Remote Work Digest: August 31, 2021

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

How to Improve the Efficiency Of Your Small Business: 6 Tips | Yucatan Times, Theyucatantimes.com

Growing your business will largely depend on how efficient you run it and what is certain is that it won’t happen overnight. Though some companies will experience faster growth than others, improving your business is primarily a matter of time. There are many things you need to do to improve the efficiency of your business for it to grow, including: 

Review Existing Processes

The first and foremost thing you have to do to improve your business’s efficiency is to evaluate the existing process. To make anything better, you first have to assess its current state. By reviewing the existing processes of your business, you can get a good idea of what works and what doesn’t. 

Understand Your Customers

A vital thing you have to do to improve the efficiency of your business is to understand your customers. They are the backbone of every small business and will help you grow even in difficult times.

One of the best ways to reduce the inefficiencies in your business is to embrace feedback. Collect information from your employees and customers through research and surveys and find ways to improve your business efficiency.

Use Technology

One of the best tools to use to improve the efficiency of your business in the modern age is technology. If you embrace technology, you can dramatically improve business efficiency and have great results.

Automation of business processes has become incredibly popular in the recent past, and it will continue to do so. The greatest benefit automation offers to small businesses is eradicating menial, time-consuming tasks from your staff so they can focus on higher priority tasks.

Consider Outsourcing Your Payroll

Managing payroll is a time-consuming task that burdens most HR departments or payroll offices. It can make business processes very inefficient, negatively affecting employees, which further increases inefficiency.

Companies that outsource their payroll can free their employees for much more critical work. The increase in efficiency should also increase profitability and employee satisfaction. 

Get Funding

All small businesses need access to capital for them to grow and improve their business processes. Investing in technology, collecting and receiving customer feedback, among other activities, will require finances.

Therefore, you should figure out a way for your business to obtain some financing which can be difficult for small businesses. Loans are one way for small businesses to get funding for their endeavors.

Set Realistic Goals

The goals you set for your business should be SMART: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timely. Moreover, it would be best to give your business ample time to incorporate the necessary changes and then review their effects in six months to a year.

It would be best if you did not let change management become more important than improving efficiency. If you correctly set goals, improving the efficiency of various business processes will take a functional and stable approach. 

In conclusion, improving the efficiency of your business is a challenging undertaking. The six tips above will be of tremendous help. They will help your business become more efficient without compromising other essential elements.

Work From Home Set Up Ideas: 5 Easy Tips For Any Space, Floridanewstimes.com

Establishing a work-from-home location that’s practical, pleasant (and relaxing!), and at the same time feasible should be among the first things on your to-do list.

And, because we’re all hoping to prevent traveling to the supermarket, and many establishments are presently shut, you would like to construct this temporary workspace out of items you already have at home. The good news is that if you become imaginative, you will probably already have everything you need.

Get the correct equipment.

Before we set up ideas for a remote office, we need to understand what the required equipment is for such a place to work.

Listed below are the basic requirements of any workspace that is required daily to work professionally.

  • A desk for all your things.
  • A chair to support you.
  • A strong Wifi connection for proper functioning.
  • Proper and adequate lighting to not put any stress on your eyes.
  • A calendar to mark the important dates and timeline.
  • A to-do list so you can keep track of all your activities and pending work that you need to pay attention to and complete.
  • Plants and other things brighten the room and calm you to give you the inspiration to work better.

To succeed in working independently and designing your own schedule, you’ll need motivation, strategy, and support from your manager and organization. The atmosphere has a tremendous impact on people who are looking to effortlessly convert to telecommuting.

Decorate your wall with canvas prints

It becomes easier for visual learners to work efficiently and effectively and at the same time increase their productivity. It also helps in increasing the level of focus while working and increasing creativity at the same time.

Walls with chalkboards for artistic remote working

For individuals who desire to live on the go, contemporary work from anywhere lifestyle offers some inventive alternatives. An extremely creative and innovative idea for artistic workers is to make use of walls with chalkboards. This does not require a lot of space at all and, at the same time is very easy to set up. Moreover, it is an extremely useful thing for workers who need to constantly chalk out ideas or do calculations frequently.

Try to get hold of a desk with storage

The best idea for creating an office at home with minimal space is to try to incorporate a desk that has multiple storage spaces to make optimum utilization of free space. This would help when the space is compact and needs to be utilized. If you do not possess space for a filing cabinet or a cupboard, try getting a table with some built space to keep all of your essentials hidden.

Working office under the stairs

This creative office is capable of including a storage area, a table and workstation, and sometimes even houseplants if a little greenery is the magic recipe in your personalized learning pot. This innovative room, which would be around 18 square feet in size, would incorporate everything required to work from home by incorporating built-in bookcases and also a tiny desk chair. This is the idea you most definitely need to create an efficient home office with very little space that you can set up yourself.

Conclusion

More worldwide workers are functioning from anyplace than ever before in the post-COVID-19 era. Gone are the days of mandatory on-site work and strict daily commuting. However, one reality about modern work stays constant: having a dedicated location where you can concentrate, work quickly, and be creative without distractions is critical.

How to improve employee productivity and well-being | Bmmagazine.co.uk

Employees form the backbone of every organization; they are integral for success, so how do you improve their productivity?

First, you should try to improve their well-being and happiness at work. Research has consistently shown that workers who feel acknowledged and appreciated at work perform better than unhappy employees. To help improve employee productivity and performance, here are some of the most effective tips:

Recognize Employee Achievements

Recognizing employee achievements is one of the best ways to increase employee well-being and happiness. Whether you applaud an employee’s recent hard work on a project or how they helped another coworker, any recognition can go a long way to making employees feel more appreciated and satisfied at work.

Encourage Employees to Take Care of Their Physical Health

Physical health plays a huge role in mental health and overall well-being. Management should encourage employees to take care of themselves by routinely going on walks and eating healthy foods.

Provide Mental Health Resources

Offering mental health services from Human Resources or an external mental health agency is crucial for preventing employee burnout or depression. Mental health “sick days” have also been effective at lowering worker stress and anxiety. Management should encourage employees to seek out help if needed and promote awareness of mental illnesses and burnout.

Reward Employees with Fun Outings

Employee performance is often increased if fun rewards or outings are offered for good performance. Some ideas include having a company-provided lunch once a week, going out for group dinner or drinks after a big sale or project, or getting breakfast for workers in the morning. These activities are also great for building teamwork and collaboration between coworkers, which in turn can improve productivity and project success. 

Conclusion

By simply acknowledging helpful or hard-working employees, promoting positive physical and mental health habits, and offering incentives such as group meals can help employees feel more motivated to go the extra mile at work.

The 4 essential skills to include on your resume to find remote work in 2021 | Cristina Fernandez Esteban and Qayyah Moynihan, Businessinsider.com

These are the top four skillsets Infoempleo says you should include if you’re looking for a job while working from home.

Digital and programming skills

With a growing number of companies moving towards remote working or hybrid working models, it’s crucial to have an understanding of digital tools and programs needed for remote work.

Social network skills

Being able to navigate and manage social networks is a professional skill that has been growing in demand for some time, but demand has skyrocketed since the start of the pandemic.

Tech skills

Tech skills in fields like robotics, augmented reality, the internet of things, or AI can be invaluable to companies in the context of the changes brought about by the pandemic.

Soft skills

Self-discipline, communication skills, and initiative are generally considered to be very sought-after traits but are particularly so if you’re looking to work from home.

These skills are even more essential now that, often, your colleagues and those to whom you report are at a physical distance. 

As a result, you need to make it clear on your resume that you’re able to put these skills and qualities to use.

Remote Work Digest: August 2, 2021

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

How Leaders Can Maintain Efficiency During Difficult Times | Josee Larocque Patton, Forbes.com

In the years to come, there will likely be studies on how the past 16 months have changed the business world, whether it’s for better or worse. Since the future of business is unknown, it is up to leaders to continue to create the best employee experience they can. Leaders are just like everyone else – they can excel, they can make mistakes and they, too, need guidance to stay abreast of trends.

Here’s what leaders can do to help themselves while supporting others:

1.You don’t have to know everything.

Showing vulnerability is actually a good thing. If you want to be a progressive, fair and equitable business, then 100% honesty is the way to go. Not everyone will like it; however, I truly believe they will respect you for it and that is what matters.

No matter who we work with — peers, subordinates, clients — we all want to feel we are being treated with respect. There really is no substitute for this. Own the fact that you do not know everything but will do your best to help.

2. Work on your time management.

Time management is about prioritizing how much time you are willing to give to tasks or even social events.

