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Improve Your Productivity Working From Home : Part 2 of 2

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By Debbie Gregory.

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In Part 1 of this mini blog series, we addressed how to keep your body healthy while working from home. In Part 2, we will go over technology needs when working from home.

We want to remind all our readers, that Dell Technology is offering VAMBOA family and friends very large discounts.   We will include some information at the bottom of this article on connecting on these significant discounts only for our family and friends.

When it comes to technology, you need to make sure that you have all of the technology that you need and the all of your technology is work-at-home ready so that you can be productive.  Below are some additional recommendations:

1.) Get Your Computer Up to Speed:

Your computer is your most important and your #1 work tool.  It is going to make you happier and more productive if it is as quick, up-to-date, and able to handle whatever programs you need to run to do your job.

Below are a few questions to consider regarding your computer:

  • Is your computer performing up to par?
  • Does it take a frustrating amount of time to boot, load programs, or open up files?
  • Do you have home internet access?
  • Is your home internet speed fast enough to allow you to do your job?
  • Do you have all of the software that you need to do your job?
  • If you need access to off-site data or databases, do you have that access setup?

If your computer cannot handle your most basic tasks, then it is time to either clean it up or replace it with a faster computer.

2.) Do you Have All the Right Technical Accessories?

Make sure that you have all the correct accessories for your computer that you need to do your job efficiently.

Consider adding items such as:

  • An ergonomic mouse and keyboard
  • A better monitor
  • A second monitor (for dual-screen use) and perhaps even a third monitor
  • A webcam
  • A headset

You also need to keep your computer and the data you create/save/access safe… and since you are now at home you may be on your own to do so.

3.) Make Sure That You Have Good Computer Security:

Constantly being connected to the web leaves us all vulnerable to attacks, hackers, phishers, and identity thieves. You need to be sure that you are protected with good antivirus, antimalware, and antispyware software.

4) Consider Using A Password Manager:

Proper password management is especially important if you handle or access other people’s sensitive data as part of your job. Passwords are one of the top sources of frustration in our world today. We all know that we need to have strong, unique passwords for every account we have. However, how do you keep track of all of those passwords?

Password managers are a great choice to help keep your passwords and accounts safe. A password manager stores all your passwords securely and syncs them across all of your devices.

Last, but certainly not least, who will you call if any of your equipment needs service?

5.) Technical Support:

This may be one of the scariest parts for most people who work from a home office. If something goes wrong in a typical office setting, you simply call the IT department and they take care of everything. At home, who can you call? Who pays for the service?

The answer to both of those questions really depends on the type of work that you do and your employer. What are their policies for tech support for their remote workers? If they provide support, great! If not, it is in your best interest to shop around for a local computer company that you can trust to take care of you in the event of a problem.

Working from home remotely can be wonderful and provide so much flexibility.  You must make sure that you take care of yourself and your tech as best you can.

If you need to update your computers, peripherals and more, our friends at Dell are offering VAMBOA, Veteran and Military Business Owners Association members, family, and friends some exceptional discounts.   If you are interested in checking them out, please go to this link:

https://vamboa.org/dell-technologies/

Improve Your Productivity Working From Home : Part 1 of 2

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By Debbie Gregory.

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Working from home has become the new normal for many workers in 2020.   Even before the pandemic, remote working was trending upward.  According to a recent Gallup poll, between 25 percent and 43 percent of Americans are working remotely on their laptops.

The main issue is that a lot of people working from home are doing it in a way it can be harmful to their health and their work. If you are hunched over the kitchen counter on your laptop while your family or roommates are loudly watching TV in the room next to you, you may want to consider a more permanent, and more peaceful, place to work.

Below are some ideas to help you put your home-office in better shape for your sanity, your body, and your productivity.

First, you need to make sure that you are taking care of your body.

1.) Your Health Should Always be a Top Priority or the Top Priority:

Never forget that an optimal workplace also needs items that help you feel good and allows you to take care of your basic needs with ease.

