New Decade, New Me

2020 is, in many ways, a fresh start. As we ticked over to a new decade, it was a better time than ever to reminisce on a busy ten years for the UK. The 2012 Olympics, Brexit, we really had our share of things to think about. Everyone had the chance to take this experience and think “How do I want to go forward” in our personal and working lives.

Cue Hollywood explosions, a car chase and dramatic shootout. You thought you were gonna have a reset year? You thought you were gonna have a RELAXING FEW MONTHS? IDIOT. That’s not how we do things on Planet Earth. We’re going to take everything, and we’re going to flip it UP, SIDE, DOWN. This is Contagion: Part Two, except this one isn’t directed by Steven Soderbergh, and the movie cast is much, much, larger.

At least it's not Michael Bay

This movie does have a plot twist; and that is that it’s not actually a movie. And yes, that is a good thing. If this was a movie it wouldn’t be one of those romcoms where the guy gets the girl, if anything it would be Shaun of the Dead, fighting through crowds of zombies so we can all have a pint at the local pub while everything blows over. It’s an old discussion as to whether art imitates life, or the reverse, but right now, the pubs are certainly closed, so take that how you will.

You would be forgiven for feeling “odd” in the current situation (That’s the best way I could describe it). It’s like there’s a pause button that’s been pushed. Everywhere you go, the bathroom, the kitchen, the living room (that’s it, you shouldn’t be leaving the house). The days are still passing but we aren’t 100% sure what to be doing with ourselves. And that’s because the second plot twist of this not-movie is that the end credits won’t be rolling in a couple of hours. We’re definitely gonna to be here a little while.

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In the original film, the US struggles to contain a deadly virus. Oddly it wasn’t a documentary.
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There are some very sleek wireless hotspots on the market from all the big carriers that can give out Wi-Fi to multiple devices. USB dongles are still available too for a bit cheaper.

Working from home

Fortunately, that’s where the plot-twists stop, and some good news, it’s 2020, and getting stuff done in the limits of your house has never been so easy, which brings us to what you should have to ace the quarantine.

Firstly, essentials. A computer and an internet connection. You won’t see the full benefits of a laptop stuck at home so a desktop would be preferred, however it’s not essential. What is essential is broadband, or at least a reliable mobile data connection. For those that don’t have great internet speeds at home, it’s a tricky situation that will only be made worse by the kids bouncing off the walls watching Netflix and playing Fortnite. Fortunately you do have options; mobile data (from EE, Three, 02, etc) has not been slacking in the last few years, 5G is the newest standard but you’ll want to go with 4G for the reliability. Either a USB dongle or wireless hotspot will do the job, so go for the network that has the best coverage in your area.

Secondly, not essential but still important, and that’s ergonomics. Your back and wrists will not be your friend after sitting at a desk for hours on end unless you do it right, it can’t be avoided in the office, and the home is no exception. Without large investment required, you want your arms to rest as horizontal as possible when typing, with a chair that has some lumbar support.

With the essentials out of the way, you have the tools to begin. How you use them will decide how efficient your time can be used. It just so happens that “the cloud” (a magical thing) plays a large part in any business’ disaster recovery plan, and it’s a technology concept that could not be more helpful for our current situation. Simply put, your company data can be all saved online for access anywhere in the world, perfect for those situations where we’re unable to make it to the office. It doesn’t stop at simple file storage, the “cloud” is the limit (pardon the pun). We’ve recently been busy working with Azure and AWS, rolling out virtual desktops (fully functioning business grade computers). All you need is that internet connection and a computer that isn’t prehistoric, and you’ll be able to connect into a secure environment that gives you full access to your work data wherever you are.

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Our very own Joel Lassman grabbed one of these for working at home. His was green too.
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The best part of working from home? No commute. No more waking up early!

But all of this is quite useless if you can’t keep in touch with your colleagues. You could now be miles apart working with people that a few weeks ago where sitting right next to you. While this would give you some peace and quiet in the comfort of your home, it does make work tricky somewhat when you’re trying to finish a group project without your, uh, group. And despite the fact that a massive % of the population is now working from home, you may still need to answer a phone call or two.

Fret not, these are issues no longer. Due to the advent of IP phones, your number is no longer stuck inside the four walls of your office. These things have been around for years now, and their selling point is that they connect to the internet (just like everything else). So as odd as it might be, that trusty phone that’s been sitting at your desk for the last few years, you can take it home, or the other side of the Equator, and still take calls. However, small caveat, as IP phones have been designed for an office setting, they rely on a wired internet connection (you may need a very long cable running to your desk, or a Powerline adapter).

Phones are all well and good, however in a lot of cases they aren’t quite enough. For this quarantine, we need to level up, we need to be working as close as possible with the team despite being located in different postcodes. Video conferencing? That’s good, but you can do even better. Microsoft Teams has been in the news recently for*coughtechnicalproblemscough*, but they do have a very good excuse. Microsoft has reported a 775% increase in the use of cloud services, and 44 million Teams users making 900 million minutes worth of meetings, on a weekly basis. These are some whopping numbers, and Microsoft is one of the only companies in the world that has the infrastructure to be able to deal with this dramatic spike in demand that coronavirus has brought. For the benefits of using Teams, look no further than a previous post of mine. Long story short, there are no shortage of tools, video conferencing, screen sharing, SharePoint integration, collaboration plug-ins, group chats, it’s all here.

Like what you see?

A lot of what we’ve discussed needs to be part of any business’ disaster recovery plan. With the current situation, it’s no surprise that a lot of people have been caught out. You may not have that disaster recovery plan in place, but there’s good news, you don’t have to wait until everything is over before getting started properly. Most modern email services, tools like Office 365 and Teams, and file solutions such as Dropbox are all cloud-based, and can be set-up anytime and anyplace, so there is no time like the present to get a move on (if a pandemic isn’t enough to persuade you about how important these things are, nothing will).

OTT is completely cloud based, and these services are what we work with every day, so for a plan that will help you do exactly the same, make us your first point of contact. Feel free to call us on 020 3794 1414 or email info@ourtechteam.co.uk.

Wash your hands and stay safe!

Signed, Connor B and Richard L from OTT

ourtechteam.co.uk