How Prolonged Screen Time Can Affect Your Health

Prolonged Screen TimeLiving in the 21st Century has a lot of benefits. We live in a world with modern medicine, modern transportation, and the most advanced technology the world has seen. However, like most benefits, there are hindrances that accompany them.

Thanks to modern medicine we can prevent the spread of dangerous diseases, but we can also choose to not vaccinate our children and risk disease spreading rapidly. With the help of modern transportation, we are able to travel from place to place faster than ever before, but we pollute the planet and harm the environment through most of these modes. And, while technology has brought the entire world closer together, it is also in front of us through one screen or another throughout most of our days. This is especially true when you work in the IT sector and subject yourself to prolonged screen time. It is important to know how prolonged screen time can affect your health and how to prevent further damage.

Before the mass marketing of in-home computers, most people did not spend a lot of time in front of technology. Besides the occasional time spent watching television, at a safe distance from the television itself, people were not subjected to technology like they are today. In the last 30 years, the rise of the digital age has put screens in front of more people for longer amounts of time. Throughout the last decade, studies surrounding how prolonged screen time can affect your health have started to appear.

Multiple studies around screen time discuss the effects that prolonged screen time has on children, teens, and adults. Children can suffer from learning and problem-solving delays when exposed to excessive screen time under the age of 30 months. Too much screen time has also proven to affect children’s language skills, emotional development, sleep schedule, and vision. Teens suffer from a lot of the same effects. However, screen time can also affect a teenager’s self-confidence, social skills, and emotions drastically.

So, how does prolonged screen time affect the health of adults? The answer is — in many ways. Adults who work in the IT sector undoubtedly subject themselves to the most amount of screen time among professions. Anywhere from 8-10 hours of time spent working in front of a screen is only part of it, too. The hours these same adults spend at home on their phones, personal computers, or watching television also factor into how screen time affects their health.

4 Ways Prolonged Screen Time Affects Adults’ Health

1. Vision

Vision is the first thing that people most often think of when contemplating how screen time affects your health. This may be because it is obvious that your eyes will be affected by continuous exposure to light. Or it may be because most people start to feel the negative effects of prolonged screen time in their eyes first. The most common symptoms of the effects prolonged screen time has on vision include fatigue, blurred vision, eye dryness, and headache.

2. Sleep

Difficulty falling asleep and staying asleep are two additional ways that prolonged screen times can affect your health. The screens themselves stimulate the brain which makes relaxing and falling into a restful sleep hard. This is especially true for those who use their phone in bed at night and turn them off right before they go to sleep. The blue light that radiates from a phone’s screen has been proven to suppress the hormone, melatonin, that promotes sleep. This, in turn, prevents those who use their phones soon before going to bed from falling into a restful sleep and cycling through REM sleep and non-REM sleep.

3. Weight

Numerous studies in the past have linked as few as two hours of television a day to an increased risk of weight gain, heart disease, and diabetes in adults. While there aren’t many studies that find the same direct correlations between screen time and these risk factors, it is safe to assume there are correlations. They may not be as prevalent because a lot of people are active while on their phones, but prolonged screen time does lead to less time being active and less sleep. These are both factors that contribute to weight gain and weight-related diseases. In addition, prolonged screen time makes people more susceptible to advertisements for unhealthy foods. This exposure leads to unhealthy cravings and eating habits resulting in weight gain, as well.

4. Posture

Proper posture can be hard enough to maintain without prolonged time in front of a computer or excessive phone use. Spending a lot of time in front of a touch device can result in neck and shoulder pain which can lead to scoliosis. Touch devices also have adverse effects on the hands and can cause early-onset carpal tunnel. What a lot of people don’t know is how computer keyboards, mice, and screen heights can also negatively affect posture. Excessive use of keyboards and mice can lead to inflammation in the arms, hands, and wrists. Viewing computer screens that are not at eye level can cause neck pain and issues with proper posture.

While prolonged screen time cannot be prevented for those working in the IT sector, those who do spend a lot of time in front a computer screen can modify their work environment to not be as harmful to their health. Blue light glasses are becoming more popular, especially among younger IT workers, and for good reason. They block the harmful blue light that comes out of screens and causes both vision trouble and disrupted sleep. Altering the height of your computer screens, so they are eye level, can help prevent posture problems from developing.

