2 Work From Home Problems & 2 Work From Home Solutions


Working from home creates physical and digital challenges.
The purpose of this new and improved article from March of 2020 is to help non-technical readers with two problems captured in the following citations:
“Working from home for most of 2020 meant easy access to the food pantry, and for 71 million Americans, unwanted weight gain. A new survey revealed that 60% of Americans want to feel healthier and 51% want to lose weight by exercising and changing their diets, including trying to eat more plant-based.” – Caitlin Mucerino, The Beet
Two in five (42%) of survey respondents said they still did not have access to all the relevant work systems needed to do their job, while just under a third (31%) said they still hadn’t been provided with a laptop or desktop computer for work and 45% of people still don’t have access to video-conferencing facilities.” – Owen Hughes, TechRepublic
Since so many remote workers want to lose weight and also need better tools to do so, the stars are aligned to make business computing technology more relatable (less boring) by comparing it to one of the most popular consumer applications on the market today. (Spoiler alert: Noom)

Personal Pain

During the summer of 2019, decades of eating every meal like a 14-year-old who just got sprung from a POW cage led me to a painful fork in the road.
My stomach was killing me. My hips were so tight it hurt getting in and out of the car. Both knees were cracking. And I had plantar fasciitis in my right foot. This put even basic walks around the neighborhood on hold.
I was also being a major pain to anyone within ten feet of my mouth. These ear assaults started years ago and got worse over time.
A big part of my personality consisted of incessantly talking about what I was going to eat, complaining about overeating, sharing angst about upcoming workouts, then limping around and being overly vocal about the aftermath.
Instead of being thankful I could afford personal circuit training and Megaformer Pilates ($5,000.00 per year times five years), I griped about both activities the whole time and eventually managed to make low-impact treadmill walking the object of my derision.
I was food “poisoned” and all forms of exercise had become my enemy due to chronic (and extreme) inflammation.
All of this came to a head in June of 2019 when I visited my doctor. My cholesterol had increased from 189 in 2014 to 242 in 2019.
I was stuck at an average weight of 197 – three years and counting. At a height of 6’ 1’’ this didn’t exactly make me look like a professional pizza taster. However, it did prompt my physician to recommend I get down to 190 pounds.
Caught up in the moment I asked him, “What if I shoot for 185?” He politely mentioned that would be impossible to do in a healthy manner at 53-years of age and suggested major dietary changes.
This was new to me since I had spent most of my life exercising my way out of bad eating habits. (Too bad this doesn’t work once you’re over forty.)
Sure, I lost twenty pounds on a few different occasions. I experimented with cleansing gimmicks and fad diets. All for naught. The weight always returned.
When I left his office, I knew I had signed up for a challenge I would not be able to handle. I’ve been winging it for decades. What now?

Personal Transformation

I wondered for a few days. Then I stumbled upon a commercial on Facebook for an app called Noom: “For about the same price as a nice pair of shoes, Noom can transform your life in four months.”
What did I have to lose? I’m sort of fat. I hurt all over. I love peanut butter pretzels from Costco way too much. I like technology. It was on.
I submitted my email address and shortly thereafter I received a short survey about my weight loss goals. I typed in 190 and they responded with 183. What the heck? Are these people crazy? (Am I a nut bag for arguing with a bot?)
This exchange was followed by an offer for a two-week trial with four different price options. I chose the third-highest price thinking they were messing with me since the first two were conspicuously low. (I also didn’t want Noom to think I was cheap.)
I later learned they would have said “yes” to any price option I selected. They’re funny that way. Ultimately, Noom just wants you to start. So, I downloaded the app.
Yes, Noom changed my life! Here are the major highlights of what went down (corny weight loss pun intended).
Noom helped me articulate my big picture and drill down my Why. I wanted to get more joy out of life and needed more energy for God, family, friends, career, surfing, drumming, reading, concerts, Atlanta traffic, etc.
Notice how I didn’t say I wanted to be super lean so LL Bean would feature me as a hot older guy modeling sweaters?
Vanity plays don’t work. Transformation requires you to shoot for something much loftier.
I became food “un-poisoned” by following a simple framework based on the four interdependent pillars of health – diet, exercise, sleep, and stress.
Each category influenced and reinforced improvements across the other categories almost immediately increasing energy, focus and dramatically reducing episodes of “hanger.”
Hunger plus anger leads to upset friends, family, and waiters. Boy, am I glad that phase is over!
For roughly ten minutes a day, I interacted with a personal coach/goal setting specialist via text and a support group within the app.
I tracked my weight, logged food intake, read articles on nutrition, discovered new recipes, took quizzes, and laughed a lot.
I also learned to classify food categories with an easy-to-follow color scheme, drank the right amount of water for the first time in my life, (75 ounces a day instead of nothing), and got very intentional about measuring food portions (1,800 to 2,000 calories a day versus 3,000 to 4,000).
I even discovered that a green apple is filling. At first, I thought they were bluffing but I learned to trust the process rather than my instinct which had become a very biased informer over time.
Within the first week, everything that was hurting quit hurting; enabling me to walk 2.5 miles a day without incident.
I lost 45 pounds between July 15th and November 15th of 2019.
My total cholesterol dropped an astonishing 41 points within six months, from 242 to 201. As of March 2021, it’s 195, a 47-point drop in under two years.
All of this happened without starving or extreme exercise. PX90? No thanks. Noom uses psychology, data, humor, moderate exercise, and positive reinforcement to motivate long-term change.
While I’m no longer trying to lose weight – because the 45 extra pounds have stayed off – I still subscribe to Noom.
It’s essentially a personal Chief Health Officer, strategically guiding your journey through a digital roadmap with:

