Telecommuting for startup businesses

With the wonder of flexible work schedules, comes the increase in telecommuting for business. And as young adults start up their own businesses with flexibility in mind, we look at the aspects of telecommuting for startups. There are advantages and disadvantages to consider and you should know that telecommuting isn’t a viable option for every company.

Here is all you need to know about telecommuting for startup businesses.

What is telecommuting?

Telecommuting, in the simplest of terms, means working from home with the help of information technology. Many startup businesses start out in people’s homes. As the business grows, there may be an official office space setup to accommodate more employees and make it feel like a more professional venture.

But most people won’t complain about working from home and having the flexible work schedules that come with telecommuting. Let’s take a look at some of the advantages and disadvantages of telecommuting, especially for small businesses.

What are the advantages of telecommuting?

  • Cost-effective growth opportunities: By allowing employees to work from home, you’ll be saving yourself money on office supplies, rent for an office space (if you’re able to use your home as a makeshift office for special occasions) and travelling to and from work every day (for you and your employees). Telecommuting allows for startups to grow exponentially without being overly expensive to do so. It also allows for you to scout for talent over a larger area as distance won’t have to be a turn-off for potential star employees.  
  • Employee retention: The flexibility telecommuting allows is also an attractive feature for employees that isn’t offered by many other companies. This means you’re also likely to retain your employees and easily attract new talent. This also reinforces the confidence employers have in their employees, which is always a great feeling for an employee to have. Not to mention, it shows that the company cares about their employees’ work and life balance.
  • Increased productivity: Because of the care, trust, confidence and balance this flexibility brings employees, they’re more likely to be motivated to work hard and, therefore, be more productive during their chosen work hours. Telecommuting may also require an internal business software through which employee hours and tasks can be monitored, which will also keep them productive and accountable.

What are the disadvantages of telecommuting?

  • Management difficulty: Getting to really know your employees and apply a management style according to their personalities and abilities becomes a difficult task through telecommuting. You don’t see them every day or even every week and you don’t know how they’re handling everything unless they choose to communicate that with you. Solutions would be to incorporate different forms of communication and include video conferences to simulate face-to-face conversation.  
  • Accountability: Now, we mentioned how telecommuting can make employees productive and accountable. But, accountability can also be a problem when employees start taking advantage of the flexibility of telecommuting. This is why performance and internal monitoring software is a necessity.
  • Miscommunication: Another disadvantage of telecommuting is the frequent instances of miscommunication. Because it’s not as simple as popping over from one office desk to another, many things get lost in translation and that can cause many issues between employers and employees, as well as with the company and clients. It’s very important to implement strong and strict communication practices to make sure everyone is on the same and right page at all times.

How can you be successful through telecommuting in your business?

 

For startup businesses, telecommuting is an affordable way to invest in the human capital of their business while they’re still trying to grow. But not every type of business can pull off the telecommuting work-style. You first need to decide whether you’re in a telecommuting-compatible business before you can start driving success from it.

  • Compatible job positions: Some jobs may be able to be done from a fully remote position, but others may require part-time or zero telecommuting ability. You, as business manager, need to look at how jobs can not only be done but also be more effective through telecommuting. And make those decisions accordingly.
  • “Tele-suited” employees: It’s also not as simple as having a compatible job position. The employee who fills that role needs to be inclined in the department of information technology if they have a chance of being successful from a remote location. They need to know how to operate online and remain accountable and dedicated to work on their own.
  • All the rules of telecommuting: If you want to be successful, you need to lay down all the rules of your telecommuting agreement. Are there requirements for time logging, dedicated workspaces, in-office appearances, cloud-based data storage processes, compulsory information technology courses or flexible schedules that need to be met? And how are you going to monitor these requirements?   

Telecommuting can be an amazing asset for a startup business and might even be the edge that sets their business above the rest. You just need to implement and monitor it correctly.

