Connect with us

Top Stories

How to overcome the ‘groundhog day’ effect Of remote working

Published

on

How to overcome the ‘groundhog day’ effect Of remote working 1

By Chris Farmer, leadership and management training expert and founder of Corporate Coach Group

The ongoing pandemic means that for many people their place of work has been the lounge, the spare room or the ‘home office’ for more than the past six months. While it might have been a novelty at first, for many the lack of human interaction and spending so much time within the same four walls is becoming monotonous and this could lead to common bad habits which could destroy productivity and peace of mind.

In order to improve productivity and retrain the mind as we head into the winter period, here are some simple but powerful techniques you can use to make the most of working from home.

Don’t work in the room where you rest, relax or entertain yourself

Everyone is affected by their environment. We form strong mental-emotional associations between a particular activity and its location. When we are in a restaurant, we feel like eating; when we are in a swimming pool, we do NOT feel like eating.

When working from home, the associations between “Work” and “NOT-Work” become blurred because the two activities are taking place at the same location.

Consequently, both activities suffer. We feel we are never quite “at work”, and we feel we are never quite NOT at work. We feel we are in a strange “No man’s land” between the two states, and it is unsettling.

It is vital to separate our “work-space” from “rest space”. Ideally, you should have a separate room where you do all your work and NONE of your rest. Your living room is not where you work. If you do not have a separate room, then at least have a separate chair, and face an opposite wall.

We know people who work in their lounge. They sit in the same chair that they will be in, that evening, when watching TV. This is a mistake.

Dress for work, even when at home

Everyone is affected by the clothes they wear. When a police officer, a nurse, or a firefighter gets ready for duty, they put on their uniform. Why? Because every profession has its own identity; and every identity has an associated appearance.

Just because your physical place of work has changed doesn’t mean that your appearance needs to as well, and that’s not just because of video calls and meetings. It’s the same principle as working from your living room, if you adopt the identity of working in your casual clothes you will likely have the same mindset as you do when not at work.

We all know people who hang around the house in their dressing gowns and slippers, working with one eye on the TV and this is not conducive to productive working.

Dress as if you were going to work. Groom yourself as if you were going to work, because you are! When you have finished work, it is equally important to change back into your scruffs and relax.

Don’t allow the media to become your new best friend

People who work at home do not have the company of their colleagues, and so may turn to mainstream news for company. Everyone is susceptible to the suggestive influences of the media, which would be fine, if the media was objective and reasonably optimistic.

Unfortunately, the majority of headlines suggest; “It is bad and it’s going to get worse” and while it’s important for all of us to be aware of the latest updates regarding the pandemic and wider current affairs, it can also have the tendency to fill the mind with negative, pessimistic information.

The constant low-level hypnotic suggestions have an inevitable negative effect on our thoughts, feelings, actions and therefore our outputs. Avoid spending all of your time soaking your mind in the news agenda where possible such as through Facebook or Twitter and concentrate your attention onto something more productive to add value to your life.

Form a “Mastermind Alliance” with like minded people and talk to them every day

We are all profoundly affected by the company we keep and the voices we listen to.

Forming an alliance with two or three like minded individuals who (preferably), you do NOT work with, but who are in a similar position as you can be a really effective way of reminding yourself of the bigger picture and that in a sense we’re all in this together.

Your Mastermind Alliance may be from different companies or even a different industry but it is key this is composed of people who have an upbeat and can-do attitude.

Talk to them every day. The purpose of your mastermind alliance is mutual inspiration and emotional support. We ally ourselves with a small number of the right people: people whom we admire and who will challenge us to be at our best.

Keep good health habits; eat, sleep and exercise well

One of the basics that in particular needs to be prioritised as we head towards the winter is the focus on good health habits.

Why? Everything that we do in life requires energy – even if it’s just engaging your brain to perform your daily work from your desk at home. Energy defines your capacity to do work and it must be generated effectively to allow for maximum productivity.

This means you must maximise sleep, nutrition and exercise to generate sufficient energy while also minimising other negatives such as alcohol, calorific food and smoking, or using coping mechanisms such as comfort eating.

