20. Speech pathologist. Whether you work for yourself or someone else, a career in speech pathology is a great way to make an impact and leave work at work.

Best work-life balance jobs in finance:

  1. Economist. People who work in finance aren’t exactly famous for having great work-life balance. But if you work as an economist, you’re in good shape.
  2. Financial cleark. Financial clerks are responsible for making sure financial transactions are on track at at banks, doctors offices, government agencies, and more.
  3. Personal financial advisor. Stocks, bonds, retirement funds, ETFs! If these are terms you’re familiar with and you’re certified to advise people on them, you’ll be in a good position to leave work at work at the end of the day.
  4. Accountant. Helping people or companies out with their taxes, budget, finance reports and more is a great way to make a living while keeping a solid sense of work-life balance.
  5. Risk analyst. Risk analysts look at a firm’s investment portfolios and help them decide where they should take risks and where they should be more conservative.
  6. Investment advisors. These are the people who make sure individuals’ portfolios are in the best possible shape.
  7. Online tax advisor. As an online tax advisor, you can help people file their taxes without leaving your home.

5 Things To Ask Your Boss In The New Year | Avery Blank, Forbes.com

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Consider this your nudge. This is your push to ask for what you want in the New Year. Here are five things to consider asking for from your boss next year:

  1. Business goals.

If you do not understand why you are doing the work you are doing, it is difficult to understand the purpose of your work.

Ask your manager, “What are this year’s goals for the organization?” “What are your upcoming priorities?” The answers to these questions will help you understand how your role plays a part in reaching your company’s goals and helps to ensure that your efforts continue to meet goals.

  1. Expectations

To avoid confusion or misunderstanding, ask your manager what is expected of you. When you are clear about what people expect from you, you will increase your chances of meeting or exceeding expectations.

  1. Flexibility

If you think some form of flexibility would help you be more productive with work, inquire about it. Communicate how the change will help you with your work. If you are already demonstrating solid work, it will be easier for you to ask for more flexibility.

  1. Money

If you want a raise, ask for it. If you need more resources for a project, ask for it. Assuming you are producing quality work, ask for what you need to continue to be the best professional that you can be and produce great work.

  1. A promotion

If you continue to prove your worth, consider asking your manager for a promotion. Don’t run the risk of not asking and build up resentment that may undermine your work product and impact your relationships with colleagues.

A successful career is built on years of experience and climbing the ladder. The higher you go on the ladder, the move opportunity you will have to ask for what you want.
When you demonstrate your worth, you have the leverage to ask for things like flexibility, a raise or a promotion. Questions have answers. Ask the questions to know the answers and see the road that will help you reach your goals.

Want More Value Out of Your Day? Focus on Creating Time Blocks | Bruce Eckfeldt, Inc.com

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If you’re struggling to find the time to work on long-term strategy, try these steps to create more focused time for these important, but not urgent, tasks.

  1. Determine your allocations

Figure out how much time you ideally need to spend each week. Note if you need one big block of time or if you need to do a little each day. If you keep a good calendar, look back over previous weeks to catch things you may have missed on your list.

  1. Identify your peak times

Our hours vary wildly in terms of quality and focus. Before you plan your schedule, it’s important to know what time of day you should be working on which types of tasks.

If you’re a morning person, your best hours might be right after breakfast or even when you first wake up. For others, it might be after dinner when you can focus for longer stretches of time and be more creative. To identify your peak times, create a journal and make notes for a few days on the times you feel like you have the greatest mental focus and clarity.

  1. Allocate your time blocks

Once you have your prioritized task list and your peak times have been identified, you can begin mapping out your week. Start with the big blocks of time you need for focused, uninterrupted work. This could be each day, or this could just be one or two days a week. Better to start with too many than too few.

  1. Defend your schedule

When someone calls you for a meeting, make sure to offer them the box you had allocated for that activity. If you forgot to plan for it, give them one of your buffer blocks. But don’t move your other blocks! This is the key to this strategy. Make other people adjust to your plan.

  1. Adjust and optimize

Force yourself to shift things around to keep your blocks together as much as possible. Even if you need to move blocks between days and reschedule other meetings.

If you run out of time in a day, move blocks between days. And if you absolutely need to drop something, make sure you’re dropping the block that is the least important of all of your tasks. Don’t just delete the block that has the conflict; move things around to optimize your schedule.

