»How can I work safely and efficiently from home online?«
Following aspects are important:
- Organisation of working time: Create space for undisturbed work. Maintain your accustomed daily routine as best as possible while working from home online and make sure that you keep to the company break times. Document the results of your work and regularly consult with your supervisor.
- Use of IT equipment: Connect the IT equipment provided by the company to external networks (e.g. hot spot, private Wi-Fi) via remote access/VPN. Use private IT devices only after consultation with your company’s IT department. The use of private IT devices with business SIM cards can generally be permitted. However, the active transfer of company data from these devices to private clouds or to private local storage media (SD cards, USB sticks) is generally not permitted.
- Online meetings: Use communication media and tools that enable efficient online collaboration with colleagues, e.g. Microsoft Teams. For a personal touch, turn on your camera and pay attention to the background. For each web conference, appoint a moderator to lead through the meeting to ensure a good structure and smooth flow. For this purpose, also make sure that your camera and microphone are working before the online meeting so that the start of the appointment is not unnecessarily delayed by technical problems.
- Protection of data and trade secrets: Do not exchange confidential data via messenger services or private e-mail accounts. Encrypt confidential content when exchanging data using your work e-mail account or secure data exchange platforms. Pay particular attention to the sender of an e-mail. Always be aware of the danger of phishing e-mails. Do not follow insecure links and do not give information to people you do not know personally. Keep your home office tidy and keep confidential documents in a safe place.
We provide the according regulations digitally
It is an exceptional situation, many people surprisingly find themselves working from home online.
Surprising not only for employees but also for managers. Many companies or their managers have a negative attitude towards remote working. Of course, in many professions the activity does not allow mobile working. According to a study by the Institute for Employment Research, other reasons against teleworking include more difficult cooperation with colleagues, data protection concerns and difficult or impossible management/control.
Employees often state that presence is important to the supervisor, cooperation with colleagues is difficult, as is the separation of work and private life and that the technical requirements are lacking.
As a result, many companies and employees are not prepared for working from home online and there is an urgent need to take measures to ensure that it works well.
The following are tips on how working from home online can work at any time without compromising corporate behaviour.
Working hours and workplace
To make work at home as productive as possible, you do not only need the proper personal attitude but also a fitting the workplace as well as a daily routine.
Get up at the same time as always and maintain your habits. Make the bed, shower, have breakfast, change your clothes, etc. Do everything the way you have done it so far even if you are working from home. Perhaps you can already gain something positive from the new situation in the morning and use the additional time you have gained by not travelling to your workplace for exercise in the fresh air or for meditation.
Design your workplace so that you can work comfortably and undisturbed. Do not let television or social media distract you.
Create a realistic daily plan and follow it. Plan breaks and stick to the working hours. Working from home doesn’t mean you work around the clock. Resting periods are necessary to stay productive.
Healthy eating is also possible while working from home. And more exercise is perhaps easier to live at home than at work.
If you have children at home, try to ensure that they have a structured daily routine. The same principles for working from home online also apply to home schooling. The television or other electronic aids can help in isolated cases, but should not be overused. And after a few minutes of boredom – and realizing that whining just doesn’t help – the children usually find good alternatives to keep themselves busy so that mom and dad can work.
Instead of scheduling face-to-face meetings, meetings can be held as video conferences. These can be as effective as face-to-face meetings, if not even more productive. However, good preparation is essential, especially for inexperienced moderators and participants.
Before the first call, make sure that the technical requirements are met by all participants and that you have all the necessary components ready for use in time. It would be frustrating for all participants if a significant part of the meeting had to be used for technical measures. Timely testing is essential because the potential sources of error are numerous and range from necessary updates to empty batteries, lack of bandwidth or missing cameras.
The environment should be quiet and adequately lit. Disturbing objects should not be visible. Many tools offer a function to draw a soft background. This can be especially useful for working from home online. You can find a detailed step-by-step guide how to do this for Microsoft Teams here.
At the beginning of the meeting the cameras should be switched on, but the microphones should be muted by default. This also applies during the meeting. Your own microphone should only be switched on when you are speaking to avoid disturbing noises. Ringing smartphones disturb virtual meetings as much as physical ones.
