Talent Development Centre

Category Archives: IT Contractor Lifestyle

Tips and advice for balancing your life with your IT contracting career in Canada.

COVID-19 Government Support for Canadian IT Contractors

Last Update: April 8, 2020

The Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak is causing drastic amounts of stress and uncertainty for everyone. We recently shared a post with ideas and resources to help deal with the anxiety, but there are many other concerns Canadian IT contractors are dealing with every day.

The Federal Government and various Provincial Governments are all taking measures and implementing programs to help Canadians through difficult times. We’re collecting these updates as they’re announced and posting them to this page.

Feel free to bookmark this page and check back often. If you have any questions, require more information, or have a lead on some support that we missed, please leave them in the comments below.

Canada Emergency Response Benefit

If you have lost income because of COVID-19, the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) will provide you with $500 a week for up to 16 weeks. The Benefit is taxable although tax will not be deducted at source. You will be expected to report the Benfit as income when you file your income tax for the 2020 tax year.

Are you Eligible for the CERB?

To be eligible, you must:

  • Be residing in Canada
  • Be at least 15 years old
  • Stopped working as a result of reasons related to COVID-19 (if you are looking for a job but haven’t stopped working because of COVID-19, you are not eligible for the Benefit) or are eligible for Employment Insurance regular or sickness benefits
  • Have had income of at least $5,000 in 2019 or in the 12 months prior to the date of application. That income may be from any or a combination of the following sources: employment; self-employment; maternity and parental benefits and/or similar benefits paid in Quebec.
  • Be, or expect to be, without employment or self-employment income for at least 14 consecutive days in the initial four-week period.

How to Apply for the CERB

You can apply for the CERB here.

Applications for the CERB will be accepted starting April 6th and you will require a CRA My Account. The link above includes resources for setting up your account, including retriving your password, setting up an account through your My Service Canada account or setting one up from scratch. To help manage the demand, applications are being accepted based on your month of birth:

Canada Emergency Response Benefit

Contacting Service Canada

Service Canada is temporarily closing in-person Service Canada Centres to allow them to better prioritize capacity and to ensure critical service delivery to vulnerable clients. You can apply for critical services online and Citizen Service Officers will be providing personalized service support for EI and pensions applications through an e-service available online and on mobile phone. To support access to critical programs and services for clients without access to technology, Service Canada Community Outreach and Liaison Service staff are contacting communities to offer alternate service delivery methods that will continue to support accessing critical programs, services and benefits. Service Canada is also warning that call volumes are expected to be high for the foreseeable future. Please visit Canada.ca for information. If you have difficultly getting through, please try again later

Emergency Isolation Support (Alberta)

Eligible working Albertans can receive a one-time emergency isolation support payment of $1,146 if they are required to self-isolate or are the sole caregiver of someone in self-isolation and they have no other source of pay or compensation. This is a temporary program to bridge the gap until the Federal Emergency Care Benefit is available in April. If you are eligible for federal Employment Insurance benefits, you are strongly encouraged to apply immediately.

Temporary Aid for Workers Program (Quebec)

This program, offered by the Gouvernement du Québec in partnership with the Red Cross, offers financial assistance to meet the needs of workers who, because they are in isolation to counter the propagation of the COVID-19 virus, cannot earn all of their work income and are not eligible for another financial assistance program, including EI. The lump-sum amount granted to an eligible person is $573 per week, for a period of 14 days of isolation. If justified by your state of health, the coverage period for an eligible person could be extended to a maximum of 28 days. Workers can start by filling out the application form here.

British Columbia Emergency Benefit for Workers

The B.C. Emergency Benefit for Workers will provide a one-time $1,000 payment to people who lost income because of COVID-19. Applications for the one-time payment will open soon.

Deferred Due Date for Taxes

Canada Revenue Agency is deferring the filing due date for individuals until June 1st. Furthermore, the CRA will allow all taxpayers to defer, until after August 31, 2020, the payment of any income tax amounts that become owing right now and before September 2020.

