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 use data to protect and power your business
By Dave Parker, Group Head of Data Governance, Arrow Global
Employees need to access data to do their jobs. But as data governance professionals, it’s our job to protect it. Therefore, we must perform a fine balancing act to weigh robust data protection against the productivity of workers who need the data to maintain business-as-usual working processes.
Data grows exponentially, and most organisations will admit that they simply don’t know what data they have, where it is, and the controls that exist around it. This creates 2 challenges:
- Burgeoning amounts of unstructured data makes the business increasingly vulnerable from external attackers or internal data breaches.
- Because data is the key to understanding a customer’s wants and needs, if the business can’t identify its data and unlock its value, it’s at a competitive disadvantage.
As a European investor and alternative asset manager, here at Arrow Global we take care of £50bn of assets and own a data estate exceeding 160TB. How we manage our data is key to our success. We understand the difficulties involved in opening up environments to allow people to work productively, while at the same time locking them down to protect our organisation.
When it comes to analytics, I believe that Arrow is highly proficient because we employ a talented team of data scientists. But even for us, the sheer volume of raw and processed data, that resides in both our structured systems and unstructured data repositories, has the potential to put our business at risk.
We know there’s always more that can be done to strengthen our security posture and ensure regulatory and contractual compliance, while at the same time using our data to drive the business forward.
Data protection isn’t just about compliance
For many organisations, data protection has centred on demonstrating compliance with the GDPR. At Arrow, our efforts have gone one step further to include our contractual exposure.
Being a more mature data organisation, we had previously tried to develop an application in-house to manage our data estate. However, with 160TB across the company in production data alone, we simply couldn’t achieve the scale we needed to handle the sheer volume of data. Of course, the volume is just the start – once you know what data you have, you then need to be able to categorise the data and put it into a structure, so the business can analyse it for a specific use case.
We knew we needed to go to market to find an industrial-strength data discovery product to replace our in-house application. By aligning our choice of product to our overall IT and change strategy, meant that ultimately, we ended up with a far better outcome than we’d anticipated.
Position data as both a risk and an asset
Data touches every part of an organisation, so when it came to building a business case for buying-in a data discovery software platform, we approached it in a way that would speak to different people at the same time. We did this by posing the question:
“What do we want to do with data in a way that is GDPR-compliant, contractually-compliant and enables us to better service our clients?”
These are the black and white tests of data governance – to recognise the importance of securing and protecting data. They’re applied in a way that enables us to commoditise data and use it to drive the business forward, by forcing us to consider how we would use the data – for example, creating value-based pricing for our clients.
In aligning the business case to initiatives that were already priorities within the boardroom, we knew that we’d gain the attention of the senior leadership team and it would be easier to get the buy-in and budget we needed. And in the end, everyone wins – we get what we need to protect the data, and the business gets to distil the data’s value to better meet our customers’ expectations.
Get visibility of data at scale
For us, things got really exciting once we were able to see all of our data at scale. We chose Exonar because it allowed us to discover our data in ways that other products couldn’t. And the interface between the user and Exonar meant that everyone – both technical and non-technical users – could understand the technology and the findings it revealed.
When we saw exactly what data was in the estate, where it was and who had access to it, data security became much easier and the risk of data being compromised was dramatically reduced. We can see exactly where the vulnerabilities are and restructure how our data is stored to strengthen security. Then over time, we can use search, workflow and analysis to optimise the infrastructure and continually identify new areas to improve.
Commercialise the data
From a wider-business perspective, once people can see the data, they can start asking “What if…” to query it and distil its value. But it’s more than just the data itself. It’s not uncommon for data relating to the same thing to exist in unconnected systems across the business. For example, customer interactions and incidents or events.
Exonar is capable of joining the dots in disparate data sets. By stitching these data sets together, we can get a better overall view of our customers and use the outcomes to think of new, different or better ways of serving them through enhancing or adapting our offerings.
Why other financial services businesses should also take a smarter approach to data
- By changing the way you approach data, you can use it to protect and power your business and the people you serve.
- By positioning data as both a risk and an asset, you elevate its position to give it priority in the boardroom. Ultimately, it’s data that helps the business make informed strategic decisions about how to strengthen its competitive advantage.
