10 Productivity Tips for Working from Home

Events like COVID-19 could make remote work necessary for everyone. For those who prefer the office, we’ve compiled these tips to help you keep to your usual, productive routine wherever possible.

 1. It’s Business as Usual…

  • Follow the same routine you would as if you were going into the office.
  • Structure your day around your natural flow of motivation and productivity (for example, are you more productive in the morning or after lunch?)

2. Have a Dedicated Workspace

  • If possible, the workspace should be separate from areas of the home where there may be distractions or that you associate with relaxation.

3. Mirror Your Office Setup

  • Create a home working environment like the one you have at work. If possible, try to recreate the physical setup, including monitor(s), keyboard, mouse and other peripherals you use daily.

4. Stay Connected Through Technology

  • Make sure your home internet service can handle your typical workflows, for example, cloud-based collaboration, data-intensive workloads or large file transfers.
  • Install your organization’s collaboration software and have easy access to training, support materials and contacts for your IT service desk.
  • Use instant messaging and video calling to stay responsive and maintain real, person-to-person communication.

5. Structure your Day Like You’re in the Office

  • Set a schedule and stick to it.
  • Stay off personal social media. Make it harder for yourself to access personal social accounts and sign out if necessary.
  • If you have the option, take advantage of tools like Microsoft Office 365’s MyAnalytics and Focus Time features to book automated “do not disturb” time.

6. Set Realistic Daily Goals

  • Work with your manager or team to set and prioritize daily tasks. Don’t underestimate the time it will take to accomplish a task.
  • Communicate your daily and weekly goals with your manager or team. Sharing these goals helps keep you accountable.

7. Don’t Forget about Snacks, Lunch and Breaks

  • It’s easy to lose track of time. Make sure you include time for regular breaks.

8. Set Clear Boundaries with Family Members

  • Set clear boundaries with family members or others who may be at home during the workday. Just because you are home doesn’t mean you’re available.
  • Establish signals (such as headphones on or closed door) that indicate you are not to be disturbed.

9. Remove Distractions

  • Do your best to remove distractions like the TV, household chores like laundry or anything that threatens to take your mind off work-related tasks.

 10. Set Regular Hours and a Finish Time

  • Set clear start and end times for your workday – and respect them. It’s important to separate work and personal life to avoid burnout.
  • If you are a people leader, consider setting the example for your team by “signing off” for the day.

Don’t let the unpredictable impact your comfort or productivity. Our team of experts and product specialists are on hand to help you select, deploy adopt, secure and manage an end-to-end solution to support your users in any event.

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5 compelling benefits of Microsoft Surface Pro 4 to include in your business case

Surface Pro Hardware

Updated April 3, 2017


When Microsoft entered the hardware industry and introduced specs for the initial Microsoft Surface Pro, some were skeptical about whether it could compete in the marketplace. Now that the latest generation of Microsoft Surface devices has been adopted by thousands of companies worldwide, success is undeniable. Many users have switched to Surface and given it glowing reviews for increasing their productivity.

Regardless of what hardware you are switching from, outfitting your workforce with an alternative model or brand will likely require a strong business case. Fortunately, it is not difficult to make for Surface devices. Here are four compelling reasons to equip your workforce especially with the Surface Pro 4.

1. Greater versatility, lower management costs

The Surface Pro’s ability to be both a laptop and tablet is its greatest attribute. The juggling act between desktop, laptop, and tablet is expensive for organizations. Not to mention a burden on employees who spend time transferring files between devices. Also, data security challenges are inherent in loading confidential data onto USB sticks as a means of file transfer.

Add to this the beauty of the hardware: users love the hinge design, which feels great and props the screen at any desired angle. The keyboard snaps on and holds tightly thanks to neodymium magnets, and the keyboard and touchpad are top-rate for long days of use—a big differentiator from other detachable keyboards.

After years of dealing with headaches like short battery life and lugging around heavy laptops, the road warriors at high tech and electronics giant TeleSign recently adopted Surface. “Compared with other devices of the same size and weight, [Surface] has far more functionality and far lower management costs,” says Paul Stovall, Director of Enterprise Sales. In addition to eliminating presentation hiccups and making the sales team much happier, introducing Surface has also taken care of TeleSign’s IT challenges managing and securing their iPads.

