• Learn How to Build a Powerful Personal Brand That Will Differentiate You and Allow You To Compete in the Global Marketplace.
  • How to Build Stronger Relationships While Working Remotely

    More people are working from home than ever before. The COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent shutdowns have necessitated swift pivots to remote working globally. Even companies that were previously opposed to employees working from home have had to adapt. 

    Furthermore, it looks like remote working is here to stay. According to a recent Gartner study, around 74% of companies intend to keep at least some of their team members working from home when the pandemic is over: 

    There are many great things about working remotely. People who work from home enjoy a more flexible schedule, save time and money by avoiding the daily commute, and have more time to spend with their families. 

    However, there can also be downsides. One of the struggles reported by many remote workers is feeling a lack of connection to their colleagues and teammates. A report by Slack suggests that 45% of newly remote workers and 25% of experienced remote workers report a lowered sense of belonging when working from home:

    Since I run an ecommerce platform, my work is almost entirely online. As a result, I’ve worked with remote teams for many years and have learned some tricks and strategies to build relationships, improve team cohesion, and increase that sense of belonging for everyone.

    Use video conferencing

    It’s easier to feel connected to other people when you can see their faces and watch their body language. Therefore, avoid having all your communication take place via email. Using video conferencing software will allow everyone to feel more connected. A team meeting where everyone has their camera switched on is the best way to simulate all being in the same room together. 

    Not everyone feels comfortable being on camera, but it does get easier the more you do it! 

    Improve your written communication skills 

    It’s inevitable that remote teams will use a lot of written communication. Therefore, it’s essential that you work on your writing skills. Brush up on your spelling, grammar, and punctuation and use a grammar-checker if you need some extra pointers. Make sure that you write in full sentences, make your point clearly, and don’t waffle. Be direct, but not brusque or rude.

    Since there are no cues from tone of voice or body-language when you send an email or IM, be particularly mindful of how your words will be taken. Consider this email: 

    Joe – I need that report by 3 p.m. Tuesday. Thanks. 

    It gets the message across, but it’s likely to come across as impatient. Receiving this, “Joe” might even wonder if he has upset you in some way. Now consider this version:

    Hey Joe, hope you had a great weekend. Could I get the report by 3 p.m. Tuesday, please? Thanks for your help 🙂 

    For the sake of a few additional seconds to write a friendly greeting and sign-off (emoji optional), and to say please, the whole tone of the email has changed for the better. 

    Make time for non-work chat

    One of the joys of working in an office, and which many people miss when they first move to remote working, is “water cooler chat” – the casual conversations about non-work matters that happen throughout the day. There are a couple of different ways to build this in when you’re working from home:

    • Leave a few additional minutes at the beginning or end of each meeting. Even better, designate it as “general catch up” time in the agenda. 
    • Have an online “virtual water cooler.” This could take the form of a Slack channel, Microsoft Teams page, or WhatsApp group chat. Optionally, have a theme-of-the-week to get people talking (think pets, food, view from your window, the first place you want to go on vacation when travel bans are lifted, and so on.) 

    It might seem frivolous to spend time talking about the weather, vacations, or your dog when everyone is busy with work, but office small talk and water cooler chat really does make teams stronger and grow stronger working relationships. 

    Plan remote team-building activities 

    If the thought of yet another Zoom quiz has you rolling your eyes, there are many different options for remote team-building activities. Different options will work for different teams. Here are just a few for you to consider:

    • Skillshare. One member of the team leads a 30-minute introduction to something they’re an expert in. It doesn’t have to be work-related – I’ve seen tutorials on everything from yoga to crochet to how to make the perfect coffee shop latte at home. 
    • “How Well Do You Know Your Team?” activity. This could take the form of a true/false or “two truths and a lie” quiz. 
    • Virtual Book Club. Have everyone read the same book (or chapter, article, or short story!) and have a discussion about it. 

    Remember that team-building activities should be opt-in. Making them mandatory stresses everyone out and ruins the spirit of what is supposed to be a bit of fun. There are endless options and you know what will work for your team best, so be creative! 

    Buddy up with a coworker

    A buddy system, whether through official channels or informal, helps everyone on the team to feel like there’s at least one person they can talk to. If there is a buddying or mentoring program in place at your company, consider getting involved while you’re working remotely. If not, is there a teammate you’d like to create an informal buddy agreement with for as long as you’re working remotely? 

    It doesn’t have to be anything hugely time-consuming. Even agreeing to check in with each other once a week by phone or video call will make you both feel more connected. 

    Meet face-to-face when you can 

    Of course, meeting face-to-face is difficult if not impossible right now due to COVID-19, but it won’t be that way forever! People are going to want to see each other in person again when it’s safe to do so, so a team away day, lunch, or happy hour is likely to go down well. So if you manage a remote team, start working on planning something right now. 

    It might be difficult to meet in person if you and your teammates are on different continents, but if you’re not too geographically far-flung, or if one of you is traveling to the area where others live, make the time to get together in person. Don’t feel the need to manufacture a work reason if there isn’t one, either. Even sitting down and having a cup of coffee together for an hour has real value. 

