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How to Better Collaborate with Coworkers Remotely

How to Better Collaborate with Coworkers Remotely

With more and more companies hiring freelancers or outsourcing entirely, much has been written about maintaining productivity and efficiency in a physically disparate workforce. But it’s not just those labeled “remote workers” who work remotely, nor are they alone in their need for remote tools. In fact, when they’re not traveling between clients, today’s local office workers often choose to spend part of their time in home offices, and they encounter many of the same benefits and difficulties as their officially remote counterparts. If you’re one of those workers, there are number of lessons that can be applied from the remote working world to help you coordinate between the office and home.

Here at Distilled, it’s common to arrive to work in the Seattle office with but a few minutes’ window to communicate effectively with those in our London office. When I started a little over a year ago, this was something that took some getting used to, and while it might have initially been an inconvenience, there are so many great tools and techniques available to those with a bit of creativity. Here are some that we have found particularly helpful:

Embrace the Cloud

For a seamless working environment across locations and time zones, embracing the cloud is an absolute must, as cloud apps power easy sharing and collaboration. We benefit immensely from sharing apps like Dropbox or Google Drive, which allow us to store essential documents, data and projects on remote servers rather than on local hard drives or company servers. Not only does this promote better security and allow for automatic backups, but it also means that when I’m out of the office I need only to log into the app to reach my work, rather than having to coordinate among pen drives or wait for a colleague to email a file. Whatever the device you prefer working on and wherever you prefer to work, any necessary work is just click away.

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    What’s more, the process is extremely streamlined, as my colleagues and I all operate within one, centralized dashboard, and sharing is as easy as sending a link or granting access. With apps like Google Docs, there’s no need to re-enter data in multiple places or funnel multiple edits among colleagues into one document; rather, simply share a document, PowerPoint, project or more, and colleagues both around the office and far away can edit the file at the same time as other team members. In fact, with cloud apps, working in a cubicle almost begins to sound outdated.
    You may also want to consider cloud based time tracking tools like Toggl and project management tools like Basecamp, as they’ll help both you and your team members see just who is doing what without any need for a physical calendar. For more great tips on working in the cloud, we recommend this guide to cloud computing, which provides an excellent grounding for those initial ventures into the more streamlined method of cloud working.

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    toggl

      Get Face-to-Face Time With Chat Tools

      Everyone’s experienced them before: group emails where the original point gets buried in a slew of non-sequiturs; a delicate point that doesn’t come across quite so delicately in a Microsoft Word review comment; little tasks that become big tasks as you wait for someone to reply. While many of these issues do exist in some form when everyone is working in the same office together, they become all the more pronounced in the remote setting.
      To address this problem, create as many faux-in-person experiences as possible with video chat technology. Sure, you could try that old standard—the conference call—but it’s difficult for someone who’s just listening in to get a handle on social dynamics, and often you’ll find your opinions buried in the exchange or that you’re forgotten about them entirely. Instead, stream into meetings with free tools like Skype or Google Hangouts, the latter of which will toggle between speakers so you’ll have center stage when you’re speaking. This technology is perfect for small-group meetings, and it also makes sense for weekly company-wide, cross-team meetings, which you might want to suggest to your company as a means for keeping not just you but also employees across the globe on the same page. It has been really well-received by our teams across timezones, allowing anyone with an internet connection to dial in, no matter the time nor location.
      Even very simple chat tools like GChat can be effective for quick, casual communication as you coordinate with team members on a project. For more tips on communicating and coordinating between workers, we suggest taking a browse through this collaboration guide.

      Be Social and Productive With Social Media

      Whether you choose to stay home once a month or several times a week, it’s important to prevent feelings of isolation. Try starting a discussion board on the private company Facebook page or in a LinkedIn group to discuss company news or even water cooler subjects, like plans for the weekend. Google+ is also a great option for this, as users can easily curate their work-based audience by adding or dropping contacts from circles while they share tips and expertise, alert one another of industry-relevant news, share big client wins, or simply spread inside jokes. It’s not off-task if it promotes a sense of well-being and creates a clear company culture.

      We share a Google+ circle among the team that has quickly become a great internal community where we can post the status of projects, questions we have, and sometimes just funny things we have found around the internet.