Consider adding items to your home workspace including:

  • An air purifier
  • Live plants
  • Reusable water bottle
  • Motivational posters

2.) Proper Posture & Take Movement Breaks:

Proper posture at the computer and/or using any gadget will go a long way and help to prevent or ease pain, discomfort, and fatigue.  Maintaining proper posture also helps to promote energy and relaxation. Taking frequent breaks helps to keep your body happy and your mind sharp. You come back to your work feeling refreshed and energized and this equates to being so much more productive and happier.

Some areas to focus on include:

  • Make sure that you can keep your head as upright as possible. Do not crane your neck downwards or upwards to view your screen.
  • Keep your arms in a neutral or 90 degree position.
  • Take frequent breaks to move and stretch out your muscles.
  • Take short walks at regular intervals (even if it is around the house).

Your Home Office Set-Up:

3.) Make Sure That You Have A Comfortable Work Chair:

The chair you sit in is much more important than the desk it is in front of. Your chair should swivel, it should have lower back support, it should help you to sit up straight, it should have comfortable arm rests that help keep your arms in the correct position, and you should be able to adjust the height.

4.) Consider Standing Instead of Sitting While You Work:

Prolonged sitting can be harmful to your health and many experts suggest that standing or alternating between standing and sitting is better for your body. There are special desks that allow you to stand that re very popular.  In fact, many companies were purchasing them for their offices.  As stated above, taking frequent breaks to move around is important. You might seriously consider purchasing a stand-up desk to perform your work.

5.) Make Your Work Area as Quiet and Peaceful as Possible:

Your neighborhood can certainly be a loud place whether it is the barking of neighborhood dogs, motorcycles, cars, street noise, or neighbors.   Unless you live alone, your home is noisy too with kids and family or roommates.  All of these are annoying distractions when you are trying to concentrate on your work. If you cannot create a totally quite place, consider investing in a pair of noise-cancelling headphones.

Please stay tuned for Part 2 of this mini blog series.   In the meantime, we invite you to join VAMBOA, the Veterans and Military Business Owners Association.  There are not any dues or membership fees.  You can use the VAMBOA seal on your website and collateral.

JOIN TODAY:  https://vamboa.org/member-registration/

Working from Home Productively

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By Debbie Gregory.

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You may find yourself suddenly working from home due to COVID-19.   Working from a home office is not necessarily an ideal set-up. The reality is that you are most likely trying to figure out how to juggle a number of balls such as: making space in your home for video calls and meetings, keeping yourself productive, keeping your kids occupied so you can work will trying to maintain a grip on your overall mental well-being.

 

Below are a few more tips to assist you for working at home productively from your new home office, and help you maintain your overall mental well-being:

1.) Setup a Dedicated & Separate Workplace:   

If you are used to going into an office every day, the separation between your job and your home is physical separation. Working from home removes this separation.   It is important to your productivity to recreate separation with a designated physical workspace in your home. If you do not have the space for a dedicated room, a quiet corner of a least-used room will work. This space just needs to feel as separate as possible from home life.

 

Tips for a good home workspace:

  • Make it as comfortable as possible
  • Make sure it has good lighting
  • Make sure you include every item you need to perform your job (printer, computer, phone, paper, pens, etc.)

 

2.) Establish a Clear Routine & Stick to It:

You and those you live with need to understand when you are working and when you are not. Staying close to the hours you normally worked from your office is a good plan. Working from home places you in charge of your environment and your work schedule. This means that you will have to hold yourself and be disciplined.

 

3.) Know When to Stop Working and Actually STOP:

Once you have established your work hours, you need to make sure that you stick to them and stop working at the “end” of your day. Do something at the end of your designated workday that helps you mentally shift from work mode and unwind such as a walk, yoga or reading.

