10 Remote Work Trends That Will Dominate 2019

Remote work is rising, with recent estimates stating that at least 43% of all workers now work out of the office at least part of the time. These rates are likely to increase exponentially in the coming years as digital transformation advances pose a direct threat to the traditional workplace model.  “Remote offices” or “remote workplaces” come with a unique set of challenges, including the need for increased digitization and a virtual environment that facilitates not only work, but culture and collaboration. Read about some of the top trends impacting remote work today in the Forbes article below.

Remote work is no longer a privilege. It’s become the standard operating mode for at least 50% of the U.S. population. Virtual retreats are no longer attributed solely to progressive startups. Traditional employers are finally on-board and ready to propose a flexible work arrangement higher up the pipeline.

2019 will further reinforce the current global shift towards “remote-friendly” workplaces and dictate a few more unique trends.

1. Employer expectations of digital skills are shifting from basic to advance

The demand for technology-savvy professionals now extends well beyond the software development space. According to fresh data from LinkedIn, general tech skills – web design, social media management and so on – are among the fastest growing in-demand skills. Whereas basic digital literacy – fluency with email software tools and word processing software – witnessed the fastest decline compared to other skill groups. Companies now expect employees to be more comfortable with all sorts of digital tools, even for entry-level positions and more so for remote employees. So if you are just considering the transition, make sure that your technical skill set is up-to-date and you know how to run a virtual office.

2. “In-the-office” days may become more popular

No, it’s not because more employers want to micromanage their remote teams. Quite on the contrary, employers are finally starting to address the mental health factor more seriously. The biggest reported struggle of remote work is lack of community – 21% of remote workers named “loneliness” as one of their main on-the-job issues.

To address this, companies are now encouraging remote members to come back to the office at least once per week. And this strategy gives results – Gallup poll estimated that the “visiting” employees tend to be more engaged and fulfilled when compared to their 100% remote or full-office counterparts. Such members are more likely to have friendships at work and state that their job includes opportunities to learn and grow.

3. Workplace cybersecurity will move upstream

This year, a lot of large companies have fallen prey to cybersecurity attacks and Internet giants (think Facebook) reported massive data breaches. While large corporations already have a good grip on security policies for remote employees, smaller employers have been leaving this area neglected. A new survey says that 38% of remote workers hired by SMEs do not have the technological support or expertise they need when working at home or in a public space. Interestingly enough, an additional 18% of respondents say that they would have been concerned as an employer about IT security. Rightfully so, as 72% of breaches actually occur at companies with under 100 employees.

In 2019, smaller companies should really catch up on their IT security. A good start is to develop unified security policies for both in-house and remote employees; restrict access to sensitive data to those who try to access it from public Wi-Fi networks and explore new-gen security tools, especially those powered by the blockchain technology.

4. Employers should start addressing the “trust issues”

E&Y survey revealed that less than half of global professionals trust their current employer, boss or team/colleagues. While the survey only included responses from in-house team members, the trust factor often gets more complicated for remote team members. Working solo, without regular access to company updates and the “water cooler” corporate chit-chat, can amplify the employee’s exclusion from the work process and make them question whether they are treated fairly or not.

The same survey indicated that unfair employee compensation, unequal opportunity for pay and promotion, lack of leadership, a work environment that does not promote collaboration are the key reasons for low trust. Promoting more transparency and collaboration between remote/in-house teams and management should become the new norm for 2019.

5. Having a specialization is a must

The era of generalists is over. Most employers are now after talent with specific skill sets: 78% of HR managers said that most skills will become even more niche in the next 10 years. Possessing those coveted skills means that you will remain in high-demand and have a lever during salary negotiations. Most employers are ready to pay the top dollar for hiring and retaining a remote candidate, whenever they cannot find certain expertise locally.

6. Legislature changes may lead to more remote work opportunities

FASB/IASB accounting changes are due to take effect on 1 January 2019 in the US, affecting every company that leases commercial real estate. A lot are now forced to seek alternative solutions for accommodating their offices. As a cost-optimization strategy, savvy businesses may choose to switch to telecommuting and hire new personnel on a remote basis. Gartner also estimates that “choose-your-own-work-style” decisions do not just lead to operational savings, but as well boost employee rates by more than 10%. So a lot of employers will likely diversify their work policies.

7. More training for remote staff

This year, employers have finally recognized the fact that the lack of meaningful learning and progression opportunities leads to high attrition rates. In 2019, this line of thinking also extends towards remote teams. Micro-learning and self-paced learning programs are bound to get more traction as more employers realize the incremental benefits of nurturing and re-engaging existing teams.

