How To Survive & Thrive Working From Home

Working from home can either be the greatest thing that has ever happened to you or a pandemic curse (or somewhere in between). Either way, working from home can lead to feeling a little restless. While working from home can provide some much-needed flexibility (e.g., cooking a hot lunch, being home with your kids [human or animal!]), you may also be feeling a little trapped or unmotivated. Here are some tips to help you survive (and thrive) working from home:

Take Breaks as You Would in the Office

Have you recently found yourself running out of your bathroom at top speed to answer the faint ringing of a work call? If this sounds like you, you may need a reminder to take breaks. Working from home can be a fine line between “going to the break room” and leaving your computer to hang out in your kitchen for a little too long. Be careful not to guilt yourself into thinking you are taking advantage of your time by taking breaks at home. You take breaks at work, so allow yourself the same freedom at home, within reason. Throughout the day, take moments to get up and stretch, walk around, and get something to drink/eat, just as you would in the office. Because our homes tend to be a little less spacious than our offices, our computers and phones are almost always within earshot. You have access while in the bathroom, when refilling your coffee, and during your legally mandated lunch. In any of these scenarios at work, you would be temporarily unavailable to answer a quick email or a call. Let yourself be unavailable when appropriate. No one wants to interrupt you during your bathroom break intentionally!

Work Alongside Others

As much as your child or pet bird might seem like great WFH companions, make sure you check in with others who are working to stay motivated. If possible, take some time to check in with your favorite coworker to see how their most recent project is going. Work alongside your partner or a roommate also working from home. Sometimes it can even be helpful to sit on a Teams or Zoom call with someone while you both work in silence.

Bonus Tip: Take Advantage of Your Resources!

Enjoy working from home! You have access to your fridge, filled with your favorite smoothie ingredients, so make one! It’ll take just as long as making a cup of coffee. Will your coworkers only see you from the waist up? Wear your cozy sweatpants. Working from home allows for some healthy human habits. Cuddle your kid while you answer emails. Sit in the sunshine while you enter data. Wrap yourself in that blanket your mom knit in quarantine during your morning meeting. Soak it all in!

Looking for more tips on remote work? Explore our work from home hub here.

Should You Use Sick Days While Working Remotely?

Prior to the pandemic, we wrote an article discussing whether it’s okay to use sick time when you are not actually sick. Some employers take this seriously, while others let you use your sick time at your leisure. However, a new dilemma has arisen as many of us continue to work from home: should you use sick days while working remotely? With nearly 92% percent of employees still working from home in some capacity, should you use sick time when sick or power through it?

Why you should use sick time while working from home

Before COVID-19 turned our lives upside down, it was a pretty simple process to stay home when feeling under the weather. It was an easy decision to stay home to rest up and prevent infecting your colleagues. Fast forward to today, and this decision becomes more challenging. Since you are already home, should you buck up and get your work done? In a recent poll by OnePoll, two out of three Americans feel less inclined to take time off when feeling ill. 70% of respondents also reported that they worked from home while feeling sick. However, this mindset leads to “presenteeism,” which is when employees are present at work but unable to perform and focus. As a result, this can lead to burnout, longer recovery times, and even costly mistakes or accidents.

So, instead of logging on with the sniffles, use some of your paid time off to rest up. After all, that’s what sick time is for!

How employers can help encourage healthy habits

Back in the day, the employees that came to work with a head cold were portrayed as committed and hardworking. In some circumstances, these people set a precedent, making others feel uncomfortable for utilizing their sick time instead of coming into the office. But the pandemic has forced many employers to abandon this mentality. Instead of discouraging employees from using sick time, executives need to foster a culture of acceptance. Companies need to encourage their employees to utilize their time off when feeling ill and make it known that it’s okay to log off and rest up. If one of your teammates is obviously under the weather, or you notice their mental health is less than par, urge them to use their time off.

Promoting a culture where it’s okay to use sick days while working from home will help you combat the Great Resignation and make it easier for your hiring team to attract new talent in this competitive market. Looking for more ways to attract new employees during these challenging times? Check out our client resources!

