Remote Work Digest: March 21, 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Beverly Flaxington suggests trying the following techniques:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Great Ways to Make Money from Home

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Remote Work Digest: February 14, 2019

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

Hosting Your First Webinar? 3 Tips for Success | Syed Balkhi, Business.com

2cee678cef0f84b7694202d8def5ca98A webinar is a presentation where a host shares information with an audience. The information can be anything, so long as it educates your audience by giving them new and exciting information, or provides value to them via information that may be much harder to understand without the host. According to a study by the Content Marketing Institute, 61 percent of B2B content marketers use webinars as an effective tool for marketing their business.

Here are three tips to help you nail your first presentation.

Consider Content Over Your Pitch
Imagine if you were invested in an upcoming webinar, only to find out that it was a big sales pitch. Two things would likely happen. First, you’d probably be disappointed in the host, and second, you would be less likely to go back and watch the next webinar from that creator.

Harvard Business Review cited in their findings that webinars are at their most efficient when they teach a newly emerging technology. The reason for this is simple — people are looking for trustworthy information from a reputable source. Immediately jumping to the pitch can destroy your chances at appearing credible.

There’s nothing wrong with working on your sales pitch and perfecting it. However, your primary concern should be educating and engaging with your audience.

Use Time to Your Advantage
A general rule of thumb is you want to avoid the first and last day of the work week for your target audience. This is usually a time of getting new projects started or closing up existing projects and loose ends.

Webinar Ninja did discover a “sweet spot” as it pertains to time though. Typically, you can expand your reach by hosting your webinar between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. on “good” days for your audience, and in their time zone. They found that during this time, their webinar presentations had a 47 percent attendance rate. When mid-low 20s is the average attendance rate, it’s safe to say there is a proper time to host your first webinar.

Use All of Your Marketing Channels for Promotion
You’re going to want to bring out the big guns, create social media ad campaigns via Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn or whatever other outlets you frequent. Make sure you market your target audience, explain the benefits of the webinar and the cost (if applicable).

At the same time, every customer who comes to your website should know that your webinar is coming. You can create custom optin popups for customers and encourage them to sign up for your mailing list for more information on the webinar as the date of the presentation approaches.

Finally, you’re going to want to send out reminder emails to your lead lists leading up to the webinar. A good rule is to send a two-week reminder, one-week reminder, one-day reminder, and two day-of reminders.

Conclusion
There’s no doubt that it takes nerves of steel to do your first live webinar — but it’s so worth it. The experience and personal interaction you get with your customer base are unmatched. You’ll be able to reach a wider audience, provide valuable information about emerging technologies and ideas, as well as your brand and how you can help.

If you’re using insights to track your traffic and sales post-webinar, you’ll be able to see if your event had a marked impact on your business.

Pros and Cons of Working From Home | Robin Madell, Money.usnews.com

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Just like working in an office, remote work comes with pros and cons. To explore both the benefits of working from home as well as the drawbacks, I conducted informal interviews with more than 100 people with remote working jobs. Below are some of the top themes that emerged about remote workers’ favorite aspects of telecommuting and the challenges that come with a work-from-home lifestyle.

The pros and cons of working from home are:

  • Pro: You have flexibility to take care of appointments and errands.
  • Con: There is no physical separation between work and leisure time.
  • Pro: There are fewer interruptions from meetings and chitchat.
  • Con: It is easy to misread cues via electronic communications.
  • Pro: There is no commute time or expense.
  • Con: You have to make the effort to get a change of scenery.

Pro: You have flexibility to take care of appointments and errands.
When you work from home, while you still have to meet your deadlines and be available when you say you will be, you generally have wider bandwidth to tend to other responsibilities without jeopardizing your job.

Con: There is no physical separation between work and leisure time.
“It’s a constant balancing act to make sure you’re taking enough time for your family and yourself,” says Carrie Hill, co-founder of Ignitor Digital Marketing, who has been working from home for the last six years. “The pitfall is that there’s always a computer on and available, so setting boundaries and sticking to those boundaries is pretty important.”

Pro: There are fewer interruptions from meetings and chitchat.
It’s easier to get into a flow state of deep work when you’re in your home office without colleagues dropping by and sitting down impromptu to talk about their weekends. Limiting unnecessary interruptions from your colleagues and boss is a big plus of working from home and is one reason why many remote workers are more productive than office-based workers.

