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Employee Scheduling Trends that Deserve to Continue Even After the Pandemic

trends to continue after pandemic

It’s been a long time since you could assume that the majority of your team is at it from 9 to 5. The “global village� means that work doesn’t end when the sun sets or markets close in your time zone, and the rise of flexible working patterns made it even more complex to coordinate employee schedules.

The best employee scheduling strategies consider employee preferences as well as employer needs and consumer demands, but the enormous number of moving parts – operational needs, budget, regulations and compliance – can make it all very difficult to manage.

COVID-19 has only exacerbated the situation in many industries. Employees who are high risk may be unable to work, or can only take shifts with little contact with the public or when only a skeleton staff is present. Workers grappling with unpredictable childcare needs and unreliable transport can cause even more last-minute changes than usual.

Scheduling conflicts can cause bad feeling in a company, but it doesn’t have to be that way. New advances in tech and better communication between employees and managers help enterprises get employee scheduling right, which improves employee experience and in turn pushes up employee retention and satisfaction.

The exigencies of COVID-19 pushed new trends in employee scheduling, which may be worth continuing even when the pandemic fades into memory. Here are a few scheduling trends from 2020 that are worthy of sticking around.

Scheduling is becoming more flexible

Scheduling that is more flexible is also more complex, but flexibility is crucial for a happy, motivated workforce under pandemic conditions. Employees with more flexible scheduling arrangements report higher wellbeing, more engagement, and more effectiveness at work than those stuck in inflexible scheduling.

For example, mothers working remotely with flexible, efficient schedules that match their availability are three times more likely to have positive wellbeing than those with inflexible, inefficient scheduling.

Although employees may be coping, everyone has their own challenges. “In driving new mindsets and behaviors (such as adapting to a new virtual-working model) at scale, it’s important to engage employees in a continual two-way dialogue that takes into consideration their specific needs, allows them to configure their own journeys,� says Jonathan Emmett, associate partner at McKinsey. Even people who love their jobs need accommodation for whatever else is going on in their lives.

Self-scheduling software invites employees to choose their own shifts, make last-minute changes, book vacation days, and check their schedules independently and remotely. This helps employees to feel more in control, which is especially important during such unstable and uncertain times, increasing employee engagement and satisfaction.

AI is bringing intelligence to scheduling

AI is stepping into many more HR use cases. Now managers can use AI tools to predict changes in consumer demand, and plan ahead to meet altering workforce needs.

For example, surging customer numbers in the winter holiday shopping season can require more retail assistants; a sunny day could tempt more diners to a cafe in the park, needing the addition of more waiters; rolling out a new product version might prompt you to increase customer service agents to answer user questions, etc.

With AI and machine learning, HR teams can analyze employee strengths and weaknesses to understand which employees work best together. With these insights, you can construct the strongest possible on-schedule teams for every situation and place the right person on duty at the right time.

Employees expect remote and mobile scheduling

Managing employee scheduling manually, even with an Excel spreadsheet, has long been a joke, but today, employees and HR managers simply can’t live without remote and mobile access to cloud-based scheduling tools that sync automatically to allow use anywhere.

The COVID-19-driven shift to WFH only underlined the importance of cloud-based systems for scheduling. We live our lives on our phones, from ordering dinner to taking out a mortgage, so it’s understandable to assume that scheduling software would include a mobile app.

“You want to make it easy for your staff to access their schedules from anywhere. This isn’t possible with desktop software,� writes tech expert Neil Patel in his scheduling tool drill-down. Beyond mobile-friendliness, he continues, “The best tools will also have shift swapping, employee self-service tools, HR features, labor cost management, leave management, attendance tracking, team messaging, overtime control, time clocks, etc.�

In today’s dynamic work environments, HR needs the ability to respond to scheduling changes on the fly, ensuring that they don’t cause your entire month-long schedule to fall apart, and requesting that someone else to step in without breaking your own rules or creating a sense of injustice among your workforce.

Employers are upping the ante in communication

Employee scheduling flows more smoothly with excellent communication that increases trust relationships, creating a virtuous circle where efficient scheduling itself raises trust.

Employee trust is high at the moment, with “my employer� as the most trusted institution and 73% of workers agreeing they trust businesses to protect them by adapting scheduling and sick-leave policies as necessary. But you can’t take this for granted.

Employers need to keep up and even improve employee communications. “Given the present state of low trust, business will have to fill a further void, that of credible information,� says Richard Edelman, CEO of Edelman Holdings. “For CCOs, it is time for you to initiate regular briefings for employees by your chief scientist or medical officer, to provide trustworthy content that can be shared with employee families or community.�

Enterprises should continue communicating around scheduling, asking how employee needs may have changed (e.g. working parents may prefer a night shift now) and accommodating them as much as possible.

Encourage employees to share their concerns; create more channels for communication between employees and managers and among employees themselves; and open up the conversation around mental health and anxiety, to reinforce trust and improve your understanding of factors that may influence scheduling.

Not all scheduling changes prompted by COVID-19 should fade away

Employee scheduling has never been easy, and with more moving parts, increasing globalization, and the new stresses of COVID-19, it’s only gotten more complex. But necessity is the mother of invention, and so we’ve seen new tech and trends emerge of using AI for intelligent scheduling, supporting scheduling on the hoof, enabling flexible scheduling, and building communication into schedule planning.

Holding onto these new best practices after the crisis of coronavirus has passed can make companies stronger and more resilient in the long term.

Image Credit: depositphotos _19

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What Is the Future of HR?

What Is the Future of HR?

Human resource (HR) departments have long been integral to organizational success, and they’re likely to remain that way for decades to come. But the nature of HR is likely to evolve with new technologies, research, and trends.

What does the future of HR look like?

Remodeling the Workforce

For starters, we may see HR leading the charge in remodeling the shape of the average workforce. Increasingly, employers and consumers alike are valuing diversity and inclusion; companies are working harder to ensure a mix of people from different backgrounds are included at all levels of the organization. In the future, this is going to become an even bigger priority.

But this is a minor change compared to the next generation of workforce management. We’re already starting to see a blend of human beings and machines in the workplace, and in the near future, this is going to become more prominent – even in businesses filled with mostly high-skilled, white-collar workers. How will you handle the transition from a human position to one handled by an AI algorithm? How will you ensure that humans and machines can collaborate and maximize productivity together? How will you optimize the balance between human beings and machines in the workplace? And how can you tell what an optimal balance is?

These will be the big-picture questions dictating HR development in the future.

Remote Work

Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, remote work was gaining popularity. Employees were getting a feel for the benefits of the arrangement, such as cutting down on commute time, improving flexibility, and even increasing productivity. At the same time, employers get to save money and see better results. After the pandemic forced businesses to rethink work and increase safety, these benefits became more apparent to a wider range of businesses.

Today, HR departments are evolving to treat remote work as the default – rather than a temporary or gimmicky new approach to conventional work. That trend is likely to continue into the future as remote work becomes even more widely accepted.

The Evolution of HR Software

Today’s HR departments and organizations rely on HR software like Rippling to handle things like payroll, benefits management, and employee device management. Using one platform, they can store, review, and gather information, send messages, and even generate reports to analyze data. It’s seemingly comprehensive.

But in the future, these platforms will likely become even more robust. We’ll see the addition of new streams of data, real-time analyses, and possibly the inclusion of machine learning and AI algorithms to increase productivity or improve results.

Culture and Unity

Part of HR’s job is to create and sustain the culture within an organization, and make the team feel unified. This is increasingly difficult in a world dominated by remote work, but it’s increasingly demanded by the workforce.

Accordingly, HR will need to find new channels for communication, teambuilding, and collecting employee feedback. Organizational culture management is going to evolve into new forms, and employees will have to develop a different set of expectations for how it’s facilitated. In line with this, HR leaders will have to remain agile, forging culture-based connections when they can while still preserving the structure of the business.

The Gig Economy: Here to Stay?

Technology is responsible for introducing the “gig economy.� Though freelancing and gig work concepts have existed for decades, apps like Uber, Fiverr, and Airbnb made it much easier for individuals to offer their services as freelancers. In turn, corporations have attempted to take advantage of this by relying more heavily on contractors and freelancers instead of making the investments in full-time employees. This is favorable as a cost-saving measure, but it also introduces more flexibility into the organization. And while workers miss some benefits, they also have more freedom to control their workloads and explore other opportunities.

