News & Events

Work from Home – Part 1

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Sharing our Tips for Success

Our everyday “normal” has changed. We have new challenges to face but are also finding new opportunities to cope with the new “normal”. For the last three weeks our team has been operating remotely and we’ve learned some things through the experience that are actually bringing us together, and we feel more connected than ever so we thought we’d share.

Have a Dedicated Workspace

Having a dedicated workspace helps to minimize distractions and primes your subconscious for work. It’s a good idea to match your home workspace to your office as closely as you can.  Some things to consider:

  • Invest in a quality chair. The difference in the quality of your chair will become painfully obvious within hours, and if you’re like most of us, you’ll spend most of your day seated in that chair.

  • Consider a desk that will allow you stand or sit. You can get a fully convertible desk, or just a desk topper that raises your monitor and keyboard.

  • Use a headset, instead of your computer speakers for calls and webcam meetings. This will help manage background noise so you don’t get interrupted or be the interrupter with every keyboard click and movement echo’ed throughout the call.

Tip: Check with your company to see if you can check out equipment from your desk like monitors, chairs, or other tools you rely on every day.   

Work Like You Are At Work

Maintaining your daily routine will help center you for work. Make use of some additional free time you have in the mornings because you don’t have to commute and sit in traffic.

  • Dress for it. Get ready in the morning as if you were going into the office so you don’t have to worry about scrambling to look work appropriate for video calls.
  • Keep to a schedule. Work at the same times every day to create consistency and help manage boundaries with others at home.  Getting distracted and trying to refocus can be difficult, so make sure it’s clear to your friends and family that you are at work, even if you’re not physically in a different place. It’s easy for others to assume that you’re free to help with errands or other items, because you’re physically at home, so be proactive in setting the right expectations.  
  • If your kiddos are at home with you, it’s a good idea to discuss what this means and set up a routine for them with plenty of activities (maybe even setup that chore chart you’ve put off if they’re old enough 😊 ). Give them a non-interruptive way to get your attention while you’re working. Make it fun with things like using a secret, coded knocks! For example, “Knock this way to let me know you’re hungry, and this way to let me know you need something from me.” Making it fun creates a greater likelihood that they’ll follow through on their instruction!

Tip: Take breaks just like you would in the office. Check on the kids, feed the animals, grab some coffee, or a snack! Just make sure that pile of unfolded laundry or that grass that’s looking a little too long doesn’t pull you in!

Setup Your Technology

Working remotely has become part of our new “normal” so make sure your technology is securely setup to support you, not slow you down, just as if you were in the office.

  • Internet Connection: Since the internet is your metaphorical umbilical cord to the office, customers, colleagues, and the world, make sure your internet connection is solid. You don’t want to be shut down by a lack of internet access (especially when public spaces aren’t open for free Wi-Fi).  
    • If it’s available in your area, Fiber is the way to go.
    • If Fiber is not available, use a cable modem and test your speeds to make sure your download and upload speeds support your work.  
    • Have a Backup Internet Connection: Check with your Cellphone Provider to see if you have a 4G hotspot and what it costs to use it in case of internet outages.
  • Cloud Services for Remote Desktop Access: VMWare Horizon is a phenomenal technology that allows you to access a desktop from any type of device: laptop, tablet, or thin client utilizing very little bandwidth. If you are one of those users that needs 3D rendering, CAD, engineering applications or do graphics design, this is the product for you. Most of the time when trying to work remotely with only a VPN you experience lag or slow applications which can be frustrating for users and leave you unproductive. With the complexities of the technology we use day to day, the VPN connection doesn’t deliver the full scale, so look to cloud services like VMWare Horizon or Microsoft Azure.
  • Battery Backup: Look for one that will hold power for at least 30 minutes. This will get you through those storms or when the power company is doing things to the power grid. Make sure you have all critical devices plugged into the battery side of the UPS: monitors, phone, docking stations or thin client, internet modem, firewall, and wireless access point.
  • Firewall: This will allow you separate your home devices from your work devices on the network. We recommend a Watchguard Firewall to give your home a blanket of security and provide that secure connection to your office and cloud applications.
  • Wireless Access Point (WAP): The WAP extends your wireless range so If you need to move around your home to work, you’re free to do so.  We recommend a Ubiquiti WAP that will work with the Watchguard Firewall to provide wireless for your work and keep your home devices separate to protect data on both sides.
  • VOIP Phone: A VOIP Phone gives you service mobility so people can still get in touch with you through your regular phone lines.

Tip: Reach out to your IT department or outsourced IT company to get support for your ability to work from home. Ask them about best practices to keep your data safe.