Seventhman Blog

  1. BYOD Policy: Practical Tips for Small Business Owners

    "byod policy"I believe that some of you may have allowed remote working in your organization to help maximize productivity and minimize the cost of doing business.  Yet, some of you may be worried about the challenges that your BYOD crowd brings – from viruses, risk of data loss and other security nightmares that you can only imagine.  In an era where information resides on the cloud for everyone to easily access, having this flexibility may come at the high price of compromising the privacy of your company’s sensitive data.  If your employees work from mobile devices, the risk is two times higher.  How can you define that blurred line between work and personal computing in a way that’s mutually beneficial for both parties?

    BYOD Policy: Do You Really Need One?

    From social media, cloud computing, mobile, to virtualization of all types – we hear how small business owners face more issues with each new technology created.  Now, with the Bring-Your-Own-Device (or BYOD) movement, we’ve added more headaches to help desk as people ask for more support in accessing emails, databases and other valuable data from remote location… all in the name of productivity.  While empowering your employees to use their own devices to find solutions to your business needs may be great, having a policy can strengthen that trust factor through awareness and proper implementation.  As they say, with freedom and power comes responsibility.

    Creating a Robust BYOD Policy for Your Business

    To start, I’d say it’s not an easy job to write policies.. no matter what they are for.  Thanks to BYOD policy templates like those from White House BYOD Toolkit and IT Manager, you now have a guide to creating your own.  While it’s tempting to just copy it all, know that no two businesses are alike.  You still need to customize that policy to fit in with your current needs.  Make sure that you tailor your policy to your business code and ethics.  It helps to keep these pointers in mind too:

    1. Define what devices will be supported and what the network requirements are.
    2. Define user, corporate and IT responsibilities – including monitoring of usage and right to privacy
    3. Create a simple, clear and consistent policy that will cover all servers and technologies used
    4. Make sure to clearly define who owns the data or application on a device – from resetting a device to data deletion
    5. Check on what you’re all currently using to help you set up usage and sharing guidelines
    6. Use complex passwords, PINs and data encryption to add more security
    7. Restrict apps and choose them wisely before allowing your people to use it
    8. Manage wisely – from having a help desk to assist your employees to management software that keep tabs of data flow
    9. Define the consequences of policy violation (which can include job termination)
    10. Educate your employees at all times and implement effectively

     

    The whole point of having a BYOD policy is to protect your rights, as well as those of your employees.  The last thing you want is to restrict them to the point that working remotely feels more miserable than having to show up in the office.  Clarity and consistency are the keys to your policy’s success.  Good Luck!

    … and a Happy Thanksgiving from us all!  -Shaleen

     

     

  2. The Telecommuting Case: Innovator or Disruptor?

    "telecommuting"Just when the flames of Yahoo’s telecommuting memo is slowly dying, we hear Best Buy adding more fuel to the fire.  I can’t resist not to jump in and make a case for telecommuting.  Last week, I wrote about Employee Appreciation Day and how flexible time can become the highest motivator for your people to do their jobs well.  Guess what?  A case against working from home is posted on the Web, saying that such activity is not only counter-productive, but a creativity killer as well.  While I’m not against research, they have forgotten to mention that collaboration technology is improving and more employers are saving valuable money that would have been spent on travel and office space.  Do they have the most current study on work patterns?  If innovation is said to happen in those unexpected moments when you bump into someone from another department, then.. there’s simply no need to plan team huddles to brainstorm an idea as it can happen in a snap, right?

    It’s Not the Distance

    For over two decades of having worked with remote teams across the globe, I would say that it’s not an issue of where you work — but how you manage your team to produce the best results.  By management, I’m not talking about micromanaging or this destructive habit of trying to make marionettes out of your team.  There’s nothing inherently wrong with remote work and it can even help you attract top talents to your brand.  But at some point, telecommuting has to be managed because the potential for abuse is still there.  Honestly, if someone’s consistently producing great work – I don’t really care much if s/he’s working from Jupiter or Mars.  If they can’t do their job well from a distance, what makes you think they will do better when they’re only six feet away?  But, each time I hear someone saying that s/he has the right to telecommute, the problem is always about how things are being managed from within; not telecommuting.

