West Virginia Will Pay Remote Workers $12,000 To Move There

Throughout the pandemic, cities throughout the US have begun offering remote workers cash as an incentive to relocate. Tulsa, Oklahoma and Natchez, Mississippi have both created official programs to pay remote workers to move there, and now, West Virginia wants to pay remote workers $12,000 to move to its “country roads.” 

On April 12th Governor Jim Justice announced the Ascend WV program, which would “allow adventurers to enjoy world-class recreation, uncrowded spaces, and a low cost of living while staying fully connected to their jobs.” 

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Major companies throughout the US are beginning to bring their employees back into the office as multiple vaccines become available throughout the country. This is a major motivator for West Virginia, who’s looking to bring in a greater population as the nation returns to a greater sense of normalcy in the coming months. 

The $12,000 West Virginia is offering is paid over two years, with $10,000 divided in monthly payments for the first year and $2,000 paid at the end of the second year, according to the program’s website. If you move early, you keep the money that you’ve earned so far,” according to news reports. 

According to the website, “the incentive package also includes a year’s worth of free outdoor recreation, bringing the total value to $20,000. That includes a year of access to activities such as whitewater rafting and downhill skiing, as well as two years of free outdoor gear rentals, such as camping gear or paddleboarding equipment.”

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Applicants must be 18 years or older with a full-time remote job at a company located outside the state of West Virginia in order to qualify for the program. Shepherdstown, Lewisburg and Morgantown are the first three host cities accepting applicants who are interested in the program. More than 2,000 people have already applied for the 50 spots available in Morgantown. 

Applications will be open until the end of May for Morgantown, and will open up for Shepherdstown and Leqisburg in the beginning of 2022. 

The governor’s office also revealed that the program is partially supported by Brad Smith and his wife Alys; Brad was the former CEO of Intuit and is a native West Virginian. According to the governor’s office the couple donated $25 million to West Virginia University to get the program off the ground. 

“Alys and I are committed to the success of this program and its ability to leverage West Virginia’s outdoor assets to attract fresh talent, cultivate dynamic communities and continue to fuel the entrepreneurial and innovative thinking that are hallmarks of the state,” Smith said. The Smiths hope the program will eventually include all of the states’ 55 counties as well.

Social Media Will Be Key Tool For Real Estate Success In 2021

A multitude of industries that rely on in-person interactions have had to make some major adjustments throughout the past nine months to maintain business during the worst global health crisis in the last century. The real estate industry is one of the biggest examples of this transition, as agents are realizing the power of the internet and social media in relation to the success of their business. 

Philip Scheinfeld is a prominent luxury real estate agent working for New York’s Compass who recently spoke with Forbes Magazine about the importance and power that social media has, and why it will be an integral part of the industry’s rise back to the top in 2021. Scheinfeld himself is one of New York City’s most successful young real estate agents, having sold over $150,000,000 worth of property throughout the city. 

“Having a social media presence is one of the most important, if not the most important presence you can have today as an agent.”

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Agents are now using social media sites beyond just Zillow to sell homes, find clients, and grow their brands during one of the most tumultuous economic times the US has faced in the past decade. Not being able to meet with clients in person has been one of the greatest difficulties for any industry that runs on making in-person sales, however, the uncertainty that came with navigating this new digitized means of performing business has led to a lot of great successes. 

“Social media is the strongest marketing tool we have out there,” according to Schenfield, who stressed how powerful it is to have a tool that gives you access to people all around the world within seconds. He also stressed the importance of having a good team of workers to navigate these new business models with, which holds true in any industry really. 

The engagement with clients that can occur over social media can also increase how recognizable a certain agency is. The more prominent and engaging an agency is online the more likely it is that their clients will share that story and page to their profiles, thus increasing exposure even further. It’s also important that clients still feel that personal connection over the internet. Scheinfeld claims one of the biggest struggles he sees with agents navigating selling property in the middle of a pandemic is that they’re not building enough of a personal relationship with their clients. 

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“Don’t follow trends and be cookie cutter. Make yourself different. That’s the power of social media—it’s your canvas.”

Scheinfeld claims his three biggest tips for using social media to grow your business are to engage, remember you’re representing your name/brand with every interaction, and to be authentic. Reputation is everything, and your online presence can quickly make or break that reputation. Don’t misrepresent your brand, but most importantly yourself, clients want an agent who can personally connect with them as it makes them feel safe and secure that you’re the best person to find them what they’re looking for. 

