On the eighth episode of TechTalk Detroit, hosts Chuck Lobert & Brian Spurgeon connect remotely on Zoom to talk about work-from-home best practices during the coronavirus pandemic.
In light of Michigan’s shelter-in-place orders and state of emergency, the idea of working from home has to be considered carefully – you may be working there for a while. The right practices and tools can make a big difference in terms of how effective you and your remote staff are for the foreseeable future.
This is precisely what Vision Computers Solutions’ Chuck & Brian chose to talk about — listen to the full episode below:
“There are a lot of challenges in terms of collaboration,” says Chuck. “Not having that security blanket of being able to go over and talk to somebody kind of forces you to use your tools.”
Key Considerations When Working From Home
While anyone can work from home on an occasional basis, the fact is that you have to think about it more carefully if it’s going to be long term. And by all estimates, the coronavirus pandemic will last at least a couple months, if not longer.
When evaluating your work-from-home environment, keep the following in mind:
- Do you have the right set-up? Make sure that wherever you’re going to work is comfortable, distraction-free, and as in-line with your normal workplace as possible. You may need to invest in an office chair, or even, depending on your work, a second monitor.
- Are you familiar with the right tools? Given how much you’ll be using Zoom and/or Microsoft Teams, it would be smart to explore their features and learn more about them. Not just to use them, but to use them well.
“If it’s going to be an extended period, it’s nice to keep up that productivity with all the different tools you have,” says Brian.
Have You Considered Microsoft 365?
Did you know that Microsoft is currently offering a free 6-month trial of Microsoft 365 E1, including Microsoft Teams, in response to the coronavirus outbreak?
As more and more employees are required to work from home during the coronavirus pandemic, the need for technology to keep them connected has become more dire. Microsoft 365 provides access to a range of key solutions:
- Word (word processing)
- Excel (spreadsheets)
- PowerPoint (presentations)
- Outlook (email)
- OneDrive (file hosting and synchronization with 1 TB of storage)
- Exchange (mail server and calendaring management)
- SharePoint (website building tool to share, organize, store and access information)
- Teams (a key product for collaboration, meetings, chat, and communication)
Don’t Forget About Cybersecurity — Do You Have A VPN?
A VPN creates a secure tunnel for your data to transit the internet, using a network of private servers. When you use a VPN, your data is encrypted, or hidden, as it moves from your device to the VPN and then continues onto the internet through what’s called an exit node. A VPN creates the appearance that your data is coming from the VPN server, not from your device.
Therefore, it’s harder for an attacker to identify you as the source of the data. Even if attackers can intercept your data, the encryption means the attackers can’t understand your data or use it to their advantage. When you put your data out to the VPN server, it exits back out to the public internet. If the site you’re visiting has HTTPS to keep the connection safe, you are still secure.
But even if a third party intercepted it, it’s challenging for the outside party to trace the data back to you, since it appears to be coming from a VPN server.
However, a VPN shouldn’t be deployed on its own. Two-factor authentication (2FA) helps you protect your identity and accounts. More and more organizations are using it for its security and ease-of-use. 2FA requires the user to utilize two methods to confirm that they are the rightful account owner. Biometrics like fingerprints, voice, or even iris scans are also options, as are physical objects like keycards.
By requiring a second piece of information like a randomly-generated numerical code sent by text message, you’re better able to ensure that the person using your employee’s login credentials is actually who they say they are. Without 2FA enabled, if an employee’s VPN credentials are stolen, a bad actor could have unrestricted access to corporate data. That’s why VPNs need to integrate with 2FA solutions.
Don’t sacrifice your cybersecurity just so your staff can work from home. With the right technologies and processes in place, you can maintain a productive and secure remote work model throughout the coronavirus pandemic.
If you’re worried about your work-from-home technologies or cybersecurity, then don’t try to handle it all on your own. The Vision Computer Solutions team will help you evaluate your remote capabilities as a whole to make sure you’re not missing out on useful solutions or taking on any unnecessary risks.