Adopting this strategy can be hard at first. It will take time to figure out your most important tasks, optimal block size and timing, and your natural energy flow during the day. But once you dial it in, you’ll find yourself not only getting more done but getting more of the right things done to accomplish your biggest goals.

Remote Work Digest: October 29, 2019

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

5 Ways Natural Light Improves Productivity | Henry Martin, Thebossmagazine.com

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While companies all over the world are implementing a range of innovative perks, the overriding benefit on employees’ wish lists is quite simply: natural light.

Here are five ways natural light can improve productivity:

1. Improves sleep

Research carried out by Northwestern University of Chicago showed that employees who worked in an office with windows slept for an average of 46 minutes more every night than those who worked in offices with no windows.

Those who have a better night’s sleep are generally more productive at work, because being well-rested means your attentiveness and concentration improves.

2. Enhances mood

Exposure to natural light can not only improve mental health, but it will also have benefits on employee morale on the whole. With a sunny disposition, staff will exhibit keenness and an increased willingness to work.

3. Supports vision

With natural light, eye health can be properly sustained. This means a decrease in strain on the eyes at work, and therefore more comfort whle being in front of a screen.

4. Improves Vitamin D levels

Vitamin D is essential for healthy bones because it facilitates the absorption of calcium and phosphates. These minerals help strengthen bones, teeth, and muscles, which of course go hand in hand with overall health.

5. Encourages creativity

With more natural light streaming into your office space, you could inspire your employees and encourage the generation of new ideas and lateral thinking.

The evidence offers a number of significant reasons to opt for natural light rather than artificial, not forgetting the financial advantages too. Consider installing generously sized windows to improve the overall morale and productivity of your workforce.

8 Ways to Boost Productivity in a Start-up | Sam Dolbel, Entrepreneur.com

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Entrepreneurs, businessmen, and women worldwide come across many challenges daily. Funding, finding the right talent and time management are only some of the issues they are faced with on a daily basis.

Here are eight tips on how to increase productivity as a start-up:

Be as efficient as possible

Do you ever come out of a meeting and think “gosh, this could have been an email!” While I agree with that, a lot of the time I actually find that a quick face-to-face conversation allows us to get things done more efficiently.

Of course there are other alternatives which use technology, allowing us to minimize face-to-face meetings – options like Microsoft Teams for example, can be used to call, text and share files with team members at a much faster pace than an email would.

Be as digitally-savvy as possible

In today’s fast-moving environment there are many other business tasks that can be completely digitalized. My two cents: Find which tasks your company wastes too much time on, there’s probably an app for them.

Join an Accelerator

Don’t underestimate the power of joining an accelerator. These specialized organizations can expand your growth by offering access to investment, office space and mentorship from industry leaders.

Location, Location, Location

For your start-up, it’s critical you understand your criteria, what exactly is it that what you want to do, and which location will best help serve your needs. Ultimately, you need to understand the specific tools you need to put in pace for your idea to flourish, and location is a key component in that. Also, don’t feel limited by geographies, go out and find the right place.

Create structure

Having defined roles and tasks gives the team a sense for responsibility and promotes accountability, both of which are crucial to any start-up’s success.

Invest in the culture

Early on in your journey, you need to find out exactly what kind of culture and values will your start-up stand for, and how do you plan to communicate that to both your team and your customers.

Invest in marketing smartly

Identify your targets and what channels and tools would help you effectively and efficiently drive your message through. Don’t be afraid of thinking outside the box – what works for one company may not work for another.

Encourage autonomy, don’t micromanage

The best way to encourage productivity and creativity in your team is for the manages (and founders!) to step back. Let your team manage their tasks freely and independently; you trusted them enough to join your start-up, so you should be able to give them a task and let the fly with it. This increases motivation, and you’ll find that the more ownership someone is able to take of their role, the better job they will do at it.

Everyday Routines To Help The Remote Worker Stay Active (And Stay Sane) | Darcy Cudmore, Thriveglobal.com

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Working remotely is not as easy  as many people think and many employees notice harmful changes to their mental physical health after only a short time. It’s important to stay in a healthy and productive routine, and many people can adopt bad habits that have serious side effects on their life.

1. Exercising at home

Many remote workers regularly get outside and walk around the neighborhood in the morning before their shift, or as needed – but when the Winter weather hits, this can become difficult.

If you purchase one of the best home treadmills or indoor cycling bikes, you don’t have to rely on the weather. You can get exercise in whenever you want, at any time during the day as you work from home.