“Make sure that you are not treating your clients like transactions. Make them feel special, important and that you have their best interest at heart. Make it feel like a personal relationship rather than a transaction.” Regardless of the industry you’re in, using the internet and social media to interact with your clients, customers, or whoever else helps your business grow is the key for success in 2021. After this pandemic comes to an end the digital age will only continue to advance, and it’s likely that a lot of the digital practices we picked up throughout the past nine months will stick indefinitely, so take advantage now.

Over 14 Million Americans Are Moving In Order To Find Remote Work, Study Shows

According to a study from Upwork’s Remote Workers, between 14 million to 23 million Americans are planning to relocate to a new U.S. city, region, or even state due to the Covid-19 pandemic and rising popularity of work-from-home positions appearing throughout the nation. 

Many businesses and industries have been adapting to the new normals 2020 has presented to us by moving to a more digitized work environment. For some, they’re even realizing that remote work is a much more efficient way for staff to get their daily duties done, and will likely continue to do so post-pandemic. 

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The study specifically surveyed 20,490 Americans over the age of 18 and it was conducted from October 1st to the 15th. The results showed that one of the biggest reasons so many Americans are planning to make the permanent move in order to work remotely is because of the amount of companies who are permanently adopting the work-from-home model. 

For example, Facebook and Twitter both announced offers that they would be making to their employees that would allow them to make their home-office their permanent workspace. 

Even small businesses are seeing the perks of this, in fact 57% of small and medium-size businesses plan to offer remote work plans to their employees in the long term. Small businesses have also reported that employee availability has increased by 19% with the move to remote work; obviously this depends on the specific business and employee duties as well. Adam Ozimek, Upwork’s chief economist, recently discussed the not-so-surprising results of the study. 

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“Companies were thrown feet first into a massive experiment with remote work due to the pandemic. The experiment has gone well; and it’s changing the future of the workforce. Remote work is the fastest game-changer for the U.S. economy since World War II.”

The rise in mobility among Americans looking to relocate means that there could be an increase in economic efficiency for businesses, and individuals, throughout the country.  “Remote work presents a potential solution for those seeking job opportunities that don’t want to pay the high housing costs of a major city,” Ozimek claimed, emphasizing how normally when individuals relocate to work from home, they’re more so focused on living in a city that they can afford and actually want to be in. 

The study also revealed that 20.6% of residents of major cities in the US are planning to move far away from their current home. Specifically, 54.7% said that they want to relocate somewhere two or more hours away from their current location. 

For employers this is also a positive, as the massive migration of individuals throughout the nation gives them a whole new pool of potential employees who are ready and willing to adapt to a permanent work-from-home model that will work well into the future. The renting market in America is currently the worst it’s been in years, and has many real estate industry workers worried about another major housing crisis in the US. However, the moving of up to 23 million Americans can help drive that market back up and boost the local economies throughout the entire nation.

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Creating A Positive Workplace Culture From Home

The coronavirus pandemic has forced many businesses and companies to transition to an online/remote working environment. Working from home is definitely a unique experience that has a lot of perks, however, if you’ve never been in an employment position that didn’t require you to go to an actual office space everyday, you may be struggling with the transition. The good part is we’re literally all in this together, and many of us are having a tough time staying focused and going from career brain to personal life at-home brain everyday.

Whether you have a managerial position in your company or not, everyone has a responsibility to generate a positive working environment, if not for their co-workers, for themselves more than anything.

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One thing you can make sure you do everyday is engage in small talk with your co-workers like you normally would. Think water cooler conversations just over the internet. Start your day with simple discussions on the weather, your pets or kids, new hobbies you’ve taken on, etc. When we actively engage the people that are around us everyday about their personal lives, it can create an overall sense of comradery and positivity, something we all could use a lot of right now.

During a time where we’re all constantly reading, talking, and writing about the coronavirus pandemic, it can be nice to break that pattern and talk about yourself and all the small good things going in life. So while small talk may seem like nothing, during a time of isolation, it’s actually everything.

When you’re online with your co-workers and discussing matters of actual business, make sure you transition to more formal ways of speaking. You can always message or quickly call up someone casually if you have a quick question, but in meeting-type settings, obviously there’s a certain level of professionalism that’s expected from everyone.

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When you’re on video conference calls or discussions with other workers, try to spice up your backdrops to be more than just a white wall. You don’t need to create an elaborate backdrop, but even sitting in front of a painting or bookshelf will indirectly show your co-workers a piece of your personal life in a professional setting.

This is significant for creating a good working-remotely company culture because, like small talk, it creates an overall sense of trust, and comradery. It’s okay to let your co-workers into your personal life every once in a while. Obviously that doesn’t mean you’re gonna start dealing out your credit score to people, but it does mean that you can start discussing things like your favorite books, paintings or artists with the people you work with.

