The Case for Working from Home

The Case for Working from Home

One of the most controversial topics in the workplace is if employees should be allowed to work from home. Many employers think that unsupervised and left to their own devices, employees would have a hard time resisting their beds, their tv, and their fridge. These things can present very real threats to an employee’s productivity.

However, we are no longer in the age of the Industrial Revolution where people are required to go to the factory to make actual products or machine parts. Many companies offer services, and that does not even require going to an office at all, if you think about it. All you need is a dedicated workspace, complete with tools and some peace and quiet. Still, the point of contention will always be productivity.

According to a study by WMS.org, the number of employees in the US who telecommute has tripled over the past 30 years, although it’s still only 2.4 percent. But to put that into perspective, “Out of the 150 million Americans who work, that means roughly 3.6 million Americans work from home.” In other parts of the world where the digital connectivity is steadily improving, between 10% to 20% of employees work remotely, at least part-time [1].

Many companies are now adopting the work from home model for parts of the week. For example, some companies allow their senior managers to work from home for 2 days a week, as part of their promotion. The work-from-home option can also be given as a perk, as a raise or bonus, or as a contingency plan for severe weather conditions.

While, of course, it is still up to the employer to decide whether to allow their employees to work from home some days of the week, here are some other great points to consider when contemplating working from home.

It takes advantage of mobile technology – many employees have mobile gadgets that can allow them to telecommute. Major cities are now wi-fi enabled and most homes have advanced digital connectivity that allows employees to stay connected to their teams at the office, while working from home or any place that offers a wi-fi connection like a co-working space, a business center, or a coffee shop.

Company issued laptops now have cloud-based programs and software that mirror the programs and tools most commonly used on-premise, at the office. Not only that, they are equipped with Data Encryption and Data Protection Software that can wipe company data in case a laptop gets compromised. Examples of these products are TrueCrypt, Symantec, CheckPoint, and BitLocker.

It solves logistics problems – A lot of companies have headquarters in and around major city hubs where the traffic is most concentrated. Working from home helps keep a number of these would be commuters or drivers off of the streets. They help ease the congestion and they are also spared from the hassles of a long and tiring commute., which, coincidentally, is one of the major causes of attrition. Understandably so, because no one would want to travel for 1 to 3 hours to and from the office. So, employees quit their job in the city and move to a job that’s closer to home. For some, employers, this also solves the problem of availability of seats. An office expansion would entail acquiring more office space to be able to house the growing workforce. If some of them can work from home, some of the time, employers can manage the very expensive cost of having to rent out or acquire a larger office space.

How about you, what are your thoughts on allowing employees to work from home? Please let us know in the comments. Stay humble and hustle hard!

 

Written by: Jaie O. – The Help

 

References:

  1. https://ideas.ted.com/why-working-from-home-should-be-standard-practice/amp/

 

How to Handle Stress

How to Handle Stress

As responsible adults, we all have a whole gamut of responsibilities to attend to every single day. It could be the stress of taking care of everyone in the household every single day, work, relationships, financial obligations, social obligations, etc. Stress can come from anything we worry about, and it can come at any time.

Being everything to everyone all the time can be a huge cause of stress. And that is especially true for working parents. They have the stress of work and the responsibilities of raising a family to attend to. On top of that, they have to find a work-life balance that enables them to have enough time for self-care.

Stress is ever-present in everybody’s lives and there’s no way we can ever be ready to stop it. However, there are a few ways that we can learn to manage stress so that it doesn’t run our lives.

Here are a few ways we can manage stress according to WebMD[1].

