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We’ve entered an era of hybrid working, and so it’s become essential for employees to adapt and thrive in a remote work environment. There are two key secrets to successfully working in a hybrid world: maintain productivity, even when you are working from home, and cybersecurity is everyone’s business. With devices accessing company data and platforms from anywhere, at any time, it is essential for all employees to become part of the human firewall.

With that in mind, here are three tips to succeed in your remote work endeavours.

1. Embrace hybrid working

To create a productive work environment at home, designate a specific area solely for work-related activities. Having a separate workspace helps you mentally switch into work mode and minimises distractions from personal obligations. According to a survey conducted by FlexJobs, 65% of remote workers found that having a dedicated workspace at home increased their productivity and focus.

Hand in hand with having a dedicated workspace is maintaining clear and consistent working hours This is important for a number of reasons. First, it helps maintain work life balance, but it also means that customers and colleagues can rely on you to be around when they need you. Hybrid working does provide more flexibility and less time wasted traveling, but work hours are still work hours. Interestingly, statistics from Owl Labs indicate that remote workers who establish set work hours are 43% more likely to take time off and have better work-life integration.

Finally, working remotely doesn’t mean isolation. According to a study conducted by Buffer, 97% of remote workers believe that video conferencing improves communication and strengthens relationships with their teammates. Utilise reliable collaboration tools to stay connected and engaged with your colleagues. Video conferencing platforms like Zoom and Microsoft Teams, project management software like Asana or Trello, and team communication channels like Slack enable seamless collaboration and maintain a sense of camaraderie within the team.

2. Enhance productivity

Research conducted by Harvard Business Review reveals that employees who follow a structured routine experience reduced stress levels and increased productivity. Establishing a daily routine is therefore crucial for maintaining productivity in a remote work environment. Set specific times for starting and ending work, regular breaks, physical exercise, and dedicated blocks of time for different tasks. Adhering to a consistent schedule enhances focus, motivation, and overall productivity.

Of course, working from home comes with its fair share of distractions. Identify potential disruptions in your work environment and take steps to minimise them. Consider turning off notifications on personal devices, setting boundaries with family members or roommates, and using noise-cancelling headphones to create a distraction-free workspace. A study conducted by Stanford University found that employees who work from home experience a 13% increase in productivity due to fewer distractions compared to their office counterparts, so get this right and you’ll power through your work.

It's also important to define specific goals and deadlines for your tasks and projects. This practice helps prioritise work, enhances accountability, and enables effective time management. Break down larger tasks into smaller, actionable steps to maintain momentum and measure progress.

3. Stay cyber secure

This is imperative. Your employer will have their own security controls in place, but it’s up to every individual to ensure that they are also doing everything they can to keep cybercriminals out. According to a report by the Identity Theft Resource Center, unsecured home networks are one of the primary targets for cybercriminals, accounting for a significant number of data breaches. Unfortunately, many attacks still come down to human error, so remain vigilant at all times. Here are a few key areas to keep top of mind:

Secure your home network: Your home Wi-Fi network is the gateway to your work systems. Protect it by using a strong, unique password and enabling network encryption (WPA2 or WPA3). Regularly update your router’s firmware and avoid using default login credentials to prevent unauthorised access.

Use secure communication channels: When accessing company resources or exchanging sensitive information, utilise encrypted communication channels such as virtual private networks (VPNs). VPNs encrypt your internet connection, ensuring data privacy and protection against potential cyber threats. A study by Juniper Research predicts that the use of VPNs will rise by 20% in the coming years, reflecting the increasing need for secure remote connections.

Practice strong password hygiene: According to Verizon’s 2021 Data Breach Investigations Report, weak or stolen passwords were responsible for 80% of hacking-related breaches. Creating and maintaining strong passwords is vital for protecting your online accounts. Craft passwords that include a mix of upper and lowercase letters, numbers, and special characters. Implement two-factor authentication (2FA) whenever possible to add an extra layer of security to your accounts.

Beware of phishing attacks: Cybercriminals often exploit remote work situations through phishing attacks. Exercise caution when opening emails, especially those from unknown senders or with suspicious attachments or links. Be vigilant and report any suspicious emails to your IT department.

Keep software and devices up to date: A study by the National Vulnerability Database found that over 60% of data breaches are caused by unpatched vulnerabilities in software and applications.

It’s therefore critical to regularly update your operating systems, applications, and antivirus software to protect against vulnerabilities and exploits. Enable automatic updates to ensure you have the latest security patches. Outdated software and devices are more susceptible to cyberattacks.

Making the most of a hybrid working world

We’ve all experienced the pros and cons of working remotely and from home, but the reality is that hybrid work is here to stay, and yet companies must continue to function as teams and collaborators. These tips will keep you productive while protecting the personal information of customers and colleagues.

Visit Sasfin for more insightful articles on remote work, productivity, and cybersecurity to enhance your work-from-home experience.

About the Author

Del van Rooyen
Chief Information Security Officer, Sasfin Holdings Limited

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