The Devins Network Lake of the Woods

Working Remotely at the Lake

June 30th, 2017

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Hello out there Canada !

I’m re-issuing my “virtual office” blog post on working remote at the lake. I am also adding a new “video” produced this summer to help you think about how you might plan on working remotely this summer. Cheers to Canada’s 150

VIDEO LINK HERE  

Ah summer…time to set up the virtual office.

A time when families plan to spend more time together with each other, extended families and friends. For many Canadians, it is a time to enjoy that special place known as the “cottage”, “camp” or “cabin”, depending on of course which part of this vast and magnificent land you might be headed to…the coast – lake – river – countryside – hills or mountains.

For me, that “camp” becomes my summer location and headquarters in Central Canada for the Devins Network. I get a a smile across my face just writing that! It’s the virtual office.

Even when I was still working full time at Molson Coors, I would make the weekly treck northwards to Kenora from Toronto late on a Thursday night and return on Monday.

Thankfully, I had the benefit of understanding and supportive colleagues and a CEO who knew that I was plugged in and accessible at all times, regardless of my physical location. Ground rules in that regard are critically important to make the model work. Establish that agreement early on so that the context is understood by your team and clients.

The remote or virtual office concept is being adapted and embraced by more and more individuals and businesses. I truly believe in this web-connected network society in which we live, if you’ve got access to the web, you are on the job; available and in touch.

Obviously, the truth is that virtual office or job locations are not for everyone. If you are an administration type, that requires physical files at your disposal, it’s likely the case that you need to be next to those physical files. 

If you are on a production line or supervising production lines or operations, it is likely important that you are physically on the site in case troubleshooting is required.

However, if you can execute your responsibilities and fulfill on your accountabilities on line, without requiring a physical presence – you can likely make the virtual office thing happen.

So what does a virtual office look like, feel like ?

DETERMINE WORK SPACE

Establishing your physical “work space” is a critical consideration, in setting up your virtual office. A desk, chair, printer, filing space, office items, mouse, keyboard, clock are all important for your physcial set up. Most important is an agreement with your family members of where you locate in their environment. You may have to take a call or examine something on line at any point in the day. Having space that will allow for this and not cause friction with the rest of the family is key to happiness for those sharing your newly created office space.

A PHONE

Cell phones allow you to be in touch anywhere anytime as long as you have cell service. I find that more and more folks are leaving the land line behind and moving to cell phone only. Given that most families have plans for each member of the family – it has become the predominant device for contact…voice or text. As a solopreneur my cell phone is my phone for business and travels with me everywhere. Depending on how “remote” you are, you might need to do some research on network availability and service in your area. Most communities and service providers have figured out how to keep their permanent and summer residents connected.

COMPUTER

Hard wired to the net or Wifi will provide you with the connectedness you need to access your work team, clients, suppliers, colleagues, and prospects. If you don’t have wifi you may actually have the benefit of a data plan and you can “hotspot” from your phone. Research most accessible and affordable options. Another critical consideration is your “back up”. By this, I am referring to backup device. I stumbled onto a situation where my computer needed servicing. Having an Apple Mac Book it required being shipped away for several days. Thus, I needed to have a back up laptop, tablet or device.

WIFI

I have struggled year after year with just simply unacceptable wifi service from the local provider. This year I am experimenting with xplornet.com and find them to be oustanding. Currently, I have 23 MBPS down and 1MBPS up. And, I am currently looking at increasing the upload by enhancing my plan to 4 MBPS up.

DOCUMENTS 

Platforms such as dropbox, box, icloud and or various other clouds allow you to arrange your critical documents for access. You can also share and edit with teams via these platforms. It might take some getting used to but is really slick once you are operating in this space. This will also provide a safe back-up for you with access on any device if your primary computer or lap to go on the fritz.

FACE TO FACE

Facetime for Apple folks, SKYPE for just about anyone and many other video conference platforms like “Go To Meeting” allow you to conduct virtual meetings where you actually do have face to face ability through your computer, tablet or phone device. 

VOICE TO VOICE OR SCREEN SHARING

Plenty of conference call platforms on phones and available today to ensure that you can remain connected and be engaged in meetings whenever that call might be on your calendar. I recommend securing a conference line so that you have it on the ready, rather than having to scramble if in need of convening a call with your team or clients. Join Me is a terrific service to share your screen with others via conference call.

