While it’s true that the pandemic necessitated many businesses to adopt a work-from-home strategy, companies have slowly been transitioning to an online model as far back as 2014. 

If you remember, former Yahoo CEO Marissa Meyer made a groundbreaking shift to telecommuting in 2013. She started slow – transitioning only 10% of the workforce from office to home-based and generated admirable results.

After one year, Meyer pulled the plug on the telecommuting project because she felt that at a certain point, telecommuting generated diminishing returns. 

In our opinion, Meyer pulled the plug too early. There’s a learning curve in everything new. Had she stayed the course, Yahoo, which had been heavily losing financially under Meyer, might have turned around. 

The studies that we share with you in this article proves that adopting a work-from-home strategy for your strategy will produce dividends. 

1. Increase Productivity

A study by Global Workplace Analytics cites the following statistics to support the idea that a work from home strategy increases productivity:

  • Many big corporations including Dow Chemicals and British Telecom have reported that employee productivity increased between 35% to 40% after they adopted a work from home/telecommuting strategy in the workplace.
  • Likewise, more than 67% of companies that took part in the study reported that employees who transitioned to telecommuting assignments showed improved productivity.
  • Other corporations such as Compaq, American Express, and JD Express reported that employee productivity increased from 15% to 45%.

It’s easy to understand how working from home can improve business productivity. 

In the same Global Workplace Analytics study, Sun Microsystems claimed that since incorporating a work from home strategy, the company was able to improve productivity by recovering the 60% of productive time lost by employees during their commute to work. 

When your employee works from home, he won’t be stressed out by the commute. He can enjoy his first cup of coffee, a hearty breakfast, and prepare himself mentally for the challenges ahead. 

By the time he gets behind the computer – he’s revved up and ready to go! And when he gets tired, he can take short naps or a walk around the park to get rejuvenated for the next item on the agenda. 

Although distractions still abound at home, the employee doesn’t have to deal with the usual stressors in the workplace such as politics and water cooler gossip. He won’t be constantly looking at the clock to check if he has enough time to finish his work and pick up his kids at school. 

The Global Workplace Analytics study revealed that businesses lose an estimated US$600 million annually due to office distractions. 

Employees become accountable for their work schedules. As the employer, what you’ll focus on are the results. 

2. Reduce Operating Costs

Rent is one of the biggest expense items on your monthly budget. If you designate a percentage of your employees as telecommuters, you won’t need to rent as big a space. 

You can maintain a smaller workplace and with more areas dedicated to revenue-generating activities. Consequently, you lower your utility costs for electricity, Internet service fees, and water.

Communication expenses can be slashed down significantly because you can incorporate online-based tools that can make communication more efficient and affordable. 

Instead of messaging employees via their mobile phones or calling them on the office landline, you can use ZOOM, Viber, Skype, Messenger, or Slack. These services offer free subscriptions but with limited features. 

Use these tools to arrange and preside over audio-visual teleconferences. It’s as good as face-to-face meetings because you can share screens, send files, and privately message participants. 

Lastly, because more employees are working from home, you can reduce or eliminate office supplies. 

3. Lower Attrition Rates

We mentioned earlier how office politics and water cooler chatter can cause distractions that affect productivity. More specifically, these types of distractions can make the workplace feel uncomfortable and affect the morale of employees. 

Unhappy employees become disengaged. In addition to the losses in business productivity, a disengaged employee will eventually leave your company and contribute to the cost of workplace attrition. 

The cost of replacing an employee is estimated to be double the employee’s salary. In the United States, workplace attrition has cost the economy approximately US$1 Trillion a year. 

A study conducted by the American Sociological Review found that people who work from home are happier and perform better than those who work from an office. 

Another study by Global Workplace Analytics disclosed that 72% of businesses with work from home arrangements reduced attrition levels significantly. 

People who work from home are happier and more productive for the following reasons:

  • They are less stressed.
  • They have more time with their family.
  • They can set aside time for exercise and wellness activities. 
  • They have more savings because they no longer have to commute or eat outdoors.
  • They are less likely to get ill. 

If your employees are happy, so will you!

4. Expand the Reach of Your Talent Pool

Another work-from-home strategy that you can incorporate into your business is outsourcing. 

Outsourcing is the process of delegating or transferring tasks to qualified third parties. For example, instead of setting up an in-house accounting department, you outsource accounting to a company that provides back-office services. 

What are the benefits of outsourcing?

  • Lower costs because you contract the services of a company – you don’t hire employees. The cost of hiring an employee is calculated at 1.5-times his salary because benefits are factored in. When you outsource, you pay per project, per productive hour, or via monthly retention fee. 
  • Improve the quality of work because you’re delegating tasks to qualified people – these are individuals with the requisite knowledge and experience to do the job correctly. 
  • Increase productivity because now, you can focus only on the core activities of your business. 

With outsourcing, you expand the reach of your talent pool. You’re no longer limited to hiring local people. You can outsource to talent located across the globe. 

The obvious advantage of outsourcing to remote talent is that you can capitalize on the lower cost of labor. For example, outsourcing to India or the Philippines will cost you less in terms of labor. 

That doesn’t mean you get what you pay for. In most cases, you’ll get MORE than what you pay for! If outsourcing to remote locations wasn’t effective, India and the Philippines wouldn’t remain as the top outsourcing destinations in the world. 

5. Contribute to a Better and Healthier Environment

If more businesses around the world shifted to a work-from-home business model, we would have a cleaner and safer environment because there would be fewer cars on the streets, less traffic, and lower demand for public transportation.

Because expenses for office supplies would be greatly reduced, there would be less need for paper products. Electrical consumption would be greatly reduced and there would be less garbage to be collected. 

If your company is a strong advocate for sustainable solutions that protect and preserve the environment, shift to a work-from-home business model. 

Conclusion: Work From Home Could Be the New Normal

We believe that in time, the pandemic will become endemic. But that might take a while. 

As of this writing, scientists are still evaluating the effectiveness of the vaccines. Almost on a daily basis, you’ll come across developments that are promising… or underwhelming. 

This is to be expected as it usually takes decades before a vaccine is pronounced effective. It’s safe to assume that all of the vaccines are still in their experimental stages. 

That’s why if your business hasn’t adopted a work-from-home model, it’s not too late. You can still do the shift – but you should start NOW!

Let’s set aside the pandemic. For the purpose of discussion, let’s assume the pandemic never happened. Given the advantages discussed above, wouldn’t you be encouraged to incorporate a work from home arrangement into your business?

What do you have when you increase productivity and reduce costs? Improved profitability!

Do you want to experience how it is to outsource services? Outsource your web development and digital marketing activities to us! 

We have years of experience handling these tasks for our clients. Not only have we contributed to the performance of their businesses, but we also helped them reduce costs.

Give us a call and let’s get started!

And if you enjoyed this article, feel free to share it with your community.

 

Businesses started transitioning to the remote environment in 2014 when smartphones, mobile devices, and Internet services became more reliable. Fast-forward to 2020 and the global pandemic has made going remote the new normal for businesses. 

It’s been more than a year since we went into lockdown. For your business to thrive in a world where going remote is a matter of necessity, you need a few tools in your belt to keep it growing and adapting. 

The tools you need must cover the following areas of business:

  • Meetings
  • Project Management
  • File Sharing/Organization
  • Communication
  • Accounting/Finance
  • Marketing
  • Outsourcing/Talent Acquisition
  • Email

Based on our experience, here are some of the best tools you need in your belt to tackle 2021.

1. Meetings

Virtual meetings have been growing in importance as businesses continued to seek strategic partnerships with other companies across the globe. The global pandemic accelerated the need for more businesses to incorporate virtual meetings as part of their process. 

Zoom 

Zoom Video Communications made it on the map when the San Jose-based company offered its 45-minute package free of charge for K-12 schools and small businesses.

What are the features of Zoom?

  • HD audio and video for up to 1,000 participants.
  • Collaboration tools such as share-screen.
  • Record meetings and create transcripts.
  • Sync meetings with Gmail, Outlook, and iCal.
  • Chat messaging system.
  • The webinar platform is expandable to 50,000 participants and can be streamed via FB Live, YouTube Live, and other streaming services.

Microsoft Teams

Microsoft launched Microsoft Teams in 2017. In 2019, Microsoft reported that its web-based app had more than 20 million active users. Because of the pandemic, Microsoft disclosed that there were now over 44 million active users of MS Teams. 

What are the features of Microsoft Teams?

  • Teams use Channels to converse with other teammates or invite others. 
  • Chat messaging system.
  • Access to SharePoint Online, a platform where teams can share documents.
  • Video conferencing with share-screen. 
  • Online meetings can host up to 10,000 users.
  • Audio-conferencing allows anyone to join via phone.

Google Meet

Google Meet was introduced in 2017 as a replacement for Google Hangouts. Google reported that because of the pandemic, Google Meet experienced 100 million active users daily compared to 200 million active users for Zoom. 

What are the key features of Google Meet?

  • An unlimited number of meetings for up to 100 participants.
  • Closed captioning during meetings.
  • Compatible with many devices from desktop to mobile platforms.
  • Preview for audio and video.
  • Change screen layout.
  • Exclusive control for meeting host.
  • Share screen and messaging.
  • Sync with MS and Google apps.

2. Project Management

Before project management apps became available, close collaboration was difficult when working with remote teams. There were a few platforms you could use but the features were limited. 

The project management apps that we selected make it possible for teams to collaborate on tasks as if they were sharing space. 

Asana

“Asana” is the term used to describe the act of practicing Yoga poses. Similar to Yoga, the objective of the project management app Asana is to help businesses achieve balance in managing remote work.

Asana was founded by former Facebook engineer Justin Rosenstein in 2012 as a mobile productivity app that helps teams manage, track, and organize their tasks. 

Forbes magazine reported in 2020 that there are more than 1.3 million paid users of Asana around the world.  

What are the key features of Asana?

  • Create customized forms for projects.
  • Create customized templates for workflows.
  • Create customized drop-down menus and fields.
  • Track the progress of a task as “Completed” or “Waiting”.
  • Put timelines on specific tasks.
  • Motivate your team by establishing milestones.
  • Option to make projects private or public.

Monday

Monday started out as an internal productivity tool for Wix.com from 2010 to 2012 when the app was bought out and became daPulse. It was rebranded to Monday.com in 2017 and to date is used by more than 100,000 organizations.

