Working from Home.

Mar 24, 2020


The UK government are recommending that if you are able to work from home, you do in an attempt to slow the spread of Coronavirus.

For some this will be a new and novel experience, for others it will be "business as usual".

For our day job, Xynics would normally be advising businesses on how they can maintain control over data, keeping it secure and building stability into their business processes that engender an environment for business growth, but today we're turning our focus to you, the people who are or will be working from home.

I can guarantee that most people who read this next statement will say "not me, i'm careful!". Current stats suggest that more than 80% of data breaches and information security incidents are a result of Human Error.

Employers would normally have a large amount of control over your working environment and can mitigate many threats that you don't even see happening, but when you work from home, you open up the opportunity for people to take advantage of a less controlled environment.

Here's our top tips for working from home that will help you manage your day, and your employer manage risk.

Discipline - It can be very tempting to start later, finish early or dip in and out of work to do household chores. Try to adopt the mentality that you are still going to work, it's just not your usual commute. Get ready for work as you would. Just getting ready to go to work helps put your mind in the right place for working.

Workspace - Try to have somewhere in your home to "go to work". A place that family members know is your space and when you're there you're not to be disturbed. This will also help maintain the privacy and confidentiality of information you might have on your screen, or discuss on the phone when family members are around. It should be a space where you are comfortable and avoid noise and distraction, particularly if your children are home if schools close.

Comfort - Avoid sitting on your sofa with your Laptop on your lap. At work your employer will normally have conducted "workstation assessments" to make sure your working area is comfortable and protects against injury like RSI, back and neck problems resulting out of computer use. Here's a few tips to make sure your workspace is suitable for working;

  • Your eyes should be level with the top of your screen. If you need to use an external keyboard and mouse, and raise your laptop or monitor up on books or a stand.
  • Your shoulders should be relaxed and low, not hunched up, your lower arms parallels to the floor just above the desk, and your feet flat on the floor.
  • You shouldn't be reaching too far, or straining to read your screen. Lighting is important and avoid having windows behind your screen which might cause glare.

Planning & Communication - Plan your tasks for tomorrow before you finish today if you can. This will help you focus on what you need to get done and stop you from wandering off track. You can also combine this with perhaps a 10 minute daily call with colleagues to discuss what you are all doing or need done. You can also use that call as a regular discussion time and encourage people to save up queries for the call, rather than interrupting your working day, but if something is important us email or a messaging system like SMS, WhatsApp, Office 365 Teams etc.

Security - Whether at home or in the office, if you carry computers and phones that access work, keep them with you at all times and never leave them unattended and logged in. Use a strong password, and if you're using a home computer, consider setting up a dedicated "work" user on that computer so all your work is entirely separate from personal computer use.

Anti-Virus and Software Updates - At work your employer will normally enforce software updates, at home on our home computers it's up to us. Make sure you have a current active Anti-Virus (Windows 10 comes with Windows Defender) and if your computer says it needs to update, update it straight away.

Be hyper-vigilant - With the hype, panic and uncertainty around this current situation, those with less than honourable intentions will likely take advantage of weakened or less controlled security. Be on the look out for any emails that are asking you to click on links to go to documents or systems, or asking you to enter credentials for any reason. If your employer hasn't given you advance notice to expect something like that, query any emails you receive with them.

Some FAQ's we've been asked in the last few days;

  • All of our work is in the cloud, do we still need a VPN? - If you use cloud systems and cloud storage and don't use any systems or storage that are in your own premises, a VPN won't really do much if everything you access is via a HTTPS browser. If you do access systems in your office however, unless they also use HTTPS, a VPN is a good idea. There are some great free VPN servers and client software, so you don't need to spend lots of money to get one, and if you want advice, get in touch with us.
  • Can we give customers and other employee's the personal mobile or home phone number for our employees so they can communicate? - Unless an employee has explicitly consented to their personal phone numbers being shared, it would be a breach of GDPR to share that information, even within your business. It might be an expense but you can divert desk phones, or if you use IP telephony, install mobile apps that act as desk phones anywhere. If you need advice on how to work in the short term, get in touch with us as there's a number of routes depending on your needs.
  • What about when this is all over? - It is highly important that if you're allowing employees to use their home computers to access and work, that you ensure you can securely and safely erase any confidential information from those devices. This is one of the more difficult challenges to cover but there is lots of free software to help with this, and advice as given above around using dedicated work users on home computers can help control this. If you want more advice, get in touch and we can advise you how best to plan for this.

Xynics are experts in helping businesses to gather, store and use information in a controlled manner, keeping it secure and compliant with data protection legislation and delivering stability for the business.

If you need help ensuring your business can function over the next few weeks, and work smarter and more effectively going forward, contact us now to talk to us for free about how we can help you.

01604 807120 - www.xynics.com - do-more@xynics.com

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