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Preparing for the Remote Work Culture

If you’re making the transition to remote work after working in an office from 9-5, 5 days a week, you’ll quickly learn a notable difference in the work culture. Whether you’re looking to work from home or are an employer wanting to outsource tasks, getting familiar with the customs of those who work remotely will help you know what to expect.

Here are 3 unwritten rules of remote work:

1. Everything starts on time.

Because you’re not sitting in traffic during your morning commute, there’s really no excuse for being late. In the remote world, meetings start on time down to the minute. One of the biggest benefits of working from home is that it allows you to better manage every minute of your day. Couple that with the fact that you could be collaborating with someone in a different time zone, and every minute really starts to count. To make sure you don’t experience a technical delay, get used to checking your equipment early each morning.

2. Communication is key.

Sure, communication is key in any work situation. But when you’re communicating with someone who isn’t sitting in the next cubicle, it becomes even more prudent. In fact, 90% of how we communicate is nonverbal, so if you’re working remotely online, it can be easy for a few things to get lost in translation. Expect to over communicate by being prompt in your responses and utilizing the many tools available to you. Remember that the tone of online communication tends to be straightforward and casual. When it applies, provide links or visual examples for full transparency. Shared calendars and collaborative applications can help to keep everyone on the same page, whether it be project deadlines, tasks or vacation days. 

3. Nurture workplace relationships.

Yes, workplace relationships are still a thing when you work from home. While they can be hard to cultivate because of language barriers and time zones, a good workplace dynamic is an invaluable asset and can help ensure a project’s success. Taking the time to build camaraderie through friendly correspondence can go a long way. When possible, opt for an in person meeting, video or phone call, and consider using a chat app for water cooler talk.

As an employer, think about implementing a remote work policy to help establish standards and keep everyone accountable. A company mission can help communicate your vision and values, and as a result keep remote employees motivated.

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!

5 Programs That Can Help You Stay Organized At Work

organized at workNo matter how organized you may be, there comes a point where you get overwhelmed at work. Whether it’s due to growing responsibilities or a surge in clientele, we all get there. Thankfully there are a lot of helpful programs available to stay organized at work. From your evergrowing to-do list to client management, there’s a program for everything. Due to being busy, you may not have the time necessary to see what programs work best for you. This is why we’ve outlined 5 programs that can help you stay organized at work. Take a look at our list below and see if any of these programs will help you stay organized and manage your workload.

Stay Organized at Work with These 5 Programs

1. Trello

Trello is a great way to manage projects and tasks within those projects. Users can set up “boards” to denote projects, so each project is a separate entity. Within each board, users can create “cards” to represent tasks and “lanes” to track progress of tasks. With an easy-to-use interface, almost anyone can use Trello to their advantage. Trello also has an app that can be used on phones or tablets and features a compatible interface. Even more beneficial are the desktop and email notifications users can set up to make sure they don’t miss anything. If you’re feeling like you’re being pulled in too many directions, try Trello. With this helpful program, you’re able to keep all your projects in one place and track their progress.

2. Tomorrow.do

Do It Tomorrow may sound like the procrastinator’s dream, but it’s not quite that. This easy to set up and even easier to use program is a quick signup away and completely free. With Do It Tomorrow, you’re able to consolidate your to-do list in one place (and even set it as the first page to open when you get to work!) The way this program works is quite interesting. First you fill up your to-do list with all your tasks. You can set tasks that need to get done today and tomorrow. Once your tasks are all in place, start marking them off as you complete them. Anything that doesn’t get done automatically gets pushed to the top of the list the next day. It’s a great little program that can really keep you focused on the task at hand and the task ahead.

3. Google Drive

If you’re aware of Gmail then you’re probably aware of Google Drive. However, what a lot of people don’t know is the limits you can push Google Drive to in order to work it to your advantage. With Google Docs, Google Sheets, Google Calendar, and Gmail, Google Drive really has everything you need to manage your work. And it all stays in one space which can be accessed from any computer, phone, or tablet. One of the best things that Google Drive offers is practically endless storage space. So, if you’re looking for a storage program that you can access from your home, office, or vacation spot and offers a wide variety of functions check out Google Drive. It’s another user-friendly platform that most office workers utilize for at least some sort of organization tool.

