First of all let’s get one thing straight, working from home is not for everyone. Don’t misinterpret this as meaning employers shouldn’t offer telecommute options, however, it goes without saying that this new dynamic may also create unique challenges for your team. In recent years, pharmacist jobs have been emerging in the marketplace with offers of remote work. Technology companies, such as PipelineRx, employ a pool of remote order verification pharmacists and have been doing so for quite some time. With the recent COVID-19 pandemic, medical centers across the country are allowing clinical pharmacists to temporarily work from home as well.
Another nod to how quickly the workplace is changing is when we see remote opportunities trending in the news, broadly in many industries, where virtual teams are fast becoming the popular mainstay.
Sure you may already know someone who is thriving at a remote gig. However, based on my experience, there are unique challenges common to this type of work environment. Personally, I have opted to split time between the office in a desk share arrangement so I can leverage the best of both worlds.
So let’s start with a few practical tips to get started with working from home while being productive and engaged with your team:
Access & Security
Getting into your organization may not be as straightforward, and rightly so. Most hospital systems are behind heavily guarded, secure networks with a team of information security experts to safeguard critical patient data. You will need to consult with your IT support for what is the best approach, typically you will have to ‘tunnel’ your way into the organization using the following resources.
Virtual Private Network (VPN) versus Citrix
What it does: If off-campus, using a VPN allows you to connect securely to your organization's private network, giving you access to important files and folders in a secure way. Applications run primarily on the remote device and application data crosses the internet.
The more popular method to access systems and applications today is using Citrix. Generally speaking, applications run on a server or desktop at the office and are remotely presented over the internet. The benefit of this approach is that it suits data-intensive applications, whether that means large files or frequent database crunching transactions.
What you need to know: Navigating the installation and setup for a VPN can be tricky for first-time users, so if possible, download the appropriate software and do some dry runs before you start working remotely.
What it does: Protect your work accounts using Multi-factor Authentication (MFA). MFA requires authentication with a phone or passcode. MFA is required to access most systems and services (VPN, networked storage, email, etc). Users must have at least one option outside of their office phone in the scenario that working from home is necessary.
Collaboration & Communication
So it’s not surprising that one of our dilemmas today is not only needing to make decisions on how we communicate but what channel of communication to use when doing so.
To help keep colleagues working together effectively when separated by distance, there is an array of free collaboration tools.
What it does: WebEx is one of several remote conference tools used by medical centers. Able to be used on phones or computers, it’s a versatile way to hold conference calls, video meetings, webinars and more.
What it does: Zoom gives groups ranging in size from two to 300 the opportunity to meet using video, phone, computer or mobile device and provides the ability to share their screens if desired.
You may use Zoom for classes and meetings. It may not be used for clinical purposes to see patients or exchange personal health information. Any meeting with the possibility of personal health information may not be recorded.
What it does: Microsoft Teams is a collaboration platform that offers users centralized access to important applications and gives colleagues a way to communicate, share files and work together. Providing a space for easy real-time conversations and collaboration, for workplaces that embrace it, Microsoft Teams gives remote workers a close approximation of working in the office.
When you work at home, Teams is how you maintain effective team collaboration.
What you need to know: A fully integrated part of Office 365, Microsoft Teams easily syncs with your email, calendar and a wide array of other tools, such as social media apps.
What it does: Skype is an instant messaging tool that provides easy communication with colleagues without cluttering up an email inbox. In addition, you can augment your work phone using Skype.
What you need to know: Skype has enhanced features, such as teleconferencing, but you’ll need to check with your IT support to enable them.
Other Tips for Working Remotely
Make sure to take your laptop home, and don't forget your charger.
Also, consider taking home your mouse, keyboard, and possibly your monitor — anything that might make working on your laptop from home a little easier.
Check with your departmental manager for guidance on your department’s policy.
If you don’t have a laptop you may be able to use your personal computer. Remember that company devices have been configured to meet strict security requirements and are always the best alternative. If that option is not possible, then ensure your machine is fully compliant.
Personal machines must have software updates applied, antivirus installed, and hard drives encrypted.
Future remote work articles will cover daily habits and routines that you can build to maximize your work outside of the office space.
What other tools and resources have you found useful?