  1. Accept that there are events that you cannot control. – Let’s face it, sh*t happens, and when it does, the best thing we can do is face the challenge head-on and hope that next time it happens, we will be more prepared. So, when life surprises you with a stressful situation, do your best to remain calm and keep a clear head. Take the lessons you can learn and leave everything else.
  2. Keep a positive attitude; rather than defaulting to negatives (”Nothing goes right for me,” or ”Bad things always happen to me”), give yourself positive messages (”I’m doing my best,” or ”I’ll ask for help”). – Nothing good will ever come out of negative thinking, so stop beating yourself up and start working on how to make the best out of your situation.
  3. Halt stress in its tracks; if you feel overwhelmed, take a walk or drive in the slow lane to avoid getting angry at other drivers. – learn to spot your stressors and avoid or address them accordingly.
  4. Manage your time. Give yourself time to get things done; set your watch so you have more time to prepare for an event. – most of the time, stress is what happens when we are unprepared. So do your best to be as prepared as you can to reduce stress. Set your clothes out and prepare your work things. Plan your breakfast so you don’t have to stare at inside the fridge for 5 mins. Do as much prepping as you can to avoid being frazzled.
  5. Do things that are pleasurable, like reading or gardening. – take up a relaxing hobby, one that will take your mind off of all your worries even for a short while.
  6. Take 15-20 minutes every day to sit quietly and reflect. Learn and practice relaxation techniques like yoga or deep breathing. – For anyone who wants to try meditation, here’s an article on how to get started [2].
  7. Exercise regularly by bicycling, walking, hiking, jogging, or working out at the gym. Your body can fight stress better when it is fit. – Because of its repetitive nature, exercise can be a good form of meditation. Concentrate on your breathing, your stride, your form and it will clear your mind.
  8. Avoid alcohol and recreational drugs. And don’t smoke. – enough said.
  9. Eat healthy, well-balanced meals. – and don’t forget to take multivitamin supplements, vitamin c is a huge stress buster.
  10. Get enough rest and sleep. Your body needs time to recover from stressful events. – Our bodies heal while we sleep, so get enough of it. 6-8 hours is the recommended amount for adults.
  11. Seek out social support. – Build a strong tribe or support system and take care of your relationships. Healthy and balanced relationships are the key to a less stressful life.

Do you have other stress-busting tips? Please share them with us in the comments. Stay humble and hustle hard!

 

Written by: Jaie O. – The Help

 

References:

  1. http://www.webmd.com/balance/stress-management/reducing-stress-tips
  2. http://thehelpbyastrids.com/a-mind-full-of-light/

Working lunch, anyone?

Working lunch, anyone?

Admit it! You silently judge the person who eats lunch by himself or herself at the desk, while working. Doesn’t he have friends to have lunch with? Can’t she cook a better lunch than that sad sandwich?

Judge all you want but there might be justifiably viable reasons for eating lunch at the work desk. It could be that she’s trying to be more frugal and so chose to pack her own lunch. Or maybe he has to finish that report by the end of business day today. Or she’s trying to make healthier food choices.

I’m sure you also do it. Yes, you! The days when eating lunch at your workstation was seen as something unusual are loooong gone. Nowadays, a working lunch at your desk is the norm or an unavoidable inconvenience at the very least (because…the pantry is right there!).

But if you find yourself one day with a massive workload and zero time to finish all of it – you just might ascribe to eating lunch at your desk.

Be careful though, there is a list of do’s and don’ts. NO, I didn’t make it up. So, if you must know, here’s a list of desk lunch-ing do’s and don’ts.

Office desk lunch etiquette 101 states that:

Do’s

Do ask – please ask first if you are even allowed to eat at your desk in the first place. Some offices have no food at the work area policies in order to keep spills and other food accidents at bay. Most offices are ok with you eating your lunch at your desk though – we’re all adults anyway. Just don’t be a slob. Which brings me to…

Do tidy up – don’t make a mess in the first place. Pick up pieces of food (looking at that sushi you dropped because you can’t use chopsticks) that you dropped on the floor. Wipe off the crumbs from the table, into your hand, and straight to the trash bin. Wipe those sauce drips or soda/coffee rings.

Do be mindful – be mindful that you are sharing the workspace with other people who use the space for its original purpose (i.e. WORK). So stop making loud chewing noises or obscene slurping noises (too, bad for those handy cup noodles – eat them somewhere else if you can’t slurp quietly).

Do prepare for interruptions – you are eating at your desk…while working I presume. So people will register that you are working first and that you are eating next. So they will treat your “lunch break” as working. Simple as that. So be prepared for questions, appeals, and clarifications.

Don’t

Don’t bring smelly food – We all have food that reminds us of home. More often than not, they’re fermented or smelly, or weird. I know I should say something culturally sensitive but we all can eat our favorite local food at home and just keep eating it there. If I want my co-workers to try regional cuisine, I would just invite them out to the best place that makes them.

Don’t just eat whenever – It’s generally considered ore considerate to people around you if you try to eat on the designated lunch break time.

Can you think of anything else to add to this list? Let me know in the comments! Stay humble and hustle hard!

 

Written by: Jaie O. – The Help

Taking the First Step Towards Cultivating a Healthy EQ

Taking the First Step Towards Cultivating a Healthy EQ

What is EQ? EQ is short for Emotional Quotient. It is another term that people use in lieu of Emotional Intelligence. EQ is described as “the capability of individuals to recognize their own and other people’s emotions, discern between different feelings and label them appropriately, use emotional information to guide thinking and behavior, and manage and/or adjust emotions to adapt to environments or achieve one’s goal(s)”.[1] It is different from IQ or Intelligence Quotient which is a result of how you score on a set of standardized tests that assesses human intelligence.

