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As anyone who reads anything on the internet has probably noticed, “self-care” is a popular buzzword going around right now. In normal times (what are those again?), it’d be just a nice reminder to go for a vacation, go to a yoga class, or indulge in your favorite restaurant, but in 2020, the concept of self-care has become a bit different. Let’s talk a bit about how you can “put your oxygen mask on first before helping others,” as those old apparitions known as cabin-crew used to say to us when we still rode on planes. 

What is Self-Care? 

Self-care is just that, caring for yourself. It’s a conscious effort to engage in activities that enrich you in whatever, constructive way you feel you need. A lot of us are accustomed to helping others, keeping our clients happy, and doing what’s best for our organizations and can often forget about number one. Taking care of yourself can be extremely difficult, and I speak from experience; it has to be a conscious choice to take actions that are specifically for you. There’s nothing magical about self-care; it’s about whatever it is that is constructive and enriching to you, be it going for a run or baking cookies. 

Take Time Off

Americans aren’t known for their vacation habits. The US ranks last of the 36 wealthiest countries in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, mandating zero, yes a big old goose egg zero, paid vacation, or holidays. The United States is the only country in the group “that doesn’t require employers to give workers annual paid leave, according to the Center for Economic and Policy Research.” Queue sad trombone… So once you’ve got your time off request approved, what to do in the days of Covid? 

Travel?

Air travel isn’t as attractive as it was just a few months ago. There has been a whopping 73.7%: reduction in commercial flights in April compared to 2019 as tracked by Flightradar24. This isn’t the end of the world, in fact, the drop in CO2 emissions is a short-term silver lining. 

Camping!

Gratify your itch to travel in the great outdoors. No need for TSA pat-downs or tiny liquids bottles! Now is a great time to explore your local area and camp out. Camping has boomed this summer, with camping gear and RV sales at record highs. Just be sure to be kind to the nature you’re enjoying, and practice self-care by not leaving trash at your campsite. 

Enjoy Home

The staycation is maybe your safest bet for 2020. No matter where you live, you can be a tourist in your own town, or even in your home. There are bound to be parks and nature areas you’ve never seen before, restaurants you’ve never had take-out from, and shops you’ve not noticed. Get out the old Google map and have a look around your area for some solid me-time. And if you’re more of a home-body, why not get that garden going or work on some DIY projects around the home? You won’t be alone in your home improvement endeavors in 2020!

Indulge 

Enjoyment of whatever sensible lark you love is radical self-care. Maybe there’s a series on Netflix you can binge for a weekend, or you could let yourself sleep in for once, or pop into your local massage therapist’s for a spa day; read that trashy book you’ve secretly wanted to read; buy those cashmere sweatpants you’ve been obsessing over. Do whatever it is you crave without guilt or judgment. Revel in indulgence. In the wise words of Retta, “treat yo sself!”. 

Get a Hobby

Work, work, work, work, work. That’s the mantra it seems from grade school to the grave. With all this toiling, we’ve forgotten that we also need to do, well, other stuff, just for the enjoyment of it. That can be anything from training for a marathon, crafting, cooking, working on old bikes, birdwatching, or losing yourself in a jigsaw puzzle. It’s been shown over and over that hobbies make us happier, so enjoy yourself. Here’s a list of 20 hobbies to boost those happy hormones. So dust off that old craft box, learn a new skill, or take the time to explore your interests with wild abandon.

There’s no better time than the present to do something nice for yourself. Getting into the practice of self-care will allow you to be not only more productive and fresh at work, but also kinder and more patient with yourself and others. Gleaning more satisfaction out of life is what it’s all about, so cheers to you! 

Starting a business is always challenging, with 20% failing in the first year, and 50% by year five. That’s all the more reason to celebrate Crowned’s fifth anniversary and give ourselves a little pat on the back. 2020 has been quite the year so far, and despite the uncertainty and disruption of business-as-usual in many sectors, Crowned is persevering. We couldn’t be more proud of how far we’ve come, or more excited about what lies ahead. 

So what’s it like to have a growing five-year-old business? We asked our founder, Francesca Coronado, about what she thinks about where she’s been and where she plans to go with Crowned.

How does it feel to have your company turn 5? 

It feels humbling and a bit surreal.  The time has gone by very quickly, and I’ve learned so much over the last five years. 

What were some of the hurdles you faced in starting your own business? 

There are always going to be hurdles; I think that’s to be expected.  For me, the biggest challenge was maintaining boundaries. Figuring out how to step away from work has helped me be more productive. 