Being mindful of how often you are on your phone or in front of a computer is the first step. Learning how prolonged screen time can affect your health is the second step to prevention. Overall, taking breaks from your screen usage is the best way to prevent health issues from arising. Experts recommend for every hour you spend looking at a screen, you spend 15 minutes away from a screen. By taking walks during those 15-minute breaks, you can prevent weight gain, eye strain, posture trouble, and more.

There are some situations where prolonged screen time is unavoidable. So, it is important to balance screen time with non-screen time. Pay attention to how much time you’re spending in front of screens and how your body is reacting. With the right measures, you can continue your IT-based job and not suffer from health issues that can arise from too much exposure to technology.

What to Look For In a Nearshore Development Partnership

More and more throughout the United States, development work for web-based companies is moving out of the country. The reason that a company decides to look for offshore or nearshore developers is different from situation to situation. Some reasons for looking into nearshore outsourcing can include budget restrictions preventing the company from expanding in-house or office spacing being too limited to hire additional in-house developers. Regardless of the reason that a company decides to enter a nearshore development partnership, there are things to look for in the hired team.

Location

One of the main motivators behind web-based companies using nearshore outsourcing for development work is the fact that nearshore developers are usually in the same time zone as the company. If they aren’t in the same time zone, they are in a time zone with operating hours more similar to the company’s. This has a lot of benefits in regards to communication than working an outsourcing company located in India or another country on the opposite side of the world. Nearshore development partnerships are often established for this reason.

By operating in the same, or similar, business hours companies enjoy the benefit of being able to discuss problems in real time with their development counterparts. Being able to quickly address and resolve development issues results in faster turnaround times and happier clientele. When looking for a nearshore development partnership, consider the time zone potential teams are in and how that will affect your business.

Communication

When considering nearshore development companies to partner with, it is also important to consider if there will be a language barrier. While most nearshore development companies employ people who speak fluent English, some do not. Clear communication is a huge part of a successful partnership and a necessity for getting development work done quickly and correctly. Being able to communicate clearly and effectively will also affect how the business operates between the onshore employees and their counterparts. Without an open line of communication, it doesn’t really matter whether the nearshore development team is operating in the same hours as the onshore company or not. If the two teams cannot work together without a language barrier then the IT project will ultimately end up failing.

Quality

Companies searching for a nearshore development team to partner with should also assess the quality of the development team’s work. Does the team you’re considering partnering with have a portfolio of previous work they’ve done? Can they offer you statistics on how many projects they’ve successfully completed? It’s difficult to forge a successful partnership with so many miles between locations. Therefore, it is important that the team you choose for a nearshore development partnership is a strong one. Companies should trust their developers to complete projects on time and turn around workloads in a timely manner. There is nothing wrong with asking for statistics on project completions, turnaround times, and more. High quality work from a nearshore development team will be pertinent to your success as a company. Don’t be afraid to ask for proof of the quality of a company’s work.

Turnover

In a recent study, the 7th Annual Conference on Information Science, Technology, and Management revealed that the turnover rate of software developers in India falls between 30 and 40 percent. In comparison, the turnover rate of Americans in the IT industry sits at 13.2%. By choosing to forge a nearshore development partnership, your entering into an IT sector with a substantially lower turnover rate. This, in turn, opens up opportunities to work with the same development team over multiple projects. Familiarity with how a team member communicates, delivers work, and executes tasks only improves project turnaround time. It also improves the business relationship, in general. Being able to establish a long-term business connection is one of the biggest benefits of a nearshore development partnership.

Deciding to enter a nearshore development partnership has its benefits and its risks. Thankfully, we feel like the benefits highly outweigh the risks. No matter how perfect a situation may seem, you will want to look at some specific metrics. If you are thinking about hiring nearshore developers to outsource some of the work at your company, be sure to ask these 12 questions before you hire anyone. For more information on outsourcing benefits, visit our blog archive to read countless articles on the benefits of a nearshore development partnership.

At Number8, we pair onshore businesses with a dynamic nearshore development team that will effectively get complete development work. Our entire team of nearshore software developers are based in  San Jose, Costa Rica. They are fully trained in agile product development and will produce the solutions your company needs to succeed. Interested in learning more? You can learn more about what we do on our website or call us at (502) 890-7665 today!

