New Articles

How Remote Business Owners Can Prevent Burnout & Stay Sane While Working from Home

How Remote Business Owners Can Prevent Burnout & Stay Sane While Working from Home

How Remote Business Owners Can Prevent Burnout & Stay Sane While Working from Home

Do you manage your own business from home? If so, you likely love all of the many benefits of working from home which includes not having a long and inconvenient commute to and from an office, lower overhead costs from not having to pay for a workspace, the ability to wear pajamas every single day if you wanted to… the list goes on. However, there is one big issue that plagues many home-based business owners at some point or another: dealing with burnout.

Ray Blakney  the CEO and co-founder of Live Lingua, a renowned online language school, has shared his insight with us on how to prevent burnout and stay sane while working from home

He said “In my journey of managing both the Live Lingua online language school and Podcast Hawk (a SaaS product that helps people get booked on podcasts) from home, I’ve seen firsthand how vital it is for home business owners to take preventative measures to keep themselves from getting burned out. I, myself, have experienced a huge bout of burnout in the past and know how much it can negatively impact a business owner’s motivation, inspiration, and entrepreneurial fire, ultimately posing a threat to their company’s growth and progression.

That all said, here are my tried-and-true tips on ways to prevent burnout while managing your business from home each day.

Stick to a Daily Work Schedule

Understand that there will always be more emails to respond to and a mountain of tasks to complete. However, this doesn’t mean you should work 10-12 hours a day or late into the night to try to get more things done — overextending yourself is a recipe for burnout! In order to keep your morale, motivation, and entrepreneurial spirit high, it is vital that you set a schedule of your daily working hours and make it a priority to stick to it. Shut down your computer at a certain time each day so that you can recharge and maintain a healthy life balance.

Take Breaks — You Deserve It!

In an in-office environment, coworkers will want to take lunch breaks with you or meet you in the break room for coffee and a quick chat. You will also sometimes leave your cubicle or office for in-person meetings with colleagues. However, while working from home, it is so easy to spend hours staring at your computer screen without getting up to take any breaks. There is also a high probability that you don’t even take a real hour-long lunch break to relax and regroup — you just eat a quick meal at your desk while sending emails to your team members.

To get a productivity boost in the middle of the work day, take a much-needed break! Go into the kitchen to make a healthy and delicious lunch that you will really enjoy and then go for an invigorating walk around your neighborhood. You can also go grocery shopping or run another quick errand to give your brain a break from staring at your computer screen. Or, simply take half an hour to sit outside in your backyard, meditate, and breathe in the fresh air! Breaking up the day will help re-energize you and prevent an afternoon slump in productivity.

Work in New Environments

Every morning, do you usually just wake up, make a cup of coffee, and then start answering emails right away? This can definitely get monotonous and lead to burnout — consider switching up your environment once or several times a week by taking your laptop to work elsewhere! You can work in your favorite local coffee shop, in your city’s library, or even in a park if you have a portable wifi hotspot. Getting a change of scenery each week can help spark new ideas for client strategies — on top of this, you may end up connecting with other home-based business owners that you can partner with on future projects!

Make Time for Your Hobbies

The last thing you want to do is be a workaholic that constantly stresses over business tasks. To recharge and recuperate throughout the workweek, engage in your favorite hobbies on a regular basis. For example, make time for that weekly pottery class you’ve always wanted to do or plan to meet up with your friends at a hot yoga session every Wednesday morning. Or, if you love to read, take the time to relax on the couch with a fantastic book each day. Taking part in your favorite activities is a surefire way to prevent burnout and stay balanced.

Take a 1-Week-Long “Rest Vacation” At Least Once a Year

This has been absolutely pivotal in keeping me balanced and preventing burnout. Way earlier in my entrepreneurial journey, I was incredibly burned out and filled with stress from not taking a day off for years. My wife saw that I was struggling and then surprised me with a 1-week vacation at an all-inclusive resort — it completely changed my life and reignited my entrepreneurial passion! By the end of the trip, I was completely rested, happy, and excited to get back to work. This vacation was a total game-changer for me.

