Remote Work Digest: February 26, 2022

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

Five Ways to Improve Employee Morale with One-on-One Connection | Lydia Vargo, Forbes.com

Because of the pandemic and the switch to remote-first work, managers are finding it increasingly difficult to connect with their employees in meaningful ways. This may cause feelings of isolation, dissatisfaction and low morale, which in turn can lead to poor performance. 

As a leader, you need to invest in your people, which includes treating them like the unique humans they are. With regular one-on-one interaction, you can improve employee morale, productivity and retention all in one. Follow these five tips to improve employee loyalty performance through the power of one-on-one connections.

1.Be Personable

If you want to connect with employees, you need to be approachable. Kick things off by sharing a little about yourself. Be conscious of not oversharing and causing discomfort, but giving some insight into your life and personality can bridge a gap and begin a healthy rapport. Perhaps it’s as simple as placing photos of your kids on the wall behind your desk or sharing what you did last weekend. It doesn’t take much, but a little goes a long way.

2. Connect with Multimedia

Email is okay, but your team is probably sick of answering emails — and their inboxes are full, anyway. Instead, connect with your team through richer media like: 

• A Discord server for audio-only chats. 

• Voice memos, so people can listen to your voice. 

• Vidyard recordings that show your screen and your face.

3. Hone Your EQ

If you want to foster healthy one-on-one connections, you need to boost your EQ as a leader. It might sound like common sense, but how you approach one-on-one conversations can have a big effect on employee morale. 

That means following best practices like: 

Using positive phrasing: Remote employees can’t see your face or hear your voice, so they have to read into every little interaction. Frame things positively and over-communicate so employees know you’re trying to foster a warm, congenial relationship. 

Avoiding micromanaging: Employees will dread talking to you if a one-on-one becomes a forum for critique. Micromanaging lowers morale and makes your team feel on edge and not trusted to do their jobs — not to mention less productive!

Keeping appointments: Life happens, but if you frequently reschedule chats with an employee, they’re going to think you don’t care. Try not to reschedule or cancel one-on-ones if at all possible. 

4. Listen

Give employees your undivided attention when you speak to them. Let them do most of the talking and practice active listening. After all, communication goes well beyond the words that you speak — body language and tone are key to being understood and bridging gaps.

5. Schedule Fun Social Connections

If you allow employees to bond with you in a lower-stakes environment, they’re going to feel more connected and loyal in their careers. With professional boundaries top of mind, it is healthy for your team to blow off a little steam together. Never underestimate the power of non-work-related conversations and activities! 

The Bottom Line

It’s hard to think about retention when you’re dealing with the here and now, but the connection still needs to be a priority if you want to retain your employees. Follow these five tips to foster closer relationships with your team and boost morale, productivity and retention all at the same time.

Top 10 Best Freelance Platform and Marketplace in 2022 | Nishi, Inventiva.co.in

The following are the best free marketplaces and websites for those looking to work as freelancers from home in 2022:

1.Upwork

Upwork used to be known as oDesk but has grown into one of the best places to find freelancers in any field. With over 12M freelancers and around 5M clients registered, it is the largest freelance platform in the world. 

Here, you can find freelancers and projects related to just about any expertise. Despite its user-friendly nature, the website would require you to fill out an application that would be approved or rejected according to the current need for your skills.

2. Fiverr

With over 250 categories of professional services, it connects freelancers and businesses on a digital level. Clients can search for freelancers on this website and give them the project, and Freelancers can post what they are willing to offer.

3. Freelancer

Small businesses looking for website development, logo design, writing and marketing help can find talent and help on this website. Many people are interested in working with big-name companies like Intel, Microsoft, and Boeing on their client list. 

You can sign up with freelancers quickly since their website is very user-friendly. Upload your previous work samples, bid on work, and communicate with the hiring managers. Besides not having to pay a penny to register, you won’t have to pass any interviews or tests

4. Guru

Companies can find freelancers from all over the world through this freelance marketplace. Thanks to their straightforward hiring process, clients can hire freelancers quickly and easily. Even though the website is new, its user base has already reached 1,500,000 million. 