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      Make Time for In-Person Meetings

      Of course, sometimes there’s nothing quite like in-person interactions for building camaraderie and getting things done. The more time you spend working at home, the more important it is to make it to on-site meetings to make your presence known. If you’re really feeling isolated, suggest a company-wide retreat, or ask if you might have an in-office point of contact or mentor who can act as your advocate and keep you abreast of any recent developments that may not have made it into the company newsletters.

      Last winter, our entire team flew to London to finally meet in person. While there is no doubt overall productivity that week decreased, this was a wonderful opportunity to grow our interoffice relationships, which ultimately made working on projects remotely far more successful, as we were not connecting the projects to an actual person as opposed to just an email address.

      Take-Away

      Whether you work with a team of remote colleagues or you simply want to be unhindered in your last minute decision to work from home on a Monday morning, there’s no reason the traditional office setting should confine how you work. With the right tools and support from your company, you should be able to embrace all that remote working has to offer while also being more productive than in the traditional setting. So, do your research, choose your tools, and work how you please from office or home.

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      Questions? Comments? I’ll be happy to respond in the comments below, or on Twitter @stentontoledo.

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      Published on November 9, 2018

      How to Improve Your Computer Skills to Get Ahead in Your Career

      How to Improve Your Computer Skills to Get Ahead in Your Career

      Technology has taken the business world by storm. People and businesses are progressively reliant on technology world these days. As a result, the people with impressive knowledge and experience with a computer are in demand.

      Considering this growing market trend, if you too wish to bag a profitable job, this article is apt for you. Here, we will dig deeper into the business and technology world to look into what are the best computer skills one should invest in and what resources to get help from.

      So, are you ready? Here we begin.

      6 Most-In Demand Computer Skills This Year (and Beyond)

      When talking about computer skills, following are the 6 computer skills that can fill your mailbox with endless job opportunities (besides, having an English and Hindi typing speed of 40+ WPM):-

      1. Spreadsheets and Databases

      Considering the treasure trove of data companies are handling these days, Spreadsheet and Database management skill tops the list. It is considered the most wanted job skill in the market, with a salary of around $53,129/yr for an entry-level position. However, the spreadsheet skill does not confine to auditing data from cells.

      To get hired based on this computer skill, you need to become a Spreadsheet ninja. From storing data to organizing them, applying complex mathematics formulas, and creating complex macros, you need to be an expert at all.

      In other words, you need to have an expertise at working with:

      • Microsoft Excel
      • Microsoft Access
      • Statistics
      • Data Analytics
      • Adobe Campaign
      • Quickbooks
      • XML Database management system
      • Filemaker Pro
      • MATLAB
      • Hive
      • FORTRAN
      • RDBMS (Relational Database Management System)
      • SAS

      2. Social Media, Email, and Blogging

      Though people are socially active, not everyone knows how to use the social media tools on the professional front. In such a scenario, having an expertise at writing engaging yet professional emails, writing blogs, and managing social media activities is a ticket to entry in reputed organizations.

      Some of the skills related to social media, email and blogging that will have a leg up in the hiring process are:

      • Content Management System (CMS)
      • Google Analytics
      • Cascading Style Sheets (CSS)
      • Email Marketing
      • Web Page Design
      • WordPress
      • Digital Media
      • Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
      • Campaign Management Software

      3. Graphic Design and Word Processing

      A solid grasp of skills to present the gained information in the much readable form is another market need. When considering this computer skill category, you need to enhance your skills at:

      • Adobe Photoshop
      • Adobe InDesign
      • Adobe Illustrator
      • AutoCAD
      • CorelDRAW
      • Microsoft Visual Studio
      • Maya
      • Microsoft Word
      • Microsoft Publisher
      • Operating Digital Cameras

      4. Software and Hardware Design and Development

      The Software and Hardware development, in simpler language, means designing, implementing, and testing the computer software/hardware applications. It is the most profitable computer skill, with a different job opening, including Software Architect, Software Analyst, Software programmer, Hardware configuration, etc.

      To be capable of developing and testing the software and hardware, you need to peruse your users’ needs and build an application that hits their pain points. You need to work with different web and mobile app coding languages for gaining the attention of your audience, some of which are:

      • HTML
      • C/C++
      • Java
      • Python
      • XML
      • UI/UX
      • LINUX
      • CISC and RISC architecture
      • Embedded Processor Hardware Design
      • Memory Management
      • PCB Layout
      • SQL

      5. IT Troubleshooting

      Working on computers is one thing and having a knack of looking into the associated issues and resolving them in real-time is another. There are various employees and graduates who work with computer systems in their daily lives, but get confused when it comes to dealing with frozen programs and performing routine maintenance.

