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Working from home during COVID-19 pandemic can make seem like you are working all the time. Know how to set boundaries between your work and personal life, as well as avoid professional isolation. And, if your office is closed due to the corona virus pandemic, you might be working from home for the first time.

If you are working from home for the first time and/or just can’t seem to stay focused with the knowledge that your TV and fridge is nearby, consider these tips for maintaining work-life balance and avoiding professional isolation. These tips are from an article by Elizabeth Grace Saunders in Harvard Business Review titled, How to Stay Focused When You’re Working from Home

  1. Establish working hours- It may sound silly, but if you want to have a focused day of work, pretend you’re not working from home. Before I became a time management coach, my schedule was chaotic. I didn’t have a set time that I would be at my computer, and I would often schedule personal appointments or run errands during the day. And since my personal life didn’t have boundaries, my work life didn’t either. When I was home, I would feel guilty for not checking business email at all hours of the day and night. I never felt that I could truly rest.
  2. Structure your day for success- Maximize the effectiveness of your time at home by structuring it differently than a typical workday. For example, if you work from home only one day a week or on occasion, make it a meeting-free day. If you can’t entirely avoid meetings, reserve at least half a day for focused work. Choose a time that works best for you, based on any required meetings and your energy levels.
  3. Set boundaries with others- To make your efforts stick, be clear with the people who might see your work-at-home days as simply days you’re at home. Explain to friends, family, and other acquaintances that the days you’re working remotely aren’t opportunities for non-work-related activities. For example, if you’re home with your spouse, tell them, “I’m planning on being on my computer from 8 AM to 5 PM today. I’m happy to chat at lunch, but other than that I’ll be occupied.” Typically, when you set expectations and stick to them (say, really stopping at 5 PM), people understand your limits instead of assuming you’ll be available. (I also recommend having a place where you’re away from anyone else who might be home, such as an office or bedroom where you can shut the door and be out of sight.)

Bottomline: While some employees have been working remotely for many years and will likely keep their same routine, managers should remember that not every employee actually wants to work from home, a shift that can be stressful for some. However, as organizations increasingly mandate that many employees work from home during this pandemic outbreak, it’s becomes even more important that managers, communicate with their employees as some might be struggling with the change.

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ATS offers a broad portfolio of time and attendance solutions that streamlines the collection, calculation, and reporting of employee hours for workforce management and eliminates the manual tasks of payroll preparation, increasing efficiency and reducing errors in corporate payroll departments.

To learn more about ATS, go to our website. To download a demo of our time and attendance app or reach us by phone call; 866.294.2467.

Now that we’re into the month of December and the holiday season has kicked into full gear, here’s a question just about every manager probably has on their mind: Just how much work am I getting out of my employees this month, anyway?

Well, regardless of your religious affiliation the end-of-the-year holiday season impacts every workplace, and every worker, whether it’s retail, manufacturing, or healthcare. And, as someone who manages people, you probably only too well, that your employees will likely be distracted and stressed at this time of the year.

This article from Entrepreneur and Glassdoor titled 7 Ways to Manage Employee HolidayTime Off’ is a useful guide for any manager:

1. Plan in advance: Many industrial businesses have their holiday schedule planned well in advance, and there’s no reason any type of business can’t do that either. According to Brian Koniuk, a principal at the HackettGroup, manufacturers typically require employees to plan out their vacation for the coming year so they know in January who is working what holiday and who is off for the entire year. In other industries, like health care, Koniuk says schedules are made three to five months in advance.

 2. First come, first served: If you are running a business that is busy during the holidays or needs to be staffed 24/7 year-round, one way to prevent employees from taking off in large numbers is to limit the amount and give workers off on a first come, first served basis, says Pat Sweeney, human resource manager at Old Colony Hospice and Palliative Care. “If they know they are going to want to be off over the holidays they know they have to ask for the time off way in advance,” says Sweeney. She says that starting as early as September supervisors can notify the staff that requests for time off have to be made as soon as possible. Hand in hand with a first come, first served policy is capping the number of people that can take off during the holidays.

 3. Stagger the schedule: You may not be able to keep a full staff during the holidays, but that doesn’t mean you have to close early or provide a reduced level of service. To combat that, Kathy Harris, managing director of recruiting firm Harris Allied, says to stagger your employee vacation scheduling. For instance, you can have someone work in the morning during the holidays and another worker take the afternoon shift. Another option: have one employee work Monday and Tuesday and another Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. The idea behind a staggered employee vacation schedule is to always have coverage, and at the same time, give employees time off during the holidays.

