Working Abroad: Creating the Perfect Remote Workspace
Creating the Perfect Remote Workspace
Working remotely is a great experience, but having your own workspace can be difficult to keep up with. Follow these helpful hints for making your home office feel less like a place to work and more like a place to create.
Cluttered desk = cluttered mind. Before you start getting to work, clean up your desk space to help you set a productive tone. Plus you won't be tempted to take a work-break to clean up your space so you can stay on-task all day.
Go paperless - OneNote
One of the best ways to de-clutter is by going (at least mostly) paperless. By using OneNote to jot down notes and Planner to organize your tasks, you can skip all the notebooks and to-do list post-it notes. Plus, you'll be doing your part to be a little more eco-friendly!
When you're traveling, one of the hardest things is being away from your home and loved ones. Keep pictures of them around your desk to make you feel a little less far away. For more decorative inspiration, try decorating with memoribelia from your travels. I try to collect a map from each place I go to hang as a collage on my wall instead of a typical Pink Floyd poster.
Having your office in the same room as your bed can make it harder to stop your work and destress before going to sleep. Keep your office space relaxed by adding some Zen - I love lighting some candles and I have a piece of bamboo to add a little life into the room (for a lot less money than fresh flowers).
Without all the hustle and bustle of working in an office, sitting at your home desk can seem pretty quiet. Find a good playlist that keeps you upbeat and motivated throughout the day to make remote work a little less lonely.
Even with crazy time differences, it is always possible to find a time to Skype your colleagues. Skype for Business makes you feel like you're a part of the team. Plus it's free of international charges that come with phone calls. Always make sure your voice is still heard.
Can't stay productive at home? Find a local coffee shop or library to study in! I found this one the other day that made me excited to come back and get to work:
Working Abroad: 4 Secrets to Staying Productive While Exploring
4 Secrets to Staying Productive While Exploring
By Kelly Cronin
Staying on task is hard in the office, but it can be even harder when you are trying to work remotely or while you're traveling. When you're out and about, usually the last thing you want to do is sit inside and work. I've found a lot of things can get me to stay productive, regardless of where I am. Follow these four tips to staying productive when you're adventuring:
1. Manage Your Time Wisely
If you're working from another country, like I am, chances are there is a pretty significant time difference. Take advantage of this! I usually spend my days exploring the city or getting errands done, so when I have all my free time in the evenings, I'm excited to sit down and get some work done. I always know I am saving a lot of money by staying in and working on projects instead of meeting up with friends at bars and other spots. Save those nights for the weekends! When I get work done at night, it's also easier for my boss to answer my emails, so any questions I have I can save for evenings and then work on those projects immediately instead of waiting until the next day.
2. Don't forget to take in the views
When you're working abroad, scenic views are not hard to find. Finding a place to work with a scenic backdrop makes responding to emails seem less like work and more like a vacation. When it's warm out, I like to sit on my balcony and take in the views of the Calanques while I work. Instead of being sucked into my computer inside, I take breaks to enjoy the view and remember where I am.
3. Keep Track of Your Tasks and Projects
Using Office 365 apps like Planner can be a productivity lifesaver. When you're on different timezones, it can be confusing to keep track of emails and notes for things you have to get done - and when they need to be done by. Planner organizes your tasks so you see all the tasks you need to do. With Planner, you can also keep tasks in different categories and groups. For example, I have individual tasks I need to get done in my "Projects" folder, but I also have projects in the "Marketing" group. You can still view all your tasks at once, no matter what group or category they belong to. Set due dates and add comments to help you manage your time and priorities. Finished a task? Simply check off that you've completed it, and the entire group will get an email letting them know you've completed it. Plus there is nothing more satisfying than checking off something you needed to get done!
4. Never Stop Exploring
There are always a million things to get done, but the best way to increase your productivity is to stay inspired! What better way to find some inspiration then to spend time exploring new places? Take your lunch break at a restaurant in a different part of town you haven't seen yet. Be sure to walk around and explore the area. Follow France's lead and take a two-hour lunch break if you can. Getting out and exploring can lead to new business ideas, creative concepts to introduce, and overall better work performance. Plus with Office 365 mobile apps, you can always take your work on-the-go. No more boring bus rides into the city!
Introducing Outlook Customer Manager—relationships made easy for small businesses
Introducing Outlook Customer Manager—relationships made easy for small businesses
With Office 365, we’re eager to help your small business achieve more. That’s why we are expanding the value of Office 365 to include not only essential productivity and collaboration tools, but also new services to help you run your business. The launch of Bookings earlier this year introduced a new way to schedule appointments with your customers. Today, we are adding a new tool to help you manage your customer relationships more effectively.
As a business owner, you know that getting repeat business starts with knowing your customers well, remembering the conversations you’ve had, and following through on their requests. That can be a challenge when you have many customers to keep track of and not enough time in the day. To make it easier for you to track and grow your customer relationships, we are introducing a new Office 365 service called Outlook Customer Manager.