Con: It is easy to misread cues via electronic communications
“Just like in relationships, it can be easy to misconstrue tonality of someone’s messages. We’re often blind without body language and facial expressions to rely on, and we assume the worst. Therefore, there needs to be extra effort made in maintaining positive communications,” says Michael Sunderland, managing director of Full Stack Talent.

Pro: These is no commute time or expense.
You can save a lot of money and avoid wasting hours that others spend simply getting to and from work when your office is right down the hall. Avoiding traffic battles and long-distance schleps tops the list of benefits for some of those who work from home.

Con: You have to make the effort to get a change of scenery.
What can be a blessing can also become a curse in the form of cabin fever. Some freelancers and others who work from home lamented that the place they work during the day is the exact same place they’ll be sitting later that evening and that getting involved in their work often translates to spending a huge portion of the day indoors. Many stressed the importance of scheduling lunches and other meetings to keep them in the mix and avoid the rut of never leaving the house.

Remote work has clear benefits, but no situation is perfect. Understanding the reasons to work from home – as well as the reasons not to – can go a long way in learning how to work from home successfully.

Look Before You Leap: 8 Things to Know Before Taking the Dive into Self-Employment | Melissa Thompson, Axcessnews.com

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Working from home is a completely different experience than working in an office and there are many things you need to think about when becoming self-employed. It can be easy to overlook some of them with the buzz of taking the leap.

But if you read this guide to eight things you need to know before becoming self-employed, you’ll feel much more prepared.

1. You’ll Need Space To Work
Working from home may need a bit of reorganization of your space.

It helps to have a dedicated work space, even in your house. This will help you make the distinction between work life and home life. So when you are sat at your desk, you’re at work.

It will also help you keep all your work supplies and paperwork in one place and prevent you from losing things.

2. You Are the Team
If you have been working for an organization, you were probably part of a team. But if you’re going to become self-employed, you’ll be on your own.

That means there won’t be an IT department to call if you are having tech issues. There won’t be anyone to do your filing or tidy up after you, and there won’t be someone to pick up the slack if you are snowed under.

3. No One Will Sort Out Your Taxes
You may have had all of your taxes taken care of if you worked for a larger company. But if you are self-employed, your taxes are your responsibility.

But don’t be too daunted! There is plenty of advice available online about your tax responsibilities that will help you estimate what you owe.

4. Self-Employment Needs Financial Planning
If you are used to a regular paycheck each month, becoming self-employed can be a bit of a shock to the system.

It’s unlikely your income will be that consistent, especially in the first few months. So you need to plan for this and budget accordingly.

Work out the minimum you need to make, and what your essential expenses will be, and always have a back-up plan. Make sure you won’t be overstretched when you first start out, there will be enough to worry about!

5. Saving Is a Must
Because your income and your tax are your responsibility, it is important that you put money aside for your tax bill.

Whether you factor it into your regular budgeting or set up a specific savings account, it is essential you save some money.

6. Insurance Is Your Responsibility
Things like health insurance, dental plans, life insurance, and earnings protection will be down to you to sort out.

If you are the main breadwinner in your family, then insurance is even more important, as anything that prevents you from working can be really serious.

7. Keep Your Contacts
While it might feel like a relief to walk away from your old job, you should still try and leave on good terms. Becoming self-employed can be a risky venture, so you will need as many contacts as possible.

You never know when your old business contacts or old colleagues may come in useful in the future, whether as clients or just to ask advice. So keep hold of that contact list.

8. You Still Need a Schedule
It can be easy to get distracted when you work at home. When you don’t have a manager or a team to coordinate your schedule with, it is easy for your working day to lose some structure.

Even if you are not arranging meetings you should still create a daily schedule and stick to it.

So those are eight things you should know before you switch to self-employment.

You will need to be organized, manage your finances and your taxes, and take care of your own benefits. But hopefully it will reap rewards and you won’t look back.

5 Tech Careers You Can Do From Home | T2conline.com

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Are you currently in the tech field or hoping to make a transition into the field in the near future? Maybe you feel as though the daily grind and commute to work is just taking too much time out of your schedule, and making it hard to keep the household running smoothly where the kids are concerned. If so, it may be time to look into careers you can do from home, in particular tech careers.

Here’s a look at five that may just be exactly what you are looking for.

PCB Designer
Because technology is becoming more of a requirement in businesses across all industries, there are constantly new plans and projects being pieced together and then implemented. This is where an IT project manager comes into play. They will build the project, set up the team, identify issues, track all the steps and milestones, and ensure that everything moves smoothly.

