Remote Employees’ Survival Tips
Looks as if the immense upheaval our culture and businesses have experienced may be the new norm … at least for a while. The crisis presented by Covid-19 has businesses urging, and mandating, that employees work from home. Approximately 25% of the workforce was already working at home by choice, but the new policies leave many employees — and their managers — working from a home office and separated for the first time. If you and your employees have never worked remotely 100% of the time, doing so requires big adjustments.
Shifting to a fully remote team requires creating and implementing the right practices. From the employee’s perspective, the new working remotely ‘normal’ requires rethinking and adjustment to remain productive and tamping down their stress level.
When working remotely, implementing effective guidelines is critical for success.
- Designate a Workspace: It is easier to stay focused if you designate a specific area in your home to get work done. This ‘office’ should provide you with both quiet and privacy.
- Comfortable Environment: Have the right equipment to remain efficient and productive. You must include a desk, telephone, printer, an ergonomic chair, office supplies and a desk lamp. Basics also include a computer and high-speed Internet connection that can support video conferencing.
- Boundaries: Most likely your spouse, children and pets are all in close quarters so establish signals so they’ll know when to leave you alone … when the door is closed, that means that you’re on the phone and can’t disturbed.
- Overcommunicate: Since your traditional office where seeing and talking to co-workers is changed, communication with them from afar remains very critical. Communicate frequently with your boss and clarify what is expected of you. Beyond that, reach out to co-workers and managers regularly through emails or by phone. Then talk with your clients/customers to reassure them you are there.
- Online Tools: Email alternatives (Slack) help workflow and offer social outlets. Telephone conversations remain important. Video teleconferences add another sensory element to your interactions because they enhance team unity and productivity.
- Do Not Overdo It: When working remotely it is easy to lose track of time. So, give yourself a break and take a lunch break and step away from your computer, walk around or step outside. This helps you feel refreshed and ready to get back to work. Pull yourself away, even if it is for just a few minutes.
Employers’ Remote Management Survival Tips
Since it requires a strong communication system to work well, trust is vital when employees work remotely. Whether you schedule regular calls or use apps for video meetings any scheduled team meetings must be treated as seriously as if it a ‘face’ team event.
Considering your team as “local” rather than “remote” allows everyone to adjust to a virtual team dynamic and quickly shift into an alternative work style meant to improve the general level of trust and strength in this new relationship.
To build and maintain a strong working relationship with your remote team set clear parameters from the start since doing so is essential to achieve the intended results. They must have set deliverables and should be manageable with the same expectations from on-site employees.
Security for all business owners must become more important when you require employees working remotely to access company networks and data. Experts recommend that all connections made to the company are done through a VPN (Virtual Private Network) that either leverages SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) or IPsec (Internet Protocol Security) which encrypt communications from the remote teleworker’s machine. This absolutely ensures that your system and the end user is protected.
Whether your employees use your equipment or their own, their working environment must be 100% secure. Ensure they have the right software in place to protect their hardware and they are fully versed on dealing with malware issues.
To support your virtual team in doing this, establish an online IT support - whether they choose to work in their own homes or in public spaces. Fully protected hardware is the first step in ensuring a secure working environment for remote workers and guarantees trust between the employer and employee.
Utilize Productivity Tools
Multiple team member projects cannot be slipshod. It is very important to make use of the proven tools designed to make work processes quicker, more effective, and less likely to result in error. Some of the most popular and useful productivity tools include:
- Trello: A project management tool but it can be used as a diary, a way of actioning tasks, sharing responsibilities or even as an editorial calendar.
- Slack: Allows for quick instant messages in the place of long email chains and is a much more reactive option for teams who need quick responses or if you need to speak to a team publicly and collect their responses where all can see. It is easier and much less annoying than multiple emails.
- Google Drive / Dropbox: For managing files in shared folders. The bonus many people find with Google Drive is easily compatible with almost any device and you have full access to the Google suite of software tools.
- Evernote: Organize your thoughts into notebooks, to-do lists and more ensuring you can find what you need when you need it. It is great for brainstorming sessions, writing quick blog posts, and keeping your thoughts in one place to look back on when needed.
Choosing to work with a virtual team can save jobs in this uncharted environment. Virtual employees develop strong and long-lasting team relationships and celebrate successes together. Finally, remote working builds a business that exceeds client expectations while retaining valuable, motivated employees on your payroll.
We can assist your business connect with your customers during these challenging times.
