+91-80-42023484 contact@sincera.in
Making Your Remote Employees Feel Valued

Making Your Remote Employees Feel Valued

Work from home is becoming an increasingly viable option – for both employees as well as employers. With this development, there is a need for employers to pay more attention to making the “virtual work space” more conducive, and employee friendly. One of the most important aspects which has a direct impact on the productivity levels of your employees is how valued they feel. This can be an especially difficult task to achieve, and to measure when your connection with your employees is through remote access. But is it really?

You would be surprised the small ways in which you can make your Remote Employees feel valued. In this blog post, we speak about some elementary ways which should define the norms of every work place which encourages Work from home/ remote spaces options.

  1. Clarity in Communication

    This aspect is a crucial unit for developing a healthy relationship with your employee, and for ensuring that they are at all times aware of their deliverables. One of the main concerns remote working raises is the fact that responsibilities, goals and outcomes are not streamlined meticulously – unlike in physical work environments. When this happens there is the danger of your employee under performing for no fault of his/her, which means you lose out on the valuable skill set of someone you have   invested time in to select and recruit. Being clear in communicating goals, outcomes and responsibilities helps employees feel more engaged, and in sync with their work, which in turn has a direct impact on the quality of work they churn out.

  2. Checking in

    Really one of the easiest and most basic way of showing your employees that you care. That you value your relationship with them beyond the contract of employment. Once again, since we are speaking about work in a remote environment, checking takes just a bit more effort than it would if it were a physical office. That, however cannot be an excuse for not keeping in touch with your employees. Establishing a system for this is a great way of making sure that you check in regularly. For example, every month schedule one day for a team call (if your team is spread out), and one day for individual calls. There are so many ways you can do this, and with just a little bit of thought, you can truly help your employees be enthusiastic about the work they do. And if you have a team of enthusiastic employees who feel valued, you’re a winner.

  3. Be there for them

    A good manager has an open door policy, and his team is aware of this. This applies even to teams which work remotely. In the context of the blog post, one could safely argue that this aspect is especially important to have your remote employees feel valued. Operate with a degree of decentralization, especially when it comes to your team having access to you when they need you. If your team comprises of employees who work remotely, because of an absence of a traditional physical work space they might need to reach out to you more often than other ‘regular’ employees. In which case, take care to stress on the fact that you are available when your team needs you. No better way to set precedence about this other than by leading through example.

If we summarize all the three things we’ve said above, there is one main takeaway – communication. The quality of communication between colleagues is something that determines the overall work environment – even when the work environment is virtual. And we’d say, especially when the work environment is virtual. While these small efforts wouldn’t cost you anything, bypassing them surely would. The quality of work you expect, is directly proportional to how motivated your team feels to deliver the expected quality. And feeling motivated is a direct by-product of feeling valued.

Do you have a remote team and are you proud of your team management techniques? Share your story with us and we will share it with the world!


Working From Home – Knowing When to Switch Off

Working From Home – Knowing When to Switch Off

Working from home has, in the recent past grown to be an increasingly popular option with several organizations. This option works well not just for individuals who are more productive working out of the comfort of their homes, but also for the organizations offering this option. Saving on the cost of maintaining a workspace is only one of the host of benefits the employers get. Several studies conducted on the benefits of working from home, for employers, have found that employees tend to take less number of days off, are more productive, and are generally more satisfied – which amounts to big bonuses for the employers.

In some of our previous posts, we’ve discussed a host of issues relating to work from home – including benefits, dos and don’ts, and tips on how to be more productive when you work from home. In this post, we speak about knowing when to switch off, when you work from home. As relaxing as it may sound, working from home can be quite the opposite. And in fact, can end up being more stressful than a regular 9 to 5 job, because when you work from home, you are always at work! There is always something to work on, always that “just this one thing to finish”.

Maintaining a work-life balance is essential even when you work from home. Switching off when you work from home can be tougher than working from an office. Here are five ways to help you know when to switch off.

