Tag Archives: Virtual Office

Working From Home With Kids – Survival Tips.

working from home with kids

 

In the course of our working week we speak to many clients who are adjusting to working at home with kids around.  What has become apparent is that most of them set the bar way too high.  I can assure you from having spoke to so many homeworkers that you need to be realistic in how you organise your time and your parenting.

It’s All About Survival

Now is the time to embrace what work-from-home parents discovered long ago– it’s not about winning the gold; it’s about aiming for the bronze. This is a perfect moment to finally recognise just how much you’ve been coached to perform parenting. To occupy those little minds with creative and imaginative games.  To turn out Nigella-style brownies and then to head into  Highgate Woods and make daisy chains or whatever it is you’ve been doing out there. YOU are NOT the ‘Domestic Goddess.’  You are just a parent working from home with kids.  It’s time to be basic.

Set a Realistic Schedule

The other day a Hold Everything client who has been homeschooling her kids for a more than a year explained it all to us. So now we can explain it all to you.

Depending on your kid’s age, the support their school is able to deliver, and what your kid can reasonably put up with or do on their own, make a basic, manageable schedule you all can follow (because it’s not only their schedule now, it’s yours, too). Bottom line: You are not an authentic school. Nobody expects you to be a real school. You are just a mum working from home with kids. The very best you can aim for is your kid having something a bit educational or enjoyable to do on the days you work. My homeschool “days” were more like a few hours. I repeat: This is not real school. You can’t replicate a real school. Stop trying.

Food, Water, Fresh Air

The most important items on that timetable, she explained,  are activities that seem incredibly boring but are unquestionably critical and somehow also easy to discontinue, she needed  to recognise that while she would ensure her kids were fed or they went outdoors to play she  would be having a cup of coffee for a meal while hunched over her monitor for hours at a time.  Then, not at all surprisingly she’d really lose her temper with her children by 11 a.m. or even earlier. You need to eat, drink and stretch your legs. Eating can be a sandwich, a drink can be water, outside time can be walking the dog  or a quick trip to the corner shop.. You might believe you can’t afford the time to do those 3 things, but as my client said, you really need to do them.

mum working from home with kids

Reboot Your Brain.

If you take away nothing else about this advice on working from home working from home (with or without kids) let it be this– your brain really needs breaks to work well. Our work experiences from the day we first set foot in an office is we should be grinding away in front of a screen in order to do our jobs well. But that is really nonsense..

We don’t understand that office jobs actually have some breaks included, even if they don’t feel like breaks. A colleague passes by to chat, you pop out to pick up lunch, even meetings take you away from having a constant focus. Working from home with kids we try to replicate what we believe is the nonstop focus we have at work (again: we don’t) and wonder why it doesn’t, well, work. It’s because it is not possible and bad for you. So rather than thinking of helping your kids or making them a snack as taking time away from your own work-related tasks, acknowledge these moments as brief breaks that will allow your brain to reset, and will eventually make your work time a bit more productive once you return to it.

All in the Same Boat.

If distance working from home with kids is a novelty for you then you’re benefiting from a time when so many others are experiencing more or less the same level of disruption. Everyone has kids peeping in on their video calls. Everyone’s dogs are barking loudly in the background. That’s what on/off buttons are for on webcams.   We all know work is going to suffer and parenting will  also be negatively affected we can’t escape from any of that.. There is no glittering prize waiting for us at the end of this.  On the plus side, you know that that you have the amazing support of the team at Hold Everything to help you through, to answer your phone and check your mail.  As all our clients know, we make working from home, with or without kids, a workable solution.

 

 

 

Mail Forwarding Service Continues in Spite of Royal Mail Saturday Suspension.

mail delivery service

mail forwarding service

Our own mail service will not be impacted by the Royal Mail announcement that it will suspend its Saturday delivery services due to Corona virus.  This is what we understand to be the situation:

A statement on the Royal Mail website said: “Our postmen and postwomen are working very hard across the UK in challenging conditions.

“As we said at the start of the coronavirus crisis, there will be some disruption to services. Relevant factors include high levels of coronavirus-related absences and necessary social distancing measures.

We understand the importance of the postal service in keeping the UK connected at this time. We have also listened to our hard-working colleagues who have asked us to ease the additional burden on them if possible. As a result, we are making some temporary changes to postal services.”

As a leading mail forwarding service we know just how important it is that businesses receive their mail in a timely fashion.  We also know how disruptive and stressful the current pandemic is.  We are working day and night to keep our clients supported with a mail forwarding service that is dependable and effective under all circumstances.  We can reassure our clients that our own mail forwarding service will not be adversely affected.

