- Working from home is not that difficult if you have right things.
- A good machine, good internet, and good software are all you need.
- Remember, social distancing should be followed along with WFH.
The Covid-19 has forced several countries into lockdown, imposing inconvenience in the corporate sector, medical sector, tourism sector, and many other important industries. With an increase in social distancing and self-quarantining across various companies globally, the culture of work from home', popularly known as WFH, has sprung up into the mainstream. But how ready are we as corporates and as employees to work virtually?
Working from home is not too difficult, especially when you have the right mix of equipment and software that will help the workflow. Needless to say, the basics required for work from home are -- a PC or a laptop, good LAN or Wi-Fi connection, and endless supply of power (at least one hour less than your working shift). If you have shrugged off the lax attitude towards working from home, you are very well ready to understand what it takes to set up your office desk in the comfort of your home.
We have already told you that you need a good machine -- it could be a desktop PC, a laptop, or even a high-performance tablet like iPad. You also need to ensure there is endless supply of power for your machine. If you have an UPS, great! If you have good batteries on your laptop, great again! But if you don't, we'd advise you ensure at least a small battery that could charge your device.
Done with the hardware part? Good. Now, let us tell you the software you are going to be needing for work from home.
For Communicating with Colleagues (and Your Boss)
If you have an official email address, chances are the email programme being used at your company belongs to either Google's G Suite or Microsoft Office 365. This is to say that when you open your email profile, you either end up on Gmail or Outlook. Both Gmail and Outlook come with their own chat applications but they need additional payments, which is taken care of by your company. Amid the Coronavirus outbreak, both Google and Microsoft have extended their helping hand by granting free access of Hangouts Meet and Teams, respectively, to all their enterprise subscribers for a limited time.
G Suite users can use Hangouts Meet for texting, sharing links, video calling, and even sharing stickers. Similarly, Microsoft's Teams too allows you to collaborate with your teammates through texts, video calls, audio calls, and features such as screen sharing.
But, in case, there is a third party email programme that is used in your company, try the following chat apps:
Slack: Slack is one the most popular collaboration tools that is used across multiple companies for their daily communication. It comes with advanced features such chat topics, channels, private groups, coding, reminders, and more. Slack is based on the freemium model, which means you will need to pay some fee to use the additional features. You can choose to pay the fee only if you need those features. But otherwise, you can use Slack for daily communication with your team. Slack is available on Android, iOS, iPadOS, macOS, Windows 10, and on the Web.
Hangouts: We talked about G Suite users earlier that have access to Hangouts Meet free of charge. But since you are not a G Suite user, you can use your Google account to chat with your colleagues using Hangouts. If you do not have a Google account (for some godforsaken reason), please create one. Just add your friend's Gmail address on Hangouts and start chatting. Remember, only Gmail addresses are supported on Hangouts. Also, Hangouts comes with basic features, such as audio calling, video calling, texting, sending emojis and stickers, and sharing files. It is available on Android, iOS, iPadOS, and the Web.
Workplace by Facebook: Facebook also got serious some time back about leveraging its user base to turn its social media platform into a collaboration tool. Workplace is what Facebook has designed to counter Hangouts Meet and Microsoft Teams. It has the same drill -- sign up for an account, enter your details, and invite your colleagues to join you on Workplace. It too comes with the standard collaborative features, such as texting and video calling. You can use Workplace by Facebook in browser.
There are a few other apps that you can use, for example, Zoom, Discord, WhatsApp Messenger, Telegram, and even gaming services such as Xbox.
For Getting the Work Done
Now that the communication part is over, let us talk about productivity. If you have a corporate job, you assume your role that requires filing documents, worksheets, creating tables, Excel sheets, PowerPoint presentations, and more.
If you have Microsoft Office installed on your device, you can download the software as per your needs -- Microsoft Word, Microsoft PowerPoint, Microsoft Outlook, Microsoft Excel, and others. Also, if your company uses Microsoft as its email programme, you can use all of the apps with their advanced features. Although, individuals will need to pay subscription fee for features such as the online versions of the software.
Looks complicated? We have another solution that is free of cost. Try Google Drive tools with your Google account. You can use Google Docs to write documents, Google Sheets to create Excel sheets, Google Slides to create PowerPoint presentations, and more. All the data is saved to your Google account automatically so you don't need to worry about creating a backup by hitting CTRL+S every four minutes later. Apart from their Web versions, these apps are available on both Android and iOS as well.
Zoho is another productivity tool that lets you create documents, presentations, and sheets. However, it requires a subscription and is managed by the company you are working at.
For Company's Internal Websites
Many companies have their own ecosystem for their employees, which is securely managed on the company's network. This means that as long as an employee is using the Internet provided by the company, the website (or programme) works. For networks outside your company's, a Virtual Private Network is required that is authorised by your company. A lot of companies rely on VPN services to foster security in the data exchange taking place on a myriad of internal and external servers. Some VPNs that are used by corporates are SonicWall Global VPN Client, Cisco Next-Generation Firewall Virtual, Sophos XG Firewall, and more. Contact your employer to provide you with the necessary set-up files to install the VPN service.
Apart from the Internet-related services, you can always dial your colleague's phone number to discuss urgent matters. In India, calls have become immensely cheaper with VoLTE and VoWiFi, so you don't even have to worry about your talk-time balance