Unexpectedly Losing a Key Team Member- How to Keep Things Moving Along

It happens to the best of us. Things go wrong in business, sometime the best employees quit, and it can be hard for any team to move on.

Preparing for the loss of a leader is good practice to ensure that things get back up and running as smoothly as as possible, as soon as possible, should such a situation befall your company. Here’s how to handle the unexpected exit of a key employee, and minimize any disruption to the day to day operations.

1. Decide privately who is going to fill what role before breaking the news to the rest of the team.

Take the time to fully evaluate the company’s needs and explore all the options available. Whether you decide to promote internally or take the time to find an externally qualified candidate, having a clear direction and temporary solution in place will help prevent a drop in morale and overall productivity.

2. Tell everyone at the same time so they all receive the same information.

Clear communication is necessary in order to avoid inaccuracies and gossip from spreading around the office and instill a sense of leadership.

3. Remain positive and grateful for the lost team member’s contribution.

While everyone is essentially replaceable, you want your remaining team members to feel valued and supported professionally as well as personally. Exhibiting excitement for the lost employee’s success, even if it’s not with you, not only prevents future turnover, it leaves the door open for opportunities yet to come.

4. Conduct an exit interview.

Even though they are leaving, it’s important to find out why. This is a great moment for constructive criticism. Ask them how they would describe the culture as an employee, and what changes they would make if they could, etc. Gaining such insight allows for your team and company to improve and continue to keep employees that are integral assets.

Lastly, be prepared to offer support to your team as roles change, or take on more yourself to make up for the gap during this transition. Doing so will be key in succeeding with as well as finishing current projects.

At Number8, we help project managers connect with highly trained and efficient IT support to help reach company goals. 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!

5 Email Habits to Stay More Organized at Work

Believe it or not, there is a right way and a wrong way to use your email. Managed poorly, your email can vastly reduce your productivity at work, causing mounds of undue stress and anxiety. If you constantly find yourself coming up for air after dealing with a flood of emails, here are a few habits to cultivate so you can efficiently reign in your inbox.

1. Time Management

It can be easy to lose track of time when working from your email. Instead of popping in and out of your inbox throughout the day, consider removing email notifications to help you focus on the task at hand. Rather, set aside blocks of time during your day to deal with emails.

2. Take Action

When you do set aside time to work on emails, don’t merely read them and then let them pile up. Take action on every message by utilizing the 4 “D’s” of email. Either Delete it, Deal with it, Defer it, or Delegate it.

Delete it: You don’t actually have to save everything…Not every email needs a response or pertains to you, so save yourself the time and your inbox the emails. Don’t be afraid to delete things within reason and try to only keep emails that are informative resources or ongoing projects.  

Defer it: Even if you can’t respond to a certain email right away, don’t be afraid to acknowledge that you received the email but will respond within another time frame. Flag it as either unread or with a special tag so it doesn’t slip through the cracks. Marking it appropriately will ensure you come back to it later. It may even prove useful to create a folder for these messages you’ve put off so that they don’t get pushed to the bottom of your que, and you can deal with them all in one place.

Delegate it: CC yourself on things you need further information on in order to take action. This way you remain in the loop and focused on your responsibilities.

3. Set up Folders

Two words: Inbox Folders. Create folders in your inbox either by subject, client, project or priority depending on what best suits your business. Your inbox should just be a holding place. Once you have “dealt” with an email, either delete it or keep it in one of these folders as an archive that you routinely manage. 

4. Filter, Filter, Filter

Unfortunately, most emails we receive don’t even have important or relative information. Often, it’s worth the time and initial investment to utilize email filters that block out spam or marketing emails. At worst, they’ll at least limit the amount you receive as going through and deleting them is a major time waster. 

5. Write Better Emails

Think about the kind of emails you want to receive and incorporate this into your own emails. Short and to the point, with a clear subject line is always best. If you find yourself rewriting what is essentially the same message over and over again, save and reuse boilerplate emails. Of course you can also always send fewer emails by calling, popping in, or texting for something urgent. 

Developing these 5 habits should help you feel a sense of control over your inbox and allow you to stay on top of your to do list!

At Number8, we help project managers connect with highly trained and efficient IT support to help reach company goals. 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!

Stressful Work Environment? 10 Fast & Easy Ways To Relieve Stress

Regardless of how much you love your job, it can be stressful at times. According to a survey from Everest College, 83% of workers in the US are stressed at work. There are many reasons that an employee can be stressed. For some, it is an unhealthy work environment. For others, stress at work can be a result of a lack of job security, a poor work/life balance, or feeling underpaid.

In the IT sector, quickly approaching deadlines or a high influx of clientele contribute to a stressful work environment. Data malfunctions, system crashes and miscommunication between team members are additional factors that can contribute to feeling stressed on the job. Since working in a stressful environment is unavoidable at times, it is important to know quick ways to relieve stress in the workplace. Below, we’ve outlined 10 fast and easy ways to relieve stress when you find yourself stressing out at work.

