Work From Home Best Practices for Security Practitioners
By Bill Bernard,
Deepwatch was architected and designed over 5 years ago with the plan that all employees would work from home. This has produced many business benefits as discussed in our blog The Remote Security Advantage. As a 7+ year work from home veteran I’d like to offer a bit about what works for me as I tackle that style of work every day. Hopefully, some of these ideas will help those of you new to the concept. We all approach work and life differently, so some of this may resonate for you and some may not. My standard “free advice” disclaimer stands: this advice is worth at least as much as you paid for it.
Don’t lose out on your routine.
Sure, you’re not heading to the train station and running by Starbucks on the way in anymore, but don’t let yourself hit the snooze button until you have to jump out of bed and onto that 9:00 AM conference call. Create a new routine that works for you, maybe a workout, maybe checking in on the news, whatever.
Make “going to and leaving work” still mean something.
If you let your work become your life, then you may find you don’t have a life anymore. You used to have a commute to help you transition to and from work, and you need to find a way to make that happen in your remote work life as well. Perhaps you can spend 20-30 minutes reading the news online in the morning. Or you could emulate things you would do on your commute at the start and end of your remote workday. Work in a separate room from where you relax, eat, etc. If you help yourself focus on work in that space, you’ll be better able to focus on “not work” when you’re off the clock.
Walk around during the day.
You probably walk around a bit at the office – to the break room, to your colleagues’ desks, to the coffee pot, to meetings, etc. Definitely find a way to replicate that at home too. I have a great headset that lets me even go to the mailbox at the end of my driveway while still on calls. I get up and walk around every hour, and sometimes even take a walk around my neighborhood to stretch my legs.
Stay out of the kitchen!
One of my issues when I first started working from home was popping in for a snack far too often. That said, you may have to stock some things at home that you usually only have at work, like coffee and creamer. Maybe splurge on a large Yeti tumbler that you can fill with water to keep you hydrated without constant visits to the kitchen.
Talk to your coworkers.
Sure, email, text messages, and instant messages are good, but the telephone is better. Video Conferencing is even better than that. Face to face interaction is not replaceable. Body language and facial expressions are really important to have good dialogues and discussions. When you interact with your colleagues don’t just talk about work. When you’re in the office you talk to your coworkers about TV, pop-culture, sports, etc. Make sure you keep doing that from home. Otherwise, you’re likely to start feeling isolated and you won’t get to know your colleagues.
I make myself leave the house at lunch nearly every day. Obviously that’s perhaps not the right option right now, but maybe put on an episode of your favorite binge-watching TV show at lunchtime, so you can reset your head and let work pause for a bit. (Just remember to turn it back off and get back to work after lunch!)
What will my organization reimburse?
See what expenses your company will reimburse, or what products they will supply, for you as a remote worker. A docking station/port replicator and a monitor are extremely helpful for working from home. Your company might ship you items, or offer to pay for ones you buy.
Get the right tools.
Surround yourself with the tools you need to work efficiently. For me, that’s lots of monitors, a good keyboard, a great mouse, a comfortable chair, and a high-quality headset. For you it might include a whiteboard and markers with a good speakerphone.
Be a considerate online meeting attendee.
Find a solution that doesn’t require the microphone from your laptop. Few things are more distracting than a loud typer who is being picked up on their laptop microphone. I strongly recommend at least a Bluetooth headset, and unless it is a really good speakerphone, don’t use that either. Echos and bad noise canceling can really disrupt your peers’ ability to concentrate.
Turn the camera ON!
For internal meetings anyway, just make sure you’re presentable. Respect the fact that you’re in front of your coworkers. That doesn’t necessarily mean you have to dress up every day to the limit you would if you were going into the office, but just don’t wear that “I’m with stupid” t-shirt on camera. Maybe make sure you’ve showered and don’t have bed head either.
Consider who comes in and out of your work environment.
For instance, if you have the luxury of having maids come to your home and you’ve got that scheduled during the week while you’re usually at work, you may find that vacuuming and conference calls don’t mix. If your dog acts as a fur-covered doorbell you might consider disabling your doorbell during the workday — especially if you are a prolific Amazon delivery recipient as they often ring the bell and set off your fur-covered alarm.
Make working from home fun.
Work from your patio/deck or in front of that picture window with a great view once in a while. Open your blinds. Open the windows for some fresh air. Enjoy music at the volume you prefer. You’re responsible for your own morale, so do what you need to do to keep it up.