What’s your favorite part of being your own boss and running a business? 

I like the freedom that remote work provides, and I like being able to shift my schedule when needed.

What’s the most challenging aspect of running your own business?

I think the best and the most challenging aspects are parallel. That said,  as a business owner, everything lands on your shoulders; it’s all up to you to steer the ship.

If you had a time machine, what would you do differently in starting the business?

I’d like to say that I wish I’d been better prepared, but then again, the decision to start Crowned was made on a whim. So I wouldn’t change anything. I’ve learned so much from every experience, good and bad.

What are some of your top resources for getting started? 

There are so many entrepreneurial Facebook groups in every niche you can imagine, and they’re a great way to start networking. LinkedIn is also a great resource for making connections and joining groups. If you have a chance, go to a conference (there are many virtual conferences lately). It’s an easy way to get some face time and learn from other entrepreneurs. 

What’s on the horizon for Crowned in the next year? 

This is an exciting time for Crowned. After some feedback, we realized we’re missing an opportunity to share what we know about operations management with a broader audience. Not everyone has the budget or desire for one on one client support. Maybe they’re just starting out or need a quick solution for their business. To reach this audience, we’re launching our Digital Library in 2021, full of products that I hope will inspire, guide, and be genuinely useful to other entrepreneurs. 

Where do you see Crowned in another 5 years? 

In five years, I hope to continue to expand and pivot with the ever-changing times. No one expected that we would be in the midst of a global pandemic, so you have to be ready for anything. Just a year ago, the thought of full remote work was not feasible for most companies. Now, Zoom meetings are considered the norm. So much can change in a year– nothing is static.  That’s what I think is fundamental when running a business: You must be open to change. 

Here’s to many more years to come for Crowned! Keep an eye out for news about our Digital Library in the coming months. Cheers!

What is GDPR?

Diving into the legalese of GDPR isn’t what we call enjoyable reading, so let’s break it down a bit. GDPR stands for General Data Protection Regulation. It was created in the European Union and rolled out on May 25th of 2018 (happy belated birthday GDPR!) to protect the data of EU citizens, but it has a global impact despite being an EU law. 

GDPR gives individuals more control over their own personal data online. This is extremely important because personal data is a trillion-dollar industry! That’s with a T trillion! With control of your data put back in your own hands, GDPR takes that power away from big companies like Facebook and Google (in theory), who deal heavily in the massively profitable personal data market. 

What is personal data? 

Person data covers a lot of information. Contact information, device details (IP addresses, location data), bank account, ID numbers, social media posts, geotagging, personal health information, race, and even your opinions, videos, and photos posted to social media are considered personal data. 

These elements put together paint a picture of you online. So it’s a pretty big deal to take the power away from those who profit off of selling personal data. 

What happens if GDPR is violated? 

Fines. To be exact, up to €20 million ($23 million) or 4% of annual global turnover. Yikes, right? Well, it’s proven to not be that big of a deal to the really big players, like Google, who was served a $57 million fine, which they probably found in their couch cushions. If nothing else, it’s bad publicity to get slapped with a GDPR fine, and hopefully will persuade companies to be more careful with user data and more serious about data security going forward. For smaller companies, a GDPR fine could be potentially financially devastating. So let’s talk about how to avoid such devastation!

What is GDPR compliance & why is it important?  

Business owners that potentially have EU users, even just as subscribers to a blog or newsletter, need to be compliant with GDPR. 

In broad terms, compliance will include the following aspects:

  1. Collect data legally and use it ethically
  2. Collect as little information as possible
  3. Use trusted applications to protect any collected data
  4. Only store data as necessary

If you run a website that doesn’t collect any subscriber information or sell anything, you’re generally safe to be GDPR worry-free. 

GDPR Checklist

While this is not meant to be legal advice in any way, here’s what you need to become GDPR compliant:

  1. Data Protection Impact Assessments (DPIAs) 
    1. Check out the ICO’s comprehensive guide to DPIAs. 
  1. Data Breach Notifications 
    1. You have 72 hours to report a breach and must inform users ASAP. 
  1. Privacy Policies
    1. Termly has a privacy policy generator that can help you out in this area. 

The Future of Privacy Laws

We mentioned in our last blog that GDPR-like laws are popping up all over the place. The most mature of these laws come out of California and is called the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA), which has been dubbed California’s “GDPR lite”. It’s a new law that rolled out January 1, 2020, based on the EU’s law. (We’re currently in the grace period before the law is enforced, which ends July 1, 2020.) Let’s talk a bit about what to expect. 