10 Ways to Relieve Stress at Work

  1. Build Positive Relationships with Co-Worker

    Co-workers who can commiserate with you on common stressors are blessings in disguise. Having friends in the office who you can vent to in confidence is a huge stress reliever. When you talk about stressors, you contextualize them and can often resolve the issues altogether. If you’re feeling stressed at work, find a friend and confidante then sit down and talk about what’s bothering you.

  2. Exercise

    Exercise has been proven time and time again to relieve stress. You don’t have to do a full-blown workout to incorporate exercise into your workday. Taking a short walk during lunch or a quick walk around the building when you’ve got 10 minutes can make all the difference. The point is that getting outside and getting your heart rate up hugely benefit stress relief. If you don’t have time to get away from your desk consider requesting a standing desk. An act as simple as standing when you’re used to sitting all day can hugely benefit the receptors in your brain that manage stress.

  3. Improve Your Diet

    Stress eating is real. While it may feel good to binge eat greasy pizza when you’re feeling down, it’s not helping you manage your stress. In fact, a healthy diet is going to benefit your stress levels much more than an unhealthy diet will. By eating foods high in carbohydrates, fat, and sugar, you’re more likely to feel lethargic and less likely to tackle difficult tasks. When you choose to eat complex carbs, high fiber fruits, and superfoods like kale and dark chocolate, you’re helping your body and powering your brain. A healthy diet will keep you from worrying about your weight on top of your job and will help keep you focused on the tasks ahead. In the end, you’ll be benefiting your body and your workload.

  4. Start Your Day Off in a Positive Way

    We’ve all heard the saying, “someone woke up on the wrong side of the bed” and while it’s an expression, it rings true. A huge factor that determines your stress levels is how you start your day. When you start your day late and find yourself rushing, you’re more likely to be stressed. Some ways to ensure you start your day off right include preparing your breakfast and lunch the night before, picking out your work attire in the evening, and getting at least 8 hours of sleep without that time cutting into your morning.

  5. Breathe, Breathe, Breathe

    Breathing is a great way to relieve stress and calm yourself down. By practicing deep breathing, you’re sending your brain a message that says, “calm down and relax”. Not only does deep breathing reduce stress, but it also relieves tension. There are a few different deep breathing techniques that can help with stress reductions. A study recently came out of the University of Michigan explains the different techniques, how to do them, and their benefits.

  6. Cut Down on Interruptions

    Interruptions surround us within the work environment. From meetings and email threads to extended lunch breaks and social media, there are distractions everywhere. While some interruptions are necessary, most of them are not and are contributing to your stress. Try cutting down on interruptions by setting aside specific times for meetings, addressing your inbox at a certain time, and limiting your social media usage.

  7. Tackle One Thing at a Time

    Prioritizing your day is another great way to eliminate stress. Making a to-do list of tasks to work through can help to put your day in a manageable perspective. By completing one task at a time, you will be able to focus entirely on said task. This will keep you from having to revisit it throughout the day. A helpful tip is to make an outline of how your ideal workday would pan out and then try to stick to that outline.

  8. Quit Self-Imposing Stress

    A lot of work-related stress is self-imposed. By setting unreasonable deadlines for yourself or avoiding certain items on your to-do list because they are hard to tackle, you’re creating stress that can easily be avoided. An easy way to avoid self-imposed stress is to apply other methods of stress management on this list to your work life.

  9. Be Comfortable

    Being uncomfortable can also contribute to stress in the workplace. Wearing clothes you feel uncomfortable in to uphold an image can contribute to your stress. Sitting in an uncomfortable chair can also cause stress in the workplace. Even something as minor as dealing with distracting office noise can make it hard to focus. Speaking up about office discomforts can benefit your day-to-day work life tremendously and cut down on stress.

  10. Kick Bad Habits

    Kicking bad habits that cause you to stress is a great way to reduce your stress at work and at home, too! Whether your bad habit is checking social media too often or finding yourself overwhelmed with topics unrelated to work while at the office, eliminating those causes can have great effects. BlockSite is a great Chrome extension that can help you cut back on visiting websites not related to your job and can help eliminate your stress in the workplace.

While stress in the workplace can’t be completely avoided, it can be managed. The number one step to managing your work-related stress is to identify the causes. Once you’ve discovered what is causing your stress, start taking steps to eliminate those causes. Eventually, your work-related stress will disappear and your life at work will improve drastically. If you feel that these tips will not help you with your stress, you may consider a new career path. Not all people are cut out for certain jobs and that is completely fine. In the end, personal wellbeing and mental health should be your highest priorities.

At Number 8, we promote a healthy and stress-free work environment. If you are an IT professional who is in search of a job, contact us today. You can give us a call at 502-890-7665 or check out our contact page!

Meetings At Work – 4 Reasons Why They Are Useful

When it comes to meetings at work, they can either be really informative or drag on past the point of productivity. For those in the IT world who have embraced the Agile methodology, meetings are a daily occurrence called “scrums.” Development teams lead these gatherings to regroup and give status reports concerning their specific projects. Additionally, even when working with remote workers, it can prove beneficial to touch base with them face to face via a video conference, as things can be misconstrued in other formats like email and chat. 

