How to Develop Business Relationships with Remote Workers

February 16, 2017

By: Chelsea Haley, DKI Ventures, LLC

As you’ve read earlier this month, workplace camaraderie can help improve productivity. And, employees agree! According to The Conference Board Job Satisfaction survey of 2014, 60.6 percent of workers stated that those around them at work improve their work environment the most.

So, if developing friendships in the office can have a positive impact on overall business performance, how do we build a meaningful relationship with those located 500 (or more) miles away from us?

Remote employment is becoming increasingly more common as technology evolves. Today, we are able to communicate with those hundreds or thousands of miles away through multiple voice chat and video applications. And, remote work is beneficial to a company as it allows the business to expand into more territories – Its sales and marketing professionals can travel by vehicle or public transportation instead of expensive plan trips and customer service can accommodate customer inquiries in all separate time zones. Yet, the downside is it makes it more difficult to develop close relationships among employees.

But, since camaraderie is so significant to a business’ success, don’t disregard just because your employees are miles apart. It’s important that you learn how to work with remote employees to strengthen your company. Here are four ways to help you do that.

Daily Meetings

Have each department hold daily fifteen minute meetings to catch up on each others’ progress and workload. This provides reassurance to managers that their remote employees are working while they’re behind closed doors, and a quick and easy update on where a project is in terms of projected timeline. But, don’t keep the conversation strictly business; open with a quick ice breaker on what was the last movie everyone saw or what is the weather like near them. By creating a daily professional and casual verbal atmosphere, the team can start to form camaraderie among each other, even from states or countries away.

Virtual Coffee Breaks

In addition to discussing work, conversing on a daily basis about life in general and taking a mental break from your work helps people refresh while also building those close bonds among colleagues. Yet, gathering in the break room for coffee and to discuss each other’s weekend plans doesn’t quite work for remote employees. So, what about scheduling five to ten-minute coffee breaks via Skype (or any video chat system your company uses)?

Close your email and any open tabs for just a few minutes to avoid distractions, and turn on your video chat. You can drink coffee, or not; the purpose is to relax and reboot. These virtual “coffee breaks” can be on a daily or weekly basis, but try to use this time to briefly chat with your team about non-work events. If they need a little push to get started, try round-robin saying one good thing outside of work that happened that week, and one thing each other is excited for in the coming week.

Use the Buddy System

New employees sometimes feel intimidated in general, since they lack the advantage of already knowing everyone around the company, what each person does, and his or her strengths. However, new, remote employees have an even larger disadvantage since they can’t simply walk up to other employees to introduce themselves; they have to call or video chat a stranger – It can provoke the same anxiety as cold calling. As you onboard new, remote employees, consider teaming them up.

You can provide a short list of fun facts and a photo for each employee and send these to their “buddies,” then they can set up a quick phone call to discuss each other’s backgrounds, interests, current events in their area, professional goals, etc. Their buddies can also be their go-to person for assistance or information while the new employee is still learning the ropes of the business.

Treat All Equally

There is sometimes the misconception that remote employees perform less than those onsite. From the onsite employees’ perspective, this can be difficult to manage since they do not always see their counterparts’ work. To this point, remote employees can feel underappreciated. Be mindful of this and make sure that all employees are aware of individual and team accomplishments. Recognize all within a team and their individual contributions.

If you give out awards or gifts, make sure the remote employees have a fair chance at receiving these as well. If you choose to treat your onsite team to a coffee, send your remote employee(s) a coffee gift card that either they can use at the same time while video chatting in the coffee shop or even on a later date, to show they’re equally appreciated.

In addition, it can be easy to neglect your remote employees if your onsite team throws a work party, but try to include everyone. If it’s a holiday party, consider flying everyone to the corporate office for a chance to official meet their entire team. If it’s a small potluck though, it may not be necessary to fly everyone in for just a couple of hours, but consider sending your remote employees a live feed to view from their own locations, so they can feel like a part of the “party.”

Improve Productivity with Color

study by The University of Texas at Austin believes something as simple as the color of your office surroundings can help increase productivity.

It’s easy to forget about the walls around you when you’re setting up an office. There are many important things to think about: phone and computer connections, desk, file cabinets, lighting, space assignments, white and cork boards. Many times the color of a room is ignored and left taupe or grey. These colors can feel like a bit like a prison, especially when you realize people spend most of their waking hours in the office.