If you pioneer that type of working environment/discussion, other workers will likely follow suit and begin to peel back some of those nervous and uncertain layers of their personality that are especially exploited for all of us during this pandemic.

You have the power to take all the steps to create a positive and motivated remote work environment, even if you aren’t the boss. So next time you log into Zoom, ask one of your co-workers about their new dog and focus on the good in life for a little while.

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How To Transition To Working Remotely

This week, hundreds of thousands of workers were told by their employers to stay home for the time being in light of the current coronavirus pandemic the world is enduring. Working remotely can definitely have its perks, but it can also be difficult to make the transition from doing work in a work environment, to the place where you go to escape your daily occupational duties. 

The best and worst part about working remotely is the fact that you get to enjoy the comfort of being in your own space all day. In order to make the transition easier, you should try to stick to your regular daily schedule when it comes to the beginning and ending of your work day. This way, you’re still splitting your day by professional and personal time, even though you’re not in a typical professional work environment. 

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Start by writing out a loose time schedule of what you normally do throughout a given day and when it gets done. For instance, you can block off the first hour of your day for responding to emails, the next for writing up a project report, and then break for lunch; obviously these are generalized examples. This way you can detach yourself physically and mentally at the end of the day when it’s time to “clock out” and your schedule is complete.

When giving yourself a break, separate yourself from the part of your home that you’ve set up as your work space. Don’t utilize your break time to do some household chores, really take time to just relax in your own area and mentally unwind, again, the goal is to still separate professional time from personal time. 

Speaking of work spaces, if your residence allows, try to find a dedicated and isolated area of your space that you can exclusively make your home office. If you have a spare room that you barely utilize anyway, whether it be a guest room or storage area, try to set up there. Most of us turn to the dining room table when we have to work remotely, however, having all of your work supplies, papers, folders etc. stacked up on your dinner table can make the entirety of your home feel like your office. Instead, find a space that’s isolated enough so that your obligations are out of sight and out of mind by the time you finish your day. 

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If your job will be requiring any kind of video conference calls or meetings, as most do now when in situations like this, then make sure you’re still dressing in a professional manner. Even if you know the video call will only last 15 minutes, dressing the part for your job will not only give you extra points among your boss and co-workers, but it will likely help you get into the right mindset to work from home as well. 

Finally, make sure you’re setting boundaries for yourself. This is not only to ensure that you’re getting your work done in an efficient manner, but also so you’re able to disconnect and wind down from your obligations when it comes time to do so at the end of the day. It can become easy for your professional and personal life to blur together when you’re working remotely, but remember, you wouldn’t answer a work email at 8 p.m. if you were still in an office, so don’t do it now. 

Allow yourself to enjoy the fact that working from home is kind of amazing. You have access to all of your own food in the fridge that you don’t have to worry about any sneaky co workers taking, you’re guaranteed to be in a space that you know is clean, because you do it yourself, and so on. So while it may take you a minute to adjust, understand that for now this is the safest and best option for all of us, so throw on some sweatpants and answer that email. 

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Creating A Healthy Workplace Culture When Everyone Works Remotely

Building a proper company culture is essential in 2020. When it comes to your business, or the business you work for, you may not fully enjoy your job, but you should at least feel comfortable enough in your environment to do your work to the best of your ability, and with the support of everyone around you. However, now that we’re in a predominately digital age, more and more jobs are able to be done remotely. So how exactly do you create a company culture of comradery and support when you’re not all under the same roof?

First, even with a remotely run company, all staff members should get together physically at some point to learn about one another and their roles within the company. Obviously this is only a real option if all employee’s live in the same area, relatively, however, group video conference capabilities have reached their maximum potential in 2020, so as long as everyone has some sort of video-chat capable device, everyone will be able to get together. 

Staying in touch via video chat is a great idea in general for creating a work atmosphere of support and respect. Weekly video conferences are an easy way to keep communication open and fluid amongst co-workers. Save some time in every video conference for everyone to discuss any questions or make any comments regarding the work they’re doing as a whole. By encouraging communication that is both supportive and constructive, you’ll easily create an environment that is both vulnerable and motivating. 

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Projects within your field of work that require cross-collaboration amongst different co-workers are another great way at establishing trust. When remote workers branch out within their occupation and work with other employees, whether it be in person or over video chat, it’s more likely that they’ll build personal relationships with one another. Creating appropriate personal relationships in the workplace can kick start a domino effect of new connections with other co-workers as well; you never know when one employee might recommend your skills to another based off the work you did together. 

