There is a new kind of boon in the economy. While a regular corporate job is a dream for most people, many have been lured by the path less taken – Working as a freelancer or working from home. This is a relatively new phenomenon with home-based jobs coming of age during the last 10 years or so. More than 75% of the people work from home at least once a week.
Surprisingly, the concept of working from home is an age old one[i]. From the at-work home of creating, chopping, baking, tailoring, pottery, weaving and blacksmiths, to the 1950s multi-level marketing jobs and selling jobs – all have come back in a new format to give way to new age occupations that are not only earning money but also providing incentives to create new jobs for hiring more people.
Working from the comfort of home has gained prominence again owing to the culture of flexibility and the realisation that the need to balance work with everyday life is essential. For expecting or new mothers, for people with special situations where a family member requires constant care – telecommuting or remote work opportunities have been a boon.
Let us look at various ways in which you can make money online sitting in the comfort of your home.
- Full-time telecommuting jobs – Believe it or not but there are a number of full-time corporate roles which can be done from home. Jobs in functions of accounts controller, software development, front end and backend engineers, assistants and virtual assistants, writers, operations – all have versions which can be worked out of home. Companies need to define a structure and infrastructure needs to be made available to ease the engagement.
- Startups– A number of startups and new ventures prefer to engage remote workers now. A study by WonkBlog Analysis[ii] determined, how an average worker spends 31.3 days of a year commuting to and from the workplace. This adds to the cost to the company with a real estate space and hiring graduates with high skills which would work out very expensive for a startup. The entrepreneurial culture has given rise to the alternative method of employment – by the hour or by the project. Even full-time workers with time on their hands delve into the world of freelancing to earn extra, create a distinct credibility from that of a corporate company.
- Online Trading – This might be a difficult area to tread in for a lot of people but anyone with a keen eye and interest to study the markets can create their own methods and philosophy of trading. Forex trading and stock trading are the most common ways that people with intermediate to expert levels can look at making money. There are various guides, online blogs, video tutorials to help a person get started. However, trading is not for the faint hearted and it as the potential to lose a lot of money is real. Investing in instruments such as derivatives without studying the potential risks and analysing your own risk bearing capacity can be detrimental to your savings. Hence, one can start by using a simulated program on trading where you can create a portfolio virtually and track your own performance.
- Multi- level marketing – In simple terms this is using the power of word of mouth or networking to see a product or service. The idea is not only to sell but create a larger web of interested sellers who will create further sellers and sell more. Gone are the days of selling only Tupperware or AMWAY products. This list will give you the idea of varieties of selling and network creation one can do. Another aspect is buying in wholesale from a manufacturer and creating a website/using social media groups to promote the product or simply selling on websites like Amazon as a seller.
- Blogging /Affiliate Marketing – The reason we are grouping the two is because affiliate cannot work without a good blog. It involves engaging brands and partners who align with your core selling point of the blog. This way you can showcase them by writing unique and specific content. You link the part so your blog to their unique affiliate code received while signing up for that program and if someone purchases by clicking that link, it earns you money. Another extension is an affiliate ad network.
- Consulting – Your expertise in a specific niche could become a healthy business tomorrow. You can help people, become a mentor and actually service clients willing to pay the right price. People can charge flat fee on hourly basis or project basis. Slowly you can work your way up to a retainership which will help you increase income.
- Surveys and Reviews – You can help market research companies in gaining data on consumer insights, behaviours and preferences by filling in regular surveys by registering on various websites online. These pay anywhere from 5 pounds to 20 pounds or even more for detailed surveys. Many websites pay for writing reviews after asking you to test a product or service where you are reimbursed for the purchase.
- Mystery Shopping – Similarly, one can also work as a mystery shopper to go to designated stores, restaurants and act like a regular customer while collecting detailed data on the setup, sales behaviour, decor and sales push. You would be required to prepare a detailed report and submit probably with sound recordings or photographs and send to the company for approval post which you are reimbursed and paid.
- Freelance writing – This has to be one of the most common online jobs available. From large publication houses to small websites and individuals might require content which is unique and specific. With blogging and Google Adsense with various Google algorithms in place, SEO has become commonplace. This is a new skill which can help a writer charge higher by showcasing his SEO expertise.
- Translation – Another special skill which you can utilise is your knowledge in specific languages. You can register with one of the websites providing these services and get regular work without the headache of acquiring clients or ensuring payment. Many contractual websites – Fiverr, Upwork, Freelancer and many others enable a security factor to safeguard the freelancer payment and also ensure payment only after timely, approved delivery.
