COVID-19 Pandemic Gives Rise to Telehealth Technology

Social distancing guidelines and safer-at-home recommendations that resulted from the COVID-19 pandemic forced families, businesses, governments, schools, and healthcare systems to figure out entirely new ways to operate. Ingenuity, innovation, and new technologies have allowed many to adapt to this new way of life.

One of these breakthroughs has been the emergence of telehealth / telemedicine. Usage soared in the last year, with consultations rising by 89%, according to First Stop Health. Many are still unaware of the benefits of this new service, so let’s review a few of them.

Reduced Exposure to Illnesses

Flus and viruses normally travel from person to person through respiratory droplets, and the COVID-19 virus is no different. Researchers consider COVID-19 to be a highly contagious virus, with each infected individual possibly infecting up to two or three additional people. Being able to visit a doctor from the comfort of your home eliminates contact with other people and crowded waiting rooms filled with sick patients. This can be especially helpful for those with pre-existing conditions, as they may face more severe complications.

Saves Time & Money

The convenience of being able to talk to a board-certified physician from the comfort of your home means less time spent in a waiting room and less time out of your workplace. This is especially helpful if the medical specialist happens to be located far away from your home. Most virtual telehealth visits last only 17 minutes, compared to in-person appointments, which average two hours (including travel time).

One of the best things about telehealth is its affordability. With many employers expanding their benefits package to include telemedicine, a virtual session can end up being more affordable than a trip to an urgent care center.

On-Demand Healthcare

Telehealth can allow you to receive medical treatment at a moment’s notice – 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Whether that is on a lunch break from the confines of your car, or in the middle of the night when your child comes down with a fever, a medical professional will be available to assist you.

Building a Strong Company Culture for Your Remote Workers

Having a strong company culture, both onsite and remotely, with clear lines of communication, can help a team do much more than simply implement their projects. It can be the catalyst for higher-quality work, greater efficiency, and improved morale.

Remote teams with a positive culture will have a greater sense of accountability – a benefit that cannot be understated when considering working environments where supervision is more challenging.

Let’s break down a few ways to help build a better culture with a remote workforce:

Tip 1: Build Team Communications and Working Relationships

Even when geographically separated, teams can still develop excellent communication by extending their office cultures into the virtual environment. Several of the most popular remote team collaboration technologies available today – such as Zoom and Slack – have features built into their interfaces that are expressly designed to facilitate this process.

In order to maintain a positive culture it is important to remind everyone that they are still part of the same team as they were before the switch to remote work was made.

Tip 2: Support Team Collaboration

Employees become stronger and more cohesive when they can freely collaborate on a platform that is accessible by all of the team’s members. The feeling is akin to that of being on the same boat, all working on the same problem that, if solved, will benefit them all equally.

This connection motivates employees to collaborate in order to achieve their common objectives. Physical distance creates hurdles and gaps that must be bridged, and this is made easier by allowing them to interact.

Tip 3: Control Your Message Volume

Do you follow up on an assignment using an email, a text message, or a phone call? Do you have a habit of checking in with individuals to see if they received your last message?

In many cases, oversaturating these points of communication can be seen as an act of digital dominance, a relentless and unpleasant type of harassment that can hinder the team by placing distinct demands on the time of the receiver.

Be careful not to overwhelm the team with communications. Make an informed decision about your digital volume and review it regularly with everyone to prevent issues from arising.

Tip 4: Reduce Virtual Distance

Virtual distance is a feeling of psychological and emotional detachment. It develops gradually and unknowingly when our in-person experiences are replaced with digital experiences – and it can have a negative effect on team culture.

As a manager, you need to reduce this virtual distance. Try substituting more of your phone calls and emails with video chats. Seeing the people you’re talking to is much better for establishing rapport and creating empathy among team members.

Tip 5: Be a Proactive Facilitator

It is critical to be proactive when bringing your team together remotely. Encourage virtual guests to actively participate to keep everyone interested. You might even try keeping a running tally to ensure that everyone is contributing and that everyone’s viewpoint is heard.

Avoid asking the cliched question, “Does anyone have any further points to add?” Instead, make a specific appeal to individuals.

Finally, don’t allow people to ramble or veer off course. It’s your responsibility as the meeting facilitator to politely intervene when required so that it doesn’t turn into a “one-man show”.

