How To Create A Positive Remote Work Culture
In these times of uncertainty, many teams and companies have gone remote. Because of this, many people are making big transitions. Going from working in an office, which is typically a controlled environment focused mainly on work, to working from home, where there can be many distractions and less support from coworkers, presents unique challenges. However, there are simple ways to create a remote work culture that supports coworkers and is conducive to productivity. When working with others remotely, there is a heightened need for communication and trust. In order to build a remote work culture that includes both of those things, there are certain measures that many remote workers find useful. In this article, we will look at some ways in which you can create a positive remote work culture for you and your team.
5 Things You Can Do To Make Remote Work Culture Better
Whether you are a business owner, manager or team lead, you likely already know the important role a positive work culture has on the ways employees and clients perceive you and your company. While it may sound overly simplistic, happy employees and happy customers are often at the heart of any successful business. Creating a positive work culture at the office during face to face interaction may present different challenges and opportunities than the current remote work environment. Follow along for five ways in which you can build a positive remote work culture for yourself and your team.
1. Communicate the goals and mission of your team clearly
When a team is working remotely, especially if this is a newer development, listing out your short-term and long-term goals, as well as clearly going over the mission of the team is very important. This gives everyone a sense of being on the same page and allows everyone to understand exactly where they are headed. Developing purpose and maintaining a sense of order are more important than anything in these uncertain times.
2. Keep an open line of communication
Being available and openly communicating
with your team makes all the difference. Whether it be an email thread or a group text message, or even daily or weekly Zoom calls, being there and discussing matters at hand is important. It will not only keep productivity levels up, but it will also encourage your team to come together and work as one.
3. Establish a schedule that works for everyone
Whether your remote team is all working in the same city or from different parts of the world, having a set schedule that works for everyone is crucial. This shows your team that everyone matters and they are equally involved. Now, it may be a bit difficult to do, but even if everyone has different schedules, try to compromise week by week. Make sure everyone feels that their time has value.
4. Set clear expectations and lead by example
Working remotely has its perks, like a more flexible schedule. But make sure that everyone knows exactly what is expected of them and then lead by example. Keep up your end of the deal and follow through on your promises.
5. Make sure to leave some time for fun
Celebrate victories with a virtual cocktail party or host a virtual game day. Something that shows your team that you care and you want them to enjoy their work. Building a positive remote work culture is crucial for the success of any company. Your team must feel unified, even from afar. Even after the COVID-19 pandemic comes to an end, this will be relevant. Practices for remote team building will likely continue to be of great interest to many businesses. We are an information technology company with years of experience. We have helped hundreds of clients leverage technology to become more efficient and increase profits. Interested in learning more? Let’s connect. Send us an email or give us a call at 502-212-0978 and we can get the conversation started.
Safely Reopening the Office: James Ludwig’s TED Talk Insights
The coronavirus pandemic has upended the structure of businesses all over the world. Companies have scrambled to create temporary fixes, from work-from-home options to layoffs to total shutdowns. With no end in sight, uncertainty pervades the workplace. Recorded June 16th, this new TED talk could not be more relevant. James Ludwig, vice president of global design and product engineering at the office supply company Steelcase, engages in conversation with TED curator Chee Pearlman about the long term future of organizations. Here are some notable insights into the talk and James' perspective on the future and potential reopening.
3 Insights About The Workplace Illuminated By The COVID-19 Pandemic
1. This is a massive technological shift and generation-defining moment
Ludwig proposes the idea that there is “now, the near, and the far” for companies. We are only just beginning to understand and approach the “now”, which is to remain safe within the pandemic. The near is how companies will return to the physical workplace, if ever. The far, long-lasting impacts of this crisis are not yet conceptualized. Ludwig refers to this time as an “experiment” for companies, and in a sense, it is. It is a test of resiliency at all levels, from employees to CEOs. But, it is also an opportunity for change.
2. People need to physically collaborate and connect to sustain most workplaces
Ludwig makes the claim that it’s simply unsustainable for most companies to stay remote forever. He emphasizes that being together as a team shapes the culture of brands. Competitive advantage is formed through this culture, through interpersonal connection and cultivation. For many businesses, Zoom meetings and emails can’t recreate the ecosystem of a good team. Connecting as individuals, pushing each other and learning from each other, sharing food and humor, growing and adapting together—this is what makes a good workplace.
