How to keep motivation during home office

The events of March and April 2020 with booming worldwide pandemic were a shock to everyone. Services that required personal interactions were prohibited, productions were stopped or slowed down, millions of employees around the world were laid off, many local businesses were force to close down. The International Monetary Fund officially stated, that the world has not seen such drastic economic contraction, even in the times of crisis in 2008 and 2009. Not being able to assure a safe work environment, thousands of companies – and institutions like schools – were forced to provide their employees with necessary equipment and let them work from home.

Home office is not a new or unknown term, but many of those who have been working in a fixed place for years feel like it is. What also needs to be pointed out, not only the subordinates had to rearrange their professional life, but also the supervisors and managers. Both parties were faced with a challenge of staying motivated and reorganizing their work environment.

Working from home is a challenge for both employees and employers. For some individuals being parted from coworkers and supervisors is an unfamiliar and uncomfortable situation. Not only is it harder to separate personal from professional life, but also to find motivation that keeps one on track. It is even more difficult for managers to watch over their subordinates and make sure their productivity stays on the same level when not seeing them in an office.

Therefore, it is crucial for leaders in small-sized businesses to get to know their employees on a more personal level. That is the only way to find out their needs and adapt the task and responsibilities individually. Once they find out by which need a person is driven, they can assign tasks that suit their personality which in the end will best motivate them.

An employee that requires being challenged will not be satisfied with tedious and monotonous tasks and will therefore get demotivated. A worker driven by power is more  likely to leave the company once they don`t feel empowered. As everything seems more depressing and duller during a lockdown, the managers should take extra care of the person who is performing, not the outcome itself.

Importance of teamwork

The key to success in a small sized business is creating a team that functions like a well-oiled machine. individuals tend to feel more powerful and confident while working as one body. Each member of a group adds additional value to various processes like decision-making, coming up with ideas and solutions. Problems can be solved quicker and changes can be adapted more smoothly.

“Employees also feel better about decisions they make themselves, and are more likely to stick to the implementations that they have created for themselves, as opposed to those forced upon them” (West, et al., 1998).

However, a manager must not forget, that a team will not be successful just because its members work together – it has to be properly built. Not only does a team need people with different technical skills an knowledge, but also characteristics and soft skills. Imagine you put three overthinkers that also happen to be introverts in one team – will they ever make a solid desicion?

Digital Latam’s solution

Digital Latam’s leaders believe that the best way of employee/internee motivation is giving them space to self-growth and self-development while indirectly learning about their needs. Team members are free to set their priorities on their own – they are given a task (mostly several tasks at one time, since they are involved in a few projects) and a deadline.

It is their choice whether they deliver the results earlier or on time. They decide the path or way of handling tasks and problems. Managers observe every individual carefully, especially in the first weeks of collaboration. Then, the leaders try to push their subordinates into what they consider is the right direction rather than set strict rules and expectations. An example for that would be giving more responsibilities and power in making decisions for a project.

Once leaders see that an individual gets the hang of the development process and feels comfortable with a project, they give more tasks and shorter deadlines. In this situation the empowered employee feels trusted and needed. They do not want to let their supervisor down, so they’re motivated to give their best. Moreover, Digital Latam’s leaders always give feedback. It can seem obvious and not special at all, but it actually is crucial.

Any form of feedback, whether it is positive or negative, or just a neutral comment gives the employee a feeling of being appreciated. If a person feels that they and their work is acknowledged, they want to show more of their skills in the next tasks or projects. Expressions like” thank you” or “I appreciate your support on this topic” are a key for the employees to want to get to another task, especially for those with high need for affiliation. Even after doing a minor task, one feels appreciated.

Conclusion

Both working and managing a firm from home are big challenges. However, it is the supervisor`s duty to lead and motivate their subordinates. In terms of a small-sized businesses one of the best ways to achieve both is to observe the employees and get to know them on a personal level. Once the managers see individual needs of their subordinates, they can distribute tasks properly and hope for even better results.

Another step in preparing a strong virtual work environment is building trust and showing permanent support and appreciation. Moreover, a key to a successful virtual collaboration is proper communication. Not speaking up about possible problems or obstacles brings chaos and misunderstandings. Employees need to be assured that they can communicate with their managers even about sensitive topics. The deeper the trust between both parties, the better performance can be expected.

Working in a virtual team presents many challenges. When you can’t see your colleagues face toface, and you don’t have the social interactions that build relationships and rapport, it can be difficult to gain mutual trust. If not handled properly, this lack of trust can undermine everything theteam is trying to achieve.

Another big challenge is communication, especially when a remote team includes members from different countries and cultures. It can also be more difficult to capture the visual cues (such as bodylanguage and facial expressions) that make communication flow, even when using video. Also, it may be more difficult to express your opinion, resolve a team conflict, keep being motivated in a virtual team.

The most important soft skills to work effectively in a virtual team are:

  • Active communication and listening: Effective communication is important within a virtual team. Open communication not only helps you avoid misunderstandings, but will also increase your effectiveness. Keep in mind, that texting or writing emails is not the same as talking to someone face to face – make sure your messages are undrestandable, specific and polite.
  • Conflict Resolution: You have to be able to handle conflict within your team in an objective and fair manner. It’s not always about who is right and who is wrong, but about finding the best solution for the whole team and organization.
  • Emotional Intelligence: Sometimes, you may need to raise sensitive issues or topics withyour boss, colleagues or employees. When this happens, think about how you will communicate.
  • Honesty: You must be honest with yourself and your team about any issues that arise.Often, it is best to express concerns when they happen. Be assertive, and learn to manage your emotions.