Temporary Wage Subsidy for Employers

This is a three-month measure that will allow eligible employers to reduce the amount of payroll deductions required to be remitted to the CRA. Incorporated independent contractors who pay themselves a salary may qualify for this. The subsidy is equal to 75% of the remuneration you pay, retroactive to March 15, 2020, up to $847 per employee per week. To qualify, employers will have to show that their revenues have fallen by at least 30 per cent due to COVID-19. The Prime Minister did warn that companies that can pay their employees without federal help should do so or else serious consequences will follow.

Once you have calculated your subsidy, you can reduce your current remittance of federal, provincial, or territorial income tax that you send to the CRA by the amount of the subsidy. You cannot reduce your remittance of CPP contributions or EI premiums. This does not apply to remittances made to Revenu Québec. Eagle recommends discussing this option with your accountant.

Mortgage and Credit Relief at Banks

Banks in Canada have affirmed their commitment to working with customers to provide flexible solutions, on a case-by-case basis. This includes up to a 6-month payment deferral for mortgages and opportunity for relief on other credit products. Contact your local bank branch if you require any assistance.

Job Protected Leave

Most provinces have implemented protected leave for workers who need to take time off to due to quarantines or COVID-19 illnesses. In Alberta, this does not require a doctor’s note nor is there a requirement to have worked for an employer for 90 days. The leave covers the 14-day self-isolation period recommended by Alberta’s chief medical officer and may be extended if the advice of the chief medical officer changes. Similarly, in Ontario, employees are not be required to provide a medical note if they take the leave and the measures would be retroactive to January 25, 2020. In BC, the COVID-19 leave is retroactive to January 27, 2020, the date that the first presumptive COVID-19 case was confirmed in British Columbia. During this public health emergency, employees can take this job-protected leave for the reasons above as long as they need it, without putting their job at risk.

Childcare

The Government is proposing to increase the maximum annual Canada Child Benefit (CCB) payment amounts, only for the 2019-20 benefit year, by $300 per child. The overall increase for families receiving CCB will be approximately $550 on average; these families will receive an extra $300 per child as part of their May payment.

In the Province of Ontario, the government is providing a one-time payment of $200 per child up to 12 years of age, and $250 for those with special needs, including children enrolled in private schools.

Ontario Renewal Extensions

The province of Ontario is providing extensions for driver licences, licence plate validation, Ontario Photo Cards, and Commercial Vehicle Operator Registration certificates, among others. In addition, expiring and expired health cards will continue to provide access to health services.

This extension will be in place until such time that, based on the advice of Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health and public health officials, the current situation improves.

Alberta Utility Payment Holidays

In Alberta, residential customers can defer electricity and natural gas bill payments for the next 90 days to ensure no one will be cut off, regardless of the service provider.

Relief from the Ontario Energy Board

The OEB extended the winter ban on electricity disconnections for non-payment for all residential customers to July 31, 2020. Low-volume, small business customers will now also be protected by the ban. In addition, the OEB is calling on distributors to be more flexible on arrears payment arrangements. The Ontario Ministry of Energy, Northern Development and Mines is looking at programs and policies to support electricity customers during the COVID-19 pandemic and information should be coming shortly.

Additional Resources

Implementing a Business Continuity Plan That Includes Working from Home

Implementing a Business Continuity Plan That Includes Working from Home

Morley Surcon By Morley Surcon,
Vice-President Strategic Accounts & Client Solutions, Western Canada at Eagle

When disaster strikes (not too hard to imagine these days), most people enter “fire-fighting” mode, change their priorities and deal with it. As a contractor you are a business owner. And businesses require a bit more pre-planning than that. Sure, your business may have only a single employee but that makes this employee pretty important to the company! Even small businesses have suppliers, customers and partners that count on them. A Business Continuity Plan ensures that you know what to do in what order should something unforeseen come up.