3. Now is the time to see what is truly essential for offices when reopening
Taking a step away from the cookie-cutter workplace allows the opportunity for tremendous positive change. We can delve into individual-focused design that supports employee wellbeing both physically and mentally. Companies have the chance to be creative and strip away redundancies that hinder productivity and safety. Additionally, how businesses respond to future crises is contingent on how workplaces are shaped right now. To follow up with this point, Ludwig lays out what is essential to the generations of now and the future. He sees a technologically-rich, human-centric environment with strong values that connect individuals as key. Ludwig claims that after the pandemic is over, people will continue to lean into what is authentic and fulfilling in the workplace. After spending months in lockdown working from your couch, you get a better grasp of what is really necessary to be productive and what you sincerely miss about your office. A high-walled cubicle or private office may now seem constrictive. So, looking for the insights during this unusual time seems to be a good strategy for organizations. While quarantines and forced remote work scenarios have challenged many, this time also presents unique learning opportunities.
Questions to Consider
Here are just a few questions to think about as you work to gain greater insight into the impact COVID-19 has had on you and your work. What redundancies can you identify in your work processes that may slow down productivity? Also, are there things you miss about working in an office environment that you previously took for granted? What components of your work flow are most important to keep you productive, organized and happy? Are there long term changes would you like to see implemented at your company or on your team, that were inspired by this pandemic? Plus, what does a thriving office culture look like after reopening? Asking these questions will help ensure a strong organization, and safe reopening if and when the time is right. We are an information technology company with years of experience. We have helped hundreds of clients leverage technology to become more efficient and increase profits. Interested in learning more? Let’s connect. Send us an email or give us a call at 502-212-0978 and we can get the conversation started.
Do’s and Don’ts for Virtual Meetings
The COVID-19 outbreak has impacted every business in the world in one way or another other. While people practice social distancing, many businesses are encouraging or even making work-from-home mandatory for their employees. This has led to an exponential rise in the use of various digital systems and tools, including video conferencing for virtual meetings.
It may seem convenient to jump out of bed at 8:50a.m., and after hurriedly washing your face and brushing your hair, get onto that virtual meeting scheduled at 9:00a.m, However, you should refrain from doing so. Even if you are experienced with online meetings, giving yourself ample prep time to set up and log on sets you up for a much more productive meeting experience.
As a company that has engaged in virtual meetings for years, Number8 has picked up a few things along the way. Follow along for some helpful tips on how to get the most out of virtual meetings.
12 Tips Every Business Professional Should Know
While preparation for a virtual meeting may vary depending on the context, here are some basic tips that can help you get the most out of the experience.
Test your microphone before the virtual meeting.
You can simply conference with one of your colleagues to make sure it's working as it should. Low volume and poor audio clarity can impact communications, especially if you are discussing something crucial. Speak clearly and slowly when you are on the call so that none of the participants miss anything you say.
Be aware of the video settings on your computer.
Check if you have muted the microphone before delivering a monologue that no attendee will hear.
Be prepared to share your screen.
While this may be unlikely, if screen sharing is a possibility, you should make sure you are prepared. Shut down or hide other programs like email and unrelated browser tabs, and ensure your computer monitor is ready for sharing.
Try to be in a space with the best internet connection possible.
Virtual meetings are sometimes full of delays and frozen screens. It is advisable to do what you can to limit the type of distraction this creates. Set up your computer in the best location for connectivity, and limit your movement while on the call, as this can interfere with the quality of your connection.
Wear appropriate attire.
While you aren’t necessarily expected to wear regular formal office attire while attending virtual meetings, you should always wear professional and clean clothing.
Make sure that your room is appropriately illuminated.
It can be extremely disconcerting to speak with someone that sits in a dark and poorly lit location. It's best to sit in a place with side lighting. Consider positioning yourself near an open window or switch on an overhead light to brighten up the space.
If you are sitting next to any décor or wall-art, make sure it’s work-appropriate.
The surroundings should be clean and not cluttered or messy, even if you live alone. If you are sitting at your desk, ensure it isn't covered with trash, dishes, or coffee mugs.
