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5 Tips for Successfully Working Remotely in the Long Term

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Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

It’s been about two years now since teams were forced, almost overnight, to shift to working remotely. While many companies worried that things would fall apart, most found that business continued smoothly. And, that there were actually benefits, including saving money, boosting productivity and improving employees’ quality of life. As a result, as the end of the pandemic appears to possibly be in sight, leaders are beginning to contemplate whether or not to make a shift back to working in-person. 

Related: Pros and Cons of Remote Work: Will Your Employees Adapt?

Not surprisingly, many companies, including my own work, are opting to make a shift to at least some amount of remote working for the long term. Mark Lobosco of LinkedIn notes that, “[n]ow that companies have built the framework — and experienced the cost and time savings associated with it — there’s no real reason to turn back.” 

Suresh Kumar of Walmart supports this sentiment by acknowledging that their team has not only coped but they’ve “actually thrived.” Kumar says that they are now “more focused on the things that have the greatest impact for [their] customers, associates and the business.” Working remotely has led to “great momentum [that they] need to figure out how to carry forward.” 

As working remotely becomes a shift that isn’t a short-term, reactionary one but instead is a long-term, strategic change, leaders need to focus. They need to make sure their teams are getting the most out of it and that they have all of the right tools and systems in place to be successful. 

To help leaders do that, here are five tips to help make your team more successful while working remotely. 

Focus on communication

In a 2020 study that looked at the State of Remote Working, the biggest challenge reported by employees was struggles with communication and collaboration. At this point, most teams have some routines and systems for communication in place. However, it’s an area that leaders should regularly be evaluating, adjusting and improving. 

In improving systems of communication, it’s helpful to keep in mind that with many different channels of communication available, it can be hard to know what channel to use when. For example, when should employees use instant messaging, email, project boards or video chats. 

Providing clear expectations of when each channel should be used can help to avoid both miscommunication and duplicative communication. Plus, it helps everyone feel more comfortable and confident when connecting with team members. 

Finally, when considering communication, make sure that you’re allowing for regular check-ins with team members and that you’re creating space for informal check-ins. This is something that is often lost when teams are working from home. Check-ins can help to improve relationships and can ensure that all team members are on the same page. 

Related: How to Manage Remote Teams to Improve Internal Communication

Be thoughtful about scheduling 

In that same study noted above, employees reported that the opportunity for a flexible schedule is the greatest benefit of working remotely. But, while flexible scheduling offers many positives for employees and teams, it can also make it challenging for team members to connect. 

Leaders should be aware of this tension and think through ways to deal with this issue. There are a variety of options including scheduling blocks of time each day when all team members are available, having team members always set their status to away or active or having employees calendar their schedule and make it available to the entire team. 

There is no one right way to do this and it largely depends on the needs of each team. Leaders should proactively address scheduling to ensure that it doesn’t become a point of tension or frustration. 

Make sure all team members understand their role

When working remotely, it’s easier for tasks to fall through the cracks or for employees to focus on the wrong things. Managers can prevent this by working to ensure that all roles are clearly outlined. Some tips for making sure this becomes second nature include: 

  • Always ending meetings or emails with specific action items assigned to a team member

  • Clearly defining and assign any new tasks or projects

  • Have regular check-ins with all team members that include a clear task list and updates on ongoing projects

  • Use a project board or project management tool where projects are assigned and tracked

Prioritize data 

Despite the best efforts of good communication and check-ins, the reality for many leaders is that they simply don’t have the same opportunities to evaluate on-going work from their team when working remotely. Working in person means regular collaboration, informal check-ins, the opportunity to see and respond to body language and more natural accountability. 

To compensate for this, managers should prioritize data and documentation. This serves as a way to track progress, evaluate productivity and ensure that teams are using their time and resources as effectively as possible. 

Heather Wilson of TaxJar, a company of 160 employees that are completely remote, advises that, “a good rule of thumb to consider for working remotely: if it isn’t documented, it didn’t happen.”

Find ways to enable all team members to connect 

A final tip for leaders is to find ways to make sure their team is connected. One of the greatest risks of working remotely is that employees feel isolated and lonely. Leaders should work to combat this by creating opportunities for all members of the team to connect and to build personal relationships.

There should be opportunities for entire teams to get together, to celebrate the work of teammates and to share out-of-work interests. John Furneaus, the CEO of Hive, shares some of the ways his team has successfully found ways to connect, “[t]he most important keys to remote work at a startup have been weekly stand-ups. At Hive, we all get on Zoom once a week to chat and give shoutouts to the team.”

The reality for many companies is that working remotely is here to stay. And, while that comes with a number of benefits, it also presents some challenges for leaders. Rather than simply falling into habits that have emerged from a sudden shift to working remotely, leaders should take the time to make sure their teams are getting the most out of working remotely. These five tips will be a good start to guide you through this process. 