  • Ongoing nutritional education
  • A giant database of nearly every food, drink, and restaurant option in the world
  • A calorie counting tool based on portion sizes
  • A water intake tracker
  • A step and exercise tracker
  • A green, yellow, and red classification system to help you get a balanced amount of each food group in your diet

Soups, salads, and fruit are green. Fish, chicken, and turkey are yellow. Red meat, nuts, and alcohol are red.
Why does this matter? The color scheme guided me to eat more plant-based protein (green category) and limit beef burgers (red category) to only one per day.
In short, I’m getting more joy out of life. I’m 100% more active in all of my endeavors. I’ll probably live longer and I’m not spending $5,000.00 per year with fancy exercise studios.
I’ve also been working from home since March of 2020 and haven’t gained an ounce of COVID weight.
Learn More: Noom

Business Pain

What kind of pains are affecting your organization? Did they start before or after the COVID epidemic?
There are a lot of parallels between physical and digital fitness. Your IT stack is a living, breathing mechanical organism that needs to be up and running.
However, the descriptive terminology is obviously different. Are you tolerating and ignoring operating gaps that adversely affect uptime, reliability, cybersecurity, business continuity, and profitability?
Have you examined the root causes?
I was in pain for years because I never paid attention to the fact that I have a small frame and weighing close to 200 pounds was too much of a strain on the system.
If your organization had cracks in the foundation before the exodus to work from home, there’s a high likelihood your systems are further strained by the decentralization.
Learn More: Tech Problems That Won’t Go Away
The following questions will help you identify common root causes of network problems you may be experiencing:

  • Does the owner of your company use Microsoft Exchange as a 5GB storage/archiving solution? (Is everyone too scared to call him or her out on this?)
  • Are you using an older software application with an expired service and maintenance agreement (that only works with an operating system that is no longer supported by Microsoft)?
  • Are you buying five licenses of a critical line of business application when you really require ten copies?
  • Do you wait until equipment fails to replace it?
  • Do you recycle laptops by passing them lower down the food chain whenever your executives get the latest upgrades?

If this mini-survey prompted a few “yes” responses, the following observations (and issues) are probably relevant:
A premise-based version of Exchange (or any onsite file sharing solution) makes remote access a lot less reliable. Further, it requires users to take additional steps to log in with a VPN.
Using an Exchange Server for storage and archiving of emails puts tremendous strain on your local area network and slows everyone down.
A premise-based server will not effectively suit the demands of a remote workforce if you have to abandon the office for a health crisis or some other disaster. It’s also overly reliant on Internet access into your physical office.
Anytime you’re keeping an older operating system in the mix (because it works with a software application you don’t want to replace), both security and user experience are compromised.
You also have to worry about cyberattacks and a high volume of employee complaints related to integration shortcomings.
A lot of organizations share software licenses to save money which creates bottlenecks and political drama.
Lastly, using equipment until failure and keeping hand-me-downs in your environment increases the likelihood of hard downtime. This also creates a growing patchwork of machines that don’t seamlessly integrate with your network.
And what about the increased pressure on the technology resources who support you? Each of these variables forces in-house IT or your managed IT services provider to react.
This is impossible to sustain over time without a major incident.
Moreover, better run managed IT services providers may opt to discontinue the relationship. Here’s why: if they’re charging you a fixed fee to manage everything, they lose money if they’re constantly engaged in fire-fighting mode.
And in-house IT professionals are likely to quit if things get too chaotic and toxic.
Either support situation is disruptive, frustrating, and expensive. In the same way you can’t exercise your way out of a bad diet – you can’t reactively troubleshoot your way out of a poorly architected technology stack.

Digital Transformation

Unlike my personal experience with diet and exercise, your business optimizing technology requires proactive attention well in advance of any pain or major shocks to the system.
When COVID hit, Integris and our clients made a seamless pivot to working from home. How? Everything was already set up.
Learn More: Remote Workforce Enablement
Okay, our services aren’t as exciting as the Robo advisors at Noom. (We’re not a software program with all kinds of bells and whistles.)
However, the approach and outcomes are very similar and involve real people, vCIOs, and Strategic Account Managers, you can meet in person or on Teams.
Here’s a simple break down of our digital advisory playbook:
Your strategy and budget are applied to a proven IT process based on standards and best practices.
Each client receives regularly scheduled Strategic Business Reviews (coaching) with IT roadmaps, network diagrams, and network health reports.
IT system design is informed by your industry’s specific cybersecurity and compliance framework.
Learn More: NIST CSF and M365
IT roadmaps prioritize all recommendations by risk level: low, medium, and high with easy-to-follow green, yellow, and red indicators.
Learn More: vCIO Overview
We recommend migrating as much as you can to the cloud: file servers, applications, telephony, storage, backup, and more. (This ignites performance in and out of the office.)
Learn More: Transform Your Business
Hardware, software, and applications should be implemented, utilized, and retired in strict accordance with The Technology Lifecycle.
Learn More: The Technology Lifecycle
Every service in your IT environment must be on a current contract or service and maintenance agreement to maximize integration and support capabilities.
As this effort is repeated and refined, the net effect for clients is better results with a much lower expenditure of time, energy, and resources.

What’s Next?

I’m not employed by Noom (on the side) nor do I have any equity in their enterprise. I’m just blown away by the results and excited how the lessons learned apply to IT.
I hope I have inspired you to rethink your approach to personal and digital fitness.

Jed is a Solution Advisor at Integris who has specialized in MSP solution development, sales, and marketing communications since 2003.

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