    Remote Work: It’s Not Picture-Perfect

    Like working in the office, telecommuting has its share of benefits and drawbacks.  One thing’s for sure though – employees are happier when they are given a chance to be home-based.  This is why they were aghast when Yahoo’s Chief announced that telecommuters report back to the office by June.  Those who are running a work-at-home program can do well if expectations are clear from the very start – from defining the job scope to deadlines.  There is a major difference between working from home occasionally and doing it all-year round though.  Managers may just not be readily available when you need instant help.  Then, there are also issues on data security, poor performance evaluations and lesser promotions for people who work from home.  If you ask why people still clock in from 9-5, they might tell you it’s all about that good ol’ feeling of how your colleagues think highly of you even if they don’t know what exactly it is that you do.

    The Reality of Working from Home

    Did you know that majority of corporate America spends telecommuting hours – only after they have worked in the office?  That’s time spent on checking emails and writing reports after office hours.  The truth is that managers are still glued to doing the old way of things, that your commitment and productivity is measured with the time you spent in the office.  This is why they want to see you and are leery of those who are out of sight.  Also, they are having difficulty measuring how well you have worked if you do it out of the office.  While there are tasks that will benefit more from face time, the future of work tends to shift from this as people are finding balance between regular communication and working as one.  Digital tools have yet to solve the issue on how to get things done when work becomes more complex.

    There’s no doubt that we will see better technology to make telecommuting seamless.  The question is not much about which platform to use – It’s more on how the company culture support autonomy.

    Do you think that telecommuting is the future of work?  I leave you with that question.

  3. Building Loyalty in the Age of Virtual Teams

    "building loyalty"Creating loyal workers in the outsourcing world may seem like some fairy tale in the digital world.  But, is it really possible to create an atmosphere of trust, respect and honesty in a niche where attrition rate is on a record high? Last time, I have shared my five tips on how you can successfully manage your virtual team and this time, I’ll give you an insider’s approach on how your business can grow one seed at a time – through harnessing the power of dedicated and motivated teams, wherever they are located in the world.

    Flexibility at work

    Outsourcing, telecommuting, freelancing, remote work, virtual assistance and and so on.. What do they have in common?  Value – that they bring to your business.  Just take a look at this infographic and you’ll see how working from home is fast becoming the norm, embraced even by a few Fortune 500 companies.  The temporary is now the new ordinary in an age where independent contractors and on-call workers are competing with sourcing vendors and agencies.  More brick and mortar businesses are seeing amazing results from those who work remotely than those in the office.  Does it mean that virtual teams are better than your traditional team?

    The Invisible Tie that Binds

    For many years, I have managed people in various locations that making them all work together for a common goal seemed like a climb to Mt. Everest.  I’ve worked with managers and teams in the same office and I come to realize that when people work closer, they often take things for granted.  Soon, your office becomes a breeding ground for complacency.  There were instances when team leaders would go through all the trouble of sending unnecessary emails when their teams are just a few feet away.  It could have been faster if they cross that physical distance and announce the news themselves.  It’s just that with virtual teams, people are making the extra effort to make collaboration work – helping them maximize the best tools around.  It is the absence of face time that helped, I’d say.

    Building Engagement in Dynamic Teams

    Those who offer remote work as an option has already taken one step forward in motivating a person to be at his/her best.  It’s a win-win for both.  Now, the question is: Can you build the same loyalty in the world of outsourcing?  Whether you source locally or offshore, it is 100% possible if you put in mind that it’s not technology that makes your business – it’s your people.  Trust is the very foundation of it all.  You will always reap what you sow, so start to genuinely care and give your team the chance to shine.  Be fair.  Treat everyone with due respect.  Encourage them to ask questions and be open to dialogue. You may never know that the next big idea is just waiting to unfold.

    Listen…

  4. Managing Virtual Teams: Five Keys to Success

    "virtual team management"Do you believe that teams working remotely can outperform those who work in the same location?  Virtual collaboration is shifting from trends to norms as more people are working from anywhere in the world.  They all have to thank mobile technology with this new-found freedom.  There’s no denying that we are entering the age of the global workforce and soon, team members working in the same cubicle will be obsolete.  We see teams working from their homes, across cities and even across the globe.  Everyone works independently this time.  Aren’t we so lucky to live in such a digitally-connected world?