Related: 5 Ways to Build Remote Leadership Skills

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Why You Should Start a Business Only While You Have a Job

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Many people that I meet tell me that they dream of starting their own . I always ask them, “Then why don’t you?” They typically respond by saying that they have so many financial and personal responsibilities, that they can’t just quit their job to start a company, etc. Then I tell them my story …



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Related: How to Use Your Current Job to Start Your Next Business

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How brands can develop a Web3 entry strategy

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At an increasing pace, brands are looking for an on-ramp to Web3 to connect with their customers. Whether it be a presence in a virtual world (fast-food chain Wendy’s opened a restaurant in Meta’s Horizon World) or with digital goods (Coca-Cola launched virtual fashion items in Decentraland), companies are experimenting with attracting customers using these new environments.

Often, they’re doing so with a sense of FOMO — fear of missing out — as they race to capture the hearts and minds of Generation Z and Millennial consumers on these emerging platforms. 

The gap between Web3 interest and current experiences presents an opportunity

Our recent survey of over 700 online consumers reveals that they’re indeed interested in using Web3 to interact with companies: 51% said they would be interested in using these technologies to engage with brands. In the same breath, however, consumers say that brands aren’t doing a good job offering Web3 experiences that fully engage them, with 48% agreeing that companies are largely unsuccessful with their current initiatives. 

This finding reveals an opportunity for brands: They can experiment with compelling ways to meet the consumer appetite for Web3 and welcome new customers to their businesses through these new channels. 

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Developing a Web3 entry strategy today

Although many opportunities exist for brands using Web3, many companies have difficulty defining what kind of experience they want to develop at this stage of the technology. The complexity and cost involved in developing extensive experiences within these environments – including the risk that consumer preferences might suddenly change — have limited many companies’ efforts to experiment.

Non-fungible tokens (NFTs), in particular, can serve brands as an on-ramp to Web3 because they have immediate practical applicability for business. They also contain future utility for other Web3 applications in distributed autonomous organizations (DAOs) and the metaverse. 

The shift from collectible to utility NFTs

In 2021, much of the excitement around NFTs revolved around collecting rare, one-of-a-kind NFTs to post as a profile picture or hold in a digital wallet.

On the brand side of the equation, this manifested itself in companies launching collectible NFT projects that drove buzz around the initiative but largely resulted in little benefit to the collector. Since then, the conversation around NFTs from a brand perspective has shifted from them being used primarily as collectibles to utility NFTs that confer benefits to the holder. 

Our research among consumers reflects this shift.

To date, many companies have experimented with collectible NFTs to drive buzz as part of their Web3 initiatives. However, when it comes to including NFTs as part of the brand experience, customers indicate they would like to see a shift in this strategy. They indicate that utility NFTs (containing additional benefits) drive 5.1% higher purchase intent over the traditional collectible NFTs launched by many companies.

Top-performing utility types for NFTs

Customers also have specific types of utility benefits they’re seeking from NFT-enabled brand programs, and the value that companies can deliver to them as a result.

Consumers say the top benefit they’re looking for in utility NFTs is a way to be rewarded for their brand loyalty, with 37.4% indicating that it increases their brand engagement. Other top benefits users look for in utility NFTs: a way to support organizations that drive social impact (27.8%), a branded community with exclusive offers (26.6%), and a way to obtain event tickets (23.9%).

NFT-enabled brand communities drive exclusive experiences

As the buzz around collectible NFTs fades, the next logical step for companies looking to attract Gen Z and Millennial customers is to build a brand community enabled by utility NFTs.

NFT brand communities can not only attract new customers with digital assets, but can provide added benefits to deliver added engagement and value. By wrapping these benefits in an active brand community powered by NFTs, companies can deliver continual engagement for customers — and earn brand loyalty as a result. 

In these groups, brands can extend the conversation with their customers and deliver special perks, benefits and content to loyal members, such as access to special events, discounted offers and behind-the-scenes interviews. One benefit of these private membership communities is that brands can engage NFT holders in a curated, brand-safe environment.

Specifically for brand communities, our research of 700-plus consumers indicated that certain benefits would make them more likely to become NFT holders, with members-only discounts at the top (43.1%), followed by access to special product features (late check-out at a hotel, for example) (31.5%), and access to exclusive merchandise (30.7%). These types of added, exclusive amenities create additional value for Gen Z and Millennial customers. 

Taking advantage of Web3 today

Web3 technologies offer compelling opportunities for brands to immerse their customers in virtual experiences and to engage in decentralized ways. But because these technologies will take time to mature, many brands view them as available only in the future. In the meantime, they’re experimenting with one-off initiatives to attract Gen Z and Millennial customers on these platforms so as not to miss out on emerging opportunities. 

NFTs offer a practical on-ramp to Web3 for brands who want to experiment with opportunities that NFTs unlock now, as well as future-proof their strategies as virtual worlds mature and develop.

The best news is that companies can start with branded NFT communities today, with web technologies that users are widely adopting. Whether it’s using NFTs as a part of loyalty programs, as social impact initiatives, or for community building, these digital tokens offer a compelling way to attract Gen Z and Millennial customers and keep them loyal to your brand.

Dave Dickson is the founder of PicoNFT.

