By Greg Jensen, Sr. Director of Security
As somebody who has never lived in Silicon Valley, but always worked for east or west coast firms, I fall into one of those exclusive buckets of employees who have spent their career working from a home office. March ushered in a work from home model for many that is very new and challenging to deal with. With that, it’s a great time to brush up on some survival tips to adapt to this new style of business engagement.
Here are my top tips:
1. Defining your workspace—One of the first steps work from home employees struggle with is wondering where they work. Do they use a table in the garage, the kitchen table, or the sofa in the living room? The greatest advice I was ever given many years ago about working from home was not to mix your personal space and your work space. For those that have a study or office already, this is easier to accomplish. However, for most, an office is something they are rushing to create and the key here is to find creative ways to avoid personal activities, eating meals or socializing from this spot, as you’ll subconsciously “feel on the clock”. This is the single greatest step you can make to mentally disconnect from work at 5 pm and dedicate yourself to your family and loved ones.
If space is an issue, use a chair in the kitchen you never sit in. When you are in that chair, you are in work mode. When it’s time to eat, slide across the table and the same applies in other areas of home. One thing to always remember is that the work from home disruptions work both ways, as spouses and children are not used to having you back home this much. Some may be dealing with roommates who also have their own work from home needs. Be sensitive to that as you ask them to support the ongoing changes of working from home.
2. Establishing your schedule—One of the hard things to do is to manage distractions in the work-from-home setting. Younger children think this means mom and dad are free to play with them. It’s important to establish a home schedule for when you can be interrupted. For example, quiet times must be enforced for when you are on phone calls or in the middle of e-mail and this is something you can even practice with younger children until they understand the rules. When my kids were younger, they knew not to interrupt if door was shut.
Finally, self-discipline in your own schedule is very important, from when you get up, sit down at the desk, take breaks or lunch, check in with key members of your team, and when you shut down. These are hard to manage in the beginning, but consistency is everything.
3. Evaluating your tools—Often this is the first thing you find failings in. You may discover your internet speed isn’t set up to concurrently support the kids as they stream their videos while you sit on a conference call. Beyond computing power, printing or scanning solutions, keyboard and desk position, and lighting conditions are also considerations to make. Finally, make sure you do have excellent cell reception or invest in online conferencing tools like WebEx, Zoom and others.
4. Addressing increased security risks—Billions of dollars are spent around the world by businesses looking to ensure the security of their digital workloads and transactions. Over the past month, we’ve seen that change dramatically in the course of a month as activities that were once fully secured behind the corporate firewalls and security monitoring services are now left to consumer routers.
Many company leaders are now beginning to have the conversation around technologies such as single sign-on (SSO), virtual private networking (VPN), and Multi-factor Authentication. More forward-looking businesses are looking to the cloud to help enable collaboration across a distributed workforce. However, personal responsibility remains critical as employees should continuously watch for phishing attacks and security compromises. These include remaining vigilant for suspicious transactions and activities being taken under your credentials and re-examining usage of personal and business passwords. With regards to passwords, ensure you are using unique and complex password schemes and put in place a reminder to do this monthly. Credential theft is at an all-time high and may rise even higher with workers shifting remote.
5. Maintaining your visibility and communications—More than ever, it’s important to remain as visible as you can with your teammates. First, it’s easy to be forgotten as a remote worker since people may forget about you without frequent communications. Second, we often forget that some people don’t do well working remotely and we should check in on the spirits of others.
To maintain communications, set time aside daily to check in on a work colleague. Ask about their family and what they are struggling with personally before you dive into work. In these times, it is more important than ever to use video conferencing tools to maintain some degree of normalcy with those we used to see each day. This helps reduce the anxiety and stress with our team members and helps make the job more enjoyable.
Finally, make sure you spend time each day with your management to make sure your activities, projects and tasks are moving forward. The worst impression you ever want to make is one where you are viewed as somebody using remote working as a vacation. Show your value, regardless if you are in an office or home.
While there are many great suggestions, the key here is to find what works for you, your family, and the business. Be willing to communicate what works well to colleagues and friends and know that we live in a complex time, but a time that will pass. For more information on how to make most of work and business continuity during this time, stay tuned to this blog. We’ll get through this together.