June 2, 2020

Safe and Productive: Tips for Working Remotely

Photo by Bench Accounting on Unsplash

With the advent of the Covid-19 outbreak, most companies have been forced to implement work from home options at a breakneck pace. With the rushed nature of this transition, there will be a lot of companies (if not most of them) who will be exposing themselves to significant risk. Experts are warning of a focused wave of cyberattacks targeting remote workers for two reasons: home users are less likely to have reliable and modern cybersecurity tools, and phishing scams will be able to more effectively target people when they’re scared, isolated, and desperate for information. Now is a strenuous time for businesses as it is; reducing the risks of a devastating cyberattack should be a high priority.

We’ve put together some tips and tricks for business owners to bolster their teams’ remote working environments and processes. We’ve broken it up into two categories: Safety and Productivity.

Safety

  1. This might not be a feasible option for some, but if it’s possible to use company-owned, and therefore company-supported, workstations, do it. This could be physically taking the company workstation home, or it could be by accessing the workstation remotely with some form of screen sharing program like LogMeIn or GoToMyPC. This will allow employees to continue using the tools and software installed on those computers, and will also keep important data on the more-secure work computers. No company data or company passwords should be on unsecured personal computers. We recommend disabling the file-sharing options on the remote access programs for security reasons.
  2. Use multi-factor authorization (MFA) on everything. If you or any of your staff falls prey to a phishing scam or other hack, then MFA will be the third layer of defense that keeps you and your data safe.
  3. Install DNS protection on company-owned devices. In most businesses, the firewall prevents company staff from reaching unsafe or undesirable web addresses. A DNS filtering tool like Cisco Umbrella or Webroot DNS Protection can bridge that gap and help you work on the web, from home, with less risk.
  4. Use encryption. Enforcing the use of hard drive encryption on company-owned computers adds an additional degree of security. Encourage your team to use disk encryption on their home computers as well; tools like Microsoft’s BitLocker work well, and Apple Macintosh computers are encrypted by default. Do not send un-encrypted information via email—encrypt all emails containing even a hint of sensitive information, or use a secure file sharing tool.
  5. Train your team and keep them vigilant. More than almost anything else, training your team to be aware of the cybersecurity threats they may be exposed to will keep you all safe. Team your team to notify your IT resource whenever something seems suspicious, and make these reports a top priority. This is even more true when working remotely. You’re all in this together, work together as a team to keep safe. An inclusive and non-punitive company culture will be legitimate competitive advantages in the current environment.

Productivity:

  1. If you don’t use one already, engage a cloud-based collaboration tool/platform like Microsoft Teams, Google G-Suite Hangouts, Slack, Zoom, or Trello. This will make remote communications more smooth and efficient, which naturally improves productivity.
  2. Similar to the previous point, start using cloud-based file sharing and file sync tools like Google Drive, Microsoft Sharepoint, Datto workplace, or Box. The business-class versions of these products will give you more syncing and sharing options, and all versions are fairly secure when used with multi-factor authentication.
  3. Increase your office bandwidth if possible. Better connections means better productivity.

We hope that these tips can help point you in the right direction. It’s a strange time, but these remote work tips will continue to be true and effective long into the future. If you have any questions, or need help acting on some of these tips, give us a call or send us an email from our Contact Info page on our website.