Relocation & HR Trends

Chicago Tech Scene: What You May Have Missed This Week

Posted by Kinga Skowronek on Mar 6, 2015 2:13:27 PM

chicago tech scene Looking for the top news from the Chicago Tech Scene?

You've come to the right place. We're here to fill you in on the top news you may have missed this week.

See what's trending in Chicago's tech and be on the forefrunt of innovation. Or find out about apps and technology that can make your life easier.

Put Ticket Prices on Hold and Put an End to Airfare Anxiety

Have you ever come across low airfare, but weren’t ready to commit yet? Only to come back a couple days later and the super-low price is nowhere to be found?

This is where Options Away comes in to save the day. The company that promises that you will be able to “say goodbye to airfare anxiety.” This is how it works: you find a super-low airfare price. You put it on hold for 3, 7, 14, or 21 days. You pay a holding fee. The price stays locked in for you and allows you to plan your trip or check back in a week to see if there is lower pricing. If there isn’t then you can purchase for the price you placed on hold. No more airfare anxiety.

“Our airfare “hold” product, has put Options Away at the forefront of the exciting airline big-data and traveler engagement space,” said  CEO and Founder Robert Brown in a press release. “While we have already partnered with some of the biggest names in travel, this funding, coupled with the reach of our new investment partners, will allow us to further leverage our core B2B/API solutions for the benefit of new global travel partners”.

Chicago Resident First Recipient of Smart Ankle

Vernita Jefferson is a grandmother, postal service retiree, mentor to amputees and, most recently, a tech pioneer, writes the Chicago Tribune. Jefferson, 73, a Chicago resident is the first person to be fitted with microprocessor-controlled prosthetic called the Triton smart ankle, according to the Chicago Tribune article How a Chicago resident controls her 'smart ankle' from her phone.

The smart ankle prosthetic uses Bluetooth connectivity and sensors to sync with a mobile app that allows Jefferson to control it from her smartphone. It automatically adjust to terrains and even permits Jefferson to wear heels.

“I think it's amazing,” she said of the technology writes Chicago Tribune. “I've seen different things come along that I've never dreamed they could do. I can do more walking on inclines and uneven surfaces without tripping or falling or hurting my knee.”

Uber for Nurses

It looks like everyone wants to get on the next big “Uber for X” train. Enter the Uber for nurses Go2Nurse.  Chicago Inno covers the story in their article  'Uber for Nurses': Chicago Startup Sends Healthcare to Your Home. Go2Nurse is an app that allows an individual to request a nurse for in-home care and pay for the service within the app. chicago tech scene kinga skowronekOther services include: requesting a wheelchair accessible vehicle on-demand, connecting or chatting with certified nurses, and language translation.

"It occurred to us that you could come up with a pretty good business by emulating a lot about Uber and Uber’s business model, but do it for connecting nurses to patients," said Co-founder Edward Ben-Alec.

"2.5 million nurses are licensed and don’t practice their profession," Ben-Alec said. "Nurses have the ability to control their work environment much better (with Go2Nurse). They can do work from home. They can go out into the community and help patients. All without having to deal with an HR person at a hospital."

Geofeedia: No Sign of Slowing Down

Geofeedia announces the closing of $3 million in Series A4 funding— this fast-growing Chicago-based startup is on its way to success. Bonus: they are hiring in Chicago.

Geofeedia, a pioneer in location-based social media intelligence, enables organizations to filter and analyze social media content by location in real-time across multiple sources. Users search for a city, address or location name, draw a virtual perimeter around their specific area of interest, and access geo-tagged social media content from within those boundaries in a matter of seconds.

“We have a huge opportunity to become one of the fastest growing software businesses in the country. We’ve just reached over 10,000 users on our platform and are on pace to quadruple our customer base in 2015,” said Phil Harris, CEO and Co-founder of Geofeedia in the press release. “This round provides the capital needed to hire the very best talent available so that we can execute on marketing, sales and overall growth as we expand into even more verticals.”


decoding the language of lump sum

Topics: Chicago, Tech

4 Ways You Can Better Manage Employees in the Virtual Workplace

Posted by Kendra Mayer on Mar 4, 2015 12:51:16 PM

Your company wants to get a head start on connecting with a new transferee. working remotely

There’s only one problem: your soon-to-be employee is still halfway across the country.

Many times companies run into this problem because relocation takes longer than expected, or they planned to work remotely for a few months as part of their relocation plan. Luckily, it's easier than ever to work virtually and build strong communication. The work doesn't have to slow down, either - in fact, 52% of employees claim they're actually more productive when working from home

It's time to capitalize on remote workers! To help educate you in the benefits, we’ve outlined four of the most effective ways for your transferee to build rapport and get adjusted to company culture - all without stepping one foot in the office.

