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How to work from home successfully

Working from home sounds like a dream for many office goers – until you toss in a pandemic  and it’s less exciting. No doubt the change in routine is enough to throw anyone off their productivity game. I searched high and low and threw in some personal experience to bring you the ultimate guide to working from home – successfully.

  1. Pretend you’re going out

A change in routine isn’t an opportunity to slack off. When you get up in the morning, start your day as if you would if you were going to the office. Take a shower, dress like you’re leaving and eat like you’re leaving. Doing this little task will set your day in motion and you’ll kick start your productivity. It’s a lot easier to get into work mode in a suit and tie than in sweatpants and pyjamas.

  1. Separate your workspace from your living space.

Bringing work home is never fun and taking home to work is forbidden. This especially applies when working remotely. Identify a space you’ll make your office during work-time and make sure it’s free of distractions. Most people opt for a dining table or a study. Separating your workspace from your living space is a necessary boundary to successfully work from home. By dividing your space you can easily rest when you need to and work when you’re supposed to. It takes as much discipline to ‘switch on’ as it does to ‘switch off’.

  1. Work when you’re most productive

This is undoubtedly the biggest perk you get when working from home. Naturally, our motivation levels ebb and flow[1]. Learning when your productivity levels peak will allow you to schedule your harder tasks for when you’re most capable of doing them. Save the more routine and easier tasks like answering emails and making calls for when your productivity levels drop. Some people are early risers and can run a marathon first thing in the morning while some can write a thesis at 3am. Find your time and work with it.

  1. Get started early

While we’re not all early risers, getting a start on your work as soon as you wake up is a well-known secret for being productive. If your productivity doesn’t peak until later in the day, that’s fine. Tackle any tasks you can when you wake up – anything is better than nothing.

  1. Plan out your day ahead of time

We’re all guilty of wasting time planning out what we’re going to do – in the order we’re going to do them. It’s massively inefficient to start planning your day when it’s already begun. Ideally, after completing your work day you should spend an extra 15minutes planning where to start the next day. Don’t aim to plan more, aim to do more.

  1. Communicate expectations with anyone who will be home with you

Maximising productivity is all about minimising distractions. With lockdowns and mandatory curfews – you’re likely not the only one at home. Establishing boundaries early will save you a lot of heartache. Do this by scheduling your work time and making sure your family/roommates/kids respect your space when you’re working.

  1. Pick a definitive finishing time each day[2]

You’re responsible for protecting your time[3]. Being at home and working are exclusive concepts – you’re responsible for doing each at the right time. While it seems like working from home is the key to a healthy work-life balance – you’re bound to overindulge on one side. You have to be careful not to get caught up on either activity – work when you have to and rest when it’s time. Clear boundaries are the key to a healthy work-life balance.

Try out these tips and let us know how they work for you. Stay tuned for even more advice on working from home.

Also check out: habits of successful employees, How to get hired on the spot

[1] https://blog.hubspot.com/marketing/productivity-tips-working-from-home

[2] https://blog.hubspot.com/marketing/productivity-tips-working-from-home

[3] https://medium.com/unsplash/an-introverts-guide-to-working-remotely-68ad78c84575

Tips for effective group meetings

If not properly steered, meetings can be notoriously unproductive and a big waste of time in office culture. We’ve all been there; where one person speaks up and derails the meeting, or where people aren’t quite sure why they’re there and leave the meeting still unsure of what the meeting was about. So, how do you avoid unnecessary and inefficiently run meetings? How do you ensure that all your meetings are productive? Here are some tips to help you out.


It is important to figure out if the meeting is even necessary in the first place. Some things by their very nature, are not a good use of group time. If items are sensitive or require significant back and forth or clarification, then these can be a great use of meeting time.[1]


When scheduling a meeting keep in mind that it will take up people’s time. It is a common misconception that if you schedule say, a one-hour meeting with four people and this meeting ends up being unproductive then you have only lost one hour. This is in fact not the case because, four individual people lost an hour of work time which adds up to four hours of lost time.