However, it remains uncertain whether the gig economy is here to stay or whether it was something of a temporary detour. Either way, HR departments will have to adapt to keep in line with current trends.

The Employee Experience

We’re already seeing a wave of momentum favoring the development and maintenance of the “employee experience.� In other words, how does an employee feel about the business and engage with the business, from the moment they’re recruited to their ongoing career development? Positive employee experiences lead to higher morale, higher productivity, and higher employee retention. The subjective nature of the employee experience can also reveal a lot about how the organization operates.

In the future, employee experience will become an even higher priority – and become easier to measure and control. Better tools will make it easier for employees to provide feedback about their experiences throughout their careers, and better analytics platforms will make it easier to figure out which changes to make to improve the business.

Data-Driven Insights

Nearly all departments and all industries are increasingly relying on data to improve, and HR is no different. In the future, HR will become even more reliant on data to operate efficiently.

Today’s HR departments use a variety of data points to create images of job candidates, employees, and organizational efficiency, such as hours worked, employee retention, and metrics related to recruiting, training, and development. Data may become even more granular in the future, studying nuanced elements of employee behaviors from the moment they’re recruited.

Most of these data will be collected automatically, with the help of device tracking and robust HR software platforms – which leads to our next points.

AI and Automation

HR departments are also likely to incorporate more AI and automation. Automation is a no-brainer; if you can automate a task that ordinarily requires manual human effort, you’ll instantly reduce the hours your employees need to work. Not only does this save the organization money, it also frees up human employees to focus on more important things.

Artificial intelligence (AI) will also serve a bigger role in the future. With sufficiently advanced machine learning algorithms, HR leaders can quickly and efficiently crunch the numbers they’ve gathered and come to a final conclusion. And in the right context, a suitable AI could even handle previously human-exclusive tasks, such as handling employee conflicts or interviewing candidates.

Sustainability and Image

Today’s consumers care more about sustainability, and not just environmental sustainability. Human and social sustainability require businesses to engage in socially responsible hiring and employee management practices. Today, this includes hiring people from a diverse range of backgrounds, treating employees fairly, and compensating them well. In the future, these are going to become even bigger priorities for consumers, which means businesses will need to do more to make their operations transparent (and show off their sustainability efforts).

The very nature of human and social sustainability may also evolve in the near future. For example, if machines are gradually replacing human jobs in a certain industry, will it be considered socially sustainable or responsible to maintain at least some human jobs?

Cycles of Progression

Over time, the rate of change within HR departments is likely to increase; in other words, HR progression will be accelerating. As we’ve seen, technology tends to evolve exponentially. New technologies get incorporated into existing businesses that create even newer, better technologies. And once things like machine learning and big data analytics get thrown into the mix, it’s hard to stop that momentum.

This acceleration will also be fueled by competition. As HR departments begin pushing the limits of their productivity and effectiveness, other HR departments must follow suit to keep up. Nobody wants to be left in the dust with a years-old platform that’s now becoming obsolete in mainstream workforces.

Even with the onset of AI, automation, and a machine-heavy workforce, HR departments are going to remain important for productivity and sustainability for the foreseeable future. However, the role of an HR manager or HR director is going to change substantially in the coming years. No one can predict the future, but we can see many of these trends already developing in the present. The transformation is already unfolding.

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The Rise of Remote Work and How to Assess Growth and Development

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COVID-19 has accelerated the rate of remote work adoption globally, but what have we found out? We have discovered that remote work is not bad, after all.

In the past, many companies have been wary about transitioning to telecommuting, even when most of their office operations do not require the physical presence of employees. The main fears expressed by leaders include a possible decline in employee productivity and a lack of clarity about the measurement of employee performance.

The performance of individual employees determines the trajectory of the company. Without reliable methods to assess its employees’ work, it is difficult for any organization to achieve growth and development.

This article addresses the concerns of managers who are hesitant about remote work and those who have already implemented remote work but have trouble with tracking performance for workplace productivity and office growth.

Set Clear Objectives and KPIs to Assess Growth

How do you know if your employees are getting stuff done? The inevitable first step is to define what it means to get stuff down. In business lingua, that means to establish work objectives and set Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). Effective KPIs are aligned with the company’s overall goals and must contribute to the company’s growth and development.

Communicating to employees the metrics by which their performance will be assessed helps them to understand their priorities. Clear expectations, keep employees focused.

Acknowledge Unquantifiable Performance Indicators

In setting KPIs, though, you need to acknowledge that numbers don’t tell the full story. Not to suggest that you should discount the importance of numbers, but you should also be cognizant of the Key Intangible Performance Indicators. Admittedly, working remotely can compound the vagueness of such indicators — leading employees to feel their efforts are not recognized enough.

Some aspects are just not quantifiable, such as leadership, creativity, innovation, organization, and engagement. There are quantifiable indicators that may make us understand employee engagement and organization, but the subjects themselves are indefinite.

Until new ways and means of measuring these intangibles are discovered — company leadership should acknowledge that Key Intangible Performance Indicators exist, and look for ways to recognize employees who go above and beyond.

Support Employee Development

Assessments should be more supportive than they are judgmental. Employees appreciate frequent check-ins when the aim is to keep them on their toes and support them through difficulties. However, the manager that goes around constantly pointing out his team members’ flaws (without thoughtfully helping them overcome their challenges) is only seen as grumpy.

The rules also apply in remote work, where managers (out of fear of losing control) begin acting intrusively by implementing extreme corporate surveillance. Tracking and assessment are not the ends themselves; the goal of tracking employee performance should be to improve team productivity. In essence, remote work management and performance should usher us into a new era of trust, more autonomy, accountability, and team collaboration.

“Nowadays, it is not enough to equip teams with new digital tools for remote collaboration, which many rapidly did when the pandemic began. It’s only the first step,� says Maxime Bouroumeau-Fuseau, co-founder and CTO of Paris-based Digicoop, a worker cooperative behind the work management platform Kantree. “The changing workplace calls for an environment where employees are empowered to take control of their work.

In our experience as a co-op, when employees are given more autonomy and when micromanagement is replaced by collaboration, teams deliver better results while individual employees feel more invested in their work.�

Allow Autonomy

Many people choose to work remotely because they want to feel a greater sense of ownership of their time and schedules. Therefore, even though time tracking is important for many remote teams, it goes without saying that hourly input is not always a good measure of performance.

The true measure of performance is the work outcome. Remote work allows employees to choose their own work hours; what does it matter if an employee works less per hour but still meets targets consistently? Researchers have shown that autonomy increases productivity.

Use the Right Tools and Analytics for KPIs

With physical offices out of the picture, it is the tools that a remote team uses that define the structure of work and operations. There are tools that keep employees accountable and provide actionable insights into how work gets done in the organization.

The rise of remote work has promoted the importance of analytics of everyday work data to ensure that employees are more productive.

The insights gained help team leaders and the management to understand if the organization is meeting set targets of performance and productivity and determine the rate of growth and development. Tools such as Trello, Kantree, Jira, Asana, Microsoft Teams, Slack, etc., are useful for assessing work progression.

Establish a Culture of Accountability

Note, though, that tools are only as effective as the culture in which they are situated. Your team might be using the best tools, but poor communication can derail employees from the main goals of the company.

When there are issues with employee performance, you must be able to recognize if there is a problem with the tools being used or with the management. Accountability should not only be down-up; it should be top-down too. Managers should be accountable to their subordinates and transparent about office dealings.

Conclusion

Going by statistics, remote work actually improves employee productivity and performance. This, in turn, leads to the overall growth of the company. However, this growth must be intentional. Organizations should implement proper (and flexible) assessment models to know when their work is really progressing and when there are problems that must be solved.

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CEO’s Guide to Remote Work Success

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Remote work is what most of us are doing at present — and it will continue to be that way. Before the pandemic, there was an exponential growth of people who sought flexibility in their professional lifestyle. Most professionals have realized that it’s pointless to spend 2 hours in traffic, 8 hours in an office where it was hard to get focused, and then two hours to get home. You get home eat dinner and prepare for the same routine tomorrow. Here is a CEO’s guide to remote work success.

