Tools for Transitioning to a Remote Workspace

In recent months, many companies have moved from the office to working from home. Working remotely can be great, but it’s important to be aware of how to create a remote workspace conducive to productivity. When we work from home we have many distractions that weren’t present in the office. Distractions from your day to day home life may impact your workday, which can make it a bit difficult to concentrate on everything you need to get done. When working remotely, there are several things to take into consideration. One is the space in which you are working. While you may not put much thought into it, this is something that can truly make or break your work from home experience. Some people believe that working remotely means that you can work from anywhere in the house such as the kitchen table or even your living room couch. However tempting that may be, you are more than likely not going to get as much work done on your sofa as you would in a well thought-out office space.

5 Tips To Make Your Home Work Space As Productive As Possible

Do you need to create a home work environment that is as conducive to work as possible so that you can get all of your work done easily and in a timely fashion? Follow along for some tips and tools that you can use when transitioning to a remote workspace as an office.

1. Keep your remote workspace clean and free of clutter

This is an important tip because the less clutter there is in your workspace, the less distraction. Also, many people find it much easier to concentrate when they are working in a clean area. According to the Harvard Business Review, “Cluttered spaces have negative effects on our stress and anxiety levels, as well as our ability to focus, our eating choices, and even our sleep”. Given this, you can easily imagine how having a cluttered workspace would affect your productivity.

2. Select tools that will help you feel comfortable

Whether it is a nice chair to sit in while you work, or even a standing desk, ensuring that you are comfortable in your remote workspace is vital for productivity. Furthermore, your space should be efficient. Have everything you need close to you so that you do not have to constantly get up and look for the stapler or a pen. You should have a comfortable place to sit (or stand). Additionally, your laptop should be eye level so that you are not hunched over all day. This will make for a much more enjoyable work day.

3. Make sure you choose a quiet remote workspace with enough light

When working from home, especially if you live with family or other people, there can be many distractions. Resist the urge to shut yourself in a closet—your workspace should be comfortable and have enough light so that you do not strain your eyes while working. If you have a spare room that you can equip with a desk, or even put a desk in your bedroom and shut the door during your workday, then you are more likely to get things done. Having people in and out all day can be quite a distraction, so for your work’s sake, keep it quiet.

4. Establish clear boundaries with family and friends

Just because you are at home does not mean that you are always going to be easily accessible if you are trying to work from home. It is important that you communicate clearly to loved ones, family and friends, about your needs and expectations while trying to work from home. Ongoing interruptions can really cost you a lot of time and lead to frustration. Finding ways to limit these distractions with a plan and forthright communication is at the heart of a successful remote workspace.

5. Create a beginning and an end to your work day

Depending on the type of work that you do, it is possible to experience a work from home environment as never-ending. You can fall into a rut of always being “on call” and never really feel like you are at home or at work fully. Given this, it makes sense to establish a beginning and an end to your work day, with clear rituals that help you make the transition. Sometimes simple things like a cup of coffee, or organizing your desk, can help get you ready for to begin or to wrap up a work day. When transitioning from the office to home, it can be quite a big change. However, many tips and tools like the ones shared above can help make the experience positive and productive. There is not one right way to create a home environment that is conducive to work. Try various approaches to find the right one for your situation and personal effectiveness. 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.

Seven Reasons Why a Growth Mindset Is Better for Business

April 9, 2020 / in IT Trends, / by Number8

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.  

3 Tips For Conducting Remote Job Interviews

Conducting a remote interview can require a bit of an adjustment if you haven’t done one before. There are a few guidelines you can follow that will help you streamline the process and get the most out of your interview. Here are 3 tips for conducting a remote job interview.

Choose the Right Technical Setup

One key part of a successful remote job interview is selecting optimal communication and collaboration channels. It’s important to choose the right setup based on what you want out of the job interview. For example, if you want a face-to-face mode of communication along with the ability to look at specific elements of websites and documents in real time, you might use a tool like Zoom to incorporate video chatting and screen sharing. You would have a much less efficient interview if you tried to coordinate the same activities by phone. Overcomplicating your interview should be avoided as well. Too many tools that aren’t being used will only cause confusion and create barriers to getting to know job candidates. Overall, you should pick the tools that will best align with your goals for the interview. 