8. Get prepared for Gen Z competition

By 2020, Gen Z will comprise 36% of the global workforce. Being digital natives, who grew up in an internet-centric society, the members of this generation are likely to be more comfortable with newer technology and more inclined to seek remote or flexible working arrangements, rather than pursue traditional corporate roles. Account for the competition that’s coming.

9. Nomadic remote workers will find new bases

Co-working spaces became the usual habitat of the remote worker. In 2019, the travel-seeking remote employees may finally succeed in combining their need for a decent Wi-Fi with an affinity for some pool time. Selina a hotel chain, mashing up high-end suites with dormitory rooms in the same building, along with coworking spaces is expanding to the US and Europe. After successfully testing their operational model in Latin America markets, the company secured a new building in Miami and is now location-scouting in Portugal.

10. Remote work is expected to grow stronger in 2019

All signs indicate that we are nowhere close to hitting the plateau. Businesses across public and private sector increasingly recognize the benefits of hiring and retaining remote workers. Societal trends with millennials and Gen Z also push more businesses towards adopting more flexible working policies and allowing at least partial telecommute. If you are planning to transition to remote work, 2019 may be just the right time to do so.

The article above, written by Abdullahi Muhammed, was originally published on Forbes’ website. View the original article here: https://www.forbes.com/sites/abdullahimuhammed/2018/12/21/10-remote-work-trends-that-will-dominate-2019/. Abdullahi is a contributor to Forbes covering smart freelancing, the gig economy, and remote work.

To learn more about our solutions, please contact: [email protected] or 210-802-5211.

Join Earth Class Mail at the 2019 Dig-In Conference for Digital Insurance

Earth Class Mail is excited to travel north from our San Antonio headquarters to spend a few days exhibiting at this year’s Dig-In conference at the Neal Kocurek Memorial Austin Convention Center in Austin, TX. Dig-In is an innovative, industry-leading event built to showcase the best aspects of the digital future of insurance.  Attendees include senior technology and strategy decision makers from insurance carriers from across the U.S. and around the globe including, P&C and life technology executives, P&C and life strategy executives, heads of innovation, digital strategy executives, startups, AI & analytics firms, customer experience firms, strategy & innovation experts, drones, IOT and telematics firms, venture capital investors, private equity investors, regulators and government officials, and technology innovators looking to partner with industry leaders.

Stop by our Booth #724 in the Exhibit Hall to learn how we transform mail into actionable data. 

Schedule a brief in-person meeting at our booth and you’ll receive an extra entry into our drawing to win an Apple Watch Series 4.

When you visit our booth, you’ll have the chance to:

  • Learn more about Earth Class Mail solutions for the insurance industry.
  • Enter to win an Apple Watch Series 4.
  • Pick up an Earth Class Mail insulated water bottle. Come early as supplies are limited.

Exhibition Dates and Hours:

  • Wednesday, May 29th: 1:30 pm – 6:45 pm
  • Thursday, May 30th: 9:15 am – 7:00 pm
  • Friday, May 31st: 9:00 am – 12:30 pm

Follow @EarthClassMail and the conference hashtag #DigIn2019 on Twitter. We hope to see you there!

To learn more about our solutions, please contact: [email protected] or 210-802-5211.

Four Questions for Improving Your Paper Efficiency

All businesses are challenged with managing huge influxes of paper bound information, the majority of which is inbound mail. In response, businesses of all sizes increasingly use technology and outsourcing to modernize and improve the efficiency of managing this paper.  Paper management can cost employees valuable hours, especially when they’re assigned the task of opening, sorting, and acting on important mail. This can be particularly hard for entrepreneurs, who are already strapped for valuable resources.

It may be helpful to think about the time your business spends on administrative tasks, such as mail management or manual scanning. Re-evaluating your current approach (or lack thereof) for handling postal mail could help you realign your business’ true objectives. We’ve listed four primary questions that may help in that process.

  1. What is the volume of mail you receive?  In 2018 alone, the United States Postal Service delivered more than 146 billion pieces of mail.  For organizations that receive high volumes of mail, have multiple offices receiving mail, or deal with busy seasonal trends, you may benefit from a digital mailroom. If so, make sure the firm you choose for outsourcing your mail has the infrastructure and history of processing documents quickly and reliably. Ask how long the business has been in operation, what technologies are used to complete the job, and how they plan for business continuity in the event of a disruption.