    The Fallacy of Face-to-Face Meetings

    While it is undeniable that nothing beats the usual way people meet to brainstorm and synergize, leading teams across different time zones and conquering cultural divides can be felt in the virtual world.  Small businesses are taking advantage of running a virtual team as it means flexibility and minimal cost.  Though studies have found that collaboration across distance is tougher to manage, it is manageable still.  Proximity may promote frequent communication, but it can also be a hurdle when trying to accomplish complex tasks that need more focus.  A good example is those in the research and development industries, where their network of operations are scattered across the globe as they compete and work towards excellence.  The degree of expertise in these teams are more extensive, where they can work for the same goals while having a higher tolerance for diversity.  This diversity may cause problems in communication but overall, it enhances problem-solving skills so everyone can come up with a faster and better solution for a particular project.

    How You Can Lead a Virtual Team to Succeed Anywhere in the World

    I have worked with virtual teams for over two decades now and managing people in dispersed teams means helping them realize their potentials.  There are many socio-emotional barriers to cross and making sure that your remote team commits to your business goals is a learning process, even after this long.  What’s the secret formula?  There is NO secret! The future of work starts with having people skills so you can create trust, connection, communication, collaboration and commitment among them.  You have to:

    1. Place trust at the heart of your work relationship with your virtual team and employ strategies for building relationships over time

    2. Promote the idea of self-leadership among your team, so they can be self-sufficient in managing their work

    3. Set expectations early by communicating with your team what you expect for them to accomplish – from work hours, deliverables, status reports, to conference calls

    4. Stay virtually connected by utilizing platforms like Skype, GoToMeeting, Google Hangout and many more.. It’s all about creating an online water cooler for your team to feel that they’re stepping into the office.  It’s all about sharing ideas and breaking the ‘virtual ice’.

    5. Use new technology wisely as there are a plethora of tools available for you to use in managing your virtual team

    It all comes down to RESPECT.. and 360 degrees of communication at all levels.  By fostering a global mindset among your team, everyone will feel that they are part of something bigger than their geographic location.  This will make them respect the diversity of work, its schedules and stay committed to each other in meeting deadlines.  The degree of competitiveness lessens and collaboration heightens.

    Are you ready to keep your team together?  

    Bottomline is – the workplace has changed and we all have to adapt to survive and thrive.

  5. What You Don’t Know About the Global Workforce

    "global workforce"The global workforce is rising and we can’t ignore it this time.  What started as tech startups are now operating online services to countries across the globe.  We hear plenty of businesses join the global market, as they utilize workforce from countries like India, Philippines, Mexico, China and so on.  There have been plenty of predictions written in the outsourcing arena as well and too many success stories to tell.  But little do many know that it all started with a dream… a seed that took plenty of time and money to grow into a global business, thanks to the help of outsourced service providers.

    Let’s take for example the case of  Xoom, a business that provides money transfer service to 30 countries.  If you notice, the industry once dominated by Western Union is now having to compete with businesses online which employ workers offshore to provide customer service on a much more personal and cultural level.  This strategy can also help where customer service is called for.

    Yet, there are those who view this as a monopoly on a global scale – where cost is the main driver to winning the game.  Not everyone has a happy ending to tell and managing a global workforce is a daunting task.  If you want to succeed, you need to have a global mindset that’s open to new ways of thinking and solving problems, no matter where you are located.  It’s all about agility – in talent, management, and culture as each business face this new world where expertise becomes a rarity.  Just how can you set up a business utilizing the best skills at the right cost?

    Having a mix of workers from various backgrounds can become an asset or a challenge.  Just imagine this: By the year 2050, there will be an estimated 1.5 billion people who are 65 years and older.  Demand for labor will increase and the median age as well, as technologies make it easier for people to work anytime, anywhere.  As global networks grow, we will realize that the more diversity we have, the better it will be for us to come up with solutions.  The question now is: Are we ready to learn how to work with people outside our demographics.. so we can bring out the best in everyone?

    Perhaps, we’re one step closer to crushing these road blocks in this age of uncertainty, where we will have to find ways to working around time zones and trust issues – which is the most basic problem of them all.