How To Save Money On Energy Bills When You Work From Home

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Remote working is becoming more common in business and there are a lot of benefits for both the employer and the employee. We often hear about the financial advantages on both sides because businesses do not need to spend as much money on office space, and there are a lot of opportunities for employees to save money. You don’t need to spend money on your commute, and you’ll save a lot if you can cook at home instead of buying lunch every day. However, it’s not quite as simple as that because remote working can cost you more in other ways. If you are at home working all day, your energy bills will be significantly higher than they would be if you were at the office all day. This is a big problem for remote workers, but there are ways to get around it. These are the best ways to cut energy costs when working remotely.

Improve Insulation In Your Home 

If your home is expensive to heat, you will feel the impact of remote working a lot more. That’s why it’s a good idea to improve the insulation around your home if you plan to work remotely in the long term. Adding more insulation in the roof cavity is one of the most cost effective ways to do this. You should also get in touch with a company like Naimor, inc. and have them make a sheet metal roof for your home. It’s the most energy efficient roofing material because it reflects heat in the summer and keeps the home cool, and it gives you better insulation during the winter. If none of this works, you may need to consider adding more insulation in the walls, but this can be expensive and disruptive, so you should try to avoid it where possible. 

Work Shorter Hours 

You will use a lot of electricity if you are using a laptop and other devices all day long. But if you can work shorter hours, you will notice a big drop in your energy bills, which is why efficiency is so important. Your work day will be a lot longer if you spend half the time looking at social media and distracting yourself in other ways. It’s far better to work a shorter day, but work harder during those hours. If you break up the day into smaller sections and set yourself small targets, you will be far more productive. 

Let Natural Light In 

If you are productive, you should be able to get all of your work done during daylight hours. If you can let natural light into the home, you don’t need to have the lights switched on all day long, and that will save a lot of money. When you are designing your home office, try to pick a room that gets plenty of sun. You should also paint it in a light color so the light is reflected around the room and it stays bright in there all day. 

These simple changes will help you to save a lot of money on your energy bills, so you still get the financial benefits of working from home.

Creating Unity Within Your Team

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Your team is going to be the driving force behind your business. They will be the people facing, code writing, and hive brain that help your company run smoothly. That goes for a remote team or one that is in a store or an office. Team unity matters a lot. It means that people will be willing to step up to the plate to help their colleagues, and it allows for the flow of skills to cross over between job-roles too. Not to mention the increase you will see in productivity.

Let’s take a look at a few ways to create a sense of unity within your team.

Community

Bring a sense of community and belonging to your team. Humans are pretty keen on being part of something, and a team fulfills that need. You can cultivate that further in the following ways:

  • Uniformity: you don’t need to have a full uniform if it doesn’t suit your business, but the option to wear a range of printed t-shirts can put people on an even playing field. Get more information here about some of the available options.
  • Celebration: Enjoy things like birthdays, new babies, and high-sales months. Celebrations for life and work achievements can keep productivity and work ethic high. 
  • Collaboration: Create a work environment that caters for collaboration on projects that might be outside of people’s traditional roles. 
  • Communication: Set the example when it comes to communication within your team. Have an open dialogue about things that are work-related and those that aren’t. Communication is key in your working relationship but can strengthen the bond of your team too. 

Forward Motion

When a group has the same goals, they are more likely to meet them. When you instill the direction, visions, and values of your company early on in the team building, those will become the basis for everything you do. 

  • Values: Consider the core values that you had written in your business plan during the early days, see if they have grown, and use that as your guide. 
  • Direction: Have the business goals as the guiding lights for the direction that your company and team should be working towards
  • Vision: A single vision for a group of people. Make sure that your vision is the basis for everything, and that each team member takes ownership of what that vision is and where they fit into it. 

There are other things that you can do to help your team be cohesive and productive too. Booking things like teamwork events, evening meals, friends, and family days can all bring a more profound sense of where they fit within the company. Clarifying that, and giving people feedback regularly will change how they tackle work in the future. 

And, any business owner worth their salt knows that training and positive reinforcement are not only brilliant for business, but they give purpose, confidence, and skills to your team members too. 

Treat your team as people, and not resources to get the very best of everyone.

Do You Need An Office To Run An Effective Business?

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Part of what makes a happy working environment in this day and age is the flexibility. When you are working in an office, everything seems somewhat regimented. But when you are in charge of a business or trying to set one up, a lot of your working life may very well be at home. But this begs the question, do you actually need an office in order to run a business effectively? Or is it about a little bit of give and take, so you can benefit financially, but also get the work done?

