Workspaces – from office to home.

The Leadership team have taken the pandemic seriously. We still need some people in the centre to keep the doors open, so we’ll do a 50/50 split. Half the team on-site and half off-site,

This is a good and practical approach, and with so much of our workforce working from home, we need ways to communicate effectively. There are so many! Every workplace has logged on to Skype, Zoom, Hangouts, What’s App, Meetings, SMS, Phone calls, Facebook Messenger, Twitter and I’m sure so many other ways.

For me, it’s not the method of communication that concerns me. I’m adaptive. You want to Skype me – no worries – SMS – great, Hangouts? Piece of cake.

I think the real issue for me, is how I manage this on the computer screen. My screen is curved and has lots of space, but it can also get cluttered. Windows layer on windows and I have to sift through a bunch to find the right one. On many systems, you can use different screens to create space to work on. On Ubuntu, my preferred operating system, I use Workspaces. On a Mac, it’s called Spaces and Windows 10 they’re Desktops. I’m using Ubuntu for this, your experience may vary.

The concept is the same, however, on each operating system. You can move your different windows to a different screen, then move between the screens using the keyboard or the mouse. Sounds confusing, so let me give you an idea of how I use it to manage the many tasks I need to be over.

Here’s what I have opened on my screen. My web browser open for Gmail, google drive, calendar, hangouts, SMS, hangout chats, Tweetdeck and other adhoc screens.

The team communicate by WhatsApp, Google Hangouts, SMS and of course email.

The astute among you may think that WhatsApp and SMS are surely on the phone. Which of course is true, however, it really does drive me mad having to manage the phone while also managing messages on a computer screen.

SMS and WhatsApp can be connected with your browser so you don’t have to pick up your phone.

To connect WhatsApp to your browser, go to check out this handy little video to get you going.

To access my SMS in the browser, I use a natty little plugin called Pushbullet – it allows me to send and receive SMS from the computer, so I don’t have to pick up the phone to read and respond to messages. If you’re using an iPhone the SMS feature doesn’t work. Andriod? Go for it!

Now that we’ve got all that happening, I have so many windows open on the computer, it’s just confusing and hard to navigate.

One of the first things I do when someone sends me a message on Google Hangouts is to pop the message out into a screen of its own, otherwise the screen gets really messy. I do the same with my Pushbullet SMS.

I also drag the WhatsApp tab into a window of its own. Once I have all of these on the screen, I then move them all to a fresh workspace, which I then switch to whenever I need to communicate by chat.

Now I have 3 workspaces.

  1. Tweetdeck to keep track of social media.
  2. Gmail, Google Drive and any other documents I need open
  3. Chat programs.

I’m now able to switch between different workspaces to quickly find the right window.

Finally, working from home is about collaboration and keeping in touch. I still need to work together with others, so when the video call comes in and we want to work on something together, I pop the video call out into its own box and then make sure it’s always on top and always on the visible workspace, that way I can jump around between windows and it never hides behind another window!