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Social media is all about connection and networking, but it’s also distraction and procrastination in their finest, pixelated forms.

Help your team use social media productively with these tips.

Define the End Goals for Social Media Use

Who’s doing what, and why?

Social media professionals know that without clear goals, social media use becomes a chaotic mess of button-clicking and key-tapping. You have to know what you’re attempting in order to know if you’re getting close.

What are the end goals for social media in your business and for your team?

Define these and you are giving your team members a way to quickly determine if their use of social media is helping to reach those goals.

Discuss Limits for Social Media Use

Defining goals and assigning roles will help your team members know how to use social media in a productive way… that is, in a way that is helping them to reach those goals.

For some, social media use is great for a few minutes in the morning and in the afternoon, for a couple of status updates a day, for a distraction on break time or for those five-minute intervals in between meetings.

For others, social media may require more intensive time and input: a few hours crafting updates, researching analytics, finding or creating great content to share.

Discuss how the over-arching goals - and each person’s role in helping reach those goals - necessitate different limits on social media for each person. Then ask your team members to set their own limits, as appropriate.

Encourage Real Breaks

Taking regular breaks is actually great for productivity. But a ten-minute break of browsing Facebook doesn’t come with the same mental and physical payback of a ten-minute brisk walk outside, or chat and cup of tea with a coworker.

However, our social norms and work environments often surreptitiously encourage the wrong kind of break: the social media, mind-numbing kind. It’s easy to pull up a new tab and idle away five minutes, and no one looks unproductive because they’re still staring at their computers.

But leaving the office to go for a ten-minute walk?
Asking a coworker to step down to the lobby for a cuppa and quick chat?

That’s not easy to “get away with.” You can’t disguise that sort of behavior as real work, the way you can with social media binging.

The answer is to encourage real breaks instead of making your people feel like they need to pull them off on the sly.

Education over Enforcement

You can make all sorts of rules about social media, and some of them might be really great rules. Really effective.

Knowledge is the real power, though, and educating people works a lot better than enforcing rules.

You don’t want to waste time having endless round-table discussions about social media and its effect on our productivity. You do want to help your team understand how social media can be either a powerful tool or a deadly distraction, based on their use.

To help educate your team, you can

share articles, studies, and data
ask for their own insight and experience
talk about apps and extensions that streamline social media
set up reminders of social media goals
continue to encourage real breaks
call in a professional to teach techniques for social media use
find the expert on your team and ask for help.

The Habit of Asking

One small but powerful habit can help your team more than anything else. It’s a simple question that each person asks and then answers:

“What am I doing right now?”

It’s the question to ask anytime someone wakes up mindlessly surfing the Internet, scrolling through Facebook, lost in Reddit or Twitter. It’s the question to ask when one project or task is over and people are hanging out in that dangerous dead space before the next project begins.

“What am I doing right now?” is a simple but powerful question when asked and then answered, immediately and honestly.

“I’m looking at pictures of other people’s lives.”
“I’m reading stupid articles about celebrities.”
“I’m searching for a good joke to share.”
“I’m trying out photo filters.”
“I’m trying to think of a clever status update.”

When your people learn to ask and answer that question, they can’t ignore what they’re doing. Or not doing.

In some cases, what they are doing is perfectly legitimate, and they can feel good about that:

“I’m posting my daily update to our company Facebook page.”
“I’m sharing news from the conference I attended.”
“I’m live-tweeting this event.”
“I’m editing product photos.”
“I’m finding great content to share with our followers.”

When you and your whole team know what the social media goals are and get in the habit of thinking about how to use social media well, you get productive social media use.

That’s an update worth sharing.

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See also:

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It might sound as a cliché, which doesn’t make it any less true, but the nature of workforce is changing. More and more people are telecommuting, working in geographically dispersed teams or hiring/offering their service as freelancers.

Try googling ‘telecommuting tools’ or ‘remote employee management tools’ and you get articles that recommend using 10 different tools for 10 different things - Skype for face-to-face meetings, Dropbox for file sharing, Google Docs for working with documents, and so on. That’s the wrong way to go. If you want to manage your geographically dispersed team or teleworkers effectively, all the tools should be in one place easily accessible by everyone, just like they are in Bitrix24.

Here is a list remote employee management tools available in free Bitrix24 plan

1.     Private social network
2.     Group chat
3.     Videocalls and videoconferencing
4.     Telephony
5.     Group tasks and group projects (workgroups)
6.     Shared team calendars
7.     CRM and sales team management
8.     Lead management and email marketing
9.     Invoicing
10. Bitrix24.Drive for online storage and file sharing
11. Online document management with multiuser editing
12. Time tracking and employee workload planning
13. Daily planner
14. Team checklists
15. Workflow automation
16. Mobile workforce management
17. Employee self-service and HR tools

To repeat, these are all available to you at no cost as long as your team is 12 users or less (you can buy extra 12 users for just $25 a month, if necessary).