  2. What actions can I take on my mail? If mail is sorted in house, think how long it takes for necessary actions to be taken on those mail items. If it’s taking longer than needed for important documents to be read, bills to be paid, or checks to be deposited, these questions may help in finding a better solution.
    • How long does it take to open and deliver important documents?
    • How long does it take to deposit checks?
    • What are the available options for organizing information?
    • Can I easily share important information with coworkers?
    • Can I easily find the information I need on paper?
    • Am I able to extract relevant data systematically or consistently?
    • Am I able to take action seamlessly?

  3. What network and physical security measures do you take? Your mail and paper documents are vitally important for your business. If you’re going to outsource the handling of those important papers, make sure you can trust the business tasked with your mail management. Ensure they have reliable certifications, and ask about cybersecurity measures and privacy policies in place to keep your data safe and secure. It may actually be more secure than keeping important papers in your own offices.

  4. How quickly can I access my information? One of the major benefits of using a digital mailroom is accessing information quickly and in a more useful format. If you’re manually scanning your own documents, ask how long it’s taking to see the digital contents from the moment you start your workflow. Searchability and accessibility are key benefits of digitizing mail and storing in a cloud-based environment.

When deciding whether to outsource your mail management, assess how it will impact your team, existing processes, and other workflows. As the world continues to evolve, it is important for businesses to evolve as well. Outsourcing and digitization help streamline efficiencies, eliminate manual-intensive processes, and enable businesses to focus on what they do best.

To learn more about our solutions, please contact: [email protected] or 210-802-5211.

Launching Auto-Deposit for CheckStream 🚀

We developed CheckStream with simple goals: help people save time and get paid faster by depositing checks straight from their inbox. With more than $120 million in deposited checks this year alone, we’ve accomplished our goals by saving you from unnecessary trips to the bank.

We wanted to do more to create an even better and faster solution, and with our launch of Auto-Deposit, we’re giving CheckStream that boost.

Although faster than walking checks to a teller, it still takes time to open your inbox, locate mail items containing checks, and manually request a deposit for each check. Now, Auto-Deposit will complete the check depositing process from start to finish the moment we detect a check in your inbox.  

Plus, when paired with our existing Auto-Scan rule, Auto-Deposit will allow you to receive your cash without a single search or click in your inbox. It’s a ‘set and forget’ solution without limits on the number of checks you can deposit into any domestic bank account.

Here’s how ‘set and forget’ works:

  • Once enabled, Auto-Scan will automatically scan the contents of mail items received in your virtual inbox.
  • If any of the items contain a check, the Auto-Deposit rule will immediately begin the depositing process.
  • Cash arrives in your account without you having to open your inbox. 

When you set up your Auto-Deposit rule, you’ll be able to choose which domestic bank account will receive your checks. You also choose what happens to the physical and digital copies of the check and mail item once we’ve completed the deposit.

We deposit checks overnight free of charge to Bank of America, JP Morgan Chase, or Wells Fargo. You can also overnight a check to other banks for a fee. Imagine seeing cash appear in your accounts within 24 hours of receiving a check without ever opening your inbox. It’s that simple.

Auto-Deposit is Earth Class Mail’s best solution for saving you time and speeding up your cash flow. All created so that you spend your time doing what you want.

Learn more about setting up Auto-Scan and Auto-Deposit, or reach out to our customer success team at [email protected].

More Than Mail: Earth Class Mail Has Acquired Shoeboxed

Just a couple weeks ago, we proudly introduced you to the new Earth Class Mail and announced the release of our new user interface. In our effort to provide greater value to businesses looking to automate and streamline mail related workflows, we spent countless hours over several months learning from you.

One thing you made very clear… It’s not just mail accumulating in your offices.

You have piles of paper cluttering desks and filling up file cabinets, all slowing you down and exposing you to risk in the process. You told us that you wanted to be able to have the same automation, actionability, security, and online access, that you do for mail, applied to documents of all kinds.

We took that challenge seriously.

Today, I’m thrilled to share with you that Earth Class Mail has acquired Shoeboxed, a well-established company that has been turning receipts into digital data since 2007. Shoeboxed will expand our abilities beyond mail and further enable us to remove more paper from your office and make it useful to you, immediately.

