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Working From Home: Best Practices

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Geert Van de Steen
Chief Information Security Officer , EASI

How to stay productive? Here are some of my tips to manage yourself and your work during this longer period of homeworking.

Keep regular office hours

When you work from home, try to stick to the regular office hours as much as possible. Your bio-rhythm is used to it, and it makes you available for your colleagues and customers. If you need to watch your kids or attend to people in need, don't forget to communicate your changed work schedule to your co-workers, teams, and your boss, so they know when they can reach you.

Plan and structure your workday

Structure your workday to maximize efficiency. Take advantage of your body’s natural rhythms and plan your work around your most productive hours. If you know you focus best in the morning, resist the temptation to check email until 10 a.m. or later.

A quick review of your calendar when you first start work can set you up for a productive workday. Make a list of your most important tasks before you move on to less urgent business.

If possible, shut the door of your home office (if you have one), to signal to others that you’re working and don't wish to be disturbed. Before you start, list the things you want to address during the day.

Dress to impress

The way you dress affects you psychologically, don’t stay in your pyjama’s all day long. Behave and dress, just as you would if you were to go to the office. Take the necessary time to shower, have breakfast, brush teeth and dress up in a casual way.

Use a designated work area

Use the same area for your home working. If you have a designated office at home: Great! Use it.

If not, create a work area that suits you best. It could be a spare bedroom, or a desk located in the corner of the living room. 

Make sure the workspace allows you to function in an efficient way. Keep distractions as far away from you as possible. Make your workspace a place you enjoy going to each day, an area where you can focus and do your work. 

If you own a docking station, use it. It allows you to connect a mouse, keyboard and an external screen to it. If you need to type a lot, it is advised to use an external keyboard and mouse. If you have an external screen, attach it to your docking station and extend your desktop over the two screens: the one from your laptop and the external screen.

Keep your workspace clean. 

Take breaks

People need breaks during the day. Take your break, even when you work at home. If a colleague contacts you via chat, they’ll just need to wait for a while. If it is urgent, they’ll call you. 

Try not to eat in front of your computer. If you feel hungry or if you are in need of a snack. Take a quick break. This will not only help you to keep your workspace tidy and clean. It's also a healthy habit to walk around for five minutes every two hours. You'll notice you be more concentrated afterwards. 

Avoid distractions

One challenge of working from home is accountability. With no colleagues or partners nearby, it’s easy to become distracted. There are always errands to run and chores at home to do. Do your best to put off household tasks, like laundry and dishes, until you've gone "home" for the evening.

Stay focused on work throughout the day to maintain consistent productivity. Avoid online distractions as well. Limit the time spent on email, social media and websites unrelated to work. Set a timer on your phone or computer if necessary.

Make optimal use of your home resources

Working from another location implies that you need to be connected to your company network most of the time. So, you need a good internet connection at home.

Do not rely on the wireless network of your neighbours to get connected, but use your own. Using the personal hotspot of your mobile phone can get you connected in emergencies, but is not a good solution if you need to work a whole day from the home office.

Get yourself connected to your own home network, if possible use a wired connection: you’ll notice it is more stable than a wireless connection. When using a VPN connection, you’ll notice you might be less disconnected when you use a wired connection compared to a wireless connection. And a wired connection has a higher bandwidth anyway.

What if you have a desktop computer at home? Good news: You can use this computer as well. Your desktop computer already has an external screen, keyboard and mouse: It is very easy to use your desktop computer while home working. This is how to do it:

  • Power on your desktop computer and your laptop
  • Connect your laptop to your home network (You can leave the lid closed)
  • Use a wired connection whenever possible (If not, use Wi-Fi)
  • On your desktop computer, open the Windows Explorer, and browse to “Network”.
  • The name of your laptop will show up: Right click it, and choose “Connect with remote desktop connection”.
  • Enter your credentials, and you’ll see the desktop of your laptop on your home computer.
  • You can now enjoy working on your laptop using the comfort of your desktop computer.

Keep your workplace secured

Even though you work from home, it's best to apply the security policies of your company. So lock your screen when you are not using your laptop, have a clean desk, take care when you print confidential information and so on. We advise you to read the security policy statements of your own company to be sure.

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