These cool gadgets are a must for home workers

We love gadgets, and we love gadgets that help out when it comes to life even more. One of the areas that gadgets can really be beneficial is for home workers. People who work from home face a particular set of challenges that can take a toll on their productivity, motivation and even their mood. But what they might not realise is that there have been companies out there who are dedicated to making sure that things are a little bit easier.

This is why there has been a number of gadgets developed that are designed with one thing in mind, helping remote workers.

Here are some of the coolest and most popular gadgets out there.

Think Board

Do you need to jot down notes during a meeting, or perhaps you have clients, customers or even colleagues in your home office from time to time? A Think Board is a great alternative to a standard white board, working much the same it offers you a place to write and draw, but it is fully portable, which means that you can move it around and stick it anywhere that you need it. Best of all, it doesn’t leave the surface sticky either!

Remote wireless video monitor mbp36s

If you are a parent who is working from home, then one of the coolest gadgets that you can own is one that lets you get on with your work, whilst still being able to watch your little one. If they are having a nap and you need to be in another room, then the Remote wireless video monitor mbp36s will allow you to watch them through a video link, making sure that all is okay with them.

Wottle

We all hate when we finally get to enjoy that hot drink only to find that it is less than hot anymore. The Wottle is your answer. Not only is it a pretty cool water bottle in its own right, but it is also a power bank and a hand warmer too. It keeps your drinks warm for hours and is ideal for when you need to shut yourself away and really focus on your work, but also really need a coffee whilst you do it.

Amazon Echo

Are you the type of person who finds themselves distracted by surfing the web to find the news or weather? Or do you waste time trying to find a playlist on your phone? If this is true for you then your home office space could definitely benefit from an Echo? Fully voice activated, you will be more than surprised by what your Echo can do. Whether it is tell you what the traffic is like or play your favourite songs, it is ideal for those that can’t tear themselves away from their computer.

Wireless Charging Mat

Find that your tablet or phone keeps running out of battery, need it next to you but don’t like having cables all over your desk? Why not invest in a wireless charging mat, not only do they charge up your device, but they stop you having to deal with cables everywhere, they look pretty cool too!

A portable scanner

Do you need to scan in receipts or any other loose documents to keep track of business costs? If you do, then you could really benefit from a portable scanner. It takes any document and allows you to run down the page, scanning it, before transferring it into a digital copy. This is ideal for those people who need to keep receipts or signed documentation but haven’t the space for a hardcopy.

A doorbell camera

Knowing who is at the door can be a big help when you are working from home, particularly if you are waiting for a delivery or a client to visit and don’t want to miss them thinking it is a cold caller. Having a doorbell camera means that you can see who is there and most of these gadgets are compatible with your tablet or smartphone.

An air purifier

Being holed up in an office for the most part of the day, breathing in the same air, isn’t good for us. If you are not able to open a window, perhaps due to allergies, noise or it being really cold, then it might be worthwhile investing in an air purifier, this will take the air in the room and give it a good old clean, meaning that you will be able to breathe fresh air and keep yourself feeling 100%.

The Upright Smart Posture Trainer

One of the biggest problems for anyone who works at a computer has to be their posture. This means that a gadget which is designed to help your posture is going to be a big hit. This tiny, yet mighty little tool is stuck to your back and it will teach you to try and sit up straighter during the day. Over time it will become second nature and your back will really thank you for making this change.

An under desk work out

We all know that we should be as active as we can to stay healthy, but when you are busy working from home this can be tricky. Rather than worry that you are missing out on vital steps, you can install an under desk work out machine such as Cubii. These are designed to help you to move your legs whilst you are sat down, giving your muscles a workout and keeping you active without having to leave your desk at all!

These gadgets are not only super cool, but they are incredibly useful for your home office space too. So, whether you work from a desk in your dining room or you have a dedicated room all to yourself, why not see if a gadget can help make working from home that little bit easier for you?

Turning words into money – how to write great content

I’m writing this and I’m a writer – so it’s tempting to feed my own ego and tell you that creating great content is either in your DNA or it’s not – but, as hard as it is for me to admit, that’s just not true.

I might like to pretend I’m channelling the spirt of Hemmingway or Shakespeare as I punch away at my laptop, but actually, I’m following some tried and tested principles that mean what I produce is readable, offers some value and scratches the itch of the person reading it.

If you’re going to make money from your content – you’re going to want to know what I believe the most important of those principles are. So crank up your copy of Word for Mac 2016 and lets get started:

Originality

If you think it’s okay to keep recycling the same content that you see on the front page of Google when you do your ‘research’ into a topic you plan to write about – I’m going to issue you with a friendly warning:

It’s not.

…and sooner or later the habit will bite you in the most painful place – your wallet.