 

6 Tips to Help You Nail A Remote Job Interview

remote job interviewIn 2019, more and more companies are hiring remote workers in addition to an in-house team or making the shift to exclusively employing remote workers. With this shift in the hiring process comes a shift in the interviewing process as well. Regardless of how comfortable you are with face-to-face interviews, a remote job interview is a completely different experience.

While being at home can be a comfort, it can also cause you to let your guard down. This can translate to lack of motivation or lack of preparedness in a remote interview environment. There are other factors that should be considered when interviewing remotely that aren’t present at an in-house interview. Some factors include background noise, technical difficulties, and outside distractions. Because the differences between an in-house interview and remote job interview are so vast, we thought you may like some tips to help you nail your next remote job interview.

6 Tips to Help You Nail a Remote Job Interview

1. Prepare Your Interview Area

It is important to look professional during a remote job interview just as you would for an in-house interview. While your clothing would reflect your level of professionalism face-to-face, the area in which you conduct a remote interview reflects that. Be sure your interview area is clean, organized, and does not reflect poorly on you as a potential hire.

It is also important to ensure that you will not have any distractions during your interview. If you have children, try to set up a play date so they are out of the house. If you have neighbors close by, ensure that your home’s windows are closed to prevent a nearby lawn mower from causing a distraction.

2. Dress Appropriately

Despite the fact that you are interviewing from home and may only be visible from the waist up, it is important to dress appropriately for a remote job interview. Getting ready for a remote job interview in the same way you would for an in-house interview will help you get into a professional mindset. More often that not, a confidence boost also comes with getting ready. By dressing appropriately, you also prevent any embarrassment from occurring should you have to get up during your interview.

3. Research Your Potential Employer

An interview, despite the location, works two ways. It’s a chance for your potential employer to learn more about you and it’s also an opportunity for you to learn more about the company you may one day work for. Research the company’s beginnings, recent news surrounding the company, and the person who is going to be interviewing you. By having some knowledge of the company on hand, you will look well prepared and interested in your potential employer. This knowledge will also make conversation around the company flow more naturally.

4. Take Care to Prepare Your Computer

There is nothing worse than being late to a remote interview or having your computer crash mid-interview. Prior to your interview be sure that you’ve downloaded and done a trial run of the interviewing software. Set the window that you will be viewing your potential employers through at the top of your screen, centered under your webcam. This positioning helps to give the impression that you are making eye contact with your potential employer instead of looking down throughout the interview. Ensure there are no programs running in the background that could cause your computer to lag and that all your chat features are turned off, so no pop-ups appear during your interview.

5. Prepare Your Own Questions

As we stated in our third tip, a job interview is every bit a chance for you to learn more about your potential employer as it is for them to learn more about you. Come into your interview with a prepared list of questions. These questions may revolve around why the company is looking for remote work, what benefits they offer to their remote employees, and how they will work with you to ensure you’re trained correctly for the job while working out of office. You can also ask questions surrounding how many employees currently work remotely for your potential employer, what sort of tools they use to promote collaboration between in-house and remote team members, and if there are potential group meetings or team building experiences that you should expect to be a part of.

6. Explain Your Motivation for Wanting to Work Remotely

For a lot of people, working from home seems like an easy way to get work done without having to do much work; however, remote work is quite the opposite. Not being in a designated work environment can make it harder to stay focused and on-task. It is important to make it clear to your potential employer that you are a motivated individual who is prepared to successfully work remotely. Perhaps you want to work remotely because you need a more flexible schedule. Perhaps you’re the type of person who works better in an area away from office distractions.

Whatever the reason, it is important to explain your motivation from wanting to work remotely. Do not treat it as the elephant in the room. Instead, tackle it early on and own it fully. Confidence and honesty will help potential employer see that you’re serious and would be an asset to the company.

Remote interviews can be intimidating, like in-house interviews, which is why it is so important to prepare for them. By following our six tips above, you should be off to a strong start during your next remote job interview. In the end, confidence and preparedness are the two most important factors to nailing a job interview. With these six tips, we hope you’ll be more prepared and more confident about interviewing from a remote location.