Different colors impact the sorts of productivity depending on the job.  Not ready to paint the whole office? You can add accents like office accessories to help give a burst of color where you need it.

The two most popular colors for offices are Blue and Green, but take a look at the bold color choices below and how you may be able to implement them to suit your business:

Blue is the most universal color for all job types. It gives a senBlueBlogPicse of openness and the calming freedom of the sky outside. It’s one of those obvious colors found in nature and makes everyone feel better and ready to focus on the tasks at hand.

Green is another color that make people think of nature and gives a calming feeling. Instead of painting, consider cubical dividers in green or maybe some plants to bring the outdoors in. Green is one of the colors that are said to help creativity. So creative positions can definitely be inspired by this color.

GreenBlogPicYellow is a way to brighten up any office and create a sense of happiness. This is a solid creativity color for people with creative or design positions. This color is best used sparingly, like an accent wall or desk accessories.  A little goes a long way.  Too much yellow can be overwhelming.

Red/Orange can create a sense of energy, but like yellow, should be used sparingly in artwork or accessories.  Red is usually considered a color that evokes passion, if used in large amounts, it can also create stress. This is best used in an area employees are in for a limited time and not their major work time such as the lunch room or hallways.

Should you be Encouraging Friendships at Work?

February 1, 2017

By: Chelsea Haley, DKI Ventures, LLC

Does your workplace support camaraderie among its team members? A joint study by management professors at the University of Pennsylvania and the University of Minnesota shows that friends outperform acquaintances in work tasks. Friends are more committed, more likely to offer encouragement, and communicate more effectively with positive and constructive feedback. While you may think friendships at work can distract your employees, individuals are more productive when they feel comfortable around their colleagues. They are more likely to ask questions, solicit help, provide feedback and stay on track because if they fail, they also fail their team/friends.

Check out how employee bonds can be beneficial to your business:

  • Improved workplace productivity and performance
  • Increased employee morale
  • Decreased workplace stress
  • Minimized turnover and burnout rates

So, how you can forge positive relationships among your staff to help foster a more creative and productive work environment? Sometimes this depends on the particular work environment and business. But, here are a few tips to get started:

Welcome Each Employee

As you hire on new employees, make sure everyone gets a chance at an introduction. It is best to try to complete this within the first couple of weeks. Before you write off their first week on the job as social hour, consider how you can stay productive but still promote employee bonding.

One way to do this is to invite your new employee to company meetings. For the first five to ten minutes of the meeting, introduce the newcomer then go round-robin with each other’s names and something they like to do in their free time. The purpose is getting to know each other, so just try to refrain from speaking about business for that first bit.

Another way to encourage introductions is to hold orientations among the different departments. These can include training sessions for the newcomer, if applicable, or simply quick meetings to get to know one another and what each employee is responsible for.

Hold Weekly or Monthly Social Hours

Engage in team-building activities – trivia, ice breakers, friendly competitive sports/games – just something that gets everyone involved and working together. You can also choose to hold a company potluck or catered lunch, after work happy hour or even a fun group outing. Schedule something that provides your employees the opportunity for some casual chit-chat in between the professional business talk.

Treat Them as a Team

It’s important to recognize and acknowledge individual work, but to encourage camaraderie, treat your employees as team members. Each department is a different team of people, made up different personalities and work styles, who work together and rely on each other to achieve a common purpose. The Creatives can’t effectively execute without the Analysts, and neither can be successful without the Leader. So, as each project deadline gets met, remind yourself and your employees it’s not just the leader who deserves the credit, it’s his/her entire team, because without their teamwork it would not have been accomplished as such.

Continue following our blog as later, we will discuss the challenges and importance of promoting camaraderie among the growing trend of remote employees.

Are There New Board Up Materials in the Commercial Restoration Industry’s Future?

NPR has reported that Ohio has become the first state to ban the use of plywood for boarding up vacant and abandoned houses. The usual plywood material is being replace by a clear polycarbonate clear board to improve aesthetics and help with security of the property.

In the commercial restoration industry, board up services are often used after a disaster such as a fire or a storm to secure unsafe windows, floors, walls or ceilings and protecting the building from unauthorized entry and prevent future loss. It is often imperative to make the building less hazardous. These measures are necessary not only to protect personal property but also to prevent injury or death.

