If you follow our blog, then you know that MainSpring recommends that the best way to secure corporate data is by building a human firewall.  But, what do you do when that human firewall is tired and stressed? 

When we rang in 2020, only a small percentage of people worked from home — a mere 3.4%, according to FlexJobs. Now, a majority of Americans — 62%, according to GallupForbes.

As I write this blog, we are heading into our fifth month of Work From Home or WFH.  The shine of Zoom meetings has worn off.  Many in the Virginia, DC, and Maryland (DMV) regions have recently heard that they will also be managing a virtual education program with their kids… from their already hectic homes. 

Team MainSpring is glad to provide a WFH guide to share with your team leaders and HR department.   (Keep reading, it includes some helpful School-From-Home tips too)

Is the sparkle gone?

Before COVID-19, both government and private company employees living in the DMV region often rallied to work from home.  Business leaders and HR departments begrudgingly offered a Friday WFH schedule to a select few.  Why Friday?  Because many leaders felt that Friday was the least productive day in the office.  Many team leaders were skeptical that productivity would remain high while employees used their home office. 

The COVID-19 crisis proved them all wrong.  This month, the focus of media stories is the over-worked and stressed employee.  Organizations that thought that productivity would falter are now dealing with employee depression or burnout.  Why?  Because many are working too many hours.  Fear of job loss has employees working beyond their limits.

Any organization that institutes a 9:00 a.m. virtual check-in needs to also have a 4:45 p.m. virtual goodbye ceremony. This gives people a stopping point, so they live to march again the next day—Fortune.com.

It is time to re-evaluate your WFH plan and provide tips to team leaders and employees at home.

The MainSpring Work From Home Guide

MainSpring was founded in 1993. Our team has both lived and worked in the DMV region for decades.  We know the lifestyle, and we also have kids that will be part of the School From Home year (SFH).  We browsed our library of blogs, content, and tips to create this guide—and added current information to help you deal with the COVID-19 crisis.  The blogs and tips will help you secure your corporate data, organize documents to share, maintain your email inbox, and manage video calls.  We called a few SFH experts and added their advice too.

Tips from team MainSpring

Here is a list and links to some simple time-savers created by our team:

            Three steps to reclaim Your mailbox

            Be the parent, not the child—checklists from A-Z.

            Automatically de-clutter your inbox and save an hour a week.[RS1] 

If you need a plan to protect your company data, you will find tips and advice in these MainSpring blogs:

            Security first:  protect your company data

            How to create a human firewall to protect your organization

            5 reasons to move your business to the cloud

Here are some MainSpring tips for team leaders:

            Securing employee communication channels during COVID-19

            The risk of a distributed workforce

School from home tips

If you have school-aged children and live in the DMV region, you probably need some SFH tips.  I am included in that group too!  So, I spoke with some parents with experience.  Here is some excellent advice:

Homeschooling and “COVID learning” are different. Still, there is one statement that I heard from many parents with homeschooling experience …expect days that are a complete failure.  Know that those days are on the horizon, and kids are resilient.  For every bad day, there will be great days.

Establish an hour on Friday or Sunday night to plan the next week’s schedule for both your work commitments and SFH.  It is essential to maintain a program, including mealtimes and bedtime.  If you also work from home, let your co-workers know your schedule and set expectations.  If the week’s plan includes time blocks to help with SFH, mark those on your business calendar.  Note that you may need to get up a few hours earlier or stay up late to find uninterrupted time to work.

Set up a dedicated work zone and a specialized school zone.  All parents that I spoke to gave the same advice.  They each found that everyone sitting around the dining room table diligently working was not successful.  You may actually only sit in your personal work zone during certain daily time blocks—it all depends on your children’s age.

Distance learning will include the Internet.  Take the time to set parental controls on laptops, smartphones, and smart TVs.  With the introduction of virtual classrooms, you may be surprised to find how fast your kids will become technology experts.

Do not plan to use your corporate laptop for SFH.  If you need a computer for distance learning, contact your local school board for assistance.  You must maintain the security guidelines provided by your employer with any employer-provided hardware or software.

If you need a time block that includes uninterrupted work, here are 3 excellent tips:

  1.  Ask a grandparent, other family member or friend if they can call your student and spend 30 minutes to an hour talking or on a video chat. 
  2. Start a neighborhood co-op with other families.  Take turns teaching a subject, taking a trip to a park, or lead a walk around the neighborhood—all with social distancing.
  3. Join OutSchool.   It is free to join, and classes start at just $10.  You will find live online classes and camps for kids age 3-18.  How about learning world geography through a cooking class?  Or extra help with math?  It is also a great way to create an additional time block for you to complete a work assignment.  It is a win-win.

Moving Forward

Team MainSpring enjoys publishing tips for business planning and IT strategy.  You can browse the library on our website or follow us on social media.  

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