Making a Success of Remote Working for the Long Term

During the spring wave of the coronavirus pandemic in 2020, almost half of all employees in the UK were working from home at least some of the time. Whilst this was, of course, a scary time for everyone, there was also a sense of banding together, battening down the hatches and maybe even a little excitement at being able to work from home for the first time. Many adapted well to this strange new set-up. Kitchen tables became digital business hubs and spare bedrooms make-shift Zoom boardrooms.  

But that was nearly 10 months ago, and the short-term shift to remote working has gradually become a more permanent, fundamental change in the way we work. And many are now realising the potential pitfalls.  

Driven partly by the resurgence of the virus following the summer, and also by shifting attitudes of employers who are now realising they can trust their people to get the job done and remain productive without their watchful eye, remote working is here to stay in some capacity. A recently released survey from KPMG showed how 68 percent of CEOs plan on downsizing their offices to reflect this shift, and it seems that what was the most popular employee benefit of the last decade has been fast-tracked some 20 years in the space of 10 months. 

That’s all well and good for those who have adjusted well or have properties large enough to accommodate a home office. But not everyone wants to be working from home. Some miss the buzz of the office and the social aspect of a workplace. Others may miss the ‘me time’ that a commute afforded them. Indeed, many new members of the work-from-home community may have contributed to the startling increase in divorce rates and break-ups.

 Maybe that open-plan family room wasn’t such a good idea after all. Regardless of which camp you’re in, remote working in some form is here to stay. So how can you make a success of it? Here are some pointers from someone who’s been a member of the work-from-home clan for more than two years now. 

Create a dedicated space. 

The biggest change that new work-from-homers will need to make as a short-term solution shifts into a permanent new reality is creating a space in their home that’s sole purpose is work.  

Kitchen tables, the sofa or cluttered box room just won’t cut it anymore. Even for organisations that switch to a 3-2-2 model or a variation of it (that’s three days in the office, two working remotely and two days off at the weekend), it’d be a struggle in terms of professional mindset to move from office to sofa and maintain the same attitude, output and productivity. 

A dedicated space helps create a more seamless transition between workplace and home working. It will induce a professional mindset when you enter and aid focus. This dedicated space should ideally be cut off in some way from distractions and general home noises.  

I don’t think I would have been nearly as productive over the last two years if every morning was a trip to the kitchen to turn the laptop on and there I stayed until 6 p.m. That close a proximity to the fridge certainly wouldn’t have helped things either! 

Play around with the ambience.  

One of the big benefits that many would have enjoyed when starting their first few remote workdays is having total control over the office environment. Radio station? Pick your favourite. Too warm? No need to negotiate opening a window with an always-cold coworker.  

For long-term remote working, it’s good to play around with the ambience of your home office to find what works best.  

As an example, I always find talk radio is a great backing track for the morning rush to clear the inbox and check on campaigns. But the post-lunch lull requires a lively Spotify playlist at full blast to maintain productivity.  

Others find that certain tasks, such as a blog or technical writing, can be easier to focus on with softer background noise such as rain sounds or even a YouTube video of general office background noise (I kid you not, and I’ve tried it, and it does work on occasion). 

Have a play around with lighting too. Natural light is always best for alertness and attention, whilst for those who like to work into the evenings, softer lamp light may be less harsh.  

Finally, have a think about the temperature of your room. Whilst it’s very tempting to create a snug office that’s always warm, research has found that we tend to lose focus and productivity in rooms that are too warm. After all, if you’re a bit tired after a long drive, you don’t whack the heating on – you open the window for some fresh air.  

Force yourself to stay connected.

Remote working presents a challenge to both extroverts and introverts.  

For the former, not being surrounded by co-workers, a lack of “real” conversations or office socialising are a real problem when it comes to working from home. They thrive on these interactions and, as such, working alone at home can become frustrating and isolating.  

On the flip side, for introverts who likely gravitate toward remote working more naturally, there is a danger of slipping into a mindset that starts to resent or even fear the Zoom or MS Teams call sound after a few hours of peace. For the more introverted, the office forced social interactions. Remote working can quickly see you start to actively avoid the group chats and digital socials.  

