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Desk Job Ergonomics – Helpful Tips You Should Know

The pro to working in the IT industry or any remote line of work for that matter is that your job can be done from anywhere. The con however, is that more often than not it requires sitting in front of a computer screen. Doing so comes with many challenges. Repetitive movements from your typical desk job for example, can cause long term health problems in your neck and back, not to mention carpal tunnel syndrome in your hands and wrists. 

Fortunately, the design and arrangement of an office can greatly affect the productivity and health of those who work in it. Here are a few tweaks you can make to the ergonomics of your office whether at home or in an office building, to ensure it best suits you and your employees’ well being. 

The Standing Desk

It’s no surprise that sitting for prolonged periods of time has a direct correlation to weight gain, heart disease and diabetes. However, a recent study just revealed that those who sit at their desks tend to take more breaks than those who stand. The idea that not only one’s health but productivity levels could be significantly altered by remaining standing throughout the day is a pretty groundbreaking one. Yet, the employees who were monitored in the study tended to be more productive and engaged when working from their standing desks than their seated colleagues. 

Adjusting the Chair

If you’re not running to trade in your chair just yet, merely adjusting it might prove beneficial. The proper chair height can go a long way to promoting good posture and overall comfort. It is recommended that you lean fully into your chair for the most support. Your knees should also be level with your hips and your feet should rest flat on the floor. If you find yourself swinging your feet, consider getting a footrest. 

The Spaces Between Equipment

Take a look at your desk, do you find yourself over reaching or leaning forward too often? If so you might consider re-positioning the key components of your office. Your monitor for example should be an arm’s length away and your keyboard close but far away enough that your wrists are kept straight when using it. The Mayo Clinic asserts that hands should be below or at elbow level. They also suggest using shortcuts to limit the amount of times you use your mouse, as well as switching which side of the desk it’s placed on so you alternated hands. Additionally, if you’re an avid multitask-er, consider getting a headset or utilizing the speakerphone when talking on the phone instead of trying to hold it and perform other tasks at the same time. 

Lighting

Working from a computer all day unfortunately means that you are getting your fair share of blue UV light. Protecting your eyes from the harsh light of digital screens is paramount in limiting headaches and general fatigue. If you find yourself straining your eyes to see, adjust the brightness on your device and make sure you’re a healthy distance away. Additionally, the color spectrum of your screen can often be moved towards yellow and away from blue. Anti-glare tinted glasses have also been known to help as well as blue light blocking screen protectors. 

Going Green

Access to natural light and some form of greenery provides an immense boost in an office’s air quality, as well as an employee’s job satisfaction and concentration. According to the Harvard Business Review,Over a third of employees feel that they don’t get enough natural light in their work space. 47% of employees admit they feel tired or very tired from the absence of natural light or a window at their office, and 43% report feeling gloomy because of the lack of light.” Additionally Forbes noted that, “The performance of those working in ‘Green’ environments, increases on average by double, compared to those who work in conventional ones.” Placing a few plants that require minimal maintenance around the office and making use of those outside views will go a long way in boosting moral. 

Why not be more comfortable at work? Make sure you’re taking breaks to increase your circulation and consider changing up your environment once in a while to keep things fresh. 

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!

8 Traits of a Skilled Project Manager

A project manager’s job entails moving a project from conception to completion all the while ensuring a client’s needs and wants are being met and that the team is reaching it’s deadlines. This requires a lot of planning and executing. Additionally, finding the right person for the job can be quite the task as the role of project management requires a specific and well sought after skill set. 

Whether you’re searching for a good candidate to fulfill a project management position or looking to become a skilled project manager yourself, here are some important traits to hone in on. 

8 Characteristics of a Skilled Project Manager

1. Organization

In order to set realistic timelines and stay within budget for each and every project, a project manager needs to be a well oiled and organized machine. Seeing a project through from beginning to end in an organized and proficient way often entails being able to utilize the right tools to set goals and milestones, as well as schedule meetings and assign tasks. 

2. Communication

As with any role, communication is important. However, for a project manager, excellent communication skills are paramount. This is because their role acts as an information pipeline for both the client and company as a project progresses. A project manager must be able to manage expectations both within her team as well as when consulting with a client. Communicating in an honest and respectful way leaves no room for misinterpretation and fosters good working relationships. 