How to Retain Employees When It’s Never Been Easier to Quit

With remote work becoming a permanent option for many companies, quitting a job has never been easier. With most or all of your staff working from home or at least in a hybrid environment, it’s more challenging for employees to feel engaged with a new job. If you start a new job working remotely, it’s difficult to establish relationships with your colleagues, and you can adopt an “easy-come, easy-go” attitude. Without forming in-person connections with your co-workers, it takes some feelings away when deciding to leave for another opportunity. So, with remote work not going anywhere, what can your company do to retain your employees?

Expand your leadership team

With new policy and technological changes resulting from working from home, you may need to add a new leadership role. We are still navigating uncharted waters with new issues arising every day as we work from home during the pandemic. As a result, it may be time to add a new position to your team: Director of Remote Work. Facebook added this new position at the end of 2020 to help with the transition of becoming a more remote-friendly company. The creation of this position was to ensure an equitable and supportive environment for team members across the board. Now, this person doesn’t have to be in a director-level role; however, it can be beneficial to create a position responsible for improving your employees’ remote work experience.

Reshaping your company culture

Another way to combat employees from jumping ship while working from home is to reshape your company culture. You can implement a few initiatives to build engagement with your staff and help them develop that connection and sense of commitment to their team. For example, you can encourage your staff to share pictures or stories to help your workers get to know each other a little better. Our team at JSG just shared a collection of our kids’ (and grandkids’) back-to-school photos! This activity was a fun way to get to know some of our co-workers and share an essential piece of their lives. Other ways to bolster your company culture while working remote are establishing no-meeting days, scheduling regular check-ins with your team, and fun competitions.

Encourage communication from leadership

Additionally, to help retain your staff during this unprecedented time, you should encourage more communication from your leadership team. A recent survey revealed that 30% of remote workers believe employers can improve their culture by increasing communication from leaders. During times like these, it’s even more critical for your leadership team to make themselves available and communicate what’s going on with the company. Whether it’s upcoming policy changes, new regulations, or just sharing their support, leaders must speak up during these trying times. A little communication can go a long way with your staff and make them feel more appreciated.

JSG is here to help

Those are three changes your team can make to retain employees when it’s never been easier to quit. If you are still struggling to find qualified candidates that will stick around, reach out to our recruiting team! We will work with you to source candidates that will be compatible with your team and won’t unexpectedly jump ship.

When Should You Ask About WFH in the Hiring Process?

As the country continues to heal from the aftermath of the pandemic, more jobs are returning. According to the latest JOLTS report, there are 9.2 million job openings as of May 2021. Furthermore, over 850,000 jobs were added by the U.S. economy, significantly surpassing economists’ projections of 700,000. So, with so many jobs available and 42% of employed job seekers looking for greener pastures, more people are starting to dip their toes into the job market. But if you are looking for a new position and want (or even need to) work remotely, when is the best time to broach this question? Here is when you should ask about working from home during the hiring process.

WFH policies are usually in job descriptions

So, if you are searching for a new job opportunity and remote work is a must-have, when should you ask the hiring manager? Typically, job descriptions will give you some indication of the company’s work from home or hybrid policies. Explaining the onsite or remote work policies in job descriptions became the norm during the pandemic, and now that we are well into recovery mode, most employers are still making this clear. Job descriptions are either clarifying that they are onsite positions to avoid any confusion, or employers are giving a glimpse at their remote work policies to lure in new candidates. Either way, most employers are (and should) share these details in their job descriptions.

When to pop the WFH question

However, if there is no mention of the company’s policies, you may have to ask for clarification. So, if working from home is an absolute must, when should you ask about WFH in the hiring process? It’s usually best to ask at the beginning of the process to save both you and the employer time. If the hiring manager or recruiter does not mention the topic at the beginning of an interview or pre-screening, you can safely ask towards the end of your conversation. Generally, this topic will come naturally during an initial interview, as most employers want to make their policies know upfront. If they do not support any remote work or hybrid working formats, they will usually be straightforward to weed out candidates with remote work as a main priority.

