Remote Work Digest: January 15, 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Remote Work Digest: November 14, 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Remote Work Digest: September 20, 2016

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

4 Life Hacks For Mompreneurs To Stay Happy and Healthy On The Go | Deborah Sweeney, Thriveglobal.com

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The gentle act of being present and focusing on wellness is a big part of ensuring that your family continues to grow up happy and healthy. No matter how old your children may be or which stage you’re at in your small business journey, I’ve found the following life hacks to be tremendously helpful for mompreneurs to stay centered on the go.

1. Cut down the screen time.
I like to think that when you cut screens out of the equation, it gives your brain less opportunities to go on autopilot and reply “fine” and really think about the day as a whole.

2. Eating and drinking right.
Consider doing weekly meal prep for the whole family that covers all of your nutritional bases. Don’t forget to stay hydrated, too! Swap out sugary drinks like soda for water and decaf instead of caffeinated coffee.

3. Use technology to stay on track.
If you’re struggling to make time to get in a workout, download the Sworkit app. This lets you choose from a few different types of circuit workouts. Other great options include the Studio Tone It Up app, which acts as an on-the-go fitness studio, and MyFitnessPal which helps track your caloric intake for the day.

4. Schedule in a family walk around the neighborhood.
It doesn’t have to be a long walk. A quick jaunt around the neighborhood works just fine. Make sure every member of the family is accounted for and use the time to get in some exercise and regroup as a unit together.

5 reasons why all teams need to work remotely | Fiona Adler, Thenextweb.com

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Remote working teams may be leading the way, but almost all teams need to learn to work together remotely. Even if you’re not hiring contractors in some far away country, your own team will benefit from the learnings we can take from remote teams.

Here’s why remote working styles are just as important for in-house teams.

In a sense, all teams are remote
Whether our colleagues are in another country or just down the hall, they’re not right with us so we need ways of working together online. The same systems and structures we need to work with an employee across the world will help up work with our team members sitting on another floor or in another office.

Embracing remote work keeps existing employees happy
Research shows that employees that work from home are happier and ‘massively more productive’ and companies that offer working from home options can reduce attrition by up to 50%.

If working from home seems scary, don’t worry — you don’t necessarily need to dive into a full-time working-from-home arrangement. A policy where employees can work from home one or two days a week often gives your team the flexibility they’re craving and keeps your company competitive.

Remote working styles help you focus on real productivity
Thinking of your team as a remote team is a great way to instigate a new approach like this. Productivity tracking also doesn’t need to be as complex as you might think. For instance, it could include simple team disciplines like:

  • Holding a 10 minute start-of-day call to share each person’s plan for the day
  • A structure where everyone sends an end-of-day email to share what they’ve accomplished
  • A weekly share-your-work demonstration where the team takes turns to showcase something they’re working on and seek feedback from the team

Putting these types of structures in place is gets your team ready to work remotely but more importantly, improves team performance.

A remote working capability allows you to build a better team
By broadening the talent pool, you can often attract someone of a much higher calibre. For businesses located in small towns or in areas that have a lot of competition for top talent, offering a remote position can give you a huge advantage.

Start building your remote working capability
Working with a distributed team has its challenges, but these also force disciplines that are beneficial to all teams. Creating a framework for teamwork online, before you actually need go remote, is a wise step for all teams to take.
Plus, learning to manage a team online is a skill all managers need to learn and embrace – whether that’s to increase the performance of your existing team or to prepare for pending remote work.

3 Pitfalls You’ll Encounter When You Run a Business Out of Your Home | Maurie Backman, Fool.com

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There are plenty of benefits to running a business out of your home — namely, the convenience factor. When you work from home, you don’t waste time or spend money commuting, and you have easy access to your office at all times. On the other hand, there are certain hiccups you might encounter when you attempt to run a business from home. Here are a few to be aware of.

1. Loneliness
Working from home can be an isolating experience whether you’re running your own business or are employed by an outside firm. Of course, being busy, which business owners tend to be, can help negate some of the loneliness factor, since it’s hard to harp on that solitude when you have endless tasks to complete in a given week. Still, over time, it can get to you, so to remedy that, make your home office your primary workspace, but venture out when you can.

You might also consider working from a public library if you’re starved for company but need a reasonably quiet atmosphere. Incorporating even a modest degree of human interaction into your schedule can go a long way toward making your setup work better for you.

2. Distractions
To avoid falling behind on work obligations, make sure you have a separate, dedicated space for business matters — ideally, a room with a door that closes. Physically separating yourself from the rest of your home will help your brain process the fact that you need to be working and not doing other things.

