The Fundamentals for a Solid Team in a Changing Workplace

The Fundamentals for a Solid Team in a Changing Workplace 2560 2048 Alicia East

In the movie Miraclea ragtag group of individuals from rival schools transforms into a well-functioning team and the unlikely winners of the Olympic gold. During tryouts, many of the United States’ top hockey players made a show of their fancy skating skills. Still, Coach Herb Brooks had something more basic in mind. He knew this team wasn’t the most skilled or the most experienced, but he was determined they would be the most well-conditioned.

As our work teams continue to disperse to their home offices and fancy devices, it’s easy to lose focus. Still, the fundamental principles remain solid. While the methods will continue to change, an effective team is always built on effective communication. Another foundation of a team that feels cohesive–no matter how it’s structured–is taking care of people. 

Whenever we get a little sideways or start to feel the distance growing between team members, divisions, and workers with various statuses, we can always come back to the tried and true basics and work on our communication as well as the human side of our business. 

We’ve collected some resources for cohesively knitting teams with different structures. 


Three Elements of Great Communication, According to Aristotle 

Good Communication Goes Beyond Open Door Policies

New Study: How Communication Drives Performance

The Next Generation of Office Communication Tech 

Taking Care of People/Teambuilding 

The New Science of Building Great Teams 

How to Respectfully Discuss Contentious Issues at Work

In a Hybrid World, Your Tech Defines Employee Experience

What is the Purpose of Your Purpose?

Managing a Polarized Workplace

Empathy Rules

Bottom Line 

There’s no way to build an effective team without communicating well and taking care of your people. What are your tried and true principles/tactics you always come back to?


Strategies to Help You Through The Changing Workplace

Strategies to Help You Through The Changing Workplace 2560 1700 Alicia East

Like a lot of you, we’ve been reading about how to adjust to the changing workplace. We hope you find this curated list of the Harvard Business Review’s resources to help you through the changing workplace.

The Great Resignation

  1. 6 Strategies to Boost Retention Through the Great Resignation (Harvard Business Review)
  2. How to Hang On to Your High Potentials (Harvard Business Review)
  3. One Way to Fight the Great Resignation: Re-recruit Your Current Employees


  1. How to Interrupt Someone’s Workday–Without Annoying Them
  2. Communicating Authentically in a Digital World
  3. Five Ways to Improve Communication in Virtual Teams


  1. How to Get Your Team to Stop Asking You Every Little Question
  2. Use Purpose to Transform Your Workplace
  3. What Courageous Leaders Do Differently

What patterns are you seeing out there? What’s helping you through?

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How to Know It’s Time to Simplify Your Process For Onboarding Freelancers

How to Know It’s Time to Simplify Your Process For Onboarding Freelancers 6000 4000 Alicia East

If one or more of the following statements is true for you when it comes to onboarding freelancers, it might be time to reconsider your methods:

  1. We spent more time onboarding freelancers in 2021 than we did in 2020
  2. Our team has a basic understanding of the terms exempt, non-exempt, W-2, and 1099 but can’t define them in our sleep  
  3. The above terms give me a headache
  4. We have workers in multiple states

The Challenges With Onboarding  

One of the hardest (and most important) things about setting up your workforce is classifying workers correctly. That’s why we cover worker classification extensively here on our blog. On a day to day basis, it’s important to know who’s a strong worker, who might need a little bit of help, and who has potential to grow into other roles. On the front end, accurate worker classification is crucial to preventing issues later. With the Department of Labor’s ever-increasing focus on worker classification errors, it’s incredibly important to get it right up front. 

Another incredibly important aspect of bringing on new workers is making sure you’re paying them accurately and in a timely manner. This includes payroll taxes. Since each state has strict pay deadlines for specific types of employees it’s important (and hard!) to stay on top of the ever-changing wage laws at the federal, state, and local levels. Along with differing wage laws, some states and localities require a different taxation method than the federal government does. 

Enter PayReel

If offloading some of your onboarding paperwork would free up your time and energy for the creative parts of your projects, it might be time to consider bringing on a partner. PayReel is equipped to manage events, employees, and all the associated paperworkOur team stays well versed in local, state, and ever-changing federal tax methods and laws to make sure employees are happy, clients are covered, and the IRS is bored. 

Here’s where we stress (and the only time we stress), we got it.

