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10 ideas to put a social-distancing spin on Memorial Day Weekend

10 ideas to put a social-distancing spin on Memorial Day Weekend 2560 1745 Alicia East

Memorial Day Weekends of old boasted barbecues, parades, and oodles of red, white, and beer (🤔) everything. The holiday recognizes those who have fought in the armed forces while also unofficially kicking off summer. This year is bound to look a little different even as restrictions ease up. Large gatherings, parades, and public fireworks displays are cancelled. But you know what can’t be cancelled? Kindness. The outdoors. Watermelon. We’ve got all that and more in our list of suggestions for how to celebrate and connect in a different way this year.

10 ideas to put a social-distancing spin on your summer kickoff

  1. Host a watch party with yourselves as the stars: You picked your friends for their shared sense of humor and values. Now’s the time to create entertainment only you and yours can fully understand. Use all your stupid inside jokes and shared experiences to create a satirical mockumentary (like this one for the theater crowd), a commercial for a fictional product, or a music video. Decide ahead of time what the prize will be and how the results will be judged. Everyone should be encouraged to participate: Don’t let production value weigh too heavily in the judging. To get extra fancy and provide a space for all the snark you’d expect from your tribe, host a watch party. If you’d rather not create your own entertainment, conduct a poll and pick a favorite flick to watch “together.” Bonus if you make it 80s themed and add a costume party to the mix!
  2. Have a virtual experience: Everyone from The Bash to AirBnB is offering experiences you can take part in online. If ever there was a time to learn to do magic or cook Spanish tapas, it’s now! You’ve probably had a lot of hot dogs and watermelon in your life. Why not mix it up and go Greek for one of the most patriotic holidays around?
  3. Learn the history: I know I can’t be the only one who has celebrated a holiday without having any real idea why it exists, right? Whether you just want to find out for yourself or you want to turn it into a lesson for your kids, brush up on your Memorial Day trivia.
  4. Host a virtual game night: Incorporate all your new knowledge into a trivia night or coordinate your outfits (a must) for a round of Family Feud or Pictionary. You could also play some improv games like the one where you make up a story by taking turns adding one word or sentence at a time. This one is extra fun because kids can participate (likely with hilarious results) too. However you choose to virtually gather your tribe, have everyone throw in for a cash prize or something silly. I remember a jar of long-expired homemade jarred pickles that made its way through white elephant gift exchanges for decades in my parents’ group of friends. Every year, it showed back up. I can still the seedy green slop now. You never know what beloved traditions could come out of this time.
  5. Virtual bake off: In one of the most wholesome side effects of stay-at-home orders, people are suddenly baking all the things. Selfies in exotic locations have been replaced by bubbly sourdough starter in jars and glamour shots of crusty, drool-worthy loaves of baked perfection. Honor this new pastime with a doughnut or cake-making contest (if you can find some flour, that is) where everyone sends in a picture of the final product. Assign the judges (the younger the better) ahead of time and let all participants watch the judges’ live critique. Take the feel-good factor up a notch by having a $5 buy-in where the winners get to pick a charity to donate to. Thanks Krisi Olivero of Live. Laugh. Film. for this idea and for donating the winnings from your bakeoff to Frontline Foods (a Colorado charity that donates meals to healthcare workers)!
  6. Take a vacation from electronics: I wouldn’t have thought it possible, but I do think we are leaning on technology now more than ever. After all of those virtual gatherings, spend a little time electronics-free. We’re all attached to our devices at the wrist, so it will be a worthwhile challenge. Go for a long walk. Grow something. Have a distraction-free conversation. Even if you think you have nothing left to talk about with those people you’ve been around 24/7 for the last 2.5 months, step into it. Sit with the discomfort of not having something to reach for and see what kind of magic comes from it.
  7. Take a road trip: There’s a weird phenomenon that happens the longer I live somewhere. Colorado was my home for most of my life, but when I was packing up to move, I mourned all of the many attractions that were always a drive away and on my “someday” list. Somehow the longer I live somewhere, the less likely I am to get out and see it. Because life. But with life as we know it on hold and the current state of air travel, now is the perfect time for a weekend road trip to some outdoor attraction where you can still practice social distancing.
  8. Teach your kids (even the littles!) to make their own breakfast: I’ll be tackling this challenge this weekend with my 4-year-old at the helm, her little brother in tow, and the newborn in a carrier. And then, with a little luck, I will move on to one of my most prized holiday weekend activities: a nap.
  9. Make the food anyway! Of course, like so many holidays, food takes center stage at most Memorial Day celebrations. Take advantage of cooking for a smaller crowd! Instead of lining up a bunch of generic patties on the grill, up the ante with some extra special burgers: think homemade sauces and caramelized toppings. There are some stellar vegetarian options, too! And what’s Memorial Day without watermelon? There’s something for everyone—from the vegans to the meat lovers—at this Memorial-Day-themed Food and Wine page. Wash your hands a lot while you cook and then deliver some baked goods to a neighbor. Bonus if they’ve served in the military!
  10. Share a thank you card or video: Along the same lines, take a little time to thank someone who has served in the armed forces—whether they’re close to you or just an acquaintance. Some people are really suffering during this time and the little acts of gratitude can do a lot for recipients as well as givers.