Establish Expectations and Give Directions Ahead of Time

The best way to allow job candidates shine is to give them clear expectations before interviews. This is especially important with remote interviews, where technical setups can add layers of complications. Some of these expectations can be purely practical. You might want to ask candidates to position themselves in a quiet space so you can hear them clearly. Or, if there are multiple steps involved with getting into a virtual meeting space (like in Skype or Zoom), you may want to give detailed instructions for these steps and ask candidates to go through them prior to the interview. This can help avoid issues and delays due to platform updates, device incompatibility, and lack of familiarity with tools. If you want candidates to conduct any work before the interview as part of the process, these same ideas apply. Make sure you give instructions on preferred file types and how to upload or share documents before the interview. 

Prepare for Multiple People in an Interview

If you are conducting an interview with multiple people at the same time, either with your team members or multiple interviewees, this is all even more important to get right. The more people who are involved with the interview, the greater chance there will be a technical difficulty that could hinder progress. It can be helpful to establish a point person on your team to handle any setup and technical difficulties that may arise. Provide their contact information to candidates to help streamline communication. They can also be the go-to person for everyone internally. If you take the time to go through these steps, your interview will be well on its way to success!  As an information technology company with many years of experience, we’ve helped hundreds of clients leverage technology to hire remote workers. Interested in learning more? Let’s connect. Send us an email or give us a call and we can get the conversation started.

How To Identify A Team Player During The Interview Process

March 19, 2020 / in IT Team Player, / by Number8

Most products and business processes require employees to work in teams. Employees need to communicate well with others, collaborate on different tasks, and interact with different kinds of personalities. That's easier said than done and often requires some innate skill. Not all professionals are team players; many can't handle working with others on high-pressure assignments or environments. If teamwork is a vital aspect of your business processes, it is crucial to hire the right individuals for it. How do you know what a team player is and how do you identify one during the interview process?

What is a Team Player?

A team player isn’t just someone who can do their work efficiently while being a part of a team. They go above and beyond to ensure their team is successful. These professionals provide helpful feedback to their fellow team members, ask relevant questions about different aspects of a project, work well with colleagues at different levels, and focus on team success over personal achievements. Identifying a team player during an interview process can be challenging. Most prospective candidates know companies value collaboration and will frame their answers accordingly. Here are some tips on how to identify a team player during an interview process: Look at Past Experiences and Collaborations The best way to identify team players is to look at their past collaborations. Ask them about different projects, teams, challenges, and other such influential factors. Ask how the candidate contributed to such projects and their team. The answer will tell a lot about their working style and ability to be a good team member. If a person dismisses other's efforts and uplifts their contributions, they may not be the right candidate. If they highlight how every member of a team contributed and how much they put in, you may have a winner.

Ask the Right Interview Questions

Focus on questions that rely on behavior and experience instead of personality and habits. Some of the most important questions to ask are:
  • Have you worked in teams?
  • Have you assumed any leadership positions?
  • How do you work with a team on a challenging project?
  • How do you handle failure or mistakes as a part of a team?
  • Are you happier working in a team or alone?
  • What does it mean to be a team player?
Answers to such questions will give you a better insight into the candidate and their ability to work in collaborative environments. Focus on their past experiences, so you have more concrete answers.

Discuss How A Person Will Handle Team Conflicts

No team is without conflict, even if you find the most level-headed employees. Handling team conflicts is an essential skill that every member must master to work successfully. Discuss how your candidate handles disputes between other members of the team. Ask them how they get into or get out of personal disagreements. A person’s ability to diffuse conflicts or step back from an argument gracefully can help them thrive in a team environment.

Can They Work With Multiple Small Teams at Once?

