Distance Tips

Playing well is a vital skill at any age

Hold hands, & stick together = playing well

For many of us, September is when our children head back to school wearing a backpack full of new pencils, erasers, notebooks, and folders. We attend Open House to meet our child’s new teachers and to understand the expectations for the new academic year. Regardless of your child’s grade, the constant theme is one of collaboration and teamwork. For the elementary levels, this goal is shared in Robert Fulghum’s poem “All I Really Need To Know I Learned In Kindergarten” as ‘play fair’, and is outlined in a high school’s 21st-century learning framework as a specific skill.

Either way, collaboration, and teamwork are important skills for students to practice before entering the workforce, as they will need to rely on other people to succeed. It also serves as a reminder to those who have many years of work experience (and know the trials and tribulations of teamwork) that teamwork skills need to be continuously honed for mastery. Research by Alex “Sandy” Pentland found that the most important predictor of a team’s success is its communication patterns. These patterns are as significant as all other factors – intelligence, personality, and talent – combined.

At Bridging Distance, we found similar themes in our work. Our research shows that advanced communication dynamics in virtual teams significantly improved their ability to work well together and produce results faster. This is evident in successful virtual teams. By helping build explicit processes and critical skills, members stay energized and engaged in their work together. These processes center on getting the right information to the right people at the right time, via the right technology; it means expectations for posting documents and messages in a repository. This allows each team member to find what they need when they need it, without searching cluttered inboxes at a later date. It also means defining what types of situations are more urgent, and require a more immediate response. Posting updates and status allows communication dynamics to be a dialog about the significance of the information. These interactions tend to more interesting, and therefore more engaging to team members. It means the right people attend meetings, while those who only need to have updates can confidently and respectfully spend their time elsewhere.

Our research also shows that people with excellent digital communication habits are significantly happier in their jobs, therefore more productive. Managing digital interruptions is key; balancing responding to others versus staying present in the moment means you can be fully attentive to your current activity. Being curious about the environment of others paves the way to learning what you don’t know. Teaching leaders how to foster rapport across Distance enables them to motivate Millennials, communicate with a multicultural team, and respond quickly to change.

Technology dehumanizes relationships; our work helps re-humanize them. We use a simple tool for diagnosing root cause in digital workplace environment called The Distance Lens™. Viewing workplace performance through Interpersonal, Organizational, Physical, and Technological differences allow us to provide solutions to fix problem areas without inadvertently breaking ones that work well.

Bridging Distance provides behavioral-based solutions for companies to manage existing or anticipated distance complexities that impact employee performance. Through a combination of proprietary assessments, evidenced-based workshops, and customized coaching, Bridging Distance develops and maximizes employee engagement to accelerate productivity, profitability and employee retention.

So, heed Robert’s advice from Kindergarten and “when you go out into the world, watch out for traffic, hold hands, and stick together.” Partnering with Bridging Distance will build your pathways to move forward together.

Breaking the Global Ice

Handshake-Globe-720x330

Nowadays walking across the street can be more challenging than speaking to someone across the country. While we all have heard that companies are increasingly open to flexible work hours and allowing employees to work virtually, less is heard about the resulting difficulties. One of the most common complaints among employees who work remotely is the sense of isolation from the rest of the community.

When meetings are fully or partially virtual, the inclination is to jump straight into the business at hand and forgo the casual banter that happens naturally when people gather together in the same room. Skipping this human connection, however, often leads to decreased job satisfaction as the sense of being on a team diminishes.  As both experts on virtual work and a virtual team ourselves, we take great care to purposefully nurture that human connection whenever we can.  Taking just five minutes at the start of every virtual meeting goes a long way to bridge the distances between us.