I recommend all business leaders to take a “rest vacation” for one week at least once a year. During a “rest vacation”, it is vital to disconnect from work entirely — let your employees and associates know that you won’t be available for calls and that you will have extremely limited time on the internet and for answering emails. Keep in mind, however, that this shouldn’t be a trip where each day’s schedule is packed with sightseeing tours! The goal is to relax and recharge by lounging by the pool, getting beachside massages, and simply resting.

After a few days, you should feel de-stressed, re-energized, and at ease. Also, by the 6th or 7th day, you will likely be excited to get back to working on your business! You may even realize that your productivity and work output is much higher than usual for months after your trip!

Summing It All Up

Burnout can be drastic for home-based entrepreneurs, as it can cause them to lose motivation and forget why they started their companies in the first place. If you manage your own enterprise from home, prevent burnout by sticking to a daily work schedule, taking much-needed breaks, and working in new environments. Also, make time for your favorite hobbies and take “rest vacations” every year! These preventative measures will help you keep burnout at bay and always stay motivated and excited about your entrepreneurial pursuits”.


supply chains

What Will the WFH Trend Mean for the Economy and Global Supply Chains?

A lot has changed over the last year and a half. When it comes to businesses, supply chains, and the UK economy, no one could have anticipated the changes we’ve seen throughout the pandemic. Although lockdown restrictions are now all lifted, not everything will go back to “normal” straight away. Working from home, for instance, is something that is set to continue for many workers.

Despite government officials urging employees to return to offices, there is clear reluctance. In one YouGov survey, one in five people said they wanted to continue working from home full time after the pandemic. On top of this, 57 percent of workers in the UK say they want to have the option to work from home after the pandemic at least some of the time. This represents a huge shift of opinion in comparison to how people felt about remote working before the pandemic. Before 2020, two-thirds of workers said they’d never worked from home before and only 11 percent of employees worked remotely full time.

With the shift to home-working set to continue, we are left wondering what impact this trend will mean both for the UK economy and for global supply chains. Let’s find out more about the impact home-working has had so far and what it might mean for the future.

Productivity rates

One major concern that many CEOs had at the beginning of the pandemic was the potential fall in productivity that working from home could bring. Despite concerns, there have been mixed results so far. While many companies have noticed a decrease in productivity, some reports claim that working from home can boost employee engagement and productivity. With one report stating that a quarter of companies in the UK have seen a downturn in productivity, however, it’s reasonable to be hesitant about the future of remote working. This downturn is likely to mean that the economy could continue to struggle, even with the restrictions completely lifted.

Public transport

Another reason that many are concerned about the ongoing impact of home-working is the impact that WFH has had on the transport sector. The transport sector has been damaged by the lack of commuting and could struggle to bounce back. As a result of home working, commuter numbers dropped by a quarter. However, the government is still being urged to spend money on public transport in a bid to encourage people to return to offices.

The move from city centers

Another concern about remote working is the impact it can have on city-center businesses. With many cafes and restaurants designed to cater to office workers, the economic impact of WFH on the service industry has been stark. An example of the impact that deserted city centers have had on food and drink businesses can be seen with Pret a Manger. This chain recently unveiled plans to expand beyond city centers to keep up with the shift in working practices.

Impact on global supply chains

The COVID-19 pandemic had also had an impact on global supply chains, extending to many different industries. From food and drink distributions to engineering equipment supply chains that transport hydraulic cylinder parts, the shift to working from home has changed the way global distribution works. Although many people who work in supply chains have carried on work in person throughout the pandemic, those who have shifted to remote working have experienced difficulties. According to one survey, 57 percent of supply chain and logistics professionals said that collaborating with colleagues while working from home was one of their biggest challenges. However, there was an even split between people who said they felt equally as productive in their roles and those who said they felt less productive. Although individuals within the supply chain industry have faced difficulties, the biggest hits that supply chains have taken throughout the pandemic are related to worldwide trade restrictions that are forecasted to lift after the threat of COVID-19 has subsided.

Although WFH might be the perfect solution for many businesses, other industries are likely to take a hit. Ultimately, each CEO’s policy on remote working must be drawn up in line with what is right for them, their employees and the local economy.




Technology Gives Remote Workers A Way To Communicate, But Something Is Missing

Ready for that first one-on-one chat with your boss in 2021?

If you’re like many employees across the country, you may have begun the new year the same way you ended the old one – communicating via Zoom, Google Chat, email, text messages or some other venue where you and the other person were physically apart.

