Working from home.

by Brian MacAuley on 20th March 2020

With Coronavirus dominating the headlines, empty supermarket shelves and the probability of a lockdown at some point, lots of businesses are figuring out how they can make working from home accessible to their staff while keeping the business going.
This could be a huge learning opportunity for businesses across Mid Ulster who may find that offering a home working option is a good fit for the needs of their business long after the virus has passed. So, I thought it would be useful to share some tips, ideas and technologies that will help with the transition to home working.

First things first – a strong, fast internet connection. A poor connection could make homeworking extremely difficult to manage. Most households nowadays have internet but many here in Mid Ulster are still working with incredibly slow broadband so you may need to invest in wi-fi extenders and boosters for team members whose connection isn’t fast enough. You’ll also need to provide advice on where to place their router for the fastest speeds i.e. up high, away from metal objects and not obstructed by thick walls or furniture.

Next up, you’ll need to be sure they have something to work on. If your workers are still using PCs, it’s time to start looking at other options such as laptops or I-Pads. These don’t have to be brand new so speak to some local suppliers about reconditioned ones.

I could write reams of content about the technologies that you can use to maintain business as usual during a lockdown but with limited space here are some of my favourites:

- Your phone’s existing features – Did you know that you can call multiple people at the same time from your I-Phone? Simply call one of the people you want to speak to then from the options on your screen add more people to the call. It can get messy, so only use this for chatting to 2 or 3 people at the same time.

- Skype or Zoom are great for visual interaction. Zoom is a personal favourite since not only can you add multiple people to the conversation but you can also share your screen with them, meaning you are able to discuss those budget spreadsheets or the annual report or even hold your staff appraisals. You can have client meetings without leaving the house and you can even deliver a training session if your participants are able to access the internet. All you have to do is open a Zoom conversation and forward the link to whoever you want to join the conversation.

- Messaging & Calls Apps - Free apps like WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger or Facetime work great for staying in touch and sharing non urgent information.

- WeTransfer & Dropbox - Apps like WeTransfer and Dropbox make it possible to share large documents with the team and since Dropbox is cloud based, you’ll be able to access the documents from anywhere. Just upload them and email your colleagues a link to access them.

- Trello & Evernote – If you usually have team targets, tasks or rotas up on a board in the office, swap it for a site like Trello or Evernote. These project management tools are great for pinning task lists, schedules etc

- SelfControl Mac App – It’s so easy to become distracted when working at home but apps like the SelfControl Mac App allow you to block access to distracting sits like Facebook or Instagram for a time set by you.

From a practical viewpoint, it is important to keep in regular contact with the team especially of home working is completely new to your organisation.
For more advice on getting set up for homeworking call us on 028 87 723 489

About Brian MacAuley
Brian has been at the helm of Dungannon Enterprise Centre for 30 years, keeping the wheels turning smoothly on a day to day basis.

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