Working from home during the pandemic.

MrFraggle

Distinguished Member
Lots of people are now working home mainly from the service industry but how easy is it for companies to set this up?
Do you need special equipment or is a phone and a decent broadband connection all you need?
Some firms seem to have made the transition to home working work very well others on the other hand are absolutely rubbish, in my case my council but in fairness they have always had a poor contact system in place and an online presence extremely poor. My landlord a housing association is also very poor with contact a real test of staying power. Yet my utility company, bank and certain sections of my health board seem to have taken this new way of working in their stride and apart from perhaps waiting a little longer to speak to someone it is working well.

I suspect many of you here now work from home and I am really interested in how it was set up for you to do your job from the comfort of your home.
 

Ruperts slippers

Distinguished Member
Partner has 3 screens, a pc, a headset, access to company server, chair.
Unfortunately we live quite rural so her connection is run off three 4g, which is good but she does have drop outs, technical issues.
She now does, 8-6/7 pm, (Previously 9-5pm) which is longer hrs, working from home is quite intrusive. She often uses her private mobile because the call system can be poor.

It just blurs the lines between home life and work life, for us is ok short term but it's not tenable in the longer term as we're both people who work so we can enjoy life, basically work identity is separate. She misses the interaction with her colleagues too.

We're moving 35 miles away from her office, so she's hoping they'll acquiesce wfh and office. If not she'll leave and find a job closer to home with more balanced hrs.
 

Inked

Distinguished Member
My wife was already working from home 3 days out of 5 so the transition to full time home working has been relatively straight forward for her though it has meant a lot more video calls this past year which she hardly did before.

She already had a work mobile and laptop, but mainly uses her iMac via the work servers, work have also paid out for an extra external monitor.

We were fortunate that we had already carried out building work in 2018 to create an office for her and already pay for 150mb broadband.

Work have been very good with adjustments due to home schooling (I work 3 nights a week, so sleep during the mornings) and my wife currently takes the first hour or so of the day to get our daughter set up and help her with the bits she can’t do on her own.
 

severe dainjah

Well-known Member
Our workplace was already moving towards “agile” working prior to Covid in an effort to reduce commuting miles (we’re an environmental org) - we’re now fast approaching a whole year of our offices being closed and I don’t ever foresee a full return to office. Around September they offered staff the option of perm wfh contract amendments and 75% of staff signed up right away.

All employees are issued laptops as standard, alongside a mobile phone and we switched to VOIP “landline” numbers a couple of years ago. We all use MS 365 suite and have recently moved across to Sharepoint to replace the vpn/servers we had previously - so we can all access files and contact each other no matter where we are. Obviously all meetings now take place using Teams or Zoom.

In terms of other equipment, my employer was very quick to offer staff ‘office’ equipment to work from home - we can request monitors, keyboards, mice, a desk and proper chair - as well as other H&S aids (wrist supports, footrests etc). They’ve been very good in providing what people need and have reused what was in the office before purchasing new too.

Many staff now have the perfect office set up at home, there are some that don’t have adequate space and are itching to go back to an office (be that a shared office space in their local town or our main office).
 

MrFraggle

Distinguished Member
So basically provided you have access to the company's servers then the normal equipment most of us have already will do the job. Though as some have pointed out equipment is offered including a chair which is pretty neat.

Wonder why some firms have managed to switch very easily and others are really making life difficult?
 

Dony

Distinguished Member
So basically provided you have access to the company's servers then the normal equipment most of us have already will do the job. Though as some have pointed out equipment is offered including a chair which is pretty neat.

Wonder why some firms have managed to switch very easily and others are really making life difficult?

Which firms are making life difficult for their employees?

Both my wife and I are working from home and the biggest issue we have is broadband speed. My work paid for me to switch from BT to 4G broadband which has improved things, but still not on a par with fibre broadband speeds.
Because of this, my wife now goes into her office at least twice a week which defeats the point of WFH during the pandemic.
 

MrFraggle

Distinguished Member
Which firms are making life difficult for their employees?
Not making it difficult for employee but their tenants and residents as I mentioned in my original post. Both my council (Edinburgh) and housing association are using the virus as an excuse for extremely poor service, with both it is almost impossible to contact them via the phone and emails go un-answered, best way I have of getting their attention is a moan on FB.
 

Dony

Distinguished Member
Not making it difficult for employee but their tenants and residents as I mentioned in my original post. Both my council (Edinburgh) and housing association are using the virus as an excuse for extremely poor service, with both it is almost impossible to contact them via the phone and emails go un-answered, best way I have of getting their attention is a moan on FB.

Possibly highlights the difference between public and private sector.

Before all of this trying to contact my local council regarding a new bin was like pulling teeth which incidentally never got sorted. I wouldn't even attempt to get the issue sorted now knowing staff are working from home.
 

MrFraggle

Distinguished Member
Possibly highlights the difference between public and private sector.

Before all of this trying to contact my local council regarding a new bin was like pulling teeth which incidentally never got sorted. I wouldn't even attempt to get the issue sorted now knowing staff are working from home.
Housing association is private and to be honest they are the worst of the pair mind you it has not stopped them bunging on the usual 2.5 rent increase and I have no doubt they would be in touch soonest if I did not pay it.

But my original question has been answered tand that was how difficult it was for firms to switch to home working, those that cn of course, during this pandemic, and it would seem not difficult at all.
 

