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Business Trends Work Environment

The Ultimate Morning Routine Checklist for a Productive Workday

If you’re looking to create a morning routine checklist or simply trying to find tips on how to improve it, then look no further. A good routine to stick with is pretty essential for a productive workday. Read more.

 

What makes a good morning routine? Is it good coffee? A hearty breakfast? Getting the right foot out of bed on the right side? Or is it all about attitude? Or, maybe, is it something deeper than that?

 

The ultimate morning routine checklist is one of those things we all know we should bother sticking to, but never really do. Part of the reason they’re so hard to be consistent about is that most morning routines are too ambitious, or simply don’t fit us. Setting up a morning routine that works for you is key, especially if you’re trying to start the day in a good mood for the work that lies ahead.

 

The key elements of a good morning routine are the same regardless of who performs it. They include consistency, intake, and sleep. We’ll go over each element, as well as how you might improve your morning routine – and drastically improve your productivity – in just a few basic steps. But first, we must talk about the elephant in the room.

 

Why Bother with a Morning Routine Checklist?

 

While breakfast might not necessarily be the most important meal of the day, it is true that how you start your day ultimately has a significant impact on how the rest of your day is going to be. Getting a good start to the day can mean the difference between taking life in stride and feeling completely and totally overwhelmed. It can also have an impact on your overall productivity and allow you to shift your mindset towards a work-focused one.

 

Even night owls can learn to benefit from a morning routine. Like anything else, it’s a matter of training yourself to make the most of the early hours of the day, and avoid the anxiety that comes from feeling unproductive or sluggish pre-lunch.

 

Morning routines aren’t just exclusive to those with the time or money to create them. Everyone and anyone can and should have a morning routine of their own, even if it’s as simple as getting up at the same time every day, putting on the kettle, and getting a shave/face wash. In fact, it’s often these simple routines that are the most effective – because they’re simple.

 

Consistency First and Foremost

 

The golden rule of any morning routine, before anything else, is always going to be consistency. Morning routines don’t start out as some sort of productivity super life hack – they only become this over time, as you begin to work yourself into a daily rhythm, priming yourself for a productive morning (and rest of the day). Like an elaborate mantra, the morning routine is just a way to prepare yourself for the day ahead – and it can truly be anything.

 

If you’re new to morning routines, keep them as simple as you can. As you get comfortable with your new routine, consider how you might expand on it in ways that don’t necessarily turn it into a three-hour affair but allow you to shift focus onto things you might want to be paying more attention to – from showing gratitude towards others, to picking up a new productive habit, to learning a new skill.

 

We’re not in the business of telling you what to do with your mornings, but the first item on your checklist should always be something you can do every day, even on the weekends.

 

Morning Intake, and Why It Matters

 

What’s the first thing you eat or drink when you wake up in the morning? Your first intake can make a difference in not just the first few hours of the day, but all the way into the evening. It’s generally recommended to start the day with a small glass of simple H2O.

 

Most of us try to get some sleep for at least about 6-8 hours, and probably haven’t had anything to drink for closer to 8-10 hours. Depending on the weather and season, you can wake up dehydrated without having had a sip of alcohol the night before. While the health claims of drinking water first thing in the morning are dubious, it is a simple and inoffensive addition to any routine.

 

Coffee, while great, can mask the effects of sleeplessness and cost you productivity in the long-termif you’ve been neglecting your sleep. If you can’t remember the last time you went without coffee, consider stepping off the caffeine train the next time you have a long weekend, and use the time to see for yourself if you’re generally well-rested, or if you find yourself tempted to doze off throughout the day.

 

While caffeine can mask sleepiness, it doesn’t really mask its detrimental effects on cognition, from problem-solving to reflexes.

 

No Substitute for Sleep

 

No morning routine can make up for the crucial benefits of a healthy sleep schedule and good sleep hygiene. Before you turn to your morning routine as a way to make major productivity gains, make sure you’re getting enough rest every night.

 

Cutting an hour here or there can wrack up dangerously in the long-term – and your body and brain will eventually need to cut corners accordingly, whether in performance or thinking skills.

 

Leverage a To-Do List

 

Once you’ve taken care of your sleep, figured out your favorite morning drink, and have established a simple and custom routine that suits you, we’d like to offer up an excellent addition to any morning routine: the to-do list.

 

Take a moment before work to consider what you aim to get done that day, and jot it down. Visualize your progress. Assign timeslots and hour counts to each task. Consider breaks and set a realistic goal – then execute.

 

Day after day, you’ll find that taking a few minutes to sit down and think about how you’re going to approach the next 24 hours can massively improve your focus and productivity.

 

Morning Routes While Working from Home

 

Morning routines are far from exclusive to the office-bound worker or the successful CEO. Even if you’ve had to spend the better part of the past few months working from home, adopting a morning routine while remote not only continues to help improve productivity, but allows you to formally assign a moment in time, each day, that signifies the start of the workday (and the end of the “home” part of “work from home”).

 

One of the biggest challenges when dealing with remote work is the feeling that the boundaries between work and life begin to blur, and it becomes harder to stop oneself from putting in unnecessary or excessive overtime, and risking burnout.

 

A morning routine allows you to get started with the day’s tasks faster, finish more efficiently, and cap your day off at the same time each evening – without languishing early in the morning, and then rushing to submit projects way past typical office hours.

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Business Trends Work Environment

How to Better Guide Your Distributed Teams for Success

If you’re managing distributed teams and it’s been quite stressful, then it’s always ideal to find ways to better guide your employees. Here are helpful tips to keep in mind!

 

As we continue to approach a post-pandemic world, we need to ask ourselves what the workplace of the near future will look like. Office workers are demanding the ability to work from home (or wherever they please, for that matter) more than ever, especially now as we’ve had a long time to acclimate to completely remote conditions. While that setup isn’t ideal for everyone, there are those that simply can’t overlook its benefits, from slashing commute to making it easier to get more things done in a day.

 

On the flip side, we have people who are eager to return to a normal workplace, away from the drastic meld of work and life at home, who want to create a boundary between their family and their professional lives, and can’t afford, neither mentally nor fiscally, to enjoy the benefits of a fully-fledged home office.

 

Reconciling these two camps and successfully managing workers with different needs while enabling cooperation between them is a tall but necessary task for any manager or leader of the near future. This is where it becomes important to learn how to guide distributed teams.

 

What Are Distributed Teams?

 

Distributed teams are any collective of professionals working together on a project or company, with different resources, from different locations, but under the same general management. You know you are managing a distributed team when you’ve got two developers in the Philippines, a UI expert in Croatia, a visual artist in Oregon, and are working with a few local talents from a small coworking space in California, for example.

