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Some teams work in-house. Some teams work from home. As more companies are creating policies and measures to respond to the current global pandemic and its residual effects, which experts predict to linger for at least two more years, workplaces will look very different from today.

In this video, we explore how you can boost employee morale when you have in-house and remote teams working with and for you in this ever-changing workplace.

The sweeping changes brought by the coronavirus pandemic will affect the workforce in various ways, and this includes employee morale. Many workers have been encouraged to work from home to lower the risk of coronavirus spread. Some companies, such as Facebook, Square and Google, have started putting infrastructure in play to enable some of its workforces to work from home in the long term, or even permanently.

Telecommuting or working remotely is not an entirely new concept as it has existed to some degree for a few decades now. However, the events in recent years, such as globalisation and the emergence of certain risks, such as the coronavirus pandemic, combined with shifts in modern technology and demands for greater workplace flexibility has made remote work more familiar and accessible to more workers.

While remote work has its advantages, particularly in providing workers greater autonomy and flexibility in how and where they work, it also has its downside. Health experts monitoring the effects of increased remote work during the global pandemic reports that mental health issues are surging.

And then there is also the issue of how remote work is viewed by in-house workers who have not experienced working remotely. There is a certain stigma with remote work—some people may think those who work from home, work less to watch Netflix more or take excursions to the mall or the beach more often.

Well, if you’ve ever tried working from home, you know that this is far from the case. In fact, more studies show that people who work from home suffer from anxiety and stress precisely because they work longer hours.

If you’re a business which keeps a mix of remote and in-house workers, this becomes a pressing issue because this affects overall employee morale, and consequently, employee productivity. So how do you motivate your team and boost team morale when your team is a mix of remote and in-house workers?

Here are three key factors:

(1) Keep deliverables and policies clear.

First things first, determine how employees will be evaluated.

Employees are appraised based on whether they show up at work or not. In the traditional workplace, this is measured by their physical presence at work and the number of hours they spend working. Did they show up today? Did they work the full 8 hours?

In remote teams, measures are not as straightforward. While there is software that may allow you to measure whether a remote worker is working on their desktop at particular times of the day, this seems rather counterintuitive to why we allow remote work to begin with, which is to provide greater autonomy and flexibility. In my previous video, How to motivate employees the right way, I explored how cutting the number of work hours to provide employees with a greater (but reasonable) amount of autonomy motivates employees and results in greater productivity.

As work shifts in-house to remote locations, measures of productivity should shift, too. And these measures should apply to both in-house and remote teams. The focus, then, should be on output,  creating and enforcing policies that enable and encourages workers to focus on delivery. Did they do the work that they were supposed? Where they able to accomplish the work?

But what if workers are required to “show up” to work at specific hours of the day? What if the type of work requires teams to chat with or deal with customers at particular hours of the day? How do we, as a business, handle that?

Here’s an example of a business whose employees all work remotely but “show up” for work at pre-determined times of the day: Mountain Bikes Direct. In a previous video, I discuss how they keep their team motivated despite all of them working remotely from different parts of the world. The key to this productivity is being clear about what is expected from each team member. Being fair to everyone is an important factor that determines employee morale.

(2) Stay in contact.

Promote a positive, inclusive culture by setting up regular catch up meetings, where both in-house and remote team members are present.

The catch-up meetings can be a venue to update the team about the state of current projects or a venue to elicit help from each other to fix issues. Alternatively, these can be informal virtual coffee or cocktail meetings (depending on the profile of your team) for people to just catch up and share stories to nurture team bonding.

Aside from these catch-up meetings, businesses should also define how employees can report challenges or issues with work specific to them. Determine a communication plan with clear channels for escalation.

What if a remote worker experiences connectivity issues in the middle of critical work? Where should he or she report this issue, and how should he or she proceed? Or, what if an in-house worker needs to reach a remote team at hours outside of operations for a critical issue? Or, what if an employee, whether in-house or remote, suddenly needs to take a day off for personal reason?

(3) Keep health checks and policies in place.

Experts say that the global pandemic will change the way we work. Remember your team member who would report to work even if they are sick just because work needs to be done? We used to measure worker diligence and commitment based on what an employee is willing to sacrifice just to get to work done. It was normal to see a sick person report to work because things needed to get done.

Not anymore.

