Staying Fit And Productive When You Work From Home

Working from home has an astonishing potential for increasing productivity, with telecommuters more likely to go above and beyond expectations, while taking shorter breaks and fewer sick days. Those who work from home claim that they find it easier to concentrate and have more energy throughout the workday. However, getting the most out of your time requires you to come up with a schedule and set of practices that allow for the greatest output. Staying fit and healthy ensure that you retain the mental energy required to excel, whether as an employee or when running your own business.

When and how to take breaks

At a traditional office job, you may be assigned a set time to take a break. This could be a legal requirement or an attempt by your boss to boost productivity. At home, it can be tempting to skip breaks and get through everything as quickly as possible. However, this will ultimately lead to you working more slowly.

Regular breaks help the brain to focus when in work mode. You should ideally take a 5-10 minute break each hour. During this time, give your eyes a rest by looking at something in the distance and get your blood flowing with some moderate exercise. You’ll return to work refreshed and energized.

Maintaining energy levels

Staying healthy, while a good aim in itself, is essential for productivity. Start the day right with a healthy breakfast. Oats, fruit and low-fat proteins like eggs or yogurts offer slow release energy, which will keep you feeling full throughout the day so that you can spend less time eating and more time focusing on business. Tiredness slows down your reaction speed and ability to concentrate on and complete tasks, so a trip to the coffee machine for a cup of joe before you sit down to work is recommended.

Throughout the workday, choose healthy snacks such as seeds, nuts, protein bars, and fruit. This will leave you feeling full and won’t lead to a crash in energy levels later on in the way that sugary snacks do. Also be sure to keep a bottle of water on your desk, as hydration aids concentration and reduces fatigue.

Protecting your posture

Sitting for hours at a time isn’t good for your health and certainly isn’t what humans evolved for. Invest in an ergonomic chair and desk so that you aren’t putting any strain on your body as you work. You should consider working while standing up if you feel that you are sitting for too long at a time. When you are in brainstorming mode, walk around your house to keep muscles moving and blood flowing. This will stimulate your creative juices and prevent the onset of bodily aches and pains.

Working from home is the best thing you can do for productivity, but it requires some thought and discipline. Start the day right with a morning routine that involves a healthy breakfast, then take regular breaks throughout the day. Moderate exercise keeps energy levels high and prevents muscular pain which can harm productivity. Follow these tips to reach your potential each and every day.

Guest Author, Jenny Holt, is a former HR executive turned freelance writer, who now spends more time with her young family and ageing, but ever eager Labrador, Rover.

Keeping Remote Employees Happy And Productive

Keeping your online team happy, engaged, and productive doesn’t have to be difficult. In fact, two-thirds of managers say their employees actually become more productive once they go remote, SurePayroll reveals. Being in control of their own schedule — and eliminating the daily commute — gives remote employees more time and flexibility, which increases motivation and productivity. However, remote teams still require conscientious management. You want them to feel valued and part of the team even though they’re not on-site. With the following tips, you can cultivate a happy, engaged, and successful online team.

Communicate effectively

Communication is key in every aspect of business — and online teams are no exception. In fact, poor communication is one of the prime reasons employees get frustrated in their jobs. It also leads to feelings of isolation which means employees are less likely to contribute to the team. The solution? Effective communication channels. Let your team know which situations require video chats or phone calls and which situations can be dealt with via online chat. Email is still useful, but not always ideal as messages can be missed. With online chat, team members can instantly ask questions and get answers if they need guidance. This is great for productivity since they’re able to continue with their work right away rather than having to hang around for an email response.  

Define expectations and goals

Although they’re not in the same building as you, remote employees need the same amount of guidance and direction as you give you regular ones. In order to encourage your online team to work efficiently and independently, you need to be clear on the specifics of their working arrangement. Defining the expectations you have for your remote team — preferably with them being mutually agreed upon — will help your employees stay on track with their work. This also includes explaining your mission and goals for the company. Your remote team will therefore feel included in the company culture, but be comfortable and efficient working elsewhere.

Recognize great work

If your remote team does great work, make sure it doesn’t go unnoticed! Failing to give positive feedback where due can leave employees feeling undervalued and even increase your turnover risk. Appreciating exceptional work can motivate your team to maintain that standard. You can also use bonuses or raises as an incentive. It can help to make the recognition public on company-wide channels, so your other employees are informed about the valuable work the remote team does each day. Your online team will then continue confident their hard work is going noticed and appreciated.