3. No work-life balance
The beauty of running a business from home is having constant access to your workspace. The downside, however, is having constant access to your workspace. When you manage a business out of your home, it’s difficult to maintain a solid work-life balance because you could technically be doing your job all the time.

Of course, working too much can negatively impact your health, damage your personal relationships, and put you in a position where you risk completely burning out. A better idea? Create a schedule that dictates when you’ll be working versus living your life, and stick to it. If you’re supposed to wrap things up at 6 p.m. on a given day, commit to closing up shop at that point and joining your friends or family for dinner if that’s what you have planned. While it’s a good thing to be dedicated to your business, if you cross the line into total workaholism, you won’t end up doing yourself any favors.

Running a business from home can save you time and money, but it can also backfire if you aren’t careful. Now that you know what pitfalls to avoid, you’ll be better positioned to manage your business from home while maintaining your productivity and sanity along the way.

A Few Disgruntled Employees Can Destroy Your Company Culture | Richard Trevino II, Entrepreneur.com

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Disgruntled employees can pose a risk to your company by providing poor service – thus turning customers off — and they can create a negative work environment by creating stress and disharmony within the work group. Some disgruntled employees may purposely set out to cause trouble with unethical behavior, ranging from spreading rumors to stealing money and equipment. Let’s look at how disgruntled employees impact your operation and how to approach their impact in a constructive manner:

Productivity decline, hostile work environment and misappropriation of resources.
Unhappy, disgruntled employees can create a tense, negative and stressful atmosphere in the workplace, which affects the overall productivity of the team. These same employees can cause a hostile work environment. They are a drain on managers because managers, in turn, have to waste their time dealing with and resolving the problems they cause. Disgruntled employees can destroy a company’s culture by the misappropriation of essential company resources as well.

Keep your employees actively engaged and productive
When employees are acknowledged and their good performances are rewarded financially and professionally, they will be predisposed to being gratified and productive. Also, work-life balance is important to today’s employees. They must have time for their career, family and social life. When friendships and goodwill between employees are established, the positive-minded employees can provide support and encouragement to disgruntled employees.

Determine the cause of their issues and address them.
Open a dialogue with the disgruntled employees and determine their true concern, what their issues are and how you can help them resolve or get a better handle on them. Disgruntlement among employees can stem from various reasons, including perceived disrespectful treatment, need for recognition, culture of favoritism, poor performance evaluations, negative office interactions with peers and management staff, sexual harassment, lack of financial opportunities, or even limited career growth opportunity and domestic and health issues.

Ensure that employees are a right-fit for their job.
Employees are hired to do a job, and you must ensure that the right person is hired to perform that job. Regardless of the efforts you make in recognizing your employees and providing them with incentives, if employees’ interests and goals don’t match the company’s mission and vision, they are a misfit for the job. The best way to avoid the effects of disgruntled employees is to ensure that employees fit the company culture during the hiring process. Given that people can change over time and experiences, once productive employees might eventually change their interests and goals to the point where they no longer fit the company culture. At that point, it is best to determine whether there is a way that the company can still fulfill the employee’s interests and goals; if not, the employee needs to find other opportunities.

Company culture influences employee performance and customer perception, both affect the company’s reputation. Making sure that the company strives to maintain a positive culture diminishes disgruntlement among employees, but when it does happen, you should make sure to immediately address the issue so that it doesn’t destroy the inner workings and character of your company.

5 Signs You Desperately Need a Productivity Tool

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Image from Acclux.com

What does productivity mean to you? How do you manage to handle the tight deadlines and appointments that keep coming up? We are all terrible at maintaining a consistent level of productivity. You may find yourself juggling lots of responsibilities, workday spinning uncontrollably, feeling distracted, and simply procrastinating.

The best thing that can happen to anyone is being productive. In the words of Shawn Achor, “Happiness inspires productivity”. According to the Bureau of labor statistics, productivity in the business sector since 2007 has been consistently dropping.

We need productivity tools to streamline everything that needs to be done. How do you know if you need a tool?

Here are some signs that show you should start investing in a productivity tool to manage your productivity.

1. Your tasks are not running efficiently

There are some tasks of your job that are dull, repetitive and boring. You have to push yourself doing these tasks. When it comes to doing the work amazingly, you have to make sure you meet deadlines, reply to emails, and spend the right time in meetings. All of these things and more can be easily done, thanks to productivity software. If you don’t have productivity software and you are facing a steep fall in your efficient performance, it’s time to get one. You will be able to create tasks on your own efficiently and avoid an extra leg work on your already busy day!

