The world is a scary place at the moment. At the time of writing, we are in the middle of April and the government are to announce plans to extend a lockdown for at least another three weeks. Working from home has now become a normality and reality for most people (that is, those who still have jobs). Despite the initial thrill and appeal of working from home (woo, PJs all day!) the novelty may have worn off. But, as is the case with being a PA, the job is often unpredictable, even when working from home. Below are 5 top tips to ensure productivity is reached while working from home
Still treat a weekday as a working day
Routine is absolutely key to being productive in a lockdown. As easy as it is to go to the sofa and endlessly watch T.V., treat it as a 9 to 5 or your usual working hours. Set your alarm, ensure you are at your desk at 8:30/9:00 as you usually would be.
Make a list of things to do each day
One of the most valuable skills I have learned since being a PA is making lists (this is coming from a person who used to laugh at people who made lists – how people change!) Each morning, as I browse my emails (and, crucially, before replying to any) I make a list of things that need to be done for that day. Then, this is sometimes the hardest bit, prioritise. What needs to be done within the next 10 minutes? Can it wait? Does this need an urgent reply? This strategy can be used both at work and in your everyday life, particularly household tasks, shopping and exercise. In giving yourself things to do, you will end the day feeling very productive indeed.
Ensure you have a ‘work space’ and a ‘non-work space‘
This is harder for those who lived in cramped urban flats, but try to allocate a time and place for work and a time and place for after work. For example, as tempting as it is to work from the sofa, allocate it as a place for you to relax after work. That way you won’t feel guilty when you’re on the sofa.
Take breaks outdoors
Just as you would take a break for lunch at regular work, ensure you are getting out and doing some sort of exercise that is in line with government guidelines. Not only is this important for our physical health, but also our mental health. In giving yourself a break and some fresh air, you can clear your mind and come back with more motivation and fresh eyes to work.
Speak to colleagues.
This is vital not only in ensuring tasks are met, but also ensuring you communicate with people. A PA’s job is all about communication and the transition of being with people all day to not seeing colleagues can be challenging. Schedule a weekly catch up with you team. Suggest a time where you talk about things unrelated to work, such as 15 minutes late Friday afternoon. A Pub Quiz is an excellent way to maintain team contact and, this is arguably the most important, have fun!
I thought it would be useful to speak to a HR specialist about the Coronavirus in the Workplace. What the effects could be on the working day for a small business. I have spoken to a friend of mine, Jane Fryatt from Face2FaceHr, and she has put this article together.
“We have been asked by a number of clients about coronavirus (COVID-19), mainly queries around pay. There is some excellent guidance available from Acas here covering steps employers can take. It is worth having a read of that. In the meantime, here are some common queries we’ve been asked and my response”.
When someone is self-isolating, do I need to pay them?
If someone is actually ill, your normal sick pay arrangements will apply. If they have been given written notice by a medical professional to isolate themselves, statutory sick pay will apply (and while it’s not a requirement, it would seem sensible to pay any enhanced sick pay you normally offer in these circumstances as well). The Government has announced that statutory sick pay will apply from day one rather than day four, and that emergency legislation will be passed to enact this very shortly. If someone has just decided to self-isolate, they are not entitled to be paid at all. However, if they are not ill but have been asked by you not to come into work, they should be paid in full as usual.
What happens if employees have to be off because schools shut?
In these circumstances the emergency dependants’ leave provision would apply, i.e. the employee would be entitled to a day or two unpaid leave to resolve the emergency, following which alternative arrangements should be made. Any longer absences should be dealt with using unpaid leave or annual leave.
Should I be developing contingency plans?
Yes it would be a good idea to do this if you haven’t already. Consider how you could make best use of remote working to keep your business going in the event of employees needing to stay at home. Think about cascading communication of any measures you may need to take, as the situation is changing quickly, and consider how flexible your business can be in terms of keeping going on a skeleton staff if necessary.
Will I have to pay staff if I have to shut the business for a period due to the Coronvirus?
It’s not recommended that you shut your business completely if someone develops symptoms. In the unlikely event you need to do this, you will need to pay staff unless there is provision in your contract or other agreement for you to do otherwise. If you’d like any specific advice about the workplace implications of coronavirus, please do get in touch with Jane Fryatt.
If you would like an introduction to Jane via myPA Virtual Services contact me.
As a Virtual PA, I get asked for advice on how to use or do a simple function within a Microsoft package, today I have been asked how do I copy a formula in excel. For those of us who use the software all the time, it is almost second nature and can be difficult to explain. Nevertheless, some people don’t use Microsoft packages daily and need a little more help. Most Virtual PAs ask you to send the document to them so they can do the work for you.