That might work all right for a quick exchange of basic information. But it’s not the best way to handle more complicated information or to build esprit de corps within a team, says Clint Padgett (, president and CEO of Project Success Inc. and the ForbesBooks author of How Teams Triumph: Managing By Commitment.

“One of the fundamental components to successful teamwork is communication,” Padgett says. “If you can’t talk to your team, you can’t be successful. And the key to developing communication is face-to-face, eyeball-to-eyeball conversation. That’s how you pass along complex information and build relationships.”

But what’s ideal and what’s reality don’t always match up. In 2020, many office workers saw less and less of each other in person as the pandemic forced them to work remotely, and that trend could pick up steam rather than fizzle out even when the pandemic is over, according to a Pew Research Center survey.

Pew surveyed people whose work responsibilities could be done from home. Prior to the pandemic, just 20 percent had worked remotely all or part of the time. Now, 71 percent of those workers are doing their job from home all or most of the time. And more than half – 54 percent – say that if given a choice they would want to keep working from home even after the pandemic.

Padgett winces at the idea of remote work as a long-term solution, but says it’s incumbent on managers and employees to find ways to make it work. One way is to understand the communication limitations that must be overcome.

“The way we communicate remotely – with email, text messages, Zoom calls – doesn’t replace face-to-face meetings and the relationships you develop with people when you can sit down in the same room and have a conversation,” he says. “Communication and conversation are not the same thing.”

Email and text messages are a series of one-way communications, not dialogue, he says. Yes, there can be back and forth, but not in the same way as an in-person conversation. And remote work doesn’t allow those breakroom chats where team members build their relationships and their rapport.

At least for now, though, remote work is a reality, so Padgett offers a few tips and some cautionary advice:

Work to overcome technology’s communications limits. Technology is great for a lot of things, but when you communicate with emojis or by using the fewest words possible, your message can be unclear, Padgett says. “If I ask you a question by email or text, and your response is a smiley-face emoji, that could mean any number of things,” he says. “Be honest, how many times have you misinterpreted the tone of an email or a static document?” Skip the emojis in workplace communications and strive to make your communications as clear as possible. Put yourself in the other person’s place. If you received this text or email, would you understand the context without more explanation?

Set up clear, two-way communications. The only way to manage a project effectively is to develop the project around clear two-way conversations, Padgett says. “One-way communications should only be used for simple, clear questions that have yes/no answers or are used to piggyback on conversations,” he says. “In other words, it’s okay to text or email questions before a conversation takes place or for follow-up responses afterward. Conversations need not be the only form of communication, but they are the most important by far.” While video chats have their own limitations, at least they provide an opportunity to engage in that needed dialogue.

Appreciate technology; value people. Many managers (and others in an organization) may approach communication from a technical standpoint because they want software to be the answer, Padgett says. “But it isn’t the answer, it’s a tool,” he says. “Technically, communications on a project could happen electronically, but if you choose technology over people, your project won’t be successful. While your communications will be fast, you’ll sacrifice quality, clarity, accountability, and, ultimately, success.”

“Conversations force clarity that you don’t get with other forms of communication,” Padgett says.“For nearly a year, businesses have tried to duplicate those face-to-face conversations through Zoom or Google Chat, and that will continue for the foreseeable future. We all need to devote serious effort to making it work. But at the same time, the question we will continue to grapple with is this: Is a conversation conducted on a screen as meaningful and productive as an in-person conversation?”


Clint Padgett (, the ForbesBooks author of How Teams Triumph: Managing By Commitment, is the president and CEO of Project Success Inc., a project management company. He holds a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from The Georgia Institute of Technology and an MBA from The Fuqua School of Business at Duke University.

work from home

Cities Most Prepared to Work From Home

Since March of 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic has caused record numbers of Americans to transition to remote work. As COVID cases have surged across the country, recent CDC guidelines suggest that workers should be allowed to work remotely if they can. While many jobs are suitable for a remote work environment, most are not. Using data from the Census Bureau as well as a recent study by University of Chicago researchers, about 31 percent of U.S. workers are employed in remote-friendly jobs, but this varies substantially on a geographic level. Additionally, not everyone who works in an occupation that can be performed remotely is well-positioned to do so. Differences in computer and high-speed internet access, as well as available space in the household, all impact an individual’s preparedness for remote work.