CCPA 

Basically, CCPA defines who needs to comply a bit more specifically than GDPR, which is more broad in its compliance definition. CCPA also doesn’t give the consumer/user quite as many rights as GDPR. CCPA is weaker for the consumer/user in that it doesn’t force the company to get permission before selling personal data. It only has the company give you the option to withdraw your consent after the fact. 

The CCPA is not quite as broad as GDPR. This infographic lays out the differences between the two laws, and this checklist is extremely handy in sorting out anything you can think of when it comes to your questions about compliance with CCPA. 

CCPA Checklist

Becoming GDPR compliant is a good starting point for your compliance with US-based privacy laws because if you’re at a minimum GDPR compliant, you’ll very likely already be able to fulfill the requirements of CCPA. And just a reminder that this is in no way intended to be legal advice — chat with your legal advisors on that front if you have any questions. 

Here are the basics of who needs to comply with this law: 

Any organization that meets one of the following three criteria annually:

  • Earn revenues greater than $25 million.
  • Buy, receive, sell, or share the personal information of 50,000 or more consumers, households, or devices for commercial purposes.
  • Derive 50 percent of annual revenues from selling consumers’ personal information.

If you fulfill just one of the above criteria, you need to comply with the CCPA. Do head to this website for their checklist tool, and also go to the CCPA’s official site to get more guidance on what you need to do. 

Please do have a chat with your legal counsel if you have any specific concerns about your organization in regards to complying with any of the above laws. 

We at Crowned know the importance of understanding data privacy laws like the EU’s GDPR and California’s CCPA. In the shadow of the COVID-19 pandemic, data privacy is as hot a topic as ever. Despite all the media attention to GDPR, we thought it would be helpful to drill down into GDPR in the USA, especially since most small businesses aren’t confident that they comply with GDPR rules.

With more people than ever working from home, keeping data safe and in compliance with data privacy law is more important than ever. The European Union’s GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation), California’s CCPA (California Consumer Privacy Act), and Brazil’s LGPD are just the tip of the iceberg in the era of data protection. It’s important for anyone with an online presence to have a general grasp of these rules. 

Why should I care about GDPR in the USA? 

Being ahead of the curve is key here. GDPR is the headliner of the data privacy show, but we also have to be aware of the laws that have been inspired by GDPR. With the roll-out of California’s CCPA and Brazil’s LGPD this year, data privacy laws are just getting started. In the US alone, several states, including Nevada, New York, Texas, and Washington, are considering following California’s lead and passing their own data protection law. Canada and Australia have data protection laws in the works, too. So why not become GDPR compliant now to save yourself the headache in the inevitability of the deluge of GDPR-type law to-be?

If you have customers in the EU, you should care about GDPR!

GDPR impacts EU/EEA residents (data subjects) and any organization that processes personal data (data processor) of EU/EAA residents. GDPR is location-based, so it is dependent on where the data subject is located when their data is processed. Citizenship is not a factor; location is key here. 

The size of your business (aka the data processor), the number of employees, or the amount of revenue you make doesn’t matter to GDPR rules. If your business does at least one of the following, GDPR applies to you: 

  • Your business offers goods or services (even with no commercial transactions) to EU/EEA residents.
  • Your company monitors or tracks the online behavior of users inside the EU/EEA.

GDPR & COVID-19

The ICO, who regulates GDPR in the UK (where your writer dwells), has published guidelines for businesses operating in the UK which discusses the challenges faced with compliance during the pandemic.

Organizations face many data privacy challenges and with an uptick in working from home, a major rise in phishing attacks and scammer activity, and staff shortages that might make complying with data access requests difficult within the law’s rules. The UK is feeling the brunt of these challenges right now.

The ICO has stated: 

“We understand that resources, whether they are finances or people, might be diverted away from usual compliance or information governance work. We won’t penalise organisations that we know need to prioritise other areas or adapt their usual approach during this extraordinary period.

We can’t extend statutory timescales, but we will tell people through our own communications channels that they may experience understandable delays when making information rights requests during the pandemic.”

GDPR will continue to evolve over time. The European Union will keep this site updated with news of the future of GDPR. 

GDPR Bottom Line for US Companies

The long and short of it is that if you have any data subjects you serve or track (customers, readers, users, etc.) based in the EU, you must comply with GDPR. Here’s a great resource for help if you’re feeling a little astray on this front. 

These laws will continue to develop as regulators interpret how companies respond to complying with privacy legislation. Likely, we will see regulators expand the rules to wrangle companies who do their best to find loopholes. Google and Facebook are already doing just that. 