Leaders need to have good time management to be able to teach their team about efficiency. One of the worst mistakes a leader can make is to not use their time effectively. I have heard many times how people feel there are too many meetings, too many calls, meetings to discuss the agenda of meetings, etc.

3. Offer clear direction.

Over the years, I have adapted the “interpret after me” mechanism. If I am sharing something with a client or direct report, I ask them to reiterate what I am sharing with them in their own words to be sure they understand the task/message. Or, for example, if you are sending out a company-wide message, always ensure it could be read and understood by a 5-year-old. This is not to dimmish anyone’s intellectual abilities, but drafting a simple message is a great way to feel confident that everyone will understand what you are trying to share no matter their age, language ability, etc.

These are just a few suggestions of what leaders can do to help get through unchartered territory. There is no doubt that we all want to do what is best for the company we work for as well as the employees who are part of our team. But when we are unfamiliar with what comes next, we can only do our best to help navigate the future. The three tips above are transferrable to any organization, any industry and are relevant no matter the situation. 

As leaders, it is important to know that our role is to set others up for success and, by doing so, we get to be teachers and learners at the same time.

How Technology Can Boost Your Business Productivity | Analyticsinsight.net

In the business world, technology has revolutionized almost all industries and became a lifeline for several companies. Nowadays, businesses are always on the lookout for innovations that can enhance their efficiency. Here are some notable ways how technology can significantly affect the productivity of your business.

Connect employees

Technology helps companies ensure that everyone remains connected. You can now hold virtual meetings through the use of video conferencing tools such as Google Meet, Skype, Zoom, Microsoft Teams, GoToMeeting, and Cisco Webex. Messaging applications also allows your employees to efficiently communicate with one another, improving business communication and employee productivity. With the help of technology, you can efficiently expand your workforce in a more cost-effective way. 

Improve collaboration

Technology redefined how employees collaborate. If you want your employees to have a certain degree of autonomy in handling their tasks, there are several web-based project management tools that you can utilize such as Basecamp and Zoho Projects. Additionally, your managers can proficiently coordinate with their teams and oversee their tasks without the need for face-to-face meetings. 

Enhances customer service

Innovations such as chatbots and artificial intelligence can efficiently manage customer transactions, enhancing the overall customer experience. These tools are also more cost-effective in the long run.

Strengthens marketing

With the help of digital marketing, you can now reach a more comprehensive network and target a more diverse clientele. To drive more traffic to your business, you can leverage on social media, as it is a proven effective marketing tool. Aside from social media, establishing a website, utilizing search engine optimization, and using data analytics can also further boost your business productivity and yield stronger results.

Reduce business expenditures

Since employees are working at home or remotely, companies can save on overhead costs. As a business owner, you have the option to move your operations and scrap the need for a physical office. Doing so can give you a lot of savings while ensuring that your employees are safe. Aside from saving money for the overhead expenses, you also don’t need to spend on expensive office furniture and equipment. 

Facilitates continuous employee education

An online learning management system can enhance your staff’s knowledge and expertise, which can heighten their engagement and retention. By continuously providing skill development training to your employees, it will make them more appreciative of their work, making them productive and motivated to stay in your company. 

Simplifies planning and time management

Utilizing time trackers or scheduling applications can help them accomplish their tasks within their deadlines. You can also keep track of their progress, which will motivate them to be more conscious of how they manage their time. 

Easy access to data

Having instant access to information will save your company valuable time. Investing in cloud computing or in a database system that enables your employees to have immediate access to their business files can help increase your business productivity. Your employees can exchange and retrieve sensitive documents eliminating the need for them to waste countless hours going through manual storage. These data management platforms also have security measures that can mitigate the chances of a cyber breach.

Technology has undoubtedly changed how companies do their businesses. Investing in the right technological innovations can help you improve your business productivity and boost your chances of success.

Best freelance websites 2021: Find jobs & remote work | Lena Borrelli, Zdnet.com

Today, there are many job websites that claim to help you find immediate employment, but the freelance gig industry is a world of its own. As a freelancer, your needs are far different from the average commuter and salaried employee, which is why a specialized freelance job website can better suit your needs.

Though seemingly similar, these services are much different from one another, not only in available jobs but also your membership structure. Pricing can include whatever charges and finder’s fees come with using a third-party provider of this nature. Accessibility and job quality can also vary based on the freelance website you choose. 

To help, we have compiled the five best freelance websites to find work in 2021. This is how they compare.

Upwork

For the new freelancer

Upwork is great for jobs both domestic and international. You can make a free profile to advertise your skills, and then you can either wait for jobs to find you, or you can take a more proactive stance to find and apply to jobs yourself. Upwork uses a currency called Connects that allows you to apply to jobs. Connects are refreshed on a monthly basis, and up to 200 can roll over each month. 

There are two plans that you can choose from. The Basic Freelancer plan is standard, or you can opt for the Freelancer Plus at a monthly subscription rate of $14.99 per month. With the Freelancer Plus, you receive a total of 80 Connects per month, plus a customized profile URL, confidential earnings reporting, and competitor insights when bidding on a job.

Fiverr

For the gig freelancer

Fiverr advertises that it has been used by over “11 million satisfied businesses” for freelance projects. It has an impressive client roster that includes notable companies like Facebook, Netflix, and Google. Through the Fiverr business plan, entire teams can use the platform to connect with freelancers who have proven business experience.

For freelancers, there are over 200 different categories with gig work and ongoing projects. It services a host of different professionals, such as graphic designers, developers, writers, musicians, social media marketers, and voiceover artists. To help out, there is also 24/7 customer support.

Freelancer

For the international freelancer

Based in Australia, Freelancer is a popular global platform for freelancers the world over to connect with employers. Employers hire for specific projects, choosing from a pool of more than 50 million freelancers possessing over 1,800 different skills. Freelancers bid on the projects they want and then wait for an approval or denial. 

Similar to Upwork, projects are either hourly or fixed-price. Payments are secured by the Milestone Payments System, so you do not have to worry about whether a client can pay. Payments are also available in 39 currencies, and there is 24/7 customer support if you have any issues. Freelancer takes a 10% fee for projects and contests and 20% off services.

Toptal

For the discriminating freelancer

Exclusivity is the name of the game with Toptal. The company has made a name for itself in hiring just 3% of freelance talent. The platform connects employers with specific freelance professionals, including software developers, designers, finance experts, product managers, and project managers. 

However, you have to apply and be approved before you can officially join. After approval, recruiters and industry experts help filter the applicant pool and pair freelancers with jobs. Hiring usually happens within 48 hours. 

LinkedIn

For the professional job seeker

LinkedIn is a great resource for the job-seeking professional. There is a strong emphasis on networking, and using your family, friends, and colleagues to build a professional network, collect references, and build recommendations. It is also known for excellent job opportunities for both corporate jobs and freelance positions, especially in copywriting, graphic design, and translation.

What is a freelance job website?

A freelance website is a service that links job seekers with employers. Users are able to advertise services, post jobs, interact, and complete work all within the service platform.

How does a freelance job website work?

Every service has different requirements to get started, but typically, you begin by creating an account. There will likely be terms and conditions that you must agree to before you can begin searching for work or advertising your services.

How much does it cost to use a freelance job website?

The cost to use a freelance job website depends on which service you use. It is common for freelance websites to take a commission off your earnings, but this percentage can vary. 

Which is the right freelance job website for you?

These are some factors to consider when choosing the best freelance website to find work:

Fees and penalties: The amount that a platform charges is important to consider when choosing a freelance site for work.

Payment: Some services may pay right away, while others may pay in milestones or require a waiting period.

Ease of use: Accessibility is important in a job website because you are likely to spend a lot of time on the platform. 

Membership requirements: While some sites help brand-new freelancers get started, a la Freelancer, others like Toptal have strict requirements and search for more experienced workers.

Customer support: If you hit a snag while racing to meet a deadline, you may need customer support to help out. That is why you should consider what types of customer support are available through your chosen site to help out during the hours you need it most.

Terms and conditions: All services will have their terms and conditions available for review, and you want to be sure that you agree to these terms before you accept any jobs and complete any work on the platform.

Are there alternatives worth considering?

Although these services did not make our top five list for 2021, they still may be worth your consideration based on your needs:

  • Craigslist: This is an email-based platform that allows users to post and apply to jobs via email.
  • FlexJobs: This membership-based service features handpicked jobs based on your skills and preferences.
  • TaskRabbit: This is a great option for the everyday person looking to make money off traditional gigs like shopping, errands, yard work, and home services.

Be sure to carefully explore your options and review the terms so you can find the best freelance website to get you back to work in 2021.