Web Designer
As a web designer, you’ll be responsible for building websites from scratch and re-designing existing ones. This means your coding skills need to be on point.

IT Project Manager
Because technology is becoming more of a requirement in businesses across all industries, there are constantly new plans and projects being pieced together and then implemented. This is where an IT project manager comes into play. They will build the project, set up the team, identify issues, track all the steps and milestones, and ensure that everything moves smoothly.

System Administrator
For many businesses out there, a system administrator is a crucial part of their team, as this administrator is who ensures their computer system runs efficiently and properly at all times. You will work to configure and upkeep the servers and computers, which thanks to technology can all be done remotely nowadays.

Software Engineer
In this position, you will work to create and then develop software for systems and computers. Most likely you will be working as part of a remote team, which can also be a benefit for those who like to be part of a group and collective atmosphere.

Each of these careers can prove to be an excellent choice for anyone looking to pursue an at-home tech career which provides all the flexibility you’re after.

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: October 16, 2018

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

How To Stay Focused When You’re Working At Home & Distracted AF | Marisa Casciano, Elitedaily.com

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Unlike some people in this world, your commute to the couch is nonexistent. But, as sweet as working from home can be, it’s sometimes not the most ideal situation for when you need to hustle and bustle. Lucky for you, being a #girlboss and getting rid of those distractions is possible. Just take these eight tips, and you’ll be good to go.

1. CREATE AN OFFICE SPACE
Not working in a traditional office can be a fun and unique experience. However, you shouldn’t turn your pillow into a coworker. Learn to separate your living space from your work space within your own home, and create your own “office.” This could be a table with a coaster for your coffee in the morning, or one spot in your kitchen that you work in on the reg. See you later, distractions!

2. WORK OUT SOME PERSONAL DEADLINES
Don’t give yourself the time and energy to procrastinate. Every morning, write down the things you want to get done, and then stick to that schedule. Tell yourself that the press release needs to be done before your lunch break, or that the first stages of the marketing campaign need to be organized by 4 P.M. Just like that, you’re creating a work ethic and diving into your passions, too.

3. PICK A TIME FOR LUNCH
Just like creating those personal deadlines, pick a time when you’re going to eat lunch every day. This helps you stick to a normal schedule, and not steer off course. Truth is, when you get distracted and put your work off a bit, you tend to be stressed out later on. Get into a routine, and that won’t be the case.

4. STICK TO A MORNING ROUTINE
Truth is, when you don’t have to account for traffic along your morning commute and simply sign onto via your laptop, it’s easy to stay in bed a little bit longer. You often let yourself hit “snooze” one too many times, and find yourself rushing around your house, that first few minutes of your day. Break that bad habit right now, and your distractions will go down, simply because you’re more prepared to hit the ground running and get to work.

5. STAY OFF OF SOCIAL MEDIA
Do yourself a favor, and put that screen down, if you really want to focus while working at home. Tell yourself that you can’t check Instagram until you’ve handed in your next assignment, or give yourself five minutes every hour to check your phone and then throw it in a drawer on the other side of the room. Trust me, and then thank me later, OK?

6. GET OUTSIDE ON YOUR BREAK
Getting outside can be a great way to combat distraction. It gives you a change in location, and lets your mind wander past the laptop screen. (Not to mention, you might run into a pup or two! Um, yes please.) So, during your break, take a walk around your neighborhood or sit out on your deck. That sort of thing.

7. LET YOURSELF LAUGH IT OUT
Give into your distractions for a little while, and your brains naturally hits the refresh button. Look at your favorite memes, aimlessly scroll through social media, or watch a few videos on YouTube that have always made you smile or feel inspired. In no time, you’re back to work and feeling better than ever before.

8. ONE WORD: HEADPHONES
When in doubt, put in some headphones. The outside world can be so distracting. Did you hear that car going down the street? What’s your roommate making in the kitchen? Is that your neighbor’s pup that’s barking upstairs? Just like that, you’ve completely lost your train of thought and motivation to get work done.

So, stop the distractions before they even start, and play some music. Tune into some acoustic jams, and tune out of the nonsense going on around you. Working from home is a sweet deal most of the time, but when you need to buckle down and focus, sometimes you just need a little extra help. *Cue “Work” by Rihanna and let’s go.*

How to Discipline an Employee for Absenteeism | Priyansha Mistry, Thehrdigest.com

It is often difficult when trying to address employee absenteeism when it has become a habit. Hence, business managers try to work employee’s attitude towards absenteeism rather than correcting the event. Meanwhile, the task of employee absence management is one that requires careful measures. While you can’t force employees to be at work, those that would ridicule productivity need not remain in your team.