 

For distributed teams, the main challenge is learning to coalesce the individual strengths and weaknesses of each team member, while overcoming the communicative and cooperative obstacles of time and distance. Thankfully, now more than ever, those obstacles are entirely surmountable.

 

COVID has taught us that we can function mostly remote – and with a little work, we can even integrate patchwork teams working both independently and cooperatively into one big team.

 

Make the Most of It

 

When working with a distributed team, you learn that the precious few hours during which everyone can be online together are worth gold, and it’s in these hours that most of the collaborative and managerial work must get done.

 

It’s here where you need to wrangle team members to explain what they’ve been working on, get feedback on how specific tasks are going, reorient your team to tackle specific priorities, and organize both your short-term and long-term goals for the project in its current stage.

 

This means having a set protocol so everyone knows what time they need to be on the group call, and placing a premium on heavy communication, so no one is left wondering what’s going on when someone in the team can’t make it because of a personal matter.

 

Even when remote, we crave the ability to act and work together – and if you’ve ever had friends on the Internet, you’ll know that modern communications technologies have come a long way towards eliminating the difficulties of distance when fostering meaningful and strong relationships, even between professionals.

 

Aside from prioritizing collaborative and managerial work in the hours when everyone can be present, you’ll also want to give your workers the means to communicate independently with one another through other channels, such as off-topic chatrooms.

 

The same goes for distributed teams that operate on a rotating system of office hours, where workers spend some days in the office, and some days at home.

 

Don’t Underestimate the Importance of Onboarding

 

There’s no real hope of physically onboarding someone in a country you haven’t hired from before. But when hiring local talent, or when recruiting someone in a region you already have other team members in, it helps to organize a physical onboarding process to get the new team member comfortable with their role and position in the team, as well as get them to meet as many people face-to-face as possible, regardless of whether they plan to continue working in offices or largely from home (or elsewhere). This is where coworking spaces come in handy.

 

Coworking spaces allow you to lease a professional workspace for just a few weeks, so you can effectively onboard new talent and guide them through their workday, as well as give them the opportunity to get a better feel for how they like the company culture and the people they will be working with locally.

 

Video, Video, Video

 

When face-to-face collaboration (through a coworking space, or your office headquarters) isn’t possible, emphasize the use of video. It might seem like a relatively minute difference to turn a one-on-one phone call into a video call, but video conversations can help get the point across much more quickly, and much more efficiently, than just a voice chat or an email.

 

We still pick up a lot of context clues and conversational cues via a webcam than just a person’s voice, and it can help speed things along – not to mention help foster a more relaxed and comfortable working environment between colleagues, regardless of the distance involved. It’s hard to feel like you’re a part of a company when most of your team members remain relatively faceless to you, and when you’re constantly reminded of the distance between you due to the lack of physical collaboration. Frequent video calls can greatly alleviate that feeling.

 

Productivity And Collaboration in Distributed Teams

 

When tackling matters of productivity and comfortable collaboration, you must recognize that your role as a leader is not just to know what everyone needs to be doing, but to ensure that everyone’s needs are met.

 

Just showing some interest in how your team members are doing can go a very long way towards helping them feel appreciated and helping them develop a much stronger bond with your team and company. Make use of the strength of emotional intelligence to figure out whether your team members are satisfied with their role in the team – and why they aren’t.

 

Offer learning opportunities and affirmations. Take the time to note how a team member’s individual effort reflected on the project. Distribute praise and constructive criticism. Take team members aside for one-on-one calls to discuss how they’re doing, and what their plans are. Don’t just try to be positive for the sake of positivity – be real.

 

A lot of managing a distributed team means recognizing that each team member is a person, not just a faraway resource. Bringing them together involves making the most of each person’s strengths and weaknesses, and overcoming the challenges of distance – mostly through technology, but also through collaborative opportunities like coworking spaces, and occasional company events and get-togethers.

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Work Environment

8 Ways to Strengthen Your Work Team Culture

How is your work team culture? If it’s time to evaluate this important part of the business, then it’s ideal to keep these tips in mind. Read more below.

 

Team culture is more than a buzzword – it affects your ability to retain talent, the cohesion and productivity of your workers, the quality of your output, and your reputation both within the industry and on the job market.

 

Your team and company culture are representative of the kind of leadership you endorse and promote, and the kind of behavior you seek out and reward. And when leveraged in the right way, your team culture can be an incredibly powerful tool for attracting talent and outlasting the competition – even while fully remote.

 

Why Team Culture Matters – Especially When Remote

 

Team culture is a selection of things but might best be summed up by the cross-section between what you want your company to be, and what your company really is.

 

We all have our own missions and visions, our own aspirations and dreams – and while we may not completely live up to them, striving to come as close as possible is an ideal in and of itself. In doing so, we promote and encourage specific behaviors and actions, and hire specific people. That’s what determines a team’s culture.

 

Good work team culture can lead to:

 

      • Better talent retention.
      • Improved reputation.
      • Greater productivity.

 

But what does it take to develop a good team culture, even while remote? We’re going to go over 8 simple ways you can ensure that your team remains in high spirits, even when far apart.

 

1. Engage the Team

 

Engage the team often, even if only remotely. Leverage coworking spaces and events as means to meet in person, make sure individual team members understand that they are part of something larger.

 

Coworking spaces are also an excellent way to onboard new hires during the pandemic, before transitioning them into remote work (or letting them continue in a coworking space while the main office remains at capacity).

 

Encouraging employees to work together as often as possible, so long as it is safe as per locally mandated social distancing rules, can help reduce the impact of remote work on team cohesion and camaraderie, as well as limit the effects of isolation caused by the pandemic.

 

2. Encourage Feedback Often

 

Frequent feedback and communication are the backbones of any successful team – and that goes for the team’s culture, as well. If you want to get a better understanding of where you might be lacking in the management department, just ask the people being managed.

 

3. Provide Time and Opportunity to Develop Relationships

 

You can’t expect much of a culture to develop when your team members barely have time to introduce themselves to one another, much less get to know each other outside of a purely professional context.

 

Even remotely, you can facilitate and allow for greater relationships within the team through off-topic chat groups, weekly or monthly remote events (from puzzle night to party video games), mutual lunches and breaks (getting together on-call to snack or take a walk outside), and more. Coworking spaces are also an excellent opportunity for teams in a single city or region to get together occasionally and work on projects in closer (and safe) proximity.

 

4. Focus on Refinement and Learning

 

Another way to promote a healthier work culture is to ensure that team members understand the importance of advancement – particularly self-advancement.

 

Encourage and provide opportunities for learning new skills, taking on coursework alongside work, developing in new ways for the good of the company (and one’s career), and making sure that each team member feels continuously challenged to learn new things and grow as a professional.

