Tech tips to work and socialise from home
Before coronavirus, many of us thought that working from home was easier than being at the office. Now that working from home is the new normal, you may be looking for ways to simplify the way you work and collaborate. Perhaps you’re doing just fine workwise, but would like to connect with family and friends in a more interactive way than WhatsApp, FaceBook or FaceTime allows? We’ve got you covered!
Working from home
With more than one in three Australians already working from home on a regular basis before coronavirus and around 70% of businesses supporting flexible arrangements, most people are familiar with the odd day at home. However, this is usually without a partner working in the same space or having children throwing their toys at you (literally).
Here are a few practical ways to prepare yourself for remote work:
Clear your head – Go for a walk to pick up a coffee or get some fresh air. This also helps with setting a routine that forms the basis of your daily schedule.
Optimise your Wi-Fi setup – If you haven’t upgraded your router in 5 years, now is a good time. Modern routers will handle concurrent devices more efficiently and provide dual band (2.4Ghz & 5Ghz) coverage for a variety of application types.
Upgrade your bandwidth – Now is a good time to check for any special upgrade offers with your ISP. Make sure your service plan is sufficient to handle simultaneous video conferencing calls and downloads if your family are all sharing the connection.
Secure your home network – ensure all devices connected to the internet have the latest software updates, security updates and anti-virus software.
Get a USB hub – Desktops probably don’t need one, but laptops and notebooks have notoriously few USB ports and you could always use another one to charge a device and run your USB powered gadgets.
Get the right monitor – Or multiple monitors. A pair of 27-inch 4K monitors will add a significant productivity boost to any laptop, but any combination of large, small or regular HD screens will be beneficial. If you’re a Windows 10 user, familiarise yourself with how it handles split and multiple displays.
The biggest differentiator between an efficient working-from-home setup and chaos is technology. Besides the well-known apps like Slack, Trello and Zoom - Here are some our favourites to boost productivity:
Teams – Think of it as a combination of all the best features in Slack and Zoom. Most importantly, it now also has the ability to set your video background to one of the seven wonders of the world.
TeamViewer – The easiest way to offer or receive remote desktop assistance. No more trying to assist a colleague with that spreadsheet over the phone or help mum connect to a printer. Available for all platforms and free for personal use.
Microsoft Whiteboard – provides a freeform intelligent canvas where teams can ideate, create, and collaborate visually via the cloud. Designed for pen and touch, it lets you write or draw as smoothly as you would with ink, while automatically recognizing and transforming shapes and tables as you draw. Also plugs in to Teams.
Everhour – Synchs with a lot of the productivity apps people already use and allows some lightweight scheduling functionality as well. It has a timer function, which allows contractors to track billable hours or teams to keep track of how much time different projects and tasks are taking.
Timely – Capture your time, manage teams and projects effortlessly.
If you’ve got time and wish to learn some new tech skills, Pluralsight is offering their entire catalogue of instructor led training courses for free during April.
The best part is, with Thriday, you can track all these expenses automatically and make sure you and your employees are sticking to an agreed budget. It’s very easy to lose sight of all your expenses and also to get duplicate expenses for very similar technology. So sign up to Thriday here, to be one of the first to get access.
Socialising from home
Life’s not all about work. Sometimes you need to let your hair down, connect with your favourite humans and have some fun!
This isn’t easy when you’re stuck at home, but here are a few tools to help:
Houseparty – Socialise with up to 8 other people in virtual rooms. Chat in a group, step to the side for a private chat or join in with a variety of games. All via your selfie camera.
Netflix Party – Schedule a time to watch a Netflix movie or show with friends. The show is broadcast simultaneously and you can make text comments in real time.
Bunch – The only thing better than video chatting with family and friends, is seeing their faces when you beat them at a game.
Using social networks for good
There are incredible people who are using tech to help the coronavirus situation in health, learning or economic relief.
Make4Covid.co – a group of volunteers in the US, organising people with 3D printers and other maker tools to print face shields for PPE
Folding@Home – contribute your electricity and CPU/GPU cycles to assist with SARS-CoV-2 protein folding projects.
Gather My Crew – schedule time with your neighbours to assist those in need.
If you have any other tools or trips for staying at home, please drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org
Stay safe out there and take care.