5 Ways to Create a Strong Remote Team

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There’s no doubt that it can be incredibly challenging when creating a remote team for your company. While there are plenty of benefits for remote workers and they can still be incredibly productive, it can definitely be an issue to make them feel connected to in office workers and even to other remote workers. By ignoring cultivating strength in your remote team, you risk losing these employees or having them not be as productive and collaborative as they could be. Here are some concrete ways you can create a strong remote team for your business.

Foster communication

The best way to create a strong remote team is to give your remote workers the tools they need to communicate with each other and with your in-office workers. Creating an easy channel for communication makes connecting as a team much simpler. Let them know that you expect them to communicate with one another and collaborate on projects. Using apps and other features online to make chatting, video calling, and screen sharing as easy as possible, and encouraging this behavior, helps you strengthen your remote team.

Share responsibilities

You need to show all of your employees that they’re on an equal playing field and whether or not they’re in the office doesn’t affect how much they’re responsible for. If you foster communication successfully, it’ll be easy to assign a project to your remote team and let one of them take the lead on it. Make sure the team shares responsibility so no one is slacking off or being left out.

Schedule check-ins

When you have remote workers, it’s important that you regularly check-in with them. You might already have weekly check-ins, but it’s also a good idea to schedule extra time with them. Anyone who works in the office can simply grab you when they have a question, but those working remotely may find it harder to connect and ask a question for a quick answer. Let them know the best way to reach you throughout the day and even share your calendar with them so they know whether or not you’re in a meeting.

Utilize team building

Try to incorporate team building activities into your team. Do online activities, videochat in remote workers when something’s happening in the office, and find times you can all meet face-to-face. Even if you have remote workers in another state or country, consider finding at least one time throughout the year that all employees can have travel expenses covered so they can converge in one location. Even simply meeting your remote team in person can help strengthen them.

Give them trust

While it can understandably be difficult to trust workers you cannot monitor throughout the day, you need to give your remote team your trust. Avoid checking in on them constantly or micromanaging them; if it isn’t something you’d do to someone working in the office, do not do it to your remote team. Give them ample opportunities to provide feedback and trust that they’ll get their work done, until they give you a reason to not trust them.

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4 New Ways for Philanthropies to Raise Funds

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For philanthropies, raising more money is always an important part of what the organization is focusing on throughout the year. While many philanthropies are fortunate enough to receive grants and large donations from people who support their cause, others are not so lucky. While it’s important that charities find ways to raise enough money to continue functioning, it can sometimes seem like they’re running out of ideas on how to do so. It’s normal to see various fundraising events every weekend, asking people to participate in a 5k run, buy some product, or some other common fundraiser. However, there are actually plenty of other ways to raise these funds; here are a few creative tips you can utilize in the coming year.

Ask for monthly donations

A method of fundraising that’s become increasingly common is having donors sign up for monthly donations. Instead of receiving a one-time donations, people are becoming more likely to set up automatic giving each month. Make sure your charity has this option available and advertise it in any mail you send out, online, and on your website. People want to donate, but often forget to send a check each month, so giving the option of donating a customizable amount each month after giving their information once is a great way to increase giving.

Use social media

There are plenty of websites and apps out there, like GoFundMe, that make raising money for various causes easier than ever before. People want to be able to donate to causes they care about as easily as possible and doing it online takes a couple of minutes, if not less. Another benefit of using social media for raising funds is that it also makes it easy to spread awareness of the cause your organization focuses on. You can share information on your website and other social media channels and include a link for people to donate.

Focus on Facebook fundraising

Social media in general is a fantastic resource for fundraising, but Facebook in particular makes this process simple. More and more often, you probably see people posting links for others to donate to a specific organization, often for the poster’s birthday or some similar event. These fundraisers can be organized through Facebook Fundraisers, a method that’s increased in popularity and made it incredibly easy for nonprofits to get donations. Facebook is also a great way to engage with supporters of your organization and spread news and events.