3. Leadership

A good project manager is also a good leader; someone who can managing people effectively. Keeping up with your team’s level of productivity on a current project as well as being clear about what should be prioritized and the best way to manage time takes real leadership. Additionally, a successful leader can comfortably delegate tasks, track their team’s progress, hold them accountable, and even share credit for a job well done.   

4. Vision

As a project manager, one must be able to see and account for an infinite amount of possibilities. Planning ahead means accounting for potential pitfalls and necessary revisions. This way,  if and when they happen, the project does not fall behind schedule. Additionally, by having enough foresight, a project manager is able to anticipate and prevent mistakes before they can halt a project. 

5. Drive

In order for any given project to be successful, it’s essential that the project manager is passionate about it’s development. One who lacks drive will not be able to motivate their team properly to meet deadlines and reach new levels of innovation. By having a stake in the company, a skilled project manager is likely invested in the outcome of their projects and more likely to prosper because of it. Additionally, those who enjoy helping others naturally have a drive and passion for their work because they want to see it do well. 

6. Problem Solving

Setbacks are inevitable no matter the project. A skilled project manager is able to quickly problem solve an issue before it has a domino like effect and causes the whole project to lag. Good problem solvers are creative and not afraid to take action. 

7. Composure

When things don’t go as planned or a project is right up against a deadline, an experienced project manager is able to keep their cool under pressure. This trait is vital in making sure projects reach completion. Staying composed when dealing with a difficult situation, whether with a client or a glitch in development, allows for things to get back on track quickly.   

8. Team Building

Part of a project manager’s job is to oversee his or her team during a project. In order to inspire coworkers to do their best work, a project manager needs to be an effective team builder. Team building often entails showing compassion when needed and cultivating an environment where everyone feels they can approach you and ask questions. When your team is comfortable asking questions as they work on an assignment, they’re less likely to make mistakes that will need to be corrected down the road. Encouraging this kind of participation and offering helpful as well as positive feedback streamlines 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!

How to Encourage a Culture of Continuous Learning Among Your IT Team

It should come as no surprise that providing professional development opportunities for your employees often results in new found innovation, creative problem solving, increased levels of productivity, and even upward mobility within the company. As a chief officer or project manager, here’s how you can support continued education for your IT team.

1. Provide The Resources & Time

If your team has to take it upon themselves to continue their education, chances are they’ll struggle with finding the right course and fitting it into their schedule among their many responsibilities. One way you can ensure your employees don’t get stuck or remain stagnant in their skill set, is by incorporating education into their work. Offering a set amount of hours of uninterrupted, paid learning not only motivates employees to seek growth, it makes it realistic. Whether it’s learning a new software tool or a strategies on improving performance in general, enabling your team to continue to develop will allow your company to keep up with the pace of the always evolving world of Information Technology.   

2. Tailor it to Your Work Culture

Continued learning doesn’t have to look the same for every business or IT team. It can be formal, informal, in the form of a quarterly retreat, weekly seminars, or online classes. What’s important is that you tailor it to your work culture. Depending on the size of your company, it may even be beneficial for employees to offer up topics they’re interested in and start from there.  

3. Lead By Example

Before you can establish a culture of continuous learning you must first create an environment where one is not afraid to ask questions. It can be scary to admit you are weak in a certain area or don’t exactly know how to do something. However, just because one works in the field of IT, doesn’t necessitate that they are skilled in it’s every specialty.  

4. Set and Share Goals

One way you can lead by example is to set and share your own goals for increasing your knowledge, both short and long term. This can be in the form of an action plan that details how you are going to reach these goals. Once you have established a means of providing educational opportunities, it’s beneficial to follow up with your team’s goals to ensure that there needs were met as well as learn how your employees plan to implement what they learned. When your team understands what they’re doing and why, they’ll be more engaged in the process and more productive overall. 

 

At Number8, we connect companies with IT talent and software developers that are fully trained in product development. By encouraging talent to come up with creative solutions, they remain motivated and positively contribute to a healthy company culture. If you’re interested in learning more about Number8 and what we do, give us a call at (502) 890-7665, or check out our information page.

An Overview of Scrum Certification

What is Scrum?

