What technology and security do I need to work remotely?
Working from home is the norm for many people, but for most of us, it’s something that takes a lot of adjustment to find what works for you. Those of us that have the ability to work from home are very lucky to do so, but that doesn’t mean it’s without its flaws. Remote working when you don’t have the equipment and technology you typically have at the office is challenging.
If your business doesn’t have a remote working policy, now is the time to prepare one. This policy should detail all the technology, security and remote measures your employees need to take when working away from the office. To help you get started, here are the key technology and security measures you should have in place to ensure you can work remotely efficiently and productively.
The technology you need
The technology you have at home is bound to be limited compared to what you have in the office. This doesn’t mean you can’t establish a good setup with some simple hardware and software additions that you probably already have. If not, your employer may be happy to source these for you to ensure you can do your job effectively.
Laptop or desktop computer
The most obvious technology you need for remote working is a laptop or desktop. Whether you choose a laptop or desktop depends on what is best for needs. If you have a desktop at work and can’t bring it home with you, use a laptop but ensure you transfer any files stored on its hard drive in advance of needing them. The advantage of a laptop is that you can set it up wherever and whenever you want. With a desktop, you’re limited to a flat, large surface in your home. Desktops typically perform better and have larger storage capacity. A laptop isn’t great for your posture unless you can elevate it to eye level; the smaller screen may also cause eye strain. Weigh up the options and choose which is better for you.
Monitor and HDMI cable
When you’re used to working from one, two, or even three monitors at your desk, being restricted to a single laptop or desktop can take some adjustment. A monitor isn’t essential for everyone, but if you’re using a desktop you definitely need one. If you’re using a laptop, you may choose to use a monitor as a secondary screen. If you’re using a monitor as your secondary screen, you can use a TV if you have one. Don’t forget you need an HDMI cable to connect to your laptop or desktop to the monitor itself.
Keyboard and mouse
A keyboard isn’t essential if you’re using a laptop but it may be worth it if you’ll benefit from a wider surface area to type. A mouse is a useful addition to a laptop for more control over your movements. A wireless mouse ensures you’re not restricted or tangled by cables connected to your device – but it does need batteries so makes sure you’re stocked up with the right type. A keyboard and mouse are both necessary for a desktop computer. As mentioned, you can get wireless and cable versions depending on your preference.
Headphones and webcam
If you’re making a lot of calls whilst remote working, it’s a good idea to get a set of headphones. Earphones are fine but can become uncomfortable on longer calls. If you can, invest in noise-cancelling headphones to ensure no outside interference can disrupt your calls. If you’re making video calls on your desktop, you’ll need to get a webcam as they don’t have one in-built. This will ensure you can remain connected to your team and see familiar faces during the day. If you’re using a laptop, you won’t need a webcam as they have them installed already.
Microsoft 365 One Drive, Google Docs, Dropbox, or other document sharing software, and Adobe Suite
Moving on from physical devices, the software you use is just as important when working remotely. Without access to physical documents in your office, it’s wise to set up Google Docs, or other document sharing software, to ensure all your team has access to documents they need. With your documents online, you can create, edit, and share each other’s work without the need for multiple versions of docs or printing. If you choose to set up Google Docs, you don’t need access to Microsoft Suite, so this can save you a great deal of money if you don’t already have it installed on your device. If you’re creating design documents, you’ll need access to Adobe Creative Suite. If your business already has this software, you just need the login details to be able to access it remotely.
Teams, Zoom, or Hangouts
Video conferencing software is an essential part of remote working. It ensures you remain connected to your team throughout the day and can align on business activities or just have a general catch up. Skype, Zoom, Microsoft Teams, or Google Hangouts are all great tools you can use for free. All you need is a strong internet connection, webcam, and headphones to be able to hear your colleagues clearly.
Broadband and ethernet cable
Internet connectivity is pretty important when you’re working from home. Most of you will already have wifi, but it’s important your package can handle your usage. Ensure it has good running and download speed to manage activities including calls and file sharing. The further away from your router, the weaker your connection will be. If this is the case, you can get a wifi extension that will connect your device to the router. Alternatively, you can use an ethernet cable that will connect your devices to the local network.
The cybersecurity you need
As well as the technology needed to work remotely, the issue of cybersecurity is critical. Your cybersecurity in the office is likely to be advanced, but away from that, you’re probably limited. Without certain software and protection measures in place, your business is at risk of an internal or external attack. This can result in theft, data corruption, or loss that seriously impacts your business’ ability to operate.
When you’re working remotely, it’s important to connect to a secure network. If you have strong wifi at home, you should remain connected to this at all times. Ensure it’s password-protected to stop other parties from connecting to it. Make sure you’re not working from an unsecured public network. This opens up your applications to malicious threats that can destroy your data or device.
Password and authentication
You must make sure that all your accounts are protected with strong passwords. You shouldn’t use the same password for everything; if a hacker gains access to one account, they’re likely to try them all. Use passwords with upper and lowercase letters, numbers and symbols to ensure it’s tough to crack. Where possible, you should also use multiple-factor authentication. This adds an extra layer to the protection of your accounts, so even if a hacker has your password, they won’t make it past the other layers of protection. This isn’t necessary for all your accounts, but have it in place for business-critical and sensitive data.
Your business may have a VPN in place so all remote workers can access the folders and drives regardless of their geographic location. A VPN is a secure network that allows you to connect through your wifi and gain access to the business’ network and files that are stored there. A VPN also encrypts your data so it’s another level of privacy added to your remote setup.
Antivirus and firewalls
Install firewalls and antivirus software to your desktop or laptop to prevent cybersecurity attacks. Firewalls provide a barrier to protect your business from unsecured external networks. Antivirus software is the next level of security that acts as a shield to protect your device and its data from malware like phishing, trojan, and viruses. This software does expire so make sure you’re always protected.
Update your devices regularly
Your devices will recommend updates regularly so make sure you install them automatically when they appear. Updates are essential to fix any bugs in your device and keep it protected with the latest security additions. This will speed up your device, clear storage space, and fix security vulnerabilities.
Backup your data
Failing to backup your data is one of the biggest cybersecurity mistakes you can make. Without another location of your business-critical information, hackers can easily destroy data that would ruin your business. Make sure you backup your data regularly to multiple locations automatically. You can use external hard drives and the Cloud to ensure it’s protected. Use strong password protection and multiple-factor authentication. You should also have recovery systems in place so your data is salvaged should disaster strike.
When you’re working remotely, you’re likely to have a lot more emails entering your inbox as face-to-face communication becomes limited. You’ll be at risk of phishing attacks and unsecure sites that can install viruses into your device and network. Install email filtering software to filter your ingoing and outgoing emails to check for spam, malware, and untrustworthy links.
There are plenty more ways to establish the ideal remote working environment but these are the essential technologies and cybersecurity measures your business needs. Ensure your employees receive cybersecurity training so they can protect the devices and software in your remote working policy. Check with them to see what they already have at home and what they need to work remotely. This guide is a great place to start developing your remote working strategy and remain secure from threatening forces.