Working from Home

Posted: 20/03/2020

Working from home for many of us, is, or will be, a necessity as the measures to prevent the spread of Covid-19 continue. For many in the digital industry, this is not anything unusual, digital nomads are known for being able to base themselves anywhere in the world, but what if this is the first time for you?  This blog post aims to give you some tips on how to ease the transition in Jersey.

1/ The means

Having a computer is fairly essential, although you might be able to get by with an ipad or smart phone in the short term. The difficulty is that none of us know how long this situation will continue and so firms might need to invest in some new equipment.

The good news is that everyone with fixed broadband is being upgraded to 1GB of speed in both upload and download, thanks to co-operation between the Telecoms providers in Jersey. This will give you ample bandwidth to carry out online tasks. Any questions or issues about this then contact your provider.

There are many applications to help with remote working which are in the cloud, so it’s easy to work anywhere and off any device. Just remember to take home your passwords and login details.

2/ Security

The fact that many people will be accessing work accounts from different devices – often for the first time – could become a security issue. Ensure that guidelines are given to all staff to prevent passwords from being lost, or scam emails getting through to email addresses and computers which might not have the same security firewalls as work computers.

While big companies are able to supply staff with correctly configured laptops etc, many smaller companies might rely on staff using their own phones or computers.

  • If there isn’t even basic security software on those devices, it might be prudent to provide staff with access to some, as well as reminding them of the dangers of phishing emails etc.
  • Don’t give staff increased access to areas of your system that might open you to greater losses if a scammer is granted access.
  • Remind staff not to leave work emails and access open when the computer is unattended.
  • Ask staff to ensure their WIFi is password protected

When in doubt, consult a security specialist.

3/ The Where

Not all of us have the luxury of an office space at home and that can become a real issue, especially if you have children who are off school. The best advice is to clear a corner of a room, even if it’s a bedroom, where you can work quietly and tell everyone in the household that when you’re there you’re working. Whilst it’s not a great long term solution, it could tide you over during this period of social-isolation.

Health is the whole reason why you are working from home, so don’t give yourself a bad back and neck by trying to work on an unsuitable surface, if you don’t already have a dedicated desk. Many domestic tables are not the right height, which is that your eyebrows should be roughly where the top of your screen is; and having your shoulders up around your ears because your arms are too high, will also soon become a pain in your neck and upper back. Take time to get it right, it will protect your physical health. Plus don’t forget to make sure you have regular breaks away from the screen and stand up and walk around.

4/ Being a Parent

Finding a nice quiet corner is not always possible if you have to look after your children and try to work. Depending on your role and the kind of work you do, there are some solutions. Firstly, do you need to work in normal office hours? Perhaps you could do the work when the children are in bed or before they get up? Secondly, you can work in sprints. This is concentrated working when you’ve managed to occupy the children for a period of time, and then breaks for you and them to interact. This requires some planning, preparation of suitable distractions, and clear rules for the kids. It is also about team work if you have two parents at home. One can be on child-distraction duty while the other is getting some work done. Take it in turns.

5/ Self-discipline

This is a tough one for anybody who has tried being self-employed. It is extremely easy to get distracted by social media, the latest Covid-19 news on the TV, or that great series on Netflix that you’d been meaning to binge watch. It is therefore essential to keep regular ‘office style’ hours where possible (that is if you don’t have small energetic distractions off school!).

You have the advantage of not needing to ‘commute’ into the office, and if you aren’t video conferencing then the temptation can also be to not get ‘dressed up’ or even get out of your pyjamas. However, it can help for your self-discipline if you do keep your routine and treat going to your home office area in the same way as you would if it was an external office.

6/ Mental Health

Take care of your mental health, whether that’s because you are feeling isolated on your own at home, or being driven crazy by a house full of captive children. Take breaks. We are extremely lucky in Jersey because the beach is a wonderful fresh air option where you can easily avoid social contact and not feel like you are trapped within the four walls of your home. Talk to family and friends – we have plenty of options to Skype, Facebook messenger or Whatsapp etc our nearest and dearest, whether that’s via video or just audio. Plus keep up communications with your work colleagues and don’t be afraid to ask for help. Everyone is feeling the pressure, the situation is unusual and stressful. If you are too embarrassed to talk to friends, then there are plenty of organisations who are there to listen.

7/ Further Advice

Jersey government has a business continuity checklist you can refer to, and it is also providing support to businesses who might be disrupted by the outbreak. Digital Jersey is also working to support its members, and to gather a list of experts who are willing to help those with issues.

And don’t forget to check out our Remote Working Hacks vlog with our Head of Academy Rory Steel

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