At Bridging Distance we begin every virtual meeting with a “check-in” question to break the ice. These questions are a great way to learn about one another and to strengthen the bonds between us.  A different member is tasked with bringing and asking the check-in question; anything from weather to sports to life philosophy. Rotating this task keeps the group from falling into a rut, elicits creativity from all members.  These icebreakers play a key role in creating a trusting atmosphere, especially in the early stages of team formation and remain critical in keeping relationships fresh, interesting, and growing and time goes on.

business_group_seated_laughing_400x250Check-in questions spark lively conversation, help flesh team members out as people, and lead to mutual respect and understanding. Think of these first few minutes as an investment in your team’s cohesion and ultimate success.

I’ve found in my time with Bridging Distance that, not only do check-in questions allow us to segue smoothly into the meeting, but also bring a sense of levity and–with the right question–can bring an amount of introspection. In my experience, the questions with the most potential for humor were the ones that brought us closer together. Laughter can break quite a bit of ice.

Here are some of my favorites

  1. Where would your ideal, no-expenses-spared vacation be?
  2. What would be the first thing you did if won a million dollars? (After you were done jumping up and down.)
  3. What is the most positive thing that has happened to you this week? Can be professional or personal.
  4. Would you rather be stuck in an elevator with someone who talked too much or didn’t talk at all?  Why?
  5. “Show & tell” with your favorite mug via video or pictures.  Consider advance notice for this.  (Our favorite — “I like big mutts!” — thank you, Kelly!)
  6. As a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?
  7. What is one thing you did not understand about the world when you were a kid? (My dad’s boss was British, and I didn’t realize that not everyone’s boss was British, though I suppose that was one day the case.)
  8. What is your greatest minor triumph? Your biggest small win?
  9. Would you rather have to walk around all day with jelly in your shoes OR sleep all night with sand in your bed?  Why?
  10. What’s the weirdest thing you have ever eaten? (Not for the squeamish.)
  11. How much cash do you have on you?big mutts coffee cup
  12. What most irritates you at a restaurant?
  13. What is the best bumper stick sticker you’ve ever seen? (Mine “You! Out of the gene pool!”)
  14. If you could change one thing about the world what would it be?
  15. If you could live in any period in history what would it be?
  16. What’s your favorite word? Least favorite?
  17. What is something you know you do differently from most people?
  18. Do you collect anything?
  19. Who is someone you look up to and why?
  20. If you were in the Miss America Pageant what would your talent be?
  21. Are you more concerned with doing things right or doing the right things?
  22. If you were just given a yacht, what would you name it?
  23. If you could rid the world of one thing what would it be?
  24. When was the last time that you did something for the first time? What was it?
  25. What would this company/team look like if your mother ran it? (source: 75 Cage-Rattling Questions by Dick Whitney and Melissa Giovagnoli)
  26. If you are pressed for time in your meeting you can always ask participants to choose between X and Y. Coffee or Tea? Cat or dog? Sweet or Salty? Superman or Batman? Beach or mountains? Morning or night? Paper or plastic? Too hot or too Cold? Glass half full or glass half empty?
  27. What is the sound you can best imitate?  Do it!

 Even though you may be tempted to respond with “long walks on the beach,” dating sites like Match.com or eHarmony are an interesting resource for “getting-to-know-you” questions; as their whole business, it turns out, is based around bridging a certain distance.

And the list goes on. You know your team best, so tailor your questions to your team.

Question for readers:  What’s the best icebreaker you’ve heard lately (or not-so-lately)?

 

Do You Have 8 Minutes?

Do you want a chance to win money?

If you work remotely — away from your main office — at least two days a week, then you are eligible to take our survey and enter to win!

Win_instant_cash_sweepstakes

Here’s the Deal:

We’ve been developing an online assessment to help telecommuters know what their strengths and weaknesses are when it comes to their telecommuting work habits.  But, we need a LOT of real-world people to take the survey so we can “test” the survey itself.  We’re calling it the Telecommuter Fitness Assessment (TFA).

The more the merrier! our Industrial Organization experts tell us that the more people we can get to take the survey, the better the survey will be.  So, if you know of any telecommuters, feel free to forward this email along.