This type of relationship building only further builds up the trust amongst every employee, regardless of rank, and creates a culture of open communication habits. Another way of building personal friendships while working remotely can be by hosting regular “virtual coffee sessions” with the entire office; an idea created by Karan Rhodes, who works remotely for a Human Resources company and writes for Forbes Magazine. 

With today’s great video conferencing tools, a great tactic is to host regular virtual coffees with the entire team. Everyone literally comes to the conference with a coffee, tea or water to catch up in an informal way. You can have a mixture of topics—work and non-work related sessions—to add a ton of variety. For global teams, remember to rotate times to accommodate the multiple time zones.”

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Depending on your position within the company, holding regular “office hours” is a great way for all employees to know when you’re fully available to discuss any issue they may have. If every employee within a company has a designated slot of time in which they are most available, other employees will feel more comfortable not being physically with their co-workers should they have a question or concern about anything. 

Communication is obviously the key to creating an open culture amongst employees. If you’re in a position of power, keep your employee’s updated either with email threads, chain messaging, Slack, etc. on any and all progress that the company is making. When updating everyone on said progress, be specific with naming the employee’s who helped with whatever you’re updating everyone on. By being specific with your encouragement, you’ll not only motivate others to strive for the same level of success, but reassure everyone that their work is valued, seen, and well-done.  

Employee’s should also have group-chats that work outside the realm of the remote office in which they’re able to let off steam, build new personal connections, and discuss non-work related topics. While encouraging employees to not do work may seem far-fetched, it really is essential in creating deeper connections. When those relationships are established, the work within each employee will reflect that, because everyone will feel more trusting with one another to help.

Remote work is rising in popularity, but that doesn’t mean office comradery has to suffer as a result. Accentuate healthy means of communication, encourage collaboration, and emphasize success within an individual’s work, and the trust will follow. 

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The Digital Nomad Lifestyle is Growing in Popularity

Thanks to the widespread availability of high-speed Internet access, millions of Americans participate in a lifestyle that would have been impossible just a few years ago. So-called “digital nomads” make a living online, as their work requires only a computer and an internet connection, allowing them to travel for extended periods of time while supporting themselves financially. Although the lifestyle is certainly not for everyone, it is growing in popularity, as it becomes possible to do more work from a virtual office and people seek to reconcile their desires to travel the country, or indeed even the world, with the reality of having to work. According to MBO Partners, 7.3 million Americans described themselves as digital nomads in 2019, which is 2.5 million more people than the previous year. As time goes on, employers are becoming more comfortable with the idea of hiring remote workers, and technological advancements have vastly improved the efficiency with which remote work can be performed.

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As these trends are likely to continue, the digital nomad lifestyle is all but certain to keep growing in popularity, as this unique way of living allows for a degree of freedom that most Americans can only dream of. More than half of digital nomads are millennials, and most are male, though all genders and age groups participate in the lifestyle to some extent. One of the advantages of the digital nomad lifestyle is the flexibility it affords. Accordingly, digital nomads differ greatly in income, as some work part-time while others work full-time, and the type of work digital nomads do varies in earning potential. One distinct advantage of the digital nomad lifestyle is the money-saving opportunities it enables; while most of us think of travel as an expensive luxury, digital nomads can keep costs down by living in areas with a low cost of living while working for customers in high-wage labor markets, in a practice called “geoarbitrage.” In this way, digital nomads can spend less time working than they otherwise would have to, allowing them to greater immerse themselves in the environments they come across in their travels.

Given the opportunities for adventure and money-saving the lifestyle provides, it’s no wonder why almost 4 out of 5 digital nomads report being “satisfied” or “very satisfied” with their work and income. To better accommodate the millions of people who choose to live as digital nomads, an entire industry has sprung up to offer products and services to this unique demographic. This includes companies like Roam and Hubud, which provide working and living spaces that cater specifically to digital nomads, offering temporary housing, a professional environment to work in, and an opportunity to network with a local community of like-minded individuals. Additionally, online services and marketplaces make it easier for digital nomads to find work, and tour services designed specifically around the digital nomad lifestyle have emerged to help people work and explore without worrying too much about the logistics.

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While the digital nomad lifestyle is attractive to a large number of people, it’s not a realistic option for most. For one, if you are married or have kids, it can be impossible to manage participating in family obligations with a nomadic lifestyle. Additionally, the type of work that can be performed remotely tends to be high-skilled, intellectual labor, making the lifestyle difficult to adopt for people who don’t have a college degree or other specialized training. That being said, the lifestyle can be appealing to young people, who are not yet tied down with obligations, and older people, whose children are adults and who wish to continue working past retirement age while seeing the world.