If someone’s interested in the topic you’re writing about then there’s a good chance they’ve already looked at the bare basic information you’re trying to rehash. Spin it around and serve it up again and people are going to be clicking away faster than you can say ‘plagiarism’…

Let’s be clear here:

We’re not just talking about how people will react. Google’s algorithms are becoming increasingly sophisticated by the day. They’ve already taken huge steps to punish unoriginal content – and you’d be a fool to think that they won’t keep upping their game.

Get original or get penalised – sooner or later. But that begs an important question…

How to be original

How to be original? Well, I don’t suppose I have to tell you not to rip content off the front page of Google here.

What you should be doing is a little more difficult but is still a process you can follow:

Put yourself in a potential reader’s shoes. How will they find what you’re about to be typing? Chances are they’re going to have searched for a term that features in the headline – or they’ve clicked through from a link that offers a tiny taste of what you’ve got in store.

I like to start by thinking about what a reader is hoping to glean from an article. In this case it’s some tips on how to write good content. So, I’ve eluded to that in the introductory short paragraphs and that’s hopefully kept you reading.

I’ve then applied some of my own knowledge – and noted down the sub-heading ‘originality’ – which most content and copy writers will agree is important.

What comes next is also super important though:

The actionable payoff

What good is reading a piece of content if you can’t take something away from it quickly and use that to ease whatever problem it was you set out to search for an answer to?

So, with that in mind you’ll notice the sub-heading after ‘originality’ was ‘how to be original’ – an clear indication that in the following paragraphs you’ll find something that’s going to help you write better content.

Don’t worry – I am getting to that, this is just the bit where I explain how important the right scaffolding is to build your brilliant content around!

Sub-headings

By now you’ve got some sub-headings in place –

  • Originality
  • How to be original

…now it’s time take them away and research them individually.

And when I say individually, I mean, read something on an authority site about how to be original – then pick up a book or another site that give you another tip.

Assuming you’re using reputable sites and accessing accurate information you’ll see similar kinds of hints and tips running through everything you read. If you’re not, or something that stands out as not being in line with the other info you’re reading – dig a bit deeper, it’s important you’re working with legitimate information from a variety of sources.

While you build your picture of information, make some notes – and importantly:

Understand it yourself.

The accidental expert

I like to consider myself the kind of person you’d want as your ‘phone a friend’ on Who Wants to be a Millionaire.

I’ve written about everything from complex psychological theories of childhood attachment to the techniques involved with growing and harvesting rhubarb – if you put a couple of drinks in me and I’ll be delighted to tell you all about either of those – and many other things in between.

And that’s because I know about them now. Okay, I can’t write a 50,000 word academic book on either – but I’d give a Wikipedia page a fair shot. If you do your research properly you can build your knowledge base too – and if you’re writing from your own knowledge, you work is guaranteed to be original.

Tone

I’m harping on about my knowledge of rhubarb because my understanding of the subject has given me the ability to put it into a conversational tone – and that’s important – because people who read things on the internet like exactly that tone.

It’s very rare that someone visits information online because they want to check their already strong facts. We’re quite a self-assured bunch. Instead, people are reading to learn – and that’s best done by pitching the language one level below the expertise you’ve got of the subject.

I’m not saying dumb it down – I’m just saying be accessible, don’t take yourself too seriously and chuck in the odd light-hearted quip. It’s a fact that you remember information conveyed to you by a friend much more readily than that delivered to you in a lecture – so imagine you’re typing in that tone.

Take-away information

I promised some take-away tips on how to do a better job of turning your words in to cash – so here they are:

  • Be original – Research far and wide to fully understand your topic before you hit the keyboard…
  • Make notes – Jot as much down as you can while you’re researching – you might find you’ve got enough knowledge for 5,000 words instead of just 500…
  • Use titles and subtitles to your advantage – Realise that readers want good information, elude to it early and make sure you deliver to keep people engaged.
  • Use the right tone – Research says people like a conversational tone – the friendlier the tone, the easier the read.

Whether you’re selling your words to someone else – or using them to make sure you’re offering the very best content across your own websites and marketing material – writing them to a high standard is a sure-fire way to put more money in your pocket.

Overcoming barriers to learning in the workplace

Overcoming barriers to learning in the workplace

Whether you’re an employer or an employee, overcoming barriers to learning in the workplace is important – it’s the key to personal development, safety, business growth, increased revenues, promotions, salary increases and much more. For some companies there’s a belief that workplace training is a necessary evil – an attitude that’s often grown from resistance to training and change.

If you can understand what contributes to these barriers you can unlock huge potential in your company and your people – you’ve just got to know what to be on the lookout for…

Invisible difficulties and disabilities

Most people have heard of conditions like autism, ADHD and dyslexia – they’re occasionally in the media and sometimes appear in professional publications, but painfully, even people who endure these conditions often don’t know about the impact they can have on learning in the workplace.