Here is a list remote employee management tools available in paid Bitrix24 plans or the self-hosted edition.

1.     Remote employee training and learning management
2.     Time management
3.     Work reports
4.     Extranet
5.     Helpdesk and ticketing
6.     Meetings and briefings
7.     Records management

Additional tools and integrations with third party solutions are available in Bitrix24 Marketplace and are provided by Bitrix24 partners.

Happy remote collaboration to you!

[Via - Remote Employee Management Tools]

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When it comes to Trello, the problem isn’t that Trello is simple it’s that Trello is too simple. At first I really loved using Trello, but after a couple of weeks I started to get annoyed – why can’t you do that? Why aren’t there time reports or integration with CRM? And the Gantt chart fiasco? Forget about it. The good news is that there are a ton of alternative project management solutions out there, most of which are free. Here are my three favorite tools to replace Trello

Bitrix24 vs Trello – if you do a lot of collaboration, work with documents a lot and want a complete solution. Bitrix24 is 100% free for small teams (12 users) and comes with a full range of PM tools – tasks, check lists, Gantt charts, workgroups (projects), task reports, calendars, work reports, time management and even absence chart. The most powerful thing about Bitrix24 is that it is a collaboration suite, so it makes it really easy for teams to do everything (including document management) in one place. Bitrix24 also comes with free CRM that integrates with project management, something that neither Asana nor Wrike offer. API is available. Another important advantage workflow management that’s done with a native business process designer. Naturally, there are mobile apps available for iOS and Android. Who it is for – GEEKS or ADVANCED USERS. Bitrix24 is extremely easy to use, but not necessarily to set ups – because it’s very technical and geeky, countless options. In my (biased?) view – Bitrix24 is the best Trello replacement, especially since it’s the only solution that gives you both options – use it online or host in on your own servers.

Asana vs Trello – both solutions are very visually oriented, which is good for newbees, but immediately limits ‘professional’ use. Like Trello, Asana is free for all practical purposes, so that’s a significant advantage. Asana used to be free for 30 users and the limit has been lowered to 15 free users. This may change at the time you are reading this review. Like Bitrix24, Asana is geared toward a more structured project management (i.e. top down management). Asana’s collaboration features, though not as rich as Bitrix24, are also geared toward getting things done (pardon my pun). Asana’s text driven interface is also more familiar and easy to work with for most folks, in my opinion. Who it is for – small teams of REGULAR FOLKS with moderate PM demands. If Trello is too simple, but you aren’t the type who reads books about project management, GTD, Kanban, Agile – Asanais perfect Trello alternative for you.

Wrike vs Trello – these two are hard to compare. It’s kind of like a boxing champion beating up a third grader, not that hard to do and not really an accomplishment for the boxer. Wrikeis an ubergeek PM platform. It’s not free, in fact it’s somewhat expensive and has been in continuous development for over 6 years. Most Wrike’s clients are very large companies with very specific demands, so it’s very flexible can be customized, though not necessarily easily, if your coding skills are poor. API is available. Wrike can be integrated with MS Projects and Apple Mail, has advanced task filters and supports dashboard with custom widgets. Who it is for – LARGE COMPANIES and PM UBERGEEKS. Wrike is PM ubergeek dream come true. It really shines if you have company with hundreds or thousands of employees who run tens of thousands of projects. I believe that Wrike has recently publicized the fact that they have one single client (a very large transnational corporation) who has created over one million projects using Wrikes platform. You can’t do that with Trello. If your company is small, however, you best chose between Bitrix24 and Asana, because not only Wrike’s freemium option is limited to five users, it actually comes without some basic PM features, like Gantt charts, which are available only use premium users. My guess is that this is a deliberate decision by their marketing team to attract only large project management literate clients who can take advantage of otherwise awesome PM platform.

[Via - Trello vs Asana

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Tip of the day - Need company name? Try crowdsourcing

http://bottlesandwood.com/
Tucked in a warehouse a mile from the Las Vegas Strip, a handful of employees cut, grind, sand and polish glass — turning tourists’ trash into treasure.

It’s the business of bottles, and there’s certainly no shortage in Las Vegas. The Strip’s 24-hour party cycle sends scores of empty liquor, wine and beer bottles to the trash, much of it destined for burial at a landfill.