These “norms” should soon change—and as leaders and business owners, it’s our responsibility to keep everyone safe and healthy. There is a need to revise health policies, particularly policies on when employees should not report to work due to particular illnesses. The new policies and norms should also include measures that address employee mental health, particularly to remote employees who are more susceptible to loneliness isolation, anxiety, and even depression.

People are driven by their purpose. They are motivated to work when they see that their work contributes towards this purpose. They are also motivated when there is fairness when policies are equally enforced so that good work is recognised and offences are corrected.

If you are interested to know more about what a business has to go through when facing exponential growth, you can download the first chapter of the book, ”$20K to $20 Million in 2 Years” absolutely free here. The chapter talks about the differences between a good and a great business and puts out questions that make you consider how you can turn your business from good to great.

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While being professional entails knowing how to manage our emotions to allow us to work despite pressure, studies have also shown that emotions influence productivity. Happy employees are more likely to be professional.

In this video, I explore what determines an organisation’s emotional culture and how this impacts team performance and team productivity. I further discuss what team leaders can do to nurture a positive emotional culture.

One of the pillars of professionalism is self-regulation. This means that we need to have the ability to work under pressure. However, the flip side of this coin involves what experts now call psychological safety and the need to take care of our mental health.

A recent study by Google concludes one key factor that differentiates mediocre teams from high-performing teams is psychological safety. These findings suggest that emotional culture play an important role in organisational performance as emotions affect team productivity and performance.

What is emotional culture?

There are many facets of workplace culture. The most recognised facet is organisational culture, which defines a set of understanding on how to do things to achieve a goal.

But there is also emotional culture which “predicts many important work outcomes, including employee absenteeism, teamwork, burnout, satisfaction, psychological safety, and objective performance outcomes like operating costs.”

What determines emotional culture?

Emotional culture is contagious—and it trickles from the top. How managers behave and react to different circumstances sets the tone for the team’s emotional culture.

How does emotional culture affect productivity?

Imagine what could happen if you have a manager who consistently reacts negatively to mistakes. Or, what if this manager is prone to blame members of the team for mistakes caused primarily by circumstances out of their control? What if this manager focuses on putting blame rather than using mistakes as opportunities for team members to learn and improve? How do you think the team will react?

  • Team members will be afraid to make mistakes or try new things. This instantly “kills” the growth mindset.
  • Team members will be more focused on doing what they think the manager thinks is right and appropriate, rather than what is good for the team. They will afraid of disappointing their manage. When things go wrong and team members are afraid, it sets off their fight-or-flight response, which instantly “kills” their ability to be creative or innovative.
  • When team members are focused on “not making a mistake,” they’re likely to only focus on just the job or task at hand, and not finding new ways to improve the process. This kills productivity right away.
  • There is no psychological safety because no team member will feel safe in taking risks and making mistakes and doing things differently. If team members are not allowed to learn, grow, and be innovative, there is no incentive for anyone to perform well.

If you have a team leader who consistently focuses on mistakes and putting blame, you are unlikely to build and nurture a high-performing team. What you have is a team of robots or “yes” people who will do only what they are told and nothing else.

And when the environment becomes even more unbearable, team members are likely to jump ship and find work somewhere else. In this scenario, you are more likely to lose the best people in the organisation.

How do you nurture a positive emotional culture?

  • As a leader, keep your emotions in check. Observe how you react and see how your own employees react.
  • Replace blame with curiosity. In my video on How to Build High-Performing Teams, one of the key things to change is mindsets—and one that redirects the focus on issues and root problems, rather than on people.
  • Take a step back and take care of yourself, the leader. Perhaps you are stressed, which is affecting everyone else in the team. In the video, Maximising The Best Asset in Your Business, I discuss how rest is important to encourage creativity and problem solving in the long run.
  • Ask for help. When we have been doing the same things for a long time, it is easy to develop blind spots. Because of this, we tend to think that how we do things is “normal” and “acceptable.” Perhaps they are, but there may be things that are not as acceptable or maybe some things that need improvement. It’s hard to see beyond our blind spots, so we may need someone—a person looking from the outside in—to show us what we don’t see. This someone can be a mentor, a trusted colleague, or a business coach.

Do not let your pride limit you on what you can do in your business. I personally seen successful businesses be ruined by the business owner due to the individual’s perception that only he knows what is best for the business. I have seen his team members leave the organisation, and yet he stubbornly refuses to change his mindset about the business. The result? He is now working alone on his business and struggles to make ends meet. Please do not make the same mistakes as he did—ask for help.