Instead, maximise the quality of your Sleep, nutrition and exercise.

  1. Sleep eight hours a night
  2. Eat small but eat well
  3. Exercise three times a week
  4. Avoid alcohol where possible

Keep your eye on the end goal

I know many of us are fed up of hearing this advice but it really is important to remember that this pandemic will not last forever. Life will return to some normality again and it’s important that we all continue to focus on our long term aspirations which we had before this all kicked off in March.

The human mind can tend towards one of two states: “goal focused” or “drifter mentality” and it’s important to focus on the former.

When working from home our biggest danger is that we lose our focus. We become distracted, disenchanted and we lose our edge. The solution is to continually monitor our state of mind and to do everything necessary to maintain a “Goal focused mentality”.

Goal focused mentality means continually setting goals: Set goals to:

  1. Improve your Work life balance (deliberately and knowingly separate your work activities from your non-work activities)
  2. Improve your dress code, grooming and appearance
  3. Maintain your professional identity
  4. Reduce your time on social media
  5. Engage the services of your mastermind alliance
  6. Increase the QUALITY of your nutrition
  7. Increase the quality of your sleep
  8. Reduce the amount of alcohol
  9. Increase the quality of your exercise programme.
  10. Generate more energy.

The only way out of trouble is to go forwards, by setting goals, formulating plans, motivating ourselves to take priority actions, and continually adapt ourselves so we are able to make progress, even when working from home.

Top Stories

Three questions the financial services industry must answer in 2021

Published

on

Three questions the financial services industry must answer in 2021 2

Xformative, a Mastercard Start Path recipient, shares what these questions mean for fintech partners and their innovations

This year, fintechs and institutions alike pushed the limit on how fast, innovative, and digitally-savvy they could be. Buzzwords like cloud and faster payments made headlines, but 2021 will be about refining best practices and putting them into action. Xformative believes that more industries should benefit from digital payments and that it’s not just about faster payments, but the option to offer multiple methods.

  • Which industries are lagging in the digital payments space and why? The pandemic forced financial institutions and their partners to move digital transformation into a new phase of maturity. But this doesn’t mean every industry has transformed, there are still laggards. According to a survey of more than 1,400 American freelancers and contractors, conducted by Bill.com, more than half said they were still receiving their money in the form of a physical check. Checks still exist in spaces like Property and Casualty, though we did see some reassuring industry changes this year. The year ahead will require businesses to offer more payments flexibility outside of physical checks to meet the payment needs of their gig workers, freelancers, and contractors. Businesses will rely on technology partners to bring them up to speed and simplify the payments process.
  • How can fintechs overcome the challenges of building in the cloud? Most businesses want to architect using a select cloud provider, or at least offer cloud-based services, to remain competitive in today’s fast-paced, disruptive landscape. There are assumptions that cloud architecture will inherently be less expensive to operate than legacy mainframe systems, but for many, these assumptions have turned upside down when developers fail to understand cloud cost optimization principles. As fintechs look to build in the cloud, they should ensure their technology is highly optimized, only leveraging real-time capabilities and transactions when required. Responsible fintechs should focus on balancing customer experience and economics with a mix of batch and real-time capabilities, constantly asking themselves, “is real-time the best choice?” Just because real-time can be offered doesn’t mean it should, and 2021 will be about drawing the line between utilization and optimization.
  • Why is offering more payment choices important? Emerging faster payments are working in parallel, not as a replacement for other methods. People want options to be able to pay however they like, whether it’s with Zelle, Venmo, Apple Pay, or traditional methods like cash or card, and financial institutions need to be prepared to meet this demand. The card that consumers once kept in their wallet was a key component of the bank’s and/or program manager’s brand value, as well as potentially communicating the cardholder’s lifestyle and socioeconomic status. 2021 will reinforce the value of financial institutions having partnerships with fintechs who can help them evolve their brand value to include the broad scope of emerging payments.

It’s time fintechs and institutions partner to digitize payments and offer choices. 2021 is about building smart and partnering for capabilities that can open the door to new opportunities at a financial institution.