- By gaining visibility of data at scale, you can see exactly what data you have and where it is. This gives the business confidence about the actions needed to ensure it is secured in both a regulatory and contractually compliant way, and that people are doing the right thing with data at all times.
- And joining different data sets provides you with a single view of ‘X’ within your data, no matter where it is. Helping to support your wider-business strategy and priorities, it gives you the information you need to secure a business advantage and generate value.
How business leaders can find the right balance between human and bot when investing in AI
By Andrew White is the ANZ Country Manager of business transformation solutions provider, Signavio
The digital world moves quickly. From keeping up with consumer behaviour patterns, to regulation and compliance, the most successful organisations are always on the cutting-edge of technological developments.
However, when it comes to investing in artificial intelligence (AI), a hard and fast strategy does not guarantee a top spot amongst the league of tech greats. Instead, it pays to take a considered approach to balancing reliance on automated processes with a human touch. Why? Because creative and strategic thinkers are the true propellers of innovation; automation is simply the enabler.
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) developed the ‘Routine Task Intensity’ (RTI) index as a measure of which processes are likely to benefit most from automation. According to this metric, jobs requiring analytical, strategic, communicational and technical skills score low on the RTI index, while simple, repetitive tasks scored highly.
The lesson for business leaders here is simple; your digital investments are just as important as your stake in talent. When deciding which processes to automate, start simple, and remember to value the skills and potential of your people.
Keep customer-centricity at your core
Customer-centricity means that every business decision, dollar spent and new hire is centred on one question: how does this benefit my customer? Investments in AI are no different. To be truly successful, they must have a customer-focused outcome.
Where companies get this wrong is by implementing cost-saving measures or ‘copy and paste’ software that fails to improve the customer experience – often having the adverse effect.
Take the virtual chat-bot, for example; if implemented poorly, it can send your customers into a frustrating and seemingly infinite cycle of dead-ends. The modern consumer is far too digitally savvy for this shortcut, and will quickly move onto the next merchant offering a more seamless customer service experience.
To guarantee your investments are delighting rather than infuriating your customers, it helps to take an outside-in perspective of your business processes, aided by Customer Journey Mapping (CJM).
Before you commit to digital investments, CJM can trace and map each customer touchpoint, signalling pain points or conversion rates throughout their journey. These data-driven insights lead you to the areas that would benefit the most from automation, instead of implementing a broad band-aid solution.
Avoid the ‘set and forget’ method
When investing in enterprise-wide AI, the ‘set and forget’ method rarely works. Real transformation requires an ongoing dedication to refining and improving AI-driven processes, as well as adapting them to the evolving needs of your customers. This is the best way to achieve customer loyalty, by proving that your organisation listens to, and understands its users.
A human perspective is invaluable here, paired with process mining – a method that thrives on finding process inefficiencies – to create a consistent feedback loop of improvement.
During periods of uncertainty, customer loyalty is everything, so aim to protect it at all costs.
The power of your people
The rise of automation can be linked to the corporate world’s obsession with speed and efficiency. However, the psychology behind this goes deeper than being the biggest and fastest producer; it’s also about reallocating resources into attracting and retaining the brilliant minds that drive companies into the future.
When communicating digital change, it’s critical to highlight the valuable impact AI has on augmenting jobs; removing the burden of mundane, repetitive tasks and allowing for more strategic skill-sets to shine through. For lower-skilled workers, invest in upskilling or re-education where possible.
Successfully rolling-out digital transformation plans means that every employee across all tiers of your company understands the value of AI. The starting point here is education to achieve buy-in. Change communications must be accessible, constructive and value-focused, supported by key culture influencers who champion automation within teams.
Enterprise-wide buy-in is an important element of refining and improving digital processes, as cross-functional collaboration can offer valuable insights into common pain points or inefficiencies ripe for automation. Supported by process mining, collaboration provides a holistic view of how each investment will impact other processes. There is no point investing in automation that streamlines one process and makes another more people-centric, so be sure to take a balanced approach to your investments.
Remember, AI is not about creating an army of robot workers; it’s about increasing efficiency and productivity so that an organisation, and its people, can work smarter.
Are you a fighter or a freezer? The 4 “F’s” of Surviving Danger
By Dr.Roger Firestien, Author of Create In a Flash.
The fight, flight, freeze survival response – or FFF for short – is designed to mobilize our brain and body to fight an enemy, run from a tidal wave or freeze to hide from a predator.
FFF is how humans react when they encounter a dangerous situation. It is a primal response that happens instinctively even before we are able to think about the situation we are confronting.
The FFF alarm causes our brain to focus on negative memories, probably to scan them to avoid repeating dangerous situations and negative outcomes. We get tunnel vision as our pupils dilate to increase our focus and long-range vision, but as a result we lose our peripheral vision.
Humans use the FFF response and so do organizations.
When organizations encounter dangerous situations, like, say, trying to survive a global pandemic, they can respond by either fighting the situation, fleeing from the situation, or freezing and waiting for the situation to pass.
I would like to propose a fourth strategy for organizations to deal with a danger like the pandemic. It is the fourth “F.” The farm response. More on that later.
What kind of organization is yours?
The fighter organizations were the ones that fought the idea of a global pandemic or pushed back against the research that reported how serious the virus was. Think of the meat processing plants that didn’t provide proper protective gear or the religious organizations that refused to take a break from large services.
The results were catastrophic for the organizations and deadly to the employees and worshippers.
It is pretty easy to identify the fleeing organizations. You don’t see them anymore. Unfortunately, this is the organization that just doesn’t have the resources or the energy to fight. You will recognize them by the “For Rent” signs in the windows of the buildings they used to occupy.
The organizations that freeze are a little more difficult to identify. They are still around but are frozen by fear. They are the organizations that, although they are in a position to move forward, are too frightened to take a risk or even look at the periphery of their business. Their tunnel vision blinds them to opportunity. The freezers hide and wait for the danger to pass. They are the ones who miss out on possibilities.
For example, if you are in the business of supplying concessions to sporting events, airports and national parks, your business is in deep trouble now. So, what are some ways to keep people buying food and drinks with so many venues closed?
Many national parks are now open and visitors need to eat. How can you sell food while supporting social distancing? Answer: Sell picnic meals to your patrons. And, sell a blanket that commemorates the park that diners can spread out and have lunch while social distancing with their families. Then, they’ll keep the blanket that reminds them of their visit to the park.
Sound like a good idea? It sure does. You can keep your park concession business, allow people to social distance and add to your product line with that commemorative blanket. Did the company implement the idea? Unfortunately, they did not. They froze and missed the opportunity.
However, businesses are finding ways to optimize their organization and capture opportunities. They are the farmers. The farmer organizations study the situation, just like farmers study the weather and the land. They look at the resources available to them and get to work.
Farmer organizations pivot and get creative.
Distillers, who before the pandemic, were making vodka, whiskey, gin and other spirits quickly changed their operation from distilling booze to distilling sanitizer.
Telemedicine, which had limited acceptance before the pandemic, almost immediately became the accepted way to deliver care. Now, the doctor comes to you.
Fitness trainers are conducting their sessions via Zoom or in person outside on sidewalks in front of their gyms so they can social distance.
My favorite ranch, SK Herefords, sells their beef at local farmer’s markets in the Western New York area. This spring when the large packing houses shut down and grocery stores were limiting the amount of beef customers were able to buy, my farmer friends were there at the markets with locally produced farm-raised beef. Sales soared and demand skyrocketed.
Why? The farmers were ready. They used their resources and were not afraid to optimize them in a rapidly changing and volatile environment. Farmers live with constantly changing weather conditions and market prices and are accustomed to rapid change.
To operate with constant change, all of us, like farmers, need to be constantly creative. Phil Keppler, my philosopher farmer friend from SK Herefords says, “Creativity helps you to not look at things as a problem. It’s trying to find the solution – and that’s the exciting thing about it. Things aren’t problems anymore. It’s just difficult situations and you’re trying to find a solution to that situation.”
A good mindset for what our world is experiencing now… it’s a difficult situation and we are creating solutions daily.
Fight, flight, freeze or farm. What kind of organization is yours? And, what can you learn from “the farmers?”
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