4. Dropbox

Dropbox is another great tool for file management and photo storage. This program has been around for quite a while and has a large following, so it’s likely you’ve received a Dropbox link from someone trying to share files or photos with you. While Dropbox is a great platform for sharing documents, photographs, and large files, the platform has memory restrictions. If you find yourself falling in love with Dropbox, you’ll need to be on top of managing what you store in it or ready to upgrade your file storage size.

5. Hootsuite

If you work with social media at all, it can get overwhelming and that can happen quickly. Almost all social media managers use some sort of online program to help stay organized. Hootsuite is one of the most popular programs for just that. Hootsuite is a social media management tool that allows users to schedule social media posts well into the future for publication. With the ability to manage Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and more from one place, Hootsuite saves users time and headache. Hootsuite, like most of the programs we’ve covered, also has a user-friendly app that can be used on phones and tablets alike. This allows you to take your social media management with you on the go and never miss a post.

While these are five tools that we’re familiar with, there are tons of other programs to help you stay organized at work available. We recommend looking around and finding the programs that work best for you. Most are free and those that don’t offer a free trial for some amount of time. Try out different programs until you find the right fit for you and your workflow. Being organized at work can help to reduce stress and increase job happiness, so find what works for you and use it to your advantage!

At Number8, we offer onshore and nearshore product development support to companies large and small. Throughout our company, we hold high regard for job happiness and find that being organized at work helps to keep our employees happy. If you are interested in learning more about what we do or getting in touch with us, visit our Contact Us page or give us a call at 502-890-7665.

7 Tips on How Stay Productive at Work and Avoid Distractions

With the Internet right at our fingertips, it can be hard for those who work in front of a computer all day to not get distracted. From social media, to the news, to online retailers, there are plenty of outlets available that can keep you from working. As online marketing continues to advance and advertising appears everywhere it can seem impossible to escape. However, there are certain steps one can take to stay productive at work and avoid distractions.

At Number8, we have almost two decades of experience in software development. From working with Fortune 100 companies to tech start-ups, we have vast experience in the IT sector. Our project managers and nearshore development team want to deliver the best product and customer service in a timely manner. In order to achieve the timeliness we’re so well known for, our team has to stay productive at work and avoid distractions. We’ve decided to share some tips on how our development team avoids distractions at work when having a world of distractions right at their fingertips.

7 Ways to Stay Productive at Work and Avoid Distractions

1. Unplug from Social Media

Social media is, without a doubt, a huge distraction at work. While you may prefer to pass your time at home scrolling through news feeds, at work it’s not the best use of your time. There are a few ways to go about unplugging. For some, setting a schedule of when they are allowed to check social media and setting a time limit is enough. For others, they need to get more drastic because they can’t stop checking in. There are some helpful extensions that will block social media for you including StayFocusd and WasteNoTime. Freedom is another extension that will block social media sites on your work computer and allow you to stay productive during office hours.

2. Keep Your Desk Organized

A messy space usually reveals a messy mind. By keeping your desk and workspace neat, you remove a lot of distractions. Experts recommend taking 5 to 10 minutes at the end of your day to pick up your desk. Organize your papers, wash your dishes, make sure your calendar is up-to-date, and anything else you may need to do before leaving for the day. This ensures that when you walk into the office the following morning, your desk space and headspace will be ready to get started on the day’s tasks ahead.

3. Break One Large Task Into Small Tasks

It can be easy to find reasons to distract yourself from a large task at hand. Perhaps you don’t have enough time to get it all done before you clock out. Maybe you have a lot of smaller things that will be easier to knock out, but don’t have the urgency of the one large task. When you find yourself avoiding a large task, it’s time to change your approach. One of the best ways to tackle larger projects is to break them into smaller, more manageable tasks. This will help you to not waste time worrying about where to get started. This approach also allows you to take a few days to complete the large project without getting burnt out or overwhelmed.