At Number8, we know quite a bit about hiring remotely with our nearshore location in San Jose, Costa Rica. With over 18 years of experience in the field of software development, our experience spans across many sectors. We commit to recruiting and hiring IT professionals who show immense talent and developers with vast experience. Learn more about who we are and see what job opportunities we currently have available.

3 Things That Set Number8 Apart

With so many options for IT consulting and agile software development, why choose Number8?

1. We offer a blended model.

At Number8, we offer all the benefits of typical offshore tech support with nearshore capabilities. Our headquarters are based out of Louisville, Kentucky and we have technical professionals throughout the U.S. We also have more than 100 associates in a total of six countries including our offshore team in Latin America and nearshore office location in San Jose, Costa Rica. Whether the need is local or can be handled off-site, we are able to work with our U.S. clients in their timezone and language with the best possible mix of development assistance.

2. We treat our employees differently.

It’s our mission at Number8 to give our associates and IT contractors the opportunity to develop a rewarding and challenging career while enjoying the best possible work-life balance. We pride ourselves on our employee retention rate and value building long term partnerships with our clients as a result of it.

We also understand just how important family is and the ability to have a flexible work schedule is a major benefit of working remotely. For example, one of our Junior Developers John Lewis, who came onboard about a year ago, has recently decided to shared his story with the Number8 family. After the passing of his wife last April, he now lives in Costa Rica with his three children.

“N8 is an incredibly unique company and I think that comes from its foundations. The entire team as well as my clients have been incredibly supportive during what has been a depressive period for me. I couldn’t work for a month, and though I thought I would lose my job I didn’t. I can’t even count the number of times someone has asked me if I needed anything. Though Christmas was particularly hard for us, as it was my wife’s favorite holiday and our gifts from the U.S. were stuck in customs, Number8 surprised us again. Literally the only things under the tree were the gifts that Number8 gave to my children. I am so grateful to Number8 for all the resources that they’ve put at my disposal. I honestly cannot express it any more because it is so emotional for me. To everyone who has supported me, I can’t say thank you enough.”

3. We are experienced in a breadth of programming languages.

Having been in the custom software development business for several years, our professionals specialize in a full range of programming languages and skill sets including:

-Microsoft .Net     -ASP.Net     -Javascript     -LINQ Visual Studio

-C++/C#         -MySQL       -Oracle       -OO Development

-Microsoft SQL Server        -Ruby         -Agile Development and Scrum.

Additionally, we do a considerable amount of Java development, and a lot of front-end development using javascript MVC frameworks like Angular, Knockout, Ember and Backbone. We also have software development teams working in PHP (Aura, Yii, Zend, Laravel, Symfony, Phalcon, CodeIgniter, Cake).

At Number8, we connect companies with IT talent and software developers that are fully trained in product development. By encouraging talent to come up with creative solutions, they remain motivated and positively contribute to a healthy company culture. If you’re interested in learning more about Number8 give us a call at (502) 890-7665.

Tips on Managing Remote Workers

While it’s ideal in terms of a project’s completion to have a big team working simultaneously around the world, the reality of doing so can make managing a project and a team that much harder.

Here are a few tips to effectively managing a remote workforce and making sure everyone is on the same page.

1. Have clear expectations and instructions.

If you’re not careful, miscommunications can arise quite often in the world of telecommuting. When it comes to assigning tasks it can be most beneficial to first explain the overarching objective of the project and then outline how you wish them to fulfill their responsibilities, and by what date. This can help cut down on timely revisions. Additionally, don’t be afraid to offer constructive criticism. Honest feedback is essential in order for a team member to reach his or her goals and continue to grow in their abilities. 

2. Be aware of the time difference.

While it’s great to have a team that works while you can’t, working with a staff in a different time zone means you have to be patient when it’s their turn to have time off. It’s up to you to walk the line between keeping them accountable by monitoring their use of time, and being realistic when it comes to setting deadlines or waiting for a response to an inquiry. Consider making a schedule everyone has access to so the whole team knows when they can and cannot reach each other, and implement a system for reporting what tasks were done when.