 

5. Managers and Leaders Should Embody the Company

 

In other words, lead by example – and adhere to core values. A CEO that demands that the team crunches on a certain project but doesn’t bring the same work ethic to the office when things are in a tight spot won’t get the respect they need to build a strong team.

 

If your vision is to be an innovator in your space, you need to be open to new ideas and encourage outside-the-box thinking at work, rather than shooting down new hires when they bring something else to the table.

 

6. Celebrate and Laud Accomplishments

 

Did you guys just land a huge new client? Finish off a grueling project? Why not treat the team to a little celebratory get-together? Regardless of whether it’s a virtual event or something in-person, a little company-sponsored treat can go a long way to helping team members feel appreciated.

 

7. Give Team Members the Chance to Prove Themselves

 

Some people don’t have what it takes to lead a team. But any competent team member should have what it takes to be responsible for their own time and resources – and deliver on projects with the freedom to spend their time as they please.

 

Instead of micromanaging each aspect of the team’s work and burdening your team with spyware to try and log their hours as accurately as possible, give them increased responsibilities and the trust they deserve to manage their workload as best suits them, take breaks when they see fit, and provide for their own productivity and creativity.

 

In the same vein, however, good managers and leaders need to keep in mind that many team members will crunch themselves into burnout to try and keep up with a company’s rate of production. If you feel that a team member is starting to unravel or is potentially taking on much more than they should, feel free to check in on them regularly and give them the option of moving projects around, or giving the signal that they might not be able to handle their workload alone.

 

It’s good for the bottom line when a single employee manages to do the work of two people – but in the long-term, management like that will cause workers to burn themselves out on 16-20-hour shifts, leading to more mistakes, more hours spent fixing problems that could have been avoided entirely, a toxic workplace culture, and a poor reputation on the job market and elsewhere.

 

8. Review Your Own Team Culture

 

No improvement is complete without reflection – and there will come the time when you must consider how the changes you’ve implemented affect your working culture, and the environment you’re fostering for both existing team members and new talent.

 

Every year or so, consider doing a work culture audit to get a sense of how the rest of your team feels about your approach to fostering a healthy and productive work culture, whether any specific changes over the past year were especially well-received or poorly received, whether any that were poorly received were eventually accepted or even liked (and vice versa), and what each team member feels the general direction of the company should be.

 

Get an idea of how your company seems to reflect on those who work in it – and what decisions they would make in your shoes to improve it.

 

Ultimately, it’s entirely up to you to act on whatever information an audit like that would bring you – but its biggest benefit is the increased insight it gives you into each team member’s thoughts on the company, as well as the team’s attitude as a whole.

 

Conclusion

 

It takes time to alter and improve a company’s team culture. Never forget that the people you are working with are more than just a dispensable resource – they’re individuals with vastly different perspectives and experiences, each of which brings a unique value to the table.

 

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Work Environment

How to Deal with Incompetent Coworkers in A Shared Workspace

Aside from the benefits that are part of a shared workspace, there are also challenges that may arise such as dealing with incompetent coworkers. Below are a few tips to better handle this.

 

An unprofessional, annoying, or incompetent coworker is the bane of any professional workspace. But they aren’t avoidable, and many can slip into a professional setting without hinting at the problems they’re about to bring upon your organization.

 

However, that doesn’t mean you should simply let their incompetence stand.

 

Whether you’re another worker or a team leader, there are a few things you should consider doing (and they don’t involve immediately tattling to the management or firing them on the spot).

 

Do Not Vent to Other Coworkers

 

First things first – maintain professional common sense in this kind of situation. Under no circumstances should you turn an incompetent coworker into a gossip topic.

 

While it might be really easy to succumb to this, and just blow off a little steam by badmouthing the one employee, it’s definitely not worth it.

 

Perpetuating an atmosphere that encourages gossip can be extremely toxic and does not make for a healthy work environment.

 

Document Everything You Can

 

The worst thing you can do when talking to someone a little higher up about what’s been going on is to come to them with pure hearsay. You need evidence, witnesses, and information. Gather as much of it as you can and keep it ready.

 

Most importantly, talk to them.

 

An annoying and incompetent coworker might be really difficult to work with, but there could be a good reason – not one that excuses incompetence, but one that might help you get them the time they need to sort out their problems before returning to work for a second chance.

 

Leave Emotions Out of It

 

Do not let things get out of hand, regardless of whether you’re the manager/leader of the group, or another fellow worker.

 

When an incompetent employee is being unreasonable in a professional setting, it’s not an excuse to drop all pretense and make things ugly.

 

Regardless of what words get flung around, do NOT resort to ad hominem attacks. Do NOT vent to other coworkers outside of the office.

 

If you find yourself close to a breaking point – take a break. It’s definitely not worth exploding and making a scene simply for the satisfaction of finally being able to say what you’ve been wanting to say all along.

 

Regardless of your position, do NOT let yourself get burned in the long-term for letting things get out of hand with someone who has dug themselves a professional grave.

 

 

Don’t Pick Up Their Slack

 

If you’re witnessing a coworker being sloppy with their work, your first instinct might be to ‘help’. But there’s a limit to how much help can actually do any good.

 

If it’s clear that your coworker is going through a genuinely tough time (or they mention it), then helping them is the right thing to do. It will be appreciated, and you know that their problems are temporary.

 

But if you decide to ‘help’ with a coworker who is refusing to do the work properly, all you’re doing is giving them even less of a reason to change or improve, while erasing any evidence of their incompetence.

 

If a coworker is unwilling to pull their weight, they shouldn’t count on others simply doing the work for them.

 

Furthermore, it sends a terrible message to the other workers in the group. They won’t be held accountable and won’t be as proud of their work as they should. They put in hard hours to see this business flourish while one person gets to take it easy without serious repercussions.

 

Yes, everyone has their limits, and there are variables in how much weight one person can pull. Some work harder and better than others, as expected. But when it’s clear that a coworker simply isn’t even doing their level best, that needs to stand on its own.

 

Unless it’s clear that they need help, and unless it’s an incredibly minor task, do not help. That’s where empathy stops, and manipulation (on their part) begins.

 

Be Prepared to Remove Them

 

If you’re the group leader or manager for an organization at a shared workspace, then it’s your responsibility to maintain a healthy work environment.

 

Even if you don’t own the space and share it with other businesses and workers, your team is your responsibility – the workers under your command reflect on you, and the organization, and externally, that reflects on the entire space.

 

That means knowing when it’s time to remove someone from your group.

 

Firing a worker unjustly is the last thing a small organization should do, but when there’s no room for growth or improvement, and it’s clear that the relationship you have with your coworker is adversarial at best, having them removed would be the healthiest thing to do – and the health of the business comes first.