Virtual Teams at Digital Latam

Since we are an international company with headquarters in Germany and Spain, woking in a virtual team is an every-day normality for us. We hire new team members via online inteviews, couching them via online trainings and achieve our goals while being in a couple of different countries. That makes us trustworthy experts in that field. Moreover, we created numerous courses on this topic.If you have any trouble setting up and managing a virtual team – don’t hesitate to contact us!

Top 5 soft skills

Nowadays, there is a high competition for jobs, so it is essential to stand out from the croud. The resume is the first thing, that an interviewer looks at while choosing a candidate. That means, you CV has to have to catch their attention as quick as possible. We not only recommend showing a good structure and organization of the contents, but also a well-thought content.

Candidates have all kinds of education levels, more or less work experience; but at some point they`re resumes look alike. For that reason you will have to focus on what differentiates you from them.

If you want human resources professionals to consider your application, you should include different types of soft skills in your resume. Unfortunately, the psychological aspects of professional skills have often been underestimated, which has spread the misconception that professionals should only acquire “tangible” knowledge gained through trainings and courses – and completely forget about their personal qualities.

What are the most outstanding soft skills? Here is our top 5 to use on your resume:

Emotional Intelligence: It refers to the ability to identify and manage one’s own emotions as well as those of others. In the workplace, this means that you are rational and even-handed, and can handle the ups and downs without losing control.

Problem solving: No matter what the task is, eventually something always goes wrong and employers want to know that you are capable of finding a quick and effective solution without any stressful reactions. In fact, there are jobs that are essentially consist of problem solving for the company, the customers, or both.

Critical Thinking: Being able to think rationally and reflectively is the foundation of critical thinking. Employers want to hire workers who can think one step ahead. That also means determining the best steps needed in order to avoid any issues and keep being productive and effective.

Flexibility: Many organizations and industries covet employees who are dynamic and adaptable to each situation, or who have the natural ability to use a variety of methods and approaches in different circumstances to obtain the best end result.

Organization: It’s not just about having a tidy desk, but about organizing tasks and projects for your co-workers and yourself, keeping deadlines, the ability to present yourself. If you want to show your organizational skills, having a well-structured resume certainly helps.

How will these skills be evaluated?

After going through a multi-stage selection process, the personal interview is usually the last step before getting the job.

Many recruiters do personality or skills tests and through this tool they observe how you behave and what social skills you have. They may also ask focused questions like:

-Past behaviors: how you have overcome any failures and what your behavior was like.

-Creation of hypothetical scenarios to know what you would do and how you would handle the situation.

-They ask all candidates the same questions so that they can compare the answers and pick the most interesting ones.

Differences in preparing for a virtual interview:

  • Preparation: When you is facing an online interview you probably think that it does not need as much preparation as a face-to-face interview and that it will simply involve a “superficial discussion”… Wrong! An online interview can even exceed a face-to-face interview in time, so you should not underestimate it, but rather dedicate enough time to its preparation: Inquiring about the company in question, reviewing your experience and skills and practicing your answers to possible questions can be a good starting point for doing so.
  • Atmosphere: In a face-to-face interview you are in a “controlled” environment, something that will not happen during the telematic interview, where you are responsible for controlling the situation on your other side of the screen and have to avoid any noise or interruption. Choose a clear and clean place where there are no obstacles behind you that might distract attention. Also, try to choose a place without bright colors, noises or distortions.
  • Voice: During the course of a face-to-face interview, your voice is one of the personal traits by which you will be evaluated, in a telephone interview it will acquire greater importance as it is one of the few external indicators that can be evaluated by your interviewer. To avoid you voice reflecting a certain “emotional tension” or sounding monotonous, weak and/or hesitant, record and listen to yourself before the interview – that way you will be able to correct any alteration in tone.
  • Appearance: While you don’t have to be dressed up from up to bottom, it is always advisable to look professionally. Believe it or not, this factor will be reflected in your voice and attitude!
  • Non-verbal language: Try to adopt an optimal posture even when answering any question in which you feel uncomfortable or stressed out. And of course, smile when appropriate! Both will give you extra energy and dynamism.

How can Digital Latam help you?

Digital Latam has a great deal of experience interviewing candidates virtually: We can instruct you on what qualities to look for and what to expect from candidates, as well as guide you on what job recruiters look for, how to prepare for interviews or teach how to stand out. Do not hesitate to ask us your questions and we will be happy to assist you in the application process. 

Principles to be a good team leadership

As telecommuting is becoming a common practice, team leaders must rethink their management strategies. Virtual teams tend to be culturally diverse and studies show that they have the advantage of being more innovative and able to move quickly out of their comfort zones; but at the same time bringing them together to collaborate can be a challenge.

As globalization increasingly requires people to work across borders, innovation depends more on collaboration and cooperation, making it necessary for organizations to improve communication. This is crucial to the success of virtual teams.

