Amidst the coronavirus pandemic, more and more companies are encouraging or requiring employees to work remotely from home, including Google, Amazon, Facebook, and Twitter. While occasionally disruptive, remote work serves as a great opportunity for employees and employers alike. To make the transition easy, here are some of the best practices to consider.
Set rules with household members:
It's best to start by talking to your household about what you expect when on the clock at home. If other adults will be around, make it clear to them that you need to work and ask that they treat you as if you were in the office and not actually there.
Make a designated workspace
If you don't already have a designated home office, you need to create a makeshift one to start working remotely. The best place is somewhere away from most of your house traffic where you will have minimal interruptions and can easily set up your work materials to stay undisturbed. A computer room is ideal, but other ideas are basement rooms (depending on if you have a finished basement), laundry rooms, or your kid's playroom(they'll survive having to hand over their play area for a while). If nowhere else, your bedroom works in a pinch.
When to work:
Try to work the same hours you would in your office. It's easy to get carried away and work longer than your normal hours when doing so from home. Set an alarm on your phone to remind you when it's time to call it a day. However, with remote work comes flexibility. If you are a night owl, you may benefit from starting your work hours later in the day. Inversely, if you're a morning person, you might find you are more productive and can get work out of the way first thing in the morning. Additionally, it may help to write down your schedule or things you need to accomplish that day at the beginning of your shift.
What to wear:
It's easy to get out of routine when you don't have to look presentable in front of coworkers and customers. When I first started remote work, I often sat down at my computer without having brushed my teeth or gotten dressed. As nice as this may seem, don't be beguiled by this newfound freedom.
The Wall Street Journal writes of the importance of dressing the same for home-based work as you would in the office, with the belief that "dress for success" also applies to working at home. Honestly, I don't see the true need for this unless you will be video conferencing with others. I do, however, believe that following a basic routine of getting out of your pajamas and practicing basic self-care and grooming leads to a better attitude each day.
Even if you're self-employed, take advantage of your breaks. I repeat: Take advantage of your breaks! When I first started blogging and freelance writing, I was so excited to be back in the workforce after spending two years solely as a stay-at-home mom that I often worked long hours and skipped taking breaks altogether. At first, it was easy to do–but I don't recommend it. It's easy to get carried away with work and skip breaks when they aren't being enforced by bosses or supervisors. However, walking away and taking that break can make all the difference in your work! Stand Up is a great free app to take advantage of; it sends you reminders to walk away from your desk.
Use a VPN
A virtual private network (VPN) is a necessity when working remotely for a company that requires access to their business network. Your employer may give you a VPN to use for work, but if not, I recommend ExpressVPN, NordVPN, or IPVanish.
Video chat with coworkers
Remote work gets lonely, even for the most solitary person. Even if you don't get along with your co-workers, I advise video chatting with them instead of emailing in certain instances. For one, emails leave room for miscommunication. And, as much as you might think to yourself "okay Karen" about that annoying co-worker in the office, you may be surprised at how much you miss socializing with the Karens of the world– if only for a brief moment.
Not everyone responds to remote work the same way. Some people relish in this type of work. People who exhibit high levels of self-discipline tend to fare better, while others loathe the idea of having to work at home. The best advice for anyone transitioning from the office to home is to know what is expected of you and find what works best for you. Everyone works differently, and what works for one remote worker may not bode well for another.
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When you take out a loan for a car, charge something to your credit card, or get a personal line of credit, there is going to be an interest rate that applies to your loan.
A lot of different factors go into what you will be charged, including your own personal credit score. But even those with flawless credit still see a minimum charge that they can't get around. That all goes back to the Federal Funds Rate.
One thing consumers rarely realize is that all of our banks are lending money to each other every night. Banks are legally required to maintain a certain percentage of their deposits in non-interest-bearing accounts at the Federal Reserve to ensure they have enough money to cover any withdrawals that may unexpectedly come up. However, deposits can fluctuate and it's very common for some banks to exceed the requirement on certain days while some fall short. In cases like this, banks actually lend each other money to ensure they meet the minimum balance. It's a bit hard to imagine these multibillion-dollar financial institutions needing to borrow money to tide them over for a bit, but it happens every single night at the Federal Reserve. It's also a nice deal for those with balances above the reserve balance requirement to earn a bit of money with cash that would normally just be sitting there.
The Federal Reserve
The exact interest rate the banks will charge each other is a matter of negotiation between them, but the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) (the arm of the Federal Reserve that sets monetary policy) meets eight times a year to set a target rate. They evaluate a multitude of economic indicators including unemployment, inflation, and consumer confidence to decide the best rate to keep the country in business. The weighted average of all interest rates across these interbank loans is the effective federal funds rate.
This rate has a huge impact on the economy overall as well as your personal finances. The federal funds rate is essentially the cheapest money available to a bank and that feeds into all of the other loans they make. Banks will add a slight upcharge to the rate set by the Fed to determine what is the lowest interest that they will announce for their most creditworthy customers, also known as the prime rate. If you have a variable interest rate loan (very common with credit cards and some student loans), it's likely that the interest rate you pay is a set percentage on top of that prime rate that your lender is paying. That's why in times of low interest rates (it was set at 0% during the Great Recession), a lot of borrowers should go for fixed interest rate loans that won't increase. However, if the federal funds rate was relatively high (it went up to 20% in the early 1980's), a variable interest rate loan may be a better decision as you would be charged less interest should the rate drop without the need to refinance.
The federal funds rate also has a major impact on your investment portfolio. The stock market reacts very strongly to any changes in interest rates from the Federal Reserve, as a lower rate makes it cheaper for companies to borrow and reinvest while a higher rate may restrict capital and slow short-term growth. If you have a significant portion of your investments in equities, a small change in the federal funds rate can have a large impact on your net worth.
Whether you're leaving a job involuntarily, departing for something new, or just want to prepare for the unknown, it is smart to understand all your options regarding your 401k.
Frugal gifting often gets a bad reputation. However, this shopping method does not make you cheap — it makes you practical. Frugal gifts often avoid waste and overspending and can be just as meaningful (if not more so) as any other present.
With the National Retail Federation predicting each consumer this holiday season to spend upwards of $1,000 on holiday gifts amidst an economic recession —this year might be the perfect time to reconsider your spending budget. We've formulated the ultimate list of frugal gift-giving ideas to get you started.