For Those Now or Soon Facing Working at Home
Changes in How We Work & Seek Coping Solutions with Corona Virus Stresses & Risks
Make Calls Over Wi-Fi
Does your ‘new’ home office have spotty cellular connectivity? Verizon, AT&T and all the other U.S. carriers offer Wi-Fi calling, which allows you to make calls over your wireless network with your phone number. In fact, testing a while back showed that call quality was great over Wi-Fi. On the iPhone, you can enable Wi-Fi calling by going to Settings > Cellular > Wi-Fi Calling. On Android, go to Settings > Networks & Internet > Mobile network > Advanced > Wi-Fi Calling. If this trick doesn’t work for you, you could also try a cellular signal booster.
Position Your Webcam Smartly
Since we are all on video chat now, just remember: Keep a light source on your face (try to avoid sitting with a window behind you.) Frame your head and shoulders in the shot (keep the camera lens at or above eye level—and use a cardboard box to prop up the laptop if necessary.) Lift your head up…your chin will thank you. Finally, grab a microfiber cloth and wipe off the lens from time to time.
Kill Notifications During Chats
During video calls—especially if you are sharing screens—no one wants to see your notifications or hear those dings and rings. So - MUTE! In Windows 10, go to System > Notifications & Actions and turn them off. On MacOS 10.8 Mountain Lion or later, click the three lines in the top right corner, then swipe down, then turn on Do Not Disturb. Just don’t forget to turn your notifications back on once the call is over.
Slack Like a Pro
Don’t let Slack rule your life. Starring your most important chats and channels (top left) puts them at the top of your sidebar, so you don’t have to dig. Enable notifications for them by tapping the gear icon, then Notification Preferences. (Also adjust your overall notification settings in Preferences.) To jump between conversations, hit Ctrl-K (Cmd-K on Macs). Forgetting important messages? Click three dots on a message and hit “Remind me about this.”
Fix Your Wi-Fi
Having Wi-Fi issues? Plug directly into your router with an Ethernet cable. Don’t like being tethered? Move your router to the center of the house to spread the signal. Choose the faster 5GHz network if possible. If your router is over five years old, get a new one. Consider a mesh network like Eero—it uses multiple nodes to kill dead zones.
Track Your Time
Ah, working from home, aka the black hole of time. Time-tracking apps such as Toggl and Clockify (for Windows, Mac, iOS, Android and the web) let you count your minutes and hours, so you know when to quit or take a break. Input your projects and calls, then view a graph of where your time went. I prefer to go low tech, by writing it all down on a piece of paper.
Update Your Email Signature
You know where you aren’t reachable right now? That landline sitting in your ‘new office’. Update your email signature with the best place to reach you via mobile phone and chat services, like Slack, WhatsApp, Skype, Zoom, etc. Link your contacts to all that you and they utilize. Add a little note like “Currently WFH; reach me at [Insert info here].” In Gmail, click the gear icon, then Settings, then scroll down to the signature. In Outlook, go to File > Options > Mail > Signatures.
Author: Joanna Stern – 3-24-20 - WSJ’s Stern offers fixes and advice on Tech frustrations. Visit WSJ daily Tech News Briefing podcast
What’s Your Crystal Ball Tell You?
The survey ‘nuggets’ below reveal a ’50-thousand’ perspective of predicted global business trends projected beyond 2020. See if your industry is likely to prosper or falter.
New Technology Adoption
The top five strategic industry drivers through 2022 are all technology related. Global growth and the new technologies that define it will spur business growth, job creation and demand for specialist skills.
Big Data Availability
According to investment plans of companies surveyed in a “Jobs Report”, 85 percent of respondents will likely expand their big data analytics adoption of both users and providers by 2022.
Advances in Mobile Internet
Smartphones abound; a recent trends study reveals that two-thirds of the global population represents mobile subscribers (which has the greatest reach of any technology). This dynamic is certain to result in life-enhancing services and expand greater access to education and health services.
Artificial Intelligence (AI)
Artificial Intelligence is already used to increase efficiency, improve productivity and performance in manufacturing, technology, healthcare and numerous other industries. A new AI global study reports that 80 percent of executives believe AI will help their business either achieve or sustain a competitive advantage.
Cloud Technology Advances
According to the stated investment intentions of 2018/19 companies surveyed, 72 percent of respondents will likely expand their adoption of cloud computing by 2022. This step will make businesses more agile, collaborative, efficient and scalable while reducing costs.
National Economic Growth/Shifts
Combined with technology, socio-economic trends will also affect business growth through 2022. National growth trends will have the greatest impact in the aerospace, supply chain/transport, infrastructure, mining and metals industries.
Prosperity in Developing Economic Growth
Enabling access to technology and education is expected to contribute to the expansion of the middle class. Research predicts this growth will have the greatest effect on aviation, travel/tourism, chemistry, advanced materials and biotech, and global health/healthcare.
