Working Remotely as an IT Pro in this age of COVID-19 – Tips to a Successful WFH Strategy for your end-users

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Hey All,

Its been a few months since I did my last blog post. Not making excuses, but working at an IT Director at a large Biotech can be challenging ūüôā .¬† I finally have some time to share some good tips I shared with my team and end users during this COVID-19 Pandemic.¬† Having a good WFH (Work from Home) environment is key to keeping balance at work and at home.

Get your technology in order

Technology is what enables remote work in the first place. So make sure to take your laptop home, and don’t forget your dock and charger. Also, take home your mouse, keyboard, and monitors ‚ÄĒ anything that might make working on your laptop from home a little easier. Then there’s the software. Make sure you have the right applications. Lots of remote workers are leaning heavily on Microsoft Teams. Slack, WebEx and Zoom.¬† In-fact, Microsoft is giving MS Teams out for free to use.

Iron out what your team is planning to use ASAP.¬† and of course, you’ll want to make sure all your technology actually works from home.

Make sure you have bandwidth

Another thing? Internet access ‚ÄĒ is yours robust enough at home to allow you to video conference? Many conferences and almost all nonessential work travel are being canceled right now, so people want to use online video conferencing, which requires a good Internet connection.¬† If your bandwidth is low and you’re on a video call, try shutting down other programs to lighten the load on your connection. If your connection is really choppy, you can often shut off the video portion of a call and participate with audio only, which defeats the purpose of seeing your team but will still allow you to participate in the conversation.

Another Internet hog? Kids.¬† If your connection is not robust, set some ground rules about when kids can’t be online because mom is on a conference call, or stagger your video meetings with your partner or other family members if possible

The kids are alright ‚ÄĒ but they’re home too

With school closures and concerns about putting kids in day care, as well as staffing those places up, parents are faced with a challenge, especially parents who have to physically go to work because they have no remote work option. If you are working from home with kids in tow, you’ll need to make a plan for education and entertainment. Stock up on books and puzzles. Also, it’s OK to use streaming services (Common Sense Media has good recommendations for kid-appropriate content)

Manage expectations with Work

It’s wise to have a discussion with your manager about what can actually be accomplished from home.¬† Ask your manager what the priorities are, and discuss how tasks will get done.¬† How are teams going to track projects they’re working on? How will they meet to discuss this? Will you all be connecting on Microsoft Teams or email? Will there be standing meetings at a certain time to get everyone coordinated?¬† This should be an ongoing conversation. Remember, going fully remote is a new experience for many companies and their workers. Be honest about what isn’t working or can’t get done in these circumstances. More overall communication is going to be necessary.

Embrace the webcam

Conference calls are tough ‚ÄĒ there are time delays, not knowing who’s talking because you can’t see the person, people getting interrupted on accident. Webcams can solve a number of these issues: the sense of isolation and that confusion. “To be able to see the person you’re talking to I think is important,”. And also, because we miss cues when we aren’t working together in person, make doubly sure all colleagues understand their marching orders.¬† “Personally, I tend to overcommunicate, and I think that’s a good default setting,” Don’t be afraid to ask, “Is this clear?” ¬†¬†You can even try repeating back what you heard the other person say, to make sure you interpreted the person’s meaning correctly.

Stay connected

One undeniable loss is the social, casual “water cooler” conversation that connects us to people ‚ÄĒ if you’re not used to that loss, full-time remote work can feel isolating. To fill the gap, some co-workers are scheduling online social time to have conversations with no agenda. Use Microsoft Teams\Slack chats and things like that if you miss real-time interaction.¬† Again, embrace video calling and webcams so you can see your colleagues. Try an icebreaker over your team chat: What’s everyone’s favorite TV show right now? What’s one good thing that someone read that day?

Are you a Manager of a Team? ‚Äď Have a Daily Stand-Up Meeting with your Team or a Virtual Lunch and Learn

Keep them quick and make sure everyone participates. We do this in my IT team every day. It keeps the team engaged. I plan on having virtual lunch and learns and have the company pickup lunch for the team.¬† Again…Keep everyone engaged.

