Category Archives: Technology

Three Days of Thanksgiving!

In celebration of Thanksgiving this coming Thursday, I’m going to write a series of gratitude posts starting today.  Please feel free to share what you’re grateful for in the comments, or link me to your own posts about Thanksgiving.  I’d love to see what everyone else has to say on the matter.

Without further delay:  Today, I am thankful for technology, and more specifically, for the Internet.

Call me a nerd if you wish, but just think for a moment about all the wonderful things we can do thanks to the world wide web.  Consider all the information we can access with just a few keystrokes and the click of a button.  Have a question?  You can bet Google has an answer for you!  Need to do your banking?  Get your furnace serviced?  Make travel plans?  Buy or sell your condo?  Buy a gift for a friend?  The Internet is there for you, simplifying all your daily tasks.

More than that, though, the internet brings people together.  We have massive social networks helping old friends to reconnect, communities like Reddit and Livejournal helping people find those who share common interests (no matter how obscure), and thousands of forums for learning and sharing advice, knowledge, and humor.  And on top of that, we have chatting capabilities and video conferencing so that no matter where in the world your loved ones are, you can talk to them face-to-face, all thanks to the internet.  Sure, there are trolls and flame wars are easy to find, but so are friends, new and old.

As I think about Thanksgiving, I think about the friends I’ve made online, the connections that have been strengthened, and the extra time I have to spend with them because I have the capability to do so many things from my smartphone or computer.

I grew up before the internet became such a widely used thing, but as an adult, I’m not sure what I would do without it!

 

 

 

Business Process Improvement – Learning Something New

One of the things I love about my job in internet marketing is that I am constantly learning something new.  Either I’m watching as tried-and-true tactics change and evolve, or I’m learning about new products or industries from my clients.

Right now, I’m working with (among other things) a software company, a laser tag business, a car wash, an hvac company, and a project management system.  While some of those things are more easily understood than others, I’ve found that the more complex businesses can be equally as interesting.

For example, one of my clients sells process improvement and value stream mapping software.  When I first started working with them, I didn’t know anything at all about their products or who would use them.  Of course, we’d put together a creative brief explaining a lot about the company, but even that was written with a lot of highly technical terms that didn’t make a whole lot of sense to me.

As time has gone on, I’ve had the opportunity to do some writing for them, and as part of that, I’ve come to understand a lot more about what it means to improve business processes.  That isn’t something reserved for giant factories or multi-billion-dollar organizations – just about every company can benefit from breaking down the steps they use to complete various duties and finding a way to do those things more efficiently.  The same with value stream mapping – it’s really just a way to break things down and find a way for companies to work faster, smarter, and better.

What has your job taught you lately?

Reflections on Being a Remote Worker

For the past eight years, I’ve worked mostly from home, “visiting” my companies’ offices by phone or video conference as needed and commuting in person just one day a week.  Overall, it’s been a really positive experience, but my friends and family members often ask me how it really works, as if maybe I’m not working as much or as hard as they are.

Now that more and more people find themselves telecommuting as companies strive to hire the most qualified individuals regardless of location, I thought it would be a good time to compose a post on must-have technologies and tactics that keep remote workers happy and productive.

Video Conferencing Technology:  Naturally, one of the hardest things about working from home is the inability to communicate face-to-face with one’s coworkers.  However, with the right equipment, you can have telepresence even if you lack physical presence!  It’s quick to set up a video chat, and with technology like Go-to-Meeting and Google Hangouts, a remote worker can get in touch with her supervisor, colleagues, or clients in minutes.  I’d say it’s every bit as easy as walking down the hall to a shared conference room!

Distraction-Free Workspace:  When I first started working from home, I had small children and it took some time before they understood that I was “at work” even though I was right there with them.  Heck, even my friends had some trouble understanding that I wasn’t able to get together at random or accept their unplanned visits.  One thing that really helped was setting aside a physical space for my work so that my loved ones could see me there and immediately recognize that I was busy.  Right away, this space helped to reduce distractions so that I could get my tasks done.

Scheduled Breaks:  When you’re working at home, it might seem harmless to throw in a load of laundry, grab a snack or coffee, take the dog for a walk, or answer a personal phone call.  That’s debatable.  While you don’t need to be rigid in your routines to get things done, it definitely helps to have set break times.  Otherwise, it’s very easy for one quick chore to lead to another, and another, until an hour has passed.  Then you’ll find yourself working late into the evening in order to catch up.  Think of the breaks you might take while in a corporate office, and set a timer so that you duplicate those breaks at home.  Not only will you stay focused, but you’ll have something to look forward to throughout the day!

If you’re new to working from home, give yourself some time to work out the details.  Don’t be afraid to remind your family that although you’re present, you have an obligation to your career.  And make sure to take advantage of the many solutions designed to make your life easier.  Things like online planners and calendars, organizers for your office, and webcams or video conference equipment can make your new life as a remote worker immeasurably more productive!

Can you think of any tips that I missed?  Share your ideas in the comments!