Best Practices for Working with Remote Support Teams
1) Zirtual Pauses Operations Overnight, Leaving Clients In The Lurch. Just 18-months or so after Zirtual first opened the doors on its virtual assistant service, it’s now closing them, at least temporarily. Confirmed in an email sent to Zirtual’s clients, the team paused operations as of August 10. The company says that the decision was forced by a conflux of unfavorable “market circumstances” and financial constraints, which resulted in the need for a restructure. The hurried announcement left consumer and business users of the service somewhat in the lurch, given the total lack of notice in communicating the decision to users. It wasn’t just the users who were left in the lurch either, as the company's staff weren’t told beforehand. Update: Shortly after the “pause”, the company was purchased by Startups.co.
Knock Knock is the easiest way to connect, chat and exchange contact information with people around you. By just knocking twice on your phone, Knock Knock remembers the names of the people you're with and where you met. For anyone who has ever forgotten a name 10 seconds after meeting someone, the world is about to get much less awkward. Simply put, Knock Knock provides a way to connect without commitment. Knock Knock makes any social interaction light and fun. For more information on Knock Knock's features, visit knockknock.co.
Remember The Milk mobile app allows users to take their tasks anywhere with this feature-packed application. Features include offline mode, ability to sort by priority, due date, or task name, detecting current location to view nearby tasks, and numerous options for reminders, and much more! Use a plethora of devices to integrate Remember The Milk with Gmail, Google Calendar, Twitter, Microsoft Outlook, Apple Calendar, and OS X Dashboard. For more information, visit https://www.rememberthemilk.com.
Labor Costs May Soar for Entrepreneurs. Entrepreneurs should be paying close attention to proposed federal changes to the "white collar" exemptions of the federal minimum wage and overtime law, otherwise known as the Fair Labor Standards Act (or FLSA). These changes, if enacted, could cost entrepreneurs big. To understand the proposals first requires understanding of the five FLSA exemptions. They are: executive (supervisory), learned/creative professional, administrative, outside sales and computer professional. Any employee who falls under one of these exemptions is ineligible for overtime. To be exempt under one of the white collar exemptions, three requirements must be met, but are subject to certain exceptions. (1) Minimum salary: The current minimum salary is $455 per week, though a $970 per week minimum salary has been proposed. (2) The employee must be paid on a salary, not hourly, basis. (3) The employee's primary (or most important) duty must be exempt. Currently, this is qualitative.
1. Include the meeting date, start and end time, conference line/webinar link, and expected attendees.
2. Provide the agenda at least 24 hours in advance. You can always add to the agenda, but it’s important to let the attendees know the key points prior to the meeting. Set a reminder email or text message to go out to attendees 30 minutes prior to the meeting. It is important to start and end your meeting on time. If there are latecomers to the meeting, address them one-on-one afterwards.
3. Prioritize the topics discussed with most important topics first, and note the key person presenting on each topic.
4. Timing: Be realistic on what you can cover in the time you set for the meeting. Set a specific amount of time for each topic. If you’re meeting goes over an hour, consider scheduling a short break.
5. Designate a time-keeper: You may already have an employee that checks the clock; let this person be the time-keeper! He/she can be the one to say, “It’s time to move on to the next topic,” so you can keep your mind on the discussion, not your watch.
6. Remind your team to stick to the agenda. Make sure your employees know you are listening to their suggestions. These topics can be tabled for the next meeting, or perhaps their ideas are better for a one-on-one discussion. Either way, stick to your agenda.
7. A quick (approximately 15 minute) weekly team meeting is a great way for you to keep track of your team’s projects. Start your meeting on a positive note with a list of accomplishments since your last meeting. Then check-in of each attendee and review last week‘s progress. If there were any items that were supposed to be done from last week’s meeting, be sure to have this list to ensure these items were done. Follow with a review of this week’s projects and questions. Finally, look ahead at what’s coming up. Figure out next steps and prioritize.
8. Closing: End the meeting with a review of to-do’s. Make sure everyone is clear on the decisions made and who is responsible for following up on agenda items.
Thanks Jen! We hope you'll give some or all of these tips a try and tell us what you think on Facebook and follow us on Twitter (we follow back).
Microsoft To De-clutter Inboxes and Bring New Office Apps to Android. The Microsoft Office team will soon turn on a new feature for email called "Clutter." Similar to Google's Priority Inbox, Clutter tries to figure out which emails you really need and sweep the rest out of view. It was introduced last fall as an option, but Microsoft will now turn it on by default. Enterprises will be offered a bunch of controls over the features and individuals will be told when Clutter is sifting through your email. Users will also have the option to turn it off. Since its introduction in the fall, Clutter has moved over one million emails per day and saves users 82 minutes per month on average. This feature is only available for Office 365. It is expected that Microsoft will turn on more new features by default, adding features to Office 365 that are not available in the classic version. Additionally, Microsoft unveiled new preview versions of its Office apps for Android smartphones. In January, the team delivered an updated version of Office apps for Android tablets. These new apps make Office work better on smaller smartphone touch screens, and will be available sometime later this year. The existing Office Mobile app for Android phone will remain available in the app store until the new ones are ready. You can try the new apps right now by agreeing to be a tester via Microsoft's Office for Android community and downloading the preview versions of Word, Excel, and PowerPoint.