Bottom line

I’ve heard from a lot of friends that they’re getting back to some of the simple pleasures of life—sitting down to a meal as a family, dance parties in their pjs, and growing something under the warm summer sun. Get outside, eat some food, and enjoy your family or the quarancrew of your choosing. You may find yourself a little slower to jump in on “business as usual” even when the opportunity comes back around.

4 alternatives to screen time while sheltering in place with kids

4 alternatives to screen time while sheltering in place with kids 610 345 Alicia East

Pre shelter-in-place, I was one of the irritatingly-principled parents who seriously limited screen time to special occasions like a quarterly family movie night. Admittedly, I also found it useful here and there when I noticed smoke from an overcooked bird cascading out of the oven or it felt like the whole house was going to crumble into a heap around me as a result of the sheer volume inside it. In this new reality, as a working parent with 3 littles (all 4 and under), I feel the constant temptation to put the older two in front of a screen so I can get a little time in front of mine. I am very grateful for the various sizes of square babysitters I can turn to at any moment. 🤷🏻‍♀️

It’s not all about me though. I want my kids to become fully-functioning human beings with the capacity to do something productive with their boredom, energy, and creativity. Also, I’m fairly confident they’ll still benefit from knowing how to read in our new reality.

3 ways to make the days a little more orderly, happy, and productive—

for kids and parents alike

  1. Make a plan the night before. My husband and I used to have a nightly routine of packing lunches and bags for the following day. We’ve replaced that with planning activities and deciding which blocks of time we will each cover with kids or work, respectively. We never follow the plan exactly, but it sure does help to have a guideline. Since our daughter is learning letters, we start the day by spelling out a word (our theme for the day) with magnetic letters. The younger one identifies the color of the magnets. I have noticed the kids are actually happier when we have a structure (even if it’s a loose one) instead of letting the day just run itself.
  2. Cook together: We enjoy this Kids Cook Real Food program to support cooking together in the kitchen. Yes, you can just wing it, but I have found the structure of this very helpful since my kids are small and need to be guided carefully rather than just set loose with a knife. It also provides guidance for working with multiple age/skill levels at one time so you can be in the kitchen with toddlers (no joke!) all the way up to older kids. I love that it gives them some independence in the kitchen and motivates them to be participants rather than just recipients in mealtime.
  3. Garden: As we mentioned last week, gardening is having a moment. Between sparse grocery store shelves and more time at home, people are growing food for food’s sake as well as for therapeutic reasons. Why not get the kids involved? Of course they love to water the plants, but you can take it further with activities that they will learn from, too. This online resource is geared specifically toward kids.
  4. Water day: Each of the above requires your full attention. A water day, on the other hand, is a great option because a) kids love it; b) some water activities are independent enough that you might be able to catch up on some communication or just get a moment to think; and c) it sets them up for a very long nap. And nap times are more valuable than gold right now.