Working from home typically requires both a computer and a high-speed internet connection. According to data from the Census Bureau, nearly a quarter of U.S. households don’t own a computer and close to 30 percent lack broadband internet, such as cable, fiber optic, or DSL. Not surprisingly, owning a computer and having high-speed internet tend to go hand in hand. At the state level, states, where more households own computers, are also home to more households with high-speed internet. On a regional level, the South is less prepared to work from home—Southern states tend to have lower rates of home computer ownership and fewer households with broadband internet.

In addition to having the necessary hardware and internet access, being able to create a clear boundary between your home life and work-life can make all the difference when working from home. Having a suitable home workspace is associated with increased telework satisfaction and self-reported productivity. Workers with a spare bedroom at home will find it easier to create a dedicated workspace than those whose only option is a shared living area, such as the kitchen or dining room table. For example, while the San Francisco metropolitan area is home to a disproportionate number of laptop workers with high-speed internet access, a majority of these workers don’t have extra space for a home office, making full-time remote work more challenging in the Bay Area than in areas with more affordable housing.

To find the most prepared places in the U.S. to work from home, researchers at Filterbuy analyzed data from the U.S. Census Bureau and the University of Chicago. They created a composite telework preparedness score based on the following factors:

-Percentage of workers in remote-friendly jobs

-Percentage of households with a laptop or desktop computer

-Percentage of households with broadband internet, such as cable, fiber optic or DSL

-Percentage of households with at least one spare bedroom that could be used as a home office

-Median number of rooms per person in each household

At the state level, many of the most-prepared states to work from home are on the East Coast. The two states flanking Washington, D.C., Maryland and Virginia, rank the highest in the country according to the composite score. Over one-third of jobs in each of these states can be performed from home, and a large proportion of households in both states have computers and high-speed internet access. The South tends to be less prepared to work from home. Arkansas ranks the lowest in the country according to its composite score. Just 26 percent of jobs in Arkansas can be performed from home, while less than two-thirds of Arkansas households own computers. Only 56 percent of Arkansas households have high-speed internet.

To find the metropolitan areas in the U.S. most prepared to work from home, researchers at Filterbuy ranked metro areas according to their composite score. To improve relevance, only metropolitan areas with at least 100,000 people were included in the analysis. Additionally, metro areas were grouped into the following cohorts based on population size:

-Small metros: 100,000–349,999

-Midsize metros: 350,000–999,999

-Large metros: 1,000,000 or more

Here are the large metros most prepared to work from home.


Metro Rank   Composite score  Percentage of workers in remote-friendly jobs  Percentage of households with a laptop or desktop computer  Percentage of households with broadband internet  Percentage of households with at least one spare bedroom  Median household rooms per person 


Raleigh-Cary, NC     1 87.69 35.9% 84.6% 78.6% 66.0% 2.7
Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Alpharetta, GA     2 86.99 35.0% 82.8% 76.8% 65.6% 3.0
Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, DC-VA-MD-WV     3 85.72 38.1% 87.6% 82.7% 58.8% 2.7
Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington, MN-WI     4 85.67 35.1% 83.8% 77.1% 63.3% 3.0
Denver-Aurora-Lakewood, CO     5 85.40 35.8% 86.1% 80.6% 61.5% 2.7
Baltimore-Columbia-Towson, MD     6 84.48 35.9% 81.4% 75.6% 63.3% 3.0
Richmond, VA     7 83.74 33.4% 78.1% 70.4% 70.9% 3.0
Charlotte-Concord-Gastonia, NC-SC     8 83.36 32.9% 79.0% 76.1% 66.7% 2.7
Philadelphia-Camden-Wilmington, PA-NJ-DE-MD     9 83.32 33.9% 80.0% 77.6% 61.8% 3.0
Columbus, OH     10 82.01 32.9% 80.4% 77.3% 62.2% 2.7
Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater, FL    11 81.97 31.8% 81.3% 75.9% 64.4% 2.6
Salt Lake City, UT    12 81.70 34.7% 86.6% 76.6% 61.8% 2.5
Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue, WA    13 81.58 36.6% 87.1% 82.3% 57.0% 2.3
Pittsburgh, PA    14 81.55 32.6% 75.8% 73.5% 67.2% 3.0
Kansas City, MO-KS     5 81.35 32.2% 79.7% 73.5% 64.0% 3.0
United States    – N/A 30.7% 77.3% 70.8% 60.8% 2.5


For more information, a detailed methodology, and complete results, you can find the original report on Filterbuy’s website:


The WFH Vs. Return-To-Office Debate: What Employees, Bosses Should Consider

Many Americans have been working from home full-time for a year now since COVID-19 hit the U.S. And many prefer that arrangement to a traditional office. In a survey, 65% said they want to work remotely full-time after the pandemic.