2. Communicate with Coworkers or Other Remote Workers

Whether it’s setting up a communication software where you can regularly communicate with coworkers and managers, or scheduling a time every week to catch up with them, you should plan out a process. A meaningful conversation will keep your mind stimulated and your neural skills in operation.

3. Set Time Limits

It’s important to set up time restraints for when you are going to work and stick with them religiously.  Make sure you don’t push the limits too often or your work (and life) will begin to suffer.

4. Clean Yourself Up

Waking up, jumping in the shower, and getting dressed is an important human routine to keep up with, even when you are continuously working from home.

5. Get Out of the House

I recommend heading to a coffee shop or co-working space every now so often to change up your scenery and work space. By changing your work space, you’ll inject some excitement into your day just when things are getting a little stale.

Working from home is comfortable and dangerous. Heading out the door in the morning might be just what you need to keep things fresh every few days.

Creating A Conscious Business: Simple Practice to Help Implement A Business That Feels Good | Tasnlem Titus, Forbes.com

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People are always evolving and changing, and for this reason, they want to work for organizations that do the same and exist to make a difference. A conscious business is, according to author and leadership development at Google Fred Kofman, Ph.D., how organizations build value through values.

This illustrates the shift of organizations toward a value-based, conscious business model that benefits both the employees and the environment. For leaders aiming for this, here are a few simple practices.

1. Create a culture of health and wellness. 

There is no activity that brings people together and emits positive energy, good endorphins and the right chemicals better than sports withing a workplace. It is a bonding activity that provides healthy competition and enables people to connect and come together.

2. Connect in a collaboration room. 

Collaboration rooms are fun spaces where people connect and play. It is in these rooms whre co-workers can switch off and build social connections with each other. The better the connection and collaboration-building, the better people work with each other.

3. Connect through food and sharing experiences.

Every quarter, my company celebrates with a potluck where we choose different themes and people share parts of their cultures and memories with us through the bonding experience of food. They bring dishes according to their cultures and explain what the dishes mean to them. This enables connection, and at the same time, we share our recognition awards.

4. Give back to charities, and do good in the community.

Whether it id by donation money to a worthy cause or collecting donations to feed the hungry, a business that places charity and paying it forward as a priority is usually a conscious business. It sends out a message that community is important. We cannot exist alone and in isolation; our community is a part of us.

5. Do business with other conscious businesses.

Who we spend our time with is important, and this shows that we take our business seriously – and it is not only about profits.

6. Spend time on mindfulness. 

Building time within the day for people to be mindful and breathe is important. Thinking and “just being” more helps enhance thinking patterns and brain waves for creativity. Known benefits of meditation and mindfulness include less stress, less reactivity, more creativity and improved focus, to mention a few.

7. Develop a culture of learning and curiosity.

Creating a culture of learning and curiosity makes it possible for us to learn from our mistakes, ask questions that are important for our business and ourselves and learn what to do differently with our practices toward our customer, each other and ourselves. This deep inquiry shifts people toward willingness to learn from each other.

8. Make meetings productive. 

Before each meeting, ask, “What is our intention together? What are the key things we want to achieve?” Send out agendas beforehand so people can prepare. Meetings should be creative generation think tanks and short spaces to determine whether we have implemented what we needed.

Remote Work Digest: June 20, 2019

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

5 Tips For Working From Home With Kids | Anthony Caruana, Lifehacker.com.au

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In this era where working from home and freelancing from a home office is common, there’s a new challenge to overcome. While working from home can help with the work/life balance, there are times when the kids can tip the scales away from work at exactly the wrong moment. After almost a decade of working from home with kids around, and after speaking with a few similarly challenged friends and colleagues, here are some of our favourite tips.

Establish some ground rules
Set some ground rules and stick to them. For example, if the kids see you with headphones on, they need to know that means you’re on a call and can’t be disturbed unless it’s urgent.

Communicate
Firm communication that teaches them about your work day and commitments is key. For example, while I was working yesterday, both my step-sons were home from school. I explained to them that I had an important call and that for those 30 minutes I needed them to keep a little quieter than usual.

Schedule time for work and kids
It may be a work day but if the kids are around you need to make time for them. Plan your day so there’s a mix between work, play and other activities. For example, schedule meal breaks and allow for time every hour to chat, organise an activity or to join in with play time.

Be creative
If you’re planning to work from home, have a list of different activities you can use to keep the kids busy. Mix up the indoor and outdoor play – six hours of iPad time is not a good way to encourage healthy life habits.