Shoeboxed offers integrations with popular accounting software, easy reporting, and the ability to handle digital uploads via email or mobile app. Like Earth Class Mail, and unlike others in the industry, Shoeboxed also takes the pain of physical paper off your hands. No need to scan or upload if you prefer not to, simply fill a postage-paid “Magic Envelope” with as many receipts as you can and drop it in the mail. Shoeboxed handles the rest and you get immediate access to key data extracted from each transaction from receipts. All reportable and accessible when and if the IRS should come knocking on your door.

We couldn’t be happier about what this means for Earth Class Mail customers and Shoeboxed customers alike. There’s a lot more to come, but for now, we hope you’ll take a look at what Shoeboxed has to offer if you haven’t already! 

Jess Garza, CEO

Read more on the Shoeboxed blog

Launch! Why we decided to spin out a FBA logistics & China private label imports company.

We’re thrilled to announce that we’re spinning out a new company from Earth Class Mail, Varehouse.com. No, Varehouse is not a vampire warehouse, although we debated a logo depicting that. Varehouse.com helps online sellers navigate the waters of Amazon FBA logistics and private label import from China.

FBA logistics? Huh? What’s FBA? China private label import? What’s that?

FBA stands for Fulfillment By Amazon, or, “sell your stuff on Amazon” in plain english. Importing private label items from China is the process of getting one’s goods manufactured in China (or other country), imported to the US, prepped, delivered to and listed on online marketplaces like Amazon.com.

What does this have to do with Earth Class Mail? Read on.

Rewind the clock two years. Jim Wilson, President of Earth Class Mail, sat at his desk, and said, “whoa” as the proverbial lightbulb lit up over his head. He had noticed a growing handful of customers asking for a specific kind of help. These customers needed logistical support to help them sell on Amazon and other online markets. These customers would ship us palettes or even shipping containers full of merchandise. They would then ask us to inspect, package, and prepare the items for Amazon’s strict FBA requirements. Imagine our thrill the first time we got a knock on our door and saw a shipping container full of imported merchandise from China. This presented quite a different challenge than receiving and scanning in people’s mail.

Seeing that demand, Jim launched an internal service we dubbed “Virtual Warehouse”. Jim & team ran that business, growing it steadily until new investors bought Earth Class Mail last June. At that point we huddled and decided to give the virtual warehouse business the chance to stand on its own two feet. To our delight, the virtual warehouse business proved itself worthy of leaving the Earth Class Mail nest and navigating it’s own path.

With much delight, I officially announce the launch of Varehouse.com. Jim Wilson, who launched the business years ago, will lead it as Founder & CEO. We’ll continue to support it at Earth Class Mail, and will be their biggest cheerleader. For any readers out there interested in launching your own Amazon business, head on over to Varehouse.com, Jim, Kyle and team will gladly help you find success.

Naughty and nice. Our adventure in fraud detection automation.

Here at Earth Class Mail we harbor strong feelings. We love things, and we revile things. Take a gander at a few things we love, and a few things we loathe:

We love:

We loathe:

  • Letting our awesome customers down in any way
  • Making preventable mistakes
  • Spending time on fraudsters and other unsavory characters

Unfortunately our business attracts the occasional bad actor. These undesirables suck our team’s time away from serving our great customers. These undesirables stink and we don’t want them as customers. We’d rather spend time with our great customers vs. dealing with the unsavories and their like.

What to do then? A bit ago we embarked on a journey to weed out these miscreants, so we could spend more time on the customers we love. We wanted to build a system & process that would automatically and reliably:

  • check for potential fraudsters
  • follow up with them to prompt for verification
  • alert our customer support staff, and automate our follow up

To assist in our task, we recruited a few key players to the team. We tapped SiftScience.com for fraud detection, Zapier for workflow automation, Slack for team visibility, and Zendesk automations for automated followup.

WARNING: you may want to caffeinate before proceeding, the weeds get deep on the details.

Ok, so here’s how we did it. First we tackled checking for potential fraudsters and making that visible to the team. To do that, we bolted on an API call to Sift every time someone completes an order. Sift offers a cool fraud prevention service that takes in a bunch of info and gives back a fraud probability score. The score ranges from 0-100, with 0 = no chance of fraud and 100 = certain fraudster. Once Sift returned a fraud score, we wired up a notification into our signups Slack channel. This let our team know when a likely fraudster sauntered through our doors. Here’s an example:

We let that run for a bit until we gained an inkling of what things meant. We followed up manually on every case that seemed suspicious. After a few weeks, we dove into the deep end of the automation pool to see how much time & effort we could save. Enter Zapier and Zendesk.