Continue Reading

Top Stories

2020: The paradoxical year that has reshaped the future of motor insurance and related sectors

Published

on

2020: The paradoxical year that has reshaped the future of motor insurance and related sectors 3

By Alan Inskip, Tempcover CEO & Founder

There’s no doubt that 2020 will be remembered as the year that changed the world. Whether that overall change was for the better or for the worse is a matter of perspective. One thing is for certain, 2020 has been the year of immense innovation and adaptability in the face of seemingly insurmountable adversity caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. In this piece, I’ll touch on some of the greatest challenges that could have had a potentially crippling effect on the economy but instead were overcome and ultimately paved the way for increased resilience and innovation.

Public transport shunned in favour of private vehicles, but driving patterns dramatically shift

With ten months of varying national and regional lockdown restrictions, passenger numbers on public transport have plummeted[1] as many people continue to work remotely, and with most opting for the safety of travelling by private vehicle when they do need to get out and about. But because of restrictive travel measures, motorists have been using their vehicles far less frequently.

This posed a major challenge for traditional motor insurers that were not able to swiftly adapt to this change, with many coming under fire for failing to adjust annual premiums in line with new driver trends[2]. As motorists became increasingly frustrated having to pay the same premiums or sometimes even more despite their vehicle usage being substantially minimised, the relatively new and still largely unfamiliar InsurTech industry was able to rise to the occasion.

In short, InsurTech involves the utilisation of the latest technological innovations such as data analysis, cloud computing, artificial intelligence and machine learning to enable insurance products to become more agile and flexible in line with modern consumer demand – all while remaining price competitive.

Being fully-digital and technology-driven, InsurTechs demonstrated the flexibility and agility that enabled them to adapt to the huge shift in customer demand and step change in how insurance is purchased and consumed. They did this by offering an entirely digital user experience in near real-time, with temporary policies tailored to the time actually needed – anywhere from 1 hour to 28 days.

In a time of furlough and economic uncertainty, this meant that many motorists who were not using their vehicles regularly did not have to take drastic action like declaring their vehicle SORN to achieve short-term financial relief. Nor did they have to risk driving uninsured or committing to an annual policy that they could ill afford at the time.

The rise of the digital dealership offering temporary insurance as part of the purchase journey

In the automotive retail market, dealerships were forced to make drastic changes to their operating models to comply with social distancing guidelines. Showroom footfall and subsequent sales initially plummeted[3]. But in the face of this immense adversity, we witnessed the rise of the digital dealership, a concept that would have been unfathomable even just a year ago.

Cazoo was the first fully-digital platform to enter the vehicle dealership market in late 2019, and there has also been significant investment this year in new entrants such as Cinch and Carwow. Traditional dealerships such as Arnold Clark, Cargiant and Motorpoint have extended the digital aspects of their purchase journeys with services including home delivery and Click and Collect as alternative options to the full show room experience.

InsurTech has been instrumental in ensuring that car insurance supports this shift to digital, as several national blue-chip dealerships, with both physical and digital showroom floors, now offer temporary driveaway insurance policies that cover the vehicle for a fixed-term, usually between five to seven days.

Alan Inskip

Alan Inskip

The entirely online one-step user experience is the first of its kind in the traditionally outdated and inflexible driveaway insurance industry and it is dramatically simplifying the process of how insurance is purchased and consumed. Due to the flexibility and agility of the digital solution, each retailer has its own unique URL, where the customer can obtain a simple single-cost policy in just 90 seconds through an entirely digital process, which fits in line with the evolving consumer purchase trends.

This takes the stress out of searching for annual insurance on the spot and provides the driver with near instant cover so that they can immediately drive their new car while giving them the opportunity to thoroughly research the best annual policy to suit their needs. It’s also an ideal solution while the car is under its money-back warranty, as the driver does not have to commit to an annual policy on a car that might be returned. Another benefit is there’s no risk to any existing No Claims Discount, as it’s a separate and standalone policy.