We hope, of course, that the suspensions will only be temporary and does not itself lead to more conflict with the postal unions who are already in discussion with Royal Mail over work reductions within the service.

The team at Hold Everything are working flat out to provide all full range of virtual office services for our many clients and we will keep you advised of any development in the postal system..  We are open for business and you can call us anytime on 0207 5804242.   We are here to support the business community during the Coronavirus restrictions and give the ‘work from home’ community a virtual office service that can be totally relied upon.

The New Office Paradigm – It’s Virtual, It’s Augmented and it’s Here!

So once again we look at our lock-downed world and feel that our 3 decades of providing an efficient virtual office has finally come into general business consciousness.  As I leaf through the pages of the Sunday Times I read a paragraph that is almost our own mission statement.  Let us consider it for just a moment.

Why would we come back after all this and pay for space for a thousand people when we have already proven to the sceptics and the doubters that we can work perfectly well at home?” asked one manager. “I think this is the end of the modern office. In the future surely we’ll have a few meeting rooms and desks for the few who need to be in.” Richard Robinson, managing director of Econsultancy, agreed. “When we come out of this we are going to look at our large office spaces and huge rents and wonder what we were doing with them all. This will fundamentally change how we all work.”

He is right, how else can it go?  Where is the sense anymore in paying for a prestigious suite of rooms in the city centre so that people can cluster around a water cooler and make Pret a Manger even richer.  It all seems so pointless so ‘Pre Covid’ if you like.  I really want to go and shout from the rooftop that the “paradigm has changed, business reality has shifted.”  This is not even hyperbole, it is now a statement of truth that the old office -pre-covid – is extinct, it is no more and has ceased to be.   Certainly all the big london commercial estate agencies will try to deny it.  In the same way as Kodak tried to deny the supremacy of digital film, or Blockbuster shut its eyes to streaming.  When the major commercial estate agents try to extoll the virtues of an office suite for thousands of pounds rent a month the business world knows it doesn’t have to be.  Technology lets us work from home, we don’t need a receptionist wearing a facemask leading us into a meeting room that is only used 3 times a month but we pay for 24 hours a day.  We don’t need to travel for an hour to a work space when we can have an equally effective workspace in our spare room.   If we can work virtually from home with the essential functions of phone answering and mail handling outsourced to experts the raison d’être of the tradiotional office is gone.  And, if you want a swish meeting room for the odd hour of whiteboard presentation then a virtual office such as Hold Everything will rent you one.  We even supply the biscuits.

Once you get over the need to congregate in one place to ‘brainstorm’ you can use Zoom or similar apps.  Be certain that once this change evolves new virtual conference will be created to meet the demand.  In fact, I am willing to bet serious money, that in 12 months Zoom will look so outdated we will smile that we ever used it.   We will be working in a world of augmented reality supported by all the research that Facebook, Google and Microsoft have been developing over the past 5 years. Yes, their time has come too.

 

 

Google has been offering augmented reality tools for a couple of years now. It unveiled its Android ARCore platform in 2017  which allows augmented online shopping.to become a totally immersive experience.  This is all part of a larger arms race toward sophisticated phone-based augmented reality: Facebook, for instance, announced an expansion of its Spark AR platform which can be adapted to many office purposes.  Wearing VR goggles is no longer a weird sight – it is familiar in an architects practice and in a cosmetic surgeon’s examination room.   The enforced work from home discipline cause by COVID-19 will add urgency to these developments and before long we will have shifted irreversibly into a virtual office world.  there will of course be naysayers, there always are.  There are still printers who believe in the art of typesetting or authors belting out books on Remington portable typewriters but for the majority of businesses especially in the services sector of media and finance the office world has changed.

We believe fiercely in these changes and we want to discuss them with you.  We want to show you how you can save thousands of pounds in wasted resources and useless outdated vanity premises.  So call us on +44207 5804242 and let us make a convert of you before the guys at the big commercial estate agents  put their sticky hands in your wallet.

 

Virtual Office? Yes, Our Moment Has Come.

virtual offiice concept

We have all heard the expression that ‘destiny can tap you on the shoulder’.  Well, here at Hold Everything virtual office we are feeling that tap right now.  If anything changes from our Corona Virus lockdown it will be the concept of what an office is and whether it needs to be an actual space we travel to every day often for several hours at a time.   Rod Liddle, the leading Sunday Times columnist has a fine knack for sensing trends, listen to what he has to say.. ‘

What on earth is the point of the office any more?

They had a use once, these desolate areas of parched pot plants and plywood cubicles, patrolled by willy-waving middle managers forever calling fatuous meetings, often involving PowerPoint presentations, in order to ameliorate their own crushing insecurities — but, surely, no longer.

