The coronavirus pandemic has drastically affected our day-to-day lives, and one of those ways is how we operate on our regular nine-to-five base. Several companies are ordering their employees to work remotely. While many job functions can be performed and fulfilled from the comfort of your home with a laptop, others are finding that they may not be equipped to work from home.
Luckily, Dr. Alicia Makaye, Vice President of GXA, has shared some tips on how to make your remote workday go smoothly.
GXA offers services in cloud computing, data recovery, cybersecurity and more. They have partnered with many local organizations and institutions, including University of Texas at Dallas and Minnie’s Food Pantry.
With COVID-19-related work shifts, Dr. Makaye says that our home technologies are going to serve all new purposes. She offers a few tips on how to smoothly transition from the desk to the home setup.
Preparation – Reliable Technology is Key
“The key to effective remote working is preparation, and that means having the right type of technology at home,” Dr. Makaye says. “Some people only use home internet for casual purposes, but now, the purpose of home internet is going to change significantly for a lot of users.” The key to effective remote working is preparation. Do you have the right technology at home to work effectively without taking a hit on performance?
Dr. Makaye says that those working from home should make sure that their internet has the bandwidth required to perform the functions of their jobs, as they will be required to have multiple applications open at a time; do you have reliable Wi-Fi with good coverage? Remember you may have multiple members of your family that needs to access technology at one time.
She also recommends Softphone, a phone-like software that will forward calls coming into their work phones to their computers. If you are making video calls for example through Microsoft Teams, Cisco WebEx or Zoom—most likely—do you have noise cancelling headphones and does your computer have a camera? If you have a hard time with setting up your technology do not forget to call your internal I.T. department to help you get set-up as well as your local internet provider to assist you with reliable technology.
Home Office Workspace
“If you have the means to invest in a two-monitor setup at home, it helps with your productivity,” Dr. Makaye says. “It helps to have your documents active on one screen while you have your calendar or your email open on the other.”
Most employers will provide some sort of remote access technology to connect to your work systems. Usually it is a VPN (virtual private network) connection that securely connects your laptop to your company network. If you are using a VPN connection, test to make sure you can access all your work resources – files, applications, e-mail. Make sure you can print work documents to your home printer and test the performance as to how fast you can upload and download files or open applications.
Other things remote workers can do to ensure productivity, Dr. Makaye says, are to make sure that they have good lighting in their homes, that way they can easily read documents and be clearly seen on Zoom or Skype meetings. She also says that having a clean, decluttered space can allow for more clarity and peace of mind while working.
Additionally, Dr. Makaye suggests that a printer and scanner at home may also help make things a little easier.
Finally, ensure your space makes you feel motivated to work.
Be Vigilant of Cybercriminals
Secure Your Wi-Fi Network to protect against unauthorized access. Beware of any suspicious emails, websites, and avoid clicking on unfamiliar links. During this season many people will try to take advantage of this opportunity. The entire world knows what is going on with COVID-19, including cybercriminals. Keep your computer up-to-date with the latest security updates, avoid free unsecured public wi-fi networks, don’t forget about Windows firewall, antivirus software, and internet web filter, and keep your passwords strong and enable two-factor authentication (if possible).
Tips for Small Business Owners
In addition to helping create a sustainable remote workspace, Dr. Makaye suggests that employers can minimize the number of layoffs and firings within a company during this difficult time through careful planning and budgeting.
“The impact is really going to be based on the industry that you’re in,” Dr. Makaye says. “If you are a small business owner, you definitely want to look at any type SBA economic industry disaster loans, LiftFund disaster relief resources, City of Dallas Economic Development, COVID-19 resource coverage, and your local chambers and see if that will be of assistance. Instead of laying employees off, ask if you can you reduce salaries by 5 or 10 percent? Can you reduce your overall expenses?” If you have not already done so, consider an emergency preparedness plan if things get worse. As a small business owner, I am also having to prepare our business for the economic downturn.
Remain in a Good Head Space
Regardless of what you do for work, Dr. Makaye wants everyone to take steps to ensure a positive mindset and good mental health during this difficult time. Your mental and physical health should be top priority. Take frequent breaks, take time for self-care, commit to a fitness routine and create blocks in your schedule to eat healthy and nutritious meals. Make sure that you pack your patience bag. Working remotely with family in the background and kid(s) home school demands can be tough so don’t be too hard on yourself.
One suggestion is to keep a gratitude journal and write down three good things that are happening in your life.
Also, stay connected with your social circles—to keep your sanity. “Try to have some exercise equipment or something to help you keep yourself going,” she says. You definitely want to connect with the people that are going to keep you lifted up and keep you going throughout the day.”
Dr. Alicia Makaye is the Vice President of GXA which offers business IT solutions such as managed IT services, IT consulting, computer network services, cloud computing services, network security and disaster recovery services.
If you are looking for help with your new remote work set-up or are looking to outsource your IT Department, Dr. Makaye and her team at GXA can help.
Alicia Makaye, Ph.D.
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