How to Get More Mileage Out of Hybrid Events

How to Get More Mileage Out of Hybrid Events 2560 1707 Alicia East

You’ve hired a team to professionally film and broadcast your event. You’ve considered the content to be sure it translates well both in-person and online. When you’ve already gone to the effort of putting together a hybrid event, you may as well get the most you possibly can out of said event.

Three Ways to Get More Mileage Out of Your Hybrid Event

Social Media Snippets

Your most important camera crew is the one capturing the event and live-streaming it live, but consider getting an additional camera in the mix. Give your additional videographer direction based on what you’d like to accomplish after the event. Their goal should be to capture footage that can be edited together with the primary footage for social-media friendly montages, teasers, and more. For example, they could get b-roll from the location or close-up audience shots. You may even want to set up interviews with your most in-demand presenters. Whether you’re seeking to advertise future events or offering online training sessions after the event, collaborate with your marketing team and engage top-notch editors to make the most out of the footage. There are endless ways to choose your own adventure based on your marketing goals. Our sister company Crew Connection can set you up with all the partners you need to pull it off.

Training Sessions

Look for ways to offer more value to customers. Consider both follow-up content for those who attended the conference as well as any materials you can offer to those who didn’t. You’ve already vetted the content and information for your event so you know it’s helpful to your audience. See what other ways you can leverage that content into training sessions/programs and more.


Anytime you increase engagement, you also increase opportunity to capture sponsorship dollars. More eyeballs and more enthusiasm demonstrate that a sponsor’s money will be well spent. You can offer ads, event website sponsorship, commercials, and more.

The End is The Beginning

Once you’ve pulled off your event, have a quick celebration and then get back to the grind. The work is just the beginning. Use a survey of attendees or other customers to find out what content they liked most or are most interested in after the fact. Use that information to improve future events and to engage customers who didn’t attend while also increasing value to sponsors. The bottom line is that it would be a crime to let all that awesome content sit on a hard drive after it’s over.

What are your favorite ways to make the most out of your post-event strategy?

Want more on hybrid events? This post is the second in a series. Check out last week’s post that debunks the #1 myth about hybrid events. 

The #1 Myth About Hybrid Events

The #1 Myth About Hybrid Events 150 150 Alicia East

While in 2020, virtual events reigned supreme, 2021 brought the rise of hybrid events–those that combine both in-person and virtual experiences. We saw trade shows, company rallies, and conferences turn to hybrid events for the best chance at reaching their audience. Raise your hand if you’ve participated in a hybrid conference. ✋

It’s easy to spot the events that fell victim to the prevailing myth that 🚫 “All you need to conduct a hybrid event is a virtual streaming provider.” 🚫

This idea is false and the mistake could be very costly to your organization.

As we approach 2022 and in-person gatherings continue to make a comeback, hybrid events are a prominent player in our new reality. This offers some advantages, but if you’re considering putting on a hybrid event, approach the idea with a healthy dose of caution. If you’re going to go to the effort, you need to do it right. If all you do is stick a camera in the back of the room and livestream an event with no additional accommodations for the virtual attendees, you’ve missed the boat. And that means you’ve lost out on engagement, leads, sales, and income. Of course you do need a solid livestream partner, but make no mistake: if the online experience comes across as an afterthought, it’s better not to offer a virtual component at all.

Here, we’re walking through how to make the most of a hybrid event for your business and what you’ll need to conduct one effectively.

Does a Hybrid Event Make Sense?

Virtual events still make the most sense for webinars and similar short-form, video-heavy occasions. On the other hand, we’ve learned that many traditionally in-person events can translate incredibly well virtually, too. Even if you don’t think your event is a good fit for a hybrid style, give it a little more time before you write the idea off. Haven’t we all learned we can do more virtually than we ever thought? Once you make the decision to hold a hybrid event, it informs all of your remaining choices.

Elements of a Successful Hybrid Event


Hybrid events are aptly named. They offer two very different experiences for one event. That’s pretty amazing! And also pretty challenging. If you do decide to hold a hybrid event, the reigning wisdom remains true: Content is everything. You might say that it’s even more important during a hybrid event than an exclusively onsite event because virtual attendees are more likely to stray to the kitchen or get distracted by their phone’s pin or their washing machine’s ding. To help whatever is happening in-person keep online viewers engaged, consider incorporating polls or Q&As. Help every presenter tailor content in a way that engages both in-person and virtual attendees. Bottom line: Just make sure you have a plan for how to convey information to each group.