      So, if you are familiar with the basic anatomy of computers and machines and know the tricks to perform such tasks to streamline the working process, enter the IT support arena. The prime IT troubleshooting skills one needs to work upon are:

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      • Backup management
      • Diagnostics
      • End User support
      • Client-Server management
      • Installation and configuration
      • Issue tracking system (ITS)
      • System administration
      • Tech support

      6. Enterprise Systems

      Many Enterprises have their own enterprise solutions like PeopleSoft for managing their data and operations.

      Becoming a master at using the enterprise solutions mentioned in their ‘Requirements’ area can also lessen the barrier to get a job.

      The Roadmap to Excel Your Computer Skills

      Now that you know the 6 most popular computer skills in the market, the first decision, you need to take is which computer skill you want to work upon. All the skills are equally considerable for making a career ahead. So, choose one as per your interest.

      Once done, look forward to the following resources for boosting your computer skills and getting a reputed, handsome job.

      Depending on the computer skill you opt, here are the online courses you can turn to for elevating your career opportunities:

      1. Become a Spreadsheet and Database Ninja

      a. Microsoft Excel Training Online Course – Basic & Advanced

      Whether you are a beginner, intermediate or expert at working with spreadsheets, this online course has something new for everyone to become excel efficient users.

      Divided into 48 interesting lessons, the course empowers you to learn the technique of using mathematical, statistical, logical and text functions, sorting and filtering the data, creating Pivot Tables, building macros, finding a value with VLOOKUp, and much more.

      b. Excel- Online Courses, Classes, Training, Tutorials on Lynda

      This is another impressive course to unlock the power of Excel. Designed for people from all walks of life and familiarity with Excel tools. This course helps you gain in-depth knowledge from the experts about this data-analyzing tool and make the magic in spreadsheet creation and management process.

      c. SQL & Database Design A-Z™: Learn MS SQL Server + PostgreSQL

      Build a successful career in the data analytics world with this online course.

      Revolving around the two top databases, MS SQL and PostgreSQL, this course will give you a comprehensive knowledge of the working of the databases and understanding of all the related elements, including how to create, update, organize, and safeguard the data.

      2. Rule the Social Media World

      a. Free Social Media Course by HubSpot

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      Introduced by the top experienced inbound professors from Hubspot, here you will get a comprehensive knowledge of Social media marketing.

      From understanding how to build relationships on different social media platforms to creating a perfect strategy to engage them, leveraging the benefits of social advertising, and analyzing your social media ROI, this course will bring out the best out of you.

      b. Write Professional Emails in English by Coursera

      This online course will be the right weapon to look into the differences and similarities between different email styles, improve your English writing skills, write effective subject lines, maintain the formality tone in emails, and more to make a powerful impact on the receivers with your email.

      c. Ninja Writing: The Four Levels of Writing Mastery

      Founded by Udemy, this online course will excel your skills to build a masterpiece everytime you write.

      Here, you will get the guidance from the editors of the top newspapers and websites, and understand what kind of words and tone to use for leaving a spellbinding impact on the readers.

      3. Launch Your Own Software or Hardware Equipment

      a. Hardware and Software Courses by Coursera

      From Big Data to IoT, Sensor Circuit Design, Embedded Software and Hardware Architecture, and Motor Control Circuit, this course will give you a glimpse of all the hardware devices, equipment, and programming languages to build wonders.

      b. Free Software and Web Development Certifications Online by Alison

      Become the software developer market demands with Alison’s Java, C#, Python, R, PHP, or MySQL database course. From backend to frontend development and software testing.

      The course helps you to learn how to design, develop and test software and working in a team while contributing to the team success.

      c. Free Online Software Development and MOOCs Course by Class Central

      The Class Central online course will make you a master of software development. Here, you will learn the basic concepts of development like Agile, Design Patterns, and Version Control with Git, along with gaining experience of working with the top programming languages.

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      4. Live and Breathe Creativity

      a. Udemy: Introduction to Graphic Design

      It is a top-rated program for the new learners and designers to explore the Graphic Design world.

