Our Guide to Working From Home in 2020: Preparing for the Worst and the Technical Side of Things

BAmira Bird, Midwich Digital Content Creator 

In the weeks leading up to our workforce moving out of the office, the IT team were scurrying about, ensuring every staff member had the hardware they needed and access to all of the systems they require. As they did this, the staff were instructed to spend a day working from home before it was necessary. That meant we were able to test everything worked and we weren’t missing anything we needed.  

Personally, I found out the hard way that it’s not easy to connect a Bluetooth mouse to a computer when you’re completely locked out and you don’t have another mouse to ease the process. However, with a lot of time spent clicking ‘tab’, I eventually got there and was fully prepared when it was time to start full-time remote working.  

Today I caught up with ShaneIT Operations Manager (UK&IE), to see what it was like for him and his team.  

 

Amira BirdYou were certainly a busy bee leading up to this week. What would you say has been the biggest challenge for the IT team as staff started working from home?  

Shane Whybrow

The biggest challenge was to ensure that we had the right capacity, and to ensure all staff were able to work - thankfully we had a plan in place that allowed us to prioritise accordingly so although the team were under pressure, we all knew our roles. If we didn’t have a plan and direction, we would have been inundated.

Amira BirdAs a business, we’re already using Teams for instant messaging and video conferencing, but do you have some quick tips on how to get the most out of the software?

Shane WhybrowI do indeed - firstly, etiquette is important - talk to people as if you were talking face to face. It's very easy to come across differently via written word. Emoticons and gifs can certainly help convey your feeling and also add some banter too. Second tip, if you're calling someone, video call where you can; this makes communication much more personable and can help you feel a bit less isolated to see a friendly face of your colleague.

Amira BirdGreat tips, thank you. What would you say has been the biggest challenge for you and your team now that you’re all working remotely?  

Shane WhybrowHaving the majority of colleagues connected to our servers via VPN is a something that we’re vigilantly monitoring, along with phone call quality. Due to how our old phone systems are configured, we've rolled out the 8x8 cloud-based phone system to a few members of staff to overcome some of the challenges we've encountered with phone diverts. So far so good on this! However, other than that, we seem to be doing pretty well. The team are keeping a good routine, making sure they get enough exercise/breaks and we're constantly in touch via Teams. One of the guys is struggling with his family pulling faces while he’s on the phone but no one else seems to mind, helps the day go fast!  

Amira BirdWhat would be your top 3 tips for people working from home? 

Shane WhybrowMy home working tips are: 

  1. Get up when you normally would and get dressed for work - i.e. try not to sit in your pyjamas! Maintaining your routine will help keep you disciplined and allow you to focus on the day ahead.  
  2. Create yourself a dedicated workspace. If you have a desk, brilliant, if not, claim a table and make this your temp workplace.  
  3. Make sure you are taking regular breaks to get up and stretch your legs and clear your mind. Staying in one place all day is not only bad for your posture, but also your well-being!  
  4. Keep in touch with your colleagues - talking about work is important, but also workplace banter is needed and some of us don't even realise we do it until its gone. No one needs to feel isolated, just reach out and enjoy some memes.

Amira BirdThat’s four... 

Shane Whybrow

Yeah, and all equally as important!  

 

Planning and proper implementation certainly made a huge difference for us, as has the ongoing support from the IT team. However, what amazes me most, is that even while Shane has been extremely busy, he always makes time to have a laugh.  

View More - Our Guide to Working From Home