4. Harness Optimism

Positivity breeds productivity. This has never been a truer statement than when you’re at work. Being positive in the office has so many benefits. Your coworkers will respond better to you when you’re positive. Your positive attitude will keep the stress away. And your optimism will make it easier to stay focused on your tasks because you’ll enjoy them. There are a couple of ways to harness optimism in the office.

One of the best things to do is mentally remind yourself you are capable of doing your job correctly and well. Develop a mantra that helps you focus on this thought. Something as simple as “I am capable” will work. Smiling when you walk into the office also helps associate optimism with your workplace. When you aren’t stressed or sad, it is a lot easier to focus on the task at hand instead of looking for ways to avoid getting your work done.

5. Quit Multitasking

Once, long ago, multitasking was marketed as the bee’s knees of the office world. This somewhat coincided with the mass-market of the home computer. The computer was seen as a tool that could allow you to do multiple things at once; however, in this day and age multitasking can be detrimental to productivity. If you’re looking to be more productive at work, it’s time to focus on the task at hand then move on to the next full task. Going back and forth between projects will only hurt your productivity. And it may show in your finished projects, too.

6. Don’t Neglect Your Health

Just like optimism can make you more productive at work, so can being in good health. Experts say it is especially important to exercise daily, eat well, and get enough sleep to perform your job to the best of your abilities. Exercising regularly and getting the recommended 8-hours of sleep makes it a lot easier to overcome stress. Healthy eating literally fuels your body, so being in good health is important in regards to being productive at work. When you can overcome stress and get through the day without tiring, it’s a lot easier to take on a task at hand instead of procrastinating.

7. Keep a To Do List

For some, keeping a task list at hand can seem like an old fashioned way to manage time. However, starting your morning by taking 10 minutes to write up a list of what you’d like to achieve that day is one way to plan a productive day. Whether you want to write it down so it is with you wherever you go or use an online application, like Do It (Tomorrow), outlining your day will help you to be more productive. Additionally, by having each task laid out in front of you, it will be easier to go straight from one task to another without getting distracted between and losing precious work time.

If you’re feeling less productive at work, the first thing to ask yourself is “what changed?” Did your job take a turn towards something that doesn’t interest you?  Try to focus your to-do list on aspects of your work that do. Are you feeling burnt out? Try getting more sleep and changing your diet. Or are you spending too much time on social media? Try setting boundaries for yourself or using a social media website blocker.

Naturally, your productivity will ebb and flow throughout the year. This is especially true around seasonal changes, but that doesn’t mean it has to stick. If you’re finding yourself easily distracted and less productive, the first step is to acknowledge it and the second step is to be aware of it moving forward. Then you’ll be able to find the best ways for you to stay productive at work and avoid distractions.

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 Ted Talks That Will Change the Way You Think About Work

Sometimes we all need a little pick me up during the work week. What better way to reboot the mind and motivate ourselves to keep carrying on than a really good Ted Talk? Here are our favorite talks that will help change the way you think about stress and work.

Kelly McGonigal- How to Make Stress Your Friend

In her 2013 Ted Talk, Psychologist Kelly McGonigal challenges the idea that stress is the cause of all our problems by siting a study that illustrates stress is actually only harmful if you believe it is. In this study, participants who experienced stress, but didn’t believe it was harmful, had a lower risk of death than those with less stress.  According to McGonigal, “How you think and act can transform your experience of stress.” Instead of viewing signs of anxiety and stress as the body failing to cope, think of it as the body getting energized and rising to a challenge. Re-framing the way we perceive stress often results in a healthier stress response, or what McGonigal calls a “biology of courage.”