When you are in a group call without any video, introduce yourself before you begin talking.
Most programs send notifications as to who is talking, but conference line numbers do not. Therefore, it’s advisable to take the extra time to introduce yourself, depending on who is in the meeting and how well the participants know you and the sound of your voice.
Whenever you are talking, look straight into the camera rather than looking at yourself talking on your computer screen.
It helps others on the video call feel like you're fully present and engaged.
Forget to mute your microphone each time you’re not speaking.
Follow this even if you are alone in the room. Background noises can be an annoyance and distraction, and impact the meeting’s flow.
Position the camera too high or low, or hook it onto a different monitor.
Strange camera angles can be unflattering and distracting during video conference calls. Set the camera at eye level and on your monitor before getting onto the call.
Read or check emails or read articles when on a video call.
Do not do any other work while on the call. The rest of the participants can easily tell if you are distracted, and that is disrespectful and unprofessional.
Keeping these helpful tips in mind is an essential part of maintaining professionalism when you are participating in virtual meetings. You should plan ahead as much as you can. There are always unexpected interruptions that can challenge the quality of any meeting. As an information technology company with many years of experience, we’ve helped hundreds of clients leverage technology to become more efficient and increase profits. Interested in learning more? Let’s connect. Send us an email or give us a call at 502-212-0978 and we can get the conversation started.
How To Increase Your Tech Team’s Off-Site Productivity
Many IT companies have started to allow employees to telecommute on a part-time or full-time basis. People can work from home, cafes, or even parks instead of commuting to work every day. While this has several advantages, it can also hamper a team’s productivity if it isn’t handled correctly. There are several ways to help teams be more productive when they are working off-site. Here are some tips that can help:
1. Invest in Technology
Technological challenges can hamper a team’s productivity and make working from off-site locations a frustrating experience. It is important to make things easier for employees by providing them with tools to keep things organized. Use efficient conferencing or messaging applications like Zoom, Slack, Microsoft Teams, or Google Hangouts to ensure everyone can communicate without interruptions. Additionally, there are several project management and tracking applications available online, including Asana, Airtable, Trello and Todoist. These tools can help managers, teams, and temporary staff remain connected.
2. Implement Regular Check-Ins
Check-in with your team on a regular basis to ensure that everyone is on the same page. This doesn't have to be a long or drawn-out process, but it can help people remain connected with team members. It can also help people switch to work-mode when they are at home and navigating household distractions. A simple call or a video conference that discusses daily priorities, tasks, goals, and targets will help people start on the right track. It is easier to maintain productivity when team members have a clear agenda at the start of the day.
3. Track Work
Several applications allow managers to track just how much time employees spend working on a particular project. These applications give a very board view of an employee's working routine and help managers identify people who are falling back. For example, some employees work better during evenings or nights and may put in more hours during this time than during regular office time. If you track work, it is easy to see such a pattern and adjust their schedule accordingly. Off-site work can be very flexible and convenient if handled correctly.
4. Provide Emotional Support
Employees that work remotely are prone to occasional feelings of loneliness and isolation, especially if they don't maintain a proper work-life balance. That can lead to depression, burn-out, and a serious dip in productivity. Managers must help remote teams remain connected and offer some form of emotional support. In-office workers socialize, engage in conversations over coffee, joke around when there's no work to be done, and blow off steam. This helps them maintain emotional equilibrium and stay productive. Home, libraries and coffee shops don't offer this kind of social stimulation, which can take its toll over time. Encourage casual conversations and schedule video conferences dedicated solely for team members to reconnect with their coworkers.
5. Reward Good Work
Reward good work with positive feedback and praise. People working remotely can’t feel the general air of triumph that most on-site teams feel when a project is completed. That’s why it is important to reward good work with verbal praise regularly as it helps team members feel accomplished. A simple text or email with a few encouraging words about meeting targets and completing tasks on schedule can help.
6. Encourage Proper Work-Life Balance
Keep an eye on how much time team members spend on work. It is easy for work to take over life if there’s no separation between the job and personal life. It is important to establish a good work/life separation early on. Make sure your team works for a specific number of hours every day and limit all communications for specific times. Don’t call or message after hours unless there’s an emergency.
