Working Remotely

Are you new to working remotely?

With the spread of Covid19, many employees who can have been working from home. This could be new for some people. I have been working remotely since 2011. So this is old hat for me.

working remotely home office
Yeah , it looks kind of messy but…

 

All sorts of tips and articles have been posted but here is what I have experienced and would like to share.

Working remotely – Early on…

Early in my working remotely experience, I was easily distracted. Oh, I have this laundry to do, let me walk out to the mailbox and get the mail, look at those dishes in the sink, and all sorts of other distractions.

I noticed, I would start working early in the morning and forget to walk the dog. I would work very late and forget to start dinner. After dinner, I would work some more and then I couldn’t get to sleep, or I would wake up because I thought of something I needed to do.

Networking was still part of my routine, but it was cut back measurably.

As business picked up, I fell into a decent routine.

Working remotely – Now…

With my right brain and probably an undiagnosed ADD issue, I can still be easily distracted but here is what happens regularly.

I get up, walk the dog right away, fix breakfast, do a few chores and try to be at my desk by 9AM. Somedays it is earlier, but that is my goal. If I feel my attention waning, I will take a lap around the house, check out a snack or fill my water, let the dog in or out depending. Then right back to it.

Some articles say get up get ready for work just like you would normally, but I look at my calendar and see if I have to be at any appointments or networking events and if not, I stay in whatever clothes I walked the dog in. I am more comfortable that way.

Whatever I eat, I normally bring it into the office and eat while working. Yeah I know, you are supposed to get away and eat to give your brain a break but that is what networking luncheons are for in addition to meeting new people.

Now, I don’t work after 6PM unless it is on one of my volunteer projects.

If I have errands to run, I schedule them for a slow period or between projects to give my brain a break. The advantage is where I have to go is usually less crowded mid afternoon or morning and I get in and out faster.

What I miss by working remotely…

I do miss talking with co-workers, but there are these things called phones and I use mine regularly. Co-workers can be a distraction.

What I like about working remotely…

I have gotten to learn about a bunch of cool computer programs that allow me to work with a team of people in other places. I regularly use Zoom for webinars and meetings. One client taught me about Trello, that I taught to another client who taught one of his clients…. I use Teams with one client and that is often better for quick communications than a phone call, plus it allows for phone calls, video calls and screen sharing.

My commute is the best part of working from home. I walk 15 feet from the bedroom to my office.

Now, the one thing here is I don’t have small children to distract me or that require my attention during my day, but I do have a husband – ‘nuf said?

Please follow and like us:

Research, Research, Research – Comcast got me again!

Research – Before you make decisions get both sides of the story.

It pays to do your research thoroughly. I pay a boat load of money to Comcast for my phones, cable and internet and I now have Xfinity phones. I switched us away from Sprint because they were eating me alive with fees and I found the by the gig option that saved us over $100 per month.

smart city and wireless communication network, abstract image visual, internet of things

Recently, while at a networking luncheon, I met a salesperson for Comcast Business. I spoke with him several times about the service. He told me that he had spoken with a residential person about what the cable would cost if I moved the phones and internet to the business side. It sounded like I would save about $40 per month. He also told me that the Xfinity mobile deal would be fine because everything was all billing to one address.

My Story

WELL, I should have called residential myself!!! I got my Business bill AND my residential bill and noticed that no one told residential to turn off the service. Now silly me, I thought maybe once they ported the numbers over from one to the other, that one hand would know what the other hand was doing. My first mistake.

On a Saturday morning, I make a phone call about why my residential was still active, blah blah blah. After getting the word that my cable bill would actually go up because I was no longer getting the “TriplePlay”, I did some quick math and discovered that I would actually be paying about $20 more a month if I retained the Business service.

I decided right then and there to switch back to the residential side of Comcast. The faster speeds that I was promised were not happening, I wasn’t saving any money, and I wasn’t going to wait around to see if the service response time was faster or not.

After I got switched around to the third person… whom I was able to completely understand, we talked about making the switch. This last person I spoke with on Saturday from Florida claimed they were Customer Solutions. She promised to call me back at 8AM on Monday my time. By this time I had spent 90 minutes on the phone. She wasn’t able to get in touch with Comcast Business.