    The importance of strong relationships 

    Working remotely doesn’t have to mean feeling lonely, isolated, or cut off from your team. Whether your team is 100% remote, or just temporarily separated by the pandemic, you should invest the time in getting to know your coworkers and building strong relationships across the distance. 

    When teammates see each other as fellow human beings first, everyone is happier at work and therefore more productive. It’s a win for employees, clients, and the company!

    Tagged with:
    Posted in People, Workplace Success

    5 Tips for Figuring Out What Makes Your Personal Brand Unique

    Personal branding is hardly new. Rulers have controlled narratives surrounding their identities for millennia. After all, they were the ones everyone heard and cared about. But today, branding power has trickled down to “ordinary” people thanks to the Internet. Now, anyone can leverage their individual statement for power, purpose, and profit—if they strategize upfront.

    The problem isn’t whether or not you have a personal brand. Suffice it to say that Google has made it inevitable that you do. However, what a Google search reveals about you may be disappointingly unexciting, showing very little of what makes you a one-of-a-kind. That’s where you have to jump in and craft the image you want based on your strengths and experiences.

    We’re all unique on certain levels. Yet most of us don’t take the time to consider what makes us stand out. And that makes it tough to build our personal brand, because we’re simply allowing the chaotic, unorganized web to do it for us. 

    If you want to capitalize on your individuality and make a name for yourself that will appeal to future clients, business partners, fellow entrepreneurs, or investors, get ready for some deep thinking. Below are several ways to identify your “secret sauce” so you can share your brand with the world.

    1. Lay out your lesser-considered expertise.

    You have a resume. Great—that’s only the tip of the iceberg, though. Chances are it’s pretty linear and illustrates only a portion of your capabilities, interests, and background. Go a step further and brainstorm everything you’ve done in your life that might impress or surprise others. 

    Maybe you’re a hardcore recreational triathlete, or perhaps you devote hours to rehabilitating injured turtles. Write down all the skills and adventures you’ve had that you take for granted, including those that you once enjoyed but no longer have time to do. Then, construct links between all those skills and experiences. You’ll have a more comprehensive picture of who you are and what makes you tick.

    2. Pinpoint and celebrate your superpowers.

    What are you really, really good at? In other words, what are you an expert at, just based on the sheer time you’ve devoted to it over your lifetime? Or, ask yourself, what is your “superpower”? If you’re not sure, think about what everyone asks you for help doing. That’s one of your innate gifts and people know it. And you probably have a dozen others that you don’t realize.

    Don’t fret if your superpower seems ordinary, because it’s possible to reframe any superpower as extraordinary. Never assume that what seems unremarkable couldn’t be an amazing superpower on which to build your brand. As a special guest mentioned in a July 2020 Brand Builders Group’s podcast, his personal branding path was much easier to map out and follow after he claimed his superpower, vulnerability.

    3. Grab hold of your inner storyteller.

    Unless you’re actually setting out to write an autobiography, you don’t necessarily have to create a literal book about the differentiators that make you stand out. However, be open to the idea of creating stories about your life. 

    Allow yourself to spend 15 minutes daily writing or recording interesting, true anecdotes. Not all the anecdotes you remember or write down will have meaning toward your branding, but many will. In fact, you might be surprised at how interesting your life has been, as well as how much a bit of reflection can help you cement why no one could replace or imitate you.

    4. Work with a branding specialist to hone the art of the humble brag.

    Getting comfortable with the humble brag can be challenging, especially if you were always taught to downplay your achievements. Yet you’ll need to figure out how to sell yourself without overdoing it if you want your personal brand to resonate with audiences. 

    Developing a personal brand strategy is tough, but coaches like those at Brand Builders Group can assist you in figuring out what to say about yourself, when to say it, and how to say it in a manner that’s never a turnoff or seems arrogant. They can also work with you to generate messaging that impresses your target audiences, rather than makes you sound like you’re trying too hard.

    5. Ask people close to you to give you the 360-degree treatment.

    Most of us have friends, family members, and colleagues we trust to give honest feedback. Ask a few of the folks in your inner circle to evaluate you from a 360-degree perspective. Their answers should be frank and focused on your special talents. What can they see you doing with your life? How would they describe you to someone who didn’t know you? What do they think you should be doing that you’re not? 

    Their responses can fill in branding gaps, particularly if you’re having trouble naming the essence of your personal brand. Make sure to listen without judging their interpretations of you. Just because you don’t see yourself in a specific light doesn’t mean others won’t. Consequently, if your best friend since childhood raves about your ability to teach anything, resist the temptation to deny it. Instead, consider if teaching could be an innate proficiency that can add dimension and depth to your unique brand.

    After you’ve delved into the aforementioned techniques to better classify what makes you stand out, you can begin narrowing your branding focus. With all the information you’ve amassed, you should easily be able to start the journey of dreaming up your ultimate branding destination, and then creating a road map to get there. Remember: You needn’t be a star today to become a bright spot for others tomorrow.