The Top 3 Soft Skills Of The Pandemic And How To Cultivate Them | Amy Blaschka, Forbes.com

According to Prudential’s latest Pulse of the American Worker survey, the top three soft skills workers gained last year include adaptability, problem-solving, and time management; here’s how to cultivate them in a post-pandemic world:

  1. Adaptability

In the business world, change happens—and not just during a pandemic. Between mergers and acquisitions, corporate restructuring, and management changes, those who remain flexible hold the key to career success. Maintaining the ability to adapt your thinking and actions to handle unforeseen circumstances can help position you as an indispensable member of the team who can roll with the punches.

To build your adaptability:

  • Challenge yourself to consider new possibilities instead of falling back on “because we’ve always done it this way” thinking.
  • Offer up alternative solutions, even—and especially— when initial ideas are turned down.
  • Keep calm and confident under pressure when faced with unexpected challenges and changing circumstances.
  • Move away from a one-size-fits-all mentality when managing your team, and instead, ask each person their goals and how you can best support them.
  • Look for opportunities to stretch yourself and showcase your adaptability by volunteering for new assignments and proactively increasing your skillset and knowledge base.
  • 2. Problem-solving

Problem-solving skills help you solve issues quickly and effectively and often use the additional soft skills of awareness, creativity, innovation, curiosity, and grit to be most effective.

To hone your problem-solving:

  • Use awareness to identify and anticipate issues. When you pay attention, you’ll notice details other people miss.
  • Change your mindset to see problems as hidden opportunities.
  • Employ creativity to come up with solutions. Creativity is the ability to perceive the world in new ways, find hidden patterns, make connections between seemingly disparate things, and generate innovative solutions.
  • When you implement and evaluate solutions (especially new ones), don’t get discouraged if they fall short. Use grit to determine what worked and what could be improved, and then make tweaks to keep going and find a way to solve the problem.
  • 3. Time management

Your ability to prioritize and focus your attention to tackle work projects is crucial. How and with whom you spend your time and your productivity while doing so demonstrate your focus and commitment to what—and who—matters most.

To master time management:

  • Learn to say no to things that don’t support your short- or long-term goals. 
  • Realize that not all tasks are created equal. Do, decide, delegate or delete tasks based on their urgency and importance.
  • Batch routine tasks (like responding to emails) by carving out specific times in the day for it—and let others know to call you if something is really important.
  • Eliminate distractions by turning off notifications, putting your phone on airplane mode, and closing your door.
  • Establish (and maintain) boundaries. You are not obligated to be on 24/7, so limit your availability. 
  • Embrace mono-tasking to make progress on one thing at a time.
  • Work with your own circadian rhythms, doing your most important work during your peak time, whenever that is.
  • Don’t forget to build in breaks to rest and recharge so you can tackle another day.

Remote Work Digest: June 30, 2021

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

How to become a digital nomad: Pros, cons, and common jobs | Flex Jobs Editors, Theladders.com

Telecommuter. Remote worker. There are quite a few names that describe people who work from home. And more recently, there’s another one: digital nomad.

Digital nomads are people who work virtually, and often from various locations, even around the world. 

What is a digital nomad?

A digital nomad lives a nomadic lifestyle, moving from location to location and staying connected digitally. Digital nomads use technology and communication tools to complete work remotely in order to travel the country or the world.

Digital nomad vs. location independent

A digital nomad with a remote job is a location-independent worker, but they travel nearly full-time. They have possibly sold their home and live fully on the go.

A location-independent worker typically has a home base but may pick up and travel for a couple of weeks. Their job does not tie them to a specific city, state, or country, but they likely live in one place.

How do you become a digital nomad?

Determine if it’s a good fit

Before you dive in head-first, it’s a good idea to poke around and figure out what it’s really like to be a digital nomad. As romantic as working while traveling may sound, the reality is that combining career and global travel isn’t for everyone.

Figure out your budget

Whether you’ll have a full-time job or freelance gigs, determine how being a digital nomad will add expenses to your budget and if the money you’re bringing in each month is enough.

Decide on a destination(s)

Figure out your priorities (seeing a certain amount of countries, getting a change of scenery, learning a new language, etc.) and research the best locations for your needs and goals.

If you feel a bit intimidated by traveling and working at the same time, you could also do a test run and join a co-working space, or try an organized coworkation—a coworking retreat for digital nomads—for a few weeks and set your sails then. Working from your laptop every day isn’t for everyone!

Spruce up your skills

You’ll need to make sure that you have the necessary skills in order to work from any location successfully, such as being able to manage your workload, meet your deadlines, and still work well with your colleagues, even if they’re thousands of miles away.

Research the work-from-anywhere job market

When you conduct your job search for flexible work you can do from anywhere, keep an eye out for companies that have demonstrated their commitment to supporting true work-from-anywhere jobs.

Pros and Cons of Being a Digital Nomad

Pro: Exposure to different cultural experiences. You should know from the outset whether you enjoy being exposed to all sorts of cultural norms, foods, work attitudes, and other parameters.

Pro: A more simplified lifestyle. Traveling to new cities and countries means you’ll be limited in what you can bring with you. Many digital nomads sell their homes and many of their possessions in order to live a simpler life and travel more easily.

Pro: Less stressful work environment. Studies have shown that remote workers are more productive. Focused, uninterrupted time can allow you to complete your work faster.

Con: Loneliness. Just as with other at-home employees, digital nomadic workers may find themselves grappling with isolation, but their attempts at connecting to colleagues may be even more extreme. 

Con: Time zone issues. Time zone differences might require you to work at night or in the early morning. It could mean your 3 p.m. deadline or meeting is actually in the middle of the night if you’re in a different country than your employer. Have a clear understanding of how different time zones affect when and how you meet your work obligations, and how to set boundaries with co-workers or clients.

Con: Internet/connection problems. Plan for internet access problems and have lots of backups

Common Jobs for Digital Nomads

A digital nomad job can be an avenue to help you see the world, without short-changing your career aspirations. If your current employer won’t allow you to work remotely, finding a work-from-anywhere job will be your best bet. 

Writer/Editor

Writing and editing jobs are perfect to do on the road. They can be found abundantly as freelance gigs or part-time or full-time roles. Many digital nomads even run their own blogs detailing their traveling adventures.

Project Manager

Project managers who work remotely need to be adept that staying on top of communication with clients and coworkers.

Online Teacher/Tutor

Virtual teachers and tutors may work with students individually or in a class setting. Some roles may require you to set specific meeting times, but others may allow you to log on when you’re available.

Social Media Manager

Many digital nomads have a robust social media presence where they share photos and updates of their adventures. This could parlay well into a social media career.

Customer Service Rep

While some customer service roles may require a quiet space to make phone calls, many are entirely web- and email-based.

Web Designer

Creativity can spike while you’re traveling. Use it to work as a web designer. This role will create web designs and mockups, and you’ll likely need JavaScript, HTML, and CSS experience.

Using FlexJobs for Your Digital Nomad Lifestyle

FlexJobs is a great resource for a digital nomad adventure. Our job listings are updated daily with many remote jobs you can take with you on the road. We verify every job and company on our site to ensure you spend less time worrying about scams, and more time finding work that fits your life. Our positions span more than 50 career categories and range from freelance to full-time, and many options in between.

10 Effective Methods for Measuring Employee Happiness | The Young Entrepreneur Council, Smallbiztrends.com

The more satisfied employees are, the more likely they’ll stay with the company long term and the higher their productivity will be. But how can you know if your staff is enjoying their work, especially when they may not feel comfortable expressing their true feelings with their superiors?

To help, 10 small business experts from Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) answered the following question:

“What’s one effective method small business leaders can use to gauge the happiness and fulfillment of their employees? Why is this so important to do regularly?”

Here are some of the top strategies they recommend.

1. Ask Them in a Safe Environment

“Keep it simple and just ask. Create a safe environment for team members to give you feedback at any time. You’ll be amazed at what they bring you, how much personal responsibility they hold for the business’s success and how quickly the team will grow. Stop treating employees like subordinates; they’re your team members and you’re the coach.” ~ Steven Knight, Mosaic Home Services Ltd.

2. Be Authentic While Interacting with Them

“Speak to them authentically. The problem is that an environment that encourages forced answers is one in which it’s hard to gauge happiness. When a boss is accepting and authentic with their staff, the staff will feel the ability to communicate authentically as well.” ~ Nicole Munoz, Nicole Munoz Consulting, Inc.

3. Measure Productivity and Well-Being Twice a Year

“Small employers need to act like large employers when it comes to measuring the productivity and well-being of their workforce. Productivity and well-being build a resilient, engaged and hard-working workforce and help to attract and retain your top talent. Measuring these factors twice a year is easy for any leader to do.” ~ Tom Finn, LeggUP Inc.

