Over the past couple of months, we have seen a significant shift in the world of work.
COVID-19 has brought unprecedented changes in almost all aspects of our lives. One significant change is many businesses transitioned to remote working, following a global lockdown to restrict movement.
Working from home sounds like a luxury—looking forward to waking up later in the mornings, not having to deal with rush hour traffic, and, best of all, working in pajamas.
Then, there’s also the freedom and flexibility of virtual work that make it conducive to more productivity.
Researchers in a recent study by the Stanford Graduate School of Business found a 13% improvement in performance from working at home.
Recommendations in Dealing With Mental and Physical Issues When Working From Home
These work from home perks sound appealing but let’s face it—there’s another side to the coin.
Remote working comes with challenges, from network and connectivity issues to cybersecurity concerns, and its impact on our physical and mental wellbeing.
In the next section, we’ll look at several issues and challenges that individuals encounter when working remotely.
Loneliness and Isolation
If you’re an introvert, then being isolated from co-workers might not be an issue. But for those of who are extroverts and thrive on human interaction, working from home can become a tiresome and lonely experience.
It can also be unproductive. Sometimes it’s hard to develop a routine and keep focus when you’re struggling with loneliness. In a recent Buffer study, of the 1,900 remote workers surveyed, 21% identified loneliness as a struggle.
Mental Health Concerns
Loneliness can bring out an emotional response such as depression and anxiety. Add COVID-19 in the mix, and this can all be a stressful time for anyone.
Also, many of those working from home have childcare responsibilities or elderly parents to look after. It might be hard to focus and be productive at work when there are significant disruptions at home.
Juggling work with family and household duties is a high-stress environment, and some people struggle to find a balance.
Physical Health Concerns
Teleworking is affecting our physical health.
The downside to a more flexible schedule is procrastination, where some put off work that can be done in the day and stay up all night to finish tasks. The result? Our sleep schedule gets disrupted.
We’re also not working out as often as we used to and staying home means that the kitchen is always at hand. In a well-being study report by the Institute for Employment Studies (IES), 20% of people admitted to increased alcohol consumption, and 33% are not eating healthy. Additionally, 60% said they are exercising less.
Yes, working from home can feel isolated and lonely, but one way to combat this is to take breaks by stepping away from your desk or office. Use this time to check in with a loved one, catch up with your colleagues, take a walk, or grab lunch from your favorite restaurant.
Whatever you decide to do, make sure you are socializing with others to nurture your mental health. Working remotely does not mean you should always be grinding; your body and brain need time to relax.
Make Time to Exercise and Eat Healthy Meals
It can be difficult to keep up a routine when you’re exclusively working from home. The struggle is very understandable. However, setting up a schedule that includes physical activity and breaks to eat a healthy meal is vital.
Exercising and eating healthy is great for your physical and mental wellbeing. And physical activity is not confined to working out at a gym; you can try activities such as tennis, dancing, or biking. It doesn’t matter what you do; as long as you’re moving for health.
Recommendations in Dealing With Cybersecurity and Network Issues When Working From Home
Phishing campaigns, malware attacks, and scams are real threats especially for bloggers and other professionals who are now working from home most of the time.
The COVID-19 crisis has made people too anxious, and many others can relate. Unfortunately, threat actors are looking to capitalize on this anxiety with tech giant Google detecting 18 million COVID-19 related malware and phishing messages through Gmail per day. If malware infects your device, it can also affect the connected office network.
Relying on the WIFI network at home can be a pain when the service drops or goes slow. There are times when employees miss being at work so they can call the IT department to take the trouble off their hands.
But do you notice these network issues only seem to pop at the most inconvenient time, like when you have an important meeting with your boss or have a presentation to make?
When we think about the challenges of working from home, it becomes less appealing. But there’s a silver lining. There are protocols you can follow to make the transition more comfortable and safer.
Here are some recommendations in dealing with cybersecurity and network issues.
Connect to a VPN
Anyone working from home should have this tool installed on their device. The functions of a VPN are to hide your browsing activity and prevent hackers from hijacking your device.
In other words, it facilitates connecting to the internet securely. You must invest in a VPN, especially if your company does not have a corporate VPN. It’s also useful when you’re using public WIFI, which is usually an unencrypted network and can be an avenue for cybercriminals to steal passwords and other personal information.
Enable Two-Factor Authentication
Consider this: 63% of data breaches are because of weak or reused passwords. There is a need for an extra safeguard when accessing devices and accounts. The answer?
Two-factor authentication or 2FA. Whether it is a fingerprint or a code, this additional authentication can prevent unauthorized access. Once 2FA is enabled, a stolen password will not be sufficient to log in successfully. Companies should enable 2FA for remote workers to access emails and other sensitive systems.
Encrypt Wifi Connection
If your WIFI network is not encrypted, it could cost you and your company. Hackers feast on unsecured networks. It’s a gateway to infiltrating devices and stealing data and personal information.
Protect your home WIFI by turning on encryption. Start by creating a strong password for your router and selecting an option for network encryption (WPA2 or WPA3). An encrypted WIFI protects the information you send, preventing malicious parties from reading it. If you work with confidential information, this security protocol is essential.
Know How to Detect a Phishing Scam
Cybercriminals are unrelenting during the COVID-19 crisis. They are taking advantage of the situation by sending COVID-19 related fake emails with malicious links to individuals.
The emails appear to be coming from a trusted source, and unsuspecting victims get caught when they click on the malicious links or attachments. Every employee should know how to spot a phishing scam.
Check the email address carefully—if it’s supposedly coming from a familiar source, there’s usually at least one letter that’s missing or different, and poor grammar and spelling mistakes are also dead giveaways. Remember, if your device is compromised, it can also affect your company’s network, so it’s important to be extra vigilant when opening emails.
Backup Your Data
To protect yourself from a malware attack such as ransomware, here’s what you must do: always back up valuable data. A malware attack is not the only way to lose data. There are hardware failures, human error, and a lost or stolen device.
What are the options for migrating data from a network? The cloud is one alternative, or you can store the information on a hard drive. Every company and employee should have a backup and recovery plan in place to safeguard data when there’s a major interruption.
Lock Your Computer Screen
Make it a habit to always lock your computer screen once you are getting up from your desk. That way, nobody has physical access to your device without your consent, and this includes family and friends.
As an employee, do not let down your guard when working remotely. Work information should be kept strictly confidential, and one of the ways to protect data is by locking the screen whenever you step away from the machine—Press Ctrl+Alt+Delete on a Windows device and Ctrl+Shift+Power on a Mac.
Whenever you’re prompted to update your computer or mobile device, please do not ignore it or delay it for too long. Software updates enhance your digital safety by removing security vulnerabilities. Software updates also protect you from hackers who are always lurking to steal personally identifiable information. While you’re updating your operating system, check to ensure your other applications are also up to date.
Separate Work and Personal Computer
If you have a work computer, it’s best to only keep work-related information on there. Resist browsing for personal reasons on your work device, even if it is to check your Gmail.
In the case where you are using one device, create two user accounts— one for work and the other for personal use.