Thank you for your consideration.  We appreciate your time.

Your completed survey is your entry to win the $100 cash prize.

Please note, sometimes the Survey Monkey link works best when cut and pasted directly into a browser.

https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/TFAblog

Thank you so much.  

The TFA development team

Bridging Distance

The fine print:

NO PURCHASE IS NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN. A PURCHASE DOES NOT INCREASE THE CHANCES OF WINNING.
1. Eligibility: Sweepstakes (the “Sweepstakes”) is open only to those who complete the Telecommuter Fitness Assessment (TFA) and who are 18 as of the date of entry. The sweepstakes is only open to legal residents of  the United States and is void where prohibited by law. Employees of Bridging Distance (the “Sponsor”) their respective affiliates, subsidiaries, advertising and promotion agencies, suppliers and their immediate family members and/or those living in the same household of each are not eligible to participate in the Sweepstakes. The Sweepstakes is subject to all applicable federal, state and local laws and regulations. Void where prohibited.
2. Agreement to Rules: By participating, you agree to be fully unconditionally bound by these Rules, and you represent and warrant that you meet the eligibility requirements set forth herein. In addition, you agree to accept the decisions of Bridging Distance, as final and binding as it relates to the content. The Sweepstakes is subject to all applicable federal, state and local laws.
 
3. Sweepstakes Period: Entries will be accepted online starting on or about October 15, 2014 and ending Nov. 14, 2014. All online entries must be received by Nov. 14, 2014 11:59PM EST.
4. How to Enter: The Sweepstakes must be entered by submitting an completed TFA survey entry using the online form provided on this Sweepstakes email. The entry must fulfill all sweepstakes requirements, as specified, to be eligible to win a prize. Entries that are not complete or do not adhere to the rules or specifications may be disqualified at the sole discretion of Bridging Distance. You may enter only once and you must fill in the information requested. You may not enter more times than indicated by using multiple email addresses, identities or devices in an attempt to circumvent the rules. If you use fraudulent methods or otherwise attempt to circumvent the rules your submission may be removed from eligibility at the sole discretion of Bridging Distance.
 
5. Prizes: Winner will receive $100. Actual/appraised value may differ at time of prize award. The specifics of the prize shall be solely determined by the Sponsor. No other prize substitution permitted except at Sponsor’s discretion. The prize is nontransferable. Any and all prize related expenses, including without limitation any and all federal, state, and/or local taxes shall be the sole responsibility of the winner. No substitution of prize or transfer/assignment of prize to others or request for the cash equivalent by winners is permitted. Acceptance of prize constitutes permission for Bridging Distance to use winner’s name, likeness, and entry for purposes of advertising and trade without further compensation, unless prohibited by law.
6. Odds: The odds of winning depend on the number of eligible entries received.
 
7. Winner selection and notification: Winners of the Sweepstakes will be selected in a random drawing under the supervision of the Sponsor. Winners will be notified via email to the email address they entered the Sweepstakes with within five (5) days following the winner selection. Bridging Distance shall have no liability for a winner’s failure to receive notices due to winners’ spam, junk e-mail or other security settings or for winners’ provision of incorrect or otherwise non-functioning contact information. If the selected winner cannot be contacted, is ineligible, fails to claim the prize within 15 days from the time award notification was sent, or fails to timely return a completed and executed declaration and releases as required, prize may be forfeited and an alternate winner selected.
 
The receipt by winner of the prize offered in this Sweepstakes is conditioned upon compliance with any and all federal and state laws and regulations. ANY VIOLATION OF THESE OFFICIAL RULES BY ANY WINNER (AT SPONSOR’S SOLE DISCRETION) WILL RESULT IN SUCH WINNER’S DISQUALIFICATION AS WINNER OF THE SWEEPSTAKES AND ALL PRIVILEGES AS WINNER WILL BE IMMEDIATELY TERMINATED.
 
