Work from Home (WFH)

In recent years working from home has increased. If not for the occasional day, for but the whole week. WFH introduces new security and business risks that need managing, along with tools to manage those risks.

multi-tasking, freelance and fatherhood concept - working father with baby daughter and laptop computer at home office

Working between the office and home

The transition to working at home in 2020 was like nothing else. If businesses didn’t have a plan, they quickly put them in place, sometimes introducing exposure to their business without knowing it. Our team were on the frontline, helping companies move their teams home to continue work operations.

At Totali, we embraced the work-from-home changes that happened in 2020. We think that teams should have the flexibility of work location where there was little need to commute. Working from home isn’t without risks, but the rewards can often be shown by increased productivity.

Issues with working at home

Working at home provides some different challenge to working in the office. Home network security is usually poor for starters, and as a business owner or manager, you have zero control over this. Ensuring your business and client data is safe when your team are working at home or on the road should be top of mind when considering IT providers.

Security

Just opening up the Remote Desktop port (3389) to your Terminal or Remote Desktop Server is not great for security. The RDP protocol was never intended to run over the Internet. Even with a security certificate installed, this is a great big hole in your network. With recent announcements from Microsoft and other vendors experiencing zero-day exploits (these are exploits that haven’t been patched yet but widely published in the hacking community), your risks increase a lot!

The alternative to “just opening a port” is to set up a VPN (a virtual private network), which sends most IT companies running. A VPN connects a computer or device (like a phone) to your network, so it’s like you’re in the office. With various VPN solutions available, they all require configuration on each device that needs to connect to your network, then managing passwords, keys and deleting old users. VPN connections are often the hardest option in the mind of the IT team. Our team prefer to keep our clients and their data safe, so our VPN solutions are easy to implement and aren’t hard for a user to manage. We do this by ensuring your computer fleet are well managed and up to date, using the latest anti-virus and anti-malware software. The solutions we put in place detect strange behaviour and alert our monitoring team to find out what is happening, often before you spot any issues.

Productivity

Many companies want to watch or spy on their employees to ensure they’re productive. We strongly advise against this. Most employees have a level of unproductive time in their workday, which is the same at home. If you’re considering such software, we would suggest looking at how employees are managed for deliverables when they work in the office. If you’re concerned about an employee, you might need to manage them or look at your procedures and policies. In most situations, monitoring software is a fall-back tool, not the first thing you should deploy.

In our experience of running remote workers, including people across different timezones, we’ve found good management practises always catch underperforming employees. We’ve then been able to address the issues as needed with successful outcomes.

Tools needed when working from home

A simple list of tools that help when working from home:

  1. A company-issued laptop (yes, employees can use their own computer in a pinch)
  2. A VPN connection to the office or a VPN router (these are not as expensive as you think).
  3. A good laptop stand (you cannot work all day with a laptop on a desk alone)
  4. A wireless mouse, and likely a wireless keyboard (a wired keyboard is also fine)
  5. Headphones (with a built-in microphone)
  6. Basic stationery kit (we underestimated the need for this at home, as you find yourself grabbing for a piece of paper to take notes)
  7. A desk phone (or a soft-phone on your laptop)
  8. Any other tools specific to your job (ruler, calculator etc.)

Need something else? Let us know
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Backed by 15+ years of commercial IT experience, we've run networks from a handful of workstations through to large networks with 100's of workstations and laptops. We've worked out how to scale services from 10 workstations to hundreds, so you get the cost savings of larger networks but the support you need to keep your business running.

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