Cybersecurity Tips for Remote Workers

Hacker

Work-from-Home Cybersecurity Tips for Your Remote Teams

Despite Covid-19, many businesses have been able to stay afloat as they embraced remote work; however, even with everything that’s going on in the world today, cybercriminals are still looking for ways to cause damage. Securing the technology of remote workers should be a top priority for any business owner.

Provide Cybersecurity Awareness Training

Setting clear expectations regarding cybersecurity—behavior and equipment-wise— should be the first thing to do. Talk to your team about cybersecurity best practices and guidance on what they should be doing if they ever fall victim to a cyber-attack or think they could be vulnerable to one. Clear communication protocols and crisis management is essential to keep your company’s information secure.

Don’t Neglect the Importance of an IT Personnel

Every business should have dedicated IT resources to support cybersecurity. You can have internal resources or outsource this service, but it is a necessity. If a security incident occurs, you will need professional assistance to help minimize the impact and restore your operation as quickly as possible.

Equip Your Team with the Tools They Need to Work Securely

There’s a wide array of things employees need to have to execute their tasks from home properly. Businesses that can afford it should provide their employees with company-issued laptops that are managed by the company. This way, you can prevent risks like using outdated software or hardware, using unencrypted devices, or installing potentially harmful software.

Also, tools like encrypted password managers and two-factor authentication systems help prevent undesired individuals from having access to your information.

Woman looking over her shoulder

Protect Sensitive Information

Give access to systems and information role-based to ensure people get the right level of access, depending on the needs of their role. Doing this helps ensure that specific individuals only manipulate sensitive data. Be sure that all sensitive information shared via email or other file transfer methods is encrypted. Avoid storing confidential information in free cloud storage services and choose encrypted cloud storage tools instead.

Beware of Phishing Attacks

Remind your remote teams to be alert to potential phishing attacks. They should be vigilant of emails that come from a dubious source, have typos in the body of the email, links to suspicious websites, and should never share their company credentials or system passwords via email, or ever.

Consider Setting Up a VPN

If you prefer to keep your systems on a more secure network, you might want to set up a VPN. A virtual private network is to use for remote access. It allows users to connect to company systems through a secure and encrypted network, rather than through a regular one that is more prone to attacks.

Work from the comfort of your home while keeping your information secure. Regardless of your experience on this topic, implementing these practices will help you protect your business and your most valuable asset: your data.

How to Prepare Your Home Office Workspace

Home Workspace

Creating a Workspace That Works for You

Although sitting on the couch with your computer on your lap may be comfortable enough sometimes, an actual, dedicated workspace is one of the essential things anyone who works from home needs.

Whether you are a business owner running your operation from home or an employee embracing the remote work lifestyle, having a space for work that you can call your own will help in many ways. A proper workspace can help you become more productive, creative, and organized than tumbling around the house looking from a comfy spot to sit and “get a few things done.”

Here are some tips for setting up a workspace that works for you:

Identify Your Needs

The type of work you do will dictate what you need your home office or workspace to be. If your computer is all you need for work, a small desk should do the trick. A designer or other artist might need a larger table, or if you manage a lot of physical documentation, you might need file cabinets. Also, if applicable, consider your employer’s work-from-home policy to understand their expectations as far as your at-home workspace.

Simple white desk

Find the Right Spot

“The right spot” is not just the location in your home. It also has to do with other things, such as lighting. Choosing a spot in your home that has plenty of natural light is ideal. Not only will it provide the perfect type of lighting for work, but natural light is also incredibly necessary for physical and mental well-being.  When dark, stay away from warm light as it promotes relaxation. Go for cold light instead, which helps you stay alert and increase productivity.

Separate from Distracting Gadgets

Granted that being at home, you will have to deal with some inevitable distractions. However, gadgets like tablets and smartphones can be more distracting than anything else. If possible, use a work-dedicated cell phone and store any personal device away from your work area, along with your tablets and other gadgets that could be potential distractors.

White desk at home office

“No space,” No Problem

It may sound crazy, but you don’t need a separate room in the house you can call your home office to have a dedicated workspace. You can fit a small desk in a wide hallway, which is not only functional but will also add a nice touch to that area of your home. Other areas like the dining room, basement, attic, or garage can be great spots to set up your workspace. Even a guest bedroom could work.

If you still feel like you don’t have enough space for a desk, wall-mounted or corner desks are significant options that can help you make good use of otherwise dead space in your home.

Set Up an Ergonomically Friendly Space

There is no point in having the most helpful home office in the world if you’re continually having headaches or experiencing back pain because your set up is not ergonomically friendly. Ergonomics is an essential element to keep in mind when setting up your home office or workspace to ensure your productivity doesn’t take a hit and can stay injury-free.