- Podcasting – You can be a YouTube star. Not necessarily a singing or dancing one but by sharing your knowledge with the world, something which people really need, in anpproachable and friendly manner will create your regular watchers who will Subscribe and Comment which will increase the traffic to your YouTube link. This will attract brands that can be associated with your niche and might pay your creating specific content or sponsor it.
- Virtual Assistance – Small and large companies require a lot of backend work to be handled. Hiring multiple administrative people might not be possible. Virtual Assistants are a boon to handle operational, clerical and repetitive tasks. Besides dedicating few hours, being with a company that will help you pick up few skills or industry insights will only help you polish your profile.
- Starting a Website – Creating a basic to medium level website is no biggie using the various applications – Wix, WordPress and many others. You can also buy the domain name and hosting. It is important to then work on tools like Google AdSense and many others that can help you create pay-per-click revenue from Google.
- Tutoring – Tutoring and teaching is an evergreen profession. If you have the right subject skill set and knowledge you can assist in K-12 education to university level students in solving problems, creating assignments and teaching additional courses. There are various online websites where you can register to have surety of payment and depending upon the number of hours you can charge anywhere ranging from 10 pounds per hour to 100 pounds till university levels.
- Web designing/Digital Marketing – With internet and Google transforming the business of business, the need of the hour for every business no matter how small, is to have an impactful online presence. If you can code or create beautiful and functional website for various sizes, it will help in generating requisite compensation easily from home as most clients would prefer talking over phone, email or video conferencing. Website maintenance will be an added revenue stream.
- Writing your own book – If you are one of those who is bursting with advice, ideas and is good at expressing them, you can look at this as one of the revenue streams. You can look at Kindle e-book as an option for self-publishing. With as little as few minutes and you can publish a book within 24-48 hours. You can look upto royalty of 70% [iii] across sales in countries like US, Canada, UK, Germany, India, France, Italy, Spain, Japan, Brazil, Mexico, Australia and few others.
- Peer-to-peer Lending – This is an old age lending transformed onto the online platform. Finding moneylending marketplace which lends to people to whom ordinary moneylending channels will not be granting loans can earn you good interest in your money. However, one should keep in mind few risks such as no direct interaction with the borrower and no credit knowledge. You have to rely completely on the word and documentation of the P2P platform. However, if you are willing to take these risks, you can earn from 10 % upwards.
- Micro-worker – These can be deemed as small research, lead marketing and various tasks which an individual or company wants to outsource. Writing reviews, commenting, finding contacts, and various such small activities can earn you while you browse. You can browse sites such as mTurk, MicroWorker, SEOClerk, ClickWorker, GigWalk to take advantage of such activities. One can also look up for such work by searching through Google – Search near me option to see the local clientele having such requirements. This will bring you more in touch with the local and regional job market.
- Teach English or various Languages – Having an English degree will help immensely to create a credibility to teach spoken and written English to non-English speaking people looking to expand their horizons. You can charge on hourly basis or course-wise depending upon the kind of client requirement. China and South East Asia countries have a good clientele ready to pay earnestly for a good English tutor. This is also useful non-English speaking students in universities having difficulties in following the curriculum due to lack of languages comprehension.
- Freelance Recruiter – This is a very commonly placed profile which can come handy to prepare you for a full-time job as well. Connecting with potential candidates, maintaining a database of people along with finding the recruiters who are willing to match the candidates’ requirements is an interesting yet daunting work. Many tools, networking websites can help you in this work and also give a head start in dealing with people and various HR issues. You will also learn about salary structuring, contract creation, negotiation and various other things. You can earn a good percentage of the profile positions’ compensation structure. The more senior positions you can fill, the higher your earning.
With various opportunities available and more still opening up, as companies move towards standardization, there will be no dearth of work from home opportunities in the next decade. It is smart thinking to gain skill-sets in a regular job and keep an eye on the freelance market to know your market value and the changing size of the market. It will be a good foundation to setup your own practice as an independent entrepreneur during important life events such as maternity or any unforeseen situations that might force you out of a job.
How to lead a high-performing team
By Matthew Emerson, Founder and Managing Director, Blackmore Four
When we think about a great team, the image we conjure up almost always includes a superstar leader. A smiling Sir Alex Ferguson guiding Manchester United to countless domestic and European successes year after year. The conductor of an orchestra, drenched in sweat, turning to take rapturous applause from an appreciative audience. The self-styled entrepreneur-turned-CEO who has steered their company’s share price, profit margins and brand recognition to levels of international envy. Our bias to assign the leader credit or blame for successes or failures that are actually outcomes of a team effort is strong and widespread, and results in both positive and negative outcomes for individual leaders that often overlook any team-based root causes.
Clearly, some people are better at leading teams than others. It is quite reasonable, therefore, to try and identify the traits that distinguish effective leaders from those who consistently fail to get the best out of people they work with. Literally hundreds of research studies have attempted to see which traits predict leadership effectiveness. However, none have succeeded in identifying any set of universal traits that could reliably distinguish and predict effective leadership from the rest.
For one thing, research has shown that there is no one leadership style that works well across all situations. A style that may be just what is needed when working with skilled and trusted colleagues to develop a team may fail badly when a newly-formed team encounters a challenging situation that requires a quick, decisive team response.
A second problem with leadership styles stems from our assumption that leader behaviour is the cause of member behaviour and team dynamics. In fact, a leader’s style may, in many circumstances, be as much a consequence of members’ behaviours as it is a cause of that behaviour. For example, if a leader is charged with managing a team of subordinates who are both competent and cooperative, the leader is likely to be more effective responding with a considerate, participative leadership style. However, if team members are obviously not capable in carrying out the work and, moreover, demonstrate aggression in their dealings with the leader, a much more structured, directive and autocratic style is likely to be exhibited, to varying degrees of effectiveness. Excellent team leaders are aware of their natural styles—they know what they like to do, what they can do easily and well, and what they can accomplish.
On the one hand, we tend to overattribute responsibility for collective outcomes to the team leader. Although that tendency is often exaggerated there is no doubt that what a team leader does (and doesn’t do) is highly consequential for team performance. Instead of focusing on a leader’s generalised behaviour (style) and who they are (character, superhero), the focus should be shifted onto what it is they actually do (action).
Effective leaders focus on the four basic factors we discussed in the previous articles in this series, starting with a compelling direction and clear accountability. The team need to know that they are a real, interdependent team and that normalised behaviours, high expectations and trusting relationships are agreed across the group.
Sometimes most of these conditions will already be in place when a team is formed and fine-tuning them will not pose much of a leadership challenge. Other times, when the focus has been on individual work not teamwork, it will take great effort to establish these four basic factors.
Behavioural leadership skills
Great team leaders do not rely on any single strategy for promoting high team performance. Instead, they work hard in getting all of the factors we have been discussing aligned and pulling in the same direction. However, it’s not sufficient for those who lead teams merely to know about the factors for high performance; they also need to know how to create and maintain those factors—in a word, they need to be skilled in leading teams.
Effective team leaders are skilled in executing actions that narrow the gap between what is happening in the group or its context, compared with what the leader believes should be happening. They are also skilled at managing their emotional response, resisting the impulses of acting too quickly and dealing with one’s anxieties.
Effective leaders demonstrate their ability to tap into the collective resources and coach teams in order to exploit potential to the fullest extent. Being able to exploit those special moments at the beginning, middle and end of task and team life cycles can prevent future breakdowns or factors that hinder high performance.
The ability to inspire others is another commonly identified, essential behavioural skill for leaders of high-performing teams. The is no single best way to provide it, but the key is to identify which of your skills and styles can best be used to create in others the passion you feel for your work and then to hone and develop those resources as one core element in your personal repertoire of team leadership skills.
Leading high-performing teams
There is no way to “make” a team perform well, let alone sustain outstanding high performance. Teams create their own destinies to a great extent. After a team has launched itself on a particular path, its own actions create additional experiences which then guide members’ subsequent behaviour, which can set in motion either a cycle of ever-increasing competence and commitment or a downward spiral that ends in collective failure.
Once members have established their shared view of the world and settled into a set of behavioural routines, there is not a great deal that leaders can do to change the team’s basic direction or momentum. What leaders can do is make sure the team is set up right in the first place, action the four factors and then constantly hone and learn to develop a number of key skills specific to team leadership.
Matthew Emerson is the Founder and Managing Director of Blackmore Four, an Essex based management consultancy working with leaders of ambitious businesses to achieve outstanding performance through periods of growth or significant change.
Starting his career at Ford Motor Company, Matthew has developed his expertise in Organisational Effectiveness in key senior HR, Organisational Development and Talent roles, predominantly in Financial Services (Credit Suisse, Barclays and DBS) and most recently as the Group Head of Talent and Performance at UBS AG.
Having worked in and across Asia for six years as well as having ‘global’ responsibility in a number of his roles, Matthew has an appreciation of international and multi-cultural working environments. He also has a multi-sector perspective, having worked with organisations in Manufacturing, Healthcare, Education and Technology.
Oil prices steady as lockdowns curb U.S. stimulus optimism
By Noah Browning
LONDON (Reuters) – Oil prices were steady on Monday as support from U.S. stimulus plans and jitters about supplies competed with worries about demand due to renewed lockdowns to prevent the coronavirus from spreading.