Increased access to education is a consequence of technology adoption along with the expansion of the middle class. The industries projected to be most affected by this socio-economic propensity are aviation, travel/tourism, mining, metals, and professional services.
New Energy & Technology Innovations
Decarbonization, emerging markets and resilience will continue to propel increased demand in renewable energy worldwide. And, advanced computing power, new energy supplies/technologies will drive business development in countless industries.
Estimates predict the global middle class will likely double by 2020 and triple by 2030. This impetus is attributable to urbanization and will drive greater access to education, technology and opportunity.
Looking into a crystal ball is always speculative; however, given the information from these recent studies, the future looks bright! HQZ Experts continues to examine evolving technology trends that offer new opportunities to our own business as well as those of our clients. Let’s talk about what’s in your crystal ball.
Sources: Deloitte; Flatworld Solutions; Pew Research
Digital Marketing Etc.
The path to reaching business goals works better using a digital marketing strategy. Why? Doing so helps you save money, evaluate vital data from which to make better decisions, and build customer trust. How so? Because it’s more affordable, flexible, and easier than traditional marketing approaches. Regardless of size, industry or geography, digital is necessary for growth and staying power today and tomorrow. The topics below define why.
Digital marketing uses targeted research and analytics to quickly determine which approaches are working well and which aren’t. Most digital marketing channels are less costly from the start and help you avoid overspending on underperforming campaigns.
Digital marketing gives small businesses more opportunities to compete, improve brand awareness, and build an audience. That’s because it closes the gap between large, medium, and small companies and benefits each range with many of the same resources ... it’s about what you offer, not how tall your building is.
Measures Program Results
Single attribution (first touch/last touch) is the method of measurement used by most marketing teams. The theory: it takes an average of seven touches to convert a cold lead to a sale and puts the highest value on the first or last touch. Traditional marketing stats are much more difficult to measure say on the ROI of a print ad than it is to measure that of a digital ad given the print ad audience is much broader. Digital marketing targets specific audiences and can see which advertisement prompted which sale. Imagine.
A/B Testing Works
Experimenting with all aspects of a marketing campaign — A/B testing the location of an email, sign-up, call to action, the color of a promotional banner, a subject line — is much easier to analyze more quickly on digital feeds. Simple changes can be tracked and used to target customers more effectively. The results of A/B testing can improve targeting of print ads too. Example: if a company targets the same audience on a search engine as it does in a print magazine ad, the message will be effective for both.
Mobile Marketing Engagement
Mobile marketing is changing the way we all ‘view’ the world. According to Global Web Index, more than eighty percent of internet users own a smartphone, and ninety percent of the time spent on their smartphone is devoted to applications. Mobile marketing — from email and social ad design to SEO to branded apps —you to reach users in their comfort zone. Great concept.
Analytics Reveal Biz Models
Measuring digital analytics helps companies make informed decisions about where to invest their resources and improve efficiency. Gathering numbers from traditional marketing channels is a manual process, while most digital platforms, including social media and marketing automation, have built-in analytics dashboards with all data automatically available.
Digital Is Personal
Tech marketplaces have led customers and buyers to expect individual, personalized attention. “Click To Tweet” Digital marketing eliminates the “one size fits all” marketing approach by delivering better insight into segmentation. Using customer behavior tracking results to personalize outreach creates the ideal customer experience because you are reaching the RIGHT audience. It also increases trustworthiness, loyalty and a growing team of brand advocates. Which is the whole point.
Email Marketing Is Best
We always assume that our digital marketing strategy caters to the audience’s preferences. Fact: seventy-two percent of people prefer to hear from brands via email. And, email marketing sets targeted messaging right in front of customers and prospects. When automated, “trigger emails” can be sent automatically based on customer activity and personalized interactions … if you utilize that resource.
Building Social Media Trust
A “friend referral” instantly makes a company seem more trustworthy to prospects. Digital advertising leverages social media to make “likes” and other online reviews visible to friends of your customers. And, recommendations highlight your company thereby routinely building a positive impression and likely trust.
SEO Promotes Your Brand
Stats show that eighty-one percent of B2B purchase cycles begin via a web search. That’s likely why search engine optimization (SEO) has the best return on investment of any digital marketing channel right now. For a company to be seen, it must show up on the search engine’s first page. A solid SEO strategy is vital to improving your company’s search engine ranking.
Digital marketing works! Any of these approaches can move your marketing outreach forward. HQZ Experts can help you evaluate your options and implement a strategy to better marketing practices … give us a call (949-454-6149) and we can help you get started.