What’s Next? 

We here at Crowned believe that working toward compliance for GDPR is wise and worth it. Like so much right now, it’s hard to forecast. One thing is for sure, though– data privacy isn’t going away, and it’s best to work toward GDPR compliance ASAP. 

In our next blog, we’ll dive into a few of the details about what GDPR is and how you can work toward compliance.

Welcome to spring, dear readers. We know that times are tough right now on so many levels, and we want you to know what we are right there with you. Thankfully, we’re experts in how to implement digital tools to streamline your business operations, and we know that many businesses need this now more than ever. Let’s dig into how Crowned can work with you.

Our Mission

Crowned is a boutique consulting agency that provides ongoing support to help busy professionals apply the latest technologies to streamline workflows, and create organizational structures to help transform the way you work. At Crowned we focus on helping clients streamline operations through digitalization in the workplace. What does that mean for you? It means that you work with us to be your problem solvers, and we work with you to deliver solutions that will help you reach your goals.

What can Crowned do for my business or organization? 

Crowned specializes in operations management. You might be wondering what tools and platforms are best for my organization? How do I even start using them… or training my people to use them? How do I know what ones will work for me and my team? How do I stay agile in this remote work environment? How do I stay productive working from home? How do I continue to grow in a recession? 

Thankfully, we at Crowned know these answers because we have decades of experience within our team of consultants. We can help you figure out what will work for your business or organization, and give you a clear plan of action on how to implement working strategies with concrete results. To us, each client is unique with individual needs. We’re able to see the forest for the trees to help you work at your best.

Is Crowned a virtual or executive assistant?

In a word, nope! VAs and EAs perform similar tasks and tend to work for you. They report to you and are typically a contractor or an employee of your organization. Virtual assistants are remote workers who provide clerical and other support services to businesses. Executive assistants are similar to secretaries or administrative assistants, and they often have duties that overlap with what a VA might do for you, but tend to be in-office rather than remote. They usually perform one-off clerical tasks, like accepting and making phone calls and emails, setting business meeting agendas, sending memos, and setting the executive’s daily schedule just to name a few of their broad duties. 

Bottom line: The Big Picture

At Crowned we are operations experts, collaborating with you to implement solutions that work best for your organization or team in the big picture. We can help you save time and reduce human error by analyzing and improving your existing workflows, providing support for training and onboarding, evaluating KPIs, and providing data-driven solutions. Crowned is passionate about designing customized solutions that work for you and your team.

We are living through a once in 100-year pandemic right now. As our global community learns how to cope with the enormous stress that comes along with the uncertainty of these times, it’s important to connect with the world around you in more creative ways. Thankfully, there are lots of ways to explore the outside world while sheltering in place. Crowned has compiled a list of events and activities from professional, to virtual museum tours, to exercise classes and mental health resources.

We also deeply understand and empathize with the struggle of folks in industries that are suffering, and have included some ideas to support those out of work right now as well. It’s a challenging time, but we hope that our communities will come together to help one another out at least a little bit every day. Take care of each other everyone! 

You can see current updates from the CDC here.

PROFESSIONAL

  1. The Remote Work Summit
  2. Remote Future Summit
  3. Microsoft Build 2020 – Usually, an in-person event transitioned to a virtual for 2020
  4. OCP Global Summit – Open Compute Project has gone virtual for 2020
  5. THINK 2020 – IBM’s Think Digital event experience
  6. ExO World Summit – 14-16 April Connecting world-class professionals, organizations, institutions and people to transform and unlock abundance to change the world

LEISURE (FAMILY TIME)

  1. Marco Polo app – This app is fabulous and easy to use way to connect with your family and friends in a way that’s more direct and personal than traditional social media apps. (Our niece calls this “Snapchat for old people,” which we take as a huge compliment.)
  2. British Museum, London – Virtual tours of their collections
  3. San Diego Zoo live cams – Majestic animals to behold
  4. Lunch Doodles on YouTube – Fun drawings lessons for kids and families
  5. Metropolitan Opera – offering nightly streaming Free
  6. Virtual Field Trips – Each no-cost field trip comes with a companion guide with hands-on learning activities.
  7. Netflix Watch Party – using a Google Chrome extension
  8. Virtual Disney World – Experience Disney rides virtually
  9. Winchester Mystery House – A beautiful, bizarre home and architectural wonder and historic landmark in San Jose, CA. 
  10. Call loved ones- Especially the older folks in your life who might be struggling with loneliness

