Cascade e-Commerce Solutions, Inc.

cartoon of people in a web meeting

We all know how much COVID has impacted the economy and many businesses. That’s why networking is so important right now! However, networking the old, pre-COVID, word-of-mouth way is not quite an option again yet, so we’ve comprised a list of networking tactics that you can do as you get your business back on its feet:

  1. Get super involved in Linkedin, like SUPER involved. Write posts everyday. Start discussion with people. Connect with people that you met one time and didn’t know whether or not you should connect before.
  2. Talk with your local chamber of commerce and attend any events they are starting back up again, especially the virtual ones.
  3. Don’t be afraid to talk to any of your contacts from the past. They are looking for business connections as much as you are. This includes any old business associates, coworkers, people who you went to school with, professors, friends, etc.
  4. Contact your alma matter’s alumni office and tell them you’re open to them connecting you to other people and businesses.

We know that these tactics will probably push your comfort zones to the max. At first, it is very uncomfortable to talk to people that you don’t know or that you thought you weren’t connected to anymore. There are no promises that they’ll be up for connecting. However, the chances that they are and that you both can benefit each other’s careers and businesses is worth all the risk and discomfort.

The nice thing about all these tactics is that they can all be done virtually, over the phone, or online. You don’t have to network in-person to strengthen your business. Despite all that COVID has done to our world, you can still communicate with others and your business can still make an impact in our communities and the economy.

Related Resource:

https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbesbusinesscouncil/2021/01/06/14-professional-tips-for-networking-during-a-pandemic/?sh=601cd68937c8

Every business owner knows that there are many things that are on their to-do list for their business, especially when it comes to their internet presence. They have to have an updated website, keep up with web maintenance, post to social media accounts, manage their online reputation, etc. It’s a lot. We know.

However, there’s one more thing that we think deserves to be on your to-do list: editing! It doesn’t seem like much, but it makes a big difference.

It is unprofessional to have an unedited website and business materials. We understand that grammar and editing is not everyone’s cup of tea. It doesn’t have to be in order to have edited writing for your business because you can easily hire someone within your budget to do it for you. If you want your company to be seen as a true contender in the competition for your potential customers’ business, you will need to have all your materials edited. Any errors in your writing make your company look inexperienced.

A poorly edited website is not only distracting but also not accessible for people who use text readers. If any words are misspelled or the grammar is faulty, the text reader that helps people navigate your website can’t do its job properly, and people will leave your site. It is also not accessible for people who are translating your website into a language they are more comfortable reading. Their translator can not fix sentences before translating. It will translate all the issues directly, making it unintelligible in the other language.

Another reason why having an edited website is key to your company’s success is for search results reasons. Google is less likely to properly index your website’s keyword phrases for search results if your keywords are misspelled. While Google offers autocorrect options to searchers, Google’s algorithms are set to index the well-written properly spelled pages than those that have spelling errors. As you can guess, the less correct keywords are in your website, the lower your company will appear on the search results list when people search for topics related to your company. This can be quite detrimental for your business. The less people find your company in search results, the less people buy your products or services.

We often hear that someone doesn’t want to have a well edited website because they think it sounds friendlier and more personable if it’s unedited. However, there’s a difference between using colloquial language (informal, conversational language) and having unedited writing. There are ways of having perfectly edited writing that is still friendly and down-to-earth.

If you aren’t confident in your editing abilities, don’t have the time to edit, or want a second opinion on the edits you have already made, we are happy to help you! We can proofread, edit, and revise your website and any written materials that your company has. We can also implement any of the edits and revisions to your website that we’ve recommended so that you can use your time on the more important things on your to-do list. Just contact us at info@4cesi.com.

If you’ve been keeping up with each installment of this series, you would know that so far I have covered topics about working from home, including employee dress codes, when employees work during the day, and whether or not the work-from-home trend should continue for the foreseeable future. In this installment, I will be discussing whether or not employees working from home who choose to move away from the city that their company is in should receive a pay cut.

There are rumors flying around about how certain companies are considering cutting the pay of their remote employees who choose to move out of the major cities where the companies are located. The excuse they’re using for this is that they think if an employee chooses to move away from the expensive city in which they used to work to a more affordable city, that employee no longer needs the higher wage they were getting before.

For example, say you’re working and living in pricey San Francisco for a hot shot company that pays you the big bucks. However, you decide that you don’t want to live in the city anymore now that working from home makes your house feel as small as a closet. You find a house further out of the city, maybe even in a different state. You don’t have to go into the office anymore though, so you think that it’s a great idea. The company that you work for disagrees. They think that now that you’re living somewhere presumably cheaper, you don’t want or need those extra dollars that you needed when you lived in the city. They think that you deserve pay comparable to what people make in the cheaper place you live now, even though your job’s responsibilities remain absolutely unchanged. How would this make you feel? Would you say, “You know what, Boss? I think you’re right! My bank account was looking too full anyways!” It’s a resounding “no” from me.

