Month: March 2020

Software Round Up For Remote Working

In the last few weeks, working remotely has significantly increased as companies have started to encourage their staff to work from home and limit the spread of COVID-19. However, even before this pandemic, remote work was on the rise in terms of popularity.

When working remotely whether just temporarily or for the foreseeable future, technology can either help save time or become a burden. Even if you already familiar with using digital tools, you’ll likely still need to utilise new software that can streamline the remote work process. With so many things to oversee — from tracking your projects to making sure to keep in touch with other remote working staff, the software you decide to utilise has never become more important.

You’ll soon discover that you will need to make significant adjustments when working remotely, especially if you are used to working in an office for a long time.

Zoom Video Conferencing

With Zoom, you can discuss tasks that need more explanation or catch up with the rest of your colleagues for a face to face chat. Another great feature is that you can share your screen, which means that you can show a colleague sitting on the other end how to do something.
You can set up invitation-only meetings, so only those will be able to access the video conference, who had been invited. This means that you won’t be interrupted by random calls, as this app is tailored for serious (or not so serious) meetings. What’s more, you can create ‘Zoom Rooms’ which are conference rooms built for team collaboration. This is what sets Zoom apart from other competitors, that they are making an effort to create a professional space for teams to share and implement ideas. Find out more about this great software and try it for free.

TeamViewer

TeamViewer is the perfect solution for our remote engineers to access a computer securely at a remote location. It can also allow our service team to access their office computers, data and software from their home.
When providing technical support to resolve an issue that cannot be solved with troubleshooting over the phone, we turn to remote access.

Trello

Managing several projects at once is no easy feat. Managing several projects when your colleagues are remote can be even trickier, especially without the right tools. Trello is an easy-to-use web-based tool for managing projects that can be used for individual task management or project management for an entire team. It lets you assign tasks to individual team members or a group of team members, and it tracks deadlines.

Dropbox

If you have bulk files, you may not be able to share these over email, as some don’t take attachments larger than a certain size, which you’d then have to upload and share via apps like Google Drive or WeTransfer. This is where Dropbox comes in. Remote workers can use this to organise large files, by simply uploading the documents, and even organise them in terms of months and send you a message once the work is submitted. Recently, Dropbox announced the launch of Paper, a separate app like Google Docs to allow people to collaborate in real time.
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Gemma Wilson
Marketing & Communications
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Fashion When Working From Home

One thing that I have encountered while dressing to work from home is that when wearing office clothes, it makes it much more difficult to get up from my desk and go off to do non-work related chores around the house. When I look down and see my PLH Medical branded polo it acts as a reminder that it’s time to work. Do you know how difficult it can be to start vacuuming or to do the dishes in your work clothes? I am not suggesting you wear your most expensive shirt or trousers to work at your computer, but just wearing a shirt or blouse can easily keep you seated and focus on the projects at hand, in my opinion at least!

I never dreamt I would see myself writing about the fundamental need to wear pants for work, but I am. It is very tempting to just roll out of bed and start working. For me, that is a recipe for failure. For some reason, I subconsciously associate pyjamas or lounge pants with relaxing and free time.

Typically in the office, we wear smart dress Monday to Thursday with a much-loved dress down Friday. Now that we don’t have that to look forward too, I wondered what I could do to mix up my days. Now, I am going to sound like a hypocrite but I thought I would brighten up my conference calls with themed clothing. Today, it’s my Star Wars top and bottoms. Due to the government lockdown, we no longer have the weekend to look forward too. Our environment isn’t going to change much at the end of the working week, so if my outfit can crack a few smiles on today’s conference call, it’s a bonus!

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Nevertheless and Friday aside, I still feel it’s important to keep in the right mindset and wear a smart but casual outfit I would wear when working in an office. My main reason for doing so is that the clothing, aside from flipping a psychological switch to tell me that it is “time for work”, also makes it harder to do non-work related tasks. Let us not forget all this helps build the much-needed routine that remote workers should adopt. Build your daily routine and beat those distractions.

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Gemma Wilson
Marketing & Communications
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Free Telephone Support for Customers & Non-Customers

Whatever your questions or requirements, our technical team is here to provide you with the support you need, when you need it.