CONFERENCE ROOMS

Most hotels, and many local businesses offer up their conference space for use by individuals or small businesses. You don’t have to look too far before finding something that will suit your needs. This is particularly important if you are need in several hours on a “call”. It could be a major inconvenience to your family if you are set up in common space in your abode. Often times there is idle space in summer months in cottage country, the establishment might appreciate a few tweets, Trip Advisor referral or Facebook like or recommendation from you in return.

CALENDAR AND ALARM

Don’t fall into a trap of getting distracted with what is going on at  your virtual location environment. Have a calendar plan with “notifications” when meetings, calls or assignments are due.

PLAN YOUR WORK WINDOWS

Put a plan in place to lay out your work each day. Rob Hatch at Owner Media has a good process that he talks about in his “work like you’re on vacation” course. His suggestion is to lay out your work the night before, plan it, plan the outcomes and schedule that time free of distractions.

MAIL

Canada Post will allow for personal mail being forwarded, or how about having home office send you your mail weekly in a ground courier envelope. Many cottage communities also have local post office box availability. Depending on whether you know your community, or are just renting for the summer – don’t just assume that your standard courier will be able to get to you. Talk to locals first.

BANKING

There are now so many options to bank and complete transactions on line. All of the banks and credit unions seem to have set up on on line banking ease. You can also utilize PayPal as a transaction service to pay on line.

FEELING REMOTE AND AWAY FROM INFORMATION

Google it ! YouTube it ! There is no reason for you to feel out of touch if you are connected to the web in your virtual office.

NETWORKING GAPS

Pick your pathway and engage with folks through platforms existing on LinkedIN, Facebook, Twitter and Google + (to just name a few…). If you are remote,you may feel that you are disconnected from people. You can stay in touch through your networks. As part of your plan you might decide to reach out to a number of people through the week. Drop those into your calendar with a purpose in mind. Check out profiles with your cottage community in their profile. A great tool for this is Audiense.

DISCIPLINE

Getting your mindset established from the get go is most critical. Know when you are at “work” and when you are at “leisure”. Plan your day, work your plan. Schedule appropriate amount of time for calls, email, social networking. Routine calls or meetings will make for better planning over the longer term. Discipline and planning will make this work with ease. Those early morning sunrises might make for the perfect time to wipe off the morning dew, grab a nice hot coffee, cup of tea, iced drink or smoothie on your deck or dock to check incoming mail and plan your day.

JUST A CALL OR EMAIL AWAY!

The biggest hurdle with establishing a virtual office is you getting your head around the fact that nothing is impossible to get done when you are remote. The other hurdle is getting those that you work with and support comfortable with the fact that you are achieving your goals and accomplishing the work that needs to get done; even though you are not physically at a location. No need to rub it in, but acknowledging accomplishments from your place away is a good reinforcement that the work is getting done.

Get your virtual office established and…enjoy the summer !

VIDEO LINK ALSO HERE – smiles.

@FergDevins @DevinsNetwork

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Embrace Change

It is time to Embrace Change

January 10th, 2017

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How’s that status quo going out there? If there is one thing for sure in 2017, change will continue to be at the forefront. Time to embrace change.

Change is constant in a world that embraces and drives for greater efficiency. Change is constant in dealing with streams of innovation and a passion for doing things more quickly. One can decide to embrace change or take a seat on the sideline of these exciting times. I’m not suggesting that one should blindly follow along. Take a stance. Follow and lead within the change that is taking place.

Is that harsh? Perhaps so. However, I truly believe that embracing change and taking a stand for leading change will propel one’s career and guide them toward their aspirations.

Not too long ago, job and career pursuits saw young people working hard to “get in” to the blue chip firm or corporate entity. Corporations offered thousands of jobs with multi-level positions and a clearly articulated multi-runged corporate ladder to climb.

With challenging economic times and many traditional business models judged as broken, businesses have had to change to maintain their position in the market. Two hard examples of reality are Kodak and Blackberry. Another sector example might be traditional travel agency models. Passion for breakthroughs by competitors, a strong sense of consumer desire, technology, apps, online marketing and aggressive pursuits of innovation have upset what were solid traditional models.