It’s understandable that companies would try to pull a fast one like this. They are all about making money. Some people I’ve talked to actually say that they understand why companies would want to do this and that it almost makes sense. I mean, don’t get me wrong. I understand why they would too. I also understand how easy it would be to fall for it and think it’s fair. That doesn’t mean it is though. It’s 100% not fair.

Pay has never been fully determined by the area in which you are being paid. Pay is determined by how difficult the job is, what kind of market of which it’s a part, how much education or experience you need to complete it, etc.

If a highly educated/experienced person wants to move to somewhere that’s a little easier on their bank account, they should not be punished by receiving a pay cut. As long as they are completing all their tasks, why should it matter where they are doing so?

This is all not even mentioning the fact that companies are only assuming people are moving to areas that are cheaper when in all reality they might not be moving because of price. There are many great reasons to move. Employees may be moving to find better school districts or to be closer to their families. People may even be moving to care for their elderly parents considering they are more at risk or being severely impacted by the pandemic. Employers should not assume that people are moving out of cities for cost purposes only and choose to cut their pay because of this.

All in all, it is not fair or right for companies to consider cutting their employees’ pay if they choose to move. Their choice to move is a part of their personal life, not their work life, and as long as it does not affect their quality or work, it should not matter where they live. If they deserved the level of pay in one city, they should deserve that level of pay in any city.

Curious about this topic? Check out this related poll: https://www.linkedin.com/feed/update/urn:li:activity:6729076126129516544/

In the previous two articles in this series, I covered whether or not companies should enforce dress codes for their remote employees and if remote employees should be allowed to work whenever they want in the day. In this edition of the series, I will discuss whether or not the remote work trend should continue for the foreseeable future.

Whenever I’m reading news and opinions on the remote work trend, this is the number one question I encounter. Why is this even a question? This answer is yes, of course!

If a job can be completed without needing to be physically in the office, why should it have to be?

There are many benefits to working remotely: it helps working parents, it cuts down on commutes which in turn cuts down on emissions, and it reduces costs for companies who will no longer have to pay as much for renting office space.

Many of the reasons that I’ve heard in favor of not continuing remote work are a bunch of garbage. Some people are saying that continuing work from home would hurt young employees the most because they supposedly need work as a social outlet. This is the dumbest thing I’ve heard this week. Young people are aware of what they need socially and don’t need to rely on their bosses forcing them to interact with coworkers. Coworkers were never meant to fulfill all human social needs. It’s great that some people are able to achieve this dynamic with their coworkers, but not everyone does, and this isn’t a bad thing. It’s totally normal to not get along with coworkers, and either way it’s not important enough of a reason to force people to work in office again. People know of many other ways to socialize now.

The only reason for returning back to offices that I think is valid is how it affects the local economies. Businesses not bringing their employees back means that office spaces will remain empty, local coffee shops might experience a decrease in orders, and local restaurants might experience a decrease in lunch visitors. Of course, there are many other ways that continuing remote work will affect the economy. However, while there is definitely an impact being made on the local economy, it is not as big as this makes it seem. People working from home will still order coffees and lunch from their favorite local spots. Local economies might have to take time to adjust to the remote work culture, but they will not completely die.

I understand that some people want to go back to the office for whatever weird reasons, but that shouldn’t mean that the rest of us who don’t want to should be forced to come back. If we can get the job done well from the comfort of our own homes, why should we have to ever come back?

What about you? Would you want to go back to the office or stay at home? If you’re interested in the topic, check out this interesting poll at https://www.linkedin.com/feed/update/urn:li:activity:6725376757366706176/ .

Sources:
https://www.businessinsider.com/companies-asking-employees-to-work-from-home-due-to-coronavirus-2020
https://www.forbes.com/sites/jackkelly/2020/05/24/the-work-from-home-revolution-is-quickly-gaining-momentum/#159e466e1848

In my previous article, you read my stance on the dress codes for remote employees debate. It’s trash. That’s my stance. It shouldn’t even be a debate. How’s your boss going to know you threw on a hoodie and slippers immediately after you left the Zoom call? Now that that’s decided, I’ll be discussing why I believe remote employees should be able to work whenever they need to during the day.