What does the ban actually entail when it comes to property restoration?

Division (A) of Section 2308.031 of Ohio H.B. 463 states, “No person shall use plywood to secure real property that is deemed vacant and abandoned under section 2308.02 of the Revised Code.”   – Ohio H.B. 463 as presented by The M Report.

So it appears that the ban does not apply to businesses and residential structures in the process of repair or restoration. It applies only to abandoned and foreclosed properties in an effort to control vandalism and blight.

The reason for concern in commercial restoration was that the clear polycarbonate clear board is almost six times the cost of a sheet of plywood. This would inevitably cause an issue with estimates, and costs that would be sent to insurance companies potential raising rates on all sides.

While it does not look like a huge change in the immediate future, it’s still something to keep in mind as different laws and statutes arise.

What do you think of the Urban Blight State Law?

MLK Day: What are you doing for others?

“Life’s most persistent and urgent question is: ‘What are you doing for others?’” Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

DKI and our member companies provide community assistance during emergencies, working round-the-clock hours to get people and businesses back to normal quickly. While this is our job, we also choose to serve our communities through volunteer efforts, sponsoring the American Red Cross, Breast Cancer Awareness, local food drives, safety events and more.

In honor of Martin Luther King Jr. Day, what are ways you and your company can help others?

What is MLK Day of Service?

Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service is a day dedicated to turning Dr. King’s teachings into community service efforts that help strengthen local communities. While many companies and schools consider this day a holiday, it is also an opportunity to get involved in your community, and make it “A Day On, Not a Day Off!”

Visit the MLK Day of Service website for more information on how you can get involved. And, find volunteer projects near you by visiting www.serve.gov/volunteer.

Hammer Restoration Expands Service Portfolio

(Saginaw., Mich. Jan. 12, 2017) – Hammer main level chairRestoration Inc., a member company of DKI, North America’s largest disaster restoration contracting organization, is expanding their services to modify properties for barrier-free access, customized to help its customers navigate better throughout their homes.

Hammer Restoration has over 50 years of experience serving its community to minimize or prevent disasters and emergency situations.

Recently, Hammer Restoration’s project manager, Tom Placher completed his certification for home modifications through the University of Southern California. With this new knowledge and experience, Hammer Restoration can design the specific modifications required to make a home fully accessible for its owners to continue their daily activities with ease and self-confidence, and prevent relocation.

“We recognize the unique requirements of the physically challenged, and are excited for this new opportunity to help our clients age safely in their own homes,” said Roger Thornton, Hammer Restoration’s director of marketing.

Hammer Restoration’s team has extensive experience modifying, designing and building these barrier-free buildings. Their home modifications include ADA, wheelchair accessible, universal design, and barrier free-home remodeling to support all areas of the home, including bathrooms, bedrooms, kitchens, laundry rooms, and more general areas.


About Hammer Restoration, Inc.

Hammer Building & Restoration, Inc. is a family owned and operated 24-hour emergency restoration services company, with locations in Mt. Pleasant and Saginaw, Michigan. For over 50 years, the Hammer Restoration Team has been serving people’s needs, offering a full range of commercial and residential restoration services, throughout the Great Lakes bay region and surrounding areas. For more information about Hammer Restoration, visit www.hammerrestoration.com.

About DKI
DKI, headquartered in Chicago, is the largest disaster restoration contracting organization in North America. DKI franchise member companies provide full service restoration to their customers: emergency response, water damage mitigation, fire and contents cleaning, mold remediation, complete reconstruction and much more, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. DKI returns damaged property to its pre-loss condition quickly and efficiently, delivering complete satisfaction to its consumer, insurance, and corporate customers. For more information about DKI, visit its website at www.dkiservices.com.

DKI’s New Website to Provide Support in Your Time of Need

(ELK GROVE VILLAGE., Ill. Jan. 9, 2017) – DKI, North America’s largest disaster restoration contracting organization, is pleased to announce its redesigned website: www.dkiservices.com. The site has a fresh, new look, designed to enhance usability for residents and businesses searching for local property restoration services in their time of need.

DKI’s upgraded website is both desktop and mobile-enabled, showcasing large, recognizable icons to navigate through its services. It has been optimized to link all DKI platforms under one site, providing a “user-friendly” experience across all channels. Whether the visitor is a home or business owner or a property restoration contractor looking to join a national organization, the completely redesigned site offers streamlined navigation and allows the visitor to easily browse information based on their needs.