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What ‘Everything as Code’ is and why it matters

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Simply put, “Everything as Code” (EaC) is a way of managing IT infrastructure and building systems and tools that support modern software applications. It takes the manual processes and activities that people do and turns them into software code so that machines can do those things instead. Anything that teams need to figure out, agree on and control gets documented and “codified” as a configuration file that humans can read, and then machines can execute. 

Imagine if your kitchen could somehow understand your favorite recipe and then automatically choose the right tools for prepping it, the right process for cooking it, and even the right wine and dessert pairings, and then serve that exact meal to you over and over and over, every time you asked for it.  Sounds impossible? …It is. But if your kitchen were a public cloud provider, and your meal was a software application, it’s pretty much exactly what we’re talking about here.  

Everything as Code lets developers tell their cloud providers (or their local systems) exactly what they need in order to “serve up” the perfect application, and then the systems and tools and processes all execute that plan to make it so.

Using development best practices to accelerate time to market

EaC has been as much a cultural shift as a technological one because it completely revolutionized the way developers think about building, deploying and updating software. For example, before “as code,” if, say, a small business needed to run an application, they’d need to take a lot of steps. An IT administrator would order a physical server with the right amount of physical onboard disk, CPU and memory. It would arrive a few weeks later, and the admin would have to install the operating system, configure the kernel for maximum efficiency and then hook the server up to a physical network. All these steps were time-consuming, prone to human error and not easily scalable — and just a few of the things that had to be done before software developers could actually start running their apps.

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With an “as code” approach, a developer can describe the same infrastructure in a policy configuration file, which tells their chosen cloud provider exactly the right type of server environment to “spin up.” The cloud provider can have it set up in seconds, and development can start immediately. Later, if the developer needs to make a change or move from a test environment to a production environment, they can just modify the file in code, resubmit it and the cloud provider will have it updated in seconds. This increases speed and scale exponentially since machines can execute code far faster than humans can perform tasks, and if done right, it can also eliminate human error and repetitive work.

Popular “as code” examples

Two of the most popular examples of “as code” that are part of the Everything as Code movement are infrastructure as code and policy as code

Infrastructure as code

Modern software runs in a hyper-virtualized environment, which adds complexity but also allows an unparalleled level of control. Application code is run in virtual containers, themselves running on virtual machines, all connected with virtual networking — all of which can be controlled with software code. Today, instead of ordering a server, developers can simply define what their app needs and then submit that request as software code. The cloud platforms execute that code and automatically build the environment that was requested. What is really important about this is that it allows companies to “scale on demand” — they pay for the actual usage at any given time, and they can scale up or down as needed. 

Policy as code

This is when policies are a bunch of rules codified and enforced across different systems. Think of “policy as code” as a set of guardrails that determine what is allowed to happen and what can never happen. Policy is decoupled — or separated — from the app or infrastructure. That way, if a policy needs to be changed, a developer doesn’t have to update — or worry about changing or breaking — the rest of the app or infrastructure. That means you can change the coding for the policy without changing the coding for the app. Open Policy Agent (OPA) is a great example of policy as code — OPA is a general-purpose policy engine that provides a single standard for policy that can be enforced anywhere.

Top three benefits of an everything-as-code approach

When you let humans be creative and think through hard problems, and you let them collaborate, share and imagine, we all know magic can happen. Everything as Code lets humans decide what’s right, and then tasks machines with making that so. That means you get the best out of everything, including: 

  • Repeatability: All processes, policies and descriptions are written down in code, so they are easily replicated. Let’s say a developer working for a global bank wants to set a policy that says, “Only users located in the central U.S. can access business accounts between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. CT.” If another developer located in Europe wants to implement the same policy, but with an updated time zone, they can easily replicate the policy to do so. This saves the second developer time, frees them from reinventing the wheel, and also means less room for error.
  • Scalability: Defining configuration as code means that systems can scale up and down on demand with little risk of error. And since environments are literally defined in code and can be spun up anywhere, testing gets easier too. Development, testing and production environments can be as close to identical as possible, and lessons learned in one can be applied to the others with policy changes alone. With an “as code” approach, developers can test their changes before they are put into production, reducing the risk of errors and security risks. Automation also frees up developers’ time and allows them to focus on more differentiated work. 
  • Security: When security policy and configuration are moved out of dedicated black boxes, PDFs and team meetings and are instead codified in policy files, teams can treat those policy files just like any other software file. That means they check it in and peer-review it. They iterate on it and implement that security everywhere. It can be rolled forward or back as needed. And, when teams need to prove to auditors that their policy is in compliance, they can easily point to the code. 

When done right, “everything as code” lets teams define what’s right and then lets the systems take it from there. It democratizes the ability to build applications and solve problems, meaning more people can contribute to a better final product.

And, of course, Everything as Code isn’t just about the control of systems. It also takes advantage of the culture of work that software developers have built to minimize errors and maximize satisfaction and productivity. By automating away repetition and fostering collaboration, Everything as Code lets humans focus on new challenges and meaningful work and lets the machines handle the rest.

Tim Hinrichs is CTO and cofounder of Styra.

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