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How to Develop the Digital Skills Necessary for Remote Work

Remote work can offer an employee the flexibility needed to be a caregiver, world traveler or student; making it an ideal form of work for most of the population. For an older employee however, the idea of working from home can seem overwhelming and fraught with technological difficulties.

Luckily, many of the skills needed to succeed in the office translate quite easily to working from home. Time management, self-sufficiency, communication and teamwork for example are all key remote work skills. And chances are, anyone whose had office experience, is familiar with a computer. However, there is a level of tech savviness required to operate out of the office full time.

For those looking to make the transition to remote work for the first time, but are afraid of getting left behind in this new digital age, here are some of the most popular web applications to get up to speed on before you apply for the job.

It’s worth noting that many of these applications have free tutorials, videos, and training available as well as free versions to help you get your feet wet.

File Storage & Sharing Platforms

When you’re working on the go, you can’t be tied down to your desktop. Instead it’s common for remote workers to operate exclusively from online or cloud based platforms such as Google Drive, Dropbox or Apple iCloud. These make it easy to access your work files no matter where you are or what device you’re on. As long as you have the app downloaded, you can work from anywhere.

Long gone are the days of losing your work because your computer crashed. These applications automatically save and sync everything as you go. Not to mention, you can effortlessly share files with others by giving them access via a link or email address. Google even offers a full suite of applications including word documents, slide shows and spreadsheets well suited for every field of work.

Video Conferencing

Unfortunately, even remote workers can’t escape meetings. Zoom and Skype are popular video conferencing options for meeting outside of the office.  Zoom offers free video calls with up to 50 people as long as you don’t talk for more than 40 minutes and Skype is free as long as both parties are using the app. Both of these applications (and many others) offer chat options, screen sharing and recorded calls. Just make sure you’re well equipped with the right headset for the job.

Collaborative Applications

While email is everyone’s go to in-office communication platform, remote workers often utilize project management software to stay in touch virtually. Both Trello and Slack are excellent examples and offer many collaborative features for working with a team remotely. These shared applications make it easy to generate a task list and delegate the workload. They also show each member’s progress as well as what stage any given project is in and give the option to offer feedback to one another. Additionally shared calendars ensure everyone is on the same page when it comes to meetings and out of office time periods.

At Number8, we provide high quality technical talent to businesses of all sizes and sectors. We specialize in application development, custom software, website development, mobile solutions, database design, client/server, web application development and Q/A testing. Learn more about what we do and how to get started with Number8 by calling 502-890-7665 today!

How to Develop a Successful Remote Work Policy

A lot of CEOs, higher-ups, and business executives in charge of policy change hesitate to incorporate remote workers into their company dynamic. There are a few reasons for this hesitation. For one, a lot of people traditionally think that remote work weakens the office dynamic. Another reason executives hesitate to have remote work options is because they aren’t able to monitor the employees who work from home. However, remote workers are quite beneficial to employers if they can develop a successful remote work policy.

Remote workers allow for companies to reduce costs by downsizing their office space. Productivity also increases when remote workers are involved. There is less time spent commuting and fewer opportunities for distraction when employees work from home. The talent pool also opens up when employers consider opening up certain positions to remote workers. However, incorporating remote workers into a company’s dynamic can only be successful when a remote work policy is developed and enforced. So, how does a CEO or a group of executive develop a successful remote work policy? There are many ways to do it and we’ll outline some of those further in this blog.

4 Ways Employers Can Develop a Successful Remote Work Policy

1. Executives Should Set Clear Expectations for Remote Workers

Setting clear expectations for remote workers from the beginning will make incorporating remote workers into office life much easier. Remote workers should be clear on when they are expected to check-in for work and when they are able to check-out for the day. Any remote employee should also be fully aware of their role and their day-to-day responsibilities. Employers should outline clear guidelines on what is expected of remote workers. This will make it easier for them to do their job efficiently and effectively. Executives who create ways for their remote workers to easily show what work they’ve completed open up a line of communication that allows for workers to document their tasks and show their worth. When executives set clear expectations for their remote workers there is a higher likelihood that remote workers will succeed and bring the company success.

2. Executives Should Prioritize Getting Face-to-Face with Remote Employees

Despite remote workers being out of the office, an executive should not allow them to feel out of the loop. Executives can host video chats that aren’t work-related with their remote employees. They can also have face-to-face meetings. However they do it, executives should prioritize face-to-face time with their remote employees. Facetime with remote employees will make them feel just as included as in-house employees and, with that mentality, they are more likely to deliver their best work.

