8 Remote Work Productivity and Security Tips from CSO Mike Scott

Spirion’s Chief Security Officer, Mike Scott, shares his own work-from-home tips to ensure your productivity and the safety of your company and personal data.

Working from home can have a significant impact on productivity.  It is important to create a healthy work environment and habits that limit distractions and allow you to finish your work on time every day without the need to burn the midnight oil.  Surprisingly, not everyone suffers from a loss of productivity while working from home.  Some people have a hard time disconnecting from work while at home, while for others it is the opposite.

Below are some tips that I have found useful after working from home for the past several years. 

  1. Maintain regular hours – Try to keep the same hours as you keep in the office.  Consistency will help you maintain productivity, keep your day on track, and support collaboration with your co-workers.  It will also make returning to the office much easier down the road.
  2. Create a morning routine – There are often more distractions at home than in the office, especially if you have small children at home.  Create a routine that not only gets your day started on time, but also helps your family transition from home time to work time.  I had a co-worker that walked out the front door each day with his bag and walked around his house and entered his basement office from the back door.  It seems silly, but it signaled to his wife and small children that daddy had left for work.  He said it was game-changing for his productivity and helped his children move along to their normal daily activities.  He “came home for lunch” every afternoon with the family and left afterward the same way he did that morning. This simple routine eliminated interruptions from his children and made his work transition much easier.
  3. Establish ground rules with your family – It can be difficult for your family to draw a line between family time and work time now that you are working from home.  You may also find yourself pitching in on daily tasks out of habit or at the request of your spouse or significant other.  Just because you are home does not mean you are not working.  It is important to set boundaries early to minimize miscommunication or unnecessary distractions from your workday.I find the flexibility of being able to help out around the house from time to time to be one of the best benefits of working from home.  There is no reason you can’t or shouldn’t take advantage of this benefit within reason.  Remind your family that while you are at home, you still have a lot of work that needs to get done. I suggest following the same rules and habits you would follow while in the office. By setting a precedent upfront, it will allow you the focus on your workday when it is required but also allow you time to enjoy this benefit from time to time without stressing over falling behind at work.
  4. Take a break – For some, working from home can be all-consuming.  It can be easy to get so involved with a project that you miss meals or lose track of time.  Taking an occasional break is essential.  It has been proven that we can only focus on a single task for 60-90 minutes at a time effectively.  Taking short breaks to get up and stretch, move around, and nourish yourself can make you more productive, and it is better for your physical well-being.
  5. Ask for what you need – If you need something to make you more productive at home, please ask!  Talk to your IT department and direct manager about what you need. If you take home office equipment, with permission, ensure that you are tracking the serial number along with each item you’re using.
  6. Try to make a dedicated work-space – Working from your favorite chair or sofa can be very comfortable and relaxing, and if it works for you, that’s great.  I prefer catching up on email from my chair in the morning while I enjoy my morning coffee.  On the other hand, I have found that having a dedicated work-space is critical to focusing on large or complex tasks.  You must also pay attention to the ergonomics of your work-space.  Short periods where you have poor posture or keyboard form may not be an issue; over more extended periods, they can lead to discomfort or worse.  Your work-space should be quiet, comfortable, and support healthy work habits.
  7. Use video software to interact with your co-workers – Communication can be one of the biggest challenges to remote workers.  In-person interactions afford us the benefit of visual cues like body language and hand gestures.  It is especially important to consider video calls for larger groups, but it can also be helpful for one-on-one scenarios as well.  Staying connected on via video can also substitute for the social interactions we all enjoy while at the office.
  8. Protect what matters most – While we do our part in flattening the curve, don’t forget about privacy!  If you print sensitive materials at home, don’t forget to shred them when you are done with them.  If you do not have a shredder at home, keep your sensitive hard copies in one location and shred them when you are cleared to return to the office.  Do not store process or store sensitive company information on personal computers; keep all work-related activity on your work computer.

-If allowed by your company’s remote-work policy, when using your personal computer for accessing company email or other resources, make sure it is up to date on all security patches, running anti-virus software with current updates, and that your personal firewall is enabled.

-If you are using a company device, ensure that its software has the most recent updates and follow all instructions from your IT department to ensure safe and proper use.

With many changes and new processes being developed in the weeks ahead, your employees are likely going to be overloaded with information. Be sure to regularly remind employees of privacy processes. As processes and needs change, be sure to consider privacy at every decision point along the way. By keeping your employees’ and customers’ data private with increased remote workers, your company can avoid unnecessary issues during this period of change.

Spirion’s software can discover and classify data in the entire estate, including every endpoint from laptops to structured and unstructured data to the cloud–even when your employees are working remotely or traveling. Click here to learn more.

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