The number of completed jobs keeps growing by the day, and they have now completed more than a million jobs. Making a profile with them is pretty easy; all you need to do is create your profile, and you are ready to go. Various profiles post jobs every day, and there is a lot of competition.

5. People Per Hour

This is one of the biggest and most popular freelance marketplaces because you can find freelance services in audio, video, web development, web design, mobile development, social media, and much more. More than 1 million businesses have earned more than £130 million on this platform. 

The primary goal of the company is to associate customers with suitable candidates. It is unique that they have personally selected every person you work with; consequently, they employ quality people and provide quality work.

6. Toptal

One of the best places to start looking for freelancers when you need top-quality freelancers. Thousands of applications arrive every day, but only a few are accepted due to their rigorous application process. A company can use it to hire from the top tier of top-tier freelancers.

7. FlexJobs

Since it offers on-site jobs, remote work, freelance opportunities, and flexible schedules, it is primarily a platform for flexible employment. They hire freelancers from more than 40,000 companies, and you can select one according to your skills and interests. To find quality job postings, you would have to sift through a lot of trash.

8. 99designs

An attractive logo can draw a lot of attention from consumers, so it is crucial to hire an experienced designer to create this logo for you. 99designs has a reputation for quality and design, so that you can trust their work.

9. SimplyHired

There are freelance jobs in almost all fields on this marketplace, perfect for people looking for part-time employment. This website has the advantage of not charging people for posting jobs, which explains why there are so many job openings there.

As a freelancer, you can upload your resume and get your profile up and running very quickly. Afterwards, you will also be able to view freelance jobs in your local area. As well as seeing a list of top salaries, the site provides a salary estimate tool. 

10. Aquent

Job opportunities are mainly related to marketing, technology, and creative careers. Due to the quality of the work and the incredible talent of Aquent, they have won numerous awards. The company generally accepts candidates with more than two years of experience, though fresh graduates are also welcome to explore their positions.

22 Ways to Be a Little Bit Happier Every Day in 2022 | Integrisok.com

Here are some of our favorite tips to help boost happiness.

Help someone else. Turns out the human brain is wired for altruism. We’re taught from childhood that it is better to give than to receive, and there’s lots of evidence to suggest it’s true. We can now see, thanks to MRI technology, that the act of giving to others lights up the same parts of our brains as do food or sex.

Experiences are more important than possessions. New shoes may make us smile initially, but the happiness they bring fades quickly. The joy we feel when we focus on experiences is longer-lived in part because they foster in us a greater sense of vitality. We also often share experiences with others, which generates happiness.

Practice gratitude. Try this: each day for ten weeks, keep a gratitude journal. Write down three things you are grateful for each day. In an experiment at the University of California, Davis, three groups of volunteers kept journals. One group wrote about life events, another wrote about hassles in their lives and the third wrote about what they were grateful for. At the end, the gratitude group reported feeling more optimistic and satisfied with their lives.

Learn. Conquering new concepts or ideas helps build confidence and pride. US NEWS tells us that “education has been widely documented by researchers as the single variable tied most directly to improved health and longevity. And when people are intensely engaged in doing and learning new things, their well-being and happiness can blossom.”

Get more sleep. Seven to nine hours a night is the gold standard. Good sleep is crucial to having active, happy days. If you’re having trouble falling or staying asleep, it’s worth talking to your doctor.

Get older. One of the biggest perks of having a few decades in the rear-view mirror is that our happiness tends to increase as we age. Multiple studies indicate that as we age, we become happier and more satisfied with life. It may be a matter of having more perspective, but whatever it is, we’ll take it.

Smile. We know. Being told to smile can be annoying, so we are merely making a suggestion. BECAUSE… practicing ‘real’ smiles, AKA smiles that include your eyes, is a proven way to feel less distress in a distressing situation. In the word of psychology, this is called the facial feedback hypothesis, which suggests that our emotional experience is partly influenced by our facial movements. It’s a mind-body connection.

Dark chocolate. The darker the better. It’s science! Chocolate is a mood booster because eating it causes the release of endorphins in the brain. It also contains chemicals known to lift our mood such as phenylethylamine (a natural antidepressant) and tryptophan, which is linked to the production of serotonin, a neurotransmitter that produces feeling of happiness.  