EDUCATIONAL

  1. Harvard – Free online courses
  2. NASA – Entire Media library publicly accessible and copyright free
  3. Smithsonian – Open access 
  4. Hour of Code – Free 1-hour coding tutorials and activities for all ages and skill levels
  5. Science Sparks – Free science experiments for kids!
  6. CodeAcademy.com – learn to code/build a website for free for kids.
  7. Free online cooking class – offering free lessons

MOVEMENT

  1. Yoga for After a Disaster – Free YouTube channel for some zen time. 
  2. Dance Church – Really fun cardio dance classes! 
  3. FitOn – Free app gives you workouts based on your own equipment or none at all
  4. Nike Run Club – Free app that helps you run better, including GPS run tracking; audio-guided runs; weekly, monthly and custom distance challenges.
  5. 7 App – A HIIT inspired free app with 7-minute guided exercise circuits. 

MENTAL HEALTH

  1. Woebot – A free AI chatbot to help you with your feels
  2. InsightTimer – 35,000 free guided meditations and courses
  3. This is an exhaustive list of an array of mental health resources

NON-TECH OPTIONS

  1. Step outside and enjoy nature
  2. Call a friend or family member you haven’t talked to in a while, especially our elders! 
  3. Read a guilty pleasure book, like a murder mystery or fantasy novel. Anything to take you out of the real world for at least 20 minutes a day. 
  4. Journal daily. We are living in history right now. Having a journal now will be a priceless view of your daily experiences during this once in 100 years pandemic. Writing down your thoughts and feelings in an uncensored way will help to diffuse your fear or stress as well. 

RESOURCES FOR FOLKS WHO HAVE LOST CLIENTS OR JOBS

Most sources are saying we’re headed for a recession. A lot of small business owners and workers are hurting right now. Unfortunately, we’re at a place as of the time of publishing where much is unknown, and official resources are not yet clear. If you’re out of work and not sure what to do, your state website will have resources for the unemployed if not now, within the next few days. Local community organizations will also be mobilizing the best they can to serve those in need. Contact any local church (even if you aren’t a member), community center, or local charitable organizations to see if they can help with things like food staples, especially if you’re concerned about an older friend or relative. If rent is an issue, reach out to your landlord (we aren’t all monsters!). 

This is an unprecedented time of coming together while being apart, and now more than ever social media will play a vital role in our lives to help us not feel so isolated. Reach out and tell your communities about your experience and your struggles. I think we are about to see the generosity of the masses come out to help our fellow neighbors at an extraordinary level. 

GIVE

If you find that you’re in a place to help, please give to your local food bank. You can find yours here: Feeding America: US Hunger Relief Organization.

Written by: Betty Bair

As a female-founded and operated business, women’s history is close to our hearts here at Crowned.

We all know women are amazing creatures of great brilliance and over-flowing fonts of ingenuity. This fact hasn’t been illuminated as brightly as it could have been throughout the annals of history, but thankfully the light is being shown on so many brave women who have put themselves out there way before it was accepted, now more than ever. 

This Women’s History Month, we want to highlight a few amazing American “female firsts” who have made inspiring contributions to our history and inspire our paths forward. While we’re forever grateful and look with awe upon these female firsts, we look forward to a future with a few less as hopefully, it will become normal for women to have a seat at the table in generations to come. Without these incredible, strong, intelligent women, we wouldn’t be where we are today.  

Jeannette Rankin was the first woman elected to the United States House of Representatives as a Republican from Montana. Her career serving the public started in her 20s when she moved from her home of Montana to San Francisco to become a social worker. She got her degree in New York City at New York School of Philanthropy (now Columbia University School of Social Work) and was active in both social work and the suffrage movement. She was the first woman to address the Montana legislature, arguing in support of enfranchisement for women in her home state.

A life-long pacifist, suffragist, civil and women’s rights advocate, she held office first in 1916 and again in 1940. As a pacifist, she opposed declaring war and helped to cement the 19th Amendment to the constitution, ensuring a woman’s right to vote. Her career spanned six decades and helped to raise women’s voices.

Ellen Ochoa is an American engineer and the first female Mexican-American astronaut. She currently serves as the second female director of the Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas. As an astronaut, she spent 9 days aboard the Space Shuttle Discovery. Ochoa was named Vice-Chair of the National Science Board for the 2018-2020 term. 

Ochoa is quite decorated in her achievements. Her many awards include NASA’s Distinguished Service Medal (2015), Exceptional Service Medal (1997), Outstanding Leadership Medal (1995) and Space Flight Medals (2002, 1999, 1994, 1993). Ochoa was recognized in Hispanic Executive’s 2017 Best of the Boardroom issue for her work as a board director for Johnson Space Center. In 2018, she was inducted into the International Air and Space Hall of Fame.