Nevertheless, if remote work is a deal-breaker for you, you should ask about it during that initial interview. Even if a company supports remote work or a hybrid schedule now, that doesn’t mean they will do so, say six months from now. Many companies are still evolving to offer safe working environments for their staff. In other words, the employer’s remote work policy may not be set in stone and could change as time goes on. So, if this conversation does not arise during your initial interview, you should ask for details towards the end of your meeting.

How to ask about working from home

If you need to broach the subject, you can easily do so with a quick question. Here is an excellent example of how to ask about WFH during the hiring process:

“The job description did not clarify if this position is onsite only or offers the opportunity to work remotely. Can you please elaborate on your work from home policy?”

This question is a simple way to get a better idea of the company’s WFH situation. But if you absolutely must work from home and you need to ensure remote work is a permanent perk at the company, you can clarify their policy with the following question:

“So, you mentioned that some employees are currently working remotely. Is this a policy [company name] plans on supporting in the future?”

Asking this question is an excellent way to understand the company’s stance on working from home permanently.

Don’t be afraid to ask

At the end of the day, don’t be afraid to ask the employer about their WFH plans. Policies are changing, and remote work is more convenient in specific locations and industries. As long as you ask earlier in the hiring process, you are in good shape. Just like with the salary and benefits, never start the conversation off with the company’s opinion on working from home. And even if they do not support a hybrid workforce, that doesn’t mean they won’t make an exception for the right person. You don’t know until you ask, but you must ask at the appropriate time.

How WFH Will Change the Office

Is heading back to the office after working from home for over a year making you feel a little anxious? For the last year and some change, we have discussed in great detail how the pandemic is altering the workforce. But as offices begin to open back up, it’s time to discuss how working from home for the last 12+ months will change the office environment. Here is how WFH will affect working in the office.

More flexibility

Most people WFH have experienced more flexibility: flexible working hours, more accommodations, and less direct supervision. As we transition back to work in the office, this additional flexibility isn’t going anywhere. Giving employees more space and freedom has fostered better work-life balances, more creativity, and better overall work satisfaction. If employers want to keep their workforce happy, they cannot just brush this flexibility under the rug.

Managers will be more accommodating moving forward to fit the needs of their staff better. A typical 9 to 5 isn’t the ideal schedule for many workers. As we continue to adjust to our new “normal,” companies will be more supportive of individual needs. For example, if you need to work remotely once a week to be present for your kids, chances are employers will be more supportive and understanding. More flexibility will help employers better manage hybrid workforces and offer equal leniency to all their staff members.

Relaxed dress code

How many of you enjoyed working from home in your lounge wear or shorts and a t-shirt? It’s really nice to ditch the formal business wear and enjoy a more relaxed dress code. As we return to the office, you can expect a more casual dress code. And I am not just talking about casual Fridays – I am talking about a permanent dress code change. Employees can be just as productive in blue jeans and a shirt instead of business casual. It may be a small change, but this is one that workers will appreciate and feel more comfortable at work.

Employers taking better care of their staff

One thing that will separate good employers from excellent ones is how they take care of their staff. Besides additional flexibility and dress code changes, employers are actively looking for ways to support their teams. One example of this is LinkedIn closing up shop the week of April 5th for a paid vacation for their entire workforce. In an effort to recharge and avoid burnout, LinkedIn is providing this paid week off to take care of their employees during a stressful time. Other companies are also offering mental health days to keep their employees happy, healthy, and productive.

Interested in exploring new opportunities?

These are just three of the fundamental ways WFH will change the office. If you are looking for a new opportunity with an employer that takes better care of their team, check out our job board. We have hundreds of exciting roles across North America with fantastic employers!

The Benefits of Outsourcing Your Helpdesk Support

Does your internal IT staff handle all of your helpdesk support? While internally facilitating all of your helpdesk tasks may seem like the most economical route, this solution is quickly becoming ineffective for many companies. If your company is considering partnering with an external IT consulting firm to handle these time-consuming and mundane tasks, here are the benefits of outsourcing your helpdesk support.