Stressed at work? Watch it here: 

Shawn Achor- The Happy Secret to Better Work

Psychologist Shawn Achor’s 2011 Ted Talk aims to reverse the status quo when it comes to our formula for happiness and success. According to Achor, “Success is predicted by optimism levels, social support and your ability to see stress as a challenge instead of a threat.” Though we tend to think that working harder will give us more success and more success will make us happier, we are always changing the definition of success. “If happiness is on the opposite side of success,” says Achor, “your brain never gets there.” Instead, we should make use of what he calls the “happiness advantage.” When we’re happy, our brain performs better. This is because in addition to making us positive, dopamine also turns on all the learning centers in our brain. As a result, we’re often more productive when we’re happy and every single business outcome improves.

Interested in the happiness advantage? Watch here:

Theresa Glomb- Let’s Make Work Better

Organizational Psychologist Theresa Glomb’s Ted Talk addresses the negative conversation we so often have around work and offers advice on how we can take more power over our work lives. According to Glomb, the bad things that happen at work can have as much as 5 to 10 times the impact on our mood than the good things. To remedy this “asymmetry affect,” Glomb offers a few tricks to make us happier at work. Namely, work hard, have fun, choose kind and be present.

Looking for a fresh perspective at work? Watch here:

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. 

How to Approach Project Management the Agile Way

An agile approach to project management has become prolific within many industries ranging from software development, construction and even marketing. Approaching a project the agile way ensures the product meets the client’s needs in a timely manner. The agile method also specifically makes room for improvements along the way rather than at the end when a lot of effort has already gone into the finished product. The result is often a shorter development cycle and quicker product release.  

However, an agile project manager’s duties differ from that of a traditional one’s. While the typical project manager is tasked with communication and quality control and manages the scope, cost, risk and personnel, many of these responsibilities are spread throughout the team in an agile workforce. 

Agile encourages team members to determine how to best achieve their tasks, report on their progress and determine their own schedule. Instead of a project manager, teams evaluate their own time and cost as they move through their work. Project goals are set by what is called a “product owner” and an agile project manager is referred to as a “scrum master.” 

The scrum master (or agile project manager) deals with problems as they arise and handles interruptions so his or her team can focus on the work at hand. This often comes in the form of facilitating meetings and discussions, removing progress blockers and setting priorities.

While traditional project management dictates a detailed master plan that must be followed, the agile way aims to determine the requirements as the project progresses. For this reason, an agile project manager tends to only be utilized in particularly larger complex projects. 

When approaching project management through the agile mindset, one must:

Be Flexible

Agile is built to incorporate regular feedback, updates and changes in requirements. While it’s important to understand the end goal and overall scope of a project from the start, an agile project has many cycles to it’s completion. Therefore, an agile project manager must be flexible enough to work with what is thrown their way rather than adhere to an unchangeable itinerary. 

Prioritize Client Satisfaction

At the end of the day, project management has always been done in the name of customer service. This is perhaps exemplified in the agile model as a project manager is in constant flux when it comes to meeting a client’s ever changing needs. It’s important therefore to remember that the end goal is to ultimately satisfy the client even if it’s at cost to the original plan.

Embrace Meetings

Coordinating with team members, stakeholders and clients still remains a large part of an agile project manager’s role. The agile methodology embraces daily meetings often called “scrums” where everyone participates in team transparency. During these scrums, everyone shares what they accomplished the day before as well as what they are working on that day. These are brief workflow updates and can even be done standing up. If not done in person, video conferences are another way of establishing accountability. 

Be Prepared to Problem Solve

Central to an agile project manager’s responsibilities is the ability to quickly adapt and correct course when need be. Continuous improvement ultimately saves valuable resources by reducing the risk of a larger scale failure in the end.

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!

How to Balance Your Remote Work with Your Personal Life

At first glance, working from home can sound like a dream come true. After all, who doesn’t want to stay in their pajamas, run to the gym in the middle of the day, or sip on a latte while you work from the coffee shop down the street?

However, as you settle in, it can be more and more difficult to prevent your work from bleeding into your personal time. And when the work is on your laptop rather than at your office building, it can be hard to put down. 

