If you haven’t already gone back to the office for your work duties, are you ready to do so? Research shows that employers and employees have very different answers to this question. Why is this the case?
In a zero trust network, you trust nobody, no matter how long they have been around or how invested they are in your organization’s future. Everyone’s identity on your network must be verified, a concept that has been quite helpful in limiting data breaches. Today, we are going to discuss the National Institute of Standards and Technology’s definition of zero trust and what they recommend to businesses wishing to implement it.
Tip #1 – Get a Workspace Sometimes it is hard to rearrange your life, but it is much easier to rearrange your home. If you are being asked to work from home, or if your kids are going to be telelearning or doing a hybrid approach like many schools are doing these days, a space to do work is crucial. It gets a little hairy when online school and work overlap, but most people’s homes are filled to the brim with leisure space. You’ll need a dedicated workspace if you want to get anything done. Tip #2 – Prepare Like You Always Would Just because you aren’t going to leave the house doesn’t mean you should act like you aren’t. A great way to get yourself in a productive frame of mind is to get up and go through your routine like you would if you were leaving all day. Sure, your cat will still try to sleep on your desk, but getting in the right frame of mind is really important if you want to be your best during the workday. Tip #3 – Limit Your Social Media Use It’s completely understandable that when you are home that you would want to engage with people via social media. The problem is that you are expected to be working or doing schoolwork and social media is a never ending distraction. To facilitate this change, it is a good idea to remove social media shortcuts from your work browser or use a whole other browser for work. You can also choose to use an incognito window for work so that you don’t have as easy of access to your social accounts. Tip #4 – Understand When You are Most Productive Even when you were working from the office or going to school, you didn’t spend all day focused on your work. Most people don’t work like that. The ones that claim to typically sign the checks. You need to know when you are most effective and buckle down during those times. Save your most difficult tasks for times when you are at your best and your workday will get easier. Tip #5 – Make Sure Everyone is On the Same Page In order for you to be productive you need to sustain focus. If there are constant distractions coming from the other people at your house, you likely won’t get much done; and what you get done will likely not be your best. You need to communicate your needs and expectations with the people who are around you. Set ground rules that make everyone understand that when you are at work that you are not to be disturbed. It’s hard to work from home if people keep bothering you all day long. Tip #6 – Communicate with Others While you try to manage your distractions at home, you need to understand that you still have a team out there that works more effectively if you are on the same page, too. Be sure to reach out to your co-workers to talk about work or life every once in a while. You are working from home, not the Sahara Desert (unless that’s where your home is), make sure the people you work with know you’re still alive. Working from home or going […]
Remote Work and Distance Learning While neither working from home or learning online are exactly new, they have exploded in popularity due to recent events. While today’s technology—like Virtual Private Networking, cloud productivity and collaboration tools, and remote monitoring and management—makes these processes much simpler, there are a lot of challenges that these capabilities also present. Considerations like data security, the impact that isolation can have on employees and students alike, and how well certain tasks can be performed are all obstacles to these functions. However, with the right technology, these concerns can be mitigated or resolved so that your processes aren’t left insecure. Online Commerce With the fear that the nature of the current pandemic strikes within so many, combined with the restrictions and safeguards that businesses have put into place, alternative means of doing business have become a huge priority. Specifically, online commerce, the perfect joining of business and social distancing. With businesses no longer able to operate in the way that they are used to, embracing the capabilities that the Internet provides will be critical to their survival. There are still safeguards that naturally need to take place when selling goods and services, only added to those that selling these goods and services online always come with. However, these safeguards are what will help to protect your clients and customers, and therefore preserve your business moving forward as revenue comes in. Digital and Contactless Payments In those businesses whose operations aren’t well-suited to transition to online, alternative means of accepting payment will be important for businesses to adopt so that infection can be minimized as much as possible. With digital payments coming into the fore, this is now made much simpler. Contactless digital payments and online payments alike give you, your clients, and customers an added level of safety and security. Communications Okay, we promised to mention something silly, and here it is. With many people wearing face masks to help stem the spread of COVID-19, a lot of people have discovered a few minor (but frustrating) challenges in doing so. For instance, communications. When wearing a mask, speaking on the phone can become challenging, which is why there is now another device—the c-mask, a smart mask—available to assist them. I wish I was kidding about this, but there is now a device available to attach over your face mask that connects to a mobile device via Bluetooth and allows you to dictate messages and send calls, even translating them to a different language with a subscription. It might look kind of weird, but if it works well, that’s pretty neat. Otherwise, the pandemic has also put the importance of communication to the fore, while 5G and other useful communication technologies have unfortunately been delayed. Hopefully, the issues surrounding 5G will be addressed and overcome so that 5G can be used to help benefit businesses as they regroup and recover. How has your business used technology to sustain itself? Share your experience in the comments!
