We have reached an in-between status of this quarantine. Businesses are starting to open back up (with restrictions), but a lot of employees are finding themselves in an awkward spot between working in the office and remaining at home. Doctors are utilizing video and teleconference appointments but are holding office hours to see patients and perform “elective” surgeries. Companies are requesting that their employees work from home, if possible, but they’re relaxing requirements for coming back into the office. Other organizations are welcoming people back from tele-worker status to full in-office expectations.
With “in-between” operations, we’ve helped our clients through a few technology hiccups and wanted to help you avoid them too. Here are the top five things you need to know when working from wherever you’re expected to be.
The Power of the Web App
The majority of business applications have some type of web version. You don’t have to have the software installed on your system to be effective. While you may not be able to use every aspect of the software (higher processing functions may be limited to the desktop version), test out online versions. This is particularly effective if you’re trying to use a laptop or device with a much smaller hard drive in a remote working environment. For example, you can get to your current emails without storing your past five years of email history on your system’s limited disc space. When using a web app, install two-factor authentication wherever possible to maximize security.
A Note on External Hard Drives
First came the punch card, then tape and the floppy disc; now if you want portable physical data storage, it’s all about external hard drives (USB). They are a fantastic way to easily transport data from one place to another, but there are two precautions.
- Hackers love to stash USB drives places just hoping that people will pick them up, get excited, plug them in, and then infect their computer and network. Moral of the story, only trust USB drives that you are familiar with.
- If you are transitioning between a Mac and a Windows system or vice versa, there is a very high likelihood that your external hard drive will not work on both. Hard drives are configured to be read on one type of device, and you usually have to delete the drive to re-configure it to work on another type of system.
Maximize the Cloud
There isn’t a remote workplace that does not rely on cloud for document storage, backup purposes, and accessing line of business applications. When it comes to document storage, consider the following:
- Selective Sync Will Save You. If you already have large files stored in your Dropbox/Anchor/Google Drive/SharePoint, you don’t want your system trying to sync all of it to your hard drive for space, time, and speed considerations. Select only the folders that you’ll be using on a regular basis. The rest of the data will be accessible in the cloud. The online-only feature is also particularly helpful.
- Follow basic sharing rules. Pay attention to read-only or editable sharing links. If you want someone to collaborate, make sure you give them the right to edit. When sharing, you can share a file or a folder. If you share a folder, bear in mind the recipient will have access to everything currently in the folder, as well as everything you add to it later. Never delete files that you did not create. It’s entirely possible that you delete the file for everyone while attempting to simply delete it from your system.
Your safety is our biggest concern whether you’re working in the office, at home or a mixture. In order to remain secure, we highly recommend investing in:
- Enterprise-level security: Install an enterprise-grade firewall, anti-virus, and monitoring system on every computer.
- Two-Factor Authentication: Like we mentioned above, enable two-factor authentication wherever possible.
- Complex Passwords: When you’re utilizing multiple systems, you may feel tempted to simplify your passwords because you’ll be logging in numerous times. Instead, store your credentials in a password vault to protect all of your passwords, and rotate your passwords regularly.
Backup, Backup, and More Backup
We have seen a surge in interrupted power and Internet connections, particularly with people working from home. Nothing is more frustrating than losing all of your work right in the middle of a project.
- Install a battery backup on any mission critical system (AKA anything you’re using for work). This will kick over and maintain power in case of a surge, and keep you running for hours in the event of a longer outage.
- Ensure that your laptops remain fully charged. The myth that you can overcharge and shortcut long-term battery life is completely false. Most laptops today have lithium ion batteries and have an internal circuit to stop the charging process when full-charged. Charge away!
We cannot emphasize enough how important it is to deploy an effective network-wide backup solution so that you can restore data whether you lose a single file due to an employee mistake or lose a significant amount of data in the case of a disaster or breach.