DEEP Project Training.
Module: Remote working
Unit 1: Introduction
ADVANTAGES AND DISADVANTAGES OF REMOTE WORKING
Naturally, remote working is a divisive topic. To see for yourself whether this is the type of work youdream of, we will now discuss its pros and cons briefly.
The list of the most frequently mentioned advantages of remote working includes comfort. What instantly comes to mind is leaving your home during a snowstorm. This is a major factor, but there is so much more.
Working remotely, whether on your own or on behalf of a company, you don't waste time getting up early to get to an office located 5, 10, or 15 km from your home, getting ready for work, transportation, and standing in traffic. You work where you want — in your living room, in the nearby shopping center, or a café. You work when you want without constant supervision. But this lack of supervision can become your biggest enemy.
WHAT MOTIVATES US TO WORK REMOTELY?
The satisfaction that we derive (or not) from remote working depends, in fact, on our life situation, character, and value hierarchy. Imagine that you are a young parent and, apart from the fact that you have just started your professional career, you still have a small child (or two) who takes up a large part of your day and night. Young parents choose remote working as a form of compromise to reconcile work and raising children.
You may be one of those people who mention work-life balance and wellbeing as their main life value. If this is the case, you may feel overwhelmed by the excess of messages when you enter into online collaboration with people for whom it is not a problem to perform their professional duties at different hours, at the weekend, during vacation.
Now put yourself in the position of a person who places social contacts very high in his hierarchy of values.
WHAT ABOUT YOU? Which of your character traits and values will allow you to work efficiently remotely? What can prevent you from doing so?
There are many theories and myths regarding remote work. The most destructive one is related to earnings. It is commonly believed that service performed remotely is worth less than the same service performed live. Let us take an example.
You have set up a company with the main service being online English lessons.
WHAT DOES A YOUNG ENTREPRENEUR DO IN SUCH A SITUATION?
Probably agrees with the large company, because "it's only online".Well, it's not. If you are confident of your skills, whether you present them live or via instant messenger, your price is your right.
MYTH NUMBER 2:
When you come to the office or work in the office, you have many more opportunities to present yourself as an expert and the soul of the company. Of course, it seems more natural because in the real space we establish closer relations with colleagues and superiors, we see opportunities to engage in additional initiatives such as volunteering.
MYTH NUMBER 3:
working in front of a computer is harmful. No — too much time in front of the screen, wrong position, and not taking breaks is harmful. People working remotely can lead a healthier lifestyle than people working in the office. The key is taking care of the basic principles of ergonomics and work hygiene.
MYTH NUMBER 4:
When someone mentions remote working, they most often use the argument that they can work from anywhere in the world. In theory yes, in practice — not necessarily. Concentration is a very important element in performing tasks effectively, regardless of whether you work in the officeor at home. Think about whether you will be able to focus sitting by the hotel pool or in a bustling café. This is where your personal preference counts. Whatever answer you give yourself, remember: you won't be able to work remotely from a place with no stable internet connection.
MYTH NUMBER 5:
The last myth, but probably the most painful one: when you start your adventure with working remotely your loved ones often comment on your actions with the words "you sit in front of the computer all day doing nothing". People observing your work from the side may have the impression that you have a lot of free time. If so, you can go shopping at noon, cook dinner, clean the bathroom, and take care of your neighbor's child. Remember that you are still responsible for your tasks when working remotely. This responsibility is no different from that of an employeein the office. This is what you should communicate with your loved ones.
The increased popularity of remote working among freelancers and recently even full-time workers has forced the development of the coworking industry. Coworking spaces are special places where you can rent a desk in an open space or an entire office and spend a few hours focusing on your job. It is an ideal solution for people who have chosen to work remotely and do not have the conditions to work from home — because the neighbor is doing a never-ending renovation, the family has come for a longer stay or the children do not attend school yet. The coworking spaces, for a fee, provide a desk, office equipment, conference rooms, space to relax, and, most importantly, a coffee machine.