Declining brand loyalty and a demand for a more personalised and convenient user experience

Insurance has an unenviable reputation for being inflexible and even unwilling to adapt to shifting consumer trends – making it confusing for most customers. Even pre-COVID, there was a clear trend that brand loyalty was in decline, as modern day consumers are no longer prepared to remain blindly loyal to any company for a long-term period. Instead, they will reward businesses that offer a simple and convenient user experience at best value. COVID accelerated this trend and many large insurers have struggled to adapt accordingly.

Conversely, this has enabled InsurTech to thrive, as the products and user journeys are developed with direct input from customers to ensure that they are receiving a straightforward and fit-for-purpose solution that best fits their needs and requirements. Just some examples of this are simplified terms and conditions, near-instant and paperless policy documentation via the web or dedicated app, and data-driven customer engagement initiatives that offer personalised discounts and communication via email and text messaging. The end result is a user experience that is easier, more convenient and better value for potential consumers in the market.

Cautiously optimistic (if somewhat uncertain) future

Even in the most stable periods, it’s a challenge to accurately predict future market trends. And with 2020 completely rewriting the rulebook on how business is conducted, it would be remiss of me to make outright predictions. One thing is for certain, the days of slow, inflexible and costly motor insurance are numbered. It is important to note that this doesn’t mean that InsurTech is gaining the upper hand at the expense of the traditional insurers in a bid to replace them.

Instead it is there to fill a gap and act as a complementary add-on to provide the best possible value to the consumer. Industry players that enter new collaborative partnerships will dramatically improve the consumer experience, leading to new business wins and return custom, which ultimately impacts positively on the bottom line. But those that fail to adapt will be left behind.

I believe that we can look forward to a futuristic economy in 2021, where ground breaking technology continues to advance at an unprecedented rate to adapt to rapidly evolving consumer lifestyles and subsequent purchasing habits. The real winner will be the consumer and that is in everyone’s best interest.

Continue Reading

Top Stories

Leadership and management in a WFH world

Published

on

Leadership and management in a WFH world 4

By Carolyn Moore, SVP of People at Auth0

Although many of us will have settled into some kind of groove, having worked away from the office for the best part of a year, there are still numerous challenges that businesses and their workforces face in this new reality.

One particularly pertinent challenge is the one faced by people managers, especially those managing virtually for the first time. How can you ensure productivity from those in your charge when you don’t have direct oversight? How do you have those more difficult conversations over a video call? Some of your team may be handling remote working better than others, so how differently should you be handling them day-to-day?

For the majority of businesses these will be questions they’re still grappling with. When the pandemic hit, we happened to be in the fortunate position of being a remote-first business, where 60% of our nearly 700 employees were already working from home. As a result, the uptick to 100% was far less taxing for us. In seven years of working from home, we’ve learned a lot about managing teams remotely, a few of which may help leaders who are still navigating the transition.

Keeping communication channels open to build trust

Leading a remote team is wholly different to the usual, in-office set up. Strict hierarchy, and any notion of presenteeism do not translate well into the remote working environment. You have to accept that your employees’ domestic life will necessarily overlap with their professional one.

Leading a virtual team requires trust and a philosophy of work based on results, and managers need to learn to give them more freedom to do work on their own terms, as long as they produce the intended results.

Building trust is best managed with regular communication. Frequent written communications from leaders regarding strategy, objectives, and organisational learning is crucial. It’s natural when working remotely for team members to isolate themselves and get wrapped up in their own workload. Managers need to help their teams understand how their work impacts on the broader corporate objectives. At Auth0, we adopted and adapted a technique created by Google called ‘Objectives and Key Results’ (OKRs) to enable this.

Now more than ever, make it a priority to regularly check in with your employees and always be up to date and aware of what their needs are. One of the first initiatives we kicked off in an effort to do so was our Slack ‘Coronabot’. This is a tool we integrated with our main form of communication that allows employees to self-identify if their work capacity was impacted by the pandemic. Another way that we tried to better understand the concerns and needs of our employees was holding listening sessions. From these listening sessions, we’ve rolled out a couple of initiatives to combat burnout, including Slack-free weekends and no internal meeting Fridays.