Elements of a good BCP vary upon which source you check. In general, they contain these main components:

  • Understanding what is critical to your business’ operations
  • Determining the most important functions within your business
  • Identifying how long these functions can continue to operate during an emergency situation
  • Assigning some measure of risks to each based on your analysis
  • Coming up with a plan that addresses these risks (heavy emphasis on open and timely communications with your stakeholders)
  • Some suggest a final point – Testing the plan. But, depending on your situation, this may not be possible.

There is no shortage of advice online about how to tackle this business planning.

A big part of Eagle’s business continuity plan is how we leverage technology. It’s been over 10 years now, that we adopted technology that fully enabled our workers to work remotely should it come to that. In 2013, the Calgary flood closed the downtown core for many days. No one was allowed in or out and many businesses ground to a halt. Eagle’s BCP kicked in and we continued to service our clients and work with our contractor partners without any significant impact. Key aspects to our technology included cloud-based ERP/CRM, Digital Communications (VoIP, etc.), internal messaging systems and ensuring that all employees have a proper workspace and equipment to be able to be productive and effective from home.

Best Practices for Working from Home

Today, more and more of our clients are directing their staff to work remotely to encourage “social distancing”. As a contractor, this would be required of you as well. Besides the security concerns that would need to be arranged with the client, working from home requires some best practices/skills in addition to having the technology in place that would allow your work to continue when clients shut off access to their offices. Here are some links to past Talent Development Centre posts that share ideas with respect to telecommuting, or as we call it at Eagle, WORKshifting (working wherever you are most productive):

These are strange times and uncharted waters! Hopefully, you have a BCP and are implementing it now. And, if not… well, as the old saying goes… “The best time to plant a tree is 10 years ago. The second best time is today.” All the best to you as the world works through these health challenges! Take care – stay safe.

Making Work-Life Balance as an Independent Contractor

Making Work-Life Balance as an Independent Contractor

From the outside looking in, working for oneself as an independent contractor is a dream come true. You get to set your own hours, you have no boss, you only work on what you enjoy… ha! Experienced IT contractors know that for all of the benefits of being in business on your own, there are a number of extra stressors.

A common struggle felt by independent contractors is work-life balance. For sure, employees feel pressure from their managers to work extra hours and get work done, but independent contractors feel a different kind of pressure, and it isn’t as easy to manage. Employees have the benefits of set workdays, guaranteed salaries, and paid time-off. Contractors face a reality that if a job isn’t done, and isn’t done with quality, they may not get a paid. With that narrative always pestering you, it’s no wonder work-life balance doesn’t come as easily in the gig economy.

Lack of work-life balance hurts relationships, takes a toll on your health, and will compromise the quality of work you deliver to clients. If you have a goal to improve your wellbeing, here are a few tips to consider:

Set Boundaries

The first step to work/life balance is to consciously plan for it by setting specific boundaries between the two. Physical boundaries are easier to set if all of your work is done at the client site, but if you work from a home office, this becomes more difficult. Your home office should be only for work with no distractions. If possible, have a completely different space and computer for personal tasks and gaming.

Time boundaries are also important. Just as a company employee has set office hours, do the same for yourself so you know when to call it a day. This includes turning off notifications on your phone after a certain time and eliminating all distractions.

Manage Your Time

Being organized and making the best use of your time is another strategy to ensure work isn’t creeping into your personal life. Use a calendar to plan out your days, weeks and months, as well as to organize to-do lists. You’ll gain an understanding of your hard deadlines, scheduled meetings, and personal events, making it easier to juggle more flexible tasks and ensure everything fits.

Control the Work You Take On

Remain in control of the work you take on to prevent it from getting out of hand and remember that just because work is available, you do not have to take it. If you already have a lot on your plate, tell your client thanks but no thanks, or offer to do it at a later date. When you know a prospective client has a tendency of letting projects get out of control and demanding more than you’d like to give, pass on that work as well. And if your existing client is a headache and is already hindering your work/life balance, think twice before renewing that contract.