To rent a desk in the coworking space you need to pay a subscription fee. The price will vary depending on the equipment of the coworking space and its location. Some networks operate internationally and offer the possibility to rent a desk for hours in their locations around the world.
When you do a full-time job at home, you bear the fixed costs, i.e. water, electricity, internet, rent — basically regardless of whether you also use the flat for work. As some employers decide to refund part of the costs, but this is still rather an exception to the rule.
The situation is different when you set up your own business and register it in your flat - in some EU countries, the cost of space in a flat for an office can be included in operating costs and deducted from your income.
FIND OUT HOW IT IS IN YOUR CASE!
It is worth remembering that more and more companies decide to organize their work remotely. There is no office which is the seat of the company. All employees perform their tasks remotely, and to organize their work they use technical solutions available on the market — for communication (Slack, MS Teams), for task management (Trello, Asana, ICProject). This is a way to reduce the costs of operation without giving up an effective business.
It turns out that a remote worker is less expensive for the employer and thus can earn more.
The employer does not need to pay for office rental, does not paythe utility bills, and does not provide an internet connection.
The employee, on the other hand, does not bearthe costs of daily commuting to work and operating a private car or a monthly ticket.
Unit 2: Role of a home office in remote working
WORK-LIFE BALANCE AND WELLBEING IN REMOTE WORKING: WORKING FROM HOME AND EVERYDAY LIFE.
The concept of a work-life balance was developed at the turn of the 1970s and 1980s. It developed at a time when the workethos of the society was in the hands of the first big companies and corporations. People who worked beyond their means became less creative and committed to their tasks. This led to mental illness and professional burnout. There was a demandto separate the professional career from the private life.
Today, the work-life balance is a basic principle of occupational hygiene. Employers are outdoing each other in ideas on how to make it easier for employees to reconcile these two areas of life and protect them from a drop in productivity. Employees who feel the balance between career and family, entertainment, and social life are more loyal, productive, healthier, happier, and feel more satisfied with life.
Let us now look at this issue from a remote working perspective. When you work online, you have many tools and applications installed on your computer, smartphone, or perhaps tablet — on the same devices you use to check your social media or watch Netflix, so there is a high risk that the boundary between work and time after work becomes blurry.
The improper organization of your home office can disrupt your work-life balance, so please start by paying attention to:
indicating of space to work
From the employer's point of view, the possibility to work remotely on a chosen day of the week is the employees' benefits that help them to take care of their work-life balance. The right of an employee to carry out their duties, e.g. 1-2 days a week in their own home, allows them to take care of everyday matters and family relations.
The situation is more complex when the employer offers the possibility to perform duties remotely on a full-time basis. During the coronavirus pandemic, mental health support programs emerged in some companies working entirely remotely, which enabled employees to cope better with stress, feelings of isolation, or stimulation caused by communication noise.
To perform your tasks well, it is necessary to prepare an ergonomic workplace. Working on your knee, at the kitchen table while cooking dinner, or in the bedroom, when the very presence of the bed puts you to sleep, is a common mistake made by people working remotely.
WHAT CAN YOU DO?
Look for inspiration on social media. Instagram and Pinterest
The height of the chair should be such that the feet touch the ground, and if this is not possible, footrests should be used. Remember, however, that even the best chair is not designed to sit on for 8 hours straight - breaks are advisable in any work.
If you work online, you cannot avoid the screen. Remember that even with modern screens, you need to take care of your eyes - taking breaks, taking your eyes off the screen from time to time, and using moisturizing eyedrops. The bigger the monitor, the further away it should be from your face. The recommended average distance is 70-80cm.
If you have a piece of wall at your disposal, you can hang or stick a corkboard or magnetic board on it to write the most important tasks for the day/week in question and then hang them up.
Once you prepared your workspace, there is nothing left to do but get down to the first task. That is until your partner comes into the room and asks if you have paid your Internet bill, then a colleague writes on Messenger and asks which café in the area you recommend, and since you have already taken the phone in your hand, you just take a look... and an hour has passed.
the external stimuli that tear us away from the main task and thus reduce our efficiency, are the killers of remote work when nobody is standing over you and controlling the quality of your work. They are dangerous, especially when you are your own boss.