8. Rights Granted by you: By entering this content you understand that Bridging Distance, anyone acting on behalf of Bridging Distance, or its respective licensees, successors and assigns will have the right, where permitted by law, without any further notice, review or consent to print, publish, broadcast, distribute, and use, worldwide in any media now known or hereafter in perpetuity and throughout the World, your entry, including, without limitation, the entry and winner’s name, portrait, picture, voice, likeness, image or statements about the Sweepstakes, and biographical information as news, publicity or information and for trade, advertising, public relations and promotional purposes without any further compensation.
9. Terms:Bridging Distance reserves the right, in its sole discretion to cancel, terminate, modify or suspend the Sweepstakes should (in its sole discretion) a virus, bugs, non-authorized human intervention, fraud or other causes beyond its control corrupt or affect the administration, security, fairness or proper conduct of the Sweepstakes. In such case, Bridging Distance may select the recipients from all eligible entries received prior to and/or after (if appropriate) the action taken by Bridging Distance. Bridging Distance reserves the right at its sole discretion to disqualify any individual who tampers or attempts to tamper with the entry process or the operation of the Sweepstakes or website or violates these Terms & Conditions.
Bridging Distance has the right, in its sole discretion, to maintain the integrity of the Sweepstakes, to void votes for any reason, including, but not limited to; multiple entries from the same user from different IP addresses; multiple entries from the same computer in excess of that allowed by sweepstakes rules; or the use of bots, macros or scripts or other technical means for entering.
Any attempt by an entrant to deliberately damage any web site or undermine the legitimate operation of the sweepstakes may be a violation of criminal and civil laws and should such an attempt be made, Bridging Distance reserves the right to seek damages from any such person to the fullest extent permitted by law.By entering the Sweepstakes you agree to receive email newsletters periodically from Bridging Distance. You can opt-out of receiving this communication at any time by clicking the unsubscribe link in the newsletter.
10. Limitation of Liability: By entering you agree to release and hold harmless Bridging Distance and its subsidiaries, affiliates, advertising and promotion agencies, partners, representatives, agents, successors, assigns, employees, officers and directors from any liability, illness, injury, death, loss, litigation, claim or damage that may occur, directly or indirectly, whether caused by negligence or not, from (i) such entrant’s participation in the sweepstakes and/or his/her acceptance, possession, use, or misuse of any prize or any portion thereof, (ii) technical failures of any kind, including but not limited to the malfunctioning of any computer, cable, network, hardware or software; (iii) the unavailability or inaccessibility of any transmissions or telephone or Internet service; (iv) unauthorized human intervention in any part of the entry process or the Promotion; (v) electronic or human error which may occur in the administration of the Promotion or the processing of entries.
11. Disputes:THIS SWEEPSTAKES IS GOVERNED BY THE LAWS OF United States AND Massachusetts, WITHOUT RESPECT TO CONFLICT OF LAW DOCTRINES. As a condition of participating in this Sweepstakes, participant agrees that any and all disputes which cannot be resolved between the parties, and causes of action arising out of or connected with this Sweepstakes, shall be resolved individually, without resort to any form of class action, exclusively before a court located in Massachusetts having jurisdiction. Further, in any such dispute, under no circumstances will participant be permitted to obtain awards for, and hereby waives all rights to claim punitive, incidental, or consequential damages, including reasonable attorneys’ fees, other than participant’s actual out-of-pocket expenses (i.e. costs associated with entering this Sweepstakes), and participant further waives all rights to have damages multiplied or increased.
12. Privacy Policy:  Information submitted with an entry is subject to the Privacy Policy stated on the Bridging Distance Web Site.
13. Winners List: To obtain a copy of the winner’s name or a copy of these Official Rules, mail your request along with a stamped, self-addressed envelope to: Bridging Distance 41 Worcester Road, Townsend MA, 01469, USA.Requests must be received no later than Nov. 20, 2014.
14. Sponsor:  The Sponsor of the Sweepstakes is Bridging Distance 41 Worcester Road, Townsend MA, 01469, USA .