During these uncertain times as a result of the recent outbreak, it’s become a time for people and companies to come together to support the nation. This is why we are offering FREE telephone support not only for our customers but for non-customers too! It’s our commitment and effort to keeping your practice on its feet when you need your equipment the most.

Troubleshooting support is free to our customers and non-customers during normal business hours from 8:30 AM to 5:00 PM. If additional support services are required, our service team can provide additional service options to support your specific situation.

Any request for technical support or information can be done by calling our main number on 01923 237521.
During these uncertain times, you can count on our support for certain!

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Top 5 Tips to Keep You Motivated

Most of us would consider working from home to be great, but it’s important to use your time at home productively. It’s can become far too easy to become distracted and lose your motivation, which means less productivity!

I’ve spent a significantly large number of years working from home and was keen to get back into the office environment when working at PLH Medical Ltd. Nevertheless, with the recent government guidelines of social distancing, it has meant that I have returned to the remote working environment and day to day obstacles.

I know what it’s like and what you may be about to encounter. It’s not all roses, especially when you are trying to focus on your daily tasks and stay motivated. This post will outline 5 tips on how I stay focused and motivated while avoiding the possibility of sabotaging your productivity when working from home.

Bribe yourself

I have discovered that rewarding myself for good behaviour. Promise yourself that you can make a cup of coffee or dash to the kitchen to get a sneaky biscuit. But only once a particular task or project is completed.
The anticipation of your reward not only offers you the motivation to keep working, it can make you work faster. Think about it. Why wait until 1.30pm for your caffeine fix when you could have it at 1pm?

Have a dedicated work space

Not everyone has the luxury of having a dedicated office, and that’s ok. Even if you live in a small apartment, you can set aside a small area that’s dedicated for work-related activities.

When you’re in that space, determine that only work-related activities will happen there. If a family member is at home during the day, ask them to treat that area as they would an office; meaning while you’re there, you’re not available.

Making the couch “your office” rarely works. Working on the couch not only causes distraction, but it also isn’t good for your body. I recommend a comfortable desk & chair and use it. Having this clear delineation between ‘home’ and ‘work’ will help you, and those around you when creating work and home boundaries.

Maintain a base level of pressure

I find I work best when I have deadlines. The more time I have allotted for a project, the slower I work and the less I get done. This is where self-set deadlines come in handy. Provide yourself with tight but realistic deadlines in which to get specific tasks done. This will help you weed out distractions, providing you with a better focus as you work to meet your daily goals.

Resist the urge to stay in your pajamas

I believe that the clothes you wear have a genuine impact on your work performance and productivity. When you wear sweats or pajamas, it can feel like you’re not really working, leaving you more open to distractions. Make a point of getting dressed every day, just as if you were going to the office. Your clothing could be the factor that boosts your productivity and motivation.

Build in regular people-time

Working from home means also means more isolation. Even for introverts, being alone day in and day out can take an emotional toll. This could be an increased problem due to the governments guidelines following the UK lockdown. To make sure you stay motivated and productive, build regular in-person networking into your weekly schedule. This could be attending video conference calls with colleagues during your break time or dropping in with family, friends and loved ones out of hours.

Conclusion

Without the proper checks and balances in place, working from home can easily lead to feelings of isolation and a serious lack of motivation. Planning for success is key, and the top 5 tips above should help.

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Gemma Wilson
Marketing & Communications
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Providing the necessary services that you require

We would like to reassure all of our veterinary practices that we will remain open and are taking the necessary measures to ensure the safety of you and your customers. We understand that our service is an essential and integral part of veterinary practices nationwide. This is why we are available as usual to safeguard your practice so that you can continue to provide a high level of care and service to your customers.

At PLH Medical Ltd, we have been constantly updating our contingency plan to prevent our services from being affected as little as possible by the recent outbreak and that all our customers receive the necessary services that they require. This is why we would like to remind all of our customers that we are continuing to operate as usual, in compliance with the government’s health advice. Our priority is to look after our customers, ensuring veterinary practices can provide their continual level of care.

