Sunday, July 5, 2020

Work From Home

This article is for all the Work from Home professionals and home based online Tutors. It is Monsoon time - the season of breakdowns.and disruptions Most of the reasons for disruption due to Monsoon – power cut, loss of Net connectivity, laptop / PC down etc. are beyond our control, but we can certainly prepare for these contingencies and ensure that we continue to work uninterrupted.

The most crucial component for any work from home professional is Electricity. Though metro cities do not suffer much, the same can’t be said for the rest of the country.  Unfortunately, it is not possible to have redundancy in this matter as there can be only 1 supplier per household. As a basic precaution, ensure that your laptop is fully charged and the battery capacity is sufficient to give you a couple of hours of work time.

 People having standalone homes can install generators as a backup, but multi-apartment resident s can’t enjoy that luxury due space constrains and noise pollution. An alternative is to have an inverter as a backup power source. While selecting the inverter, ensure that the capacity is sufficient to power a couple of appliances like tube light, fan, and router along with laptop / PC. After all what is the point of having a working laptop without net connection or working in the dark in sweltering heat.

The next vital component for Work from Home is the Internet connection. The Net is no longer a luxury to while away our time It times of physical isolation, it has become our source of communication, helps in our financial transactions, shopping, paying our bills and  of course, our source of livelihood. It has become a must have but now we need to give it a higher priority. Firstly ensure that if possible you subscribe to a big name brand rather than the cheaper local cable Wala. The local guy usually cuts corners in his back-end infrastructure and passes on the savings to you in the form of lower charges.  For instance, they usually sling their cables across poles and trees and are prone to frequent breakdowns due to cable damage, whereas providers like Airtel and Tata have underground cables. Moreover, the bigger providers also try to have redundant data paths for a locality, ensuring that even if 1 cable is damaged, the service is uninterrupted by routing data through alternate paths. Another differentiation between the local provider and a professional provider is the performance I have observed that a lower speed connection from Tata or Airtel is much better and consistent than a higher speed connection from a local provider. The third difference is in the level of service and problem resolution.  All in all, it is better to invest the extra amount in a good internet connection rather than be let down at a crucial time. As a backup, you can also consider using Mobile hot spot. This works if you have good network signal. You can always switch over to provider who has better signal strength at your location, not that you have much choice nowadays.

The next crucial component is your own IT infrastructure – router, Laptop, Printer etc. These are very much in our control and we shall discuss how we can take care of these.

Router – This is the link between us and the outside world and it has a very important role to play in performance of our Net connection. Routers with 802.11 ac Wi-Fi and dual band – 2.4 Ghz and 5 Ghz will give you better performance. Routers with these features are typically available for around Rs 2,000- 3,000. You may also consider investing in a repeater or a signal booster if you are getting weak Wi-Fi signals at your work desk and can’t relocate the router to a nearby spot.

Laptop/ PC – Ensure that you have the latest updates and security patch. Keep your anti-virus up to date and scan your system regularly. A virus attack would be the last thing you would want. Backup your data to the cloud. All the main folders on my Laptop are mapped to Google drive and get updated in real time. Ensure that your laptop battery is in good condition. A weak battery can get completely discharged in as less as 15 minutes, leaving you high and dry in the middle of an important session. I have a habit of having spare accessories like mouse and writing tab, headphones etc. I think it is a worthwhile investment. Off course, as an extreme case, I also have a spare laptop and this has paid off since my laptop broke down recently but I could continue with my daily routine without any disruption. I just logged in to by Google account hand had all the data synced to the spare laptop.

If you have a printer, ensure that you use it regularly to prevent ink from drying up. A frequent problem in monsoons is paper jam. This can be prevented by shuffling the papers regularly and specially before printing.

I have kept the most important part of Work from Home for the last – You. Please do take care of yourself. Eat healthy, home cooked food, do regular light exercises, consume immunity boosting food and stay healthy.

I have been working from home for the past 8 months and have not had a single disruption. You too can stay safe and productive if you follow the above tips. As a thumb rule, you should invest about 5%-10% of your earnings to upgrade your infrastructure and for self-development.