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8 Tips To Build A Productive Remote Team

To contain the spread of the dreaded coronavirus, governments have ordered stay at home and lockdown measures. This has effectively made remote work the new standard.

Forced to adapt to this new trend, companies of all sizes reported to virtual work despite limited preparations. Gartner noted that 48% of employees expect to work remotely, either partly or completely, after COVID-19. Thanks to technology, this sudden paradigm shift is much easier.

But while the benefits of remote work continue to be recognized by both employees and employers, it also comes with some obstacles. Employee productivity is one.

Unlike in traditional work setup, remote working makes it impossible for the management to create an environment that promotes productivity. Employees can easily lose focus and fail to achieve targets. Working from home creates an invisible divide between professional and personal life, thus resulting in conflict on both fronts. This makes it crucial for managers to explore better ways to communicate and collaborate with their team, and initiate strategies that will keep employees focused.

Experts at remote staffing agency Allshore share eight tips that will boost the productivity of remote teams.

Ensure an appropriate home office

Numerous studies have emphasized the importance that the physical environment plays in work performance and productivity. Factors such as lighting, noise conditions, air quality, and temperature affect work concentration and outcome. Remote employees need a dedicated workstation that is away from distractions. Ideally, companies must help their team in creating this dedicated space. This can be in the form of a stipend, subsidies, or loan arrangements. By helping them set up a favorable environment, you can ensure that they can work better and deliver results.

Equip your team

Alongside adequate workspace, the management must equip their employees with the right equipment, technology, and productivity tools. They need to have a computer, stable network connection, software, and other necessary office stuff. These tools bring work straight to their homes and keep them connected with the entire team. It fosters collaboration despite the distance.

Maximize technology

Use technology to your advantage. Numerous software solutions can help boost the productivity of remote teams. Popular apps that facilitate remote work include project management technologies such as Basecamp, Airtable, Zoho Projects, and Asana; video conferencing apps such as Skype, Google Hangouts, and Zoom; and instant messaging apps such as Microsoft Teams, Slack, and Viber. You can also develop custom software that caters to your team’s unique needs.

Keep your team connected

Communication is the key to a productive virtual team. It is necessary to ensure that everyone is on the same page and prevents misunderstandings. Regular contact makes them constantly aware of what’s expected of them. Nowadays, technology has made it easier to connect with every team member. Instant messaging, video conferencing, and phone calls enable seamless connectivity.

Set mutually agreed expectations

Establishing expectations and guidelines in advance is vital to employee productivity. However, these objectives and rules should be mutually agreed and accepted by the management and the concerned employees. Laying out clear, specific, and measurable objectives makes it easier for you to evaluate their work. Meanwhile, employees are properly guided on their deliverables, thus they can complete tasks.

Track accomplishment

Slacking off, procrastinating, and losing focus is among the problems of remote workers. When no one is around checking on you, these can be easy and truly tempting. Consequently, the management needs to implement strategies that will monitor and track work accomplishments. Giving workers too much liberty can make them wander off and get lazy. You need to develop a system for checks their output, such as through daily reports, to-do lists, spreadsheets, etc. If you require close and constant supervision, you can use tracking software, such as Teamviewer, that checks real-time what each team member is up to.

Encourage collaboration

One unique advantage of working in an office environment is that it opens opportunities for collaboration. This creates a positive work culture. Meanwhile, remote work can be a bit isolating. As a result, employees who are more productive working with teams might feel demoralized. Encourage collaboration among team members by assigning them on projects together through file-sharing apps like Google Drive. This provides an opportunity for team building.

Two-way feedback

Boost your team’s productivity by listening to their feedback. Getting their insights and adapting them enables you to develop and fine-tune your processes. Making them part of the operations makes employees feel important and valued. Ensuring that their suggestions are carried out and addressing their concerns can greatly improve productivity.

Likewise, you should also give honest feedback on the performance of each employee.  Constructive criticism helps them grow and improve their performance. Feedback is also vital to your employee’s satisfaction, retention, and motivation. It is crucial in building a positive company culture that is geared towards success.

Top 10 Dental Hygiene Tips

Everyone desires to have a great and beautiful smile. This, however, can only be achieved by observing proper oral hygiene. Poor oral hygiene causes a number of oral and medical issues, like gum infection and disease, heart disease, bone loss, and stroke, among others. 