Working from home broke with the traditional routine — providing employees the opportunity to improve their work/life balance.

We’ve all read the thousand statistics and studies about how virtual employees are more engaged and productive. But mental health is something that is highly benefited when companies provide their employees with a flexible arrangement as well.

According to statistics, remote workers are happier, reflecting in the way they work and live. Their quality of life is improved when they get to decide where to work, whether it’s in the comfort of their homes or if it’s in a co-working space with tasty coffee.

There are still work challenges for remote workers and their CEO’s

Despite the significant benefits and the great aspects of being a remote worker, some challenges are hard to overcome. 2020 and the pandemic certainly was something no one was ready for.

Old-school companies who barely used technology were the ones who struggled the most adapting to these changes. However, most on-site companies who based their culture and values on the interaction and connection with one another had a rough time as well.

They had to close their offices and change how they worked drastically, discovering how virtual collaboration works and the best strategies to get the results they needed in a remote environment.

Leaders had to break their brains, trying to help their teams thrive in a remote environment. And remote workers also had, and still have, a hard time adapting to working from home.

Whatever your case is — if you find yourself currently surviving remote work, here are five strategies I’ve learned not only from leading a remote company for more than ten years but also by being a remote worker for over two decades.

1. Always Use the Best Tools You Have

It doesn’t matter if you’re the leader of a successful company or a junior employee who landed her first remote job; this advice applies to all. Buy quality tools that encourage you to be the most productive version of yourself.

Working from home doesn’t mean waking up, eating breakfast, and going back to bed with your laptop. Some remote workers do this, but they don’t get the same results as those who have a dedicated workspace. It’s important to create a space that is destined only to work because that way, your brain will associate automatically that when you sit in your home office, you are going to work, and when you lay in your bed, you are going to rest.

However, this also doesn’t mean you need to spend thousands of dollars building your perfect office. Some people have a big room in their homes, buy an amazing-expensive desk, an ergonomic chair, and the latest technologies. But honestly, working remotely is not about having the most expensive gear but having quality gear.

With a good headset, laptop, a second monitor (preferably), a good mic, and Wi-Fi, you’re good to go. If you live in a small place, try setting up a desk with all your equipment. That way, you know that you only go there when you need to work if you have the option of transforming a room in your place into an office, that’s even better.

Analyze your possibilities and think in the best way you can be productive with what you have. It sounds like when they tell you to buy an expensive headset, it is something superficial and unnecessary, but actually, good headsets tend to be costly because they work. In a remote environment where you don’t interact physically with the people you work with, you need to pull off your best communication tools.

If you’re a leader, lead by example. And if you are a remote employee, having a good microphone, camera and headphones will help you communicate better and more efficiently than struggling to hear what your boss or co-worker is trying to say to you.

2. Get Rid of Distractions

Remote workers are more productive than on-site employees. Many studies reveal that working in an office sometimes is even more distracting than working at home. The main reason is that employees get distracted by talking to other coworkers or just hearing the office noise.

However, we all face distractions, no matter where we are. And it’s important to learn how to deal with them to get work done. I remember a time in my life where I had an addiction to play video games or watch funny YouTube videos.

I thought that spending 5 minutes playing a bit will boost productivity when I returned to my tasks. However, those 5 minutes sometimes turned into 2 hours. Yes, I’m the President and Founder of a fully remote company, and I used to waste a lot of my time because of silly distractions – I admit it.

Then I discovered the power of a distraction-free environment. If you know that you are likely to play video games or use TikTok, then block those apps. Some applications help you block other applications that distract you while working.

If you get distracted by hearing your roommates laughing in the living room, buy kick-ass noise-canceling headphones. The key to creating a distraction-free environment is identifying the problem and then coming up with a direct solution. Here are 5 small tips that help you:

  1. Turn off notifications from your phone (Just the sound of them is already distracting).
  2. Clean your workspace leaving only the fundamentals.
  3. Have opened only the necessary tabs you need to do your tasks.
  4. Focus on one task only and then move on to the next one.
  5. Build a schedule (and stick to it).

3. Have a Routine That Works for You

Most people crave flexibility – in fact, flexibility is one of the top reasons many employees would like to have a remote job. They get to choose their working hours; they build a schedule based on their needs and have more quality time with their families and friends. However, when you are a remote worker, that flexibility can turn into a double-edged sword.

Therefore, having a routine is incredibly important when you start working remotely. Define what is essential for you and build your schedule. A great way to do it is by having an agenda with your to-do list, keeping in mind the projects you currently have and the tasks that need to be taken care of as soon as possible.

A good way of building a to-do list is to write the most important things at the top of the list and the least important things at the bottom. That way, if you don’t get to finish all the tasks, at least you’ll know you did the ones that really matter.

If you are a remote leader, be sure to tell your employees your expectations. This means to tell them your availability hours and ask them to give you theirs; this way, you know that they won’t be answering at certain hours. On the other hand, if you are a remote employee, the same advice applies here, make sure you know during what hours you can reach your boss and be sure to tell him your schedule as well.

Remote success is all about having the right communication, so emphasizing the expectations of each member of the team will allow everyone to know where they are standing and will allow them to perform better as well.

Establishing a routine is having a schedule that helps you get work done and helps you do the things you enjoy the most. Remote work facilitates the work/life balance most people want, but it is up to each remote worker to make that happen.

4. Build Trust – In a Fun Way

Yes, I know you’ve probably read about building trust a thousand times. But that’s because building trust is fundamental if you want your business to thrive.

Trust is what enables honesty and feedback in teams. If you work in a work environment that is based on fear rather than trust, ideas die. No one wants to get creative because they are way too afraid, and if you’re the leader, you’re seen as the enemy.

On the other hand, if you create a mistake-friendly environment, where you encourage employees to speak up and share their ideas, you will not only build a healthy culture, but employees will trust you and will help you achieve the results you want.

If you’re a remote employee, building trust is about being honest with your leaders, being transparent about your work, and about what you feel can be improved.

This all sounds easier said than done, but building trust remotely is not difficult. It just takes the right strategies. For instance, your top priority should be on communication. Enable the right communication strategies, provide crystal clear guidelines, and conduct productive virtual meetings. Also, try having feedback meetings occasionally to tell your leader/employee how you feel about work and how you feel they’ve done theirs.

One of the best ways of building trust in remote teams is with virtual water coolers. These team-building activities are the perfect space for employees to get to know each other. In physical offices, it was easy to run to the marketing guy on the elevator and discover you both love Pink Floyd. In a virtual environment, you need to make this happen in a fun way. Here are some ways of building trust remotely:

  • Celebrating birthdays and special events on Zoom
  • Virtual happy hours once a month
  • Gaming night
  • Sharing fun memes in the group chat

5. Connect with Your Team

Building trust should be a priority in your team, but so does building a connection. The great thing about connecting with your team and the people you work with is a stronger sense of purpose. You no longer do your job because you must or because you need to pay the bills but because you know that you are working for something way bigger than yourself.

In my years of experience being a remote worker and leading a remote company, I’ve learned that culture is not about hitting the bar every Friday after work with your coworkers. Culture means connection, connecting with every single person you work with. Getting to know them, know what they like, their pet peeves, having fun but also helping each other out to be better.

When you build a connection, you build a compromise, and you encourage everyone to collaborate.

And connecting with your team is all about caring for each other. Making the important but basic questions such as Hey, how are you doing today? How is your dog? And questions that make you feel a bit closer to your coworkers/leaders despite the geographic distance.

Ready to Succeed Remotely?

Being a successful remote worker always comes down to your team and how you collaborate. That’s why having the right tools, strategies, and communication channels are fundamental. But it would help if you also kept in mind that establishing relationships with your team is equally important. You are not interacting with them as you would if you were in a physical office. Therefore, caring about your team and making time for each member is necessary. With these 5 strategies, you’ll have a strong foundation that will help you thrive in the remote work environment.

