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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!

The Top 3 Locations for Outsourcing Software Development

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

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

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

Latin America

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

Asia

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

Eastern Europe

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

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

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

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 Benefits of Stakeholder Interviews

There’s no denying it, for developers and project managers alike, stakeholders can have a somewhat looming presence throughout the duration of a project. It’s only natural considering they are often deeply invested in the project’s outcome and can even greatly influence the development of it. However, simply taking the time early on to interview those who have a stake in the outcome of the project can have numerous benefits. Here are 5 reasons why you should carve out some time in the planning stages of your next project and chat with your stakeholders.

1. Craft a Cohesive Vision

Often there are a lot of key players involved in any given project. What better opportunity than the early stages to come to a common consensus on execution? Chances are there may be more than one stakeholder, so sitting down with each one and shedding light on their own unique perspective can help your team anticipate how they will each influence the process and enable you to drive alignment right from the start. 

2. Set the Right Goals & Priorities

Consider this part of the research stage. Stakeholders can provide much needed context for what the success of a project will look like as they are part of the user audience. Therefore, inquiring about each stakeholder’s goals, agenda, and purpose will provide immeasurable insight in terms of delivering a satisfactory end product.

3. It Saves Time & Money

When you don’t have to rely on assumptions, you save your team from having to do time-consuming and costly rework. Having a conversation with stakeholders at the beginning, is proactive and will help to establish a realistic project plan and scope. 

4. Collaboration

Collaboration and communication is just good business. Having a rapport with your project’s stakeholders builds trust and credibility. The relationship with stakeholders should be viewed as more of a partnership in which each side feels validated and helps drive the project forward.

5. Proactive Problem Solving

Stakeholders are a valuable asset to any project not only through their monetary support, but their ability to voice concerns and identify challenges. Interviewing them from the start is a great way to see the constraints your team may be facing and bring things to the surface now rather than later. Structure the development process like a walk through, and allow them to aid in the decision making process. 

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.

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!