If you are interested to know more about what a business has to go through when facing exponential growth, you can download the first chapter of the book, ”$20K to $20 Million in 2 Years” absolutely free here. The chapter talks about the differences between a good and a great business and puts out questions that make you consider how you can turn your business from good to great.

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With many of us encouraged to stay home in this new normal, Daymond John of Shark Tank urges everyone to "take the time to reinvest in yourself" while working from home. In this video, I explore what you can do at home to reinvest in yourself.

In the beginning of the global pandemic, governments around the world introduced community quarantines and lockdowns to help contain the spread. Activities were limited to just essentials: picking up supplies, outdoor exercising with stringent social distancing rules, essential work and operations, and emergencies. In some places, the spread has been largely contained, and this has led to the easing of quarantine and lockdown measures.

Nevertheless, things seem far from normal. In fact, many experts claim that the pandemic has introduced a “new” normal that we are likely to live within at least the next year or so.

With many of us encouraged to stay home in this new normal, we have found an abundance of time. Time saved from fetching our children from school, commuting to and from work, even from going out for social events. Some of us have utilised this time to sleep in, to rediscover what cooking is like in the kitchen, and some of us have discovered the joy of Netflix.

However, I would like to encourage you to explore what you can do at home to invest in yourself. There are many good reasons to explore learning at this time. In the short term, and particularly during this time, learning may help our mental health.

As discussed in a previous video, exercising your brain puts you in a position of being in control and lessens feelings of helplessness. In the long term, lifelong learning helps you be a better business owner, a better boss, and a better person overall, as I discuss in a previous video on how being committed to lifelong learning makes you a better business leader.

Before I begin the discussion on ways that you can invest in yourself, I’d like to introduce a caveat. Productivity experts say that this is a good time to explore learning options when you can. The pandemic is a good time to explore learning options when you can. Let’s acknowledge that some people are weathering the pandemic better than others—and self-investment has many forms. This is why this discussion about investing in yourself is not limited to just learning options.

So how can we invest in ourselves during this pandemic? Here are three things that you can start with today:

(1) Take online classes or read books

There are several being offered online. Other workshops and seminars have also been converted into online classes. There are also courses that are offered for free, such as those offered here and here. Many of these courses are also offered by Ivy League School professors in the United States.

If you can’t take classes right now, maybe you can start reading a book. Bill Gates, Warren Buffett and Charlie Munger are all voracious readers—and they all associate reading to their success in business. This is the perfect time to read a book or books that you’ve always wanted to but never had the time for. If you need more books to read, here’s a link to some free ebooks.

One of the leading advantages of online learning is how it benefits careers and businesses. Many of those who have taken certification courses online have enjoyed career advantages and professional benefits as a result of taking these courses. Online courses improve knowledge and develop technical skills—and because many of these online courses provide certification at the end and gives the impression that you are committed to learning and development.

The upside is that you take these online courses at your own pace and right in the comfort of your home. No commutes, no fixed schedules, and all at your convenience. Many of these are short enough to only take up a couple of weeks at a time, with a time investment of an hour or so per week.

If you’re worried about the cost, many courses online can be accessed for free, but the downside is that sometimes you don’t get the certification. However, if you find the online course to be relevant and of great interest to you, you can always upgrade to a paid access at any point of the course. This gives you the full experience and certification at the end. All that is required from you to begin is go online and sign up.

Personally, I have found that by paying for courses, I tend to be more committed to completing it as I have invested my own funds into it. It also forces me to choose the courses I take carefully. And who benefits from this? I do! You, too, can benefit from following this strategy, too.

(2) Connect with your community

Most events, including networking events, have been cancelled or postponed. Many of them are moving online. Maybe your community has already organised one—or perhaps you can create one and build your own community.

You can set up a Facebook Group and invite the people you know to join—and then maybe, you can also ask them to invite people in their own network to join. Let’s use technology to network and connect with people.

Remember, in business, it’s not just what you know but who you know that matters. The people you meet in these virtual groups may eventually become your suppliers, your clients, or even your partners. They may be people who can provide you with assistance and support—and vice versa.

If you are interested to know more about online networking groups, send me an email, and I’ll share with you what I have.

We don’t know how this new normal will pan out in the next few months or years—anything is possible, and so we take every opportunity that we can to adapt and move ahead.

(3) Invest in your well-being

Remember, when I said that there are many ways of investing in yourself? This is what I mean.

