In this new and unexpected world of remote working we asked CANCOM employees to share their thoughts, tips and advice. Below CANCOM’s Productivity Architect, Security Architect and Internal Sales Executive discuss how to stay productive, how to stay secure, and most importantly how to stay motivated when working remotely.
Simon Hammonds: I'm a Productivity Architect at CANCOM UK, I help our customers deploy and adopt the technologies available in Microsoft’s 365 suite. I appreciate many people may be embracing remote working for the first time as a result of the coronavirus, but I have been home-based for many years now. For me, productivity tools like Microsoft Teams have been a game-changer - I can’t imagine doing my job without it anymore.
What’s the secret to getting remote teams to work together?
Communication firstly - just because you are remote and geographically far apart doesn't mean you have to be lonely. Communication channels like chat, calls and video can help keep interactions strong.
And of course, it helps that you can see your colleagues. My tips are: keep in touch, reach out on IM and have a team video call, daily or weekly.
How do you stay focussed and productive?
Working at home was initially tough for me but I find listing and prioritising my daily tasks with To-Do (Part of the Office 365 suite) really helps.
Like everyone, I check my emails and see what meetings I have for the day and then consult my To-Do list to ensure I know what I want to achieve.
Where possible, I also try to take a break from my device at lunchtime. For example, I do some exercise, go for a walk or run. Otherwise, it can often get to lunchtime and I haven’t even moved!
What about getting started with remote working technology?
This will vary for each organisation and the systems they need access to. But getting set up with Office 365 is a good starting point. As a CSP (Cloud Solution Provider) we can quickly get an organisation set up with Office 365/Azure (or expand current tenant capabilities.) This flexible license model can be scaled up and down on a monthly basis. It’s also important to think about security and migrating data. Training is another point to consider, because employees need to fully understand the tools they have available.
Callum Butler: My role as a Security Architect involves building out our security solutions to help protect our customers as well as everyone working at CANCOM. When working from home, I would encourage everyone to be vigilant. Be careful what you click on, visit, or download. One of the negatives of remote working is that often a basic firewall doesn’t have the same advanced protection features as your work environment.
How can people stay secure when working from home?
It’s important to ensure your device has security products installed – anti-malware products are essential. If you have any web filtering solution such as Cisco Umbrella, ensure agents are installed on your device to help prevent malware-prone sites from being accessed.
Also try and avoid using your work devices for personal use, it keeps you safer online. Finally, always keep your devices locked - even if you are in the comfort of your home or are just popping out to walk the dog!
Any tips on staying focussed?
This is an interesting question. I started and still use an app called ‘Forest’. This is an interactive game-style app to help you stay focused by keeping you away from your phone.
Removing visible clocks, such as the one in Windows, also works for me. It helps me purely focus on the tasks I need to do. Plus, I find a good pair of noise cancelling headphones is essential.
Another mini WFH hack is use your Smart TV as a monitor (hear me out!) Nothing beats large screen real estate and using your TV as a monitor versus playing in the background is a great way to stay focussed. (Just look for the ‘connect to wireless display’ feature in Windows, or on a Mac look for Airplay. You need to check if your TV model is compatible or not.)
How will you keep in touch with friends and family in the months ahead?
Thankfully in the past few years my family has come up-to-speed with tech like WhatsApp, and iMessage extra. This means we can all get together in FaceTime calls with relatives in America or Australia. I look forward to the day we can all get together again face-to-face.
Angus, Ferguson: I’m relatively new at CANCOM and I am really enjoying my role as an Internal Sales Executive. I need to understand our customers’ business goals and challenges, so communication and staying in touch is essential. And now I’m working remotely this is more important than ever.
How do you stay motivated when working from home?
As tempting as it is to work from the sofa or even bed, it’s counter-productive to do so! So, normalising the work day as much as possible is something that I find helps me. Get ready for the day as you would normally. Try to set up a space like the one you have in your workplace.
Also, make sure you take regular breaks. This may seem counter-intuitive but I find staring blankly at a screen for ten minutes is far less productive than getting up and going to make a cup of tea!
Planning is also important. Make a list of what you want to achieve each day. Then try and stick to that list to achieve the goals you set for yourself.
What are the pros and cons about working from home?
The upside is no commuting. I was initially worried the lack of interaction with colleagues might have been a big downside, but we use Teams to keep in touch - so it’s fine. You need to be self-motivated but it's possible to be just as productive working from home as from an office.
How do you plan to stay optimistic?
This is one of the most important issues for a lot of people. A lot of my friends are moving out of London, or moving back home, and sadly, some of my friends have lost their jobs. So, staying in touch with friends and family is vital. I have family that are self-isolating as a preventative measure. To stay in touch, we have set up a family WhatsApp group in order to make sure elderly relatives are able to get access to whatever they need.
Also, in times like these it becomes increasingly important to help others in any way we can. I have been inspired by many of the images online that have shown neighbourhood groups coming together to support those who are in need. Finally, I think It’s important for everyone to be flexible during this hugely unconventional period of all our lives.
If you need help setting up remote working technologies such as Microsoft Teams please get in touch.