We will now provide you with the precepts to lead a team successfully:

  1. If possible, gather the team physically at the beginning. It may seem paradoxical, but face-to-face communication is still better than the virtual one when it comes to building relationships and fostering trust, which are an essential foundation for effective teamwork. If you are not able to do it, it will not be the end of the world either. You have to help team members get to know each other better, both personally and professionally, as well as to create a shared vision and a set of guiding principles about how the team will work.
  2. Clarify tasks and processes, not just objectives and roles. All new leaders should align their team with goals, roles and responsibilities. However, in virtual teams, coordination is more difficult because people are not located in the same place. Therefore, it is important to pay more attention to the details of task design and the processes that will be used to complete them.
  3. Take advantage of communication technologies. Advances in collaboration technologies are undoubtedly facilitating the creation of virtual teams. However, selecting the “best” technologies does not necessarily mean choosing the newest or most advanced ones. You need to keep in mind that the newest tools are not always the best ones.
  4. Build a team timetable. When some or all members of a team work separately, it is too easy to disconnect from the normal rhythms of working life. One antidote is to be disciplined in creating and applying rhythms to virtual teamwork. This means, for example, having regular meetings, the same day and time each week. It also means setting up and sharing the meeting agenda in advance, having clear agreements on communication protocols, and starting and ending on time.
  5. Establish a shared language. Virtual teams are often intercultural, and this magnifies the communication challenges. However, when teams work on tasks that involve more ambiguity, for example, generating ideas or solving problems, the possibility of divergent interpretations is a real danger. Hence the importance of choosing a language that is common to all and asking them to be specific in what they respond to, so as not to leave ambiguity in the interpretation of responses.
  6. Clarify and follow up on the tasks. When teams work remotely, it is inherently more difficult to do so, because there is no easy way to observe commitment and productivity. As in the previous case, this can be addressed in part by carefully designing tasks and holding regular status meetings. Beyond that, it helps to be explicit in having team members commit to defining intermediate milestones and tracking their progress. A useful tool: a “scorecard” that is visible to all team members at whatever communication tool they are using.
  7. Encourage shared leadership. Defining results and tracking commitments provides a “push” to keep team members focused and productive; shared leadership encourages the members to collaborate actively.

However, with those basic principles alone you will not be able to lead a team, you will also need to work on the following qualities:

  • Open and flexible mindset: important for teams that need to develop a product or complete a project quickly. Be open to different points of views and ideas, take every member`s opinion into consideration while making decisions. All team members should also be open to the creative process.
  • Transparent communication: you must ensure that your communication is clear and unambiguous and that you make sure you not only fully understand your team, but that you understand yourself.
  • Patience: things will take longer, there may be interpersonal irritations and disruptions, people will not always say what they really think, meetings will not always go as planned and you will have to stay positive and focused on achieving your goals. Don’t give up when obstacles and issues come up, but learn from them to avoid them in the future.
  • Focus on results: Of course, all team leaders need to focus on results, but one of the challenges of managing a virtual team is that you cannot see what people are doing or monitor their performance in the same way, so you can only really manage, measure and reward them based on results and consequences.

How can Digital Latam help you lead a successful team?

Our staff at Digital Latam is used to adapting to the digital world, that is why, from the moment a new member joins our team, we teach them the necessary soft skills to be able to function properly as a team, with cohesion. Here we present you the testimony of some of our employees:

“Working in a virtual team has definitely improved my self-management skills. As a project manager, I always have to keep track of the tasks of the whole project team and at the same time keep track of the structure of my own daily work. The lack of personal contact with my colleagues made this a challenge. Only through good time management, communication and discipline could I complete all my tasks well.”

Amelie Stemmer, Project Manager at Digital Latam

“Since joining Digital Latam, I have learned and improved some social skills that are especially important for virtual collaboration. During this time, I have noticed it especially in the aspect of communication. Since communication is mainly based on words and there are no gestures or facial expressions, it is very important to pay attention to the choice of words and phrases to ensure smooth communication. Apart from that, the aspects of organization, active listening and flexibility are also very valuable for a proactive cooperation”.

Sina Küenzlen, Project Manager at Digital Latam

 

If you have any questions or are interested in how our team can help you optimize your team management, please do not hesitate to contact us.

Soft skills

What are soft skills?

Soft skills or interpersonal skills are the set of characteristics that make us stand out as professionals and that are transversal to any professional career. They are skills that are only acquired in daily life and that allow people to successfully integrate into working environments. These transversal competencies include personal attributes, personality traits and communication skills necessary for success in the workplace.

Unlike the hard skills that are learned, soft skills are similar to the emotions or perceptions that allow people to “read” others. They are much harder to learn, at least in a traditional classroom. They are also much more difficult to measure and evaluate.

They are the talents that make us know how to communicate correctly, manage a group of people, solve a conflict between colleagues or know how to motivate and perform an active listening, thus making the professional a point of integration in the company by adding value to it.

Each of these skills go hand in hand with others, such as stress management, motivation, change management, delegation capacity and the ability to interact personally and with the public.

Among other transversal competences we can find

  • Teamwork
  • Negotiation skills
  • Communication skills
  • Decision-making and conflict resolution skills
  • Time management (planning, organization and prioritization of work)
  • The professional’s ability to acquire, process and develop information

The importance of soft skills. Why are they necessary?

Soft skills competences

Most interactions with other people require some level of soft skills. In a company, you may be negotiating to win a new contract, presenting a new idea to your colleagues, networking for a new job, etc.

Moreover, lack of such skills can limit your potential, or even be the downfall of your business. By developing strong leadership, delegation, teamwork and communication skills, you can carry out projects more smoothly, deliver results that satisfy everyone and even positively influence your personal life by improving the way you interact with others.

Outside the office, social skills such as communication are used to create friendship groups and meet potential partners. They are useful in both our professional and personal lives.