8 things productive people do before bed

Ever wondered why some people are seemingly more ‘successful’ than you are? Well, it’s simple. They have their own daily habits that contribute to a happier, more organised routine. Productive people understand that their success is all dependant on their mental and physical well-being, which is why they always take the time to reflect and adjust their strategy each night before bedtime. In order to be just as productive as the person you admire at work, perhaps you should consider trying the following tips:

They sit back and review their day

According to Steve Jobs, everyone should always strive to do something wonderful. Hustling through life to be the better than the person next to you is a great motivator, but when you’re so focused on your career you’re likely to become obsessed which is dangerous. When you think, breathe and live your job, you forget about the finer details in life: the part where you contribute to society or your community at large. Understanding and living your purpose are the first two steps to making a difference. Before you go to bed at night, try and think about your contribution to the world and how that effort is directly aligned with your goals for a happier and healthier life. The simple act of laying down and thinking back on your day will inspire you to be better each day, which will guide you to achieving your goals and aspirations

They write down their thoughts

Often times you lay awake at night thinking for hours. If you simply took the time to write down your thoughts and emotions, you will be able to sleep better and it will allow you to analyse yourself and your actions more accurately. Many successful leaders tend to do this because they get the time to review what they did or didn’t do in the day, or how they spoke to someone in the workplace. Writing down your thoughts will help you to clear your mind and slip into a peaceful, much-needed sleep.

They read interesting books

Great leaders and influential people read before bed. More often than not they’re reading self-help and learning books to give them advice on particular areas in their lives, but either way, reading something that provides you with something to incorporate into your life is well worth the time. Reading is also an ideal way to distract your mind and work your brain in different areas.

They set priorities for the next morning

Many people can vouch that one of the first steps to a successful day is making your bed. If you feel disheartened because of your bedroom setup, buy yourself some new duvets and comforters available for sale in South Africa to keep yourself motivated and inspired.

Wake up, make your bed and go over the list of tasks you need to get done for the day. Knowing you have things to attend to the following day will make you feel more prepared and ready to tackle the new day. Every minute you spend planning in advance saves ten minutes in execution.

They spend quality time with people who matter

Whether it’s family or friends, never neglect the people who matter most because of your job or business. While life is about earning a living and being successful, success can be showcased in various ways. Never give up quality time with your family for something that could be completed the following day. There are always going to be times when you need to work overtime, but you cannot be stretching yourself beyond capacity. Life is already stressful as it is. Don’t miss out on ‘life’ because of something temporary.

They get things done

Productive people use their skills and talents to reach their full potential. Simply by planning ahead to get things done, they make it their mission to work hard and commit themselves in every department of their lives. No matter what industry you’re in, there are going to be days when you’re feeling unproductive and slower than usual, but you just need to push through and try your best.

They go on a digital detox

Something that has become extremely popular is digital detoxing. While digital plays an important role in how we operate and do business, coming home and spending time on your mobile is not the way to go. In order to rest your body, mind and soul, you need to take a step back and reevaluate your priorities. Spending plenty of time on social media is wasted time that you could be spending with your family.

They spend time outdoors or meditating

Spending time outdoors is a wonderful opportunity to clear your mind. Sometimes when you’re feeling down or stressed, going for a walk or meditating can help you turn off your thoughts for the time being. These activities are also good in moments of anger as they allow you to calm down and rethink a particular situation Taking the time to unwind will leave you feeling focused and rejuvenated.

Network security measures your business should consider

With cyber security becoming such a growing concern for digital organisations, it’s essential for new businesses to understand that physical security is the foundation of a private and protected data security system. Network components have to be protected on a physical level by means of a sophisticated

control and server room. If you’re a company which relies heavily on your network to operate your business, you will need to implement the following security measures to keep your network safe at all times.

Lock up the server room

Having a control room in your organisation can help you to control and monitor all network systems from one connected room. Most small businesses haven’t always got the money to employ security staff that can watch your equipment throughout the night, therefore management will need to lock down the servers before they leave. Once you’ve done this, ensure that you have good, secure locks on your doors. Anytime the room is not being occupied, it needs to be locked with a keycode for best protection. If someone who isn’t supposed to be accessing your control room does, they will have physical access to the servers, switches, routers, cables and other devices in the room, which could be detrimental to your business.

Set up video surveillance

Once you’ve secured your room, you will need to consider CCTV video surveillance for your control room equipment list so that management can view what is happening in the server room at all times. The room’s security needs to be efficient in the sense that it cannot simply be a standard door lock which opens and closes the door to the room. If you install an authentication system along with your surveillance, you will be able to set up a biometrics scan system to unlock the doors to the control room. This way, senior employees will be able to monitor who goes in and out, so that if anything were to go wrong, they would be able to track it.

Locate your surveillance camera in a place that few people know about, and make sure it’s high enough to not be tampered with. This system can be connected to mobile or email. If a movement is detected or entrance is bypassed by someone who does not have access, management will pick it up immediately and someone will be able to attend to the situation. Ideally, over time it would be best to employ a team of control room staff who can physically monitor the room and premises at all times.