Teams that strike the right balance between flexibility and maintaining a proper schedule are most successful at off-site work scenarios, while maintaining high levels of productivity. As an information technology company with many years of experience, we’ve helped hundreds of clients leverage technology to become more efficient and increase profits. Interested in learning more? Let’s connect. Send us an email or give us a call at 502-212-0978 and we can get the conversation started.
Ransomware Attacks In The Healthcare Industry
Ransomware attacks have become increasingly common in recent years. Individuals involved attack healthcare systems and other installations that contain critical private information to get data that is valuable to their targets. According to recent reports, damages caused by ransomware attacks are increasing, totaling billions of dollars every year. For example, a Boardman, Ohio-based Urology practice paid thousands of dollars to hackers during a ransomware attack in order to get their data unlocked, as reported by Ciso Mag. These attacks take over established systems and only release them when the ransom is paid. Doctors and medical staff are locked out and can't access important patient files, which can place people at serious risk.
Why is Ransomware so Challenging?
Ransomware attacks are challenging because they are very difficult to prevent. Hackers constantly change and improve their strategies and many have resources at their disposal to invade poorly secured systems. The healthcare infrastructure is particularly vulnerable because it doesn't have the best cybersecurity. Ransomware attacks may happen when employees accidentally download malicious code into a hospital's systems. For example, something as simple as opening an attachment from an unknown source can create a dangerous hole in your security. Employees receive hundreds of emails every day so it is easier to miss warning signs, which enables malicious code to enter into the IT infrastructure. While firewalls and internet security systems can stop some of these attacks, they can’t fully prevent them. That’s one of the reasons why these attacks have become so common and can even happen to systems with relatively strong security measures in place. Attackers used to target small and less secure IT systems in the past but they have changed their strategy and have become bolder. It is important to take aggressive steps that will help keep these invasions at bay.
How to Secure Your Systems Against an Attack
Stopping these attacks will require strategy and a careful approach. Companies need to come up with a multifaceted response policy that involves employee training, prevention, early detection, planned response to an attack, and strategies for dealing with a locked-down system. Here are some suggestions that can help:
1. Secure Your Systems
The first step to prevent a ransomware attack is to secure the IT infrastructure as much as possible. Install internet-facing security software like antivirus, firewalls, and other such programs. They will act as the first layer of security to block most malicious codes. Make sure essential programs on all devices accessing the company’s network are up-to-date. Software developers release upgrades with protections against the latest threats regularly. Outdated software programs have more security holes than new programs.
2. Control Access
Controlling access is a very efficient way to ensure your systems are more secure. Create multiple levels of access based on an employee’s level of authority in the organization. Make sure people can’t get into sections that aren’t relevant to their responsibilities. For example, a nurse from the cardiology department has no reason to get into the oncology department’s servers. Restricting access as much as possible can help keep vital information secure. Set up privileges for different departments and different levels of employees.
Ransomware attacks happen because of ignorance. Many employees don’t know how to detect and avoid malicious code. They unknowingly download these codes onto company servers and create a vulnerable access point. Comprehensive training and regular seminars will help keep employees alert to ensure they remain vigilant.
4. Create a Response Plan
If ransomware code is already in your system, you need to trace it and try isolating it as quickly as possible. A fast response and strong emergency procedures will help protect your information and limit damages. It will also provide IT teams a clear guideline on how to handle the threat. Just paying the ransom isn't enough and it won't make your systems safe. Ransomware gangs maintain backdoor access to their victim's infrastructure for months and may attack at any time if you don't upgrade your security. It pays to stay vigilant and ensure your security is up-to-date as possible. As an information technology company with many years of experience, we’ve helped hundreds of clients leverage technology to become more efficient and increase profits. Interested in learning more? Let’s connect. Send us an email or give us a call at 502-212-0978 and we can get the conversation started.
Tips For Transitioning To An Agile Approach To Software Development
The agile software development lifecycle is often considered one of the best approaches by industry experts. Studies show that this approach ensures software development teams are 37% faster in delivering products and 16% more productive, which can benefit your company significantly.
Many software development teams follow the traditional waterfall approach, which is fairly straightforward while also being very rigid. With this approach, the design tends to happen all at once up front, with the final product being unveiled at completion.
