I'm in the UK too ... I expect my IT challenges over the last 12 months are much the same as everyone else.
We have always had "capability" to work from home as part of Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery. About 10% of our workforce have always worked from home - employed in geographically distant location, or are "mobile" and thus rarely visited the office. That remote-working capability was based on a digger going through the cable in the road outside the office ... or a prolonged powercut, maybe even a once a century storm ... with the intention of sending everyone home for a day, maybe a week at most. Not "forever" ...
As such our systems were intended to be sufficient to make-do over that period; a shared server for remote access which was very slow when an "unusually large number of users" connected. First action was to enable people to "remote" into their office PC, instead of the shared servers. And then having someone in the office to reboot any PC that needed it 🙂 ... simultaneously with that we bought fire breathing dragon servers to host everyone in VMs. That took us a few months, was something we had planned to do for some time (like so many other things ...) and now that is done we are critical of why we didn't do it sooner! That rollout gave IT some headaches basically working from home to rollout updates to virtualise the whole community on brand new servers 🙂
In the middle of that our main IT guy moved to a new house. BT (telecom provider in UK) said "We'll install your Home Internet after the lockdown" ... he found that someone nearby had one of the BT repeater hubs, and a "family member" (say no more ...) had a suitable logon for roving BT network use. Temporary solution solved ...
Staff were told "Take anything you need home with you" ... that gave us some headaches with our asset management system
There was other emergency software development. For example we added an "Emergency Template" to our movements system, so instead of someone's normal weekly default (HQ Office Mon, Tue, Thur, Fri, Satellite office Wed) adding a new week could use the emergency template of "Home Mon, Tue, Thur, Fri, HQ Wed" :). Maybe the Emergency Template is now permanent? / default.
New reports on LOG FILES to determine that home workers had a problem, perhaps before even they knew about it ... Internet Access for some of our rural users, at the end-of-the-line, is atrocious.
A whole raft of new policy, and self-help guides, on Skype ... then Zoom ... then security concerns about Zoom ... then a move to Teams. Figuring out the best means of interrupting someone who has a 10 second lag on their broadcasting 🙂 We've employed a technical writer so that our documentation is better, as there is no chance of doing face-to-face for basic training etc.
A bit later on I discovered some users were sitting at their dining table on a wooden chair with a personal laptop (connecting to office VM) because "Although I have a space for my Home Office this is more convenient". We were heading for RSI, back/posture problems, and horrendous inefficiency (in the office everyone has two screens, a decent ergonomic layout, a proper chair ... etc.)
So we then set about providing everyone at home with "decent kit". We choose a "tiny brick" PC, and offered staff either a pair of screens (typically the ones they had already nicked from the office 🙂 ) or for people with very limited space new really sexy (well ... in my opinion ...) super wide curved screens. And proper office chairs and so on ...
Unlike the office, where everyone has the same sort of desk arrangement and we can just "bulk buy", we had to put some effort into trying to choose "one size fits all" and then allowing some variation of that, as everyone home arrangements are different. We got all the new brick PCs shipped to the office so we could CONFIG them ... and then had to figure out how we could get them to the users' homes ... so now, for new hires, all the kit is shipped direct to their home, and we have figured out a way to CONFIG them remotely.
That was a further set of challenges, and long hours, for IT, but hopefully we have improved the "lot" of the employees who are cooped up at home.
We've never supported MACs but we have one user who has managed to persuade line manager that they can use their home MAC laptop. That should never have crept through (or we need to decide we will support MACs across the board). We have no MAC skills, have no idea what we might be at risk of, and anyone using a laptop at home instead of a two-screen, ergonomic, external keyboard / mouse instead of trackpad is never going to be as efficient and all the ergonomic problems remain. All IMHO of course ...
Some staff are working odd hours, juggling home schooling and so on. I can see from the logs that some people are working late into the night ...
I presume we have some people who are in horrible conditions. The ones that are in one-bedroom-flats I know about, and indeed they are the ones who are mostly choosing to come into the office. The ones that are abused, mentally disturbed by the isolation, etc I don't know about, but I am anxious that the tech stuff isn't adding to their burden. We have private health care for employees, which includes mental health. I know of the numbers (from Stats report only) who have used HR to help them with that, but I have no way of knowing how many more have used the mental health service directly.
We started "socials" with ZOOM quizzes, then Murder Mystery, a scavenger hunt with kids tearing around their houses to find things was hilarious ... and then a competition for the Christmas Lunch, which we then ate (and drank) over ZOOM 🙂 ... we have a very active Whatsapp group and both that and TEAMS meetings frequently feature dogs and children.
"be reasonable to ourselves and to each other" ... good idea, I've copied your article to the relevant folk here, thanks for that.