It's common for skilled professionals to contribute their expertise to different teams at the same time. A true player will know how to juggle all teams, different deadlines, and different priorities efficiently. You should determine how they can handle virtual groups or team members they have never met personally. Some professionals are comfortable communicating online while others struggle with it. 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.  

What They Don’t Teach You About Project Management

March 12, 2020 / in Project Management, / by Number8

Project managers juggle several tasks at the same time. They communicate with all teams, make sure everyone is reaching their targets, keep an eye on the budget, and much more. While most project managers get project management training or formal education in the field, they learn several skills on the job through hands-on experience. Here’s a brief look at some of the skills you learn on the job as a project manager.

Project Management Skills, Explained

Delegating

Project managers must learn the fine art of delegating if they want to keep a project on track. People fresh out of school or working on their first few projects find it very difficult to delegate important tasks. They don’t trust their team members or even understand their competencies enough to delegate effectively. Experienced project managers eventually learn how to delegate important tasks to people who will get things done effectively or on time. They also know how to hold people responsible and determine whether a team member deserves a second chance if they make mistakes. If a project manager doesn’t know how to delegate, they won’t be able to grow as a team leader.

Choosing the Right Project Management Team

Project managers rely on their team to get work done. They need to select people they can trust to do a job well. In most cases, project managers break work down into sections, determine what kind of skills each section needs, create an employee profile based on that, and then recruit. Most experienced project managers know that this approach, while useful, is often limiting. A more direct approach of hiring as many competent, talented, and qualified individuals for the project as possible provides more flexibility. In this approach, project managers aren’t restricted by their employee profiles and can recruit more versatile candidates with multi-disciplinary skills. These people end up bringing more to the table on a project, which has a positive impact on the results.

Communications

Most school courses place a great deal of emphasis on communication, but it is still something project managers learn on the job. Every manager develops their method of approach when it comes to communication. They learn how to express their expectations, issue reprimands without discouraging team members, and praise good work without making others feel left out. Project managers with excellent communication skills also know how to remove people from their teams if necessary. This can be quite challenging for those new to project management because firing people is never easy. Most inexperienced professionals linger over the matter for weeks, or even months without acting on it. That can slow down a project or also harm the final results.

Negotiating

Where there is a team full of competent individuals, there’s bound to be some form of conflict. People have different opinions, approaches, skill levels, and temperaments. These can clash and create conflict in a team, which ultimately affects a team’s overall productivity. Someone with good project management skills learns how to handle different personalities and negotiate between them. They know how to read a situation and diffuse an argument without looking like they’re taking sides. This is an important skill to develop as it ensures your team remains productive. Conflicts will happen regardless of how carefully you choose team members, especially in the initial stages. People who have just started working together will take some time to become comfortable and adjust to different personalities. It is a project manager’s job to ensure everything goes smoothly. Managers must also be flexible enough to handle changes in project priorities, goals, and targets. They need to come up with ways to alter their plans smoothly, add more people to the team, and ensure everything keeps moving without any significant disruption. 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.

10 Things Desk Workers Can Do To Get Healthy

February 20, 2020 / in Careers, IT Trends, / by Number8

Desk worker health is a pressing issue. Individuals who work in office spaces are relatively less healthy than those who work at jobs that are physically demanding. Recent data suggests around 86% of all workers in the United States alone sit for the majority of the work day. This is a problem because of the negative health outcomes associated with high rates of sitting. These outcomes include an increased risk of cancer, cardiovascular disease, obesity, and musculoskeletal disorders, just to name a few. However, there are several things that desk workers can do to get fit at work. Here are 10 things desk workers can do to get healthy.

10 Things Desk Workers Can Do To Get Healthy

Walk to Work

If your workplace is located close to where you live, consider leaving your car at home and walking. Although it might not be possible to do this every day due to bad weather or lack of time, walking will definitely get you fit.

Use a Standing Desk

Sitting all day is incredibly harmful to one's health. Health experts now say that sitting is the new smoking. If your job demands that you sit all day long, consider opting for an adjustable desk. This way, you can switch between standing and sitting when you are at your desk.

