COVID-19: Building a First Class Remote Work Environment – Part 5/6

In Part Four of this six-part series we learned how to manage a remote workforce using the latest and greatest tools and programs to manage and performance track your teammates and staff in your new Remote Work Environment (RWE). 

In this Part Five installment, you will come to know some of the best tools and processes to ensure you and your systems are operating in a secure and safe manner.  Operational security is critical to safeguarding your professional and personal information.    

With the rise of RWEs and growing reliance on public internet connections for access to the various cloud platforms and virtual environments, there has been a corresponding rise in the threat of cyberattack and malicious hacking.  We’ve all been hacked, right?  Anyone heard of Ransomware?  Bad stuff.  Getting hacked cannot only be really embarrassing, but could cost your firm millions of dollars.  Hackers can also hinder efficiency and productivity by simply eavesdropping on your computer for days, weeks, or months, if undetected.

Office environments can be secured with a good door, lock, and key.  However, RWEs are vulnerable because they typically exist in bedrooms, basements, or a home office.  For these reasons, it is critical that you invest in cybersecurity measures.  As mentioned earlier in Part One, a VPN and multiple network backup systems are essential. 

Here is my list of must-haves for you to operate in secure environment:

  • Multi-factor authentication:  you have all experienced this…when you get a text message on your phone with a security code to add to your password.  Simple, but effective.
  • Company Policy:  Have a written company policy governing the rules and procedures for staff operating in RWEs.  Make the security hardware and software standardized for everyone.  Guidelines should be issued on what constitutes suspicious messages and how to handle them. Mimecast is the most popular Microsoft Exchange email management protection. Policies should also guide RWEs in the use of public WIFI – NO STARBUCKS
  • Virtual Private Network (VPN): already discussed previously.
  • Real-time security monitoring:  you want a program running on your computer at all times monitoring for invasions.
  • Multi-Point Network Backup:  you want a physical backup + some cloud-based solution.  Amazon and Google offer these to individual remote workers.  Review policies with everyone and make sure your data is being backed up properly. If you lose your company data on your personal home computer, you will probably lose your job too.
  • Cyber Security software:  this includes antivirus, anti-malware, firewall, etc.  Most PCs come with standard firewall and antivirus protection but you want to upgrade to a business-efficient solution.  Make sure all your software has all the latest updates and critical security patches too.  One of my smaller clients was too cheap to update to Windows 10 so he was without any security updates for six months.  He got seriously hacked just last week.  Had all his electronic customer lists stolen.  Poor bastard.
  • Employee Monitoring Software:  IMO, it is not a smart idea to monitor your employees/staff without their knowledge for “security reasons”, but most employers do this anyway. 

Let’s talk about safety – both physically and mentally.  RWE will take their toll on an individual if one is not careful.  Sitting at a desk all day looking into a computer can have serious side effects.  We already talked about wearing Bluelight Blocking Glasses to cut down on the blue light emitted from your computers.  Three things I would recommend:

  • Physical well being:  Get some basic exercise equipment to refresh physically.  I’m a big spinner so I use a Peleton.  WOW, this piece of equipment is amazing. It’s basically an interactive riding bicycle that provides an on-demand, interactive environment on a mounted screen where you see others riding too.  It measures performance and all sorts of other bells and whistles.  For what you get, it’s not that expensive.  Worth every penny in maintaining my sanity and freshness throughout the day.
  • Meditation:  An old tribal chief told me a long time ago in the desert that “still waters run deep.”  Same with your RWE.  Learn to be still.  Get up from your workstation and take a break.  If you can’t meditate, then listen to some soft music.  I use an app called, “Calm.”  It plays all sorts of sounds and “sleep stories” from nature.  It relaxes the hell out of me. 
  • Blocks of Time:  schedule your work in 45 minute increments and then get away and do something else.  Get a snack, a drink, or just do something else for a separate block of time.  I guarantee you will get a helluva more work done working in six 45 minute blocks than you would working a normal 8 hour day.

In a soon to follow, Part Six, I will recap everything we have learned so far and provide my thoughts on the future of RWEs.  I will also relay some first-hand experiences regarding the challenges and pros and cons of RWEs.  I look forward to putting everything together for you!

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