Monday.com won the 2020 Webby Award for Productivity in Apps, Mobile, and Voice.

What are the key features of Monday?

  • Centralized management with the use of an easy-to-use, color-coded, multi-functional board.
  • Comments and notifications to team members are sent by “pulses”.
  • A well-organized board helps managers track the progress of every task.
  • Allows companies to invite clients and collaborate on projects.
  • Advanced search features that enable users to locate projects, images, assignments, and updates without restrictions on dates. 
  • The timeline feature gives users the look and feel of Gannt charts so they can monitor and update progress.

Basecamp

37Signals developed and launched Basecamp in 2004. Owing to the success of the project management app, 37Signals changed the company’s name to Basecamp in 2014. 

Today, Basecamp is valued at US$100 Billion and has millions of users across the globe.

What are the key features of Basecamp?

  • Create and assign to-do lists.
  • Chat system for group and private messaging.
  • Generate reports to follow progress on tasks and to track the performance of individual team members.
  • Hill Charts feature allows you to monitor progress on tasks in real-time.
  • Schedule hourly back-ups of files.
  • A keyword search function allows you to find what you’re looking for right away.

3. File Sharing/Organization

Yes, digital technology and advances on the Internet made it faster and more convenient to manage tasks. However, it also means you have to attend to and accomplish more tasks often within the same number of work hours. 

If you don’t have an efficient and easy-to-manage file sharing and organization tool to manage your tasks and projects, you might as well break out the lock and key for that heavy filing cabinet in the corner of your office.

Google Drive

Google launched its synchronization and file storage platform in 2012. Work with other Google services such as Google Sheets, Google Docs, and Google Slides then share files with team members using various devices. 

According to Google, Google Drive had more than 2 billion active users in 2018, and in excess of 2 trillion files were stored in the platform in 2017. 

What are the key features of Google Drive?

  • Sharing of files is under the control of the owner.
  • Compatible with a large number of 3rd party apps.
  • Google Drive viewer is compatible with a multitude of formats.
  • The Android version features QuickApp that “predicts” the files you need even before you can tap on the keyboard.
  • With built-in programs that make the platform accessible to the visually impaired.
  • Includes encryption capability. 

Dropbox

Dropbox was launched in 2007 by a pair of MIT students and seed funding from Y Combinator. Today, the company is valued at over US$10 Billion. 

According to Statista, Dropbox had 15 million paying active users in 2020. Other statistics show that there are more than 600 million users of Dropbox worldwide. 

What are the key features of Dropbox?

  • Store and access files from anywhere and from any device.
  • Synchronize work from other platforms and services.
  • Instant notifications on updated to-do lists and project timelines.
  • Collaborate with everyone on your team by using Dropbox Paper.
  • High-level security keeps your files safe.
  • Designate work and limit access to files only to authorized people.
  • Restore damaged or hacked files within 30 days.

Microsoft 365 – OneDrive

OneDrive is a Microsoft file-sharing and synchronization service that was launched in 2007. It’s part of the Microsoft 365 suite of products and services. 

There are millions of users of Microsoft 365 worldwide. In the United States alone, Microsoft 365 has more than 650,000 active users.

What are the key features of OneDrive?

  • Access your files from anywhere using any device.
  • Share your files with teams or individuals.
  • Integrate with other Microsoft 365 products.
  • Free up storage space.
  • Personal Vault gives you high-level security to keep your files safe.
  • Supports different forms of multimedia.
  • Scan documents with your mobile phone.

Evernote

Evernote was introduced in 2000 as a marketing software then evolved into a productivity app that helped businesses manage and organize their tasks in 2008. 

Evernote has become a go-to tool of businesses that despite increasing its prices in 2016, has amassed more than 220 million paid subscribers. 

What are the key features of Evernote? Take note the key features outlined below are for Evernote’s Premium Subscription.

  • 10GB of new uploads every month.
  • Synchronize with various devices.
  • Capable of searching for text inside images.
  • Share files and notes to teams or individuals.
  • Passcode lock feature for the mobile app version.
  • Forward your emails to Evernote.
  • Annotate, search for images in PDF format.
  • One-click feature for presenting notes.
  • Scanning feature to create business cards.

Pocket

Pocket was launched in 2007 as Read It Later, an app developed to help you manage a list of reading materials and videos curated from the Internet. The service can be accessed by multiple devices and browsers. 

The company reported that as of 2018, Pocket has more than 30 million users. 

What are the key features of Pocket?

  • Save an unlimited amount of articles, web pages, and videos.
  • Synchronize with a wide range of devices.
  • Use tags to organize your saved items.
  • Accessible from various platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, and Flipboard to name a few.
  • Listen to your articles by converting text into high-quality audio.
  • The intelligent tag suggestion feature helps you organize your content for easier and faster search.
  • Customize layouts and font styles. 
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4. Communication

Having excellent communication systems in place can replicate the advantages of shared space collaboration for your remote setup. 

The communication tools we selected will allow you to keep track of your team’s work without hovering over them as you might do in a physical office. These apps function like central hubs where you can get everything done in one place.

Slack

Slack started out as an internal communication tool for gaming company Tiny Speck when they were developing Glitch. It was formally launched as Slack, a communication platform for businesses, in 2013.

As of 2019, Slack has an estimated 12 million daily active users. 

What are the key features of Slack?

  • The use of Channels allows you to organize and manage teams handling different projects or tasks.
  • The “Narrow search” function makes searching easier.
  • Mentions feature lets you find messages that were specifically for you.
  • A flexible messaging system enables you to quickly find a specific user and send a DM, mark a message as “unread” for future reference, and restrict access to threads.
  • Keep track of important discussions by using the Highlight Word function to advise you if a keyword shows up in a thread.
  • Create auto-replies for faster response time.

Microsoft Teams

We discussed MS Teams earlier but the service is worth mentioning again as an effective platform for communication. 

After deciding against bidding for Slack in 2016, Microsoft developed MS Teams as a direct competitor of the communication platform. As you will read below, MS Teams has communication features that aren’t available in Slack.

A 2021 survey showed that MS Teams has 75 million Daily Active Users (DAUs) compared to “only” 12 million DAUs for Slack.

What are the key features of MS Teams?

  • Channels function like conversation boards and make it easier for team members to communicate.
  • Compared to Slack, MS Teams invites more open communication by getting teams to view other communication and provide inputs. 
  • Files are automatically filed and organized in a SharePoint document.
  • Quick and easy access online calling and conferencing system with top-level audio and video quality.

Blink

Blink is a communication app that was developed to improve employee productivity by providing them with a platform to collaborate effectively and avoid incidents of miscommunication. 

Companies that have used Blink were reportedly able to reduce employee turnover rate by 26% and improve employee satisfaction by 30%.

In 2018, Blink received 2 awards from Finances Online – the Great User Experience Award and the Rising Star Award.

What are the key features of Blink?

  • Fully customizable; companies can add their logos and colors.
  • Accessible to multiple devices and browsers.
  • Availability of team calendar to help team members keep track of deadlines.
  • Workplace analytics enables managers and top officers to evaluate employee engagement and performance.
  • The one-on-one chat messaging feature lets you communicate directly with frontline employees and give them valuable feedback.

5. Accounting/Finance

The absence of proper money management systems is the number one reason why many small businesses fail within the first 5 years of operation. 

One of the first things you have to do when starting a business is to fortify its foundation. These are the support activities that help your business run smoothly. 

Accounting is considered a back-office function but it plays a significant role in ensuring the success of your business. 

Having your financial transactions covered and organized by a reliable accounting app will help you monitor your liquidity, cash flow, and if you’re on track to meet your profitability objectives.

Quickbooks

Quickbooks feels like it’s been around forever and to some degree, it has. First introduced in 1983 as Quicken by Intuit, Quickbooks was developed with the small and medium-scale business owner in mind. 

According to Intuit, Quickbooks garnered 74% market share in the US in 2005. The NPD Group reported that in 2008, 94.2% of retail units in the US used Quickbooks. 

What are the key features of Quickbooks?

  • Create and send customized invoices and quotations.
  • The software can be accessed from a remote location.
  • Offers remote payroll assistance and outsourced accounting services.
  • Availability of electronic payment options.
  • Online banking and reconciliation options.
  • Mapping integration feature with Google Maps.
  • Email functionality feature through MS Outlook and Outlook Express.
  • Integration with Excel.

Freshbooks

Freshbooks was developed by 2ndSite, a company based in Canada and was launched in 2004. Initially, Freshbooks was intended as an invoicing program for IT professionals. 

In 2015, 2ndSite set up a second company, BillSpring, that handled product development. Freshbooks evolved into an accounting program that can manage the accounting needs of small and medium-scale businesses.

What are the key features of Freshbooks?

  • Customizable invoices.
  • Automatic payment reminders for clients.
  • Automatic late fee penalties for invoices that are past due.
  • Incorporate credit card payments into your system.
  • Automatically schedule invoices for recurring payments.
  • Organize invoices and confirmed payments per client.
  • Multi-currency and multi-lingual billing options.

Xero

Xero was developed in New Zealand and introduced as a cloud-based accounting software program for small and medium scale businesses in 2006. The company has gone global with offices in the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, and Asia.

According to Xero, in 2018, there were more than 1 million subscribers to its app in Australia and New Zealand plus another 1 million users worldwide.

What are the key features of Xero?

  • The software program is compatible with Windows and Mac.
  • Versions for Android and iOS are available.
  • Customizable dashboard for convenience and ease of use.
  • Generate multiple reports at one time.
  • View and share financial reports with your partners or investors.
  • Option to invoice clients using different currencies.
  • Customizable invoices.
  • ISO/IEC 27001-2013 compliant; this is the gold standard for high-level online security.

6. Marketing

Marketing has grown in prominence over the last few decades. It used to be the case that companies would only allocate 1% of their revenues for marketing activities. 

According to a 2017 study by Deloitte, companies have steadily increased the budget allocation for marketing. Consumer goods retailers are the biggest spenders at 24% while those in the Energy sector spend the least at only 4%.

Thanks to Marketing apps, small and medium-scale businesses have the means to run marketing campaigns without spending too much time and money.

HubSpot Marketing

HubSpot is a wonderful resource for everything marketing-related. It’s no surprise that the HubSpot Marketing app which was released in 2006 is actively used by more than 30,000 companies in 90 countries.

HubSpot Marketing is a one-stop-shop for all your marketing needs. A free service is available for first-time users to try and test the products and other offerings. 