Here is a workable procedure to handle absenteeism among employees.

1. Design an employee attendance policy
As a manager, you are expected to design an attendance policy for your employees to make your fight effective. Most importantly, this policy must cut across every employee and must outline in details when and how they should work. In creating employee attendance policy, all issues related to attendance should be addressed. In addition, the policy should stipulate disciplinary actions for defaulters which should be based on the level of offense.

2. Ensure consistent enforcement
Consistent enforcement does not suggest a lack of empathy towards employees. It simply means that the policy should not be taken for a flake. Being immediate and proactive in policy enforcement shows the employees commitment to the management.

3. Find out the reason for absenteeism
As a manager, when you notice a consistency in absenteeism, you should call it out. Invite the employee and try to find out the reasons for their absence. Your findings will help any conclusion you need to make.

What kind of disciple should be taken?
One thing very clear is that, even with the policies and tight levels of enforcement, absenteeism will still happen. This means that some employees will be disciplined. However, the kind of discipline to be meted out will depend on the nature of the absenteeism. Employees who call in to inform about their absence may have a lesser case depending on their reasons. But for workers who form it as a habit to be absent and even neglect the place of pre-information, stricter measures should be taken. They should be written to and made to answer queries for their action.

You may want to reward employees who are consistent to work to encourage others. Also, studies have shown that employee engagement is also an effective tool to help them to show more commitment to work. However, the mentioned procedures on how to discipline an employee for absenteeism will help to keep everyone in shape.

More Than Higher Pay and Promotions, Millenials Value These 4 Benefits Most | Adam Robinson, Inc-Asean.com

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Recent data shows 60 percent of employees indicate benefits and perks are a major factor when accepting a job offer, and 80 percent of employees would choose additional benefits over a pay raise.

Realizing job seeker demands, some employers are getting creative when it comes to perks by letting employees choose their own. Below, I’ve outlined a few examples of flexible employee perks and the benefits of each.

1. Points of Budget-Based Perks
While your business might have standard options for healthcare, your bonus structure and other larger benefits, there’s much more room to be flexible with smaller perks. One company in particular is doing just this – N6A, a public relations agency based in New York, offers its employees points, which they can redeem to for free coffee, airline miles and more. The points are earned through both individual and company achievements.

Your business can take on a similar approach, either by offering a points-based system or a set budget for employee perks. Other perks might include discounted public transportation, professional development budget, bonus vacation days, and more.

2. Technology Spending Account
Depending on the individual and role, your employees might need different tools to be their most productive. For example, one employee might work best with noise canceling headphones while another needs a second monitor to complete projects more efficiently. To address this, consider offering employees a set technology budget when they start the job, but allow each employee to select their own tools.

3. Health and Wellness Options
Similar to the technology budget, consider offering employees a menu of different wellness options, including gym memberships, healthy lunch options, intramural sports teams, discounted bike rentals, and more. By giving employees the chance to choose their perks, they can opt for the wellness perks that will best serve their overall health, well being and productivity.

4. Flexible Holidays
Today’s workforce is increasingly diverse, so offering flexible holidays can help your team attract top talent across different faiths, cultural backgrounds and values. And according to a study from Harvard Business Review, more diverse workforces lead to increased creativity and faster decision making.

In today’s competitive job market with record-low unemployment, employers need to take extra steps to attract top talent. By letting employees choose their own perks, you can stand out from the competition when it comes to attracting and hiring engaged employees.

10 Motivation Tips For Freelancers Who Work From Home | Annie Ridout, Forbes.com

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According to science, motivated people have higher levels of dopamine – a chemical released by neurons (nerve cells) to send signals to other nerve cells. It’s this chemical that motivates us to get up and go for a run, rather than just sitting on the sofa and thinking about it. Or to start work.

Fortunately, it’s possible to trigger a dopamine release; meaning being motivated is something that can be learned; it’s not necessarily a genetic trait. So, if you find it hard to get started in the morning and need some tricks to kickstart your brain into work-mode, these will help…

1. Ditch the PJs
While still in your nightwear, your brain basically remains in sleep mode, so get up, showered and dressed before you start work. Just as you would if you worked in an office.