That could pose a problem for them and their employers.

Given the availability of vaccines, many companies are planning to ask their employees to return to the office. But a sizable number of workers might balk – or even walk. In a survey by LiveCareer, 29% of working professionals said they would quit if they couldn’t continue working remotely.

“The reality is that some jobs just don’t work remotely and some people don’t work well remotely,” says Cynthia Spraggs (, a veteran of working remotely, author of How To Work From Home And Actually Get SH*T Done, and CEO of Virtira, a completely virtual company that helps other businesses work virtually. “Companies have time to plan for both – and so do employees.

“Many employees now expect to be able to work flexibly. Some companies will use a hybrid approach, and others will go back to full-time in the office. But if employees are not given the choice to work from home, some will look for other employers that do offer that. Companies need to assess which jobs are best done remotely and assess their employees to understand which ones benefit the company most by either working from home or returning to the office.”

Spraggs offers these thoughts for workers, business owners, and managers to consider in the WFH vs. return-to-office debate:

The WFH type. “At this point, it should be relatively easy to assess who is thriving and who is miserable in a WFH setting,” Spraggs says. “What we’ve found is, regardless if you’re an introvert or an extrovert, the perfect WFH employee is someone who embraces life and who has passions and interests outside of work. They work efficiently and are strong performers because they see work as a means to fund their life.”

The traditional office type. Spraggs draws a stark contrast between people who thrive working from home and those who are much happier commuting to a traditional brick-and-mortar office environment. “These individuals have strong social relationships through work and require the camaraderie that an in-office environment provides,” she says. “For many, especially those focused on the corner office, work is their life. These are the ones who pull down 80-hour weeks to move up the ladder. They stay glued to their boss, and likely are the ones who just won’t function well at home. Sadly, they are also likely your VP.”

Weigh how your company thinks of you. “Although we all like to think that companies care about employees,” Spraggs says, “the harsh reality is that employees are a unit of production and companies will migrate to the setup that senior executives mandate. Do you really want to work for a company that isn’t prepared to accommodate what makes you most productive and happy? Better sharpen that CV and get ready. Plan now and work your networks.”

Management realities. For many companies, even with the environmental, health, and productivity advantages that remote work brings, Spraggs thinks some simply aren’t going to embrace WFH as an opportunity to streamline operations. “They are going to want to return to the ‘old normal,’” she says. “A good number of senior management people didn’t do well with the WFH environment because they view WFH through a lens of slacking-off employees, lower productivity, and lower ROI. So it’s likely these companies are not going to make the investments in training, home-based bandwidth, VPNs, and tools to make it work.”

“There’s coming tension in many companies between what will work best for management and what will work best for the employees,” Spraggs says. “We may see a big migration in workers going to fully virtual companies.”


Cynthia Spraggs ( is the author of How To Work From Home And Actually Get SH*T Done: 50 Tips for Leaders and Professionals to Work Remotely and Outperform the Office. She is CEO of Virtira, a completely virtual company that focuses on remote team performance. Before taking leadership of the company in 2011, Spraggs worked with large consulting and tech companies while completing her MBA and research into telecommuting.

work from home

The Best Cities to Work From Home

While the COVID-19 pandemic has been devastating for many businesses and workers, it has led to greater flexibility for workers in some industries. Employees at major tech companies, including Twitter and Google, for example, have been granted extended opportunities to work from home, sometimes permanently. These changes have afforded many people the ability to work and live where they want, rather than being bound to large cities where their employers have offices. Employees at major tech companies, including Twitter and Google, for example, have been granted extended opportunities to work from home, sometimes permanently.