Image Credit: ketut subiyanto; pexels

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4 Effective Tools to Train Yourself Out of Anxiety for Good

4 Effective Tools to Train Yourself Out of Anxiety for Good

You’ve read countless articles on stress relief that tell you things like “breathe deeply� and “meditate.� While deep breathing and meditation have been proven to relieve anxiety, the moment you come out of meditation, you’re back in the real world and another bout of anxiety is just around the corner.

If you looked hard enough, you could find a million ways to relieve anxiety. However, those methods will only relieve anxiety in the moment. If you want to get rid of anxiety for good, you need the following tools.

1. Start a daily CBD routine

Anxiety is a response to various environmental and social factors including in your social and work life. However, after enough responses, your nervous system is trained to respond out of habit. Soon, any situation that even slightly resembles your trigger will cause anxiety.

If you’re going to eliminate stress and anxiety for good, you need to retrain your nervous system. To retrain your nervous system, you need to find ways to stay calm in the face of your triggers. This can be accomplished with cannabidiol (CBD).

CBD is a non-psychoactive hemp extract with a variety of therapeutic properties. People have been using CBD products for decades and now that industrial hemp is legal, CBD derived from hemp is also legal (as long as it contains less than 0.3% THC).

In a perfect world, you could just wake up and decide not to be affected by your stress triggers. Unfortunately, mental strength is only half the battle. Triggers can cause stress in the physical body even when the mind is calm. The only way to bypass these automatic triggers is to calm the nervous system to prevent the stress response in the first place.

By exposing yourself to stress triggers while your nervous system is relaxed and unable to react full force, you’ll eventually train your body out of reacting and eventually those triggers will dissolve.

Starting a daily regimen including CBD Gummies can help you get rid of anxiety for good by keeping your nervous system in a relaxed state for extended periods of time. With CBD relaxing your nervous system, when you’re confronted by triggers, you’ll become less reactive over time.

2. Get regular float tank therapy sessions

Float tank therapy is the world’s best kept secret for relieving stress and anxiety. A float tank, also called a ‘sensory deprivation’ tank, is essentially a small, 1-person hot tub set at body temperature, enclosed either by 4 walls and a door or as a stand-alone, futuristic-looking pod. When the door is closed, it’s dark and silent. You’re basically in a state of sensory deprivation. Although, it’s not complete sensory deprivation, it comes pretty close.

A float tank isn’t just a tub full of water in a dark room—it’s shallow water that contains thousands of pounds of dissolved epsom salt. The dissolved salt makes you float on top of the water and relieves all the pressure from your nervous system and your spine.

Many people use the float tank for pain relief because when you’re floating, your entire body can relax. It’s even better than resting on a comfortable mattress because with a mattress, your body is still working hard to support your weight.

When you’re weightless, your nervous system gets a true rest. When your nervous system is allowed to rest, stress and anxiety responses fade.

If you haven’t floated, find a local wellness center that offers a free or discounted first session to test it out. If stress is a normal way of life, you’ll feel refreshed at the end of your session in a way that you haven’t felt before. Floating regularly has cumulative effects, too.

3. Actively work to improve your sleep

Quality, deep sleep is another way to influence your nervous system and train your body out of stress responses at the root. Studies have shown that getting enough deep, quality, REM sleep is critical for maintaining a healthy mind and body. It’s not about the quantity of sleep, it’s about the quality. It doesn’t matter if you’re sleeping 12 hours per night; if you’re not getting quality sleep, you’re sleep deprived.

Sleep deprivation causes stress and anxiety that only increases over time. Lack of sleep is another way the body develops a habit of stress responses. When you’re sleep deprived, you’re going to get stressed out quickly and easily over small things. Improving the quality of your sleep is an easy shortcut to squashing anxiety and stress.

How to improve the quality of your sleep

There are many ways to improve your sleep. One already mentioned above is by taking CBD. Since CBD is non-psychoactive, you can take CBD during the day or at night. People who take CBD before bed report getting better sleep than they’ve had in a long while.

Other ways to improve your sleep quality include:

  • Sleeping alone. It’s hard not to share a bed with your partner or your animals, but if you’re having trouble sleeping, this is the first place to start. Sleep deprivation is commonly caused by multiple interruptions throughout the night. If your partner or your pet is constantly waking you up—even if you go back to sleep—you’re probably sleep deprived.
  • Putting your devices away at least three hours before bedtime. There are debates over whether its blue light or yellow light that causes sleep disturbances. There are studies that support both types of light having a negative impact on sleep and blue light has been clinically shown to suppress melatonin production.
    Either way, staring at a screen with artificial light until you fall asleep is going to negatively impact your sleep. Spend the last three hours of your night doing something other than responding to social media notifications and browsing the internet. You’ll get better sleep if you make this a hab
  • Don’t sleep with your phone and turn it off. If your phone is within your reach while you’re sleeping, it should be turned off. Giving yourself the opportunity to grab your phone all night long when you hear a notification is just asking for sleep deprivation. Turn your phone off at night. Until sleeping through the night becomes a habit, don’t keep your phone within reach.
  • Invest your money in creating a comfortable sleeping area. Do you hate your mattress because it’s lumpy, too soft, too hard, or uneven? Save up for a new mattress or put it on a credit card. Test all the pillows you can find at mattress stores to find the one that’s right for your head and neck. Get the sheets and blankets that make you feel good.
    If your mattress isn’t comfortable, the rest of your efforts will be thwarted.
  • Wear earplugs and/or a blindfold. You’d be surprised at how much easier it is to sleep while blindfolded. In addition to a sleep mask, get some ear plugs to block out any sound that may disturb you, like barking dogs or roommates rummaging around in the kitchen.

4. Train yourself not to respond immediately to internet criticism

Anyone who has been on the internet for more than a day knows there are people out there ready to criticize everyone. On social media, this happens all day long and if you’re the one being criticized, it’s hard not to get stressed out.

If internet communications stress you out, you’re not alone. Social media is a major source of stress for millions of people worldwide. If walking away from social media isn’t an option, the next best thing you can do is train yourself out of responding immediately to criticism.

When you’re presented with a critical comment, whether it’s a person who simply disagrees with you or it’s a genuine troll, pause for a moment and re-read their comment to find out what they’re trying to say. Your mind may have misinterpreted their comment. On the other hand, they might be trying to instigate a fight.

Regardless, these types of comments can skyrocket your stress immediately. However, it’s not the comment that causes your stress to explode—it’s your internal reaction to the comment that causes you to become stressed. If you want to eliminate that stress response, you need to stop responding on autopilot and take the time to construct a thoughtful, factual reply.

If you can train yourself out of typing emotionally-charged responses to provocation on the internet, your stress levels will drop drastically.

Don’t give up!

Anxiety is real and has devastating effects that can last a lifetime. You don’t have to let anxiety control your life, but be prepared for some challenges in your pursuit to overcome them.

No matter how tough things get, don’t give up trying to resolve your anxiety at the root. It took years to develop a high level of anxiety, and it will take a while to rebuild different patterns in your nervous system.

The post 4 Effective Tools to Train Yourself Out of Anxiety for Good appeared first on ReadWrite.

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6 Brilliant Brain Hacks for the Remote Worker

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What was once a niche work lifestyle has become commonplace. Millions of Americans now work remotely – and millions more are ready to join in. While remote working offers many benefits, it also has its own distinct challenges that must be worked through. Understanding how to power through friction and optimize productivity for better output is the goal. Here are six brilliant brain hacks for the remote worker.

Do you know where to start? Here is a practical guide to on-boarding remote engineers from a topmost expert. Consider these 6 brilliant brain hacks for the remote worker.

The Upward Climb on Remote Working

If you work from home, you used to be the anomaly. Today, you’re in good company. Pretty soon, you’ll be part of the majority.

According to Global Workplace Analytics and Quarterly Global, the leader in PR, marketing and advertising, the number of individuals working from home has grown by 173 percent since 2005.

Overall, 4.7 million employees (roughly 3.4 percent of the overall workforce) work from home at least half the time.

Approximately 40 percent of American employers offer more flexible workplace options today than they did five years ago. But with 80 to 90 percent of the U.S. workforce saying they’d prefer to work outside the office at least some of the time, this number is expected to rise in the coming years.

As remote working becomes more commonplace, so will the need for better remote working strategies.

