One way to improve communication and productivity at your company.

Although a lot of companies strive to improve communication and productivity, a lot of the time, this can fall by the wayside when urgent projects and deadlines take priority. Add in staffing/recruitment issues and budget cuts and it’s understandable that focusing on the needs of your current staff can slip. But communication and productivity aren’t just important for the managers, directors, executives, CEOs, they are crucial for the rest of the staff too.

What you might not realise is that communication doesn’t necessarily improve by being in the same office as someone. In fact, often the communication quality improves dramatically when one or both parties work remotely. For one thing, you make time to speak to each other. Often in offices, there’s the temptation to give someone a quick call or pop over to their desks. Convenient yes, but it’s likely that the other person is working on something else and isn’t entirely focused on your particular query. Therefore, you might be able to speak to them quickly but how likely is it that you’ve got 100% of their attention and understanding?

The increase in productivity that comes from working remotely or having remote workers is the subject of many an article, blog post and tweet. But the facts are hard to deny. With the loss of office noise, interruptions, necessary or seemingly-unnecessary meetings, remote workers can focus more on their work and also work during their most productive hours – that is, if the company allow flexible working. We mentioned in an earlier blog that by hiring remote workers, you increase your talent pool. If, for example you are on a different timezone to your employees, this can also mean that while you sleep, they might also be working on the project and can advance it significantly before you even start your next working day.

There are obviously other ways to improve communication and productivity in companies than by having a remote working policy but with all the benefits to both employee and employer that come from remote working, it shouldn’t be ignored.

Don’t forget to try Nowbridge, it’s free, easy and can make remote workers feel like they’re still a part of the team. Try it today!

Work to live or live to work?

There has been a noticeable shift in the past few years with more people wanting a better work/life balance and subsequently opting for digitally-focused careers, which allow them more flexibility with how much they work and also, where they work.

“Any businessman, any executive, could live almost anywhere on Earth and still do his business through a device like this.” – Arthur C. Clarke

As predicted by infamous science fiction author and futurist, Arthur C. Clarke, we are now able to work from anywhere. Technology really is incredible. In fact, here’s another quote from Arthur C. Clarke which seems pretty apt.

“Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” – Arthur C. Clarke

Obviously there are some industries that can’t utilize remote working, but for those who can, it opens up a whole world full of talented potential employees. Rather than being limited to hiring from within a location-based pool of candidates, if your company is pro-remote working, you could hire the best people from around the world rather than the best people in your immediate location.

There seem to be endless articles about the rise of the digital nomad and this all links into the quest for the perfect balance. More and more people are drawn to the nomadic lifestyle, travelling the globe and working as and when they need to. We spend around a third of our lives working. A third! Even if you aren’t travelling the world while working freelance, by working remotely you can take back some control of your working life. Although the stability of working 9-5 works for some people, others might find that they work more productively in the afternoons and cannot focus properly for much of the day.

What do you do, live to work or work to live? Are you tempted to move to remote working?

Work from home – help save the planet

In an earlier post we mentioned that:

“…an employee who works just two days a week from home can save up to 390kgs of carbon emissions annually”

With Earth Day coming up on the 22 April, we thought we’d do a bit more research.

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According to various sources including NASA, global temperatures will continue to rise for decades to come. In fact, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) forecast a temperature rise of 2.5-10 degrees Fahrenheit over the next century! Climate change will affect agriculture, built environment, transport, health, business and finance, water resources, flooding and more, so it is something that we all need to take more seriously.

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80% of people living in urban areas that monitor air pollution are exposed to air quality levels that exceed WHO limits. This is worrying because “As urban air quality declines, the risk of stroke, heart disease, lung cancer, and chronic and acute respiratory diseases, including asthma, increases for the people who live in them.”

The emissions reduction we mentioned for one employee would be amplified if entire work forces started telecommuting.

Even if you can’t work remotely, by using public transport, walking or cycling instead of driving to work, you can make a huge difference. Reducing commuter traffic cuts back on air pollution, water pollution and oil consumption.

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We already knew that remote working could help to save the planet but it seems that it can also help save us.

How to be more productive when you work from home

  • Make yourself a home office or at least separate off an area for yourself and tell yourself that is where you work from home. If you don’t have any separation, you’ll always feel like you’re trapped in limbo between working and not working. Another way to counter this is by using Nowbridge but we’ll talk more about that later…

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  • Decide what your hours will be and stick to them (as far as possible). If your company are flexible with the hours you do, work out when you work best in the day. A lot of people find that they work best outside of the 9-5 constraints, i.e. if you’re more productive after lunch, do your hours then. Of course, depending on your job, some companies might prefer you to stick to the normal 9-5 hours. It really depends on the company, the industry and your role.
  • Make sure you take a lunch break and get away from your computer during that time. Try to avoid eating lunch at your desk, this blurs the boundaries between work and non-work.
  • Take breaks. Remember that if you were in the office, you’d likely be going to get cups of tea or coffee or walking to fetch work from the printer. It’s important to take breaks from the screen and by doing little jobs like hanging your laundry out to dry or emptying the dishwasher, you don’t have to do these things later and can enjoy your home time more.

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  • Work like you’re at the office. As in, try not to schedule appointments for the middle of the day or take a long lunch with a friend – don’t slack off!
  • Schedule time to check in with the office. This can help with any collaborative projects and remind you that you’re part of a team. A lot of companies have taken to using online chat software – again, Nowbridge does this and also has Skype integrated. 

