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Amidst the Chaos, Here’s How to Help Your Team Communicate Right Now

With many teams feeling a sense of stress and anxiety—and many other teams also working from home for the first time—very much top of mind right now is effective communication.

To discuss practical ways you can make sure your communication is helping your team improve how it works, we sat down with Robin Throckmorton to interview her about a topic she’s been helping companies with for decades.

Robin is the President and Founder of strategic HR inc. where she brings nearly 30 years of human resources experience in healthcare, manufacturing, service, and non-profit organizations (just to name a few) creating solutions to help them recruit, retain, and develop the best brightest team members.

As a business owner and experienced human resources professional herself, Robin has a deep understanding and empathy for the challenges so many leaders are facing right now.

Here are 4 practical tips to help you improve your communication, even with the instability—or the uncertainty—that may be happening around you.

1. Understand your team members’ preferred styles of communication

Part of effective communication is knowing the tendencies or preferences that someone has when communicating with them.

Having greater awareness about the cohorts (or generations) around us can help us in that process, explains Robin. “Understanding what communication methods may be more natural for someone is helpful when you are trying to respond someone’s preference. However, by no means should you ever assume these preferences are it and an individual cannot or does not want to use other methods,” she explains.

Put simply, the objective isn’t to stereotype or generalize by knowing certain tendencies; rather, it’s about learning about yourself and others to become more self-aware and adapt as needed.

And, as Robin explains, that’s also important in order to be able to effectively set expectations around communication in your organization, too.

To get started, Robin says it’s powerful to ask other people what communication method they prefer, and then work to accommodate that preferred style, when appropriate.

In many situations, the following tends to be preferred styles of communication:

  • Baby Boomers (1946 – 1964) often prefer communicating in a group or a team setting and face to face when possible
  • Gen X (1965 – 1976) often prefer email because it can be anytime, anywhere
  • Gen Y (1977 – 1990) prefer email or even texting
  • Gen Z (1991 – 2000) prefer text or face to face

The real value in this knowledge is knowing what people tend to prefer—and then changing your behavior, as a leader, based on that knowledge. Yes, this can hopefully explain a lot about a team member’s behavior. However, just as important, it can help you when setting expectations with them about the communication you hope to see from them.

For example, perhaps it’s the norm in your organization to have as many face to face meetings with customers as possible, especially if that were to be a new client or a client that’s going through onboarding with your organization.

If face to face meetings aren’t possible, perhaps you then default to video conferencing (which may be the form of communication you’d use now).

For some generations or team members, that might be an obvious expectation. For other team members, they may not realize that expectation, unless it’s made clear to them. With that in mind, you can tailor your instruction to team members to be sure they know what styles and formats of communication are appropriate, and when. Don’t assume they know any different.  

2. Be proactive about communication

“We likely will never be told by our employees that we communicate too much,” explains Robin. “It is important to identify multiple methods to use in communicating information to your employees and remember that key issues need communicated multiple times to ensure the message is truly heard,” she explains.

That might mean email, verbal discussion, intranet postings, or another channel that you use. Again, do a check to make sure you know what team members prefer and what they say is most effective, too.

3. Make sure communication brings the team together

For the many team that are remote right now, communication will be the glue that binds you together. 

Do everything you can to keep workers in the loop about the business: that’s high level strategy to changes that impact their role specifically. Again, this may feel like over-communication to you, but it likely won’t feel that way to them, as long as it is valuable information that helps them to do their work. 

“Remember, they don’t get the ‘water cooler’ talk that is typically shared in the office. So, this may mean a weekly employee newsletter, shared intranet, ‘huddle meetings’ via web conference, or even online chatting,” says Robin. Robin says if you don’t already have those in place, you can ask team members to see what they prefer and have several people involved to help “own” that form of communication—to make sure it happens.

4. Teach team members to be active listeners

Active listening is a skill that can be learned, and it can be improved upon with practice, says Robin. It’s also one of the best ways to create a culture that has healthy, ongoing and effective communication between team members.

First and foremost, you can help team members avoid distraction when it comes to listening. They might not realize just how often they are getting distracted and so equip them to know what distraction looks like, especially in a remote setting.

Distractions can be physical distractions (as many know right now, especially if they aren’t used to working from home!) but they can also be mental distractions. Once you are aware of distractions, you can look to reduce the ones you can control right now.  

