As many companies are transitioning to working-from-home practices, we thought you might like to hear how TNEI have enabled this. Senior Consultant David Padayachee shares his working from home experience and explains how TNEI as a company are continuing to deliver our services whilst our staff our working remotely.
What is your role at TNEI and what do your day to day tasks involve?
I am a Senior Consultant at TNEI and I primarily help to deliver technical advisory services covering a wide range of projects for UK DNOs and TNOs. Recent projects have included the review and update of engineering policies based on the latest engineering IEC/BS Standards, Engineering Recommendations and OFGEM Guidance documents. Documents reviewed cover a wide range of topics ranging from DNO Design Philosophy and Principles, Equipment Ratings and Specifications, HV Connection Arrangements, G89/G99 Generation Policy Documents and OFGEM RIIO Business Plan documents.
How have you adapted your working routine to work from home?
It was important for me to develop a daily routine at home as I would in an office. I have a dedicated workspace with separation between my leisure/relaxing space. For my daily routine, I start the day off as you would a normal workday by showering, dressing up into comfortable clothes (not pyjamas!) and having breakfast before starting the working day. A tea/coffee in the morning is a good kick start to the day. Crucial for me is to have a good lunch break, tea/coffee breaks during the day and sticking to a daily schedule.
Planning for the next day/week using tools such as Trello I find to be particularly useful and helps to keep up my productivity. I plan my one daily-exercise walk in the evenings as it is something I look forward to after my working day to separate work-time from down-time.
What are the main challenges of working from home as an engineer?
Over the past 2 weeks, TNEI has made a successful transition for all our workforce to work from home. Initial challenges I faced was accessing the office server remotely and experiencing the break in communication with my work colleagues. The TNEI IT department was lightning quick in solving all the remote IT problems and got everything running perfectly for me. Using tools such as Google Hangouts, Whatsapp and making myself available for online video chats helped to significantly bridge the communication gap.
Self-isolating at home means physical isolation but it doesn’t have to mean social isolation. Communicating with colleagues and especially having the video chat available aids in the feeling of being connected to one another visually and mentally.
What are the benefits of working from home as an engineer?
Of particular benefit to me was the additional time I have available from the reduction in my daily commute giving me more time to deliver the quality work that TNEI is known for.
Another benefit is being able to focus and concentrate on technically challenging work without having the daily distractions that one might experience when working in an office environment making my work time more efficient.
How do you continue to engage with clients and colleagues to ensure no disruption to TNEI’s delivery?
TNEI has arranged to have all our work calls diverted to our mobile phones which ensures that we are not missing any calls from clients. Using tools such as Skype for Business and Google Hangouts helps to create wonderful digital means of staying in touch with our clients and colleagues. My team has 3 catch up meetings per week to keep up the communication. All of TNEI’s services continue to operate efficiently with the whole team working remotely. Colleagues and clients are just a phone call away.
What would you say to clients who are worried about how their projects might be carried out via remote working?
TNEI has high levels of security for our servers and laptops. We strive to maintain our confidentiality agreements and the document sharing/security protocols of all our customers. We remain flexible to our clients’ needs and follow the security policies that they might have in place as well as our own. Our work is securely backed up on our server drive which we access to remotely through our secure VPN.
If you do have any concerns about how your projects are being carried out remotely, please feel free to contact any one of our staff.
Do you have any tips for people in our industry working from home?
I am fortunate enough to have a darling wife who is greatly experienced with working from home and has shared some of her top tips with me.
1. Shower and get dressed in the morning. You don’t have to put on your usual business attire but keeping parts of your “normal” morning routine will help you prepare mentally and physically for the day ahead.
2. Set aside a dedicated workspace – if possible, not in the room where you sleep, or where you will have lunch. One downside to WFH is the lack of boundaries between workspace / time and home space / time and being able to “shut off” after work, it helps to be able to close a door on work or at least be able to tidy work away.
3. Take advantage of our daily exercise trip outside and go for a walk. Be it in the evening or during lunchtime, it certainly is my favourite part of the day. Walks are great, not only for fresh air and moving your body, but seeing other people doing their own thing can really help with feeling connected to the world (very important if you live by yourself).
Note: Remember to keep your distance from other people (2 metres), greet people through non-physical contact, and wash your hands as soon as you get back in the house.
4. Set aside breaks and a proper lunchtime. One of the best things about working from home is that it can potentially be a lot more productive than working in an office / group environment, but don’t work too much! Self-care is more important now than ever before - so give yourself regular breaks away from your working area and don’t eat at your laptop / computer.
5. Have regular scheduled weekly group meetings/calls with your work team.
6. Podcast, podcast, podcast (or radio). WFH can be too quiet, so put something on in the background to keep you “company”.
7. If you are feeling unproductive it can really affect your morale so take a quick break, or move on to another task.
8. Complete your timesheet daily and Keep a “Ta-dah” list, otherwise known as a “Done list”, like a “To do” list but with everything you have done – it’s quite possible that you are more productive than you feel and it will also help to keep track if you have to report to your team / manager what you have done during the week/day.