As I write this, it is currently 2:37 AM where I am in Indiana. I’m a bit of an insomniac. Always have been. Always will be. Coffee is my best friend. This brings me to my first point: Some people are not like everybody else and don’t get the most work done possible between the hours of 9AM and 5PM. Most mornings, I don’t even want to read any number that comes before 10 on my phone’s clock. I’m a creative person in a creative industry, and in order for me to be creative, I need to be allowed to work during my best hours which fall somewhere between 8PM and 4AM. That’s how I’ll get my best work done. I can’t imagine I’m the only one.

The lovely thing about remote work is that it is relatively more inclusive. It allows people who couldn’t work in a typical office work environment to be hired and excel. However, the concept of forcing remote employees to work during certain hours negates some of this inclusivity. For example, the single parent that was the best, most qualified employee might not be able to get the job done during the same hours as a mediocre employee because they have to take care of their children during the hours they are being asked to work. This does not mean they won’t get the work done on time. They just won’t get it done at the same time as others. Letting them work whenever they want to work will not only give them an opportunity, but also give the company the great quality of product it desires from the person who can deliver the best work.

Haven’t we all heard by now just how bad the typical work day is for people anyways? There’s a reason why so many of us are constantly bringing up the whole “they take naps during the day in Spain” thing. There’s a reason why so many of us are addicted to coffee because we’ve always needed that 3PM pick-me-up. It’s because our bodies don’t all work on the same clocks. Now that remote work has become so accessible for people, we shouldn’t have to force our bodies into the same work schedules that we used to.

This all doesn’t mean that we won’t work as much. There are still plenty of hours in the day that don’t fall between 9AM and 5PM. Believe me, it is still possible to get a full day’s worth of work during other times of the day. This also doesn’t mean that everyone will miss the video conference calls. There’s a reminders app on your smart phones for a reason.

I recently read that businesses are considering enforcing a dress code upon their remote employees while they are working from home.1 When I saw this, I was utterly flabbergasted. 

Now, don’t get me wrong. I don’t think employees should wear sweatpants or pajamas on video conference calls. However, they should be allowed to wear whatever they darn well please the rest of the time. 

I’ve heard all the hullabaloo about how “science and statistics say that people are more productive when they’re dressed for the job.” And yes, I do want you to read that in a Steve Urkel-esque voice while pushing your imaginary glasses up your nose. While I don’t necessarily disagree with this, I don’t outright agree either. 

You might be wondering what makes me an authority on the subject. I have been working remotely since before it was cool. I know I sound like a hipster, so get over it. In my six years at CeSI, at least four of them have been remote work. I worked all the way in Indiana, which is three hours ahead of Seattle which is where CeSI is located. Yet, I was never once late for a phone or video call. Not to mention the fact that I was working full-time hours while getting my bachelor’s full-time. I am well versed in multi-tasking, working in 15-minute intervals, and functioning on four hours of sleep. Don’t tell my boss or my professors, but there were many times when I would work in class. Who needs taking notes when you’re an auditory learner anyways. Am I right?

Anyhow, I know what it’s like to have to live life and work remotely at the same time. I’m still doing it to this day! This is why you can’t tell me that all people are more productive when “they’re dressed for success.” Do you think I worked full-time and graduated cum laude with a bachelor’s of English which requires you to read over 2,000 pages a week all while dressed in slacks and a blazer? You’d be lucky if you even saw me in jeans.   

I know I’m definitely not the only one who has other things going on in life outside of work, especially in 2020. If that means possibly sacrificing a measly five hypothetical minutes of productivity just so that employees can wear sweatpants and not lose their sanity, I say “bring on the Champion.” 

Watch me take it one step further in my next article “Op-Ed: Work From Home Freedoms Vol. II.” 

Cited Sources:

1 Seaman, Andrew (2020-10). “Are you ready for WFH dress codes?” LinkedIn. Retrieved 2020-10-20.

Mezzacca, Marc. “The Work Wardrobe: Analysis of Changes Since COVID-19.” Coupon Follow. Retrieved 2020-10-20.

Smith, Allen, J.D. (2020-09-29). “Dress-Code Policies Reconsidered in the Pandemic.” SHRM. Retrieved 2020-10-20.

The Importance of Staff Bios

In the wake of COVID-19 and the effect it has created on the economy, many businesses are scrambling for anything that can keep them successful. They are restructuring, revamping their marketing, searching for grants, and maybe even having to let people go.

Perhaps the only good thing that has arisen from the pandemic-created recession is the support of the public for small businesses. Consumers have taken the control that was already in their hands and are choosing to focus this influence on the portion of the economy that has been hit the hardest: small, local businesses. People have taken to social media to share how they have continued to or started to support small businesses in their areas.