Home Office Ergonomics
  • Watch your head and neck: your head, neck, shoulders, and back should all be vertically aligned. Using a laptop stand or having and additional monitor that is taller will help keep the screen at eye level and prevent neck and back pain.
  • Keep your hands and wrists in a neutral position: for this to happen, you might need to adjust your workspace by adding a higher chair or using an ergonomic keyboard and mouse.
  • Ensure your lower back is supported: slightly leaning back into your chair will provide excellent lower back support. Consider using a back support or a cushion if needed.

Overcoming the Fear of Mobilizing Your Business

man working from home

If your business is the right candidate for remote work, is there something keeping you from implementing it? It’s probably fear or doubt. You might be asking yourself a series of questions that are holding you back. For example: Are your employees going to respect their work hours? Will work be done on time? Is your team going to lose touch?

Any process that involves change is likely to be met by fear, which is entirely natural. However, when your business is the type that can embrace remote work, allowing fear to paralyze you, will only keep you away from the benefits of embracing change.

Building Strong Virtual Teams Is Possible

We have discussed the need to have a trust-based relationship with your remote teams. It is, in fact, the foundation of success when it comes to remote work, but it’s not all that is needed. Before implementing this with your teams, you need to design a system that allows you to feel in control despite the distance so that you can overcome your fear of remote work.

Create a Remote Work Protocol

For remote work to work, there needs to be a protocol. It’s not just about moving your entire operation to a removed setting. Develop a contract that covers the basic requirements for employees to be applicable for remote work, such as a stable internet connection, a workspace and a list of expectations for what will need accomplishing and how —including appropriate response time.

Goal review

Define Metrics

Metrics can be as loose or strict as your business needs them to be. In some cases, companies will be able to track how well things are going just by checking how they’re doing on their individual and collective goals. In other cases, more specific metrics will be needed, like tracking productivity, the total amount of tasks completed per week or month, etc. It all comes down to what works for you and your business without making employees feel like they’re not trusted.

Many companies have succeeded in integrating remote teams and are now enjoying the benefits of remote work. Take some time to build a framework that helps you manage your team, gives you peace of mind, and makes working from home easy for everyone.

How to Offer Your Products Digitally

Man using laptop holding credit card

Simple Guide to Selling Your Products Online

Launching an online business is simple; however, with all the competition in this space, things can get a little complicated. Online competition gets tougher every day, but that doesn’t mean you missed your chance of selling your products online.

Having an online business means that even when customers can’t come to you physically, they can still do it virtually. Being successful at offering your products digitally comes down to defining a winning strategy and taking the rights steps toward setting up your e-commerce business.

What Products Can Be Sold Online?

Online sales can include physical products, digital products, or a combination of both. Not all products or services are suited for online transactions. Commoditized products —food, clothes, toys, etc.— and niche products —hand-made products or unique products— are the most popular types of items bought online.

Also, certain services can be offered online, from marketing services to dance classes, home improvement consultations, and medical consultations that don’t require physical contact can be bought online, and provided remotely.

Woman using tablet

Define Which Products to Sell

If you already have a company that offers certain products and services adapted to e-commerce, that’s great! You already skipped a step. If not, then you must define which products you want to sell online. Coming up with unique product ideas or products that will address specific pain points, your target audience has, will set you up for success. Products that are easy to customize are beautiful. Doing market research will help you determine to understand the needs of your audience. Once you’ve decided what you’re going to sell online, define pricing.

Set Up Your E-Commerce Site

There are many e-commerce platforms that you can leverage. You can choose to sell your products on already existing platforms like Amazon, Facebook, or eBay, or create your own e-commerce site, but its best to get help from a professional in this field.

While you work on your online store, you will need to create product content along with a marketing strategy, so you’ll know what to do, how to promote it, and what to expect.

Launch Your Online Store

You should start promoting your online business before it’s ready for launch to generate some anticipation. Once it’s been launched, share it with your social media following, link it to your website, and spread the word among your current clients.

Is Your Business a Good Candidate for Remote Work?

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How to Know If Remote Work is Right for Your Business

Who Can Transition to Remote Work?

The remote work model adapts well to businesses in industries such as information technology, customer service, and marketing. Even though going a hundred percent remote is not something that will work for all businesses, companies from other industries could make certain parts of their operation adapt to this model. Most companies have a few roles that can work remotely. Manager roles could change to this model a few times a week and conduct meetings and training from home.

Most digitally oriented work can be done remotely, so you could consider offering remote work to departments that are involved in those tasks —think of social media, payroll, accounting—or outsource digital work to businesses or contractors that work remotely.

Embracing Remote Work During the Covid-19 Crisis

If remote work protocols were not part of your company’s culture before Covid-19, transitioning into this work model can be more complicated, but not impossible. You can keep your business operating remotely to a certain degree, even if your physical doors are closed. Here are some tips you may find useful as you and your team learn to adapt to a new way of working.

