First steps to remote working

It can be daunting going “office-free”, but it can also be liberating. You take control of your work life and make it work for you.

  1. Working from home doesn’t necessarily mean working from home, if you feel that you would be more productive at your local library, in a co-working space, in the garden, sitting in your local coffee shop or wherever, you’re free to do that, providing that you are not beyond reach if your work involves regular contact with a manager or colleagues.
  2. Make sure that you’ve got everything you need to do your job – computer/laptop, WiFi, notepads, a headset with a decent microphone if you’ll be doing a lot of conference calls etc., any software or VPN access that you might need.
  3. Be ready for distractions – at least when you first start working from home it can be hard to focus on your work. Whether the distraction is your kids, pets, neighbours mowing the lawn or the availability of a television…try not to let these take over your working day and treat it as if it were a normal day in the office.
  4. Get dressed for work – embrace the opportunity to wear more comfortable/casual clothes but make an effort to actually get dressed and if you’re going to be taking part in conference video calls, make an effort to look presentable.
  5. Set your hours and stick to them – it can be easy to overwork when you don’t have to take your regular commute home at the end of the working day but it’s important to put these boundaries in place from the outset, you can always look at changing them later.
  6. Invest in a proper home-working area – if you don’t have a home office, consider buying a desk and setting it up to work from, we guarantee you’ll find it harder to concentrate in the long run if you work from your bed or kitchen table.
  7. Try different tools and software and see what works for you – there are countless apps and tools out there, we’ve written about some of our favourites here, but see what works for you (and your employer).
  8. Stay connected with your team – however you do it, via daily or weekly catch ups or software like Nowbridge, it can get lonely working from home without the ongoing buzz that happens in an office, so stay connected.

 

How to manage a remote team

With the increase in remote working and the availability of remote job,  it can seem daunting to take the leap towards managing your own remote team. We’ve got you covered with some suggestions on how to make the transition and process a bit easier.

  1. Schedule a daily huddle – whether you use Google Hangouts, Skype, JoinMe or something similar, gathering the team together and running through what was achieved yesterday and the goals for today is really effective at keeping the team together.
  2. Use a platform that you can track projects/productivity that updates in real time – these are a fantastic idea for both remote and in-house teams as you are able to track the goals and progress.
  3. Check in regularly – communication is key and just as you might go and speak to one of your in-house colleagues for an update on a project, do this with your remote colleagues too.
  4. Set clear expectations for both the individuals and the team – individuals need enough work to stay busy and the team needs achievable goals to aim for. This helps everyone to feel involved and be accountable for their contributions.
  5. Make sure your remote worker still feel part of the team – make an effort to build rapport with every member of your team, include some small talk at the beginning or end of a conversation and get to know them, like you would with in-house staff.
  6. Utilize video as much as possible for catch ups –  more than half of human communication is non-verbal so having conversations with your team on video call will tell you a lot more about what’s going on than just speaking on the phone.
  7. Remember about their career progression – ensure that your remote workers make progress on their goals and understand their options for progression in the company and in their careers.
  8. Never cancel your one-on-ones – pick a regular time that works for both of you, obviously sometimes things come up that can’t be avoided but make sure you reschedule it for the next convenient time, don’t cancel it.

The main thing priority when managing a remote team is to ensure that that’s what you’re doing – managing a team.

Our software helps remote workers to stay a part of the team. By sending live still images every few seconds, Nowbridge shows you when your team are there. You can send instant chat messages, leave voice messages, initiate Skype calls and make it clear when you’re at work and when you’ve finished for the day. Try it today, it’s free and easy to use!

10 tips for staying sane when you work from home

Although working from home is pretty great, it can be tough to stay motivated. Here are our top ten tips for keeping sane and staying motivated.

  1. Get dressed, have a shower and prepare for work like you would usually.
  2. Make a list of daily tasks and make sure you do them, block out time in your calendar if you need to discourage colleagues from putting in too many meetings or calls.
  3. Try and stay out of the kitchen – we know it can be tempting to snack constantly when you work from home but try to have the discipline to resist, just as you’re being disciplined in everything else.
  4. Plan some social interaction – this is an important one, it can be lonely working from home. Whether it’s evening exercises, standing lunch or coffee dates with friends, do something.
  5. Change your environment – if you find yourself going a bit stir crazy, it can be a good idea to take your laptop, phone and work to a local coffee shop or a co-working space.
  6. Take regular breaks – either by doing the above, getting up and making a cup of tea or coffee, doing some laundry, taking the dog for a walk etc. If you find it hard to do these, you could set a timer for yourself.
  7. Work your way – if you like to listen to the radio or have the television on in the background or whatever it is, if that helps you work, do it. Whatever helps you work more productively, do it!
  8. Make sure you have the tools you need – a decent WiFi connection capable of video conferencing and file sending/downloading, a good pair of noise-cancelling headphones and potentially a decent microphone with a mute button or a headset – even better.
  9. Stay in touch with your co-workers and boss throughout the day – there are so many tools available to help you stay connected *cough* like Nowbridge *coughand other productivity tools like Trello or Asana. Stay part of the team!
  10. When your working day is finished, stop working – this is one of those easier said than done things…but it’s important. Whether you work 9-5 or you’ve found that you’re more productive working in the afternoon, you need to keep the boundaries between your work life and your home life.

We hope you found these useful! Have we missed anything? Let us know!

The shift towards remote working

 

We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again. Remote working is on the up and up, and we can’t be happier. Being ‘self employed’ or ‘freelance’ no longer implies being between jobs or out of work. Instead, it’s becoming a sort of, badge of honor nowadays, with lots of people seeing the move as brave.

As more and more companies embrace remote working, there is more work available for people who decide to move away from the office. So really, it’s no wonder that with the increase in public transport costs and the stress of commuting, the pull to work remotely is getting stronger.

We created our software because as great as remote working can be, for productivity, for your stress levels and for the environment, it sure can be lonely sometimes. When you’re working in an office, you have ongoing micro-interactions with people without often even realising it. Even if you can just see the top of someone’s head from your desk or hear them answer the phone, you know that they’re there. Whereas when you’re working remotely, you really don’t have any way of knowing whether someone is available. Yes, you can login to Skype or Gmail chat, if your company use those, but those green “online” dots aren’t always accurate.

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Nowbridge bridges the gap between staff working remotely and in 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. 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.

Also, it’s free to download and easy to use! Have you tried it yet?

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!