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Working from home: Do you have what it takes, or not?

Working from home is an increasingly popular move for companies and can save brands and freelancers money alike, but not everyone is cut out for it.

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Working from home is increasingly common

With 34 million people in the United States working from home, it is clear that communication technologies have opened up new options for telecommuting. Most telecommuters work from their own homes, connecting via the internet to the company’s network. It is estimated that by 2016, the number of workers telecommuting will nearly double. It is easy to see why: telecommuting benefits both the company and the employee.

NeedaOffice, an office supply company, offers a handy for describing some of the pros and cons of work-from-home programs. According to their surveys, 66 percent of workers would telecommute, given the choice, and another 36 percent would choose a work-from-home option over a pay raise. Telecommuting obviously reduces or eliminates time spent sitting in traffic on the way to work. It also allows employees to be more involved in caring for their children and elderly loved ones, and it is easier to schedule appointments without taking a full day off of work.

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Many telecommuters also report that working from home allows them to be more independent and creative, and that they are more satisfied with their jobs. In fact, 95 percent of surveyed employers say that telecommuiting “has had a high impact on employee retention” – indicating that their telecommuting employees are highly satisfied with their work arrangement and tend to stick with it.

Working from home can be good for businesses, too

Telecommuting is great for businesses as well. It saves money and increases productivity. Allowing employees to work from home decreases the frequency of unscheduled no-shows, which cost US businesses about $300 billion per year. When in-office employees call in sick, an estimated 78 percent of them are in fact, not sick, but simply need some time to attend to needs at home or unwind from all of the stress. The scheduling flexibility of telecommuting allows employees the opportunity to deal with their home and personal lives without missing as much work. Just sparing employees the commute alone increases productivity, as about 60 percent of the time saved on commuting is used to complete more work.

Many major companies, especially tech companies like IBM, Dell, Apple, Amazon, and Adobe, have a work-from-home option, and report positive results. AT&T says that their telecommuters, on average, work for five more hours than their office workers. American Express reports that teleworkers generate 43 percent more work than their in-office counterparts. Even the federal government has employees working from home, and apparently saved $30 million when a blizzard kept workers trapped at home last winter.

So, is working from home a viable option for you, or for your small businesses? The benefits are clear, but be sure to hire teleworkers who are tech savvy, self-motivated, and good at managing their time.

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Ellen Vessels, a Staff Writer at The American Genius, is respected for their wide range of work, with a focus on generational marketing and business trends. Ellen is also a performance artist when not writing, and has a passion for sustainability, social justice, and the arts.

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5 Comments

5 Comments

  1. Chris Shouse

    July 11, 2015 at 10:42 am

    Continental Airlines..(oops slip of the tongue) has all but eliminated reservation centers by having people answer calls from home. I know my former colleagues from Utah prefer this situation. However what is missing is the social environment and actual interaction with people outside your home.

    • Lani Rosales

      July 12, 2015 at 11:36 am

      I think this is why Starbucks is doing so well all day (remote workers), and coworking spaces are finally thriving, don't you?

  2. Laurie Hurley

    July 13, 2015 at 11:04 am

    I have worked from home for 17 years and love it. I am productive, have become very disciplined, and have had the opportunity to never miss a soccer match or doctor's appointment with my two daughters. Now that they are 17 and 20, even if I was offered an office job, I would not take it. I balance the lack of social interaction on a daily basis by making sure I go to local networking functions. Thanks for sharing this. Good stuff.

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  4. Pingback: Top Rated Moms Jobs

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Business News

Leadership versus management: What’s the difference?

(Business News) The two terms, leadership and management, are often used interchangeably, but there are substantial differences; let’s explore them.

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Some people use the terms “leader” and “manager” interchangeably, and while there is nothing inherently wrong with this, there is still a debate regarding their similarities or differences.

Is it merely a matter of preference, or are there cut and dry differences that define each term?

Ronald E. Riggio, professor of leadership and organizational psychology at Claremont McKenna College, described what he felt to be the difference between the terms, noting the commonality in the distinction of “leadership” versus “management” was that leaders tend to engage in the “higher” functions of running an organization, while managers handle the more mundane tasks.

However, Riggio believes it is only a matter of semantics because successful and effective leaders and managers must do the same things. They must set the standard for followers and the organization, be willing to motivate and encourage, develop good working relationships with followers, be a positive role model, and motivate their team to achieve goals.

He states that there is a history explaining the difference between the two terms: business schools and “management” departments adopted the term “manager” because the prevailing view was that managers were in charge.

They were still seen as “professional workers with critical roles and responsibilities to help the organization succeed, but leadership was mostly not in the everyday vocabulary of management scholars.”

Leadership on the other hand, derived from organizational psychologists and sociologists who were interested in the various roles across all types of groups.

So, “leader” became the term to define someone who played a key role in “group decision making and setting direction and tone for the group. For psychologists, manager was a profession, not a key role in a group.”

When their research began to merge with business school settings, they brought the term “leadership” with them, but the terms continued to be used to mean different things.

The short answer, according to Riggio is no, not really; simply because leaders and managers need the same skills to be productive and respected.

This editorial was first published here in June of 2014.

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Business News

Does Raising Cane’s have the secret to combatting restaurant labor shortages?

(NEWS) Fried Chicken Franchise, Raising Cane’s, has turned to an unusual source of front-line employees during the labor shortage- Their executives!