An Exciting Time

survey

Final Validation of our upcoming Telecommuter Fitness Assessment (TFA)

 

Do you work remotely — away from your main office — at least two days a week?

If so, and you have 10 – 15 minutes, we’d politely ask that you help us out.  We get that your time is valuable, so we are offering a cash prize for one lucky person who does help us out (also our Industrial Psychology experts tell us that a prize will motivate you!)

As experts in the field of virtual work, we recognize the increased importance of telecommuting in today’s organizations.

For the past two years, we’ve been developing an online assessment tool that evaluates telecommuting work habits.  This tool — the Telecommuter Fitness Assessment (TFA) uncovers weaknesses and strengths to help you become better at working remotely.

Here’s where you come in (and how you can win a cash prize):

As we near completion of our final validation cycle, we are in need of real-world data from real-world telecommuters such as yourself.

We would greatly appreciate it if you would take the next 10 – 15 minutes to complete the TFA and helps us gather that real-world data.

Your completed survey is your entry to win the $100 cash prize.

Please note, sometimes the Survey Monkey link works best when cut and pasted directly into a browser.

https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/TFAblog

 

Thank you so much.  

The TFA development team

Bridging Distance

The fine print:

NO PURCHASE IS NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN. A PURCHASE DOES NOT INCREASE THE CHANCES OF WINNING.
1. Eligibility: Sweepstakes (the “Sweepstakes”) is open only to those who complete the Telecommuter Fitness Assessment (TFA) and who are 18 as of the date of entry. The sweepstakes is only open to legal residents of  the United States and is void where prohibited by law. Employees of Bridging Distance (the “Sponsor”) their respective affiliates, subsidiaries, advertising and promotion agencies, suppliers and their immediate family members and/or those living in the same household of each are not eligible to participate in the Sweepstakes. The Sweepstakes is subject to all applicable federal, state and local laws and regulations. Void where prohibited.
2. Agreement to Rules: By participating, you agree to be fully unconditionally bound by these Rules, and you represent and warrant that you meet the eligibility requirements set forth herein. In addition, you agree to accept the decisions of Bridging Distance, as final and binding as it relates to the content. The Sweepstakes is subject to all applicable federal, state and local laws.
 
3. Sweepstakes Period: Entries will be accepted online starting on or about October 15, 2014 and ending Nov. 14, 2014. All online entries must be received by Nov. 14, 2014 11:59PM EST.
4. How to Enter: The Sweepstakes must be entered by submitting an completed TFA survey entry using the online form provided on this Sweepstakes email. The entry must fulfill all sweepstakes requirements, as specified, to be eligible to win a prize. Entries that are not complete or do not adhere to the rules or specifications may be disqualified at the sole discretion of Bridging Distance. You may enter only once and you must fill in the information requested. You may not enter more times than indicated by using multiple email addresses, identities or devices in an attempt to circumvent the rules. If you use fraudulent methods or otherwise attempt to circumvent the rules your submission may be removed from eligibility at the sole discretion of Bridging Distance.
 
5. Prizes: Winner will receive $100. Actual/appraised value may differ at time of prize award. The specifics of the prize shall be solely determined by the Sponsor. No other prize substitution permitted except at Sponsor’s discretion. The prize is nontransferable. Any and all prize related expenses, including without limitation any and all federal, state, and/or local taxes shall be the sole responsibility of the winner. No substitution of prize or transfer/assignment of prize to others or request for the cash equivalent by winners is permitted. Acceptance of prize constitutes permission for Bridging Distance to use winner’s name, likeness, and entry for purposes of advertising and trade without further compensation, unless prohibited by law.
6. Odds: The odds of winning depend on the number of eligible entries received.
 