1. Don’t wait for the trigger

It is not surprising that our outlook towards most things takes on the garb of a responsive/ corrective approach rather than a preventive approach. In other words, we always tell ourselves that should there be damage we can always go into the damage control mode. How about we prevent that damage by looking out for ourselves, instead of waiting for the trigger?

2. Practice Mindfulness

One way of preventing a burn out, when you work from home is to practice mindfulness all through the day. The underlining principle of practicing mindfulness is to first of all to practice awareness. Being present in the moment throughout the day is a way of never letting yourself wait for the trigger. While this may sound difficult to practice, with a bit of time and patience you can master it.

3. Maintain strict work hours

The reason why it is mostly difficult to switch off when you work from home is because you are always in your ‘work place’. When you have an office to go to, you know work time is over when you turn off your system and drive home. When you work from home however, switching off may not always feel that easy. Make it a point to maintain strict work hours through the day – just like you would if you weren’t working from home. Start at 9 and switch off at 5. Remember that there will always be that one extra thing to finish off, but ask yourself if it’s really that important that it can’t wait.

4. Have daily rituals

Having before and after work daily rituals is a great way to help you switch off from work on time. Making meditation, some exercise and reading a part of these daily rituals is a great way to have yourself look forward to switching off. Make sure that you go out for a short walk every day after work. This prevents that feeling of ‘being holed up’ all day. When your home is the space you work from, feeling ‘holed up’ is the last thing you want to feel. Having simply daily rituals anchors your day and boosts your productivity by preventing burn outs.

5. Learn to identify the triggers

The first thing we spoke about was to not depend on triggers for switching off from work and tuning in to yourself. However, knowing how to identify triggers is also important. It can be hard to take notice of these if its been a while since you’ve turned your focus to yourself. If you are feeling jittery, unproductive and dissatisfied – these are some definite signs. It is like your mind is turning on an alarm for you to pay attention to what it wants to communicate to you. Which is, to switch off from work and to tune in to yourself and give your soul some pampering.

Do you have problems switching off, when you work from home? What is your tactic to handle this problem?

Post by Shreeradha Mishra
Shreeradha is a development professional who loves her work. She is an avid observer of life and enjoys penning down her experiences and learning from the world of work. You can get in touch with her at shreeradha@obolinx.com.

The Work from Home Woes and Dealing with Them

The Work from Home Woes and Dealing with Them

If you are someone who works from home, chances are you are constantly struggling to balance your expectation of productivity versus the reality. Working from home affords you a number of comforts such as flexibility over your schedule, time saved due to lack of commute and not to mention comfy clothes! To every situation however, there is a flip-side. In this post we explore what we call Work from Home Woes, and explore ways of tackling them.

Work From Home Woes #1: Procrastination

The very first obstacle that every professional who works from home encounters is procrastination. When you work from home, you begin the day with the illusion that you have the entire day to get a task done. This thought enables you to put off your work until the very last-minute and then you realize that the day is almost over! It is only then that you rush to finish the tasks, often working into late hours which has an adverse impact on your work life balance.

Procrastination is a vice that most of us face, whether we are working from a formal environment or from home. To tackle this, make your mind up to follow the “eat the frog” method, first thing in the morning. No, we are not suggesting you eat harmless froggies for breakfast, but what it means is, get the most difficult task out-of-the-way, the first thing in the morning. Once that is done, your productivity gets boosted automatically.

Work From Home Woes #2: Distractions

When in a formal work set up, distractions are comparatively fewer because work spaces are designed keeping this aspect in mind. You are less likely to spend time on the phone, or on Facebook when you know your supervisor may pop up unannounced. Besides, watching colleagues working spurs you into action, and you are less vulnerable to getting carried away by distractions. However, when you work from home you are prone to a zillion distractions, and even end up creating them for yourself. The television, noisy neighbors or family members, Netflix – the list would really never end if we started.

