In our “Where we work” series, we ask Kin team members to share their home office and experience with remote work.
I’m Connie Cavallo, Project Manager with Kin. I’m originally from New York, and live and work out of my home office in Connecticut, USA.
Connie Cavallo, Project Manager at Kin
My home office is a quiet corner of my house, and it gets really nice filtered light, so it is a calm place to be. We just purchased this house, and finding a home with a good potential office space was high on our list of must haves, because I don’t think I could ever go back to a regular office environment after working from home for a number of years.
Connie’s light-filled home office featuring her favorite item.
My home office must-haves are a comfy chair, some kind of blanket or wrap because I’m always cold, and a big glass of something to drink because I’m always thirsty! A bigger desk is definitely on my wish list.
My favorite item in my office is my Star Wars Ruggable rug! I’m a huge Star Wars fan and this rug subtly adds fandom to my space.
Tell us you’re a Star Wars fan without telling us you’re a Star Wars fan… Connie’s “coworkers” Qi’ra and Leia
I’ll leave you with a work from home tip that I try to follow: Make sure to set boundaries for yourself. Not having a commute to switch your brain from “work mode” to “home mode” can be tough to get used to, so it’s important to close your computer at the end of the day, and mentally “leave the office”.
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Research, tips and ideas on workplace happiness.
By Melissa Benzo
Apr 30, 2021
Quite a few customers are weighing the options between continuing to work remotely or returning to an office in a post-COVID restricted world. You may be asking yourself the same question– Should we return to an office full-time when it’s safe to do so? Should we continue to work remotely? Is a hybrid remote/in-person work culture the best option?
Kin has been a remote company for several years now, and we’ve worked hard to build and fortify a strong remote workplace culture that fits the needs of our employees and of our business. If you’re facing a looming decision to keep or eliminate full-time remote positions, take a look at what some of our coworkers here at Kin have to say about the benefits of long-term remote work. Perhaps it can help you make the call to stick with remote work in the future.
“I like remote work because it tightens up the workday and enables me to spend more time w/ my family, and more concentrated time at work. I also love that it implicitly invites our “non-work lives” into work, which helps us all see the whole person behind the screen – that builds better empathy, and richer work relationships (let alone better work).” – Craig, Founder and CEO
“The best thing about remote work culture is the freedom. If you’re mentally stuck on a problem or issue you can physically move to another space or location, which can help give you new views.
If you want to go work in a whole different town to escape winter you can do that. I had an on-location job between two remote jobs, and being actually, truly stuck at my desk was so hard to get used to, it felt unnecessarily constrictive.
For some reason for me it makes it so much more exciting and productive the few times we actually do get together in person. We look forward to it, plan for it, get hyped about it, and then we finally get to meet and it’s amazing.
And this company, in particular, is earnest about recognizing that we have lives outside of work, pressures unrelated to our jobs, and we are trusted with the independence to take care of what matters.” – Molly, Project Manager
“Generally, working from home gave me the ability to take responsibility for my surroundings as well as time management. Oftentimes in an office setting I found it difficult to create an environment that allowed me to fully focus on a mentally challenging problem that required serious brain juice. Being able to foster that focus at home is a huge help.
…That, and doing laundry whenever is pretty rad.” – Anthony, Product Lead
“As someone who finds it difficult to focus in an extremely noisy workplace (and who gets anxious over small talk). Working remotely lets me set up my workspace in a way that works best for me. It’s easier to focus without people talking “over my head” across cubicle walls.
Working from home allows you the freedom to “walk away from a problem” a lot easier than in an office. If I’m feeling frustrated or stuck, I can move to my kitchen and make a cup of tea, or play with the dog for a few minutes. Anything that allows me to recharge.
Lastly, I enjoy the flexibility to work from anywhere! Quiet coffee shop, beach house, couch, vacation spot, etc…” – Connie, Project Manager
“I love working from home! Some of the most common phrases I hear are, “I couldn’t do that.” or, “How do you get anything done?” That’s when I smile and say, “You haven’t worked remotely have you?”
Then explain how I get up in the morning and prepare myself every day just like people that work in a physical office. I’m lucky enough to have a spare bedroom we have converted into an office. So, when I am ready to start my day, I go into my office and close the door behind me. Lately, I have been migrating around my house to change up the scenery. If the weather is nice, I’ll work outside. You may also find me using my kitchen bar as a stand-up desk.
