Tag Archives: Working from home

Mobility drives best places to live

This week, the Sunday Times named Stamford in Lincolnshire as the UK’s best place to live.  But how does a sleepy market town that initially missed the railway and, arguably, was at its economic peak several hundred years ago, get to be the most attractive place to live in the country?

 

Clearly, it’s a beautiful and historic part of the world – but the cruel reality of life is that the majority of us have to work to live.  And it would be hard to describe Stamford as an industrial metropolis.

 

Perhaps they’re all commuting somewhere else?

 

According to the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, the average Brit does have the seventh-longest commute in the developed world so it’s feasible they’re going further afield.  However, that average commute is still only 40 minutes.

 
Maybe, the answer then, is that proximity to work is no longer the defining influence on where people live that it used to be.  Certainly, there’s a growing trend for knowledge workers to move away from city centres.

 

During the industrial revolution, workers flocked to the centres of industry, with cities like Liverpool growing their population by 60% in just 20 years.  The same city, even allowing for the overall explosion in the number of people living in the UK, has seen population shrink by 1.4% in the ten years to 2009.

 

A study carried out by Mozy recently highlighted that the average boss is happy for their employees to spend a quarter of their week working from home.  73 per cent of bosses are relaxed about employee time keeping and a typical boss will overlook regular lateness of around half an hour, content that their employees start their working days long before they arrive at their desks.

 

Cloud access tools are enabling workers to be productive team members of a business team regardless of where they are – and this is a more-likely reason why we Brits are selecting towns like Stamford and fellow high scorers, Kendal, Wye and Thornbury as our ideal homes.

 

What was once remote and impractical is now a remote worker’s dream.

Ready, steady, stop!

Online backup ticklistThis summer, the world is descending on the UK as athletes and spectators come to enjoy the greatest show on Earth.  But, with additional feet on the street, rubber on the roads and strains on the trains, we’re being warned that travel disruption is inevitable.

Many businesses have had plans in place for months to make sure that, if their employees can’t make it into work, their work can make it to them. However, if you don’t have a plan yet, it’s not too late to make sure that travel disruption doesn’t disrupt your business.  Here are our top tips to make sure your business keeps moving, even if your staff can’t.

1)   Be flexible – do your employees need to be in the office nine-to-five or can they work around the busy travel times?  If they’re in an assembly line or manning a till, obviously, they need to work set shifts but many office workers are able to fulfill responsibilities at any time.

2)   Trust your workers – Mozy research shows that workers put in much more work out of hours and out of sight than bosses realise

3)   Get Mobile – give employees the mobile apps and tools that will allow them to work wherever they are so that additional commuting time isn’t wasted

4)   Enable home working – only 15% of employees are able to access all of their work applications from anywhere. Embracing cloud file access and other online services make trips to the office unnecessary

5)   Virtualise your meetings – video conferencing and virtual meeting places are ubiquitous today and much cheaper and better than they were in the past

6)   Get free stuff – from file access, to mobile apps to collaboration tools, you can get a lot of the stuff you need to mobilise your workforce for free. But, if you’re relying on this technology to keep business alive, don’t scrimp, a small subscription cost will often get you premium services and support, which cn be invaluable.

7)   Have a backup plan – if you can foresee disruption ahead, have a Plan B to fall back on

8)   Keep control – make sure that you have a centralised plan for what tools you’re going to use and what information you’re going to make available.  Everyone needs to be using compatible solutions and you need to ensure that you’re not creating holes in your security

9)   Set clear rules – staff need to know what’s acceptable and what’s not.   For example, how many days of home working are allowed?  Everyone needs to be clear from the start to avoid confusion.

10)  Be prepared – It’s all very well giving people tools to access their files from the cloud but you need to make sure that the files they might need have been uploaded first.  Choose a service that will do this automatically and make sure you do this in advance.

There’s so much to look forward to this summer so get ahead with mobile working plans so that you can enjoy it without the worries of how it could impact your business.  We think that you’ll find new ways of working that you’ll want to continue even when the transport network is back to normal.

Desk Dating

File access enables remote working

Would you feel comfortable online dating from your desk?  What about flicking through the pages of a holiday brochure?

