5 Symptoms you’re going a little Stir Crazy!

Date: Fri Mar 27 Author: Chelliah Nakeeran

You feel something’s a little out, but is it just a momentary lapse, or something more serious? You’ve heard friends and family state they’re going a little ‘stir crazy’ in the Covid-19 lockdown, but what are the signs this is really happening to you..?

1, You’re brewing up, like, all the time

Sure, you liked a tea or coffee before, but now it’s like your kettle has become your new best buddy. You’ve no sooner finished one cup and you’re looming nonchalantly over the blessed brew-maker again, what will it be… tea or coffee, coffee or tea! The only thing matching your new fervour for a constant brew is your rapidly staining teeth. Eugh!

2, Your to-do list, feels like agony to even start!

Lockdown started so well. You started a to-do list of all the things you struggled for time to do before, and your attitude was impressively stalwart and stoical in the face of your Covid-19 adversity.

A few days in… and the super-list is a long-forgotten relic of when you had self-esteem and purpose in life. Starting even the smallest task, (even though you know it would be good for you), makes you feel paralysed and a little nauseous. You need motivation, a friendly hug, a hero to come in and help, but it’s too late and they’re all holing up inside too.

3, Your personal appearance has become obsolete

You used to be known for your polished looks, pristine outfits and sharp creases as well as your impeccable grooming. Looking in the mirror now you look a little like the scientist (Christopher Lloyd) in ‘Back to the Future’ (male or female!) It’s really gone and you’re seriously doubting those days of sartorial elegance are ever going to return. You know deep down this is going to take a herculean effort to come back from and you may never look quite the same as you did before.

4, Box-sets aren’t doing what they once did

Well at least there’s lots on TV… or so you thought! Now you cannot find one damn thing you can settle on. Nothing is grabbing you and you’re gravitating inexorably back to Sky news for the latest grim headline makers and endless mundane ‘breaking news’. You lament back to the days when there was great TV and reluctantly heave yourself up to bed early, having not found anything worth watching.

5, Sleep is your only true escape!

Just as you’re brushing your teeth at the end of another excruciatingly boring day, you find yourself thinking ‘Thank God! bedtime.’ A time when you can drift off into oblivion and dream longingly, about when you could meet your mates and have a drink in a pub…when you didn’t feel like punching somebody even 30 feet from your new-found personal exclusion zone. Blessed relief for a few hours until you have to face it all again!

The 2020 UK Budget and what it means for remote workers

Date: Wed Mar 11 Author: Chelliah Nakeeran

Chancellor Rishi Sunak is to present a Budget promising one of the biggest investments in Infrastructure to its highest levels in decades.

The chancellor is quoted as saying, ‘”We have listened and will now deliver on our promise to level up the UK, ensuring everyone has the same chances and opportunities in life, wherever they live.

“By investing historic amounts in British innovation and world-class infrastructure, we will rebalance opportunities and lay the foundations for a decade of growth for everybody.”

So with increased investment in capital projects, how does this affect the growing legions of remote workers who rely on the said infrastructure, to go about working in the UK’s towns and cities?

To put a figure on it, the Government is promising a spend of over £600bn over the five year parliament, according to the UK treasury.

Although this may sound significant, for many remote workers, struggling with the daily grind of motorway queues, train delays or cancellations and increasingly difficult journeys to and from their places of work, they can’t be blamed for viewing the news with some scepticism.

Add the additional complexities brought about by the current outbreak of Coronavirus, it’s no wonder that for many commuters and remote teams (as well as their employers) they are looking for new solution to circumnavigate these issues the 2020 Budget is attempting to solve.

One of the increasing trends amongst UK businesses is that of allowing their employees to work from home for either the whole, or part of their working week.

Whilst this can alleviate the strain of an overcrowded and inefficient capital infrastructure, it is not always the perfect solution, as some jobs just need a physical on-site presence and not all domestic environments are suitable or conducive to effective working.

The UK Budget, with its increased commitment to both physical infrastructure as well as both faster internet connectivity, coverage and reliability, all sounds good, but the fact is that any rollout of this scale will take months, if not years to come to any fruition, with many workers already very disillusioned with the status quo and the prospect of any real improvement as travel only seems to be worse across the UK.

One of the approaches, with perhaps most potential for allowing workers to increase their efficiency and productivity is the growing trend of utilising coworking spaces, closer to where workers live.

Coworking has the benefit of allowing remote workers to cut down on their daily commuting distance, yet for them to still access business-grade work premises with reliable high speed WiFi, that allows easier daily access and reduces the stress of long commutes into city centres.