Seamless Details

Have a branded event registration webpage with event information as well as clear registration info with customized funnels/follow-up communication for both the virtual and in-person options. This way, attendees can sign up easily and also receive only the information that is relevant to their experience.

Considerations for Virtual Attendees

Consider offering virtual-only sessions, breakout rooms, or networking opportunities. While it’s incredible to be able to include participants virtually from all over the world, you’ll also need to be aware of the time zone differences and make appropriate accommodations. For example, you may want to offer your most in-demand sessions at multiple times or at least give access to the recording.

Bottom Line

If you’re thinking about putting on a hybrid event, you’re in good company! Do it! Just make sure you do it well.

Note: This post is part of a series. Check out this post on How to Get More Mileage Out of Hybrid Events.

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The Evolving Workplace And You

The Evolving Workplace And You 2560 1697 Alicia East

The workplace was already evolving, but you might’ve noticed things accelerated in the last year and a half or so. For many of us, work relationships are no longer made up of people we see on a regular basis. It is more and more possible by the day to have an entire functioning relationship without ever seeing a person or even hearing their voice. Of course there’s also the Zoom phenomenon, which paradoxically means that there are people we talk to and see each other virtually more than we ever did in person. Talk about an evolution. An office building is no longer a prerequisite for office relationships.

Three Ways You Must Adapt to the Changing Workplace

Office space = Any Space

Working in the same vicinity as people used to be a necessity. If you couldn’t walk down the hall to knock on someone’s door or get together in a conference room to discuss the next initiative, you couldn’t get much done. Now that you can work from anywhere, you can have meetings across time zones and without even leaving your home. You may still see your coworkers virtually, but you’re less likely to have spontaneous conversations at the proverbial water cooler.

Yes, you can work from anywhere and this part isn’t new. But thanks to the virus that shall not be named, it seems like now everyone expects you to be on camera. Well dang. At home, you really should step it up a little. Seth Godin has some ideas that make a big difference. They’re worth investing in if you can. If you must work from vacation, at least pack a ring light.

Blurred Lines

It may seem counterintuitive, but working from home has made the work/life balance worse for many of us. There used to be a somewhat forced separation of work and home. While you could take your work home with you, it was a lot harder to reach people with a random thought or question late at night or on the weekend. You were unlikely to call someone’s home and risk waking their kids at 9 PM. But shooting off an email or a text at 9 PM is socially acceptable and reading work communication as you’re going to bed or first thing in the morning is expected. Getting responses in a few minutes is so much the norm that a “delayed” response of even 10 minutes can cause concern. Now, it almost seems like you literally have to go underground (on the subway) or take a flight in order to get a break from electronic communications.

It’s worth making it a priorirty though. Do what you gotta do to have a break from the computer. Take a walk. Meditate. Lock your phone in a safe. Really. Everything will be better for it, including your work.

Communication is Easier. Except When It’s Harder.

With this level of access, it’s incredibly easy to communicate in a moment. But we arguably have more communication errors since we can’t truly read people over email or text and emojis don’t quite replace seeing a live human face. Replacing live communication almost completely has its own challenges.

It also really sucks to feel you have to respond on evenings and weekends. If you want a hack for respecting work hours for others (even if you work at odd times) use your schedule send option. It’s the best! Instead of sending at 1 AM, schedule an email to send at 8 AM the next day. It’s minor, but worthwhile both because it shows respect for their time and doesn’t condition others to expect you to work at all hours.

The Bottom Line

Work relationships have changed massively in the digital age. And then you-know-what came and just blew the roof off everything we expected. FaceTime often substitutes for face time, emojis often substitute for actual facial expressions, and all our “time savers” eat away at more and more of our time.

It will be interesting to see if  the pendulum could end up swinging back to more personal interaction. What do you think? Will we be so starved for human interaction that we run back to the office? Or are we too happy with our sans-shoe lives and lean even more and more on technology to replace the live interactions that used to be necessary?

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The Two Most Important Ways to Earn Temporary Workers’ Trust And Loyalty

The Two Most Important Ways to Earn Temporary Workers’ Trust And Loyalty 2560 1707 Alicia East

If the internet was the spark that started the digital revolution fire, COVID-19 certainly fanned the flame. Humans did what we do. We stretched our resources to adapt to the new reality. Technology carried the flag and enabled many companies and workers to stay afloat with remote workplace solutions. But, as always, technology has limits. No matter where your workers are located and whether you ever see them face to face or not, human capital is still your most valuable resource. It’s worth taking a little extra care to keep the human in your human capital management. 