Bottom Line

I realize that every person’s situation is different. Some are still working the front lines or don’t have a partner to share the load. And some will have to let the screen be the babysitter just to be able to keep feeding the babies. Whatever your situation is, I hope you’ll be patient with yourself and those around you.

As long and trying as this time seems, we will never get it back. Yesterday, my son woke up from his nap and wanted to snuggle. It was a rare moment with just the middle child while the other two were sleeping. I had things to do, sure. I always do. But I left my phone in the other room and sat with him. I told my restless legs–which threatened to carry me away–to be still. I told myself: This 2-year-old in your arms is not an obstacle to all you have to do: Being with him is all you have to do in this moment. So I was. And sure enough, a short time later, he was wriggling out of my arms and on to the next thing. I’m just glad I wasn’t the first one to move on. During this shelter in place, I am determined to look back and know that I did what I could to provide shelter (haven, security, love) for those in my care.

3 new skills to learn for the new reality

3 new skills to learn for the new reality 2500 1667 Alicia East

We can only guess what things will look like on the other side of this. And for me, I can’t spend too much brain space guessing. Not only has my history of predicting the future not proven very accurate, it also takes energy and time away from what’s in front of me in my actual world.

What we do know is that some things simply won’t be the same. Even as restrictions ease up in some places, the virus is still raging and the world is still changing. Some of the changes will stick. Doctor Fauci recommends ending handshaking permanently, for example. The business world was already moving rapidly toward telework and online interaction. Now, you might say it’s Zoom-ing there even quicker.

So what can we do right now to prepare for what’s ahead? The combination of being home more often and navigating a changing world makes now a great time to learn a skill for the new normal. We’ve identified 3 that will serve you well in both business and health.

These 3 skills set you up to adapt to a changing world

Podcasting

As a fairly new medium that democratizes the process of getting heard, it’s been compared to the blogging of 15 years ago. Major bonus during a pandemic: You can podcast from home without fancy gear, other people, or permission from anyone. Also like blogging, podcasting likely won’t be a big money-maker in itself. But if you can get established and find your niche, you can build a platform for your work and products. And a platform? Well that, of course, is invaluable.

I learned the basics–and met some great people virtually–with Seth Godin’s podcast fellowship. It was affordable and got me started with the basic foundational technical knowledge and necessary equipment. It can be as simple as a computer (had it) and a headset (30 bucks). The website says it will be offered again but there are similarly-priced courses available elsewhere. If you want to make a career of producing podcasts, you may want to invest in something that goes deeper. If you’re ready to drop nearly 3K, consider The Podcast Engineering School which will take you deep into the finer points. Keep in mind that you may end up racking up the tab on the other tools of the trade. Think mixers, boom mics and more.

Cyber Security:

Hackers and scammers are not new, but their tactics evolve to every new situation. They’ll come after your credit card info, your identity, and your stimulus money. They can seriously blow your life up. Rest assured (?), if it can happen to Equifax, the government, and Zoom, it can surely happen to you. Becoming a security expert is good for your own financial world, of course. In addition, being able to offer security advice to your clients or employer makes you that much more attractive. Whether or not you’re consulting as a security expert, just being savvy enough not to fall for a scam (like this one, which took a Shark Tank judge for nearly 400K) could save your job and reputation. Udemy offers The Complete Cyber Security Course: Hackers Exposed, along with a boatload of other courses to solve nearly any business challenge.

Gardening 

While you may not think it’ll directly benefit your work, knowing how to garden feeds mind, body, and soul, which pays dividends in every other area. It also helps the environment and ensures you can put food on the table even when the supply chain gets interrupted. P.S. You can’t work if you can’t eat.

You can learn about gardening in any number of ways and many of them are free. It’s also a rabbit hole you could spend your life getting lost in. As a gardener with a couple of years (and a million google searches) under my belt, this particular course by Ron Finley (the gangster gardener) has really piqued my interest. I mean, the man calls air “gangster as f%#k.”