Whichever camp you may be in – and it can be a bit of both depending on your mood and how fatigued you are – forcing yourself to stay connected is critical for long-term remote working. 

And force yourself to stop working, too. 

This is probably the biggest problem for the WFH community. For a workforce that was increasingly becoming an ‘always-on’ workforce, working from home has exacerbated the problem – especially when the makeshift workspace was the kitchen table or living room armchair.  

But it’s critical for the long-term success of remote working to force yourself to STOP. If your organisation has still enforced a 9-5 or equivalent working hours – just work those hours then shut up shop for the day. If your employers are really forward-thinking and allow for both remote working and flexible hours too, then make sure you’re pacing yourself too.  

recent survey from The Office Group found that working longer hours was the biggest contributor to burnt-out millennials, alongside the inability to separate work and personal life.  

Remember, you’re no good to anyone if you burn out from overworking. And it’s detrimental to your physical and mental health. So take a break, try to switch off when your day is done and resist the late-night email check.  

The best ways I’ve found to deal with this is actually leaving the house when a particular working shift is done, either to walk the dog or a trip to the shop. It breaks the work mindset and helps you to switch off. Give it a try!  

By: Arthur Wilson Entrepreneur Leadership Network VIP

Modus Create, Inc.

Modus Project Manager Samantha Park sits down with Co-Founder Jay Garcia to discuss how remote life differs at Modus from other organizations, share some of their techniques to make remote work easier, and talk about some of the challenges they’ve experienced working in a non-traditional environment. Ms. Park elaborates on the flexibility and independence that remote work provides, and discusses the expectation and reality of remote work, how to create a work-life balance, and tips for staying focused and on track. Modus is always on the lookout for people who want to work in an environment where they are challenged to grow and do great things with awesome people. Think you have what it takes to work with us? Check out our open positions at https://moduscreate.com/careers​ Subscribe to our YouTube channel, and turn on notifications! https://mdus.co/subscribe​ Sam on Social Media: Twitter – https://twitter.com/sparkps126​ LinkedIn – https://www.linkedin.com/in/samantham…​ Blog – https://moduscreate.com/blog​ Timestamps: 0:24​ – Working remotely at Modus 0:50​ – Going fully-remote for the first time 1:38​ – Dealing with loneliness 2:08​ – Expectation vs. reality of remote work 2:33​ – Drawing a boundary between work and life 3:29​ – The flexibility of remote work 4:14​ – Building an office space at home 5:16​ – Leading Modus while remote Modus Create is a disruptive consulting firm based on the model of an open-source team dedicated to making the best software on earth, and to leaving the world better than we found it. Together with our customers, we build products that empower people with breakthrough services and experience. Modus is always on the lookout for people who want to work in an environment where they are challenged to grow and do great things with awesome people. Think you have what it takes to work with us? Check us out at https://moduscreate.com/careers#workfromhome#remotework#employeeinterview#workculture#collaboration#collaborationtools#creativethinking

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The Future Of Jobs And Education

The world of work has been changing for some time, with an end to the idea of jobs for life and the onset of the gig economy. But just as in every other field where digital transformation is ongoing, the events of 2020 have accelerated the pace of this change dramatically.

The International Labor Organization has estimated that almost 300 million jobs are at risk due to the coronavirus pandemic. Of those that are lost, almost 40% will not come back. According to research by the University of Chicago, they will be replaced by automation to get work done more safely and efficiently.

Particularly at risk are so-called “frontline” jobs – customer service, cashiers, retail assistant, and public transport being just a few examples. But no occupation or profession is entirely future proof. Thanks to artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML), even tasks previously reserved for highly trained doctors and lawyers – diagnosing illness from medical images, or reviewing legal case history, for example – can now be carried out by machines.

At the same time, the World Economic Forum, in its 2020 Future of Jobs report, finds that 94% of companies in the UK will accelerate the digitization of their operations as a result of the pandemic, and 91% are saying they will provide more flexibility around home or remote working.

PROMOTED

If you’re in education or training now, this creates a dilemma. Forget the old-fashioned concept of a “job for life,” which we all know is dead – but will the skills you’re learning now even still be relevant by the time you graduate?