3. Employers Can Make Everyone “Remote” for Meetings

There aren’t many things that make remote workers feel so far away as video conferencing into a meeting where everyone else is together in the same room. One way for employers to make remote workers feel more comfortable with their long-distance positions is to ask all workers, in-house and remote, to video conference into meetings. The loose rule “if anyone is remote, everyone is remote” can go a long way in and out of the office. When remote workers don’t feel quite as alienated in their day-to-day responsibilities, it shows in their work and their attitudes.

4. Employers and Employees Should Remain Flexible

One of the most important things that employers and employees, alike, can do when remote workers are being integrated into the workforce is to remain flexible. Remote workers are each their own person with their own workflow, approach, and time management skills. Therefore, it’s unlikely that remote workers will succeed if an executive implements a rigid set of requirements. If employers, and fellow in-house employees, are flexible with remote workers schedules, turn around times, and the like (without the work suffering) then introducing remote workers into the office dynamic is much more likely to succeed. One of the best tools that in-house employees can use is cloud-based programs to share information. From notes to assets, if remote workers have the same access as in-house employees, they are likely to succeed.

Develop a Successful Work Policy Today

Remote workers are hugely beneficial to companies large and small alike. They bring diversity, flexibility, and an increase in productivity without a decrease in office space to companies. Though executives may hesitate to hire remote workers if the executives themselves set standards the workers often succeed.

At Number8, we have an office in Louisville, Kentucky and a nearshore office in Costa Rica. Our team of remote workers located in Costa Rica is a huge part of our operation. Additionally, they deliver top-of-the-line work in software development. To learn more about what we do at Number8 or how we can help you, contact us by calling 502-890-7665!

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!

The Benefits of Working Remotely from a Number8 Developer

This week on the blog, one of our very own developers turned team leaders, Max Madrigal shares his experience with working remotely.

Having joined the Number8 team in 2013, Max worked as a developer for 3 years. During that time he was given the opportunity to grow into a leadership role, and as a result has been a team lead for nearly 4 years now.

How did Max know he wanted to work remotely?

“After trying to have my own company in Costa Rica, I realized I wanted a job that could offer me a similar lifestyle to that of an entrepreneur. Though running my own company didn’t work out, the experience really taught me how to manage my own time.”

With the help of a few referrals, Max came aboard Number8.

“The recruiters at Number8 really helped me hone my English language skills. They saw something in me and took the time to pair me with the right customer.”

Everyday Madrigal enjoys the diversity of working remotely.

“I get to interact with people from all different backgrounds, and often in many different parts of the world.” And even though he often works from home or in an internet cafe, everyday is different. “I’m always meeting new people and doing new things; whether it’s researching solutions or developing new tech.”

Max is in charge of two development teams. 

As team lead, Max is tasked with reviewing their progress, coordinating meetings with the customer, as well as helping his team solve issues as they arise. “Often we work in the time zone of the user so we can have meetings with them.”

One of the many benefits of working remotely for Max has been the ability to travel.

Hungary, Colombia, Guatemala, Chicago, Argentina, Chile, Panama and Honduras are among the many places Madrigal has checked off his bucket list. He also spent 5 months in Europe exploring Germany, London, Venice, France and Norway, where he was able to see the northern lights. “There’s just nothing you can really compare that with.”

Throughout his travels, Madrigal was able to keep working without a beat.

During his free time, he has trained for and participated in 3 marathons. “I would get up at 5am and train for an hour, come home to shower and eat breakfast, and then work until disconnecting at 5pm.”

While working remotely usually comes with the misconception of always having to be on the clock, for Max it has been nothing short of a freeing experience.

“The support has been amazing. I have been able to communicate with the customer and manage my own time without any restrictions.” Depending on the day, Max often travels to his parent’s town to be with them or his brother’s family as well as friends within his local area.

When his nephew Sebastian was diagnosed with cancer last year, his brother’s family was forced to move to Costa Rica and then Argentina in order to receive the proper treatment. “It was a really hard time for the whole family. However, I was able to make the transition with my brother and sister-in law. I had the ability to go to the hospital and work around their needs. This really made the difference during a time period that would have otherwise made it difficult for the family to support themselves while getting the right treatment.” Sebastian has now recovered from the tumor, has his vision and is a healthy and happy boy enjoying his sister. “I am more than grateful for having the opportunity to stay extremely close to family.”

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!

 

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!

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!