 

The last thing you may do is fragment your team, either as a member of the team itself or as its manager. But regardless of how you feel about potentially creating a wedge, it’s important to know where you believe your priorities should lie.

 

In most cases, it’s better to prioritize a healthy and productive workspace and a business that can continue to do work for its clients, than to avoid a confrontation with an incompetent coworker, who is unwilling to change or adapt.

 

Conclusion

 

It’s not a matter of cruelty or empathy – the needs of the organization come before the needs of the individual, and a difficult coworker isn’t just a problem for your group or business, but for the entire coworking space, putting not only them in a bad light, but your business, and in turn, the space itself (which can definitely hurt your reputation with its owners).

 

If you’re a coworker, document your coworker’s shortcomings to maintain evidence of their incompetence. Also, ask why they’re not finishing tasks.

 

If you’re a manager, then know that this is part of the job. An effective leader knows when it’s time to give leeway and push, and when it’s time to cut someone out of the organization entirely. Take responsibility.

 

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Work Environment

9 Ways to Practice Mindfulness in the Workplace

It’s very easy to overlook our mental health when we have a full list of tasks to do each day. But to prevent burnout and becoming overly stressed, below are 9 ways to practice mindfulness in the workplace.

 

Mindfulness is more than just a means of paying attention to your surroundings or attempting to be aware of what you’re doing. Mindfulness is a state of mind describing a sense of being in the moment, of being aware, and of embracing a healthier perspective. 

 

To be mindful is to calm yourself from a reactionary state, and instead choose to be attentive. It’s to focus your time and energy on a single thing, rather than go on autopilot. And to pull yourself out of a daydream and be productive. 

 

Mindfulness has its distinct advantages in life, especially as part of a mental exercise program to combat anxiety, irritability, and depression. Many mindfulness exercises are rooted in the ideas already established and researched through cognitive behavioral therapy, wherein patients are taught to be cognizant of how their disorder affects their thoughts and behaviors, and how they can recognize those errant thoughts and replace them. 

 

Patients are taught to be mindful above all else and recognize when they need to step out of their head and take in the moment around them. 

 

These lessons aren’t exclusive to people with serious mental health issues. Mindfulness can be a great protective tool for preventing burnout, reducing the long-term impact of stress, and being aware of your own mental health and your boundaries (and how your work might be affecting them).

 

Mindfulness in the Workplace

 

Research shows that mindfulness provides a number of benefits, including reduced aggression and stress, as well as improved productivity and sociability. By incorporating mindfulness into your daily routine at work, you can become more focused and improve the rate at which you get things done, and help you become open to opportunities for learning and growth – critical aspects of career-building that, when ignored, can lead to a sense of stagnation and dissatisfaction with one’s work. 

 

One of the key factors behind the effectiveness of mindful practices at work is that it decreases mental rumination or breaks from focused cognitive activities. 

 

It also helps boost what is normally referred to as your “working memory,” and allows for greater cognitive flexibility (the ability to adapt to situations and think on the fly), as well as much less emotional reactivity (learning to disengage from distractions and upsets, and focus on productive tasks and activities). 

 

Yet for many, implementing mindfulness in the workplace is far easier said than done. Most people feel they don’t have time to meditate in the mornings or begin doing mindfulness exercises at their desk. 

 

But practicing mindfulness doesn’t require a huge time commitment or drastic lifestyle overhauls. You can become more mindful in your daily life and reap those benefits in your professional life through a few simple ways. 

 

1. Start Your Day with a Task Journal

 

It might seem a tad simplistic or overdone to start this list with a journal, but this is not the same as writing a self-reflecting journal or starting a diary to keep track of your mental state. 

 

Think of this as a slightly expanded to-do list, meant to help give you the chance to start the day with a list you can work through step-by-step throughout the workday. 

 

A task journal also lets you time yourself, and review over the weeks how you spend your day, and where you might want to improve your efficiency or swap tasks around to make the most of your time. 

 

2. Take 5-Minute Mindfulness Breaks Regularly

 

A 30-minute meditative session is a utopian goal for most people with busy workdays. But a 5-minute break is easy to fit in. Even if you pride yourself on never taking breaks, the truth is that we don’t run well on fumes. There is a chance that if you never give yourself any room to breathe, you’re running your long-term productivity into the ground. 

 

Every hour or two, take five minutes to get up from your station and be mindful. Use the opportunity to get a glass of water and focus on each sip, make a cup of coffee and focus on the process of making it, or step out into the balcony and be mindful of the scenery around you. 

 

3. Set Reminders to Refocus Yourself

 

If you’re prone to daydreaming, sometimes all you need a reminder to snap out of it. You can set these reminders yourself with a simple vibrating phone alarm. 

 

Set it to vibrate every few hours and use that as your cue to take a break or snap back to the moment if you’ve caught yourself ruminating or drifting away. 

 

4. Grab Some Time in the Nap Room 

 

Sometimes, repeated distractions and poor cognitive function at work is a simple sign of sleep deprivation. Instead of grabbing yet another cup of coffee, just get some more rest. This can mean improving your sleep hygiene to grab extra ZZZs at home or getting a regular power nap in at the coworking place

 

5. Enjoy the Little Pleasures

 

Rather than rushing through the day like clockwork, stop and remind yourself to enjoy the pleasures of any given moment – whether it’s the first sip of coffee in the day, your first bite of food, the feeling you get when you complete your first task for the morning, or the satisfaction of a good stretch after an hour or more spent sitting down. 

 

6. Quit Multitasking

 

Multitasking is not as efficient as you might think. It is far more effective to pick a single task at a time and focus on it, than it is to try and complete two or three tasks at once.

 

7. Be Consistent

 

Mindfulness is not a panacea for productivity issues and stress, but it can make a major difference in your workplace – provided you are committed to implementing it on a daily basis

 

Being mindful for a week or two isn’t enough to see lasting change. Be consistent, and reap your rewards. 

 

8. There Will Always Be Slow Days

 

We should aim to be productive most days but cannot be productive all the time. There will always be slow days, when you’ve hit your creative and productive limits, and when you just need a break. 

 

One or two slow days is fine, and you have to learn to cut yourself slack for that. 

 

One or two slow weeks may be a sign that you need an extended break, or that something in your life is causing some serious issues that need to be addressed through more than mindfulness exercises. 

 

9. Consider Seeking Help 

 

There are certain states of mind that won’t always be improved with just a bit of mindfulness. 

 

Crunch time at work, an abusive or hostile work environment, serious financial trouble, or a mental health condition cannot always be thought away, or tackled alone. We all need support sometimes, whether it’s friends and family, the authorities, or healthcare professionals. 