Such an approach isn’t very suitable for modern markets, especially if you need to develop a complex, large-scale application. Follow along for some tips to help teams that are intimidated by the prospect of transitioning to an agile approach.
6 Tips To Help Your Software Team Become More Agile
1. Make Sure Everyone is Onboard
Agile relies on collaboration between different teams. it will only be successful after a comprehensive implementation involving all departments from executive and management levels to ground teams. That's why it is important to make sure everyone is on board and agrees to adopt the agile approach. Program sponsors must get management commitment in particular to ensure success. Make sure both business and IT sides of your company agree to get involved before working on the transition.
2. Train Staff
The Waterfall and V-Shaped software development approaches don’t require much formal training, but agile is different. It is a little more complex and flexible, which means training can help developers adopt it completely. A few training sessions will ensure your team is familiar with the system and knows how to use it well. It will also ensure your staff doesn’t feel confused or overwhelmed by agile’s more complex workflow. Making the transition easier for a development team ensures your end-product isn’t affected by the change.
3. Maintain Communication
Communication is an important aspect of Agile because different teams working on different phases of the product must remain on the same page. Communication is especially vital when you're transitioning from other systems like Waterfall or V-Shaped to agile.. Teams should work from the same location and report their progress on a consistent schedule to team leaders. This will help you notice any issues with adaption and clogs in the machine early on.
4. Collaboration is Important
Agile places a lot of emphasis on collaboration during software development. Teams that were traditionally isolated from one another must communicate regularly to ensure they move through all phases smoothly. That can only be possible if you encourage a collaborative atmosphere. Agile requires team members to contribute their thoughts, opinions, and ideas to the project. It encourages people from different teams to identify mistakes and share them, which helps improve the quality of the end-product.
5. Create a Plan and Road-Map
Experts recommend creating a plan and road-map for agile adoption. This ensures the process isn't as intimidating for your team. Developers transitioning from Waterfall or other methodologies are accustomed to a rigid, straightforward project structure. Agile is more flexible so creating a plan or road-map can help. This plan will change during the project if needed, but it will still provide some direction.
6. Ensure the Transition is Gradual
Shifting to the agile model abruptly will do more harm than good. A gradual transition gives your team and stakeholders some room to adjust and adapt their work habits accordingly. This also ensures team members don't develop bad habits that may hamper the quality of their work later.
It is a good idea to bring in an experienced agile coach to guide your team and establish a foundation for the system. This ensures you have a good plan in place and the transition is as smooth as it can be. 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. I f 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.
Fostering Long Term Business Partnerships – 5 Things To Know
Building and running a successful business isn't easy. Every aspiring entrepreneur needs practical and hands-on support from employees, mentors, and business partners to succeed. Hiring employees and getting mentors requires work, but it isn't as complicated as acquiring or maintaining business partnerships over the long term. Here are some things you need to know to develop successful partnerships:
Build Connections and A Network You won’t find trustworthy associates without putting in some real effort. Many people end up partnering with their friends or relatives, but sometimes that does more harm than good. Business owners should work on building connections, finding like-minded people, and developing those relationships. During this process, you may stumble across a great partner who shares your vision, brings fresh ideas or resources to the table, and has a compatible personality. You can build a strong business based on this foundation.
Be Authentic and Genuine It is impossible to build a business relationship, or any partnership, based on lies. Business partners should be open and honest with each other to have a strong bond. False personas, sugar-coated business proposals, and dishonest communication can hamper the relationship. Entrepreneurs should be clear about risks, potential rewards, level of commitment required, and other such factors. Open communication at the beginning can help a partnership grow stronger over time. This is especially crucial for the first few months of establishing a business.
Set Common Goals and Values Goals and values are the guiding lines that help partners remain on track. It is easy to lose track of all goals or values once you’re involved in everyday management. That can lead to miscommunication, errors, or even a company-wide crisis. Before you start a partnership with someone, establish a set of values, ethics, and targets. Make sure they’re on the same page and agree with these guidelines. Ask them to contribute their thoughts or ideas to ensure your foundation is stable. Many long-term partners regularly look over their goals or values to ensure they still agree with them. Updating targets is a part of running a growing enterprise.