Make sure the most vulnerable devices are in that locked room

Make a habit of storing your most valuable, portable assets in your control room or safely in another locked-up room the minute you leave the office. People who are interested in breaking into your offices will find a way to do so. Be it for hacking purposes or simply to steal valuable items, malicious individuals will always find a way. But if you lock up your most valuable assets in a securely monitored room, the chances of them getting in without being noticed or caught are minimal. Also, try and put together a strategy for data capturing. The minute a hacker breaks into your offices and uses a sniffer software to capture your information, they will be able to access and download all your private business files.

Don’t forget to secure your workstations

As much as it’s important to lock up your valuable assets in or outside your control room, the same goes for your employees’ workstations. Make sure they’re aware of the consequences of a cyber attack and ensure they disconnect to the network every night. Hackers who manage to break into your business can make use of an unsecured computer that is connected to your network to access your important information.

If you have computers in the office that aren’t being used, be sure to disconnect them and lock the doors of empty offices to avoid unfortunate events from happening. It would also be beneficial for you to tweak your computer systems so that they require a biometric or card reader to access over a password. Passwords can always be hacked, so you need to make it impossible for unwanted guests to log onto your server.

Pack away the backups

Backup information often gets left around the office by workers themselves, and little do they know that they’re essential for disaster recovery. If possible, try and keep your backup technology in the control room, only allowing specific individuals to access the information on behalf of the business. And, if you don’t want employees to copy any company information for their own personal use, disable all floppy drives, USB ports and any other means that could be used to connect external drives to their computers.

Protect your printers

It might sound odd, but printers are a huge security risk for companies. Modern-day printers memorise and store documents for future use, so if hackers decide to steal a printer, they will be able to access that information with ease. Make sure your printers cannot be accessed by all employees, and ensure that they are locked away in safe rooms. It’s also important to have a policy in place where any extra documents get shredded. That means that there will be no information lurking around in backup articles.

Final words

Business security starts by the physical systems you put into place. Hackers and thieves are incredibly intelligent when it comes to breaking in and achieving what they want. In fact, all the firewalls in the world won’t stop an intruder. But physical access will. Keep your business on lock-down the minute you leave.

How the digital era has impacted art

Digital technology and the internet has had a significant impact on the transition of art. From the days of using raw materials to express your emotions, the digital world has now diversified art and made it easier for artists to tell their story. Although positive, it has also made it increasingly difficult for artists to compete with other innovative minds. This means that they really have to stretch their imaginations to be noticed.  

Especially for artists who want to compete with the international world, the digital space has made it easier to transform drawings, through digital tools, to enhance the creative aspect of the art piece. The internet has also proven to be helpful, as it can provide inspiration and it connect artists with each other and their viewers online. These three things have led to a massive shift in arts and culture.

Understanding digital art

With the rapid development of digital innovations, digital still cannot compete with the human mind. Creativity cannot be compared on a digital scale, so as much as the digital age and the advent of a new millennium is impacting art, it’s only influencing the direction of which medium is used when creating art.  

There will always be mixed emotions about technology and art because people feel that it has taken away the unique aspect of perfecting your work by hand, and others have chosen to embrace the change it’s brought. But what people forget to remember is that as much as our lives and worlds change, so to do our expressions, both in what we feel and how we wish to express it. These are all contributing factors that technology is helping us achieve. For example, before the digital era, artists would have to buy vast amounts of equipment to help them create and execute their work, but today people have direct access to these resources online. They’re able to learn more techniques and tools to benefit their creativity.

A great example of how technology has transformed African art is how easy it is for artists to bring their message across with abstract resource which really resonates with their audiences. There are so many types of creative technology that can help to enhance your piece of work, such as animation, illustration and audiovisuals. All of these play a role in speeding up the production and quality of your work.

Whether you make use of animation and moving visuals to create digital art or stick to your more traditional hand-painted art, the internet is still helping artists to get their work out there, and be appreciated by people who may not have been able to find their work before. Quite simply, the internet has made it possible for people to interact with others over a particular interest, which is what artists need to seek inspiration.  

The benefits of the internet

There new forms of art that you can experience today are net art, digital installation art and virtual reality, which have all had an impact on traditional art. The entertainment industries are making use of these types of art more often to complement their works of art, which in turn supports the artists and their work.