Wake up earlier. First, make sure you’re sleeping seven to nine hours a night. Next, build a pleasant morning buffer into your day. You should enjoy your mornings, which is hard to do if you’re running around trying to get out the door. An extra half an hour (or even 15 minutes) will give you some space and you’ll notice a shift in attitude right away. 

Manage your stress. Get better at time management if you’ve got too much on your plate. Something as simple as a to-do list can give you a sense of control and order, and let’s face it, it feels so good to cross things off the list. 

Tidy up. When we think of self-care, cleaning house doesn’t often make the list but it should. In 2016, a study out of the University of New Mexico found that clutter directly interfered with folks’ ability to feel pleasure in a room. On the flip side, a clean, organized space can increase productivity, boost confidence and imbue its occupants with a sense of control, accomplishment and clarity. 

Start a meditation practice. It’s easier than you think. Mindful.org suggests getting started this way:

  • Find place to sit that feels calm and quiet to you.
  • Choose a short time, such as five or 10 minutes.
  • Make sure you are stable and in a position you can stay in for a while.
  • Follow the sensation of your breath as it goes in and as it goes out.
  • Notice when your mind has wandered and simply return your attention to the breath.
  • Don’t judge yourself or obsess over the content of the thoughts you find yourself lost in. Just come back. 
  • When you’re ready, gently lift your gaze (if your eyes are closed, open them). Take a moment and notice any sounds in the environment. Notice how your body feels right now. Notice your thoughts and emotions.
  • That’s it! That’s the practice. 

Put down your phone. Unless you’re keeping an online gratitude journal, that is. If you find yourself scrolling through social media, stop. A 2017 article in Forbes (and many subsequent studies) indicate that the more we use social media, the less happy we are. In fact, social media is known to increase anxiety, loneliness and depression.

Take a walk. A walk is good for your mood, your mind and your body. Tie your laces and go!

Avoid gossip. Fact: gossip may feel good in the moment, but really it causes stress. It’s not helpful and it immerses both the teller and the listener in negativity. 

Don’t drink too much. When it’s been a rough day, an alcoholic beverage of choice can sound like just the ticket. Alcohol blunts our feelings, so if we feel bad it will make us feel less bad  –  BUT – it can also crank up feelings of anger and depression or make you feel aggressive.  

Look at the stars. Researchers have found that there is a link between experiencing a sense of awe with feeling greater satisfaction and less stress.

Don’t believe everything you think. In other words, challenge negative thoughts. Here’s a technique: write down your negative thought. Maybe it’s something like “I am having problems at school/work. I don’t think I’m very smart.” Next, challenge that thought. Is there any evidence behind it? Am I misinterpreting the situation? What would someone else think if I told them my thoughts?

Read a story of adventure. Turns out you can reap the benefits of an awe-inspiring experience, like stargazing, by reading about one. Pick up a copy of “Moby Dick,” by Herman Melville; “The Call of the Wild,” by Jack London; or “Wild,” by Cheryl Strayed. 

Hang out with happy people. Motivational coaches will tell you that you are an amalgam of the top five percent of the people you spend the most time with. Makes sense to hang with the happy crowd, then, doesn’t it?

Be your own best friend. Treat yourself like you would a dear friend. When you’re feeling sad or negative, ask yourself what advice you’d give a friend feeling the same way. 

Breathe. Controlled breathing is an ancient practice and science is beginning to understand that its benefits are real. Do it any time you need or want to: take a deep breath. Pause. Exhale slowly as you count to five. Repeat four more times. This low-key practice can help reduce feelings of anxiety, depression and more.

9 emerging tech trends IT leaders need to watch | Stephanie Overby, Enterprisersproject.com

Following are some of the new technologies and capabilities with broad applications across companies and sectors for 2022 and beyond.

1.Hybrid workplace enablement tools

Nearly all technology leaders (97%) surveyed by IEEE agree that their team is working more closely than ever before with human resources leaders to implement workplace technologies and apps for office check-in, space usage data and analytics, COVID and health protocols, employee productivity, engagement, and mental health. 

2. Cloud simplification technologies

Looking forward, IT leaders will be looking at cloud-native technologies and platforms to take full advantage of cloud’s core capabilities for greater innovation at speed and scale. Gartner predicts that cloud-native platforms will serve as the foundation for more than 95 percent of new digital initiatives by 2025 (up from 30 percent of workloads in 2021).