Build a Support Network of Like-Minded Independent Contractors

More than just a group of professionals to bounce ideas off of and to provide moral support, a group of professionals in your field will help you manage your workload. Further to the previous point, nobody likes giving up work and letting a client down. If you keep a trustworthy network of IT contractors with similar skillsets, you can hand them contract opportunities that you don’t have time to handle yourself. In return, you may get extra work from them when your well is running dry.

Plan to Take Vacation

Vacation and time away are mandatory for everyone to maintain their sanity, but it’s easy to get stuck in a loop of contracts and never make time for yourself. Plan to take time off, either between contracts or at a specific time of year. Then purchase tickets so you’re financially committed to the plan, making it harder for “Future You” to back-out of that planned vacation.

Independent contractors are also known to avoid vacation because, contrary to employees, time-off means not getting paid. Budget time-off when planning your year and set money aside so you still get a “paid” vacation.

Without a solid plan for work/life balance, any IT contractor is doomed to overwork themselves, burn out, and cause damage to their business and personal relationships. If you’re prioritizing this, we strongly recommend you come up with a plan that works for you today. If you are happy with your existing work/life balance, please share your strategies in the comments below.

Let’s Talk About Mental Health in Tech

Let's Talk About Mental Health in Tech

Today is Bell Let’s Talk Day. A day when Canadians are encouraged to speak out about their struggles with mental health and breakdown the stigma often associated with mental illnesses. In the last 10 years, mental health awareness has taken a front-seat in many organizations around the world and we’re becoming increasingly aware that we’re all impacted by it.

A 2018 study by Sunlife Financial revealed that nearly half of Canadians have experienced a mental health issue, but the reality is that 100% of us have. Mental health issues go beyond more talked-about illnesses like severe depression, addiction, and schizophrenia. They include work-related stress, burnout and anything else that prevents you from being completely present. When not treated, each of these can become more severe and lead to negative outcomes.

Bell Let's Talk Day LogoIT contractors are not immune to mental health issues and, in fact, many believe they are at higher risk. According to the BIMA Tech Inclusive & Diversity Report 2019, tech workers in the UK are at least 5 times more depressed than average, with those in web design and development, admin and project management most likely to experience symptoms. These findings make sense given the nature of the tech industry and many IT jobs. It is not uncommon to hear about developers working late into the night, depriving themselves of sleep, which has severe long-term effects on one’s mental health. But even without that common stereotype, technology-related positions are often isolated and high-stress. They regularly have tight deadlines, implementations lasting hours longer than they’re supposed to, and a lack of ability to “wait until Monday” when things go wrong.

The nature of contracting also has elements that are known to lead to mental illness. A study by the University of California found that 72% of entrepreneurs experienced mental health concerns. They coined the term “Founder’s Blues.” That’s because on top of having to excel at your own position, you’re also dealing with running your own business and always thinking about the unknown as you search for the next gig. Adding to the problem is that independent contractors don’t have the same support systems as an employee. There is no HR department with resources and programs, nor is there an option to take a Mental Health Day without giving up pay.

Improving Mental Health Issues in the IT Industry

Many are already recognizing the increased risk of mental health issues in tech. Open Sourcing Mental Illness (OSMI) is a non-profit organization that is created specifically to help those in the tech sector. They conduct regular studies, share data, and provide access to resources around mental well-being. Another organization made up of tech professionals around the world is Prompt, which encourages conversation of mental health in the IT industry. An initiative of the Travis Foundation, Prompt connects speakers on the subject with conference and meetup organizers.

Of course, you do not need to be part of a non-profit organization to help tackle this issue in your industry. Being aware of your own mental health and knowing when to take action and care for yourself is the first step. You can also look out for others and encourage them to take a break when they need it. Watch for symptoms like headaches, being withdrawn, taking time off, missing deadlines, letting work slip, sudden weight loss or gain, and lack of care over personal appearance.