The term “scrum” is borrowed from the team contact sport rugby. In rugby, everyone has to work together for the duration of the game. Applied to the world of information technology, scrum’s holistic approach assures that no one is left behind or too far ahead during a project. In fact, development teams that utilize scrum, lead daily meetings or “scrums” to ensure everyone is on the same page. During these, team members give status reports on progress made for their specific project.

Though the concept of scrum predates the Agile way of thinking, it is a subset of the Agile methodology in that it is a development methodology that supports a more cyclical, flexible and adaptive way of working through a software development cycle. A typical scrum team consists of a product owner, a development team, and a scrum master. The owner envisions the project, while the team follows through with it from beginning to end. Meanwhile, the scrum master provides leadership and acts as an authoritative figure for the development team.

Becoming Certified

For those that work within the product development game, becoming certified in scrum is a valuable asset to cultivate. Demand for this certification has only increased alongside the growing popularity of the Agile methodology.

While receiving a scrum certification is quite the investment, it is a relatively quick process. Depending on if you’re seeking a junior or senior level course, it can take anywhere from hours to days to complete. Those that become certified in scrum are usually scrum masters. Scrum masters are tasked with inspiring, enabling, and guiding their teams through the process of product development. They also facilitate collaboration and productivity from the team and resolve any issues that may impede the unit’s progress.  

It’s important to note that scrum is not only used in agile software development. It can be immensely helpful when it comes to managing projects in an array of other fields as well. Before you enroll in a scrum certification course, be sure to properly evaluate the accreditation. This ensures that the class is from a credible organization that your employer respects and values.

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.

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!

6 Facts About the Cloud Computing Industry You Might Not Know

For those of you still wondering what the cloud is exactly, think of it as a metaphor for the Internet. Cloud computing is simply a way of storing and accessing files online. One’s cloud can be accessed via multiple computers as long as you are connected to a network. The information is then stored on remote servers. The cloud makes accessing data easier, and allows for the storage of large quantities of information. Therefore the future of business is no doubt cloud based.

6 Facts about the Cloud Computing Industry You Might Not Know…

  1. Companies like Amazon and Microsoft are receiving an ever growing portion of their revenues from the cloud. In 2017, Amazon generated 3.2 million from their public cloud computing infrastructure division known as Amazon Web Services.

  2. Security concerns about cloud computing are waning as more and more IT experts feel confident in trusting the cloud with sensitive data. A reported 60% feel adequately safeguarded against the potential risks of their databases being hacked.

  3. According to Forbes, “More than 50% of IT spending will be cloud-based by 2018.” An increased investment in cloud computing will likely be seen across all industries as the cloud helps businesses save money by using staff more efficiently.

  4. Almost half of the agencies within the U.S. Government utilize the cloud. In fact, the government is thought to be the largest user of cloud computing technology.

  5. Banks are the most active users within the cloud as a result of mobile banking apps, virtual transaction services like Paypal, and developing currencies like Bitcoin.

  6. For most companies, the cloud is used to store files and as a means for backup and recovery. Currently the cloud is being utilized for storage more than it is used for things like application deployment. However, this could change as the demand for cloud services grows and enables new business models.

At Number8, we provide high quality technical talent to businesses of all sizes and sectors. Whether you specialize in application development, custom software, website development, mobile solutions, database design, client/server, web application development and Q/A testing we can help. 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.

 

Costa Rica Students Responsible For Two Impressive Innovations

Students hailing from the University of Costa Rica (UCR) have recently developed two important and innovative prototypes. Each of these inventions could have long lasting, positive effects for those in and outside of the Central American country.

Here are the two latest innovations from students out of Costa Rica: 

The Argot App

Seven students in the Business Management program at the Paraíso campus of UCR developed a sign language app. The app named “Argot,” translates the Costa Rican sign language commonly  known as “Lesco.” By using the camera on a smartphone, the app is able to pick up on the signs made by a deaf person, and can then translate the hand movements into the Spanish written language in real time. The app also works vise versa in that written language can be turned into sign using an animated figure.

Argot won the University’s annual entrepreneurship fair last July. While it is now just a prototype, the students plan to put their monetary winnings towards the development of the app. The result is a big step forward in terms of inclusion, as those who are deaf in Costa Rica will now be able to better communicate within their communities. Additionally, the student’s hope is that the country as a whole will have a better understanding of the language of sign.