2. Swallow the frog
Propercorn founder Cassandra Stavrou has a workplace tradition of beginning the day with ‘swallow the frog’. Each employee has a toy frog on their desk and it represents that one, dreaded task. Complete it and the frog can leave your desk. You can then get on with the work you actually want to be doing.

3. Plan your day
Starting out with a full day ahead – and no plan of what you’re doing, when – can be overwhelming. So write a list of all the tasks that need doing – actually write it, rather than doing it on your phone, then you’ll have the satisfaction of striking off tasks once they’re complete.

4. Limit emails
Most of us are emailed multiple times a day – by clients, colleagues, employers, friends and family but also for marketing purposes. These emails easily distract from the task you’re working on, so set yourself email-checking times.

5. Take a break
As well as allocating set times for each job, designate breaks for yourself. A cup of tea between tasks is a good excuse for a break from the screen. It also signals that it’s time to move on to the next job. Equally, decide what time you’ll have lunch and try to eat it at the table, away from your work.

6. Set an end-time
You may have a work cutoff if you have kids in childcare who need collecting but even if you don’t: set your own end-time. Psychologically, this will help you to get started, as you know that once it hits 5pm (for instance), you’re free to relax. How you spend the rest of the evening is then up to you.

7. Fresh air and exercise
Starting the day with a run – even just a five-minute jog around the block – or a brisk walk will help to wake you up. The exercise gives you endorphins which energise you and make you feel happier; a blast of fresh air awakens all the senses.

8. Working unconventional hours
Keep realistic expectations: set yourself just an hour for work, knowing that after that you can head straight to bed or watch telly. Again, having the evening stretching out ahead with no set plan will feel daunting. Decide on your task(s) and get it done within the hour. Continuing work when you’re tired is pointless; it won’t be your best work. Keep it short and focused.

9. Use an app
If you find yourself feeling fuzzy-headed or in a muddle, and need to reset before you can continue with work, try a mind app. Headspace teaches you mindfulness and brings you back to the present, while Calm is good for slowing down your breath and busy mind. Hypnotherapy app Clementine has a power nap recording – if you need 30 minutes of shuteye – or sessions for both confidence and de-stressing. You can just sit back and listen.

10. Treat yourself
This doesn’t mean spend £60 on a massage – though you can, if you want – it means finding little ways to boost yourself throughout the day. For instance, drinking your morning coffee while standing in the garden, in peace. Or a relaxing afternoon bath. Maybe it’s a glass of wine at the end of the working day. Whatever it is, if it brings your some joy, make it part of your daily routine.

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.

 

Review of Shift Management SaaS

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Employee shift management has always been an integral but tedious part of the business process. This is primarily due to the huge number of tiny details you have to keep track of. Each employee has shift they have to follow through with, but that also comes with overtime schedules, off days, and unusual work hours. Recording these details manually can be a heavy task. There are always unexpected events such as employees calling in sick or schedule conflicts arising when making shift adjustments. The list goes on and on, and this is why shift management has always been an unappreciated job for any manager. Here is where Shift Management SaaS apps come in to lighten the load. These tools are leveraging web, mobile, social technologies and sophisticated algorithms to make the tedious shift management job easier and even sometimes enjoyable. So, for the company that needs more efficiency with less stress, here are a few SaaS shift managing programs your business can use right now.

PlanDay

Retail or restaurant businesses may experience a few problems when it comes to their workforce. While a stable staff is great, sometimes you will need extras or replacements in order to accommodate more traffic. PlanDay is the answer to a lot of the needs of businesses which use freelancers as a workforce. However, the program also comes with an array of schedule templates which makes any transitional process much easier. PlanDay also works with time constraints in mind; the program constantly checks for any conflicts or double booking issues. Finally, its integrated payroll feature allows for quick calculations on payday.

Pros
– Union Rules can be applied to employee schedules
– Employees are given a measure of power by allowing them to exchange shifts with other workers
– The extensive event management system ensures that you can schedules public and private functions instantly
– Cross platform support allows you to schedule and monitor shifts on a phone, tab, and from your desktop.

Cons
– Adding overtime, budgeting, turnover, external events, and union rules to the program will cost more per month.
– Training on your part will be necessary
– Larger companies with more than 150 will have to negotiate a special package with the company

Shift Planning

From the get go, Shift Planning presents itself as a clear and user friendly program. The prime difference between SP and PD is that the former uses a clean grid interface rather than a drop down menu with hour long assignable shifts. Each schedule is laid out cleanly on a grid and every box represents each day of the week. The power of shift management can also be shared to your employees, much like PlanDay. The relative flexibility of the program will ensure that you keep track of your employees’ payrolls and any fluid changes will show up in your inbox as soon as it happens. Pricing ranges from $33 for 20 people all the way to a customizable package which can be negotiated upon with the people at Shift Planning.