Therefor, today I will be explaining how to copy a formula in excel from one cell to another. Any experienced Virtual PA will be able to do this for you in about 15 seconds. This would include opening the document, making the change, and then saving and returning the document to you. This does not, however, teach you how to do the task yourself and can cause hours of distress and frustration.
For this reason,
myPA Virtual Services have decided that we are going to run a series of blog
posts that will teach you how to do these tasks. We hope
that you will find the instructions easy to understand and increase your
knowledge of Microsoft.
HOW DO YOU DO
How do I copy a formula in Excel from one cell to another?
Open the Excel Document and locate the cell with the formula.
A cell is an individual area on an excel sheet, a square, highlighted in the table below. From this image below we have highlighted cell A1. In an Excel document, you will have a Workbook, a Sheet, Columns, and Rows. A cell is contained in a workbook, which is on a sheet that is located in one column and one row.
the cell you want to copy – A1 for example.
your keyboard select CTRL button and C at the same time, see the image below.
Alternatively, right click on your mouse and a new screen will appear. From here select copy. You have now copied the cell sum/information
the cursor to the cell you wish to put
your keyboard select CTRL button and V.
Alternatively, right click on your mouse and select Paste
You have now copied the sum/formula you wanted.
Workbook The whole excel document
A Sheet Within the document you can have some sheets. Look at the bottom left of your workbook; you will see the word Sheet1. This is your first sheet. To add a new Sheet select the + button to the right.
A column A
column is the vertical lines in the workbook and are annotated with Letters.
A Row A row is the horizontal lines in
the workbook and are annotated with numbers.
Have you created basic websites for yourself that you are so proud of? If so, you could offer this service to other people who are looking for a basic website. This includes purchasing a domain name, web space, and the collecting information to include on the website.
You will also need to know if your client is prepared to pay for the website content and/or professional design. It will also be useful to know if your client is going to add content to their website themselves or ask you to update the website.
Creating simple or complex websites are perfect for home workers.
Suggested Skill Requirements
Computer literate. You will need to know how to use a computer and some online packages, for example, WordPress, 1and1, Go Daddy or any other website provider or host.
Basic knowledge of website setup and design processes will be vital.
Know which websites are free to set up and which are not and deciding which website will suit your client. It could be that you buy in a template and help to populate the website. This would be very useful if they have an e-commerce site and uploading products can be very time-consuming and costly.
Listening skills to understand your client’s requirements and how much the website means to the business. If the website is going to be selling their products, then it needs to represent their branding, their ethics and ease of use.
Project Management. Creating a website can be a lengthy process so knowing the time scales. Understand and explain the iterations and content timelines to your client.
Analytical and logical thinking. There are times when your knowledge on the design and function of a website will be greater than your clients, so you will need to suggest options, plugins or design features. You will also need to understand that a website is a logical piece of equipment that follows a strict set of rules. Taking your client through this process will be important and getting them to understand the limitations of a website will be useful.
The ability to envision business situations. You will need to look at a business as it is today and see where the business will be in 3, 4, or 5 years. Then ensure the website is able to grow with the business. Remember most websites have a 3-year life span. After three years, the website may need to be redesigned, rebuilt or modernised. Keeping your client happy will be vital to this process.
Intellectual Creativity. Creating a website means that you are using your creative skills. The ownership and updating of the website will be something that will need to be discussed quite quickly with your client. Remember if you make it difficult for your client to work on their website or with you, they will walk.
Further Reading if you want to work from home
In conclusion, you may like to find out what jobs you could do working from home from our book entitled ‘Jobs to do Working from Home‘ by Julie C Farmer.
When you think of a Business Owner, you immediately think of someone organised, who is ultra-efficient and is the master of all business matters and interests. In effect, being proactive. Being Proactive is management speech stating that ‘a person is creating or controlling a situation rather than just responding to it after it has happened’. (more…)
Getting a client is hard, but firing a client can be harder. Businesses of all sizes spend hundreds of
Firing a Client
thousands of pounds trying to get a new client. There are adverts in newspapers, television and local magazines, special offers and financial incentives.
Small Businesses find their clients slightly differently, however, the effect is the same. A significant amount of money spent to attract a potential new client. Adverts in local magazines, investment in websites and social media. Also, small businesses often attend business networking meetings. Meetings could have a joining fee, a monthly fee and a weekly fee. In addition to the cost of the meeting, the time at the meeting, the time following up leads and then the time generating the paperwork and information needed to entice the potential client into being an active client.