Tag Archives: Working from Home

Cat S62 Pro Smartphone Reveals Potential Fire Risks from Working from Home

The possible electrical dangers faced by Britain’s army of home workers are today revealed with the help of mobile thermal imaging technology.

For millions of us, our homes are now our offices, but very few of us are aware of potential electrical safety hazards in our home-office setups or how to ensure we safely accommodate the equipment we use every day.

Laptop and Phone (Thermal)
Laptop and Phone (Thermal)
Laptop and Phone (Thermal)
Laptop and Phone
Laptop and Phone

These images, captured with the new Cat S62 Pro thermal imaging smartphone, show the fire risks that poorly thought-through domestic office setups can cause.

Bullitt Group, the makers of the Cat S62 Pro, have partnered with Electrical Safety First to highlight the issue and offer tips and advice on how to make your home office set up safer.

The gallery of images, captured in a home working environment, shows the varying levels of heat invisible to the naked eye that is produced by different electrical setups and devices. The images show common habits including:

  •      Charging laptops and phones on flammable surfaces
  •      Stacking equipment due to lack of space
  •      Daisy-chaining extension leads because you’ve got more to plug in than usual
  •      Overloaded sockets
  •      Routers covered with office materials / or boxed in
  •      Extension cables covered with household items

Working from home is now commonplace but little thought is given to the set-up of our temporary work desks, many just working wherever there is space.

New research commissioned by Bullitt Group, shows electrical safety checks by employers have dropped by nearly half (a decrease of 46%) since lockdown.

The research, compiled by Censuswide using a 2k sample of people working at home due to COVID, also shows:

  •      Many home workers surveyed (41%) operate in cramped workspaces and things often get piled on top of extension units
  •      Over a third don’t have enough plug sockets (36%)
  •      Over a third say that have to daisy chain extension cables to get the length they need (35%)
  •      There is a high level of complacency around electrical safety with more than half (56%) of respondents saying they are not worried about electrical dangers
  •      When asked about where they currently work, more than a third (36%) say they often move their laptop and charger around as they work in different spots
  •      Almost a third (30%) have never considered the dangers of working in some domestic spaces
  •      23% are sharing electrical sockets for work with other domestic items
  •      21% do not have a dedicated workspace at home and 19% feel the quality of work is affected by not having a dedicated workspace

Working closely with Electrical Safety First, Bullitt Group has come up with some simple guidelines to make the home office environment safer.

Key tips include:

  •      Avoid overloading sockets
  •      Do not leave phones or laptops plugged in to charge overnight and don’t charge on a bed – always charge on a hard, flat, non-flammable  surface
  •      Don’t “daisy chain” extension leads. If your cable doesn’t reach, don’t plug it into another adaptor. Move your workspace closer to the socket or use a longer lead
  •      Regularly check electrical cords and extension cords for damage
  •      Only use extension cords on a temporary basis
  •      Do not plug a space heater or fan into an extension cord or power strip
  •      Do not run cords under rugs/carpets, doors, or windows
  •      Make sure cords do not become tripping hazards
  •      Keep papers and other potential combustibles at least 1m away from space heaters and other heat sources
  •      Make sure you use the right wattage for lamps/lighting
  •      Only use chargers provided with the product and buy any replacements from reputable retailers you know and trust
  •      Keep your work area tidy and keep drinks away from electrical items
  •      Make sure your home has smoke alarms. Test them monthly and replace the unit every 10 years or as directed by the manufacturer

“When the country first locked down, homeworking was seen as a temporary situation. Now it’s looking more long term, it’s important that both employers and employees are fully aware of the risks and how to mitigate them,” said Nathan Vautier, CEO at Bullitt Group.

“The thermal imaging technology built into the S62 Pro is a quick and simple way to see a world that’s invisible to the naked eye and can improve safety in any working environment.  Tradesmen have used our thermal phones to spot electrical faults and issues for some years, but this is also a genuinely useful tool for anyone who wants to improve safety and monitor what’s going on with electrical equipment in their homes,” continued Vautier.

A spokesman for Electrical Safety First said: “There is simply not enough awareness out there about the possible dangers of poorly set up home office environments. Thermal technology is certainly one way to monitor electrical equipment for overheating issues and the images that Cat phones have created here show very clearly just what is going on and highlight some of the common dangers we regularly warn people against.”

Other survey results:

  • Before lockdown, 40% of respondents’ companies had a procedure in place to regularly check electrical items. This has now dropped to just 22% since working from home began
  • Almost a third (31%) feel their employer should be doing more to provide safety and other guidance about home working
  • Only 19% have received safety advice/guidance from their employer concerning their home working set up
  • Almost half (45%) don’t know when work specific electrical items were last safety checked

The Cat S62 Pro smartphone has an MSRP of £599 and is available to buy from Amazon and multiple retailers and operators.

We may earn a commission for sales from our links

Is Your Productivity Tanking While You Work From Home?

A lot of us have been working from home during the COVID-19 crisis, and a lot of us have been finding it comes with its own set of challenges. For some, those challenges are all a matter of mindset or environment. You might be finding it difficult to get used to the fact your coworkers aren’t nearby or have trouble dealing with family and work at the same time. However, a lot of people initially find that it can be a challenge to get as much done from home as they might get in a better catered professional environment. Here, we’re going to look at five technological solutions that can ensure you’re a more productive and efficient worker.