    Tagged with:
    Posted in Personal Branding

    6 Key Suggestions to Build a Successful Mentor Relationship

    If you’ve ever had a mentor in the workplace, you know that they can be an invaluable resource throughout your career. They can help you with a variety of situations like making difficult decisions in the workplace and providing long-term career advice. They are there to teach and guide you through your professional life. Anyone can benefit from having a mentor at any stage in their career. 

    What’s key to understand, though, is that maintaining a successful mentor relationship requires time, focus, and effort. Here are six helpful tips for mentees to help them build a mentor relationship that will flourish and bring them success.

    1. Define Your Goals

    As you look for a mentor, you may be surprised by how willing people are to be that person for you. However, you shouldn’t allow just anyone to be your mentor. You want to find someone who can help you achieve the goals you’ve set for yourself. Your mentor is only there to give you support and guide you toward your goals, so you need to know what your goals are before taking on a mentor. The right mentor for you should also have a compatible personality and similar style of communication, so don’t rush through finding a mentor. Take your time to find the right fit. 

    2. Understand Your Mentor

    Once you have chosen your mentor, take the time to get to know them as a person and a professional. The more you know and understand your mentor, the more you can figure out how they can help you. As you discover more about their professional background and the career paths they’ve taken, you’ll be able to ask them for more specific guidance on navigating certain career obstacles.

    3. Stay in Touch Regularly

    An effective mentorship will only grow through regular contact and effort on both your parts. Try to be consistent with your communications and follow through and schedule some regular meetings and check-ins (by phone and in person). A little message here and there can go a long way in terms of cementing a solid relationship.

    4. Prepare for Meetings

    People want to be mentors for people that are proactive, go-getters, and ambitious. It gives them an opportunity to add value and make a mark. Therefore, you should be prepared for every meeting and phone call. Before your meetings, give an outline of the topics you want to cover and be clear, so that you both know what to bring into the meeting to meet your targets. Show your eagerness to learn from them.

    5. Don’t Be Afraid to Change 

    Careers and objectives change over time, so one mentor relationship doesn’t have to follow you throughout your entire career, so there will become a time when it may be wise to change mentors. Express your gratefulness to your mentor for all they’ve contributed to your growth and leave in a way that leaves the door open for future contact. You never know how they might be able to help you in the future. 

    6. Thank Them

    A thank you means a lot for a mentor. Always be clear that you’re very appreciative of their time, advice, and support. Be clear and humble in expressing your gratitude. Take the extra time to write a handwritten note, which means a lot more to people than a quick email, and your mentor will really appreciate it. At the end of the day, they’re giving their time to your emails, calls, and meetings, and they don’t need to, so be sure to recognize that and share your appreciation.

    Tagged with: , ,
    Posted in Career Development, Career Resources

    Thinking of Leaving Your Company? 4 Reasons to Stay

    Even if you have a job that you are generally happy with, maintaining enthusiasm and motivation every day and in every single task is often not possible. Sometimes, you might be overwhelmed by the less pleasant parts of your work and wonder whether staying at your current job is worth that stress.

    However, before you decide to jump ship, take a step back to consider why you have stayed as long as you have, and why the grass may not be greener somewhere else.

    1. Your Work Has Purpose and Meaning

    A job can be just a job, especially as you figure out what actually makes you happy, but when you find that job that gives you purpose and meaning or helps you live out what you are meant to do, that’s something worth holding onto.

    Where do you find purpose and meaning in your job? It could be that you align strongly with the company’s core values. Or, it could be that you feel driven to help provide a positive experience for your customers and coworkers.

    Every employee has unique talents. If you know what your gifts and talents are, you can help create the best work environment and raise overall job satisfaction for yourself and your coworkers.

    2. Gifted and Talented Co-Workers

    “If you are the smartest person in the room, then you are in the wrong room.” ~ Confucius.

    That quote couldn’t be more relevant in a working environment. The best employees often stay because they are surrounded by top talent, which, if combined, can lead to massive creativity.

    Talented employees challenge each other to be better and more innovative. Staying in the company long-term allows you to cultivate your work ethics and identity; you discover your abilities, strengths, and possible areas of improvement.

    As a result, you can become a strong and candid mentor, soundboard, and communicator for best practices and lessons learned. Besides, talented employees are pillars of patience in times of disruption or transition.

    Working with gifted co-workers also fosters creative partnerships and friendships, which can go a long way to make the company more competitive.

    Instead of having a toxic work environment rife with gossip, creative partnerships encourage healthy competition that inspires new employees to be better.

    Ultimately, if you have great colleagues that positively challenge and encourage you to grow, stay with them. The shared learning experiences and creative partnerships that surround them wouldn’t be easy to replicate somewhere else.

    3. Recognized and Respected

    As a great employee, you probably prove your worth daily by helping to set and maintain the company’s productive rhythm, mentoring other workers, and willingly stepping up when needed.

    When you make your unique expertise and talents obvious, your contribution to the company will earn you tremendous respect and recognition at all levels of the organization, and particularly leadership.

    Other than doing things that will earn you respect from management, you should also interact well with co-workers by being helpful, reliable, mentoring others, and supporting them where and when necessary.

    Good interaction with your peers will make them recognize and respect you. When you work hard to be valued at the organization, you won’t have a reason to leave.