4. Conduct Regular Check-Ins

“Relationship-building and fostering a culture that encourages both feedback and open dialogue are key. We sometimes swap out weekly team calls for all-team check-ins where each member of the team is given the space to share how they’re really doing, personally and professionally. No one is compelled to share, but most often do. It’s a good way to get a quick temperature check on where folks are at.” ~ Danielle Allen, Building Impact

5. Examine Initiative and Innovation Levels

“Gauge the level of initiative in your organization. If your employees are spearheading new projects, adding new elements to their positions and finding new solutions for problems, then you have a winning company culture. If they’re only doing what they’re told, then you have a stale environment without any creative energy. That’s a major momentum killer. So, encourage innovation and initiative.” ~ Tyler Gallagher, Regal Assets

6. Look at How Often They Are Tardy

“It may sound simple, but keeping an eye on employee tardiness can give you real insight into how employees feel about their work. Being late for work can signify many things, but if it’s consistent, then the employee may be struggling with their work-life balance. This in and of itself can imply that they are not happy in their work.” ~ Ismael Wrixen, FE International

7. Look for Consistency in Performance and Attitude

“You can ask all the questions you want, but an unhappy employee won’t tell you the truth anyway. Actions speak louder than words and so the best way to really know if an employee is still happy with you is by checking how consistent an employee’s performance, attendance and attitude are. This acts as a check and balance for you and your employee to both improve for the better.” ~ Daisy Jing, Banish

8. Provide a Feedback Box for Anonymous Opinions

“Small business leaders can gauge their employees’ happiness and fulfillment by creating a feedback box, which gives the team the option to remain anonymous and give more transparent feedback about what improvements can be made. It’s crucial to regularly receive feedback so you’re aware of what happens behind the scenes and can make well-informed decisions moving forward.” ~ Stephanie Wells, Formidable Forms

9. Give Periodic Employee Surveys

“Every quarter, year or month send out a quick questionnaire or survey to track and trend employee satisfaction. A great question to ask in your assessment is how likely they are to tell their friends and family to work at the company. This is a quick way to determine whether they are happy at work and proud to be your company’s employee.” ~ Matthew Podolsky, Florida Law Advisers, P.A.

10. Assign a New Task and Examine Their Response

“Periodically ask an employee to do something for you that would require a bit more effort on top of their day-to-day tasks. If your request is met with enthusiasm, you have a happy employee who is motivated to grow with your company. If you are met with resentment, that employee is most likely not happy or fulfilled. This is a good exercise to gauge fulfillment and motivation in your teams.” ~ Matthew Capala, Alphametic

How to enhance the work from home experience? | Dr. Tim Sandle, Digitaljournal.com

While some wrestle with the ‘work from home’ vs. ‘back to the office’ debate, for many others working at home remains a necessity. For those undertaking remote work, how can the experience be strengthened, especially when it comes to mental health issues?

With mental health and home working, feeling stress, boredom, anxiety and uncertainty is often a normal set of feelings. When these are prolonged and unwavering, problems develop.

What are some tips to help enhance your work from home experience? Dr. Teralyn Sell, psychotherapist explains to Digital Journal about how working from home impacts mental health in different ways for people.

Tip #1: Set apart your workspace

It is imperative that your workspace not stare at you every day and night. Even if you don’t have a dedicated office space, use a corner of your room and put a divider screen around your workspace when you are not working. ‘Out of sight, out of mind’ is a workable statement here.

Tip #2: Create boundaries and stick to them

While working from home we have a tendency to work longer hours than when we are in the office. This is good for your business, but bad for work and life balance. Create office hours for yourself and stick to them.

Tip #3: Create a transition time

Though the traffic during commute times was terrible, the commute itself allowed us to transition between work and home. However, when you work from home, there isn’t much transition there. In order to shake off the workday a transition is important. Perhaps it’s as simple as closing up your office and taking a few minutes to meditate or even just breathe.


7 Cybersecurity Tips For Working Remote | Catherine, Newsanyway.com

As remote working relies primarily on the Internet and devices, it’s not safe from cybercrimes either. Regardless, if you’re working from home or outside the company and want to stay safe online, this article can help. Below, we’ll discuss seven cybersecurity tips for remote workers; please read on.

  1. Switch to cloud applications

Contrary to common beliefs, while cloud applications run over the Internet, in most cases, they’re much safer than native and local ones. Why? Unlike installed programs on a personal computer, a cloud app runs on a remote server. Moreover, remote servers used by cloud apps are more private, use strong encryption, and are harder to infiltrate.

  • Get a VPN

If unfamiliar, a VPN or Virtual Private Network is a secure server where a request from a computer will go first instead of directly to a website server. As a result, the connection is more secure as it masks the user’s IP address or location and encrypts data packets. Aside from accessing region-locked content and avoiding censorship, it’s also beneficial for the corporate side.

  • Use a password manager

Since the early days, email, username, and password have been the primary ways to identify an account. Today, with countless websites, apps, and services, it has gotten quite challenging to remember login credentials. Consequently, reusing passwords became a common practice among individuals.

A password manager can help one secure multiple logins. With only a single master password, a user can generate strong entropy passwords, store and sync them across devices.

  • Try an email search and reverse phone lookup tool

Though it’s easy to ignore strangers, workers typically need to entertain anyone trying to do business with the company regardless of who they are.

Luckily, there are ways to review a caller or sender’s identity and intent before opening a message, transacting, or following any links.

One way to do this is by using Spokeoan email and phone number search tool. Using Spokeo‘s reverse number lookup tool and email search feature, one could learn a stranger’s name, address, social profiles, and even past criminal records. This way, it’s easier to avoid scams and phishing techniques that hackers use.

  • Be careful with public Wi-Fi networks

As a safe practice, it’s best only to use the Wi-Fi connection at home, especially when doing work-related tasks. Additionally, using firewall and security tools helps protect the house network from intruders. Lastly, if necessary, using a portable Wi-Fi device or enabling the phone hotspot will do the job when working outside.

  • Employ two-factor authentication (2FA)

2FA or two-factor authentication is the act of sending a code through email, phone number or using an authenticator app to unlock an account after typing the password. With this method, even if a hacker manages to learn the username or password, it’s still hard to proceed as the login form requires a unique code after that.

  • Ensure backups

Ensuring backups is a practice that can save one from potential data loss after a breach or hack. In the digital world, there is a thing called the “3-2-1 Backup Rule”.

According to the rule, one should have at least three (3) copies of a file, two (2) backup devices (like a computer and a drive), and one (1) remote drive (cloud storage). This way, it’s almost impossible to experience data loss in normal circumstances.

Prioritize Safety When Remote Working

Apart from ensuring the quality of output, work, and service, prioritizing cybersecurity is also essential when working remotely. As almost everyone is using computers and communicating through the Internet, safety is more critical than ever as criminals can now do things anywhere and anonymously.

Remote Work Digest: May 29, 2021

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

5 Strategies to Boost Employee and Client Retention | Matt Goebel, Mytotalretail.com

It’s critical for retailers to understand that what’s happening on the inside of an organization is often felt on the outside by its customers. Luckily, there are a few workplace management strategies that retailers can integrate into their operations to help boost employee and client retention:

1. Prioritize Open, Two-Way Team Communication

Effective communication helps retailers identify workplace issues and gaps in employee engagement or performance, gauge team and customer satisfaction, and more. One way to support two-way communication is to provide an easy-to-use, one-stop platform that eliminates confusion and operational errors that stem from juggling too many touchpoints.

2. Centralize Workplace Operations

One study found that 40 percent of workers said they left a company because they lacked access to state-of-the-art digital tools. In addition, 45 percent of employers complain that outdated technology keeps them from being productive.

3. Establish Clearly Defined Team Roles and Responsibilities

This helps employees understand how the quality of their efforts feed into the overall success of the company. Employees crave meaning and ownership in their work with 49 percent of employees stating that they would trade a portion of their salary to continue in their role with an added sense of purpose. When a team is striving toward a common goal, productivity spikes, improving customer satisfaction.

4. Re-evaluate and Modernize Employee Training

Proper training takes education and experience, that’s why for long term results, employee training should be continuous. Using a performance and assessment based training program that provides employees with feedback and rewards for skill development is a great step to producing desired workplace outcomes.

5. Foster a Positive Workplace Culture That Thrives on Teamwork – Not Competition

A strong workplace culture can directly impact employee productivity, making positive culture a key factor for business success. In order to build a positive culture, management must offer opportunities for employees to engage with their leaders and peers.