3. Be inclusive and offer incentives.

It’s just as important that your remote staff feels appreciated and in the loop as your onsite staff does. Rewarding them for going the extra mile and getting their opinion every once in a while will ensure that they are as invested in the outcome of the project as you are no matter how far away they are.

4. Keep a standard of professionalism.

Communicating online in today’s world has become increasingly relaxed. However, it’s still worthwhile to communicate with your remote staff in a way that shows leadership and respect. This is business after all and your employees will be less likely to slack off if they are held to a higher standard of conducting it.

At Number 8, we help companies connect with qualified remote employees to help with software development. We also focus on helping companies improve their internal IT processes. If you’re interested in learning more about Number8 and what we do, give us a call at (502) 890-7665, or check out our information page here!

The Top 3 Locations for Outsourcing Software Development

Outsourcing software development has become an increasingly popular path for startups and small businesses alike. Instead of taking on the overhead of hiring employees in house, utilizing a remote workforce allows you to focus on your core business functions while growing at an affordable rate.

When it comes to outsourcing, there are a myriad of options available. One can opt to go Offshore, Nearshore or Onshore in terms of finding a remote workforce. Countries farther away are Offshore, those nearby are considered Nearshore, and Onshore means operating within your own country. Depending on your company’s origin, there are many pros and cons that come with selecting a specific location to outsource your software development needs.

While the U.S. and Canada each have tech reliant economies, the cost associated with doing business there tends to be higher and the demand for skilled workers has resulted in a shortage. Therefore, most businesses are left with the option to take advantage of the resources of a more global market. Here are the top 3 countries for software development in terms of quality and cost:

Latin America

While many South American countries including Peru, Brazil, Colombia and Bolivia are becoming increasingly adept in the tech world, Costa Rica is a popular choice when outsourcing software development work. Their top notch IT programs produce good programmers and their culture has embraced innovation in technology as well as the agile methodology of project management. 

Asia

While India and the Philippines are known for their IT services, China is the leader when it comes to the outsourcing industry in Asia. China produces twice as many graduates as the United States, and as a result has a vast tech advanced work force. Coupled with it’s growing economy, China is a hot bed for outsourcing software development tasks. 

Eastern Europe

In Eastern Europe, Poland and the Ukraine dominate the field of outsourced software development work. Both have an abundance of educated software engineers as a result of rich STEM educational programs. 

Before outsourcing your company’s software development, you’ll want to properly vet each agency to ensure a high quality of work. Take language, cultural barriers and possible travel expenses into account as well. Countries with a stable and supportive government offer a more favorable business climate to operate in, and a difference in time zone could reduce the time to market or make communication difficult. 

At Number8, we help businesses optimize their operations with onshore, nearshore, and offshore outsourcing. Our teams–both foreign and domestic– provide effective communication and service that allow your business to grow at a rate that keeps up with your market. If you’re interested in learning more about Number8 and what we do, give us a call at (502) 890-7665, or check out our information page here!

7 Industries Making Remote Work Commonplace

With greater schedule flexibility, it’s no surprise the trend towards remote work is growing. Whats more, cloud based technology has made working from home easier than ever before with files and data readily accessible. According to CNBC, “More than two-thirds of people around the world work away from the office at least once every week.”

Working from the comforts of home (or anywhere with a good wifi connection that is) is enticing when you factor in all the time not spent commuting and sitting in traffic. Additionally, remote workers tend to have more control over their workplace environment, and can usually juggle home and work life responsibilities with more finesse.  As happy employees make for a more productive workforce, many industries seem to be embracing this new kind of work culture.

Here are 7 Industries where Remote Workers are becoming Commonplace:

1. IT 

Remote work is no doubt ripe in the field of information technology. Jobs in security, website development, software engineering, app development, and database administration (just to name a few) can all be done remotely. In fact, many IT companies look to utilize remote workers in order to better offset costs and streamline projects. 

2. Accounting & Finance

Bookkeepers and accountants can usually work from anywhere, often computing payroll and or taxes for clients both big and small. 

3. Customer Service

 Companies that function primarily online through a website rather than a store front need customer service just as much as brick and mortar businesses do. Online tech support jobs tend to be remote and act as a virtual help desk for customers or clients, including assisting with online orders as well as payment processing.