Look At Your Clients

It all depends on making that solid impression as well as the industry that you work in. When you are trying to manufacture components, many clients may not necessarily care where you are operating from, just as long as you keep up your end of the bargain. In terms of the manufacturing industry, there are companies like WES Ltd that provide assistance for businesses in terms of engineering and welding. And when you start to look at your client base, you may feel somewhat sheepish that you don’t have an office or a base, but does this really matter? Sure, for some people, impressions count for everything, but this is where something like a virtual office can really come in handy. Just as long as you provide that impression that you are a fully functioning business, and you are delivering the goods do you really need an office? It doesn’t seem like it.

Can You Build A Culture Of Remote Working?

While you may very well need clients dotted around the world, when you have employees that are able to do everything from the comfort of their own home, it’s possible to build this culture of remote working without an office. The fantastic thing about remote working is that it gives you the opportunity to liaise with people in so many different ways and now due to various collaboration tools like Slack, it’s not as important to be in the same room. Building a culture of remote working is partly to do with the technology you have, but it’s also about how you communicate yourself. Just as long as the work gets done, and you provide that degree of flexibility that’s imperative to remote workers, you provide a business framework that can get more done. A lot of people prefer to work remotely for this very reason.

What If You Need An Office Sometimes?

This is a very common issue. If you need an office for meeting up in person, it’s never been easier to hire a space for meetings. Because we can run a business without a location, just as long as the internet is working effectively, it’s possible. The fact of the matter is now that so many businesses are starting from a remote location, and try to keep it that way, you could do exactly the same. It can improve the culture but it can also improve the bottom line.

Remote Working Tips When You’re Just Starting Out

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If you are someone who is able to work remotely, or work from home a couple of days a week, then you will need a few tips and tricks to help you to improve, especially if you are new to it. There can be a feeling that you won’t get any work done as you’ll be much more distracted, but you need to know that when you do things in the right way, then it can help you to get work done. But how can you help yourself to stay productive, be creative, and be inspired to live up to the lifestyle that remote working can give to you? Here are some things that can help you to get all the work done that you need to, and can smash that remote working life.

Reliable tech

When you think of working remotely then you will think of a good WiFi connection and how it is essential to help. But there is more to having a good setup to work with, than just your internet connection. If you have the ability to take calls or video calls, without losing any kind of connection, then it can be a simple thing that can make a difference. The tech that you use, as well as the internet connection, will make such a difference. Things like a pair of noise-cancelling headphones can help, and then you could work literally anywhere, like a coffee shop or down by the pool on vacation. A good laptop is a must too, as well as a mouse, and perhaps even a second screen if that would help when you’re based at home.

Keeping things secure

If you want to make sure that you’re able to send over information securely, as well as access files sent to you, without the risk of hacking and so on, then keeping things secure is really important. You could think about getting a VPN (virtual private network) as it helps you to use a private network, which keeps things like hackers at bay. There are different ones to choose from, but checking out something like an Opera browser VPN review will give you an idea of what you’re looking for. Taking steps to keep things secure is a must for your business, or the business that you work for.

Lean on your community

One of the things that can occur when you work from home is a feeling of loneliness, as although you might call people or video call people, it isn’t quite the same. So to make sure that you’re feeling supported and connected to the working world, then you could work in a local co-working space from time to time, or perhaps just heading to somewhere like a coffee shop for a bit of ‘noise’ and connection to other people. When you are surrounded by other people who are all working remotely, or just being around other people from to time, then it can help you to stay productive and keep you motivated. But find what works for you and what makes a difference to how well you’re able to work.

Taking Care of Your Tech When You Freelance

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When you freelance, you are pretty reliant on your tech. After all, the majority of freelancers will work from home, from their laptop. They will also incorporate other tech like tablets, smartphones and gadgets into their working routine. So, it’s important that you really take care of your tech if you’re reliant on it  to make a profit! Here are just a few pieces of advice you might want to take into account!

Insurance

Safety first! All of the products that you use for your work should be insured. This is an absolute basic requirement. Tech that your company uses can often be extremely pricey. But at the same time, tech can be easily damaged. All it takes is a spilt drink, dropping something on the floor, or even leaving something in a space that is excessively humid or hot, for tech to break or become unusable. These pricey possessions can also be prone to theft. So, make sure you aren’t left having to fork out for new laptops, tablets, smartphones, cameras, or other equipment by making sure all of your tech is insured under a policy that has you covered for absolutely everything. It’s always worth using price comparison sites for your different policies. This will get you the lowest cost cover and premium out there.