In order to have sufficient bandwidth available, as few broadband services as possible should load the data line simultaneously. Coordinate with the other residents as much as possible.
Actively address technical problems. After all, it is difficult for all participants if at the end of the meeting you realize that much of what was discussed was not understood by everyone.
Moderation and documentation are also crucial for the success of virtual meetings. Clarify the tasks and roles beforehand, latest at the beginning of the meeting.
Documentation of work performance
At the beginning we addressed the fears of the companies that cooperation with colleagues would be difficult and that management or control would not be possible. To counter these concerns, it is a good idea to document your own work performance.
Protection of data and trade secrets
Technical and organisational measures
In order to effectively protect personal data as well as company and trade secrets, appropriate technical and organizational protective measures are required.
If your employer has provided you with a computer for working from home online, perhaps even with a functioning SIM card, you will be one of those lucky people who will have to worry less about technical protection measures. But you should check that your system is up to date, i.e. that all updates for the operating system and all programs are installed. And make sure to use VPN (Virtual Private Network) for all professional activities, even if you just want to do some quick research on the Internet.
If your employer does not provide you with a computer and access to the company network, clarify the requirements for your private infrastructure if you are to use it. In addition to possible company-specific requirements, your system should of course also be up to date. In addition, you should ensure that you have up-to-date security software (virus/malware protection) or at least have activated the Windows security tools.
It is also important to live the Corporate Behaviour when working from home: the need-to-know principle applies here as well – only those people who need the information are informed. Display devices are to be set up in such a way that unauthorized third parties are not allowed to view them. During telephone calls and web conferences it must be ensured that confidential information is not overheard by unauthorized people. For example, telephone calls should not be made on a balcony or with an open window if other people could be in the vicinity.
Mobile devices, storage and physical documents should be secured or locked when unattended.
Caution when using USB sticks: Only use devices that you can be sure are not compromised and ensure that you only store data on mobile media (outside the company infrastructure) where this is permitted.
If confidential information is to be transmitted electronically, you must use e-mail encryption or secure data exchange platforms to ensure that unauthorized third parties cannot gain access to the data. Confidential or secret information should not be used as part of file names or in e-mail subject lines.
Remote working can be facilitated by messenger services. However, you should check your internal guidelines in this regard. Many companies prohibit the transmission of personal or confidential information through messenger services. You should also ensure that no unauthorized linking of data is allowed, for example, between business and private contacts.
And one more tip to help you and all your flatmates. At the end of the working day, make sure that all work utensils and documents are safely stowed away. A home working day should also be finished properly.
Current contact details
Especially when many stakeholders are not at their usual place of work, it is important to have up-to-date contact details. If in doubt, ask to which address you should send confidential information while working from home online.
Beware of cybercriminals
Exceptional situations offer criminals a particularly good chance of being successful with their methods. Uncertainty, stress and unfamiliar work routines are deliberately exploited in order to enrich themselves unlawfully.
Therefore, take special care to observe corporate behaviour and company guidelines and not to follow insecure links or give information to people you do not know personally. The following scams are currently particularly common:
– an e-mail asks you to install new software for teleworking;
– an e-mail asks you to enter your password on a website to activate the new collaboration tool (video conferencing, chat tools, …);
– a pop-up window appears on your screen asking the “security team” to accept the installation and release of a required remote tool
– you receive a call from a scammer, who pretends to work for Microsoft, for example, and is supposed to help you set up your remote workstation; he asks for your access data
The audacity, creativity and professionalism of scammers are remarkable. Always be critical and careful not to fall victim to phishing e-mails, pop-ups, supposedly interesting websites or fraudulent phone calls aimed at manipulating you or gaining access to data or IT systems.
Please report any possible security-relevant procedures immediately to your manager.
E-mails and messengers are practical. But people are social creatures. Talk to others even when you’re isolated at home. Make phone calls with your colleagues or external partners on suitable occasions and talk to family and friends during breaks or outside working hours while working from home online.
Be resilient, positive and keep a sense of humour. This will also help your children.
In this sense: After panic buying like a hamster, do not forget to feed the animal.
An interactive map of the Coronavirus Resource Center at John Hopkins University can be found here.
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