Addressing major pain points like employee and customer retention in retail can seem daunting, but taking the time to evaluate your operations strategies is the first step. Building a more positive and employee centric workplace will help you retain top talent and in turn, retain your customer base.

Why prioritizing employee wellness is more important now than ever | Anjan Pathnak, Yourstory.com

Employee wellbeing is not limited to physical health; various other factors determine an individual’s overall functioning. Employee health and wellbeing have always been a priority for employers as they boost employee productivity, reduce burnout, improve workplace culture, and offer many other benefits.

The use of technology and AI to derive the appropriate wellbeing solution for the organization will ultimately help revive employee engagement, productivity, and job satisfaction.

Here are effective steps to address employee wellness:

Encourage communication

This will make them feel included and help them deal with stress, personal or professional. You also need to make sure that they receive the correct information on time.

Recognize their efforts

Appreciate and reward them for their hard work and dedication. Recognizing employees for their work will boost their confidence and fuel productivity. This enhances working relationships and workplace culture

Be a good listener

If you let your employees speak up about their challenges and struggles, and empathise with them, it will create employee trust. They will feel valued and may also feel little less burdened by life.

Introduce wellness challenges

Wellness challenges will help employees remain intellectually and socially motivated. You can try workouts, cooking, online games, learning, or writing challenges that will boost morale and motivate teamwork.

Ensure financial wellness

Finance is one of the significant stressors today. Employers must ensure their employees’ financial wellness, especially during the time of COVID-19. Financial literacy is a must-know subject and you must keep employees aware or wise financial practices.

Host informal online sessions

Keeping your employees entertained during these tough times can be a stress buster for them. It also nurtures the connection among team members.

Reward your employees

Special incentives always contribute to a better workplace with an agile workforce. Employee rewards and recognition are the buzzwords in the human resource management space and the most substantial for employee engagement.

Host online sessions

Creating awareness on mental health issues is very vital now. When the leaders can build trust among their employees and encourage them to share their issues, whether or not they share, they feel a little relieved to realize having a shoulder.

Wellness is a broad term with multiple dimensions. Employee wellness programmes are vital to attract top talent, keep them happy, and decrease employee turnover and absenteeism.

A healthy organization starts with healthy employees; it safeguards company culture. Thus, prioritizing employee wellness is crucial for growth and development.

5 Things to Know about Your Remote Workforce | Barbara Weltman, Smallbiztrends.com

Now that the economy is opening up, businesses are deciding whether to retain remote work arrangements. A PwC survey found that 55% of employees expect to continue working from home even after the pandemic passes. In making the decision, employers should keep the following factors in mind.

1. Productivity may be better

Many companies are concerned about whether employees who work from home are as productive as those who work at company headquarters, offices, or other locations. A 2-year study by Great Place to Work reported that most employees working remotely said they were at least or even more productive.

2. Tax issues become very complex

If all employees live within the same state where the business is located, then permitting remote work arrangements does not impact payroll and income taxes. However, if employees live in a state that’s different from that of the employer, taxes get complicated. ADP has an extensive article explaining the complexity of this problem. 

3. Workers’ comp may need to be expanded

A remote work arrangement raises 2 issues for workers’ compensation:Whether an employer needs coverage in more than one state. Usually, a claim depends on the state in which the injury occurs. If the company is in one state and the employee is working from home in another state, the company may need coverage in both states (i.e., “extraterritorial coverage”).

Whether a worker’s injury at home is covered. Workers’ comp covers liability for injuries sustained by an employee in his or her own home if it’s considered to “arise out of and in the course of employment.”

4. OSHA isn’t a problem

The DOL said its Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) does not have any regulations regarding telework in home offices.  The agency issued a directive in 2000 stating that it would not inspect employees’ home offices, would not hold employers liable for employees’ home offices, and did not expect employers to inspect the home offices of their employees.

5. Cybersecurity is a big concern

Employers allowing remote work arrangements to continue should adopt policies to protect company data. This could include, for example, providing employees with devices to be used only on company business, educating employees about best practices for security, and helping them secure their networks.

It’s not going to be easy for all small businesses to decide on whether and to what extent they permit remote work arrangements. Many employees like this option and it may be an important way to attract and retain good workers in a tough labor market. If you decide to allow employees to work from home some or all of the time, be sure you address various issues to protect you and your employees.

9 Ways Your Company Can Save Money With Telecommuting | Recentlyhear.com

Whether you are an employer looking to save money and become more environmentally responsible or an employee who would rather skip the commute and work out of their house, there are many reasons to turn employees into telecommuters.

Here are 9 ways your company can save money with telecommuting:

1. Reduce the Rent – Fewer employees in the office means less office space needed. Down size the office and save on rent.

2. Lower Utility Bills – Less employees in the office and smaller digs translates to lower utility bills.

3. Purchase Less Furniture – With employees supplying their own office furniture at home, the company does not need to supply desks for them in the office. If you already own desks and chairs that will no longer be needed, sell or donate them.

4. Lower Insurance Premiums – Smaller office space and less furniture should lower your insurance premiums.

5. Fewer Sick Days – Someone that is feeling sick but still able to drag themselves out of bed can work even if they need to visit the bathroom 12 times during the day. What’s more, sick employees will not be spreading their germs to everyone else.

6. Flexible Work Hours/Working Part Time – When employees do not have to drive 30 minutes to and from work, they are generally more willing to work part time hours. Do not pay for a full 40-hour week if the job can be done with less.

7. Save on Office Supplies – With more employees working at home and less in the office, office supplies will not be so rapidly consumed.

8. All Employees Are More Productive – Let’s accept that when you have several employees working near each other, they find ways to distract each other from their job. Some isolation can lead to better focus and more productivity.

9. Less Overhead – Your overhead will be dramatically less when you start saving money on rent, utility bills, furniture, insurance, sick days and paid hours. With less overhead, it will be easier to generate a profit.

Remote Work Digest: April 29, 2021

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

Remote work meeting overload: 10 ways to ease your team’s pain | Stephanie Overby, Enterprisersproject.com

Now is the time to get serious about improving your meeting culture. Elizabeth Freedman, executive advisor and head of consulting at executive coaching and assessment firm Bates Communications (recently acquired by global strategy consultancy BTS), says, “One of the most important things that leaders can do right now that would have a significant, powerful, and positive impact on the company is to have fewer, better meetings – more than any other corporate initiative push for growth, or effort to reduce costs.”

Poor or excessive virtual meetings drain an organization’s energy, engagement, and expenses. Here’s what you can do about them in 2021:

1. Conduct a meeting audit

Make a list of all the meetings you currently lead or attend and eliminate those that are low value.

Not sure where to start? Freedman suggests pulling up your calendar and asking questions. Are there any meetings that can be killed without further discussion? Would there be consequences if you stopped attending the meeting? How would meeting attendees evaluate its effectiveness? Can you describe the purpose of the meeting in one sentence? Do attendees prepare for the meeting?

2. Don’t substitute a meeting for connection

“My key recommendation is businesses should train managers and employees that meetings are not a substitute for informal office chats or a water cooler,” says Cynthia Watson (formerly Spraggs), CEO of Vitira and book author. “Businesses need to introduce collaboration workspaces where informal updates can occur 24-7, synchronously, and asynchronously.”

3. Go back to basics

Consider each meeting’s purpose, necessary attendees, and length before considering setting it up. Then choose the right platform for the purpose. “Failure to consider these factors contribute to energy-sapping meetings, be they in person or online,” says Axelrod. 

4. Send agendas ahead of time

“People do not want to be caught off-guard or appear to be stupid during a meeting,” says Axelrod. “Having meeting materials ahead of time increases certainty, which in turn reduces meeting stress.”

5. Embrace meeting excellence

“High-performing teams create guidelines for how they will engage with each other during meetings – from defining a meeting purpose, to making decisions, to handling conflict, to preparing for meetings,” says Freedman. “The best teams we’ve worked with don’t leave good meetings up to chance or assume people will just automatically know what to do. They take the time to get very concrete and specific about defining the relevant behaviors, processes, or actions that will create meeting success.”

6. Incorporate breaks

Taking frequent breaks allows time for the brain to go idle, which increases the possibility that insights will occur.

7. Normalize turning off the camera

Sure, face time is important, but allowing employees to dial in can reduce the pressure to “look good” on-screen and thereby relieve associated tension.

8. Inject some humanity

This is particularly important when real social interaction is at a minimum. “Some of our clients start their meetings with a quick round of weekend updates. Others start their meetings with questions like: What would you like people to know about you that they wouldn’t know by looking at you?” says Axelrod. “These questions build connections between people, which in turn makes the work go smoothly.”