Soft skills are starting to become really important in the recruitment process. The study ‘Soft skills 4 talent 2016’, by the company specialized in talent strategy, Manpower Group, in which 3,791 companies from 8 European countries participated, concludes that these skills “are useful to face the competitive challenges presented by the various sectors and markets”. According to the study, the profile of the ideal candidate should be diverse and have skills such as: “problem solving, goal orientation and collaboration”.

How to get them and train them?

The development of soft skills is sometimes an uncomfortable process due to the internal reflection that is necessary before knowing what training is needed. This can be hard, but also rewarding.

You cannot know how to improve soft skills in the workplace until you know wich ones need to be improved. So, before we start, it is important to find out what training for the development of soft skills best suits your personality.

Think about the interpersonal skills you are already good at, and be honest with yourself about the ones that might be useful in some jobs. Often, a combination of self-evaluation and 360-degree feedback is the best way to identify gaps in soft skills.

There is no reason to leave home when you can learn from anywhere. With the help of powerful Learning Management Software, soft skills training courses are accessible, engaging and fun, no matter where the learner is or what device they are using.

eLearning has proven to be one of the most effective options for developing soft skills in the workplace, and has helped countless companies to build busy and dispersed teams. All you need is the right LMS (Learning Management Software).

How can Digital Latam help improve your Soft Skills?

At Digital Latam, an agency specializing in digital learning and training for companies, we have all the specialized means and professionals to help you train your employees so that they can perform the same activities from home without having to leave their homes. We have coaches who can guide and support you during the training of both employees and employers.

Because of the great benefits of an adapted and interactive training, in our agency we defend the learning from a practical point of view where the employees, now students, feel at all times part of the process and participate actively in its adaptation with utilities such as explanatory videos, real situations in movies and a learning platform so that you can see the progress, adapt the level of difficulty and even give feedback through chat. Do not hesitate to contact us and we will solve all your doubts and start this path towards training together.

Remote working rights and obligations

Who is responsible for accidents at while working from home?

Due to technological development and globalization, it is increasingly common for employees to carry out their work from their own homes instead of going to a physical office where they carry out their activities.

Working from home does not exempt those responsible for ensuring the safety and health of their employees. Employers have a duty of caring for all their workers, and need, as far as reasonably possible, to provide a safe working environment free from risk to the physical and mental health of their employees. This includes assessing, controlling and mitigating risks in places other than the normal workplace, such as the worker’s home during the working day. Employers should also remind employees of their duties and obligations under their employment contracts and applicable policies, in particular, those in relation to health and safety.

Although it may be difficult for employers to carry out traditional risk assessments of health and safety in a worker’s home, in the current context, it is crucial to fulfil this responsibility. In the event of an accident, the regulation applied is the same as if one was working in an office. However, for verification purposes, it can lead to conflicts because of the difficulty of carrying out an investigation of the accident, since, apart from being the place of work, it does not lose the status of home and its inviolability.

Nevertheless, it is the responsibility of the worker to present the appropriate evidence of the accident, which places him in the corresponding time and place of work. In reference to this issue, the insurance company may request a proper confirmation such as internet connection records or any other proof deemed necessary.

The employer must also provide the following irrefutable guarantees:

– Voluntary and reversible (if this option was not considered before signing the contract)

– Provide the same rights as in face-to-face work

– A minimum salary, corresponding to their professional group and functions

– Same workload and schedule as at the office.

-Right to disconnect

Who has to guarantee the safety conditions?

As we explained above, the regulatory framework infers that teleworking should not imply a reduction in the guarantees and rights of the worker.

But given that the home is the place of work, the worker himself will be responsible for the adequate maintenance of safety conditions, since he is not under the direct supervision of the employer. However, even with the difficulty of control in this environment, legally it is the employer who is obliged to watch over the safety and health of the workers. In the event of an accident, it would be considered, and this is the case, that he has violated his duty of vigilance and therefore a violation of the worker’s rights has occurred.

Are you violating the duty of vigilance? How can you prevent it?

It may be paradoxical that you are violating the duty of vigilance when the worker has not allowed you access to the home. What you should do in this case is state that you have established in the employee’s contract “the duty to collaborate with the employer and to provide them with access to employee`s home solely and exclusively for the purpose of complying with preventive legal obligations”, indicating that access will be made with due respect for the employee’s privacy, etc. Consequences of such non-compliance for disciplinary purposes also need to be specified in the contract. Given that the inviolability of the home is a constitutional right, little or nothing could be done without prejudice to the consequences it entails.

As this problem is difficult to resolve, in such circumstances it would be appropriate to record that at least an attempt has been made to evaluate the working space.

Thus, by way of summary, we could say that:

-One must guarantee effective protection in terms of health and safety.

-In order to know the risks at work, it should carry out an assessment of the workplace.

-When the place of work and home coincide, that is to say, the personal and working environment, it should respect the worker’s privacy as far as possible.

-Although the worker may deny entry to his or her home, it is also the employee’s duty to collaborate with their employer so that the latter can guarantee their safety.

-If the employee refuses to enter and investigate their home, it is recommended that this be recorded, as well as the impossibility of carrying out the evaluation or review of occupational risks and of complying in general with his or her duty of protection.

How can Digital Latam help you?

Digital Latam can guide and advise on training in safety measures and protocols, as well as in the prevention of occupational hazards. We also offer employers` training and advice on current regulations, safety measures, processes, protocols and cases of action in the event of possible occupational accidents.