5 Tips To Differentiate Your Personal Brand

Your own personal brand focuses on the impression you give to others, how they will best remember you, and what people they are likely to associate you with – both now and in the future.

To put this another way, your personal brand is your own unique identity and marker in the business world, being a representation of all your knowledge, talent, skills, and disposition. Your knowledge and capabilities, in combination with how you operate and present yourself, are all equally important factors in developing a successful personal brand.

Building your brand can be an extremely effective technique for gaining a competitive edge in any activity you do, whether personal or professional in nature.

Here are five tips to help you create a personal brand that will differentiate you from others:

1.    Develop a Brand Strategy

One of the most important steps you can take is to develop a marketing strategy around furthering your own image. Personal brands can allow you to differentiate yourself by consistently and regularly stating and leveraging your own unique values. If you identify and broadcast the points which distinguish you from others in your field through the likes of social media and other channels – you will see a significant increase in your own brand reach.

2.    Utilize Social Media

It is vital to establish credibility and authority within your brand space. Looking to build a powerful network of individuals and brands which are relevant to your field and will engage with you can be highly beneficial.

Platforms such as LinkedIn and Facebook are very useful for this – with you having easy access to tens of thousands of like-minded individuals. Concentrate on connecting with people who empower you and offer the opportunity to grow. If you can position yourself alongside these values, you’ll set yourself up for a good start.

3.    Deliver a Collection of Personal Core Messages

Consumer trust isn’t built overnight, but if built properly, it’s less likely to be destroyed as easily either. Flexibility and adaptability in brand communications can be a strong driving force for cultivating trust amongst your connections and audience. Regularly broadcasting your values and beliefs will help define consumer desires on when, where, and how – aligning yours and their interests together.

4.    Create and Publish Insightful Content

One of the key methods of building a personal brand that stands out from the crowd in 2021 is by publishing your own insightful content on trends and topics which are relevant to your field.

In order to do this, you’ll need to have a strong perspective on numerous areas which you want to highlight, and you’ll need to be able to communicate it clearly and on a regular basis.

This content can be published in many different forms, with the most common formats being:

  • Video Content: Quick, 1-minute snippets can be a good starting point.
  • Blogging: It is easier than ever to start your own blog – developing a written content library can go a long way to establishing yourself as a name that shouldn’t go ignored.
  • Social Media Posts: Creating engaging posts and engaging with others about the topics you have published can result in your network expanding quickly.

5.    Be Genuine

Now more than ever, people want to know that brands, whether personal or corporate, are transparent and that what they see is what they get. Authenticity is therefore a key component for developing a personal brand that will resonate with a large audience.

So, when developing your personal brand make sure not to put on any false pretenses. You need to back up what you say and behave in a way that is consistent with your brand. Doing this will help you develop a loyal following of supporters.

Resolving Conflict in the Workplace

Losing key employees is never ideal. The after-effects of such losses can have far-reaching consequences for any company’s operations. Accounting for the initial decrease in work output, lowered workplace morale, and the need to hire and train new staff, research indicates that employee replacement costs U.S. businesses a trillion dollars a year.

Conflicts with management and employee disagreements are frequently at the top of the list of reasons why employees quit their jobs.

To assist in navigating the murky waters of workplace conflict, consider the points below as best practices in preventing and resolving tension within the workplace.

How to Address Internal Conflict

Be Decisive: It’s important to address conflicts directly and as early as possible to have the best chance at preventing escalation and workplace toxicity. Rather than avoiding conflict altogether, learn to manage it effectively.

As a top executive or manager, it’s your responsibility to address the concerns fairly and expeditiously. The sooner you act, the easier it will be to resolve a disagreement at your company.

Put Yourself in Their Shoes: It’s critical that you empathize with all parties so you can fully understand the motivations and circumstances of a disagreement. When dealing with a problem, actively listen to both parties and pay close attention to what they have to say.

Use Facts and Fairness to Arbitrate: When you are in a position where it is not possible to reach a mutually accepted conclusion, make your decision based on fairness and understanding. While we would all like to resolve conflicts amicably, it isn’t always possible. Consequently, it’s critical to remain objective to ensure that no personal feelings or agendas are brought into the discussion.

Concentrate on the Lesson: After resolving a conflict, think about what the parties could do differently next time to prevent it from happening again. Consider a disagreement to be an opportunity for constructive growth, development, and improvement. What is the point of convergence for both parties? What can you take away from this experience? Should company policy changes be made?