The UpSide

When Monday at 9:30 rolled around and I felt “stood-up”, I called customer service back. i found out that there were no notes on my account. I got transferred three more times and was up to my eyebrows with rage. The bright spot in this whole story is an operator named Shannon from Mississippi. I was so mad from having to repeat myself, I thought the top of my head was going to explode. When I get really mad, I cry and I was probably unintelligible to Shannon, who listened and kept reassuring me. Shannon was on the phone with me close to 90 minutes. She made calls to Business and got the process started to port the numbers back to residential.  She had another person on the other line to facilitate the transfer. There was a hold-up because it takes up to 24 hours to release the numbers. We finally had to hang-up. But Shannon assured me that she would call me back and talk me through switching everything back to the residential modem that I had not returned.

Anxious to get this going, I called back in the late afternoon and spoke with someone who did some  checking on the numbers and they still weren’t able to port. BUT, Rachel (the second customer solutions person) told me that she checked with Shannon who told her she had been continuing to check on my case.

Lo and behold, on Tuesday morning, I got a phone call (while I was off-site teaching a class) from Comcast Technical Assistance to port my numbers over. I couldn’t talk but this kind tech called me back in the afternoon when I was back in the office. Over about 45 minutes, we got everything switched over and back to residential service.

While I was driving to return the business equipment to an Xfinity store, I got a phone call on my mobile. It was Shannon!!! She had been thinking about and following-up on my case since Monday. We chatted a bit about how frustrated she and her supervisor were. If they were frustrated, imagine how bad it was for me! I feel that even though the name is Comcast, one side of the business doesn’t know and can’t help you with the other aspects.

My Advice

This is a long story and if you got this far, take this advice from me: Do your own research! Check on what things will cost you if you move your service. If you are moving it all, find out installation, taxes etc. If you are leaving partial, find out the associated costs. If you tell a company you are leaving their service they might offer you a better deal to stay. Do your research. Do your due diligence.

Shannon from Mississippi, you deserve a gold star, a medal, an extra day of vacation or something. You remained calm during my stress and helped me solve my problem. God Bless you!

 

Please follow and like us:

One Small Step

One Small Step at a time!

Today is the 50th anniversary of the first man on the moon. That’s one small step for a man, one small step imageone giant leap for mankind. I remember what I was doing that day. My parents were at work. They left implicit instructions that I was to  watch with my girlfriend Liz and her family. It was moving thinking back that I was able to see history happen. This historic event can only be matched by the first step by a man on Mars. Read the wiki about Apollo 11 here.

I don’t remember what I was thinking, but I just had to be impressed. How could I not be. Several years ago, while visiting the Kennedy Space Center, I was awestruck by the significance of what I was seeing and remembering what I had witnessed, albeit by television, in my youth. The bravery, resolve, and spirit of all the men and women who made space travel happen is incredible. One of our family friends, who worked for Boeing in St. Louis, was even a small piece of the puzzle that made all of it work. I remember seeing the pictures of him in his white coverall suit. I remember a certificate signed by the president.

Thinking about this whole series of events means that, while I am awestruck with one small step that someone took, it had to start somewhere. A dream, a vision, a discussion, led to putting man into space, on the moon, and living in a space station. I believe that we will one day live out the dreams of many creators in all the space travel adventure series. Or live like the Jetsons! I know I will probably not live long enough to see it or participate fully, but I know that I would be encouraging.

Taking One Small Step

What do you need to do that requires that one small step to get you moving toward a larger goal?

  • Starting a work project
  • Losing weight
  • Holding yourself accountable
  • Posting on social media regularly
  • Writing a blog article twice a month
  • Sending out a newsletter

If I can be of assistance, please let me know.

Please follow and like us:

Three Things to Retain Employees

What three things can you do to retain employees?

Recently, I heard an interview on WGN radio show by Steve Grzanich of the Opening Bell discuss three things to do to retain employees with Adam Robinson of Hireology.

Those three things are:retain employees

  • Career Path
  • Stable Pay
  • Flexibility

Let me share my interpretation and viewpoint from a workforce development aspect. I am a solopreneur, but I have a history with workforce development from the employer and job seeker aspects.