 

Sometimes, the greatest act of mindfulness is to know when you’ve exhausted your own options, depleted your stores, and reached your boundaries. You need to know when to seek and accept help, and preserve yourself. 

 


Read More:

5 Ways to Reduce Anxiety at Work

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Work Environment

9 Ways to Improve the Employee Experience

Prioritizing the different areas of the employee experience has definitely shifted since the start of the pandemic. Here are a few ways to continuously improve it.

 

The employee experience was once centered around creating a comfortable and productive workplace, conducive towards drawing out strengths and compensating for weaknesses. But with COVID-19, some of the priorities among both employers and employees have shifted towards better crisis management, greater decision-making in the hands of employees as company stakeholders, and better transparency between management and the workers – all alongside a culture of growth and safety.

 

As we seek to find ways to improve the employee experience in 2021 and beyond, we need to consider how our workers are any company’s greatest asset, and that managing teams and people must be about providing opportunities for growth, autonomy, and feedback, over control and workplace regulations. Here are nine ways companies can seek to improve the employee experience in a post-pandemic world.

 

1. Work from Anywhere Policies

 

COVID-19 has taught us that a whimsical approach to implementing work-from-home policies carries massive drawbacks, particularly to employees struggling to create healthy boundaries between work and home or tasked with caring for young children. Not everyone can successfully implement and reap the benefits of remote work through their living room or home office – but that doesn’t mean we need to go back to purely centralized office spaces and greater investments in expensive commercial real estate.

 

Instead, we should look towards the potential of work from anywhere policies, and the growing coworking market, as well as its potential to help companies form hub-and-spoke workplace arrangements that allow them to greatly expand their physical presence throughout a region or country while reducing the employee commute.

 

The ability to work from anywhere, be it the main office, the home office, a coworking space, or a local café, gives workers the autonomy they need to develop their own creative space and find an arrangement that allows them to be as productive as possible.

 

2. Establishing Trust in Leadership

 

Some companies have failed to instill a sense of trust in their employees throughout the pandemic, providing little to no information on how employees should protect themselves, or how the company is planning to respond to mandated lockdowns, social distancing rules, and other hygiene concepts.

 

Management and business leaders need to do better in taking charge in critical moments such as these, and training themselves and others to develop better communicative skills with employees, reach out to them on multiple channels in the event of an emergency or crisis, and provide clear instructions on how to proceed for everyone’s sake.

 

3. Open and Transparent Channels Between Management and Employees

 

The ability to freely communicate between employees and management is important – management can only truly receive effective feedback through transparent communication, and employees need to be empowered to honestly reflect on managerial decisions and weigh in on company policy, especially when it affects them.

 

This is critically important in a post-pandemic world, where employees want both job security, and the ability to feel safe in the workplace. The decision-making remains in the hands of those in charge, but better actionable feedback can help them make better decisions.

 

4. A Culture of Employee Advocacy

 

63 percent of employees do not trust their company’s leadership. Many feel that executives are perhaps self-serving, or don’t know how to do what’s best for their employees. Promoting spokespeople within teams and departments to collect and voice employee’s concerns and problems can go a long way towards fixing the rift existing in many companies between employers and employees.

 

In the absence of other forms of advocacy, companies need to give employees a platform to clearly communicate their demands and help them give input on the company’s direction. Without that, companies lose the trust of their workers.

 

5. Ample Opportunities for Growth and Development

 

The simplest individual motivator once an employee has reached an income level they’re happy with is the opportunity for self-improvement and professional development.

 

Companies should invest in skills labs, educational opportunities, and the chance for employees to become greater assets to the company through training and learning programs.

 

 

6. A Culture of Recognition

 

Making sure credit is given where credit is due is another important step towards improving the employee experience. Employees want to be appreciated for their hard work and are more likely to give more than the professional minimum when knowing that their efforts are being seen and rewarded.

 

7. A Clear and Actionable Company Vision

 

A company’s vision for itself and the future is definitive to that company’s culture and identity, and these are two important factors that greatly influence a worker’s relationship with the company they work for.

 

People want to feel like they are part of something greater, something meaningful, whether it is a business dedicated to world-class quality, promoting local talents and traditions, or simply shaking up and innovating in an old industry.

 

A stronger and clearer company vision also massively helps businesses who lack physical cohesion in the form of a single office, by helping a scattered group of professionals rally behind a shared dream.

 

8. Smaller, Autonomous Teams

 

Teams too large for a single manager often lead to professional waste, in the sense that time and resources aren’t funneled where they should be, certain accomplishments and efforts get overlooked, and employees who might otherwise become important assets look towards other opportunities where their skillsets might be better valued.

 

To that end, companies should consider allowing smaller teams to form within departments, autonomous and self-sufficient, given the responsibility of choosing and completing their own tasks and coordinating with the rest of the department on a regular basis to decide how tasks are best divided between each team.

 

This way, each group develops its own working dynamic and leadership, and isn’t dependent on the sole decision-making of a single overwhelmed manager.

 

9. Room for Slack and Rest

 

A company culture dedicated entirely to the hustle may bring in the most dedicated and hungry talent but is also prone to greater amounts of stress and burnout. Employees need time to recuperate physically and mentally and divorce themselves entirely from their work.

 

Make sure every worker understands the importance of having clear-cut boundaries that allow them to charge their batteries while away from the office and come back reinvigorated and reinspired. Promoting rest also helps turn workers into creatives, allowing them to contribute to a company in a more unique and innovative way.

 

Slack time is important, too. It helps employees recover between sprints of work on tight deadlines and demanding projects, ensuring that they’re ready for their next challenge after a few slower days at work.

 

Conclusion

 

The employee experience in a post-pandemic world prioritizes the communication between team members and team leaders, between workers and managers, and of course, between employers and employees.

 

Categories
Work Environment

The Value of an In Person Meeting (And How to Have Them Today)

By now, we’ve adapted to virtual meetings and remote work routines, but that does not mean an in person meeting lost its value. Read more details below including how to safely have them during the pandemic.

 

Despite quarantines and harsh restrictions, in person meetings haven’t become a relic of the past. Far from it, it seems like many businesses have come to further recognize and respect the importance of in person meetings as the pandemic rages on, especially for identifying and onboarding new talent, landing important clients, and communicating effectively with team members on critical projects.

 

There are elements to a conversation that are often lost when communicating through purely virtual means, and try as we might, there is still no good replacement for a face-to-face meeting.

 

That being said, in person meetings can and should be made limited and more efficient as long as we continue to live in a world with the coronavirus. By leveraging better hygiene concepts, important technologies, and simple meeting rules, we can massively curb the dangers of in person meetings and make them safe, even during a pandemic.