Visitors can easily locate a local contractor by searching for their address, city and state or zip code. The search function pulls up a list of contractors in their area, providing an emergency phone number, location and website. Each DKI member website has also been revamped to display a similar look and feel of the DKI organization’s enhanced site.

This unified look follows DKI Commercial Solutions’ motto, “National Solution. Local Response.”

“We are very pleased with the newly released DKI Services site, which reinforces our DKI members as a unified group of qualified contractors. Whether our clients are looking for a national response solution, or a local presence, dkiservices.com is their one-stop resource for all their emergency service, disaster restoration or general contracting needs,” said DKI Chief Sales & Marketing Officer Matt Wright. “We will continue to update the site with new content and information to ensure a user-friendly experience, as well as the latest blogs, news stories and case studies that help our clients make the best choice in their time of need.”


About DKI
DKI, headquartered in Chicago, is the largest disaster restoration contracting organization in North America. DKI franchise member companies provide full service restoration to their customers: emergency response, water damage mitigation, fire and contents cleaning, mold remediation, complete reconstruction and much more, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. DKI returns damaged property to its pre-loss condition quickly and efficiently, delivering complete satisfaction to its consumer, insurance, and corporate customers.

Tom Placher of Hammer Restoration Earns New Certification in Home Modification

(Saginaw., Mich. Jan. 6, 2017) – Hammer Restoration Inc., a member company of DKI, North America’s largest disaster restoration contracting organization, is excited to announce its project manager, Tom Placher, has completed the Executive Certified Home Modification Provider Program from the University of Southern California.

Placher has over 20 years of construction project management experience, scoping, estimating and bidding commercial projects. He has served as a member of the Army National Guard for the past 18 years, where he has earned numerous awards and recognition from the U.S. Military.

With this new achievement, Placher and Hammer Restoration have more opportunities to help home and businesses owners design and build barrier-free buildings, as well as upgrade and complete home and building modifications to provide barrier-free spaces.

The Hammer Restoration Team has extensive experience modifying existing homes, assisting owners and families to age in place, and give them barrier-free access to their homes, allowing them to continue living in their own home and avoid relocation.


About Hammer Restoration, Inc.

Hammer Building & Restoration, Inc. is a family owned and operated 24-hour emergency restoration services company, with locations in Mt. Pleasant and Saginaw, Michigan. For over 50 years, the Hammer Restoration Team has been serving people’s needs, offering a full range of commercial and residential restoration services, throughout the Great Lakes bay region and surrounding areas. For more information about Hammer Restoration, visit www.hammerrestoration.com.

About DKI
DKI, headquartered in Chicago, is the largest disaster restoration contracting organization in North America. DKI franchise member companies provide full service restoration to their customers: emergency response, water damage mitigation, fire and contents cleaning, mold remediation, complete reconstruction and much more, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. DKI returns damaged property to its pre-loss condition quickly and efficiently, delivering complete satisfaction to its consumer, insurance, and corporate customers. For more information about DKI, visit its website at www.dkiservices.com.

Local Companies Work Together Once Again to Keep CT Warm

CoatDrive_2016January 3, 2017 – Disaster Restoration Services (DRS), a member company of DKI, North America’s largest disaster restoration contracting organization, announced that its team worked with Sal’s Clothing Restoration for the second consecutive year to sponsor the annual Button up Connecticut coat drive for those throughout Connecticut in need of winter clothing. Together, they gathered and dry cleaned 505 coats for Button Up Connecticut.

Button Up Connecticut is an organization that collects coats from various donors and distributes them to those who are in need throughout Connecticut. It was started in 1992 by Siracusa Moving and Storage Owner Dan Siracusa when he heard that on colder days of the school year, fewer children in CT came to school since they did not have the proper winter gear.

According to GOBankingRates, CT came in at number 9 on the top 10 list of the most expensive states to raise a family. With the high taxes, cost of living, and the ever changing New England climate, raising a family in Connecticut can surely be a struggle.