Career Path

Many people begin a job without knowing how they can progress up a career ladder. For example, you might get training as a Certified Nurse Assistant with the end goal of becoming a Physician Assistant.

  • What steps can the job help you achieve?
  • Will the employer pay for additional training?
  • Is there internal training that can help you advance up the career ladder?
  • Will the employer allow attendance at external workshops and conferences to gain or maintain additional educational units?

This is a very competitive job market for those who are still looking for work. What do you tell prospective employees in the interview process about training retention plans?

Stable Pay

In my view, stable pay means that if you hire an employee you will maintain a consistent rate of pay when possible. For example, if hired as a part-time person at 20 hours a week, the hours don’t fluctuate down to 5 for several weeks in a row. If a person is hired as a seasonal employee, help that person understand what the hours/pay expectation should be. If someone is hired who becomes used to 12 hours of overtime a week and suddenly, without notice, that is cut because of x, y or z, it is unfair. Communication would be key in both of these examples. Perhaps a contract was not renewed and hours for everyone will be cut as of xx date. Another aspect to stable pay could be the anticipation of annual reviews with cost of living increases or performance raises. A new employee should be made aware of what opportunities exist.

Flexibility

For me personally, this is one of the reasons why I love working for myself. If I need to go to a networking event, attend a doctors appointment, run an emergency errand for my husband’s construction business or almost any other reason, I have the flexibility to work earlier or later in the day or make up work I have to do on a Saturday morning. More and more businesses understand the work/life balance concept. Sometimes the declawed cat might slip out the door and boom, there goes 90 minutes of time you owe your employer. Being or allowing flexibility (as long as it is not abused) is one of the things that employees will expect.

Please follow and like us:

Constant Contact Story – Hasty Decisions Can Cost Big

Constant Contact Salesperson got the better of me.

I decided to sign-up for Constant Contact through the link for the Savings Program link on my Elgin Area Chamber site. Check out becoming a member of this great chamber if you aren’t already. I would get a 25% discount and 60 days free to prep my list of contacts, setup my templates and mentally prepare to send emails.

The next morning, I received a phone call at 9:45AM from a Constant Contact salesperson telling me they were my “guide” to make sure I had blah blah blah. I told the person before they got into their spiel that I had a 10AM conference webinar that I was hosting.  I indicated to the person with which I was speaking that I had only a few minutes to complete the call before I needed to prep for my webinar. To be polite I stayed on the phone with the rep to answer some questions. He wanted to schedule a walk through call for me as I had previous experience with Constant Contact. He didn’t bother to tell me that that walk-through was part of the Email Plus plan and since I was in a hurry, I didn’t ask. He told me I needed to have a paid account before I was able to have that appointment scheduled. He made it sound like the appointment times were very rare and I agreed to get my account paid for right away. As I felt rushed I was not asking the appropriate questions about which level of account I was signing up for. I logged into my account and entered my credit card information because I refuse to give to anyone that initiates a call with me my credit card number of out of principle. I was charged $430. I was expecting $180. I finally hung-up on the guy at 9:57AM. I felt anxious, nervous and frustrated.

I had an out of office meeting to attend. When I returned, I saw a “Thanks for your payment” email. When I opened it and saw the $430 amount, I about hit the ceiling. I called and had to cancel my account because I was planning on using the 2 free months to get everything set-up and then pay for a year at the end of the trial period. Now I have to set-up a new account. Fortunately, the Customer Service Rep told me she would make it so that I can use my email address again to set-up the new account. She exported the list with all of the data points of the people I had already entered because I was only getting parts of the data. Let’s see if the CSR comes up with her end of the bargain!

So this is my story to you:

  • Don’t do anything in haste. Make them call you back.
  • I am totally disappointed in the practice that was demonstrated by the young man to whom I was speaking. AND that I let him.
  • I will set up another account,
  • I will use my 60 day free trial, and,
  • I will get my 25% discount.

In the survey I received, I let them know that I wrote this blog article and that it will get posted to my social media. I can’t fault the company, only their rep. I have to accept partial responsibility for this because I was less cautious than I normally am.

Please follow and like us: