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.

sky-earth-galaxy-universe.jpg

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.

drought-aridity-dry-earth

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.

pexels-photo-48675

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

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…

pexels-photo-265129

  • 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.

pexels-photo-1

  • 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. 

numbers-time-watch-white

  • 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.

interface.gif

Try it today! 

 

The difficulties of working remotely

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 – is it 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 focussave

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

Nowbridge: A useful tool for bringing teams together

Disconnected. That’s how we reckon many Wellingtonians must feel while their office buildings get assessed for earthquake damage. Of course, most, if not all, will work from home. However, being separated from work colleagues is not always so great — sometimes, there is just no substitute for face-to-face communication.

The age of connectivity

The world has never been more connected. As a result, we can enjoy flexible working arrangements and communicate in real-time with anyone on the planet.

‘Connectivity’, though, comes with a price. And, ironically, many workers actually feel more isolated and less connected.

This is because, even though office politics is a drag, interacting with colleagues fosters a feeling of camaraderie and togetherness.

Connecting teams

Nowbridge is an application that takes photos using the camera on your computer screen.  Every few seconds, these photos are exchanged with those of your contacts.

Rick, is a project manager for a property development company. Though based in Wellington, his team resides in Auckland. He explains that before Nowbridge, it was hard to keep track of everyone’s availability.

“I use Nowbridge every day. It allows me to see who is in the office. So, if I want to talk to them, I know whether they are available—it’s like a virtual office,” says Rick.

Privacy?

Now, if you think Nowbridge sounds like “Big Brother’, Rick says it is nothing of the sort and is no different to working in an office environment.

“You control who you connect with and when, and you can only be seen by the people you can see. If you’re not in the office and your computer isn’t on, the other person just sees a blank screen.”

He points out that there is no sound and none of the images are recorded.

One of the main benefits, Rick explains, is it provides the illusion of being together, which is important when working on joint projects.

“As an employee, you feel part of the team, so your behaviour is similar to if you worked in an office,” says Rick.

Also, don’t worry about offending someone whose face you don’t want to see every day. If you choose not to connect with a colleague, they will just see a black space where your image should be. For all they know, you could be out of the office or not using Nowbridge.

For those in Wellington

Luckily, Rick wasn’t affected by the recent earthquake. However, he believes Nowbridge would be a an ideal solution for reconnecting displaced workers.

If you would like to learn about Nowbridge, see the website at www.nowbridge.com.

Remote Working for Office Workers

Even if you work in an office it is great to work remotely from time to time.  Working remotely can be very productive if you are properly set up.  You might consider working from home one day a week to get some time away from the distractions and interruptions of office life.  Here are some suggestions to make working remotely easier.

1. Have a remote office

Even if you only work remotely occasionally, try to have a dedicated space with a desk, a phone and a computer where you can work in peace and comfort.

2. Use remote access

You can always carry a computer with you but try to get into the habit of accessing your work computer remotely, for example with Remote Desktop Connection which is built into Windows.  That way you have access to your work computer but without the need to carry it around, avoiding the risks of loss or damage.  If you don’t know how to remotely access your computer here are some instructions or talk to your office IT administrator. Remote access can be configured to share the clipboard between machines so copying and pasting between your remote and work computers is possible. You can also set it up to print on your remote printer from your work computer. To use remote access you need to leave your work computer running.

3. Consider an IP phone

Some IP phones can be configured to ring simultaneously in two or more locations. You can set this up so that your desk phone at work will also ring in your remote office so you can pick it up wherever you are.  Having an IP phone in your remote office that is connected to your corporate PABX means you can have a second line at no extra cost to keep your home line free (if you have one) and you can dial your colleagues using extension short dial numbers to speed things up.  Good IP phones allow you to conference in more than one caller at a time or you can use a teleconference facility for group discussions.

4. Use Nowbridge

Nowbridge helps overcome many of the issues that can arise from working remotely.  When you use Nowbridge you can see and be seen by your colleagues just as you can when you are at work.  This helps to stay in touch with and feel part of a team and it helps to overcome the feelings of isolation that might otherwise arise.

5. Use video conferencing

Video conferencing with applications such as Skype or Appear.In is almost the same as meeting in person but can save a lot of travel.  It is possible to join multiple parties to the call.  If your call would disturb others, consider using headphones with a built in microphone.  Having two cameras can make it easier to use both Nowbridge and video conferencing.

6. Use cloud-based services

There are lots of services and productivity tools that can be accessed through the cloud. Consider using those that are relevant to you to make it easier to access information direct from your home computer. For example, One Note and Evernote are much better than physical notepads because you can access your notes from any device.

7. Dress for work

Consider dressing as if you are going into the office. This allows you to draw a mental distinction between when you are ‘at work’ and when you are not, even if you work from home.

8. Minimize distractions

Working remotely occasionally or often can be productive and effective, but it is important to minimize any distractions within your remote environment.

9. Remember to take breaks and keep regular hours

It is easy to get absorbed in your work when you are away from the distractions of the office so remember to take breaks from time to time.  Unless you are very busy or it suits your way of working, avoid the temptation to work outside business hours so you maintain the right balance with your other priorities.

10. Make time for exercise

When you work from home you miss out on your daily commute.  That saves time but it might mean you don’t take as many steps in the day.  Use some of the time you save by not having to commute to go for a walk or do some exercise at some time during the day.