    You have worked hard to earn the trust and respect you deserve. If you jump ship, you’ll have to start building your reputation all over again, so that’s something to keep in mind.

    4. The Opportunity to Advance Your Career

    According to LinkedIn’s research, 94% of employees say they would stay at an organization longer if there were additional learning opportunities. The interest in career advancement is especially prominent in younger workers.

    LinkedIn’s research also unveiled that approximately 25% of millennials and Gen Z cite learning as the primary reason to be happy at work. And 27% of Gen Z and millennials quit their jobs because the company didn’t give them learning and growth opportunities.

    Prestige is powerful. Even if you don’t work in a Fortune 1000 company, chances are you want to move up the ranks in your current organizations.

    Most employers know this, which is why they offer you opportunities to advance your career – impressive job titles, noteworthy duties, a bigger office, and more. But if your current company doesn’t offer opportunities to learn and grow, you can suggest it during one-on-one interactions with your manager. Showing employee initiative might be the impetus they need to start creating a workplace that’s conducive to growth.

    Bottom Line

    On days when you feel like you just want to quit, take a deep breath, and consider the positives of working for your current company.

    You should never sell yourself short and accept less-than-fair working conditions. However, considering the pros and cons of changing jobs will help you realize that things may not be as grim as they sometimes look.

    Tagged with: , , , ,
    Posted in Career Development, Workplace Success

    Before Applying for a Job, Audit Your Online Presence and Social Media Accounts

    When you last shared a post or story on Instagram, did you consider how it might be perceived by a potential employer? If you didn’t, you might want to start in the near future. According to research done by The Manifest in April 2020, 90% of employers now factor in a candidate’s social media accounts when considering their application. A whopping 79% of surveyed employers said they have rejected candidates based on their social media content.

    With this in mind, it’s time you evaluate your online presence. Before applying for that promotion or job with a new employer, audit your social media and digital footprint to ensure your online brand is on par with your personal and professional brand.

    How to Audit Your Online Presence

    Before making any changes, you need to know what information about you is publicly available online. This starts with an online search of yourself on as many search engines as possible. But be sure to use an incognito browser to prevent your cookies from affecting the results. You want to know what a stranger would find rather than what Google thinks is most relevant based on your recent activity online. 

    Check at least the first five pages of search results and look at the news, videos, ad images tabs. 

    As you complete this audit, note your social media sites and any other web pages containing information about you that pop up in your search, and each time you see something about yourself, be it an image or webpage such as a Facebook, click into it to see where that link leads. Ask yourself what information it shows about you, and then note any changes that need to be made such as images to be taken down or account settings needing to be changed.

    Start with a straight forward search for your name and then vary the searches to include key details about you. For example, search your name and city, then your name and employer, then your name and past employer, and so on. Consider also any names you may have been known under like a nickname or a maiden name. When the name searches are done, also do a search for your email address (and any used in the past) and your cell number. 

    Don’t Forget Social Media

    Next, audit the content on your social media accounts. Take a scroll through your images and take down any that could cause offense or could be misconstrued. Likewise with your posts, comments, and likes. Is there anything that could be taken out of context or misunderstood? 

    Una Carter, a branding writer at Draft Beyond and Last Minute Writing, says that social media blurs the line between professional and private lives. “Social media essentially exists for fun and connections but its public openness means that employers can peek into our homes and friendships, too,” says Carter. “Privacy settings will protect you, but sensible content will serve you better.” 

    Look also at your profile images, bio, and personal information. These basic sections should reflect what you want your employer to know about you and not just your witty online persona. You might consider taking down accounts all together if you are no longer active on them. 

    When it comes to your personal online brand, start thinking about if what you post and share on your social media channels is consistent with the brand you are building. It could be argued that social media is more about your social and non-work-related activities and opinions, but keep in mind that a strong personal brand works across all areas of your life.

    Tagged with: , ,
    Posted in Recruitment

    The Importance of Upskilling in the Healthcare Industry

    The state of the country’s healthcare system is constantly changing. With the population continuing to grow, it’s presenting new challenges for healthcare professionals. Not only is the volume of patients needing care increasing, but the ailments and healthcare conditions are becoming more diverse.

    To adequately meet the demands of this growing industry, registered nurses require additional training to ensure the highest quality of care. Upskilling enables nurses to provide more specialized care and opens them up to a broader range of career opportunities and advancement potentials. With healthcare technology changing every day, keeping up to date is essential for success.

    Further education

    As a registered nurse with a BSN or MSN, what is the next step? There is a massive demand in the healthcare industry for upskilled nurses who are knowledgeable in modern practices and are more flexible because of their education. A Doctor of Nursing Practise is the optimal pathway for registered nurses looking to take their career to the next level and attain the highest level of nursing practice. You can even obtain an online DNP qualification without the need to stop working. Fit the course around your busy working schedule, enhance your education, and improve the health of your patients. 