With this in mind, it is therefore much easier to decide who needs to be present for the meeting to minimise time wasting and maximise productivity.[2]


Set expectations with meeting attendees and have a clear objective for the meeting. It is important to think about what the purpose of the meeting is. Is the meeting a brainstorming session? Do you need to communicate specific information? Or do you want to make an important decision?[3]

After establishing the purpose of the meeting, ensure that you communicate this agenda to those who will take part in the meeting. This will ensure that even before the meeting begins everyone will know exactly why they’re there and how they should prepare.


Setting ground rules is an integral part of ensuring successful meetings because they establish a safe and productive environment. Ground rules detail the code of conduct for a meeting and the team, explaining the behaviour that’s expected of all participants. Have rules to regulate when meetings begin and end, how participants should handle their responsibilities in the meeting and how they should treat each other e.g. being respectful of each other’s opinions etc.[4]


Even after going through the process of setting out an agenda for the meeting, you still have to actively manage the meeting to ensure that you stay on track. A lot of times people will unintentionally go on tangents and veer off topic. Try to steer the meeting back to the main agenda to avoid wasting time.[5]

Actively managing a meeting also means that you are getting equal representation and input from all the participants. If you notice that some participants are speaking more than others and dominating the discussion, make a point of calling out those who are more quiet and encourage them to share their input. If a usually quiet person speaks, show your appreciation. Try to draw everyone in and not just let the usual suspects speak.[6]


During the meeting, agree on the next course of action and then document this. Take note of the tasks assigned to specific people. After the meeting send out a brief summary of the meeting and what was agreed upon. This will promote accountability and ensure that everyone is on the same page. Doing this also makes the meeting time more actionable and productive. [7]

Meetings are an effective way to bounce ideas around and increase productivity in your organisation. They also help boost team spirit and encourage active participation. It is therefore important to ensure that you do your best to make them as efficient and productive as possible. Apply these simple tips and start having more effective group meetings.

Check out: How to get your team out of a creative rut

Mshimba Michelle

[1] https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbesleadershipforum/2014/02/05/seven-steps-to-running-the-most-effective-meeting-possible/#364c656d7a61

[2] https://hbr.org/2015/03/how-to-know-if-there-are-too-many-people-in-your-meeting

[3] https://www.thebalancecareers.com/how-to-lead-a-team-meeting-2275935

[4] https://hbr.org/2016/06/8-ground-rules-for-great-meetings

[5] https://www.skillsyouneed.com/rhubarb/keep-meetings-on-track.html

[6] https://liberationist.org/how-to-encourage-participation-in-meetings/

[7] https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-019-02295-z

Habits of successful employees

The test for success is subjective because everyone has a different idea of what is means to succeed. Regardless, we can all agree that success is the achievement on one’s goals and dreams. In the work place, success entails advancing in one’s career, being respected by one’s colleagues and being content with one’s work. Here are some habits that successful employees have.


Employees who manage their time well are more productive, more efficient, and more likely to meet deadlines. They focus on the most important and time-sensitive tasks and limit the amount of time wasted on non-essential duties.

Time management is an essential skill for successful employees. When not constantly rushing to meet deadlines, employees who properly manage their time are able to put more effort in to their work and in turn increase the quality of their work.[1]


Self-motivated persistence in acquiring knowledge and improving competency is an important trait to have as an employee. This is an indispensable tool for every employee because it enables one to expand their skill set and broaden the horizon for future opportunities.[2]

The world is constantly changing and new knowledge is constantly evolving the workplace and changing company direction. Employees who make a constant effort to learn new things and keep up with the changing demands of the company are more successful. The ability to learn and progress is the principal driver for most if not all organisations.


Change is the one constant thing in life and what varies is our response to it. Adaptability is the ability to be a perpetual optimist and exhibit extraordinary resilience in times of change.