Our online training courses are tailor-made – we adapt to your needs. Another advantage that distance training allows is that it does not interfere with work schedules or personal commitments and gives the possibility for everyone to learn at their own pace. Do not hesitate to contact us and we will find a solution for your concerns.

Information security and data protection

What is information security? And why is it so important?

Information security, computer security or virtual security is the process by which unauthorized use of a computer system is prevented and detected. In other words, protecting our data against hackers who have bad intentions or who intend to make a profit from it. Some basic precautions are the installation of an anti-virus or firewall software (part of the computer system that blocks unauthorized access).

Protecting information is extremely important. This prevents the theft of passwords, bank account numbers, credit card and customer information, work documents, spreadsheets, etc. Cybercriminals can misuse this information, using your photos or email to damage your personal image or create harmful content.

Threats have a global dimension and can affect any person or organization, anywhere in the world. Furthermore, they are difficult to eradicate due to the inadequacy of efficient legal mechanisms in cyberspace. As an example, in Spain alone in 2015, cyber-attacks cost around 14 billion euros.

What areas does information security cover?

Information security is based on the following four pillars, where it is protected:

Confidentiality: only users with permission can access resources, data and information

Integrity: it is ensured that only authorized persons can modify data

Availability: having access to the information when required but avoiding illegitimate access during eventual breakdowns in the system

Authentication: ensuring that data and communication is maintained only with verified persons

Below, we will provide you with basic advice for the maintenance and prevention of your security:

– Set-up automatic backups of important data

– Install legally purchased software. The “free” installation pages can contain all kinds of viruses

Protect your Wi-Fi network with a strong password and avoid open Wi-Fi networks that you connect to away from home

– Choose large and complex passwords. We recommend a minimum of 8 characters, including at least one uppercase, one lowercase, one number and one special character

– Take care of the data you share on social networks, as many cybercriminals can use it to carry out attacks

– Do not run any USB storage without first having it checked by an anti-virus

The defense strategy should not be based only on protection, but on monitoring to prevent attacks.

How do you know if you are being targeted?

Data protection

It is estimated that 97% of cyber-attacks are produced through social engineering techniques, in which the subject in question is psychologically manipulated to deliver information voluntarily and unconsciously. According to data obtained through a report by Cisco, a multinational technology company, about 6% of employees have admitted that they have transferred files from their work to their personal computers during working from home.

Some of these attack techniques are:

Phishing: Impersonation of a company’s identity to use it in portals, emails, social networks or text messages to steal information

Vishing: Impersonation of a service company, government or other entity in which the victim is tricked through phone calls

Pretexting: creating a scenario in which the victim, without being aware of it, provides access to his or her computer and capture information or install malware (malicious program).

Signs that you may perceive if a security gap occurs on your computer device:

New programs appear that you have not installed

– Your computer slows down

– Push-up notifications and announcements on your screen start to multiply

– You lose control of your mouse or keyboard

Cyber fraud can seriously affect your business. Such an incident can make customers feel insecure and affect their loyalty to the organization. When a security gap appears, it is very important to notify the entity in charge of data protection in your country. Otherwise, your company risks being sanctioned.

If you notify this fact within the given period:

  1. You will reduce the penalty that the company could receive
  2. It cleans up the image it offers to public opinion

How can DL help protect your data?

To begin, we’d do a thorough study of your case and, based on your needs, develop customized courses that could range from

  1. Guidelines on what you should not do to violate your privacy
  2. Instruction for employees to know what the threats are and what their consequences are, and how to prevent them
  3. Virtual security conferences where we would inform about the use and importance of generating secure passwords, correct usage of clouds and recommendations to manage all devices in an optimal way

Similarly, through platform awareness workshops, we would create a security awareness plan, which would include not only the IT security team, but all areas and departments. All this through scenarios that would train employees to avoid being targets of cyber-attacks through activities and tests. On the other hand, Digital Latam can offer them from experience, the creation of corporate emails with high security passwords. Also, we can recommend the best patches and security software for your devices.

Do not hesitate to contact us and we will solve all your questions and doubts about information security.

Free workers and virtual meetings

What processes are necessary?

Virtual meetings are a great option for all types of companies. They are booming due to the situation we are living in and thanks to the technological advances we are experiencing. The emergence of software and productivity tools facilitate our daily tasks and are now applied to a virtual workspace.

We find that the costs of operating with a virtual network are much lower than those involved in face-to-face operations. Also, it allows companies to expand their work and hiring options in terms of employees.

Another advantage is a significant increase in productivity, as these digital services’ free workers from commuting and certain administrative tasks. However, a protocol and operating rules are needed to successfully establish a productive virtual working method for your company.

First of all, the ideal is to enable a quiet and uncluttered workspace, although a face-to-face office is no longer required. This will help you to fulfil your virtual tasks and meetings with greater ease, avoiding distractions.

For virtual meetings to run properly, a certain amount of preparation time needs to be devoted to them.
First, you must select the platform you will use and then, it is necessary to send the following details to all participants in advance: the link of the meeting, the start time and the key or password if required.

The next step is to plan and communicate the topics to be discussed during the meeting and to establish a method of organization so that all attendees can contribute their opinions and ideas. One method is to assign shifts alphabetically or by screen order in the video conference.