The solution here is to create a distraction free work zone, even if you are working from home. There are a few simple ways you can do that. Take care of the physical aspects such as letting your family know that you are working and to call upon you only when absolutely necessary. Remove the clutter from your work space, so it helps you retain your focus on work. Put your phone on silent, and disable notifications for your desktop. One effective way of dealing with distractions which may be internal or external is to divide up your day and tasks into 60 or 90 minute slots.

Simply focus on the one task for the allotted time, completely tuning out from everything else that may pose as a distraction. Another way of making this sustainable, and feeling good about yourself is setting simple rewards at the end of the day – if you feel satisfied with your productivity. A piece of cake, or an extra hour of Netflix – simple, yet effective. Like Tony Robbins once said, “feed your focus, starve your distractions”, and soon there will be no distractions.

Work from Home Woes #3: Isolation

It may get a bit lonely when you work from home. If you are an entrepreneur or a part of a team which functions from remote locations, the odds are you don’t get to have a lot of human interaction on a day-to-day basis. This can get to even the most introverted people. When you work from a formal set up, you meet colleagues and have a chance at engaging in conversation. Whereas, working from home minimally limits that option.

In which case, you have to make up for face time by consciously increasing your interaction with your team and peers through intensive communication and collaboration. Pick up the phone and talk to people more, take every opportunity to collaborate, create mailing groups to inform and be informed – just because you are not physically present in the office doesn’t mean you can’t be a present and active member of your team. If you are an entrepreneur, make it a point to be a part of groups of similar people who meet up once in a while and exchange ideas. A healthy dose of interaction is absolutely crucial to your productivity.

Work from Home Woes #4: Lack of Routine

Working from home comes along with that amazing feeling of being your own boss. There is however, a slight (not) problem attached. This knowledge of being your own boss can often induce a lack of discipline in your routine. Which means, you end up feeling unproductive – one of the worst feelings ever.

Even if you work from home, especially if you work from home, create a strict routine for yourself. Have a morning routine where you wake up at a fixed time every day. How you start your day has a definite impact on the progress of your day. Exercising and getting some fresh air, and a good breakfast is an imperative to having a fulfilling and productive day, or so we believe. Even if you do not have to go out to get to your workplace, make sure that you set strict working hours for yourself. Get to your desk by 9 AM, or a time you feel suits you, and go through your day in a time bound manner – just like you would if you were working in a formal environment.

Work from Home Woes #5: Getting bogged with Domestic Drudgery

Another peril of working from home is getting bogged down with domestic drudgery. There are ample things that we allow ourselves to procrastinate with – cleaning, organizing, doing our laundry, the list goes on. Being present at home while working does not help take your mind off from the dishes or the laundry or the cooking that needs to be done. This can retard your productivity to a greater extent than you can imagine. Domestic chores take up a lot of time. If we allow ourselves to get distracted by them, they won’t ever stop snatching our attention away from tasks that really need it.

So we’re saying…

Let go of things that do not need your immediate attention. Prioritize and see if a certain domestic task is a priority. While this may be an exception, do not make it a rule. It is worthwhile seeking help with the chores, so you are not constantly struggling to maintain balance. Speak with your family and divide up the chores. You could also hire a help if you are in a place to afford it. Delegating these tasks go a long way in fueling your productivity.

Being able to work from home can be the best thing that ever happened to you. Only, you need to be able to tackle the woes we just spoke about. And like you just read, it may not be all that difficult to put those woes away. All it takes is a strong mind, and a healthy body. With that combination, there will be no mountain you cannot scale – we mean it in a literal and metaphorical sense. Working from home can feel like a blessing – you get the gift of time because you end up saving so much time. Which means, you have a chance to get more done, and also a chance for more ‘me – time’. Win – win, then? We’d say yes!

How to Implement Gender Equality in the Workplace

How to Implement Gender Equality in the Workplace

Important conversations such as gender equality at the workplace, need to take place more often and more consistently. In order to be able to really implement gender equality in the workplace, the dialogue, and urge to bring about change needs to be consistent, and frequent and not sporadic – limited to women’s day speeches.