9. Assign rotating roles

This can increase engagement and also improve outcomes. Some roles to consider, says Freedman: notetaker, meeting facilitator, timekeeper, and devil’s advocate (someone appointed to deliberately challenge or present an opposing view to an idea).

10. Try to establish meeting-free days

If that’s not possible, cut meeting times in half or reduce their frequency. “At a minimum, better manage meeting time itself,” advises Freedman.

How to Ask Your Boss To Work From Home Permanently | Julia Wuench, Forbes.com

If you want to continue working remotely but aren’t sure how to approach the conversation with your boss, implement the below suggestions. The goal is to engage in a productive dialogue with your boss that supports your goal of a more permanent work-from-home arrangement while also expressing its immense benefits to your employer.

1. First, schedule a call with your boss. Make the goals of the call clear up front: Send them a formal written request in advance to continue working remotely instead of returning to the office.

Within your request, illustrate your reasoning for permanent remote working and explain how working from home permanently will benefit your employer. Some examples could include:

  • Detail your productivity on specific work from home projects
  • Suggest the ability to use fewer PTO or sick days because you’re able to work through mild illnesses, be home for sick children, etc.
  • Highlight your faster turnaround times due to increased focus outside of typical office distractions.
  • Cite your past/current availability and flexibility both inside and outside of traditional office hours.
  • Illustrate the recently enhanced team creativity, streamlined project functionality and stronger working relationships gained through new collaboration and communication tools.
  • Express your commitment to upholding your work contribution and quality while simultaneously gaining the capability to address out-of-work circumstances.

2. Next, propose a potential work schedule and communication cadence to put your employer at ease, set expectations and create a visual of how working remotely can function successfully.

  • Determine how many days you’d like to work remotely.
  • Volunteer to make office visits as needed for in-person meetings, gatherings, events, etc.
  • Commit to maintaining outstanding communication to ensure nothing falls through the cracks.
  • Reassure your availability during work hours through phone, email, text and chat with collaboration tools.
  • Plan to announce your daily arrival and departure everyday as you did your office.
  • Dial into all meetings and use video whenever possible.

Lastly, express your gratitude for your employer’s consideration of remote work; it is a privilege, not a right.  If your employer is uncertain, suggest a trial period to see how remote work affects your performance and team collaboration.

5 Ways Lean Teams Can Work Smarter and Get More Done | Peter Daisyme, Entrepreneur.com

Entrepreneurs are obsessed with productivity, and for good reason. Most startups work with small teams on short timelines, which means they need every member contributing at their highest level.

Here are five proven ways to make your team more productive and efficient.

1.Set achievable goals and benchmarks

The best goals are SMART — specific, measurable, actionable, results-oriented and time-bound. They should be challenging but still achievable. If goals are too big or too long-term to feel achievable, break them down into smaller short-term goals. It can also be helpful to track your team’s progress visually and celebrate important benchmarks.

2. Automate routine tasks

Whenever you’re trying to get more done with a small team, one of the fastest ways you can boost productivity is through automation. According to a McKinsey report, 45% of all work activities can be automated using existing technology. You can automate tasks in HR, marketing, sales — the sky’s the limit — but it’s best to start with tasks that consume a lot of resources. 

3. Allow team members to design their own workdays

Research shows that employees who have the freedom to set their own schedule put in an additional 7.4 hours per week. Additionally, 73% of people who engage in “windowed work” report greater productivity. Essentially, these workers break up their day into “windows” of work time and personal time. These windows can change to accommodate meetings, errands and childcare around blocks of focused work.

4. Keep meetings to a bare minimum

The average employee attends eight meetings per week, with more senior employees attending up to 17 meetings. But it’s not just the time lost to the meetings themselves that impact productivity. Poor scheduling wreaks havoc on critical thinking and your team’s ability to engage in deep work. This is why some of the brightest minds have ruthless tactics for avoiding wasteful meetings.

5. Use project-management software to keep everyone on the same page

The best way to keep track of projects and tasks is project management software, especially if your team is dispersed. This ensures your team stays on top of goals without duplicating work and keeps important tasks from falling through the cracks. 

Small teams can be incredibly powerful, but only when each individual is firing on all cylinders. Micromanaging your employees goes against the principles of building a lean team, and it can lead to disengagement that erodes productivity. It’s far better to make changes through scheduling, automation, and workflow optimization to free up your team to do their very best work.

5 mindful ways to enjoy work from home | Deblina Chatterjae, Pinkvilla.com

Mindfulness productivity is the ability to be in sync with inner feelings and emotions. Garima Juneja, Psuchologist, founder of Lightroom Therapy and Counselling, talks about 5 mindful ways to work from home.

Kick start your day on a good note

We all like to dive directly into the pool of our phone into social media waking up every morning letting ourselves drench in the excessive useless information. This clutters our minds and makes us anxious or sad or cranky. This is certainly not a good way to start our day.

Create a mindful workspace

External environment clearly has a significant impact on setting the tone for our internal well-being. Creating a clean workspace undoubtedly works wonders for internal calmness.

One thing at a time

Concentrating on one thing or task at a time is always more beneficial. It improves your work quality and keeps you away from overthinking.     

Go slow

Eat slow, work slow, listen attentively. Doing everything slowly provides the edge of micromanagement and increases proficiency. And most importantly, working in a slow pace makes you enjoy every moment of work and life.

Love yourself

Shower yourself with love. Meditate and work out daily. These will help in the release of endorphins which is a hormone responsible for your happiness. Spend time with your loved ones. Take breaks as they enthuse you with fresh energy to bounce back. Resting at the end of the day is pivotal. Fill in the gratitude and accomplishment journal. Pat yourself on your back, give yourself that pep talk.

Remote Work Digest: January 30, 2021

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

Top Work From Home Essentials For Small Business | Daniel Atkinson, Londondailypost.com

To ensure a productive work from home experience that helps in increasing revenue, here’s a list of some important elements that are necessary for small businesses to incorporate in their work lifestyle:

Remote Meeting Software:

Business owners and managers need effective means of conducting virtual meetings with employees to discuss work and collaborate on various assignments.

A remote meeting software not only allows you to host business discussions without any travel expenses, but also allows everyone to be on the same page about important work information.

Time tracking app:

To keep schedules organized, time tracking apps are an ideal way to understand how much time is being spent on a given activity. It not only helps you be more aware of your work progress but also highlights your low-productivity and high-productivity hours.

High speed internet connection:

A high speed internet connection is integral for connecting with clients, sharing important documents with colleagues and communicating work progress to managers.

A dedicated workstation:

To work efficiently, a distraction free zone with comfortable seating arrangements is a must. Business owners must provide employees an allowance to invest in a comfortable chair, an adjustable desk and a monitor.

A storage system:

Remote work requires an organized file storage space at home that will ensure you do not end up losing important documents. You can invest in a sturdy filing cabinet or utilize some furniture at home to store important documents.

Conclusion:

With the help of above-mentioned information, small businesses can build a productive work environment for successful results.

How to Motivate Fatigued and Stressed Employees in the New Year | Lisa Rabasca Roepe, Shrm.org

It’s been nearly a full year since employees started working from home or following COVID-19 protocols in the workplace.

Even if staff took some extra time off to unwind during the holidays, most employees probably haven’t returned to work with the renewed sense of purpose that is typically associated with starting a new year. Instead, the first quarter of 2021 will likely feel like more of the same – endless Zoom meetings, no clear end to the pandemic, and home and work lives thoroughly enmeshed.

Here are four ways managers can help motivate employees in 2021.

Have an honest, one-on-one conversation. Even though managers may have conducted a performance evaluation for work done in 2020, now is a good time to have a different type of one-on-one conversation with employees. “Rather than focusing on work, focus on their family, mental health and how they are doing personally,” Halpern said. Ask open-ended questions and, if they say everything is fine, encourage them to be honest by sharing your own concerns and challenges, Halpern said. “If you’re vulnerable and candid, they will respond in kind.”

The purpose is to understand each employee’s current state of mind and what he or she needs to succeed, said Kym Harris-Lee, an executive coach in Atlanta. Consider asking, “As you think about this new year, what are your goals, what do you want to accomplish, how can I help you?”

Encourage employees to think strategically. One lesson most managers learned from 2020 is that employees don’t appreciate back-to-back virtual meetings, because it doesn’t give them much time to think or get actual work done, Harris-Lee said.

She recommended that managers give employees permission to decline one to two meetings a week during the first quarter of 2021, provided they use the time they aren’t in a meeting to reflect on their work.

Create easy wins. Rather than setting long-term quarterly or mid-year goals, set monthly goals that focus on actions staff can control, Halpern said.