Likewise, the implementation of basic rules for virtual meetings is required. It is essential to remind employees that, even if they are in a virtual environment, they have the responsibility to pay maximum attention, what discards that they can carry out other tasks while the meetings pass.
In addition, to avoid distractions due to background noise in their environment, those present may be advised to mute their microphones while they are not speaking.

Here are some essential rules for virtual meetings:

  1. Do not use the keyboard during meetings, it can be annoying and distracting.
  2. Invite only those who need to be invited. Inviting people who don’t need to be there is a waste of time for everyone.
  3. Confirm time zones for meetings, do not assume that all participants are in the same time zone.

Which tools are helpful?

When it comes to choosing interactive tools for virtual meetings, we must carefully review the features they offer and see which one suit our needs best. To improve the relationships between virtual teams, it is better to use video conferencing platforms, this encourages closeness between workers, helps to maintain interest, offers personalization of the conversation and allows you to pick up more signals in terms of facial expression and body language, than if they were only chat or audio meetings.

Due to these different communication channels you achieve using video conferences, it will be easier for the participants to correctly understand the message the speaker wants to express. Keep in mind that only a small percentage of the communication consists of the actual words you speak, the more important parts are the voice and intonation and the body language of the communicator.

The physician Leonard Mlodinow summarized this well in a quote:

“Nonverbal communication forms a social language that is in many ways richer and more fundamental than our words.”

To set up your video conferences, here are some of the most popular tools:

  • Zoom
  • Skype
  • GoToMeeting
  • Cisco WebEx

Tools for virtual meetings

Furthermore, it is highly recommended to use other additional platforms to obtain a satisfactory virtual experience; tools that allow you to carry out surveys and votes, capture comments in real time, collect information and add notes. They can not only be used to get an idea of the opinions of the team members, but also to motivate them to participate due to the interactivity of these tools.

Some of the platforms you can try out in your meetings are:

  • Poll Everywhere
  • Linoit
  • Tricider

After ensuring that your team will be able to access these selected tools correctly, it is necessary to have a plan B for possible technical problems and to draw up a list with possible answers to questions about their functionality or the most recurrent technical faults.

Who is in charge of the meeting?

It is true that, compared to face-to-face meetings, virtual meetings involve more preparation time and communication strategies. For the same reason, it is necessary to appoint a person in charge of coordinating the meetings and capable of guiding the discussion, this is the role of the facilitator.

The facilitator, is the figure that will help you to mediate and improve communication in the virtual workspace, will ensure that all participants are involved and have equal opportunities to speak.

An icebreaker can be used to start the meetings. The icebreakers can be activities, games, discussion questions or just questions to be answered individually. For example, you could ask everyone to talk about their favorite film or show us a picture of their pet.
This simple action at the beginning translates into an improvement in the development of the conversation, since the participants do not know each other well or have not had much time or opportunity to relate, it familiarizes them, relaxes the atmosphere and strengthens interpersonal relationships.

How do you follow up with the attendees?

Organize virtual meeting

When your work depends on a team, motivation is one of the best and most important tools to ensure that the people you work with perform at their best. To encourage these people to present the required activities, one of the most proactive things you can do is to let them know that their tasks are being followed up.

Another approach we propose is to assign deadlines, such as “I need this by Tuesday, then I’ll check it”. This will ensure that after a few follow-ups, people will get used to a certain performance, realize the responsibility involved and therefore act accordingly.

It is important to keep track during virtual meetings so that participants are stimulated to stay focused. In order to achieve that, keep the following advice in mind:

  • Maintain active communication
  • Pause the discussion and ask for feedback
  • Propose activities that require information retention
  • Ask questions to persons in particular

Therefore, it’s really important to also follow up virtual meetings afterwards. This can be done with an individual or group evaluation, anonymous feedback, the distribution of the protocol or even individual smaller follow-up meetings where more details can be defined.

The protocol should include the following:

  • Time and date of the beginning and end of the meeting
  • Names of all present and apologies for absence
  • All agenda items
  • Every decision that was made, Date, time and place of the next meeting

It’s important to remember: A meeting never stands for itself, it’s a tool on the way in order to achieve results.

How can DL support the process?

Virtual meetings can be a big challenge for companies, especially regarding the situation and the quick change. DL can help with the changing process by offering coachings, councils for virtual meetings and help establishing the right process.

Also, by providing online courses for different topics, such as softskills so that the workers know the correct behaviors in that kind of environments.
One of the courses even explains the organization and follow-up of virtual meetings very detailed, giving tips and advice you can apply in your company right away.

Do not hesitate to contact us and we will solve all doubts in your process of adaptation to the virtual work. We will be working with you together until we achieve your goals.

Importance of technical skills

Why is it so important to acquire technical skills?

For decades, companies and businesses have been operating with more or less complex computer systems involving many people.

Before, for this reason, technical skills could be summarized in writing, accounting, languages and some basic computer knowledge.

Today, working methods have changed, new technical skills emerged as a result of this change, and companies value them highly when recruiting new employees.

Apart from this, nothing currently prevents employees from learning these new skills, so that internal training should be encouraged. All with the aim of the company evolving and adapting to new emerging needs.

These new skills include all those based on ICT (Information and Communication Technology), which is now a fundamental part of the composition and operation of a company. Among them we find the dealing with software of web positioning, design of web presentations, knowledge about the use of applications of Microsoft, web development and the basics of social networks. We live in an increasingly digital and interconnected world, which is why these new skills become more and more important.

What do these technical skills involve?

