HomeCoronavirus challenges: Social distancing, telework, technology and helpful tips | NewsTechCoronavirus challenges: Social distancing, telework, technology and helpful tips | News

Coronavirus challenges: Social distancing, telework, technology and helpful tips | News

We’ve been told constantly that the less we interact personally, the less chances the coronavirus will have of spreading. But social distancing doesn’t include the internet, which has become the best means of staying productive and in contact with family, friends, work, school and the world. 

For individuals and small businesses forced to “telework,” there are many helpful options. Here are just a few tips. 

With some VOIP (voice over IP services which handle phone calls via the internet), an employee could take phone calls from their home and a client would not even notice the difference. You could provide a remote access setup, so employees could work just as they would on their office computers. And if you use G-Suite for email communications, Google Meet has enabled free advanced hangout features for larger groups, live streaming and recording. Webinars are great for classes, and there are many other internet options available for virtual business conferences.

Beside washing your hands, soaping thoroughly for at least 20 seconds, please remember to sanitize the technology you use frequently, especially if they are shared by multiple people. Your cellphone, keyboard, mouse, touchscreen and remote controls are handled all the time; their surfaces become a haven for bacteria, viruses and possibly the coronavirus, too. But how best to clean them? Unfortunately, each device might need a different treatment. Smartphone makers generally tell consumers to avoid disinfecting wipes or sprays on their devices to avoid damaging the coating on their touchscreen displays, but Apple has now updated their recommendations. With a 70 percent isopropyl alcohol wipe “you may gently wipe the exterior surfaces of your iPhone. Don’t use bleach. Avoid getting moisture in any openings, and don’t submerge your iPhone in any cleaning agents.” See https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT207123 for more details. 

Our laptop guru, Steve, says that a light swipe with a Clorox disinfecting wipe is OK for phones with waterproof cases, desktop keyboards and mice. For cleaning laptop keyboards and remotes, he recommends wiping lightly with a lint-free cloth dampened with 70 percent isopropyl or rubbing alcohol. Again, no bleach. Clorox wipes are too wet; the last thing you need is for any moisture to get into the computer! By the way, I found out that the UV-light cleaning box I got for a CPAP will actually sterilize phones and almost any smaller device, as well. There are also UV-phone cleaner boxes specifically made for cellphones. 

Don’t forget to protect your devices from “computer viruses” as well and keep a vigilant eye out for new scams. I just got an email offering a link to get CDC recommendations on how to deal with the Coronavirus as a company owner. The document itself is legit and I downloaded it afterwards directly from the CDC website, but by clicking on the provided link in the email, I probably would have downloaded some nasty malware, adware or spyware riders. Opportunistic phone or email scams may pose as fundraisers for reputable charities or health organizations but are really “phishing” for personal or credit card information. If it sounds fishy, hang up or trash that email without clicking.

To keep peace of mind and a positive outlook, it’s just as important to stay in touch with our family and friends. Reach out to people you might not have seen for a while, especially those who are anxious and in need of support. 

I regularly Skype with my family, which is currently spread out across the United States and overseas in Germany and Zambia. And through Skype, Messenger, WhatsApp and many other free communication apps, we can talk to each other face-to-face, enjoy small group chats, record messages, send pictures and share videos. 

This is hardly a substitute for hugs but can help keep voluntary or involuntary isolation from becoming unbearably lonely. You can also play games online with others. I enjoy playing Scrabble from time to time with my mom and sister in Germany. And one of my daughters decided to cope with this nerve-breaking situation by fighting side-by-side in a virtual “Pandemic” multiplayer online game. 

To get around the current lack of availability for hygiene essentials and some staples, you can order things online and get them delivered to your door. More and more groceries and local stores, such as many of the Old Town Warrenton merchants, are offering free curbside service to help keep people supplied. This is a good practice for minimizing personal contact. 

As a service business owner, I too, recognize the importance of keeping a safe social distance to protect our clients and employees. So, we have decided to shorten in-person conversations by stepping up our internet supported communications and offering more remote and pick-up home service options. We make sure we “practice what we preach,” by sanitizing computers and devices thoroughly as they come in and go out from our shop. 

Finally, if you are in need of help or want to volunteer, you could check out www.fauquier.com for local news and opportunities. And a public Facebook group called Fauquier Resources has been set up, so people can help each other during this emergency.

Klaus Fuechsel founded Warrenton’s Dok Klaus Computer Care in 2002 and is known for his German-American humor and computer house calls. He and his award-winning tech team work hard to save data and solve their clients’ computer cases. Any questions? Ask the Dok at 540-428-2376 or Klaus@DokKlaus.com or go to www.dokklaus.com

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