A productive online team can be a huge asset to your business, so make sure you take the steps to make yours the best it can be. While creating an engaged and motivated group of remote employees can be a challenge, once you put the above appropriate systems into place, it’s more than possible to achieve. Once you get into the swing of things, you’ll soon have a motivated, engaged, and high-functioning remote team.

Guest Author, Jenny Holt, is a former HR executive turned freelance writer, who now spends more time with her young family and ageing, but ever eager Labrador, Rover.

Smart Space Management: Transform Your Home into a Proper Working Environment

Home trumps work any day of the week. So, logically a home office has more benefits than any other working environment. There is no commuting, no boss watching your every move, and balancing professional and private life is a breeze. Setting up an office at home may seem difficult, but with careful planning and research, you can save up money, increase productivity, and in the long run, be much happier with your job.

Things to Consider

When deciding the place of your future home office there are a couple of things worth considering. The space needs to be isolated from the rest of the home, and generally in a less active part of the house. This will significantly minimize distractions, since you want to focus on your job, and separate home and work hours. Also, your personal requirements and affiliations, as well as the nature of your work will guide the decision making process. So, creating a workshop next to the dining room, probably wouldn’t be the best solution, or having the office next to the laundry room.

Setting up Shop

Conserve space by changing the purpose of less frequently used rooms in the house and turn them into your home office. Storage rooms like the attic, basement, and garage can be easily transformed into a spacious, insulated working environment. Another way to go is to make a dual-purpose room. An extra guest room, and even the dining room are great due to their infrequent use. And by making small adjustments to the furniture, like adding pull-out couch, or getting a larger dining room table, you can have re-furbish the room to accommodate all your needs. Also, it is possible to find appropriate appliances online, like small fridge, which can complete the office design.

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Office Comfort

Comfort is the main idea behind a stay-at-home office. Consider that you might put in long hours in front of the desk, so buy a chair that is enjoyable, but also drives you to work. Depending on the work, a desk should inspire and be able to handle all the tools of your trade (computer, printer, books, paper, etc.). Apart from being comfortable, your furniture should also be ergonomic. The chair should support your back, and have enough height, so your arms are parallel to the desk. And by borrowing, buying secondhand or re-purposing furniture, you can cut costs and invest in other aspects of your business.

feng shui office desk Luxury Ways To Feng Shui Your Desk

Light up Work

Your office should also have plenty of light. A well-lit room will make for an efficient working environment that is motivational, but also healthy. Utilize natural light sources as much as possible, whenever possible. By positioning the desk next to the window, so that the light hits you from the right-hand side, you will get the greatest amount of light, decrease shadows on your work area, and tone down outside distractions. Although natural light is great, it is in short supply. Although many rooms have an overhead light, a desk lamp should be an essential at your work station. Combining it with other light sources will mean that your work space is always well-lit and you don’t exert your eyes.

Break Time

Depending on space, create a relaxing comfy zone within the office. This will enable you to think, research, read, and plan, when you are not actively working. The corner will also provide a great break area. Get yourself a comfy armchair, or a couch, and soft rug will feel great on your feet when you take your shoes off. You should also include a lamp and a coffee table for those serene coffee breaks.

Office Storage

Storage is an issue with any office, so be sure to get creative and organized. Big stacks of paper, files, and office supplies, are not very inspirational, and the best way to removed them from sight is to put them into a closet. Another great trick to minimize office clutter is to store the non-essentials in a different room, such as a basement. On the other hand, keep the essential documents near you, by putting up shelves and storing them there.

In the end, the home office tops a regular cubical any day, so make it an enjoyable and motivational working area. And if you do it right, you will save money and nerves, manage your own hours, and ultimately be your own boss, working from the comfort of your own home.

Tracey Clayton is a working mom of three girls, passionate about traveling, marketing and everything tech related. Her motto is: “Live the life you love; love the life you live.”

 

 

Ways Almost Every Business Owner Can Save Money

If you were to take a close look at just about any business, you would probably find ways that the business could save a ton of money. Businesses both big and small should be concerned with saving money. Even if you have a steady flow of cash coming in, you never know when you might go through a dry spell. Plus, the money you could be saving in certain areas could be put to better use in other areas. It makes sense to look at the places you can save money and then work towards them.