The health, safety and wellbeing of our customers, our employees, and the public has always been our top priority but has become more so in recent times due to COVID-19. To adhere to this, our staff are now utilising both the capabilities and technology to work safely and remotely. Our sales & engineer teams are taking appropriate steps to disinfect and sanitise following the government guidelines while also wearing protective clothing.

If your practice requires assistance, please call us on 01923 237521.Dots Image

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Remote Working – Missing the Office

There is so much written on the internet about the things people don’t miss when they decide to work remotely. The office, having to wear a suit or smart dress, politics and so on. But believe it or not, working in an office delivers a few benefits too. The good news is, once you know what you are missing, you can find ways to enjoy those same or at least similar benefits while working remotely.

Technology perks

This is certainly a big one for me. Lightning speed internet, landline phones, printers, scanners. I miss all the office infrastructure. Remember when working remotely free printer paper is not free when you stop working in an office!

Watercooler Syndrome

In all honesty, I have only worked in one office that owned a watercooler. A watercooler is a place to vent or to hear a quick joke. Without your very own ‘watercooler’ to congregate around, you may feel a little lonely. When working remotely I keep connected with my colleagues through instant messaging in the form of Microsoft Teams and Whatsapp. Admittedly, it’s not entirely the same as I often feel guilty trying to start a conversation but it’s always nice to have a quick catch-up if they have the time. Plus I think when working remotely I have far too many conversations with my house rabbit, (no matter how productive she seems at the time).

Effects of Time When Working Remotely

Since working remotely I have found time can easily define your entire day. When you’re sitting alone at home, there’s no difference between what happens at 9 AM and 5 PM. However, walk into an empty office at 8 AM and you will feel like a productivity hero. At 5 PM, you will feel the office wind down, people will start packing up, letting your brain know the workday is ending. This feeling can be difficult to replicate when working at home without introducing a proper working daily schedule.

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Shutting Down For The Day

For me, there is more of a mental and emotional break from work when I could shut down my computer, close the office door and drive out of the car park. Since working remotely, my office is my home. One thing I plan to do to compensate is to set up an official “quitting time.” I will shut down my office at the correct time and disconnect from work. This could be by making my dinner or catching up with my television favourite series.

Would I trade the remote life to go back to the office grind? Probably not. However, I am extremely fortunate to be able to work from home unlike a large number of workers right now. When we consider how we approach our work at home arrangements, we can enjoy the perks of being at home without losing out on all the things we miss about the office just by making some subtle adjustments. It will never be identical to working in the office, but we can always try and add those attributes in different ways.

Working from home or remotely means that it’s imperative to have self-discipline and the ability to manage your work. My experiences will also be shared on my Twitter account – I’d love to hear from you if you are also working remotely.

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Gemma Wilson
Marketing & Communications
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Remote Working – Missing out

I’m sure many of you are familiar with the unwritten office ritual that on a Friday or perhaps on a special occasion, there is often a bounty of food, takeaways, cake and other delicious temptations.

Red velvet cake for someone’s birthday. Chocolate mini eggs for Easter. Chocolate brownies and muffins ‘just because’. And let’s not forget fast food just because it’s Friday! This is something I now miss out on when working remotely due to the recent outbreak.

Missing out on the good stuff

I’m taunted by all the tantalising treats from colleagues via instant messages – while I’m sat here with my plate of rice, peas and chicken breast. I know that I sound ungrateful for my healthy choice of food, which was unexpectedly brought on by the vast amount of panic buying I have been witnessing; but people don’t seem to be panic buying vegetables.

Keeping healthy

In hindsight, it’s a good thing that I am unable to devour all these treats. Working from home is certainly protecting my waistline. But deep down it’s more about the social aspect side of things. I really miss celebrating with my fellow colleagues or the banter that comes with criticising someone’s bizarre or smelly lunch choice.

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As of next week, I am going to be making a conscious effort to use my lunch break more proactively. This would include a short brisk walk outside. It’s hard to ignore the aches with sitting all day at your desk, especially when everything you need is simply an arm’s length away.

Working from home or remotely means that it’s imperative to have self-discipline and the ability to manage your work. My experiences will also be shared on my Twitter account – I’d love to hear from you if you are also working remotely.