However, observing good dental hygiene can ensure that you have healthy teeth, and that smile you always dream of. The following are the top 10 tips for good oral hygiene. 

Brush your teeth every day

Always brush your teeth at least twice a day. Preferably, you should do it in the morning, and in the evening. In addition to this, ensure that you observe the proper brushing techniques. Professional dentists recommend that you hold your toothbrush at a 45-degree angle to the gums when brushing your teeth for maximum effectiveness. 

Don’t forget to floss your teeth

Flossing your teeth daily helps in removing any food particles that your toothbrush couldn’t remove. Most people don’t consider flossing to be necessary, but it’s essential for good dental hygiene. If you brush your teeth, but you don’t floss, tiny food particles can lead to tooth decay. This shows the importance of flossing your teeth. Make sure that you concentrate on the tiny spaces when flossing since it’s hard for your toothbrush to reach these spaces. 

Replace your toothbrush regularly

Most dentists recommend that you replace your toothbrush every 3 months. Frayed or damaged toothbrushes cannot clean your teeth effectively. Moreover, they can easily cause bruising to your gums. You should also note that replacing your toothbrush regularly helps in keeping it clean—thus preventing bacteria growth. 

Eat a healthy diet

According to the expert at the dental clinic, Bajars&Bajars, you should avoid sugary foods, like sports drinks, cakes, and candy, as well as foods with high calcium levels. This ensures that your teeth remain strong and healthy. Rather, you should take foodstuffs that will strengthen your teeth. Such foodstuffs include cheese, yogurt, leafy greens, and almond. Always ask your dentist to recommend the best foods that will assist in keeping your teeth healthy and strong. 

Rinse your teeth with mouthwash

Mouthwash helps in getting rid of food particles that toothbrush or dental floss couldn’t. Moreover, it helps in eliminating any other bacteria in your mouth, as well as maintaining fresh breath. Therefore, you should include this in your daily oral care routine. 

Clean your toothbrush

Failure to clean your toothbrush can lead to the breeding of bacteria, which can be introduced to your mouth easily. Moreover, you should never cover your toothbrush in an attempt to keep it clean. The best way to clean your toothbrush is to rinse it after every use, and then let it air dry. Lastly, never share your toothbrush with anyone. 

Drink a lot of water

Drinking water is not only best for your general health, but it also assists you to have a healthy flow of saliva. If you didn’t know, saliva is essential for your dental health. It helps in the movement of food particles in your mouth. This prevents the particles from accumulating on your teeth, which can lead to bacteria growth. Besides, it helps in keeping your mouth moist and comfortable. 

Clean your tongue

You should take this seriously—just like brushing your teeth. Today, we have professional tongue cleaners, which allow people to get rid of bacteria that are found on the rough part of their tongues. This bacteria mostly leads to halitosis (bad breath), which can have detrimental effects on their overall dental health. 

Quit smoking

Smoking leads to dental problems like staining, as well as periodontal disease which affects the gums. When left unchecked, periodontal disease can lead to other serious problems like oral cancer and tooth loss, among other issues. Therefore, the best thing to do for your oral health is to stop smoking immediately if you are an active smoker. You should also avoid using any other tobacco-related product. 

Schedule regular appointments with your dentist

Observing the above tips without visiting your dentist for a periodic dental check up will be in vain. Therefore, you should always schedule regular dental appointments for a thorough oral checkup, as well as a dental cleaning.

At times, there are some dental issues that you cannot detect on your own. Besides, other issues can start to develop, despite observing these tips. However, visiting a dentist for a dental checkup can help them to identify these issues, and come up with the necessary course of action. While you might not see the benefits of this now, you’ll enjoy them when you grow old. 

How to Move Appliances Safely

If you thought moving home is stressful, then try moving appliances. Most of these machines are big and heavy, which makes things more complicated. The biggest challenge is you cannot move appliances without help. Failing to seek the necessary help risks you damaging your appliances, and this can be very costly. 

In this post, we shall discuss how you can move appliances safely. 

