23 April 2020 Prudent practice when working from home Business not as usual: security tips for working from home To help tackle the ongoing national health crisis, companies across the country, from budding start-ups to established charities and big businesses, have been asked to adopt what is for many an entirely new approach to operating… with their entire staff working from home (WFH). This has raised multiple challenges, from maintaining morale to ensuring safe and secure communication systems. It has also thrown into sharp relief our absolute dependence on information technology and the internet. Maintaining “business as usual” in these circumstances will require some extra precautions and adjustment to previous practices. Both managers and employees now have a personal responsibility to keep company information secure and communicate effectively with their teams. It’s no longer a simple case of dropping documents on your colleague’s desk or waving across the office to call a quick meeting. Here are some prudent practices that you and your team should consider when WFH: Set up a private workspace. Do not share a workspace with anyone except colleagues. You may trust your flatmates or family with your life, but you should always uphold your company’s privacy policies. Lock your computer and paperwork whenever you leave your workspace, even if it’s just for a toilet or tea break. Meddlesome kids could unintentionally wreak havoc with your work. Be aware of your surroundings Keep private conversations private and take calls in a separate room if necessary. Shield your screen from prying eyes by setting up with your back to a wall. Protect your data Work online wherever possible so you can save data directly to the company’s secure online drive or intranet. Avoid saving work on any shared computers or even on your personal devices, unless the company’s tech team has secured it. Only share data with individuals on a “need to know” basis. Only authorised people should be able to access your company’s intranet so this is the safest place to store. Communicate with caution Consider making a phone call to share sensitive information, as digital communications are at a greater risk of being intercepted. Send emails with a link to where a document is securely stored rather than adding it as an attachment. This brings us to the importance of keeping connected with colleagues you were so used to seeing every day. While it remains unclear how long these restrictions will be in place, we should not neglect to monitor staff performance, progression and well-being. Arrange weekly catch ups over your company’s approved video conferencing software. This could just be 10 minutes so employees can report their recent achievements and goals for the coming week, and for the manager to provide feedback. Share company news via a weekly bulletin on the intranet, summarising the current situation and plans for both the near- and long-term. Arrange regular group conference calls. These should be structured around a few key speakers, but include time for a social chat afterwards. Finally, take care of yourselves but keep an eye on your co-workers too. If you sense someone is struggling, reach out to them and offer your support, or raise your concern with their manager. The ultimate aim is to return to a business that has experienced as little disruption as possible, including to the people that keep it running.