Unfortunately, the reality for many temporary or contract workers is difficult. Often, they lack access to benefits, work overtime without corresponding compensation, and deal with clients who pay late or don’t pay at all. So when you go above and beyond, you earn trust and loyalty from you workers and for your brand as a whole. 

As the workplace becomes increasingly digital, the human piece becomes even more important. 

Here Are Two Ways to Keep the “Human” In Your Human Capital Management Even In a Digital World

1. Classify Workers Correctly

It’s easy to think of worker classification in terms of compliance. And it’s true! Classifying correctly keeps the IRS off your back. But it’s also a way to take care of your people. The better you do up front at classifying accurately and setting expectations clearly, the happier workers will be. 

Accurate worker classification is an essential starting place. It’s easy to get wrong, but with your reputation and large fines on the line, it’s also important to get it right. Here’s a list of the most common classification errors and how to avoid them. Here are some basic guidelines for identifying the difference between employees and independent contractors.

On the other end, employers often have a difficult time keeping up with contractor and freelancer management. It’s time consuming to stay on top of ever-evolving laws, minimum wage and overtime changes, benefits eligibility, and the differences between state and local regulations. It is a worthwhile investment, though. It raises businesses to preferred client status among contract workers and helps protect them from costly fines, to boot.

2. Pay temp employees and freelancers accurately and fairly

Pay accurately and on time. Some big companies make a habit of net 90, but we don’t recommend it. Net 30 is more ethical and ultimately better for business. Here’s why. Overtime regulations or minimum wage debates are in constant flux, but here are our suggestions on this front.

Be proactive about benefits and keep up with evolving state and local laws rather than waiting for workers to knock on your door. Transparency is a great way to build trust. 

The bottom line

We know you care about your freelancers, but they only know it if you show it. Taking these measures can help you keep the “human” in your human capital management. The major bonus of handling your freelancers in an ethical way is that it keeps you compliant.

We know you’re busy. If you don’t have the time, resources, or desire to pay attention to all the details, hire an expert to keep track of contractor and freelancer management for you. Our team of experts and our PayReel OnLine software are fully equipped to help you sort out the rules and execute processes while also balancing contractor expectations, legalities, and company budgets. This quiz can help you decide if you’d benefit from hiring a team like PayReel 

We help you care about your workers even when you’re short on time. We think happy workers and peace of mind are pretty close to priceless. 

Managing a Contingent Workforce? Here’s Your Audit Prevention Checklist

Managing a Contingent Workforce? Here’s Your Audit Prevention Checklist 150 150 Alicia East

If you work with independent contractors, you know the draw. You get to tap into outside creative resources and outsource work that is not central to your main line of business. It often allows companies to better meet budget.

On the surface, the barometer for identifying independent contractors is easy. They are self-employed and hired to do a specific job. They receive payment only for the work performed. Unlike a regular employee, they pick their projects and regularly move from client to client and business to business. Also referred to as freelancers, consultants and 1099’s, they report their own business income and pay self-employment taxes. Easy enough until you remember that nothing that involves the IRS is ever quite that simple.


Is Your IC really an Independent Contractor?

The IRS has very strict guidelines that define true business-to-business relationships. These guidelines are meant to prevent firms from misclassifying would-be employees and thereby avoid, either knowingly or unknowingly, a bounty of state and federal taxes.

This is a deceptively complex question that’s important to answer “yes”, because the risk of your company facing an IRS audit has never been greater.

Best Practices to Prevent an Audit

• Work with contractors who have an established business entity, with a business name and EIN to which invoice payment is made.

• Make sure your contractor provides services to businesses other than your firm.

• Have workers provide certificates of insurance, including coverage for general liability insurance and workers’ comp insurance

• Have a signed per-project agreement for services between your company and the contractor. Each project should have a contract specifying project length, compensation and liability.

• Have workers include expenses such as reimbursements for travel, phone, meals and overtime wages in their day rate.

• An independent contractor’s services should not be integral to the day-to-day functioning of your business. They should not be functioning as a division of your company.

• Watch out for pen-ended, ongoing work. The longer a contractor is with you on a full time basis, the more they take on the role of an employee.

When working with your contractors

• Do not train a contractor, direct their work responsibilities or define their work schedules. Specific instructions on these aspects of a job imply an employee relationship.

• You cannot control any aspect of their work except the results.

• Independent contractors should, when feasible, be using their own equipment. This includes computers and phones.

