The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way we function as a family. I know many of you have experienced social distancing family gatherings. Going out for dinner means staying in as some of you opt for using dinner delivery services rather than eating in a restaurant. Movie night means a social distancing trip to the drive-in or streaming a movie because theatres are closed.
The pandemic has also changed the way you work and how your kids go to school with your family huddled around tech devices as home as opposed to being in school or at the office. Doesn't matter if your family is new to 'working' from home or if you're an expert, here are a few tricks and tips to help you and your family stay productive and keep a healthy balance.
1. Call your Internet Service Provider and increase your Internet speed.
Everything revolves around the Internet. If you and your family will be working from home every day, you need better and faster Internet. Your Internet download speed should be no lower than 50 Mbps (Megabits Per Second) if you have multiple people working and doing online schooling from home. If you're curious about how fast your Internet speed is, check out SpeedTest.net (www.speedtest.net).
Regardless of your Internet provider, you can find out what speeds your household is experiencing. Check-in with your provider to see if you can take advantage of any special deals for Internet. If you've had some challenges with your home internet, visit HighSpeedInternet.com (www.highspeedinternet.com) to find out if there are providers in your area that can offer higher speeds.
2. Extend wireless to every corner in your home.
Imagine how happy everyone in your household will be if you can extend the Internet to the dead zones. Unless you want your entire family huddled around the dining room table when it's time to work, you need to get Wi-Fi everyone in your home.
The most effective method is to have cable professionally run in your home so you can install Wi-Fi extenders, but this process isn't in everyone's budget. Google and Netgear make Wi-Fi Mesh networks that can help eliminate those dead areas. A Mesh network works by repeating your wireless signal from your router to those weak spots. My favorite method is to use a Powerline adapter from TP-Link or Netgear. A powerline adapter uses the power lines in your house to send a wired or wireless signal to those weak areas. Powerline adapters are very easy to set up which makes them the ideal solution to help you give the power of wifi to your family.
3. CyberSecurity is a Must.
Don't forget to keep you and your family educated on the latest scams to make it during this pandemic. I know I share this in just about every blog post I make, but remember that 99% of cybercrime requires user interaction. As long as you're careful not to click on any strange emails, texts, web sites, download unknown apps, and don't give any personal information out, you're safe from most threats out there. If you're running a Windows or Macintosh computer, you already have anti-virus built-in. No need to spend extra money on those packages like Norton, McAfee, or Avast.
If you are using video conferencing tools with your office, make sure you keep those secure conversations away from your smartphone hubs like Google Home or Amazon Alexa. These devices are designed to listen in to your conversations. Unplug them or work in a room without them during office hours.
Finally, set up automatic backups for your information. Doesn't matter what device you work at home from, back up your stuff. Using cloud backup is the most beneficial way to get up to the minute backups. If you have a tablet, take advantage of Google Backup, or iCloud backup If you're using a computer, use Carbonite (www.carbonite.com) for your backups.
4. Purchase a good All in One printer.
You never know when you or other members of your family might need to print, scan or fax (yes, I said fax) something out. When looking for an All in One printer, get one that holds half a ream of paper, has a sheet feeder, when scanning in documents and is AirPrint compatible (you don't know what you're missing until you print something from your, iPhone, iPad or Android phone or tablet).
You should expect to spend over $100 for a good home printer which means stay away from those cheap printers. They will cause you nothing but headaches. Two of the best brands of printers to purchase are HP OfficeJet Series of printers and Epson's EcoTank printers.
5. Monitor your children’s online activities.
The Internet is a pathway to many sites that many consider being dangerous for children. Keep them safe. When kids are using tech devices, it's so easy for them to get distracted. You can't watch them every minute, so you need to make sure they are doing what they should be doing. All Windows, Apple, and Android devices have parental controls on them, but having them use Apple and Android tablets are the best method, as the parental controls on those devices are very robust.
Make sure you keep an eye on those gaming devices. Download and use the parental controls apps for the family XBOX, Playstation and Switch so you can lock them down. Keep them out of chat rooms on social media and on games. That friend your child is talking to could be an online predator grooming them. Finally, check those devices daily to make sure they aren't getting around parental controls and using safe Internet habits.
6. Create set 'office' hours.
Working from home for your family can be distracting as there are so many things that pull you and your kids from those tasks you should be doing. First, make sure all of your household duties are done before your family workday. Dishes, making the bed, breakfast and other household chores that are unfinished can the eternal distraction that prevents you and your family from getting anything done.
Next, create set hours for work and play in your household and stick to them. Finally, don't overdo it. If you or your kids need to take a break from working and tech, do it. Yes, you and your kids need to focus on the 'grind', but never isolate yourself too much. Make the most of your time at home to enjoy the company of your family.
Once you get into a set pattern of working at home with your family, you might find it more relaxing and productive than the normal grind. Gone are the hectic schedule of trying to rush you and your kids out of the house to get to school and work. If you follow these steps and get into the groove of having your family work from home, you may never want to leave your house again.
Want to ask me a tech question? Send it to email@example.com. If you prefer to connect with me on social media, you can find me on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Twitter and watch great tech tip videos on my YouTube channel. I love technology. I've read all of the manuals and I want to make technology fun and exciting for you.
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