It turns out more of us are happy taking a bit of ‘me time’ in the daytime than you might think with 90 per cent of us saying that we let personal tasks creep onto our workday to-do lists according to new Mozy research.

So, are we all brazenly headed for the dole queue?  Perhaps not as employers also appear to accept that this is fine.

The world hasn’t gone crazy, it’s woken up to the notion that for businesses to get the best results, they need their workforce to be flexible about the hours that they put in and, therefore, need to offer flexible working themselves.

With the introduction of cloud services and mobile apps that allow users to access files anywhere, workers are no longer tied to the office to complete tasks and are spreading their work across an average of about 12 hours each day, giving both employees and employers more flexibility.

In return, employers no longer see breaks in the working schedule as avoiding work, but rather deferring work to make the best use of your time and ensure that you’re free to complete other work tasks later in the evening.

Here’s our list of the top personal tasks that workers feel justified doing during the day.

  1. Leaving early for the doctor or dentist
  2. Personal phone calls
  3. Regular tea/coffee/water-cooler breaks
  4. Chatting with colleagues
  5. Sending a few personal emails
  6. Taking a long lunch
  7. Online banking
  8. Leaving work early for a child’s performance at school
  9. Paying a few bills
  10. Listening to music
  11. Having breakfast
  12. Reading newspapers/magazines
  13. Using social media
  14. Calling customer complaints
  15. Researching things you want to buy online
  16. Brushing teeth
  17. Researching holidays
  18. Online shopping
  19. Food shopping online
  20. Showering after cycling/running/gym
  21. Looking up recipes
  22. Playing the lottery
  23. Reading online gossip
  24. Writing personal blogs
  25. Interviewing for new jobs
  26. Starting a business/side jobs
  27. Organising music playlists
  28. Watching sports
  29. Video conferencing
  30. Online dating

What are you happy doing at your desk?  Why not let us know in the comments section?

Cloud kills the drudge of 9 to 5 working

Mozy cloud backup changes working patterns

Rush-hour traffic jams and crowded commuter trains could soon be at thing of the past as employers across the globe announce that it’s OK to get to the office at a time that’s convenient for you.

That’s not to say that they’re fine for every day to be a duvet day but that they appreciate that most white-collar workers are busy on their smartphones and laptops away from the office and believe they should be cut some slack in return over when they arrive at their desks.

According to our new research, the average boss is happy for their employees to turn up as much as 32 minutes after their scheduled start time, safe in the knowledge that they’ll have been working long before they arrive.

And they’re right!  The average person has already put in 46 minutes of work before they walk through the office door.

However, employees have yet to realise the flexibility their bosses are willing to offer them, with 76 per cent of employers taking a relaxed attitude to timekeeping but less than half of workers believing this to be the case.

But employees are expecting a bit of give and take in return for the time they’re putting in out of hours, by carrying out some personal tasks during them.  The majority of employees in the UK, Ireland, France, Germany and the USA said they fitted in personal activities, such as online shopping, social networking or websurfing during the day.

But what’s driving this change?  The cloud!  Being able to access files remotely, use mobile apps and remote log in to get documents from the office mean that we’re now able to work when and where we choose.

So, if you want to go to your kid’s school play in the afternoon, you can still be in contact with the office for anything urgent and you can finish up any work when you get home in the evening.
Which means, it’s goodbye 9-to-5 and hello to spreading your work and personal life through out the day at times that suit you.

You can read all the findings from our research here: The New 9-to-5

What difference has mobile working made to your working patterns?  Tell us in the comments section.

Working from home, not shirking from home

Working From Home - File Acces

Today is National Work From Home Day, which, hopefully, means that you’re reading this from the comfort of your kitchen table or desk at home, rather than from your office.

But, aside from the opportunity to swap your drudge of a commute for an extra hour in bed and your suit for tracksuit bottoms and a T-shirt of dubious cleanliness, what else do you give up when working from home?

Times have certainly changed from the days where you basically gave up being able to accomplish much at all.  Remember dial-up connections to an office VPN?  Remember printing out everything you might need for the next day ‘just in case’? Remember telling people in the office which of the company mobile phones you were taking home with you?