New employee onboarding

With the pandemic turning a corner, your company may be shifting your hiring efforts into high gear. As a result, your internal IT team will be up to their necks in onboarding activities. Setting up emails, configuring new computers, updating software, activating user permissions… the list goes on and on. Unless you have a group of IT professionals on your team dedicated to these tasks, your IT staff will have to drop what they are working on to onboard these new employees. Pulling your staff away from other essential IT responsibilities is asking for bigger problems to surface.

On the other hand, employing additional staff members solely responsible for helpdesk support is costly. You have to pay their salaries, healthcare, benefits, and all the other overhead expenses. Instead of having a full-time staff member handle these responsibilities, you can outsource these tasks to save time and money.

Supporting a hybrid workforce

Additionally, with more companies starting to support a hybrid workforce (employees working both onsite and remotely), it makes more logistical sense to outsource your helpdesk support. Having an internal IT helpdesk support technician is nice when everyone works onsite. However, with more staff members working from home, it isn’t as necessary to have someone in-house. Employees might be working flexible hours, live in different time zones, or have less traditional schedules. Therefore, it is almost impossible to offer 24/7 technical support. But if you are outsourcing your helpdesk support, you can count on support members being available around the clock to provide help when your team needs it most.

Plus, with more staff working remotely, there are likely more issues to troubleshoot. Employees might be using different equipment, working on personal internet networks, and even making calls on their cell phones. Thus, there are many more issues to resolve. IT consulting firms, like JSG, are licensed professionals with cross-platform expertise. We can resolve any of your technical difficulties, regardless of your team’s needs.

More responsive

When your team’s helpdesk support is internal, you are at the mercy of your busy IT team. Simple support tickets sometimes get swept under the rug as your IT team is focused on more time-sensitive tasks. However, the consulting firm you outsource with is responsible for addressing their client’s IT issues quickly and efficiently. When a problem arises, we create a ticket and track them through our system. We closely monitor all of our tickets and appoint more resources when needed to resolve your technical difficulties in a reasonable amount of time. We also generate reports on all incidents to be transparent with our clients and monitor the completion of all tickets. No longer are you stuck emailing your IT team and waiting for them to stop what they are doing and provide assistance.

Does outsourcing your helpdesk support sound enticing?

There are many benefits of outsourcing your helpdesk support. Lower overhead costs, better response rates, and greater flexibility can help keep your operations running smoothly. If you are interested in learning more about our helpdesk support and other IT consulting services, reach out to us today. We are ready to help design a customized solution that fits your team’s needs and budget.

Proactive Monitoring is Key in the Post-Pandemic Workforce

The coronavirus pandemic is making significant impacts on today’s workforce. One of these is the transition to working remotely for millions of people across the globe. A year later and many of us are still working from home. Some of us have even made this a permanent transition. However, this shift to remote work has generated a surge in security breaches, increasing the importance of proactive monitoring.

A spike in cyberattacks for remote workers

With millions of people working from home, companies are becoming more vulnerable to cyberattacks. According to software and security company VMWare Carbon Black, ransomware attacks have double during the pandemic. And Breadcrumb Cybersecurity CEO Brian Horton explained that working away from the office can make an employee far more vulnerable to a hack. Horton claims that “When organizations moved to a work-from-home context, they inherited the security risk of the employee’s personal home network.” He explains that “Whereas traditionally, they would focus on securing organizational assets, employers were left scrambling to secure remote work environments.”

When your employees are working from the office, IT teams have more control and better defenses in place to prevent cyberattacks. As employees work from home, they become more vulnerable as they work on unsecured networks, work-related files on personal devices, and begin to use their work computers to view personal, sensitive data. It’s easier for IT professionals to proactively monitor these risks in the office and stop them from wreaking havoc on their companies. However, with working from home becoming the new normal, IT folks will have to be on their toes to keep their employees and company safe from these attacks.

What can employers do to mitigate these WFH cyberattacks?