      From the history of communication to the design principles, the course will help the students to learn everything specifically and implement in the real world.

      b. Canva Design School

      From a beginner to advanced level, this course will provide you with an elaborated and comprehensive knowledge of graphic design. In the form of 4 modules, this course will help the interested graphic designers to try out their skills at Graphics, ranging from fonts to colors, backgrounds, images, shapes, and layouts.

      c. Microsoft Word – Basic & Advanced

      62 personalized lessons, premium video tutorials, and unlimited tests and quizzes – this certified course has everything that will make your entry to the business world easier.

      d. Microsoft Office: Word, Excel and Access Productivity Bundle

      The course will make you productive in Word, Excel, and Access through video lectures, articles, and various other supplemental resources.

      Besides, it will offer you exclusive tips and tricks to enhance your skills at using Microsoft office.

      5. Raise Your Reflexes to IT Troubleshooting

      a. IT Troubleshooting Skill Training by Udemy

      IT Troubleshooting Skill Training will upgrade your logical concepts over technical components to find and repair faults.

      It will provide you with a methodological approach to learn the basics of troubleshooting, practice them via exercises and drills, and enhance your IT troubleshooting intelligence.

      b. IT Help Desk Online Course on Lynda

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      The Lynda’s IT troubleshooting online course will train you how to respond to the issues related to Windows 10, Office 365, JIRA software, and more, from a local as well as a remote location.

      Mobile Apps and Websites to Enhance Computer Skills

      The aforementioned online courses will undoubtedly train you for a successful career ahead. But, in case you want a long-term support, turn towards the following websites and mobile apps:

      • Duolingo – Duolingo app will improve your spoken and written communication skills in different languages. With the magic of gamification added to the study, the app will make learning a fun and addictive task.
      • Hemingway – Hemingway app defines the length, complexity, and common errors associated with the sentences. In this way, it helps you to write effectively and go ahead in the career.
      • Udemy – The Udemy, with its 2000+ courses, is a great platform to master new skills, advance your career and explore the newer technologies and programming languages. Enrol a course as per your budget and make a brighter future.
      • eDX – eDX is yet another commendable platform you can look forward to. The platform offers you the best of the tutorials prepared by the business professionals and technology experts, ensuring a great boost in your computer skills.
      • Excel Easy – Excel Easy, as the name depicts, will make working with Excel easier for you via their detailed tutorials and 300+ real-life examples.
      • GCF LearnFree.org – It is a one-stop platform for accelerating your future in the computer world. From graphic design to Microsoft Office, resume writing, enhancing adaptability, and much more, the top experts will guide you with everything on this platform.
      • QuarkXPress – The QuarkXPress will aid you to add soul to your design with its unparalleled collection of font style, size, and typography. The best part is that it is avails all the options in different languages, including English, Spanish, German, French, and Italian to name a few.

      Bonus: Tips to Accelerate Your Approach For a Better Career Ahead

      Though these resources will make you stand out from the crowd and get hired at once, you need to focus on various other things, such as:

      1. Practice, Practice, Practice

      It is common to forget what we learn. To ensure that you do not miss any opportunity just because you forgot, keep practising.

      Make it your routine. Polish your computer skills and you will surely end up getting an offer letter from a recognized firm.

      2. Work on Your Efficiency

      Remembering what you learned is not enough; practice to enhance those skills to do better.

      For example, if you take around 50 minutes to create a design, target for 40 minutes.

      3. Look for Shortcuts

      Smart work rules over hard work more often. So, look forward to learning shortcuts to do any task. This will increase your chances to crack an interview and get selected.

      4. Apply for an Internship

      Last but not the least, apply for an internship to see what’s trending in the market and how much you are ready for it. While doing an internship, pay attention to your weak points and work on them. This will ensure a success when you apply for your dream job.

      By the late, it’s never too late to be an intern or grab whatever opportunity to learn something new! Here’s how:

      How to Start Over and Reboot Your Life When It Seems Too Late

      The Bottom Line

      Seeing the current market scenario, it is evident that having computer skills is a boon for a better career ahead.

      So, rather than struggling with thousands of other things and trying to crack interviews, focus on the computer skills mentioned in this article. Utilize the resources and experts’ tips shared and look forward to having a successful and prosperous future.

      Featured photo credit: Glenn Carstens-Peters via unsplash.com

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