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Grounded: How to Stay Productive from the Comfort of Your Home

Charles Thomas & Nancy Bowman, HP, Inc.

April 21, 2020  |  Collaboration

Until recently, working from home for most people was an occasional luxury that got them away from the distractions of the office. Now, home has become the standard office as many government and commercial organizations have transitioned their employees to telework to help quell the spread of COVID-19.

Working remotely—dispersed from our colleagues and the locations that physically brought us together—is not easy, especially when there’s little time to prepare your home for all the changes that must take place, from lifestyle to technology.

Regardless of the industry you are in or your role, pivoting to a fully functioning home office can be stressful. Transitioning your regular workload and in some instances even more to your home office, combined with child home care or home schooling, partners, pets and the stress of a global pandemic it only makes things more difficult.

Here are some steps you can take to boost productivity, both from a lifestyle and technological perspectives.

1. Plan a dedicated workspace

Now that we’re all trying to host meetings by video, present and collaborate through sharing screens rather than face-to-face, it’s important to find a place specifically dedicated for work. This accomplishes two things.

First, it signals to the rest of that house that if you’re in that room, you’re working. A dedicated workspace makes a clear boundary between the office and the rest of the home.

Secondly, it helps working under these extreme circumstances feel more normal. Having all of your work materials accessible and organized will put you in a more focused mindset. It’s challenging to get in that headspace when your devices and papers are strewn across the dining room table on a makeshift desk.

2. Have the right tools

In the office you have company technology at your disposal. At home, it’s not always so simple. If you relied on going into the office every day you might only have a small laptop and smart phone, whereas at your workstation you might have had dual monitors, a full-sized keyboard, specialized software, and a docking station to bring it all together with one simple connection.

These tools aren’t luxuries, they’re a very real advantage when it comes to productivity. Even the mundane tasks take a hit when you aren’t able to use the right equipment. Imagine if your job is to process agency expenses. At the office you have a full-sized keyboard with a number pad. At home you have a laptop with just the row of numbers at the top. There’s no doubt that productivity would suffer if you had to use the laptop. Making the home office your full time dedicated space can be enhanced so that you are productive and comfortable with some basic tools which include, dual monitors, full size keyboard, mouse, head set for calls, web cams attached or integrated into your monitor and a docking station to pull all of these together with one simple connection to your laptop.

Using your own devices can also cause stress around cyber security. When you log in at the office there’s a cyber strategy designed around the way you work. At home, that doesn’t exist.

The right cyber tools can make all the difference in a situation like what we’re currently experiencing. You probably aren’t a cyber security expert, but your organization-issued devices should have a way to protect you. If your agency or organization supplies laptops, make sure they can detect cyber intrusions without your intervention. Having devices that self-heal means you can focus on work rather than worrying about cyber attackers.

Email is the preferred form of communication for most of the workforce, especially when working from home. Our data indicates that email is a primary threat vector, and Word documents are the most preferred malware delivery vehicle.

To help businesses and individuals stay safe when working remotely, HP is offering HP Sure Click Pro free of charge through September 30, 2020. HP Sure Click Pro allows you to edit and save or safely print these documents, right from within the virtual machine container. Any embedded malware is completely isolated and is destroyed as soon as you close the document.

3. Know when to turn off

It’s easy to keep working when your commute takes less than a minute, and when you may have no clear line between your home life and your work life. You get an email after dinner and, though you know it can wait until morning, find yourself wandering back into the home office to take on the task. Turn around. Your brain will be fresher and full of ideas when you wake up the next day.

This doesn’t only apply to the end of the day. When we’re not in the office we get fewer chances to disengage from work. We don’t have the coffee chats or the lunchroom. So, it’s also important to take breaks throughout the workday. Going outside for a walk can clear your head and reset your brain.

What we’re all going through is unprecedented.  Once we overcome the pandemic, we’ll have a better understanding, lessons learned and better plans in place on how to keep our businesses running, and ensure mission critical work is prepared for unanticipated disruptions.

If you have any questions about how HP and Iron Bow can help make the remote work transition easier, visit our website.

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