• Do not provide any employment benefits. Independent contractor’s should have their own health insurance, pay their own employment taxes and not receive any corporate stock options.

• You contract on a per-project basis.

• Above all, keep in mind that this is a business-to-business relationship.

Prevent an Audit

Getting audited can be costly and time-consuming even for businesses that do everything by the book. How much are you willing to pay for employee misclassification? If you have any questions about independent contractor status, trust PayReel to help you make the determination.

The Art of Delegating: How to Multiply Your Bandwidth

The Art of Delegating: How to Multiply Your Bandwidth 150 150 Alicia East

The adage goes “If you want something done, ask a busy person.” If you are the person that always gets asked, it might be time to think about how to multiply your time using the art of delegating. Engaging a partner for events, worker management, and payroll is one of the quickest ways to increase bandwidth to actually do what they do. Put some of your responsibilities on someone else’s plate and then get yourself a mug to commemorate your status as World’s Best Boss.

Whether it’s a massive event or a one-camera film shoot, when a partner who specializes in event management manages your projects, it works out well for clients and workers alike.

Make Events Easy 

Whether you’re payrolling thousands of workers, sending a crew to an NBA game, or something in between, it’s nice to know all the details are handled. 

At PayReel, we know things don’t operate on a nine-to-five schedule and neither do we. We have an after-hours phone so we can be sure to provide speedy answers. Our online system allows you to take care of just about anything…at any hour…with a few taps or clicks. PayReel handles all the paperwork and the bonus is that we do it without any actual paper. Not having to sift through piles of identical paperwork cluttering up your desk and your headspace makes the process quicker and easier for you and for your workers.

Make Workers Happy With Speedy Payment And Paper-Free Paperwork

By managing all the payment details, including the mountains of W-4s, payroll becomes a non-event for our clients. Workers submit timecards on Mondays and we pay them on Fridays. When they’re paid quickly, they don’t need to call your office, which frees you up to do your job better. Of course, it also keeps workers happy so they are free to focus on your project and happy to come back for your next event. 

The last thing you need once you’ve hired people is to lose their loyalty on the back-end details. Whether they’re working for one day or for a month, we make sure workers get paid quickly and accurately so if you want to hire them again, they’ll be ready to pick up the call.

We’re devoted to making every single client and worker interaction a good one, which makes working with you mighty attractive for workers. As Michael, one of the freelancers PayReel pays, said, “[My Customer Experience Manager] has been superb in addressing whatever problems I have had.”

The bottom line

Clients work with us because we make your life easier and multiply your bandwidth for the things you do best. Not only does our team manage event payroll and payroll taxes; as the employer of record, we even take on all risk associated with a variable workforce. Think you might benefit from hiring a payroll service? Here’s a handy guide to find out more or contact us at 303-526-4900.

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The Absolute Non-Negotiable When Direct Sourcing

The Absolute Non-Negotiable When Direct Sourcing 2560 1707 Alicia East

It’s easier than ever for companies to use their own talent pool to meet their contingent workforce needs. Direct Sourcing allows businesses to place workers on a temporary basis, while keeping the best workers in the pipeline between projects. Direct sourcing is a great tool in the toolbox for contingent workforce management, but companies must remain vigilant to stay compliant.

Risk and compliance when direct sourcing

The real work when direct sourcing begins with risk, compliance, and payroll. Mitigating risk requires specialized skills, a great depth of knowledge, and a department with enough bandwidth to understand and follow rules on a state and federal level.

Errors can be incredibly costly in many ways, including heavy fines, damage to reputation, and loss of resources–both financially and otherwise. The rules around classification and payroll vary from state to state and on a federal level as well. Regulations change frequently as well and hiring organizations must do due diligence to make sure they keep their practices compliant and their businesses in good standing. Any company using direct sourcing simply must also include effective IC classification and payrolling services as a part of its plan.

When does engaging a partner for risk compliance, worker classification, and payroll make sense?

Sometimes a partner can fill in the gaps for payroll for a contingent workforce. Companies without a specific department to fill these roles will be served by engaging a partner with the bandwidth and skills to handle everything related to risk, compliance, worker classification, and payroll for a contingent workforce. The best partner will be able to handle every worker type a business employs.

When direct sourcing talent, many businesses find an Employer of Record (EOR) that takes care of all the administrative details of managing a contingent workforce is an indispensable part of their team.

If you’re considering whether an EOR would be helpful to your business, let us know! This is our jam.