So, what can your IT team do to mitigate these WFH cyberattacks?

Share best practices

One of the easiest ways to reduce your company’s vulnerability to cyberattacks is to share best practices with your staff. Send regular emails with your company’s IT policies and procedures to reduce your risk of these attacks. Make these practices and rules visible to your team, and encourage them to ask questions or report suspicious activity.

Proactively monitor network

With your staff more aware of potential security risks, your team can now focus on proactively monitoring your network. Moreover, your team must continuously monitor your network to avoid any issues with systems and ensure your network operates smoothly. Proactive monitoring will help your team identify problems ahead of time and avoid costly downtime.

Work with an IT consulting firm

If your team doesn’t have the bandwidth to monitor your network proactively, it may be time to outsource it with a professional. Internal IT teams have their hands full, with most of the company’s staff working remotely. Partner with an IT consulting firm like JSG to keep your systems running safely. JSG offers proactive monitoring solutions to create escalation alerts, fault monitoring, firewall activity, and so much more. We can create a custom solution to keep your data and employees safe by proactively monitoring your systems 24/7/365. So, if this sounds like a good fit for your company, reach out to our IT experts today!

How To Answer Interview Questions About Remote Work

If you’re interviewing in 2021 and beyond, chances are, interviewers will ask you questions about remote work. The modern workforce is rapidly changing, and many managers are rethinking their previous aversions to working from home. So, how do you address it during your interview? First, there are two different situations we must examine: if you have experience working remotely and if you do not.

If You Have Remote Work Experience

Having experience makes fielding questions about working remotely a little less intimidating. However, it’s still important to prepare yourself! Prior to your interview, take some time to think about your previous work from home position(s). Here are some common questions that you can expect in your interview:

  • Who was your supervisor, and how did you communicate?
  • What was your accountability structure?
  • How did you fight distractions?
  • How did you prioritize your tasks?
  • What are your strategies for maintaining a work-life balance?
  • How did you overcome any obstacles that came up?
  • How did you stay in touch with fellow team members?
  • What was the most challenging thing about working remotely?

If You Do Not Have Experience Working Remotely

If you don’t have experience working remotely, make that known upfront. The last thing you want to do is get caught in a lie or be put in a position to handle something you’re not equipped for. Instead of answering questions related to past experiences, you’ll need to be able to speak on common remote work skills such as your adaptability and accountability. Here is an excellent example script that you can customize to fit your personality, skills, and experience.

“While I don’t have any previous experience working remotely, it’s something I believe I would excel at. In previous positions, I’ve been largely independent – charged with setting my own schedule, meeting deadlines with little assistance, and jumping in to help on projects in other offices. I pride myself on being adaptable, focused, and innovative. For example, when I finish one project, I don’t just sit there twiddling my thumbs until I am assigned something else. I always keep a collection of back-burner projects and tasks that I can jump into at any time. This helps me stay productive and motivated!”

Either way, it’s essential, to be honest. While working from home can be rewarding, it also comes with its fair set of challenges. Be sure to assess if this remote position is indeed the right opportunity for you! And if you need more interview advice or tips on working remotely, be sure to explore our candidate resources.

3 Interview Questions You Should Ask Remote Work Candidates

It’s been nearly a year since the beginning of the pandemic where thousands of companies were forced to transition to a remote working environment. This transition is temporary for some employers, but many are permanently shifting operations to allow their staff to work from home. Regardless of which boat your company is in, you will eventually have to hire a new staff member on a remote basis. Hiring someone for a remote position takes a unique skill set and requires you to ask different interview questions to ensure candidates will be the right fit. You need to understand if they are reliable, flexible, and excellent communicators. Here are three interview questions you should ask remote work candidates.

Have you worked remotely in the past?

First of all, you want to understand in what capacity they have worked remotely in the past. Are they currently working remotely? Or are they considered an essential worker and able to work on-site? Shifting from working on-site to your home “office” is challenging, and you need to see if your prospective candidates are up for the task. You are looking for qualified candidates that fit the work style or environment. Understanding what capacity a candidate has worked from home is an excellent first step.