Outlook Customer Manager gives you a complete view of your interactions with each customer, helps you track tasks and deals in progress, and surfaces timely reminders. You can stay on top of customer relationships right from Outlook, with no need to install or learn separate tools.
Now included at no extra cost in the Office 365 Business Premium plan, Outlook Customer Manager is a cloud-powered solution designed especially for small businesses. And as your business needs grow, you can move to Dynamics 365 to take advantage of enhanced customer information, process efficiency and consistency, and deeper financial and customer insights.
Customer information in one place—without busy work
Trying to keep up with all the information and tasks from emails, meeting invites, call logs, Excel sheets, handwritten notes and other team members can get in the way of more important work. That’s why Outlook Customer Manager automatically organizes customer information—such as emails, meetings, calls, notes, files, tasks, deals and deadlines—in a timeline next to your inbox.
See customer information next to your inbox so you can act on it right away.
The information in the timeline is automatically gathered from the email, calendar and call log data from your Office 365 environment, minimizing the need to manually enter data about your customer interactions. With all your customer information gathered in one place, you can spend less time entering data, or searching for it in various places, and more time with customers.
Never miss what’s important
Within the busy day of a business owner, it’s easy to forget about items that need follow-up—or worse, fail to fulfill important commitments to a customer. Outlook Customer Manager helps you stay on top of opportunities and commitments by surfacing timely reminders, letting you associate tasks with a contact, company or deal, and listing deals by stage, close dates, priority and amount. To help you prioritize your time, the system automatically presents a Focused list of your most important customers and deals.
Dive in for a detailed view of your customers and deals, and see timely reminders.
Get everyone on the same page
At a small business, everyone pitches in for customers. But when several team members talk to a customer, it can quickly get complicated to keep track of all the communication. With Outlook Customer Manager, you can choose to share customer information with your team so everyone is on the same page.
This means the next time an employee is out sick, other team members can answer a call from their customers with all the needed information at their fingertips—from notes from recent customer calls to upcoming meeting dates, and from deal stage information to the name of that customer’s dog.
Access it all on the go
Get on-the-go access.
Work doesn’t always happen in front of a desk, which is why Outlook Customer Manager has a mobile app that gives you quick access to the same customer information you’ll see at your desktop. You can check recent communication right before meeting with a customer, jot down a quick note after a meeting or scan a business card to quickly create a new business contact—all in a few swipes on your phone.
The mobile app is initially available for iOS, and over time we will bring it to other mobile platforms.
Simple to use
Outlook Customer Manager is accessible in one click from the home tab in your Outlook inbox—so you don’t need to install any new software or spend days training your team to get them started. Because your data stays in Office 365, you don’t waste valuable time setting up connectors to other software or services, or managing separate products.
Get started in one click.
Getting started with Outlook Customer Manager
Outlook Customer Manager is now rolling out to Office 365 Business Premium customers, starting with those opted into First Release and continuing worldwide in the coming months. Once it has rolled out to your Office 365 account, you will see an icon for it in the home tab in Outlook 2016 for Windows. Just click the icon to get started. If you want early access, please see this page for more information on how to join the First Release program for Office 365.
Infographic: EMS & Office 365 are a Winning Combination
Pandora opens up pathways to teamwork and productivity using the new Office
Pandora opens up pathways to teamwork and productivity using the new Office
At Pandora, our goal is to design and sell signature jewelry that delights the women who wear it. Our pieces are sold in more than 9,500 stores in over 90 countries; sometimes our end customers shop at our corporate-owned stores or franchises, while others seek out Pandora jewelry at other retailers. As a company, Pandora is growing—by leaps and bounds, which is a testament to the beauty and quality of the products we make. To smooth the way, we’ve taken a fresh look at how we operate. It isn’t enough anymore for our different offices to use whatever supplies, processes and technologies they have at hand. Instead, we need to grow as a single cohesive organization, putting the right support in place for our workforce so that employees worldwide stay efficient and effective in their daily work lives.
Our efforts to help employees design and market our jewelry include providing the latest technology solutions companywide. We’re using some of our new solutions to help us make sweeping changes to the way we interact with our franchisees and to transform the shopping experience for our customers. Other technology upgrades are all about incremental efficiencies.
We adopted Microsoft Office 365 a while back and find ourselves constantly benefitting from the continuing innovations that Microsoft adds. For example, we recently gave Microsoft Office 2016 a try so we could take advantage of lots of time-savers. Our geographically dispersed employees have already become enthusiastic users of the new Office Groups features, which give them an easy, organized way to share conversations, calendars and notebooks. Office Groups are easy for anyone to create, and they’re particularly effective when used in conjunction with Microsoft Outlook, because everything related to a team project shows up right within Outlook, which is where I spend most of my day.
It’s even more powerful when we add in Microsoft OneNote, which may be the best app ever developed. Having a single place to put anything you think of (notes, images, jewelry design sketches, production schedules, logistical information), making it searchable, and being able to access it from any device and share access with others is pretty amazing. In fact, one of our executives used to be a strictly paper guy. He had special notebooks that he carried around everywhere. When we showed him OneNote, he immediately switched over completely, and now he uses it for everything, making his notes available to the executive team, who comment on them electronically.