Make flexibility a priority

As the worlds of home life and work life collide, the traditional ‘9 to 5’ workday needs to evolve. Leaders need to encourage their team to devise their own schedules and complete work at those times when they’re most productive.

If in doubt, ask your employees how best you can help and trust that their answers will be honest. In our own experience we saw a need for a different approach when it came to supporting our employees who are caregivers. With childcare much less accessible, caregivers are doing double duty. We rolled out a survey to these individuals to hear directly how best we could support them and used the feedback to plan future programmes and supports.

We have encouraged these employees to take advantage of flexible working hours, should they need to adjust due to the pandemic, and are using tools like Clockwise or Slack that allow our employees to set their working hours and snooze notifications when they’re offline. This alleviates the pressure to respond, and we’ve found employees are actually happier and more productive this way, especially if you have a team spread across several time zones.

Put your culture front and centre

When you work remotely interactions between management and staff become increasingly transactional. Leaders need to avoid making decrees without explaining the reasoning behind them, and the thought process that led to them. Failure to do so can create a secondary culture within the workforce composed of rumours and hearsay, which can lead to mistrust.

Leaders therefore need to firstly be clear in the reasoning for their decisions, but also explicit about the culture they want to create. Your corporate culture must be written down and communicated frequently so employees can use them to guide their everyday work.

Carolyn Moore

Carolyn Moore

This is particularly beneficial for multinational companies spread across geographies and timezones and encompassing multiple cultures. Whether your teams are based in Singapore or San Francisco, they all have a code of conduct to adhere to This is crucial for dealing with conflict in a productive way and creating teams that collaborate and respect each other.

Create virtual spaces to socialise

Leaders mustn’t forget the more pastoral benefits of the workspace. Spontaneous water-cooler chats may seem trite, but they’re an essential means of colleagues building rapport and learning about one another’s lives outside of work.

Socialising should not disappear when you transition to remote work. That would be bad for business, productivity, and employee wellbeing. Instead, I would encourage you to get creative and use different functionalities of the collaboration tools you’re probably using daily. We use Donut within our Slack channels, that randomly pairs three employees together and schedules them for a meeting. The intention is to bring employees together that otherwise may never interact and have them connect on topics beyond the workplace, such as life, family, etc. Donut has been a fantastic aid in keeping our distributed workforce feeling connected. We’ve also utilised the results of both our semi-annual engagement survey and more frequent pulse surveys to give us insight into how effective these engagement programmes have been and where we could tweak them to make them even better.

Don’t neglect security

Security should always be a top priority, especially especially as people are logging into more services remotely. Your business’ IT and Security teams should have set up multi-factor authentication as the minimum standard. As new apps are connected to better enable any of the measures described above, your IT teams and managers should also be educating their teams about the access third-party providers have to their data.

Managers have a crucial role to play as evangelists of security best practice. They should be monitoring whether their teams are completing their security awareness training and, if new apps or technology are being introduced, ensuring that the appropriate channels are open for them to ask questions. The pandemic has been a lucrative time for cybercriminals, who have taken advantage of some lapses in security best practice. Ensuring security is everyone’s business, but it starts from the top.

Building for the future

For many businesses the move to remote working will have been, and is continuing to be, a difficult transition. Admittedly, remote work is not a perfect substitute for personal communication. When circumstances allow, we would recommend managers meet with their teams in-person at least once a year. managers meet with their teams at least once a year.

However, even whilst the pandemic still hampers our ability to travel and meet face to face, it is still possible to have a distributed team that is productive, collaborative, and happy. If leaders take the time and make the effort to foster a culture built on trust, it will open up opportunities for you in the long-term, no matter what that future may be.

