Feature Blog Post – developed for USA Today’s online platform. The publication was seeking work and career-focused content that would resonate specifically with Millennial readership
4 challenges that successful virtual workers overcome
If you’re a college senior or a recent graduate on the hunt for your first job, it’s safe to bet that you’ve come across your fair share of employers who are recruiting hires for virtual positions. And between the allure of lunch break catnaps, nonexistent commutes, and the oh-so casual dress code (pajamas to work, anyone?), let’s be honest—working from home sounds pretty awesome. Yet, with 63 million Americans expected to swap their cubicles for remote offices by 2016 (a sharp increase from 2010’s 34 million), a growing number of millennials are finding virtual positions teeming with a unique set of daily obstacles, making professional success no small feat. Determined to show your virtual job who’s boss? Follow these tips for overcoming the biggest challenges of remote work, and you’ll be climbing the corporate ladder in no time.
- The Challenge: Staying motivated
The Fix: First things first—before beginning your workday, ditch the comfy sweatpants and your favorite fuzzy slippers, which can cause you to feel relaxed and nap-ready. No, you don’t have to throw on a three-piece suit to work remotely, but wearing jeans and a presentable top signals to your brain that you’re prepared and ready to work.Additionally, remain focused, even without the boss looming over your shoulder, by saying sayonara to sweet treats during your workday. Sugary foods cause energy to plummet, making motivation nonexistent. Stick to eating foods rich in complex carbohydrates, like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and beans, which will keep you energized and focused from 9 to 5.
- The Challenge: Establishing a work-life balance
The Fix: Create a workspace that is void of personal distractions. To do this, avoid setting up shop at the kitchen table, which can invite unneeded interruptions like chatty roommates and impromptu snack breaks. Not lucky enough to have an in-house study? No problem! Opt instead for a makeshift office in a private space, like your bedroom. To make it feel authentic, purchase a desk and personalize the surrounding area with photographs, inspirational quotes, and pictures, stocking your desk with office equipment and other supplies you might need. Once you’ve set up your space, respect your newfound work-life balance by reserving personal phone calls and Twitter perusing for your lunch break only. Most importantly, when quitting time rolls around, consider your workspace off-limits. Just because your office and home coexist doesn’t mean that you should be on the clock 24/7.
- The Challenge: Building camaraderie with coworkers
The Fix: According to Gallup, friendships in the workplace can increase employee satisfaction by as much as 50%. For virtual workers, however, forming intimate relationships with colleagues can prove challenging and will often require a proactive approach. If not already implemented, impress your manager by offering to organize and lead bi-monthly, in-person team meetings to discuss strategy as well as foster friendships. Geographical constraints? Opt for Skype group meetings instead.Additionally, if your team is centrally located, encourage bonding time post-workday by initiating group happy hours, forming an office volleyball team, or if your coworkers are dispersed throughout the country, organizing a fantasy football league and inviting them to participate.
- The Challenge: Maintaining a healthy lifestyle as an introvert
The Fix: If you consider yourself an introvert, boisterous team meetings and pesky interruptions from coworkers make the thought of office life unbearable. And with introverts comprising 50% of the population, a remote position may seem like the ideal gig for many. However, for some shy professionals, a consistent lack of human interaction can encourage extreme seclusion and result in an unhealthy lifestyle. Avoid falling into this trap by befriending 1 or 2 other ‘silent trailblazers’ on your team whose creativity and subject-matter expertise make them leaders. While large, team-bonding activities like those described above may seem daunting, forcing yourself to seek out intimate, in-person hangout sessions or robust social media chats with other introverted, yet highly valued coworkers will, believe it or not, improve your morale and office productivity, not to mention your overall well-being.
What’s the secret ingredient to your success as a virtual employee? Share it in the comments section below
Blog Post – developed as a pitch piece for the Orange County, North Carolina Visitor’s Bureau
Weekend Escape: 72 Hours in Orange County, North Carolina
Imagine. It’s summertime and you’re vacationing in the stunningly beautiful Tar Heel state. Where are you? Lounging oceanside along the beloved Outer Banks? Or maybe hiking the cloud-kissed Appalachian trails lining the state’s westernmost border? However, for those prone to wanderlust, chances are high that central North Carolina’s Piedmont region has never made your shortlist of warm weather destinations. But maybe it should.
Enter Orange County, a scenic haven nestled conveniently on the outskirts of the bustling Research Triangle and home to the University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill (go Heels!). With an abundance of history, rich culture, and extraordinary dining and shopping, here’s your guide to planning the perfect weekend getaway in Carolina’s most overlooked tourist destination.
Eat Local, Eat Fresh
Orange County is home to some of the freshest, locally grown produce in North Carolina, and there are a myriad of ways to get your hands on it. Spend a morning perusing one of the many local farmers markets that operate on weekends: the towns of Carrboro, Chapel Hill, and Hillsborough all offer separate, yet equally bountiful selections of fruits, veggies, and wares to browse. And if you’re eager to see local harvest in its natural habitat, there are plenty of nearby farms that welcome guests and host tours, including Cedar Grove Blueberry Farm, Coon Rock Farm, and Garland Truffles.
