While the past year has been no picnic for anyone except the handful of billionaires profiting from the pandemic, it’s at least given some of us opportunities for improvement and enlightenment that we may not have otherwise pursued given the usual daily routine. Some of you have whiled away your free time catching up on shows, learning languages, or taking up new hobbies, some have even completely remodeled bathrooms, kitchens and garages. Almost every single work-from-home professional has had to become an IT technician whether they wanted to or not, but despite that, many of you still don’t know some things you absolutely should know.
Don’t be afraid or ashamed to ask!
As I’ve said before, I don’t expect everyone to become IT professionals, even after 11 months of working from home with shoestring budgets and Macguyvered technology. Once we get in front of Covid-19 I am anticipating many organizations will seriously reconsider returning to the traditional office environment if they haven’t already marched straight ahead into a virtual workplace future without looking back. In order for that future to work for a business, their WFH employees need be as efficient and productive as before. If you are one of those salivating at the prospect of working from home for the foreseeable future, you need to make sure your tech game is on point with these essential tid-bits:
Who is your internet provider? Not only should you know who it is, you should have their tech support number as a favorite on your smartphone. You should know your account number and what you are paying for, and what you can expect for customer service. Seriously consider paying more for a “Business-class” account if you have a residential account – the quality and speed of the internet won’t (necessarily) be different, but the speed at which they respond to service calls is much better.
Where is your internet router? You should know where it is in the house, what it looks like, and how to turn it on and off. You should know what the lights on it mean, or at least have a quick reference handy to interpret the lights. If you live in a single-family residence, you should know where the service lines come into your home. If you set up your own router or mesh wifi system, you should have the brand and model handy, and if you needed to use a phone app to set them up, what that app is called. If someone else set up the devices for you, have them write down this information for you, especially if they aren’t a member of your household.
How does your work computer get internet? Ethernet wire or WIFI? More importantly, can it do both? Most folks rely heavily on WIFI, not realizing that “hard line” networking is way more reliable and in some cases, dead simple to set up. Not every household can take advantage of an Ethernet connection, but if you have any opportunity to do so, do it.
Know your home workstation. You should know the brand and model, and where all the critical control points are on the computer: power, network and peripheral connections. You should also understand what any visual indicators might be telling you – power and hard drive activity lights, network indicators, etc. If you have additional peripherals like monitors, printers, keyboards and mice, you should know how they are connected and how to replace consumables like toner, ink or batteries.
Know your software. If the machine you are using at home is your own and not managed by your employer, you should absolutely know the following: What operating system and version you are running. Whether or not you have antivirus installed and working (you should). What program or platform are you using to back up your data. You should also have critical passwords recorded in a safe (preferably digital) place that you can get to even if your main computer is inoperable.
Image by Lorenzo Cafaro from Pixabay