7. Winner selection and notification: Winners of the Sweepstakes will be selected in a random drawing under the supervision of the Sponsor. Winners will be notified via email to the email address they entered the Sweepstakes with within five (5) days following the winner selection. Bridging Distance shall have no liability for a winner’s failure to receive notices due to winners’ spam, junk e-mail or other security settings or for winners’ provision of incorrect or otherwise non-functioning contact information. If the selected winner cannot be contacted, is ineligible, fails to claim the prize within 15 days from the time award notification was sent, or fails to timely return a completed and executed declaration and releases as required, prize may be forfeited and an alternate winner selected.
 
The receipt by winner of the prize offered in this Sweepstakes is conditioned upon compliance with any and all federal and state laws and regulations. ANY VIOLATION OF THESE OFFICIAL RULES BY ANY WINNER (AT SPONSOR’S SOLE DISCRETION) WILL RESULT IN SUCH WINNER’S DISQUALIFICATION AS WINNER OF THE SWEEPSTAKES AND ALL PRIVILEGES AS WINNER WILL BE IMMEDIATELY TERMINATED.
 
8. Rights Granted by you: By entering this content you understand that Bridging Distance, anyone acting on behalf of Bridging Distance, or its respective licensees, successors and assigns will have the right, where permitted by law, without any further notice, review or consent to print, publish, broadcast, distribute, and use, worldwide in any media now known or hereafter in perpetuity and throughout the World, your entry, including, without limitation, the entry and winner’s name, portrait, picture, voice, likeness, image or statements about the Sweepstakes, and biographical information as news, publicity or information and for trade, advertising, public relations and promotional purposes without any further compensation.
9. Terms:Bridging Distance reserves the right, in its sole discretion to cancel, terminate, modify or suspend the Sweepstakes should (in its sole discretion) a virus, bugs, non-authorized human intervention, fraud or other causes beyond its control corrupt or affect the administration, security, fairness or proper conduct of the Sweepstakes. In such case, Bridging Distance may select the recipients from all eligible entries received prior to and/or after (if appropriate) the action taken by Bridging Distance. Bridging Distance reserves the right at its sole discretion to disqualify any individual who tampers or attempts to tamper with the entry process or the operation of the Sweepstakes or website or violates these Terms & Conditions.
Bridging Distance has the right, in its sole discretion, to maintain the integrity of the Sweepstakes, to void votes for any reason, including, but not limited to; multiple entries from the same user from different IP addresses; multiple entries from the same computer in excess of that allowed by sweepstakes rules; or the use of bots, macros or scripts or other technical means for entering.
Any attempt by an entrant to deliberately damage any web site or undermine the legitimate operation of the sweepstakes may be a violation of criminal and civil laws and should such an attempt be made, Bridging Distance reserves the right to seek damages from any such person to the fullest extent permitted by law.By entering the Sweepstakes you agree to receive email newsletters periodically from Bridging Distance. You can opt-out of receiving this communication at any time by clicking the unsubscribe link in the newsletter.
10. Limitation of Liability: By entering you agree to release and hold harmless Bridging Distance and its subsidiaries, affiliates, advertising and promotion agencies, partners, representatives, agents, successors, assigns, employees, officers and directors from any liability, illness, injury, death, loss, litigation, claim or damage that may occur, directly or indirectly, whether caused by negligence or not, from (i) such entrant’s participation in the sweepstakes and/or his/her acceptance, possession, use, or misuse of any prize or any portion thereof, (ii) technical failures of any kind, including but not limited to the malfunctioning of any computer, cable, network, hardware or software; (iii) the unavailability or inaccessibility of any transmissions or telephone or Internet service; (iv) unauthorized human intervention in any part of the entry process or the Promotion; (v) electronic or human error which may occur in the administration of the Promotion or the processing of entries.
11. Disputes:THIS SWEEPSTAKES IS GOVERNED BY THE LAWS OF United States AND Massachusetts, WITHOUT RESPECT TO CONFLICT OF LAW DOCTRINES. As a condition of participating in this Sweepstakes, participant agrees that any and all disputes which cannot be resolved between the parties, and causes of action arising out of or connected with this Sweepstakes, shall be resolved individually, without resort to any form of class action, exclusively before a court located in Massachusetts having jurisdiction. Further, in any such dispute, under no circumstances will participant be permitted to obtain awards for, and hereby waives all rights to claim punitive, incidental, or consequential damages, including reasonable attorneys’ fees, other than participant’s actual out-of-pocket expenses (i.e. costs associated with entering this Sweepstakes), and participant further waives all rights to have damages multiplied or increased.
12. Privacy Policy:  Information submitted with an entry is subject to the Privacy Policy stated on the Bridging Distance Web Site.
13. Winners List: To obtain a copy of the winner’s name or a copy of these Official Rules, mail your request along with a stamped, self-addressed envelope to: Bridging Distance 41 Worcester Road, Townsend MA, 01469, USA.Requests must be received no later than Nov. 20, 2014.
14. Sponsor:  The Sponsor of the Sweepstakes is Bridging Distance 41 Worcester Road, Townsend MA, 01469, USA .