Continue Reading
Editorial & Advertiser disclosureOur website provides you with information, news, press releases, Opinion and advertorials on various financial products and services. This is not to be considered as financial advice and should be considered only for information purposes. We cannot guarantee the accuracy or applicability of any information provided with respect to your individual or personal circumstances. Please seek Professional advice from a qualified professional before making any financial decisions. We link to various third party websites, affiliate sales networks, and may link to our advertising partners websites. Though we are tied up with various advertising and affiliate networks, this does not affect our analysis or opinion. When you view or click on certain links available on our articles, our partners may compensate us for displaying the content to you, or make a purchase or fill a form. This will not incur any additional charges to you. To make things simpler for you to identity or distinguish sponsored articles or links, you may consider all articles or links hosted on our site as a partner endorsed link.

Call For Entries

Global Banking and Finance Review Awards Nominations 2020
2020 Global Banking & Finance Awards now open. Click Here

Latest Articles

Three questions the financial services industry must answer in 2021 5 Three questions the financial services industry must answer in 2021 6
Top Stories2 hours ago

Three questions the financial services industry must answer in 2021

Xformative, a Mastercard Start Path recipient, shares what these questions mean for fintech partners and their innovations This year, fintechs...

A quarter of banking customers noted an improvement in customer service over lockdown, research shows 7 A quarter of banking customers noted an improvement in customer service over lockdown, research shows 8
Banking3 hours ago

A quarter of banking customers noted an improvement in customer service over lockdown, research shows

SAS research reveals that banks offered an improved customer experience during lockdown A quarter (27%) of banking customers noted an...

Is Digital Transformation the Key to Business Survival in the New World? 9 Is Digital Transformation the Key to Business Survival in the New World? 10
Business3 hours ago

Is Digital Transformation the Key to Business Survival in the New World?

After a turbulent year, enterprises are returning to the prospect of a new world following an unprecedented pandemic. Around the...

Virtual communications: How to handle difficult workplace conversations online 11 Virtual communications: How to handle difficult workplace conversations online 12
Business3 hours ago

Virtual communications: How to handle difficult workplace conversations online

Have potentially difficult conversation at work, like discussing a pay rise, explaining deadline delays or going through performance reviews are...

Black Friday payment data reveals rapid growth of ‘pay later’ methods like Klarna 13 Black Friday payment data reveals rapid growth of ‘pay later’ methods like Klarna 14
Finance3 hours ago

Black Friday payment data reveals rapid growth of ‘pay later’ methods like Klarna

Payment processor Mollie reveals the most popular payment methods for Black Friday Mollie, one of the fastest-growing payment service providers,...

Brand guidelines: the antidote to your business’ identity crisis 15 Brand guidelines: the antidote to your business’ identity crisis 16
Business4 hours ago

Brand guidelines: the antidote to your business’ identity crisis

By Andrew Johnson, Creative Director and Co-Founder. How well do you really know your business? Do you know which derivative of your...

COVID-19 creates long and winding road for startups seeking investment 17 COVID-19 creates long and winding road for startups seeking investment 18
Investing5 hours ago

COVID-19 creates long and winding road for startups seeking investment

By Jayne Chan, Head of StartmeupHK, Invest Hong Kong Countless technology and other companies describe themselves as innovators, disruptors or...

The Bank of England partners with Appvia to assist in the design, construction and assurance of a new cloud environment 19 The Bank of England partners with Appvia to assist in the design, construction and assurance of a new cloud environment 20
Technology19 hours ago

The Bank of England partners with Appvia to assist in the design, construction and assurance of a new cloud environment

The Bank of England has appointed self-service cloud-native delivery platform Appvia to support the creation of a new cloud environment....

2020: The paradoxical year that has reshaped the future of motor insurance and related sectors 21 2020: The paradoxical year that has reshaped the future of motor insurance and related sectors 22
Top Stories20 hours ago

2020: The paradoxical year that has reshaped the future of motor insurance and related sectors

By Alan Inskip, Tempcover CEO & Founder There’s no doubt that 2020 will be remembered as the year that changed...

Leadership and management in a WFH world 23 Leadership and management in a WFH world 24
Top Stories20 hours ago

Leadership and management in a WFH world

By Carolyn Moore, SVP of People at Auth0 Although many of us will have settled into some kind of groove,...

Newsletters with Secrets & Analysis. Subscribe Now