2. No one knows what anyone else is doing

How do you know what you and your team is working on day in and day out? How do you know if they are overloaded or sitting idle browsing social media. It is required to have a quick glance over the workload to make the process of assigning tasks much simpler. If so, using a productivity tool will allow project managers to know who is working on which tasks, and if everyone is in loop. The tasks will be distributed equally, avoiding overloading and missing deadlines. In addition, it will also prevent employee burnout.

3. There are a lot of status-related questions

Often, it becomes frustrating for project managers to daily ask for updates on the status of the tasks. If you have to hold meetings just for checking the status of the project then you really need to get a software that displays the status of every ongoing and completed task. Everyone in the team, project manager and clients can have a quick look at the ongoing status of every task and know who is responsible for what. It saves a lot of time, effort and misunderstanding to have a check on which tasks are running late and who is not on track.

4. You are just cranking through

Today, more and more people are over occupied with various tasks that keeps them switching between tasks in order to complete faster. And in this process they lose focus and productivity. You get very little done and will mostly postpone doing some important things. This is why you need to have a project management tool where you can assign tasks based on priority to avoid multitasking. Whether working remotely or in the office, you will know when you need to focus.

Tip: Productivity tools come in a wide range of software to reduce the time you spend and increase the productivity.

5. You are using too many tools

There are countless number of tools coming up in the market, but it makes no sense to use more than one for your work. It just creates confusion and clutter. A project management tool will keep up all your needs of productivity, time tracking, maintaining a task list and everything you may need. Switch to one tool so you don’t waste your time hopping from one tool to other and get solutions at your fingertips.

Productivity is your duty

Pick a tool that fits your needs and you will be amazed to see the outcome when you combine productivity with technology. The true benefits of productivity tools will be visible the more you incorporate it into your workflow. Realize the full power of tool to make it possible for you to complete more projects in less time.

How do you increase your work efficiency without increasing your hours? Leave us a comment and let us know.

 

Vartika Kashyap is the Marketing Manager at ProofHub and has been one of the LinkedIn Top Voices in 2017. Her articles are inspired by office situations and work-related events. She likes to write about productivity, team building, work culture, leadership, entrepreneurship among others and contributing to a better workplace is what makes her click.

Remote Work Digest: July 18, 2018

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

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

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

Establish Expectations

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

Set-Up Regular Meetings and Short Check-Ins

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

Utilize the Right Tools

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

Be Wary of Time Zones

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

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

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

Final Thoughts

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Be prepared to work the gig you land

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Remote Work Digest: June 16, 2018

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

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

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

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

The burden of self-promotion

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

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

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

Working in a lonely solo void

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

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

Struggling with your calendar

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

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

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

Scope creep

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

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

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

Chasing clients for payment

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Remote Work Digest: May 9, 2017

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

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Image from https://www.pgi.com/blog/2017/07/why-remote-work-policies-fail-some-employers/

These 10 tips will help you enjoy working from home | Joshua Trudell, Rare.us

Having a home office and working from home can be a blessing and a curse. Here are 10 tips that’ll help you enjoy working in your own space.

1. Figure out tax repercussions

To write off home-office costs, you must use the area for work only and on a regular basis. You should be able to write off 100 percent of costs associated exclusively with your home office — everything from buying a work computer to office supplies.

2. Create a daily work schedule

If you work for one company, try to set well-defined work hours to avoid phone calls and emails without boundaries on your personal time. If you are a well organized self-starter with time management skills, you’ll be better off.

3. Keep your visibility high

People who work from home are often saddled with an unfair label that they can’t really manage others while working from home.  To help ward that off, make an effort to show-up on a regular basis for meetings and other office gatherings.

4. Be an extrovert

Co-workers can also be envious of your freedom, so make the effort to get out of the house and get in an out-of-the-office lunch or coffee with them to avoid the hard feelings.

5. Network electronically

Look into judicious use of social media – particularly those outlets that can relate to your profession, such as LinkedIn. Comment on posts and contribute your own to display your expertise and get that connected feeling.

6. Get dressed (or not)

If you’re going to be more comfortable and can stay focused on work while in jeans and a T-shirt – that’s one of the benefits of working at home. if you are going to be meeting or videoconferencing with co-workers or clients, you should dress appropriately.

7. Be prepared to be your own IT department

If you’re an employee, try to butter up someone in the IT department, who you can reach out to in a pinch. If not, invest in some training – possibly an inexpensive class at a community college or know the quickest route to the Apple store in your neighborhood.

8. Become familiar with web-based applications

Know the cloud, love the cloud – it’s your friend.