Dine, Sip, Browse, Savor
No vacation to this part of the state is complete without a trip to historic Franklin Street. Situated in the heart of downtown Chapel Hill, this area teems with an eclectic mix of locals, college students, and tourists and boasts a slew of renowned restaurants, boutiques, bars, microbreweries, and acclaimed live music venues. For suggestions on what to eat, drink, buy, and listen to here, consult our handy guide (hyperlink included) to the best that this storied street has to offer.
What’s a Tarheel, Anyway?
You haven’t experienced Orange County to the fullest until you tour the pride of Chapel Hill: the University of North Carolina. Opened to students in 1795, UNC was the nation’s first public university and its historic grounds and architecture make for an educational addition to your weekend. Sign up for a student-led tour of the campus or, for those who prefer independent sightseeing, take advantage of the college’s self-guided tour. While you’re there, be sure to don your best Tar Heel baby blue for the occasion!
Discover Orange County
With its quaint charm and vibrancy, it’s no wonder that Orange County, North Carolina is quickly becoming a favorite locale for summer travel enthusiasts seeking a unique taste of southern culture. Start planning your trip today by visiting the Chapel Hill and Orange County Visitor’s Bureau’s webpage: https://www.visitchapelhill.org/
Blog Post – developed for Pink & Black Magazine, an online lifestyle magazine/blog for women. The team was seeking a seasonal style roundup that would resonate with their Millennial audience.
5 Trendy Coats for Winter
The arrival of colder weather makes for the perfect excuse to update your closet with the season’s chicest winter staples. But in between stocking up on chunky, cable-knit sweaters, warm booties, and jewel-toned scarves, don’t forget about the wardrobe essential that every girl should invest in: a trendy coat. Cozy up to one (or all) of Pink & Black’s top five outerwear mainstays and stay nice and toasty all winter long.
In the past, you might have written off this rainy weather necessity for looking a little too Sherlock Holmes. However, this season’s leather-trimmed details provide a timely facelift, revamping it into a working girl must-have without sacrificing the refined feel.
Where to wear it: The office
We recommend…3.1 Phillip Lim for Target’s Trench Coat in Khaki- $55.98, Jones New York’s Double-Breasted Faux Leather Trim Trench – $129.99, and Michael Kors’s Faux Leather Trim Trench Coat – $158
Bell-Shaped or Cape
True to its namesake, this ladylike piece flares slightly outward towards the hemline, similar to the shape of a bell. But don’t let its unusual silhouette fool you – this tasteful coat is the epitome of elegance. To best accentuate the coat’s draped style, pair it with a tailored bottom half – skinny jeans and heeled boots will do the trick.
Where to wear it: Family gathering
We recommend… Zara’s Jacquard Coat in Black/Ecru – $79.99 and Elie Tahari’s Nadja Faux Fur Coat – $135
This season, we salute all things Army green, especially this iconic menswear style that can fit seamlessly into even the most feminine of wardrobes. Opt for a slim fitting jacket to keep the look crisp and modern. For a girly touch, pair with a lacy skirt and knee-high boots or channel your inner rock ‘n roll goddess with dark leather leggings and metallic hardware galore.
Where to wear it: Date night
We recommend…Urban Outfitters’s Ecote Canvas Military Jacket – $89 and Express’s Khaki Green Stretch Cotton Jacket – $58.80
(Faux) Leather Moto Jacket
Nothing screams confidence quite like a sleek, leather jacket. Yet pricing for this durable fabric is often expensive, causing garments designed with it to be considered investment pieces for the budget conscious. If you can’t afford the real deal, opt instead for a faux leather alternative which also requires less maintenance. For an effortlessly cool feel from morning until night, pair this jacket with fitted trousers at the office and, at day’s end, a flirty skirt and strappy heels for dinner in the city.
Where to wear it: Girl’s night out
We recommend…Old Navy’s Women’s Faux Leather Moto Jacket – $39.97 and Jessica Simpson’s Trey Faux-Leather Quilted Moto Jacket – $74.99
If you thought the infamous wooden hook-and-button toggle jackets of your youth were a fleeting 4th grade fashion faux pas, think again. This longtime classic is here to say and racking up fans both new and old with its surprisingly shape-enhancing fit. As the go-to jacket for a trip to the flea market or a casual dinner date, this flattering piece is ideal for any occasion.
Where to wear it: Weekend getaway
We recommend…Tommy Hilfiger’s Hooded Faux Fur Trim Toggle-Front – $159.99, BCBG Paris’s Hooded Faux-Fur Trim, Toggle Front Duffle – $74.99, and J. Crew’s Toggle Coat in Wool-Cashmere – $350