One of the innovators in this space, Bludesks has anticipated this trend amongst workers and is growing its provision into both city centres and outlying regions to satisfy the growing demand for these shared workspace facilities.

Chelliah Nakeeran, founder of Bludesks says, ‘Although the Budget announcement of increased UK investment in infrastructure, in terms of roads, rail and motorways is welcomed, we know that for many businesses and their remote teams, there is an acute dissatisfaction and hardship that is very much here and now.

Our coworking spaces allow for easier access, closer to home, so cutting down on necessary travel and also the burden of traffic on the environment. This allows for businesses and their staff to plan ahead, carrying out their tasks in purpose-built, fully equipped office spaces that can be hired as and when needed, on a low cost Pay-As-You-Go basis.”

For remote workers in the UK, it may come as little comfort that the current hardships on the roads are at least being recognised by the chancellor, with the government also set to pledge £2.5bn to fixing potholes in England as part of the Budget.

The question will be for many though, how long will all this take and will it really come to be realised, or is it just another political promise to grab the headlines on Budget day?

Come Thursday morning, the day after the Budget, we can expect that everything will pretty much look the same and so the upward trend in demand for local coworking spaces by providers like Bludesks is only set to increase as a viable answer to commuting misery.

Is your morning cuppa costing you your privacy?

Date: Thu Mar 5 Author: Chelliah Nakeeran

We’re all increasingly working on the move, and internet connectivity is key to working in, or running a successful business. But is our personal data and information safe as we log into these unsecured public networks?

The temptation of working out of cafes and coffee shops, albeit often in crowded and noisy environments, is a great pull for many, and using the free WiFi saves on phone data and allows business to be done whilst on the move.

But it’s that very convenience of a free public WiFi connection in coffee shops cafes and restaurants that can often risk personal information getting into the wrong hands.

An Ipass report from 2018 concluded that ‘62% of Wi-Fi related security incidents occured in cafés and coffee shops’.
The report also stated: ‘Overall, 81% of respondents said they had seen Wi-Fi related security incidents in the last 12 months, with cafés, airports and hotels being cited as the most vulnerable locations.’

Perhaps the reason why there is a higher risk is simply that the WiFi connections in coffee shops can be of varying quality in terms of security, with many offering unsecured open networks requiring little in the way of login credentials or registration.

These venues are therefore a big temptation for hackers who have not been slow to recognise the rich pickings available, due to these security weaknesses and the large turnover of people to easily target.

The internet security giant Norton recently stated that regardless of the connection type, public Wi-Fi should always be used with caution and that antivirus protection can’t help protect information against public Wi-Fi threats.

It offered a number of tips to keeping private information safe, including being selective about which sites are visited and avoiding those with a log in, avoiding making online purchases and not accessing personal bank accounts or sensitive personal data, whilst on unsecured public networks.

It may all seem like common sense, but even so, it’s becoming more of a problem with hackers and criminals becoming ever more sophisticated to steal personal information.

So if your coffee shop or café is risking it when it comes to using their free WiFi to carry out your business, what’s the viable alternative?

The growth of professional business coworking venues, that offer secured WiFi with a much higher degree of security has become popular as people look for a safer way to access the internet and do business in a quieter and more professional setting.

Although no network can be fully guaranteed against all threats, generally these coworking locations are more geared towards higher-end business communications and have robustly protected networks in-keeping with the demands of their more business clientele.

One of the big differences is probably that for coffee shops and cafes, their business model is about the coffee and the food, with WiFi thrown in as a bonus, so it’s obvious that their main investment is usually NOT in the business services such as providing highly secure, business grade WiFi.

Professional coworking locations, on the other hand, live or die by the quality and reliability of their online networks and WiFi security, so they generally put a much higher budget towards their hardware and security protection which in virtually all cases is secured, requiring a registration and encrypted log-in password.

Chelliah Nakeeran, founder of the Bludesks coworking platform, offering a searchable database of globally based professional coworking locations states ‘we are constantly listening to our members and for many, there is a growing concern about the sometimes lax WiFi security in coffee shops, as well as the huge variations in data connection speed and unreliability of the WiFi.

Our workspace service partners offer a more professional space where the WiFi networks are generally much faster, more secure and the overall experience in the workspace allows business to be done easily in quiet, safer environments, with all the necessary business services on hand.’

Whilst there is always going to be a demand for coffee and convenience in coffee shops and food outlets, it may be time to consider the many benefits and additional security of professional coworking locations and keep the would-be hackers at bay.

5 Hygiene Tips for Keeping Coronavirus at Bay

Date: Thu Mar 5 Author: Chelliah Nakeeran

We all need to work, but sometimes the close proximity we have to co-workers, colleagues and members of the general public can potentially put us in harm’s way and make us vulnerable to airborne or surface bacterial and viral infections.