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I wouldn’t call myself a fried chicken aficionado or anything, but since chains are designed to blow up everywhere, I have experienced Raising Cane’s.

I’m pretty sure the Cane’s sauce is just barbecue mixed with ranch, but hey, when you’ve got a good idea, keep with it.

In the further pursuit of good ideas, the company has resorted to an intriguing method of boosting staff in a world where the lowest paid among us are still steadily dying of Covid, and/or choosing to peace out of jobs that they don’t find worth the infection risk.

Via Nation Restaurant News: “This is obviously a very tough time, so it was a joint idea of everybody volunteering together to go out there and be recruiters, fry cooks and cashiers —whatever it takes,” said AJ Kumaran, co-CEO and chief operating officer for the Baton Rouge, La.-based quick-service company, from a restaurant in Las Vegas, where he had deployed himself.”

The goal of this volunteer mission, which involves 250 of the 500 executives deployed working directly in service roles, is to bolster locations until 10,000 new hires can be made in both existing locations and locations planned to open.

It’s obvious that this is a bandaid move – execs exist for good reason, and in terms of sheer numbers (not to mention location and salary changes), this is hardly tenable long-term. But I can say this as someone who’s gone from retail to office, and back (and then forth…and then back again) several times – if this doesn’t keep everyone at the corporate level humble, and much more mindful of employees’ needs, nothing will.

The fast-food world is notorious for wonky schedules only going up a day before the week begins, broken promises on hours (both over and under), horrendous pay, and little to no defense of employee dignity in the face of customers with rank dispositions. With the wave of strikes (Nabisco, John Deere, IATSE) making the news, and lack of hazard pay/brutal physical attacks over mask mandates still very fresh in workers’ minds, smart companies are hipping themselves to the fact that “low level” employee acquisition and retention needs to be much more than the ‘work here or starve’ tactics that have served since the beginning of decades of wage stagnation. The best way for that fact to stay front-of-mind is to go out and live the truths behind it.

In Raising Cane’s case, the company also announced that they’re upping wages at all locations — to the tune of an actually not totally insulting $2 per hour, resulting in a starting wage of $15 and a managerial wage of $18.

Ideally, paying people more to cook, clean, and customer service all in one job will actually attract people back to fast food work. Seriously consider the fact that the people cleaning fast-food toilets are the same people making the food that goes into your mouth. The additional fact is that it’s better for everyone’s health when they’re paid enough to care about what they’re doing and stay healthy themselves.

Of course, one does also need to consider how much inflation has affected the price of goods and housing since the ‘fight for $15’ began almost a decade ago in 2012. Now, raising wages closer to the end point of multiple goods still might not be enough!

AJ Kumaran continued, “The chicken prices are through the roof. Logistics are very hard. Shipping is difficult. Simple things cups and paper napkins — everything is in shortage right now. Some are overseas suppliers and others domestic suppliers. Just in poultry alone, we have taken significant inflation.”

That’s global disruption for ya.

It remains to be seen whether this plucky move can save Raising Cane’s dark meat, but I’m very pro regardless. Send more top-earning employees into the trenches! No more executives with 0 knowledge of how the sausage sandwich gets made.

No more leading from behind.

Why not? What are ya? Chicken?

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Business News

Unify your remote team with these important conversations

(BUSINESS NEWS) More than a happy hour, consider having these poignant conversations to bring your remote team together like never before.

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Cultivating a team dynamic is difficult enough without everyone’s Zoom feed freezing halfway through “happy” hour. You may not be able to bond over margaritas these days, but there are a few conversations you can have to make your team feel more supported—and more comfortable with communicating.

According to Forbes, the first conversation to have pertains to individual productivity. Ask your employees, quite simply, what their productivity indicators are. Since you can’t rely on popping into the office to see who is working on a project and who is beating their Snake score, knowing how your employees quantify productivity is the next-best thing. This may lead to a conversation about what you want to see in return, which is always helpful for your employees to know.

Another thing to discuss with your employees regards communication. Determining which avenues of communication are appropriate, which ones should be reserved for emergencies, and which ones are completely off the table is key. For example, you might find that most employees are comfortable texting each other while you prefer Slack or email updates. Setting that boundary ahead of time and making it “office” policy will help prevent strain down the road.

Finally, checking in with your employees about their expectations is also important. If you can discuss the sticky issue of who deals with what, whose job responsibilities overlap, and what each person is predominantly responsible for, you’ll negate a lot of stress later. Knowing exactly which of your employees specialize in specific areas is good for you, and it’s good for the team as a whole.

With these 3 discussions out of the way, you can turn your focus to more nebulous concepts, the first of which pertains to hiring. Loop your employees in and ask them how they would hire new talent during this time; what aspects would they look for, and how would they discern between candidates without being able to meet in-person? It may seem like a trivial conversation, but having it will serve to unify further your team—so it’s worth your time.

The last crucial conversation, per Forbes, is simple: Ask your employees what they would prioritize if they became CEOs tomorrow. There’s a lot of latitude for goofy responses here, but you’ll hear some really valuable—and potentially gut-wrenching—feedback you wouldn’t usually receive. It never hurts to know what your staff prioritize as idealists.

Unifying your staff can be difficult, but if you start with these conversations, you’ll be well on your way to a strong team during these trying times.

This story was first published in November 2020.

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