Brent crude futures for March rose 7 cents, or 0.1%, to $55.48 a barrel by 1210 GMT. U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude for March was up 5 cents, or 0.1%, at $52.32.
“Sentiment was buoyed by expectations for a blockbuster coronavirus relief package … (but) the tug of war between stimulus optimism and virus woes is set to continue,” said Stephen Brennock of broker PVM.
U.S. lawmakers are set to lock horns over the size of a $1.9 trillion pandemic relief package proposed by new President Joe Biden, financial stimulus that would support the economy and fuel demand.
European nations, major consumers, have imposed tough restrictions to halt the spread of the virus, while China reported a rise in new COVID-19 cases, casting a pall over demand prospects in the world’s largest energy consumer.
Barclays raised its 2021 oil price forecasts, but said rising cases in China could contribute to near-term pullbacks.
“Even though the pandemic is not yet slowing down, oil prices have good reasons to start the week with gains,” said Bjornar Tonhaugen from Rystad Energy.
Supply concerns have offered some support. Indonesia said its coast guard seized an Iranian-flagged tanker over suspected illegal fuel transfers, raising the prospect of more tensions in the oil-exporting Gulf.
“A development that always benefits prices is the market turbulence that conflicts create,” Tonhaugen added.
Libyan oil guards halted exports from several main ports in a pay dispute on Monday.
Output from Kazakhstan’s giant Tengiz field was disrupted by a power outage on Jan. 17.
(Editing by David Goodman and Edmund Blair)
Dollar steadies; euro hurt by vaccine delays and German business morale slump
By Elizabeth Howcroft
LONDON (Reuters) – The dollar steadied, the euro slipped and riskier currencies remained strong on Monday, as currency markets were torn between optimism about U.S. stimulus plans, and the reality of slow vaccine rollout and the economic impact of lockdowns in Europe.
Market sentiment had turned more cautious at the end of last week as European economic data showed that lockdown restrictions to limit the spread of the virus hurt business activity, dragging stocks lower.
The safe-haven dollar declined gradually overnight, and riskier currencies strengthened. It then recovered some losses after European markets opened, and was at 90.224 against a basket of currencies at 1152 GMT, flat on the day.
On one hand, market sentiment is supported by hopes for President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion fiscal stimulus plans, as well as the expectation that central banks will continue to provide liquidity.
But, in Europe, the extent of the risk appetite was limited by a lack of progress in rolling out the COVID-19 vaccine as well the economic impact of lockdown measures.
German business morale slumped to a six-month low in January, surprising market participants who had expected the survey to show a rise.
“It’s very much a case of hopes for the future against the reality of the first quarter of this year which is going to still prove to be fairly troubled,” said Jeremy Stretch, head of G10 FX strategy at CIBC Capital Markets.
“For now at least, the optimism that we’re hoping for has been somewhat delayed and that has taken a little bit of steam out of the euro and just put a little bit of support back in the dollar but ultimately I think it is still a case of those high-beta commodity currencies, reflation currencies, will continue to perform well,” he said.
Analysts expect a broad dollar decline during 2021. The net speculative short position on the dollar grew to its largest in ten years in the week to Jan. 19, according to weekly futures data from CFTC released on Friday.
The U.S. Federal Reserve meets on Wednesday and Fed Chair Jerome Powell is expected to signal that he has no plans to wind back the Fed’s massive stimulus any time soon – news which could push the dollar down further.
“The process of tapering QE is likely to be a gradual process which could last throughout 2022, and then potentially be followed by the first rate hikes later in 2023,” wrote MUFG currency analyst Lee Hardman.
“In these circumstances, we continue to believe that it is premature to expect the US dollar to rebound now in anticipation of policy tightening ahead, and still see scope for further weakness this year,” he said.
The euro was down around 0.1% against the dollar, at $1.2153 at 1207 GMT. At the European Central Bank meeting last week, President Christine Lagarde said the bank was closely watching the euro. The euro surged 9% last year versus the dollar and reached new two and a half year highs earlier in January.
But despite this verbal intervention, traders remain bullish on the euro, expecting the bar for a rate cut to be high.
Elsewhere, the Australian dollar, which is seen as a liquid proxy for risk, was up 0.2% at 0.7726 versus the U.S. dollar at 1208 GMT.
The New Zealand dollar was up 0.5%, while the commodity-driven Norwegian crown was up 0.2% the euro.
The safe-haven Japanese yen was flat on the day at 103.815 versus the U.S. dollar.
Graphic: USD, https://fingfx.thomsonreuters.com/gfx/mkt/qmypmyjdxpr/USD.png
(Reporting by Elizabeth Howcroft, editing by Ed Osmond and Chizu Nomiyama)
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