In one of our previous posts, we spoke extensively about the glass ceiling, and how to shatter it. In a more recent post, we explored the importance of gender diversity at the workplace. Tackling the issue of gender discrimination at the workplace, is like addressing the elephant in the room. Uncomfortable questions need to be raised, and attempts must be made to address, and redress them. While men and women are ‘entitled’ to equal rights by law, this still remains a distant dream. A quick glance at only a few facts and statistics (source: medreps.com) will prove why:

  • Women often still earn less than men in the same role, despite a successful salary negotiation.

  • Before knowing anything about the candidate’s skills or experience, employers expect male candidates to perform better than women.

  • Women who describe themselves in feminine terms such as ‘warm’ or ‘supportive’ are less likely to be considered for a job in a male dominated field than if they were to use masculine terms such as ‘assertive.’

  • Men are more likely to apply for any role that takes their interest, even if they only meet 60% of the requirements.

  • Women are more selective and will only apply for jobs that they think suit their skills and personality and fit 100% of the requirements for

These facts and statistics on gender discrimination relating to recruitment and salary, pervade the day-to-day work cycle, and become an everyday reality of deeply rooted gender biases and discrimination at the workplace.  In order to implement gender equality as an everyday reality, we need to adopt focused methods to make our workplaces equitable and inclusive.

Where do we begin? Right here.

1. Gender Equality – Understanding the principle of equity over equality

In order to address gender discrimination, we first need to acknowledge the deep-rooted history of gender inequality and discrimination world over. In doing so, we realize that women have been deliberately subjected to a backward footing, as compared to men. Hence, more than equality, they need equity. But what is the difference between equality, and equity? Here is a common yet effective anecdote that brings out the difference beautifully –

Imagine that you are at a baseball game and have to look over a fence in order to see the game. There are also several others who are in the same situation as you are. The fence is quite high so everyone needs a stepping stool of some sort to see over the fence. In equality, everyone would get the same sized stepping stool. Thus, one can immediately see a glaring problem! Not everyone is the same height. This is where equity steps in. In being equitable, everyone would get different sized stepping stools so that they could all see over the fence. Everyone would get a chance to view the game.

Gender equity is a prerequisite for gender equality. Men and women did not start off on equal footing. Years of subjugation and discrimination demand that in the current day, women get that little “extra” push, and support in order to bring about equality. Without a focus on equity, the hope for equality is misplaced and cannot be achieved.

2. Gender Equality – Acknowledging and challenging your own bias

An article on one of our favorite sites – UndercoverRecruiter, says it best. The best way to bring about effective and impactful change is by working on change within us. This is often the most difficult thing to do – since it requires us to come to terms with our demons, accept them and then get rid of them. It is time to look within for traces of any bias as far as gender equality is concerned, before we point fingers and expect others around us to change. Looking within, and helping ourselves change is not a form of judgment or self-condemnation. As you will read below, we are only helping ourselves get rid of what we thought was “normal”.

In order to overcome gender inequality we must address our own bias. Gender related bias that hold women back can include outright discrimination to deep-rooted unconscious attitudes. The normalisation of everyday sexism has led to an invisible gender bias that we often don’t recognise. Human beings don’t know how to be wholly unbiased; from the classroom to the boardrooms – at an early age, we are conditioned to believe that girls are this way and boys are that way. It’s about challenging these ‘natural’ thoughts by examining, questioning and having open conversations.

Basic anthropology tells us that groups tend to recruit new members who are similar to themselves. So a predominantly male field will often choose a male candidate. This is an influential factor in why women are significantly underrepresented in traditionally male-dominated areas, and senior positions. Changing our bias in recruiting is integral, and admitting our own bias is an important step to a more open, diverse and fair workplace.

This is everyone’s issue – men and women, and extends to women’s own limiting self-beliefs.

Biases are also very apparent in the highly unfair recruitment processes where it may not be rare to choose candidates for roles based on gender and not skill and ability.

It’s a common perception that women are generally better suited to support type roles, whereas men will excel in leadership positions; however it is these kinds of stereotypes that form the basis of gender discrimination at work and action must take place to prevent it happening.

