It’s not often we find ourselves working towards the same goal. Different companies in different industries, competing and existing on different plains. But these aren’t typical times, and all of us are truly working towards one goal. At happier IT, we’ve seen firsthand how well companies across Canada have responded and prepared to work from home during the pandemic.
For many employees, working from home is a completely new experience and naturally that pushes us a little more out of our comfort zone than usual. So, as a welcome to those of you new to working remotely, we thought we would offer some tips for working at home during social distancing.
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Whether you’re new to working at home, just want to get better at it, or you’re already a seasoned remote work veteran, we would love to hear from you 😊Let us know what tips we missed using, #WorkingFromHomeTips and tag us @happierit
Introduction to Working at Home
First off, some good news, you’ve made it past the first month milestone. No matter how you fared in your first month, we now have an opportunity to take a breath and crush it moving forward. Let’s get started!
Unless your workspace needs tidying, we aren’t referring to that type of housekeeping. Apply the following as a basic rule-of-thumb when considering each tip:
Keep an open mind, each tip might not be 100% suitable for the way you work so takeaway what you can and customize the rest.
Working from home may feel like relearning your work habits so don’t expect to be 100% productive overnight.
The situation, as a whole, is a first for everyone and we are all learning to deal with it in our own ways. You may need to be patient and practice some compassion so don’t be too hard on yourself or on others.
Stick to Your Regular Routine
While working from your temporary home office, it is important to stay in your regular groove as much as possible. From start to finish, try to replicate your usual office routines to remain productive and energetic. Although your physical surroundings have changed, you can ground yourself by finding some normalcy through routines. Get up at the same time, make your morning coffee, stick to your usual break times and instead of chatting with Martin at your desk you can now direct message him on Slack to see how he’s doing.
Ask for Help If You Need It
Although we mentioned normal, we know that there is nothing normal about this situation. Even for the most seasoned remote workers, self isolation during the pandemic has created disorienting challenges. Eventually, we will get back to normal, until then, if you need to talk to someone about your work or about the situation, don’t be afraid to reach out. Utilize your managers, HR and coworkers when you feel the need.
Whether living with a family member(s), pet, roommate or by yourself, our personal home lives are different in many ways. Separation from life at home while working from home is critical as the two can easily start to blend. Staying connected with your colleagues through communication platforms will help you achieve this by staying immersed in your projects throughout your working hours. Chatting more with colleagues instead of family members throughout the workday provides a feeling of being connected to your regular work life rather than feeling like you are constantly needing to juggle your physical home surroundings.
If your company hasn’t implemented communication platforms, try suggesting tools like Slack and Microsoft Teams for messaging and Google Hangouts or GoToMeeting for virtual conferencing. Communication tools like these will be vital to instantly staying connected with your colleagues.
Tip: Share your stories: part of being in this together is opening up about the successes and challenges you’re facing while working from home. Having some laughs or realizing others are going through the same things can be comforting for everyone so make sure to post and talk each other through it.
Data safety is going to be one of the most critical areas of concern for your company. It’s something that only works if everyone does their part. Here is a quick checklist to make sure you are contributing to your company’s data security:
Use a Virtual Desktop or Remote Desktop Access – Virtual Desktops will keep your data centralized on the company’s server rather than on your personal device. Remote Desktop Access lets you use your work computer from home. Both options allow you to access all your work files remotely without having to worry about your personal device affecting the company network.
Practice Safe Web Habits – While working through the crisis, there will be many new scams and misleading information floating around. Understand that you won’t be as protected without your office’s security tools if you click on something that you shouldn’t, so be careful what you click and who you trust.
Review Your Current Remote Policy – This will have specific internal instructions on policy and procedure during your time working from home. Make sure to follow these guidelines as closely as possible.
Initiate Multifactor Authentication and Use Strong Passwords – If you are using single sign-on or single authentication, request your administrator to turn on MFA. Cyber criminals will be targeting weak passwords with brute force tactics and the likes. MFA will provide a higher security level helping to keep your email and remote applications safe.
Stay Vigilante – Insecure personal devices will be targeted by cyber criminals as remote workers will be working outside of their office security perimeters. Find your news updates directly from legit news channel websites, CDC, WHO and other authentic sources rather than links and attachments. Carefully read the email addresses before opening attachments/links, sending files/payments, or authorizing any requests. “Reply To” and “From” boxes should be carefully read for any misspelled email addresses.
Report any Fraudulent Activity – If any scams come across your inbox, notify your administrator and the happier IT helpdesk immediately (email@example.com). Chances are you aren’t the only one being targeted in your group and timing will be key to mitigating the spread of any malicious intrusions.
Lock Your Devices When You Walk Away – Whether the intent is malicious or accidental, an idol screen can be hazardous to data security. Lock your screens anytime you walk away from your device.
Use a VPN – VPNs will enable you to have a secure connection and encrypt transmitted data while working remotely. If you are considered a knowledge worker or handle copious amounts of financial and/or client data, a VPN is highly recommended, even when using a secure corporate device.
Keep Your Devices Updated – Now is not the time to ignore those annoying software update requests. Keeping your software updated will allow your system, apps and security patches to remain updated against present security threats.
Utilize Our happier IT Helpdesk
Throughout your time working from home, there might be several occasions where you need help. Be it that you notice something not working quite right, if you need help troubleshooting, or you want to incorporate a new technology, whatever the case might be, please reach out to our helpdesk.
We are here to take the burdens of IT off your shoulders so you can concentrate on the rest of your work as a newly remote employee. Simply email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call us at 1-888-974-2779.
At the office you might be used to getting up and walking around several times a day. Walking up and down the halls, taking bathroom breaks and getting your steps in was all a part of your regular day at the office so make sure you do the same at home. You don’t have to feel confined to your newly converted kitchen table and dining chair, simply get up and be mobile.
Tip: If you live in a condo building, take a walk down the hallway and stretch your legs out (make sure to wash your hands properly before you get back to work in order to keep your working space sanitary).
Stay Distraction Free
Under normal remote circumstances there are plenty of distractions to grab your attention at home. However, the pandemic has multiplied this effect with what seems like the entire neighborhood working from home along with their children not being at school. Investing in some noise canceling headphones might be a good idea. Social media blockers such as Offtime and Flipd are highly rated and can be downloaded to help you stay distraction free.
Tip: Some distractions are unavoidable, especially if you have young children or elderly family members that need care during this pandemic. Working from home adds flexibility to your schedule so make use of it. Be mindful of your deadlines but also choose to work in times when you can be distraction free.
Again, we can’t stress enough that working from home presents many challenges even outside of times of crisis. The learning curve will be steep, and your regular routine is likely off, but there are many people and organizations that are here to help you. Try to integrate some of the tips to get the ball rolling and add more and more into your daily routine until you have the hang of it.
We hope you all stay encouraged and stay safe during these challenging times!
Need Help Getting Started?
If you’re already a customer and need help getting started with remote work, please reach out to us email@example.com.
If you’re not yet a happier IT client, but you would like help initiating some of our recommended applications, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.