Take advantage of mobile opportunities

Another newer way to increase fundraising efforts is by utilizing mobile networks. Many charities allow people to simply text a number and donate a certain amount of money that’s added to their phone bill or through their accounts connected to their phone. People love convenience and having a simply way to donate, so being able to send a text and donate is an attractive option.

6 Tips for Attending a Business Conference

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Attending a business conference can present a tremendous opportunity for you to meet new people in your industry and successfully network. However, if you’re not normally an outgoing person, you may need some tips on the best way to network. By following a few suggestions, even the most timid professional can have a fun and productive time at their next business conference.

Volunteer at the conference

Even before the day of the conference, there are things you can do to help yourself make the most of the experience. For instance, you might consider volunteering in some way. By contacting the event organizer and volunteering to act as a presenter or greeter, for instance, you can stand out among the other attendees. This will help you meet the other guests.

Reconnect

Additionally, this is the time to reach out to past business acquaintances. If you know they’re going to the conference, use this opportunity to reconnect. They may be interested in meeting for coffee or drinks.

Attend sessions

Once the conference begins, there’s much to do, starting with the orientation. Even if this isn’t your first conference, it’s a good idea to attend the orientation, because it will help you manage your time more wisely. You won’t be able to attend every session, so it will be important to pick and choose the lectures that most interest you. Don’t forget to schedule in some breaks or you may stretch yourself too thin.

Talk to speakers

While you may be eager to learn, taking notes on every lecture you attend, don’t forget that networking is just as important. If you’re unsure where to get started, begin with the guest speakers. These individuals were chosen for their knowledge and expertise, so don’t be afraid to approach them. Mingle with the other guests, too. You may come across some conversations that will let you express your own expertise. By engaging in various conversations, you’ll meet more people and others will remember you at the next conference.

Follow up

Even after the conference has ended, there are still ways you can continue benefiting from the event. Reach out to the new contacts you made at the conference. Send them an email, connect on a social networking site, or give them a call. This can help you develop new business relationships.

Share with coworkers

You can also share the experience with co-workers who didn’t get to attend. Show them your notes and share your photos. This may convince them to attend the next event, or they may come to you with challenges that the conference prepared you to handle. Either way, using your new knowledge will help your organization and show management the value of a business conference.

The Importance of Being a Role Model to Your Employees

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There’s no doubt about it; when you provide a good example of what it takes to be a quality worker, your employees are much more likely to follow your lead. A company only benefits from having a leader that talks the talk and walks the walk. When you decide to be a role model for your employees they will take notice. Here are some things you can do to make sure you are providing the best example possible for your employees.

Hold yourself accountable

If you accept responsibility for your actions, your employees are likely to as well. This creates a trust between them and you, and if a mistake has been made they feel more comfortable confiding in you because they trust in your ability to handle situations accordingly. If you’re having an off-day, apologize. If you made a mistake, own up to it. If the company hits a rough patch, don’t resort to blaming others, lift them up instead. If someone is busy trying to hide a mistake the business will suffer.

Pay attention to others

Service leadership is a type of leadership that focuses on the needs of others. This makes your employees feel like they matter and that transfers to excellent customer service and a more dedicated work ethic. If they like working for you and feel valued, they will do what they can to support the growth and maintenance of a successful business.

Stress management

During a crisis, it is important to handle your stress accordingly. If you present yourself in a calm manner, your employees will reflect it back to you making it much easier for everyone to recover and get back on track. Stress drastically impacts productivity and harm people, so it’s important to instill stress management in your employees.

Get creative and inspire

A leader can be a positive role model by being open to coming up with and hearing innovative ideas. If you promote creativity but proceed to micromanage, you may make your employees uncomfortable with sharing their ideas as they might not feel confident enough to suggest something out of the norm. Inspiring them to think out of the box can lead to positive breakthroughs, not only personally, but for the business itself. A great leader knows that strength resides in numbers and can pull a team together to have a productive and positive experience.