New and existing artists have turned to the internet to help jump-start their careers, as the internet provides the opportunity for them to get their work viewed and appreciated by millions across the globe, not just at your local art gallery. The digital word offers endless benefits, and becoming known is only one. It’s a great space for people to sell their work online and to become categorised under a specific niche.

The bottom line

It’s because of the internet that people are starting to understand the message behind art and appreciate creativity for what it is. Although people may feel that technology has disrupted the African art industries, and changed the way people perceive it, the internet has only influenced it. No matter how advanced technology and the internet becomes, the idea is generated by a human mind. Without the human aspect, there wouldn’t be creativity and purpose. People wouldn’t be able to convey messages through art.

Much like every other aspect of life, technology helps to solve problems and make life easier for us. When you help artists through technology, not only are they able to complete a job faster, but they are able to become known, appreciated and valued for their talent across the globe. Again, without the artist, the paintbrush would not be able to produce the work. The advancement in technology and the internet should not be seen as a threat, but rather as an element to assist with the progress. In fact, it’s a helping aid for artists to better express themselves through creative mediums. Just what they’ve always wanted.

How a video wall can help you achieve your business goals

Video walls are used to support company goals because they are put out to attract the consumer, which in turn grows your customer’s engagement and interaction with your brand. But, beyond the display, there needs to be a purpose. Before you set up a huge brand-focused video wall, you need to determine the reason behind it, and how it will be used to help you to increase revenue and customer experience.

Here are the three main reasons why video walls are a great investment:

  • Better promote brand awareness

 

Ideally, customers prefer to digest information visually over reading. In order to achieve this, you can interact with your customers through an interactive wall display which is both interesting and appealing. When you have something that allows for touch, customer experience is immediately boosted because customers can physically get involved and communicate with your brand.

No matter the industry you’re in, you will always have customers who you need to attract. Be it retail, construction, advertising or hospitality, providing them with branded content that speaks of your brand will help them to better understand who you are and what you do. It’s all about taking the opportunity to educate and engage with people, without doing it a boring way that deters them away from you.

  • Help employees gain organisational insights

 

Video walls are not necessarily for external customers to view but sometimes when you use them internally it can increase productivity and help operations run smoothly. When you have everyone on the same page, it is extremely easy to function properly. These walls also allow you to make real-time decisions which involve different departments. It’s a structured approach to organisation and it is actually a lot more affordable than you think. Take the health industry, for example, you can use a video wall as an internal reminder or schedule for operations. Everyone in the hospital who is involved in a specific procedure will be able to see what rooms the staff are in, what time they need to be there and what they need to bring along for preparation. Another great example is for companies which are in the transportation business. You will be able to see all the information for dispatch, keeping everyone informed and up to date. In essence, these walls will keep everyone moving to one key goal.

  • Improve teamwork and communication

 

In corporate environments, one of the biggest advantages of having a video wall is the ability to use it as a device to improve teamwork and participation. Everyone will always be involved with what is going on, and everyone will be kept in the loop of what the different departments are doing. For example, you will be able to showcase project information with videos and imagery or showcase recent achievements if need be. This type of interaction will encourage the departments to better communicate with one another. From brainstorming meetings to new product designs, insights and motivational videos, these walls are ideal.

Other, more specific benefits of video walls include:

Attention-grabbing: Depending on the industry you’re in, you need to remember that customers are flooded with very similar information every day. In order to be different, you need to do something that is very different to what they are used to. So, create something that is attention-grabbing and interesting. Technology allows you to give your customers an incredible experience, so why not take your brand to the next level by engaging with your customers through something like this, which adds value to their lives.

Manageable: The great thing about video walls is that the software on which they operate is usually easy-to-use, therefore it does not require a specialist to operate. These walls allow businesses to showcase a variety of different content and businesses can change things up as often as they wish to. This is also a major perk because businesses can change their visuals, in real-time, according to what works best and engages their customers in that moment.

Cost-effective: The general perception around a video wall controller is that it can only be used for bigger companies which attract hundreds and thousands of customers. This isn’t the case. Although pricey, the return on investment is well worth it. Not to mention, any company which wants to get ahead of their competitors should consider installing a video wall as an alternative to other marketing collateral. These innovative and interactive points of sale may do your company more justice than any printed advert could.

Time-saving: As mentioned, these walls can be used to communicate a variety of different messages, internally and externally. And quickly. You are able to broadcast messages to people faster than any marketing material can be delivered. This will also attract more customers because of the quick, consistent communication they’re experiencing with your brand.