If, instead of the elderly, we could pin the notice “do not resuscitate” on the door of almost every office in the land, we would be an immediately better, happier and more profitable place for big business, employees and society in general. There is almost no downside. Abolish the office, everybody gains.

virtual office at home

Liddle continues to make several important points:

Home-working (or co-working) employees are considerably more productive than those who work in the office.

An American workplace survey showed that the more workers were out of the office, the more innovative and successful the company.

A Swedish study suggested that people who commute more than 45 minutes a day each way were 40% more likely to divorce.

Liddle makes many other points in his diatribe against the traditional office environment, but he also makes a quite brilliant suggestion that the discarded office premises could be converted into dwellings to solve our burgeoning housing shortage.  He sees apartments coming out from old office space as the riverside landscape was transformed by warehouses becoming loft apartments.

Philip Johnston writing in the Telegraph sees the trend but feels the transformation depends on a robust internet structure.

Will home working prove to be a temporary expedient or will it usher in an entirely new way of working for millions, fulfilling the early promise offered by the internet? The arrival of 5G with its greater opportunities for streaming, video conferencing and the rest should make remote working much more feasible.”

vitual office in action

I believe  that we are well on the way to creating a sustainable digital structure that will allow companies to gradually abandon an expensive and utilised office space in a central location and move elegantly to distant working whilst keeping a traditional central business address with the facilities of a virtual office such as Hold Everything.   Imagine, you have an address for receiving your business mail which can be speedily forwarded to you wherever you are in the world. This address will be on London’s most well known road, Regent Street for as little as £24.00 a month, no more than a 2 minute stroll to Oxford Circus and near Apple & Hamley’s, so that you have a legitimate,  prestigious address.   The mail can also be opened and ‘actioned’ on your instructions by a skilled, discreet secretarial team.  Should you wish to actually meet a client at the office a luxurious boardroom awaits you at an hourly or daily rate.

Your central London landline rings, it is answered by a skilled receptionist and the call is either passed to you at your current location or a message is taken and transmitted on to you.   For years many businesses have been wondering about the reality and practicality of working remotely and abandoning paradigms from the 1980’s.  Now, at a stroke, Coronavirus has reset the business world. We know there can be no turning back.  A central London virtual office is your solution and we are there to fulfil our destiny.

Peru Exclusive: One of Our Ex-Staffers Reports From Darkest Peru.

Stuck in Peru

paddington bear

 

If Paddington Bear can make it out, then so can I. Well at least that is the mentality I have been attempting to channel in these weird past few days since I have been quarantined in darkest Peru.

For some perspective, I recently completed my master’s degree, and before giving in to the real world and getting a full time job, I decided to backpack, pushing off responsibility for 6 months.

I started my adventure in Chile, landing in Santiago and made my way down to the very south of South America to the city of Ushuaia, known as the end of the world. I have seen and done some insane and amazing things, from climbing up and sliding down volcanoes to seeing Pumas in Patagonia. From there, my route over the next month or so took me through Argentina, back into Chile through the Atacama desert and then onto the insane spectacle of the Bolivian Salt Flats, a real highlight of my time so far.

By the time I reached La Paz in Bolivia, in early March, the news outside my travels was becoming difficult to ignore. I was expecting a friend to join me for a couple of weeks in Cusco, Peru. I was planning on meeting him there on the 17th, so I was making my way across the continent to make it in time. Whilst in La Paz, I suffered a bout of food poisoning, something almost all travellers get at some point. I spent a day in a hotel room recovering and spending much time talking to friends and family on the world situation. At this point we thought that even with what was going on, that my friend would still be able to meet me in a few days, but my other friend coming later in April might face more difficulty getting out.

Well, things were about to change and about to change quickly.

In the morning I received a text from my friend saying there would be a slim chance of him making it, but I couldn’t discuss it with him as I was getting on a bus to Copacabana, on Lake Titicaca. Whilst on this bus the topic of Coronavirus was the main topic of discussion, with no one being really sure what to make of it. When we reached Copacabana the slightly strange discussion continued but the world around us continued as normal.

peru

When I eventually made it to my hostel, I spoke to my friend and during that phone call came the announcement that no flights from Europe would be entering Peru from the 16th, the day he was meant to be landing. This was hugely upsetting, but did not come as a great shock to either of us.

I then got a much more interesting phone call from my parents. They made it quite clear that they wanted me to leave South America as soon as possible. Comments being thrown at me about not wanting to be stuck in Bolivia or Columbia by myself. I was a bit taken aback by this, just as generally my Dad, unlike my Mum, is one of the most chill people on the planet, and if he was demanding that I leave, I really wasn’t going to put up a fight. From where I was on the planet it was difficult to understand the significance from outside my window.