Be gentle with feedback. “For the first half of 2021, be selective and intentional with feedback,” Halpern said. “Focus on trends and patterns versus one incident. If you see someone [making a mistake] once, let it go.” Rather than giving an employee feedback on what she did wrong, suggest a way that you can help her succeed.

Time is money: 8 time management tips to help you work smarter | Fool.co.uk

To help you make the most of your workday, here are eight simple time management tips.

  1. Plan your day

Start the day with a clear idea of what you plan to achieve. Write a to-do list the night before so you can get started right away the next day. Set specific, measurable and realistic goals.

2. Turn off distractions

Don’t let messages distract you from the workday, even if you’re working from home.

3. Designate a workspace

Whether it’s the kitchen table or an office, it’s important to label a certain area as your workspace. Over time, your brain associates that space with work and mental focus, so it’s easier to concentrate and get work done.

4. Prioritise tasks

Prioritise tasks based on how important and urgent they are rather than how easy they are to achieve. For example, if something’s both important and urgent, make this the first job on your to-do list.

5. Set time limits

Set clear time limits for each task and stick to them. Otherwise, you could end up spending much longer on a job than is strictly necessary.

6. Track your time

Wonder where your time’s going during the workday? Start tracking it. Set a timer and check how long it takes you to complete specific tasks.

7. Know when you’re most productive

While some of us can be through multiple tasks first thing in the morning, others prefer burning the midnight oil. Don’t fight these natural tendencies – embrace them instead.

8. Take regular breaks

Whether you go for a (socially distanced) walk around your local park or curl up with a book, don’t forget to step away from your work from time to time. Regular breaks give your mind a chance to ‘recharge’.

Time management is crucial to feeling in control of your workday, whether you run your own business or you’re working from home right now. The best part? It’s something everyone can learn, and you can start right away.

Begin with small changes to your daily routine, build on the improvements you make, and find out what productivity hacks work best for you. 

The basics of culture-building in a new hybrid workplace | Sonal Jain, Peoplematters.in

Reshaping culture in a partial or a completely hybrid workplace does not have to be a mammoth task. Keeping the workforce’s needs and lived experiences at the center of management decisions is the first step. Then come the four unassuming, but significant changes that leaders should make to ensure culture becomes a catalyst for success in the new normal –

Be intentional about communication – Create guidelines around how you communicate, how often you communicate and think about ways in which you can avoid the ‘Zoom fatigue’ from kicking in.

Keep traditions alive – Everything that once drove formal and informal culture in the physical workplace needs to be reformatted to ensure inclusivity and connection between the physical and virtual workforces. This includes team-building activities, wellness sessions, happy hours and milestone celebrations, that allow members of a team to preserve social attachments with each other.

Don’t forget D&I – Pivoting policies, ensuring equal access to technology for all employees, and digitizing the work of Employee Resource Groups are some ways in which companies can maintain a shared collaborative and cultural mindset even with a staggered workforce.

Get workplace culture right can be advantageous all around. The shared experience of adapting to the same extraordinary circumstances makes culture more important than ever. And thoughts can only translate to actions with constant reflection, deliberation and collaboration to thrive in this new reality.

Remote Work Digest: October 30, 2020

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

The 10 Best Ways To Make The Most of 2020 | Amy Blaschka, Forbes.com

From a global pandemic, countless natural disasters, growing social and racial unrest, and a substantial political divide to balancing working from home and remote learning, navigating the uncertainty has been challenging.

The good news is that we still have a chance to salvage the year. Here are the 10 best ways—one for each week left of the year—to finish strong

1.Protect your time

How and with whom you spend your time and your productivity while doing so, demonstrate your focus and commitment to what—and who—matters most. When you master time-management, you’ll learn to say no, do, decide, delegate or delete tasks, batch routine tasks, eliminate distractions, embrace mono-tasking, get to know—and work—your own rhythms, and build in breaks to recharge.

2. Become more self-aware

Self-awareness is not just about knowing how you move through the world; it’s about knowing how your energy affects others. This perspective allows you to understand that everything is connected—your interactions with other people, how they perceive you, your attitude, and your responses to them in the moment—and all can be enhanced through better self-awareness.

3. Brush up on your soft skills

Last year, LinkedIn released its annual Global Talent Trends report, which explored the four big trends fueling the future of the workplace. Topping the list? Soft skills. 

This finding underscores a fundamental truth: At its core, business is about relationships. No matter your job function or title, to succeed, you must interact with other people. And those who find a way to combine their hard skills with soft skills create environments that empower and ignite their teams, delight their customers, and fuel sustainable growth.

4. Embrace four words to communicate and connect better

No matter your industry or profession, four words have the power to change your results instantly: It’s not about you.

The finest leaders understand that by putting others first and adopting a service mindset, they can improve their communication and connection, establish trust, deepen relationships, and build business.

5. Get curious

When you’re curious, you’re open. Open to exploring new ideas, experiences, and possibilities. Open to meeting new people and learning new things. Open to leaving behind outdated mindsets and limiting beliefs to make room for your highest and best self. And it’s that openness—that curiosity—that fuels growth.

6. Dare to be a “career contrarian”

“Career contrarians” share the ability to adopt an often unpopular perspective and make it work for them. Instead of conforming to conventional or practical approaches, education, or paths, they seek alternative means to career fulfillment.

7. Listen more than you talk

The benefits of listening are numerous. Active listening demonstrates respect, builds trust, and makes people feel valued. It creates a virtuous cycle: we naturally gravitate toward those who listen to us, and when we feel heard, we open up and share.

8. Stop hiding behind fear

Fear is a powerful emotion. It often masquerades as a cloak of protection, keeping us from doing things that may cause us harm. But sometimes, the real damage comes from the inaction that fear enables.

We avoid at all costs those things that make us uncomfortable, but there is no growth in the status quo. Sooner or later, that caution and those fears that prevent you from getting hurt or put on the spot stagnate you.

9. Share your wisdom

Wisdom is the ability to think and act using knowledge, experience, understanding, common sense, and insight. But it transforms into something truly powerful when it is shared.

Why? Because all the wisdom in the world is meaningless without application.

10. (Re)tell your career story

Properly crafted, your career story helps to differentiate you from your competitors, highlight your value, and to draw others to you. It provides a common thread that weaves together your personal and professional experiences, as well as your transferable skills, making it easy for others to connect the dots.

5 Reasons To Invest In An Employee Time Tracking Software | Thebossmagazine.com

Working remotely comes with its challenges. One of the major challenges is keeping a check on work productivity, which can be made easier with the help of an employee time tracking software.

Tracking Productivity

The biggest benefit of a time tracking software is that you (as the manager) get to see how your employees spend their time. Once you are aware of this, you can set work priorities in order to achieve optimum results within a given timeline. This in turns helps in maximizing work productivity.

Measure of Progress

An employee tracking software helps you gain an insight of the employee’s current position and provides a measure of his overall capacity. With this knowledge you can motivate them to work on a particular aspect that is lacking from their end.

Prioritizing of important tasks

A time tracking software gives a clear view of the progress of an ongoing project by the number of hours being spent on each task within the project. This enables the manager to prioritize urgent work by re-assigning resources for high-priority projects. 

Better project management

The better the management, the more confidently you can take up new work. Whether it is resource capacity estimates or the work timelines – all this data will help you establish your upcoming projects and even keep your budget in check.

Transparency in billing

Since time tracking is transparent, it removes confusion around what role each employee is fulfilling. It also clearly reflects how an individual employee is utilizing their time. This helps in reducing discrepancies regarding time and cost when discussing a new project with a client. 

Conclusion

Investing in a time tracking software can increase the revenue being generated whilst focusing on higher productivity at the same time. Every organization can utilize it in their own way and reap its benefits.

How to reduce your energy bills when working from home this winter | Naomi Gordon, Housebeautiful.com

With personal finances under strain and a long winter ahead, Michael Meiser at LED lighting specialists, Lumilum, gives his top tips for lowering your energy bill while working from home.

  1. Reorganise your workspace

If you aren’t alone in working from home, setting up a shared office space will mean you use less electricity for lighting and will stay warmer without heating the whole house. If you need to take a call or jump on a video conference, temporarily move to another room.

  • Be clever with your heating

‘Check the temperature your boiler is set to for hot water. Even decreasing it by 1°C could save up to 10 per cent on your heating bill,’ Michael reveals. ‘So that you only get the heat you need, put the boiler on a timer. You can also set your thermostat so that the boiler will kick in if the house gets too cold. An acceptable indoor temperature for office workers is 20 degrees.’

