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How to Develop the Digital Skills Necessary for Remote Work

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

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

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

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

File Storage & Sharing Platforms

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

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

Video Conferencing

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

Collaborative Applications

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

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

Remote IT Work – 10 Tips That Make It Easier

remote IT work

Working remotely is great.

There’s a lot to love about remote IT work. It takes out the office politics completely and allows you to create your own schedule. It’s quicker to get stuff done without co-workers coming by to say hello whenever they please. If you want to stop by a cafe and work for the afternoon, you can! With remote IT work, you have more freedom to do the things you need during the week while also saving money on commuting, food, and coffee. Basically, working remotely is the solution to our busy modern lifestyles… or is it?

The truth is, working from home isn’t for everybody. For a lot of people, they need a separation between work and home in order to be effective at either. However, for those that do choose to work remotely, there are ways to organize your life for a good balance and efficacy.

1. You have to love remote IT work.

If you don’t have a passion for the work, doing it remotely isn’t going to help anything. To be a successful remote worker, you have to be completely committed to what you are doing. Motivation is key when it comes to working from home.

2. Start on time, every day.

One of the easiest lies to tell yourself when you’re working remotely is that it’s okay for you to sleep in because you’ll just work that much later. Of course, the kids come home or your friends go out for happy hour and “later” becomes “not at all” and the next thing you know, you’re behind schedule. Pick a time to begin working and commit to being in front of your computer at that exact time, every day, no excuses.

3. Make a schedule.

Working from home requires structure. Log all your tasks on a calendar with a week-by-week schedule that keeps you on task. As something comes up, find an open spot in that calendar and let your boss or client know exactly when you are getting to it. When you can, schedule any meetings or out-of-home-office close together so you can get them all done in one big chunk of time. Each task you have per week should be prioritized. A good rule of thumb is to get anything you don’t particularly like doing done first– that way you don’t have to think about it for the rest of the day.

4. Create the right environment.

If you choose to work remotely, you need to create a separate space in your home from which to work. Design your office space in a way that inspires your creativity. Eliminate outside distractions like TV; it’s too easy to get sucked into whatever’s happening on the tube. It’s also important to get dressed in the morning. Working in your PJs may sound fun, but our perceptions of ourselves change with what we are wearing. If you are in your lounge clothes, your brain is going to be in lounge mode. Take the time in the morning to shower, put on clothes, apply makeup… whatever it is you need to do to feel “dressed.”

5. Take breaks.

When you work from home, it’s easy to get caught up in what you’re doing. Without co-worker wandering around and stopping to chat,  you can zone in on a task and get things done. However, it’s important to take breaks. We aren’t designed to work eight hours nonstop. Taking breaks helps problem solving and creativity. It also prevents burnout so you don’t lose your passion for the work (see #1 up there).

remote IT work

6. Find your “spot” nearby.

There are going to be days when working from home just isn’t, well, working. Maybe the in laws are in town and there’s a bunch of commotion. Maybe a room needs to be fumigated. Whatever the reason, it’s a good idea to have a spot where you can set up shop and get some work done. For many people, their favorite neighborhood coffee shop fills that role. Others rent out desk space at coworking communities. You may even have a neighbor or friend happy to lend out their office while they’re out. Just be sure it’s a place with good internet and an atmosphere conducive to working, and you’ll be fine.

7. Ask questions… and then ask some more.

When it comes to remote IT work, things get lost in translation. You may think it’s easier to have things laid out in writing, but the truth is when you aren’t verbally communicating you can’t as easily go into the depths of what your boss or client wants. Asking as many questions you can think of up front, then asking, even more, follow up questions will ensure you truly grasp your instructions so you can get your work right the first time.

8. Keep lines of communication open.

Whether your company uses Skype or you’re a Slack devotee, don’t disappear from your company’s chat channels just because your face isn’t around. Your company is a team and a team needs to communicate to work effectively. Use the tools given to you to ask questions and work together, even if you’re not in the same building.

9. Come up with your quick, go-to lunches.

With remote IT work, one of the perks is the money you can save if you skip Starbucks and take-out for making it yourself. However, just because you can save a few bucks making your own lunch doesn’t mean you’ll have time to get your Gordon Ramsay on. You still need to stick to a schedule, so you probably only have 30 minutes to maybe an hour for your lunch break, depending on how you break up your day. You’ll want to enjoy that time actually enjoying your food, not wondering what to make, then taking 45 minutes making it. Come up with 2-3 go-to lunches you can throw together in minutes so you can eat and get back to work. Buy ingredients for these lunches on Sunday and revel in the convenience.

10. Trust your gut.

All of these tips work for someone, but nothing works for everyone. You may find that remote IT work in the comfort of your sleep clothes is best for you. Some people think the noise of the television is like a sound machine that keeps them focused. Listen to your instincts and create an environment that is right for you.

At Number8, we embrace the freedom and flexibility when our employees work remotely. With effective communication and the above practices, we are able to keep up with our ever-changing market whether we are in office or out. 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!

Working Remotely: Five Tips to Make it Easier

Home Office for Working RemotelyAccording to a recent study conducted by Gallup, more employees are working remotely now than ever before. Out of 15,000 adults surveyed, over 40% said they spent time working from home. We also published a blog post last month that details the various changes occurring in our current work force. The traditional work-week schedule is adapting to better suit employees’ lifestyles.

To help usher in this new style of employment, we have gathered nine tips that we believe can aid in adapting to working remotely.

Find the right job

First, and maybe most importantly, you should be at a company that understands and supports employees who work remotely. If you are already in a position and you’d like to transition into working out of the office, strike up a conversation with your superiors as soon as possible. If they won’t budge, then perhaps it’s a sign you should begin looking elsewhere.

Establish and maintain a private work area

Having your own space to work is extremely helpful when it comes to productivity and focus. You should have an area that is solely dedicated to work, with an actual desk and no distractions. If possible, a home office is ideal when it comes to working remotely.

Connect with your team

Physical distance should not inhibit your relationship with coworkers, or your managers. It is vital to maintain constant communication from all sides to ensure you are staying on track, and that your fellow employees are all up to speed with your projects.

Work around your energy, not the clock

One of the major benefits of working remotely is that you don’t have to follow the typical 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. timeline. While you shouldn’t use this as an excuse to sleep the morning away, it can be incredibly useful for when you’re feeling particularly motivated. Our most creative moments don’t necessarily come within that 8-hour window, so take advantage of the flexibility.

Dress for success

You wouldn’t wear pajamas into the office, so don’t do it when working remotely either. It is certainly tempting, however maintaining a well kept appearance even when working from home will make you feel more successful and productive. Suit and tie not required, but stay away from the sweatpants at least.  

Because our employees are located both in Louisville, KY and Costa Rica, many of them work on Number8 projects remotely. We support this method of work, because we know our employees are able to produce the highest quality products no matter where they are. If you’re interested in learning more about us and what we do, visit our information page here. And if you’re looking for IT services, or software development assistance, give us a call today at (502) 890-7665!