No matter what industry you’re in though, meetings are an essential part of business. In fact, if done right, they can propel a company toward success. 

Just in case you’re not sold, here are 4 reasons why meetings are useful in the workplace: 

The Power of Brainstorming 

Sometimes it takes meeting with your team to get a new perspective on a project or problem. Collaborating collectively allows for new ideas to be shared in a safe and confidential space. Innovation is best nurtured when everyone feels they are heard and have been given the opportunity to contribute.  

Providing Information 

Meetings are perhaps most often used for providing information and dispersing tasks. If structured properly, they don’t have to be the drudge most employees have come to know and fear. These kinds of meetings work best if there is a clear agenda and a leader who is not afraid to interrupt and push forward. To some extent, everyone should be given the opportunity to speak. This is a great time to discuss priorities, air grievances, and gather help from those less bogged down with assignments. Providing information in a meeting is constructive in that everyone is on the same page at the same time.

Strategic Planning 

Usually a company participates in annual strategic planning to set the course and pace for the upcoming year. Planning strategically can be helpful in setting goals and motivating your team to seek action based results. Doing so can also ensure everyone is kept accountable throughout the year. Additionally, meeting within this context gives leadership the opportunity to recognize potential in members who may be interested in taking on more responsibility or growing their role within the business. 

Re-centering

Without meeting from time to time, a company’s policies have a way of falling through the cracks. Convening from time to time just to give everyone feedback and have a general review of the proper procedures can be immensely helpful in keeping a growing business on track. Not to mention it helps to rustle everyone up and out of their respective nooks and show some appreciation for a job well done. 

At Number8, our philosophy is to empower our clients to produce better software, faster. We are experts in augmenting scrum teams with senior consultants that can help increase team velocity immediately. 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.

Desk Job Ergonomics – Helpful Tips You Should Know

The pro to working in the IT industry or any remote line of work for that matter is that your job can be done from anywhere. The con however, is that more often than not it requires sitting in front of a computer screen. Doing so comes with many challenges. Repetitive movements from your typical desk job for example, can cause long term health problems in your neck and back, not to mention carpal tunnel syndrome in your hands and wrists. 

Fortunately, the design and arrangement of an office can greatly affect the productivity and health of those who work in it. Here are a few tweaks you can make to the ergonomics of your office whether at home or in an office building, to ensure it best suits you and your employees’ well being. 

The Standing Desk

It’s no surprise that sitting for prolonged periods of time has a direct correlation to weight gain, heart disease and diabetes. However, a recent study just revealed that those who sit at their desks tend to take more breaks than those who stand. The idea that not only one’s health but productivity levels could be significantly altered by remaining standing throughout the day is a pretty groundbreaking one. Yet, the employees who were monitored in the study tended to be more productive and engaged when working from their standing desks than their seated colleagues. 

Adjusting the Chair

If you’re not running to trade in your chair just yet, merely adjusting it might prove beneficial. The proper chair height can go a long way to promoting good posture and overall comfort. It is recommended that you lean fully into your chair for the most support. Your knees should also be level with your hips and your feet should rest flat on the floor. If you find yourself swinging your feet, consider getting a footrest. 

The Spaces Between Equipment

Take a look at your desk, do you find yourself over reaching or leaning forward too often? If so you might consider re-positioning the key components of your office. Your monitor for example should be an arm’s length away and your keyboard close but far away enough that your wrists are kept straight when using it. The Mayo Clinic asserts that hands should be below or at elbow level. They also suggest using shortcuts to limit the amount of times you use your mouse, as well as switching which side of the desk it’s placed on so you alternated hands. Additionally, if you’re an avid multitask-er, consider getting a headset or utilizing the speakerphone when talking on the phone instead of trying to hold it and perform other tasks at the same time. 

Lighting

Working from a computer all day unfortunately means that you are getting your fair share of blue UV light. Protecting your eyes from the harsh light of digital screens is paramount in limiting headaches and general fatigue. If you find yourself straining your eyes to see, adjust the brightness on your device and make sure you’re a healthy distance away. Additionally, the color spectrum of your screen can often be moved towards yellow and away from blue. Anti-glare tinted glasses have also been known to help as well as blue light blocking screen protectors. 

Going Green

Access to natural light and some form of greenery provides an immense boost in an office’s air quality, as well as an employee’s job satisfaction and concentration. According to the Harvard Business Review,Over a third of employees feel that they don’t get enough natural light in their work space. 47% of employees admit they feel tired or very tired from the absence of natural light or a window at their office, and 43% report feeling gloomy because of the lack of light.” Additionally Forbes noted that, “The performance of those working in ‘Green’ environments, increases on average by double, compared to those who work in conventional ones.” Placing a few plants that require minimal maintenance around the office and making use of those outside views will go a long way in boosting moral. 

Why not be more comfortable at work? Make sure you’re taking breaks to increase your circulation and consider changing up your environment once in a while to keep things fresh. 

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!