On the work side, if you need an escape hatch with some quiet, why not take calls and process email in the car, where it’s quiet, while it’s parked in the driveway and the kids are playing outside.

Involve the kids in your work
When you plan your work day, look for opportunities to involve kids in your work. For example, when I think about story ideas I sometimes ask the kids what stories they think are most interesting and why. I get them to read some of my work and ask them to write about things that interest them. That way, we’re working together.

How to take a Working Vacation That Actually Works | Serenity Gibbons, Thriveglobal.com

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Not all “workations” are created equal. A productive one takes planning and balance: Too much work and too little vacation (or vice versa) can defeat the purpose. But done correctly, working vacations are an opportunity to experience the world without having to worry about falling behind.

Ready to try a working vacation? Before you book:

1. Get your team on board.
Remote work may be a staple at many companies, but not all of them are used to team members taking working vacations. Make sure everyone knows you’re not totally unplugging; you’re working intermittently.

Once your team knows you’re not going AWOL, determine your priorities together. Outline what you want to accomplish while you’re gone. Even if you’ll have access to phone and email the whole time, account for times when you won’t be strictly available, such as on flights.

2. Choose the right destination.
Your working vacation should be somewhere you actually want to go, of course, but that shouldn’t be your only consideration. Think about the factors that might influence the work you’re doing and how productively you’re able to do it.
Wherever you go, make sure the place you stay at has internet, phone service, and anything else you need to get work done. Get an international cell phone if you frequently take calls. Pay for a hotspot if you’re worried about Wi-Fi reliability.

3. Plan your workplaces.
Cafes and libraries aren’t always what they appear from online photos. That coffee shop might be so busy you can’t find a seat. The library might only offer Wi-Fi to library card holders, and you may need a local address to get a card.

Plan for those moments by creating “always,” “sometimes,” and “never” lists. You might have a nearby friend, for instance, whose house has Wi-Fi you can always use. Starbucks is another good option for your “always” list. Local coffee shops and grocery stores should be “sometimes” choices.

4. Give yourself some breathing room.
A working vacation should still be a vacation. Give yourself at least three free hours during each workday, and plan at least one day when you don’t work at all. To give yourself stress-free time away, productivity site Calendar suggests communicating those hours to your second-in-command.

We all need vacations to feel relaxed and satisfied with our lives. When we overwork, we steal from our future for the sake of the present. Taking a working vacation is the best way to balance the two.

8 Side Hustles You Can Use To Supplement Your Remote Work | Abdullahi Muhammed , Forbes.com

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Getting a side hustle becomes a necessity from time to time. With no guarantee of a paycheck if you are freelance, you have to keep money flowing in. The key is finding something that works with your schedule, and is lucrative enough to shore up your income when you need it. As you start exploring your options, consider the following eight side hustles.

1. Consulting
With consulting, you take your existing skills and use them to help other businesses. There’s a great market for this as so many businesses need help, but aren’t able to bring on full-time staff. So no wonder that consulting is a $250 billion industry.

2. Running an ecommerce store
E-commerce is a low-cost, low-barrier way of starting your own business. You can set up shop online, and sell products from all over the world. Thanks to dropshipping and other schemes like Amazon FBA, you don’t even have to purchase stock or manage inventory/logistics. Even better, you set up your online store quickly and easily with the help of Shopify marketing experts.

3. Teaching and tutoring online
There’s a growing market for online education. Students and their parents need help from skilled tutors. Others are seeking alternatives to formal education when it comes to developing skills they need to get ahead. If you already have the in-demand expertise, and an ability to break concepts down so they are easy to master, teaching and/or tutoring online might be for you.

4. Flipping websites
Not every entrepreneur wants to build a website from scratch. Others prefer to take existing sites, and turn them into profitable ventures. You can get in on this by flipping websites on the side. There are loads of websites that no longer serve their owner’s interests, or have been abandoned altogether. As a website flipper, you find these pages, purchase them, and sell them at a profit.

5. Affiliate marketing
If you have an active blog or website, affiliate marketing is a natural next step towards building a passive income stream. With just a little effort, you can market the products and services you like to others on your website.

6. Writing an ebook or creating other digital assets
With digital products you create something once, then sell it multiple times. You can share your expertise with an eBook, provide your target customers with templates, even use your own photographs to sell as stock images.

7. Real estate
Real estate is both the most popular and most lucrative side gig that can pay up to $90/per hour. This could be due to the fact that you have so many options for entering this niche. You can take a course and obtain your real estate license, and work selling properties on the side. You can pool your money with other investors to purchase and sell properties.