Here are some pointers that just about every business owner can use to save money:

Becoming More Eco Friendly

Becoming a more eco friendly business reduces the impact you have on the environment, and makes you more attractive to clients who are concerned with making the environment a better place, too. You’ll also save a lot of money, even if you take baby steps to making your business more eco friendly. Here are some ideas you can use to begin working towards a more eco friendly business right now:

  • Cut back on paper before going completely paperless
  • Buy from eco friendly, sustainable companies. You can get recycled paper and ink, for example.
  • Only use sustainable product packaging
  • Swap your light bulbs for more eco friendly light bulbs
  • Use more natural light rather than artificial light
  • Ensure everything is switched off before leaving the workplace at night

The above are just a few suggestions that will help you to become a more sustainable business.

Getting Rid Of Dead Weight

It might seem harsh, but you may have some dead weight in your business that you need to let go of before you can save money and move forward. Of course you should give people a chance to improve (plus this is what the law will state in most places), but if you have meetings and give written warnings and nothing improves, you may have to let employees go. Finding employees that are engaged and passionate about the work is important, but remember that your own leadership skills make a big difference too.

Creating Better Relationships With Suppliers

Creating better relationships with your suppliers is always a great way to save money. Whether you need cone bottom tanks for your warehouse or you’re looking for companies to provide you with stock to re-sell, creating relationships is the best way to save money.

Making Virtual/Temporary Hires

You don’t always need to hire a brand new employee when you have a lot of work on. Virtual and temporary hires can be just as effective, less expensive, and you have fewer responsibilities with them.

Allow Workers To Work From Home

Have you considered allowing employees to work from home every now and again? Not only is this more eco friendly, as you aren’t powering a whole office or getting your employees to drive into work, you’re going to save money on your overheads and other costs associated with working. It could even be a bonus for employees and make them more loyal to you.

Flex time: The work perk employees can’t get enough of

There are all sorts of things you want more of at work. You might want more pay (of course!) and maybe more experience. Maybe you even want more chances to manage others and move your way up in the company. But we’re diverse in what we want—most of the time. The one thing that many of us are not diverse in in wanting? Flex time. Turns out the majority of us just want it, period. We want to be able to set hours that aren’t standard 9 to 5. We want to be able to work at home, maybe. And we want the freedom to have work-life balance if it’s important to us.

 While the desire for flex time is more important to more employees, then the reasons are diverse. Some people don’t enjoy the politics that seem to come with an office culture. Some simply don’t like their commute. What else? This graphic gives some thoughts.

 

Checklist for Starting Your Home-Based Business

Starting a home-based business can fill you with a full range of emotions. On one hand, you may be thrilled to get the chance to be your own boss and work from home, but you may also feel intimidated or even fearful about the unknown aspects of the process. While there are no guarantees that your venture will turn into a profitable success, thinking about a few important points up-front can help you to better prepare yourself and your home for the days ahead.

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Image credit: https://pixabay.com/en/write-plan-business-startup-593333/

Assess Your Qualities

As amazing as working from home and running your own business can seem, you need to be honest with yourself about your traits, work habits and abilities. Not everyone who wants to have a home-based business has what it takes to succeed. Spend ample time honestly answering these questions before you take any further action to launch your business:

  • How much money can I afford to invest?
  • How much time and energy can I invest?
  • Will my family and friends be supportive?
  • Are my goals realistic?
  • Do I think I can realistically run a successful business from home?
  • How will my strengths and weaknesses affect my home-based business?
  • Is there space in my home to set up a dedicated office area?
  • How will a home-based business impact family life?

In addition to analyzing honest answers for these questions, take a closer look at your skills and personality traits. The successful home-based business owner has personal drive, is self-motivated and is very disciplined. In addition, this person has exceptional time management skills, loves to work independently, enjoys solving problems and is eager to continue learning new things. Being tech savvy is also a beneficial trait for entrepreneurs who work at home.

Take Care of Legalities

After you have ensured that you have what it takes to be successful with your venture, you should reach out to a business lawyer to address the legal aspects associated with running your own business.