Your investment in Masterclass also gets you access to everything from basketball to acting. You name a skill, it’s probably there. And it’s taught by, well, a master. Even if you don’t plan to become a professional tennis player, you might enjoy learning about it directly from Serena Williams. Surely some insight from one of the greats will benefit you and enrich your life.

Bottom line

Netflix and home haircut tutorials can only take so much of your time. If you’re ready to be mentally stimulated instead of just entertained, there are endless opportunities. What skills have you taken the time to learn with all this extra time at home?

5 ways you can produce food without a big yard

5 ways you can produce food without a big yard 2560 1920 Alicia East

You’ve baked a cake from scratch. You’ve lost too many hours of your life to Tiger King. You have a jar of sourdough starter on the counter. You know what it’s time for? Something (anything) outside. You could take advantage of this rare period of time when you’re not driving through the Chick-fil-a on your way to soccer practices and take a walk with your quarancrew. Do it in a place where you can keep practicing social distancing, though! You could forage for mushrooms (but only after educating yourself on the subject, please). Better yet: you could grow some food in your yard, on your patio, or even on your counter! 

If you’re thinking about producing some of your own food, you’re not alone. Some seed companies are short on stock and local nurseries are running out of starter plants. There are still options though and you don’t even need a traditional garden with rows or some ambitious plan to feed your family for a year. Even people with a small patio or simply a sunny windowsill can produce a satisfying crop at home.

Here are 5 ways to produce your own food (even without a big yard).

  1. Raised bed plots: This is a great option to get you outdoors and growing a few goodies with minimal investment of time and energy. You can grow a surprising amount of food in a 4×4 plot and you don’t even have to tear up your yard. If you find you love it, you can add new plots next year. Here’s an intro to the method of Square Foot Gardening.
  2. Potted porch plants: Without any yard at all, you can grow some herbs, greens, and maybe even a few tomato plants right on your back porch or patio. Herbs are a great place to start because they cost so much in the store and go bad quickly once harvested. Growing your own means you can step outside for a breath of fresh air and come in with a handful of aromatics. Bonus: you’re less likely to forget about something you see regularly than a plot in the corner of your yard. No porch? We got you, too! 👇
  3. Sunny windowsill: Some plants–especially herbs like basil and mint–thrive without the traditional requirements. To avoid disappointment, look for varieties that do well indoors before you buy.
  4. Indoor growing systems: You can invest in a system like this one with lights and the capacity to grow dozens of plants at a time or you can get a small tabletop aquaponic system to grow some greens and entertain your kids at the same time. The large systems require a big up front cost and regular nutrients, but the big bonus is that you can do this year round. The small systems aren’t especially economical for the amount of food you get, but some say the experience is priceless. Plus right now, Back to the Roots is offering 30% (code LOVEMOM30) off with a mother’s day special.
  5. Indoor/outdoor fruits: We saved the most ambitious for last. Even if your climate isn’t known for growing fruit, you may be able to grow fruit trees in pots. Many of these grow well indoors most of the well and benefit from being outside during summer months.

This is admittedly a departure from our usual topics, but after weeks of hunkering down indoors, we felt it was time to talk about doing something (anything) outside. While a big perk of gardening is of course the good clean food you’ll harvest, it also carries the bonus perks of helping you get a little exercise. Whether you’re concerned about food security or simply want to have the yard you’ve dreamed of, now is a good time to get out and grow some stuff.

The COVID-19 pandemic: Resources to get you through

The COVID-19 pandemic: Resources to get you through 2560 1707 Alicia East

Whether your at-home reality is more demanding than usual because you’re caring for kids while trying to keep up with work or you’re on the other end of the spectrum with little to do and only Netflix to keep you company, reality has changed for everyone.

Below is a list of resources for everything from medical guidelines to financial information to help you navigate the new landscape.