What are the key features of HubSpot Marketing?

  • Build and design your own website.
  • Create and publish content from a built-in blogging platform.
  • Perform keyword research to optimize your content.
  • Customizable CTA buttons and Landing pages.
  • Organize all information including leads into one database.
  • Easy-to-use and highly customizable email templates and campaigns.
  • Marketing automation software allows you to customize and develop marketing campaigns to help accomplish specific business goals. 

OptinMonster

Lead generation is a very important part of digital marketing. The ability to generate leads will help you pre-qualify potential clients and allow you to better maximize your marketing budget as well as optimize your marketing efforts.

OptinMonster is a lead generation software that was developed to help businesses build their email list by improving engagement levels. According to OptinMonster, the program is used by more than 1,213,437 websites.

What are the key features of OptinMonster?

  • Drag ‘n; Drop Builder lets you create customized forms.
  • Campaigns can be optimized for mobile devices.
  • Use MonsterEffects feature to create more eye-catching visuals.
  • Customize messages to increase engagement levels.
  • Choose from a wide variety of campaign types including the very popular Lightbox PopUp, Slide-screen Scroll Box, and Floating Bar.
  • Built-in technology designed to study visitor behavior.

Mailchimp

Mailchimp is an email marketing and marketing automation service that was launched in 2001 by its developer, Rocket Science. It started out as a paid service before introducing a freemium service package in 2009. 

According to Rocket Science, Mailchimp was generating 14,000 new subscribers every day in 2017 and was sending out an average of 10 billion emails per day. 

What are the key features of Mailchimp?

  • Organize your leads with its built-in Marketing CRM.
  • Learn more about your customers with the Audience Dashboard.
  • Improve the efficiency of your marketing campaigns with the segmentation feature.
  • Find out where your visitors and customers are coming from by accessing data on demographics. 
  • Availability of content creation tools to help develop optimized content. 
  • Access reports that give you empirical evidence of audience behavior.

7. Outsourcing/Talent Acquisition

Small business owners know that to scale operations they need help. The challenge is to pay for talent without compromising their cash flow. 

The cost of hiring Full-Time Employees (FTEs) can be calculated by multiplying their salary by 1.4. For many small business owners, hiring FTEs can be too expensive. 

A more affordable option would be to outsource work to remote employees or professionals who provide technical services through the Internet. Examples of remote workers are virtual assistants, freelancers, and telecommuters.

With remote workers, you have different payment options. You can pay only for the hours worked or on a per-project basis. You have more flexibility and can stay within your budget. 

Here are some of the best sites to hire remote workers:

UpWork

UpWork started out as Elance in 1999. Then, in 2003, Elance merged with another online freelancer platform called O-desk and was rebranded as Elance-oDesk. The company settled with its current name in 2015.

The UpWork head office is based in Santa Clara, California, USA.

What are the benefits of using UpWork?

  • Choose from more than 18 million freelancers from different countries.
  • Trusted by more than 5 million businesses.
  • 3 million jobs posted every year; UpWork is the biggest freelancer platform in the world.
  • Freelancer profiles contain valuable information such as client reviews, total earnings, and a summary of skills and certifications.
  • Work Diary feature allows you to check and verify the total productive hours worked by your freelancer.
  • The Payment Protection feature gives you the option of choosing between pay-per-hour and pay-per-project arrangements. 
  • UpWork is the only freelancer platform that offers a dispute resolution service.

Freelancer

Freelancer has staked its claim as the world’s biggest freelancer platform with a reported user base of more than 51 million clients and freelancers from over 247 countries. 

The company has acquired other freelancer sites such as GetAFreelancer.com, EUFreelancer.com, and ScriptLance.com. 

What are the benefits of using Freelancer?

  • Wide range of freelancers to choose from; you can find freelancers who can handle large-scale as well as small-scale projects.
  • Option to pay freelancers per hour or with a fixed price.
  • The chat feature allows you to communicate directly with freelancers.
  • Milestone Payment system gives you the protection of paying the freelancer only when you’re 100% satisfied with the result.

Guru

Guru.com was founded in 1998 and is headquartered in Pittsburgh. It started out as eMoonlighter.com. In 1999, it was rebranded as Guru.com and was used to hire high-tech freelancers for an online clearinghouse. 

Presently, Guru has 1.8 million freelancers offering more than 4.4 million freelancing services to businesses around the world.

What are the benefits of using Guru?

  • A streamlined dashboard makes it easier to keep track of projects and the work of freelancers.
  • Communicate directly with the freelancers or “gurus” that you have contracted for the job.
  • Pay a minimum fee of US$29.95 to have your job or project posted for 30 days to attract more freelancers.
  • Multiple payment options such as electronic payment systems, credit cards, checks, e-checks, wire transfers, and direct payments to the website.
  • SafePay system lets you review and approve the work before paying the freelancer. 

8. Email

Email remains a critical part of communication. Despite the availability of various media and platforms, people still depend on email and regard it as the primary channel of communication.

The tech giants recognize this and have expanded their offerings to include apps that can turn your email into a central hub with all the apps you need to manage your business. 

The email service providers have also upped the ante on security and data protection. 

Office 365

Microsoft launched Office 365 in 2010 in response to growing competition from Google’s Gmail service. Office 365 was designed to provide subscribers with a wide range of Microsoft services that cover all of the key areas of a business. 

With the addition of MS Teams, the user base of Office 365 grew by 53% from 75 million users in April 2020 to 115 million users to date. 

What are the key features of Office 365?

  • Availability of apps for spreadsheet, word processing, slide presentation, online conferencing, and file sharing to name just a few.
  • A cloud-based platform means you can access Office 365 anywhere in the world with an Internet connection.
  • Real-time collaboration with team members on any document or project.
  • Yammer is Office 365’s communication app that allows you to set up specific channels with different departments or individuals. 
  • Files are shareable with people who are not part of your company.
  • Workflows app keeps your team updated on deadlines and lets you monitor their progress. 
  • Top-level 128-bit SSL/TSL encryption. 
  • Built-in proprietary antivirus software.

Gmail

Gmail is Google’s game-changing, free email service that was launched in 2004. According to Google, as of 2019, there are 1.5 Billion users of Gmail worldwide. 

Once you open a Gmail account, you can access its other business apps such as Google Docs, Google Sheets, Google Slides, Google Calendar, Google Maps, and Google Meet.

What are the key features of Gmail?

  • 15 gigabytes of storage; the largest among email service providers.
  • Email capacity for receiving emails can go up to 50 megabytes.
  • Send out emails that are as big as 25 megabytes.
  • Google’s mail servers immediately scan mail for spam, malware, and context-sensitive ads. 
  • Access to other services such as Google Drive and Google Photos.

ProtonMail

ProtonMail is literally the stuff of science. It was developed by scientists from Switzerland who spent time at the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN). 

Introduced in 2016, ProtonMail uses a proprietary client-side encryption program to safeguard email content before they are transmitted to the ProtonMail servers.

From only 2 million users in 2016, ProtonMail has over 50 million users as of 2021. 

What are the key benefits of ProtonMail?

  • High-level combination of encryption programs to fortify email protection and integrity of services.
  • Availability of Two-Factor Authentication process to prevent unauthorized access to email.
  • The addition of the Archive folder lets you store important communication while keeping your Inbox clean.
  • Label feature helps you organize your emails based on sender or by category.
  • Customizable themes to create a distinct look and feel for your Inbox.

Conclusion

You don’t have to include all of these apps in your digital toolbox. Give them a try and find out which products fit the needs of your business. 

Times may have changed and it might be a while before we develop a sense or feel of normalcy. The last thing we should do is to wait because the old normal as we knew it might take some time to come back – if at all. 

What we need to focus on is finding ways to adapt, survive, and ultimately, thrive in this new environment. Having the right apps in your belt will certainly help you tackle the challenge in 2021 and beyond. 

If you have questions about these apps and if you want to build a website for your online business, give us a call and we’ll schedule a meeting to discuss your concerns. We can use Zoom or MS Teams to get the ball rolling!

And if you enjoyed this article, please feel free to share it with your community.

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Good people are hard to come by. In a competitive industry, once you find top talent, you must do what you can to retain them. Otherwise, they will leave and potentially end up with your competitor. 

Retaining top talent not only helps you consistently deliver results and maintain the quality of output but it also lowers the cost of employee turnover which is estimated at 2.5 times the cost of an employee’s salary. 

So how do you manage top talent and keep them in your company? Is it just a matter of paying them a higher salary? 

You might be surprised to learn that money is not the primary motivating factor that keeps top talent from transferring jobs. 

Here are 5 ways to manage – and retain – the top talent in your company.

1. Present Top Talent With Frequent Challenges

Perception is what separates top talent from those in the lower rung. When presented with challenges, those at the top-end view them as opportunities to prove their abilities. 

In contrast, the ones who lag behind do so because they perceive challenges as threats. They believe they are put in tough situations to expose their weaknesses and shortcomings. 

Top talent lives for the challenges because it gives their work meaning and purpose. For example, if the company chooses them to manage a project, they perceive it as a sign of trust and confidence. 

However, you have to be judicious when presenting top talent with challenges. If the task falls too far off from their competencies, they might fail and blame you for having expectations they could not meet. 

The purpose of challenging top talent is to help them grow. You see potential but the skills are still raw. Instead, take them on a journey and be their guide. 

Present top talent with challenges that will help them achieve the next level of personal and professional growth.

To be faced with challenges creates pressure. But just like applying heat and pressure turns graphite to diamonds, challenges turn potential into future leaders of your organization.

2. Approach Them As Individuals

A person is recognized as a top talent because he stands out from the others. 

He could be working with a team but the performance data and keen observation have confirmed that his individual contribution was primarily successful for the success of the company.

If you took him out of the team, succeeding performances would fall below the standard he set and would be underwhelming. 

For this reason, you must treat him as a unique individual. 

To clarify, top talent is a team player. His motivation to perform at the highest level is the success of the team. 

A good example is an athlete who always wins all the individual awards and records the most impressive statistics but his team keeps losing. The individual accolades mean nothing unless the team wins.

However, top talent wants you to recognize his efforts and contributions. That without him, the team goes from “special” to “average”. 

The best way to go about this is to take a proactive approach. Don’t wait for the evaluations to come in or for top talent to come to you and ask for special considerations such as approval for his vacation leave. 