We wanted to send and automatic note to any potential bad guy. The note should let them know that we harbored suspicions of their sincerity. We also wanted to give them the chance to clear the air if our system screwed up and flagged them by mistake.

Zendesk rocks. We use it for all customer contact. We knew we wanted to craft any solution into it. That’s where Zapier came in.

Using Zapier, we built a Zap (cool name huh?) that created a Zendesk ticket anytime a potential villian signed up. Here’s exactly how we did it:

  • Our ordering app uses Postrgres as a data store
  • Zapier let us sniff whenever a new row appeared in our orders table
  • If an order arrives with a high sift score we created a ticket in Zendesk with the likely fraudster’s name, email, and other info. Here’s what it looks like:
  • Zendesk emails the likely shady character, telling him/her that our system flagged them as potential fraud, and asks them to verify their identity. Here’s what the potential villain sees:
  • To make sure we follow up we use Zendesk’s Automations. We check back in 48 hours to see if the potential shadester rectified the situation and corrected our false assumptions. If not, we fire off an action to re-open the ticket and add an internal note so our customer service team can close the account and refund any money. Take a peek:

We hope this gives us more time to spend with the customers we care about. If we can weed out the troublemakers before they start using our service we’ll get to do more of what we love – making our awesome customers happy.  

Interested in removing the headache of dealing with your physical mail?  Give us a try.

Meet Robb Gardner, Feature Film Visual Effects Artist

Our customers rock. We love to share their stories, and are thrilled to introduce you to the next customer in our customer spotlight series, Robb Gardner, Feature Film Visual Effects Artist.

Thanks for so much for sharing your story Robb, Can you tell us a bit about yourself? What’s your great adventure, and how does Earth Class Mail fit in?

I’m a Feature Film Visual Effects Artist and I have been traveling around the globe creating images for the movies. My travels have taken me to Europe, Canada, New Zealand, Brazil and California USA. My lifestyle over the last 8 years can only be described as a “Visual FX Gypsy.” Because I’m on the go so much I have to keep all my mail in one centralized location where I can view it with the flip of a switch. This is where the power of Earth Class Mail comes into play. I love the service because I can be working on the Hobbit trilogy in New Zealand be reading my mail and paying my bills accordingly back in the states. It’s a hassle free service that a road warrior like myself depends on.

How did you get started on your path and why?

I have been fascinated with the art of filmmaking and imaging since I was very young when I started making rudimentary “stop-motion” films with my mom’s Kodak Cinespra Super8mm camera. Later I went to film school where I learned 16mm cinematography and video. My first big break came when I was awarded an internship working under a genius camera mentor.

It was him who taught me how to load and operate every Motion picture camera available at that time, including 35mm. This experience literally steered my drive and ambition, I wanted to make motion pictures my career. It’s in my BLOOD. One day I discovered the Amiga graphics computer. This propelled me into the most high-end Visual FX technology and filmmaking in the world. There was no turning back and in the last 20 years I have shot numerous personal projects and I have created the imagery for countless Hollywood films and commercials as the role of Digital Artist in which I’m very grateful. My unquenchable thirst for image creation continues and I find inspiration in everything.

What’s the wildest story you can share from the last few years?

I was in a helicopter hovering over a Favela in Rio de Janiero and was holding my iPhone out a small window filming when the rotor wash sucked the phone right out of my hand and it was lost.

What’s the best decision you made in the last year?

The decision to take a job as Senior Lighting Technical Director on the film “Jurassic World” was the best decision I made in the last year.

Can you share a tip, trick, hack, tool or service with our readers that makes your life better, or makes your days more effective?

Carry a small moleskin notebook and a pen with you at all times and write down creative ideas as soon as they blossom in your head, you won’t forget them and you will be glad later you wrote it down. Also swapbox is a pretty great new service in San Francisco for collecting your packages.

What’s your best purchase for under $100 in the last year?

Google Cardboard Virtual Reality headset.

Tell us how EarthClassMail makes your life better, easier, or more enjoyable?

I have moved 15-20 times in the last 8 years for the line of business I’m in. It’s such a relief knowing that I don’t have to keep changing my address and I can get at my mail, anywhere at anytime.

What feature can we add or improvement can we make that would make you say, “shut the front door, I need that!”

I have all the features I need with Earth Class Mail service. It’s perfect.

Thanks so much for taking the time to chat with us today, any parting words or advice for our readers?

Earth Class Mail is an indispensable service for road warriors like myself. I don’t know what I did without it before! Get it.