An adaptable employee is a valuable employee – a successful employee. This is because they are able to anticipate changes in the work place and take appropriate action. They are open to finding diverse and innovative solutions to unexpected problems and challenges in the workplace.[3]


A self-motivated individual is one who has the internal drive to begin and continue tasks without having to be prodded or supervised. Successful Employees who are self-motivated succeed because they go above and beyond in their prescribed work, instead of settling and doing the bare minimum.[4]

Self-motivated employees get more work done and are top performers because they continuously work hard; there are simply no wasted hours. They are proactive and their work is of a higher quality.[5]

Self-motivated employees contribute greatly to the success of an organisation in so many ways. Motivated employees equal better results. Better results equal a better company. And a better company is one that will stick around for years to come.


Employees who have a positive can-do attitude are more likely to be successful. Having a good, positive attitude, along with positive thinking, at work will reflect on what you do and make you a more productive employee.[6]

Having a positive attitude can make it easier to cope with problems thus deal with challenges  more efficiently. Daunting tasks become more manageable because one can focus on their inner resilience to see the tasks through.

Your attitude is a form of expression of yourself.  You can choose to be happy, positive and optimistic, or you can choose to be pessimistic and critical, with a negative outlook on your workday.  A positive attitude helps you cope better under stressful situations at work.

In all this, remember that doing your best to achieve your full potential is a sure way to be successful. Take your work seriously and apply these few tips to reach the top of your corporate ladder.

Like this? Check out: How to get hired on the spot

Mshimba Michelle

[1] https://www.game-learn.com/the-importance-of-time-management-job-satisfaction-employees/

[2] https://www.talentlms.com/elearning/continuous-learning

[3] https://www.business.com/articles/how-well-do-you-handle-change-the-benefits-of-being-adaptable/

[4] https://hiring.monster.com/employer-resources/small-business-hiring/employee-engagement/self-motivation/

[5] http://www.yourarticlelibrary.com/business-management/6-major-benefits-of-motivation-in-an-organisations/2524

[6] https://bizfluent.com/about-7277260-importance-good-attitude-job.html

How to hire an intern graphic
How to Hire an Intern

An intern is a trainee who signs on with an organisation to gain some work experience, or for a  course requirement and/or, to get a general feel of the industry they are interning in. Contrary to popular belief, interns can play an integral role in growing your company. When hiring an intern it is important to hire a person that you can learn from; a person that has the ability to execute tasks and contribute to the company. In this post you’ll find everything you need to know about hiring an intern.


When hiring an intern many questions arise – what tasks should they do? Should they be paid? Are they entitled to any work benefits? Like in any case, it’s important to know the law. Thus, ensuring their rights are protected and their duties are clearly spelled out.

Section 2 of the Employment Act states that an employee is a person employed for wages or a salary and includes an apprentice and an indentured learner. An intern is therefore not an employee. However, there are guidelines set out by the government regarding the rights and duties of interns. These guidelines can be found in the Internship Policy.

Payment of interns for instance, is an issue that is constantly in question. It is important to distinguish between paid and unpaid interns and who exactly fall in these categories.


Before you hire interns for your company or organisation, you must first define the specific job and the skills your internship program will feature. Set up training courses so that the interns can have an opportunity to learn how to perform various tasks within the company and grow their skill sets.[1] Have the intern set out specific goals and learning objectives they hope to achieve through the internship as well. This will motivate them to take the program seriously and give them a sense of responsibility and accountability.

It’s also important to look at your organisations’ needs and determine what you hope to achieve with an internship program. This will ensure that the internship is an educational and rewarding experience for both the intern and the organisation.[2] Commonly, companies use these programs to recruit talented graduates as employees before they’re snatched up by the ‘talent-deficient’ market. This is as much an opportunity for your organisation, as it is for the student interns.


Potential is a hopeful word that looks to the future. It is the ability to transform. The term “Potential” is typically used to suggest that an individual has the qualities to effectively perform and continually contribute in broader or different roles in the organisation. When hiring interns, pay close attention to those who show great enthusiasm for their work, and have the drive and ability to improve.