Hopefully everyone is staying safe at home and off course keeping social distancing…Until next time and Stay Safe…..Rob

Surface 3 – First Impressions…

Hi¬†everyone….to start, I don’t normally¬†write product reviews, but had to share my thoughts and experiences¬†on the new Surface 3 (not the existing Surface Pro 3, which was released last year) as I love it as my new mobile computing device. This surface was released during the week of Microsoft Ignite 2015 (May 4th-8th) of which I received my that week have had 2 months to play with it.
Surface 3

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Nutanix Next Community podcast – ScienceLogic

Again….at my job at Nutanix…I get to work with great partners and one of the first was ScienceLogic¬† ūüôā .The Solutions team was great to work with and I really got a chance to see deep integration with Nutanix’s¬†REST API and watch the their¬†solution grow.
Below is podcast of an Interview that my awesome buddy TommyG (@NutanixTommy) and I did with Jim Weingarten (@jweingarten) from SL. Jim has a great perspective of the IT landscape and the current shift in Hybrid IT. It was great to work with Jim over the past few months and watch their solution evolve.

A little about ScienceLogic…

ScienceLogic is a software and service vendor. It produces information technology (IT) management and monitoring solutions for IT Operations and Cloud computing.
The company’s product is a monitoring and management system that performs discovery, dependency mapping, monitoring, alerting, ticketing, runbook automation, dashboarding and reporting for networks, compute, storage and applications.
The platform monitors both on-premises and cloud-based IT assets, enabling customers who use public cloud services, such as Azure and Amazon Web Services (AWS), to migrate workloads to the cloud.

Enjoy the show…..Rob

Microsoft World Wide Partner Conference 2015…Picture Highlights

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Microsoft World Wide Partner Conference 2015 WPC is the largest event for Microsoft partners When it comes to meeting the right people in the right place, bigger is better. The Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference (WPC) brings together over 15,000 attendees … Continue reading

Symon Perriman….his thoughts on Hyper-V, Security and future of Virtualization on the Nutanix .NEXT community podcast

Hey everyone…I wanted to share a very cool update (and maybe a little of hero-worship ūüėÄ ). ¬†Well, anyways, my job at Nutanix had another highlight recently. ¬†As many of your know, I love reading, breathing, consuming Microsoft technology. During my consumption of education, there¬†¬†number of¬†people I follow, but¬†there are few¬†that stand out…and one that I spent a lot of time listening to via podcasts;¬†Symon Perriman

Symon Perriman

Symon Perriman
He takes¬†complex technology¬†subjects¬†and¬†explains¬†it extremely well¬†on many levels so everyone understands..He believes in the community….all things¬†as technologists, we can all strive to achieve.

I recently had the lucky chance to interview him for the Nutanix .Next Community Podcast.  It was great honor to interview him with my colleague\buddy @NutanixTommy as we both had different points of views.

Symon joined 5nine Software earlier this year as Vice President, Business Development & Marketing and is how I came to meet Simon as part of my job in Technical Alliances at Nutanix.

For those of you who are not familiar with 5nine Software, 5nine has a great alternative management product for Hyper-V with benefits¬†of simplified vCenter type management without the footprint of System Center. They¬†also are¬†the only vendor with agentless security product via the¬†Hyper-V extensible virtual switch. Think vShield for Hyper-V…Very cool… ¬† ūüėé

For those that are not familiar with Symon…a brief history…
With more than 12 years of experience in the high-tech industry, Symon is an internationally recognized expert in virtualization, high-availability, disaster recovery, data center management, and cloud technologies.

As Microsoft‚Äôs Senior Technical Evangelist and worldwide technical lead covering virtualization, infrastructure, management and cloud. He has trained millions of IT Professionals, hosted the ‚ÄúEdge Show‚ÄĚ weekly webcast, holds several patents and dozens of industry certifications, and in 2013 he co-authored “Introduction to System Center 2012 R2 for IT Professionals” (Microsoft Press). He graduated from Duke University with degrees in Computer Science, Economics and Film & Digital Studies.

Enjoy the show……

Until next time, Rob…