Up & Coming Weekly

September 22, 2020

Up and Coming Weekly is a weekly publication in Fayetteville, NC and Fort Bragg, NC area offering local news, views, arts, entertainment and community event and business information.

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Page 14 of 24

WWW.UPANDCOMINGWEEKLY.COM 14 UCW SEPTEMBER 23-29, 2020 TIMOTHY FRENCH, FTCC instructor, IT Digital Media Technology. COM- MENTS? Editor@upandcomingweekly. com. 910-484-6200. FTCC offers skills for navigating a remote career by TIMOTHY FRENCH The financial crisis of litt- le more than a decade ago masked a technological revo- lution, and everyone shelled out small fortunes for smart- phones. The scientific fantasy embodied in "Star Trek's" tri- corder had become everyday overnight. Today, the revolution has been digital rather than tech- nological. This time, the revo- lution is coming for your job and staging its coup in your home. And it's happening faster than we originally predicted. Only a decade ago, we were still struggling with what to call the phenomenon of working while not being at work. Telecommuting? Teleworking? E-work? Flex work? Virtual work? Eventually, what the job market collectively settled on calling "remote work" was something that 44% of global companies didn't allow as recently as 2018. Contemporary predictions estimated that by 2020, around 50% of the United States workforce would clock their hours from home. An UpWork study from 2017 postulated that more people will work remotely than not by 2027. Little did they then know that their predicti- ons would be realized before the end of 2020's Q1. According to a Gallup study, by midMarch, 49% of workers in the U.S. reported having worked from home in the past seven days. Mere weeks later in April, that statistic leapt to 63% — even while some states announced plans to reopen. Shortly thereafter, several companies announced that they would be shifting most if not all of their workforces to remote or in-office/remote hybrid arrangements. This means that if your role is a good candidate for remote and f lexibly-scheduled work, then you're potentially competing against 7.8 billion other people for the job. Potential employers will be sizing you up online well in advance of ever offering an interview. Here are three skills to become a digi- tal-based, remote working master and maintain an attractive digital portrait: Mastering Communication Channels If nothing else, the sudden shift to remote work has illuminated how time-intensive, in-person meetings could be replaced by a well-written email. There are now means far beyond email for keeping up (Slack, Zoom, Google Meetings, Jira, even video games like Red Dead Redemption), not to mention calendar, content and project management platforms. Knowing When to Switch Platforms When it comes to the platforms, apps or software you use to do your work, one size rarely fits all. This became clear to me when my students and I had to make the shift from face-to-face classes to "online- only." Blackboard served us very well for some remo- te-based learning but not for everything or everyone. In the end, we added several other digital platforms as satellite learning channels to Blackboard. We shif- ted to an environment where coursework could be completed as long as you had an internet connection. Our virtual classroom worked because we took stock of what needed to be learned and achieved and then asked what tools work best for achieving those goals. Designing Your Digital Self to become Discoverable Search engines favor accounts which publish fre- quently and regularly. Engagement via likes, shares and external links is also important. To appear in the first page of a search engine's results involves an amalgam of algorithms, web crawlers, cross-linking, keywords and content. Maintain your dominance by picking a topical lane (or two) and staying in it. Be consistent, use the same photo for each online account, find a reference guide for what types of content perform best, and make meaningful connections with others online. EDUCATION It's that time of year again, where, if you work for a medium-to-large employer, you've got some deci- sions to make because it's open enrollment time. Of course, depending on your situation, you may have been working remotely for a while, but, even so, you will likely have the opportunity to review your benefits package and make changes. And you'll want to make the right moves because your choices can have a big financial impact on your life. So, take a close look at these key areas of your benefits program: Health insurance — Think about your health care needs over the coming year — will you or someone in your family be coping with a chronic illness or facing a surgery? Will you need to at least consider testing and possible treatment for COVID- 19? In any case, make sure you're choosing the right plan for your needs. And pay close attention to any changes in your health insurance, such as whether the plan's provider networks have changed — you may want to make sure your own doctor is still in- network. Also, check to see if you can reduce your health care premiums by taking part in a wellness program or health-risk assessment. Life insurance — Your employer may offer a group life insurance policy for free, or for a small amount. It's probably worth your while to take this coverage, but it may not be enough for your needs. If you only had this group policy, but your family situ- ation has recently changed through marriage or the addition of a new child, you may well need to add some private insurance. Disability insurance — In addition to offering group life insurance, your employer may provide short-term disability insurance. Like group insu- rance, this disability coverage may not cost you anything, but it may not be adequate — typically, short-term disability only replaces part of your income for three to six months. And while you may never need to miss work for an extended period of time, you never can tell — after all, more than one in four 20-year-olds will become disabled before they retire, according to the U.S. Social Security Administration. You may want to consider pur- chasing your own long-term disability policy on top of the coverage offered by your employer. Retirement plan — You can probably make changes to your 401(k) or similar employer-spon- sored retirement plan at any time, but why not look at it now, when you're reviewing all your benefits? If you can afford to increase your con- tributions, you probably should, because a 401(k), with its tax advantages and ease of contribution through paycheck deductions, is a great way to save for retirement. At a minimum, put in enough to earn your employer's match. You'll also want to review your 401(k)'s investment mix. Is it still providing you with significant growth potential within the context of your individual risk tole- rance? You may need to make some adjustments, either because an investment is underperforming or because you're getting close to retirement and you need to reduce your risk exposure. In any case, it's a good idea to check up on your 401(k)'s invest- ments at least once a year. Your employee benefits are an important part of your overall financial picture — so do what you can to get the most from them. Open enrollment choices can have financial impact submitted by DEBBIE BEST DEBBIE BEST, Financial Advisor at Edward Jones Investments. COM- MENTS? 910-488-7535 MONEY According to a Gallup study, by mid-March, 49% of workers in the U.S. reported having worked from home in the past seven days. Open enrollment season is here. Are you adequately covered?

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