When hiring interns, ensure you identify those with the highest potential and maximise on this.[3] Untapped potential in robust youthful interns is a resource you cannot afford to miss out on.


Interns are in your office to learn and it is exceptionally beneficial and fulfilling to step into the role of a mentor. When selecting a supervisor, find someone who enjoys teaching and mentoring others and also understands the ins and outs of the organisation.

Supervisors are also important because they will help in orienting the interns and enable them to familiarise themselves with the company.[4]

A good supervisor is patient and can come up with quality work assignments for the interns. This supervision will further provide the company with information on the intern for future hiring.[5]


When looking to hire an intern make sure to carefully look over their application papers. Hire interns who are interested in your particular field. Related interest can often lead to higher performance levels. Interns who enjoy their duties tend to execute with greater enthusiasm. Passion yields positive results.[6]

Interviews are a great way to find out an intern’s passion and interest in your company and whether they are a good fit for your organisation.

Remember that the purpose of hiring interns is not to exploit them for cheap labour or, to shove them in a corner and give them pointless work to pass time. Internships are programs that are supposed to give students meaningful work experience and the opportunity to prepare for the job market. Interns provide you unprecedented, first hand access to the next generation of employees, they’re quite literally the future of your organisation. If you understand the role interns play in your brands sustainability, you must invest in them as a resource.

Mshimba Michelle

[1] https://www.internqueen.com/how-start-internship-program-your-company

[2] https://careers.usc.edu/employers/recruit-interns/learn-how-to-develop-an-effective-internship-program/

[3] https://talentguard.com/how-to-maximize-employee-potential/

[4] http://info.parkerdewey.com/supervising-interns


[6] https://mileiq.com/blog/hire-intern-small-business/

How to get hired on the spot graphic

You’ve done it; you landed that job interview. After all the resumé sprucing and cover letter writing, you finally got the call from HR and your first interview with your dream company is on the books. Now, it’s all about getting hired. Everyone, at some point in their life, will have to prepare for that uncomfortable and often intense meeting with a company they’ve applied to. But where do you begin? Here are some tips on how to get hired on the spot.


Unless you’re actually in sales, the very concept of selling yourself can be daunting. You don’t want to sound arrogant or corny, or worse – desperate. But learning how to self-promote in a convincing manner is what the job interview is all about. Your interview is your chance to sell yourself and convince your interviewers of all the good you can do for the company. Interviews are not the time for modesty!

Have an elevator speech ready. Before you walk in the door, you should be ready with a short, punchy sentence or two that not only wraps up your skills, qualities and talents, but also entices the interviewer to listen to more of what you have to say. “You can’t create a single elevator pitch that will work for every audience,” says Anne Marie Segal a Connecticut-based executive coach at Stamford. “You have to be speaking to the pain points of the company.” After all, your goal is to present yourself as the solution to their problems.[1]

If you’re not especially comfortable talking about yourself, the job interview is going to feel much more awkward than it really needs to be. The key to finding your rhythm? Practice.


When you feel good about the way you look, you naturally convey confidence and a positive attitude. These nonverbal messages are as important in the interview as the verbal skills you use in selling yourself. While there are no absolute rules, a good tip is to dress as you would if you were working at the company.

What you wear depends on what kind of interview it is and what it’s for. Keep in mind that it is always better to be overdressed than under dressed. If you are confused as to what to wear, don’t hesitate to ask. Call the person who scheduled you for the interview, or human resources to ask.

How you dress for an interview does make a difference. You’ve heard the saying, “You never get a second chance to make a first impression.” When it comes to a job interview, nothing rings truer. First impressions matter and dressing up shows that you actually put some effort. The first judgment potential employers will make, is based on how you look and what you are wearing. This is why it’s important to dress professionally for a job interview even when the work environment is a casual one.


A common job interview question you might get asked is, “What is your biggest weakness?” Even if you want to come across as the candidate to hire, no one is perfect, and trying to present yourself as such will put off the hiring manager.