The hiring and allocation of work must to be conducted on the basis of an individual’s abilities and character, regardless of whether they are male or female and the preference of customers, clients or other employees is not a legitimate and protected reason to treat employees differently according to gender. – Undercover Recruiter.

3. Gender Equality – Being Fair and Transparent about Pay

That women at work are under paid and under represented is an uncomfortable truth we need to accept and address. The first step towards doing so is by being transparent about any gender pay gaps that exist and tackling them. Equal pay for equal work is a policy that must be a principle at your workplace, and not just a policy. This, as a principle underlines fairness and puts equality into practice.

” In 1976, the Equal Remuneration Act was passed with the aim of providing equal remuneration to men and women workers and to prevent discrimination on the basis of gender in all matters relating to employment and employment opportunities. This legislation not only provides women with a right to demand equal pay, but any inequality with respect to recruitment processes, job training and promotions.” – Wikipedia

We are still battling for these basic rights, even though the law mandates for men and women to be paid equally for equal work. What does that say? We have a long, long way to go before we can make gender equality a reality.

4. Gender Equality – Taking mentoring seriously

The very first thing we spoke about, in this post was on understanding the principle of equity with reference to implementing gender equality at the workplace. One of the ways you can ensure an ‘equitable’ growth for your female employees is by understanding that mentorship plays a huge role in boosting their progress, improving their skills, and helping them build strong profiles which will help them grow and sustain in the ever competitive, ever evolving world of work.

Focus on having mentorship programs for your employees, and specific ones for your female employees. Wondering how cost-effective it would be? You can implement this with zero cost, and reap tons of benefits. One does not need to have a formal structure for mentorship programs. Building this into the culture of your organization, where your employees are encouraged to reach out and help each other is the most sustainable and effective way of going about it.

This also includes training those in managerial positions about how to tackle issues related to gender equality at work.

5.  Gender Equality – Encouraging more women to take up Leadership roles

The most effective way to bring about change is by leading through example. By encouraging more women to take up leadership roles, you put them in a position where they are able to help and mentor other women (and men!) around them. Role modeling is a very effective method of demonstrating the change you wish to bring about. This is also a very strong antidote to the phenomenon of the glass ceiling. 

The glass ceiling in India is a reality today, because of a culmination of factors – socio-cultural, legal, personal, and organizational, and cannot be attributed to any single factor. Hema Krishnan, in her interview at IIM Bangalore on Glass Ceiling in India : A Reality for Women?,  speaks about how every woman is capable of accessing the top most rungs:

Theoretically, every woman is capable of reaching the top of her organization. What sets women such as Indra Nooyi and Chanda Kochchar apart from the rest of the similarly talented women are: a high level of sustained self-confidence and emotional quotient, persistence and patience, the right mentors at various stages of their career, an extremely supportive family and a little bit of luck or opportunity.

It is due to centuries of subjugation, discrimination and domination that the struggle to make one’s talent known and respected in the professional realm, is a big deal for women in India. It wouldn’t be untrue, neither would it be a fleeting statement if we said that it is not half as difficult for the men.

6. Gender Equality – ‘Creating’ opportunities (work from home, child-care, etc.)

In order to ensure that the world of work does not lose out on potentially great talent pool – it is necessary that a more inclusive environment which encourages gender diversity and equality is created.

One of the major barriers that prevent women from reaching to the top of their career is the lack of childcare support. Again this ranges from complete stigma to deep-seated traditions in the role of mothers. Employer’s play a vital role in supporting mothers; work together to agree on a fair and balanced workplace goal that will drive productivity, whilst allowing flexibility and remote working where possible.

Progression and promotions are considerably more difficult to achieve when you take time off, which has a disproportionate effect on women who continue to hold the lion’s share of childcare responsibility. To relieve working mothers of the domestic and childcare burden, parental leave for fathers should be promoted. Not only will this allow mothers to invest more time in their careers, but research has shown that fathers want to be more engaged and involved in child care duties. – Undercover Recruiter

Making space for work from home opportunities for women, creating launch pads for women who’ve been away from work for a while for various reasons, and not letting gender biases form a basis of recruitment (to begin with this!) are some ways you can actively contribute to implementing Gender Equality in the world of work.