She’s also a Fellow of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, and the National Academy of Inventors. She has had many schools named after her, including one in our founder’s town of Pasco, Washington —The Ochoa Middle School

In 1993, Toni Morrison became the first female African-American Nobel Prize winner in literature. She was a professor, editor, essayist, and novelist from Ohio whose novels included “Beloved,” “The Bluest Eye,” “Sula,” “Song of Solomon,” “Tar Baby,” “Jazz,” “Paradise,” “Gold Help the Child,” “Home,” “A Mercy” and “Love.”

In the 1960s, she had another first as the first black female fiction editor at Random House. She was awarded the Medal of Freedom in 2012 by President Barack Obama. The list of awards that Morrison received is vast, and her work includes best sellers in print and screen adaptations. She was able to illustrate the complexities of interpersonal relationships and gave a voice to the Black experience in America. Her writings are American treasures. 

Thanks for celebrating Women’s History Month with us! We can’t wait to see what amazing things women will bring to the world next, and are forever grateful for all the strides made in the past.

Written by: Betty Bair

So how do you stay on track as a remote team? It basically comes down to self-care and firm boundaries. You have to abide by a few best practices to be successful. Your workspace, time management, and communication are key to killing it while working from home. 

How to Set the Stage for WFH

Start Your Day

To set the stage for focus and productivity whilst working remotely have an activity that marks the start of your workday. Mine is taking a shower, get dressed, make coffee,  unfurl my computer. 

I live in a small apartment, but still, I prefer to work from my home rather than a public place. I save money, can listen to music, mix in-house chores on breaks, and it’s quiet if I need to take a call. Wifi connections at cafes and other public places are often unreliable, and I hate nothing more than crawling around looking for an outlet to charge my computer. 

Take Breaks and Move 

Frequent short breaks will make you more productive. One thing that I noticed immediately when I started working from home is that I became far less physically active, and honestly became a bit of a hermit. This ultimately impacted my mood and the comfort of my jeans…  Find an activity outside of your home that works for you, like a walk around the block. If nothing else, there are heaps of exercise apps you can use at home if you’re feeling like a hermit. Try a seven minute exercise break or find a local class to attend on apps like Mindbody

End Your Day

No matter your space, it’s important to unplug and remove traces of your workday from your living areas. Set clear work/life boundaries by putting away your computer to reset for evening relaxation. If you are lucky enough to have a home office, leave that room and close the door.  Do not check Slack or work emails while you’re off the clock. In my home, we never use computers off the clock, after all, that’s what iPads are for, right? 🙂 

Time Management

Set Time Boundaries 

Set a timer when you start working. At Crowned, we use Harvest or Toggl. Even if you aren’t working on an hourly contract, it’s important to know how much time you spend working. This helps to create healthy boundaries and achieve the ever-fleeting work-life balance.  Make sure you have office hours and put them on your calendar along with a lunch break every day.

Make a List

An easy way to stay on track and feel accomplished is to get into the habit of making a daily or weekly list. I know for me, if I don’t have a list, I’ll feel like I forgot something and then the anxiety kicks in. 

There are heaps of apps that can help you with this, like Asana, Google Tasks, Apple Reminders, or a notebook and a pen! I love the feeling of crossing tasks off of a list I write out on paper. Oh, the satisfaction! 

Take Time Off

WFH doesn’t mean you work through the pain of sickness or injury. It’s very easy to get sucked into feeling like since you work from home, you can work regardless of how you feel. Working while sick isn’t a good precedent to set for yourself or your team, and it can contribute to the dreaded burnout, which is now recognized by the World Health Organization as a disease. Try not to fall into the habit of “being well enough to take a call.” Give yourself a break and let your body rest and heal. 

Take Vacation

Lots of remote teams in the US have the “unlimited PTO” benefit. I cannot tell you how many times I’ve seen folks not take PTO unless reminded. Take at least 3-4 weeks off per year to recharge and relax. If you’re not one for big trips, take several long weekends each quarter. 

Communication 

Set Clear Expectations

Communicate clearly and directly with your colleagues, use shared project management tools for collaboration, and if you have a meeting set, try your best to keep it. Tell your team that clear and direct communication is expected of them as well. This will help to quell the uncertainty, frustrations, and potential saltiness that can spring up as a remote team. Your colleagues need to have a clear understanding of what is expected of them, just like in any office. 