So, just as you would keep track of your former glories, you should also have an example or two to present to a potential employer of things you need to work on. You can say something like, “In looking for a remote job, I’ve found that learning how to self-manage is very important. I’ve become much better at being able to meet all of my deadlines.” This doesn’t show failure, per se, but it does make you more human as you portray a weakness and how you’re working to make it better.[2]

“Hiring managers who ask about weaknesses during interviews are looking for examples of how a person faced obstacles in the past. Interviewers ask about weaknesses and failures because resiliency is a critical skill set which employees must have. As a manager, you expect to give constructive criticism to your employees and the ability of a person to take that and improve is important when choosing who you will manage.” says Dylan Schweitzer, a group talent acquisition manager for Enterprise Rent-A-Car.[3]


The most important step to getting hired is being prepared for your interviews. By doing some preparation you’ll feel more in control, and will appear cool, calm and collected as a result to your prospective employers.

At the very least, have a look at the company’s website to familiarise yourself with their history and what they do. Showing that you’ve taken the time to learn about the business is always a good way to impress your interviewers. Look into developments in the industry as well, as this will show that you are engaged and clued-in.

Additionally, make sure you fully understand the duties of the role and what is expected. If the interviewer asks ‘what do you know about the role’ and you’ve not read it, it’s a sure-fire sign you’re unlikely to get hired! Also, by reading the job specs you can start to anticipate the questions the interviewer may ask and be better prepared to answer them.[4]


You won’t always be the most qualified candidate; however, you can still ace an interview by focusing on what skills you can bring to the role. Solving problems is an analytical skill that many employers look for when conducting interviews.

Managers would far rather hire a member of staff who can take action to resolve a problem than someone who doesn’t act and relies on someone else to think of a solution. Even if it isn’t outlined as a requirement in a job description, many employers will still be evaluating your problem-solving ability throughout the application and interviewing process. Effective problem solvers are those who can apply logic and imagination to make sense of the situation and develop a solution that works. Even if it doesn’t prove as successful as you had hoped, resilience is important, so you can reassess the situation and try an alternative.[5]

During the interview, you may be asked about times when you ran in to problems in the course of your work and how exactly you handled these situations. Potential employers aim to find out how you would handle future problems that may arise in the company. Always show that you are a quick thinker and are able to come up with innovative ways to deal with various issues.

Use these few tips to build your confidence and lay the foundation for a positive and influential interview. Remember that a job interview is not a test of your knowledge, but your ability to use it at the right time. So just go in and remember – you’re fantastic!

Feel free to email us your CV to keep on file incase we have the perfect position for you

If you end up landing that dream position, you’ll need to turn your focus to progressing up the ladder. Find out how to get promoted here.

Michelle Mshimba


[2] https://www.theladders.com/career-advice/how-to-sell-yourself-in-an-interview-without-being-an-egomaniac

[3] https://www.forbes.com/sites/jacquelynsmith/2013/02/19/how-to-talk-about-your-biggest-weakness-in-a-job-interview/#6cda44f05a80

[4] https://www.glurecruit.co.uk/candidate-advice/interviewing-for-a-job/importance-fully-prepared-interview/

[5] https://www.wikijob.co.uk/content/interview-advice/competencies/problem-solving

How to get your team out of a creative rut

Lack of inspiration can be your worst enemy, and it can hit you anytime. Teams get stale from time to time for all sorts of reasons. After all, everyone is looking at the same data, interacting with the same people, and having the same conversations. So, it’s no surprise that the ideas coming up feel as though they’ve been done before. If you want to unlock your employees’ creative potential, try these simple tips.


Routine, although structuring, can easily become mind numbing and consistency can morph into complacency. In the process, employees can consciously or unconsciously forgo the possibility of further progress or change and in turn lose their sense of creativity. Sometimes, all you need to boost innovative juices, is change things up a bit.