When it comes to truly listening to someone else, it’s not about preparing a rebuttal or respond, it’s about focusing on that person, and consciously listening to what they have to say. In other words, active listening is not about thinking about how we’re going to respond, says Robin.

Equip your people to learn how to repeat back to someone what they are hearing, after that person speaks, as a form of feedback. That’s just one tactic that can show people you are listening but also it can help make sure everyone is understanding each other. That might sound something like, “So what I’m hearing you say is…” and that helps to show that we’re listening, and it helps to ensure we’re really absorbing the information as intended.

With a culture of active listening, people feel respected and ideas are more likely to be shared, because people feel heard and valued, adds Robin.

All in all, these four steps can help your culture be open, more productive, and have more meaningful dialogue, especially in such an uncertain time like the one we’re facing now.

Robin thockmartin interviewed for the digital labor law blog

strategic HR inc. is a national full-service HR management firm based in Cincinnati, Ohio.

President and founder Robin Throckmorton can be reached at Robin(at)strategichrinc.com.

Learn More About Digital Labor Law Posters for Your Remote Workers

Digital Labor Laws by Edoc Service allows all your team members, no matter where they are located, to see and access the latest labor laws required by the state and federal government.

You can post them digitally, or if desired, you can print them off, too. The best part? You can have workers sign off and show that they reviewed each poster. Whether you are remote for-now, or you have distributed teams all the time, Digital Labor Laws are for you!

We’re making compliance #MoreHuman so you can be as meaningfully productive as possible each day. Get started and get all your Labor Law posters here.

remote worker resolutions for the new year

Kim Geiger leads the eSign division at Edoc Service, Inc., a totally remote company. Digital Labor Laws is a subdivision of eSign.

Edoc is a team that’s passionate about transforming how business is done in America. Kim–and Edoc–are champions of remote work, which is why Edoc offers tools and services to other companies to help them be more productive, more collaborative—and often times, more virtual.

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About Digital Labor Law

How To Conquer Remote Worker Loneliness

Remote work is increasingly popular thanks to benefits like a higher quality of life, more productivity, and more flexibility.

But it’s true that without the proper steps and support in place, remote workers can start to feel lonely.

Knowing potential loneliness is an issue that needs to be addressed for remote workers and teams, we’re breaking down what can be done on the employer side and what can be done on the employee side so that workers don’t feel lonely.

On the Employer Side

There are many things that can be done as am employer to add structure and encourage connection with your remote workers:

Encourage time for conversation that isn’t focused on work. 

It’s not going to be every meeting, but it may make sense to have a regular meeting where people can connect and share what’s happening outside of work.

People are going to do this informally, but it’s also a good idea to “build this in” to how you work in some way. I’ve even heard of some companies dedicating a separate, regular meetup (such as a Friday lunch) with this very purpose.

What this also might look like: this might be some form of virtual water cooler. If you use Slack or another chat/messenging tool, make sure you have an area where people can share what’s going on in their lives.

Make time for in-person meetings. 

Just because you are remote most of the time, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t make the time for in-person gatherings, meet-ups, or actual meetings. We’re a virtual team at Edoc, but many of us are able to meet in-person on a regular basis.

What this might look like: Every team can find its own cadence based on what’s feasible and what makes sense for the team. Some remote teams even do annual or semi-annual gatherings where all workers are able to come together and spend face-to-face time with one another.

Make sure expectations are clear on communication.

 At first, it may feel like over-communication, but there really might not be a such thing as over-communicating in a remote environment. Teamwork relies on communication, and you can almost never over-communicate on a remote team.

On your end, you need to be sure that’s crystal clear for new workers (and existing workers). For the younger generation, you may actually have to outline what those expectations are. Different generations tend to prefer different modes of communication, but you want to define an get alignment on what your communication norms will be.

For example, if a client gives someone on the team a call, what’s the expectation for the returning line of communication? Or, for example, what’s the expectation around any first meetings with clients. Are those to be done via email, text, or phone call? The point is this: it may seem like common sense to you as to when and how to communicate in certain settings, but it’s not going to be clear to others, especially new people on the team.