Why is it important to have Emotional Intelligence or EQ? EQ isn’t a new buzz word. By now, everyone knows about the concept of having EQ. In countless studies, it has been proven time and again that people with a healthy Emotional Quotient have better skills to handle challenges.

The ability to handle challenges successfully can be a good predictor of how well you succeed in life – in your personal endeavors, at work, and other aspects. Besides, wouldn’t it make sense that: the better handle you have on your emotions, the better grip you have at situations that require a steady temperament. These are situations like: conflict resolution, listening and responding to others, controlling your reactions, and reading personalities.

According to psychologist Daniel Goleman’s Mixed Model[2], there are 5 key areas where we can potentially improve our EQ. They are:

1. Self-awareness: is basically about mastering your feelings.
2. Self-management: is about being able to keep your emotions in check.
3. Motivation: is knowing your personal objectives and what moves you towards them.
4. Empathy: is being aware of other people’s feelings, thoughts, and experiences.
5. Social skills: is being able to find common ground and interacting well with others.

Take a look at each of the key areas above and assess yourself based on those 5 key factors. I suggest doing this in tandem with something meditative like a long leisurely walk. Once you have gotten into that introspective mindset, you might want to document your findings by jotting them down in a journal. If you are completely honest with yourself, you will expect to find that there are some areas where you are strong (for example, you have stellar social skills and empathy) and there are areas which you need to work on (for example you may lack a definitive motivator or are struggling with getting a grip on your emotions).

Now that you have an idea what your weak points and your strong points are – find ways to improve on them. Our aim should always be towards self-improvement and knowing ourselves is the first step towards being better people.

Do you have tips on raising your EQ? I would love to hear about them in the comments. As always, remember to stay humble and hustle hard.

 

Written by: Jaie O. – The Help

 

References:
1. Coleman, Andrew (2008). A Dictionary of Psychology (3 ed.). Oxford University Press. ISBN 9780199534067.
2. Goleman, D. (1998). Working with emotional intelligence. New York: Bantam Books

Undermined by People You Love?

Undermined by People You Love?

I love telling people that I work from home. I love telling them about the fact that I don’t have to take a long (and frustrating) commute to work and that I don’t have to be in corporate clothes all the time (except for conference calls, and even so, I don’t have to wear heels!) I tell them that I feel very supported and that I am given all the tools to excel at my job. I’m very comfortable telling people that I work from home now. But it was a different story a few years back when working from home or remote work wasn’t (as I like to call it) “the new normal”.

Back in the days when remote work was a new thing, a friend had told me to be very careful about explaining what I did for a living. She said, most people don’t take you seriously once they learn that you don’t work at a corporate office. They have this feeling that if you work from home, you’re hunched over a laptop set on the kitchen table. And that, somehow, is far less acceptable than being hunched over a computer inside an office.

I didn’t understand where this hesitancy came from. She told me her story. Like me, she works from home. Her sister was in between nannies and asked her to “look after their kid for a few hours because you work from home anyway”, implying that she had nothing important to do. They got into a squabble. And that’s how she came to give me that advice.

I felt bad for her. Maybe because I felt a kindred spirit, being both remote workers. Why was she being made to feel guilty about her career choice? Isn’t our job not as important as theirs?

What my friend was talking about is a thing called “social undermining”. You’ve probably experienced something similar to this. It may not be a work from home job. It could be that you’re trying to make healthier lifestyle choices by going vegetarian. It could be that you’re trying to cut back on expenses and so you decline suggestions to spend on an expensive group vacation and instead offer more frugal options. It could be that someone from work failed to include you in that email invite to discuss an integral project. Whatever it is, you’ve experienced being knocked down by a friend, or even a family member.

What is the best way to get over this? The best way is to be upfront without being combative. They might get riled up and tell you that you’re reading too much into their comment. That there is no sinister motive behind it and that you’re just overly sensitive. Be firm and hold your ground. You are not being sensitive. You are calling them out on undermining you and your capabilities. If you let this continue, they will think it is ok to carry on with this behavior. After all, you teach people how to treat you. Tell them how flippant remarks like that affect you. Let them know that it makes you feel dismissed and that you would rather have them support you instead (in whatever that endeavor is, career, lifestyle change, etc).

How about you? How do you deal with underminers? We’d love to hear your suggestions in the comments. Remember to stay humble and hustle hard.

 

Written by: Jaie O. – The Help

 

Reference;

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Social_undermining