Lessons from the desk: working from home

working from homeI’m sitting at my desk this morning watching the snow fall, for what seems like the thousandth time over this very long winter. The reaction to the snow from friends on Facebook today is a mix of excitement and disappointment. Most are understandably anxious at the thought of having to head out to brave the icy northern New Jersey roads to get to work. I am one of the fortunate, tapping away from the warmth and comfort of my home office. Or as my family likes to call it, the living room. No loss of productivity for me today. And thanks to technology, no time wasted on a long, scary commute. This is true for me on a daily basis. But I also know that working from home is not without its challenges. A relative newbie to this remote-access world, I’ve learned some valuable lessons.

  1.  Work a schedule. Don’t let your schedule work you. Time can really get away from you when you work alone, if you’re not careful. I have created a regular, day-in-the-life-of-me, schedule to help me maintain productivity and ensure that I work a regular day. When I first started, and sometimes I can still do this, I just don’t stop. Now, sometimes that’s the benefit of a remote work opportunity. Take last night. I had an idea, so I worked on it for a few hours after dinner. In the past, that might have meant jotting down some notes and possibly losing the momentum of my awesome idea! A work/life balance is really important. Don’t let your workload determine your schedule.
  2. Distractions are a blessing and a curse. We’ve all been on both sides of co-worker distractions in the office. Pop your head into someone’s office to ask about the weekend. Chat about the game at the coffee maker. Hey, water cooler conversations are real and very necessary to help break up the day. At home, the cat isn’t really interested in my reaction to the mid-season premiere of Marvel’s Agents of Shield (she’s sort of stuck up anyway). Thanks to technology, conversations held over Microsoft Lync or Citrix GoToMeeting, can sometimes feel like we’re talking through cubicle walls. The difference is, in a remote situation I have greater control over these distractions. A story on the news yesterday, talked about how to politely avoid productivity-sapping distractions from co-workers. Never an issue when you work remotely. Simply change your Lync chat status and get to work.
  3. You’ve got to move it, move it. Seriously. I just got a fitness band and have it set to vibrate when I’ve been still too long. Well, if the ever rising number on the scale isn’t enough to tell you to get up, having your wrist vibrate every hour surely must be. Think about it. You’re not moving as much when you work remotely. You’re not walking to the car/train/bus. Or walking from the car to the office. Back to the car (more than one or twice a day if you leave the office for lunch or appointments). And then again from the car to the house. Now, you’re walking from room to room and probably not that often. Make time to move more. Hit the gym in the morning, take a walk at lunch, or schedule more play time with your family. I promise, when this snow finally melts, this fitness band will vibrate no more!

Of course, never stop learning and improving your situation. I could tell you about how quickly my kids learned to stop speaking when the office phone rings. Or how I always win the battle for the WiFi signal on a snow/vacation day. You could help me figure out how to keep the cat off my desk. Maybe another time. I will tell you that one more blessing/curse to working from home means that while I was able to get an early start this morning, I now have time to shovel once the snow finally stops. At least that fitness band can’t complain.

What have you learned working from home? Share your tips and lessons below. Also, if you’re interested in learning more about how to virtualize your workforce the way Custom Systems has, we’d love to hear from you!





Lynn McGinnis
Marketing Specialist




©Copyright Custom Systems Corporation 2015


Cloud vs. hard drive storage and security

Cloud storage allows users to save pictures, music, files, and other data to a server on the Internet that can then be easily retrieved from any device such as another PC/Mac, Smartphone or Tablet.

Hard drive storage is primarily used to store data from a single PC or Mac to the local computer that can only be retrieved on the PC/Mac it was saved to.

The growing trend in Cloud Storage is due primarily to today’s mobile lifestyle.  We want to be able to access our pictures, music, and files from any device at any time, in any location.  Sharing our data with others is also important as we rely upon social media as a primary means of personal and business communication.  Take a picture or video on your Smartphone, upload it to Facebook, post it to Instagram, save it to the cloud server, and then later open it on your Mac to do some Photoshop.  It is all easily accomplished with Cloud Storage.

In contrast, with local or hard drive storage you must take a photo with your phone, email it to yourself and save to your PC.  Put it on a flash drive and email or upload it to social media.  Back it up because it is your only copy, and hope you never lose the hard drive on your PC.

The mobile lifestyle requires easy transfer of data through a ubiquitous partner we call the Cloud.  Any app on any device can share, save, and edit the data easily.  Oh, and did I mention the Cloud provider promises to back up your data so you don’t have to worry about losing it?  Say goodbye to a USB hard drive connected to your PC/Mac and the frequent task of making local backups that we never seem to have the time to do.   You say your local backup is automatic… did you ever check it?  I don’t but I am also too mobile to be at home to check it.  Put another check mark in the “Cloud” column for me.

How safe is my data?  Well, how safe is your house? If a thief steals your PC and USB hard drive, your data  is gone.  Be unfortunate enough to be driven from your home due to a local disaster and the data is just as gone should there be a flood, hurricane, tornado, or other all too frequent event that interrupts our lives.

How safe is the cloud? Well that depends too since anyone can access the cloud from any device at any time with only a username and a password. Maybe the small inconvenience of creating a secure password is not too high of a threshold to cross. Yes, I’m talking to you who thinks having a capital “P” on Password will keep you secure, or maybe adding a “1”, as in Password1.  Your data is as good as gone, or worse copied by someone without your knowledge with an insufficient password.

If you can get serious about a password – nothing in the dictionary, no names, significant dates, or easily guessed family and pet names – then you are safe.

Local storage provides high capacity, fast retrieval, and the security to know where your data actually resides.  Cloud storage provides on-demand access anytime from any device  provided you can use a secure password.  I don’t see myself becoming any less mobile with the current trends in storage, so I vote for the cloud.  A good password is a small price to pay!

Paul R. CookPaul R. Cook
Vice President, Network Services




© Copyright 2014 Custom Systems Corporation