This shift is leading many workers toward “Zoom towns”—cities that are booming as remote work becomes more popular. While much of the U.S. is experiencing rising home values during the pandemic as a result of low inventory, areas experiencing the largest booms are these Zoom towns, which are increasingly attracting well-educated laptop workers with lower living costs, access to outdoor recreation, and strong (albeit less dense) communities. Unfortunately for many workers, the opportunity for remote work and the ability to relocate to these cities are often only available to workers in tech, financial services, sales, and other similar roles that can be performed remotely.

To find the best locations to work from home, researchers at RetailMeNot ranked cities and states based on several metrics related to 1) community and safety, 2) housing and living costs, and 3) health and weather. In general, the researchers wanted to identify the most affordable locations with low crime rates, good weather for outdoor recreation, and well-educated, healthy populations, among other factors. Their researchers sourced data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, National Centers for Environment Information, the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis, and the U.S. Census Bureau to create a composite score for each city.

At the state level, Mountain and Midwest states like Wyoming, Idaho, Utah, and Minnesota offer inviting environments for remote workers, with those states earning some of the highest composite scores for working from home. For example, Wyoming has no income tax, which is appealing for high-income professionals. Idaho, like Utah, offers residents good weather, access to the outdoors, low crime rates, and a large proportion of single-family homes. On the other hand, Southern states like Louisiana, Arkansas, and Alabama provide less appealing settings for at-home work. Despite being affordable, these states tend to have higher poverty and crime rates, more variable weather, and less opportunities for physical activity.

In the city-level analysis, only cities with populations above 100,000 were considered. These areas are typically suburbs of major metropolitan areas, offer easier access to big-city amenities, and appeal to a wider range of workers. Residents in these locations could also theoretically commute to the urban center as needed in the future. For people looking for more rural towns with populations below 100,000 residents, RetailMeNot recommends seeking out locations in the best states for remote workers, especially Mountain states like Wyoming, Idaho, Utah, and Colorado. Like the best states to work from home, the top cities tend to also have lower tax rates, ideal weather for outdoor recreation, healthy citizens, and several other beneficial characteristics for people working from home.

Here are the 15 best cities for remote workers.

City  Rank Overall work-from-home score Community & safety Housing & living costs Health & weather Metro area


Gilbert, AZ      1           91.04 95.24 85.14 92.74 Phoenix-Mesa-Chandler, AZ
Cary, NC      2           88.55 98.23 77.93 89.49 Raleigh-Cary, NC
Frisco, TX      3           87.73 97.11 76.88 89.19 Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington, TX
Bellevue, WA      4           87.59 93.23 72.18 97.35 Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue, WA
Fremont, CA      5           86.94 94.00 68.97 97.86 San Francisco-Oakland-Berkeley, CA
Carmel, IN      6           86.86 94.75 81.00 84.83 Indianapolis-Carmel-Anderson, IN
Thousand Oaks, CA      7           86.71 95.99 71.80 92.34 Oxnard-Thousand Oaks-Ventura, CA
Centennial, CO      8            86.21 90.13 79.52 88.98 Denver-Aurora-Lakewood, CO
Torrance, CA      9            85.38 92.23 67.10 96.80 Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim, CA
Olathe, KS     10            85.32 94.28 79.22 82.48 Kansas City, MO-KS
Henderson, NV     11            85.11 84.95 87.49 82.90 Las Vegas-Henderson-Paradise, NV
Carlsbad, CA     12           85.04 88.52 68.87 97.73 San Diego-Chula Vista-Carlsbad, CA
Roseville, CA     13            84.99 90.48 72.06 92.41 Sacramento-Roseville-Folsom, CA
League City, TX     14            84.97 93.05 79.81 82.04 Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land, TX
Sandy Springs, GA     15           84.02 95.61 69.17 87.29 Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Alpharetta, GA


For more information, a detailed methodology, and complete results, you can find the original report on RetailMeNot’s website:


Navigating the Dynamics of a Split Office

Experts are divided over when workers will get back to the office after COVID-19. Google is looking at June 1st at the earliest. A report from the Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics at Harvard University recommends holding out until August. But both Google and Harvard agree that the return should be staggered in order to protect workers.

The Harvard report recommends starting by letting 20% of at-home workers back into the office. Start with a few days per week and then expand to five days as testing ramps up.