Go out of your way to ensure you treat your employees equally, irrespective of their gender. Invest your trust in them, and reap a handsome Return On Investment. Recognize merit and celebrate it. Understand that, basically, it all boils down to you, to a great extent.

But why go that extra mile? Because like we said earlier, without equity, there can be no equality!

The Ethics for Working from Home – Some Guiding Principles

The Ethics for Working from Home – Some Guiding Principles

With the work from home culture gaining popular acceptance, we thought it is a good idea to talk about the guiding principles and ethics for working from home. While this option does guarantee a great deal of flexibility and comes with a promise of increased productivity, it also comes with a built-in premise. You are in a position of trust and with Trust comes Responsibility. As Oprah has said – Real integrity is doing the right thing, knowing that nobody’s going to know whether you did it or not.

From our experiences as an employee and employer operating in the remote working model, here are the ethics for working from home that we hold sacrosanct:

1. Adhering to work timings

If you are expected to work from 10am to 6pm, ensure that you are at your work table sharp by 10 and stick around till 6. The work from home option affords you a great deal of liberties and cutting down on your work hours isn’t and shouldn’t be one of them. Get as much as you can done within your working hours, focusing only work as your primary priority during these hours.

2. A strict no personal calls/ errands rule

This is something you would mind if you were operating out of an office cubicle, and something you should mind even when you are operating out of the comfort of your home. Take personal calls only when extremely urgent, and not without leaving a note for your team/ manager, explaining the reason. The same goes for running personal errands.

3. Being available and reachable

A prerequisite for working from home is always being reachable and available. Unlike a regular job, there isn’t a desk you can be found at. This means you always need to be accessible on phone/ email. There could be very little margin for error regarding the same, and scope for excuses like “my phone didn’t have charge”, or “there wasn’t internet connectivity”. In case you aren’t going to be available, make sure you find a way to send the message to your team. Do read this post where we talk about everything in terms of infrastructure that you need to start working from home, or as we would like to call it, the essentials for working from home – http://obolinx.com/resources/2016/03/start-working-from-home/.

4. Honesty

A work from home job is one which needs you to be honest with yourself, as well as your team. It is easy to compromise on the input, and make the output seem sufficient. It may be easy to pull it off at times, but in the long run it’s not going to leave you in a great place, or have you feel good about yourself. In our earlier posts, we have stressed continuously on the fact that work from home roles are strictly for those who have the ability for self-motivation and self-discipline. This probably, would be the most important of the ethics for working from home, and is a given expectation from you!

5. Making an effort to communicate

Having a job where you work from home can often become depressing, especially if you are a social butterfly. It isn’t the best way for an introvert to learn better communication skills, either. So regardless of what kind your personality is, it is important to make an effort to communicate with your colleagues on a regular basis and not isolate yourself. It is easy for communication to take place when you operate out of a traditional office environment. And what may seem as small talk, is often crucial to your own work, and the team’s work in general, because exchanging notes gives you a feel of where you stand with respect to your work and also a sense of cohesiveness with your team – which is very essential for you to be productive and happy at work!

 To Sum It Up

A work from home opportunity, is a great opportunity to get more done, with least investments, and the most output. Today, management leaders around the world are exploring this option to try to build amazing teams – remotely. Though written more from an employer’s perspective, “Remote: office not required”, by Fried and Hansson is an insightful read for how working from remote locations is truly an enabler, more than anything else. We hope that you agree with our take on the Ethics for Working from Home. We would love to hear back from you!

Note: At OBOlinx Tech, we provide flexible work from home option for our team. We have experienced firsthand the advantages and disadvantages of working in this mode both as an employer and as an employee. With clear goal settings, a strong process framework, much patience, some discipline and a steady flow of two-way communication, we KNOW this business model can work and is here to stay. This is the future of work and the future is already here.