Use the Right Tools

If you’re not using apps for project management and communication, you’re missing the boat. I recently worked at an office where they failed to implement web-based project management tools and modern communication apps and it wasn’t pretty. The number one thing that those colleagues reported struggling with at that office was poor communication, and it led to a revolving door of talented people, myself included!

As a manager, if you don’t have skills with modern project management and communication tools, delegate this or hire someone who does. Consultants with know-how in this area, like Crowned, can set up the infrastructure for these tools and train both you and your staff on how to use them effectively. Using modern project management and communication software will make for a more productive and happier team! 

Relationships Matter

Most remote teams I’ve worked on exclusively communicate via Slack, with weekly meetings on Zoom. I’ve worked at startups that inspired different levels of team socializing. I’ve found that a little fun builds trust, and also alleviates the strain of our busy lives. Having human connections with your colleagues will make work more enjoyable.   

In practice, this can look different on every team. When I started at Crowned, I was delighted when I was asked to describe my weekend in only gifs or emojis. It breaks the ice, adds a little whimsy, and laughter increases productivity!

Bonus Points for WFH

Get Inspired 

In any industry you might work in, you have to keep learning all the time. Read blogs, listen to podcasts, follow topics of your industry in your news feed, join online groups, follow industry leaders on social media, and share what you learn with your team. Have discussions and learn what your colleagues are doing to stay ahead in your field.

Written by: Betty Bair

It’s nice to see some good news at the start of a shiny new decade: The global remote workforce is on the rise yet again for 2020. This isn’t news to folks in the business world. The International Workplace Group reported in 2018 that 70% of professionals work remotely at least one day a week, while 53% work remotely for at least half of the week. Research across the board shows that the remote work will equal, if not surpass, fixed office locations by the year 2025, and already nearly two-thirds of American companies have growing remote teams. Here’s why yours should, too. 

What’s The Deal with WFH?

We in the biz call working remotely, “WFH”, or working from home. The cliché of working from home are many — slippers all day, an expansive loungewear wardrobe, a commute from bed to the couch, and so on. The realities are somewhat mixed with the myth here, but the bottom line is that cultivating a remote work team has heaps of benefits for your business, your employees, and the world at large

People who’ve never worked remotely are often skeptical about the WFH lifestyle, sometimes scoffing at the struggles remote teams face. These people are, in a word, simply jealous! When I got my first remote job as a social media manager, a family member (who shall remain nameless) very flippantly suggested that I was just “on Facebook all day”… If only they knew the complexities of managing a business page for a national company! 

Increase Productivity

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard these words uttered in offices I’ve worked at, “I’m WFH tomorrow so I can focus and get some work done without interruptions.”  For you and your employees or contractors, remote work can offer refuge from the constraints of the rat-race and boost productivity. The move toward open-plan offices seemed like a good idea for collaboration and teamwork, but it’s really been more of a means of distraction and cuts down productivity. Days working from home (or anywhere other than a traditional office) are frequently noted as the days’ workers report being the most productive. Studies show that this anecdotal observation rings true, with respondents reporting that remote workers clock in an average of 16.8 more days a year than in-office folks. That seriously adds up! 

Lower Costs

Your office overhead costs are killing you. With all the collaboration-friendly software available today, in-person meetings have become less of a necessity. I’m not saying actual facetime isn’t important, it certainly is in some cases, but the ever sought after “work-life balance” should be the real goal for every tech-based company. Not only will it save you a lot of money, but your staff will also benefit in so many areas of their lives, too, from saving money on commuting, wardrobe, lunches, to things like child and pet care. All that leads to yet another benefit of remote teams — happier workers, because your team will be able to spend less time commuting, more time working productively, and less money trying to make it all work for their families. 

Why Remote Work is Here to Stay

Here’s the “skip to the recipe” section for why you should have a remote team, and how to make it work for your business. 

What’s with this dramatic increase in remote work? There are a lot of great reasons. Saving money is the top reason for companies. Here are some statistics for you to dig into. 

  • Companies that give employees the option of working from home see a 50% decrease in employee turnover
  • The ability to hire from a more diverse global applicant pool, rather than a limited local pool. 
  • One study shows that by even allowing just one employee to telecommute, companies can save over $10,000 per year
  • Web-based tools get better all the time, too, and let teams have meetings and training sessions remotely, project-manage, and cut the enormous cost of travel. 
  • Everyone saves money — employers can save big time, with a reported $5 billion in savings to companies with remote workers, and $7000 per year savings to employees. 
  • It’s easier all the time to manage global teams with web-based collaboration tools. 
  • Remote work is far more productive than in-office work.
  • Fewer sick days for all, and no spreading your nasties around the office. 
  • It’s better for the environment in many ways. Cutting your company’s carbon footprint should be on everyone’s 2020 to-do list. 

