Remote Working: How to Be More Productive

Remote working should be be a doddle. Rodney Laws tells us how to make it even easier… and more efficient.

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Remote working means we often have to make do without our ‘home’ comforts we take for granted in the office. You’re working without your desktop PC with everything laid out just how you want it, or your desk organized to suit your daily routine. Instead, it’s just you and your laptop, and working on a smaller laptop is a less than perfect situation. 

Workplaces are changing and working from home is a much more common prospect. There are plenty of ways you can work remotely on your laptop and keep your productivity levels high though, here are just a few. 

Use an external mouse and keyboard

Ditching your laptop’s frustrating built-in keyboard and track-pad mouse for an external pairing is a huge quality of life improvement all remote workers can appreciate. The track-pad and keyboard on laptops are generally of lesser quality, especially on compact models. They can’t offer the same level of dexterity, hampering your working experience and forcing you to make compromises. These features may be useful when you’re literally using the laptop on your lap, but they feel unnatural and difficult when working at a desk. 

Invest in a good quality mouse and larger keyboard, they’re much more convenient options for getting substantial work done. Your typing speed will improve and your frustration levels will drop. A key part of successfully working remotely is replicating your most productive working condition, this classic pairing is essential to achieving that. 

Use a second screen

You never know just how important a second screen is until you get one. Just like a mouse and external keyboard, this is a quality of life improver you can’t afford to skip out on. 

Laptop screens are conventionally small and less likely to display all of the information a remote worker needs to see at once. Whatever your profession, chance are you need to keep track of a couple things at once, whether it’s research notes you’re writing from or multiple stats for a report. Jumping between windows and tabs just isn’t conducive to this kind of work. With a second screen, you can just simply turn your head. You’ll notice an immediate change in your productivity levels and find yourself with some extra time left over for other projects. 

If you’re a bit of a technophobe, this StarTech guide teaches you the difference between port styles so you can get your laptop hooked up to a display device without connection headaches. 

Adjust lighting

Just because you’re not working on your usual computer set up doesn’t mean your eyes should suffer. Eye-strain is a common ailment for office workers who spend a lot of time in front of a screen, and how well lit your screen is has a huge effect on that. If you’re working on a screen that’s too bright or too dim you could be hampering your productivity and doing permanent damage to your eyes. 

Before you start working for the day, make sure your screen brightness is adjusted to suit the lighting in the room. You should always aim to work in a well-lit room with plenty of natural light. Compensating for a dark room by turning the brightness up to its maximum will do more harm than good and slow you down in the long run. If you’re worried your battery will suffer from keeping the brightness turned up, make sure you’re working somewhere where you can keep your laptop charging permanently. 

Update all your software

Nothing will bring your productivity coming to a screeching halt faster than a slow laptop burdened with outdated software. To make sure you get as much done away from the office as you would do in it, spend some time the night before making sure all the software on the laptop is up to date and functioning properly. 

At some point, we’ve all told a software update ‘not now’, usually for a couple of months in a row. This is the time to accept that update though and make sure your laptop is in the best condition possible. It’ll save you slapping the poor thing out of frustration next time it freezes during a download. 

Block remote working distractions

Just because you’re working at home or in the hotel doesn’t mean you should be browsing Facebook every 15 minutes. Breaks are important, but distractions aren’t the same as breaks. You’re supposed to look away from the screen!

Set limitations for yourself, or, if you can’t control yourself it might be time to look into apps that block distraction websites, such as the ones listed here. There’s no reason for productivity to drop just because you’re out the office and no one is looking over your shoulder. You’re only giving yourself more work to do later anyway. 

Take a break 

Not the most groundbreaking advice, but it’s just as important to take breaks frequent breaks when working at home as it is in the office. The more breaks you take the less likely to get distracted you become. 

Take some time away from the screen and stand up to stretch your muscles. Take advantage of the fact you’re working remotely with a laptop and move around a bit. You aren’t confined to your desk and can work wherever you want, so work in bed, work in the coffee shop or do a couple of hours outside if you need to. Find what suits you and vary it up. 

Remote work can be exciting, but it comes with its own challenges to remain productive. These features should make it as easy as possible to work to your high standards on your laptop. 

Slide TWS Earphones review

With more than $4 Million raised in crowdfunding and more than 80,000 backers, the new Slide Earphone is already 4,000% oversubscribed.

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When a company describes itself as ‘the legend is back’, alarm bells instantly ring at this hubris, but when it comes to the Pamu earphones, those bells fade into the distance.

First time around, the PaMu TWS raised more than $4 million with backing from 80,000 backers including some famous US athletes.

Based on excellent sound quality, long battery life, signal stability and comfort level, this Bluetooth earphone was hugely successful. Now the so-called legend has launched the PaMu TWS Slide and demand has been rife on Indiegogo.

At time of writing, the product was already 4,000% oversubscribed and closing fast on the first million dollars. Now, this is all very well and clearly somebody has been doing some very good marketing, but is the Slide any good?

As somebody who is not exactly a fan of earphones, I wasn’t the perfect person to review this product, so I passed it on to somebody I knew could give me authentic feedback; my teenage son and fashionista.

The response was highly positive, not just because of the signal, sound quality and comfort, but because the earphones could never be dislodged from his ears whatever he seemed to do (which mainly consisted of playing basketball).

According to ‘the legend’ and, weirdly enough via a Facebook ad ten minutes ago that seems to be reading this review before I’ve even written it, those who get in early can buy the Slide for $49, a saving of 70% on the retail price of $199.

That sounds like reasonable value and if you don’t believe me or my teenage son, there are all of those US athletes to listen to… perhaps via Bluetooth and Slide earphones.

You literally heard it here first.

Save The Children and Amido sign IT partnership

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Save The Children International has appointed cloud-first technical consultancy Amido to undertake a strategically important IT project to streamline and consolidate the charity’s IT systems.

Charities are not the most original when it comes to technology, digital or IT, so it’s interesting to note they’re using one of London’s most up-and-coming cloud consultancies to do so.

The charity is a leading international children’s relief organisation operating in 120 countries. They do whatever it takes to ensure all children get access to what they deserve – a healthy start, the opportunity to learn, and protection from harm.

By partnering with Amido, Save the Children International hopes to improve its IT efficiency whilst retaining its global brand presence worldwide and national localism in the international marketplace.

“This project will open a lot of doors for us. It’s been a project high up on our strategic technology roadmap for some time. Amido’s efforts will be critically strategic to our IT efficiency so that the charity’s money is spent on helping children – which has always been, and will remain, our only focus,” said Graham Kent, Director of IT Shared Services, Save the Children International.

Amido works with brands such as ASOS, CBRE, Global Radio, London City Airport and Coats to remove friction from their customers’ online and mobile experiences to drive revenue and engagement.

From social sign-in to smart content delivery and smooth transactions, it helps brands build loyalty through customer recognition by bridging systems in a powerful way, yielding real-time results for brands and their customers.

“Amido are proud to be in a position where we can give back. By hosting the solution on Azure, Microsoft’s Cloud Platform – who donate the consumption of their platform their philanthropic arm – we have designed a solution that is scalable, faster and more flexible than what is currently in place,” said Alan Walsh, CEO, Amido.