The best part of being a remote worker is the flexibility. I can work wherever I want to, within reason, and wear the clothes I’m most comfortable in. If I’m feeling professional or have a big meeting, I’ll throw on a dress shirt and shoes. If I’m feeling stressed or need to think through a complex challenge, I can take a walk or play some guitar.
Sometimes it’s hard to shut work off. Most of my best ideas come from when I’m engaged in something unrelated. Then I may feel the need to jump online and stub out my concept. I’ve been practicing resisting these urges lately since I want to focus on being away from work when I am.
Being remote also requires excellent communication. We all reach out to one another constantly. It’s the only way we can keep track of all our requirements. Plus, it’s nice to hang and chat every once in a while.
Overall, I don’t think I could work in an office full-time ever again.” – Grant, Director of Technology
Of course, I have my own thoughts: Since working at Kin I moved cross-country — twice.
One of the best things remote work has done for me personally is to remove worry about employment when big life changes happen. I took some time off to move, and picked up where I left off with work when I was settled. And, if I need to travel for family reasons, I can bring work with me.
Other than that, I’m way more productive in my own environment than I had been in the past working in an office. It’s easier for me to concentrate on work at home with fewer interruptions, and I can be in an environment that is appealing to me.
Kin’s remote culture is pretty great, and communication is a central part of it. Remote workplaces can fall into the trap of employees being on an island and feeling isolated, so I love that we put such an emphasis on communicating with each other. I have meaningful interactions with my coworkers daily, and that helps us to be better coworkers.
Is remote work right for you?
This is a unique opportunity to assess how impactful your workplace has been over the last year before bringing everyone back into an office. If your team has thrived despite all of the changes hurled at us over the course of the pandemic, perhaps continuing to foster a remote workplace is the way to go. It’s not right for every workplace of course, but starting with a quick check-in with your employees may help you to see the benefits they’re experiencing before making a decision.
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Research, tips and ideas on workplace happiness.
By Lisa Arnold
Apr 27, 2021
As even the most tech-resistant workplaces continue to shift online through remote work, the handwritten signature becomes more and more difficult to obtain. The ability to sign documents electronically increases efficiency by eliminating the need for a physical presence or handoff of a document; simply click a button or type your name, then send it off via email.
However, like many technologies replacing age-old business practices, your company may find itself facing questions about electronic signatures from clients or employees. Are they legal? Secure? And what exactly counts as a “signature”?
Electronic signatures (or “e-signatures”) are fast, secure, and almost universally recognized as a legitimate form of signature for most documents. That being said, let’s review the definitions of e-signatures according to major legislative acts passed in the US, state exceptions, and recommended criteria to ensure secure authentication.
The ESIGN Act is legal in the United States wherever federal law applies (we’ll discuss what happens when federal law does not apply later). It does not apply to wills, testaments, trusts, birth/marriage/death certificates, or codicils.
E-signatures must meet a few criteria under the act to be considered legally binding:
Signers must clearly demonstrate intent to sign electronically, whether by typing their name, clicking ‘accept’, or drawing a signature on a screen. All boxes and buttons should be clearly labeled.
Signers must consent to doing business electronically. Provide a brief consent clause that users must accept to continue.
If a user cannot provide an electronic signature for whatever reason, an opt-out clause should be provided that clearly outlines steps the user should take to sign the document manually.
Copy storage and access
All signers should receive a copy of the signed document, and the ability to reproduce copies as needed should be available.
UETA and Exceptions by State
In areas where federal law may not apply, the Uniform Electronic Transactions Act provides the framework for the legality of electronic signatures. This act has been accepted in 48 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands**. New York and Illinois are the exceptions, operating by their own regulations – we’ve outlined them below.
Signatures that meet these requirements are considered the most secure by Illinois and are favored by the state.
Like Illinois, New York has chosen to operate by its own definitions and statutes. The state recognizes the legal validity of all electronic signatures while also introducing the role of an “electronic facilitator” in the state IT department. This facilitator oversees technologies used to improve government best-practices (such as e-signing), and also implements a best practices guide to assist with the implementation of e-signature methods.
Similar to other states, New York accepts e-signatures as valid with a few exceptions. E-signatures are not accepted on documents that instruct on the disposition of a person or property upon death (i.e., a will, trust, or power of attorney).
Some states have updated or adapted UETA in their state as new technology emerges (i.e., blockchain). It’s recommended you review your own state’s specific and current amendments* to ensure you are in compliance.
