Three weeks ago I was enjoying a golf trip with a few of my friends in Bali to celebrate my 40th birthday (What’s that? I don’t look a day over 28? Really? Thank you!). In the seven days that I was away, things had changed quite a bit (my golf swing, unfortunately didn’t improve*).
I got back in to Sydney with the pending announcement that anyone arriving from overseas would have to self-isolate for 14 days. I arrived the day before the government made this mandatory, but took it upon myself to do it anyway to reduce any risk to friends, family and the team at National Tech. This was the start of my working from home experience.
Microsoft 365 is essential to working from home
For quite a few years now, we have been using Office 365, and more recently Microsoft 365 (Office 365 with security and device management). As part of our transition to what we call The Modern Workplace, we have moved about 90% of our workloads to the cloud. This transition has made the working from home experience a much more enjoyable one.
The “hero” app when working from home is hands down Microsoft Teams. I am using Teams to work collaboratively and seamlessly with the office (and those who are also working remotely). Teams has been essential to maintaining business continuity during this time.
A typical day
Every morning I have spent working from home has started with a coffee (you thought I was going to say something really intelligent here didn’t you?) Thankfully, the coffee beans at home are better than the one’s at the office (National Tech team, please forward all complaints to Spiros).
The next step is to catch up on any conversations and messages via our “Wembley” channel in Microsoft Teams.
Next, I will have a quick online meeting with Spiros, Ben and Anthony to discuss any issues and projects that we are working on. Any feedback from that meeting will be shared with the rest of the team via the Wembley channel.
Once we have all been in touch, it’s time to check Planner to see what tasks I have scheduled. I wear a few hats in the business, so these could range from technical projects that I am part of with Ben, reaching out to clients, suppliers and and partners, or working on sales and marketing with Anthony. All my tasks, across all projects are there in a single view.
The modern workplace
Before I left for my holiday, I had a number of in-person meetings scheduled on my return. Instead of cancelling, I have converted them to a video conference within Teams. The ability to still see my client makes the meeting much more personal and allows me to remain connected with them while in isolation. I even take advantage of the background blurring functionality in Teams to keep my home office private (actually, its because I want to hide the mess I have made at home, and the cheeky 6 year old who has a habit of walking around in only his undies!).
With all our files and folders having been migrated to SharePoint, I have access to them from anywhere, any time, any device, all secured with Multi-factor authentication and conditional access policies. No VPN, no Remote Desktop. Even when I am not at my computer, I can respond to messages and video calls through the Teams app on my phone, and quickly send off any files to clients by sharing a link.
What I miss while working from home
I admit, the best part of being at home is being with my family and the extra time with my two boys. They ensure that the day is never boring and my FIFA 2020 skills have improved immensely! My wife on the other hand, well, I think she is ready for me to go back to the office. Lucky for me, my wife is a primary school teacher, so she has the home schooling under control. Unlucky for the boys, their mum is a primary school teacher 🙂
While it feels good to stay productive and contribute from home, there are certainly some challenges. I am used to being surrounded by a great bunch of people that are in my team and I miss the day to day office banter, practical jokes and the every-single-day dilemma of what we are going to get from Uber Eats.
As much as I have enjoyed being at home, I am hopeful that my working from home experience isn’t going to be a long term one, only for the fact that it will mean that we have overcome the severity of the coronavirus and we can go back to “normal”.
I wish you all the best and I hope you and your family stay healthy and safe! If there is anything I can do to help during this time, please reach out.
* the golf was fantastic and I actually ended up the winner after 4 rounds in a friendly competition with my mates. My trophy was a Bintang. It was the sweetest tasting beer ever!