Seriously, Have You Noticed How Many People Resort to Waving? Think back to the last remote meeting you participated in. You and the other members of the meeting log in, the requisite business is completed, and as everyone signs off… goodbye waves are exchanged? But why? Why do we suddenly feel obligated to wave goodbye to people that we’re meeting with, just because the format of the meeting has changed? According to some experts of behavioral studies, it is this change that is to blame. These waves—and other odd new habits—are nothing but our subconscious attempts to maintain some normalcy as we communicate remotely. Why These Habits Have Normalized Therapists have postulated that, as our typical communications were so suddenly altered by necessity, we have adapted to the relative limitations of remote collaboration and communally developed a new etiquette. Despite their considerable utility (particularly as of late) remote conferencing and other similar solutions have a few downsides that must be considered, largely due to physical limitations. Let’s look at the basic science behind these tools. Your camera and microphone take in information, convert it into a format that can be sent digitally, send it to the person you are conversing with, and once it arrives, translate it back into a format that your collaborator can comprehend, seeing what you said and did. While this all can be completed at a remarkably fast speed, it is far from instant, and still takes relatively much longer than it would if you and your collaborator were speaking face-to-face. Take things like slow internet speeds and other delays, and some delay is effectively unavoidable. The result: awkward pauses, sudden interruptions, and the other issues that so many remote conferences and meetings suffer from. In response, we’ve learned how to incorporate nonverbal communications into our mid-meeting body language, almost subconsciously. Rather than just pressing a button to disconnect from a meeting if the need arises, we take the moment to excuse ourselves from the group and announce our departure via a quick wave to everyone else. It is also likely that you and your team are feeling isolated, as interaction is likely at a horribly low point. This, it is hypothesized, has led to overcompensation. This overcompensation could include nodding along as people speak, raising a hand to signify that you have something to contribute, as well as the farewell waves that so many have adopted as they sign off. How to Communicate Better with Nonverbal Cues Such signals can help to push your conversations forward as you are working remotely. By adding another layer of meaning to what is said, your conversations can move along and be more informative. You’ve likely seen many of these cues in your own experience: Accenting Gesturing or otherwise using your body language to emphasize points and draw attention to certain details. Complementing Matching the language used with the emotion that your body language conveys. Contradiction Alternatively, intentionally mismatching your language to your body language to draw attention. Repetition Returning to and building upon your message over and over to help reinforce it. Substitution Expressing your opinion physically, rather than verbally, to make your message overwhelmingly clear. Looking pleased when you’re pleased, and vice versa. Of course, there are other nonverbal cues that deserve some honorable mention: Backchannels, such […]
Spotting Burnout in Remote Employees As you would imagine, burnout in the home is remarkably like burnout in the office. The big difference is that there is no longer an office to leave workplace stress behind in. Furthermore, many people can’t help but see the inherent hypocrisy of the situation. Many people have pushed for the capability to work remotely in the past, only to be rebuffed, so now being required to do so can be frustrating. To be clear, these employees aren’t frustrated that they are still able to work, but some of the other impacts of this situation have caused no small amount of friction. For instance, many of the people who were furloughed because of recent events may have been paid as much as four times the amounts that those still working 40-hour weeks. While there’s little that most business owners can do about this, it has caused some negative feelings. These feelings could easily bleed into the work that your staff is doing. Another common factor that contributes to burnout is the loss of any separation between the responsibilities of work and of personal life. Your employees are still human beings, so the idea of not having any break between working from home and working on their home life can be frustrating. Without any downtime to spend recuperating and processing what has been accomplished, it can be hard to see these accomplishments. This is what makes our first tip so important: Establish