8. Working as a translator/interpreter or voice tester
If you’re proficient in two or more international languages, you can make good money off of that. You can offer translations services on freelancing websites or join a company like Para Plus Translations where you get the opportunity to work on exciting projects involving translation or interpretation services.

There’s no need to enter the world of full-time employment to enjoy the benefits of good wages. Instead leverage your skills and flexibility to land a side gig.

9 Ways to Stay Productive When Working from Home | Sophia Bernazzani, Learn.g2.com

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It’s easy to assume working from home leads to less productivity, but in reality, it’s usually quite the opposite. Keeping remote employees engaged and on track isn’t impossible. In fact, it can help boost productivity. As 52% of employees work from home at least once per week, remote work is beneficial for a reboot and recharge while maintaining a strong work ethic away from the office.

To help you with time management and remain optimally productive, we’ve compiled this list of 9 ways to stay focused when you’re working from home.

1. Find an optimal space to remain productive
It’s important you have a space that signals to your brain that it’s time to focus. Plus, it’s equally critical you save spaces like your bedroom for relaxation, so you can continue to have good work-life balance. Otherwise, you might find yourself checking your email from your bed at 9 p.m. because you haven’t mentally left the office.

2. Keep a consistent routine
To ensure productivity, a time management tip is to kick off your day with the same routine you’d use if you were heading to the office. Make some coffee, take a shower, and put on a pair of jeans rather than staying in your bathrobe and slippers. Maintaining a morning routine helps you to mentally prepare for the day and get in a productive state-of-mind.

3. Stick to a schedule
When you’re working from home, there are often other demands you need to pay attention to: cooking, taking your dog for a walk, picking a child up from daycare, or switching laundry from the washer to the dryer, to name a few. To maintain focus throughout the day, it’s crucial to set a schedule and stick to it.
For instance, if you’re most productive first thing in the morning, try tackling your most difficult tasks right when you wake up. Later in the day you can complete easier tasks, like responding to emails or editing a blog post while you multitask on some of those other non-office-related responsibilities.

4. Eliminate distractions
If you think casually checking email or quickly opening Facebook isn’t a big deal, consider this: research from the University of California, Irvine found that the typical office worker spends only 11 minutes on a task before getting interrupted, but once interrupted, it takes them about 23 minutes to get back on track. To ensure long-term productivity, implement strategies to ensure you don’t get interrupted in the first place.

5. Take breaks
To ensure you’re consistently making wise professional decisions, take breaks to mentally refresh. While it might seem counter intuitive, regular breaks can actually make you more productive, particularly if your breaks include a form of exercise.

Additionally, breaks can help prevent decision fatigue. A study found Israeli judges were more likely to grant parole to prisoners after their two daily breaks. As decision fatigue sets in, however, the rate of granting parole dropped to nearly zero percent because judges resorted to the easiest option – just saying no.

6. Be transparent about when you’re online and offline
You’ll be more productive if you set clear online and offline boundaries. If you need to take your dog for a walk, set an “Away” status on your Slack. At 5 p.m. (or whenever you choose to be done working for the day), don’t respond to any more emails, so coworkers know you’re unreachable until tomorrow. If possible, incorporate those times into your Gmail calendar so when you’re offline, your coworkers will know why.

7. Make a to-do list
Checking off a to-do list is one of the simplest pleasures of a work day. When working from home, it’s necessary to have specific goals you need to meet to ensure you stay on track when Netflix or your bed is calling your name.

8. Have a set end time
To ensure proper balance, try setting up a logoff routine at a reasonable end time each day, regardless of how much you’ve finished. Jot down a to-do list of tasks you want to tackle the next day, set an away status on your messaging apps, and put your work supplies back away until the morning.

9. Maintain relationships with coworkers via messaging or video conferencing software
Working from home could hinder your ability to catch up with coworkers and form those deeper bonds like you would if you ran into them in the office kitchen. To combat this, it’s vital to maintain connections with them through internal communication tools like Slack or video conferencing software tools like Zoom. Set up regular 1:1 virtual meetings simply for the purpose of catching up so you’re never out of the loop.

Remote work is hard work
Even though you might have the luxury of sitting on your sofa while working from home, it doesn’t mean you’re not working. The work you do from home can be as productive – if not more productive than your time in the office. Don’t second guess yourself!

Remote Work Digest: May 16, 2019

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

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Image from Pgi.com

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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