E-signatures are an almost universally accepted method of authenticating documents in the states, although laws may differ based on the state and federal jurisdiction.
Kin makes it easy to sign and complete paperwork natively with our integrated digital signature system. Learn more or reach out to learn how we can help streamline your workflow!
*Note that the laws surrounding e-signatures are continually changing. This article is not meant to replace professional legal counsel.
By Lisa Arnold
Apr 23, 2021
At this point in the pandemic, you may have onboarded at least one new employee virtually. However, no matter how many exclamation points you use in a welcome email or how quickly the paperwork gets signed, you still feel like the process falls flat. What’s missing?
Onboarding remote employees can often feel cold and lack the personal touch that in-person onboarding brings if you don’t insert a little homegrown magic into the process. Handshakes and introductions with employees turn into emails; setting up a desk and putting a fun post-it note on the chair as a welcome becomes simply powering up a computer quietly at home.
The success of your employees can rely heavily on this first step. The onboarding process is so important that it can have long term effects (either good or bad) on employee performance. Glassdoor found that retention rates improved by 82% and productivity increased by 70% when employees had a great onboarding experience.
Remote onboarding doesn’t have to be stale and impersonal! Here are four things we like to keep in mind here at Kin when virtually bringing on a new employee:
Prep your new hire ahead of time
If at all possible, have your new employee complete their onboarding paperwork before their first day. Kin makes this easy with our fully-digital HRIS tool. When you send over the paperwork, include a personalized message that outlines what to expect on Day 1 (meet with HR, meet with accounting, fill out employee profile, post-lunch meet-and-greet with creative, etc.). Let them know what apps need to be on their phone or laptop and provide any relevant how-to instructions.
In addition, schedule out all necessary meetings and give access to the employee’s calendar ahead of time so they know what to expect. The less surprises during the onboarding process, the better! There’s a lot of comfort on your first day opening your calendar to see a fully-planned schedule, including where and when you need to be at x, y and z meeting.
Finally, make sure their equipment arrives before their first day to give them time to set up and familiarize themselves with any new technologies. Ideally, employees should have about three days to set up and explore their new laptop, camera, and whatever else they’ll be working with. Make sure to include an SOS number to call if they help while setting up.
Get the whole team involved
Onboarding is an all-hands-on-deck process. Your new hire shouldn’t feel welcomed only by their manager or HR representative on their first day, but by everyone they’ll be working with.
Prepare your team before the new hire starts, letting them know to shoot over a personal email first thing to welcome their new team member and introduce themselves. Then, follow up with an all-team meeting within a day or two (cameras on!) to put faces to names and communicate relevant information about ongoing projects.
Turn solo conversations into group chats wherever possible to allow the new hire to see how team members interact with you and each other. Since remote work lacks the social cues of a physical office setting, involving a new teammate in these types of interactions (even virtually) can prevent employees from feeling they work in a bubble.
Your new hire should end their first work week confident that they are a full member of your team- no hesitations!
Send a gift
Welcome gifts should be more than a company-branded t-shirt or pre-packaged fruit basket. The more personal a welcome gift can be, the better. It demonstrates your interest in the employee beyond what they contribute to the company and your attention to detail. Kin’s employee data management tool can be a big help here, capturing crucial biodata and creating customizable fields to collect everything from food allergies to hobbies.
Go back over your interview notes. What state did your new hire grow up in? Where did they graduate college? Do they have a pet? Then, shop accordingly.
If you weren’t the primary interviewer or aren’t sure what your new employee’s interests are, don’t skip a welcome gift! Send along a small succulent for their desk or a personalized set of office stationery. Showing an effort to make them feel appreciated and comfortable will go a long way for their tenure at your company.
Wrap up the week with a non-work related activity
You’ve made it through the week and your new hire is dizzy from all of the new information being thrown their way. It’s time to unwind!
Designate a lunch hour specifically for your team to come together virtually and chat (no work talk allowed!), or set aside a late-afternoon cocktail or coffee break. Interacting with the rest of their coworkers will clue your new employee in to relational dynamics, office culture, and other aspects of the job that can’t be communicated over Slack or email. It also gives them a chance to relax and be themselves outside of their company role.
Don’t put the pressure on your newest hire to carry the conversation. Instead, create a loosely-structured environment where co-workers can blow off steam and talk about their own lives. If the energy is high enough, try some virtual team building exercises. Otherwise, just sit back, relax, and enjoy some organic team bonding.