Overcommunicating is Better

Working from home may feel like visibility and accessibility are impaired. That will only happen if communication is not consistent. For remote teams, it is better to overcommunicate. Otherwise, your employees are likely not to feel validated, informed, and much less empowered to do their job. Reply promptly to calls, emails, or chats to minimize the anxiety that comes from the lack of face-to-face interactions.

Video conferencing rules

Maintain an Active Connection

Communicate via phone calls, video chat, email, or a company dedicated chat application to avoid invading your employees’ personal space and devices. Apps such as Slack or Zoom offer chat, voice, and video call features that help you stay connected. G Suite is another great option that offers business email, cloud storage, word processing, spreadsheets, and more.

Keep Your Business Going

Being on top of productivity and progress on projects and tasks is essential, whether you’re onsite or at home. Tools like Monday.com or Trello can help you manage your projects with ease, but there are lots of other great project management tools you can consider.

Work on Employee Engagement

Not everything has to be about work. Even when you’re remote, you still need some casual interactions with your team members to help you stay engaged and develop a trust-based relationship. Try setting up a virtual happy hour once a week where you share cocktail/mocktail recipes, talk about your week, and do fun things like play trivia or guessing each other’s video conference backgrounds. Host a virtual pet day or a viewing party of a series or movie you all enjoy. There are many viewing party apps you can choose. Just having a space on your calendar where you can have informal conversations with your team is a great way to continue to grow your relationship. Even if you can’t become 100% remote, you are likely to have roles or departments that can adapt to this model, which helps you give continuity to your business now, and in the face of any event that might risk putting your operations on hold

Avoid These Mistakes When Training Your Remote Team

Person studying in front of computer screen

How to Avoid the Most Common Remote Team Training Mistakes

There was a time when remote work was considered a luxury or a privilege. Today, it is a necessity, and more and more companies are joining the world of remote work. This change of direction comes with great benefits for both employees and employers, but for it to be successful, there needs to be training involved.

Your training strategy will make or break your team’s effectiveness and the overall remote work scheme. It’s natural to make mistakes since this type of work is relatively new to many companies. However, there are some common remote team training pitfalls you should stay away from:

Unclear Goals and Expectations

One of the most critical elements of training is setting clear goals and expectations. Not having them can harm employee engagement, not just during training but also once your employees start taking on responsibilities.

Make sure to document your expectations and communicate them clearly. Have a Q&A session with your team before starting training to ensure there are no doubts and schedule one-on-one video call sessions to talk about personal development goals every couple of weeks to help them stay on track.

People on video conference

Neglecting the Importance of Constant Communication

Because of their nature, remote teams don’t get near as much interaction as on-site teams do, which puts a challenge on communication. As a leader, establishing an on-going and open connection with your remote teams should be at the top of your priority list. Enable simple communication channels for training purposes. Leveraging the power of video conferencing will make training much more manageable, promoting collaboration and team spirit.

Be sure to make yourself available via direct messaging, calling, or emailing for any questions they might have, even after training sessions are over. It will make your employees feel more comfortable and help develop a trust-based relationship.

Not Implementing a Feedback Culture

Feedback is an essential part of the training. Not allowing your employees to express themselves and share their opinions will make them feel undervalued. Remind your team of the importance of feedback and let them know their input is incredibly valuable and needed for growth.

Ignoring the Need for Ongoing Training

Thinking of training as something you do once and then forget about can be a detrimental approach. On-going training is critical for continuous improvement, especially when it comes to remote teams. Setting up recurring meetings to go over topics that require more attention will help establish a growing relationship with your team.

Ignoring Your Company Culture

Feeling socially and emotionally connected to their company helps increase employee engagement. If you’re not giving your company culture the focus it deserves, your team’s relationship with your company is likely to be weak. Sharing your company’s vision, mission, and core values are essential, especially when training new employees. Explaining how their job supports the company’s goals will make them feel part of something bigger, increase their motivation, and make them more productive.  

How Building a Mobile Team Will Also Help Build Profit Margins

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Remote Work Could Help Increase Profitability for Your Business

Companies started to embrace working from home more since 2005, and since then, its popularity has increased significantly. In fact, in 2020, 3.4% of the U.S. workforce is working from home at least half of the week. This number is likely to be higher now since many companies have adopted a remote work model to be able to keep their operations running as we get through the Covid-19 crisis.

There are many reasons why employees appreciate working from home, but remote work also offers many benefits for employers, including a potential profitability increase thanks to cost savings. Here are some of the ways remote work helps you save money and build profit margins:

Lower Turnover Rates

Losing long-term employees is costly for companies. Employees who work from home are more satisfied with their job, thanks to all the benefits they experience under this work model. It has a direct impact on attrition or turnover rates, which leads to reduced costs in recruiting, hiring, and training of new employees. A study concluded that 46 percent of companies that offer telework had experienced lower attrition rates, while 95 percent confirm remote work improves employee retention. CiscoSystems implemented a remote work policy, which has been in place over the past decade, to retain talent and increase employee happiness. They have reported that thanks to this policy, they save $277 million every year.