One thing that’s sure is that we’re moving into an era where education is life-long. With today’s speed of change, there are fewer and fewer careers where you can expect the knowledge you pick up in school or university to see you through to retirement. MORE FOR YOUThese Are The World’s Best Employers 2020The Value Of Resilient LeadershipEmployers Must Act Now To Mitigate The Impacts Of The Pandemic On Women’s Careers

All of this has created a perfect environment for online learning to boom. Rather than moving to a new city and dedicating several years to studying for a degree, it’s becoming increasingly common to simply log in from home and fit education around existing work and family responsibilities.

This fits with the vision of Jeff Maggioncalda, CEO of online learning platform Coursera. Coursera was launched in 2012 by a group of Stanford professors interested in using the internet to widen access to world-class educational content. Today, 76 million learners have taken 4,500 different courses from 150 universities, and the company is at the forefront of the wave of transformation spreading through education.

 “The point I focus on,” he told me during our recent conversation, “is that the people who have the jobs that are going to be automated do not currently have the skills to get the new jobs that are going to be created.”

Without intervention, this could lead to an “everyone loses” scenario, where high levels of unemployment coincide with large numbers of vacancies going unfilled because businesses can’t find people with the necessary skills.

TURN 500$ INTO 2500$ IN ONE WEEK COMPLTELEY LEGITIMATE

The answer here is a rethink of education from the ground up, Maggioncalda says, and it’s an opinion that is widely shared. Another WEF statistic tells us 66% of employers say they are accelerating programs for upskilling employees to work with new technology and data.Models of education will change, too, as the needs of industry change. Coursera is preparing for this by creating new classes of qualification such as its Entry-Level Professional Certificates. Often provided directly by big employers, including Google and Facebook, these impart a grounding in the fundamentals needed to take on an entry-level position in a technical career, with the expectation that the student would go on to continue their education to degree level while working, through online courses, or accelerated on-campus semesters.

“The future of education is going to be much more flexible, modular, and online. Because people will not quit their job to go back to campus for two or three years to get a degree, they can’t afford to be out of the workplace that long and move their families. There’s going to be much more flexible, bite-sized modular certificate programs that add up to degrees, and it’s something people will experience over the course of their working careers,” says Maggioncalda.

All of this ties nicely with the growing requirements that industry has for workers that are able to continuously reskill and upskill to keep pace with technological change. It could lead to an end of the traditional model where our status as students expires as we pass into adulthood and employment.

Rather than simply graduating and waving goodbye to their colleges as they throw their mortarboards skywards, students could end up with life-long relationships with their preferred providers of education, paying a subscription to remain enrolled and able to continue their learning indefinitely.

“Because why wouldn’t the university want to be your lifelong learning partner?” Maggioncalda says.

“As the world changes, you have a community that you’re familiar with, and you can continue to go back and learn – and your degree is kind of never really done – you’re getting micro-credentials and rounding out your portfolio. This creates a great opportunity for higher education.”

Personally, I feel that this all points to an exciting future where barriers to education are broken down, and people are no longer blocked from studying by the fact they also need to hold down a job, or simply because they can’t afford to move away to start a university course.

With remote working increasingly common, factors such as where we happen to grow up, or where we want to settle and raise families, will no longer limit our aspirations for careers and education. This could lead to a “democratization of education,” with lower costs to the learner as employers willingly pick up the tab for those who show they can continually improve their skillsets.

As the world changes, education changes too. Austere school rooms and ivory-tower academia are relics of the last century. While formal qualifications and degrees aren’t likely to vanish any time soon, the way they are delivered in ten years’ time is likely to be vastly different than today, and ideas such as modular, lifelong learning, and entry-level certificates are a good indication of the direction things are heading.

You can watch my conversation with Jeff Maggioncalda in full, where among other topics, we also cover the impact of Covid-19 on building corporate cultures and the implications of the increasingly globalized, remote workforce. Follow me on Twitter or LinkedIn. Check out my website.

Bernard Marr

 Bernard Marr

Bernard Marr is an internationally best-selling author, popular keynote speaker, futurist, and a strategic business & technology advisor to governments and companies. He helps organisations improve their business performance, use data more intelligently, and understand the implications of new technologies such as artificial intelligence, big data, blockchains, and the Internet of Things. Why don’t you connect with Bernard on Twitter (@bernardmarr), LinkedIn (https://uk.linkedin.com/in/bernardmarr) or instagram (bernard.marr)?