Use These 6 Tips to Limit Distractions While Getting Work Done

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Thanks to technology, there are more distractions than ever before while you’re trying to get work done. Many people do most of their work from computers, from which they can access the internet, chat with coworkers, or browse interesting articles. Most people also carry smartphones, which are constantly ringing with emails, phone calls, texts, and app notifications. If you aren’t careful, it’s easy to lose entire hours to these devices and realize you’ve accomplished nothing. However, there are some great ways you can face as minimal distractions as possible while working.

Schedule your day

The first step you can take to minimize distractions when you need to get tasks done is carefully scheduling out your day. Set aside time at the beginning of the week to plan out your schedule for each day. You may have to adjust it as other priorities come up, but planning out your day as specifically as possible helps you focus on what needs to get done every hour.

Ditch the smartphone

One of the biggest distractions is your smartphone. Know when it’s time to set it aside and focus on what you need to accomplish. Instead of keeping your smartphone on your desk, put it away in a bag or drawer or somewhere else that you won’t be tempted to look at it every few minutes. Even if you’re just checking a single message, you’ll likely also check any social notifications you have, some emails, and plenty of other distractions. Avoid using your smartphone as much as possible when trying to concentrate on a task.

Utilize extensions

There are plenty of extension available on your browser, especially if you use Google Chrome, that can help you stay focused. Some extensions block specific websites for set amounts of time or won’t let you access sites until you complete whatever you’re currently working on. Other extensions keep track of how much time you’re spending on each task, so you know if you’re completely your work efficiently.

Ignore email

Thanks to technology, you can check your email at all times and often receive push notifications while you’re focusing on something else at your desk. Avoid the temptation to check your email while doing something else; if it’s an email, it can wait. Consider turning off email notifications and closing the window so you only check it at set times. Encourage people to schedule calls with you instead of sending multiple emails back and forth to discuss something.

Change your workspace

Many people can get bored by where they’re trying to do work and become distracted since they do not have fresh scenery. If possible, move to other locations to get work done. Investing in a standing desk and using it intermittently is also helpful when trying to regain your focus. Take time to invest in decorating your office space in a pleasing manner and regularly change it so you have new views and surroundings. If you work at home, make sure you have a quiet, designated area to work in so you do not get distracted by home responsibilities.

Minimize socialization

When you’re working, it can be incredibly tempting to message your coworkers, friends, or family. You might find yourself chatting to the person sitting next to you or running into someone in the hallway and spending a considerable amount of time discussing your weekend with them. While these socializations are important to a healthy social and professional life, it’s also important that you recognize there’s a time and place for them. Keep long conversations to breaks or outside of work hours. Focus on work while you’re there.

4 Unusual Ways You Can Help Yourself Achieve Success

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There are the usual lists of ways to achieve success and be productive in your daily life, career, or whatever pursuits you’re focusing on at this point in your life. You always hear people mention the importance of putting in extra hours, creating a solid personal brand, or some other buzz word. While these pieces of advice are good, there are other, more unconventional ways you can achieve true success.

Get rid of bad habits

The first step you need to take in truly achieving success is doing away with your bad habits. While procrastination is something everyone can recognize as bad, there are other habits that may not seem as serious, but can still erode your path to success. Small issues like not getting enough sleep or not taking care of yourself. You might also suffer from self-doubt or be in denial about a bad habit. Take time to truly evaluate what you do and be honest; identify your bad habits and work on getting rid of them.

Create milestones

People always talk about the importance of setting goals and working toward them. At this point, for most people, goals do not mean much. We’ve heard the word “goals” over and over and it’s easy to tune it out. However, if you plan out milestones you want to accomplish, your future plans begin to look a lot different. Plan out what you want to achieve and how you’ll go about doing so. View your milestones as small steps to make along the way to an end result instead of some large overarching goal.

Take small steps

Like I mentioned above, creating milestones means starting a series of small steps to take as you work to accomplish these milestones. Carefully plan out each milestone along the way and what you need to do every day to get where you want to go. View these milestones as a journey toward something great. The experience you gain along the way is invaluable and can benefit you in plenty of ways.