Reach out and take the initiative to show you care and appreciate his efforts. 

For example, if you know he has filed for vacation leave or paternity leave, approve it right away. Then,  give him the good news – personally.

“I just want to be the person to tell you that your vacation leave was approved. You deserve it! In fact, if you want to extend your vacation by a bit, let me know. I’ll see if I can work something out with HR. It’s the least I can do to show you how much I appreciate your talent.”

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3. Be Sincere When You Show Appreciation

One of the biggest mistakes made by supervisors and managers is taking an arms-length approach to handling their people. They associate indifference with strength and authority – that people have to do more to earn their praise. 

Thus, when someone makes an incredible accomplishment, they withhold appreciation and rationalize the achievement as just “part of the job.”

“That’s what the company pays you for.”

But here’s the thing: Top talent does care about being acknowledged. 

Not everyone can do what they do and that’s what makes top talent stand out. They’re special and without them, your company would not be where it is today. Chances are, they won’t show how they feel. The best managers are intuitive – they can sense it. 

So you must show appreciation and acknowledge the work the most talented people in your company have done. 

But do so sincerely. And it’s not as hard as you think.

You don’t have to pull out the red carpet every time someone in your organization hits a target or achieves a milestone. 

A simple pat on the back and a verbal acknowledgment will suffice. Don’t follow the formulaic “Good job!” but have a sincere conversation.

“The work you put in to close the deal with XYZ Company was amazing and timely. On behalf of the company, I thank you for that. I want to assure you that your talent and contributions to the company do not go unnoticed. Keep up what you’re doing and you will have a bright future with us. If there’s anything you need or want to be addressed, you can come and see me.”

4. Introduce a Career Path/Succession Planning Program

Career pathing and succession planning are key elements in developing talent in your organization. Many companies overlook the importance of both programs and believe that you can have one without the other. 

Also, some managers think the terms are interchangeable. No, they are not.

Career pathing is a mechanism that enables talent to chart their path within the organization. You can say that career pathing is viewed from the perspective of the employee. 

Basically, he undergoes an assessment test designed to measure his skills, abilities, interests, and aspirations so he can find out the best role within the organization that can help him fulfill his potential.

Succession planning is a process that helps HR identify and nurture talent to fill out key positions in the organization.

HR develops criteria for identifying, evaluating, testing, and selecting the best people in the organization for specific positions. The experiences and accomplishments of these individuals are also included in the process. 

Once the people – the top talent – are identified, they can be scheduled for training to improve specific skill sets and to develop key attributes. 

Both career pathing and succession planning provide an integral component in managing talent in your company – direction. Without the availability of these programs, your employees – even the most talented ones – will begin to feel they are in a dead-end career. 

5. Encourage Greater Involvement

Encouraging your top talent to be more involved in the organization is another effective way of treating them as individuals.

By asking for their advice on matters that are not related to their specific duties and responsibilities, you are letting them know their skills and abilities are not limited or confined – and that you recognize this. 

Imagine if you were assigned to Finance then the boss comes over to you and asks for your opinion on how to expand the business in another location or region of the world. 

Initially, you might think this is a head-scratching moment but then you’ll realize the boss has noticed your other abilities and talents. This is an opportunity for you to prove your boss is correct – that he approached the right person.

Wouldn’t this make you feel more assured that you are working for the right organization?

Getting your top talent to be more involved with the business accomplishes 2 things. 

First, it will motivate them to work harder because they feel valued. Second, you get to see how they perform in a different setting – where the risks, as well as the stakes, are higher. 

Conclusion

It will be heartbreaking to find out how you could have retained one of your best people during the exit interview. 

Don’t be the last to know. As the business owner or the manager, you have to take a proactive approach. It’s never too late to implement processes and programs designed to keep your people happy and motivated to work for your company.

By doing so, they may not only work for your company but in the future, they may end up working with you in your company.

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As the quarantine period is being slowly lifted in several states as well as countries around the world, many people are preparing to go back to the workplace. However, things at the office will not be the same. 

Without a vaccine, the risk of contracting the coronavirus or Covid-19 remains high. Places, where congregation takes place such as malls, restaurants, and even offices, will be asked to observe social distancing and proper hygiene. 

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) has asked organizations to cancel events that bring in more than 50 people in one location. The rule of social distancing requires people to be at least six feet apart. 

So if your office is small, it’s possible that 50% of your team – or more – has to work from home. 

That adjustment in manpower can change the dynamic of your workplace. 

People that you are so used to seeing – perhaps having a morning cup of coffee with – will no longer be in the office on a regular basis. 

Although shared space collaboration will remain, the lack of physical presence will create a feeling of emptiness that may be difficult for some people to adjust to. A workplace environment that is dealing with emotional distress will not be conducive to productivity. 

The same can be said for your team members who have been assigned work from home duties. 

It may sound like a great idea to wake up every morning without having to worry about traffic, but the change in the work environment will take a period of adjustment.

For one thing, distractions abound inside the home. Second, not having familiar faces – and voices – in the workplace will give your home office a different vibe that will take some time to get used to.

But this is the new normal. 

To remain our overall health and safety as well as those of our loved ones, we have to observe social distancing which means working from home most of the time. 

Given the changes in the workplace environment, is it still possible to create and nurture a culture that is conducive for productivity?

How To Create A Productive Workplace Culture – At The Office And At Home

The answer is “Yes”.

As the saying goes, “time heals all wounds”.

It may take some time to get used to the new normal but in a few months, the “new normal” will just be normal.

The great thing about humanity is that we adapt. We are resilient. 

Not only will mankind eventually find a way to beat Covid-19 but we will ensure that the virus will not beat us.

Life – and work – will go on!

In the meantime, we’ll have to modify our business model to adhere to the guidelines in support of social distancing and other measures outlined by the government and health organizations.

Thus, if you decide to maintain an office, some of your employees will have to work from home to comply with social distancing guidelines.

Can you still be productive?

Yes! It’s a matter of finding creative solutions that can help maintain the dynamic within your organization.

Here are a few suggestions that you may want to consider when integrating a work from home or telecommuting program in your workforce. 

1. Mix It Up

Who’s going to be assigned work from home duties? 

Everyone!

Instead of designating specific people for office-based and home-based work, give everyone an opportunity to experience remote employment by coming up with a rotating schedule.

For example, if you have 20 employees, you can divide them into 2 teams with 10 members each.

  • Team A – Office-Based
  • Team B – Work From Home

After 2 weeks, switch up their assignments. Members of Team A will work from home while members of Team B will report to the office.

You should also change the composition of each team every month. 

For example:

  • Team A – Bill, Sally, George, Tom, and Raffy
  • Team B – Bob, Ted, Sarah, Tim, and Gina

The following month, switch around your team members:

  • Team A – Bill, Ted, George, Tim, and Gina
  • Team B – Bob, Sally, Sarah, Tom, and Raffy

By mixing up the composition of your teams, no one loses the vibe they had with the other employees. Everyone gets a chance to maintain the same high-touch connection they have with each other.

2. Update Your Mission Statement

Once you have your team assignments finalized, gather everyone together, and discuss your company’s updated mission vision.

Why should you update your mission statement?

For the reason that work – and life – as everyone knew it has changed. There are new challenges ahead and coming to work is no longer just about commerce or having a means of livelihood. 

Having a job is about helping the economy recover by generating employment, demand, and activity – all the while becoming mindful of health guidelines to remain safe and virus-free.

According to a study by the IBM Institute for Business Value, more people are motivated to work if there is a stronger sense of purpose. The study noted that the rise in numbers extends across generations – Baby Boomers, Generation X, and Millennials. 

The mission statement should be revised to keep everyone together even if their office mates are working from home – and maintain their focus. 

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3. Schedule Get-Togethers

Some team members may be working from home but this doesn’t mean they are exempt from meetings – and the frequent water cooler get-togethers. 

At this time of the new normal, your mindset should be “Business as Usual”.

If you’ve been conducting pre-shift and post-shift meetings, continue the practice by getting your remote team onboard with the use of digital platforms such as Zoom, WebEx, or Skype. 

You can also schedule company water cooler breaks or “Coffee Time” and invite your remote team to join in. 

These informal “meetings” are a great way of helping the remote team to adjust to the work from home environment. The experiences they share can help the other team members prepare for their work from home assignments when it is their time. 

You should take note of these experiences and use them to fine-tune your work from home program and come up with a company manual on telecommuting.

4. Encourage Friendly Competition

The workplace is a venue for competition. If you want to get the promotion, you have to stay ahead of the competition by accomplishing more and contributing to the success of the company.

That does not change even if you shift to a telecommuting arrangement. 

You can spur productivity by encouraging friendly competition between the office-based and remote teams. 

For example, you can create a contest as to which team can accomplish more tasks. Establish benchmarks such as quality, accuracy, and timeliness. 

To the winner goes the spoils of victory – but they don’t have to be expensive. You can pay for food delivery for a week or give the winning team a day off from work.

Another benefit of having periodic competition is that it gives you a platform for measuring the effectiveness of the telecommuting program and the performance of your employees.  

Let’s say the telecommuting team has been struggling regardless of its composition, use the available data to find out why. 

  • Are there latency issues?
  • Are there distractions at home that have to be addressed?
  • Are there specific people who are just not cut out for telecommuting?
  • Are there individual behaviors that have to be addressed?

Like other new programs, you cannot expect to get the telecommuting arrangement right from the get-go. There is a learning curve to respect and growing pains to overcome.

5. Change Up the Scenery

With 50% of your team working from home, your office space will look – vacant. Meanwhile, those working remotely may find the surroundings more conducive to home life than getting work done. 

The solution? Change up the scenery at the office and at the home office. 

For example, add plants to fill out the open spaces in the office. A U.K. study has shown that plants can increase productivity in the workplace by 15%. 

Here are other tips you can use to make the workplace interesting:

  • Buy a couch and a few lounge chairs and create a lounging area where your employees can relax during breaktime. 
  • Introduce a standing desk area for employees who want to stretch out while working instead of staying cramped up in their seats. 
  • Buy succulents for your remote team. Succulents are plants that store a lot of water in their stems and leaves. They are highly resistant to drought which means succulents don’t require much water. This makes succulents very easy to grow and care for. 
  • Play music in the workplace. Music can help stimulate creativity. However, practice democracy in the main office. Make sure the music you play is acceptable to everyone. 