2. Boost workforce collaboration with features like shareable screen markups

Doctor taking notes on Surface ProBetween the portability of Surface and features like the Surface Pen, OneNote and screen markups, teams are finding Surface helps them collaborate faster and smarter. We’re seeing this play out in a variety of ways and industries; for example, at Seattle Children’s Hospital, doctors and nurses are now taking notes with the Surface Pen, keyboard or dictation using Cortana, which means most records are completed and available to others the minute practitioners leave patients’ rooms.

New York-based SHoP Architects uses Surface in a completely different way: they have Surface devices in their conference room and common areas to stimulate staff collaboration and streamline their process for developing ideas. “What’s important is not the time as much as the energy that gets lost from the original sketch,” says John Cerone, Associate Principal, Director of Virtual Design and Construction. He says his team is finding the stylus and touch screen features very valuable for capturing design ideas: “Pen-to-screen or hand-to-screen is the most intuitive interface.”

3. Software optimization and capacity that eliminates hours of work

The design of the Surface was optimized to run Office 365 and Windows 10 as efficiently as possible, and we’re hearing many reports of time savings related to this and its other software capabilities. One example is Enterprise Fleet Management, which equipped its sales team with Surfaces. Enterprise’s team estimates better access to files and software saves them about an hour each day and makes their sales presentation much more polished. “An hour a day saved hundreds of salespeople adds up to significantly more selling time and better customer service. In addition, our closing ratios have gone up 35 percent in the last year, and the Surface has certainly contributed to that sales increase,” says their senior vice president of sales and marketing Tom Chelew.

Surface users are also happy with the incorporation of Cortana personal assistant, which responds to voice commands, as well as new convenience tools in the revamped Internet Explorer, renamed Edge. Plus, Surface is no slouch when running resource intensive applications such as SolidWorks, used for design.

4. Impressive streamlining and time savings from improved security

Surface’s optimized implementation of Windows 10 also makes it fast and easy for users to login and access their work. It has organization-wide benefits too: the Windows Hello biometric login feature, part of Windows 10, eliminates forced company-wide password resets, which most employees loathe. Meanwhile, the ability to move between desktop accounts and cloud services such as Office 365 and the Windows Store with a single Microsoft login decreases reliance on additional passwords.

Paired with Device Guard, the biometric security feature protects against lost devices and hacking by keeping user information safe, making getting up and running as easy as logging into another device and accessing content on the cloud. As Forrester’s David Johnson told Computer World UK, “Microsoft is fundamentally improving security at the OS and hardware level. It has done a really good job implementing all the security features that companies like Intel can provide.”

For its light weight and power alone, Microsoft Surface is a no-brainer for outfitting a mobile workforce. But it has much wider application than this, and it opens multiple avenues for greater productivity. Given the growing importance of security, mobility, and cloud, Surface’s winning combination of software, hardware and stylus make it a solid device for organizations of all sizes and shapes.

5. New savings

Microsoft has introduced new savings for the 2-1 by up to $300 depending on your country and model SKU*.

For example in Canada, the higher end version with Intel Core i7 with 256GB of storage, 8GB of RAM that was introduced at $2,099 is now $1,799 CAD, getting you $300 savings.

In the US, new $100 savings are available on most models!  You can now get a new model for as little as $799 (Intel® Core™ M 4GB 128GB (w/o pen).

If you think this is a prelude to the release of new Surface Pro devices, don’t hold your breath. There is still no release date for Microsoft’s flagship device but the company has been dedicated to offering our customers the best price possible for Pro 4.

To learn more about Surface Pro 4 and new pricing, please go here. 

MS Surface CA_SMERCH_2


How to Decide if Your Organization is Apple-Ready

Macs are invading the enterprise … whether you’re ready or not.

While many organizations traditionally discourage the use of Apple products due to perceptions of higher costs and incompatibilities with the Windows architecture, many feel the tide has turned. In fact, according to Forrester, almost 50% of North American and Western European businesses now issue Macs to their employees.

One of the key drivers of this trend is the consumerization of IT, something Apple’s largely been credited with starting. One doesn’t need to go further than your own office to see this trend in action. Walk down a hallway or visit the lunchroom, and you’ll see people using their own iPhones and iPads to do work. The question you need to ask is – how ready is your business for this consumerization trend? [Read more…]