4. Keep a pool of part-timers: If you are operating a business that picks up during the holiday season, or you know a lot of your staff will be gone during that time, it’s a good idea to keep a pool of part-timers that you can tap when you need extra help, says Gary Should is, a small business consultant, coach and owner of a gymnastics center. “We have a pool of part-timers that we know can work the holidays,” says Should is. “Whenever we hit the holiday period or periods where we lose part of our staff they come on.” According to Should is, it’s a good idea to keep in contact with these part-timers year-round so you’ll know their availability ahead of time. Another option is to post a job in anticipation for holiday hiring.

5. Offer a holiday pay differential: For some people money talks even if it means they won’t be with their family during the holidays, which is why offering a holiday pay differential can keep your business staffed. According to Sweeney, it should be something that is part of the company’s structure and not something you offer just to entice an employee not to take off. “If you’re in a business you know there are a lot of requests for time off you can have some differential built in,” she says.

 6. Institute a vacation blackout period: For some businesses, particularly retail, the holidays are the busiest time for them, which means they need a full staff if not more. If your business falls into this category, a way to prevent employees from taking off is to have a blackout period where no one can take off, says Tanios. If an employee wants off during a blackout period he or she would need to ask well in advance, and it would be at the manager’s discretion, says Tanios. It’s a good idea to inform employees from the beginning of the blackout policy so they aren’t blindsided come holiday time.

 7. Let employees work at home: These days pretty much everybody has a laptop, iPad or smartphone that enables them to work remotely. If your staff doesn’t have to be on site, letting them work at home during the holidays can be a productive way to get things done without having to bring in additional staff. Working at home is a viable option only if the business lends itself to it and there’s away to ensure the employees are actually working. “In this day and age working from a virtual office anywhere is possible,” says Sweeney.

Bottom-line: During the holiday season, employees are likely dreaming of cozying up in Christmas sweaters with their egg-nogs or just dreading that visit from relatives that they see only once a year. Employees will be stressed out enough as it is, anything you can do as their manager to bring joy, could increase productivity and yes, profit to the bottom line.

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Mindfulness Is Doable When It Becomes A Habit

July 11th, 2017 | Posted by ATS in Mindfulness | Time and Attendance Blog, Workforce Management Software | Work-Life Balance - (Comments Off on Mindfulness Is Doable When It Becomes A Habit)

You don’t have to go to a quiet room each day to reach a mindful and meditative state to achieve the work-life-balance that so many yearn for, yet, find unattainable.

Mindfulness Is Doable When It Becomes A Habit

Here are 3 tips by Anna Verasai from her an article titled A Not-to-do List to Cultivate Work-Life Balance

DO NOT CHECK EMAIL AT BED
“We avoid reading emails before going to bed for two reasons: 1.) It gets your mind working and makes it difficult to be able to fall asleep, and 2.) the ‘blue-light’ from back-lit devices like mobiles, tablet, or even laptops, throws the body’s biological clock out of balance. The nighttime light exposure deters the production of melatonin in the brain, making it even more difficult for you to sleep.

DO NOT ENGAGE IN NEGATIVITY-FILLED CONVERSATIONS
This kind of conversations are taxing on energy and morale. If it’s a conversation that can be avoided, for example, it’s coming from a co-worker who needs to vent, try changing the tone of the conversation: ask the person what they’d do to improve the situation?

Negativity perpetuates, breeds in itself, and clutters the mind with dissatisfaction. And when your mind is filled negativity, happiness is much harder to come by.”

DO NOT CONSUME MEDIA AIMLESSLY
Cut yourself off from media consumption before you’re about to do something important. The daily repetition of news gives us a pessimistic, fatalistic, and desensitized worldview. It also kills creativity and is one reason why novelists, entrepreneurs, composers and mathematicians don’t consume media ravenously. The more we consume arbitrary storylines, the craving gets increasingly hypnotic and hard to ignore.

You can read the rest of the article on The HR Digest site.  Additionally, numerous scientific studies have revealed that practicing mindfulness can lead to a happier and healthier you, especially when you focus, holistic part of it as oppose to material goals.

Happy Mindfulness!

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