If you’re looking to simplify your remote onboarding process and make it easy for new employees to feel at home, reach out to us. We’d love to chat about how we can help!
By Melissa Benzo
Apr 12, 2021
We’ve launched an exciting update to KinHR software that makes updating employee information faster.
With the Bulk Actions task bar, you can select multiple employees at once and make changes to things like Manager and HR Manager assignments, locations, employment status, and more.
As a bonus, we’ve also made it easier to get to an employee’s profile section by introducing a “quick nav” option to employee cards in the directory.
Here’s Kin’s Product Lead, Anthony Bruno, with more:
Bulk actions in Kin are here to save time when updating employees all at once. Introducing the task bar, and the “quick nav” in the directory is a nice step in continuity of design. You’ll see these conventions used in other areas, like Files, Employee Performance Reviews, and employee information sections.
By Lisa Arnold
Apr 1, 2021
The world is becoming paperless at an exponential rate, and the recent push towards remote work has made it necessary to have a thorough understanding of storing documents electronically.
Despite this push for change, many workplaces still have questions before they go fully paperless, primarily revolving around the legality of keeping certain types of documents in the cloud. Others may be worried about potential security risks posed by data breaches or tampering.
In this post, we’ll discuss the benefits of e-storage, as well as some best practices you can take to ensure your methods remain compliant, secure, and accurate.
Note that the following recommendations may not be applicable outside of the United States. This article is not meant to replace professional legal counsel or industry-specific research.
If you’re looking to increase mobility in the age of remote work, e-storage is the way to go. The freedom of not being tied to hard copies, a printer, or fax machine are all huge advantages for employees working from home, and can also improve workflow efficiency. Imagine getting paperwork out of the way before a new hire’s first day without an additional trip to the office.
Easy access to files through e-storage means less wasted time waiting for delivery, searching for physical files, or trying to figure out the right filing method. Instead, a quick search term allows employees to access whatever they need in seconds, while attempting to file hard copies is now replaced with a simple upload and quick click to share electronically.
Finally, e-storage can actually increase your security when the right methods are implemented (we’ll discuss those later). Misfiling or losing digital documents is far less likely than losing their physical counterparts, and frequent backups by tools like Kin prevent corruption or data loss.
Under the ESIGN Act and UETA, no document can be denied enforceability or legal effect due to its electronic form. This means any document you choose to store online or convert into an e-format still has the same power as a physical copy. (Some documents require a physical signature, but are still valid when converted to an electronic copy.
Compliance & Security
There are certain legal obligations that must be met when storing documents electronically.
The first step in compliance is ensuring a quick paper conversion (usually within 1 day) from the first two to three years of creation. After the first two years, the retrieval period may take up to a few days, but must always fall within a reasonable timeframe. Access (i.e., download and print capability) should be available upon request by the party responsible for storing the documentation.
Online access is also a common requirement in many jurisdictions in addition to the ability to convert to a paper copy, and any modifications must be documented (including the number of backups, copies, downloads, etc.). Be prepared to trace a document’s ‘e-paper trail’ if needed. Thankfully, with Kin, this is included on all documents stored within our system.
One of the most critical aspects of storing documents electronically is implementing security measures to prevent tampering, damage, or hacks. Unlike physical copies, electronic documents can potentially be accessed by anyone in the world. Making sure your records are safe and secure is key to preventing legal headaches further down the road.
Creating as many layers of security as possible around your electronic or online storage center does the trick. These layers may include implementing two-factor authentication, setting a strong password that you change on a schedule, (and use a password manager to store), checking your share settings, and encrypting files before uploading them (most tools that do document storage do this for you automatically).
If necessary, you may need to research third party tools that can assist in locking down your files and keeping unwelcome hackers away from sensitive information. Make sure all employees who will be handling these documents are familiar with your security measures, as well. If you would like to speak more on this, reach out to us now.
Sometimes, despite our best efforts, events outside of our control can cause damage to storage methods. Ensuring disaster recovery methods are in place to prevent permanent loss of records is a key best practice for e-storage.
Keep disaster copies written to some sort of external harddrive that is stored in a separate geographic location than your main computers. If you are dealing with highly complex materials, employing a disaster recovery service may be worth your time and money, as well.
Industries that deal with litigious, sensitive, or regulatory materials will likely require a longer retention period (think healthcare or financial records). Different regulatory bodies have different requirements, so ensure you’re up-to-date with what your specific industry requires.