Technical skills, also known as hard skills, are those used to perform a specific job. Therefore, they are not required for all jobs within a company. They are learned through education or training, for example the usage of computer programs, writing of reports, company accounting and many other tasks.

These skills are associated with a particular job. Hence, they are what make our employees resilient in their work and allow them to solve problems professionally. This is why the more training and better skills our employees have, the better their work performance will be.

Nowadays, specifically in teleworking, the most valued technical skills are those related to ICTs, information and communication technologies, because needs for internal virtual communication are arising between employees, as well as the introduction of new ways of organisation and improvement in communication networks.

Further technical skills to be considered are language skills, accounting and finance skills or writing skills. In addition, with the boom social networks are experiencing over the last years, it is essential to get training in Google Analytics and SEO positioning, although, again, this is also part of ICT.

Below, we would like to provide examples of the most sought-after hard skills in the market, such as:

– Big data analysis: it is valued that employees are able to collect and interpret data from their customers or the success of their products.

– Project management: means being a good leader, knowing how to delegate and organizse tasks and measure the success of projects.

– Technical writing: required when you need to explain complex ideas in a clear and simple way, also knowing basic concepts of SEO positioning.

How does an employee’s lack of knowledge about technical skills affect the company?

Every individual in a company must build own strategies to achieve targets. It is true that there are always different departments working independently, but overall, they all coordinate with each other. Therefore, it is important that all employees are trained in the new skills, since their lack can cause delays in modernization and consequently the company will fall behind.

We are in a process of continuous change, innovations in ICT are constantly advancing and although companies have made huge progress, one must always remain at the forefront. In this process we will face several difficulties, one of them is the adaptation of workers and their change of mindsets since some might not be willing to change and develop further.

Employees that are open for the change will not be a problem as they are eager to train in technical skills, they may encounter difficulties, but their willing attitude will make it possible.

However, those resisting to change need to be motivated, there are always ways to new approaches for convincing them that training in technical skills can bring them individual benefits. This should be done with specialized professionals, such as coaches, who provide motivational techniques and work with them to help change their mindsets.

Likewise, when recruiting new employees, one must take in account whether candidates are trained in those skills or not. The first benefit is that we can gain an advantage by integrating a new employee who is well trained in work techniques. This is the start to strengthen the upcoming process within the company and to encourage employee training to the rest of the colleagues.

What measures should the company take? What about each individual employee?

Since the future of the company is at stake, employers need to look after the training of their employees. Therefore, one of the measures to be taken is offering employee training. They are already skilled, but with the adaptation to the digital age, they must all readjust to the new needs.

To achieve this, as mentioned above, training your current employees is a good way to make them strong in technical skills. So, we talk about learning to manage new systems or concepts, all related to the specific fields of action of their corresponding departments.

There are also measures employees can take on their own. The first one is to influence the company to make the change by being proactive and becoming a part of it. Also, you should try to keep up with the new ideas that are emerging around you and contribute your own suggestions that can be a benefit for the company. So, in general, good communication and engagement are the key to success.

Here are some quick tips on how to improve your technical skills:

  1. Enrol in training courses or classes such as those offered by DL
  2. Plan a self-learning program, this is possible through technical books and materials
  3. Define your goals – where do you want to go, what do you want to achieve? Setting goals will help you focus your attention and motivation.

What support does Digital Latam offer?

Digital Latam, as an agency specialized in online learning for companies, can give guidance and advice in the process of training employees. It consists of a great team of professionals including pedagogues, instructional designers and educational staff in companies. In addition, we offer tailor-made courses regarding the strengthening of technical skills.

Due to the importance of developing new skills, we offer trainings focused on a practical point of view aimed at improving work performance in companies. We also have professionals who can support the process of digital transformation and help employees with negative mindsets, as it is mentioned above. They will learn motivation techniques to feel more integrated and inspired afterwards.

Furthermore, DL offers online training that is fully adapted and accessible to all. This type of training does not interfere with the working hours of your employees. Everyone can learn at his or her own pace. Inside this integrated training concept, we include the following elements: learning platform, chat, interactive elements and even recreations of real situations. Everything is ready of an enriching training, so that your employees feel how useful it is and, most importantly, that it is applicable to their jobs.

Feel free to contact us and we will discuss your needs in improving technical skills and help you to choose the best strategies to implement them.

Home office : seperate private and work life

Why is a good work-life balance important during working from home?

When we work in an office or any other place than our own home, it is easy to establish the separation of work and personal life. Something as simple as the movement between work and home, and more so if we have to use a mean of transport, makes our brain assume that we are no longer working and “change the chip”.

During working form home, this disconnection is no longer there, since we do not make that change of environment. Therefore, it is essential to have good time management and set up the right workspace at home. We should also be aware of the fact that we must keep the same schedule at home as at the office and do the same activities as we usually do.

If we do not establish an organization and work additional hours taking advantage of the fact that we are at home and we can stay longer, the necessary balance between the two lives can be affected and harmful since free time is very important to take time to enjoy what we like to do and be able to disconnect. But we must remember that it can also be unfavorable the other way around. When we are at home, there are many distractions around us that can prevent us from doing the required work normally.

What is virtual work?

The only difference between virtual work and the common way of working in an office is that the virtual employee performs his or her duties from another location, be it at home or elsewhere.

For this reason, every employee must have a stable internet connection and access to the company’s intern platforms or intranets to be able to work productively outside of the office. Communication is also fundamental for a good work performance.

