Tips to make your home office more secure – and more efficient
Welcome to the world of working from home! If this is a new experience for you, you may be experiencing a tough transition, especially if the best part of your workday is chit-chatting with your co-workers.
But take it from me – working remotely also has its perks, and it’s become much more accessible to everyone, no matter what field or industry you work in.
Personally, I’ve worked from my home office on and off for more than 10 years, and I’ve been fully remote for five years. Back when I first began doing technical work, the remote working resources didn’t exist to the extent they do now.
Back then, these tools weren’t nearly as affordable or accessible as they are to us now – even just 10 years later. Now, these tools are at our fingertips with a smartphone. It’s crazy to think about how much these devices have changed how the world works!
Now with so many people working from home, I’d like to share my remote, work-from-home necessities, tips and tricks so you can be a pro home employee, too.
Home Network Security
Two main things will ensure you (and/or your remote employees) are not posing a security threat to your company. These two things will make all the different in ensuring you are safe and secure while working online.
Multi-factor authentication is a security protocol that requires users to supply more than one for of identification. For example, when you sign into your account, you provide your user name and password, then the company additionally texts you a one-time code to the phone number you have on file. This is vastly more secure than the traditional username/password combination.
A virtual private network, or VPN, allows you to browse the internet on a public network (or conduct business on your private home network) from the secure connection of a private network.
Whether you’re an employee, but especially if you’re an employer and your workforce is suddenly working from home, these two things are absolutely essential and will ensure your home workforce is staying safe – and keeping the company network safe.
Do you have tips and tricks for how you keep your remote workers secure? Let us know your tips in the comments below!
Home Office Essentials
My home office essentials include multiple monitors. What are your home office essentials?
Now that your home newtork is safe, let’s talk about how to clear your home office clutter and set up a space that’s conducive to work.
Dock your laptop
If you’re using your laptop from work, try to figure out a docking configuration so that you can easily connect and disconnect your laptop from monitors, keyboards, mice, power supplies and other peripheries.
Get a second monitor
Once you’ve experienced the efficiency of two screens (or three or an ultra-wide curved display), you can never go back.
Invest in a decent set of headphones
Preferably noise cancelling. If you’re easily distractible or don’t have a separate office space this helps a lot. Make sure they’re comfortable for long periods of wear. And if you’re debating between wireless versus wired… go with BOTH! Headphones are also handy for e-meetings, and many come with built-in headsets.
Raspberry Pi 4B is an affordable computer solution
If you’re setting up a home office, you don’t need to spend a fortune for a workable solution. All you need is a Raspberry Pi 4B. Get the one with 4 GB of RAM and you’ll have enough bandwidth to use it as your home computer. It’s great for basics – word processing and streaming videos when you need a break!
(Google) Apps I Can’t Work Without
Google offers a whole suite of apps that make working from home that much easier.
When you need to keep your team connected and on the same page, Google has a whole host of apps that are free to use and allow for collaboration and sharing. Here are a few I use practically every day.
Jamboard is a white-boarding app that does all the essentials. Brainstorm during meetings. Collaborate and get feedback from team members. Share and give editing rights as needed. Present via the “pointer” tool.
A light VoIP app, Hangouts is good for chatting with team members and connecting with small groups on video chat.
Google Meet is the beefed-up video conferencing version of Hangouts. Essentially, it’s Zoom from Google. Right now and through July 2020, it’s free to use for businesses.
Chrome Remote Desktop
Get remote access to the computer in your office from anywhere in the world. Install the Chrome Remote Desktop app on your work computer (or any computer you want to access remotely) and have instant access to the computer’s desktop (and everything else on the machine) from your Chrome browser. For the sake of security, get approval from your IT department before installing the app on your work computer! And keep in mind, running Chrome Remote Desktop does require a decent internet connection (about 10 MBPS download).
Mind Your Mental Health
Let’s be honest. These are some weird times, and working from home may not have been a pleasant surprise for you. It’s important to be kind to yourself. If you don’t feel very productive at first, that’s normal. It’s a transition. It takes time.
Think about your routine. If you’re not used to working from home, it’s easy to get into a situation where your home suddenly feels like the office. Suddenly, you have no separation!
The final list includes things that make a difference with your mental health and help manage burnout.
Be in control of your schedule – don’t let your schedule control you
Set normal work hours. But consider shifting your hours to times that are more ideal for you (break out of the 9-to-5). Set times when you DON’T work, which is arguably more important than setting work hours. And give yourself at least one day each week that you don’t work at all.
Get some exercise
Take a walk in the afternoon. Better yet, take one in the morning, one in the afternoon and one in the evening. Get healthy while you work from home.
Don’t neglect your hygiene
It’s easy to live in your pajamas when you work from home – and are just stuck at home in general. Feel free to weary comfy clothes to work, but at least shower and put on clean clothes in the morning to get started!
My cybersecurity background is in disaster recovery, so I’ve seen firsthand how people deal with stress – and how to overcome it. It’s important that you stay healthy, stay sane and try to get used to working from home.
Some of you will surely love, as I do. But if you hate it, find routines that will make it bearable until you have to go back to the office.
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