A reminder: Someone who has never worked remotely or someone who works remotely a few times a week needs to become aware of this in many situations. They aren’t used to some of the over-communication and proactive communication that needs to happen in a virtual environment, so keep that in mind.

Make sure you have the tools in place that can help your team feel like a team. 

Sure, tech is not the driver of your team environment, but it certainly can help support your team. We use Zoom and Slack, just to name two tools. You need tools that help you to communicate and do work more productively, not tools that hold you back.

If you have a leader who embraces this role, allow them to be a ‘culture-keeper’. 

One of the best ways to encourage that opportunities for connection happen on your team is to make sure someone (or a team) owns that area. If you have someone in your company who enjoys fostering and advocating for a healthy culture, give them the opportunity (and resources) to lead in that role.

They can really help to share needs and tell top leaders what they may not be aware of.   

On the employee side

We can all look at the employer to see what they can do to help combat feelings of isolation. But every remote worker also owes it to themselves to also find out how they work best. After all, if you feel lonely, it’s just that: a feeling. That kind of emotional response, at the end of the day, is in your control.

Become more self-aware about how you work best.

Depending on the duration of your career, and depending on whether or not you are new to remote work, you may already know how you work best. You probably have little methods you’ve learned over the years to help you maximize your time each day. Part of that process is a certain degree of self-awareness.

If you want to avoid ever feeling lonely as a remote worker, make sure you’re open to changing how you currently work, if that’s what’s called for.

Don’t limit your office to your home. 

If you are feeling lonely and you’ve only worked from home, you may need to change where you’re working. Yes, there are always coffee shops, but there are plenty of alternatives. At Edoc, we are members of the ORCA Coworking space, where we can go at any time.

I’ve even heard of people working at libraries, museums, malls, gyms, fast casual restaurants, and parks, just to name a few. All of these are opportunities to have plenty of interaction with other people.

You also can invite a colleague. The point is this: as long as the nature of your job permits you to do so, be sure to take the time to consider where you’re working.

Do an inventory of how you spend your time outside of “work”. 

Where do you go for lunch? Do you take breaks and connect with your neighborhood in any way? Have you ever participated in group workouts or group fitness? Are you involved in the community in other ways? Do you have a social group you normally interact with or could become more involved with? Do you have any pets?

Take the time to examine how you spend your time, in general. (Again, this goes back to self-awareness.)

This can be a great opportunity for more “connection” in your life. It’s a hard truth, but feelings of loneliness in your life might not just be from your work life, so be honest with yourself.

Start scheduling more activities that drive connection. 

If you don’t know where to start, my recommendation would be to start scheduling more social activities that you enjoy. I recommend this so you break your current routine, and so that you treat it just as you would any other meeting.

What this might look like: quality groups you can join, coffee with a friend, a walk outside, a group fitness class you always said you wanted to try, or maybe it’s a day where you schedule that you are going to work at a coworking space to try it out.

Don’t be afraid to look at sources like Facebook events, meetup.com, or you can find other remote workers who you can work with in your area. Remember that flexibility and freedom are two of the benefits of remote work, so don’t forget that when it comes to setting up your own workspace and work habits.

Conquering Loneliness as a Remote Worker

Conquering loneliness or isolation is possible: in the best case scenario, employers and employees work together to create a structure and daily habits that encourage valuable connections…and productivity.

As an employer, your next step can be this: talk with your people. You can ask your people what they might enjoy in terms of more social activity or other great ways to feel connected. You don’t want it to be forced, but they may have some ideas they’d enjoy, or ideas that would help them get the right amount of social interaction, if that’s an issue.

Learn More About Digital Labor Law Posters for Remote Teams

Digital Labor Laws by Edoc Service allows all your team members, no matter where they are located, to see and access the latest labor laws required by the state and federal government.

You can post them digitally, or if desired, you can print them, too. The best part? You can have workers sign off and show that they reviewed each poster.

We’re making compliance #MoreHuman so you can be as meaningfully productive as possible each day. Get started and get all your Labor Law posters here.

remote worker resolutions for the new year

Kim Geiger leads the eSign division at Edoc Service, Inc., a totally remote company. Digital Labor Laws is a subdivision of eSign.

Edoc is a team that’s passionate about transforming how business is done in America. Kim–and Edoc–are champions of remote work, which is why Edoc offers tools and services to other companies to help them be more productive, more collaborative—and often times, more virtual.