Conclusion

Over at Silicon Valley, tech companies such as Salesforce, Facebook, Twitter, Slack, and Alphabet announced that their employees may continue to work from home until 2021. 

Other than safety concerns for their employees, adopting a telecommuting arrangement helps the companies save up on rental costs and expenses for travel and conferences. 

Todd McKinnon, CEO of Okta Inc., was pleasantly surprised that productivity has vastly improved with the integration of a work from home program.

Therefore, if you’re worried that productivity might drop if employees work from home – don’t be. 

Simply look at the adoption of a work from home or telecommuting arrangement as a collaborative effort. Everyone will take part in it and do a good job as if they were back in the “old normal”. 

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As the old saying goes, “a man’s home is his castle” but what if the castle is about to house a place for work? 

Working from home is a great opportunity to build a career that affords you work-life balance. However, if you’re not careful, the balance could be tipped in favor of work and disrupt home life. 

Here are 10 tips that will allow you to productively work from home without turning the roof under your head into your old brick-and-mortar office.                                            

1. Don’t Work From Your Bed

Just because you are working from home does not mean you can work anywhere. There are areas in your home that can and will inhibit productivity. One of them is the bedroom. This isn’t just an opinion; the reason is supported by research.

The Division of Sleep Medicine at Harvard University believes that working from the bed will weaken the mental association between sleep and your bedroom. 

According to a study conducted by the National Sleep Foundation, working with computers before bedtime will reduce the amount of melatonin that you produce. Melatonin is a hormone that influences your Circadian or sleep/wake cycle. 

The bedroom is for sleep and relaxation. To ensure a good night’s sleep, keep computers and other devices off the bedroom’s premises.

2. Stay On A Consistent Schedule

One of the perks of working from home is that you get to set your work schedule. You don’t have to follow a 9-to-5 or a 6 – 8-hour work schedule because you have the benefit of having flexible hours. 

Plan your schedule one week ahead. If you have family obligations – your daughter’s piano recital, your son’s soccer game, picking up a relative from the airport – mark them on the calendar. Then, plan your work schedule around them. 

Another option is to find the hours of the day where you are most productive. Oftentimes, these are the hours after you have taken care of the day’s other activities such as taking the kids to school or attending to banking duties.

The most important thing is to stay on a consistent schedule whether it is 9-to-5, 6 am to 12 pm or 1 pm to 7 pm. 

By doing so, you are dedicating time to get actual work done. You will be more focused and committed to accomplishing the day’s tasks. 

3. A Home Is Still A Home – Dedicate A Space For Work

The bedroom is not the only area in the house that you shouldn’t work from. 

Here are a few more areas that you should not set up office:

  • Living Room – You might get tempted to lounge around your comfortable sofa or watch the latest Netflix movie.
  • Kitchen – The refrigerator, oven, microwave, and cupboards are just a step away. Not only will you lose productive hours but you will gain excess weight.
  • The Family or Recreation Room – Ping-pong table? Dartboard? Billiards table? Pinball machine? Video games? These are great activities to do with the family but 100% detrimental to work.

If you are committed to building a work from home business, then dedicate a space for work.

  • Buy high-quality furniture
  • Buy a computer that is set up only for work.
  • Give it the look and feel of an office – wall clock, filing cabinet, and whiteboard. More on the whiteboard later!

Keep the home office off-limits to everyone during work hours. 

4. Use A Task Management Software

To be more productive, embrace technology. Integrate a few digital tools into the workflow to help organize tasks and stay on top of deadlines. 

You can find many wonderful software programs on the Internet that are very effective and come with a free version. At Mountaintop, Asana is our preferred task management software. 

Asana is easy to use and has features that make it the ideal tool for collaborating with remote teams. Every time a project is posted or completed, an email notification is sent to designated team members.

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5. Install A Whiteboard In The Office

The whiteboard is an old school office fixture that is simple, basic, and yet, continues to significantly contribute to productivity in this day and age of apps and smart technology.

Research has proven that writing with pen on paper improves cognition and helps establish a stronger connection between you and the task compared to typing on a keypad. The same can be said when writing on a whiteboard. 

Before ending the workday, write your goals for the following day on the whiteboard. There will be no guesswork. When the alarm goes off and after you’ve had your first cup of coffee, you know exactly what you’re going to do. 

Upon entering the home office, the whiteboard will be the first thing you’ll see. It will seem that your built-in laser sight has been triggered and you can’t wait to zero in and complete your targeted goal.

6. Remove All Forms Of Distraction

Once you’ve set up your home office with the right furniture, a spacious workstation, and the latest computer, there is still one thing left to do.

Remove all forms of distraction which include your mobile phone, video game portable console, social media, and other websites that have no relevance to your work. 

Unless there is a scheduled audio-visual call, we suggest closing Skype. Oftentimes, your contacts will send you messages. Most of these messages could just be personal in nature.

The constant blinking that notifies you of these messages can be a source of distraction. 

As we suggested earlier, the home office should be a no-entry zone during work hours. Unless it is an emergency, ask your family and friends to refrain from knocking on the door. 

7. Update Your Tasks As Needed

Even if you’ve written down the day’s goals the night before, don’t hesitate to change or update your tasks as needed. 

Business is unpredictable. 

For example, a client may request that you prioritize a project because he has a very tight schedule. It is also possible that a client whose project you designated as “Priority Number One” will ask you to put off additional work until further notice. 

Remember that one of the biggest benefits of working from home is that you don’t have a boss because you are the boss. You call the shots and that means you have full control over your work schedule. 

Yes, write down your tasks/goals the night before but adapt a flexible work schedule.

8. Don’t Work In Your Pajamas

It may feel nice to get out of bed and go straight to your home office but what you wear can affect how you work.

For one, dressing in office clothes will set the tone for the day. Similar to why you should not work from your bed, dressing up creates the proper mental association – pajamas are for sleeping, office clothes are for working. 

You don’t have to put on a tie or a dress suit. Wear something informal but appropriate enough for a Skype audio-visual call with a client or your remote team.

9. Exercise During Breaktime

Sitting for long periods may lead to chronic pain or discomfort on your back, shoulders, and neck. Working on the computer for long stretches can lead to carpal tunnel syndrome. 

You need to get the blood circulation moving from time-to-time. If you spend 90 minutes working on a task, take a 30-minute break after and use the time to do some light exercise and stretching. 

You don’t have to go to the gym or change into your workout clothes. Perform sets of 10 repetitions of squats, pushups, and situps. Get in a quick 10-minute yoga or Pilates session. 

10. Use An Alarm Clock Or A Timer

Sometimes we get so engrossed in what we’re doing that we lose track of time. An alarm clock will be your constant reminder that “time’s up!”

Productivity is all about quality work. It’s not about the number of hours spent but how you spend those hours. 

You should also remember a very important reason why you made the decision to work from home – so you can spend more time with your family. 

Once the day’s work hours have been completed, shut off the home office PC then change from your office clothes to your stay-at-home clothes. 

Conclusion

Over the next few years, expect more people to work from home. As an entrepreneur, you save up on rent, avoid the inconvenience of the daily commute, and become more productive. However, your home should still feel like home. 

Think back to the time when you worked 9-to-5 in a traditional office. When work became stressful, you couldn’t wait for the clock to strike five so you can head out the door and drive to the waiting and loving arms of your home. 

You wouldn’t want your home to be a place for stress. It will affect your relationships with family and defeat the purpose of working from home. 

Do you have other tips that will improve productivity for those who work from home? Please share them in the comments section below.

If you enjoyed this article and would like to have similar content for your website, please give us a call or an email. We’re more than just a website design and development company. Our digital marketing program can help bring your business to the next level.

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The idea of working from home is very appealing. Imagine not having to deal with the inconveniences of the commute – the traffic, looking for a parking space, errant drivers, just to name a few. 

You get to manage your work schedule and streamline your expenses. All of that plus the opportunity to become financially independent.

The transition from a 9-to-5 office environment to a work from home lifestyle is not as easy as you might think.

There are days that you wake up to an empty home and the silence can be deafening. Not having co-workers around or experiencing the hustle and bustle of a busy office will take some time to adjust.

Then, there are the unforeseen events that can disrupt the natural flow of work and life such as the coronavirus pandemic. 

10 Ways To Stay Productive And Remain Positive While Working From Home

Although the coronavirus or Covid-19 had been under the microscope of many leading scientists around the world, the outbreak happened faster than expected and spread far and wide.

It seemed that overnight, our lives were turned upside down. Across the world, people had to practice social distancing and were mandated  by their respective governments to self-quarantine. 

Even if you were working from home at the time the quarantine took effect, you, like many around the world, must have been thinking, “life will never be the same again.”

In addition to the usual challenges of managing projects while working at home and dealing with disruptors such as technical latency issues, now with the virus, we had something new – something we’ve never dealt with –  to worry about. 

Work and life may never be the same again but that doesn’t mean you should allow the situation to affect your productivity and positivity. 

It’s a global pandemic – yes – but not the end of the world!

Here are 10 ways you can stay productive and remain positive while working from home.

1. Remain Optimistic, Search for Opportunities

If you own a business that was affected by the lockdown, use the month-long quarantine period to search for opportunities. Perhaps the quarantine is a sign for you to adapt to an Internet-based business model. 

Think about it. The businesses that continued to operate during the lockdown were the ones with an online presence. 

These businesses either had a telecommuting program in place or set up a global remote team composed of virtual assistants and freelancers.  

Despite the situation, remain optimistic. Visionaries are those who find opportunities during times of chaos. 

2. Focus on the Solution – Not the Problem

Did you experience a power outage while in the middle of an important Skype call with a client?

Send an email to the client from your smartphone. Explain what just happened and inform him that you will be heading out to the nearest Internet shop to continue the Skype call.

The client may get back to you and suggest that the call be rescheduled tomorrow. At any rate, the client will appreciate your immediate attention to the problem.

When we’re in a difficult situation, we tend to spend more time focusing on the problem instead of finding solutions. Problems trigger powerful emotions such as despair, frustration, and anger, all of which drain us of much-needed energy.

That’s why the more you dwell on problems the worse they become because you are feeding them with your energy. 

To get out of a difficult situation, focus your energies toward finding solutions. The more time you spend formulating, testing, and evaluating courses of action, the sooner you can find resolution and move on to more productive endeavors.

3. Practice Effective Time Management

It’s easy to lose track of time when working from home. There are so many distractions – the couch, TV, social media, the kitchen, and your pet. Put them all aside by creating – and committing – to a work schedule.