Pursue unusual opportunities

Finally, take advantage of opportunities that present themselves, even if they don’t seem conventional. You never know how a decision or choice you make can affect your future, so taking every opportunity that comes your way can help you move further along your milestones. If there’s something you find interesting, but it doesn’t necessarily align with your career, go ahead and try it out. You might take a path you never expected or make invaluable connections.

5 Sustainability Tips for the Office

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Now more than ever there is a growing desire to embrace more eco-friendly living and thankfully businesses are looking to do their part as well. It can be a little overwhelming when trying to figure out how to get started so we’ve put together a list of the best tips for creating a more sustainable and eco-friendly workplace.

Start a team dedicated to maintaining a sustainable office

A group of people designated to maintaining a sustainable office can get a lot more done than just sending out a memo. The team should be assigned projects such as putting together a recycling program, stocking up on green cleaning supplies, and making more energy-efficient options available for appliances. They can also engage other employees hands-on, providing them with the information they need to do their part in creating the most efficient office environment possible.

Create a challenge for everyone to participate in

Introduce a monthly challenge to the office to get everyone in the spirit. A type of challenge could include going a month without using plastic utensils and offering a small gift card as a prize. Or, you could encourage employees to use reusable coffee mugs when getting their caffeine fix.

Turn off all electronics at night

This includes lights, computers, and any appliances that could use energy while no one is using them. Make sure that the last person who leaves the office turns off all the lights. Better yet, set everything on a timer so you don’t have to worry about someone forgetting to turn off something that takes a lot of power.

Invest in office products that are better for the environment

There are all sorts of products that can have less of a negative impact on the environment from recycled office materials to more energy efficient computers. There are options for everyone no matter the size of the budget and any switch is better than no switch at all.

Research green power sources

Solar and wind energy are more available now than they ever have been and businesses both small and large can make the switch. If this is out of budget you can look into your energy provider and see if they offer a more sustainable energy plan.

There are many other ways to make the office more sustainable such as going paperless, adjusting the thermostat to run less, and even adding office plants and utilizing natural light to clarify the air and conserve energy. Don’t be afraid to get creative and applaud your employees for doing their part!

3 Ways to Get Your Team to Work Together

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Teamwork is a skill that is sadly neither taught nor practiced well enough in the modern workplace. Some might argue it isn’t taught well enough to children in school either, which leads to issues in the workplace. This is an odd state of affairs given the obvious and proven benefits of good teamwork and the well understood principles of teaching and practicing it in all areas of life.

Unless you’re dealing with a group of wildly dysfunctional people, it is not difficult to get a group to work together, especially professionals who are being paid to do a job. Teaching teamwork is a combination of knowledge, leadership, basic psychology and will. Once you instill these ideals in your team, you’ll see a drastic improvement.

Camaraderie

Anyone who has watched an inspirational film or read a story about one or more characters facing difficult circumstances has likely experienced camaraderie. Those who have participated in any kind of ensemble activity like a team competition has as well. The battle cry of “we’re all in this together” is designed to inspire people to realize they won’t make much progress alone.

Instilling this sensibility in a group of people is the first step towards building a team.

Leadership

Selfish instincts must be replaced with regard for the people around the individual. The fastest way to make this happen is to identify strengths in each individual and require every person to teach their strengths to the others. This egalitarian approach to leadership forces team members to rely on each other instead of wandering off to look for a solution on their own. Teaching also encourages the natural leaders to step forward.

Rebuilding

One needs to only look at the armed forces to see this dynamic in action. A new platoon of recruits is broken down by the drill sergeant and then built back up. The key to the process is the fact they are all experiencing these dynamics together. They get stronger and more capable together. They earn the opportunity to take charge of the barracks, the gear, the weapons and the uniforms. Each recruit gets a chance to lead. This brings camaraderie and leadership together into a powerful mixture.

