Making Working from Home Work

by admin | April 1, 2020

Maybe you are a seasoned road warrior and accustomed to remote work, or maybe working from home is all new. Fortunately, technology makes it quite feasible. Here are some guidelines and tips to assist you as you prepare to work from home in a safe, functional work environment. Note, this list is intended for guidance and information purposes only. If you have any questions regarding these tips, please reach out to your supervisor or IT provider for additional information.

Work Space

Set up a work space that is as functional, comfortable and private as possible. Sitting on the couch with your laptop works for a little while, but is not terribly ergonomic. Your body will eventually let you know. If you have kids, pets, roommates, a partner or a combination of any; you will be interrupted, distracted and potentially expose corporate information better kept private.

Find a quiet corner, roomy closet or private room where you can set up a sturdy table or desk with a comfortable chair. Room dividers work well to create a bit more privacy. Set up some good lighting if needed, make space for the tools you'll need throughout the day. If you keep a beverage going, make a solid spot for it where it won't fall onto your electronics or paperwork. As much as possible, make sure your screen is shielded from sight of others. A privacy screen is great in open spaces! Use a headset or earbuds on the phone if you share space.

A door makes a great barrier to intrusion. A lock is even better! In the absence of a door, find a way to discourage entry from pets and small children that don't necessarily recognize you're trying to work. Signs can be a fun way to establish the fact; find an inexpensive on-air sign or have one of your kids make a sign you can display. Maybe there are appropriate times where you can let the kids and pets be involved--use your discretion. We're all facing similar challenges, and we can all use a smile now and then.

Office Hours

Set and keep a schedule--just like you're in the office. The more normalcy and routine you can set helps, at a minimum, to remember what day it is. Maybe you like working in PJs, but consider that it may encourage you to be less productive. You never know when you'll need to hop on a conference call!

There are two extremes to avoid. One is to become absorbed in work and forget to take breaks, the other is frequently get distracted by videos or the munchies so work doesn't get done. Setting alarms on your computer or phone work for either situation. Time when to take your breaks to improve your efficiency.

Technicalities

Working remotely, whether short-term or permanent comes with many perks, but it also poses many new risks for the security of your organization’s data. For example, if an employee-owned device (laptop, PC, etc.) is connected to the company’s network and contains a virus or malware, they could be spread to your company’s network. The opposite is also true: your business equipment connected to an unsecured home network is essentially in enemy territory. Even with layers of protection, no system should ever be considered immune to threats. When you're out of the office, it becomes more of a challenge to verify the legitimacy of emails (for example, you’re no longer right down the hall from your CEO who requested an unusual wire transfer), you may be unfamiliar with policies and procedures as they pertain to a work from home environment, and the list goes on. What follows are recommendations. Check with your supervisor or IT provider for specific requirements. Before jumping on the bandwagon with the latest cool collaboration tool, check with IT since many, while useful, can introduce a number of significant security risks.

Device Security

  • Screenlocks should be set to lock automatically after a few minutes of idleness and require a strong password to unlock. Even better: get in the habit if locking your screens when you walk away.
  • Ensure you have the ability to lock your devices (laptop, PC, etc.) and any business relevant information when not in use. Cable locks for laptops should be used when necessary. Laptops and devices should be locked out of sight when unattended.
  • Avoid using your personal devices for work-related business.
  • Safely perform conversations without others eavesdropping or shoulder surfing, especially while working in a mobile setting or when other household members are near.
  • Protect the data you are accessing by using a company-provided VPN* to log into the company network, and ensure you are protecting data visible on your screen with a screen protector. This is especially critical for employees who are required to be HIPAA compliant, PCI compliant, etc.
  • Do not let family members, friends, or anyone but yourself use company-owned devices or personal devices used for business purposes.
  • Use strong unique passwords on all your devices and accounts to prevent unauthorized access.

Network Security

  • Change default router passwords.
  • Enable WPA-2 or higher encryption on wifi.
  • Ensure your router firmware is up to date.
  • Limit the use of public wifi. Always use a company-provided VPN* when connecting to public wifi. Never use public wifi to send sensitive information without a company-provided VPN*.
  • Ensure all personal devices are secure with company-provided or personally owned antivirus and antimalware software.
  • Updated IoT device firmware (smart thermostats, surveillance cameras, etc.).
  • Ensure default passwords are changed.
  • Ensure the software on all devices within your home network is kept up to date (IoT devices such as cameras and smart thermostats, personal computers/tablets/phones, etc.).
  • Review and follow corporate Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) and other relevant policies and procedures.

Awareness

  • Be extremely cautious of email phishing scams
  • Limit social media use
  • Don’t reveal business itineraries, corporate info, daily routines, etc.

A wired network connection is typically more reliable for high bandwidth applications such as video conferencing or VoIP calling. Whether wired or wireless, being on a separate network from IoT devices is recommended for security reasons. Your router may allow you options of creating separate SSIDs or otherwise isolating traffic on specific ports.

Self-care

Exercise will stimulate brain and body as well as relieve stress. During pandemic isolation, our local One Earth Natural Foods is offering online yoga classes. Additionally, YMCA 360 is a free offering during this time. Get up and move!

Get some fresh air! Walk the dog around your neighborhood (just maintain a 6' distance from others,) enjoy lunch on the patio, open windows. You'll feel better and think better.

Play some music or soothing background noise. Check out YouTube and search for what strikes your fancy. Free and paid streaming services let you build playlists and loads of radio stations have online streams. Explore the world!

Working with Kids

Again, you may be a pro at this, maybe you're facing new challenges here are some tips from others who are making it work.

WFH with Kids in Lockdown

Fortune readers share their productivity tips for working from home

New Normal Amid Coronavirus: Working From Home While Schooling the Kids

*A VPN is only as secure as the provider and does not anonymize your traffic per se. There are many free VPN services, but these should only be used under the advisement of someone knowledgeable in the subject or you could actually compromise privacy and security.

 


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