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Gemma Wilson
Marketing & Communications
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Remote Working – Keep the norm

It’s quite overwhelming to think that this week there are hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of people joining me this week by working from home due to the corona virus outbreak.

The outbreak has triggered an anxious trial run for remote work on a large scale and it’s now day two in my new remote working life and I still feel that everything is manageable. Cabin fever hasn’t yet set in, I still feel motivated and my mental health is still positive. However, I can imagine for individuals who are now on perhaps week one, or even week two, their feelings may have shifted.

Keep the norm

I am trying to keep things as normal as I possibly can. This means waking up, showering, getting dressed (avoiding pyjamas!) doing my hair and makeup. Despite it only being day two, I make an effort to contact my Operations Director every morning for a debrief of the day; it’s also nice to speak to another human being! I’m always sure to drop the obligatory ‘good morning’ message in our Microsoft Teams chat. It always puts a smile on my face when the rest of the team reply back – it makes me feel less isolated.

I feel it’s important to wake up early and “get to work” on time. My office may now only be a few steps away, but I still need to make that clear transition from “home” to “office”. I feel that a late start in the day can quickly become a bad habit. Routine is certainly becoming my best friend.

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Make a schedule

After my debrief I find that it’s helpful to put together a schedule for the day ahead. This provides me with a map of my objectives. For instance, today I know that I will be attending a meeting this afternoon to discuss the existing contingency plans with the office. I will be joining this meeting via webcam – which is another good reason to look presentable! You never know when you’ll be called upon. On the bright side, I get to see the remaining employees who are still stationed in the office and potentially check to see if anyone’s stolen any of my stationery from my desk in my absence.

Working from home or remotely means that it’s imperative to have self-discipline and the ability to manage your work. My experiences will also be shared on my Twitter account – I’d love to hear from you if you are also working remotely.

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Gemma Wilson
Marketing & Communications
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Contingency and Remote Working

It comes as no surprise that a large number of businesses have started advising their employees to work from home in the ongoing bid to curb the coronavirus outbreak. Companies such as Google and Twitter have released Covid-19 contingency plans to employees that include compulsory working from home. At PLH Medical Ltd, we have also developed our own contingency plan that will ensure our services are effected as little as possible by the recent outbreak and that all our customers receive the necessary services that they require. Which is why we would like to remind all of our customers that we are continuing to operate as usual, in compliance with government health advice.  Our priority is to look after our customers, ensuring veterinary practices are able to provide their continual level of care.

The health, safety and wellbeing of our customers, our employees, and the public has always been our top priority.  In response, our staff have the capabilities, technology and flexibility to work remotely. We already have an experienced team of remote workers in Blackpool, Basingstoke, London, Reading and York plus a field engineering team nationwide.

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Nevertheless, for some workers who may find themselves working remotely in the coming weeks can join me, Gemma Wilson (Marketing and Communications at PLH Medical Ltd), on the best ways to maximise productivity, maintain positive mental health, and how to avoid spending all day in your pyjamas when working from home and making the most of working remotely.

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Gemma Wilson
Marketing & Communications
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PLH Medical Contingency Plan

As the Coronavirus outbreak has now reached the UK, some of our clients have reached out to us to discover what our business contingency plan is, should quarantine recommendations and travel restrictions increase to combat the spread of the virus.

Please rest assured that in the event of restrictions PLH Medical staff have the capabilities, technology and flexibility to work from home/remotely as required. As examples, we already have remote workers in Blackpool, Basingstoke, London, Reading and York plus an a field engineering team nationwide. All of which visit the office from time to time and have worked in our Blackpool office at some point.

As a team, we embrace remote working. The systems we use – TeamViewer, Red Zebra, Vethub Cloud and Microsoft 365 apps – which all allow excellent inter-team communication, secure access to both our own and client systems, regardless of location. PLH Medical’s technical solutions enable secure flexible and agile working.

All of our data is stored in restrictive access data centres, which will not be impacted by any outbreak, only very occasional access is required to update physical hardware. No public access is granted to these secure locations.
If you have any additional questions, please don’t hesitate to ask.

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