For this exact reason, businesses should consider telling their stories and the stories of their employees in an effort to attract more customers. Because people are now ready to shop locally, they are looking for companies that are truly local. They want to feel like they are supporting their neighbors. If they don’t know the company’s stories, they’ll feel like they are strangers.

A business needs to have a space on their website and social pages where they illustrate their origins and allow their employees to describe themselves. An employee’s life story and what brought them to the business could be the whole reason why someone chooses to buy from/hire a particular company.

Staff bios are particularly important for companies whose staff closely interact with the clients. A great example of a company whose staff bios have proven themselves to be vital is Lake Burien Physical Therapy. We at CeSI visited their clinic to conduct interviews with each of their staff members. They were asked a number of questions about their careers, personal lives, and educational backgrounds. The staff bios that were produced from their answers are key for potential patients to feel connected to the physical therapists before they visit the clinic. For many, health-related outings cause anxiety, so creating a personal connection with care providers before they visit in person can really help to ease the anxiety. The small action of including staff bios on the website is what brought in more patients into their clinic.

Another benefit of including staff bios on a company’s website is the feeling of personal investment it facilitates in the staff. When an employee is asked to describe themselves and is given a chance to be in the company’s spotlight, they feel more connected as they know they are valued as a member of the company.

It doesn’t take much work to include an about page and staff bios on a website, but it does lead to a number of benefits. No matter whether a company is new or has been around for decades, they should still include up-to-date information on their origin and the staff.

In the past, we’ve had many companies come to us asking for help with marketing their brand to get money asap. Some of them come to us already believing that they know where to market to make the most money the fastest way possible. Other business owners come to us having no clue where to start and feeling stressed because their businesses are costing them more than they are making them money, and they’re hoping that doing more marketing will “do the trick.”

Of course, the worst case scenario that business owners are afraid of is that whatever they need to do to help their business be more profitable will end up costing them ridiculous amounts of money upfront. Well, it may be a surprise to business owners but we at CeSI think that that’s not the best scenario either.

We want our clients to be able to make the most amount of money without spending the most. That’s why we will guide you through the process of choosing which platforms to market on first in order to maximize your budget.

To give you a taste of what the process that we recommend is, we’ll walk you through what we typically recommend for step one. Marketing through Google platforms is normally the first step we help companies take. Google is not what most business owners first think of when they decide they’re ready to spend more on marketing. They typically think that platforms such as Facebook and Instagram will give them the most return on investment. However, Google is very effective in bringing customers to your site without breaking the bank. After a business’ Google accounts start to bring in the leads and dollar bills, then we recommend putting more time and money into other platforms.

If you’re interested in learning more about which platforms to market on to maximize your budget, contact CeSI at info@cesi.com.

As most businesses are experiencing low numbers right now, they’re struggling to figure out what to do to strengthen their company during this difficult time. If you’re looking for something to boost your business, consider creating or revamping a Twitter account.

Even though Twitter is not a new social platform and has been around since 2006, it is still one of the best platforms for businesses to connect with people on a personal level. It’s one of the best ways to have conversations with prospective clients and answer their questions. It has fast-paced, honest, and oftentimes comedic interactions that, if done right, lead to a reputation that attracts all types of people to your business.

Twitter is possibly the best platform to expand your client base. The people who use Twitter are extremely diverse, especially compared to users of different social media platforms. They’re all different ages, genders, etcetera and are from all around the world.

Another benefit to Twitter is the camaraderie between other businesses. If you’ve been looking for other businesses to refer your clients to for work that your business doesn’t do, you can use Twitter to communicate with other businesses easily and make connections to help each other out. This connection in the business community is especially important as we all strive to increase industry flow during this difficult time.

As long as a business’ tweets are witty and meaningful, a wide range of people will start interacting with them. They will bring in business and refer your company to their friends. Twitter is the place to find new business, interact in the business world, and establish your business as a contributor to its community.

If you’re ready to boost your business through Twitter but you’re not sure you have the time to set an account up and run it, email or call us at CeSI and we’ll do all the work for you! We can simply create a business account for you and get you started or we can do as much as posting tweets for your business as frequently as you would like. Also, if you would just like to learn more about best practices for Twitter, we can teach you!

If you would like to learn more about using Twitter for your business, read their Twitter Business basics guide.

Search Engine Optimization is the multi-step and ongoing process of improving a business’ website and social pages and maps listings. It includes the following efforts:

The result of this work is that the search engines, especially Google, will rank the business’ pages more frequently and more highly in their organic search engine results. And in turn the result of this is higher quantity and quality of traffic to the website and other pages. In other words, the business will get more web traffic (visits) and contacts from people who are interested in the business’ products and services.

The ultimate goals for the work are to get more customers or clients and more sales.

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