Make ‘Working from Home’ Work for You

Mar 20, 2020

Workplaces throughout New Zealand are adopting a ‘new normal’, as the response to COVID-19 rapidly evolves. 

With staff advised to work from home where possible there are some simple measures, you can take to ensure your business continues to operate as near to normal as possible over the coming weeks and months.

Review your Security

Operating system – If staff use their home computer for work, check what Operating System they use. If it is Windows 7 or earlier, then they may be a security risk to your business. They also need to check if their PC is fully patched and up to date.

Protection – Do they have a firewall and decent EndPoint Protection (today’s anti-virus)?

Security training – Hackers may take the opportunity to increase cyber-attacks during the response to Covid-19. Are our staff aware of the fact that security still applies when they’re working from home?  Have you provided handy tips to help them? https://www.business.govt.nz/ is a great resource.

USB sticks – As a rule, we advise staff don’t use USB sticks to transfer files or programs. They can often have nasties onboard like viruses.

Loved ones – For those working from home, please don’t let your kids (or the grandchildren) use a work computer.  Cleaning ‘viral infections’, removing risky software, and re-setting up computers, has been a constant income trickle for us over the years!

Cloud services and backups – Either use a cloud service for your data or have your staff access the work network remotely and safely. Avoid locally stored files and make sure any documents are safely within the usual work backups.

Two-Factor-Authentication – If you haven’t already got Two-Factor-Authentication in use, make it a priority to put in place.

Team Communications

Messaging – A messaging service can replace the typical day to day contact a team has in the office. Slack is great (and free to a point) and Microsoft Teams, available through Office 365, includes excellent video and sharing/collaborative working tools.

Phones – Mobile phones can be great in a remote situation, but people who make/take lots of calls need desk phones. A decent cloud-based VoIP system enables you to take your office phone home, plug it in, where it works as it would if it was still in the office.

04 and 06 numbers – Keeping your 04/and 06 numbers working, as usual, can be easily arranged – read more here:

Use your 04 or 06 numbers at home Someone calls your 04 or 06 number – they’re greeted as normal and are then transferred to reception or the extension they want, which is actually your staff members cellphone while they are working from home! For the caller, its business as usual. Calls can be forwarded to other staff members mobiles as an “internal” transfer to an extension number. And for the price of an internal transfer – nothing. You can also make outbound calls from your 04 or 06 from a cell phone. This provides great business continuity, with proven technology, which is easy to install and likely to be lower cost than your current landline system. Call Mark at GTB IT Solutions, 04 297 1040 or 029 904 2600

Health & Safety

Ergonomics – Healthy desk setups minimise neck and eye strain – your team’s health and wellbeing are as important as their connectivity. Provide guidelines and remind them to set themselves up as they would in the office – squarely, and with their health in mind.

Monitors – Adding a decent external monitor to a laptop, and perhaps a proper keyboard mouse, can also make a world of difference to comfort, productivity and reduce stress.

Worksafe has some great advice on ergonomics, particularly for those using computers.  www.worksafe.govt.nz.

Regular Breaks

Remind your team to take regular breaks, move hourly and get up from their desk/computer.  Fresh air, a walk in the sunshine, or time in the back yard is good for the mind and relieves stress.

WorkSafe New Zealand has information about the business and worker requirements for keeping people safe and well in the workplace, as well as guidance about personal protective equipment (PPE).

Workplace preparedness for novel coronavirus (COVID-19) (external link) — WorkSafe New Zealand.

General Business Advice

Business.govt.nz has excellent up-to-date information about COVID-19 and how the virus could impact you and your business. While the situation is rapidly evolving, we’re all in this together. We wish you and your team all the best over the coming weeks.

Let these challenges bring out the best in us all – be kind, help others, laugh when you can, and be a part of our community.

We are happy to help, you can ask us about options for remote working for your team, and we can help you with any of the technical solution ideas above.

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