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Safe Teleworking tips and advice for business and employees

Flexibility in business is an important element for success. Be flexible and easily adapt new trends allows a company to continue operating. The Covid-19 pandemic and the need to reduce contagion increased the trend of minimal presence at work. Many companies turned to teleworking to continue operating. Teleworking is also known as remote working, work-at-home, work-from-home, virtual work and e-work.

Even before the Covid-19 pandemic, teleworking was a trend adopted by many big companies. Today, been three years since the Covid-19 pandemic first emerged, the sense of normalcy may have returned for many people but teleworking still has an important and growing role in the workplace. Teleworking can reduce the operating cost of a company and help employees be more productive. At the same time, teleworking may lead to negative health concerns like the feeling of isolation, burnout and depression.

The characteristic feature of teleworking is the use of computers and telecommunications in order to change the usual location of work that is a company’s premises. Settling into a “new normal” of teleworking, here are tips and advice for safe teleworking for business and employees:

For Business:

1) Develop and implement a teleworking policy and procedures: These should include guidelines on how employees can access remotely the company’s system and resources, procedures to follow in case of a security incident, the contact person(s) in case of any interruption to the system and any other procedures that the company may deem necessary to be followed for a smooth teleworking operation. These policy and procedures should be tested regularly and be reviewed for any necessary changes.

2) Security of teleworking equipment: A company should ensure that the necessary security measures are in place to prevent any unauthorise access to the company’s system during teleworking. These security measures may include encryption, authentication control, removable media control, disable access to a device remotely. Also, the company must ensure that control measures are implemented in order to ensure that only employees are connected to the company’s network. Security measures should also be implemented to protect personal data in process during teleworking.

3) Keep the company’s network system and Apps updated: A very important element of safe teleworking is keeping your company’s network system and Apps updated in order to minimise the risk of a breach to the system by cybercriminals. Keep updated the systems and Apps minimise the risk of cybercriminals to identify and use any vulnerabilities of the network system and get access to the company’s resources.

4) Secure the company’s emails: A company should ensure that its employees in teleworking have a secure email communication to reach each other, as well as to communicate with the company’s clients. A two-factor authentication is a security measure that can control the access to corporate email accounts and prevent any unathorised access.

5) Increase the monitoring of the company’s network: Apply the necessary controls to increase the monitoring of the company’s networking system in order to detect, on time, unusual remote activity to the company’s network.

6) Educate employees about teleworking: A company should ensure that employees are aware for the company’s teleworking policy and procedures and the risks of teleworking. Also, a company should ensure that employees are aware of cyber threats and follow the company’s procedures and controls during teleworking in order to avoid become victims of cybercriminals.

For employees:

1) Only use the equipment provided by the company: Using your personal devices to perform teleworking increase the risk of a breach to the company’s system and personal data in process. It is very important to understand at the beginning of teleworking what equipment you will need to perform your duties and ask for them from your company. If using your personal equipment is the only option, make sure that the software is up-to-date, antivirus systems are active and the connection with your company’s network is secured.

2) Create strong passwords: Always use strong passwords to login the company’s equipment, system and resources. Keep the passwords protected and try to avoid write them down, especially on documents that can be accessed by unauthorised persons.

3) Understand the company’s teleworking policy and procedures: Before starting to telework you should read and understand the company’s teleworking policy in order to familiarise yourself with the company’s teleworking procedures. Ensure that you understand what is allowed to be done and what not to be done and the person(s) to contact in case of any security issue or problem.

4) Protect the teleworking equipment: When working from home, do not allow members of your family to access the equipment you use for teleworking. Always keep them locked or shut down when unattended. Keep this equipment in a safe place to avoid loss or damage. If you are working outside your home, always avoid leaving this equipment unattended.

5) Stay alert and report of any suspicious activity: Watch out for any unusual or suspicious activity on any of the equipment you use to telework. Stay alert for any suspicious request and report them. If in doubt of any request, for example an unusual financial related request through email, then call your employer and if the case may be, contact the requester to double-check. Also, avoid click on links and attachments in unrequested emails and text messages.

6) Develop new working routines: Discuss with your employer and colleagues for the deadlines and proper channels of communication, as well as how the tasks and duties can be effectively distributed during teleworking.

7) Keep leisure and business apart: Manage your time to follow the deadlines and daily business duties. Set a schedule and stick to it. Also, avoid the personal use of the equipment provided by your company for teleworking.

8) Set clear rules with the people in your home or who share your space when teleworking: For example, if you have children who are in home while you are teleworking, set clear rules of what they can do and can’t do.

It is important for employers and employees to find the balance between teleworking and working with physical presence in the company’s premises, so that both employers and employees work in a healthy environment and be productive. Teleworking’s role in businesses increases, therefore now is the time for companies to develop and implement long-term strategies to make teleworking efficient and effective.

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