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World Economic Forum

The Future of Jobs report maps the jobs and skills of the future, tracking the pace of change. It aims to shed light on the pandemic-related disruptions in 2020, contextualized within a longer history of economic cycles and the expected outlook for technology adoption, jobs and skills in the next five years. Learn more and read the report: wef.ch/futureofjobs2020 The World Economic Forum is the International Organization for Public-Private Cooperation. The Forum engages the foremost political, business, cultural and other leaders of society to shape global, regional and industry agendas. We believe that progress happens by bringing together people from all walks of life who have the drive and the influence to make positive change. World Economic Forum Website ► http://www.weforum.org/ Facebook ► https://www.facebook.com/worldeconomi… YouTube ► https://www.youtube.com/wef Instagram ► https://www.instagram.com/worldeconom… Twitter ► https://twitter.com/wef LinkedIn ► https://www.linkedin.com/company/worl… TikTok ► https://www.tiktok.com/@worldeconomic… Flipboard ► https://flipboard.com/@WEF#WorldEconomicForum

License

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COVID-19 Response: Why Life-Long Learning is the Way Forward

Being an all-remote company since the very beginning, Transformify Freelancer Management System was not negatively impacted by COVID-19 outbreak. Yet, many of our clients were caught by surprise. Business interruption and declining revenues inevitably resulted in massive layoffs across the globe. Highly skilled people were struggling to find jobs during the lockdown, and unfortunately, the situation has not improved much since.

Finding a solution for all those people became a mission for our team as we realized the power of the user data gathered over the years. 

Transferrable skills

Was there anything that could make people who have lost their jobs attractive to the hiring managers of companies operating in completely different industries?

Imagine flight attendants, chefs, waiters, travel agents, thousands of them, who have been laid off or furloughed at about the same time. Why would a hiring manager from Zoom, Amazon, Walmart or any other company out there that was thriving during these challenging times hire them instead of people who had experience within the same industry?

For some time, it seemed that hardly anything could be done when out of a sudden our powerful matching algorithm served the answer in front of our eyes—transferrable skills. All these people had some skills that were relevant to more than one company or industry that would allow them to be considered for completely different jobs to those they had before.

However, to take advantage of their transferrable skills, both the job seekers and hiring managers needed to be aware of these transferrable skills and take them into account during the hiring process. We realized that we were after something that could have a massive social impact in the years to come.

COVID-19 response: Sustainable remote jobs

As Transformify Freelancer Management System joined the Digital Skills & Jobs Coalition of the EU Commission back in 2016, we submitted a new pledge titled COVID-19 Response: Sustainable Remote Jobs tackling unemployment amid coronavirus outbreak. Travel has been restricted for a period of time making it hard for job seekers to relocate in search of a job elsewhere.

On top of that, most jobs have been transformed into remote jobs anyway making it a bit easier to apply for jobs with employers based elsewhere in the world. Leveraging our technology, we made it easy for the job seekers to outline their transferrable skills and for the hiring managers to consider candidates having experience in a completely different industry.

What about considering a travel agent for a customer support job with an e-commerce company? Or considering a hotel events manager as a key account manager with an online conferencing company? Strictly speaking, they have the skills that are required to make them successful with their new roles.

However, it was anything but easy to convince the hiring managers to consider them. After all, there were so many candidates having relevant experience within the same industry, why should they give a chance to anyone else?

It took months of constant communication, press releases and lots of online events to popularize the initiative but it was worth the effort. It’s a positive change that shifted the mindset of people, both hiring managers and job seekers, toward life-long learning.

Life-long learning

As a professor at Zigurat Business School, I have the privilege to teach very bright students who have already achieved a lot in life. Mostly, these are managers in the middle of their careers, looking for their next career step and eager to learn and develop their skills. Prior to the pandemic, people who constantly invested time and effort into learning new skills were in the minority.

Now a lot of job seekers have learned the hard way the importance of having relevant skills. From developing a side hustle, to securing an independent revenue stream, to acting as an independent consultant for a period of time, to taking on freelance gigs to make the ends meet while job hunting—it’s clear that developing new, in-demand skills is an investment that always delivers high returns.