Photo by Vlada Karpovich from Pexels
Photo by Vlada Karpovich from Pexels

Know what you’re doing 

First of all, if you’re not certain where to start with your workday, then it’s time to take a strategic look at all of your current deadlines, responsibilities, and projects. Take the time to list out everything you might have to do. Then you can use tools like the https://appfluence.com/productivity/prioritization-matrix/ to see which you should do first. This tool lets you take your to-do list and quickly measure it by which tasks are most crucial and which are most urgent. As such, you won’t be stuck wondering what you should be doing at the start of the day. Five minutes can help you quickly layout the tasks you will be taking care of for the day.

Know when you’re doing it

Once you’ve effectively prioritised your tasks and you know what you’re doing for the day, then it’s all about knowing when you should do it. Workflow management software can help you set aside blocks of time so that you know when you’re going to be working on one thing and when it’s time to move onto the next. It ensures you don’t get stuck on one task for ages but rather you give everything the time that it needs and deserves.

Automate and streamline what you can

If you have any tasks that you have to do on a regular basis or that threaten to become monotonous, it’s important to find a way to standardize them efficiently. If you’re simply chipping away at them bit by bit, it can reduce your engagement with your work in total, making it harder for you to focus even when you get onto another task. There are plenty of tools designed specifically to automate your work, such as https://www.templafy.com/document-automation-software/ that can help you quickly format and standardize documents before you send them off. Look at your most regularly performed processes and see what you can do to automate them.

Make sure you can get what you need from your team

Of course, you’re not going to be doing all of your work, yourself. Most people are going to need to rely on their team at some point and, to that end, quick and effective communication is possible. A decent team collaboration app such as is going to be the basis of many a remote team’s communications. It gives you a centralised space to check your messages, talk about projects, or request help when you need it. If it’s not centralised, then it becomes all too easy to lose track of. After all, people have different communication preferences, be it by using IMs, sending emails, calling directly or otherwise. By centralising it, you get everyone using the same tools and following the same standards, reducing the chances of missed messages and miscommunication.

Get rid of any type of distraction

When it comes to distractions, there are two main types: external and internal. For the external, such as outside noise, you need to make sure you secure the work environment and ask that your family (or whoever you live with) respects your need for privacy and alone time when working. For internal distraction, you need to know what you’re most prone to be distracted by and to block it off. When it comes to working on digital technology, it’s usually the internet. However, there are plenty of tools like https://selfcontrolapp.com/ that you can use to set permissions, blocking your access to websites and social media within work hours. You can even block them entirely on your work device if that would make you feel more comfortable.

The above tech tools should hopefully help you get much more engaged and better organized with the work you do from home. Sometimes, the solution isn’t technological, however, so you need to take a better look at your work environment, too.

The Gadget Man – Episode 162 – Working From Home During the Coronavirus / Covid-19 Crisis

Such are the strange times we live in, many of us now face working from home for the first time along with caring for our children.

I have worked from home extensively over the past 20 years and I thought I would try and share some tips on how I have been able to work effectively in a home environment.

This morning I spoke to James Hazell at BBC Radio Suffolk about the trials and tribulations about working from home. Listen in to the stream to hear what I had to say and especially the advice at the end.

Stay Safe and Healthy

If you have been given a laptop to use at home, then there is a danger that you may find yourself sitting in an armchair trying to work and you will soon find this isn’t going to work well.

  1. Set up a work environment in a spare room or even your bedroom where you can away from disturbances and distractions as best as possible.
  2. Find a comfortable chair and if possible sit near a window so you can get fresh air while you are working.
  3. Set up your computer, so that is a semi-permanent environment and will allow you to separate work from home and give you a place to ‘go to work’
  4. Get dressed, you don’t go to your place of work in your pyjamas, so again, getting dressed gets your prepared for work.
  5. Take plenty of breaks. If you have children at home, you will need to be able to give them attention. If you can set specific times during the day to stop work, get up and walk around and make yourself a drink.
  6. Try to begin and end your work-day as you would if you were going to your place of work. Let your employer know that these are your work times. Setting these boundaries will mean that you aren’t on-call 24/7.
  7. Most home-working requires an internet connection. Over the coming months, our communications links are going to be under a great deal of strain. The video streaming services are going to be used extensively and this will put a great deal of pressure on internet connection speeds. Home internet is very different to work internet due to what’s called ‘contention ratios’, so you should be prepared for slower than normal connection speeds.
  8. Ask your employer to provide you with a mobile device that can be used as a ‘tether’. This means that should traditional broadband experience issues, you can fall back onto connecting to the internet by connecting via a ‘personal mobile hotspot’.
  9. Make sure all of your internet-connected devices are up to date. This means ensuring anti-virus is updated where applicable and any operating systems updates on your computers, set-top boxes, TV’s, IpCams etc are updated
  10. Keep all of your battery-powered devices charged up, but don’t leave mobile phones plugged in all of the time as the batteries don’t work as effectively if they all continuously charged.
  11. Use a trusted VPN connection to secure your broadband connection further. I recommend Ivacy VPN. Using a VPN or Virtual Private Network secures your connection.

Finally, regardless of whether you are working at home or not, you WILL find the number of scam calls you receive will increase, mainly because you will find yourself at home so much more. NEVER give out any personal bank details over the phone including PIN numbers or passwords. Ignore all automated calls and just hang up. These people care little for the health or financial wellbeing of their victims. If in doubt, speak to a trusted friend or member of your family before taking any action that will cost you money.

Stay Well and see you soon!

Matt
www.thegadgetman.org.uk

Gadget Man – Episode 97 – Working From Home

Fantastic to be back on BBC Radio Suffolk this week, even more special that I was invited to James Hazell’s home for a very special outside broadcast, where we talked about effectively working from home and I got to play Star Trek Pinball!!

Thanks to James and Isaac for the invitation, fabulous fun!

Listen, Like, Subscribe and Share!!!