How to Prevent Conflict

Communicate Company Values: Company values serve to anchor decision-making, inspire constructive behavior, and aid in the recruitment and retention of personnel who share the company’s values. Not effectively communicating this is one of the most common causes of conflict in the workplace. If there’s any ambiguity in the way that a company is managed, employees become less confident in policies, rules, procedures – which inevitably leads to conflict.

Promote Positivity: It’s important to acknowledge the ability to foster positive employee relations as a valuable, intangible, and long-lasting asset for your company. This involves being open, implementing equitable management practices, and treating all employees with decency and respect. Encourage a culture of positivity to help maintain a productive workplace environment.

Lead the Way: Being able to confront and handle uncomfortable topics between employees is a critical asset for company leaders. While some people are born with innate management abilities, most are not. Consider investing in training programs for your management team. Having well-trained, well-supported leaders can pay dividends.

Celebrate Your Success: Ensure that all teams are provided with realistic incentives to fulfill group objectives — and make sure you recognize the efforts they make in accomplishing them. Group events, outings, well-being workshops, and team meals can all contribute to this endeavor.

Common Networking Mistakes & How to Fix Them

It is said that the most connected people are often found to be the most successful. Networking is one of the best ways to make those connections, but quality networking takes time and effort. While you may not feel comfortable with it, or don’t think you are great at it, just know that it is a learning process. Let’s look at a few of the common networking mistakes and how to fix them.

1. You don’t actively listen to others.

Passively nodding to show that you are listening isn’t enough to build a networking connection. Active listening involves stimulating the speaker and conversation. Here are some tips:

  • Don’t allow yourself to disengage from the conversation, even if you are attending a crowded networking event.
  • Maintain eye contact and ask engaging follow-up questions. This can show your genuine interest and is said to help you be more memorable.
  • Focus on finding things in common to build strong, lasting relationships.
  • Practice mindfulness so that you can be aware if you are talking too much about yourself.

2. You only network while you’re job hunting.

Networking should be a continuous process throughout your career. Many people are wary of, and less likely to connect with those who only network during a job hunt. By starting early, even while happily employed, those relationships will be readily available when you do need them. The longer you network, the more time you have to build stronger relationships. This can lead to new opportunities faster, and less urgency in between jobs.

3. You don’t offer help in return.

The concept of networking requires involvement from both parties. Brushing off requests for assistance / favors can lead to impressions of selfishness. And when the time arrives that you need the help, you might find yourself empty-handed. Instead, help when and where you can. Even if you don’t have the answers or skills requested by a colleague, at least try to point them in the direction that they need or help them brainstorm some creative solutions.

Networking doesn’t have to be as daunting as it can appear. Don’t forget that everyone starts somewhere. Start fine-tuning your networking skills today.

two colleagues having discussion in an office setting

How to Stop Reacting and Start Responding

Emotions are complex, subjective, biological states of the mind. They can change based on reactions to stimuli, like memories and thoughts, and often lead to actions. In times of stress, emotions can get the better of you, causing outbursts and rifts in relationships.

Setbacks like these can harm productivity, work ethic, and morale in the workplace. While it may seem like reacting and responding to situations are the same, responding offers a higher self-awareness that can make stressful situations pass effortlessly.

What’s the Difference?

  • Reacting is often more instinctive and impulsive. There is no prior consideration of what is said, done, or the consequences that may follow, as it comes from the subconscious mind. A reaction can come off as defensive, or even aggressive.
  • Responding occurs when there is acknowledgment of your current emotions and a conscious decision in the actions that follow. It often includes considering all sides of a situation and then choosing the best path to handle it.

Make the Change

The foundation of a response is rooted in pausing before doing or saying anything. As hard as that can be when emotions flare up, try taking quick, shallow breaths or mentally counting down from 10. This will allow your emotion to settle subtly enough to process your situation better. If your emotion still lingers, try politely excusing yourself from the situation. Once you’ve cooled off you can revisit your situation with more clarity.

Another helpful tool is practicing the elements of mindfulness. This involves taking in your surroundings, living in the moment, and being aware of your mind and body. Mindfulness encourages self-awareness, strengthens emotional intelligence, and decreases stress. Consider hosting a company-wide mindfulness webinar as part of your corporate wellness plan.