Medical resources:

The CDC is the definitive source of information on the medical side of this thing. The website offers tips for how to protect yourself and what to do if you’re sick. It also includes a video on proper hand washing. On the other đź‘‹, this one, from the Ellen show, goes through the same 7 steps for proper hand washing, while also providing some much-needed levity.

While there’s much research yet to be done, we do know that this is an incredibly contagious virus, so the best thing you can do is to avoid it by limiting exposure to anyone and anywhere you might encounter it. Social distancing guidelines advise that you do your best to stay at home if your work isn’t essential, follow the CDC guidelines to reduce your chances of becoming infected, and follow the guidelines for social distancing.

Financial resources

Check out this CARES Act summary from the New York Times or these highlights from Forbes. You may qualify for some relief.

Find a rundown on the Small Business Economic Disaster Loans here as well as a thorough guide and checklist from the Chamber of Commerce here. These loans may help some small businesses keep employees employed and could also be forgiven completely.

This article, from Forbes, highlights the Families First Coronavirus response Act (FFCRA). Find out if you qualify for sick leave here.

More people qualify for unemployment than ever before and many self-employed people are included. See this article for more information on who qualifies and how to apply.  If you do qualify, visit your state’s department of labor and follow instructions for how to apply.

Many mortgage companies are offering loan forbearance in the form of suspended or reduced payments for a period of time. Find out details on here and contact your mortgage company to get the process started. Due to high call volumes, some companies have special COVID-19 relief sections on their websites. Many utilities, credit cards, car payments, and other loans are suspending late payment fees, offering loan payment holidays, or other forms of forbearance. Get ready to spend some time on the phone. Take heart: It’ll be worth it when you can hit the pause button on some of your most pressing bills.

The bottom line

You know that word you’ve been hearing over and over and over again? Unprecedented. Well it’s true. These are unprecedented times and we are laying the tracks as the train is coming. Hang in there. It will bring out the best and the worst in people: Choose to let it bring out the best in you. We’re all in this together.

The freelancing secrets I wish I’d known a decade ago

The freelancing secrets I wish I’d known a decade ago 490 294 Alicia East

I was a year into a career change I thought would be permanent and I was leaving…again. I’d lasted one year and 2 weeks as a high school teacher and it was….umm…not a fit. I didn’t know what to do with myself. I’d won awards in the position I had left the previous year but, while I was certainly happier in sales than in teaching, the profession didn’t speak to me either. With a mere three years of life after college under my belt, I’d experienced success without satisfaction in my first “real” job and then neither success nor satisfaction in my second.

I had harbored the “someday” dream of writing for a living from the moment I realized it was a thing. So one day, while picturing a future of business suits, uncomfortable shoes, and a schedule someone else set for me, I made the “risky” decision to just go for it. I’ll explain why that’s in quotes later.

