When the pandemic hit, how many news shows, that were largely limited to in-home remote interviews, did you see freeze, stutter…or just go completely dark?
With online disasters, how are you supposed to get through the day with your humble home office set-up?
If you said, “All of them,” you’re not far off the mark. And if the big networks can’t fix these ongoing online disasters, how are you supposed to get through the day with your humble home office set-up? Well, hiccups will happen now and then to the best of us, but when you create the strongest possible tech foundation, you create the best chance for tech success.
Here are a few of the basics you should attend to from the get-go:
If you can’t be heard during online meetings, you aren’t going to be very productive — or very impressive to management or your coworkers. So this is NOT the time to rely on those off-brand headsets you picked up at the Dollar Store. Let everyone else’s voice drop in and out or crackle with static - you want to sound clear as a bell.
Your first priority when working from home should be to invest in a good headset and, just as importantly, a back-up in case there’s a problem. And please, don’t rely on Bluetooth buds. Unfortunately, batteries go bad just when you need them the most.
Just how old is your PC or Apple computer? How well is it running? Is there plenty of RAM and space on the hard drive? How long has it been since you updated critical programs?
That last question is particularly important. The last thing you need 30 seconds before an important call or video presentation is a frozen screen courtesy of a massive Windows update that will not only take valuable minutes to accomplish but also require a complete reboot of your computer.
Hopefully, there’s a department or third party who’s handling this incredibly important piece of your remote worker puzzle. Whether they do it or you do it, make sure your browsers are routinely wiped of cookies and trackers, and your anti-virus software is beefed up and updated.
And lose the non-work social media sites and computer games. Nothing ruins your day like being the source of the trojan horse that corrupts the entire corporate security infrastructure—or having your dating site notify you of new matches during your meeting with the CEO because you shared a screenshot rather than an application window.
Make sure your bandwidth is as fast and furious as possible. You want to be able to present, share, and interact with people without your audio fading in and out. This may mean turning off your VPN (Virtual Private Network) before an important presentation.
If you’re still experiencing internet problems, it may not be your provider who’s the culprit, but the other people who live with you clogging up the connection with their smartphones or endless Netflix binges. Solve that ongoing problem by creating separate bandwidth-limited Wi-Fi channels, so you can have that big bad broadband all to yourself (but maybe share a little with your spouse to keep things congenial!).
Remote work increases security risks. The difference between the protection offered by big data pipes with secured lines into office buildings versus the protection offered by a home PC connection is drastic. The potential for hacking, viruses, and ransomware increases tenfold when you’re a remote worker.
Aside from having your VPN in place, get a password management system like LastPass, Keeper, or Dashlane, and implement it immediately. Don’t use browser-based password storage or auto-complete systems. These are a hacker’s dream and your company’s nightmare because home networks are so much easier to break into than office networks.
Finally, a few other “musts.” When you do ongoing maintenance on your PC, make sure your browsers are routinely wiped of cookies and such. Also, make sure you have strong anti-virus software and other necessary security programs installed. Your IT guy or gal should be able to advise you on what you need if your company hasn’t already issued mandates.
Here's how to think about this. Imagine a carpenter going to work with a box of old rusty tools that are ready to crack in half at any moment. Or a chef trying to cook with an antique stove that can’t keep a consistent temperature. Sooner or later, both of those professionals are going to end up in a situation that makes them look like amateurs. You don’t want to put yourself in that position. Give your tech a tune-up and position yourself for success!