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Maximizing Productivity and Security in Your Home Office

By December 5, 2023COVID-19, Safety Tips
Home office safety and security are emphasized in this image, featuring a male of Hispanic descent working comfortably in a supportive chair at his desk. He's wearing casual, comfy clothes and is focused on a laptop connected to a large external monitor. The room is bathed in natural light from a window, creating a warm and inviting atmosphere. The desk is well-organized, with essential work items, a small potted plant, and personal touches like a framed picture, reflecting a balance of comfort, efficiency, and a secure work environment.

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COVID-19 lockdowns are largely a thing of the past, but the age of remote work has just begun. According to a study by Upwork, 22% of jobs will be remote by 2025.

If you’re one of the many professionals working from home, you know about the rewards: no commute, flexible hours, afternoon naps and (for some) working in bathrobes! But have you thought about the risks?

If your home Wi-Fi network gets hacked, you could inadvertently expose your company’s sensitive data to theft. And if you routinely work from your couch or bed, you can experience muscle strains and injuries. It’s easy to let snacking get out of hand when you work mere steps from your kitchen.

To create a safe, secure and productive home office, follow these tips:

Design an Ergonomic Workspace

Standing or sitting for long periods can cause stiffness, soreness, and muscle and joint fatigue. A properly designed workspace can improve your work, well-being and quality of life.

  • Create lumbar support. Buy a chair with lumbar support to maintain good posture and prevent lower back pain. Look for an adjustable chair with an “s” shape. A proper chair will help support your spine’s natural curve. If you don’t have the budget for a new chair, roll up a towel and place it behind your back.
  • Adjust your chair. Ensure your knees are level with your hips and your feet are flat on the floor.
  • Place your monitor directly in front of you. Your monitor should be behind the keyboard and within an arm’s reach (18-24 inches). Use a laptop stand or a stack of books to raise your monitor to eye level.
  • Adjust your work surface. Consider a standing desk so you can alternate between sitting and standing. Standing promotes movement, alleviates back and shoulder pain, and energizes you. When sitting, raise your desk (or chair) so your arms and wrists are level. Keep your keyboard and mouse close to avoid straining your wrists and shoulders.

Take Frequent Breaks

Frequent movement gives your brain a break, helps loosen your muscles and reduces eye strain. If you’re used to sitting for long periods, remind yourself to get up every hour.

  • Stretch. There are many stretches you can do while seated, like shoulder rolls. But it’s best to get up periodically. Setting up a yoga mat next to your desk can be a helpful reminder to work your muscles.
  • Take a walk. Walking improves your mood and physical health. Even short walks can benefit significantly if you work them into your daily routine. Set aside 15-30 minutes daily to get outside and enjoy the fresh air.
  • Prepare a healthy snack. One of the benefits of working from home is access to your kitchen. Take advantage by making a fresh snack, like a fruit and veggie platter, Greek yogurt with berries, hard-boiled eggs or a smoothie. Better yet, eat it away from your desk.
  • Calm your mind. Meditating can help you find calm amid a hectic workday. But if meditation isn’t for you, try writing, colouring, listening to music or cleaning. These activities offer similar mental health benefits, including reduced stress, increased focus and greater peace of mind.
  • Rest your eyes. If you can’t leave your desk, periodically look away from your screen. Remember the 20/20/20 rule: Every 20 minutes, look at something 20 feet away for 20 seconds.

Follow Cybersecurity Best Practices

With the freedom of remote work comes added risk. When you work from home, you must take extra steps to protect your company’s sensitive information.

  • Use strong passwords. Choose complicated passwords and change them often. Strong passwords include uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers and special characters. Avoid reusing the same passwords across your network.
  • Change your devices’ default passwords. Hackers can track down and exploit default passwords.
  • Use a virtual private network (VPN) to access company data. Conducting work on an unsecured network makes your data vulnerable to theft.
  • Avoid public Wi-Fi. If you must work from a public place, connect to your company’s VPN first.
  • Don’t click on unsolicited links or attachments. Be wary of emails and texts asking you to respond immediately. Cybercriminals often use urgency to convince you to act without thinking. If you receive an email or text you weren’t expecting, look up the number or website in a web browser instead of responding to the original message. Never act without confirming the message with the sender.
  • Use multifactor authentication (MFA). MFA requires you to provide multiple verification factors before granting you access to a network. In addition to entering your normal login credentials, MFA asks you to enter a secret code generated through an automated call or text.
  • Update your device software. Updating your devices’ software regularly ensures you’re running the latest versions. Software updates often include security patches to repair vulnerabilities.
  • Look for electrical hazards. Inspect cords to make sure they aren’t damaged or frayed. If a cord feels hot, unplug it and replace it. And don’t overload power cords or use extension cords long term. (Extension cords are intended to be used for 72 hours or less, not as permanent or long-term plug-ins for equipment.)

Keep Safety and Security Top of Mind

For many, remote work offers a welcome relief from the daily grind of working in an office. But it comes with its challenges. By keeping safety and security in mind when working from home, you’ll get the most out of your home and work. 

About Wedgwood Insurance

Wedgwood Insurance has offices in St. John’s & Corner Brook and is Newfoundland & Labrador’s largest independent insurance broker. We provide straightforward home, auto & business insurance advice. 

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Author Jamie Ross

Jamie Ross leads the Marketing and Communications team at Wedgwood Insurance, renowned as one of Atlantic Canada’s premier independent insurance brokers. Bringing a wealth of experience amassed over many years at some of Canada's most esteemed advertising agencies, Jamie transitioned to the insurance industry in 2017. This pivotal move has marked a period of significant professional growth and contribution to the field. A native Nova Scotian, Jamie has been a resident of St. John's, NL, since 2011, where he has become an integral part of the local community. Learn more about Jamie.

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