3. Cloud control planes

The combination of accelerated cloud adoption and the digitally distributed workforce and enterprise has created some big ol’ surfaces for cyber attacks. As a result, CIOs are rethinking how they protect their organizations in this new normal.

4. Smart space technology

This will be augmented with smart space technologies that help in building intelligent physical spaces, such as manufacturing plants, retail stores, and sports stadiums. IEEE found that 82 percent of surveyed IT leaders agree that implementing smart building technologies that benefit sustainability, decarbonization and energy savings has become a top priority.

5. Automating automation

Many organizations found themselves digitizing and automating critical customer-facing applications in the early days of the pandemic. What they need to do now is create roadmaps for automating more of the business processes for greater efficiency and resiliency in the long term.

6. Collaborative data platforms

Organizations applying insights from data belonging to their partners or suppliers have twice the market capitalization, according to an early 2021 study published by Capgemini. Secure, real-time cloud-based data exchanges, along with solution providers that enable collaboration based on data without the actual sharing of the granular data itself, are key enabling technologies here.

7. Blockchain applications

The enterprise use cases for open-source distributed database and ledger technology are becoming clearer. The four most important uses cases cited by IT leaders surveyed by IEEE will be secure machine-to-machine interaction in the Internet of Things, shipment tracing and contactless digital transactions, keeping health and medical records secure in the cloud, and securing connecting parties within a specified ecosystem.

8. Generative AI

The world is abuzz with the promise of generative AI from natural-language generation models that can write computer code to algorithms that produce deepfakes.

It’s not all hype. There are some meaty enterprise applications for generative AI, which is far more dynamic than the machine learning currently being used in most organizations.

9. Next-generation EDR

As ransomware continues to rile organizations, next-generation endpoint detection and response (EDR) is emerging as a key cybersecurity capability for the next normal, providing increased visibility into threats with machine learning detection for faster response.

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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: March 30, 2021

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

Start fresh or anew: Remote work is available to entry-level job seekers | N.F. Mendoza, Techrepublic.com

The job market appears to be improving, and many companies are moving to either permanent remote/hybrid workplaces. Job seekers without much experience now have the option to secure jobs that don’t require going into the office.

Entry-level job openings are available in nearly every job category, according to Remote.co’s list of jobs, which listed in alphabetical order, positions that meet the following criteria:

  • Fully remote/work-from-home jobs
  • Entry-level career level (0-2 years of experience required)
  • Active as of March 25, 2021

It’s no surprise that for the best jobs on the market, competition is fierce. Because tech work can be found in pretty much every industry, it opens up the possibilities further.    

Remote.co’s career expert Brie Reynolds outlined four key strategies to help job applicants stand out.

  1. Discuss your skills that prove you’ll be a competent remote worker. “Include the specific skulls that make you a good remote worker, such as written and verbal communication, independent worker, organized and productive, great time and task manager and having a growth mindset are all good ones,” Reynolds said.
  2. If you’ve already worked remotely, highlight that info. Any position in which you’ve worked at a distance from your coworkers, across time zones or physical distances counts.
  3. One application does not fit all. Customize your resume for each remote job application. “You don’t have to rewrite the whole resume, but you should absolutely spend time making sure your document is keyword-rich in at least those top two sections, summary and key skills, using the same language from the job description.”
  4. Expect to be asked “Why do you want to work remotely?” Talk about how “you’re better able to focus, or you’re not worrying about catching a train home” or battling traffic at the end of the day or because you plan for a home office space that energizes and focuses you on your work. “Don’t discuss the personal benefits because employers already assume these things like getting more time back in your day and having better work-life balance.”

Guide to protecting the business when staff are working from home | Nicki Robson, Thehrdirector.com

With many companies planning to introduce software to monitor staff productivity remotely, HR experts have highlighted top steps to protect business owners when staff are working from home.

Here are the steps you can take to protect your business when staff are working from home:

1. Provide key training around the GDPR legislation

It is a key requirement for all business to train their staff on GDPR legislation. Ensure that you are providing adequate training for your team and have a data protection policy in place.