You do not have to push yourself when you feel overwhelmed during this period. While it may seem like a very conducive time to learn a new skill for many, your own circumstances may be different from others. We are in a global pandemic. Maybe you've been working hard all of these years, and you never had the time to focus on yourself. Reinvesting in yourself may mean something else—such as taking this time to rest and focus on your own health, physical, mental, or otherwise.

Quarantine rules encourage exercising--so maybe stepping out for a quick walk or run will do wonders for your health. Many successful entrepreneurs put a priority on their health and block time for exercise in their daily schedules. A healthy body nurtures a healthy and sound mind.

Some people have also started journaling. Journaling has been proven to be beneficial for your mental health as you start to describe how you feel in words, and many experts have said that journaling helps manage our worries and anxieties during crises. From a pragmatic point of view, journaling allows us to put our ideas down. Who knows, maybe you'll find inspiration for your next entrepreneurial venture by journaling and putting ideas down to paper.

Many have said that this pandemic has allowed people to focus more on what matters, because it has taken away the many distractions that would normally clutter our day. Maybe it is time for many of us to focus on ourselves, whether that means investing our time to educate ourselves, connect with the people that matter, or to take care of our physical and mental health. Maybe we need to do just that.

Thank you and keep safe.

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Zig Ziglar famously said, “People often say that motivation doesn't last. Well, neither does bathing - that's why we recommend it daily.” How do you keep yourself motivated, day in and day out, no matter your mood, no matter what comes your way?

In this video, I explore how you, a business owner or entrepreneur, can keep your drive and push on.

What is motivation?

Motivation is defined as “a reason or reasons for acting or behaving in a particular way.” Put simply; motivation determines WHY you do things that you do.

Why does the business owner start on the business in the first place? What is the business for? Many of you will say that the business is there to provide the owner with something.  What that something is the what motivates you to get up each morning and work on your business. In business speak, your motivation is your WHY.

How do I keep myself motivated every single day?

Point 1: Have a North Star.

Simon Sinek says that motivation starts with your WHY. Sara Blakely also starts with WHY, and advises to continue leading with WHY.

Your WHY is your North Star. When things don’t work out or when you need to make important decisions for your business, remember and hold on to your North Star. Remember why you’re doing this in the first place.

In my video, Understanding your WHY—and why that matters (URL link forthcoming), I discuss why it matters for business owners and entrepreneurs to recognise their why. I also explore what determines our why and give examples of the more common whys that many business owners and entrepreneurs share.

Point 2: Be clear about what you want to achieve.

Lewis Carroll said, “If you don’t know where you are going, any road will get you there.”

Once you establish your WHY, figure out how to translate that into a SMART goal. SMART is an acronym that stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timely.

A SMART goal can sufficiently answer this question: How do I know that I have achieved what I want to achieve? In one of my videos, I discuss why SMART goals are important—in fact, the absence of SMART goals is one of the reasons why many business plans fail.

Point 3: Establish a routine.

Studies have shown that routines help everyone become more efficient, feel more in control, and supports overall well-being. More importantly, it helps keep one motivated by focusing on the things that you can change or have control. Routines are very important that many of the

world’s successful entrepreneurs and business executives have established morning routines and even evening rituals.

Apple CEO Tim Cook starts his mornings at 3:45 a.m., and Oprah Winfrey, Michelle Obama and Indra Nooyi have been known to rise at the crack of dawn. Some entrepreneurs, like Warren Buffett, start their morning by reading.

Many successful entrepreneurs also have established evening routines. Bill Gates reads an hour before turning in at night, while Sheryl Sandberg turns off her mobile phone.

Establishing a routine also ensures that you make time to take care of yourself and recover from exhaustion, which is common among entrepreneurs. In my video, Overcome entrepreneurial exhaustion, I discuss the many ways that entrepreneurs and business owners can take care of themselves and recover from exhaustion to help them stay motivated.

So, in summary, what should we do to keep ourselves motivated?

Know why you do what you do. Have a North Star. Know what you want to achieve and how you are going to get there. Then establish a routine that will not only improve yourself but will bring you step-by-step closer to your SMART goal.

Just as Zig Ziglar said—just as we shower everyday to make sure that we don’t stink—we wake up with our purpose in mind, and we use that purpose to guide us throughout the day. 

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The global pandemic is set to affect not just public health but also the economy. As governments impose lockdowns to help prevent the coronavirus from spreading, this brings in what many are calling the “new” normal. This new normal impacts all businesses.

In this video, I explore practical steps that you can undertake today to help keep your business going through this pandemic.