 

Why In Person Meetings Remain Important in a Pandemic World

 

Non-verbal cues, expressive faces, and the engagement of being in a physical location with others as opposed to simply being rendered as pixels on a small screen can have a significant impact on the quality and nature of a meeting, whether it’s a brainstorming session between team members or an important client.

 

While virtual meetings have helped thousands of businesses continue to function and even remain productive in the midst of a historic health crisis, they have also served to highlight their own distinct limitations, and how face-to-face communication can serve to be more effective at building relationships or simply communicating nuance.

 

Fewer Things Are Lost in Translation

 

The first and most immediate benefit to an in person meeting is the little things we tend to miss when confined strictly to a screen. Facial cues and body language, subtle changes in pitch, simple expressions, and the ability to immediately discern or at least ask for context to any and every statement. These things are diminished or even lost in the limited scope of a video conference, much less an email thread, where the only non-verbal forms of expression available to most of us are emojis.

 

All the things we take for granted in face-to-face communication help to provide a much clearer understanding of what the other person is saying and thinking, and help us avoid miscommunication or awkward misunderstandings, at times fuelled by a lack of provided context, as one party doesn’t want to ask the other to repeat themselves or explain what they meant.

 

No Lag, Fewer Technical Issues

 

Another important benefit to an in person meeting is the lack of a technological barrier between persons. Technology can be a barrier, after all. A barrier of entry for those unwilling or struggling to learn how to communicate with new software and technology, and a barrier created by technical issues which can slow or delay important conversations and frustrate both parties.

 

Audio and video issues, constant lag, connectivity problems, and dropped calls are just a few potential issues that often arise when working with telecommunication tools, and troubleshooting these issues can take precious time on either side of the conversation, and distract from the important points, derailing meetings during critical junctures, or causing important information to get lost amidst technical problems.

 

In Person Meetings Build Stronger Relationships

 

It is proven that we tend to build stronger relationships, inspire more trust, and leave longer lasting impressions through in person meetings versus virtual ones. People are still naturally inclined to feel closer and more engaged to someone sitting opposite them at a desk, rather than a person who exists merely on a screen.

 

Virtual technology is critical at enabling communication across large distances and can serve as the perfect tool to help long-distance teams collaborate and meet with international clients, but there is nothing that can substitute a first-time face-to-face meeting as a means to build trust and create a solid foundation for a strong business relationship.

 

But rather than simply discuss why in person meetings can help us forge stronger bonds with one another, it’s even more important to discuss how we can afford to host them safely.

 

Find the Right Venue

 

This is where a coworking space comes into play. Coworking spaces present themselves as the perfect neutral venue for team members, executives, clients, and managers to meet in a safe environment, collaborate and communicate in a safe and concise manner, and leave.

 

Coworking spaces are also ideal for the onboarding process, providing the perfect setting to help integrate and guide new hires into finding their place within the company and team hierarchy, before continuing through the coworking space or working remotely, depending on their and the team’s strengths and capacity.

 

 

Observe Proper Precautions and Social Distancing Measures

 

Aside from choosing a safe workspace designed for collaboration, companies and teams can further reduce the risk of infection when meeting in person by picking spaces with private rooms large enough to accommodate everyone attending with the appropriate distance between one another, while mandating masks and always observing safe social distances (including on the way in and out of the room).

 

Consider Natural Ventilation

 

The CDC recommends that offices keep their windows open and allow for as much natural air flow within the office as possible (provided the weather and climate permit it). Keeping a window open might seem like a relatively simple measure but could further limit the risk of any potential transmission during a meeting.

 

Amplify Everyone’s Voices

 

Studies confirm that raising one’s voice is more likely to transmit the virus – this is simply because the louder we yell, the further our spit droplets travel through the air.

 

Providing microphones for everyone and renting a room and table that can safely accommodate everyone at the meeting can help a group maintain a safe and reasonable social distance while reducing the droplets in the air.

 

A relatively simple sound setup with a few speakers in each corner of the room and a mic for each meeting member can eliminate the need for any sort of yelling or screaming to get heard across the room.

 

Keep Meetings Short and To-The-Point

 

The coronavirus could be yet another motivator to keep meetings short and concise. Excessively long meetings may defeat the purpose of getting together to organize and have historically been little more than a huge financial drain on productivity.

 

In person meetings may not be as simple to organize as before, but when leveraged, can provide an opportunity to improve relationships and foster a greater sense of trust and cooperation than through any virtual means, which is critically important for many businesses worried about cohesion and feelings of isolation within team members.

Categories
Business Trends

How to Inspire Your Employees to Become Creatives

What does it mean to become creatives? This is a question to seriously think about, especially during a time where creativity is needed now more than ever. Read below for details.

 

As we collectively reach nearly a year of working under the circumstances of a pandemic, many of us have had to reinvent boundaries and find ways to halt or slow the inevitable melding of home life and work life and struggle to find ways to remain productive or even creative.

 

Some of us have been faced with crippling social isolation for months, while others have lost friends and loved ones to an unrelenting and uncaring virus that no one was equipped for.

 

As we continue to brave each day, we are faced with new and recurring challenges at work, the boldest of which is the challenge to remain steadfast in our duties and uphold our responsibilities as workers and employers – and continue to deliver fully on the 30, 40, or even 60-hour weeks we spend on a collective vision.

 

It’s important for us to recognize that this pandemic has had a significant and understandable impact, one we need to learn not only to accept but adapt to. Some of us haven’t been able to face that issue, scared of falling behind and losing out on a precious work opportunity that not everyone is privileged to.

 

Employers must give their employees the courage to openly speak out about their personal struggles – and understand that these causally relate to their professional and creative struggles because, in a COVID-era, the personal and professional have too often become one and the same.

 

This is the first step towards helping and inspiring your employees to become better creatives and find that spark that might have fizzled or gone out in the face of the pandemic. From there, it’s all about creating a better and more positive environment – even remotely.

 

Set the Right Environmental Factors

 

It’s a huge cliché to see your employee’s creative potentials as flowers waiting to bloom, but the simple fact of the matter is that environmental factors are really important – but not just at work.

 

As the pandemic has forced us to redefine the workplace and accept remote working concepts into our business, many have found themselves falling in love with the idea of working from home forever – while many others struggle to draw the line between work and home and try to compensate with ever longer hours, and an ever-greater threat of stress-related burnouts.

 

Building a stronger creative team starts with building the factors that nurture and support that team. Encourage stricter boundaries between work and home.

 

Help employees with flexible work schedules and nearby coworking spaces find safe and hygienic remote solutions to try and create a physical barrier between work and home, via a shorter, safer, more accessible commute to a coworking space.

 

Help those who can afford it create a home office and work with them to develop a schedule that allows them to balance and split their responsibilities to their work, and their responsibilities to family.