Effective time management starts the night before. Summarize your tasks and arrange them according to the degree of importance. Pick out no more than 3 key tasks and prioritize them for the following day.

Dedicate 90 minutes of 100%, full and undivided attention to each task. Once the time period has been completed, take a 20-30 minute break to recharge. 

Managing your hours in a day will help you become productive. And when you’re able to accomplish many tasks, you develop a positive attitude. 

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4. Create a Productive and Positive Workspace

Your workplace does not have to be your “Happy Place” but it should be conducive to productivity and encourage a positive attitude. 

Here are 6 tips to help you create a productive and positive workplace:

  • Keep your workplace clean and organized.
  • Buy a comfortable chair. 
  • Use a spacious table.
  • Play soothing music.
  • Post positive and inspiring messages in select areas.
  • Make sure you have a nice view of the outdoors. 

Lastly, dress for work! Nothing too formal – a neat dress shirt and slacks will be fine. Wearing office clothes will put you in the right mood and frame of mind for work. 

5. Stay in Touch with Your Value Chain

Are you working with a remote team? Stay in touch with them from time to time. Don’t just talk about work. Find out how things are going at home and with the family. 

Touch base with your clients. How are they coping with the quarantine? Is everyone in their household in good health? 

The success of a home-based business isn’t just measured by dollars and cents. For the greater part, success is measured by the number of long-term relationships you were able to build. 

It’s great having a reputation for being productive and a consistent provider of high-quality products and services. But being remembered as someone who constantly exuded a positive attitude will help you maintain clients for the rest of your career.

6. Exercise Regularly

Exercise releases mood-enhancing chemicals called endorphins that make you feel good. That’s why exercise is popularly recommended by doctors to people who are suffering from depression.

Regular exercise strengthens your body and its immune system. It keeps your energy levels up and gives you the confidence to overcome difficult situations. 

It will be great to work out in a gym but you can get good exercise at home:

  • Do bodyweight exercises such as pushups, squats, and sit-ups.
  • If you have stairs, walk up and down the steps for 10 minutes. 
  • Take a 10-minute walk outside your house. 
  • Lay down a mat and do Yoga or Pilates.

You can set up a small home gym with a jump rope, resistance bands, a yoga mat, a few dumbbells, and a stability ball. 

You don’t have to train like “The Rock” to get fit – just keep moving!

7. Eat Healthy and Well

Eating pizza “with the works” might make you feel good but as soon as the food settles, you’ll regret having that extra slice. 

Starchy carbohydrates will get your blood sugar levels hitting highs and lows throughout the day that will make you feel sluggish. As your body struggles to digest all that fat from the cheese and processed meat, you’ll feel tired. 

Instead of choosing processed food, opt for natural sources of macronutrients such as fruits, vegetables, and lean cuts of meat. They have fewer calories, rich in vitamins and minerals, and easier to digest. 

You will have fewer mood swings and more energy throughout the day. Likewise, eating vitamin-rich foods will help strengthen your immune system. 

8. Get Enough Sleep

If you’ve been exercising regularly and following a healthy diet, the third component of a fit lifestyle is to get enough sleep – at least seven hours every night. 

Recall the last time you got poor quality sleep. 

  • How did you perform at work? 
  • Were you sluggish? 
  • Were you able to focus on your tasks? 
  • How many tasks were you able to finish?

The health benefits of a good night’s sleep have been well studied and documented. Getting less than the recommended hours of sleep will affect all aspects of your health – physical, mental, and emotional. 

Here are a few tips on how to get good quality sleep every night:

  • Avoid caffeine six hours before bedtime
  • Shut off all computer devices including your smartphone two hours before bedtime
  • Don’t work on tasks one hour before bedtime
  • Don’t go to bed with a full stomach

As much as possible, avoid taking sleeping pills and other types of sleep medication. Try meditation or going through deep breathing exercises.

9. Avoid Contact with Toxic People

Toxic people will complain about anything and everything. They bring negative energy wherever they go. Being around toxic people will stress you out and drain you of positive energy.

Can you encounter toxic people while working from home? Yes! Unfortunately, they’re everywhere. No one’s perfect; some of your family members may have acquired the toxic gene. 

Another place where toxic people thrive is social media. How many of your “friends” on Facebook rant on a daily – or hourly – basis? 

To stay productive and positive, avoid contact with toxic people. Follow our earlier advice – practice effective time management. Let’s add a corollary to that one – keep your office locked during work hours.

Limit your time on social media. These networks can be a great source of information but they can be powerful productivity and positivity disruptors as well. 

10. Look for Inspiration

Sometimes a moment of inspiration can give you a better jolt than a double espresso. 

There will be days when you feel that you’re not up to the task. Distractions may have gotten the best of you or perhaps all the white noise has drowned out the remaining voice of reason. 

When you start questioning the purpose – the “why” of working from home – look for a source of inspiration that can get you back on the straight and narrow. 

You can find inspiration anywhere – a book, a song, a phrase, the great outdoors or from your family. Use that inspiration to reconnect with your purpose and serve as a reminder of what makes you get up every morning to seize the day.

Conclusion

The coronavirus added another layer in our quest to achieve work and life balance. 

  • “Are quarantines and lockdowns the ‘new normal’?”
  • “How will this affect my family and work and for how long?”
  • “Can we ever go back to normal – the ‘old normal’?”

Such negative thoughts become the white noise that keep us awake at night and affect our performance at work. Many go through periods of mental stress and emotional distress. 

Collectively, these are conditions that cultivate an environment of negativity,  pessimism, and unproductivity. 

You don’t want that.

Your family doesn’t want that.

Your customers and clients don’t want that.

You should only focus on the things you can manage – work, family, and your health. You remain accountable to them and thus, should find ways to stay productive at work and remain positive for your family and yourself.

Do you have any tips to share about staying productive and positive that were not covered by this article? Please share them in our comments section. 

And if you need assistance in getting your online business off and running, give us a call or drop us an email. We offer web design and digital marketing services that will help grow your business.

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The coronavirus that was declared a global pandemic by the World Health Organization (WHO) necessitated countries to require its citizens to self-quarantine for a period of one month. Businesses – except those that delivered essential goods and services – were forced to close down. Economies were held at a standstill. The businesses that remained “open” were those with remote capabilities – the entrepreneur and the employees work from home. 

The period of self-quarantine that is still ongoing as of this writing – put the spotlight on the importance of having disaster recovery protocols in place for small businesses. 

It shone the spotlight on a business development strategy we have been advocating for years. One that has its origins back in the 1970s but only came to the consciousness of private business in the mid-2000s. 

Integrating a work from home program for your small business is your best hedge versus uncertainties in the business environment. 

The Benefits Of A Work From Home Program

To be clear, we are using the phrase “Work From Home” as a blanket term for remote workers – people who work outside the confines of a traditional 9-to-5 office.

A person who works from home can be categorized as a:

  • Telecommuter
  • Freelancer
  • Virtual Assistant
  • Work at Home Mom (WAHM)

There are subtle differences between each type of remote worker.

A telecommuter is an employee who was asked by his employer to perform his duties and responsibilities from home instead of the office. 

A Virtual Assistant is a person who is hired by an executive or a company to manage specific tasks and functions from the VA’s place of work. 

A freelancer is generally a skilled professional who has decided to take his talents online and offer his services to clients that need his technical expertise. 

A WAHM could be all 3 – a telecommuter, a VA or a freelancer. She took the option to work from home to have more time with the family. 

Whether your business hires one or the other, the benefits of incorporating a work from home program for your business are the same:

1. Lower Cost of Business

According to a 2-year study that was conducted by Stanford University, a telecommuting program successfully lowered the cost of business by an estimated US $1,900 per employee.

The savings were attributed to lower onboarding costs; a reduced need to buy new furniture, computers, office supplies, and expand Internet capabilities. 

2. Increase Productivity

The same 2-year study by Stanford also revealed that the productivity level of the test company increased by 13.5%.

When you outsource tasks to remote workers – telecommuters, freelancers or virtual assistants – you free up more time for yourself. You have more hours in the day to focus on the main enterprise of your business. 

3. Improve Quality of Deliverables

Hiring or contracting the services of a freelancer or a virtual assistant will improve the quality of work because these remote workers are professionals. They have the experience and have undergone training to become good at what they do. 

Similar to freelancers, many virtual assistants crossed-over from the brick-and-mortar world to the virtual world. 

For the reason that they are focused on giving your assigned tasks their full and undivided attention, you can be assured of the quality of deliverables. 

4. Reduce Business Risk

If you had a telecommuting program in place or if you had a remote team composed of freelancers or virtual assistants, your business would continue to operate during the period of self-quarantine. 

Who would have seen this coming? Even the WHO downplayed the severity of the coronavirus’s effects. 

A work from home program gives your business a disaster recovery mechanism that protects it from events that may cause long-term interruptions in business activity. 

In business, time is money. For every second that you are not operating, you are foregoing multiple opportunities to grow your business. 

If you have clients, your remote team can continue to service their accounts. If you own a brick-and-mortar business, a remote team can manage customers’ orders and coordinate with the appropriate agencies for deliveries to conform with the guidelines of the quarantine. 

The bottom line is with a remote team composed of work from home personnel, your business would continue to run and earn money during periods of unforeseen and unpredictable events such as the coronavirus pandemic.

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How To Set Up A Work From Home Program For Your Business

Now that we’ve convinced you of its benefits, let’s get down to the meat and potatoes of setting up a work from home program for your business!

1. Identify the Objectives and Goals of the Work From Home Program

Imagine moving from a shared-space collaborative arrangement to one where tasks are distributed across remote locations within 24 hours. Transitioning from an office to a work from home setup will take some time getting used to.

Before starting Day #1, spend some time – the entire day, if needed – to identify and discuss the objectives and goals of the work from home program with the remote team. 

The purpose is to get everyone on the same page.

If you’re running a telecommuting set up for the first time, your employees may have a hard time focusing on their tasks. 

This is especially true with an event such as the coronavirus pandemic which disrupted many aspects of work and life. Employees may be distracted.

Start out by assigning them a limited number of tasks – 3 tasks to accomplish on Day #1. Don’t overwhelm them with too many things-to-do as the quality of work may get compromised.

Make sure tasks are correctly assigned and clearly explained to everyone. Encourage the team to ask questions, strictly observe communication protocols, and offer help when needed. 