It will be very difficult to work from home for people who find it difficult to do something at home. The need to tidy up your home - to do the washing, vacuuming, washing - before moving on to business tasks may result in you being too tired to perform your goals effectively and reliably.
Think about which distractors you possess have a direct influence on remote working.
The most frequently mentioned distractors are mobile phones and continuous social media notifications.
Do you have a habit to constantly check your mailbox: Give yourself a limit for opening an email application or logging into your mailbox up to 2-3 times a day. Although you work online, you do not have to be online 24/7!
You should learn to work in a state of deep focus
WHAT DOES THAT MEAN?
The term "deep work" (Deep work) was used for the first time by Cal Newport in his book " Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World ". The author argued that all distractors make a typical office worker unable to work in the phase of deep work.
Newport defines deep work as
“professional activities performed in a state of concentration, with maximum use of cognitive abilities. These activities create new values, improve skills, and are difficult to repeat”
[C. Newport 2018: “Deep Work”, p. 7]
You can also regulate the level of concentration by providing the right sounds transmitted on a uniform frequency, similar to white noise. These sounds are generated naturally by a moving train or the background noise of a café. When you work from home, you can help yourself with these sounds from websites such as https://www.noisli.com or https://coffitivity.com.
Such sounds should put you in a state of deep concentration after about 15 minutes. However, if you still hear something around you that distracts you - a roommate is making dinner, a neighbor's dog is barking outside the window, workers are renovating the neighboring building - invest in headphones that dampen the sound from outside, preferably with a microphone for online conversations.
Unit 3: Tools and methods to manage yourself over time
POMODORO TECHNIQUE - INTRODUCTION, DISCUSSION, APPLICATION
Pomodoro technique is a time management system that aims to focus your attention on the task at hand, improve work hygiene, and deal with distractions.
Imagine you are getting ready to work on an article. You prepare the right place to work, make some hot tea, and sit down at the computer. You open an empty file and think about the first sentence. Suddenly you remember that yesterday you received an email from a client who urgently needed something, so you open your email app.
When you click send/receive, two other emails come in. One of them is from your mechanic mentioning your inspection appointment on Tuesday. You reach for the calendar because you have to write down the date. While writing it down, you realize that the mechanic did not give you the time of the appointment. So you go back to the email app to ask for the details. You start writing the email, but before you can send it, your phone rings. It’s your accountant, with some work-related questions. With the accountant still on the line, you search the desk for the invoice she asked about.
Now the question is:
WHICH OF THESE TASKS HAVE YOU MANAGED TO CARRY OUT RELIABLY, EFFECTIVELY, AND TO THE END? Apart from the fact that the tea has already gone cold.
Now let us go back to Pomodoro. This technique is designed to put you in a state of deep work. Its implementation is pretty simple.
To get started, you need to prepare a list of tasks a day before. How to do it well? Return to the SMART method from Part 1 of this course.
THE POMODORO STAGES
SMARTPHONE APPLICATIONS FOR THE POMODORO TECHNIQUE
You can use a simple timer to measure time and follow the Pomodoro breaks. However, there are applications specially developed for this purpose which will make it easy for you not to think about whether the next break will be short or long and at the same time you will receive a report on your performance.
TIME TRACKER APPLICATIONS FOR CREATING REMOTE WORK REPORTS
When you choose remote working and flexible working hours, you can easily lose control over how much time you spend on a project, and thus whether the time you spent on the project actually paid off. In remote work, we are rarely billed per hour and more often per project, so you should learn how much time you spend on the project, especially for future reference.
Keep in mind, that not only hours spent working directly count for the final appraisal of your work. Other examples may include the possibility of contact outside standard working hours, bringing in your own tools or designing them from scratch, and being multilingual.
For the best way to evaluate your work, use one of the online time tracking tools.
is one of the most popular tools of this type, thanks to which we can create a list of clients, assign projects to each of them and a list of tasks to be performed. The execution of each task can be measured with the built-in stopwatch and then at the end of the day/week/month, the time can be summarized by the second.
