The South African government has officially implemented a nation-wide lockdown in order to flatten the curve against the Corona Virus. It is mandatory to stay at home if you're not employed in an essential service industry and restrict movement to basic needs only. Hygiene standards to the highest levels such as washing your hands, refraining from touching your eyes, nose and mouth are encouraged along with many other recommendations for your to keep safe during this time of uncertainty. A helpline is available for people who need advice on what steps to take should you feel unwell. For further information contact 0800 029 999 for enquiries related to the Virus or visit www.sacoronavirus.co.za
However, let’s take a moment to talk about what South Africans who are in quarantine situations or have been advised to work from home due to unforeseen circumstances, can do to keep their work-flow up to speed. Realistically, working from home or studying from home can be a seamless joy, or a logistical nightmare and we want to ensure that you are as prepared as possible to make this situation work best for you with the least loss in productivity. First things first, you need a reliable internet connection since this is how we essentially communicate with our counterparts in order to get things done in this modern working world. So bar your basic laptop, we recommend that you look into your home router/ mobile router options in order to make sure you can work and communicate effectively throughout the day. Many businesses rely heavily on high-speed internet connections in order to conduct business so knowing your options and your internet speed and being able to work through these challenging times will go a long way to keep your productivity going. If you’re a student, you understand the importance of having a reliable connection speed to access the internet to work on assignments, research your papers and reference topics from your study material.
In addition to being able to communicate in multi-functional teams, we need to be able to share information, tasks and updates to facilitate various work-related activities. There are a host of cloud solutions that allow teams to collaborate on projects despite not being in the same office. Innovation in this space has really taken collaboration to a whole new level with many different solutions available for modern teams that facilitate work/file sharing as you work remotely. There are options like www.monday.com, Dropbox for Business and OneDrive for Office365 users. If you’re a scholar working with a team on a project, or if you’re a professional coordinating your team project, these software allows users to access, share, store and work on files from a shared platform.
Furthermore, we have a need to meet from time to time and this need won’t go away, especially when your team needs status updates and to align on forward actions. In line with ensuring you have a high-speed internet connection, we recommend you make use of Skype or Google Meet to stay in touch with broader teams, your study buddies and even your teacher via video call. This will ensure that everyone is kept engaged and on track. These apps could work off your laptop, tablet or even via your cell phone so keeping these charged and ready to go is advisable. If you need to meet with or discuss material with your lecturer or teacher, we recommend getting their work contact number as this would be a great option instead of risking travelling to university for a meeting.
Instead of risking infection by travelling out, you can make a video call using your laptop, tablet or cell phone to consult with and have a collective discussion while keeping you safe and assist in containing the spread of Covid – 19.
We also recommend that you set up an IM contact service so that your team can stay in touch on almost immediately. These should be kept to business conversations that will allow people to get faster answers / responses from each other in a more real-time manner. These could include things like a WhatsApp groups, or Skype for Business or Microsoft Lync to assist with more live communication.
Unfortunately, this brings us to another challenge faced by South Africans, which is loadshedding. As our loadshedding schedule is somewhat unpredictable, we recommend that you keep your laptops, tablets and cellphones on charge while using them to work from home. Adding in an emergency battery powerbank to keep these working is advisable to make sure you can stay on track with your tasks, your studies and be able to communicate. If you’re aware of your upcoming loadshedding schedule, we suggest that you download your files that you need to work from onto your devices, so that you’re not held back when the power goes out.
Remember to consider external storage needs for extra files that you would need to work from that are usually housed on your work server. These external storage devices may also come in handy if you’re studying and need to download extra chapters to prepare for the upcoming loadshedding.
Don’t forget to charge those portable lights, as despite the screen of your machine having a light, these are not enough when you’re working in complete darkness.
Lastly, we have a few tips and tricks that should help you balance your days out as you navigate working from home. We recommend that you have dedicated to-do lists that are shared with your managers/teams so that expectations are manage. We advise that you have a dedicated work/study space that is not in front of your TV or on your bed. This will help keep your focus and maintain diligence as you navigate your workload. It is advisable that you take your regular coffee and lunch breaks as it often feels more exhausting working non-stop from home due to the lack of proper breaks.
In summary, we need to be prepared for the effects of the Covid – 19 to last us a few weeks, possibly a few months. For those of us who have been advised to work from home or those students studying from home, this could be a breeze if you plan correctly, maintain clear communication with your teams and keep to a schedule as you would otherwise.