2. Select the Right People For Your Remote Team

The process of setting up your remote team is similar to drafting talent for your basketball team. You want to put together a variety of talented individuals who can work together as a team.

Not every employee is cut out for telecommuting work in the same way that not all freelancers and virtual assistants are qualified to handle the job. 

For the work from home program to be successful, you have to select the right people for your remote team. Again, you have to be clear about the team’s goals and objectives. 

Let’s assume you are managing customer service for clients:

  • What customer service channels will be used – chat, inbound phone system, email or social media?
  • What are the demographics of the clients’ customers?
  • Do you need bilingual agents?
  • Will you have outbound support services?
  • Will the service be available 24/7?

Once you’ve firmed up the details, it will be easier to identify the types of talent that you want on your team:

  • Prepare the list of hard skills required for each job – qualifications, years of experience, and certifications, if needed. 
  • Prepare a list of your desired soft skills – self-motivated, excellent time-management skills, ability to manage stress, ability to work with others – these are the personality attributes that fit your intended team culture. 

The hiring process does not start and end with the resume. Have the candidates go through interviews and practical tests. Include a dry run whereby the candidates will be asked to work on a task while grouped in teams. 

3. Set Up the System for Remote Work

A system for remote work should identify the processes and tools that will be used to support its framework. 

  • How will the remote team communicate?
  • Where will the team upload its work?
  • How will you account for total work hours?
  • What are the workflows?
  • Do you want the team to collaborate on specific projects?
  • How will you conduct team meetings?
  • What are the security protocols for the system?

Creating the system for remote work may not be as simple as opening up accounts in Skype, Asana, and Dropbox for the team. There is always a better way of running things!

This is a great opportunity to collaborate with your team. Solicit ideas. If you are working with virtual assistants, you will find that many of them are highly experienced in setting up workflows. 

The same can be said about freelancers. In both cases, they acquire knowledge of setting up remote work systems from their experiences working with different clients. 

4. Stay Connected – With Your Remote Team

This is probably the key to running a successful work from home program for your business – stay connected with your remote team.

Yes, it’s great to work from home! You don’t have to worry about traffic and being late for work. You can savor your morning coffee and have more time with the spouse and kids. 

However, for those who have no experience working from home, the first morning could be tough. The shift from shared space collaboration to working alone at home can take anyone out of their comfort zone. 

Let your team know that you are there to support them. Here are some ideas you might want to implement for your remote team:

  • Schedule daily meetings such as a pre-shift or post-shift briefing.
  • Ask everyone to post photos of the individual team members on their workstation. This is a technique developed by HR experts who reverse-engineered the habit of posting pictures of family members at the office workplace. According to the HR experts, the technique has helped remote workers cope with the challenges of working in isolation. 
  • Schedule a 30-minute “water cooler” or “coffee time” break where everyone on the team shows up online with their cup of coffee and discusses everything under the sun that is NOT related to work. 
  • Encourage everyone to share information about their workspace. This way, the team will develop a greater understanding and sensitivity of the conditions that could affect the performance of other members. For example, a team member may be a parent of a newborn that is incessantly crying in the background. You might have a team member whose house is located at a major thoroughfare. That explains the constant blaring of car horns during online meetings. 

5. Track Its Progress 

You should not expect to get your work from home program right on its first day. Expect problems to come up – whether technical issues or human error. Take note of these problems and try to resolve them as soon as possible. 

It would be a good idea to anticipate these problems before you run the work from home program. With your remote team, brainstorm on the potential issues you might encounter then collectively develop solutions and alternative courses of action. 

Collect as much data as possible from the software programs and tools you are using. 

  • Is anyone on the team experiencing latency issues? 
  • Are there problems in the uploading of files?
  • Are there causes of delays in the transmission of data?
  • Is the team consistently meeting deadlines?
  • How is the quality of deliverables? Are there complaints or issues raised by clients/customers?
  • Which processes and tools are giving you problems? Are there better alternatives?
  • How are the individual members performing?

Set aside time to track and evaluate the progress of your work from home program. Once you’ve identified the flaws, come up with improvements and implement them in the system. 

Conclusion

The coronavirus experience serves as a wakeup call; a reminder that the business environment is unpredictable. What is essentially a health issue has wreaked havoc in economies across the world. 

We don’t know what other disruptor lurks in the horizon. However, we cannot waste precious time and energy worrying about something we cannot quantify. The best thing we can do is to be prepared.

It used to be the case that companies would set up offices in other regions – local or international – to function as their disaster recovery site. 

If an event occurs that disrupts business in the principal location, the disaster recovery site takes over the functions and responsibilities of the main office. 

As we have seen – and experienced – from the coronavirus episode, regional offices can be rendered useless if people cannot report for work. 

The best solution to protect your business from uncertainty could be right under your nose.

Home sweet home.

How was your business able to cope with the coronavirus? What measures did you implement to keep your business running? Please feel free to share in the comments section.

If you need help setting up your remote team, please don’t hesitate to give us a call. 

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There was a time when we were obsessed with getting as little sleep as possible.

We’d brag with “I only slept five hours last night” or “I only got four hours on Monday” like it was something to be proud of: a genuine achievement we could boast about to our peers. We’d wear it as proudly as any other badge of honor.

Luckily for our collective sanity, we are slowly starting to realize the importance of sleep. Not only that, but we’re also shifting our focus to living a balanced life, as opposed to killing ourselves on the job and sacrificing as much as we humanly can. Finally, we’re putting our wellbeing if not first, at least in the top three.

Let’s explore why sleep is so intricately tied to success, and how you can work on yours.

Sleep Lowers the Risk of Heart Disease

Not that bouncing back from a heart attack wouldn’t be a great achievement – but clearly, forgoing the emergency room is simply common sense.

A major risk factor of heart disease and stroke is high blood pressure. Sleep helps our bodies keep it in check and regulate it better, lowering the risk of heart disease and its unpleasant complications.

Sleep Boosts Your Immune System

Getting enough sleep is a prerequisite to fighting off all kinds of illnesses, from the common cold to major inflammations and more serious diseases.

When our bodies are under constant strain, they will not be as good at preventing diseases and injuries as they otherwise would. Each night, we have to give them the time they need to repair and recover from what we have inflicted on them during the day.

Considering the fact that illness-related productivity drops have cost US businesses $530 billion a couple of years ago, the link between health, productivity, and success are clear to see.

Sleep and Mental Health are Profoundly Connected

Depression and anxiety are more prevalent today than ever before in the history of humankind. And while we have yet to understand either of these mental challenges fully, what we do know is that not getting enough sleep can intensify their symptoms and make coping all that more difficult.

When we are under constant stress (as we are), exposed to countless stimuli, and when our minds don’t have enough time to process everything that’s going on around them, we start to get more irritable, we lose our focus, and our moods tend to suffer.

Sleep Boosts Productivity

How much sleep you get is in direct proportion with how productive and focused you can be during the day.

Of course, it’s not the only factor that plays a key role, but it is among the more important ones.

Losing just a single night’s sleep will make your response rates 50% lower than someone who has a 0.1% blood alcohol level.

And thus begins a vicious circle. If you are less productive, you’ll want to make up for the unfinished tasks by staying at work longer. That will, in turn, mean you don’t get enough sleep again, and so on.

This will lead to all kinds of unpleasant consequences. Your mood will deteriorate, you will begin to worry more, your attention spans will shorten, and you won’t be able to rest even when you do get to bed.

What Can You Do to Improve Your Sleep?

Sleeping well is not just about sleeping for a certain number of hours. Sleep quality is also very important, as our brains truly get to rest only when we fall into deep sleep.

Here’s what you can do to help it get there:

  • Invest in a quality mattress that will help your body rest better.  
  • Maintain a sleep schedule. Regardless of what day of the week dit is, sleep at the same time and wake up at the same time.
  • Stop looking at a screen (including your phone) at least an hour before going to bed.
  • Read a book or meditate before going to bed, as opposed to engaging with technology.
  • Keep your bedroom cool and well-aired at all times, as temperatures and air quality have a large influence on how you sleep.
  • Don’t drink caffeine or alcohol before going to bed if you can help it.
  • Listen to relaxing music or sleep stories if you need help falling asleep.

While it may take some time to get used to, practicing good sleep hygiene will slowly get you into the right rhythm, and you will fall asleep more easily.

Wrap Up

Instead of trying to do more and sleep less, focus on getting enough sleep so that you will be able to do more. A well-rested and relaxed mind will be much better at performing all kinds of tasks. It will be more creative, more productive, and a much more pleasant space to occupy.

Every leader has their own version of what the word “good” will mean for them.

As will every employee.

Being a good leader is about more than getting good results – it’s also about team happiness, efficiency, and productivity.

But when your team is faced with a tight deadline, your role as their leader changes, too.

Here is how you can adapt to the situation and still make the most of it.

Have a system in place

The best thing you can do in the first place is to set up a system that all your employees will be familiar with and able to adhere to.

This system needs to encompass everything, including the designated communication channels, attendance and days off, responsibilities, and task delegation – the whole shebang.

The reasoning behind the system is that you, as the team leader, need to be aware of everything that is going on at a glance, without having to make a single call or send out a single email.

This will enable you to predict breached deadlines and the potential for disaster, and allow you to act accordingly as well.

A good project management tool to help you achieve just that is a Gantt chart, which you can customize as much as you need to.

Know your team

Another prep step that leads up to the tight deadline scenario we are discussing, and the most important prerequisite for success in any team, is knowing your players well enough to be able to assemble your starting lineup flawlessly.

Pardon the sporting reference, but you get the picture.

There will be people in your team who are great at what they do and are also great communicators. There will be those who are great at what they do, but have no idea how to communicate. And of course, there will be those who are great team players, but lack the skillset to get the job done at the same level.

Your team needs all of these players, but all of these players need to keep working on what they lack – with your help, of course, and that applies to the best of them, too. And you need to know where each of them stands, and where to place them at a time of crisis.

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Set clear goals and agree on the necessary steps 

When a deadline is tight, the most basic thing will help out the most: a well-laid plan.

Call a team meeting and come to a decision together – you don’t need to come up with the plan yourself. In fact, the more heads involved, the better it will be.

Make sure everyone takes on what they can and what they know. This is where your knowledge from the previous two steps comes in. Don’t let the nice, kind person who always volunteers but never gets anything done on time take on too much. Don’t let the most talented person take on all the work.