I was planning on travelling to New Zealand later on in my travels but we decided that was a good place to be, as I had great family there, who were happy to house and support me for a bit. We booked flights to Auckland, leaving on the 17th from Cusco, giving me a few days to be able to get there. It was going to be at least a day long coach ride to get to an airport that would allow me to get a local flight to Cusco.  When I went back to my room in the rather empty hostel, I explained what I was doing to my roommate, who looked at me like I was completely and utterly crazy. I went to bed feeling slightly uneasy with my decision, as everything here was still continuing on as normal.

I woke up extremely early to a lot of pinging on my phone. New Zealand was introducing a 15 day quarantine to anyone entering the country, irrespective of where you were coming from. This was not welcome news. This meant my family wouldn’t be able to take me in, understandably, as they have vulnerable people in their house. 15 days isolated in a foreign country didn’t sound like fun, but my parents were still convinced it was the right decision and it’s better than being stuck in a country where I don’t speak the language and have no support system at all.

That afternoon I was crossing the border into Peru and met a few more British travellers who, like me, were also changing their travel plans drastically. This did comfort me, as I now didn’t think I was completely overreacting to this odd situation. On the bus I bumped into several people I had previously met throughout my travels and a few of them were also rushing into Peru as they felt it was a better place to be, oh how wrong we were.

I spent a single night in Puno, on Lake Titicaca and from Puno made my way on a packed bus to Cusco. I had finally made it and could rest easy, or so I thought. I made it to Puno on the 15th and had a full day there before getting a flight out. Due to the last minute travel changes I was in a simple, but nice hotel rather than a hostel for my time here. I had a nice evening to myself walking around the city and had a delicious, although quiet meal out. At dinner I spent all my time finding AirBnbs near Auckland that would take in someone who was self-quarantining. I had quite a bit of success and found this beautiful apartment in a nature reserve, around an hour out of the city near a beach which would’ve been the perfect place.

At 5:30am the next morning I got a call from my parents who had spoken to my family in Auckland to say , yes, book it, so I did. A mere 2 hours later I received word from a friend I had met a few days ago who was still in Puno that Peru was closing its borders by the end of the day.

no flights to lima

I genuinely didn’t know how to react to this information. Every-time I booked a flight or accommodation, a few hours later I was being told that my plan wouldn’t work. The world was spiralling quickly and I and almost every traveller was not able to keep up. The hotel didn’t really know what was going on and the information I had received was through friends, nothing official so it was extremely difficult to know what was really going on.

The article I had seen stated that the borders were closing at 2300hrs, therefore I should’ve had enough time to get out of Peru, to at least Santiago, which was where my flight was connecting to a further flight towards Auckland. The issue was that there were no flights leaving Cusco the whole day and to drive it takes 20hrs, so that was clearly not an option. I stressfully packed everything, even though it was futile and spoke to the family trying to work out what to do.

Late in the afternoon, after a mentally challenging day, and after accepting that I was probably staying in Cusco for a bit, I went for a walk outside. The streets were busy with lots of stressed looking tourists. I was outside during siesta hours, meaning most shops and restaurants are shut whilst everyone has a midafternoon nap. It only occurred to me a few hours after being outside, that this was no siesta closure, this was because of Corona. I went back to the hotel, still slightly in disbelief and woke up the next day to quite a different world.

The next morning I was supposed to checkout of the hotel and move into a nearby hostel which I had booked for 5 nights and then would make a decision on whether to stay or move elsewhere. When sitting at breakfast in the hotel I was speaking to others and I soon realised that we were not allowed out of the hotel. Oh dear. My friend in Arequipa told me he was locked in a day before, but after walking around the night before I didn’t think we would get the same fate as him.

I walked over to the reception and they told me that we could only leave to go to the supermarket. The Government in Peru had removed freedom of movement and wanted everyone to stay indoors. This is obviously a slight issue for me. I told them that I was checking out and they said I could walk to the hostel as it wasn’t far. I then had the dilemma of where to go for the next two weeks, because wherever it was, I would be staying there and not leaving. I was leaning towards the hostel as there would be young people backpacking, like me, and we could bond through this together. When looking at extending my time at the hostel online it was fully booked. This forced my decision to stay at the hotel. I was initially really upset about it but eventually was very happy being in this hotel, as the hostel I was planning on moving to was having problems with the police due to large gatherings of people and most of the occupants were even taken to the police station for a few hours.