IT Support

Sometimes your tech can go down, just at the moment you’re about to do something important. Maybe you were about to launch a blog post or vlog post that viewers and subscribers were waiting for. Perhaps you were about to reply to an email about an important collaboration. You may have a deadline coming up and need to submit a substantial piece of work. Having IT Support on hand can help to resolve network issues and other problems that can get in the way of your work. Consider working with a company like F1 Networks who will be able to provide you with all the IT support and network solutions you could possibly need.

Upgrading Software

You’ll find yourself using the same software on a day to day basis. Whether that’s Adobe Suite, Microsoft Office, or anything else. It’s always worth looking at the latest versions of the programs that you use. If there’s an upgrade on offer, you might want to consider taking it. These major companies are always working to improve the services and programs that they offer you. So new versions can help to improve your work! The latest versions of software are also less prone to problems and hacking, as they’ve been optimized and cyber criminals haven’t had as much time to familiarize themselves with the newer software.

These, of course, are just a few tips that can help you take care of your tech when you’re freelancing. But seriously consider implementing them into the way you work! They can make all the difference in the long run!

Using Lessons From Remote Working To Run A Better Office

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One of the hallmarks of a successful business is listening to your employees and ensuring you take on their feedback. But these days there are so many out there are scattered all over the place, that you can’t have them all under one roof. Remote working is so popular now, but for all of the veritable pros and cons, you may very well want to bring everybody back together. What can we learn from remote working to ensure that we run a better office?

Being sociable works wonders for positivity

If you’ve been working on your own for a long time, you might find that remote working means you lose that social aspect. By encouraging that old fashioned approach to the water cooler, and having a conversation about last night’s television, you start to solidify a bond between the employees that goes beyond the work. So take it upon yourself to install a water cooled chiller and encourage people to talk because this means collaboration becomes effortless.

Communication and collaboration works across many lands

In running a remote team, or if you work by yourself at home, you realize just how easy it can be to get in contact with others. There are so many different communication tools out there that it’s very easy to get to speak to someone, either via Skype or email. But when it comes to this office environment, we can very easily ping over an email to someone, but this could interrupt their work flow. Set about finding the right communication tools and collaboration so everybody still has that working flow. It is a very difficult thing to get right, but when you want to inspire collaboration and communication ensure that people get up off the chair and wander over to their colleagues, especially if they’re only on the other side of the office! Some businesses frown upon this because it takes people away from the desk but if you want to run an office driving, culturally sound, and where people communicate effortlessly, that human contact is also essential.

People can be disciplined when they want to be

When you run an office, that temptation can be to bark orders and everyone so that they follow the rules. But when you bring people in from a remote working environment they have to function under their own steam. As a result of self-discipline is a fantastic tool, not just because people figure out their own way to get a task done as quickly as possible, with great quality, but it also inspires trust. If you can entrust your employees to do the job that them to do without them feeling that you are watching their every move, they shall work better, are more relaxed, and everybody wins.

Many people find that remote working is a heavy burden on a business, but others can’t help but go down this route due to the cost-effectiveness aspect. But there are things we can learn from remote working that we can apply to an office environment. That lack of sociability from remote working means that employees will make the most of developing relationships with employees, communication is better and more comprehensive and also, that idea of self-discipline is arguably the biggest asset of any business when you transfer remote workers to an office environment.

Make Your Office Work For You

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If you work from home, and most people do. Either they are freelancing, running a business, or taking work home regularly from the office. What your office looks like and how it functions matters. You want to make sure that you are your most productive in there. So there are some things that you should pay attention to when it comes to making your office work for you.

Light

You want to have as much natural light in the room as possible. Natural light gives us energy and makes us more productive, and that is something you really need to be aiming for in a home office. The time you spend in, there should be focused. So if you have a window that is usually covered, or you often have the curtains closed – it is time to ditch that habit. Of course, for privacy purposes, you might want something. A light voile will do the trick. 

Light Part 2

If you have space, then think about adding some strip LEDs into the room. And swap your yellow or warm-toned bulbs for something that is closer to natural light. 