    The future of healthcare is dependent on its employees

    The continued growth and success of the healthcare industry is reliant on the growth of its employees. Advanced education for healthcare professionals must become a priority to drive development. There are tremendous opportunities and career potentials for nurses who have pursued further education on top of their BSN. With new healthcare technologies and medical advancements taking place daily, educated professionals must implement them into practice. If the staff doesn’t have the training, they will continue their work with outdated methods, and the industry won’t move forward.

    In an ideal world, the whole nursing workforce would have the highest level of skill, ensuring consistency throughout all healthcare facilities. The industry is working towards that goal and encouraging current registered nurses to enroll in online programs, such as the above. Some employers will even cover the cost of this upskill. For new hires, you will take precedence if you already have a DNP or are enrolled in an online program that you can do simultaneously to your work. In the future, it may become a requirement.

    The demand

    Over 50% of the registered nurses in the United States are over 50 years old. That means that within the next 10-15 years, about 1 million nurses will be retiring. On top of that, the older nurses are less likely to proactively pursue further education, since many have been in the field for decades and aren’t concerned with upskilling. That means that the demand for nurses who have advanced qualifications is higher than ever.

    The registered nurse workforce is projected to increase by 12% by 2028, with over 200,000 new nurses needed each year to fill open positions. These positions require specially trained nurses with advanced education to ensure optimal performance and patient care.

    Providing optimal care

    When it comes to healthcare and treating patients, only the highest level of care is acceptable. A qualified and skilled healthcare professional can mean the difference between life and death when it comes to a patient. If you, as a patient, have the choice between an upskilled nurse, or one using outdated practices, there’s no question you’d choose someone who had higher qualifications.

    There are more efficient methods of providing care than there were years ago, not to mention more effective. By upskilling and taking further education, healthcare professionals can adapt to new practices that help them provide the most optimal care to patients. Patients can be treated more effectively and with improved patient outcomes.

    Hospitals that employ registered nurses who have upskilled and taken further education have experienced reductions in their mortality rates. In fact, studies have shown that even 10% more advanced-level registered nurses can reduce hospital mortality rates by 5%. As a nurse, providing the best level of care to patients is the objective of the job, and by pursuing a DNP, you can enable yourself to do that.

    Professional development

    The need for qualified and educated nurses is obvious, but beyond that, the healthcare industry needs leaders. While registered nurses have training in handling patients, further education builds additional skills in healthcare management, research, and advanced skills, which are essential in today’s complex system.

    Hospitals and healthcare facilities require staff who not only perform their duties effectively but who can also identify where things can be done better. Each facility needs leaders who can make things run more efficiently and be proactive in encouraging others to do the same. By upskilling, registered nurses will attain the skills required to make improvements in patient care and continue to develop professionally.

    There is a call for nurses who perform an increased number of duties off the floor, such as advanced executive and research positions. Qualified professionals are needed to develop transformative care models and work on a strategy based on data collection. The professional development achieved from furthering your education will allow you to pursue a variety of different pathways in your nursing career. It will open you up to opportunities to work in various sectors of healthcare and continue to grow and develop. If, after years of working on the floor, you want to try something new and move into management or an executive position, you can do so without needing to change careers entirely.

    Patient diversity

    Further education will prepare registered nurses for the modern-day challenges they will face in a system that is more diverse than ever. There is no one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to handling patients who come from different cultural, economic, religious, and social backgrounds. Understanding how to treat patients effectively requires more than anatomical knowledge and now requires a tailored approach to each individual.

    Upskilling from your registered nurse training and BSN will also give you specialized training when it comes to dealing with diverse patient demographics such as gender and age. You can choose to focus on a specific demographic and become an expert, for example, in midwifery or neonatal.

    Posted in Career Development, Career Resources, Education

    How to Manage a Global Remote Team

    We are going through changing times in almost every sphere of our lives — and the workplace is no exception. While the remote working structure used to be primarily reserved for only a handful of professions, these days, more and more companies are choosing to stay open to hiring remote personnel.

    However, both working remotely and managing a remote working team come with challenges of their own. From time management issues to miscommunication and time theft, there are lots of problems you may run into if you don’t have the right system in place. 

    In this article, we will share a few quick tips on how to collaborate effectively if your team is scattered geographically across the globe. 

    Get the Timing Right

    Time management may be one of the most obvious challenges of working remotely. However, the first thing that you will probably need to look into is getting the timing right. As working hours may not be as clear-cut when working with a remote team, this may lead to misunderstandings, miscommunication, and productivity leaks.

    With people working in different time zones and environments, organizing a remote working schedule definitely has lots of moving parts. Moreover, in addition to communicating, replying to messages and holding video chats, you and your team will also need “quiet time” to actually get things done. This is why it is generally recommended to have the following points ironed out first, before you start working with a geographically scattered team:

    • The time zones your team will be working in and how they will be managed.
    • The expected working hours for each team member and the overlapping working hours for those from different time zones.
    • Meeting times, video chat schedule, expected response time to messages, etc.
    • Vacation and travel time, weekends, personal time-off, lunch breaks, etc.
    • Time when workers should not be disturbed.