Stay tuned to Crowned for our next installment all about remote work best practices and how to make it work for you and your team

Written by: Betty Bair

Between 1997 and 2017, the number of women-owned businesses increased by 114%, a rate 2.5 times higher than the national average.

–State of Women-Owned Business Report, American Express

Today, women influence about 80% of buying decisions and control $20 trillion of consumer spending, yet globally women hold only 24% of C-level roles. Both of these numbers are growing every year, and the Crowned team couldn’t be happier about that fact. Women own 4 out of every 10 businesses in the U.S, and Crowned is one of those businesses, founded by Francesca Coronado. 

Here at Crowned, women’s entrepreneurship is close to our hearts as a female-founded and operated business. While female-founded businesses only account for 4.6% of all firms as of 2018, the rate at which women are starting businesses has increased by 58 percent since 2007. 

In 2018, $38.9 billion was invested in companies with a female founder, representing 17% of venture dollars funded globally. This is nearly double the amount from 2017, which saw $19.8 billion invested into companies with a female founder. 

This trend is bound to continue with more women, especially women of color, starting businesses at a continuously growing rate. Female entrepreneurs are a diverse, and happy bunch.  Businesses owned by women of color grew by 163% between 2007 and 2018.

This Women’s Entrepreneurship Day, we want to highlight the importance of supporting women-owned businesses by sharing some of our own personal favorites. 

Francesca’s favorite

Lume Deodorant (pronounced loo-mee) is a product I absolutely love. Not only is it a natural deodorant that actually works, but it was also developed by Shannon Klingman MD, an OB/GYN, who got tired of status-quo deodorants on the market. As an OB/GYN, Dr. Klingman was interested to find out the root cause of body odor, not only in our pits but also on our most sensitive “lady parts.” After seeing far too many diagnoses’ of bacterial vaginosis in women, who were then prescribed antibiotics that didn’t clear up the issue, Dr. Klingman went to work to study why odor happens and how to stop it before it starts. You could call Lume a “pre-odorant” rather than a de-odorant really! 

Her brand is now one of the top deodorant brands on the market, with an ever-growing subscription-based following. Her products are well-loved by women and men alike in her quest to end stinkiness. 

Dr. Shannon Klingman

  “I SAW HOW BODY ODOR—WHATEVER THE SOURCE—WAS UNDERMINING THE CONFIDENCE AND SELF-WORTH OF WOMEN AND MEN EVERYWHERE.” – Shannon Klingman MD

Kathleen’s Inspiration

Lorna Jane Clarkson is my choice.  She’s the owner of Lorna Jane Active and inspires women to be fearless! She inspires me because she empowers women to be confident in who they are and that being who you are meant to be doesn’t have to look like anyone else. Her motto is: Move, Nourish and Believe – Moving every day, Nourishing from the inside out and Believing that anything is possible. She started her business when she was a fitness instructor in 1989, making custom workout wear for her students. This quickly and unexpectedly turned into one of the first activewear empires. We can thank Lorna Jane Clarkson for popularizing fashionable athletic wear that millions of women love enough to wear outside the gym! In fact, Lorna Jane coined the term “activewear,” and has spent the last 30 years keeping her finger on the pulse of not only her customer needs but also the “needs of society as a whole” to work towards making activewear a staple of every woman’s wardrobe. 

Betty’s Inspiration

I’m always on the lookout for female-founded brands (Glossier, AWAY, Heist, Schmidt’s Deodorant), and am perpetually inspired by female entrepreneurs. I grew up watching the rise of powerful women like Oprah and Martha Stewart, and I’m always excited to hear about female-founded companies (and am elated to work for one!) 

Women have faced staggering hurdles to get to where we are today, and it’s important to me to remember the women who blazed the trail. Madam C. J. Walker (Sarah Breedlove), the daughter of freed slaves, was an African-American entrepreneur, philanthropist, and activist. Walker was the wealthiest African-American businesswoman and the wealthiest self-made woman in America at the time of her death in 1919, with a net worth of over $1 million. She overcame some pretty insane odds, starting her business in her late 30s after questioning her physical ability to do hard labor washing laundry into her golden years. Her success is largely attributed to her marketing savvy and the ability to set the tone for the fledgling African-American women’s beauty sector. She was one of the first modern Lady Bosses! 

Written by: Betty Bair