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Category: Flexible Work Options
5 Free Tech Tools to Keep Work-at-Home Moms Organized

Working from home allows you to control your schedule, play with your creativity, pick your team and develop new skills. However, the position is fraught with pitfalls, and it can be especially challenging for a mom who is trying to balance a toddler or two in the mix. Free tech tools can be a lifesaver for the work-at-home mom:

1. Cloud storage

Cords are a hazard around young children, and young children are a hazard around hard drives. Cloud storage minimizes the threat of cords for your children while cutting down on the amount of equipment you have around the home. When you use inexpensive online storage, you never have to worry about losing all of your data if your child knocks over a glass of juice on the hard drive.

Cloud storage doesn’t just give you free space for business, it offers space for storing photos of your children. There are so many cloud storage apps and services, your biggest hurdle may be narrowing your search down to the right one with a little research. According to a Zip Cloud review, cloud storage can be accessed from PCs, Macs, Androids and other mobile devices, iPads and iPhones.

2. Skype

The kids are bored and crying, but a looming deadline is staring you in the face. Now would be the perfect time to call Grandma in for help, but she lives three states away. That’s no longer a problem, thanks to Skype.

Skype allows people to have face-to-face conversations over their computers. Skype is compatible with most devices, ranging from desktop computers and mobile phones to TVs and XBoxes. All you have to do is arm grandma with your children’s favorite books, set up the call, and let them bond while you meet your deadline.

3. Trello

When it’s time to get serious about a project, Trello allows you to organize and track everything from one spot. It can be used for any type of project. Whether you are creating a to-do list for your household, a list of learning goals for your children or trying to organize a work project, Trello keeps you on track.

4. Google Calendar

If you are never sure whether you should be sitting in front of a spreadsheet or driving your child to music class, Google Calendar is a must-have. It syncs among all of your devices and can send you event reminders so that you never miss another appointment.

5. Join.me

Use Join.me, and you can see exactly what your colleagues are doing on their computer screens, and they can see what you are doing on yours. It’s perfect for remote collaboration or training. It makes explaining complicated processes simple, and the chat feature means you do not have to tie up your phone to use it, according to Rainstorm Media Group.

What free tech tools do you love as a work-at-home mom? Share in the comments.

 
The Benefits of Starting your own Business

Plenty of people talk about starting a business. They have great ideas, their job is holding them down, if they could just run the place it would be so very different. Most people won’t ever get past the water cooler banter and take the leap to become an entrepreneur. Maybe they’re afraid, maybe they don’t want that much responsibility.

However, more and more women have taken the leap to start their own business. Women-owned businesses in the U.S. have increased by 44% in the past decade. Owning a business allows women to do something they’re passionate about, and have the flexibility to balance work and the rest of their life.

In a recent blog, GoDaddy.com founder, Bob Parsons, talks about why you should take the leap and start your own business. I’ve summarized Parson’s reasons (with additional commentary) below.

1. Do What You Love

Doing what you love and doing what pays the bills have likely been mutually exclusive for most of your adult life. If, however, you can find a way to make your passions into a potentially profitable business plan, that’s a game changer.

2. Work Where You Want

Have you always wanted to live in a new neighborhood or city? Would you just prefer to work from home? When you’re the boss you get to make these decisions. You choose the company, culture and the workspace.

3. Work When You Want

As an entrepreneur you’re going to work more than 40 hours a week at first to get your business off the ground. Since you like what you do this won’t be as much of a burden as working overtime at a job you despise. GoDaddy’s Bob Parsons says flexible scheduling is key. As an entrepreneur you have the flexibility to schedule your hours around family obligations or outside interests.

4. Control Your Own Destiny

If you see a shift in the marketplace you can let things happen or you can aggressively point your business in the right direction to come out on top. You choose where the business goes and when. It is a lot of responsibility but it’s a big benefit, too.

5. Be as Creative as You Want

A common burden of big corporations is a lack of flexibility and creative problems solving. As a business owner you can handle just about any aspect of the business (with the obvious exception of accounting) with as much creativity and out-of-the-box thinking as you see fit.

6. Choose Who You Work With

If you pride yourself as a good judge of character, put those skills to the test. Being your own boss means you get to choose your team. You can hire anyone you want. Choose well and you’ll have a positive work environment and a productive team. Sounds like a dream come true to me.

7. Develop New Skills

In most jobs, you have to be good or great at something to find success. As a business owner you have to be a great manager of people and have good general oversight of your business. Part of that means learning new skills as needed. You might need to learn public speaking, sales, crisis management or any other number of new things.

8. Unlimited Potential Earnings

If the company is earning money, so are you. You can make your own salary, choose your own benefits and, if you’re successful, your earnings potential is theoretically unlimited.

9. Exciting

The risk of failure and unknown future make owning a business exciting. Stressful at times, perhaps, but always exciting.