Use a Fitness Ball

Another great way to get fit is by replacing your chair with a fitness ball. You have to balance yourself on this ball while working, and although it looks a bit goofy, it's a great way to train the muscles in your back and legs.

Avoid Outside Food

Another major problem that several office workers face is that they cannot control themselves from eating food outside. Although it's convenient to pick out something from the cafeteria, that doesn't necessarily mean it's a healthy option.  An excellent way to stop eating outside food is to pack your own lunches and snacks every day.

Get Some Exercise Gear

You don't have to head to the gym to get exercise. You can always carry your own fitness gear and perform a few essential exercises during breaks. Keep a few lightweight dumbbells and elastics in your workplace. Perform exercises while reading notes or even while making calls.

Take Periodic Breaks

We always tend to wrap up our work as rapidly as possible so we can leave the office on time. But it doesn't mean you have to be glued to your chair all day long without taking any breaks to stretch. Those who avoid taking breaks end up feeling mentally inactive. Some believe that taking periodic breaks means they get less work done; however, that isn't necessarily the case. As a matter of fact, taking frequent breaks can be more productive. The idea is to take a short break to rejuvenate and get work done at a clipping pace.

Work Out During Breaks

Rather than sitting down during your lunchtime and other breaks, consider spending that time performing some basic exercises. If the weather permits it, you can also start going out for a walk as opposed to being cooped up indoors. Find a colleague to walk with you during breaks. Start doing this regularly, and you will feel healthier in no time.

Be Hygienic

While carrying out your daily duties, it may not be possible to get up and wash your hands each time you want to. However, you can always keep a hand sanitizer on your desk. This makes it easier to avoid infections that can spread from shaking hands with people that have a cold or cough.

Maintain Good Posture

People who use computers at work have to spend hours staring into a screen, and they're slowly drawn to it. This means they stretch their neck forward. Over time, this puts a considerable amount of stress on their spine and neck. However, you can easily avoid this by carrying out some basic desk exercises. It is crucial to remember that everything must be done in moderation. Just because you're keen on getting fit doesn't mean that you stop enjoying a beer with your colleagues. However, you must be watchful on how often you place one thing over the other. 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.        

8 Traits Software Developers Tend To Share

February 13, 2020 / in Careers, / by Number8

People often wonder what makes a great software engineer. Although there are several opinions on this matter, the most typical qualities that software developers share are the ability to produce maintainable working software, staying on top of the latest technologies, and, most importantly, being a team player. Here are a few traits software developers tend to share.

8 Traits Software Developers Tend To Share

1. An Analytical Mindset

A software developer must have high system-level thinking skills. At the same time, another essential quality is excellent problem-solving skills. There should be a perfect balance between the ability to think about the big picture while paying attention to smaller details.

2. Inquisitiveness and Curiosity

There may come times when a software developer creates codes that don't work. In such cases, they mustn't be afraid to ask questions about why it happened. The best way to move forward is by continuing to dig. Another quality that's crucial for developers is the ability to ask superiors, clients, and peers questions. This ensures that they fully understand the expectations and requirements for their work.

3. Empathy

It's crucial to remember that software is all about people. Good developers always make efforts to understand their users. Being able to relate to and empathize with the team and clients is another trait that good software developers share.

4. Flexibility

Regardless of the kind of programming language a developer specializes in, code is always unpredictable. Skilled developers have the ability to switch the scope of a project quickly and return a previous point if required. Adapting and being able to respond to time-sensitive problems as soon as they arise is crucial.

5. Enthusiastic To Learn

When it comes to technology, there's always something new to learn. Expert software developers always keep abreast of advances in their industry and are eager to expand their knowledge.

6. Pragmatism

Software developers can come across unique problems with their projects. They understand that the best solution and the correct solution aren't always the same. Sometimes, standard practices work well. Other times, they have to think outside the box. Skilled developers value their own practices and problem-solving abilities more than just relying on a set of rules.