 

4.) Organize Work & Plan Tasks for Each Day:

Regardless of where you are working, it is essential that you not only set a regular schedule for your day but you need to also keep track of all of your tasks including both pending and completed ones. You can use a variety of methods for this but here are some free online tools to consider:

  • Tasks and project management: Air Table, NovaTools, Trello
  • Sharing documents: Dropbox, Microsoft OneDrive, GoogleDocs
  • Video conferencing: Skype, Zoom, Google Meetings
  • Team communication: Whatsapp, Slack

 

5.) Take Regular Breaks:

Working from home may isolate from some interactions you would normally have each day. Make sure that you take regular breaks from work as you would if you were in a traditional office. Grab a cup of coffee, take a quick walk, make a personal call.

 

6.) Stay Connected with Others:

Make sure that you schedule regular talks with coworkers or managers, even if these chats are only a couple of minutes long. You need to be sure that you are still properly communicating with your coworkers and managers as issues or challenges arise and avoid problems.  Never hesitate to reach out to the same people that you would normally turn to for help. It is also a good idea to schedule informal chats with your coworkers  such as a virtual happy hour after work for a catch-up session.

 

7.) Consider Those in Your Home:

If you are suddenly working from home, you are probably not the only one in your house who is facing this new work-life balance. You may find yourself at home with your spouse, children, other family, roommates, etc. It is best to establish clear boundaries and share them with the other people in your home. Set times or queues for others so they know when you cannot be disturbed. Clear communication keeps your home happy!

 

Remember to be easy on yourself and others. We are all navigating a whole new way to work and live during these unchartered times. These tips should help you to setup your home office and keep your day flowing smoothly.  It is more important than ever to communicate, reach out, connect and take care of one another.

 

By Debbie Gregory.

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Advertise your business:

In order to build customers, they need to be cognizant that you exist, and they need a reason to engage with you. Advertising allows new customers to discover your brand and reminds current customers of your offerings. Your competitors are advertising and if you are not, you may lose business to them. Depending on your business and your offerings, you may want to go with traditional print ads in newspapers or magazines or online ads with search engines and social media platforms.

 

Create a professional brochure for your business:

Even though this seems like an outdated marketing strategy, it is still a good idea to have a strong, professional brochure created for your business. Brochures are cost effective and provide a lot of information while simultaneously personalizing your small business. They help your customers build trust in you and build awareness with your brand.

 

Send press releases to relevant media outlets:

Press releases are a great way to highlight important company events, new products, or awards you’ve received. Press releases allow you build brand awareness and communicate directly with your audience.

 

Host an event or open house:

Hosting an event or open house helps publicize your business, bring awareness to it, and allows you to show it off. You can sponsor your own even or join with other local businesses to showcase specific products, introduce your staff, or even provide free samples.

 

Offer a deal or discount:

Everyone loves a good deal, especially if they get something for free. Offering a coupon, discount, or some other special deal helps your business in multiple ways. It can help increase the number of new customers you receive, increase sales in general and for specific products, increase brand awareness, provide rewards to loyal customers, promote your social media accounts, show customer appreciation, increase your market influence by motivating customers to travel for your deals, and even help move inventory that has been sitting on your shelves.

 

Offer a Referral Fee to Existing Customers:

Referrals are golden and there is nothing better than a customer referring you to someone else because they hold a high opinion of your products and/or services.  Perhaps offer clients a special discount or referral fee to tell their colleagues and friends and spread the word about your business.

 

 

Regardless of the type of business you are running, whether you offer products that are tangible or intangible or series, you can make it successful right from your home. Just make sure that you spend the time researching your ideas and target market thoroughly, put together the right environment, build a strong team, and market your brand effectively.   Using a combination of online and other marketing is a recipe for success.

 

We encourage Veteran and Military Business Owners to join VAMBOA, the Veterans and Military Business Owners Association.   There are not any dues or fees charged to our members.  Here is a link to join:  https://vamboa.org/member-registration/

 

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