Walls

The lighter and brighter you can make the walls the better. You are looking at white realistically. It’s cheap and easy to do. But you could go for a dark, moody space if that is what gives you inspiration. If you have a lot of books in your office, then fit some shelves and see your walls as storage. Add some interesting art on there too. Try and take the time to find things that get you in the mood for being creative, inspired, and focus. 

Desk

Your desk should be clear of clutter at all times. If it is messy, stray papers and pen lids might catch your attention. From a productivity perspective, you really want to minimize the number of distractions. It would be beneficial if you had a draw that could store things like notebooks, pens, and files. 

Computer

Your computer doesn’t make you money, but you make money with your computer. So it makes sense for you to really pay attention to it. Once a week, make sure that you that your run all updates and other things on your computer. Next time you sit in your chair, consider if your screen is too high or too low for you. This will cause you to either crane your neck or slouch. Using a monitor mount arm will be you can move the screen around as you need to. 

Green

Green is used in offices all over the world because it is known for its productive vibes. Plus they are great at cleaning the air in your office. So not only are they great to look at, they provide a useful service too. So consider adding a few easy to take care of plants into your office space. 

 

It is often said that the best way to make sure that you are focused in an office is to ensure there is a door or something to separate it from the rest of the house. So when possible make sure you have that capability.

Remotely Working For You

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Remote working is the new way of getting the job done. Rather than tying you to that office cubicle, the ability to work remotely from your home office or the nearest cafe is a boon for many workers. The studies back it up too, with evidence that remote workers work just as hard, if not harder on their projects. Perhaps this is because there’s no distraction by office chatter or they feel more productive knowing their work and home life is balanced and less stressful.

Perhaps the one draw back from working remotely is that feeling of being a little cut off from your team, of not having the rigid timetable that you tend to have in your office life. So in this article, we’re taking a look at how you can get the job done, even when you’re not at work and get the best from your remote working.

Better Connected

And the odd phone call might just be enough to make sure you know what’s going on but what might just tip the balance is employing some smart software. Take Asana, for example, if your team is spread about the country or even internationally then you need something that keeps you working on track. That’s where Asana comes in. Set up your project online, assign tasks that everyone can see and update and tick off when completed. 

The fear of missing vital pieces of work or overlapping on tasks is gone and your team members are fully up to speed with what’s going on, even when they’re not in the same conference room.

Personal Motivation

Another challenging area of working remotely is finding the discipline to work to a schedule. When you have the whole day ahead of you, when the daily grind of a long commute is wiped out, there almost seems like there are too many options.

Get your head in the game by starting and finishing at a set time each day. Wear custom high end suits if it helps you feel like you’re in the zone then head out the door and down to work at the same time with a plan of how your day is going to be spent.

If you do work from a home office then having some personal discipline is going to keep you focussed. While the novelty of working in your pajamas is fun for a day or two, it can very quickly become de-motivating and add to that feeling of isolation. Get up, get showered and get on with your day.

Working Outside the Home

Yes, you can head to that favorite cafe and spend a fortune on snacks and lattes or you might opt for working in a coworking space. You’ll find plenty of these spaces popping up across the country and there’s bound to be one near you. They do cost and you’ll be paying for a desk space, fast wifi and other office facilities such as printer and conference room.

Co-working can go one of two ways, either you love the contact with others and thrive off the buzz of having other co-workers around you or you will find the noise and the hum of other’s telephone conversations distracting. You will need to give it a go for a day, to figure out if it’s going to work for you or not.

If you choose to work from home on a more permanent basis, you should set aside a space in your home that is just purely for your work. Make sure you take your work space seriously and have a chair that fully supports you and a desk at the right height.

Our final word on working remotely is on the importance of switching off at the end of the day. While it’s easy to keep working until way past the time you would ordinarily stay at work, it’s vital to your mental and physical well being that you are disciplined in closing down at the end of the day and don’t carry on checking your emails late into the evening.

Remote working should be something that helps, rather than hinders you, when it comes to achieving your work goals. It should help you to achieve a balance in your life where you can work around your family commitments, cut out a grueling commute and help towards a greener and more environmentally-friendly working arrangement by leaving the car at home.

It should not leave you stressed and feeling out of the loop. Get your remote working done right and you will be a productive and motivated team member. Get remote working, working for you today.

Work From Home? Apps You Need

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If you work from home, you are probably always looking at the easiest way to keep your workflow as smooth as possible. Many freelancers work across a computer and a laptop – so having apps and software that can sync is going to be in your favor. There are many applications that will help you improve your productivity to some degree. What you use will depend on the size of your enterprise and what you do, though. 