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  • Get some background noise. We don’t know about you but we find it hard to work in silence. If you like it then – job done! If not, why not try Spotify or the radio?
  • Get dressed every day. As tempting as it might be to stay in your pijamas, getting dressed helps you get into the right mindset for the day and again, gives you a small amount of separation between your home time and your working day. NB: This is also a good idea if your company like spontaneous conference/Skype calls.

A little bit about Nowbridge

As we mentioned earlier, Nowbridge can help bridge the gap (see what we did there?) between working from home and the office. Live still images updating every few seconds all day long create the illusion of being together. You control who you connect with and when. You can only be seen by the people you can see. Did we mention it’s free and easy to use?

So you can turn your laptop on, open Nowbridge and see who else is working. When it comes to lunchtime, you can either leave it running while you are away from your desk or press pause – flagging the fact that you’ve stopped working. Use it throughout the day to send chat messages to colleagues or even quickly call them on Skype when you can see they’re at their desks. At the end of your working day, press pause or close Nowbridge down and it’s clear to everyone in your team that you have finished for the day.

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Try it today! 

 

The difficulties of working remotely, yes there are some.

We all know the benefits of working remotely…but the recent BBC interview with professor Robert Kelly about South Korea (where he was briefly interrupted by his young children rushing into the room – you’ve all seen it!), has brought to light some of the things that inevitably happen when you’re working from home and started some great discussions on social media about remote working.

It can be hard to stay professional when you’re working remotely. Whether it’s because you usually dress more casually when you’re at home, or the seemingly constant interruptions and distractions from pets, family, the doorbell, the neighbours mowing the lawn etc. – but all of that is just an element of working from home.

Back to the aforementioned video, people all around the world were actually rather enamored by the children. There are already parodies on YouTube, some people have pledged to enter every room with the young girl’s “confident swagger” from now on, and others think that he was a bit abrupt with the excited children and could have briefly paused the interview to take them outside.

However, there are theories for why he couldn’t do that…and this is our favourite:

“MY THEORY: BBC interview guy couldn’t move to properly deal with the kids because he was wearing a shirt/tie/jacket but just some pants.” – Marie Le Conte (@youngvulgarian) March 10 2017

I’m sure lots of people can attest to being in similar situations while working remotely but you know what? Life happens. It’s the way you deal with situations like this that are the real test.

 

Has anything like this ever happened while you’ve worked remotely? Let us know in the comments!

Why companies shouldn’t fear remote working

The subject of remote working is being bounded around offices all over the world at the moment. Although many individuals are embracing the movement, some companies may be understandably a bit apprehensive about the concept.

The main opinion going around the internet at the moment is that if you don’t trust your employees to work remotely, you shouldn’t have hired them in the first place, which is a good point but doesn’t necessarily help.

Many companies consider the move to open-plan offices to have been a substantial step forward for maximizing space while minimizing costs but as we’re sure many of you will agree, this doesn’t really do anything to improve communication between staff and boost the work culture. In fact some people, like the creator of Ruby on Rails, David Heinemeier Hansson (DHH), see it it this:

“The open office plan is a tyrant of interruption, a deep loss of privacy, and the death of productivity.”

Strong words yes,  but who hasn’t been frustrated by so and so’s phone going off constantly while they’re away from their desk, or those colleagues who seem to enjoy loudly discussing their lunch plans from 9am onwards.

Perhaps we’ve now gone full circle back to people wanting their own space, but rather than wanting a physical office, they actually want their own space.

With so much work being done on computers anyway and the increasing costs of public transport, gas and electric, office space rental and more, embracing remote working even for some of the week could be a sensible move.

Nowbridge was developed so that people working remotely could still feel connected to the office and feel a part of the team. It’s free software that creates the illusion of being in the same room together. Try it today and let us know what you think!

 

Remote working – could it be right for you?

Remote working is becoming more and more prevalent in today’s world. Obviously it isn’t a viable option for some industries but for others, it can be more convenient than ever for both the company and the individual.

In order to work remotely, the very least you need is a Wi-Fi-connected laptop and self-discipline. Anyone who has worked from home on the occasion will tell you that it can be tough to stay focused but if you embrace the opportunity to work when you feel productive rather than forcing yourself to stick to the 9-5 from home, you might find it hard to refuse.

In addition to the money-saving benefits (no commute, no expensive lunch to buy, no temptation of the local coffee shops etc.), you can also feel quite smug about reducing your carbon footprint. In fact, did you know that an employee who works just two days a week from home can save up to 390kgs of carbon emissions annually!

It has also been suggested that employees who don’t commute, live healthier, happier lives. Think about it:

  • You’ll get more sleep.
  • You’re less likely to catch the office cold or be exposed to germs
  • You’re more likely to get up from your desk and have a wander around the house (whether you’re hanging your laundry up or not, taking regular breaks from your computer is very important!

Without the usual office interruptions, you might find it a lot easier to actually focus on your work. You might find that you’re more productive in the morning so with your company’s discretion, you could potentially start and finish your day outside of the 9-5 preset.

Of course, remote working isn’t a one-size-fits-all model, but those who have the option to enjoy it and make it work for them can thrive. It means that you can make your work, work for you and relish a better work/life balance – which ultimately makes you happy, which means should make your company happy too.

To sum up:

  1. It’s easy
  2. It saves money
  3. It helps save the planet
  4. It can increase productivity and focus

Do you work remotely? If not, are you tempted?