The most common virtual jobs are those related to language training, translations, call centers, marketing or virtual administration.

How does it affect the company?

Avantages and inconveniences of the home office

There are quite a few benefits to having certain staff members working from home:

First of all, productivity increases considerably because of simple things such as avoiding travelling, which saves time and prevents setbacks such as traffic or adverse weather. Furthermore, employees become even more comfortable with their work than in the office as they are in an environment where they feel at ease.

Secondly, working virtually means a significant reduction of costs for the company by not having to set up large offices to host employees. Also, since no specific location is needed, workers can be recruited from the markets that are most interesting, in the sense of that, if a company wants to develop its market for example in Latin America, it will be able to have Latin American workers without a barrier to enter.

Of course, there are also risks at the same time, such as problems with the internet connection, lack of control over employees and possible distractions, as mentioned above. Fortunately, these problems can be solved easily since technical failures with the internet connection are not the fault of the employee and occur in the office as well. For the other difficulties, it is a matter of establishing adequate work processes from home, which allow you to optimize this alternative. To this end, employees can be provided with the necessary tools to work from home.

What steps should the company follow?

  1. Empower employees to be virtually responsible.
  2. Build trust between managers and employees.
  3. Achieve results through the time management approach.

From the moment the company decides to implement virtual work, leaving behind face-to-face work, it must take into account that most of its employees must get used to this new situation at first and it is a step that can be taken with greater security and confidence with proper training and, of course, with the implementation of certain software and connections. Personal relations are a very important factor, so we must take into account that communication and trust between managers and employees is essential.

The first step corresponds to the training of employees in the new forms of virtual organization, since there is a wide variety of tools to carry out this task, such as: Trello, Google Calendar, Microsoft Office online or Dropbox, and many more. It is necessary to teach and demonstrate that virtual tools have the same operation as traditional ones, for example: Before we marked the weekly objectives on the blackboard in the corridor of the office, now we do the same using Trello cards.

As mentioned earlier, to achieve a good working environment, it is necessary to establish trust between managers and employees, even more in the case of virtual work. These relations are strengthened by the constant exchange of information between both parties and by assertive communication.

Finally, it should be remembered that time management is linked to obtaining results. Therefore, we must manage and teach how to spend the working day from home in the best way to achieve our goals.

Accompany your employees in the process of time planning, for example by introducing management tools (such as Trello or Jira) and using them jointly. A proven way to do this is to create a board for each project and share it with all participants. The respective tasks should be provided with the current status (e.g. “To do”, “Done” or “Problem to solve”), the responsible team members and the planned deadline. This way everyone is always up to date, knows the tasks of the colleagues and duplicate work is avoided, which is often a problem in virtual work.

The company should never lose sight of the welfare of its employees. Encouraging employees to keep regular working hours and to separate their working and private lives will lead to greater satisfaction, both personally and professionally. As a result, not only productivity but also the image of the company is improved.

What steps should the employee follow?

How to find the Work Life Balance

  1. Choose a separate room for working only.
  2. Inform your friends and family about your working hours.
  3. Mute your private phone.

Of course, as in every contract there are two parties and not everything depends on the company. On the employee’s part there must be professionalism. In addition to this, there are certain changes that should be made at home to adapt it to the work needs.

  • Choosing a specific location will help you adapt to the job. The ideal is to choose a room or to set up a specific space just for working where you have a desk, enough space, good ventilation and where you feel comfortable and motivated to carry out the task.
  • Establish a work schedule and communicate it to friends and family, just as they don’t disturb you at the office, they shouldn’t disturb your work now. Dressing the way you would dress to go to the office is also a very good option, since it will help you to wake up and realize that the day is starting, focusing on the next activity you are going to do: work.
  • Take breaks from time to time. One option is to keep the same breaks as in the office: Lunch and coffee break. It is important that breaks do not last longer than necessary and are not repeated in short periods of time, otherwise your performance will decline.
  • Avoid distractions. Some options are to mute the private phone, deactivate connections to streaming platforms (Netflix, HBO…) and ban social networks on the computer. All these activities can be done in your free time and breaks. You should also avoid multitasking, as you are working, and forget about other household tasks: you can do them before or afterwards.
  • Think of activities to do after the workday is over and remember when to finish the job. Keeping a schedule despite being at home will help concentration and efficiency in work-related tasks.

By finding the right balance between work and leisure, you will be more motivated and at the same time more satisfied.

And don’t worry, you’ll see that working from home is perfectly possible without procrastination! Try to implement these tips step by step in your daily work routine and you will certainly quickly notice an increase in personal well-being and your productivity at the same time.

What support does DL offer?

As mentioned above, it is the company’s responsibility to provide its employees with the necessary tools to carry out their work properly. One of these tools is a training oriented to reinforce the soft skills most needed for this new way of working such as professionalism, responsibility, concentration and virtual organization.

At Digital Latam, an agency specialized in digital learning and training for companies, we have all the tools and skilled professionals to help you train your employees so that they can perform the same activities from home without having to be personally in the office.

Because of the great benefits of an adapted and interactive training, in our agency we defend the learning from a practical point of view where the employees, now learners, feel at all times part of the process and participate actively in its adaptation with utilities such as explanatory videos, real situations in movies and a learning platform showing the progress, adapt the level of difficulty and even give feedback through chat.

Do not hesitate to contact us and we will solve all doubts you have in implementing virtual work, we will support you and work together until you achieve your goals.