When you take a cough drop and get some extra sleep because your throat is a bit sore, you can prevent a cold that may have knocked you down for a week. Similarly, recognizing symptoms of a mental health issue and acting upon them quickly will prevent it from snowballing into lost work and damaged relationships.

Quick Poll Results: How much coffee are IT contractors drinking?

For many, a cup of jo is the perfect solution to wake-up, refuel, relax, socialize, or warm-up. Just the aroma of fresh coffee beans can bring peace to some people. According to CoffeeBI, Canadians drink an average of 3.2 cups of coffee per day, going through about 3.9 million 60kg bags each year! That’s a lot of coffee

In last month’s contractor quick poll, we asked our audience, comprised mostly of IT contractors, how much coffee they drink in an average workday, so we could compare our industry to Canada’s national average. It turns out, on average, our readers are below the national average.

Quick Poll Results: How many cups of coffee do you drink each day?

Tech Professionals Aren’t Excited for Disney+

Disney has been the talk of the town as their streaming service officially launched last. With all of the hype over the course of October, we were curious to know if IT consultants who visit the Talent Development Centre were as excited for this as the media seems to be… and the answer is an obvious “no”. While a small percentage of respondents said they will subscribe to Disney+, most said it’s either not for them or they’re not sure yet.

Have you checked out Disney+ yet?

Tech Professionals Aren't Excited for Disney+

Eating Lunch at the Office is Complicated — Where and How to Eat When You Bring Your Own Lunch

Eating Lunch at the Office is Complicated -- Where and How to Eat When You Bring Your Own Lunch

 

Eating lunch is an important part of any professional’s day. It is not only necessary to keep healthy but it guarantees you have enough energy to remain productive for the rest of the afternoon. According to a 2017 survey by Tork, it also increases how much a person loves their job, especially among Canadians.

Still, many people, including IT contractors, get sucked into a project and completely lose track of time. Before you know it, it’s almost time to go home and you haven’t eaten anything since breakfast.

One way around skipping lunch is to bring your own mid-day meal. When you do suddenly bring your head-up from your computer and realize it’s time to eat, you aren’t burdened with the time it takes to leave the office, order your food, wait for it to be ready, eat and come back. On top of the time you save, eating lunch at the office is often a healthier diet choice and will also save you money. It seems, nothing is simple today, though, and bringing your own lunch leaves you with more considerations.

Eating Lunch at Your Desk

Whether you work from a home office or a client site, there are multiple options where you might choose to eat it. A lunchroom, a cafeteria, or outside are all stress-free, neutral environments. However, many of us stick with eating at our desk so we can continue to work, ignoring the many studies and experts advising against it for both health and productivity reasons.

Continual sitting is bad for your health, whereas moving around, socializing and getting sunshine are all proven to be good for your mental and physical health. Moreover, productivity experts will tell you that multi-tasking does not increase productivity (but actually reduces it) and taking time to relax does increase your productivity. Even if you’re not “working” while eating at your desk, just being present is a pass for clients and colleagues to interrupt your break and take away from that important relaxation time. Independent contractors have another dilemma when they mix lunch breaks and work — how will you bill? Because you’re eating, your client is not getting 100% of your time and will not appreciate being asked to pay for it.

For more tips on this topic, check out this article about how IT contractors can take better breaks.