7. Team Player

Besides working on projects alongside other developers, designers, and engineers, software developers have to work as part of a team within a company as well. They can be assigned to work with sales teams, support teams, or even marketing teams. Being a team player is a quality successful software developers pick up early in their careers.

8. Technical Mindset

A developer's main tool to carry out day-to-day work is a computer. A computer can do what it’s told to do but cannot think for itself. So, software developers need to know the "logic" of computers. Software developers are very adept at working with computers and other devices. They also have the capacity to quickly learn about new technology and apply it in their work. Another indispensable quality that expert developers have is the ability to communicate technical ideas to non-technical people. Being able to evolve and adapt and look at things positively are key traits for this. These are just a few of the traits that developers tend to share. Overall, being adaptable and willing to learn are some of the most important abilities. These qualities help them grow as professionals. 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.

7 Things About Microsoft You Might Not Know

Microsoft is a tech giant and one of the most influential companies in the market. While competitors like Apple or Google may seem more popular, Microsoft continues to have a strong presence. It is the third-largest tech company in the world, just a couple of steps below Apple and a step over Google's parent company Alphabet. While Microsoft has been around since 1975, there are still some things most people don't know about the influential company. Follow along for more details.

  1. It was First Micro-Soft

    Before the founders registered its brand name, they used Micro-Soft (a combination of microcomputer and software) in their company communications. Fortunately, they decided to drop the hyphen during registration and settled on an admittedly cooler brand name. While the name has remained unchanged, the logo has undergone several transformations. Microsoft’s first logo had a stylized ‘O’ called a ‘blibbet’, which was also the name of a burger served in the company’s cafeteria.
  2. Microsoft Made a Lot of People Rich

    Microsoft founder Bill Gates was the youngest billionaire of his time and spent a lot of time sitting at the top of the richest people list. But Microsoft’s stellar success didn’t just make Gates rich.  Thousands of millionaires can trace their success back to this technological juggernaut. People who bought this company's stock in the 1980s and retained it until the 2000s made a remarkable profit as well. Its stock price has increased by approximately 71,283% over the past three decades.
  3. Microsoft Saved Apple from Bankruptcy

    Microsoft and Apple are some of the fiercest rivals in the industry. They have been competing against one another since their very inception. However, when Apple landed in financial trouble back in 1997, its rival stepped up to save it. Microsoft invested around $150 million to get Apple back on its feet. Not surprisingly, many people were not thrilled by this news, but if that support hadn't come in, Apple may no longer exist.
  4. A Long List of Code Names

    Tech companies are notoriously secretive when their products are under development; Microsoft is no exception to this rule. The company always assigns code names to its projects, which keeps competitors from knowing much about it. The code names are also placeholders because developers often come up with a product name after it is fully realized Some of the more famous names include Chicago (Windows 95), Whistler (Windows XP), Yukon (SQL Server 2005), Longhorn (Windows Vista), and Milan (Surface). The list of codenames is extensive, probably containing dozens of code names.
  5. Microsoft is Serious About Art

    The company has one of the most significant corporate art collections in the world, with more than 5,000 pieces from contemporary artists. Its collection includes works from relatively unknown artists as well as industry heavyweights like Takashi Murakami, Chuck Close, and Cindy Sherman. The art is scattered around Microsoft's 150 campuses and includes paintings, sculptures, photographs, multimedia works, etc.
  6. Microsoft Entered the Smartphone Game First

    Apple launched its first smartphone in 2007, but Microsoft had been in the industry since 2000. Unfortunately, they didn't find much success and their software performance on smaller hand-held devices wasn't stellar. Apple's technologically sophisticated product revolutionized the industry.
  7. The Company Has Pet Rabbits

    A few years ago, someone abandoned a few rabbits on the Microsoft campus grounds. This small group of rabbits bred at a rapid pace and grew in size; before long, the campus was swamped with these adorable but fast-breeding pests. To this day, they still have a thriving population. These are just a few of the many unknown facts about Microsoft. There are several fascinating stories associated with this company that you can explore in your spare time.

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