DRS and Sal’s reached out to local companies about Button Up Connecticut, and set up donation boxes at their properties. The businesses that brought in the most coats were awarded by having donations made in their names. The first place winner was Bouvier Insurance from West Hartford, CT, with 47 coats donated, awarding them a $300 donation in their name to the Connecticut Food Bank. The Michael Keating Insurance Agency from West Hartford, CT came in second place with a donation of 40 coats, awarding them a $200 donation in their name to the Salvation Army. State Farm Agency-Anne Coppola from Ansonia, CT earned third place, donating 34 coats, awarding them a $100 donation in their name to the Connecticut Humane Society.

To learn more about the organization, visit www.buttonupconnecticut.com


About Disaster Restoration Services

Disaster Restoration Services is available 24/7 and services all of Connecticut and Massachusetts. DRS provides services for: Water Damage, Fire Damage, Storm Damage, Mold Remediation, and Repairs. For more information, visit www.drscleanup.com or call (877)-280-7961 to find out how they are “Doing Restoration Strong.”

About Button Up Connecticut

Button Up Connecticut’s mission is to collect clean, new and gently used coats and distribute them to residents in need all across Connecticut. The coats are received from individuals and various companies, schools, churches and other organizations throughout the state, who run their own coat drives and donate the coats they receive to Button Up Connecticut for distribution. The coats they collect are provided to local non-profit agencies (schools, churches, children’s homes, shelters, food pantries, and other social service agencies) by appointment only for distribution to their clients. Agencies can set up appointments to get coats for their clients by emailing Kara Lucht at [email protected] or calling the Button Up Connecticut Hotline at 860-259-0239.

About DKI

DKI, headquartered in Chicago, is the largest disaster restoration contracting organization in North America. DKI franchise member companies provide full service restoration to their customers: emergency response, water damage mitigation, fire and contents cleaning, mold remediation, complete reconstruction and much more, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. DKI returns damaged property to its pre-loss condition quickly and efficiently, delivering complete satisfaction to its consumer, insurance, and corporate customers. For more information about DKI, visit its website at www.dkiservices.com.

About Sal’s Clothing & Restoration

Sal’s Clothing Restoration specializes in restoration dry cleaning. Whether damaged from fire, soot or water, Sal’s is here in your time of crisis to take care of your family like one of their own. Sal’s handles losses quickly, efficiently and with the utmost compassion. They are family owned and operated and cover all of New England and the metro New York area. Call toll free (877) SAL–SOOT and see why they are “A Trusted Name in Dry Cleaning.”

About Siracusa Moving and Storage

Siracusa Moving & Storage has been helping New Britain families and businesses move across town and across the country for more than 25 years. Family-owned and operated with several affiliates nationwide, helps them provide their customers with high-quality moving services at affordable prices. For more information, visit www.siracusamoving.com or call (860)-225-9144.

 

 

3 Tips to Finish Those Last Minute Projects and be with Your Loved Ones

Dec 23, 2016

By: Chelsea Haley, DKI Ventures, LLC

The holidays can get hectic – at work and at home. You may be frantically working to meet your goals and numbers before the end of the year. You may be caught up in the multiple projects adding up for next year. And, at home, you’re busy cleaning the house, running last minute errands and preparing for family visits. But, STOP!

The holidays are about enjoying time with your loved ones. And, though, it may seem impossible to even find that time for them, or worse, enjoy that time with them, we’re here to help you out. Here are three tips to complete everything, and still enjoy time spent with those you care about.

  1. Breathe

Before you do anything, calm down. Stress and anxiety are productivity killers. If you want to successfully accomplish everything on your to-do list, you must relax.

  1. Be Realistic

Understand, there will always be work to do, but there are only so many hours in a day, and so many chances for quality time with your friends and family. So, in your relaxed state, jot down everything you must complete before the end of the day. If something can be pushed until next week, allow yourself to let it go for now. And, overestimate the time it will take to complete a task, since there are always going to be distractions.

  1. Ask for Help

If your daily to-do list exceeds the hours in a day, ask for help. Find out what your co-workers are working on, and if it’s something that can be pushed back, or if you can divide your to-do lists to help each other. For your personal shopping needs, take your spouse, kids or a friend with you. This allows you to get things done while spending time with them. Cleaning the house or cooking can also require extra help – Ask your relatives to bring a dish, instead of cooking the entire meal yourself, or depending on your child’s age, ask them to help tidy the house, do the dishes, etc.

Hopefully with these tips, even if an emergency does arise during the holiday weekend, you are able to spend some time with those you love.

Happy Holidays from the DKI Team!