2. Sharpen management skills

Implementing good management practices that employers can follow while staff are working from home can increase staff efficiency and trust without the need for micromanagement and productivity monitoring software.

3. Strengthen communication

Make sure your business has robust communication mechanisms in place to keep employee/employer relationships strong.

4. Offer technology training

Provide employees with the opportunity to take up technology training or computer refresher courses. Once staff members are aware of how to use their technology, they will also be less likely to accidentally breach data protection laws while remote working.

It is important that you comply with data protection legislation and have adequate policies and procedures in place.

5 most common mistakes project managers make |Angela Scott-Briggs, Techbullion.com

Too often we forget how much of a difference this can make in delivering a project on time. Thus, instead of stressing about the outside factors, you should first take a look inside your own company and review how things are done. A faulty process will cause you to miss a lot more deadlines than any other factor.

To help you get started, here are the 5 most common mistakes project managers make. Correct them and you will be on your way to a more efficient timely process.

1.Lack of direction

One of the most common reasons for missing deadlines is ineffectiveness. Instead of working on a project, teams and companies lose a lot of time in trying to determine what should be done next. Thus, wasting valuable time and resources on something that should already have been done.

2. Lack of information

Similar to not knowing what should be done next, teams can also struggle to deliver work on time if they are unsure of what the task is. While it is clear to the manager what each work item entails, this information is often lost in the communication and thus time is spent on clarification.

3. Lack of visualization

Another big mistake when we talk about meeting deadlines is not visualizing your process and monitoring the flow of tasks. To make sure everything is going according to plan, it is important to track progress and identify which blockers can affect your timeline.

4. Lack of employee engagement

Employee engagement is a crucial part of any project’s success. A motivated team will deliver better results faster, while those with less incentive will be more prone to missing deadlines. But how can you engage your team without punishing them about a missed deadline? Try to involve them in the decision-making process.

5. Lack of actionable decisions

Lastly, one more mistake that causes your team to miss deadlines is too many report meetings and too few decisions. Surely, meetings are important to get in touch with your team and find solutions to issues, but too often this time is used to only report on status. In such cases, everyone simply presents what they are doing at the moment and which issues they may be facing, but no actionable decisions are discussed. Leaving the person in trouble with no help.

To make sure your meetings are about troubleshooting and helping your team, use your project management tools to track progress and evaluate project status. This way, you will not need to spend time learning what everyone is doing at the moment, and can instead discuss solutions for issues or improvements to your process. Time is the most valuable resource of any project, so make sure you spend it wisely.

How to Improve Your Work-From-Home Experience (Even After Months of Doing It) | Lucas Miller, Entrepreneur.com

In a January 2021 survey from PWC83% of employers felt that their company’s adaptation to virtual work has been successful. Also noteworthy: 55% of employees said they would prefer to work remotely three or more days per week even after pandemic concerns have completely subsided.

Of course, some people would love to return to a normal office environment, but find that corporate policies are keeping them at home a while longer. Still others are enjoying the remote-work lifestyle, but find it could use some improvements. Here are a few ways to enhance your experience.

Set clear boundaries

When you work in the same place that you live, it’s all too easy for the boundaries between work and home life to blur. This is a problem that goes both ways. If you are answering work-related messages at the dinner table, your family won’t be too thrilled with you. On the other hand, if you allow your family to constantly interrupt you throughout the day, your productivity will go down and you’ll need to work longer hours to get everything done.

Schedule regular breaks

Taking a short break every hour will actually make you more productive, not less. Breaks help you avoid decision fatigue and stay motivated to complete the task at hand. By refreshing your mind with a short break, you can also improve creative thinking.

So, if you’ve gotten into the rut of trying to get everything done all at once so you can be done with your current task before your kids need you again, call a mental mulligan. Set an alarm for each hour if needed, but don’t neglect your breaks.

Clean up your workspace

If you’ve been working from home for several months, chances are you’ve allowed a fair amount of clutter to accumulate in your workspace. However, as Joel Falconer explains for Lifehack, “Even if you are anti-minimalist, you should declutter. We’re defining clutter here as distracting material, including mess. Nothing is worse for your mental state than living and operating in a mess. Expect lethargy and crankiness and a particular level of apathy towards your state of affairs. Anything you don’t use on a daily basis should be put away, and anything you don’t use should be thrown straight in the bin.”