 

Encourage simple routines and rituals to begin and end the workday, cut short unnecessary or distracting meetings, and ask employees to identify their greatest daily blocks and distractions, and find ways to mitigate them within reason (there’s very little anyone can do about the needs of a new-born, but it’s important to explore other options where organization and flexibility can help forge better boundaries).

 

For employees who are at work, be sure to address both the physical and organizational factors that help forge creativity – such as:

 

      • Better natural light
      • A clean office space kept tidy and organized
      • Art that isn’t too distracting but provides places for the eyes to linger during brainstorming sessions
      • Private spaces where employees can withdraw to think alone or rest their eyes, or simply get away from the noise

 

When creating a supportive organizational environment, ensure that you aren’t encouraging or tolerating behavior that is potentially silencing other creative voices in the room, such as picking one idea before hearing the others, shutting someone down before they finish, or critiquing one person’s idea before everyone had a chance to present.

 

Cooperation is a more effective approach to creativity than competition, and creatives will generally thrive in a safe space that allows them to explore any and all possibilities without being crippled by self-doubt and constraints created by other people’s immediate reactionary opinions. Each idea can be refined and rejected once it has had time to develop. But shutting an idea down in its incubatory phase keeps it from getting to a point where it might have become the right one.

 

Provide Clear Guidance

 

The worst thing you can do as a manager or director is to simply give the command to “get creative.” It is your job to present guidance and provide limitations for the rest of the team to work around.

 

Talk about what pointers you have been given by the client and provide further direction by discussing the basics – such as deadline, budgetary constraints, and what you know isn’t in the books. And then exploring what else you know about the project, such as its origins and style, details about the client and their audience, and any other information you can provide to paint a better picture.

 

Give Everyone a Real Breather

 

True breaks are hard to come by in the pandemic age, but wherever possible, encourage creative employees to pursue meaningful breaks into nature – from something as simple as a brisk walk in the park to a weekend trip up into the mountains.

 

Studies have shown time and time again that we think much better when surrounded by open skies and the smells and sensations of nature, and a few hours spent among the trees will do far more for a creative type’s headspace than another weekend spent indoors.

 

Harnessing Creativity Demands Creativity

 

Finding ways to create a constructive and nurturing environment both physically and remotely will require a huge amount of creativity. Especially as most managers are constrained by very specific limitations that might keep them from helping their employees unleash their best creative potential.

 

To that end, you will have to accept that these limitations, wherever they cannot be overcome, will serve to impede or prevent some from being as creative as they could be.

 

Never Underestimate the Importance of Creativity in Success

 

Every conceivable business that offers a product or service needs creativity to help reiterate concepts, renew ideas, and adapt to a world that is evolving and changing faster than ever.

 

It’s the creative employees who came up with the concepts that helped save countless businesses during the early days of the pandemic, from developing unique ways to continue to provide a product or service while maintaining social distancing, to finding new ways to offer a face-to-face service remotely. And it is creatives who will continue to find ways to increase your value proposition and make your business the one that stands out above the rest.

 

The biggest value in creativity is its ability to find solutions to problems. That is the true definition behind every creative type – a problem solver who finds new ways to answer both old and evolving questions.

 

 

Categories
Work Environment

Encourage These Top Building Activities for Virtual Teams

While working remotely during a pandemic, building activities for virtual teams is encouraged in order to keep the team connection alive and well. Read below for details.

 

Team building activities promote team cohesion, improve productivity, reduce stress, and help new as well as long-time employees feel connected to one another and the company.

 

All of these are critically important qualities that have been tremendously impacted by the pandemic. We know that building activities for virtual teams can be an effective tool in addressing these issues, and helping companies and teams combat the long-term effects of remote work, such as social isolation and a feeling of distance from other team members.

 

1. An Online Lunch/Dinner Date

 

Something simple but relatively refreshing and effective for helping teams feel connected on a personal level is a team lunch or dinner date. On the surface, it’s nothing more than sitting in front of your computer during mealtime and having a friendly chat with other coworkers while you ea. But eating together is an ancient and ingrained bonding activity, and integral to any team.

 

Even if it’s over the Internet, a virtual lunch break complete with audio and video can help your team feel truly connected, even across the globe. Even if that means some people will be having their lunch while others are eating dinner, or just joining in for a quick snack and coffee break.

 

2. A Cooking and Plating Competition

 

Competitions can be an amazing team building activity for specific teams and cultures, where a little competitive spirit can build stronger bonds. Cooking and plating competitions help each individual team member show off their improvisational skills, creativity, problem-solving, workflow, and design philosophy – all in a simple dish. Pick a recipe, set a time and timer, and use a simple online poll to decide whose attempt was the best-looking, most creative, and/or most original.

 

3. Daily or Weekly Icebreaker Questions

 

While it’s a relatively straightforward one, icebreaker questions can be a useful virtual team building tool outside of the onboarding process. Consider introducing them as a weekly or even daily occurrence.

 

For example, build a pool of icebreaker questions (25 to 50) and pick one at random at the start of every scheduled meeting (i.e., non-critical or time-sensitive). Examples include – what was your favorite toy as a child? What animal do you most identify with and why?

 

4. A Gifting Competition

 

Another interesting way to build team cohesion and let everyone get to know each other is to host a gift exchange – but with a twist. “White Elephant” and “Dirty Santa” gift exchange games involve prank items or impractical gifts. They can be much more entertaining than trying to guess what your gift target might actually want or appreciate, or going for the same old boring and safe options as always (mugs, clothes, and gift cards).

 

5. Reinvent Ways to Introduce Yourself

 

Team building activities are usually an important part of the onboarding process for new hires – but with the pandemic, that tradition has taken a hit for many companies. Some have turned to new ways to introduce fun and entertainment into the onboarding team building process. This is by turning simple introductions into more elaborate projects.

 

For example, you can try creating a tongue-in-cheek PowerPoint presentation on yourself, in lieu of a company project or prospectus, or even write a User Manual on how to be a coworker in this company. The goal is to loosen things up, parody your company culture a little bit, and help the new hire feel comfortable and connect with the team on a more personal level (which can be very difficult over the Internet).

 

6. Take Up an Online Class Together

 

Learning something can be fun. But it’s much more fun when you’re learning with other people. The pandemic is a perfect opportunity for many to continue to brush up on their professional skills and seek out a whole slew of online classes and courses to improve and expand their toolkit.

 

Individual teams and departments can consider taking classes together or getting through a course together as a team building activity and professional exercise rolled into one.

 

7. Test Your Team’s Strength

 

The internet is full of personality tests and quizzes. These can be a fun way to just goof around and see what Disney character one best mirrors, or what superpowers they might have.