Unplug everything from power

The first thing to do is to unplug all the appliances that you need to be moved from power. This should include your fridge and freezer too. Besides, ensure that you remove all the perishables from your freezer and fridge. You should do this at least 24 hours before your scheduled move. Also, you should unplug these appliances within the said time frame. 

This will allow you to clean the interior of the appliances. Besides, you’ll also need your freezer to have defrosted and drained completely before moving it. 

Use the proper equipment 

There is some equipment that you’ll definitely need when moving your appliances. This equipment will allow you to move the appliances safely and easily. However, you don’t have to worry, as you can substitute some of the equipment. 

Here are some of the things that you will need:

  • Appliance dolly – you will need this wheeled equipment if you don’t want to struggle. You can purchase one from specific home improvement stores, or just rent one from a reputable moving company. 
  • Furniture blankets – these are also known as moving blankets. They are protective clothes that protect your valuable appliances when moving them. While it can be a challenge to get hold of them—consider contacting your moving company. 
  • Furniture straps – these assist you in securing your appliances to the moving dolly, as well as inside the moving truck. However, you don’t have to worry if you cannot find them. You can easily replace them with ordinary ropes or stretch tapes. 
  • Sliders – also referred to as gliders or sliding pads, they make it possible to move your appliances safely on wooden floors, without damaging it. However, you can only use them for a short distance until you’ve loaded the appliance onto a moving dolly. Most moving companies do provide sliders—you can purchase or rent one from them. 

Hire professional movers

If you are not experienced in moving appliances, just hire professional movers to help you with the exercise. Yes, it might be costly to hire movers to help you with moving your appliances. However, the cost of repairing or replacing a damaged appliance is higher than the cost of hiring professional movers. 

One notable thing with professional movers is their skills and experience. That means, they will handle your appliances safely, without damaging them, as well as the surrounding areas. 

Protect your property

The last thing anyone wants to damage their property when moving their appliances, particularly the heavier ones. Tile, hardwood, carpeted, or vinyl floors are some of the areas susceptible to damage while moving furniture. Therefore, you should take the necessary precautions to protect these areas. 

Thick cardboards allow you to protect the exit paths when moving your appliances. Besides, you can lay some protective polyethylene sheets in areas with high traffic if you don’t want to start dealing with costly home repairs after you are done with your move. 

Apart from damaging your floors, the walls in your house are also prone to damage. Failing to observe the above safety measures when moving heavy or large appliances out of or into your home, scratches, dents, or chipped corners on walls can lead to unwanted and costly repairs. These are costs you don’t want to incur when moving. 

Secure the appliances

Use a bubble wrap or tape to secure your appliances. This should cut across all the appliances, including the smaller ones, like your microwave or toaster. The last thing you want is the doors to start popping open when moving the appliances. This can damage your items or injure the movers. Thus, ensure that you’ve secured all the oven doors, dishwasher doors, and fridge doors, among others. 

Bottom Line

According to Toronto movers from Torex Moving Company, every appliance in your home comes with different safety requirements when moving them. Thus, you will need to handle and move your dryer or washer differently from your stove or fridge. Besides, you might need to hire professionals to make the move safe. 

This is particularly essential when moving appliances connected to gas lines. Hiring a professional will make sure that the gas line is safely disconnected or reconnected when moving. Other appliances, like washers and dryers, are located upstairs—which makes it a challenge to move them. 

Thus, you will need to hire professional movers to help you in moving these appliances, together with any other heavy appliance in your home. Lastly, ensure that your freezer and fridge are handled properly to avoid damaging the interior of the appliance. 

Top Tips in Tracking Your Business Monthly Expenses

Tracking business expenditure is vital to effective financial management and business success.  An accurate recording of expenditures ensures that you’re prepared come tax season and that you can claim all tax-deductible expenses. It helps you become financially aware and be able to manage costs.

With monthly expense tracking, you can quickly calculate your profitability and make necessary adjustments. Another benefit is that you can promptly reimburse out-of-pocket expenses by your employees, thus keeping them happy. All of these can have a profound impact on your business bottom line.

To ensure that you have an up-to-date and effective monthly expense tracking, you need to implement the right strategies and use appropriate tools. Here are some tips to help make expense-tracking simpler and quicker.