Here are five truths I’ve learned in my decade plus as a freelancer

  1. The true risk isn’t the first one that comes to mind: Here’s the deal: in comparison with a 9-5 job, freelancing is risky. You absolutely could lose everything…or at least be very, very hungry at times. I mean it. You could have clients who pay late or don’t pay at all. You could have slow months that land you in the red and times you’re trying to figure out how to create a meal from whatever you can find in the freezer (“use by” date be damned) and the last quarter cup of rice in your pantry. Risk aversion is real, but if it keeps you in your swivel chair at a 9-5 you hate, then you’re afraid of the wrong kind of risk. Because there’s nothing more risky than staying there in your cubicle feeling like you’re wasting your life.
  2. The freedom is fantastic, but it still comes at a price: Yes, the dreams of working from the beach and choosing the jobs that excite you are real. To overworked, underappreciated 9-5ers, freelancing may seem like the holy grail. But going out on your own isn’t just a world of free-flowing creative juices, coffee breaks, and wads of money. Freelancing can make you feel just as burnt out and unstimulated as whatever made you take a hike from your previous gig in the first place.
  3. Your “boss” may be liberal about time off, but you still have to answer to your bank account: You’re your own boss. That means you can take Friday off because it’s a great powder day (that’s the Colorado girl in me speaking). Still, if you want to build a solid business, you have to put in the work. And if you want leave of any kind–vacation, maternity/paternity, sick days, etc.– you have to create it yourself. Ideally, that means building yourself a solid savings account with 3 months living expenses. The hope is that, because you’re building your own dream (and not someone else’s/one you don’t believe in) that you’ll at least enjoy it more. While it can be enormously satisfying and liberating to build your own business from the ground up, that doesn’t mean it’s easy. Some days, you’ll get to take a Friday off because you want to. Others, you’ll grind away on a Saturday because you have to. Any workday can be a weekend and any weekend can be a workday. 
  4. You don’t have to starve. The “starving artist” is a familiar refrain. And it’s certainly easy to do, but you don’t have to. Start by producing work you can be proud of. From there, you can feel good about charging fair prices for it and walking away from projects people ask you to do “for experience.” You may have to take projects that don’t exactly stimulate you. My husband fondly recounts one of his early editing jobs for a veterinarian client. He got feedback to show a dog’s anus at 50% opacity (i.e. tone down the butt shots). Keep the long-term goal in mind and you can take the less than stellar projects in perspective. You’re building something. You’re building your thing. Once you have a steady flow of clients, you can be more selective and you can charge more as your experience (or equipment) grows. Remember that being able to walk away puts you in the best position to negotiate more freely.
  5. It’s easier than ever to burn out. I know how easy it is to have your life and energy sucked away by a “regular” job. The counterintuitive truth for many freelancers is that it’s even harder when it’s your business. You can pay your mortgage and your car loan and your grocery bill because you pounded the pavement to find the client and then pounded it again to produce a product they wanted. When you’re in business for yourself, it’s easier than ever to just do, do, do all the time. The trap is the lie that you have to. But you give yourself out completely and guess what? There’s nothing left. There’s nothing left for your bedtime routine with your kids, or those glorious miles on the trail with your sneakers and your headphones. And here’s the real, counterintuitive kick in the pants: if you don’t have time for the stuff the fuels you, you don’t have a business. As a freelancer, your business is you. It’s’ your creativity, your talent, your brains, and your guts. That’s something you simply cannot phone in. You have to be fueled, which means you can’t give everything to your business. You have to give something to yourself, which in turn, gives everything to your business.

The bottom line

Once you go out on your own, you live and die by your own work. The allure of working from home in your pjs and not having a boss breathing down your neck is real. But the struggle of life without a full time, “safe” job is real, too. It’s awesome. And terrifying. It’s not easy. Whether you’re on your own or working a “safe” job, you will kill yourself if you don’t find balance. But here’s the truth about freelancing, if you can handle it. And you can handle it, by the way, because you are scrappy enough to think about launching out on your own in the first place. It’s hard, gut-wrenching, kick you in the seat of your pants, pride-swallowing work. And it’s all yours, which is effing fantastic.

Employer of Record: what it is and who needs it most

Employer of Record: what it is and who needs it most 2560 1920 Alicia East

Employer of record (noun):

a) a company or organization that is legally responsible for paying employees, including dealing with employee taxes, benefits, insurance, etc.

b) your secret weapon for eliminating red tape for hiring and keeping you out of court

While you’re not going to find that second definition in the dictionary, it’s certainly one of the top benefits of partnering with an Employer of Record (EOR). Let’s take a look at the reasons some companies outsource this important part of their business.

What are some of the top benefits of having an EOR?

An EOR serves as the employer and takes on all related responsibilities and liabilities while employees work for another company. An EOR does some or all of the following:

  • Makes hiring new workers enormously easier and faster
  • Covers payroll management for freelancers
  • Maintains current headcount
  • Guarantees on-time payment
  • Handles all compliance issues
  • Provides workers’ comp and all necessary insurance for contractors
  • Conducts background checks and drug screenings
  • Turns a mountain of hiring paperwork (certificates of insurance, I-9s, E-verify forms, and so on) into a mole hill
  • Terminates employees, administers benefits, and handles some worker issues

Who needs an EOR?