The chances are, that you’re saying ‘no’.  Well, unless you’re a certain age and have gone through the therapy to stop you repressing how awful it all was.  Most of us have pushed the bad-old-days of working from home out of our minds because, today, it’s never been easier to replicate the office working experience from home (sans the annoying colleague who likes to eat mackerel at their desk).

Broadband, cloud services, conferencing solutions, mobile communications – and, most importantly, attitudes – have changed the home-working experience beyond recognition.  For many white-collar workers, it’s now an accepted norm to work from home when occasion suits.  And, critically, that comes without the accusations that you might be shirking responsibilities immediately that you’re out from under the eager eye of the boss.

But have we reached the glorious Utopia of home working yet?  Maybe we’re still only part of the way there.  After all, we’re still tied to some of our working tools; albeit that they have become a lot more portable.

Most people working from home today will have carried a company laptop home with them in order to access their files.  They’ll have set the phone on their desk to forward to their mobile and they’ll probably still have an incident during the day where they have to find a file on a USB stick or ask a colleague to email them something they need to complete a task.

Haven’t we just swapped printing out documents and saving them to floppy disks for copying them to thumb drives and emailing them to ourselves?  Haven’t we swapped carrying home reams of paper for carrying equally cumbersome computing devices?  I’m not sure our briefcases were any lighter last night than they were the evening before we worked from home ten years ago.

Working from home in the future should be simpler still.  Already, services from companies like Mozy allow people to access all of their files (whether they’ve remembered to drop them in a special folder for that purpose or not) from any web-connected computer – or from phones and tablets.  Which is one step closer to really being able to work from anywhere.

(It’s also one step closer to sanity when you’re not checking for the umpteenth time that the document you were working on yesterday really isn’t where you thought you’d saved it on that memory stick – but I digress).

With virtualisation technology from companies like VMware, you’re also able to access your processes and systems, exactly as if you were sitting at your work computer, but from a device that you haven’t had to lug back on the 7:13 from Paddington.

As these technologies become more broadly adopted, centrally by IT departments, it heralds a bright future for those who prefer not to venture beyond their own front doors in order to get their jobs done.

And, who knows, perhaps by 2022, we’ll need a National Work From The Office Day.

Five tips for keeping your laptop safe in the sun

Top tips for backup in the sun

If you’ve been living in an air-conditioned, hermetically-sealed bunker this week you may have missed the news that not only have we had record temperatures for Wimbledon week, we’ve also got a Brit through to the men’s quarter finals.

For those people who are genuinely working from home this week (and watching the tennis with one eye whilst checking your Blackberry with the other doesn’t count), the thought has probably crossed your mind to make the most of the weather and decamp to the alfresco office that is the back garden.

However, whilst we may love the sun, our computers don’t necessarily agree (by and large, they really would prefer to be in an air-conditioned, hermetically-sealed bunker).  So, before trailing the extension lead out to the lawn and setting up a deck-chair desk, here are Mozy’s top five tips for keeping your laptop happy in the sun.

1)      Shade is your friend

Most office-issued laptops come in a black case, which is just perfect for absorbing the sun’s rays.  Batteries will lose life forever if overheated and hard drives that expand in the warmth will be prone to head crashes.  Keep your laptop under 35 degrees Centigrade to keep your computer safe.

2)      Time is a great healer

Carrying a working laptop from blazing heat to the cool of your home, or vice versa, encourages sudden expansion or contraction of the parts whilst still in operation.  Shutting down your computer before you move in and out, and giving it time to acclimatise before rebooting, will help to protect your device.

3)      A watched computer never boils

Leaving your computer unattended in the sun is never a good idea.  That rings true if it’s in the garden or in your car.  If it’s too hot to leave a pet or a child, it’s too hot to leave your laptop.

4)      Don’t sweat it

High humidity can lead to condensation in the circuits of your computer so, if you’re feeling sweaty, the chances are that your computer is too …only the computer issues can’t be fixed by a wipe with a towel.  If the humidity outside is over 80 per cent, it’s advisable to keep your computer indoors.

5)      Back up

The whole point of a laptop is that it’s portable so you shouldn’t be afraid of taking it where you want to use it.  If you have an online backup of your files, should the worst happen and your hard drive stops working, you’ll always have a copy of them in the cloud.

So, enjoy some fun in the sun and remember to protect your computer and protect yourself – slip, slap, slop people!