The demise of this perfectly good glass troubled Steve Cherry, founder of Bottles & Wood, a new Las Vegas-based company that repurposes discarded alcohol bottles.

“The last thing we should be doing with these bottles is crushing it and filling a landfill,” he said. “That does nothing for anyone.”

His business idea didn’t start in Las Vegas, though. A Southern California native, Cherry began repurposing glass water bottles to make candleholders for a friend’s restaurant. Customers approved of the new decor and asked where to buy it.

A sudden demand for the unique glassware got Cherry, a former software executive, thinking: Could this little side business be the start of something greater?

“I was like a shop guy when I was a kid,” he said. “Never thought I was going to make a living at it.”

Fast forward to July. That’s when Cherry moved his burgeoning business into warehouse space with a view of the Strip on the west side of Interstate 15. He pays 40 cents a square foot to rent the space and, so far, employs a dozen people.

“There are more liquor bottles coming out of this one-mile Strip than in Southern California,” Cherry said, explaining his rationale for moving to Las Vegas. “It’s an enormous anomaly.”

In a sense, his business model emulates the actual recycling process: He takes unwanted glass bottles from Las Vegas establishments, repurposes them and sells the new products back to wholesalers, tourists and locals. His glassware, ranging in price from $7.50 to $50 per piece, can be bought online or in gift shops.

Have a favorite liquor brand? There’s probably a product made from it. Drinking glasses made from Grey Goose vodka bottles line one display shelf. Across the way, there’s a light fixture featuring glass from a Jack Daniel’s whiskey bottle. Other products include candleholders, candy bowls, wine tumblers and jewelry.

Cherry said his company was pursuing trademark licensing agreements with major liquor brands.

“We don’t put any logos on anything we do,” he said. ” We just take existing product and repurpose it.”

The “wood” part of the company name refers to a similar venture in California’s wine country. The company’s San Francisco factory takes old wine barrels and creates products, such as cheese trays and cutting boards.

In Las Vegas, Bottles & Wood has received discarded bottles from the Mob Bar, Bar + Bistro, Triple George and Krave, to name a few, Cherry said. He’s working with Strip properties but can’t yet disclose their names.

It’s an opportunity Cherry calls a “win-win-win” for all involved. Bottles & Wood pays establishments 10 cents to 50 cents per bottle of liquor or specialty beer, he said.

“The hotels pay by the ton to have their glass hauled away,” he said. “So if we take away a ton a week, it’s less money they pay.”

Cherry also views his new company as a way to make an impact in Nevada, a state known for its scarce environmental laws. He hopes to offer tours of the Las Vegas factory to school groups.

The 58-year-old admits his new venture is a far cry from software company boardrooms — and the ocean, for that matter. He’s an avid sailor.

“I thought it was time for me to give back to the community,” he said. “Doing software is horribly financially rewarding and empty in every other sense of job satisfaction.”

Just don’t ask about his favorite drink. It’s water, he says, laughing as he looks at all the repurposed alcohol bottles surrounding him.

“I’m not a hard liquor drinker,” he said. “I do enjoy my tequila once in a while.”

[Via - Business Ideas Blog]

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1. Bitrix24

Bitrix24 is probably the best and most popular free online HR suite. Essentially it’s a fully featured HRMS with features ranging from intranet to company orgchart to self-service portal to leave management and even employee training and onboarding. Well worth a look.

 

2. NaturalHR

Essentially a Bitrix24 clone with fewer functions but free is free.

 

3. Trello

Trello is a great free project management solution from Fog Creek Software. Personally, I am not a big fan of Kanban methodology, but there are a lot of people who swear by Trello.

 

4. WeekDone

Weekdone is an Estonian startup founded by former Skype engineers. Essentially Weekdone is a free workreport and employee feedback system. One of the few tools on this list, along with Bitrix24 and Trello that has a great mobile app.

 

5. Workflowy

The name may suggest that Workflowy is a workflow or business process automation tool, but it’s not. Rather it’s online organization tool that lets you create todo lists, brainstorm, and plan. Workflowy is quite popular among HR professionals.

 

6. NimbleCRM

You may wonder what a CRM system is doing among hr tools, but this social CRM can be used as great recruiting and resume management tool. Matt Charney of RecruitingBlogs explains. Nimble is 100% free for solo use.

 

7. AnyPerk

AnyPerk is not free, but at $5 per employee per month, it’s a steal, especially for companies that don’t offer any benefits.

Do you know of any other free HR tools that we overlooked? Make sure you leave a comment.

 

[Via - Best Free HR Tools]

 

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