We find that clients with a lot of freelance hiring needs on tight deadlines benefit greatly from partnering with an EOR because it makes onboarding–often one of the most painful parts of the process–a nonissue. They also love that outsourcing many of these services helps eliminate or at least reduce the need for an internal HR department. Since we specialize in these services, we have systems in place to make everything as efficient and smooth as possible. Sometimes, it’s the difference between staffing and finishing projects on time and tanking a project before it really even gets off the ground.

Bottom line

Not every company needs an EOR, but for those who do, it’s a game changer. If you think your might be in the latter category, reach out to us and we’ll talk through solutions for your unique situation. Your life is about to get a whole lot easier.

3 ways we’re improving the client experience

3 ways we’re improving the client experience 2560 1707 Alicia East

We are all about providing you with the tools that will make your job easier and more effective. Independent contractor payroll management can be complicated: We simplify it so you can get back to the work you do best. We spent a lot of 2019 improving your experience and now we have our sights set on what we can do next.

Here’s some of what Payreel did in 2019 to improve client experience:

Standardized the un-standardizable to keep you on sure legal ground 

Worker classification is a hot topic right now. And for good reason. With California’s AB5 and the subsequent shockwaves it has sent through the industry, everyone has their eye on where things are and where they’re going. We do, too! We’ve developed AI-based software to take much of the subjectivity out of classifying workers. While there’s no way to truly standardize something with so much gray area, what we can do is put a set of parameters in place to make sure that your organization makes the decision the same way every time based on a set of measurable rules rather than someone’s opinion. The biggest benefit here is that it gives you a solid leg to stand on if you ever have to justify your decisions in a court of law. We’ve also made it easier, quicker, and more efficient for you to see where an IC classification case stands as well as each worker’s IC population in PRO.

Software development may not seem very sexy until you realize how much time, money, and headache it can save you!  

Matrix-ed our system so it can “learn” your system’s language with no human translation necessary 

We developed an Application Programming Interface (API) that bridges the gap between your software and ours. This is extra special because it means PayReel software can communicate with your time-tracking (or any other kind of) software without any human intervention. That means you can fulfill changing needs on your end quickly without having to rewire/recode (i.e. without disruption), intuitively connect your people to critical information, forms, and reports, and skip maddening double data entry/typing. Sexy, right? 

Take a client with a self-developed proprietary system for time tracking, for example. When we plug their Enterprise Relationship Program into our API, it sends everything needed for a project or a job and updates all 32 necessary fields automatically. That allows us to forego bulk uploads and manual data entry with absolutely zero human involvement required in the middle.

Sound good? Contact us here or reach out to your Client Relationship Manager to get started. 

Doubled our team 

We really like solid software, but it’s still good people who make our world go around. We doubled our team in 2019 so that each Client Relationship Manager (CRM) can continue to offer the same quality of service to each of our clients even as we grow. We’ve also transitioned Michelle (our longest-standing CRM) into a new role that allows her to maximize her many years of knowledge and client experience. She’ll now be using all of her experience to directly channel the voice of the customer to the team as we continue developing the solutions. 

Okay, so what’s ahead? 

You guessed it: Software updates

Now that you’re as in love with them as we are, we can tell you we’re focusing on improving operational efficiencies with PayReel Online, our dashboard, and with our Sick Leave Accrual Management application (SLAM). More states have added sick leave and FMLA compliance regulations into law. We enhanced our proprietary tool to manage the rapid changes to the paid sick leave (PSL) laws and all their many new complexities being implemented on both the state and local levels. That’s good news for you because you can rest assured we are staying up to speed with where the laws go into effect in 2020. 

The visibility reports you asked for! 

It’s true. We saved the best for last. You asked for more reports to give you insight into your backend payroll information and we listened! Soon, supervisors and managers will have better visibility to see where workers are in the process. We’re also working on a report writer that can put together the specific info you’re looking for.

Thanks for a great year! Get excited because 2020 is shaping up to be even better! 