There is no denying that while working from home can be convenient for many, it also comes with its own unique set of challenges. By taking these steps to improve your work environment, you will be able to better enjoy your day-to-day routine, while still remaining productive.

Remote Work Digest: December 31, 2020

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

Why remote working and working from home aren’t the same – and how to accommodate both options | Jason Aten, Inc, Businessinsider.com

Too often we confuse remote work with working from home. The two aren’t the same. It isn’t just semantics, either. The words we use, and the way we talk about things is important. It communicates what we value, and using the wrong words can not only cause confusion, it can devalue your team members and the way they work.

Working from home is a temporary thing you do every once in a while.

It means that the work you usually would do in your office at your desk, you do from home for a day, or maybe two. In many companies, working from home is what you do on Thursdays because you don’t have any meetings, so you figure you’ll get caught up on the presentation you’re working on without the interruption of a colleague stopping by your desk.

Remote working is not just a circumstance, but rather a way of working.

If you work remotely, you don’t have a desk at your company’s office somewhere. Instead, you’re probably responsible for providing your own desk in your own workspace, usually somewhere in your own home. 

When you work from home, you still use the tools and technology your company gave you, you just log on to your own internet connection. It’s OK if you don’t have everything you need at home, because you’ll be headed back to the office tomorrow anyway.

That’s not the case with remote work, and it requires a completely different set of tools and systems. Often, you have to create your own systems, and the place you work gets a lot more attention since it’s likely what your colleagues will see every time you log on to Zoom. Don’t underestimate the level of stress that goes into having the perfect background — or at least, one that isn’t cluttered with toys and laundry and pets. Or, as we call it at our home, real life. 

It also means having a different set of skills. Setting your calendar and agenda for the day is different when you work remotely. Productivity and accountability look different as well. It’s time we start treating them that way. 

X Misconceptions Related To Employee Tracking | Bhok Thompson, Greenprophet.com

Not too long ago, time tracking was time consuming.

While tracking time has been widely accepted as a viable way to improve productivity, filling out lengthy Excel sheets has commonly been viewed as an additional task.

As a result, the practice of time tracking has been known to face a lot of resistance in corporate scenarios.

However, things have changed. Today, there are specialized time tracking software that automate the part of time tracking that feels like a “task”.

Time Tracking Leads to Micromanagement

Many employees dread the idea of time tracking because they believe that it will lead to micromanagement. Now, there is no denying that there are many examples of micromanagers in almost all organizations. Be that as it may, if a manager isn’t someone who likes to micromanage their team, a time tracking software is not going to change that.

In fact, after the initial adoption period, employees can use their own historical time tracking data to justify a realistic workload and make realistic commitments to their managers.

Time Tracking Leads to Employee Burnout

This point is especially worrying to many nowadays when remote working is becoming popular. With blurring boundaries between homes and offices, the rigid office timings are also blurring and many professionals are reporting working well beyond their ‘normal’ working hours.

Contrary to popular belief, time tracking can help organisations and individuals solve this problem. With time tracking, employees can stay productive during the actual office hours and set boundaries that allow them to have personal time. At the same time, organisations will be able to ensure that their employees are giving their best during their official working hours.

Employees Will “Forget” Tracking Time

Nowadays, time tracking is automated to a large extent. Therefore, there’s not much left to ‘forget’.

Moreover, it is important for employers to communicate the individual benefits of time tracking to their employees. This way, they will be more motivated to keep track of their own time and the ‘forgetting’ incidents will be limited to a minimum.

Conclusion

The fact that there are so many misconceptions surrounding time tracking has been a significant deterrent in the adoption of this awesome productivity technique. However, we hope that this article will help you see the benefits of time tracking and implement it in your organization.

Checklist: How to effectively lead your remote employees | MYRECRUITMENT+, Smartcompany.com.au

How to lead remote employees effectively is a question on the minds of many SME owners. HR, managers, and executives control a workforce that exists mainly through virtual encounters, and must reassess operations and procedures to ensure efficiency is embedded in every process. 