The Top Remote Working Challenges

Remote working is highly appealing and advantageous for freelancers, employees, and employers alike. But it’s not a perfect setup. There are plenty of challenges, including:

Blurred lines

Everyone wants to talk about tearing barriers between work and personal life, but too much overlap can equally problematic. One of the keys to maintaining optimal work-life balance is being able to separate the two. When you work out of the house, it’s challenging to carve out a meaningful division between each area. This can make you less effective in both aspects of your life.

Distractions

Have you ever tried to work from home when you have a house full of rambunctious children? Or what about participating in a conference call in the middle of a loud coffee shop? Wherever you’re working, distractions abound.

Procrastination

Whether you’re an employee or freelancer, your remote working status typically comes with greater freedom in how you manage your time. If you aren’t careful, procrastination can get the best of you. Over time, it may even become habitual.

Inconsistency

When working in an office, there’s something to be said for the predictability. You basically know what to expect. Your desk is in the same place, you see the same people, and you go through the same basic routines. Remote workers rarely have the luxury of consistency. This makes it hard to get in a state of flow.

Communication

We may have more communication methods than ever before, but there’s still nothing that can fully replicate being face-to-face in the same physical space. For remote workers, trying to communicate via a combination of phone, email, SMS, and video chat creates an extra layer of friction.

Isolation

Finally, remote working often gives rise to feelings of isolation – particularly in people with extroverted personalities. This can lead to boredom, pessimism, and a lack of drive. It can even have serious side effects, like anxiety or depression.

Most people ignore these challenges, and the results show. But if you’re someone who wants to increase productivity and maximize output, you need a better strategy.

You need to find what works.

And once you discover what works, you need to bottle it up and use it to your advantage.

Powerful Brain Hacks for Better Results

Brain hacking.

It sounds like a buzzword – and it kind of is. But that doesn’t make it any less valid.

Our brains are constantly being shaped by events, experiences, external stimuli, and other environmental factors. And as weird as it may sound, the human brain is subject to regular physical and cognitive changes.

The neuroplasticity concept says that the brain, like muscles in the body, becomes weaker or stronger over time. It’s continuously changing and rewiring. Over time, targeted techniques and purposeful strategies can morph into automatic habits and processes.

These targeted techniques and strategies are brain hacking. And it’s something that every remote worker can do to overcome the aforementioned challenges and optimize productivity and output.

Here are some brain hacks you may find helpful:

  1. Try Intermittent Fasting for Better Focus

Intermittent fasting is a biohacking concept that involves alternating cycles of fasting and eating. There are various techniques, but the most common is to eat all of your meals in one eight-hour window. In other words, you’re fasting for 16 hours every day.

If you’re someone who loves food, this probably sounds impossible.

However, it’s not nearly as difficult as it initially seems.

It basically means you eat your first meal at 11 a.m. and your last meal at 7 p.m. (or whatever variation works for you).

Aside from the fat loss and metabolism benefits, intermittent fasting actually helps with focus. The consolidated intake of food prevents wasted energy from digesting food. Instead, you’re able to allocate those energy reserves to concentrate on work-related tasks.

On a related note, be mindful of what you eat.

While health professionals have spent years telling people to avoid fat, the truth is that you need healthy fats to maximize cognitive functioning.

Why?

It’s pretty simple: The human brain is 60 percent fat.

When you eat, try incorporating items like eggs, avocados, nuts, salmon, trout, and coconut oil into your meals.

  1. Eliminate Digital Media from Your Morning Routine

Bing! Bing! Bing!

Your morning alarm goes off.

You slap the snooze button. Once. Twice. Three times.

Once you finally come to your senses, you grab your phone, pull up Instagram, and start scrolling.

Then you get out of bed, walk downstairs, and turn on the news.

While watching the news, you reply to a couple of late-night texts that came in while you were sleeping.

Over breakfast, you check your email.

It’s not even 8 a.m., and you’ve consumed more digital media than your brain can process. You’ve also unintentionally heightened your stress level, stifled your creativity, and destroyed your focus.

When you start your day with digital media, you’re actually beginning your morning playing catch-up on what happened yesterday. You’re also letting other people dictate how you feel. You haven’t even started working, and stress, worry, and discontentment become the resounding feelings of the day.

Try taking a digital fast for the first two to three hours each day.

In a study conducted by a team of researchers at the University of British Columbia, 124 individuals were asked to check their email frequently for one week. The next week, they were told only to check their email three times per day (and to disable all notifications).

The data was analyzed against the time spent viewing email, and participants reported feeling significantly lower stress levels and higher feelings of positivity when email exposure was limited.

Once you cut back on exposure to email, social media, news, and other digital media forms, you’ll start to feel the positive effects.

While everyone can benefit from less digital media exposure, it’s especially helpful for remote workers close to digital distractions like the TV, video game systems, and personal smart devices.

  1. Leverage the Pomodoro Technique for Better Scheduling

Americans have a love affair with multitasking. We wear our ability to juggle responsibilities like a badge of honor.

But research shows that multitasking actually suppresses productivity. And if you work from home, where personal distractions are omnipresent, it can severely limit your output.

Enter the Pomodoro Technique – a revolutionary brain hacking method that remote workers have been using for years to increase focus and productivity.

The Pomodoro Technique consists of breaking your workday into 25-minute sections of work separated by five-minute breaks. Each one of these half-hour chunks is referred to as a Pomodoro. Once you’ve completed four Pomodoros, you take an extended break of 15 to 20 minutes.

These 15- to 20-minute breaks can be used for remote workers to do tasks around the house – such as folding laundry, fixing lunch, or taking a shower. This allows you to be productive with work while also taking full advantage of the fact that you’re home.

  1. Use Parkinson’s Law to Avoid Procrastination

In a satirical piece written for the Economist in 1955, British naval historian Cyril Parkinson made the following statement:

“Work expands to fill the time available for its completion.�

He would later write a book that fleshed out this idea. Eventually, people would refer to this concept as Parkinson’s Law.

In a remote work setting, Parkinson’s Law states that the time it takes to complete a work project depends on how much time you allot for it. In other words, if you give yourself eight hours, you’ll slow down and make it take eight hours. If, however, you only give yourself five yours, you’ll block out distractions and get it done in five hours.

If you’ve grown weary of procrastination and hope to finish your work faster and more efficiently, you need to set tighter deadlines.

Instead of telling a client, you’ll have the project done by next Friday, tell them you’ll have it in by next Tuesday. By tightening the time constraints, you force yourself to work more efficiently.

  1. Optimize Your Home Office for Productivity

One of the major challenges of working from home is that you’re forced to create a professional workspace in the middle of a very personal place.

But this is also one of the distinct advantages.

You have the capacity to design your own workspace – so why not optimize your at-home workspace in a way that puts your brain in the right frame of mind to be productive?

For starters, choose a room in the house that’s as far away from communal living areas as possible. In other words, being located right off the living room isn’t ideal. You’re much better off positioning a home office in the back corner of the house.

Secondly, you need natural light. It plays a catalytic role in brain performance, creativity, and focus.

Thirdly, paint your office walls a soothing color. The principles of color psychology suggest cool greens, blues, or neutrals. Avoid colors like red and orange, which provoke feelings of urgency.

Finally, eliminate distractions by avoiding clutter. While some creative minds thrive in messy environments, the vast majority of people wilt. Clutter zaps up energy and makes it hard to focus on the task at hand. By adopting a minimalist environment, you can get more done with less effort.

  1. Keep a Schedule

The human brain thrives on predictability. Remote working is far less predictable than working in an office where you’re expected to show up, take lunch, and go home at the same time each day.

If you want to give your brain a solid framework to latch onto, a consistent schedule is necessary.

Start your day by having your alarm go off at the same time every single morning.

After waking, implement a consistent routine that helps you transition from personal duties to professional responsibilities.

Start working each day simultaneously and use a couple of familiar tasks to help your brain slip into the right frame of mind.

Taking lunch at the same time is also advisable – particularly if you’re leveraging intermittent fasting.

The hardest part for most remote workers is “clocking out� at a consistent time. It’s easy to continue working and filling time until late in the evening. To prevent this from happening, try scheduling obligations in the evening. This makes it less likely that you’ll keep working.

