Remote Workers: Help Your Neighbor

Photo by John Schnobrich on Unsplash

While I hoped to write a technical article today my mental state could not avoid the fog surrounding the current pandemic. So instead, I’m taking my own advice and focus on what I can do. What we can do.

For Remote Workers

If you have been privileged with the ability to work from home prior to this craziness listen up. There are some simple things you can do to help those in need before you dive into that box of Samoas you’ve been hoarding by your desk (calling myself out here…) Friends and organizations are being forced into work environments with little to no warning, using tools and resources we take for granted on a daily. While there may be a dedicated IT guy on staff most places do not have that person. Those who do suddenly got overwhelmed with the scale of requests. “Hey, I need 20 laptops by tomorrow…”. Below is a quick example of how we can take our day-to-day knowledge and reach out to those in need.

For Folks Forced Into Remote Life

If you are a small organization, non-profit, team, individual trying to figure this all out. Stay tuned. We are here to help. Hopefully, this will shed some light on resources you can use or at least get conversations started with those who may be able to help.

The Example:

Most city/town organizations are comprised of small teams and offices 15 people or less. There’s not a dedicated IT guy. Instead, there’s a donated work station acting as a server in a closet, everyone just has their files saved locally on their desktop, with all the normal Office tools installed. While it’s not perfect… it works.

If you are in IT, you are probably thinking of 100 different ways this could have been solved for, the cost savings, the concerns of old hardware. You also know this is normal. It’s 2020 and some folks are still out their rocking XP, not caring about the issue until it was an issue… and until last week that was fine.

Today, meetings are being held with stressed organizers and managers trying to figure out how to continue forward while doing what they know is best — Sending people home. While there have always been glaring holes in the IT world, it is the scale that is crippling here. Folks assumed they’d need to replace a couple of machines at some point, but now they are needing to pull the trigger on a whole new infrastructure for their team. Today. These decisions normally take a year or more, budgets planned, business practices and protocols thought through.

So What Can We Do

As remote workers, engineers, and consultants, we already have this knowledge and the resources on lockdown. We have best practices in place, the do’s and don’ts, and why it matters. The ONE THING we can do today is to share this knowledge and some time. This isn’t the time to make a quick buck… This is helping your mom set up her printer territory. Do you know of a company using Office 365 — Help them integrate with Teams and OneDrive. No? Gmail users? Setup G-Drive and Slack. Introduce them to Zoom. Help them work out a meeting schedule. Those daily programs pinned to your taskbar — most folks are not aware. SHARE.

This week alone, I was contacted by a handful of organizations stressed just needing advice on how to function, how WE function. In most cases, this doesn’t even require a face to face meeting, simply a call of confirmation as you walk them through the best tools for the job.

As a Software consultant, this is in my blood. Use the right tool for the job, and empower others along the way. If you work remotely I challenge you in the days and weeks ahead to reach out to your neighbors and help guide the way. A simple 15-minute call could save a team months of stress and anxiety.

I’m Trying to Figure This Out

If you are among the masses now trying to figure out how you and your organization can continue forward. I urge you to reach out. We are here to help however possible. These are abnormal times, while we all hope for the best, we all need to be prepared. If you have questions about finding the right tool for the job or are in need of sound-boarding a solution to a problem, we are available and willing to help.

Tools and Resources to Start

For most organizations, a few things kick in when needed to work remotely.

  • All my files are at work!
  • I’m used to chatting w/ John all day about this stuff…
  • We still have to get everyone together at some point, how are we going to stay on the same page.

I hinted at a few of these above, but here’s a quick breakdown.

All my files are at work!

I’m used to chatting w/ John all day on this…

We still have to meet at some point

While these aren’t the ONLY tools in the shed, they are a good start when making a quick transition. In short, if you already have a 365 subscription, start leveraging it more. If not I’d recommend uploading your files to Google Drive and create an organization on Slack. Zoom is your friend.

The number one piece of advice, Don’t let pride get in your way.
We are in the information age with the ability to ask the world for help on a whim. Don’t be afraid to do so. Chat soon!

More about:

Matt Thompson

Matt Thompson is a lead engineer at Echobind, mentor, and content creator. Matt spends most of his time finding ways to improve the process for others. When he’s not building software, you’ll find him enjoying time with family, unplugging with a book, and woodworking.