 

Semantics of working from home

How do YOU describe your flexible work arrangement?  Or the work arragement within your team or organization?

We keep coming across different terms that “describe” flexible arrangements, and it’s more than a little confusing.  We want to know what works for you in the “real world.”

We respect your time, and we know that you are busy.  We have just TWO (2) questions for you…super quick:

Create your free online surveys with SurveyMonkey , the world’s leading questionnaire tool.

 

 

That Difficult Co-Worker

might be you…

Let’s talk about that co-worker who rubs you the wrong way.  You know the one we’re talking about.  Everybody has one.  Some of you may have more…

You may not be sure why, and its not something you can elevate to a formal situation, but you don’t have the solid working relationship you have with other people.

They probably look at you in the same way, too.

Sometimes, what it takes is looking at the person in a new way.  Ask yourself — “What do I know about this person?”  Specifically, “Where are they from, in relation to where I am from?”

This matters more than you may realize.  Recent research has confirmed what many have suspected — that people from different regions within the country have specific personality types.  These “types” influence behavior.

Understanding and awareness is always the first step in a solution.

For the full story, including my own adventure down this road, read our blog!

Dividing the Housework without Dividing the Household

I sit on the couch reading an article about men doing more housework than ever before while my boyfriend handwashes dishes in our tiny NYC apartment. He has just served us an elaborate breakfast of omelettes and French-pressed coffee, which we ate in silence as I checked email and created my daily to-do list.

Soon he will begin a new job with a grueling commute, while I will continue to work from home.  And we find ourselves asking:

How will we divide the housework without dividing our household?

Here are three tips that we expect will help us; and possibly you, too:

1.  Discuss Expectations.  Splitting things down the middle is probably impractical, but an open conversation should allow you to come to a more equal (or at least acceptable) arrangement.

2.  State the Obvious.  Being “on-the-clock” means the same thing at home as in a traditional office.  Significant Others might not understand why you can’t do laundry, prepare a meal, clean the bathroom, and work at the same time.

3.  Be Patient.  Any change in a relationship dynamic takes time.  As you transition to a more equal distribution of housework, be sure to let your partner know how much you appreciate their efforts.

Read the full article on our BLOG!

Your Telecommuting Image

March 2013

With all the hullabaloo surrounding the recent Best Buy and Yahoo! announcements restricting employees from working from home, many work-from-homers may be wondering exactly how their efforts are being viewed within their own organizations.

Are you seen as the stretched-too-thin parent that squeezes in a little work between dentist appointments, crying children, and cardio?  Or, perhaps, the diligent, slightly-obsessive highly productive type?

Most likely, you fall somewhere between.  But the question remains — how can you tell what image you project as someone who works from home, whether full-time or just one or two days per week?  And, what can you do to improve that image?

The first question is easy — if you want to know what people are thinking, you ask.