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5 Truths About Healthy Time Management

One of the biggest problems that can be found in any modern business: time management skills.

Readers of this blog want their teams to be passionate and dedicated, yes—but we also want teams that know how to prioritize and manage their time while working, too.

Here are 5 realities about healthy time management that we’ve learned as a 100% remote company:

1. Batch tasks or activities to be more efficient

One of the ways I stay time is to batch certain activities or work together. I call this “batching” as I’ve heard others describe it (or I’ve heard it called “time batching”,) but there may be another name for this strategy to set aside a block of time for a certain project.

Take for example social media work; if I allocate a certain “block” of time to social media management each day, I find I can be more efficient than if I randomly work on social media throughout the week.

For one, there’s less of that start-up time or time wasted that comes when you switch tasks or go back and forth between work. Second, for some reason I’m able to be much more focused when I batch certain tasks this way. I think it’s because my thoughts are able to be laser-focused on just one thing.

Maybe for you (or those you are coaching or leading), you can use this strategy for a certain client or maybe it’s dedicating a certain block of time to a project. Whether the case may be, doing as much as you can for just one project (or just one activity) is a great way to reduce distraction and to streamline how you work.

2. Managing time is about managing energy

Instead of thinking about how I manage time in my day, I try to think about how I’m best utilizing my energy each day. After all, your energy isn’t unlimited. You only have so much energy in one day, so this can add structure to your day so you do tasks that require more mental energy sooner in your day—or, if you are an afternoon or night-time person, perhaps that’s later in your day.

What that looks like for me: if I need to write an article or blog post, for example, I know that takes a certain level of mental clarity and a good deal of energy for me. Even though I enjoy it, I need to have a high degree of energy to do my best on that task. I’m much better off writing earlier in the day, if not first thing in my day, rather than late in the day.

I’m more efficient and the work output is better that way. When able, that means I schedule more of my meetings in the afternoon, so that frees up time in the morning for writing and other tasks I need to accomplish that are best with a clear head.

People who have been working for years do this naturally, but keep this in mind when working with younger generations or people new to your company. They might not have learned this yet, so you can offer up advice to them to help them structure their day so they match up tasks with their energy levels and so they don’t burn out, either.

3. Reduce meetings

Every organization is going to have a different kind of cadence and norm, but challenge the status quo of how often you meet. Often times, organizations can become reliant on recurring meetings that really have no purpose, yet they pull people out of work for a number of hours.

Use this guide to help you minimize unproductive meetings:

  • Make sure every meeting has a desired outcome. If you aren’t sure what you are meeting about, it might not be a relevant meeting. Remember that if you are interrupting and pulling people away from work, you want to be sure there is a clear reason for doing so.

  • Make sure each meeting has a lead or “owner.” Ever been on a conference call with dozens of people and you aren’t sure who is leading the meeting? If there is no one at least somewhat leading the meeting, it could be sign there is an issue.

  • Ensure that everyone has a role in the meeting. Meetings are productive when people bring contribution, updates, or relevant findings or information to those meetings. It sounds obvious, but make sure anyone included on a meeting invite is contributing in some way to that meeting.

    That means there needs to be a clear expectation that anyone invited to a meeting should be prepared for that meeting. If they have nothing to share, then maybe they don’t need to be included in the meeting. Remember that depending on how long the person has been with your company or what organization they may come from, that might not be a clear expectation, so be sure that’s known, if your team adopts that mentality.

  • Don’t (always) default to a meeting. Sometimes when there is confusion or a decision needs to be made, it’s effective to have a meeting to have healthy dialogue and debate over the right course of action. But make sure you don’t always default to a meeting each and every time there is a decision or each and every time there is a problem. It’s going to depend on your culture, but be sure meetings don’t become some form of busywork.

4. Be honest with yourself about what you need to do “now”

Debbie Millman, a prolific writer, designer, educator, artist, and host of the podcast “Design Matters”, said it best when she talked about how many of us don’t prioritize what matters most.