Show and Earn Loyalty
It is common for entrepreneurs to expect more from their partners than reasonable. Just because you are willing to sacrifice weekends or skip family commitments doesn't mean a partner will do the same. Everyone has different priorities and you must respect them. Set realistic expectations regarding how much engagement you can expect from a partner. A comfortable partnership involves working together to lighten the workload while still getting a lot done. That will happen even if you work more reasonable hours. It is also essential to be fair and straightforward. A business partnership will fail if your partner doesn't get adequate compensation for their work or commitments. Make sure they get their fair share of profit for their invaluable contribution. As an information technology company with many years of experience, we’ve helped hundreds of clients leverage technology to become more efficient and increase profits. Interested in learning more? Let’s connect. Send us an email or give us a call and we can get the conversation started.
Set Realistic Expectations Business is a risky battleground and partners are fellow soldiers. Such a relationship requires trust and loyalty, without which your partnership will collapse quickly. Make sure business partners know you have their back and will support them. Share their load, trust them with important tasks, and keep communication lines open. All of these actions will help build a bond of loyalty that will stand the test of time. Respect a business partner’s abilities and take all of their advice seriously. If a partner feels valued, they are more likely to value you in return. That helps develop a healthy long-term relationship, especially in a competitive environment.
Seven Reasons Why a Growth Mindset Is Better for Business
Many leading global corporations consider Growth Mindset as a defining leadership principle and a core skill that helps people adapt and succeed in increasingly disruptive times. Having a Growth Mindset is about staunchly believing that every failure is a learning opportunity and that it is possible to improve. The idea is to challenge oneself and let one’s attitude and efforts determine one’s abilities. The principle also propagates the idea that criticism and feedback are constructive and that trying new things is something you look forward to. Here’s a look at how a Growth Mindset is good for business.
How a Growth Mindset Helps Improve Your Business
1. Improved Revenue
Applying a Growth Mindset culture keeps your employees more engaged and makes them more resilient in times of constant change. As your team evolves and learns, it leads them to success in the workplace.
2. Risk-Taking and Accepting
Failure is an inevitable component of growth. Adopting a Growth Mindset is about accepting the possibility of failure at some time or the other. However, creativity, innovation, creativity, and boosting business success would not be possible if you aren’t willing to take risks. This risk-taking approach starts at the top rung of the ladder in any organization. Leaders have to set an example while empowering their staff to adopt leadership roles. They need to allow employees the flexibility to try new things and fail sometimes; this is how they can learn from their experiences and failed attempts.
3. Change Adds Value to Your Business
When you allow your employees to move out of their daily routine, it becomes more than just their regular job. It helps them develop new skills that may be outside their day-to-day work, which can prove valuable to them and your business.
4. Improves Productivity
Learning other's roles and understanding more about them go a long way in promoting collaboration, empathy, and encouraging new ways of doing things. When you allow your employees to set some time aside to build skills like leadership and collaboration, it inspires them and improves their productivity.
5. Creating New Opportunities
When a business owner uses the Growth Mindset while honing the culture of their company, it has a positive impact on the operating model. It helps them and their teams look at challenges as opportunities rather than threats, and reinvent themselves and boost their effectiveness at work.
6. Gets Teams out of Their Bubbles
Openness to change and self-reflection become the foundation of success. It isn’t difficult for employees and managers to get caught up in ideas that reinforce their beliefs. The Growth Mindset is about seeking out sources of new information and questioning existing beliefs to widen your perspective.
7. Encourages Commitment From Employees
Employees at companies that focus on a Growth Mindset feel much more committed to their work. They feel they are given the opportunity to learn, grow, and thrive. They are more motivated because they realize that their hard work and development is valued. Research indicates that people working in Growth Mindset companies pursue more innovative and novel projects. They cut fewer corners, behave more transparently, and work collaboratively. These motivated employees drive innovation and catapult the business forward. Overall, the Growth Mindset is about expanding, advancing, and developing horizons and opportunities for learning and evolving. It's about encouraging people to recognize potential and opportunity in every failure and success. As an information technology company with many years of experience, we’ve helped hundreds of clients leverage technology to become more efficient and increase profits. Interested in learning more? Let’s connect. Send us an email or give us a call and we can get the conversation started.