Time to Hit the Reset Button

Our FIRE Project volunteers have decades of experience in remote working and some have biowarfare experience. We will publish thoughts and observations over the coming weeks in response to the situation created by Chinese Wuhan19 Virus strains/Covid19, but we are also reading and republishing some of the helpful comments, thoughts and advice from others outside our group.

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Normally, the FIRE Project publishes news and information on-line using our family of portals. The portal most closely matching a particular item carries the full story and hyperlinks to sister portals that carry the story in synopsis, or in full. Our ftnews.firetrench.com news digest journal carries all news we have published in synopsis with links that begin with the portal most closely matching the story. Leisure and commercial maritime information is also published on our www.broadlyboatnews.com digest news portal.

During the active period of the global pandemic we are copying in full all stories related to the infection, and matters relating to it, to http://brn.firetrench.com/ in addition to the full stories appearing on sister portals most closely matching the story content. This will ensure that those most keenly interested in the virus issues can find all of our news and information relating to the pandemic in one location/URL. At the end of the pandemic we will revert to our normal methods of publishing and all sister portals of brn.firetrench.com contain full databases of stories most closely matching their topics coverage without any pandemic period breaks.

When most of our team started using remote working regularly we faced a number of challenges but those relating to communications bandwidth and access were very different from today and particularly the situations created by the pandemic.

Working from a remote location is not directly practical for many workers, but they will still be required to self isolate. For those who can continue to work remotely there will be a number of challenges that relate to how well their employer prepared for emergency home working. For many people, now is the time to hit the reset button to get the best out of an unfortunate situation and that may reset their working life beyond the end of the pandemic.

The majority of governments are trying their best under very difficult circumstances and deserve the maximum support. The British Government has done remarkably well but the situation is under continuing change and not all necessary decisions will prove the best. It is very important to remember that the only way to avoid a bad decision is to make no decision but the end result is a much poorer situation than making a decision with flaws. Under these unusual situations it is very important not only to support the efforts of a government, but to obey emergency regulations and any new emergency laws. Some will be tempted to cheat, but the result will place others at increased risk and, in most cases, cause the cheaters harm.

Those now attempting to work from home will face most of the challenges that face any new home worker and a number of additional challenges for the pandemic. It should be encouraging that some groups of people have worked from home deep into history and have managed to survive and prosper.

One challenge that affects most new home workers is a lack of self discipline and planning. Previously their work has been influenced by others. The employer frequently has fixed working hours and days. Food and refreshment breaks often take place at fixed times and others strongly influence the pattern of work. The home worker has considerable new freedom, but with freedom comes responsibility. There is also frequently a feeling of loneliness, one of the major challenges facing writers who are one of the oldest home working groups. This can produce mental blocks, even if there are family members in the home.

On the plus side, the home worker can chose when to do what and a planned program will provide the structure necessary to maintain a level of productivity and comfort. During the current pandemic there is an added factor that is not there under normal circumstances. As families are confined, virtually under house arrest for weeks, or perhaps even months, the home worker will not enjoy the break from diversion when children go to school and partners leave during the day. Instead, children will require help in emergency home schooling. This makes it vital that a plan is prepared so that every responsibility has the time available that it requires, when it requires it, at a time when the new home worker is trying to get used to not having nearby colleagues to talk to and share work problems with. None of this is impossible but it does require effort.

We do not know, until the end of the pandemic, when its effects will cease and we are all able to go back to life as normal and start the process of economic recovery. This makes it important to have some level of contact with distant family and with colleagues who are also isolated at home. If we simply isolate ourselves it will require much more effort to reintegrate later and any feelings of isolation will be shared by most colleagues. Making time each day to make telephone or email contact should make all of us feel a little better and we may have ideas to share that makes home working better.

There are some special dangers to be aware of. There will be criminals happy to exploit the situation. Hackers are already implementing new scams and attacks on information users. Be doubly aware of the dangers. Any information on hacks and new cyber criminal exploits that the FIRE Project is aware of will be published on brn.firetrench.com with any applicable links to source and further information. Reviewing social media contacts and groups will be helpful in grouping sources you trust. Don’t be afraid to ask for help from these contacts. For those using computers from home it is time to check on the level of protection for their machines. We all have our own prefered security products but, particularly for those using several OS environments, the product voted best product in the field is Bitdefender, which is available on MS Win, Apple, Android, Linux. For those with limited experience of computer security, most of these products can run automatically on autopilot.

Don’t forget the risks of physical crime. You may be at home, but it is still a good idea to keep doors and windows locked, and be alert. You are not in self isolation if you do not control access to your home.

Don’t forget that fire is a continuing risk. Don’t overload power points, switch off all equipment not in use and unplug it.

Be aware that demand for electrical power will follow different patterns so make sure you have torches and lanterns ready in the event of a power cut.

Most importantly develop optimism. The pandemic will end. The total number who die from, or with, the virus will almost certainly be fewer than many forecasts. Of those who are infected, 99% will recover and many will suffer only relatively mild symptoms. If you follow the advice/requirement of self-isolation and social distancing your prospects of avoiding infection will greatly increase. Try to help friends and neighbours within the bounds of advice and regulation. If you have to go out for an essential and exempted reason, don’t be tempted to try to do anything else while you are out.

There are positive aspects. You may find that you have learned new skills of remote working that you can continue with after the pandemic. Be ready for the next phase, of recovery after the pandemic. Those who give some thought to this now will find they are able to exploit new opportunities and get back to normality faster.

Enjoy some of the benefits of being at home. Try some new things and look for new opportunity. One of the publishers working to help you is Pen & Sword, a prolific publisher with an on-line bookshop and a fine catalogue of history and transport titles. Their warehouse has been working normally and those who prefer printed paper books will still be able to obtain them home delivered. However, Pen & Sword has a fine and extensive catalogue of eBooks and a commitment to aggressive pricing with a number of special discounts. Just one of the opportunities from a situation that none of us would have wanted to be in.

Stay safe and alert

Best Wishes from the FIRE Project volunteers