You will need to register your business name and determine what entity you will run the business as. For example, will you start a partnership, a corporation or another type of legal entity? Your lawyer may also help you to walk through the steps required to obtain a business license and will review business compliance requirements with you personally.

Prepare Your Workspace

Now that you have taken care of the necessary up-front work for your home-based business, you can start setting up your home office. Select a workspace carefully. In most cases, choosing a removed area of the home that is quiet and that can be dedicated entirely to your business activities is smart. However, if clients will visit your home office, setting up an office in the front of the house is a better idea.

After you have decided where to set up an office, make a list of all of the equipment, supplies and furnishings that you will need. Properly budget for these items, and measure the space so that you ensure everything fits properly. To save money, you may be able to buy some items on consignment or used. However, all items should be high-quality and functional. For example, you need to have a good task chair that is comfortable to sit in for long hours each day, and you need a fast computer that meets your requirements. Lighting is also a critical element to pay attention to. Your home office ideally will have a combination of task, ambient and accent lighting.

Remember to spend ample time exploring options for technology, equipment, supplies and more before you make any buying decisions.

Analyze Your Finances

In many cases, a home-based business owner’s personal finances will be directly affected by business activities. You must understand your personal financial situation. Running a business out of your home is a cost-effective way to keep overhead low while you are starting out, but there are plenty of other expenses that will affect your financial situation. This includes one-time expenses, such as office equipment and furnishings. It also includes recurring costs, such as accounting fees, insurance, supplies and more.

Estimate how long you think it will realistically take you to break even and to turn a profit. You should have enough personal funds available to make ends meet until your business produces enough income to support your personal lifestyle. If not, consider lining up funding through a partnership, a loan or another financing option.

Create Balance Between Work and Family

A home-based business can affect the entire family in different ways. One area of the home may be off-limits to your family members. Your family members must be respectful of your work time and remain as quiet as possible while you are working.

Try to set up a home office and a regular work schedule that decreases the impact on your loved ones. You may also discuss the business and your needs with your family members. By doing so, you could identify and address concerns up-front.

In the End

Remember that these are only a few of the many factors that require your attention before launching a business. For example, you also should prepare a thoughtful business plan, crunch numbers related to business operations and more. Your preparation in each of these areas can help you to lay the groundwork for a truly successful home-based business.

Author Bio: Joe Peters is a Baltimore-based freelance writer and an ultimate tech enthusiast. When he is not working his magic as a marketing consultant, Joe enjoys spending time with his family, reading about latest tech gadgets and binge-watching his favorite TV shows. You can reach him @bmorepeters 

How to Launch a Startup From Your Home Office

Home offices used to be an anomaly. Today, they are quite common. Constant development in tech and the digital economy has created many remote jobs. Professionals can work online, full-time or part-time, from any location.

Startup at Home

What was once a home study has now developed into a functional office. Working from home makes sense: low expenses, no commuting, no dress code and in many cases, flexible working hours.

Many startup businesses have discovered the perfect HQ location within the comfort of their founder’s home. But, it’s not something you can do in one click. Launching a startup from your home office is a step-by-step process.

Let’s walk through the basics. Learn about each step you have to take, and don’t any shortcuts, because that can make or break your business.

To understand your business, know your clients

What sort of startup are you launching? Are you leading a team of app developers, producing a new gadget, or offering creative services? More importantly, who are your clients?

Knowing your clients base is crucial. It defines the nature of your startup as much as the type of business that you conduct. You need to know who you are addressing.

Find out as much as you can about the type of clients you are targeting. Age, income, location shopping habits, online habits – learn the demographics of your client base. If you are presenting your startup to the wrong people, there’s no way you can become profitable.

One of the best ways to discover the characteristics of your clients is to look at your competition. Those businesses who are closely related to your own.

Who are their clients? They are most likely the same people who would be your clients. Find out what they love about your competitors, and what they wish was better. That way, you can gain a market advantage from the get-go.

Plan out everything. Create a business strategy

Set your goals in advance. Not just your ultimate goal, but smaller ones you need to achieve on your way to your end goal. No startup can reach its maximum right off the bat, which is why a growth plan is necessary.

What should you do on the day of your launch? How does your startup have to look like after a month, or two months in business? To take the pressure off, consider each step an achievement you have to unlock, just like in a video game.

