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.

Design and Storage Tips to Make the Most of Your Small Office

Working in a small office doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice comfort and space. If you organize everything according to your needs, you’ll be able to achieve all your tasks easily. The true secret behind being successful in a small office is in using every corner you have – by giving every inch a purpose, you can transform even the smallest office into a proper work area. It will provide you with enough storage space and different zones for every part of the working process. Keep in mind that most startups were created and ran from crowded rooms or basements, so there’s no reason why you shouldn’t be able to do the same.

The color psychology

Even though you may think that plain white walls are the best solution, there’s more to that than you think. You’d be surprised with the effect that green and blue have when it comes to productivity and efficiency. These two restful colors can really boost the creativity in the office and help you tackle more tasks.

You should avoid white, beige, purple and gray because they can seriously affect your mood and even create some gloomy feelings. During working hours, you don’t want anything less than full productivity, which is why you should stay away from bright colors because they have a tendency of being disruptive.

Choose the furniture wisely

Every piece of furniture needs to be carefully picked because you’ll have no room to spare. For starters, you’ll need some comfortable office chairs and practical desks. Apart from that, if you work with clients, you’ll need an additional seating area for meetings. To avoid crowding up the space, just add two additional chairs to your desk and you’ll be able to work and have a meeting at the same time.

Working with tight space means you need to be creative when it comes to furniture, so foldable desks are all right, while those large L-shaped ones are definitely not. You don’t have room for huge furniture and everything needs to have a real purpose, not just an aesthetical one.

Think about storage

The best way to be sure you’ve utilized all the space you have is by thinking beyond the common storage space options. Many people use vertical spaces for additional storage units, and this can be a solution for small offices. Besides giving you more space to work with, these units can be a great way of keeping items close to your reach. Apart from that, you can always use your desk and add additional drawers around it which will come in handy for all your documents.

You can also use storage units to fill in the empty space beneath the window, behind the door or underneath a coffee table. It goes without saying that decluttering goes hand in hand with creating designated storage spaces. You need to throw away everything you don’t plan on using and make room for the things you’ll actually need.

Get organized

Keeping everything organized starts from your desk, and it needs to be impeccable! Create different zones to be able to keep track of every step of your working process instead of feeling lost. If you’re dealing with lots of papers, use binders to keep them separate and all in one place.

It’s inevitable to always struggle with the lack of space, so try to use the additional seating area to make phone calls, drink coffee or schedule meetings. That way, you won’t be distracted from the actual work and will always know where everything is. Also, use modern technology, start going paperless and stop piling up so many documents – maybe you don’t really need them at all and you just waste time and space on storing them.

Small spaces can be turned into the most functional and inspiring offices if you use a little bit of imagination. You don’t need a large office to be productive and finish all your tasks on time when you can do the same in a much smaller space. Being a successful entrepreneur is more than having a cool office – it’s all about finding the strength and willingness to work in any kind of conditions. Only the people who manage that end up running the most successful businesses.

Emma B. Joyce is a blogger based in Australia. She is a true home decor and DIY fanatic. Emma is interested in music and also is a big reading enthusiast. Finding new designs and patterns is her daily task. She is a regular contributor on https://smoothdecorator.com.

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.

 

Empowering Your Employees: It’s The Ultimate Investment

You’re one in a million! Few people would have the gumption and self determination to quit the rat race and carve out your own niche for yourself in the fast paced and ultra competitive world of modern business. Moreover, none could do it with the same flair, panache and expertise that you have. Yet, amazing as you are, you’d be the first to admit that you can’t do it alone. Your fabulous employees have been with you almost every step of the way. When things have been at their worst you’ve always known that you have a fantastic team that you trust and can fall back on. You respect, love and appreciate your team and you want to make sure that you keep them. But while you enjoy their respect and admiration, these alone will not prevent them from straying into the arms of your competitors the moment they stop feeling valued.

This is why employee empowerment is so important to SMEs. Fortunately, there’s a great deal you can do to make them feel more valued and empowered. Some of it is simply a matter of good practice, like ensuring a safe and pleasant working environment for them some will require some upfront investment. But while entrepreneurs tend to be a little gun shy when it comes to racking up overheads, empowering your employees is an investment that will continue to pay dividends for years as your employees take you to dizzying new heights.

Give them the flexibility they need to achieve work / life balance

Some employees will have young families. Others will care for sick or elderly relatives. Some will have disabilities which you need to bear in mind. For many reasons you may need to be a little flexible in your working practices to enable them to work remotely from home every once in a while. This can be done fairly easily and with a modest outlay thanks to solutions like Vertex who offer Cloud Computing Solutions For Businesses. This empowers your employees by giving them a cloud based desktop filled with secure copies of their emails, apps, and data to enable them to do their job anywhere. Allow your employees the opportunity to do their job well while honoring their other commitments and they’ll reward you with loyalty.

Keep your distance, yet always be there when they need you

Nobody likes bosses who are relentless micromanagers, always standing over them, scrutinizing everything that they do. Not only is micromanaging dangerous and a potential impediment to productivity, it’s rarely the best use of your time. Give your employees some space yet give them the guidance and support they need when they need it and they won’t disappoint you.

Give them a voice

A hearty “thank you” is good. A competitive incentives structure is even better. But there’s a difference between making your employees feel like valued collaborators and making them feel like well paid slaves. Make sure that they always have a forum in which to voice their ideas, suggestions and objections. This can be anything from a suggestion box to a Facebook group.

Deny them an opportunity to make their voices heard, however, and they’ll wonder how much you really value their input.

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