Separate personal and business expenses

This is one of the major challenges that beset small business owners. Due to the overlapping nature of personal and business expenditure, it can be quite difficult to segregate them. However, it is important to be constantly aware of every expense so that you can claim rightful tax-deductible expenses later.

When shopping supplies, make sure you have a checklist of items, classified as a business and personal supplies. Ideally, you should request a separate receipt for all business purchases. It is recommended that you open dedicated bank accounts for business and personal purposes.

Dedicated bank account for business

Opening a separate bank account for business can help you track your business expense more easily. You can simply check the monthly bank statement and transaction history, and categorize expenses from there. This should also avoid mix up between personal and business money.

If you are using a credit card for business, you should have a dedicated credit card for business purchases. Often, it is difficult to categorize your expenses if you’re using only one credit. It is also impossible to separate purchases on a single receipt.

Connect bank to your software

Simplify your business expense tracking by connecting your bank with your software solution. While some business owners feel uncomfortable, reliable accounting software guarantees high-level security to protect your data.

By linking your bank account to your software, you can automatically access banking transactions and integrate them into your expense tracking software. This removes the need for duplicate data entry. You can also easily account for every transaction charged to your bank account.

Decide on an expense tracking method

Small businesses can monitor expenses through cash accounting or accrual method. In cash accounting method, transactions, either revenue or expense, are recorded as soon as the payment is received or made. Meanwhile, in the accrual method, transactions are recorded even if the sales or expense has not been paid for.

The cash accounting method is ideal for small businesses with limited transactions. It is straightforward and uncomplicated. The accrual method is often used by large companies that deal with multiple transactions and require continuous monitoring of the company’s financial standing.

Use accounting system

IT developers at Kansys emphasized the importance of automation in efficient monthly expenditure tracking. Enterprise software solutions can be equipped with expense monitoring capabilities. There are numerous options available nowadays – from commercial off-the-shelf software to tailor-made solutions.

If you have a limited budget, you can try free accounting applications available online. Although these IT solutions have basic features, they can prove useful. Small businesses with limited payables and transactions can also use basic spreadsheet software for recording expenses.

Consider cloud-based expense tracking software

Unlike on-premise software programs that are installed into your computer, cloud-based software apps are hosted online and can be accessed through the Internet. With a cloud-based expense tracking software, you can record and manage your expenses even while you are away from the office. For example, you can input a receipt into the system immediately upon purchase.

Cloud-based software enables you to check business costs in real-time allowing you to make timely and informed decisions. It also enables seamless collaboration as your employees can access it anytime, anywhere.

Digitize all receipts

Going over a pile of crumpled receipts can be overwhelming. To avoid this problem, you should digitize all receipts by scanning them. Once you get a receipt, take a picture using your smartphone or scan it with a standard scanner. Several mobile apps can be used for scanning documents. Alternatively, you can request for digital receipts instead of paper-based receipts.

Digitizing receipts should make it easier to retrieve, gather, and organize them come tax time. This should save you time and avoid headaches. It should also give you a clean digital record for easier accounting.

Scrutinize your travel expenses

If your business involves traveling, you need to take special note of all travels. Many small business owners overlook travel expenses that can be applied for a tax deduction. Some business trip-related costs include flight expenses, mileage, meals, accommodation, and other related costs. Record every single detail of your business trips, so you won’t miss out on any of these costs. 

Record expenses right away

Lastly, record every expense as soon as it is incurred. Don’t wait for your receipts to pile up or for the end-of-month before you record them. Procrastination can only complicate things. You might also lose the receipts and render it impossible to reimburse or include them in your tax deductions. The use of software solutions proves useful in real-time tracking of expenses. You and your employees can immediately input the transaction into the software. This ensures timely updating of records.

Final Thoughts

Monthly expense tracking can be a tedious task that entails a lot of discipline. But it is a necessary task that can save you headaches and trouble in the long run. While it might seem mundane and unimportant, expenditure monitoring is something that you need to take seriously if you want your business to succeed. Follow the tips discussed above to make things easier.

Custom Software Development vs. Generic Software Development

A software development company can create two types of software: custom and generic. Depending on your business needs, you can take advantage of either or both. Knowing the key differences between the two can help you make the right choice for your company.

What is Generic Software?

Generic software is a program developed to cater to the needs of multiple buyers. Also called off-the-shelf software, these apps have varied functionality.