These can be small tasks that have to be completed, or bigger assignments. Each time you ‘unlock’ an achievement, you can move forward. By using this method, your startup will have a stable growth.

Get the right people for the job

Your startup needs a team. You need to get the right people on board. Depending on the size of your office, you could have others working at your side, a remote team, or a combination of both. Either way, you’ll need to recruit team members.

Recruiting can be difficult process. Searching for reliable freelancers who are willing to work in a remote team is a good idea. Most likely, you’ll need developers, but also content writers, marketers, accountants and more.

Luckily, the Internet has made recruiting employees much easier. Sites (and their accompanying apps) like Guru or LinkedIn can help you find the perfect people. Additionally, you can conduct your search on social networks, specialized forums or even larger communities, such as Reddit.

This has to be emphasized: Your screening process has to be thorough. Interview each potential candidate and test their skills. Never hire anyone you can’t completely trust. Your team has to care  about your startup as much as you do.

Your home office has to be like a corporate office

Sure, you’ve heard success stories about businesses that were started from someone’s basement or attic. But, that probably won’t work today, especially for startups who face incredible competition.

If you are launching a startup from your home office, it’s a given that your office is fully equipped and functional. That means you have already found the best spot in your home for an office, and it is in use.

It has everything an office needs: gadgets, IT support,  a reliable source of energy plenty of light. Can it host more people than just you?

Even if it is a small space, big enough for you and maybe one or two associates, it still has to function like a corporate office. No distractions from the rest of your home! Yes, a home office is a more relaxed setting, but it has to be productive.

Apart from typical business tasks, you still have to manage the appearance of your office. Don’t allow clutter to dominate your work space. Clean up, do regular maintenance, make sure everything is tidy.

Make sure you have the right apps and software

We’re talking about software solutions and apps. These days, you can find an app for any task. Those team members we were talking about earlier? Some of them can be replaced by apps. Additionally, you can also find an app that can help you manage a remote team.

Accounting? There’s an app for that. It’s up to you and your budget to decide whether you need an app, or a hired professional. But, there is much more that you can do with the help of apps.

Talk to your team with an app like Slack or Trello, share and save files with an app like Dropbox. You can manage your social media accounts with HootSuite, and handle electronic documents with PandaDoc.

But, don’t overuse them. Get the ones that you think are necessary, based on the features of your startup.

Build a landing page for your startup

Every business – even freelancer working solo – needs a landing page. It’s your online starting point. And it has to be designed in a way that will hook first-time visitors into staying on your page and learning more about your startup.

Remember, when browsing online, people have a very short attention span of only ten seconds or so. That’s the time you have to showcase what your startup is about. Your landing page has to explain everything instantly, but also look professional.

There are many ready-made web design services that offer great landing pages. If that’s your industry, you can design one yourself. Or, if your budget allows, hire skilled web designers to deliver what you need.

Present your business in a couple of words and pin that to the top of your page. Use keywords you want associated with your startup. Make sure your contact options are clearly visible to visitors. Everything has to be one click away: blog, more info, your about section and social media pages. Keep it simple and functional.

Maximize social media presence for better exposure

How can your potential customers find you if they don’t see you on social networks like Facebook, Twitter or Instagram? Having a landing page is necessary, but so are social media profiles.

Unlike landing pages, social media profiles need a more personal approach. This is where you need to showcase your startup as if it had a personality of its own. Ask yourself: If my startup was a person, what sort of personality would it have?

Based on that, create a ‘voice’ for your startup. A voice you want to be heard across social networks. A personality that will communicate with fans and followers. Interact with your audience, ask for feedback, participate in discussions.

People love feeling as if they are a part of something, and they react to brands that have online personalities. That’s what you need to utilize. Remember – you need to be consistent. Post content on social media based on a previously determined schedule. You have to be in your fans’ newsfeed regularly.

Ready? Go!

What started as simply working from your home office has grown into a potential startup. You don’t think you have what it takes? Take it one step at a time, as presented here, and you’ll discover that you too can launch a successful startup from your home office.

Author byline:

Josh McAllister is a freelance technology journalist with years of experience in the IT sector. He is passionate about helping small business owners understand how technology can save them time and money. Find him on Twitter @josh8mcallister