Ask your team leader, manager, whomever you work with if you are meeting their expectations when you are working from home.  Checking in can catch areas of concern before they get out of hand.

Here are 3 tips to help you project your image across the virtual workplace in a way that builds trust:

1.  Always deliver as promised. Whatever work product you are expected to deliver, deliver it!  If you can’t, communicate and renegotiate deadlines as quickly as possible.  Be proactive, don’t hide and wait for them to come find you.  Being upfront builds your credibility and projects you as someone who is dependable.

2.  Make promises you can keep. Even little ones.  Especially little ones.  If you are asked to do something by Friday, and you know you are swamped, don’t say yes, give a promise you can keep.  Speaking up and staying true to yourself displays integrity and increases the confidence that others will have in you.

3.  Communicate, communicate, communicate. Working from home implies a great trust in you.  If you know you have a significant interruption to your regular work schedule, let your group know.  Conversely, be sure everyone knows when your are most available and how to reach you.  If you are consistently available when needed, and responsive to your team, you are more likely to be seen as someone who is reliable and trustworthy.

The “T” Word

February 2013
Trust in the workplace is far more complicated than most people are aware of or are able to admit.  Everyone seems to have their own definition of trust, if they have one at all.

Your work, your business (all business) is based on relationships and relationships are based on trust.  It is worth your while to take the time to examine your understanding of trust.

At its very core, trust is reciprocal — you must get it to give it.  But before you can give that trust, you need to examine your “Capacity for Trust”.

Your capacity to trust is your readiness to trust yourself and to trust others.

You are the only person you can work on.  As much as others need to change, or you may want them to change, the only person we can continually inspire, prod, and shape — with any degree of success — is the person in the mirror.

So, right now, take a minute, hold up that mirror and reflect on the following:

In what workplace situations do you consider yourself dependable and reliable?  In what situations do you feel less than dependable and reliable?

Think about one specific example of a current situation in which you feel you are not dependable and reliable (we all have at least one, if we are honest with ourselves).

Decide on an action that will make you trust yourself more in this one specific situation and “move that needle” toward trusting yourself more.

For example, let’s say you have a piece of a project that is unfamiliar to you, and you aren’t sure you can deliver your task up to the standard that is expected of you.  What do you do?  Struggle through it and hope for the best, or do you trust that asking questions and/or asking for help is going to be received in a positive way?  Do you trust that asking questions reveals your professionalism or do you fear it reveals a deficit in your skill set?  In order to increase your trust in yourself, you need to take a concrete step and ask for help this time so that you can complete your task as required and next time you won’t need any help at all.

ReplyAllCalpyse

January 2013

Everyone has been on one end or the other of accidental “replying all”.

The most spectacular public example being the recent mayhem at NYU which has been dubbed “Replyallcalpyse” or “The Day NYU Broke.”

For the rest of us, while we may not have the opportunity to send images of Nicolas Cage to 40,000 of our peers, we still often go awry in our use of “reply all”.

Here are four quick points to consider as you slog your way through your current professional group emails.

1.  Does everyone need to read this response? Usually not; consider sending your response to only the original sender (they will send it on to the group, if they feel it is more valuable than you did).

2.  Does this response cause other people to do something different – does it add value to the conversation?  If you feel it matters to everyone on the “cc” list, then yes — reply all.  If your response is a simple “okay” or “thank you”, then keep it to yourself.  Stop clogging your coworkers inboxes.  We all desire just a little less email…

3.  Your silence is your assent. When it comes to group emails, your agreement is taken for granted unless you speak up.  If you disagree, speak up!  If someone else disagrees, but you agree with the original sender, speak up!  Otherwise, sit tight and move on.

4.  Consider the recipients. ALWAYS know who you are talking to.  Review the “cc” list, as some people have the unfortunate habit of including everyone and their dog (and their supervisor) on every email.  Make sure that everyone YOU are emailing is germane to the conversation and that you don’t say anything you may later regret.