A development company decided to create such software on its own to meet the demands of a certain audience. The app may have a huge variety of features, only a number of which are useful for one particular buyer.

While not personalized, such software can be useful for a large audience. Examples of generic software include Word, PowerPoint, Firefox, Opera, etc.

What is Custom Software?

Custom software is designed to cater to the needs of a specific client. A software development company works directly with the client to create an app that assists with a set of tasks. This type of software only works for one company and can’t be used by others.

You can’t buy such an app in the store. The only way to obtain it is to pay for development. Custom software is designed for specialized business needs. The client is involved in the development process from the start.

Difference#1: Working with the Client

Custom software developers work closely with the client from the very beginning. They study the company’s needs and requirements to create a program that works best. Developers and clients interact throughout the entire development process to ensure the highest quality and convenience of the final product.

Generic software developers work on their own. They study the market, choose the concept, make a list of requirements, and so forth. Their goal isn’t to please one client. They want the software to be suitable for an entire industry, sector, or niche.  

Difference#2: Immediate Delivery

Before the developer finishes working on the generic development project, potential clients rarely know about it, unless there is a promotional campaign.

Once the product appears on the shelves, the buyer can get it immediately. More often than not, a company can choose between several similar products on the market.  

Custom software development takes time. When a client hires a software development company, they have to be ready for several months of the development process. While the product is being developed, a client can take advantage of its generic counterpart.

Difference#3: Cost

When working on the generic software, the company has to acquire funds to cover development expenses. However, once the product is out, the developer can count on many different companies to purchase it, thus covering all the expenses, salaries, and beyond. That’s why generic software is generally cheaper than custom software with similar functionality.

To start custom software development, the development company signs a contract with the client, who pays for the process. According to experts from Entrance Consulting, developers may have different payment models, but in the long run, the client covers all the expenses.

Difference#3: Exclusiveness

When developers are working on generic software, their goal is to make its functionality suitable for many companies. When someone purchases generic software, they can expect it to have some features, which they will never use. Meanwhile, these features may be useful to another buyer.

Custom software is designed exclusively for one client. These clients don’t have to struggle with ignoring extra features or a lack of important functionality.

Meanwhile, the client gets exclusive access rights to the developed software. This goes a long way toward the security of the program. With generic software, hackers have access to the app to search for security loopholes.

Difference#4: Updates

For generic software, developers set up a schedule to create patches and updates. In a rare case there is a security issue, they may come up with an update ahead of schedule.

With custom software, developers create a schedule as well. However, they may issue an update in case a client requires it. Accordingly, the client doesn’t have to wait for the next update to eliminate the bug. The developer can battle the issue immediately.  

Difference#5: Quality

While developers try to come up with a top-notch product regardless of the software type, they are more likely to rush into releasing a program when it’s generic. The reason is that any delay in the release may lead to the loss of market share.

For custom software, developers usually have sufficient time to refine all the features and close loopholes. They strive to come up with exclusive quality to keep the client satisfied and get excellent recommendations.

Final Thoughts

Generic software development involves creating a product suitable for many different users. It’s faster, less expensive, and not as exclusive as custom software development.

Custom software development involves close collaboration with the client and usually results in a better quality product.

How Business Can Save Money on Shipping?

If you run a small business, shipping expenses can cost you a considerable amount of money. Implementing sustainable ways of shipping your products can contribute to the success of your business.

Efficient shipping strategies are vital to every business, but most particularly to small businesses. As a small business owner, you want to maximize to tap on potential savings and revenue. Shipping and postage cost is a recurring business expense that you can cut considerably.

Sadly, many businesses embark on the hit-or-miss method when deciding on their shipping strategy. They work with different couriers and try different services that eventually lead to losses. Aside from financial costs, it can also negatively impact your business reputation. Late or undelivered shipments are among the most common customer complaints that can affect client satisfaction.

Below are some tips on how to keep your shipping expenses low. These tips can result in major savings at the same time give you peace of mind knowing that your products are delivered to their intended recipients on time.

Choose the right carrier

Not all carriers offer the same price. For instance, FedEx, DHL, and UPS have a comparably higher price than USPS. Unless you’re sending significantly high volume, using USPS can save you a considerable amount. So, for small businesses with lightweight items, USPS is the ideal carrier. You can cut your shipping costs by up to half the price of other providers.