If a candidate has not worked remotely, that is not a dealbreaker. You will just want to look for qualities in their answers to understand if they fit that working style.

What types of communication tools have you used, and how did you use them?

Asking a candidate what type of communication tools they use will help you understand how they will virtually work with others. You want to see what tools they have used in the past and how they have used them to communicate. Clear communication while working from home is essential. They don’t necessarily have to have experience with the same tools your team uses. For example, skills with Microsoft Team will undoubtedly translate into using Zoom or Slack. Most importantly, is learning how they use these tools to work with others successfully and complete assignments.

How do you control your time management and remain organized?

Time management and organizational skills are crucial for remote workers. It is much easier to check in on workers when you physically share office space. However, when people work remotely, they have much more independence; candidates will be more responsible for managing their time and organization. Asking this question will allow you to understand how a prospective candidate keeps track of their time, prioritize their work, and stay organized throughout the day. Answers will differ from person to person. So, what you are looking for is that they have a thoughtful method for managing their time and staying focused.

Need more hiring input?

So, these are three basic interview questions you should ask remote work candidates to see if they are a strong fit for your team. If you need more help vetting candidates for remote assignments, reach out to our team at JSG. We can help you identify the candidates that will make an immediate impact on your team from the safety of their homes. Let’s work together!

The 2021 Job Search Checklist

If you are ready to seek new employment opportunities in 2021, there are a few things you need to do to be successful. The labor market is still in recovery mode, and you will need to put in a little extra work to land a job this year. Here is the 2021 job search checklist to help ensure you land the job you’ve been working hard to find.

Are you ready to work remotely?

When you are looking for a new job this year, there are a few questions you should ask yourself; one of these questions is, are you ready to work remotely? Even after the virus is long-gone, remote work will be here to stay in some fashion. Many employers are permanently moving to remote working environments, while others will offer a hybrid system where you will work both onsite and at home. So like it or not, working from home is the new normal. And that’s not a bad thing! There are many benefits to working from home, like a more extensive job market pool for you to enter. You may no longer be restricted to local job opportunities. Remote work allows job seekers to apply for exciting opportunities across the nation or even globally.

Give your resume a facelift

Giving your resume an upgrade is one of the most critical points on this job search checklist. Your resume is often your first impression, and if it’s not up to par, you could be disqualified from the hiring process. In 2021, there will be a lot of competition throughout your job search. To stay a step ahead of your fellow job seekers, you must tailor your resume for each position. If you blindly submit your resume to every job posting you see, you won’t have a lot of luck. Quality is better than quality when it comes to your job search. Customize your resume objective, tweak your skills section, and reword your bullets to fit the job description better.

Look outside your current field

We have been talking about this a lot lately. 2021 may be the year of a career shift. And we are not just talking about switching jobs; we are talking about changing careers entirely or transitioning to an unfamiliar sector. Some industries are performing better than others right now, and it may be time to shift to one of these areas. If you have the right transferrable skills, your opportunities are virtually endless. Don’t be afraid to take the plunge into a new career.

Network early and often

Another essential bullet point on the 2021 job search checklist is networking. Many people underestimate the value of networking. It unlocks doors to opportunities you would never find on job boards. Also, networking gives you a sense of camaraderie. If you have been hunting for a new job for a while, you are not alone. Networking allows you to share your stories with others that are also struggling and provides a platform to help one another out. You never know who can lead you in the right direction or make an introduction in your network. Network early and often to make the most out of your job search. And once you land a job, don’t forget to share with your network. They are invested in your career adventure and would love to share this exciting moment with you.

Partner with a recruiter

The final mark on the job search checklist is to reach out to a recruiter. If you really want to optimize your energy and time spent on your job search, work with a recruiting firm. Our JSG recruiters have access to exclusive job opportunities, work with clients that are ready to make hiring decisions immediately, and have your best interest at heart. Partner with us today and let us help you find your next job opportunity this year. Take a look at our job board and let’s work together.