You are the leader, so it’s up to you to make the final call. But the more input each individual provides, the better your team will perform.

Communicate

When things are stressful and the repercussions can be significant, it’s important to keep everyone in the loop.

Make it clear with your team that they need to tell you everything, even when they come off bad, or someone else does.

Fearing the consequences, employees tend to hide from their managers when they are struggling with something. And while you will never be able to eliminate this fully, try to enforce a rule that no punishments are handed out as long as the person in question raises the red flag in time.

You can hope to meet any deadline only once everyone is clear on their specific responsibilities and priorities. Your job is to achieve just that. Don’t hand all the info out to everyone: as you hold all the cards, you should know exactly who needs to know what.

Have a Plan B

Deadlines will be missed sometimes. It’s just that simple.

Before that happens, it’s important to have a backup plan in place.

First of all, it’s your job to let the higher-ups know that you won’t be able to do it in said amount of time. But instead of just coming in with the bad news, have a solution ready.

How much extra time will the task take? Can you add in some overtime to get it done sooner? What are the overall outcomes you will have achieved? 

Try to focus on the good, not just the fact that the deadline has been missed.

Depending on the situation, there might be some music to be faced. You will be the one facing it, more likely than not. Don’t take it out on your team, if you are certain they could not have done better. If what it would have taken to meet the deadline is for everyone to perform at a perfect level the entire time, the deadline was never realistic, so don’t forget that.

Wrap up

At the end of the day, when things might feel like they’re getting out of control, always remember to trust yourself like the captain at the helm of a ship. 

Don’t place upon yourself the burden of having to be perfect – good leadership rests on good organization, understanding, and communication. Strive to grow and learn from each experience, and with each new deadline, you’ll be better and better at all of these fields. And your team will definitely appreciate you for it! 

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In our previous article, “Why ‘I Don’t Have Time’ Is The Reason Your Business Is Not Succeeding”, we discussed why many people struggle in putting in productive hours in a day. 

The problem is not because they “can’t”. The problem is because they “won’t”. 

Everyone can be productive. But productivity won’t happen by itself. You have to make it happen.

This is the reason why time management is one of the most sought-after skills. If you have the ability to find more quality time, you will be productive. 

In time and with consistency, effective time management will help you become successful in your business, career, family life, and other endeavors. 

Here are 7 tips on how to find more quality time and be productive.

1. Plan Ahead

For sure, you have had one of those days where you found yourself staring at blank space for several minutes… perhaps an empty wall or a computer screen. 

It is perfectly okay to gather your thoughts. However, if the seconds add up, you may end up losing valuable minutes that could lead to wasted quality hours. 

Guesswork is one of the biggest time-wasters. The best way to avoid playing the daily guessing game is to plan ahead. 

How early should you start planning? 

Here are a few helpful tips to consider when planning ahead:

  • Monthly – Review your calendar. Do you have any meetings or special occasions lined up for the month? Even if these meetings are still tentative and subject to change, work some of your tasks around these dates. Send a follow-up email to the party you are scheduled to meet with and confirm the time and date. 
  • Weekly – Again, review your calendar. Which dates have been marked for meetings or special occasions? Have these activities been confirmed? It would be a good idea to have them confirmed before the start of the workweek. Once you get a confirmation from the parties involved, close them out by encircling the date. Then, work the rest of your workweek around these times and dates.
  • The Night Before – Before calling it a night, do a quick review of the day’s activities. What key duties and responsibilities were you able to accomplish? What tasks remain unresolved? Do you have upcoming deadlines? Identify the most important tasks and rank them according to priority.
  • The Next Day – Do a quick review of the tasks you have earmarked for the day. Make sure you have everything you need right in front of you. Have a good breakfast and a strong cup of coffee. Take a deep breath… then hit the ground running!

2. Prepare A To-Do List

Preparing a to-do list is a simple but effective way to gain more quality hours. It clears out your head and lays out the important tasks that you have to work on. Where and how you prepare the to-do list is your choice. 

There are many wonderful apps you can use to prepare your to-do list such as Evernote, Wunderlist, and Microsoft To-Do. Likewise, it may be a good idea to go old school with an Executive Planner or a simple whiteboard. 

Studies have shown that writing notes using a pen on paper can retain memory longer than tapping away on a keyboard. The research concluded that writing by pen increased the amount of feedback the brain receives from the writer’s motor actions. 

A whiteboard is an inexpensive but highly-effective tool for posting reminders and tasks. It allows you to write your thoughts out so you can articulate your ideas more clearly. Whenever you see your notes on the whiteboard, you feel more motivated to get tasks done. 

3. Learn How to Prioritize Tasks

How many tasks can you handle per day? The answer would depend on the number of hours you want to spend per day on your business. 

According to the Ultradian Rhythm theory, you can only maintain 100% focus for 90 to 120 minutes before you would have to take a 30-minute break. 

Let’s assume you want to dedicate 8 hours or 480 minutes per day on your business. If you spend 90 minutes per task and follow it up with a 30-minute break, then realistically, you should be able to handle 4 tasks per day.

The next question is: “Which tasks should you prioritize?”

There are 3 ways you can prioritize your tasks:

First, prioritize the tasks based on Return on Time Invested (ROTI). In other words, work on the tasks that result in the highest returns for your business. 

Which projects pay the most? Are there projects that once completed may open new doors of opportunity for your business? 

Second, attend to the most dreaded tasks right away. These are the ones that weigh on you like an 800-pound Silverback Gorilla and give you sleepless nights. 

Work on them right away – first thing in the morning, if possible – so you can breathe much easier and move on to the other tasks. 

Third, once you have firmed up your calendar for the week, you can choose to prioritize the easiest tasks. By attending to the easiest tasks, you might accomplish more than 4 per day. 

Once you’ve cleared out all of the easy tasks from your schedule, you will have more time to work on the key tasks that you have earmarked for the week. 

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4. Organize Everything You Need Before You Start

How much time did you waste looking for the mock-ups on the client’s project? Worse, how many precious minutes did you waste looking for a calculator, pen, paper, and a stapler? 

Lack of organizational skills will keep you from expertly managing your time because you waste valuable seconds searching for files and other things when you should already be working. 

Since you have prepared a to-do list the night before, take the level of preparation another notch higher by organizing everything in your workplace. 

Pull out all the files and tools you need to work on the tasks identified in your to-do list and organize them properly on your table. If the files are on your computer, move them to the desktop folder so you can see them right away when you open your PC. 

The tools you need – pen, paper, calculator, other office equipment, and the hard copy of important files – should be within reach. You can place these items near the edge of your desk or on top of the closest shelf.

5. Take a Step Back… If You Feel Like It

There is a saying, “Take one step back to take two steps forward.” It means that sometimes doing more can lead to accomplishing less. Therefore, call it a day, get some rest, and come back stronger, recharged, and more focused.

We are human beings, not machines. We get tired and fatigued both physically and mentally. 

If we are not fit to continue, then the more we push ourselves, the greater becomes the risk of compromising the outcome of the task we are trying to accomplish. 

The important thing to keep in mind is that we should focus on “quality” time. 

You can work for only 4 to 6 hours in a day, but if the time spent enabled you to accomplish key goals and objectives, then you put in quality hours on your business. 

If you feel tired and worn out, do not hesitate to pack it in, regroup, and resume work when you are ready. Take a short vacation if you have to. 

6. Say “No”… If You Have To

They say whenever opportunity knocks, you should answer it because it may never come back. 

However, if you do not feel confident in your ability to render top-quality work and service for the prospective client, saying “No” may be the best decision to make. 

At Mountaintop, we have a team of highly-experienced professional web designers. The web designers are the company’s assets and we assign specific projects to them. 

We will accommodate requests for website design and development only to a point where we are 100% confident in our ability to build the best website for the prospective client. 

If we end up pulling assets from one project to another because our resources are heavily stretched out, the decision to say “Yes” to a new project may end up compromising our other clients. 

We will do our best to negotiate the development schedule of the website with the client. If the client agrees to the new timetable, then we will accept the project. 

If not, then we will have to say “No”. 

In any business, your work is the best representative of your brand. As long as you consistently produce high-quality work, opportunities will always come around knocking. 

7. Shut Out Distractions

There is nothing wrong with spending time on Facebook or catching up on the latest release on Netflix. However, there is a time and place for everything. When it is time to work, there should be no distractions. 

The reality is, distractions lurk everywhere. Your mobile phone could be buzzing every few minutes with calls, messages or notifications. 

If you work from home, a family member could knock on your door and engage you in conversation. At the office, co-workers could be nudging you to spend a few minutes with them at the watercooler. 

To get things done, you have to make arrangements to shut out distractions. Here are a few suggestions:

  • Use a different PC for work; it should not have access to Facebook, YouTube, Netflix, and other websites that are potential distractions. 
  • Keep your mobile phone locked away in a drawer or better still, in a different room. Make sure to leave a message that you will return the call or respond once you have available time.
  • Talk to your family and friends about your quest for productive time. If they care about you – and we’re sure they do – they will understand and will leave you alone during those hours. 

You can check your social media pages or your phone for text messages and missed calls during your 30-minute break. If you have kids, spend the 30-minute break time with them.

Conclusion

If you want to be an expert in time management, you must apply it to all facets of your life.

For example, if you have a family, take a few hours during the weekend to plan for their needs the following week. 

What meals will you prepare for their dinner? Do you prefer to eat out? If so, where? When will you schedule your visit to the supermarket or the laundromat? Is it time for your kids to visit the dentist?

If your kids have school activities, make it a point to mark the dates on your calendar. You would not want to miss your daughter’s musical number with her classmates or your son’s championship game. 

Of course, you should include another important person in the planning process: You. Set aside time in the week for yourself. 

There is no excuse for not finding time to exercise if you plan your workout days properly. It does not have to be in the gym. You can walk around the neighborhood, run at the park, or play ball with your kids. 

Similarly, you may simply want to find time for some peace and quiet – perhaps catch up on some personal reading.

The bottom line is if you want to find more quality time, make it happen! Don’t say, “I don’t have time.”

We hope you enjoyed this article as much as we did writing it. If you have a friend who needs help in becoming productive, please feel free to share this article with him.

Outsourcing services is another proven way of finding more time for yourself. If you want to learn how outsourcing some tasks can increase quality time, give us a call and let’s discuss what you need. 

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