The measurable result of great teamwork is indisputable. There are decades of stories in team sports, military victories, and even academic settings that prove there are few things more effective in any environment where goals are set and achieved. Teaching teamwork is therefore one of the most generous and powerful things anyone can do.

5 Benefits of Having an Internship

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More and more degree programs are requiring students to complete internships as part of the curriculum in order to gain useful experience for their future careers. Even if the program doesn’t require an internship, many students find internships very beneficial and learn valuable skills that are not taught in class. Here are five benefits of having an internship.

Self confidence

Starting a new job can be intimidating even if an employee has completed their education. They want to impress the boss and have confidence in their ability and knowledge and do the best they can at their new job. Internships help potential employees feel confident that they know what they’re doing, which results in less training time required and leads to better job performance.

Work experience

Many employees earn a degree without obtaining real work experience, which results in the employee knowing what needs to be done, but unclear on how to do it. Internships are generally completed under the supervision of professionals who work in the field, so students are learning how to perform the duties correctly and gaining work experience, which will be beneficial when applying for a job and while on the job.

Informative

Completing an internship also gives individuals the chance to see how much they’ve actually learned in the classroom and if they’re prepared to put it to use in a job. Internship candidates can also see where their strengths are, where their weaknesses are, and what they need to improve. Learning how to do something is slightly different than actually doing it.

Learning the industry

They say there is nothing like good old fashioned work experience, and that is very true. An internship gives an individual the opportunity to not only obtain hands-on training in their chosen field but also to learn more about the specific industry in which they’re working. For instance, a potential restaurant manager can gain work experience through an internship, but will only really learn the industry by completing an internship in the specific restaurant he or she wants to work.

Bonus on a resume

When applying for a job, potential employees often find that the resume is still a very important part of finding employment. Although degrees and training are important, employers like to see that the applicant has some kind of work experience on their resume. The more work experience an individual has, the less time will need to be spent on training. A resume that indicates the applicant has completed an internship can prove very helpful.

7 Questions to Ask Before Changing Careers

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If you are considering a career change, you are not alone. Many people change careers more than once in their lifetime and for various reasons. However, if you want to make sure you make the right choice, there are seven questions you should be asking yourself before making this major decision. If you do not take these questions into account, you might make the wrong decision and waste time and effort in a career that doesn’t satisfy you when you could have been working toward something better. So go through the steps below before jumping ship and then decide what path you’d like to take.

What

You have to define what it is exactly that you want. Without this, you will be fluttering in the wind without a direction. What is the ideal outcome that a new career will bring you? Evaluate the types of tasks you enjoy doing and figure out what you definitely do not want to do. Then, search for careers and jobs that best fit your preferences.

Why

Once you’ve defined what you want, it’s time to hone in on why you want it in the first place. If you want more autonomy for example, it might be because you want room to grow. So therefore perhaps a company that is young and rapidly expanding would be a good choice. Understand the reasons behind why you want to change careers or why you’re looking for a specific job can help you determine what steps are the best to take.

When

Without a timeline, dreams die. Don’t think you will do it “someday.” Schedule your move and stick to it. Learn to manage your time effectively and force yourself to work hard and get through the monotonous steps to finding a new career. Do you need more education or to speak with a mentor? Give yourself clear steps and deadlines and it’ll  be easier to transition.

How

Now it’s time to figure out how you’re going to get there. What actions do you need to take? Do you need to upgrade your resume? Buy a new suit? Answer this before the next step and you’ll be better prepared to move to a new career.

Who

There is probably someone who has done what you want to do. Try to get their mentorship. At the very least, read about their story for clues. Talking with someone who has more knowledge and experience than you can be incredibly beneficial and help you avoid any major missteps.

When it comes to changing careers, it can be overwhelming at first. After all, you are completely shifting gears. Your old routines need to change. And most of all, you have to ask yourself the seven questions above which can take some time and energy. But don’t worry, if you go through the right process you will be able to find your ideal career and succeed in a way that fulfills you for the long term.