When it comes to preventing burnout and creating a healthy separation, it’s all about the habits you create for yourself. Here are 3 tips to help you tow the line for a better work life balance:

1. Create Your Own Workspace

Instead of moving from room to room throughout the day, dedicate a specific space to work in. If you need to get out for a change of pace, go to an internet cafe. This way you don’t find yourself being interrupted if others are in the home with you, or distracted by household chores and the TV. It’s best for example, to leave the bed and the couch off limits. Setting these kinds of physical boundaries will help you enjoy spending time in these spaces more because they won’t be associated with work. 

2. Take the Time to Get Ready

Put the pajamas down. We promise you will feel better and more confident about your work if you dress for the part. Getting ready for work, even when you don’t plan on leaving the house has been proven to help remote workers stay focused. Not to mention, you’ll be less likely to shy away from the last minute video call if you look presentable. 

3. Break up the Day

If you find yourself going all day without ever leaving the room, it’s time to build in some breaks. Segregating chunks of the day by tasks and then setting little rewards for yourself can help you stay productive and meet those all too necessary deadlines. Everyone needs to get outside, move and interact with others in person from time to time.

Additionally, having a somewhat set of office hours can be helpful in making sure that when you’re supposed to be spending time with family, you actually are. While this can be difficult if you’re working with others in a different time zone, it’s imperative to enjoying your down time fully, especially given you don’t have the transition that comes with a commute.

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!

6 Tips for Keeping & Motivating Your Employees

Building a good team is hard, keeping it intact and running full speed ahead can be even harder. As employee retention rates drop across all industries, getting the most out of one’s team, while ensuring they’re all satisfied with their jobs and invested in the outcome of the business is becoming quite the balancing act.  

Because every person is unique in what drives them, taking advantage of multiple strategies is key. Here are 6 techniques to keeping a team focused, happy and inspired.

1. Make time for everyone.

While team meetings are worthwhile in their own right, nothing is as effective as individual attention and feedback. Routinely speaking with each and every team member helps to build a sense of accountability and allows for mentor ship when needed. Everyone wants to feel as if they are contributing something worthwhile. It can help immensely to recognize a team member’s work and show them how their efforts are being utilized. 

2. Provide opportunities for growth.

One of the biggest reasons employees leave is a lack of advancement. Even employees who come in feeling ambitious and excited may start to look elsewhere if their role has no evolution, the company doesn’t promote from within or they’re not being challenged enough. Growth can come in many forms. Sometimes it’s as simple as bestowing a team member with more autonomy, new responsibilities, or additional training. Allowing staff to innovate and take ownership of their tasks often means they are inspired to go the extra step. 

3. Cultivate an open office environment. 

When it comes to making people happy and getting the job done, communication is king. Creating a culture of openness means employees are more likely to speak up and be proactive about potential problems because they feel comfortable doing so. In an office where everyone feels that their perspective is valued, it’s easier as a leader to meet the needs of a team and fulfill project requirements. 

4. Lead by example.

Employees, good and bad, tend to look to their superiors when it comes to work ethic and office habits. In order to instill job satisfaction and motivate one’s team to achieve great results, those in leadership positions need to exemplify the kind of behavior they believe it takes to get there. This starts with striking a good balance between one’s work life and personal life. Instead of expecting the whole team to work long hours, look for them to come in on time and limit personal activities while in the office. These ideals begin and start at the top. Even taking some much deserved time off is a great way to show one’s team that diligent work is rewarded and that self care is valued as well as understood.  

5. Design the office for productivity. 

Everything from lighting, to furniture, noise control and decor can impact a team’s productivity. Take a look at how your office is designed. Does it enable collaboration or distraction? 

6. Create a team atmosphere.

Even if everyone works well on their own, it can boost moral and productivity to act as a cohesive unit. A simple routine lunch or team outing where everyone get’s to socialize and interact on a more personal level can improve how they communicate and work together. 

At Number8, we connect companies with IT talent and software developers that are fully trained in agile 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!