Setting Yourself Up for Success

Not all of these brain hacks and strategies will appeal to you. It’s all about finding your best approach and leveraging whatever it is that helps you achieve a state of flow.

What works for you?

How can you set yourself up for max productivity?

Your approach will differ from the next person’s – so don’t try to mimic or replicate what others are doing. Instead, become like a scientist in the laboratory. Mix, match, and blend proprietary formulas until you discover a brain hacking system that puts you on a path for success.

Image Credit: David Cassolato; Pexels

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HR Automation – The Way to Ensure Stable Business Growth

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We are living in the age of technology and innovation. Traditional processes and workflows have become outdated. Operations and process models are being reinvented to increase cost-effectiveness. However, not all businesses are adapting to the revolutionized business process, which results in increased costs, a lack of efficiency, and halted growth. Outdated processes end up damaging your business and cause loss of customers.

First and foremost, you need to consider which processes add value to the foundation of your business. To your employees. Businesses often focus on acquiring and retaining clients and customers, all the while neglecting HR processes. This works well initially, but as organizations grow, problems due to lack of process start piling up.

HR management is one of the key pillars of any business.HR processes ensure the recruitment of new employees, training professionals, and ensuring compliance with local labor laws.

Today automation is becoming part of a continuous transformation of HR processes. The main task is to release department employees from routine work, digitize the paper processes, and leave more time for planning and strategy. Thus, business reduces costs and time spent on previously inefficient HR processes.

By automating human resources management, organizations can quickly design, optimize, integrate, and implement the required services at a significantly lower cost. With the right implementation, HR automation can bring indispensable perks.

Just check out some benefits of HR automation:

  • Increased productivity through rapid data processing and sharing
  • Reduction of staff turnover due to increased employee involvement
  • Reduced storage and printing costs associated with paper processing
  • Stay away from the risk of non-compliance or policy violations.
  • Increase organizational growth through effective recruitment at optimal operating costs

It is necessary to identify the most vulnerable spots in the HR workflow accurately to reach these benefits. Typically, the most critical aspects are:

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1. Onboarding

Integrating an employee into all work processes is still one of the most “manualâ€� HR processes. It includes verification, providing access to new employees’ tools, raising requests for devices, and much more. Due to the software, even such processes may be automated.

The onboarding software for employees offers a simple checklist to which all users involved in the process can refer. In a few hours, the new employee will have access to corporate standards, all the essential documents will be delivered just in time to the mail, and maintenance specialists will equip his workspace remotely.

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2. Time Tracking and Vacation requests

In short, manual time tracking is ineffective. Time tracking software automatically marks when an employee is in and out of work, allowing the manager to track how many hours an employee has spent on a particular task and evaluate its effectiveness. HR processes become more organized, rapid, and efficient.

Vacation approval documents are the headache of any HR manager. Preparing financial documents, coordinating with supervisors, and calculating salaries manually slows down the process. With the automated leave management process, all this can be done automatically, without getting stuck in someone’s mailbox.

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3. Assessment

Assessment is a permanent HR process that monitors, measures, and analyzes an employee’s performance concerning business goals. The software allows ensuring repeatable quality and increasing professionalism of each employee in the long perspective.

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4. Exit interviews

Exit interviews play an important role in increasing staff involvement. However, exit interviews conducted on paper and manually are tedious, time-consuming, and inefficient. By automating the Exit interview process, enterprises can recognize potential problems and derive data that can be used to improve retention rates.

The most crucial issue is what spot of HR activity should be transformed into your company and how? What software requirements should be adjusted specially to your business needs and company growth opportunities?

It is even more complicated to take actions to digitize each area of HR activity without unnecessary spinning for both department personnel and employees of the whole company.

However, if you expect us to tell you how to automate your HR department in a few clicks, we have to disappoint you. We do not possess a universal solution for automating your HR processes. Each business is unique.

To create the right software, a digital transformation consultant needs to be part of your business. We are ready to be involved in the process. Due to the fact that only the right software gives the right result.

The post HR Automation – The Way to Ensure Stable Business Growth appeared first on ReadWrite.

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12 High ROI Options for Promoting an Event Online

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Putting on an event is expensive. Whether it’s a traditional in-person conference, a virtual summit, a product launch event, or a fundraiser, it costs a lot to get an event up and running. And without butts in seats, an event can quickly become a massive financial loss. Here are 12 ROI options for promoting an event online.

The only way to ensure your event is successful is to generate buzz and get people to register.

But with so many different options, products, systems, and funnels, where do you start? And what do you do?

You will only be successful with your online event when you develop a strategic online promotional strategy.

We have a few proven ideas and concepts that you can leverage to promote your next event online and generate a high return rate. Let’s take a look together:

  • Create a Centralized Promotional Folder

Before we dig into some of the specific promotional tactics, let’s make sure we’re laying a strong foundation for what comes next. Whether it’s landing pages, social media, email, or something else, you need consistency in your branding, phraseology, and event details. And the easiest way to do this is to create a centralized promotional folder in the cloud.

A centralized promotional folder will contain several subfolders for things like:

  • Graphics and visuals (including .png event logos, partner logos, and any other graphic design elements you’re likely to need).
  • A spreadsheet with all of the event details – including dates, times, locations, links, etc. (Anytime someone on the team has a question about logistics, direct them to this sheet.)
  • An event one-pager with all of the details and highlights – including things like speakers and schedules.
  • A list of promotional dos and don’ts. (For example, if there are words you don’t want to use when promoting the event, create a resource for this.)

The more information you’re able to compile in one centralized folder, the less time you’ll waste tracking down information and details when you need it. This keeps your workflow as efficient as it can possibly be.

  • Develop an Event Landing Page

The next step is to develop an event landing page. If the centralized cloud folder is your resource for all information, the landing page is for your attendees (and anyone interested in attending).

Designing a landing page is an exercise in human psychology and data analytics. Put your best foot forward with the initial version, but don’t stress about getting it perfect. You’ll end up iterating over time as you gather data on what does and doesn’t work.

Key event landing page design principles to get you started.

  • Simplicity. Visual simplicity that is. You’re not writing a dissertation or pulling out a centerspread ad in The New York Times. The goal is to deliver the necessary information and not a pixel more. Use plenty of negative space and emphasize the elements that you want visitors to focus on.
  • Clarity. Don’t forsake clarity in the pursuit of simplicity. Clarity is equally as important. People should immediately know what your event is about and why they should attend. If this isn’t evident within three to five seconds of landing on your page, something is off. (And you’ll see massive bounce rate numbers.)
  • Inverted pyramid style. We’re not encouraging you to use journalistic copywriting, per se, but the method old school newspaper writers use when crafting news stories is a good one for landing pages. They use what’s called an inverted pyramid style of writing. This means you lead with the most important information about the event (Who? What? Where? When? Why? How?). Then you cover some of the supporting information and background details. Finally, all of the extra information and interesting (but non-essential) bits and crumbs are thrown in.
  • Social proof. When asking someone to sign up for an event online, encourage them by leveraging social proof. Things like trust badges, “as featured inâ€� logos, headshots of speakers, video testimonials, and quotes from past attendees, are all effective.
  • Exit-intent popup. Never let someone leave your landing page without putting up a (gentle) fight. Exit-intent popups might be annoying, but they work. As soon as someone hovers their mouse outside of the main area of the landing page, a tile overlay emerges and asks the visitor if they’re sure they want to leave before registering (or something to that effect). Even if you only pick up 5 to 10 percent of people who try to leave, it’s worth the investment.

How do you know if your landing page is effective? Besides studying the basic metrics like conversion rate, bounce rate, and average time on page, you can also install heat maps and trackers, analyzing how far people scroll down the page before dropping off.

Based on the data, you can reorganize, truncate, or expand your landing page to respond to how visitors engage with the page in real-time.

  • Craft Branded Content

Your event cannot and should not exist in a vacuum.

What does this mean?

Put simply: Your larger brand content marketing strategy should overlap with your event promotion strategy. Whether you have a weekly blog post, daily social media blasts, an email newsletter, or a podcast, all of your content efforts should be plugging your event.