10. Satisfying

At the end of the day (or week, year or decade) you’ll be far more satisfied having made something for yourself than for getting good marks on your peer review.

 
The Perks of Working from Home

Would you like a more flexible work schedule which would save commute time and allow you to work around your kids’ schedules?  Telecommuting may be just the option for you.

Telecommuting has grown significantly in recent years.  Although the U.S. workforce grew just 3% in the last seven years, the number of regular telecommuters grew 66%.  Now some 64 million employees (half the U.S. workforce) are able to telecommute at least part-time.

What are the benefits of telecommuting?  Employees who telecommute are happier, healthier, and more efficient (not to mention richer).

  • Savings on gasoline and car insurance. Since the average commuter spends $1500 a year on gasoline, a half-time telecommuter could save $750 a year.
  • Healthier employees. Three in four employees say they eat healthier when working from home.  Also, people who telecommute have a lower Body Mass Index (BMI), lower blood pressure, and lower levels of stress.
  • Better work-life balance. Eight in 10 employees who telecommute part-time feel they have a good work-life balance.  Also, the average employee says their stress decreased by 25% when they switched from working in the office to working at home.
  • Higher productivity. We all know that a happy employee is a productive employee.  Studies show that working from home increases productivity anywhere from 10 to 50% (according to The Information Technology & Innovation Foundation).
 
Proposing a Job Share

At times work can seem all consuming.  It saps most of our time and energy, leaving very little time for anything outside of work.  How can you achieve balance in your life when you have a demanding job?  Take heart!  There are ways in which you can reduce the impact of work on the rest of your life – without quitting your job outright.  One of these ways is job sharing.

Job sharing is where two employees share the responsibilities of one full-time position.  You don’t have to change jobs for this.  Often your current job can be redesigned into a job sharing position.  By working part-time in a job share, you have more time for life outside of work.

How can you sell a job share to your boss?  You need to make the business case for job sharing, and point out the benefits to your employer.   Advantages include the following:

Double the Talent – This follows the old adage that “two heads are better than one”.  Job share partners bring a broader range of talents and experience to the position than either of them alone.  This results in more creativity, better decisions, and a better work product.

Increased Productivity – Because job sharing eases the strain of balancing work and outside responsibilities, each partner can devote greater energy and focus when on the job.  With two people, there is a built-in quality control system to double-check and prevent errors.  Additionally, increased morale of job share partners also results in increased productivity.

Continuous Job Coverage – Job share partners can cover for each other during vacations, sick leaves and other absences.  In addition, if work volume increases, partners can work more hours and overlap time.

Retention – The employer retains valuable, experienced employees who might otherwise leave the organization.  This saves the company recruitment and training costs resulting from turnover.

In addition to outlining the benefits of job sharing, your proposal should include the following:

Details of the Job Sharing Position – Outline the duties and responsibilities of the position to show how the work will be split or shared.

A Proposed Work Schedule – Identify who will work which days and times.

How the Job Sharing will be Handled – Outline how the job sharers will work together, including: how you will communicate with your partner, customers, and co-workers; how equipment and office space will be handled; and how the handover will take place.  Point out that the arrangement won’t have a negative impact on the department, company or customers.

Your proposal needs to be well-thought-out and convincing.  If you are prepared and show how job sharing can benefit the company, your chances of getting it approved are higher.

 
Negotiating Flexible Work Options

Would you like more flexibility in your job?  Maybe you have family commitments and would like to negotiate a work schedule that is more suited to your needs.  Flexible schedules can allow you to attend you child’s after-school sports or attend to an aging parent’s medical needs.  How can you persuade your boss to let you work from home, job-share or go part-time?  Here are tips to help you negotiate a flexible work option.

Research

First, do your homework.  Review your organization’s Flexible Work Policy.  Know your opportunities and limitations.  Talk to other employees who are working in a flexible work arrangement.  Find out how they negotiated their work arrangement, and how it’s going.  Also, research studies on flexible work arrangements, so you can cite the positive effects.  According to a study conducted by Wake Forest University, workers with flexible jobs were less likely to report health problems.  They called in sick less often and felt more committed to their jobs.

Write a Proposal

Next, prepare a proposal to present to your manager.  Consider your needs and what type of flexible arrangement will best fit your needs.  Also consider the organization’s needs and how they will be met.  Here are key points to include in your proposal.

  • Why you need flexibility in your work
  • What type of flexible arrangement you are proposing — flexible hours, job share, part-time, telecommuting, etc.
  • The impact on your job responsibilities
  • The impact on your customers and colleagues
  • Costs or cost savings associated with the work arrangement
  • Other benefits to the organization

If after presenting your proposal, your manager is still hesitant, then propose a 3-6 month trial period, and suggest meeting periodically with your manager to assess the effectiveness of the work arrangement.

Follow these tips to present a strong proposal, and you’re likely to get acceptance.  Your preparation will pay off in the long run by giving you much needed flexibility and a boost to your well-being.