Pros
– Free month long training program
– Excellent and simple time tracking and scheduling
– Map options allow you to set up schedules in different locations
– Integrates and syncs up with 3rd party apps like Google Docs

Cons
– Notifications are still limited to SMS and emails
– More active push notification would be welcome
– Extensive employee profile modifications mean extensive and set up
– The program is better used in a restaurant environment

7Shifts

7Shifts is a bit a like Shift Planning in that it offers restaurants an alternative to spread sheet and pen paper scheduling. Upon start up, you’ll be treated to a clean interface with a very minimalistic look and theme. There are few options available, but that isn’t a negative in this case. Clicking on a specific shift or job will show you the schedules and employee profiles assigned to each. It also supports multi-location planning so catering services are made simpler. Mobile presence and an online manager log book ensures that on the fly changes are possible and easy.

Pros
– Simple but detailed scheduling system
– Task reassignment and trade are even easier
– Predictive scheduling system allows you to have an accurate reflection of hours on an employee’s payroll

Cons
– Employee bidding is a little difficult to get a hang of
– The program’s focus on restaurant makes it very limited
– Established employee profiles mean temp workers will have to fill out the full form

Hello Scheduling

Hello Scheduling has a very simple foundation; scheduling with a friendly vibe. Instead of setting days, the schedules are laid out according to the employee’s time. It will detail the time all your employees and present them in a graph. There’s shift swaps and requests for time off, making it easier for your staff to swap workloads whenever available. Pricing is also relatively cheap when compared with the rest of the programs on this list. However, Hello Scheduling’s simplicity is both a blessing and a bit of a letdown as well.

 

Pros
– Accurate to the dot scheduling mechanics
– Relatively easy to use so training is optional
– Cheap monthly rates
Cons
-Only the second package onwards include the Time Clock
– It lacks a few advanced features like expansive rules or more detailed schedule modifications
– Web Based and can prove unstable with sketchy connections

ESchedule

Seeing this program from startup looks gorgeous because of how well presented the UI looks. It’s easy to find the tasks and the schedules you’ll need to alter. Employee accounts will also come with the ability to trade and grab new shifts. One of the bonuses to this program is that it supports a wide number of employees and juggles all schedules with relative easy. Active reporting is also a plus because you’ll be served an overview of your businesses movements. ESchedule is very flexible in that it can be up-scaled from a smaller business all the way up to a mid-scale company. It is also the cheapest program, coming in at $20 at the most basic package.

Pros
– Relatively cheap packages with a significant number of employee counts making it perfect for starter companies
– The shift guidance feature helps you set up future schedules using historical demands
– Excellent UI and it is also very user friendly
– A long free trial period which allows you to make a more informed decision

Cons
– It’s a very basic program
– No Payroll system
– This is another program which focuses more on restaurant shift management

These are just a few of the most reliable SaaS shift management programs available on the market right now. It is worthy to note that you can subscribe to each of these programs’ free trials if you need to test the water for any one of these programs.

Group Chat and Collaborative Work: The Future of Online Job Interactions

collaboration_group_chatThe Internet has made many things possible across the world. People from the opposite hemispheres can chat in real time consistently and constantly. However, the real revolution is how the Internet makes it easier for people to work together. Companies can hire global freelancers and even set up whole businesses based online. Of course, a company can still live with using different silo tools to handle their collaboration, such as using Skype for text and voice chat, join.me for screen sharing, gotomymeeting.com for full-blown team meetings,  Asana for project and task management, Google docs for document sharing. The list goes on. The more technologies a company employs, the more pressing it has become to maintain, search and collaborate on the dispersed information in an effective way. A new breed of application has emerged to take on such challenges presented by trend of dispersed work locations, variety of devices and wide range of SaaS tools used. These products almost all started with the cornerstone capability, Group Chat. But as things evolve, there have become much more advanced than group chat and now encompass a spectrum of functionality ranging from video conference to interconnectedness of all relevant apps. The grand vision is to provide everything you need to get your work done. For businesses that need to bring their collaboration to a whole new level, here are some of the best such collaboration suites. Continue reading