Start with soft promos in the weeks leading up to the event, but you can be much more overt in the 72 hours leading up. This is the sweet spot when it comes to online events when you’ll see a huge uptick in registrations. (Start earlier for in-person events, as people need time to plan logistics.)

  • Leverage Guest Blogging

I’ve discussed some of the benefits and opportunities for guest blogging previously. And while we typically encourage it to build backlinks, guest blogging can also be highly effective when implemented as part of an event promotion blitz.

Here’s what you do:

  • Make a list of 15 to 20 websites that accept guest blog post contributions and have an audience that overlaps with your target attendees.
  • Develop a list of content ideas that make your event relevant and interesting (from a third party publisher’s perspective).
  • Reach out to the people in charge of each of these guest contributor programs and pitch them the content idea that best aligns with their niche.
  • Include a backlink to your event landing page and (if permissible) an in-text call-to-action encouraging readers to sign up for the event.

Not only will guest blogging give you exposure and referral traffic, but it could also provide some SEO juice to your landing page. (If it’s a long-term landing page – meaning it will be active for several months – this could help you eventually attract organic search traffic.)

  • Update Your Email Signature

Think about how many emails you send per day. Is it 25, 100, or even 200-plus? Now think about all of the people who are on the receiving end of your emails. It could be thousands per month. So put this real estate to good use.

As part of your email signature, include a simple square tile graphic or hyperlinked CTA to encourage people to visit the event landing page. You won’t get a ton of clicks, but the ones that do click are going to be way more qualified than the average landing page visitor who stumbles on your page via another method. And if it nabs you even one more registration, it’s worth the five minutes it takes to change your signature.

This is sort of a low hanging fruit tactic, but it’s useful nonetheless. (Why waste any opportunity to give your event exposure?) It’s simple and subtle yet highly effective.

  • Use Your Email List (The Right Way)

Speaking of email, you must use your brand’s email list appropriately. This does not mean spamming your subscribers with daily demands to register. However, it does mean implementing a strategic campaign that slowly drips on people in the weeks and days leading up to the event.

When you start your drip campaign depends on your larger goals. If it’s an in-person event – especially one that people have to travel to and get accommodations for – you’ll want to start at least a couple of months out. The drip is slow at first – going as long as a week between communications – and gets faster as the event gets closer. (For online events, such as virtual summits, you only need to start a couple of weeks out.)

The key to a good campaign is to keep it simple, personalized, and valuable. In other words, cut out the small talk and fluff and get very focused. Here are some tips:

  • Keep paragraphs to just one or two sentences.
  • Call people by their name (either in the subject line and/or the body copy).
  • Use bullet points to share quick hits and important information.
  • Always direct people back to the landing page (using tracking codes so that you can study the effectiveness of your campaign).

Not sure what to say? There are plenty of drip email campaign templates available online. Use them as inspiration – tailoring the details to your event and audience.

  • Use Partner Email Lists

Are you running the event with other partners, organizations, or groups? As part of your partnership agreement, you should require each organization or individual to email their list a certain number of times. This amplifies your reach beyond your own email list. (And depending on the size of the organization, this could give you access to thousands of people you otherwise wouldn’t have been able to engage.)

  • Run Paid Ad Traffic

If you’ve never used Facebook ads, you might be intimidated. However, once you learn a few basics, you’ll realize that there’s nothing to be scared of. In fact, you’ll discover that Facebook ads are one of your most powerful weapons in the pursuit of generating traffic and registrations.

Here are some tips to keep in mind when using paid ads for an event:

  • Always use the landing page URL – not a home page or general website page. This reduces friction and removes any additional steps that could allow someone to bounce before registering.
  • Be very specific with your targeting. Narrow in on your audience and include anything you know about them, such as geographic location, interests, hobbies, marital status, job title, etc.
  • The image and headline are the two most important elements of a Facebook ad. Yours need to be clear, succinct, and visually pleasing.
  • Choose the appropriate call to action button.

As with your landing page, you don’t have to get this perfect right from the start. Facebook has an advanced analytics engine built-in, and you’ll be able to optimize based on the results. As the data comes in, you can make changes to bolster your conversion rate.

  • Write Press Releases

Press releases aren’t what they used to be, but they still have value. If you’re holding an event, you need to create at least one press release and distribute it via all major outlets and publications.

While it’s probably not going drive a ton of direct traffic or registrations, here’s what a press release does for you:

  • A good press release makes media members aware of your event. They can run searches for different keywords and topics. If you have a relevant press release, they might see it and decide to do more research – ultimately writing a story or making a mention of your event in a larger story.
  • Press releases have some SEO value, assuming you use the correct keywords. If you’re planning to leave your event page up for a while, or you’ll eventually use it to sell recordings and other products, this can give you some increased organic reach.

Don’t spend a ton of time developing press releases, but certainly do what you need to do. Like email signatures, this is low hanging fruit. You might as well grab it.

  • Partner With Influencers

Love them or hate them, influencers have, well…influence. And if you can secure a partnership with the right influencer – someone who has an audience that intersects and overlaps your own – you could see a huge spike in registrations and attendees.

According to Social Media Today, influencer marketing generates 11x higher ROI than traditional forms of marketing. Plus, 94 percent of marketers who have used influencer marketing in the past found it to be a “very effective tactic.�

If you go this route, make sure you draft a detailed agreement that includes specific information regarding expectations and requirements. The worst thing you can do is hire an influencer, pay them a bunch of money, and then have them miss the mark.

  • Use LinkedIn Events

LinkedIn has a feature that actually allows you to publish your event on the platform. This acts as an additional traffic source. The process is pretty simple:

  • Create an event.
  • Choose a header image. (Or create a new one using an app like Canva.)
  • Choose an event image (could be your headshot, company logo, or event logo).
  • Enter the event name (keeping keywords near the front to sidestep truncation).
  • Choose your company
  • Include a link to your landing page.
  • Select the date and time.
  • Develop a keyword-rich description.
  • Tick the box to make it a “public event.â€�

Once you create an event, you can publish it to your newsfeed and invite all of your connections. Your event will also show up on LinkedIn when people search for keywords related to your event.

  • Create a Referral Program

One final suggestion is to create a referral program where you give registered attendees the opportunity to invite other people using customized referral codes.

Incentives are the key to making this work. Consider creating some sort of reward structure where you give discounts, prizes, or recognition to the people who refer the most attendees.

The post 12 High ROI Options for Promoting an Event Online appeared first on ReadWrite.

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Neighborhood Security: Steps to Achieve Community Safety

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Local communities and police departments are increasingly adopting technology that helps improve neighborhood security in new ways. Methods that link CCTV camera networks together greatly enhance their reach and scalability.

This helps to identify any criminal or irregular activity better and improve access law enforcement agencies have to evidence when trying to catch criminals. Recent developments in ‘smart’ technologies help to make this all possible.

Smart Security Considerations

The System Type – So what makes a security system smart? The key difference is in the system’s infrastructure, or the way it makes the video feed accessible. Modern systems are primarily Internet Protocol (IP) cameras and recorders. These systems transmit over CAT 5 Ethernet cables, the same cables you use to connect your computer to the internet.

By comparison, older systems are either HD-CVI or analog and transmit video over coaxial cable, the same kind of wire as cable television.

Depending on the model, smart systems may have other advantages, like access for viewing on any computer or mobile device via the internet. A setup like this is also better in logging security events, making it easy to review specific footage for incidents.

How to Improve Neighborhood Security

Your neighborhood security all depends on who’s living in the area and how much they care. If you have a community full of people — or even just a handful of very motivated individuals — who really want to make the area more secure, it will be much easier than just one person trying to do it alone.

Since most modern CCTV systems enable remote viewing via computers, as well as cell phones and tablets, you’ll want to make sure that you choose one of these types and that it’s compatible with the systems your neighbors are using. This way, any trusted neighbor with access to the network can benefit.

1. Choose The Right Device for the Job

The right device may vary from person to person and property to property, but you should keep a few things in mind when browsing for new security products. First, consider smart devices that will be most effective in your location.

While CCTV cameras provide real-time footage beneficial for peace of mind and recovery in the event of a theft, there are also products like LED Floodlights, which are cost-effective in deterring intruders (atlantalightbulbsdotcom).These can be extremely useful if you don’t have landscaping or decorative lights around your home.