The worldwide focus has been sharply placed on this topic with the recent outbreak of the Corona Virus, (COVID 19) affecting virtually every global continent and spreading quickly where people have been in close groups, either in public places or the workplace.

Colds and flus, as well as a wide range of other potential infections can be passed on easily where the right conditions persist, that being humid and warm environments, poorly ventilated areas and places where surfaces are not regularly cleaned / subject to being handled by un-sterilised hands.

What can we do to lessen the chances of picking up bugs or even more serious infections?


Tip 1 – Keep nails short and wash hands thoroughly

It may seem obvious to keep hands clean, but in practice, with our busy lives, keeping on top of a clean hands regimen can often be overlooked, or simply forgotten, but for both air and surface borne germs, it’s the number 1 priority for keeping safe in potentially infectious public areas.

A recent study published by the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Hygiene recorded 10 subjects doing office work for three hours in a room by themselves.

On average, faces were touched 15.7 times per hour! With a similar study of 26 students in South Wales averaging 23 touches per hour, with almost half of those involving contact between the hand and mucous from the nose, eyes and mouth.

So with this insight, it’s vitally important that hands are washed thoroughly and regularly. It’s also a good idea to keep nails short where possible, as long nails effectively create a germ-shelf at the end of the fingers where microbes can easily stick to the under-surface and multiply.

Although short nails may not be practical for women, longer nails should be given particular attention when washing hands and the wash should ideally use a decent amount of soap and water over a couple of minutes duration.

The NHS published a useful article to give the correct hand-washing process, you can read it here In these times of heightened alert and awareness, particularly with Coronavirus, it’s well worth a refresher on correct technique.


Tip 2 – Make your own hand sanitiser…

Since the worldwide outbreak of Coronavirus, costs of both hand-sanitiser and protective face masks has sky-rocketed, the real-time example of the forces of supply and demand in action.

Some retailers have even run out of stocks of these items as manufacturers have limited order amounts to each vendor.

That said, it’s actually a quite easy process to make your own hand sanitiser gel, so you don’t have to scout the empty shelves, and it can have exactly the same, if not more efficacy than leading brands.

We found a good number of easy to follow instructions and videos, which are easy to find on a Google or Bing search.


Tip 3 – Avoid working in overly crowded coffee houses and public areas…

Remote working in cafes, bars and coffee houses can be great, but these warm and humid environments, with many people sharing the same air, surfaces and toileting facilities – and staff being too busy to hygienically clean in the necessary frequency, can be an easy point of infection.

Whilst finding fresh clean and breathable air on your commute can be more problematic, with workspaces the good news is that there are alternative solutions to achieving a higher degree of hygiene and solitude.

As opposed to cafes and coffee houses, professional coworking spaces are often far less populated and offer generally a better ventilated, fresher and cleaner working environment in pristine environments.

Whilst there is still the necessity for the normal precautions, public areas in professional workspaces are generally used with less frequency, which is the same for the washrooms, that are generally better sanitised than the more heavily frequented facilities in cafes and coffee shops.


Tip 4 – Work closer to home…

Long commutes on public transport sitting in cramped conditions in warm humid carriages can potentially greatly increase your potential exposure to harmful bacterial and viral infectants.

Droplet infection from people in close proximity who may be coughing and sneezing thousands of harmful particles of matter is almost unavoidable without the protection of a face mask, and even these only have a limited lifespan of minutes of effective protection.

For many, working at home is simply not an option, as proper facilities, WiFi and even a place to set up and work are not available.

This is where coworking spaces that can be flexibly hired, near to the home, can provide a good alternative and certainly cut down the exposure risk from shared public transport.

Modern coworking spaces provide scrupulously clean work areas, limited to only a few occupants at a time, or even completely private offices if preferred.

With contract-free flexible hire from only an hour, it means that a person can do work in fresh, well ventilated spaces with hygienically clean surfaces, and with exceptionally clean washroom facilities.

As an example, Bludesks provides a searchable database of coworking offices, as well as private offices, hot-desks, dedicated desks and meeting rooms giving a very good choice of locations, all with high-grade business facilities and high-speed WiFi networks.

This provides a viable solution for those wanting to work closer to home and avoid the infection risk of the long commute.


Tip 5 – Carry and use disinfectant wipes…

With the Coronavirus being potentially still active and transferable as an infection agent several hours after droplet contamination of surfaces, carrying a discreet pack of disinfectant wipes can be a really good idea to look after your own work areas and for surfaces such as phones, printers, access keys etc…

Disinfectant wipes are readily available at most chemists, supermarkets or from online retailers.