Not only does working in shifts reduce office density, but it also prevents overcrowding on sidewalks and mass transit. But it also comes with challenges, including the fact that some workers will feel less connected to the rest of the company. Here are three tips for keeping workers safer, happier, and more productive as companies transition into a split office setup.

Don’t rush everyone back

While you may be tempted to get everyone you can into the office at least some of the time, that’s not really necessary.

“We may see some companies realize they can run their businesses effectively with a much smaller office and many people working largely from home,” said Elizabeth Brink, principal at global design and architecture firm Gensler. Dr. Anna Tavis, academic director of the Human Capital Management Department at the NYU School of Professional Studies also predicts that many people will continue working from home indefinitely. “We kind of assume that collaboration means physical presence in one place,” Tavis said. “But now we’ve learned that’s not the case.” Indeed, the average company sees a 10% to 43% increase in productivity after going fully remote. And in a recent survey, 54% of workers said their productivity had improved since working from home full-time and 64% said their work quality has improved.

Google won’t require workers with caretaking responsibilities or other special considerations to come into the office. You may also want to encourage workers who live with healthcare workers or “essential” workers to stay home. The Harvard report recommends bringing workers who have recently tested negative and show immunity in reliable antibody tests back into the office first.

Get everyone on the same page

Now is the ideal time to invest in project management software. If you wait until some people are back in the office, the drive to have everyone use it will be diminished since some employees will once again be able to walk over to a coworker’s desk to get a status update on an ongoing project.

Plus, project management software can help mitigate Zoom fatigue. Project management software serves as your team’s source of truth when it comes to each project’s updates, statuses, assignees, due dates, files, and more. Examples include Asana, Notion, Trello, Monday, and Basecamp. Pre-set notifications and reminders for due dates and changes mean you spend less time Slacking people about who’s doing what and more time making progress. Project management software that offers visibility into others’ schedules, tasks, and workloads can be especially helpful for partially remote teams.

You may not even need to invest in new software, but just better leverage what you already use.

“We found that it’s not so much about needing new tools but instead, leveraging existing tools to foster greater collaboration during quarantine,” Corporate Recruiter Lauren Munroe said about her team’s use of SharePoint and Microsoft Teams to collaborate on projects simultaneously since moving to WFH.

Get chatting

Speaking of Slack, if your team doesn’t already have a chat app, now’s the time! For similar reasons, you don’t want to wait until some teammates are able to talk things through in-person to encourage widespread adoption of chat.

Good chat software lets you send and thread instant messages to individuals and groups. It’s also nice to be able to search chats and snooze notifications. Other examples include Hangouts, Glip, and Twist. The ability to start a video call inside the chat app is nice, as is timezone awareness if your team is distributed. Some apps allow you to set your status so colleagues know when you’re busy or free, in a meeting, or it’s outside your work hours.

A chat app can also help you re-create some of what’s great about being in the office. After moving to WFH, Chief People Officer Meighan Newhouse created new chat channels for this purpose. “Water cooler” is for workers to check in and share updates. “Lock-down” is where they share relatable tales from quarantine. VP of People Carrie Pinkham added a “CEO,” “wellness,” and “family Fridays” channel. The last is “where employees post old and new pictures of loved ones, which seemed fitting during this time. We added new tools like Donut to pair employees for get-to-know-you chats,” Meighan said.

If you’re a Slack user, get the most out of it by syncing your Slack status with your Google Calendar.

Set up video conferencing

Speaking of video calls, video conferencing software is obviously a must. Chats and phone calls are great, but there’s nothing like seeing someone’s face in real-time. This becomes even more important when everyone is working from home. Video conferencing software makes the conversation a little bit more like you’re in the same room. Video conferencing software facilitates on-demand or pre-scheduled video conferencing among two or more people simultaneously. Generally, this software integrates with your calendar system and provides built-in screen sharing and chat functionality. Examples include Skype, Zoom, WebEx, and GoToMeeting. Facebook Messenger also recently got into the game with their Rooms product.

Since not everyone’s home internet is super fast, now’s a good time to choose video conferencing software that allows workers to call into the meeting toll-free from their phones.

Video conferencing is another good way to bring employees together for fun and camaraderie. At Clockwise we do lunch Zooms where our Office Manager Czar divides employees into smaller groups where we eat and catch up.