 

But more in-depth “strength assessment” tests can serve as an interesting and in-depth way to reflect on yourself and both your professional and personal skills and share these with the rest of the team. While intensely personal, these tests and quizzes can reveal to one another what every team member brings to the table, and how you all best work together.

 

8. Arrange Weekend Virtual Games

 

From board games to chess tournaments to cooperative video games, there’s a nigh-infinite treasure trove of games to play virtually and as a group.

 

Some excellent examples depending on your connectivity and tools-at-hand include the classics like Clue, small stakes poker, and Monopoly, or popular party and co-op video games like Mario Party, Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes, or Ultimate Chicken Horse.

 

9. A Virtual Watercooler

 

While not an activity per se, setting up a dedicated chatroom or channel to serve as an after-hours hangout or place for coworkers to socialize during breaks can massively improve team cohesion and help your team members get to know one another.

 

There are pros and cons to setting up a virtual watercooler. If left uncontrolled or unattended, it can contribute to a team’s distractions and get endlessly clogged with unrelated or lengthy conversations and arguments. Keep your channels or chatrooms lightly moderated to avoid workplace toxicity.

 

 

The Bottom Line

 

Virtual team building activities can help teams socialize, greatly improve the onboarding process, reduce the effects of remote work stress and isolation, and improve your team’s overall cohesion and productivity. Even through entirely unproductive games and activities.

 

While we have had a long year to learn to cope with the changes introduced by the virus, this pandemic isn’t quite over. Many of the changes it has forced onto the workplace might be here to stay. Learning to improve on the strengths and mitigate the weaknesses of working remotely will continue to be an important goal for this new year, and many years to come.

Categories
Business Trends

9 Virtual Meeting Etiquette Tips Everyone Should Know

Surely, we are all still getting used to virtual work interactions. That said, be prepared for your next virtual meeting by following the virtual meeting etiquette tips below.

 

Virtual meetings can be productive, time-efficient, and fun. Or they can be a source of endless frustration and watercooler memes. If you’re in charge of your monthly or weekly virtual meetings, knowing the difference between good and bad meetings is critical. A big part of that difference is simple etiquette.

Be sure to follow these virtual meeting etiquette tips to avoid unnecessary time loss and turn the bane of everyone’s day into an important and effective cornerstone of your remote operation.

 

1. Dress Right from Top to Bottom

 

It’s very tempting to ignore basic dress rules and focus on what’s visible most of the time. But even a fraction of a second spent looking at a coworker’s PJs or underwear is a fraction of a second too long.

 

You don’t have to “show up to work” in your home office dressed in a full suit and tie, but keep things at least business casual, from the toes to the hairline.

 

2. Keep the Background Simple and Professional

 

A chaotic or unseemly background can be massively distracting, whether real or virtual. You might feel tempted to start playing around with (or without) green screens and meeting backdrops for a little bit of tongue-in-cheek humor. While it’s certainly an effective icebreaker, there’s a time and place for it.

 

Be sure to have a clean and professional background ready when it’s time to drop the green screen or joke background. Avoid clutter, eye-catching artwork, or too many personal items – such as family pictures, children’s toys, collectibles, and figurines. A bookshelf, a plant, a simple picture or drawing, or even a blank wall will do.

 

The same goes for noise. We’re all limited by what we have available, and there will always have to be a little leeway but avoid holding a meeting in the basement even if it’s where you have the best connectivity. Consider purchasing a long ethernet cable, powerline adapter, or WiFi extender to retain quality connectivity in a separate room.

 

If you have no way of hosting or joining a meeting at home and can’t reasonably get to the office (due to distance or social distancing measures), consider a nearby coworking space instead. Coworking spaces make for excellent satellite offices and can serve as an ideal in-between for those unable to return to the office, yet unable to concentrate or work efficiently from home.

 

3. Beware of Your Lighting and Eye Level

 

You don’t want too many shadows on your face, or to have the camera facing directly at a source of light (especially when that light is behind you). Make the most of your natural light by facing a window during your call or utilize a lamp to illuminate yourself and your surroundings properly.

 

Furthermore, consider the angle of your face to the camera, and adjust it to be around or at about eye level. Too far above or below can make things particularly awkward, affecting how you and your communication are received, especially when interacting with clients.

 

4. Run a Pre-call Tech Test

 

The last thing you should do is wait until the very last second to run a test call. You don’t want to have to spend the first ten minutes of a meeting fiddling with your setup, troubleshooting your mic, or trying to reinstall the right drivers for your camera.

 

Be sure to run a quick test of your mic, headphones, camera, and connectivity, to make sure everything is working properly, and to save yourself the trouble.

 

5. Consider Push-To-Talk or Keep the Mute Button Handy

 

Knowing where the mute button is isn’t just handy for when you’ve got to sneeze or talk to someone outside of the call but can also help you greatly reduce background noise and buzz. While we’ve come a long way with microphone technology, it’s still extremely difficult to filter out simple background noises (including interference, air conditioning units, or fans) during a live call.

 

Simply hitting the mute button when you aren’t talking can make it much easier for everyone else to hear each other, especially when you have half a dozen people or more on the call.

 

6. Don’t Split Your Attention

 

It’s not only rude to check your email or start messaging someone else in the middle of a virtual meeting – it’s also a sign that you’re likely not being efficient with your time. Meetings should be goal-oriented and quick, and not a time or place for multitasking.

 

7. Please Don’t Snack

 

This should go without saying, but it’s still a rule that is sometimes ignored or not considered: stop eating during a meeting. Even if you mute your mic, the sight of someone eating during an important call can be distracting or unprofessional, especially when it isn’t a lunch meeting or explicitly some form of culinary get-together. This rule is obviously flexible when the meeting is designed to take place during lunch or act as a sort of company meal.

 

8. Keep a Consistent and Clear Audio Level

 

No one likes a mumbler, and no one likes a screamer. Most video conferencing tools and VOIP software give you basic audio levels for your microphone, so you know at what volume you begin peaking. Run a test call with a friend to figure out how loud you should be speaking and project your voice consistently.

 

Consider speaking slowly as well and be prepared to repeat yourself. Virtual meetings will be hindered by whoever has the weakest connection, and chances are that you may be asked to repeat yourself more than once if at least one of the people in the call is struggling with connectivity issues. Don’t get louder or become annoyed – just repeat what you said calmly, and slowly. Sometimes it is what it is.

 

9. Be Patient

 

There will be issues, grievances, and problems. Be prepared to deal with them calmly. A lot of the problems and hang-ups with virtual meetings can be solved via proper etiquette and preparation, but that doesn’t mean they’ll be perfect. You will have to prepare yourself for some frustrating moments.