1. Face-to-face communication

Even if your transferee is hundreds of miles away, there should still plenty of face-to-face communication between your team and the employee. If you expect to see new hires who work in the office on a daily basis, you should see your virtual worker just as often on Skype, Google+, or Facetime. What's the difference between all of these?

Skype is free to use as long as your employee has the internet access and allows multiple users to call at once. However, the Hangout feature of Google+ is best for multi-person conversations. While each user has to have a Gmail account, the Hangout feature is specially designed to allow up to ten people to talk at once. The benefit of Facetime is that it feels just like a phone call - no need to “sign in” or be online. To make a Facetime call, each person will need to establish working remotelya good internet connection or 4G, and have at least any generation of iPhone after and including the iPhone 4.

While they may require more planning, face-to-face calls allow your new employee to communicate their ideas more effectively and efficiently.  Recent research with 40 global teams showed that strong leader-team communication with virtual workers increased their ability to contribute, which in turn increased innovation. Plus, emails can draw out decision-making time, since there are lags in response time.

2. Kickstart social interaction

It’s definitely a challenge to include virtual employees in office social life, but it’s not impossible. A good way to supplement friendly office banter is to use a instant messaging service.

Instant messaging (IM) feels more casual than emailing and can be used for less pressing conversations. On IM, virtual employees can talk about recent events in their city, random ideas, and other general concerns. But don’t worry about the conversations being a free-for-all.

New IM servicers like BigAnt, Bopup, and Openfire were made specifically for the workplace. In addition to basic chat features, they offer offline messaging, group chat, and voice and video chat. Some of these services even offer a “administrator” setting wherein managers can search, view, and print messages to monitor the chats. Thus, the IM services help streamline communication but also promote professionalism. With the ability to “just chat,” virtual employees will feel more included in office social life.

3. Value their work

Above all, make sure you are showing your virtual employee you value their work. Recent research shows that 55% of employees would leave their current job for another if they felt a new company would appreciate their efforts more. This is especially important for virtually employees because they have less physical contact, and often less feedback, than employees who work in the office.

Your company should try to check-in with your virtual employees frequently throughout the day - and not just to ask about their progress. Offer positive and constructive feedback, as well. For example, Doug Conant, the CEO of Campbell Soup, takes the time to write a few handwritten notes to employees, thanking them for their work and congratulating employees for specific accomplishments. In the virtual world, the equivalent of these hand written cards could be an e-card or a random email. Just remember that - especially from a remote location - new employees will need a lot of reassurance and feedback.

4. Understand culture clashes

When working from different regions, it’s normal to encounter small cultural clashes. With new employees bound for relocation, it’s even more important to make sure cultural differences don’t cause the new hires to be unhappy or confused. Research has shown that cultural diversity can translate to innovation and productivity, but it also can lead to tension between employees.

To adapt to the diversity of virtual workers, your company should try hard to evaluate the key differences between the regional culture of your new hire and your office culture. Coming from different parts of the world, you and your employee might have different views on the best way communicate and productively work. Try to recognize how your own culture influences how you interpret others’ actions. For example, are short, to-the point emails seen as cold and intimidating? Is it awkward for your new employee to talk about their personal life over email? Thinking about these questions as you interact virtually will be key to making your new employee feel comfortable and ready to work.

Want to learn even more about managing employees in challenging new work environments? Check out our eBook on international relocations!

international relocations

Topics: Relocation, Company Culture

[New eBook] 4 Core/Flex Relocation Policies That Will Make Your Life Easier

Posted by Aria Solar on Mar 3, 2015 4:42:00 PM

You want to make your employees happy. core/flex relocation policies

Who doesn't?

You especially want to make them happy in a relocation - a time when they are looking to you to be their guide and to give them the tools they need for success. 

So, as a good employer, you spend time understanding each employee's wants and needs, what their pain points are, and what they need in order to execute their move. Except, there's a problem with that.

This takes time. Lots of time.

We're going to let you in on a little secret: it doesn't have to be this difficult.

By utilizing core/flex relocation policies, you'll identify your different groups of transferees and establish tiered relocation plans based on their level. Then, using a policy builder, you can make each relocation policy feel customized and unique to every employee. You can use core/flex policies for your entry-level employees all the way up to your C-Suite, you just have to know what each level's benefits should include and how to make them flexible.

While the amount of tiers and the benefits they contain might change for each company, we think we have a pretty good idea of what a few of the core policies should look like. Download our eBook below to learn about four relocation policies that you can implement using core/flex:

 core/flex relocation policies

Topics: Policy, Relocation

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