Etiquette of Eating in the Office

When you bring your own lunch to the office, should you choose to eat at your desk or somewhere else, there remains etiquette to be followed.  At a minimum, follow the same rules you were taught by your parents — don’t chew loudly, slurp your drinks, or eat food that falls on the floor. There are also some codes of conduct that are unique to office settings:

  • Don’t hog resources. It is inconsiderate to take up excessive amounts of fridge space and if your meal requires 10 minutes to heat up in the microwave, prepare it during off-peak hours.
  • Speaking of off-peak hours, if you do decide to eat at a time when most others are working, be respectful and minimize distractions. Be extra quiet while preparing, eating and cleaning up after yourself.
  • That’s right, you must clean up after yourself. That includes inside the microwave after an explosion or the fridge after a spill, to avoid messes from getting old and smelly.
  • Smells are a controversial debate around many offices. This Monster article advises you stick with plain foods with few spices and avoid the common offenders such as onion, garlic, tuna and sardines. However, in this Kitchn post, etiquette expert Kirsten Schofield says you should eat what you want. Everything smells bad to somebody so don’t fret too much.
  • In that same post from The Kitchn, Schofield also warns against judging or commenting on people’s food choices at any level. “It’s irrelevant, it’s mean, and you can rapidly get into class/religion/ethnicity/gender/medical history stuff and hit a professional third rail,” she says.

Are we over-thinking something as simple as eating lunch at work… maybe. But you can be certain that if we found this much information on the topic, clients, contractors and employees you work with will also find it relevant. What problems have you run into while eating lunch at the office?

5 Ways Independent IT Contractors Can Reduce Their Carbon Footprint

5 Ways Independent IT Contractors Can Reduce Their Carbon FootprintAs climate change continues to dominate headlines as a leading cause of natural disasters, climate irregularities, and other concerning trends, people around the world are taking note and doing what they can to help slow it down. If you believe climate change is man-made and want to continue doing your part to minimize the effects, then you are probably already working to reduce your carbon footprint, or at least thinking about it.

A person’s carbon footprint is a measurement of how much carbon dioxide is released into the atmosphere as a result of their own activities. By nature, IT contractors, and generally most people in the gig economy, have opportunities to significantly lower their carbon footprints. If you’re looking to do a little bit more, here are 5 ways an independent contractor can help the environment (you may find you’re already doing more than you realize):

1. Telecommute as Much as Possible

Riding a bike or public transportation are both responsible ways to lower a carbon footprint, but they are not always feasible depending on the distance between your home and client. Though your client may have some preferences about how much you’re at their site, independent contractors are not tied to specific office hours. Having a home office allows you minimize how much you’re in the car, only driving (and dealing with traffic) if you must be at the client’s building for important face-to-face meetings or to deal with items that cannot be taken offsite.

2. Schedule Meetings and Errands Efficiently

Of course, you can’t be a hermit and must leave the house some times. Planning efficiently will not only save you time but also reduce your carbon footprint with fewer trips. Try to coordinate recruiter interviews in the same area of town on the same day. If you must be in the client’s office, take care of other personal items while you’re in the area and avoid the trip on the weekend.

3. Ditch the Desktop Computer

Desktop computers certainly have their advantages, but they also require more energy to operate. Switching to a laptop, as well as using your cell phone when possible, minimizes the amount these larger power-suckers have to run. It’s also more convenient for you!

4. Avoid Paper Whenever Possible

We live in an electronic world and excessive use of paper is rarely necessary anymore. Rather than printing a document for somebody to review, could you email it or share it through the cloud? What about payments, invoicing and time tracking with your staffing agency? If any of that’s still happening by paper, ask how you can switch to electronic.

5. Watch What You Eat

Reducing paper waste is beneficial, but reducing all waste will have a greater impact on reducing your carbon footprint. Lunches at work are a major cause of unnecessary waste. If you bring your lunch, put it in re-usable containers instead of packaging that will end up in the garbage. If you prefer take-out, encourage your favourite restaurant to switch to more environmentally-friendly packaging. Some environmental enthusiasts also encourage ideas like “Meatless Mondays” which follow the concept that meat industries produce high amounts of carbon emissions.

There are a number of simple things everyone can do to help reduce their carbon footprint if they’re so inclined. How much or how little you decide to do is a personal decision. While it’s okay to encourage others to do their part, it’s also important to remember that a political discussion at the client’s office can have negative consequences on your contract. “Preaching” too much about what people should be doing may not be received well.