  • Switch off at the end of the day

Working from home means more devices will be powered and charged, but ensure that you fully switch off any device you are not using, chargers included. Even in sleep mode, devices use energy and lose charge, so avoid leaving them on standby. This simple change could save you an average of £80 a year, according to The Energy Savings Trust.

  • Get the right lighting

Aim to set up your workspace in a room with plenty of natural light to reduce your use of artificial lighting. Remove anything that’s blocking natural light and keep curtains and blinds fully open.

  • Find a better deal

Seeing as working from home and a more flexible approach to remote working is here to stay, it’s time to revisit your energy plan, and that means not settling for standard tariffs, which are often the most expensive.

  • Cut back in the kitchen

The kitchen is often seen as the forgotten cost of working from home. ‘If you’re a coffee or tea drinker, only boil the amount of water you need (it’ll be quicker too!), use the right size pots and pans to cook food faster, and defrost your dinner the natural way during the day,’ Michael explains. ‘Just like when you’re in the office, prepping lunch for the week ahead by batch cooking will save you time and energy.’

The complete guide to remote IT support for small business | Chris Souza, Itproportal.com

Here is a complete guide to help small businesses initiate remote IT services.

Begin with considering these critical aspects to support employees who work from home.

Check if employees have access to the required productivity tools

Your remote teams should have complete access to all the essential cloud-based productivity tools. This will help facilitate the sharing of files, effective communication, easy collaboration on projects, and initiation of meetings.

Consider a situation where employees experience technical issues with centralized productivity tools during a pandemic outbreak like the Covid-19 pandemic. This critical scenario demands the need for the availability of a robust remote platform that works offline while providing access to all productivity tools.

List tasks that can be handled remotely

This will help stakeholders plan the completion of important tasks to be prioritized and specifically handled from home.

Audit available technology resources

Obtain an overview of hardware and software resources that are available and if there is a need to purchase or upgrade resources. This will include an upgrade of internet packages and cloud-based productivity suites.

Take charge of cybersecurity

Remote employees should be educated about the sensitivity of data they will be handling and the risks that accompany this task.

For example, cybercriminals may take advantage of the current Covid-19 pandemic to entice victims into clicking on malicious links that offer information about a “cure.” Such instances can be better managed by having all the employees connect over a virtual private network (VPN) remotely.

Set a communication protocol

It is important to put into effect a protocol that defines how regularly communication among the team members needs to take place to improve collaboration. This should include the following:

  • Appropriately schedule check-ins and meetings, breakout sessions, and project updates on a particular time of the day
  • Have a structured facilitator and agenda to take care of the preparation work in advance
  • Ensure to send follow-up emails to summarize discussed points and outcomes of meetings
  • Test the technology used in advance when addressing a larger audience

Train employees on cybersecurity

Employees should be provided with comprehensive training on handling sensitive data, the features available in tools provided, and how best to use them. This kind of training will help them understand their responsibilities and remain productive.

Maintain helpdesk support services

It helps to maintain a 24*7 help desk support services for the remote workforce to address any technical or functional issue. This helpdesk support service should be able to troubleshoot and answer questions remotely.

Manage the team with empathy

A survey by Buffer reveals that remote employees grapple to unplug from work, tackle loneliness, and have problems with collaborating with their team. Organizations must address these social elements and use technology to overcome these challenges during a pandemic. Managers can plan one-on-one meetings or team meetings through video conferencing. They can also arrange for brainstorming sessions to generate ideas. 

Wrap up

Implementing effective work-from-home policies is slowly but surely becoming the new normal. The above-mentioned aspects and best practices will help organizations in the seamless transition of their workforce to the remote working environment. This information will also provide you with a deeper understanding of the significance of maintaining productivity tools and data security for the remote workforce.

Remote Work Digest: May 16, 2019

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

Overhead image of a female blogger writing on the laptop

Image from Pgi.com

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Secrets to Managing Remote Workers You Need To Know Now

Image from SmallBizTrends.com

Image from SmallBizTrends.com

With more and more companies hiring virtual employees in today’s time and age, the industry of remote work has dramatically grown. Faster and augmented Internet, coupled with technological innovations in terms of web-based communications, has greatly contributed to this sector. Nowadays, you will find remote employees across a great number of industries, with their job descriptions ranging from being freelancers to having exclusive, permanent roles.

Why remote work is a booming industry

With so many beneficial aspects of working remotely, such as having more control over work and personal life, less expenses, and greater productivity, there is no longer a need to question why so many people choose to become virtual employees. The same goes true for businesses and companies; these organizations also enjoy a multitude of benefits for offering remote work, including increased productivity levels and less carbon footprint issues just to name a few.

The remote-work related challenges that employers are faced with

From a business perspective, all these benefits can only be reaped by employers who are able to hire the best people for the job, properly manage them, and retain their star workers. Unfortunately, many find it hard to effectively manage remote workers and teams of virtual employees. Some of the most common issues that organizations encounter when it comes to remote worker/team management are associated with communication and collaboration.

What can and should be done to address these issues

Overcoming the challenges associated with managing remote workers and teams should be a top priority of companies, especially since they can contribute significantly to the overall success of the organization. Therefore, it is a must that employers know what they can and should do to address these issues.

So here are the secrets to managing remote workers that you probably have been missing out on.

Take advantage of communication and collaboration tools

Image from PeopleFluent.com

If you have not been utilizing these tools, then you should start implementing their use as soon as possible.

  • BasecampThis easy-to-use yet extremely functional cloud-based tool comes with project management features. It allows for the easy streamlining of projects while also simplifying task management. Being able to keep in contact with all the members of the team with everyone staying updated on projects and their status have also been made easier by this tool.
  • Google DocsThis free-to-use tool organizes files and documents into a single location that can easily be accessed by anyone it has been shared with. Real-time revisions can also be done through this tool.
  • SkypeTaking advantage of this program will allow you to manage your virtual employees with no additional cost (to anyone). You can contact your team members through video and voice calls as well as chat messages. You can conduct face-to-face video conferences with up to 9 members of your team.
  •  WorksnapsWorksnaps is a time tracking tool specifically developed for the use in the remote work industry. Some of its key features include visual tracking of time and work details, integration with project management tools including Basecamp and Asana, and reporting functionalities. In other word, collaborating can be done much more efficiently if you use this program.

Some of the other notable remote work management tools you should check out and consider using are MyCrowdSnagItTogglAxureTrelloJingand Cacoo.

Repeat instructions as needed

One of the greatest challenges of having to manage virtual employees is the fact that you cannot be with them in person, so you have to rely on the tools mentioned above for communication. You assign tasks and send instructions. You then just wait for the completed project and focus on another project. In most cases, the results are exceptional, especially if you have award-winning team members. There are some situations though, wherein this can actually backfire.

For example, the instructions you gave were a bit incomplete or vague. If your remote workers are used to utilizing their own creativity and skills set to complete projects, they may end up going astray the specifics of the project. Yes, the work that they have done is impressive, but it is not what you are looking for. This is why you need to repeat instructions as needed and have your employees confirm that they do understand what needs to be done.

Understand the difference between time zones

Image from OptinMonster.com

Image from OptinMonster.com

Much thanks to technology, remote workers are brought together despite being in locations that can be as far apart as possible. Information can be sent and received in an instant. However, this does not mean that you should no longer take into consideration your employees’ location, and most importantly, their time zones. This is especially true if you have not set their specific work hours.

In other words, you have to consider the possibility that your employees may already be asleep before you give them a call, unless of course, it is really urgent. Before pressing that call button, think about what time it is in the state or the country where your team member is located in. Send you a text or a chat message first. If you do not get a response immediately, chances are, he/she is already asleep. Make that late night or very-early-in-the-morning call only if your reason is valid and is urgent in nature.

Be a manager that you would like to be an employee of

Image from MarkSanborn.com

Image from MarkSanborn.com

Whether you are dealing with a team of remote employees or managing a staff within the same location, you need to be a good leader. But what exactly does being a good leader mean? There is no exact answer to this, but in order for you to lead your people effectively and be respected by your team members, you have to do the following:

  • Set the right rules, regulations, and procedures that will guarantee the efficient operation of the organization.
  • Develop a working environment that will not only benefit the company, but will also support your team members and their best interests as well as hone their skills and talents.
  • Create innovative solutions to problems.
  • Welcome and embrace the creativity of your team members.
  • Handle conflicts without bias.
  • Be a role model who reaches goals and produces exceptional results.

In short, take some time to reflect on your personalities and attributes. Then, ask yourself this: Are you someone who you would like to work for? If no, then you cannot expect your employees, virtual or not, to respect you. Work on the qualities mentioned above and you will surely be a good manager that anyone would like to work for.

 

 

 

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