As the world struggles with the Global Pandemic that is COVID-19, businesses across the globe have sent their employees home to work remotely. Here at TCML things are no different. Out of an abundance of caution we began to allow our employees the opportunity to work from home. We did this before the Governor of Massachusetts mandated all non-essential businesses to close physical work spaces. This put a tremendous strain on the I.T. Department at TCML. In a short period of time, the I.T. team needed to prepare for the entire company to be able to work remotely. This was not a small undertaking. With security always at the fore front, all employee laptops needed to be checked to make sure anti-virus software was up to date. With employees working from home VPN access would need to be granted to all employee laptops. With people connecting to their home networks, the risk of having infected devices on employee’s home networks infect TCML’s internal network via the VPN was high. All TCML servers needed to be verified for the latest antivirus software installation. Also every employee needed to have a working softphone on their laptops guarantying communication could continue without interruption. These softphones allow the employee to access TCML’s phone system remotely. The biggest challenge with the softphones was moving the front desk reception area. TCML’s two receptionist handle 250 phone call a day. When they are in the building they have a large terminal array with multiple monitors and sophisticated software allowing them to handle multiple calls at once. Being able to have our receptionist have the same ability at home, was a task that took thinking outside the box as well as help from our vendors. When employees did start working from home there was certainly an adjustment period being at home. This was easy for some, others are finding that the adjustment can be a little tricky.
With schools and daycares in the state being closed, many employees have found themselves having to juggle working from home while caring for young children. However, TCML employees are not alone in this, this is a struggle being felt across the country. A recent article from Parents.com suggests a few tip to help with the task of juggling the roles of employee and parent
- Create a Schedule. When working in the office your day can be fairly regimented. Get up, get dressed, tend to children, prepare to leave home, etc… Working from home should be the same. Designate time for what you need to do for both roles and keep to a schedule. Knowing that this time is allotted for work will cause you to be more productive.
- If your children nap, this is go time. This is the perfect time to make those important calls or write that email or report that requires focus.
- Separate your two roles. You are both a parent and employee, do your best to keep the two separate. Find a location in your home that is your workplace. Try and have your workplace separate from the normal flow of your home. This will help you feel that you have taken off the parent hat and put on the employee power tie. But this also works in reverse. When you leave your work area, leave your work. This is the time that will be needed in order for you to be available to your children. These are very confusing time for them as well.
- Finally, plan for interruptions. During conference calls the mute button is your friend. I recently watched my 6 year old kindergartner have his first virtual class with his classmates. It all revolved around how to turn on the mute button. If you don’t want to broadcast to your coworkers or CEO all the wonderful thoughts that randomly pop into your little ones head that they immediately need to tell you. The mute button is your friend.
Another aspect that has been challenging for America’s growing working from home workforce, is the lack of a water cooler. For years American companies have noticed that working remote can in some instances, cause workers to become less innovative, some workers just need to work with in close proximity of others. Working remote for some can cause feelings of isolation and feel that they aren’t part of a team. TCML is combatting this by doing a few things. Managers are checking in with their remote workers to make sure that everyone still feels connected. Communication needs to be continuous so all managers and staff are staying available. TCML is trying to keep it fun, employees are sharing via group email fun things that normally would be discussed around the water cooler. We recently instituted Hawaiian Shirt Friday. While these things may seem silly, they do have a positive effect on morale. TCML has found that Microsoft Teams has been instrumental in our successful campaign to work from home. We have multiple video meetings per day a day. So what is Microsoft Teams and how can it help you and your business? Click Here to find out.
As always The Computer Merchant is here and ready to help you with anything your business might need as it transitions to working remotely. From setting up Microsoft Teams, VPN, security software and firewalls we will continue to be an asset and partner to you in these difficult and challenging times.