How Emotional Intelligence Makes You a Better IT Contractor

How Emotional Intelligence Makes You a Better IT Contractor

Emotional Intelligence (often referred to as EI or EQ) can be a fluffy term and not always simple to grasp. It refers to a person’s capacity to both identify and regulate emotions in themselves or others. Those with high EI are able to recognize, understand, manage and reason with emotions, which they can then leverage to manage their own behaviour and relationships. As Dr. Travis Bradberry has put it “Emotional intelligence is the ‘something’ in each of us that is a bit intangible. It affects how we manage behavior, navigate social complexities, and make personal decisions to achieve positive results.”

There is no shortage of documentation and articles advocating the importance of emotional intelligence in all areas of life, so we thought we’d investigate the benefits an IT contractor can reap with enhanced EI, specifically in the job search and while working.

How Emotional Intelligence Will Improve Your Job Search

Emotional intelligence becomes truly important for the IT contractor during the interview stage of your job search. Your skills and experience will help you sail through the technical evaluation, but EI is the piece that will help you build a connection with recruiters and non-technical hiring managers. These are the folks who, as much as they understand the value of your ability to do the job, are also ensuring you will fit into the team and work well with others.

Here are a few ways you can answer questions and describe past experiences in a job interview to highlight your emotional intelligence:

  • Show your ability to manage negative emotions by moving past bad experiences on past contracts. That means refraining from talking badly about previous clients or situations and focusing on the positive aspects.
  • Truly understand your strengths and weaknesses. Know how to communicate the areas you where excel and humbly accept the skills where you fall short.
  • Provide examples of times you accepted feedback and criticism and used it as a challenge to improve yourself.
  • Accept responsibility for areas that went wrong on a previous project without placing blame on other team members. Explain how you learned from your mistakes.
  • Take time to learn more about your interviewer and the position. Share their enthusiasm in what they do so you can build a connection with them.

How Emotional Intelligence Will Make You a Better IT Contractor

In 2012, a CareerBuilder survey showed that 71% of employers value emotional intelligence over IQ. Employers would rather hire people who have high EI than who are smart. Specifically, emotional intelligence is increasingly important for technology professionals for a myriad of reasons, some of them being:

  • It helps you get along with others. Tech workers regularly interact with non-technical people. The need to connect on a level where you can explain various concepts is crucial and emotional intelligence makes it happen.
  • It gives you job security. More and more we hear about how artificial intelligence and automation will steal our jobs. For the time being, these technologies still lack the human connection, including emotional intelligence.
  • It improves your decision making. By understanding others, and more importantly, yourself, you can push past biases and understand the emotions driving a situation to make decisions that are subjective and will be accepted by others.
  • It gets you through conflict. Your job as an IT contractor is to be the expert in an area. Naturally, with that turn comes conflict within your team and with your client’s employees. Emotional intelligence forms a sought-after leadership trait to work through conflict calmly and find solutions that work for everyone.
  • It means you can work well under pressure. The ability to control your emotions, listen and cooperate with others, all while understanding their emotions means you will be a prime candidate to lead a team through crisis and short timelines.

The great thing about EQ versus IQ is that emotional intelligence can be developed purposefully. There are a number of books and resources available that are worth researching if you’re seriously interested in improving yours. To get started, experts recommend reducing your stress levels as stress is known to mask your ability to tap into your emotions. From there, take some time to recognize your own emotions and learn more about your strengths and weaknesses, as well as read social cues to read into others’ nonverbal communications.

The TRUTH About Remote Work (from a Programmer)

In an age where everything can be delivered to your doorstep or done at more, more and more companies are allowing workers to work remotely. The dream, right? Maybe not.

In this video by programmer Andy Sterkowitz, which he recorded while working remotely in Playa Del Carmen, he explains the obvious benefits but as well the challenges that come from working remotely.