 

Meet your client relationship manager: Michael Harder

Meet your client relationship manager: Michael Harder 1002 1399 Alicia East

Like all of our Client Relationship Managers (CRMs), Michael is here for you.

MICHAEL HARDER: Client Relationship Manager

Where there’s a will, there’s a way. Whether that’s relocating to Colorado before finding a job, revamping payroll tracking from a thousand separate sheets into one big master spreadsheet, or brewing his own beer, Michael is going to figure out how to do it. Day to day, he manages onboarding new hires, processing payroll, and invoicing. All while keeping a notoriously spotless desk, to boot.

On the evenings and weekends, things might get a little messy in his pursuit of the perfect homemade pasta noodle or smoked meat. You’ll have to go somewhere else for your favorite baked goods though. Looking for Michael? You’ll often find him outdoors —snowboarding in the winter or camping and hiking in the summer.

Something else: As a certified bbq judge through the Kansas City BBQ Society (KCBS), Micheal’s stamp of approval at your next neighborhood bbq carries a little extra weight.

Looking for some help with your independent contractor payroll management?

Connect with Michael or any of the CRMs here. Their name is true: They’re here for you!

Last-minute gift guide for the self-proclaimed geek in your life

Last-minute gift guide for the self-proclaimed geek in your life 5897 3937 Alicia East

From Star Wars Arcade games to everyone’s favorite force whisperer: Everything old is new (or in the case of baby Yoda—young) again. We work with self-proclaimed geeks both inside and outside the office every day and these are some of the gifts causing a buzz in our corner of the world.

  • One of the most beloved Star Wars characters of all time upped the ante by going back in time to the very cute and cuddly past. There will be some PJ-clad Star Wars fans (and maybe their kids) wishing for their very own Yoda merch as soon as they can get their hands on it. Truth be told: much of the official merch isn’t ready yet (here’s why). Next best option: an outing to the movie itself (it officially opens tomorrow!). This checks two boxes: giving experiences over the things that could become future clutter (âś…) and enjoying time together (âś…).
  • Coffee lovers have been foiled by one nemesis since the beginning of time: a tepid cup of joe. Believe it or not, these mug heaters are popular enough to warrant their own top ten list. Compare features and ensure you get the hot beverage experience you’re looking for over and over again—sans the microwave.
  • Whether you’re going for the sleek and stylish bluetooth speakers or a retro turntable with an updated twist, this time of year will be bringing the latest in smart, stylish speaker systems into many homes. Here’s another top 10 list to help you decide.
  • For the super tech-forward home, consider lighting that pretends you’re home when you’re not, refrigerators that’ll order you a six pack, and thermostats that learn your patterns and adjust accordingly. Smart everything is supposed to make your life easier. Just be sure to do your due diligence to make your devices as secure as possible.
  • If all the technology has you longing for a renaissance of good ol’ pen and paper, this Bullet Journal might be the ticket. Like pen and paper, the journal has been around awhile, but judging by its fans’ enthusiasm, it ain’t going anywhere. The journal itself isn’t the revolution, it’s the system. Paired with a favorite pen, it promises to increase your productivity. It’s enough to convince even a dedicated paperless fan to reconsider. According to some millennials, it will change your life.
  • And if you just need a laugh and a break from the hectic season, check out some of this year’s gifts designed just for laughs (and warm feet in the case of heated corgi slippers).

Whether it’s smart and sustainable technology or pizza socks just for fun, stock up on gifts for your favorite techie or for yourself. While you’re in the shopping mood, you can visit Wirecutter for a full-on glut of options for every category of human (everyone from your favorite toddler to the technology disinclined parent) in your life. Go ahead, put something for yourself under the tree while you’re at it. Say it’s from Santa. We won’t tell.

ABOUT PAYREEL:

Looking for payroll options for your independent contractors and freelancers? You can depend on PayReel to assume all of the risks that are associated with worker classification because we make sure every worker gets paid quickly and easily. We even have Client Relationship Managers on call around the clock to answer your questions. Call us today 303-526-4900 or email us. We handle payroll solutions for video production, live events, media, and entertainment.