    Choose the Right Channel for the Right Message

    There are various ways in which you can communicate remotely: email, messengers, project managing apps like Slack or Trello, etc. However, if you use all of them at the same time, things can get confusing. Every member of your team may end up being bombarded with messages from every medium. Thus, the best practice here would be to assign a specific channel for a specific type of message. For instance, you can leave direct messaging in Slack for urgent communication points that require immediate attention while emails or messages in Slack’s general channel can be left for messages that can wait until the next day or even longer. 

    Plus, your choice of communication channel may depend on the specifics of your industry, the project you are working on, and more. Here are some of the questions you may need to answer:

    • What will be your team’s default mode of communication?
    • What channel should you use for what type of messages?
    • What means of communication will you use for urgent messages?
    • What’s the expected response time for messages on different channels?

    Find a Suitable Accountability Tool

    Another challenge facing remote teams is time theft. Time theft is something that occurs when a worker receives pay for the hours that they haven’t really worked. Without the ability to actually see what your teammates are doing, it may be easy to lose track of the project, which, in turn, can fuel distrust between workers and project managers. Thus, it is important to decide what project supervision methods you will use. There are lots of time tracking apps available online that make this easier. If you use a time tracker with screenshots, you will even be able to see what your teammates are working on at any given time. You may also find it useful to have a reporting structure in place, assign leaders to any given project or simply check in with your teammates at the end of each working day. Make sure you cover the following points:  

    • What progress reporting tool/time tracking app will you use?
    • Will you assign leaders to every project?
    • How will you monitor productivity?
    • How often will you check in on the progress of a project?

    Allow for Some Quiet Time

    When transitioning to working remotely, you may feel the need to constantly stay in touch with your team. However, this may end up being counter-productive. Quiet time is just as essential for effective remote working as communication. It is very important for your team to have the time to work on their assignments without being interrupted by messages and updates. It is generally recommended to assign blocks of quiet working time to every team member during which they can simply focus on their work without worrying about replying to emails or even staying online. Together with your team, answer the following questions:

    • When is the best time for your team to work on assignments?
    • When is the best time for checking in, exchanging updates, etc.?
    • How much time per working day are team members allowed to be offline?

    Create a Digital Space for Socializing

    Last but not least, acknowledge that this setup is not all about work. In a traditional office, working is mixed in with social interactions. In a remote working arrangement, this may be a little harder to do — especially if all the apps and project management tools you use are geared for professional interactions. In this case, it may be a good idea to allocate some space and time where your teammates can exchange personal updates, chat, etc. While this may not seem essential at first, having a virtual space for social rituals and celebrations can help strengthen relationships and improve professional collaboration in the long-term. You could try creating a group or a forum for your team online, establishing a dedicated space for non-work chats in one of your project management tools, choosing a social network where all of you can interact outside of working hours and more.

    While remote collaboration is often challenging, especially at the beginning, things get easier with time as you pick the right set of tools, time management practices, and supervision techniques. New technologies definitely provide a strong base for tackling remote working challenges, but the core of the solution lies in understanding the new communication principles and building the right structure for working in the digital age.

    Tagged with:
    Posted in management, People

    5 Ways to Boost Collaboration During Remote Work

    Without face-to-face interactions, collaboration can be a challenge in remote work. In its stead are virtual meetings, which The New Yorker dubs as “a diminished simulacrum of the conference-table gatherings that drive so much of corporate life.” In other words, virtual meetings cannot approximate the richness of in-person interactions. Spontaneous hallway conversations, ‘water cooler’ talk, and simply seeing another coworker are the kinds of interactions that can’t be simply replicated online. However, with the right tools and leadership, remote collaboration is possible. We’ve outlined a few ways to help:

    1. Foster teamwork

    As discussed in “4 Keys to Successful Teamwork, effective collaboration is critical to an organization’s success. Aside from increased productivity and enhanced morale, teamwork ensures all members are in sync with one another, making it easier to work together.

    In order to foster teamwork, it’s important to cultivate a culture of open communication where everyone is encouraged to say what they think, share their ideas, ask questions, and chime in their suggestions. You can best do this by institutionalizing a virtual open-door policy in which you give everyone the same platform to air out whatever is on their mind. You can, for instance, have a dedicated group chat for different topics such as suggestions, grievances, and friendly banter. Schedule regular team chats where you give the virtual floor to each team member so they can speak up and add their ideas.

    2. Leverage digital communication

    To collaborate remotely, communication is vital. Content writer April Thomas recommends using simple and straightforward means of communicating that can keep everyone connected through private messaging, news feeds, and video and audio calls.

    You have plenty of options in this regard, including Hangouts, Flock, and Slack. All three offer the aforementioned features and more, with Hangouts and Slack, in particular, being widely used. Tech Republic explains in its review of Slack that the platform helps simplify communication and increases productivity through features such as the Astrobot, which generates notifications and important announcements for everyone in the team. Hangouts, on the other hand, has seamless integration with more than 50 apps, including the entire G Suite (Google Docs, Calendar, etc.), as well as the Smart Reply feature that makes typing messages easier.