Man looking at a business chart

Lower Operating Costs

By allowing your employees to work from home, you can save a significant amount in office supplies and even office space every year. You could rent a smaller office or building, and have employees rotate areas rather than having a desk for each employee. This approach could potentially save you $11,000 per employee on average, a study showed.

Improved Productivity

On-site offices are generally full of distractions, from colleagues stopping to chat to voices from other people’s conference calls, and everything in between. In contrast, home offices are likely to be more controlled environments where people can make themselves comfortable and have to ability to move away from distractions if needed. Working from home also means employees don’t have to deal with morning traffic, which helps minimize tardiness. In general, remote work can help you save valuable time to put toward productive tasks. American Express found that after implementing a work-from-home policy, their employees increased their business output by 43 percent and managed 26 percent more calls.

Is Covid-19 Giving You a Chance to Reinvent Your Business?

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How the Coronavirus Pandemic is Forcing Businesses to Adapt to the New Normal

Everyone had made plans for 2020, but life had something else in store. Businesses had projects lined up, growth strategies in place, new locations planned, and all that was forcefully put on standby when the world became faced with the Covid-19 crisis. Suddenly, businesses were disrupted and had no clear idea of when things would get back to the way they used to be. This is real life; it is happening right now, and how businesses respond to the crisis is very telling of their future.

There are certainly a lot of changes that have come with this pandemic. Focusing only on the negative would be wasting great opportunities for improvement. The current situation is providing business leaders with a chance to react promptly, evaluate their business, and find innovative ways to reinvent their operations.

hand holding lightbulb

Digital Transformation is a Need

Businesses that decided to digitalize their operations before Covid-19 are the most likely to be up and running to this day, as they may experience a less severe impact than those businesses that hadn’t opted for a digital transformation up until then.

When possible, adopting a remote work model leveraging tools such as Zoom or Google Meet for video conferencing and communication allows businesses to remain open, keep their projects moving, and provide an acceptable level of service throughout this crisis.

Although remote work doesn’t fit every business model, it should be adopted whenever possible. Other industries that are severely affected by the current restrictions, such as the tourism industry, are more vulnerable in the face of this situation.

Now is the Time to Innovate

Before you consider laying off employees, ask yourself, is there any way you can reassess, adapt, and renew? This crisis is likely to produce lasting changes. So how can you empower your business with resilience to make it through? Around the world, we see many companies adopting a different direction that allows them to stay relevant as they cope with this crisis while putting their capabilities to good use.

In Costa Rica, a bathing suit manufacturer decided to start producing antibacterial, anti-fluids, and reusable face masks to help people protect themselves against Covid-19 and minimize the waste produced by disposal face masks. Thanks to the high demand, this company had to hire more staff to comply with their orders, generating jobs for previously unemployed people. In Toronto, a gin distillery is now producing hand sanitizer.

Pursuing new opportunities will undoubtedly generate change. But if these changes allow you to keep your business running, aren’t they worth the risk?

Dangers of Micromanagement

team gathered at a table

Micromanagement Could Hurt Your Business

When you start a business, it’s not uncommon to feel a little apprehensive about your employees getting the job done. The same happens when you transition to a remote work model. In both cases, a trust-based relationship will help you and your team stay in line with your business goals. Initially, wanting to micromanage your team can be the most natural reaction; however, there is more harm than good in that approach.

Micromanaging is quite common among small business owners, as they are likely to feel the need to continually monitor what their team is doing, for peace of mind. Although it is good to have checkpoints and specific controls in place to ensure things move along as expected —primarily when you work with remote teamsmicromanaging can be very toxic for your business.

Here are some of the consequences of micromanaging:

Unmotivated Employees

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Most employees will thrive in trust-based environments; knowing that they are considered reliable, helps them be more productive and loyal. In contrast, employees who feel like they are under consistent observation as they try to get their job done, are likely to feel unsatisfied, which affects their productivity and engagement.

Higher Turnover Rates

The pressure of knowing they are being monitored at all times, being asked for updates more than necessary, and overall not considered trust-worthy generates a negative work environment where people don’t feel appreciated or welcome. Employees who find themselves in this scenario are likely to look for other opportunities and leave their job quickly.

Frustration and Burnout

Business owners who adopt micromanagement into their work culture are likely to have too many things on their plate. In addition to working on their tasks, they are also looking over everyone else’s, sometimes reassigning those to themselves. As work builds up, micromanagers tend to realize they have more work than they can manage and end up feeling frustrated and burnt out, which affects productivity as well as their ability to focus on what indeed requires their attention.