Is a solution that combines the functionalities of the KANBAN board to manage the flow of tasks in the project with reporting on the time spent on individual stages. In the free version, it allows you to work in a small team, up to 3 users, and up to 5 projects.
Unit 4: Cloud characteristics
Given the huge role that technology plays in our daily lives, you have probably come across the concept of the cloud regarding the IT world. More and more people around us prefer to save documents in the cloud.
BUT WHAT IS IT AND HOW CAN YOU USE IT IN YOUR COMPANY OR YOUR DAILY WORK?
Let's start from the beginning
WHAT IS THE CLOUD?
Although the concept of cloud, or rather cloud computing, may seem quite abstract at first sight, the cloud is nothing more than a network of servers maintained by external providers with certain software installed on them. You can access the resources of these servers via the Internet. Thanks to them you can eliminate the need of storing data or running applications directly on your device. Moreover, you do not have to worry about technical issues related to maintaining and sharing these resources with others.
WHAT DOES THIS MEAN IN PRACTICE?
Let us use some of the everyday examples: Thanks to the cloud, you can access your email history and attachments by logging in from any device and location using an email provider such as Gmail or Yahoo. When you keep your documents on iCloud or Dropbox you don't have to worry about accessing reports, presentations, and photos at any time and place. Finally, with Office 365, you don't have to install it on every device, because you can access it from any web browser.
The operation of cloud servers on the scale we see today is made possible by virtualization - the creationof many virtual computers on a single physical computer behaving exactly like their real counterparts.
LET US USE AN ANALOGY TO ILLUSTRATE THIS BETTER
In this case, the server can be compared to an office building. Renting an entire office building would be problematic: small and medium-sized companies would have to give it up because it would be too expensive or the space would be too large for their actual needs. It is helpful to divide the space into several small offices of different sizes. This way, a single office building can accommodate many companies paying for the lease in relation to their real requirements, and the space available in the building is used in full.
CLOUD SERVICES SHOULD ALWAYS BE AVAILABLE,
REGARDLESS OF THE TEMPORARY FAILURES OF INDIVIDUAL SERVERS
Cloud providers solve this issue by keeping backups in multiple locations at once, repositioning your virtual machine when needed. This way, unforeseen circumstances, and breakdowns do not significantly affect your business.
There are many potential benefits associated with the use of the cloud in your company, but they are largely dependent on your requirements.
Some of the most important are:
Unit 5: Virtual (geographically dispersed) teams
A virtual or distributed team
is defined as a group of people who work together on one task or project but are also geographically distant from each other. These people may be in different time zones and come from different cultural backgrounds or, on the contrary, they may be within the territory of one country, even one city, but for some reason, they cooperate through technology.
The work organization of the virtual team focuses on available technological solutions, especially cloud computing. Without it, the virtual team could not work remotely. Its members would not be able to share common documents, communicate, or gain new clients.
EXAMPLES OF DISPERSED COMPANIES:
Zapier: 100% dispersed company, over 300 employees living in 28 countries in 17 time zones
WHAT DO THESE THREE COMPANIES HAVE IN COMMON?
These are IT and e-marketing companies whose teams operate in a distributed model. Thanks to this, companies gain access to highly qualified specialists in the world and can recruit the best team members. Their activities are largely based on the cloud.
CONGRATULATIONS — YOU HAVE JUST COMPLETED THE SECOND PART OF THE "BOOSTING AND NURTURING DIGITAL CULTURE IN ENTREPRENEURSHIP DEVELOPMENT" COURSE!
And this time we have a task for you:
Feedback formClick to read
BibliographyClick to read
About remote working:
About efficiency in remote working:
About the Pomodoro technique:
About digital detox:
About self-discipline in difficult times:
The EU report on the demand for cloud computing in Europe and possible limitations in this respect:
The European Commission's support for the production of this publication does not constitute an endorsement of the contents, which reflect the views only of the authors, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.
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