How are you doing? I hope that this video finds you well, and despite what’s going on today, that you are taking care of yourself.

I recognise that many businesses are responding to the economic effects of the global pandemic differently. Depending on which industry you are in and how the government is regulating your business operations in response to measures to help minimise the spread of the coronavirus, I offer five tips that you can do today to help you manage your business in an otherwise difficult and unpredictable situation.

  1. Understand your current financial position

To make the best possible decisions in a difficult situation, you need fully understand your current position, especially your financial situation. This is the best time to keep your financial statements up to date and to discuss with your accountant where you are financially.

Here are some questions that you may need to answer to help you get a better picture of your financial position, which will enable you to make better decisions about your future business operations:

  • How much do you owe?
  • How much are you owed?
  • Where is your money currently being spent?
  • Where are you currently earning income?
  • How much cash do you currently have?
  • How long will your current cash position last?

  1. Perform financial health checks and manage your spending

Now that you know your financial position, it’s time to perform health checks and manage your spending. Are you eligible for any form government assistance? If you are, look into that.

Are there any items in your spending that you can cut or reduce? Talk to your bank and see if you can renegotiate payment terms for loans. Talk to your landlord and seek payment extensions for rent or if you can renegotiate rates during this crisis.

If your business has limited its operations, see what expenditures you can cut down. Maybe there are services that you aren’t using that you can put on pause or even completely cut off.

This is also the best time to take stock of your assets and see if there are any that you can lease or even sell to improve your cash flow.

  1. Communicate with your stakeholders

Your stakeholders are people who have an impact on the operations and performance of your business. These include your customers, your employees, your suppliers, and the supply chain in general. In difficult times, it is best to keep communication lines open to all of your stakeholders.

How are you customers managing? Will they be able to continue doing business with you? If not, what challenges are they facing? Perhaps you can help or provide supplementary services so that they can continue to utilise your services.

How are your suppliers? Can they continue serving your business’s needs? Are they experiencing challenges or difficulties in the supply chain themselves? Supply chain and service interruptions are to be expected in lockdowns, and this is why it is important to keep yourself informed so that you can find ways to adapt and work together to mitigate negative impacts caused by these interruptions.

  1. Build on your network

Your network and connections have an impact in how your business will perform. This is the best time to reach out to members of your local business community—if you’re not part of an organisation already, it may be time to seek membership in these communities. This is the time to band together to find support and give each other support.

In my previous video (link forthcoming on how to take care of your mental health), I discuss how finding a supportive community and reaching out to others can benefit your mental health. Doing so may also boost your business’s health. Thanks to technology, lockdowns should not keep us in isolation. Now, more than ever, is the time to reach out, seek support, and give comfort and assistance to one anoother. We’re all in the same boat—and if we paddle together, we can reach our destination and achieve success more quickly.

  1. Review your business model

Many businesses around the world are pivoting and finding ways to deliver products and services to their clients and customers in ways that they have not before. For example, many restaurants that are forced to close dining rooms instead offer take out and delivery services, aside from selling frozen/ready-to-cook packs of their signature dishes, they offer other grocery items as well. Many brick-and-mortar only stores are working on their online presence so that they can continue to sell their products to their clientele.

Agriculture in Australia is also responding to challenges that they have been facing for the past few years—first, as a result of the drought and second, as a result of the global pandemic. But the industry is innovating. Have you heard of the paddock to plate movement? The goal of this movement is to make the food supply chain more transparent to both producers and consumers, and to shorten the chain between these two parties in order to reduce costs and to contribute to overall stability and sustainability. This movement is not unique to Australia. In many countries around the world, this grassroots movement is also seeing some growth and increased interest from consumers.

If we take a page from these so-called disruptors, is there anything that you can change in your business today so that you can continue to offer your products and services to your customers?

Are your customers experiencing new and different pain points that you can address and resolve for them? Do you see new segments in the market sprouting that are suddenly in need of products and services that you offer? Is there a way you can tweak or change or improve your current offerings to expand your business or find an alternative revenue stream?

This “new” normal is bringing in new challenges, new needs, and new pain points for everyone. At some point, scientists will find a cure for the coronavirus and lockdowns will slowly and steadily be lifted. We do not know how the world will look like by then. But we can respond to the little changes that happen day-to-day, adapt to these changes little-by-little, and hopefully, find a way to not just survive but also thrive and progress moving forward.

Thank you and be safe.

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