Smart locks work with security systems to let certain guests inside while keeping the building secure, and are great for those with dog-walkers, extended family who often stop by, rentals on Airbnb, and can even be used to let people in at certain times, depending on the lock or app you have. There are also options like motion sensors that will notify owners of unwanted activity through real-time alerts.

2. Set up Your Phone

Your phone is an indispensable tool in community security. It has been since home phones were first installed and have continued to evolve and improve since with the advent of smartphones. Now, in addition to calling your neighbor, you can monitor your front door and other areas of your home, depending on the devices you have.

Using Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, or cellular networks, connect your security device to your smartphone or tablet (cctvsecurityprosdotcom). This will ensure that you can manage security alerts and video feeds in real-time. Be aware that if your phone is not connected to a network, the smart devices’ information may be delayed.

In addition to linking your new devices with your phone, be sure to save their contact information. Having a network of individuals in your area, all looking out for each other can be extremely valuable and helpful in safety and security situations.

3. Select Security Apps and Stay Connected

Choose apps on your smartphone or tablet that align with your security goals. While most companies that offer a security device include a complementary app, a growing marketplace of third-party apps can provide you with even greater peace of mind. Streety is one mobile app that aims to increase neighborhood safety by allowing neighbors to view each others’ video footage through a trusted, private network. Another app, called Neighbors, allows residents and business owners to connect to local networks, share media, send texts, and receive alerts from the local police department.

Some neighborhoods are finding these apps so effective that they pool money together to rent cameras and the software to service them. Should a crime be committed, residents have the option of sharing footage and other information with local police departments. Typically, a more involved resident in the community’s security or acts as the neighborhood watch leads the initiative.

4. Place Deterrents

Most criminal acts are crimes of opportunity; they’re often unplanned. When an unscrupulous person sees an opportunity to steal something without getting caught, they may make the jump from law-abiding citizens to criminals. The trick as a homeowner in your neighborhood is to make crimes as risky as you can for criminals.

neighborhood watch area sign

This might start with a neighborhood watch sign placed prominently at the entrance to your neighborhood. These signs get visitors thinking about the neighborhood security, priming them to see deterrents they might not otherwise notice. You’ll want to use these together with other strategies for the greatest effect.

Dogs make an excellent deterrent to burglaries and home invasions. If you have a dog, adding a “beware of dog� sign to your property enhances this effect. Even if you don’t own a dog, a “beware of dog� sign can still be effective.

Surveillance signs and stickers work similarly. When visitors know they’re being watched, they’re more likely to be on their best behavior.

5. Consider Local Crime Tools

Apps will provide you with considerable information on the security of your property and neighborhood. But you may want to consider other information that local authorities use to track crime. Using tools like CrimeReports can even help you understand how effective smart security systems are. Reports provide detailed analysis on which types of crimes are most prominent across neighborhoods. These insights provide a great foundation to determine which types of smart devices and monitoring techniques are most effective, given the type of crime you are trying to prevent.

One often-overlooked local crime tool is social media. Consider creating a custom group on Facebook or inviting your neighbors on to NextDoor. If your neighbors aren’t particularly tech-savvy, a group text message will work fine too. These platforms make it easy to call out and document potential neighborhood security threats. When something looks suspicious, the decision to speak up can be the difference between a crime prevented or a crime carried out.

Neighborhood Security Safeguard

Technology can be an excellent partner in helping catch criminals and even deter it. If communities don’t band together, their overall safety will never be as good as possible. So even as smart homes develop and community security evolves, continue to talk to your neighbors and get to know them.

Some of the most effective neighborhood security methods are the most low-tech.

  • If you see a vehicle in your area strangely driving slowly or parked, post a photo of it. Take note of the license plate number along with the make, model, and color. Then add a photo of it to your neighborhood’s social media page or group text chat.
  • Watch for signs of damage or disturbance to your neighbor’s property. A broken window or door left open is a sign worthy of giving your neighbor a call or sending a text message.

Using All of the Tools Available for Safety

Choose smart systems and employ smart strategies that empower your community to collaborate as a new digital neighborhood watch. At the end of the day, looking out for your neighbor is still the single most effective way to protect your neighborhood from crime.

Image Credit: AdobeStock

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Should You Create a Corporate Wiki for Your Business?

corporate wiki

Knowledgeable, informed employees build successful companies. The question is, how can you get that knowledge out of employees’ heads and distributed to the wider team?

One way to do so is with a corporate wiki. Wikis have existed for a while, but only recently have companies adopted them for internal knowledge-sharing. But wikis don’t build themselves; on teams that aren’t willing to invest time in them, they may create more confusion.

The alternative is doing it the old-fashioned way: Employees ask each other questions as they come up. But that method pulls people away from their work and, when an employee leaves, may result in lost knowledge. 

Is a corporate wiki right for your business? Find out by asking yourself these questions:

1. How much does the organization of knowledge matter?

Some companies simply have more knowledge to organize than others. A lawn care company, for example, might not need much more than a customer address book and accounting documents. 

Contrast that with a law firm. Misplacing an affidavit or pre-trial document could be disastrous to a client’s case. Across a few dozen clients, there might be a warehouse’s worth of documents to organize. 

Corporate wikis are easily organized and searchable. Because they’re accessible by the entire team, employees can update and recategorize old pages. And because corporate wikis are digital and cloud-hosted, there’s no risk of information getting lost. 

2. What tools must be synced?  

The typical enterprise uses 91 marketing cloud services, not to mention those associated with other departments. On teams that use a lot of tools, integrations are critical. 

Does your company use Slack for communication? Do you have important documents stored on Google Drive? Does your sales team live in Salesforce?

Many corporate wikis integrate with all those tools and more. When in doubt, ask: A provider may be willing to develop a new integration if it would help them close a sale. 

3. How important is collaboration?

Three in four employees believe collaboration and teamwork are important in the workplace. With that said, some roles and teams are more self-guided than others.

A freelance writer may only need to communicate with one editor about his or her work. But on a highly collaborative team, knowledge must be shared freely. Otherwise, operations may grind to a halt. 

Remote work has made collaboration even more challenging and critical. Employees in different locations are much more likely to miscommunicate than those sitting next to each other. 

Corporate wikis facilitate collaboration from anywhere. Teams using them can discuss, collaborate, and communicate no matter how far they are apart. 

4. Is oversight important?

Because everyone can share and edit the content within them, corporate wikis require oversight. Some contributions may be more professional or accurate than others, creating inconsistencies. 

Before implementing a corporate wiki, it’s important to appoint an internal content manager. This person may also be in charge of external content, like a content marketer, or be a subject-matter expert. 

The biggest benefit — and the biggest pitfall — of a corporate wiki is its collaborative nature. Ask the manager you appoint to set some ground rules: In what situations should a page be revised? In what situations should it be left alone? How can workers know whether they’re qualified to make changes?

5. How tech-savvy is the team?

Corporate wikis are digital tools. Teams with members who struggle to navigate software might want to think twice before investing in a corporate wiki. 

While wikis are easy to set up, they do come with a learning curve. Different team members learn at different speeds and in different ways. 

To ensure employees know how to use a corporate wiki, you’ll need to set up a corporate training session.  Check your training budget and your team members’ schedules. Both in terms of time and money, make sure you can accommodate at least two training sessions. 

If your employees have tech skills but sometimes struggle with motivation, you might also need to budget for incentives. Use small awards, like “Most pages created� or “Most valuable contribution,� paired with gift cards to encourage corporate wiki use. 

6. What proportion of knowledge is sensitive? 

Remember, corporate wikis are searchable. Before investing in one, ask yourself how much of your company’s knowledge is sensitive information. You might not want your customers’ credit card numbers searchable by the entire company, for example.

Some corporate wikis employ a practice known as “data masking.� Any information that fits a certain mold is automatically stripped or obfuscated before being uploaded with this process. Data masking is ideal for financial, healthcare, and business strategy details you need to keep private.

The bottom line is, you get out of a corporate wiki what you put in. If you’re willing to curate content as a team and invest in training, it’s a great choice for managing your company’s knowledge.

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