Let’s take a look at some of the apps that will help you manage your workflow and access your work easier.

Work 

Process Street is a process management platform. It allows users to create, assign, schedule and manage structured processes. As well as documents and checklists really quickly. It works on drag and drop technology and integrates with Zapier – so you can import and export data with ease. This one is great for processes that need to be repeated often. 

Trello is less about automation and more about organization. You can see who is where in there project, what has been completed and what is due to be done. It is a very visual platform which helps more users feel a sense of urgency and also awareness of where the projects are currently on the timeline. Trello is very easy to edit, and you can drag the cards and boxes around with ease. You do need to upgrade if you intend to send the board to more than one person though. If you are working alone, it is excellent at keeping you on track too. 

Project 

Google Drive/ G Suite is obviously the go-to for millions of businesses and freelancers. It is free to use has a lot of functionality and sharing it is as simple as copying a link – which is ideal. You can have more than one person working in the same sheet or document at the same time, the ability to add notes and it works will all popular file types. 

Microsoft Office 365 is the standard for people in offices or at home. Even though Apple has their own locked-in system, many still purchase Microsoft Office 365 because, it, like G Suite the most highly compatible. It has a range of options, and you can access your files across anything in your subscription. 

Automation

There are things that you will do in your business day in and day out. They take up time that would be better spent elsewhere. IFTTT – If This Then That is a super popular app. It is literally working on the basis that if X happens, then so should Y. IFTTT can hook up to so many different apps that you can get it to the point that after you post a photo on Facebook, it gets flushed to Instagram, tweeted on twitter and added to your blog – but you can only have connections between two events – so you need to get creative. Or, smart home users can have the coffee machine go on at the same time as the bedroom light. 

It is going to take more than a quick peek on the internet to find everything that you want. But once you start exploring your options, you might just find your workflow is smooth and systematic.

Freelancing SOS: How To Take Yourself Seriously

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Everybody has the odd expectation that every freelancer works from their bed in their best pajamas. Media have made the unfair PJs cliché popular, creating a world in which freelancers have a relaxed and somewhat lazy approach to life. It’s fair to say that for anybody who’s considering starting an independent career, it will take a lot of time and effort to convince your audience that you’re a professional and respectable expert. 

However, you are your biggest enemy. In a world where freelancing equals PJs work and invisible flexibility, the first person you need to convince that you mean business is yourself. Indeed, the image of freelancing, as advertised by the media, might be compelling at first, but it lacks guidance in terms of how to make the most of your time. When you don’t know anything about how to organize your day and plan your work routine as a solo expert, it’s easy to fall in the trap of the media and believe that working from home makes you lazy. But you need to learn to take yourself seriously first if you want others to follow.

You need a network which believes in you 

If you’re not the most self-confident individual, you are likely to struggle at first to establish yourself as an expert. When you are on your own, it can be daunting to approach the market and introduce yourself as the new professional in town. But you can smooth out self-esteem obstacles by surrounding yourself with people who believe in your skills. Every home-based business needs a reliable network that serves any of the following purposes: advising, cheering, and exchanging. If you happen to find a mentor, you can benefit from their wisdom for guidance. Your close friends and relatives can keep you motivated. Finally, your local business network is the perfect place to share and exchange skills and strategies.

You need a real workplace

Let’s get real; just because the media claim that freelancers work from their bedroom doesn’t mean you have to use your bed as a primary workplace. You need to create for yourself a workstation that encourages you to stay productive. Create a quiet clutter-free nook at home where you can keep your laptop and a desk. Remember to add a few plants for good measure; they boost your concentration by 15%! If home isn’t the place to work, what’s stopping you from using desk share services?  There are plenty of cozy office spaces that rent out desks with all the facilities you need. 

Your brand becomes your identity 

Companies use their unique brand and business culture to define who they are. Solo experts, on the other hand, find it a little more complicated to hide behind a logo. However, determining what your brand is will greatly affect how others perceive your expertise. In a world where there is no shortage of talented creative, your personal brand is a powerful differentiator that conveys your business personality. Creating a brand stops you from being that freelancer in a PJs and lets you become a respectable professional. 

If you’ve worked all of your life in an office environment, taking your first step as an independent professional can be daunting. But you need to build the necessary structure to be taken seriously, firstly by yourself and then by the market.