It’s not just our executives who’re making faster decisions and moving the company forward. Pandora employees everywhere now use Skype for Business for instant messaging, telephony, presence and video calls. Our ability to interact visually during conference calls makes a huge difference to our communication—it’s important to be able to see facial expressions and reactions so we know if we’re connecting and understanding one another, which is especially critical because it helps bring together our teams around the world. We share desktops during these calls, which improves the teamwork because we can share our work, whether it’s a design for a new bracelet, a marketing campaign or an IT schematic. Plus, we’re saving on long-distance costs and reducing travel expenses. I’m convinced that we wouldn’t be as successful operating as a unified global company if our distributed teams couldn’t collaborate using capabilities like Office Groups and Skype for Business Online.
Employees use simplified sharing features to help keep track of document versions and work faster. For example, when I want to send out a document for review, I use cloud-based attachments, which means that my colleagues receive a link to the document in Microsoft OneDrive for Business. They don’t have copies of project plans or spreadsheets cluttering up their Inboxes. And when they click on the link, it takes them to the latest version of my document, so I can keep modifying the document even after I send the email.
I also appreciate the cross-platform functionality, touch capabilities and digital ink, because I can stay productive even when I don’t have a mouse and keyboard. I use a Microsoft Surface Pro 3, a MacBook Pro and an iPad. Office 2016 provides a seamless experience as I edit, save and share documents on any device.
We’re getting so much value from Office 365 and the new Office 2016 suite, but I feel like we’ve only scratched the surface of what it can do for us. Already, we’re connecting teams, streamlining processes for increased productivity, and working more efficiently from everywhere across a range of devices. But I’m looking forward to exploring Sway for more polished reports and presentations and Outlook Clutter to help keep me focused and prioritize my email. With so many ways to save time and gain insight, we’re better able to keep pace with the demands of our growing business. That’s good news for jewelry lovers everywhere!
Implementing New Technology: 3 Tips for the Non-Technical Small Business By Steve Schlosser
Implementing New Technology: 3 Tips for the Non-Technical Small Business
By Steve Schlosser, BSB/PM, PMP, Project Manager Managed Solution
Recently I had the opportunity to work with a small business client seeking a technical solution to an overwhelming amount of email and storage issues. Managed Solution created a solution, implemented the change, and overall the project was a success. Yet, I still couldn't shake the feeling that the client was left feeling stranded, even after we conducted over six hours of administration and user support training. So as a small business owner, one must ask themselves “What can I do to mitigate post-change stress”? Luckily, there are several solutions!
Set Your Expectations
As a small business owner, finances and budgetary constraints are a daily thought. It is excruciatingly important when partnering with a solutions associate to understand what is provided in the project for support time. Many times we at Managed Solution end up partnering with our clients with service agreements to provide them 24-hour support – which is by far most cost effective – but it is important to understand what is, and what is not included in the solution contract. Project Managers like myself want to act in the business’s best interest and control the project to stay within the budgetary constraints, and if the business owner does not adequately demonstrate their desire for extended support after the project completes, we cannot budget for that accordingly in the initial solution offering.
Consider a Dual-Agreement
As a small business, opportunity cost is always a consideration – that is cost of an untaken opportunity. Evaluate your business’s needs when seeking a technical solution. Often when a business has grown large enough to require a technical change to increase efficiency, it is time to also continue a long-term change. With a simple inquiry of a dual-agreement (a service agreement combined with a project contract), the door leading to discounts and bundle rates swings wide open and leaves room for negotiation. The best part? You end up with a brand new solution working at highest efficiency and on-call support forever on out with any issues that arise; which ends up increasing productivity and not wasting valuable man-hours and increased stressed levels of non-technical employees trying to solve problems.
Communicate your Constraints
Often times as Project Managers, once handed a new client project we immediately begin planning and identifying resources for the endeavor. One of the biggest hurdles we run into is a lack of communication of client constraints. Businesses often have crucial operating activities that cannot be interrupted during specific time frames as well as other constraints. From a planning aspect, this is easy to mitigate. With a little bit of foresight from the client side, a project manager can simply schedule the use of time around this; as long as its communicated up front!
In conclusion, communicate the expectations and constraints to your solution consultant and consider a long-term strategy in congruence with a new IT solution. It will forever simplify your life, reduce stress levels, and surely will satisfy the overall goal of assisting your business in growing, expanding, and succeeding.
About the author:
Steve Schlosser is a PMP Certified Project Manager and Veteran with a background working in the information technology field for the U.S. Navy as well as with L-3 Communications. As a project manager for Managed Solution, Steve oversees System Integration and Solution projects to assist large and small businesses with the ever expanding challenge of staying ahead of technology to enable an effective working environment. His diverse background, excellent communications skills, and problem solving abilities enable him to perform his functions to the greatest extent; always leaving satisfied clientele.