    3. Take advantage of the cloud

    You’ll also need the cloud, an internet-enabled server that your team can use as online storage. Everyone on the team can save files on the cloud, then access the same files when needed. This ensures that everyone on the team uses the same set of applications, and are then able to open (and save) the same set of files, too. Fortunately, there are a lot of tools that can enhance cloud-based collaboration, such as cloud content management tools. Box outlines how cloud content management enables seamless file sharing, storage, and organization, and even allows multiple people to work on a document both simultaneously and remotely. This allows a team to work together on the same files without the need to work in the same physical space. Needless to say, do get your team in on the cloud right away, so they can better collaborate with ease.

    4. Establish communication norms

    A Harvard Business Review post about effective remote collaboration notes that predictability is highly sought-after at work, especially in virtual collaborations. That’s because consistent behaviors serve as predictors for future actions, which can help team members understand one another better.

    To ensure predictability, you’ll need to introduce new norms that will make communication simple, clear, and straightforward. Using a solitary communication app is an example of starting new norms, and you can add more, like coming up with team-specific acronyms for digital communication, such as NNTR (No Need to Respond) and 4HR (4-Hour Response). You can also establish the tone and formality of language to be used in specific instances. For instance, write in formal language for official correspondences and emails, and then require everyone to follow suit. In contrast, allow for a level of informality in group chats, and encourage everyone to do the same. You must clarify as well when you expect everyone to be online, so the team can talk with everyone present.

    5. Socialize online

    Finally, keep in mind that teams work better when there’s a sense of community and belonging. This is why socialization and casual friendships are vital in traditional offices, as they are a way for the staff to bond, connect with one another, and reinforce their notion of a team. Remote work, however, can cut those moments off, leaving everyone feeling isolated.

    You can prevent that from happening by encouraging virtual socialization through communication platforms like Zoom, which allows multiple users to participate in a video conference. Then you can initiate game nights, or facilitate informal group chats to check in on everyone.

    Remote work may be the future, but the fundamentals of work will not change. It is therefore up to business leaders to adapt to the new norm in order to foster a productive workforce.

    Tagged with:
    Posted in management, People

    6 Tips to Succeed in a Virtual Interview

    As the impact and restrictions of coronavirus are felt worldwide, companies are having to turn to virtual interviews as a way of hiring and assessing candidates. With social distancing measures likely to be in place for some time, virtual interviews are set to become more common in the coming months. Here are six tips to help you successfully navigate your virtual interviews.

    1. Prepare for your interview

    Take some time research and prepare for your interview, by spending some time researching the company and practicing your answers. It can also be helpful to have questions prepared in advance that you might like to ask your interviewer. 

    However, although you can have your notes ready as a point of reference throughout the interview, make sure that you use them only as prompts or reminders. Don’t solely rely on them during your interview or simply read them as though they were a rehearsed script. As far as possible, you want to focus on having a natural conversation.

    2. Ensure you have all the necessary technology

    It’s essential to check that you have all the relevant technology in place and that it’s fully functional prior to your interview. Key technology to consider includes ensuring that your camera and microphone work correctly. Check if there is any software that you need to download or sign up to beforehand, such as Zoom, Skype or Goggle Hangouts. Finally, ensure that you have a stable and reliable internet connection. It’s a good idea to check that everything is working the day before your interview and then to login to your meeting about 10 minutes beforehand to complete a final check.

    3. Choose an appropriate space

    It’s important that you find a suitable and quiet place within your home to conduct your interview. 

    “Ideally, you want to find somewhere that’s free from distractions and interruptions. If there are other people living with you, make sure that you inform them that you will be having an interview, at what time and in which space to ensure that they avoid interrupting you. Another good strategy is to take a few minutes to yourself beforehand to prepare mentally,” says Katherine Penrose, a business writer at Origin Writings and Next Coursework.

    4. Prepare your interview space

    Make sure that you take some time to prepare the space itself. Consider what can be seen in the background and assess whether it’s appropriate and professional. A plain, blank wall is a good choice as it helps interviewers to focus and avoids distractions. Similarly, try to avoid sitting with a window behind you as this can make it difficult for you to be seen clearly. Instead, try to put a light behind your laptop, which will help to illuminate your face more clearly.

    5. Wear a professional outfit

    You want to make a good first impression, so make sure that you dress professionally for your interview. Just as you would for a face-to-face interview, ensure that you wear an outfit which is appropriate.

    “It can be tempting to think that you don’t need to dress as formally for a virtual interview. However, by dressing professionally, you instantly communicate that you are excited and professional in your attitude towards your work. It can also help you to mentally prepare for the interview and even make you feel more confident,” explains Roger Nolan, a marketer at PhD Kingdom and AcademicBrits.

    6. Be professional, but authentic 

    Body language and facial expressions are extremely useful and powerful tools to use during your interview. As virtual interviews restrict the range of body language you can communicate, be sure to engage in some relevant small talk at the start of the interview and to greet your interviewer in a positive, professional and confident manner, such as through a wave. Ensure that you maintain good eye contact, show your enthusiasm throughout your interview and allow your personality to shine through.

    Treat a virtual interview as you would a face-to-face one. Remember to maintain your professionalism at all times, both in your communication and presentation. Give yourself the best possible chance of success by spending time doing some research, preparing your interview space and ensuring that you have all the required tech in place and functioning ahead of the interview.

