If you are one of the thousands of people who are now working from home, including school children and students, then we've compiled a list of ideas that may help you.
With recommendations for your laptops and computers, to ideas for productivity, through to the more social aspects of work, we have even included your pets.
So please scroll down and see our thoughts on making working from home safer, more productive, and maybe even fun.
The need to keep your computers, laptops and software up to date becomes even more critical when you are relying on them for work. Not updating your security could leave you in a heap of trouble and if you ignore other prompts to update your software, as annoying as they are, it will affect your productivity. Make sure all devices have adequate anti-virus and firewalls on them and be extra vigilant for phishing emails.
If you have the space, there are ways of setting up multiple screens at home without having to buy in multiple monitors. We came across a very useful piece of software, Duet Display, that enables you to set up your iPad with your laptop or computer to act as multiple screens enabling you to multi-task.
In your usual workplace your electrical items will have been PAT tested – not so at home. Research just published reports that more than two-thirds of you who are working from home are using extension leads, and 44% of you are ‘daisy-chaining’ them together - plugging one extension into another. With more than 50% of you also guilty of placing your laptop or phone on the bed while it is charging, you are running the risk of over heating your devices and overloading your connections which causes both a fire risk and the chance of causing irreparable damage to your equipment.
Or for that matter breakfast, afternoon tea, supper, dinner, snacks… beware eating and drinking whilst working on your laptop. Apart from the health benefits of taking a break and walking away from your workstation, spilling your cup of coffee over your keyboard could result in a catastrophe for you and your equipment. This may be more difficult when you are short of space or working at the kitchen table, but the last thing you want at the moment is the expense of getting new IT equipment if you don't really need it.
Even if you have been vigilant about the electrical safety of your equipment, you haven’t left your laptop charging on your bed or settee, your iPad isn’t in direct sunlight, you aren’t eating near your keyboard and your security measures are robust and active, your equipment can still fail. Do you have a backup procedure? And if you do, when did you last check it was working? All that work you are doing from home, you do not want that lost without warning, so please make sure everything you do is covered by a secure backup system.
Working from home advice columns usually urge us to get out and about to stop us feeling isolated. This is not an option at the moment but there are ways that you can stay in touch and have a "virtual" social life. For work, why not set up a Facebook Group and invite colleagues to join? Or we have seen people having Skype parties, setting up WhatsApp groups and even LinkedIn appears busier of late. Staying in touch is still important even if we can’t physically get out to see each other.
For years we have been told we should be limiting our children’s screen time and that they should be spending more time outside. Now we can’t send them out to play, nor even to school, online learning and screen time have become the new classrooms. Most schools and education establishments will be setting tasks for students, but if you are struggling to find enough for your children, we have found the Institute of Education a pretty good starting point for school age children. We have also learned that BBC Bitesize will be bringing the nation daily lessons from Monday 20th April.
We can’t leave out our furry family members. Whilst it’s likely your dog is over the moon that you are now always at home, the same may not be the case for your cat who could see your permanent presence in their home as an intrusion and an imposition on their usual routine. There are online resources for your pets as well – no, seriously, there are! We have trialed this video for the “office” cat in an attempt to get to her to move off our keyboard, although do be careful of your screens. For your pooches, there are a huge amount of online resources for games you can play with them, a time perhaps to get them to finally sit when told? (Contrary to popular myth, you can teach an old dog new tricks).
We hope that you will find at some of our ideas useful in what is a stressful and worrying time for us all. If we can be of any further help please let us know.