However, this does not mean that you should ditch other carriers. Some shipping companies offer considerably lower pricing tiers. You can check out their retail rates and their conditions to find the best deal.

Negotiate the rates

If you have a particularly high volume shipment, you can talk with your shipper and negotiate the price. Get in touch with your carrier and explore some of the package rate specifically designed for small businesses. No business is too small to negotiate so don’t hesitate to approach them.

Explain your shipping criteria to the carrier. If you have a longer lead time and your package does not require special care needs, the shipper might consider offering you better or special rates. Shipment companies usually have small business specialists who can advise you on the best way to send your deliverables, either air or ground. They can also recommend a shipping schedule that can help lower costs. Businesses that don’t ask can pay as much as 40 percent on unnecessary fees.

Consider your carrier as a team and not just as a provider. This enables you and your shipper to deal with shipping issues as a team, thus better results for both parties.

Consolidate your shipment

Many small businesses are unable to get great deals from carriers because of their limited shipment volume. As a result, small businesses are constrained to take costly pricing tier.

One way to save up is to consolidate your shipment with other companies. There are less-than-truckload (LTL) shipping companies that allow you to piggyback your goods on their current high-volume shipments. With this, your packages are shipped alongside a bigger shipment. Thus, you pay for only a fraction of the cost. LTL shipping companies will find available space where your package can fit in.

Another way is by coordinating with other companies in your area and consolidating your shipments. You can join a local professional association and arrange a shipping schedule. However, consolidating may not always work, especially if you have special shipping requirements.

Ensure accuracy

One of the simplest ways to save on shipping is by stating the accurate description and weight of every shipment. The more accurate the shipping details are, the more likely that you will not be overcharged for excess fees.

Accuracy does not only pertain to the package details. You should also have accurate details about the recipient. Software developers at Byteplant emphasize the importance of address validation in increasing shipment deliverability. Putting the wrong address can lead to undelivered goods, a negative impact on client satisfaction, and unnecessary financial costs. According to the USPS Office of Inspector General, undelivered-as-addressed (UAA) costs businesses about $20 billion a year. The use of address validation tools can greatly help improve accuracy and increase deliverability.

Save on packaging

The packaging is a major shipping-related expense that many businesses overlook.  Check your packaging and consider reducing the layers if possible.

Every new box or packaging material that you use means additional costs for your business. Reusing packaging materials that you receive (and often stuck in your warehouse) can help cut your expenses.

When reusing boxes, make sure that you choose the ones that are in good condition and do not contain markings from its original supplier. Better yet, you can request your suppliers to send goods in unmarked packaging. You can also use worn-out or labeled packaging materials for other purposes. For example, you can shred old boxes and turn them into filling materials.

Recycling and reusing these materials will not only help your business save money but also an eco-friendly initiative. However, you should never sacrifice quality over savings. Overly skimping on packaging can compromise the structural integrity and safety of your shipment. The goods get damaged during transit and result in a negative impact.

Cut excess weight

Shipping costs are based on the dimension, size, and weight of a package. Heavier and bulky packages always cost more to ship. Review your packaging methods and explore ways that will avoid wasting space while ensuring structural integrity. Try to fit your product into the smallest possible package.

Usually, it’s impossible to trim down the weight of the product. However, you can avoid wasting space by looking for the best packing method. Better yet, you can try to redesign the product for long-term savings.

Pass on the shipping costs

Although free shipping is ubiquitous in e-commerce, it is not the standard. Many small businesses are unable to absorb this added cost. To stay competitive while ensuring profitability, you should consider passing on the cost to the customers by slightly increasing the prices to account for the shipping expenses.

Alternatively, you can offer free shipping but with conditions such as orders reaching a profitable margin, orders with several items, or local orders that you can personally deliver. Likewise, you can offer free shipping for repeat transactions or customer loyalty. Another way is to offer a pickup option to cut shipping costs for you and your customers.

Final Thoughts

Running a business entails a lot of things to monitor and manage. All of these strategies can help save money on shipping and increase your business bottom-line. You just have to stay organized to see the considerable amount of savings you can make.