Posted by: on March 20, 2020 at 11:59 am

funny meme

We appreciate your patience during these difficult times.

So, how’s your week going? Anything new? Situation normal? (Don’t finish that last phrase…)

It’s been a wild week here at TAZ Networks as we deal with extremely high volumes of phone calls and tickets. Suddenly, everyone needs to work from home, needs laptops now, needs VPN licenses now. We get it, we really do. And we appreciate your patience as we assist all of our clients to keep their staff safe and comply with recommendations from health experts.

Most of us are working from home as well. Last Friday, Tavis announced that we are all encouraged to work from home until April 1. We’ll revisit the guidelines at that time. For now, Tavis and Laurel are usually the only ones in the office, to accept mail and packages, and assist the occasional walk-in client.

You might assume that we’d all be quite comfortable working remotely. However, even though our service desk can log into your network remotely, and our field consultants can access our servers while onsite, TAZ Networks staff doesn’t work from home except under special circumstances. So, we’re facing many of the same challenges of working from home that you are. What’s the best setup? How do you minimize distractions? How many snacks is too many snacks?

How do you stay sane when the world seems to be going mad?

To that end, here are some of the ways we’re meeting the challenges of working from home.

Zach's workspace helps alleviate the challenges of working from home.

Zach’s calming home workspace.

The Setup

Unless you already have a dedicated home office, your first thought might be where? Sitting with a laptop on your comfy sofa, Netflix in the background, might not be the most conducive to focused work. On the other hand, sitting at the kitchen table on a wooden chair can cause back problems, leg cramps, and other physical problems. Plus, camping out at the kitchen table means others in your household can’t use it.

That said, needs must… sometimes you just have to take over the kitchen table. In that case, what can you do to make it easier to work? Our team mentioned two things above all others:

Seating. Several members of our team said a comfortable, office-type chair makes a world of difference. Most office chairs are designed to at least give lip service to ergonomics, certainly more than a counter stool or wooden kitchen chair. If you do need to use a stiff chair, popping a pillow behind your back can help prevent or relieve back pain.

Monitor. Working from a 14-inch laptop screen when you’re used to a 22-inch monitor – or bigger – just won’t cut it for most people. If you can make it work, a multi-display setup can help with focus and productivity. Tavis encouraged us to take home an extra monitor along with our laptops and docking stations to make it easier to work.

In fact, Josh says, “A comfortable chair and a multi monitor setup,” are his top tips for making working from home more bearable.

Matt's workspace helps meet the challenges of working from home.

Matt’s home setup gives him a healthy dose of sunshine. (He has a new chair on order.)

The Environment

Again, your existing home office setup is probably much to your liking already. But if you’re setting up a temporary work-from-home station, what are some ways to make your environment more enjoyable?

Zach T. recommends carefully considering your computer placement. “Face your computer desk towards a window or something nice to look at other then a blank wall.”

Heather agrees that the view is important. “I open all the curtains and blinds to let the sun in. Even on a cloudy day, a little natural light helps lift my mood.”

The Technology

Ah, there it is – the thing we’re known for. Definitely, we could not work as efficiently or easily from home without our cloud-based network. We’ve had a few hiccups here and there, but overall, we’ve been able to access all of the software and online tools that we use daily.

Matt says: “I’m able to access the same things that I would normally access in the office. Because we are a cloud-based company, it makes it easy to maintain my same work routine.”

fluffy calico cat sits in a sunbeam

Whiskey Brady following CDC directives about getting enough natural light.

The Good

Overall, everyone seems to enjoy working remotely. “I find remote work fantastic. Even though our volume is higher of late, I’m able to do more work with far fewer interruptions,” says Grant. Zach T. adds, “It’s a much more relaxed environment and allows me to focus better with less distractions. My family also appreciates having me in the same house for the day!” Matt loves working from home and would do it all the time if he could, whereas both Josh and Heather appreciate having more time to get things done during lunch break.

And the Bad

While using Microsoft Teams helps keep communication flowing, Stacie acknowledges that the open chat can be distracting, and we still have occasional communications issues. While spending more time with family can be enjoyable, some of us with dogs and small children find the noise factor makes it difficult to sound professional on phone calls. Many of us can relate to Steve’s lament about his work-from-home co-pilot: “It’s hard trying to be on the phone when he is barking at everything under the sun.” The saving grace, however, is that many of our client contacts are also working around distractions and limitations.

grey cat on grey rug on brown fake wood floor, with grey toy mouse nearby

Emerald Toll-Shy after a meeting with Mr. Mouse.

How to Cope

It might sound silly to worry about “coping” with rolling out of bed a bit later than usual, working in your PJs, and going for a walk on your lunch break, but working from home can feel isolating.

A good routine is crucial. Grant’s previous work from home experience taught him the importance of self-discipline. “Discipline was an issue at first: staring into the fridge and grabbing a pickle, streaming music and videos, checking the news hourly. Personal maintenance such as toothbrushing and hair combing quickly became optional.” Today, he might indulge in comfy pants and fuzzy socks, but finds that maintaining personal grooming habits and wearing a TAZ Networks shirt helps him stay on track.

Other things that help our staff cope are listening to music, sharing silly images on Teams, and good old caffeine. Several of us also try to get some exercise, preferably outside, at least once a day.

And, as Stacie relates, it’s important to remember the bigger picture. “Breathe!” she says, “and do your part.”

That’s why we’re all here, isn’t it?

Is your team facing challenges of working from home? How can we assist you? Fill out our contact page or call your account manager today.

Some links:

How to maintain your mental health while working from home

Interim Guidance for Businesses and Employers (CDC)

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