It used to be you could “get in” at the bottom level and if you worked hard you would progress up and through an organisation. One of the challenges to that model is that organisations are challenged more today than ever before. They can’t take the time to nurture, build, train and grow with their people. The market is just too competitive. They need the best and they need the best now. They need to hire the experts to deliver the results now, in real time.

Some would say that millennials are less loyal than previous generations. Are they less loyal? Perhaps they are more willing and able to accept change. Let’s face it, moving from one job to the next is not the easiest task to undertake. In making a move from one place to another there are new people, new responsibilities, different corporate cultures, new office politics. Every time one changes job, the individual is met with new challenges. Perhaps the millennials are the best example of embracing change. They adapt, accept, move…

The other reality check is that progressive companies and their leadership will continue to drive a change and innovation agenda. If you don’t want to be part of the solution in delivering the change, you’re probably not long for that company.

I am not suggesting for a moment that one should blindly accept change. IF you can accept the change and believe in the intent – why not jump on board and enrol yourself in the opportunity?  Clinging on to the past, the good old days, the way things were, is not truly embracing change and what the future beholds.

If you embrace change, you are more likely to become a thought leader with an ability to own and promote that change. If you can’t enrol in the change – get out.

What is the change that you are resisting today in your life, work or play?  How could you embrace the change and be happier in your pursuit? Or, how might you discover that the change underway is not the path you are choosing. Seeking an alternate change agenda is in your hands. What stance can you take to help lead the change?

Celebrate the past for what it was. Revel in the memories, the collegiality, the good times, the storytelling. With that as your foundation, you can embrace what the future might be and the path of change that will lead you to discovery.

Cheers to change ! Embrace it.

@FergDevins @DevinsNetwork

possible

Conversation for Transformation

February 9th, 2016

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Transformation

One often hears people speaking about transforming their business. However, I find that in many situations, when people speak about transformation, they are really only looking at incremental change. Big ideas are conjured up at the start, however – “a little more of this, a little more of that, another one of these” are the results. In my mind, transformation is more about bold and remarkable shifts for a business, cause, team or entity. In transformation, teams can truly embrace what they currently feel is impossible. They can make what seemed impossible – possible.

Create New Ways

If I visualize this concept, I can see something that is beyond one’s reach. The reach is because it is defined by how things are currently done, what knowledge is available, what restrictions that business or leadership has placed on themselves. Reach is determined by a number of limiting variables. We often hear that Albert Einstein referred to insanity as, “Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” Leaders in business refer to expectations being insane, because the goals and expectations are layered on top of “more of the same” in strategic approach and execution.

Many businesses work tirelessly in devising their annual or long range plans. The work diligently to create compelling visions and determination of reaching new heights and goals. BUT, they set those new targets and lofty goals with the foundation of their business activity being more of the same. Great new advances can’t possibly be achieved, if something is not transformed at the base.

Transformation takes hard work. Transformation takes alignment, commitment and a shift in thinking. Transformation requires a fresh future outlook, not caught in the past practice or thinking. New ways of strategizing, approaching, thinking and doing need to be created. It is not for those who cling on to the past. It is about a bright new future and embracing that future.

Let’s Have A Conversation

If I have peaked your interest, I have a team that you should consider speaking with in meeting your needs. I’m working with an innovative team that is developing their business in Canada. Their business is all about transformation. I have seen their work in action. I have experienced and wintessed the impact that they have delivered for various businesses. They’ve got an intensive interactive workshop model that can be delivered in the board room, at any level in an organization, or at the street. We need to have a conversation; whether you are a large corporation, medium sized business, entrepreneur looking to land that big idea OR a not for profit, cause, team or enterprise that seems stuck in the mud.

I promise that they will make a difference in delivering truly transformational opportunities and possibilities for your business. If you would like to learn more about this team, I would like to engage with you in that conversation. Let’s set some time aside to talk about truly transforming your business, department, team or cause – and taking you to a new height of accomplishment.

Please contact me

Please send an email to ferg@thedevinsentwork.com to start this conversation. Or, follow me below and send a direct message.

2016 could be your most amazing year yet. Let’s get that started with a conversation between us now. I look forward to hearing from you.

FERG DEVINS @FergDevins  @DevinsNetwork