Share everyone’s status

It’s a good idea to have everyone, regardless of whether they’re working at home or in the office, set their working hours and add their WFH or OOO to their calendars. To easily share this information with a team, many workplaces have team calendars. Clockwise streamlines this process by adding everyone’s individual WFH or OOO to their team’s calendar automatically, so if someone forgets to update either their personal or shared calendar everyone is still on the same page.

Upgrade workers’ work from home setup

Especially since we don’t know how long some workers will have to continue working from home, it’s worth it to spend a little money to ensure they’re as productive as possible.

First, make sure everyone who’s still at home has the fastest internet possible. Have everyone measure their home internet connection speeds using services like or Speedtest. For more accurate results, the Verge recommends making sure your computer is connected to the right network instead of, for instance, your ISP’s lower-speed wireless hotspot. If workers’ speeds aren’t good, or they’re running out of data before running out of month, consider giving them some money to upgrade and/or invest in a mesh network or wifi extender. To save, check out COVID-19 deals from ISPs.

Then offer them a little money to upgrade their desk, chair, light, monitor, mouse, and keyboard. If they have that stuff at the office, let them bring it home. For example, Clockwise gave all employees $100 to buy a new chair at the start of WFH and let us bring anything we were using that we could carry home with us from the office.

Going forward

Staggering your comeback to the office can be a great way to balance the benefits of an in-office environment while still keeping employees reasonably safe. The trick is to make sure no one feels left out and everyone is able to work productively whether they’re home or at the office. Making sure you have the right technology and equipment makes all the difference.


What Employees Are Expensing During the COVID-19 Outbreak

As the situation surrounding COVID-19 has progressed, more travel restrictions and social distancing practices are being implemented every day. More and more companies are implementing work-from-home policies to adapt to the changing situation.

We’ve been tracking the data since the beginning of the crisis to help your company ensure employee health and safety and make essential decisions around expenses.

Here are a few of the most significant changes we’ve seen.

COVID-19 expenses haven’t shown any sign of slowing down

In our last blog, we noted that COVID-19 expenses skyrocketed, and we expected them to fall as trip cancelations began to taper off. However, these expenses have shown no sign of slowing down. COVID–19–related expenses have doubled from the week ending March 7 to the week ending March 14, with trip cancelation and work-from-home expenses being the primary causes.

Number of claims

Submitted expenses vary by industry

Although changes to travel plans and cancelations still make up over half of all COVID-19-related expense claims overall, the trends change when you look at specific industries.

In the finance and software industries, half of the expenses are related to travel cancelations, and the other half are work-from-home expenses.

In the consumer goods, manufacturing, and pharmaceutical industries, masks still make up 15 to 20% of expenses but are otherwise in the low single digits in other industries.

The growth in expenses also varies by industry.

Work-from-home charges have increased dramatically; masks have fallen

Work from home expenses have grown the most, increasing 3.5x since last week. These charges are mainly related to “remote office setup” or “supplies for remote work,” and include accessories like printers, ink, headphones, and HDMI cables.

In our own workforce, we’ve noticed that everyone has a different set-up at home, ranging from at-home offices to sitting with their spouse at the dining room table or even sitting in bed with their laptops. It’s essential to employee productivity and ergonomics to help everyone make the best of whatever space they have.

Mask expenses have fallen – there was a peak in mid-February, then another dip, and a second peak at the end of February.

What does this data mean for my company’s expense policy?

We hope this data can help you consider the appropriate response to COVID-19 in your organization and how you can best support your employees. It’s clear from the above data that work-from-home expenses are increasingly common, and will likely continue to increase over the next few weeks as more companies continue to close their offices temporarily. We’ve also noticed that several companies have created specific expense types to track COVID-19 spending more closely. Others have created expense categories for their accounts payable departments to pay temporary workers more quickly in times of uncertainty.

If you’re unsure of what you should allow in your expense policy in response to the current climate, we’ve outlined some best practices on work-from-home expense policies from our peers and customers. In the meantime, we hope you and your company are taking the necessary precautions to ensure the health and safety of your employees during this unsettling time.


Anant Kale is a CEO at AppZen, the world’s leading solution for automated expense report audits that leverages artificial intelligence to audit 100% of expense reports, invoices, and contacts in seconds.