Apati-Dent Mouthwash

The second innovation is a regenerative mouthwash. The mouthwash was created by five students from the Pharmacy Faculty at UCR during their “Innovation Management” class. Dubbed “Apati-Dent,” this mouthwash not only freshens breath but whitens teeth as well as repairing tooth enamel. This is quite a breakthrough when considering whiteners currently on the market. Teeth whiteners have proven to be hard on teeth by wearing down enamel in order to remove stains. As a result, the standard teeth whiteners often cause tooth sensitivity.

What Apati-Dent does differently is utilize “nanoparticles that contain the main mineral component of teeth.” By using an active ingredient in which the tooth is already made from, this mouthwash is able to strengthen teeth naturally.  Therefore, instead of causing wear and tear on tooth enamel, their product fills in places where bacteria would normally grow. While Apati-Dent is currently only available in Costa Rica, the rest of us eagerly await the product.  

At Number8 we recruit computer science students with a sense of adventure and innovative minds. We believe that studying in a top-notch university prepares you for the fast paced tech market and IT. Are you interested in learning more about our developers, or do you think you are qualified to join our team? Then give us a call at (502) 890-7665 today!

 

4 Artificial Intelligence Trends to Watch

We probably haven’t fully realized the extent to which AI has already been incorporated into our everyday lives. The Internet of Things (IOT), commonly thought of as smart devices, have now come to include household appliances, as well as handheld phones and speakers; all of which are voice activated and designed to follow through with commands. This much is clear: how we are currently interacting with technology is vastly reshaping the tech industry, and it has everything to do with artificial intelligence. 

Both companies and governments are racing to develop the latest artificial intelligence platforms, with potential even in the medical and political arenas on the horizon. As automation continues to grow, so do cloud based solutions; providing the need for on demand storage. While people are quick to jump to the conclusion that AI is going to create a mass job exodus, it could very well fuel job creation as well. For example, there is a shortage of AI researches and engineers, and demand for those who can compile data efficiently. What follows are 4 AI trends to watch, and how they might affect the industry as we know it. 

4 Important AI Trends

  1. Logistics

    When it comes to coordinating facilities and supplies on a large scale, the robotic workforce is already taking over. Warehousing and distribution companies like Amazon are putting AI to work sorting and finding packages; a job that was once labor intense. 

  2. Automobiles

    The auto industry has grown leaps and bounds from OnStar vehicle and safety features. Artificial intelligence has allowed Tesla to bring the very first self driving cars to the street. Additionally, assisted driving features like automatic braking, parallel parking, and traffic alerts are now standard. The future holds more innovation, as Uber looks to implement driver-less cars. AI also continues to improve everything from automobile testing to software updates, problems and repairs.

  3. Data Analytics

    Many platforms are already running off of AI because it is simply better at analyzing data. AI algorithms are determined by machine learning from large amounts of data. Intelligent apps are able to make decisions based on patterns of behavior from said data. This is how music apps like Pandora and Spotify are able to recommend songs. Facebook for example already predetermines what users will or will not see, based off of their user data.

    As a result, AI platforms tend to be better at detecting security threats, fraudulent transactions or behavior. Additionally, when it comes to customer service, chat-bots are becoming popular with financial institutions in that they enable them to have virtual assistants 24/7. These chat bots are able to answer a customer’s questions based off of prior frequently asked and answered questions. Even e-commerce is utilizing AI in terms of price fluctuations and targeted ads. For example, an item’s price can change on it’s own based on how many times it is being viewed, or sits in a cart. Specific buyer habits and personas are also being gathered via membership or reward cards.

  4. Content Creation

    Surprisingly, AI will affect both white and blue collar jobs as many marketing strategies now include some form of AI wether it be via custom videos, social media posts, or emails. In fact, articles are already being published from many reputable news outlets using not journalists, but artificial intelligence. AI is specifically useful when it comes to writing many variations of the same message, or financial summaries and earnings reports where numbers are merely being translated.

At Number8, we connect companies with IT talent and software developers that are fully trained in product development. By encouraging talent to come up with creative solutions, they remain motivated and positively contribute to a healthy company culture. If you’re interested in learning more about Number8 and what we do, give us a call at (502) 890-7665, or check out our information page.