Conditions like these are referred to as ‘invisible’ simply because they rarely show any physical symptoms – which can often lead to the misunderstanding that the person experiences life in the same way as someone who’s got more typical brain function. They can become doubly invisible in the workplace since people often feel the need to hide whatever awareness of their condition they have – often thinking that being forthright would lead to discrimination or embarrassment.

What do they look like?

As previously noted, there are little or no physical symptoms that go along with these conditions – and frankly, there are a lot of misconceptions about the behaviour that they inspire. Where you might be aware that people with autism can struggle with social communication or people with dyslexia can have problems with reading and writing you might not realise the following:

  • People with ADHD can be susceptible to intense headaches, restlessness and distraction as a result of not being able to ‘filter’ common background noises. Imagine how the sound of breaking glass catches your attention more than that of a passing car – for some people with ADHD every noise can catch their attention like that breaking glass. 
  • Autism can often result in a lack of ‘flexibility of thought’ – meaning anticipating new scenarios, settings and people is extremely difficult – often resulting in anxiety, stress and physical illness.
  • People who otherwise manage the symptoms of dyslexia can have huge problems with their working memory – because of the sheer effort their brain puts toward understanding the written elements of a role.

So, even if someone manages their role on a day to day basis – it’s obvious how tricky training can become when you’re working with a brain that doesn’t function in quite the same way as the rest of your colleagues. Next time you think someone’s hesitant or not paying attention to training, try to explore the issues a little before getting irritated, there could be a struggle going on you just can’t see.

Mental health and well-being

In a similar way to the ‘invisible’ conditions we’ve mentioned it’s highly likely that some of your team experience the non-physical symptoms of mental health conditions – such as stress, depression, anxiety or a whole host of others.

For some people breaking from the ‘norm’ of a role can inspire uncomfortable thoughts, feelings and even manifest as physical symptoms. Despite a multitude of campaigns to inspire the opposite – mental health conditions can still carry some feelings of being ‘taboo’ – so while someone might be struggling with how they feel – they may try to pass it off as nothing, leading to confusion when training isn’t absorbed or engaged with. 

Preoccupations and distractions

How often have you seen people seemingly in a ‘world of their own’ when they should be taking in a training session? It could be that the post-lunch lull has set it – then again, it could be that their brain is preoccupied with something life-changing that you just don’t know about.

As an example – around 1 in 6 adults in the UK is facing ‘problem debt’ – meaning they’re in a cycle of borrowing they’re unable to break free from. This can mean handling collection agencies, repayments, other jobs – even bailiffs and court appearances. If you think you’re going to get the best from someone while they’re missing calls and knocks at the door relating to finances you’re likely to be mistaken.

It’s impossible to keep track of people’s lives – but cutting them some slack to deal with what’s going on outside of the office can really help people focus on the task at hand.

Learning styles

There’s a host of different ways to measure or gauge your preferred learning style – generally speaking you’ll find you learn better either by listening, doing, watching or writing about any given subject. So, guess what happens when a room full of ‘doers’ are confronted with 95 Powerpoint slides?! That’s right – you’ve lost the room before slide 3.

Now, you’re very unlikely to have a full team of people whose learning style is going to be exactly the same – so the key is to mix the workplace learning up a little. When everyone’s engaged in a manner they prefer, they’ll reflect on training as a more positive experience, they’ll retain more information and they’re far more likely to engage positively again in the future…

Why are we here?!

Have you ever found yourself plodding through a training course with no real knowledge of what you’re hoping to achieve or whether the end is in sight? Preparing for training should always come with a bigger picture reason as to why people are going to be in the room, what the agenda is going to be and the benefit for all involved.

No one trains for the sake of training; perhaps you’re there to keep up with industry standards meaning you can continue to trade – perhaps you’re there because you have new machinery that would be dangerous if mishandled – or maybe you’re introducing a new way of working. Whatever the reason, imagine your team are constantly asking “what’s in it for me?” – answer the question before it’s actually asked and people will buy in to the course on a far deeper level.

What’s the answer?

If you got here thinking that we’d be able to give you a one-size-fits-all answer to all the issues above that you can implement for your training course next week – I’m sorry to say that you’re going to be disappointed! However, we can come close – if you’ve got the time.

If you can encourage open and honest discussion with a team member then you’ll begin to get a picture of what work (and maybe even wider life) looks like for them. Employees are under no legal obligation to disclose most health or life issues to you – and as such you’re under no obligation to account for issues you know nothing about. It’s only by talking – and on your behalf, communicating a genuine interest and care for the well-being of your team that you’ll begin to learn about what makes each person tick and whether or not your organisation can support.

Make time to talk

Could you implement a fairly informal discussion about a person’s role, how they’re coping and how it’s fitting in to life in general? If you can, you might be able to start building a trusting relationship and inspire the confidence in your team to confide in you about their role – especially if they see that you’re willing to make changes that will make work a more positive and reward place for them.