Some time ago I had the pleasure to interview Shelley Osborne, VP of Learning at Udemy, and I could not agree more with her views on life-long learning:

“Learning to me is the future of work. With today’s rate of change, there is no longer a way for us to exist without infusing growth and learning into our daily lives. We have to break down those traditional thoughts of just achieving a diploma or getting through a company training ‘because someone told me that I had to.’ Instead, it’s a mindset that persists and prevails and should instead be thought of as lifelong learning.

When I was thinking about writing, ‘The Upskilling Imperative: 5 Ways to Make Learning Core to the Way We Work‘, I knew I wanted to convey that upskilling is imperative and provide a roadmap on how we can create this culture of learning where continuous learning is the norm. The need to learn something new will always be there. It’s impossible to know what will be critical to learn in five, ten years from now so we must develop ‘learning agility’ – the idea that we are open to learning new skills, whatever those skills might be.

Life-long learning is the way forward but how do leaders predict which skills will be high in-demand in the foreseeable future?

Although there is no single answer, the best way to learn and develop new skills is to ask yourself “What am I good at?” as it is hardly possible to excel as a data scientist if you dislike math and statistics—no matter how much such skills are demanded on the market. A single Google search using keywords like “the most demanded skills”, “jobs of the future”, “the future of work” will deliver lots of relevant results.

Visiting popular job boards and filtering based on the number of posted jobs by category also provides an idea of which skills are in demand. Last but not least, visiting online learning portals and checking which courses have been trending over a period of time is also a good starting point.

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5 Tips For Working From Home During The Coronavirus Outbreak

Written By Chase Williams

With a global pandemic making its way through the population, countries around the world are closing their doors and suggesting companies switch to remote-work mode. This considered, you might quickly find yourself in a sticky situation: working from home.

To those unfamiliar, it may seem exciting or even daunting initially. However, once those chores, pets, and other attention-sucking things start stealing your focus, you could easily become overwhelmed

Here are some quick and easy tips to help you focus and make sure you keep working as normally as possible – for as long as it might be necessary.

1. Communication

The chances are that your colleagues are probably working from home, too (or will be soon). That means it’s no longer as easy as popping over to someone’s desk to ask a question, or having a quick chat by the watercooler.

You still need to communicate with other people – and surprise phone calls can be long and draining, not to mention inconvenient. Chat software provides an alternative yet solid, reliable solution. Whatever you choose, always make sure that you’re using secure tools for work.

  • Secure messaging

Not all chat platforms are created equal. Avoid the distracting lure of Facebook and other social platforms, and stick to communicating with more secure options, such as Signal or Telegram.

  • Secure email

Whether or not the government is tracking you, keeping your privacy when it comes to email messages is something you need to be thinking about. Tutatnota is an email platform with high-level encryption.

  • Collaboration software

A great SaaS tool can be conducive to better workflow and communication across your organization as a whole. The most popular option by far is Slack, with alternatives such as Chanty and Fleep giving them a run for their money.

  • Video conferencing solutions

If you have a schedule filled with in-person meetings, video conferencing apps will quickly become your go-to solution. You can take advantage of Google Hangouts and Skype, which are more prevalent, but have relatively less functionality when compared to more modern competitors. There are more flexible options, including BlueJeans, GoToMeeting, and Zoom, that include better features for co-working, internal teams, and access options.

Read more ….. 5 Tips for Working from Home During the Coronavirus Outbreak

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Quit Your Job And Live Abroad in 2019: 10 Places So Cheap You Might Not Need to Work

Admit it: You often dream of quitting your job, ditching it all and moving to paradise. Guess what? That dream could be a reality. In 2018 and 2017, I looked at the best places in the world where the cost of living is so affordable that you can quit your job, retire early and stop working. These are places that are considerably cheaper than in the U.S. — and where life is a whole lot easier. For 2019, I tapped into International Living, which releases an Annual Global Retirement Index, a list of the top places to retire around the globe. And this list isn’t just for retirees:

Source: Quit Your Job And Live Abroad in 2019: 10 Places So Cheap You Might Not Need to Work

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