Home working – some additional recommendations

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Home working – some additional recommendations

The ongoing situation with Coronavirus restrictions means many of us are still working from home. We have previously written recommendations for setting up your workstation for remote working from home, in this blog piece we will recap some of these and also suggest some further ideas for making your work-from-home life more productive.

Equipment

Laptops remain in high demand. The complete stock wipe-out that was experienced in Western Europe and North America in March 2020 has yet to be fully alleviated. As a result, there continues to be model scarcity and also price fluctuations.

It is worth conducting a home DSE assessment (The HSE website link is here) – the cliché of hunching over a laptop on a kitchen table is all too real for many people, and it really isn’t a healthy long term proposition.

Consider obtaining a docking station, separate keyboard and mouse and at least one external monitor. You may not have a lot of room but at least during the day you will have the feeling of a home office. Dismantling it at the end of the day also serves as a useful psychological ‘switch’ to tell yourself that you have finished work. It is all too easy to get into an ‘always-on’ habit which studies show are deleterious to health.

If you have back problems, consider a stand-up desk or similar. For example, monitor arms that extend upwards and downwards for standing / sitting are readily available and allow you to mix-up sitting and standing.

Network Access from home

If you are accessing files on your office server remotely, you have a couple of options. One is a remote desktop connection where you remotely-control your office PC. The other is a Virtual Private Network (VPM) which allows you to connect directly to your server and work on files as usual. Each option requires software and/or additional hardware depending on your arrangements.

Most people connect to the internet at home using Wi-Fi. This is fine of course, but if you have a VPN link to your server, you may find it regularly drops out. This is because your Wi-Fi connection often drops, albeit just for an instant. In the normal use of email and internet browsing this would usually not be noticeable. In the case of VPN access, the slightest drop in internet connectivity will cause the VPN to drop.

Therefore, if possible, it is worth connecting your home laptop/pc directly to your home modem/router with a network cable. This is exactly the same kind of cable you have for connection of your PC to your office network. A ‘hard-wired’ connection like this will improve your VPN connection significantly.

Take care of yourself

Many people find working from home to be excellent – fewer interruptions, no commute gives you more work time and so forth. The flip side of this is it’s all too easy to sit in front of your laptop or PC for hours. The advice we give to our staff is as follows:

  • Have a break at least once an hour. This means physically getting up and walking around, away from your computer.