To assist you in your learning to lead a remote workforce, here’s a checklist for you to use as a guide in revealing where your strengths are and where you can improve.

Communication

  • Do I implement a seamless communication system?
  • Do my colleagues have someone else to communicate with if I’m unavailable?
  • Even when I’m unavailable, do my colleagues know how to contact me in case of an emergency? 
  • Have I implemented scheduled hours? Why/why not?
  • Have I confided in my colleagues and employees whether they are content with the current communication channels?

Collaboration

  • Is there any tension between colleagues that I’m aware of?
  • Do I receive regular feedback from colleagues/employees? 
  • Does the business provide the appropriate tools & resources for efficient collaboration? 
  • Have I put daily/weekly exercises in place for team bonding (thus more effective collaboration)? 

Training

  • Do I have standardized training material?
  • Do I have a procedure in place to ensure the new hire receives training material specific to their department? 
  • Do I have a system in-place that allows full transparency so I can view who has completed their training, and who hasn’t?
  • Do I have a system in-place that allows full transparency so I can view which employee is up-to-date in the latest training material, and which employee requires more training? 
  • Do we take advantage of an LMS? 

Why is this checklist relevant?

Communication

It’s the key to running a remote workforce. 

If employees have a question, they must receive answers within a suitable time frame. In order to overcome misunderstandings, you need to eliminate processes that encourage miscommunication. 

A strategy for this? Ensure all employees have contact numbers and someone they can contact at any time (in the working day) for immediate assistance. You, as a leader, must act as the glue that keeps your team well bonded and functioning holistically.

Consider using tools that provide you with a 2-way bulk sms and email communication channel. This will allow you to quickly and efficiently provide stakeholders with recent updates.

Collaboration

Regardless of the company’s location (remote or in the office) teamwork is crucial for productivity. Employees that are motivated have higher job satisfaction, thus higher productivity.

So, how do you incorporate company culture to a workforce that is spread over states, and perhaps even the country? 

Organize weekly meetings, perhaps a Monday morning (to talk about weekly goals), and Friday afternoon (to discuss achievements). Make it compulsory for everyone to attend. Whilst working from home allows flexibility, don’t forget that working your standard 9-5 job comes with requirements and responsibilities, so don’t be afraid of maintaining compulsory activities.

Training

The global pandemic has resulted in consistent updates regarding operational regulations and restrictions. In order to be compliant with these regulations, your employees must be up to date with training of current workplace procedures.

This includes hygiene practices, wellbeing exercises, operational restrictions, social distancing strategies etc. The consequences of being noncompliant (internally or externally) results in large fines, and an increased risk of contracting COVID-19.

Business owners should consider investing in a LMS system so new hires and existing employees receive identical training material. This promises consistency in knowledge and expectations.

Communicate, collaboration and training are closely entwined, and are the three main components to be considered when deciding a strategy to lead remote employees due to the dire consequences of overlooking their significance.

15 Ways to Maximize Your Productivity and Earnings | Kim Porter, Dollarsprout.com

Though you might use an eight-hour workday to benchmark your productivity, research suggests workers are only productive for about three hours during that time frame.

Here are 15 ways to boost your productivity and earning potential.

  1. Find your most productive hours.

To find your golden hours, listen to your body to get a sense of when you feel focused and motivated to tackle big projects. Plan your day so you’re doing the highest-priority work during your most productive hours, while routine tasks can be done when you don’t need as much concentration.

2. Figure out which office lifestyle is best for you.

Some people work best independently, while others thrive in an office setting. “In my experience, introverts really tend to enjoy working from home because they are energized by alone time,” says Alexis Haselberger, a productivity, time management, and leadership coach. “Extroverts tend to have a harder time working from home for the opposite reason; they are energized through time with others.”

3. Track and limit time spent on each task.

After a few months in the same role, you probably know how long it takes to complete your normal, routine tasks. When you need to schedule one, allot a reasonable amount of time and aim to get it done within that time frame.

4. Schedule your week.

Racheal Cook, business strategist and productivity expert, says she creates a weekly Google Calendar and first blocks out time for family, friends, and fun. She then blocks out major work tasks during defined hours to help create boundaries between work and her personal life. If you don’t make time for both, “then work can quickly take up every available moment in your week,” Cook says.