At least at the hotel I have had my own private space, with a bathroom and large windows bringing in lots of light from a courtyard that I looked out over. I have really learnt to appreciate this space as it has allowed me to talk most hours of the day to friends and family back home without annoying everyone else staying here. I’m lucky as the hotel is still providing food and there are lots of friendly faces in the hotel too and we are all going through this crazy and uncertain time together. My room definitely feels bigger the more time I spend there, as I recall the first time I saw it thinking that it was rather small, but great for the two nights I was gonna be there.

I have been entertaining myself through the wonders of technology and haven’t spent too much time looking at a blank wall. My friends and family back home have been amazing in keeping me occupied, and I honestly don’t even have much time to myself. Some amazing apps have become great time wasters and FaceTime is becoming part of this routine. The people in the hotel have also been great, chatting about other things then just this madness. The hotel does lack board games and cards, so we had a look at ordering some. It would’ve taken roughly a week to arrive and cost £20 in delivery, so we passed, and who knows whether it would’ve actually arrived.

I have gone to the supermarket a few times to pass the time, and every-time was an odd experience. Firstly, it was queuing half an hour to get in on the day the border closure was announced. The next two time it was experiencing the empty streets of Cusco, excluding a lot of police around who on every corner asked you where you were going. I haven’t been for the last few days as I think you need a mask to get into the store, but apparently there are military soldiers on the streets from videos I’ve seen. I don’t have a window onto the street so I really am quite clueless on what is truly going outside these walls.

In terms of fitness, well that really has gone down the drain, I’m attempting to reach a decent step count by walking around the courtyard probably hundreds of times, but it’s difficult to mentally do it. It is quite funny watching people just walk around the courtyard endlessly, but I do find myself doing it now. I even attempted to do an exercise video in my room, but felt like everyone in the dining room below me eating lunch could hear me jumping up and down, so I might leave that until I get home.

There are quite a mix of nationalities here, with two other young Brits here which is great for me as we can relate to this weird time. We have Canadians, Americans, Mexicans, Brazilian, Polish, Germans, Israeli and I’m sure others who I haven’t spoken to.

I think it’s the fifth or sixth day of shutdown, but I’m not hugely sure. The days have very much blurred into one and when I think of my travels before it genuinely feels like a few years ago.

I’m one of the lucky ones, I’m in a relatively safe place with food and toilet roll, though don’t be too jealous. I know people stuck in less tourist-centric places who are much more concerned at getting out. Here, unlike home, the shops are fully stocked, in fact my friend brought my back several avocados which I will enjoy for lunch over the next few days.

peru

In terms with how we are getting out, it’s all been relatively confusing and frustrating. Since day one of lock-down there has been this huge group chat on Whatsapp with British tourists stuck in Cusco. This Whatsapp chat has been a huge source of information and hard work from a lot of people, definitely seeing the best and worst of humanity on it. Through this group have been interviews with news outlets around the world trying to tell our story.

I think the Brits stuck here have felt quite abandoned by our home country. We’ve seen other countries, such as Israel and France get out their citizens for free or a reasonable cost and rather quickly. Whereas we have been campaigning noisily, to only be met with completely idoitic responses. We have been offered $3500 flights, which is extortionate, especially when most Brits here are backpackers on limited budgets. We have then been offered $4500 flights to Paris, which is completely futile as how are we meant to get from Paris to London, not even mentioning the cost. We were also advised by the embassy to look at flights to Madrid, even though there is no guaranteed route from Madrid to London, and who wants to be stuck in Madrid at the moment. No one.

Only in the last few hours, after days and days have we heard some real positive news. We have received emails from the government saying there should be some flights over the next week. Still feels a bit early to start celebrating just yet as nothing is confirmed and I don’t know how they intend to get those in more difficult to reach areas as the roads are currently army-blocked. I am hopeful, although going home is really just the start of a continuation of a difficult journey for the whole planet, although I can then quarantine with the joy of all of my pets to keep me relatively sane.

 

Blogger Notes:

Jessica joined the Hold Everything virtual office team, based at 207 Regent Street, London in September 2014, after her A’Levels. Taking a year away from education, she worked with the team for 6 months then went travelling before starting her Degree in Biology.

During her 3 year degree she provided cover for other staff members during their annual breaks and worked remotely when she had time around her studies.

Completing her degree she undertook a masters in Tourism, environment & development, where during this year she worked 2 days a week for Hold Everything attending to many compliance matters.

Jessica went off travelling and naturally in time hopes to obtain regular work in her chosen field. However, the team became aware of Jessica’s situation, to keep her focused she has taken to her computer, enjoy the read.