Remote Work Digest: January 31, 2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

5. We are redefining what success looks like

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

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

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

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

What to Bear in Mind Before Going Remote

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

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

Some questions you can expect are:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What Happens When You Become a Remote Worker?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

1. Scan Your Idea

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

2. Scan It One More Time

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

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

3. Build Your Product

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

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

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

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

1. Freelance Writer

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

2. Graphic Designer

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

3. Virtual Assistant

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

4. Massage Therapist

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

5. Work Online

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Remote Work Digest: December 31, 2019

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

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

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

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

Why is feedback important for employees?

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

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

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

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

Why is feedback important for managers and leaders?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What kinds of feedback do you need to establish?

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

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

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

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

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

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

How to deliver positive feedback

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

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

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

How to deliver negative feedback

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

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

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

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

Best work-life balance jobs in tech:

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

Best work-life balance jobs in communications:

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

Best work-life balance service jobs:

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

Best work-life balance jobs in finance:

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

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

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

  1. Business goals.

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

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

  1. Expectations

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

  1. Flexibility

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

  1. Money

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

  1. A promotion

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

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

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

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

  1. Determine your allocations

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

  1. Identify your peak times

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

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

  1. Allocate your time blocks

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

  1. Defend your schedule

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

  1. Adjust and optimize

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

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

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

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