She argues that many times, we use excuses to explain why we can’t do something that we say we want to do. She says:

Of the many, many excuses people use to rationalize why they can’t do something they say that they want to do, the excuse “I am too busy” is the least likely to be true. I don’t believe in “too busy.” I think that “busy” is a decision. We do the things we want to do, period. If we say we are too busy, it is shorthand for “not important enough.” It means you would rather be doing something else that you consider more important…

Her point is this: when we say we’re too busy for something, in many circumstances, it may just be an excuse. We all have to make the decision to be honest with ourselves about what we want to do, what we intend to do, and it’s up to us to make time for the things we really care about. It’s not always as simple as that, but reflection on prioritization and true sources of why we are procrastinating can go a long way.

5. Turn it off

We can focus so much on all the tactics or strategies that help us with time management, but one of the best ways to be able to be as productive as possible is to be sure we unplug and that we actually stop working each day.

Did you know that a study of Americans found they we check our phones as much as 80 times a day? (1) And for remote workers, this can be even more of a problem.

A few ways you may want to adopt this mentality include:

  • Stop working on anything related to work (even thinking about work) at least 1.5 hours before you plan on going to sleep;
  • Take a lunch break each and every day—so that means no multi-tasking or working while you eat;
  • Set boundaries as to how much you work;
  • Take short breaks—possibly to walk—during the day, without technology.

Learn More About Digital Labor Laws by Edoc Service

Digital Labor Laws by Edoc Service allows all your team members, no matter where they are located, to see and access the latest labor laws required by the state and federal government. You can post them digitally, or if desired, you can print them, too. The best part? You can have workers sign off and show that they reviewed each poster.

We’re making compliance #MoreHuman so you can be as meaningfully productive as possible each day. Get started and get all your Labor Law posters here.

remote worker resolutions for the new year

Kim Geiger leads the eSign division at Edoc Service, Inc., a totally remote company. Digital Labor Laws is a subdivision of eSign.

Edoc is a team that’s passionate about transforming how business is done in America. Kim–and Edoc–are champions of remote work, which is why Edoc offers tools and services to other companies to help them be more productive, more collaborative—and often times, more virtual.

Source:

  1. https://open.buffer.com/disconnect-devices/
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Full Worker Verification & More: The Newest Features from Digital Labor Laws

So you want to know some of the latest features that can keep you in compliance and help you make sure all workers have seen all their labor law posters? View the infographic below to see a few of the new features Digital Labor Law has to offer.

Sign Up For Digital Labor Laws Today

Sign up to receive all the latest Digital Labor Laws today: create an account and get started now.

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How to Sign Your Labor Law Posters

1. Before you agree that you have seen your Labor Law posters, someone in your organization has taken the time to select and send those posters to you. Once they take this step, you will receive a notification email letting you know you have documents (posters) awaiting your signature and review.

Once you click-through on the link provided in the email, you will be guided through each and every poster to review and then sign off on, indicating you have seen and reviewed the poster and its content.

TIP: Ensure your initials remain the same throughout the process.

2. Once you review all the posters, you can also hit SIGN ALL to sign them in bulk. Here’s an example of what it lookslike to enter your first and last initials to sign off on a poster:

3. Once you have reviewed and signed all the posters, you will get a success screen.

NOTE: You may also want to print off your Labor Law posters, and you may want to post those in a physical place in your worksite.

Need more help or have other questions? Email us at kim (at) digitallaborlaw.com today!

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How to Download Your Master Record That Shows How All Staff Have Seen Your Labor Law Posters

Want to download a master file that shows which staff members has seen and signed off on your Labor Law posters? Follow these steps:

  1. Once you are on the ACCOUNTS & ORDERS page, go to the MANAGE WORKERS page. Hit the button that says DOWNLOAD MASTER RECORD. Now you will see a master record of all the history related to your workers. Want to have proof that all your staff has seen these posters? That’s what your master record is great for!

2. Now you will receive a comprehensive PDF of all the records to date.

Need more help or have other questions? Email us at kim (at) digitallaborlaw.com today!

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How to Add New Workers to Digital Labor Law: Self-Setup

NOTE: There are 3 ways to add new workers to the system.

1. You add them one by one, manually.
2. You can add them in bulk via uploading a CSV
3. You can send them the link to have them add themselves. (This is what is shown below.)

REMINDER: Before you start, at any time, under “MANAGE WORKERS” you can see the status of any worker – whether or not they have been invited to sign/review posters, or whether they have in fact signed posters once invited.