TayWax

Distinguished Member
I work from home currently but despite working for an IT company I can't see them ever letting us work from home full time. They seem to prefer their staff in an office for some reason. I think the best I can hope for is time split between office and home. For me, working from home is a no brainer for myself and the company. Less costs all round. And I don't mind working longer if I'm at home and I can cut out a 3 to 4 hour round commute everyday.
 

Tight Git

Distinguished Member
I can't answer the question directly, having been retired for 25 years, but my daughter has been working from home for nearly 12 months now.

She supervises a call centre, all the operators of which also work from home!

I've no idea how this is achieved, but the company provided equipment so she can over-see everybody.

Talk about Big Brother, or should that be Big Sister? :D
 

MSW

Distinguished Member
Got nothing here other than 2 x laptops that I already had, so in the end I,

1) Built office in garden (Have 3 x cat6 cable into it from house for hardwired connection to each laptop)
2) Bought my own desk and chair (£750)
3) Bought two monitors £300 (I also use both laptop screens so 4 screens in total)
4) Bought a Jabra speaker phone £42 (second hand)

Having to do all of above (except build office) is pretty crap and support was jack. This matches how sh*te the company I work for is and how crap the job is

I did email my manager, my managers manager and HR asking for guidance on how to order a headset (none of them could be bothered to reply).

Work have been totally crap with adjustments, for all they know I am working with my laptop balanced on the arm of a sofa, with a family of 10 kids that I have to home school. They have never asked once how WFH is for me or my circumstances. Mind you, I have never met anyone from the company I work for in-person either. My works mobile stopped working a while ago, no one has even noticed.

I was going to ask about WFH when the office opens, however, I won’t bother in favour of staying WFH - Given that I was the only person left in my division who worked in the office I don’t think anyone will ever even notice.

I’n fact, given that the office I work in is not owned by my employer but a client, and none of my managers are in the UK they probably don’t even realise I am WFH
 
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MrFraggle

Distinguished Member
Another question in relation to workng from home if you are in the service industry, how does transferring calls from customers etc work as we still call the usual numbers but these are then rerouted to workers home phones/mobiles in some way?
 

noiseboy72

Distinguished Member
The company i work for has transitioned very well.

Over the course of a weekend, they upgraded their VPN service from 15000 connections to 225000 connections, allowing their global workforce to work from home, enabled video calling through Skype and accelerated the rollout of Teams as a new collaboration tool.

Offices have been reconfigured to cater for less staff and for them to work in a more socially distanced manner. Teams are encouraged to set up WhatsApp groups for non business social interaction and all managers must speak with each member of their team at least 3 times a week.

We've been able to order office chairs, monitors and other equipment for home if required, can request 4g modems if the wifi is flaky and if required have voip calling and a land-line number.

The company has made available kids activity packs, has a rule that family comes first, so if you need to interrupt or pause a call to help your child with their homework, that's fine. In fact, what often happens is that everyone on the call will offer suggestions and the child gets to be the star for a few minutes!!

Working excess hours is frowned upon and your workload will be monitored if its evident you are working into the evening on a regular basis.

The fact is that the company is actually making more money during the pandemic. This is not by luck. The company has always had a prudent outlook and has a diverse customer base. Its strength during the pandemic has attracted new customers and the areas of the business not doing so well have been run down and staff redeployed.

I fully appreciate We've been pretty fortunate compared to many, but as I say, it's not all been down to luck...
 

noiseboy72

Distinguished Member
Another question in relation to workng from home if you are in the service industry, how does transferring calls from customers etc work as we still call the usual numbers but these are then rerouted to workers home phones/mobiles in some way?
Most companies operate virtual phone systems using VOIP. We use Microsoft Business Voice, which integrates into our Teams environment. You can all me on a landline and it gets routed to my laptop and I will see your details and notes come up on my screen. I can transfer the call to other remote workers, set auto responders and ringing groups etc. I can even answer the office intercom phone remotely and let people into the reception - while messaging the team on site to go and meet them!
 

MrFraggle

Distinguished Member
Most companies operate virtual phone systems using VOIP. We use Microsoft Business Voice, which integrates into our Teams environment. You can all me on a landline and it gets routed to my laptop and I will see your details and notes come up on my screen. I can transfer the call to other remote workers, set auto responders and ringing groups etc. I can even answer the office intercom phone remotely and let people into the reception - while messaging the team on site to go and meet them!
Most informative and interesting, thanks for that.
 

RicksonGracie1972

Distinguished Member
I work for a Bank and have WFH for almost 1 year now.
I already had a laptop and work iPhone but my work provided me with:
Additional 22 " monitor
Keyboard
Mouse
Chair
Printer
We use Cisco Jabba to make external phone calls so my iPhone is almost obsolete now.
We use Skype for all internal video calls.

I hope never to return to the office as I prefer home working
 

deans6571

Member
I've also been working from home since March 2020.

I work in the financial sector so all we need to work from home is a laptop (which company paid funds towards).

We use 2 separate phone apps to call each other and clients and so all calls are recorded via the apps in case of discrepancies.

All our systems are web based (relevant files are also all on Google Drive) so there really is zero need to sit in front of a pc in the office, 9 til 5, when we are actually more productive at home (saves thousands on the ridiculous commuting expenses also).

I definitely wont be choosing to return to the office in April or July or whenever everyone is officially told they can go back...!
 

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