Transitioning from reacting to responding will require time and practice, but it will help advance your work relationships, your career, and your company. Start responding today.

male staring at his laptop while laying on the couch

Avoiding Procrastination Pitfalls

Many people claim to experience the difficulty of procrastination when deciding to start a new business, hobby, or project – despite being determined to do it. Studies have shown that about 20% of adults suffer from chronic procrastination, while 1 in 4 adults see procrastination as “a defining personality trait for them.”

By unnecessarily putting off decisions or actions, your to-do list will continue to grow and your goals will be difficult to achieve. It’s important to understand the root cause of your personal experience with procrastinating to break these habits.

Let’s look at two common causes of procrastination to look out for.

Overestimating your availability.

Have you ever confidently told yourself “I’ll start that tomorrow” and then neglected to follow through? Or maybe you delayed starting a task because you thought “The deadline is weeks away – I have plenty of time”, but then something unexpected popped up and caused you to miss it?

Instead of pushing off an overwhelming project until it becomes an urgent matter, start by breaking it down into smaller tasks and working on them for at least 15 minutes a day. That way if something does throw you off your schedule, at least you’ve made some progress. In short: get ahead while you can.

Decisions, decisions.

Having too many options, having options that are too similar, or having goals that are too abstract can all make the decision-making process overwhelming. (These are usually caused by a fear of commitment, or a fear of losing out on other choices.)

Avoid the “paradox of choice” by making S.M.A.R.T goals (specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound). Display these goals in a place where you’ll see them every day to remind you of your commitment – and inspire you to take action. Once your goals are established, try narrowing down your options so that they’re aligned. This will make the process of eliminating choices much easier.

Now that you are more aware of the root of your problem, you’re one step closer to achieving your goals. Procrastinating doesn’t have to wreak havoc on your aspirations – start working on those hindering habits today.

woman on her phone while from home

Tips for Time Management While Working Remotely

While some people thrive in traditional office atmospheres, many have had to adjust to working in the comfort of their own homes in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. By 2025, it is estimated that 22% of the U.S workforce will continue to work remotely, an 87% increase from pre-pandemic statistics.

There are often drawbacks to working in an office environment, but remote work can present challenges as well – such as prioritization and time management.

Here are three easy tips to help improve your WFH time management skills.

1. Schedule deep focus time.

To minimize distractions and maximize your efficiency, establish blocks of uninterrupted work time into your day and put them on your calendar. Consider using tools / software that temporarily blocks access to websites or apps of your choosing. Deep focus time blocks can be beneficial to get your hardest or most tedious tasks done since you won’t be able to use your identified distractors, and your colleagues will see that you are currently unavailable.

Scheduling these focus blocks for the periods that you have the highest energy levels will help you optimize your time, make the most progress on bigger projects, and improve your quality of work. Aim for sessions between 1.5 to 2 hours at a time to achieve maximum productivity.

2. Give yourself breaks.

Instead of dreading certain tasks that you end up dragging out, try scheduling microbreaks (short, regular interval breaks) into your day. Research has shown that taking breaks can give you a fresh perspective that helps maintain job performance throughout the day, lower stress levels and exhaustion, and increase productivity. Mental and physical fatigue can result from things like repetitive tasks or sitting in one spot for a long period of time.

Short breaks can give your brain the time it needs to recharge and the option to move and stretch your body. Use these breaks to meditate, call a friend, grab a healthy snack, or take your pet for a walk outside in the fresh air.

3. Establish boundaries.

Working in a traditional office setting makes it easier to be in the mindset and schedule of a good work/life balance. Without leaving an office and commuting home, you may struggle with “clocking out” or unplugging at the end of the day at home. Try disabling notifications from work applications, changing your chat status, and setting an alarm on your phone to remind you to “sign off”. This will help reduce the urge of checking back in after-hours, which should be time spent unwinding with your family.

Working remotely also means that your TV and refrigerator are within close proximity, so you may find yourself trying to multitask (unsuccessfully) or roaming to find a snack more often. Designating an area of your home for specific purposes can help you create a connection that allows you to focus on specific tasks. While it doesn’t have to be an entire office in your home, try to section off a small corner to establish as your desk and office space where you only perform work-related duties and nothing else. It can take up to 23 minutes to regain focus after being distracted, so the best advice is to limit those distractions as much as possible.

Because there are only 24 hours in the day, and often too much to do, it’s crucial to be efficient with how you manage your time. Give these tips a try so your time doesn’t slip away while working remotely.

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