Boundaries Working remotely doesn’t mean that your work hours change, you should just be working in a different location. Therefore, you need to be vigilant about how long you are working. While it is admirable to want to put in the extra hours, it is ultimately better for your performance (and your business’ budget) to stick to the schedule you would normally keep and spend your personal time taking care of personal things. Working from home also brings with it a new set of potential distractions to draw you away from your work. The people you live with can inadvertently cause a strain on your focus, as can any pets you may keep. Certain temptations are also present in the home that wouldn’t be found in the office, such as streaming services or social media. Establishing a space in your home that is dedicated to work can help you to focus better, especially by assisting you with our next tip. Minimize Distractions We’ve established that the home has plenty of stimuli that can draw your attention away from your tasks and responsibilities. A dedicated workspace helps to minimize these distractions, which in turn allows you to be more productive and reduces your temptation to work longer hours, diminishing the feeling of working all the time. Of course, the expectations that others have of us (or rather, that we think others have of us) can often contribute to the burned-out feelings that so many get. It is important that everyone on your team is able to keep the following in mind: while working from home isn’t the ideal situation for everyone, recent events made it the only feasible means of keeping the business open and operational. A little bit of stress now can help lead to a better future, with a job at a business […]
The Benefits of Working from Home There are benefits to working from home, even under normal circumstances, that employees undoubtedly appreciate. A big one is eliminating the commute. While those fortunate enough to live just a few minutes from the office may not see the significance, for most, the commute can be a terrible thing. In New York City, the average commute takes about 43 minutes, and rural areas of the United States see 30 percent of their workforce traveling 30 minutes each way to get to work. There are also the health benefits and decreased spending that can be seen, as employees are less inclined to snack and order out for their meals. Home also features fewer of the distractions that the office presents. In fact, despite the other distractions that the home can provide, a Stanford study conducted over two years demonstrates that working from home can greatly boost productivity. Finally, as an employer, you have to appreciate the decreased investment into space and utilities that remote strategies can bring if it were to become the norm. The Issues with Working From Home Unfortunately, there is no universal standard for what to expect when using a remote work strategy. Some employees just aren’t as productive doing work at home as they are doing work in the office, which gives many business owners and managers reasons to hold back on remote work privileges. It falls to the employees to gain the trust needed to convince the employer that remote capabilities are a good thing. There is a general acceptance of the idea that, if a person is at their desk at work, they are at least contributing something to the overall productivity of the group. Remote work’s benefits transcend simple company culture and can really impact a business’ functionality. Whether it is a matter of preference, or based on a need like the health concerns you are currently facing, everyone stands to gain when remote work is a viable option. How to Make the Most of Remote Capabilities As an Employee: Be on Time: While the eliminated commute makes the morning easier, make sure you spend the extra time you have doing what you need to do, whether that’s taking care of the family, eating a better breakfast than you otherwise could, or getting in a bit of reading or meditation. However you spend your extra time, just make sure you are in your seat and ready to work when you are supposed to be. Focus: Without the distractions of the office, focusing on your tasks should be somewhat easier. Try to accomplish as much as you can between breaks in your concentration. You will accomplish more, and the work will be better for it. Track Accurately: It is absolutely crucial that you accurately track how you are spending your time working from home. Take note of when you start and end your tasks, acknowledge when you reach certain milestones in your progress, and make sure you are communicating with the rest of your team to keep them up to speed. This accountability can also placate those who may distrust you are working diligently. Use the Right Equipment: Rather than going through the process of setting up an office phone in your house to deal with meetings you need […]