COVID-19 has forced dramatic changes to the traditional workplace.

Remote work can be a nice change occasionally, but those who are used to a fast-paced office environment may find this switch to be difficult.  Let’s explore how we take this situation and turn it into a positive and successful one.  

Set yourself up to be successful. Do you have a routine? Do you have a designated room declared as your “office”? Check out our tips to make this transition as painless and seamless as possible:  

Find a quiet place to work. Designating a quiet workspace is crucial. With most of the workforce at home, the amount of conference calls, webinars and video chats are going to increase.

Fast and reliable WiFi. With the number of smart devices in everyone’s homes, its essential to have fast, reliable WiFi to ensure video chats aren’t dropped or webinars aren’t glitching.  

Save documents often. Working from home may require different mechanisms to keep everyone working on current files.  Save your documents frequently to ensure everyone is up to date. 

Having the right equipment. Unless working from home is a regular occurrence, the chances of having all equipment needed is unlikely. Making sure you have the headset needed for conference calls, a printer, and a laptop or desktop, or both, can make the transition a little easier. Even more importantly, make sure they work!  

Staying in touch with your coworkersIn the day-to-day operations, a lot of important connections are made through those casual office-space interactions. Make an effort to include the right people in your Microsoft Teams chats or email threads to keep them informed on what you’re working on and solicit collaboration. To lighten things up, consider even sharing pictures of your home office space or inviting people for a virtual coffee! 

Holding effective and productive remote meetings. For the time being, it is safe to assume that most people are working remotely, so make your meetings video-based. This allows you to focus on everyone’s face and optimize audio quality. Effective meetings include collaboration and follow-up actions. Unfortunately, it is much harder to focus when you are not in the same room and you have lots of notifications popping up. So during meetings, quit non-essential programs, don’t just minimize.  Close your Gmail tab and turn off all other distractions like the TV or music.  

Set boundaries for yourself. Contrary to popular beliefs, the most common hazard of working from home is working too much, not too little. When working in the office, we know it’s the end of the day when we see others packing up and saying goodbye. At home, we’re on a roll, especially if the afternoons are our productive hours, one might find themselves cruising into 7 pm or 8 pm. Work and be available on Microsoft Teams during normal work hoursShut down when the workday is done. Take an actual lunch break. Get up and walk around. Trying to emulate your actual workday, but at home, will set you up for success. 

A lot of changes are required to continue working in the current pandemic state.  One thing that shouldn’t change, however, is keeping security in mind.  With your new habits and procedures while working from home, try to incorporate these pointers to continue working securely: 

Stay vigilant about phishing. Attackers often take advantage of current events to increase phishing effectiveness, and COVID-19 is no exception.  Pay attention to emails asking you to perform urgent tasks like clicking on a linkopening an attachment, or doing something financial-related.  If there is ever any doubt, pick up the phone and call the person to confirm using a number that isn’t provided in the email, or better yet, send them a video chat. 

Good password hygiene. Having employees working remotely means that resources must be more actively available outside organizational facilities.  In order to protect these resources, check to make sure your work passwords are up to snuff.  Consider using a passphrase, something that is easy to remember but very long and difficult to guess for anyone but you.  Make sure your home router/modem has a good password, as well as your WiFnetwork.  To remember all your secure passwords, use a password manager with a very strong master password. 

Sharing isn’t always caring. More than likely, there will be others at home with you during quarantine.  This doesn’t mean that they work for your company though, which means they don’t get to use company resources.  Don’t let others use your laptop and do any personal web browsing on a personal device.  Don’t plug in personal devices such as flash drives and cell phones to your work system and stay away from unapproved remote access or file synchronization software like LogMeIn, TeamViewer, and Dropbox unless you are specifically instructed to use them.  Keep communications over company-provided channels instead of personal email accounts.  Verify you have the correct applications and URLs for your remote company resources. 

Protect the new perimeter. Your company’s security now depends on you and your home network.  As such, it’s important that you have an up-to-date and modern router/modem separating you from the Internet.  Additionally, remove any unnecessary or suspicious devices from your home network if there is a cause for concern.  You should also have strong encryption mechanisms protecting your WiFi network.  If you are unsure how to do so, just plug in with an Ethernet cable.  Not happy with your current router?  Use a hotspot on your phone to get Internet access.  

Keep it professional. Just like you should in your office at work, you should keep a clean desk policy at home too to prevent documents from getting lost or misplaced.  Shred documents before recycling if they have sensitive information.  If you live in a densely populated area, remember that others can hear you while discussing private matters.  Lastly, if your pets have a habit of chewing more than just their toys, ensure that none of your work equipment becomes their next play thing. 

Report suspicious activity. Minutes can make a huge difference in the event of a successful cyberattack. As employees move out of the office, the IT and security teams have less visibility into malicious things happening on remote devices.  It’s up to you to report anything suspicious. 

Due to the recent events, working remotely is the new norm for a lot of people. Have that uneasy feeling and uncertain how working remotely will turn out? You’re not alone. Using these tips can help make the transition from office life to working from home a little bit easier and safer! 

Still have some questions about working remotely? Contact us today!