Best Practices and Security Tips for Working Remotely
May 24, 2020
Working remotely has been a growing trend around the world over the past couple of decades. Studies show that up to 52% of workers did their job remotely at least once a week in 2018. In some counties — Australia, for example — over two-thirds of the workforce spent at least one day a week working away from their workplace. The prospect of being able to work from home, at least once in a while, is unlikely to draw detractors, and there are even reports saying that 99% of employees would appreciate it.
With the emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic, working remotely has become an important part of the self-isolation and social distancing policies many societies have implemented in response. If your business requires IT Services to implement remote access infrastructure, be sure to contact us. While the situation adds an extra item on the list of benefits of remote working — a list that already includes lower overhead and better employee retention — it’s also important to remember that remote work comes with a lot of challenges. Let’s see if we can tackle some of the big ones, starting with security.
Security Tips for Working Remotely
We have the internet to thank for the flexibility to do many of our jobs remotely. But the fact that remote work is something that is facilitated in part by the internet, or happens online entirely, is what makes security such a major concern for remote workers. The internet is not a safe place, and we should all do well to remember that every time we go online.
The dangers that lurk online range from scam emails attempting to phish your information, to attacks that aim to inject your computer with malware, ransomware, or any other kind of unwanted and damaging software. But then there’s also the physical dangers of not working from work — no one is likely going to steal your laptop from your office. They might if you’re working from a public space.
If you were to create a checklist of steps you need to take to maximize your security while working remotely, these are some of the items it would include:
- Work using your business’ hardware, software, or infrastructure whenever possible – The idea here is to minimize the spread of data on several computers and the use of outside tech.
- Don’t use your business’ equipment for anything else – Keep things separate — business equipment is for working. For everything else, use your own computer.
- Avoid using public WIFI – You shouldn’t trust your neighbours, either. If you’re using any network connection other than your own or your business’, use a VPN.
- Rely on cloud solutions for communication and collaboration – This is something your employer should implement, and it’s likely that you’ll at least use a tool like Microsoft Teams for communication.
- Always have an eye on your hardware – If you’re working from a public space, never leave your laptop, tablet, or smartphone unattended.
It goes without saying that you should use all the usual digital safety measures. Make sure all of your passwords are long, complex, and well protected. Minimize the number of devices where you store or enter them. Be careful when opening emails from unknown senders, avoid following dodgy links, and be on alert for fraud.
Alexis OhanianRemote work is the future of work
How to Stay Productive While Working Remotely
Staying productive while working away from the office is a whole different thing than trying to stay safe. You can expect an all-around increase in the number of distractions you have to deal with on top of maybe not having such easy access to all the tools and services you would be able to use in your office.
If you’re finding that your productivity is slipping while you’re working remotely and that getting back to your usual level is an uphill battle, there’s a variety of things you can try. You can, for example:
- Attack the day – Don’t let the day and the work just happen to you. Go at it, methodically, diligently, and with a go-getter mindset.
- Minimize distractions – Turn off your phone if you can, block social media and other websites and apps that siphon your attention, close or lock the door to your remote working place.
- Create a strict schedule – Self-discipline is everything when you’re working remotely. Create a schedule and do your best to stick to it. Aim for zero overtime hours.
- Power through slump periods – Your productivity is bound to fluctuate. Don’t stop working when you don’t feel like working. Stay calm and keep doing your job.
- Go for quality, not quantity – What matters is that you get the job done, not that you spend eight to ten hours a day working. Think about the hours when you’re effective, avoid busywork.
Most of the things you can do to improve your remote working productivity are just common sense methods you’d use to remove distractions and help yourself stay concentrated. Stay focused on your goals and stay disciplined.
How to Separate Professional from Personal when Working Remotely
Keeping your personal life separate from your professional life is really tough when working remotely. If you’re working from home and you don’t have a room you can use as an office, you’re pretty much destined to start seeing your home as a place of work, not a place of rest. This isn’t the healthiest thing in the world, and you should do whatever you can to stop it.
You can use a variety of different measures to keep a healthy boundary between work time and fun time. You can try to:
- Set up a place that’s only for work – Contrary to popular belief, it’s never a good idea to work from the bed. If you can, find a place you can use only to do work.
- Use visual cues to know it’s time to work – A simple lamp you turn on only when working can help you separate work from free time, even if you spend both at the same place.
- Wear nice clothes when working – Don’t work in your jammies. Dress up as you would for regular work. If that’s too big of a chore, at least dress as you would for a casual Friday. No loungewear.
- Contain work within the working hours – Don’t let your work seep into your me-time. When it’s time to work, work. When it’s time to relax, relax.
- Don’t forget about the people around you – Your friends and family might seem like a distraction when you’re in the thick of it, but don’t let your relationships suffer because of remote work.
It’s not easy to set boundaries when working remotely, especially if you work from home. But you have to put in the effort to do it — otherwise, both your career and your private life will suffer. Balance seems to be the best way to go.
Working remotely comes with its own set of pros and cons, both for the employers and the employee. As an employee, however, you will have to tackle a series of issues that might compromise your safety online, your productivity, and your ability to shut everything off and rest. But if you know how to approach these issues, you can successfully counter them and make remote working a mostly enjoyable experience.