5. Give yourself periodic breaks.

Working at 100% capacity at all hours just isn’t sustainable. “If you don’t take regular breaks, you risk burnout,” Haselberger says.

6. Make time for personal and career development

Career development could include attending a training course for the next step in your career, watching a self-development seminar, or reading a book. Investing time in yourself might mean skipping billable client work now, but it boosts your earning potential over time. And focusing on personal goals can help you round out your work-life balance.

7. Avoid meetings if possible.

While meetings can be an efficient way to collectively brainstorm ideas and create solutions, more than $37 billion per year is spent on unproductive meetings, according to one estimate. But if you must have one, Haselberger offers these tips:

  • Ensure every meeting has an owner. This person schedules the meeting, sets the agenda, and facilitates the discussion.
  • Only include necessary attendees. Information can be disseminated to others on a need-to-know basis via other means.
  • Always have an agenda. The owner sends the agenda to all attendees. It should state the objective, items for discussion, and any relevant materials to prepare attendees.
  • Define the goal for the meeting. If you don’t know what you hope to accomplish, don’t schedule a meeting.
  • Decision vs. discussion. Decide whether the purpose of the meeting is for decision-making or brainstorming and discussion.

8. Outsource or delegate work if you can.

Whether you’re running a business or part of a large project with co-workers, everyone has a strength and a role. Delegating or outsourcing work means “letting others do what they can do, so you can do what only you can do,” Marshall says.

9. Avoid time wasters.

Distractions can torpedo your workday. These come in the form of household chores, co-workers or kids, and emails and notifications. “Most people check email on average 37 times a day,” Haselberger says. “Every time we are interrupted or distracted, it takes, on average, 23 minutes to refocus.”

10. Create your own work processes.

Creating resources like processes, checklists, and pricing structures allows you to do the thinking and the work just once. Having the documentation will also help if you plan to grow your business in the future, Marshall says.

11. Automate tasks when possible.

Collaborating with project management tools, using accounting software, and scheduling social media posts are some other ways to automate tasks.

12. Exercise regularly.

Exercise does so much more than lower your blood pressure and help you fit into your jeans. In one study, employees who visited the gym said they were more productive, managed their time more effectively, and had smoother interactions with their colleagues. Exercise can also:

  • Boost your concentration, memory, and creativity.
  • Help you learn faster.
  • Lower your stress levels.

13. Take time to rest and recharge.

Rest will look different for everyone, but here are a few ways to make it happen:

  • Block off at least one day a week where no work is allowed.
  • Practice self-care, which generally means sleeping enough, eating well, and exercising.
  • Take a “mental health day” if you need it.
  • Make time to visit friends and family. But don’t be afraid to say “no” to social visits if you’re feeling overwhelmed.

14. Get enough sleep.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 1 in 3 adults don’t get enough sleep. What’s considered “enough” varies by age and person. But generally, adults should get between seven and nine hours of sleep each night, the CDC says. Here are some ways to help that happen:

  • Save caffeine for the morning, and cut it from your afternoon and evening.
  • Get into a consistent sleep schedule by going to sleep and waking up at the same time each day, including on weekends.
  • Don’t use smartphones and other devices right before bedtime. They emit light that can mess with your circadian rhythm and ability to fall asleep.
  • Avoid exercising and eating close to bedtime.

15. Make good food choices.

While any food generally fuels your body, some types of food are better at promoting productivity. Here are some general guidelines:

  • Have healthy food choices available. In particular, fruits and vegetables have been shown to promote curiosity, motivation, and engagement. Nuts are also a healthy option.
  • Don’t skip breakfast. A meal full of protein and complex carbohydrates gives your body the energy it needs to get through the day.
  • Graze. Hunger can lead to lower levels of productivity, so have a steady stream of healthy snacks on hand to eat throughout the day.

Learning strategies to harness your focus and energy will help you use your time more meaningfully and efficiently.

This list serves as a starting point for taking care of yourself, setting goals, and squashing the time wasters that don’t contribute value to your work or personal life. You can start with one or combine a few into a more comprehensive strategy. Whether you’re freelancing or pushing for a raise at your full-time job, one thing is true: greater productivity equals more money in your pocket.