9. Don’t forget about insurance

Most home-business owners have little or no coverage from their homeowner’s policy. What’s more, if you file a homeowner’s (or renter’s) claim for losses that stemmed from an undisclosed home-based business, your insurer may not cover it.

10. Set up your computer so you don’t waste time online

Try setting up two user accounts – one for work, which allows the apps and sites you need to get work done, and another for personal use. If you continue to have issues, try getting a laptop for personal use and put it somewhere inconvenient during the day.

Make Your Workforce Smarter By Letting Them Work Remotely | Boris Dzhingarov, TgDaily.com

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In a society that has mostly valued hard work in the form of manual labor over the creativity and problem-solving of the mind, it’s rough being creative when your skillsets and talents don’t function on the typical work cycle of Monday through Friday from the crack of dawn until sunset. Thankfully, many tech industry employers are catching on to the need to allow their workers more freedom both inside and outside of the office. Companies like eBay, Facebook, Google, and even Apple – with their relaxed environments and remote work forces – are all setting an example of what it looks like to prepare for a future of absolute genius.

Problems are solved unconsciously

If you’re like most businesses, you probably have creative team members functioning in various roles who need to solve problems as part of their jobs. The dilemma is that solutions are not likely to come while they’re sitting at their desk looking busy. Solutions are found when the mind is not engaged in rational or deep thought. These solutions come at times when the conscious mind is free – in the car, in the shower, while taking a walk, or upon arising from a nap.

Getting the conscious mind out of the way

When the conscious mind is running the show, the prefrontal cortex is in charge. The prefrontal cortex provides the ability to focus and meet deadlines; however, it also kills creativity because when logical and rational thought are engaged, the brain brushes off creative solutions before the conscious mind picks up on them.

How freedom affects productivity 

Remote workers have been proven to be happier and more productive than those who work the traditional 9-5 schedule. Statistics show that the average 9-5 office worker only gets about 3 hours of work done per day. That’s a huge difference!

Traditional schedules don’t work for all-around

If you want to see better results in your business, before you buy the next best system for success, try allowing your staff to work from home a couple days out of the week. You’ll probably be surprised to see your staff’s happiness and productivity rise at the same time.

3 Ways Virtual Workers Make Organizations More Effective | Munira Rangwala, Yourstory.com

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Technology has made it possible for startups to hire the best talent from all across the world at sensible rates. Startups are recognizing the importance of creating and managing virtual teams and the big billion dollar companies are soon following suit. One survey reports that 73 percent of employees believe that the challenges that virtual teams pose are overshadowed by the benefits. Today, entrepreneurs are readily outsourcing duties that are not within the main scope of their business to virtual employees.

Here are three ways in which virtual workers make organizations more efficient.

Best talent available

If companies begin to feel that managing a virtual team is creating more work for them, they are bound to give up on the idea of remote working. The solution to this is to create a common framework so that managers as well as virtual employees can work together effectively once they have found each other. Virtual assistant companies do just that. They add an important layer of management to the freelance economy which benefits the companies that hire them and the talent that works for them.

Effective administration

Virtual employees are often better at operating social tools that help streamline teamwork and collaboration. This allows virtual workers to be effective at tasks that generate maximum value for their company.

Allotment of resources

By reducing the number of on-site employees, a lot of small and mid-size organizations are reconsidering the traditional office expenditures. However, virtual talent doesn’t come cheap. If companies want to hire the best, they should be open to shelling out larger paychecks.

If you still aren’t sure about outsourcing work, look at your motivations and see if they align with the benefits of outsourcing. Consider the amount of time, money, and management efforts outsourcing will save your company and only then go ahead with the decision.

How to Make an Awesome Remote Team | Kirsten Helvey, Fortune.com

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Here are some strategies for helping your own team work effectively, wherever its members may be:

Use the best collaboration tools

It can be easy for people to begin to feel disconnected and thus disengaged, so make sure you utilize the best technology to enhance your remote workplace.

Foster team spirit

The office should be a social place where relationships are built. Although it can feel awkward at first, video conferencing can really help remote teams get to know each other. Also, try to partake in employee celebrations for major milestones, such as birthdays, work anniversaries, and big accomplishments.

Flex your work schedule
Remote workers should have the freedom to choose not just when they work, but how they spend their work hours.

Engage with your manager

Regular check-ins with managers are foundation to successful remote working relationships. The more a manager understands your day-to-day activities, the better. I find that documenting tasks and goals for both the near term (weekly and monthly) and the long term (quarterly and annually) is crucial to staying on track.

Working remotely requires strong communication, established goals, and clear expectations. If you can stick to these guidelines, you’ll end up a happier and more engaged employee.