Have your employees participate in workshops, courses, seminars and read materials that are outside the scope of their area of expertise. From time to time, have them volunteer, participate in team building & training exercises and even travel to different countries. The more they can get out of their routine, the better it is. They will be exposed to completely different ways of thinking. This will greatly boost their creativity and problem solving capabilities.

And remember, creativity doesn’t come from doing the same things the same exact way. Getting a little uncomfortable even in small ways can help spark your employees’ creativity.


Competition is a big driver of motivation, creativity, performance, and innovation. It pushes people to be better. A little competition among the employees would not hurt. A competitive environment is a productive environment. Encourage employees to participate in competitions or challenges as it’s healthy from time to time and may actually lead to increased camaraderie.

Friendly competition amongst teams helps with employee engagement and employee participation. Additionally, the more competition influencing your employees to accomplish something, the more motivated they will be to head to work each morning and think up new innovative and creative ways to stay on top. Incentives push people to become more creative and find new ways of doing things. Competing with each other will inspire employees to get creative, put in more effort, work harder, and become more productive.[1]


When you hear the word “brainstorming,” what comes to mind? People in a room yelling out random thoughts? Chaos? An exercise for designers and creative types? In other words, something OPD (other people do—not you). Maybe it’s time to give it a second look.

Brainstorming is typically conducted in a facilitated session or workshop environment to stimulate creative thinking, to create novel or innovative solutions to a problem, and to introduce “controlled chaos” into the thought process. It is the most widely used technique to cultivate ideas. It is based on the principle that “many brains are often better than one.”[2]

Brainstorming is a business technique that can work for any department, in any type of business, especially HR. Schedule a meeting with employees to bounce ideas around. Having regular idea-generation sessions keeps the flow of inspiration and creativity going.


“Recently, I was asked if I was going to fire an employee who made a mistake that cost the company $600,000. No, I replied, I just spent $600,000 training him. Why would I want somebody to hire his experience?” – Thomas John Watson Sr.

No one truly likes to fail. It can drag you down mentally and physically. At the same time, failure gets a raw deal. Even though it hurts, it’s one of the best and most effective ways to learn and grow. Don’t be afraid to let your employees experiment and try new things. If something doesn’t work, they can learn what went wrong and try again. Who knows? The second time around, they may knock it out of the park. But the truth is that they may not have been so successful if they hadn’t stumbled during their first attempt.

This is where managers and senior leaders can play a key role in helping change attitudes by sharing their own blunders and mishaps. Just because you’re in a senior role doesn’t mean you’re immune to mistakes either. The difference though is how you deal with it afterwards, and that’s the point to be made.[3] Changing your attitude towards failure will switch up your employees’ thinking, and show them the benefits the inevitably bumpy journey will bring.


Employees are most engaged when all five senses are stimulated. Most creative experiences come from combining two seemingly unrelated ideas. Encouraging the flow of non-sequitur ideas through sensory experiences can help employees find new inspiration.[4] When you deliver a sensory experience to the workplace, you transform purely functional spaces into energising environments where employees find more meaning, fun, success and fulfilment in their work.

For example, you might hang thought-provoking abstract art on the walls, regularly fill the office with new scents or play unconventional music through your loudspeakers. Doing so will help employees think in new ways and become more stimulated by their environment. As an added bonus, most of these additions have a calming or satisfying effect on people — so your team will feel happier and will be more productive in addition to being more creative.

“You can’t use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have.”- Maya Angelou

Inspiring creativity within your team isn’t a luxury. It’s imperative if you want to boost employee productivity and stay top of mind with your customers and thrive as a business for years to come.

Mshimba Michelle

[1] https://www.hubgets.com/blog/healthy-competition-improves-productivity-atwork/

[2] https://www.projectmanagement.com/wikis/233029/Brainstorming

[3] https://www.forbes.com/sites/voicesfromeurope/2018/12/03/why-embracing-and-discussing-failure-is-good-for-your-company-culture/#4a5a03b068ae

[4] https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/271905

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