Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Avoiding More Potholes in Telecommuting

This review began some months ago.  Time for an update now that we're snowed in!

Pothole #3:  You still need "face time"
Human beings need social interaction in person.  We thrive on non-verbal communication and are comforted by the sight of a real, live face to speak to.  Make time for networking, in-person meetings, and just socializing offline.  If you telecommute, make a regular in-office schedule for meetings or other followup.  Don't let the powerful communication tool of the internet become the ironic barrier to real personal interaction.

Pothole #4:  Know the Law and Follow It
Working from home either as a telecommuter or a business owner may not be completely up to you.  Your local municipality may have zoning laws that restrict what kind of work may be done in a residence.  For example, in some parts of New York City, business owners may live in the very same building as their storefront.  Or they may even live in their workspace if they have opted for an industrial loft-type of residence.  It's simply expected that work and home often occupy the same space.  On the other side, my community requires additional licensing permits for operating a business from a home; to actually meet customers at home requires a special land use permit from the City Council. 
Always check your local municipality's ordinances before you establish your business or begin telecommuting.  It's a lot easier to work within the law - and be a good business neighbor - from the beginning, rather than adjusting later to comply.

Pothole #5:  There Is No Such Thing as Multitasking
Again, put down the torches and pitchforks.  This isn't heresy.
When personal computers evolved in the mid 1990s, companies promoted their capabilities as "multitasking" - the ability to run more than one program at a time.  That wasn't exactly true.  The computer was fast enough to run a series of steps in a program in sequence so quickly that it seemed to be doing them all at one time.  But they really didn't.  The computer just did one thing at a time, very quickly.
People are the same way.  When you try to balance multiple tasks in exactly the same moment, something gets dropped.  You can avoid this by simply putting your tasks in order and running through them one at a time.  Not only will you get your work done faster and more efficiently, you won't feel overwhelmed and exhausted all the time.

Pothole #6:  Get Dressed
How many times have you seen an online program advertised on TV, claiming how wonderful it is to work or attend school from home because you can lie around in your pajamas all day?  It sounds wonderful - lounge and work at the same time.  That will last about a week, at most.
Whether you work at an office or at home, it takes effort to get your mindset focused on the job.  Getting dressed in "work clothes" goes a long way to set the tone for your work, even at home.  Whether it's business formal, business casual, or some type of uniform, if you look professional, you'll be professional.  That starts with your senses before anyone else sees you.

Anyone else have experiences in making working from home productive?  Leave a comment!

Monday, January 10, 2011

The Sincerest Form of Flattery (Update Jan 2011)

I just got a sneak peek at the new City of Dunwoody website. It looks amazingly similar to the current Dunwoody Chamber of Commerce website!!! There could be legal implications to that "similarity" but I'll sit back and take the credit for creating something so usable that other, larger companies want to replicate it. ;-)

I was asked to keep the new City logo confidential, before it is revealed this Saturday evening at the Dunwoody Music Festival.  So for that reason I'm not linking to the new City website page.
But to give you an idea, take a look at the Chamber of Commerce page:

And here's a screenshot with the sensitive parts edited out.

They have lots in common, don't they? 

The company contracted to create the new logo and website is Calvin, Giordano, and Associates out of Fort Lauderdale, FL.  Not exactly Dunwoody natives, but I'll let City Hall explain why they went out of state for this job when there are plenty of developers right here in town capable and willing to do a job for local government.
Evidently, Calvin et al know a good thing when they see it!  Pardon me while I pat myself on the back.

Just got an update. Calvin, Giordano, & Assoc do not have a website department. They do have an employee in their city planning function that creates websites as a hobby. 

It's hard to fault any entity for trying to find the least financially expensive alternative for a job, especially when dealing with taxpayer money.
HOWEVER - the irony is the Dunwoody Economic Development Director Michael Starling (email: michael.starling@dunwoodyga.gov) is in a job that encourages businesses to start up here and stay here and for customers to buy Dunwoody goods and services.

Off the top of my head I can think of five other website development firms operating inside of city limits who would have been happy to take a government job. I bet they would have been much more creative than just lifting the color and layout scheme that the Chamber of Commerce was already using. The City wants to reap the benefits of a business community, yet to date they will not lead by example.

This partially explains the stolen design/color scheme and the fact that the City Government is trying to force the Chamber of Commerce to change its brand to that of a City department.  By "unifying" the branding the City is trying to show that they are in control of the business community instead of letting them advocate for themselves.  We've got the makings of a very interesting news story here. 

Saturday, January 8, 2011

What a Way to Start the New Year! Atlanta Snow Storm: Largest Snow Event in Years Expected Sunday Night, Monday - 11Alive.com | WXIA | Atlanta, GA

Atlanta Snow Storm: Largest Snow Event in Years Expected Sunday Night, Monday - 11Alive.com WXIA Atlanta, GA

So it looks like I'm going to be at my desk on Monday, one way or another! If you have a website project in progress, I'll be able to finish it up on that day. If you have a website project you would like to discuss or get started on, you'll have an easy time reaching me.

January marks the 10th anniversary of SDOC Publishing Internet Solutions' history of creating small business websites and other online communications and marketing solutions. I was working on a somewhat different announcement that didn't have to do with 3 inches of snow in Metro Atlanta (!!!) so I'll get to that later.

For members and others interested in the Dunwoody Chamber of Commerce First Monday Networking, keep an eye on the main page at http://www.dunwoodycommerce.org/ for announcements regarding rescheduling if needed.

Weather closings from Channel 11