  1. When logged in, go to the ACCOUNTS & ORDERS page and then go to MANAGE WORKERS. Now click the link where it says EMPLOYEE SELF-ONBOARDING. You will send or share this link with them and they will fill out their own information.

2. The person who is given this public link will be prompted to fill out their own information when they receive the invite email. You must select the one state that applies to them to use the platform this way.

This is the information they are asked to provide. They will then need to verify their email so they have an account.

Remember, just because they have signed up does NOT mean you have invited them to view any posters! Once they are signed up, THEN you can go back and add posters to them so that they can review them. See below on where to go to invite them to sign/review the posters.

Need more help or have other questions? Email us at kim (at) digitallaborlaw.com today!

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How to Add New Workers to Digital Labor Law: In Bulk Via Spreadsheet

NOTE: There are 3 ways to add new workers to the system.

1. You add them one by one, manually.
2. You can add them in bulk via uploading a CSV. (This is what is shown below.)
3. You can send them the link to have them add themselves.

REMINDER: Before you start, at any time, under “MANAGE WORKERS” you can see the status of any worker – whether or not they have been invited to sign/review posters, or whether they have in fact signed posters once invited.

1. Save all workers names in a CSV file with columns: first name; last name; email. It is optional to add states at this point. Upload the file by hitting the UPLOAD CSV button.

You can download a sample file if you need help on how to set up your file; this will show you the exact format to do so.

2. Once you select the workers you need to review and sign the posters, you will confirm the posters you want them to see.

Hit “SEND INVITATION EMAILS” to send.

Need more help or have other questions? Email us at kim (at) digitallaborlaw.com today!

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How to Add New Workers to Digital Labor Law: Manually, One-By-One

NOTE: There are 3 ways to add new workers to the system.

1. You add them one by one, manually. (This is what is shown here.)
2. You can add them in bulk via uploading a CSV.
3. You can send them the link to have them add themselves.

REMINDER: Before you start, at any time, under “MANAGE WORKERS” you can see the status of any worker – whether or not they have been invited to sign/review posters, or whether they have in fact signed posters once invited.

  1. Once logged in, navigate to the ACCOUNTS & ORDERS page. Click on the right hand side where it says “MANAGE WORKERS” under YOUR DETAILS.

2. Type in users first name, last name, and email. Then select the state they are in and/or states you need them to see. Hit save. You can also invite the selected users to sign at this stage. You can do this one by one by selecting their name and hitting “INVITE SELECTED TO SIGN”.

3. You can also send to everyone you’ve added, at once, by selecting “INVITE EVERYONE TO SIGN”.

4. Once you select the workers you need to review and sign the posters, you will confirm the posters you want them to see.

Hit “SEND INVITATION EMAILS” to send.

Need more help or have other questions? Email us at kim (at) digitallaborlaw.com today!

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How to Customize Your Labor Law Posters

In this how-to post, I’ll walk you through how to customize your Labor Law widget so that it fits your organization’s needs. This is also how you’ll fill in Labor Law posters that require you to add in additional information specific to your organization.

  1. To customize your posters in this way, navigate to the ACCOUNTS & ORDERS website page once you are logged in. Now click ”TO CUSTOMIZE POSTERS: CLICK HERE.”

2. All your posters will now show, and the ones that require customization will say “customize” next to them. Here is an example:

3. Click “customize” next. Now you will see the specific poster to edit.

Double-Click to create a new line of text or edit existing text. For example, to the right, a new line of text was added by double-clicking on the line, and then starting to type.

Simply click and drag to move any text box to a new location on the page. Here’s an example of what you might see at this point:

4. Here’s an example of a poster that is in the process of being filled out. Note that at the bottom of the page, you can edit the font and the font size.

Once completed, hit save to save the poster, as you filled it out.

5. Once you have filled in any and all posters you want to fill in via the customization functionality, go back to your widget on the ACCOUNTS & ORDERS page and grab the code.

The code you just grabbed (copy and paste) will now reflect the posters you just updated and filled out.

NOTE: You may also want to print off your Labor Law posters, and you may want to post those in a physical place in your worksite.

Need more help or have other questions? Email us at kim (at) digitallaborlaw.com today!