    Posted in Interview, Job Search

    8 Ways to Stay Focused and Productive This Summer

    Summer is the season to get outdoors, go on vacation, and bask in the sunlight. But it’s also a season of distractions. 

    Fortunately, you don’t have to choose between having fun and working hard this summer. The key is to chip away at your goals without getting lost in them. Build fun into your summer with outdoor activities you enjoy, such as exercising or working in the garden.

    Here are some tips for balancing summer fun with focused work:

    1. Get Fit

    Energy begets energy. Fitness should be your first priority this summer because it creates momentum for work, as well as personal projects.

    When the weather is hot, it’s important to find ways to exercise safely. Add a jog to your morning routine. Invest in a Tower ebike, which can help you cruise the hills without overheating. Get an indoor gym membership. 

    Exercise doesn’t just boost your productivity, either. Getting fit generates a sense of pride, leads to lower medical bills, and can be incredibly fun. 

    2. Set Seasonal Goals

    Summertime is no exception: It’s important to set goals if you want to have a productive season.

    Without goals to work toward, you risk feeling like you wasted your summer. Come September, you’ll wish you’d dedicated yourself to something more than lazy afternoons. 

    Your goals are your own, of course. But given that the weather is nice and classes are out, you might:

    • Continue your personal development by completing an online course or certificate.
    • Finish a yard project you’ve been putting off.
    • Plan a summer vacation for the whole family.
    • Develop an outdoor hobby, such as fishing or sailing.
    • Grow healthy produce in your garden.

    3. Take Plenty of Time Off

    It may seem counterproductive to plan for time off from work. But it’s critical to give yourself time to recharge and have fun, especially in summer.

    With your seasonal goals in mind, plan out at least one multi-day break from work. This could be as simple as taking a couple of long weekends to make progress on your home projects or as extravagant as a two-week vacation on a Caribbean island.

    By building time into your schedule to not work, you give yourself permission to enjoy the summer. Not only can this cut your stress levels, but it also creates a sense of motivation. You’ll be so excited about your free time that you’ll press the gas pedal at work. And once you get back from your vacation, you’ll be even more productive than you were before. 

    4. Stay Cool

    Focused work requires an environment that’s conducive to productivity. During the summer months, the primary environmental issue is temperature.

    If you can, work somewhere with air conditioning. No number of small fans can combat the combination of body heat and 90-degree weather in an office. The bump to your electric bill is worth the boost you’ll see in your productivity.

    If not, you’ll need to get creative. Consider moving your workday up so you don’t have to toil in the heat of the day. Keep your ice maker and fridge stocked with your favorite beverages. Wear clothes that won’t stick to you, even if you get a little sweaty. 

    5. Let in Some Sun 

    If you work in an office environment, you might feel like you’re wasting your summer indoors. Invite summer into your workspace by letting in natural light. 

    Letting in sunlight also has health benefits. Sunlight encourages the body to produce more vitamin D, which can protect against inflammation, lower your blood pressure, and improve brain function. 

    Move your desk closer to a window, or at least open the blinds to let more light in. If those aren’t good options, you can always take a walk outdoors when you’re on break.

    Finally, check with your co-workers. How would they feel about holding meetings outdoors? Would they want to join you for lunch at the picnic table?

    6. Enjoy the Long Afternoons

    In the summer, it doesn’t get dark until 9 p.m. or later. Why not take advantage of that time?

    There are dozens of ways to do it, including: 

    • Inviting your co-workers out for a happy hour on a patio. 
    • Taking a short hike with your spouse.
    • Taking the kids for a swim.
    • Making dinner on the grill.
    • Volunteering outdoors, such as highway litter pickup. 

    One word of warning: Don’t forget the sunscreen. During the summer months, you can get burned, even around dinnertime. 

    7. Eat Lightly

    When it’s hot out, who wants to eat a heavy, greasy meal? Sluggishness and heartburn are sure to follow.

    Look through your meal plan. Limit your meat consumption to one meal per day. Eat out only when you have no other option, such as on a road trip. Avoid starchy foods, and cut fatty snacks entirely.

    What should you eat instead? Cold soups, fruit salads, and bean dishes. You’ll feel full while consuming fewer calories, avoid heating up the house by cooking, and make clean-up easier. 

    8. Go to Bed Early

    If you want to make the most of summer days, it’s best to go to bed early. That way, you can get some sun in the morning, even if you have to work during the day. 

    Challenge yourself: Move your alarm back an hour. Spend two weeks getting accustomed to your new wake-up time, then do it again. Do your morning routine before the sunrise so you can spend a little time relaxing outdoors before you have to head to the office. 

    If you’re struggling, check your screen habits. The blue light produced by your smartphone and TV screens suppresses melatonin, which tells the body it’s time to rest. Put down your devices at least an hour before bed, and keep all screens out of the bedroom. Encourage your partner to do the same. 

    Focus and fun don’t have to be an either-or decision. Get the best of both worlds this season by setting goals, working hard, and then cutting free for those long summer nights.

    Tagged with: ,
    Posted in entrepreneurship
    Content Partners
    As Seen In