4. Healthcare

 Many administrative jobs in the healthcare industry are now remotely operated. These jobs include handling billing, insurance claims, as well as scheduling appointments.

5. Marketing

 The advertising industry has largely transformed in recent years due to the rise of digital platforms. Whether it’s as a graphic designer, content writer, influencer or social media manager, long gone are the days where you need to be in an office to run an ad or promote a business or product. Marketing jobs now come in many different shapes and sizes and can be done from anywhere. 

6. Education

Due to an increase in online classes being offered, there are more opportunities for teachers to work remotely. For example, many college level classes are being taught online by adjunct professors to better serve non-traditional students. Additionally, those homeschooling or looking for help to prepare for the SATs can do so via virtual tutors.

7. Sales

 Just as the marketing world has changed, so to have sales jobs. Now generating leads is more plausible through the use of social media channels, as well as email or text message marketing. All of this can be done remotely, especially if you’re in the real estate industry.  

At Number8, we believe one of the keys to achieving your business’s goals is great IT that supports your company. We help businesses access great IT by connecting them with remote workers that utilize best-practice tools and processes. If you’re interested in learning more about Number8 and what we do, give us a call at (502) 890-7665, or check out our information page!

4 Artificial Intelligence Trends to Watch

We probably haven’t fully realized the extent to which AI has already been incorporated into our everyday lives. The Internet of Things (IOT), commonly thought of as smart devices, have now come to include household appliances, as well as handheld phones and speakers; all of which are voice activated and designed to follow through with commands. This much is clear: how we are currently interacting with technology is vastly reshaping the tech industry, and it has everything to do with artificial intelligence. 

Both companies and governments are racing to develop the latest artificial intelligence platforms, with potential even in the medical and political arenas on the horizon. As automation continues to grow, so do cloud based solutions; providing the need for on demand storage. While people are quick to jump to the conclusion that AI is going to create a mass job exodus, it could very well fuel job creation as well. For example, there is a shortage of AI researches and engineers, and demand for those who can compile data efficiently. What follows are 4 AI trends to watch, and how they might affect the industry as we know it. 

4 Important AI Trends

  1. Logistics

    When it comes to coordinating facilities and supplies on a large scale, the robotic workforce is already taking over. Warehousing and distribution companies like Amazon are putting AI to work sorting and finding packages; a job that was once labor intense. 

  2. Automobiles

    The auto industry has grown leaps and bounds from OnStar vehicle and safety features. Artificial intelligence has allowed Tesla to bring the very first self driving cars to the street. Additionally, assisted driving features like automatic braking, parallel parking, and traffic alerts are now standard. The future holds more innovation, as Uber looks to implement driver-less cars. AI also continues to improve everything from automobile testing to software updates, problems and repairs.

  3. Data Analytics

    Many platforms are already running off of AI because it is simply better at analyzing data. AI algorithms are determined by machine learning from large amounts of data. Intelligent apps are able to make decisions based on patterns of behavior from said data. This is how music apps like Pandora and Spotify are able to recommend songs. Facebook for example already predetermines what users will or will not see, based off of their user data.

    As a result, AI platforms tend to be better at detecting security threats, fraudulent transactions or behavior. Additionally, when it comes to customer service, chat-bots are becoming popular with financial institutions in that they enable them to have virtual assistants 24/7. These chat bots are able to answer a customer’s questions based off of prior frequently asked and answered questions. Even e-commerce is utilizing AI in terms of price fluctuations and targeted ads. For example, an item’s price can change on it’s own based on how many times it is being viewed, or sits in a cart. Specific buyer habits and personas are also being gathered via membership or reward cards.

  4. Content Creation

    Surprisingly, AI will affect both white and blue collar jobs as many marketing strategies now include some form of AI wether it be via custom videos, social media posts, or emails. In fact, articles are already being published from many reputable news outlets using not journalists, but artificial intelligence. AI is specifically useful when it comes to writing many variations of the same message, or financial summaries and earnings reports where numbers are merely being translated.

At Number8, we connect companies with IT talent and software developers that are fully trained in product development. By encouraging talent to come up with creative solutions, they remain motivated and positively contribute to a healthy company culture. If you’re interested in learning more about Number8 and what we do, give us a call at (502) 890-7665, or check out our information page.