Work From Home: Safety Tips
April 21, 2020 | Andrea Madden
While the concept of working from home isn’t new (a 2018 study found that 70% of global employees work from home at least once a week), the threat of COVID-19 has created a global workforce that is almost entirely remote. Aside from medical personnel and employees working in essential businesses, most businesses and school have transitioned to a temporarily digital workforce.
While there are benefits to working from home (convenience, comfort) and drawbacks (having to deal with kids or other people living in the house during your workday), one thing is certain: these unprecedented times call for a heightened need for accessibility and cybersecurity than ever before.
In order to ensure that you are able to maintain a safe and secure workforce and working environment, as well as maintaining the morale of your employees, we wanted to give you some tips on what you should and should not be doing during this time.
- Set up a secure VPN so that you and your employees are able to access file safely and securely.
- Make sure the software you use for remote working is not being compromised (the rise in “Zoom bombing,” where hackers can access a Zoom meeting without invitation and post inappropriate content or access personal data, has lead to a rise in companies and schools seeking alternative methods for virtual meetings).
- Set up a mandatory cybersecurity training that employees can complete online, and ensure that all employees complete it before beginning to work from home.
- If possible, have your IT department or MSP provide secure laptops to employees with all necessary software and cybersecurity measures installed. If this is not possible, work with your employees to make sure their personal computer is in compliance with your company’s cybersecurity policy, as well as any state or federal regulations regarding compliance in your industry.
- Be transparent about the plan for how long your company will be working remotely and be prepared to answer any questions your employees might have. Also, be conscious of employees who live in different towns or states, as their local government may have different quarantine guidelines than yours, so allowing as much flexibility as possible is essential.
- Assume that the internet connection provided by your ISP is secure enough for sensitive company materials.
- Assume that your ISP is providing you a strong enough network connection to ensure that you can get online and stay online. One of the biggest challenges that ISPs and other remote working tools have faced is the influx of hundreds of thousands more people access their network on a daily basis due to the need to work or attend school online. Providers are scrambling to increase their bandwidth and remove data caps but do not assume that your ISP is doing that.
- Allow employees to store sensitive files on their personal computers. Set up access to a secure shared drive where they can access these files, in order to maintain the integrity of your most important data.
- Expect the same level of immediate responses that you would get inside if an office environment. With everything going on, each of your employees is facing significant adjustments to their lives, whether it is finding a suitable space to work or having to home school their children around their work life. Flexibility is key so be clear about your expectations and trust that your employees will do their jobs.
- Stop bringing some of the fun parts of work into the digital spectrum. If you and your employees have a traditional weekly lunch or a Friday afternoon snack break, schedule it virtually! You can still hop on a call with your team during that time and digitally catch up. In these uncertain times, any semblance of routine or normalcy will improve morale.
The scope of this crisis is changing on a daily basis, and while it is necessary to be adaptable, it is also essential that you maintain the same level of security and accessibility that you provide in your office. Cyber criminals and hackers are not taking a break, so you should not be lax in your security policies. At the same time, you need to make sure that your employees are able to access everything they need to do their normal job duties, and that they are able to set up their work from home environment as easily and safely as possible. Leverage your IT or MSP resources to help your employees understand the importance of cybersecurity and make sure that they are able to easily access these resources should they experience any issues.
There’s not an easy way to predict how long this will last or what is still to come, but maintaining a safe and secure work from home environment is key in ensuring that your business will last through this difficult time.