Remote Work Digest: April 29, 2022

The latest on all kinds of information, news, and resources that help you make working remotely better.

Stay Safe While Working From Home: A Helpful Checklist | Southermaylandchronicle.com

Remote workers should know to reap the benefits and avoid common pitfalls – or worse-case scenarios. To help, here’s a health and safety checklist for working from home.

Workstation setup for your health

Common musculoskeletal injuries for remote workers – joint and muscle pain – are no joke and often happen because of poor posture at the workstation. Also, an issue such as an eyestrain can have a domino effect, leading to additional problems like headaches, dry eyes and souble vision.

Chair

Sitting in an uncomfortable chair without proper back and elbow support can lead to spine-related problems in the long run.

  • Has an adjustable seat pan to ensure your elbows can stay at a 90-degree angle when typing.
  • Rounded or ‘waterfall’ seat pan that doesn’t cut circulation at the knees.
  • Five-leg base that’s sturdy
  • Tilt the seat back, or lower lumbar support to fit into the curve of your lower back.
  • Adjust the headrest to keep your head in a neutral, upright position.

Desk

Desk height and desk space can also influence the positioning of your body. Long-term, this can lead to musculoskeletal issues that could impact your quality of life.

  • Desk height allows for 90-degree elbow angle
  • Has depth that allows monitor positioning for visual comfort
  • Keep frequently used items within reach, especially landline phones.
  • Has enough leg space that allows leg movement and the ability to keep your feet flat on the ground.

Monitor/Mouse/Keyboard

The position of your mouse, keyboard, and monitor affect your posture, which can lead to back, neck, and shoulder issues.

  • A mouse is right next to the keyboard
  • Keyboard height allows wrists and hands to be in alignment
  • Monitor(s) is facing you directly to avoid twisting your neck
  • Position the monitor where there is no glare
  • Adjust monitor height and depth for visual comfort

Safety practices to avoid hazards

Your teleworking setup can be potentially hazardous if you’re not aware. Risk management is a key factor. Review this checklist to ensure you avoid a slip and fall or fire.

Fire

Things around your workspace and home office can act as an accelerant for a fire. Make sure to take precautions measures such as below.

  • You have a working smoke detector nearby
  • A fire extinguisher is readily available
  • Portable heaters are away from flammable materials
  • You have a plan in case of a fire

Electrical

Anytime you’re working around electricity, it’s important to ensure that you won’t be injured by shock. These tips are also related to fire prevention.

  • All electrical equipment is connected to a surge protector
  • Your cords and panels are in good condition with no exposed wiring
  • The household electrical system can handle your office equipment
  • You turn off all equipment when not in use

Environment

Creating a safe environment helps to protect you from a slip and fall. Poor ventilation and temperature control can also lead to increased symptoms due to dust and allergies.

  • The area around your workstation is clear of trip hazards
  • Flooring is in good condition to prevent tripping on loose carpet or tile
  • You have good ventilation and temperature control in your work area
  • There’s adequate lighting to reveal any potential hazards

Security practices to keep data safe

Keeping data safe — whether personal or company — when working from home is a top priority. Follow this checklist to ensure you don’t fall victim to identity theft or cause network security issues at work.

Virus

Protecting your computer from viruses and other malware is a key issue for many remote workers that can compromise both security and productivity.

  • Install and update your antivirus software
  • Never click emails from unknown senders on your personal or professional inbox
  • Enable real-time protection within your antivirus software
  • Antivirus software should perform quick scans on reboots and when opening attachments and a deep scan every twelve hours

Information

Personal and corporate data theft costs individuals and companies billions of dollars every year.

  • Don’t forward work emails to your personal account
  • Use a reliable VPN like Surfshark to encrypt data sent and received
  • Unless approved, avoid printing work content at home
  • Use cloud storage and backup your data on the regular

Wi-Fi

Many internet users often think their home Wi-Fi is safe and secure. But in fact, it’s often one of the most vulnerable network security areas exploited by hackers.

  • Choose an inconspicuous Wi-Fi name that doesn’t draw attention
  • Create a unique, long password with at least 16 characters that includes numbers, capitals, and symbols
  • Change your password quarterly. This is also good practice for your computer login credentials.
  • Enable WPA2 network encryption, and use software that detects who is on your network with alerts

Best practices for your health

Now you have a solid workspace, a safe working area, and a secure network. Read on to check that you’re following the best practices for your physical and mental health when working at home.

Working Best Practices

Remote workers often know to exercise and take mental health breaks. But during working hours, there are also things you can do to protect your health.

  • Take a break from screen watching and typing every 30 minutes
  • Use your hand to hold your phone or use a headset
  • Keep your wrists upright when typing and don’t use a support block
  • Monitor your seated posture when working and sit up straight

Physical Activities

Our bodies are not meant to stay in one position for hours at a time. These activities will help keep your body in working shape for the rest of your career.

  • Incorporate outdoor activity and exercise into your day
  • If you receive work packages at home, be sure to use a trolly or other lifting mechanism to help with heavy items.
  • Take stretching breaks throughout the day
  • Rotate head neck and shoulders periodically at your desk

Mental Health

Mental health is just as important as physical health. Mental health issues can impact our focus and productivity, so it’s better to prevent rather than cure them.

  • Establish work hours and boundaries with your partner, children, or roommates
  • Create a pleasant working environment with music and/or scented candles.
  • Minimize distractions in your working area
  • Schedule regular meetings with managers and co-workers to create positive working relationships

Summary

The working environment is changing across the nation. If you’re one of the many employees who work from home, be aware injuries, cyber threats, and other dangers can occur.

With this checklist, you should be able to implement solid ergonomic practices, safety precautions, and network security protocols that will protect your physical and mental health.

6 effective ways to onboard new employees remotely | Coann Labitoria, Hcamag.com

A company does not become an expert on virtual onboarding in an instant. It takes a lot of trial and error, research, and practice to find the right employee onboarding program that fits the company culture of the company and its workforce.Below are some basic tips employers can try to successfully onboard remote workers:

1. Help the new employee set up their workspaces

Compared to onsite employees who have a designated workspace ready for them since day one, a remote worker is left on their own to set up the equipment, workspace, and systems needed for their new job.

One way to make the remote onboarding process easier is for employers to go ahead and help employees set up the needed applications before they even ask for assistance. Shipping the required equipment and providing clear and detailed steps on setting up the equipment, installing, and logging in on the needed applications and software days before their official first day on the job allows them to get a head start on their onboarding process.

2. Provide them a welcome kit or package

Nothing feels more welcoming than receiving a little token of appreciation from your employer in the form of a welcome package or a gift basket. Companies should consider giving out welcome packages to make employees feel included in the organization’s community. The contents of the welcome package could be anywhere from office items like a company mouse pad or an office mug to random tokens such as a company jacket or a small tote bag. 

3. It is crucial to introduce new employees to the team

It is crucial for employees to connect and get along with their co-workers, especially their teammates. When an employee has an open communication with their managers and co-workers, their productivity, employee engagement, and trust increases. Employers could set up virtual first-day lunch meetings with the new employee’s team members to create new work connections and for the new employee to feel a part of the team.

4. Build a buddy system for your new employees

Usually, hiring managers onboard a group of new employees at a time in a bid to be more efficient with the virtual onboarding experience. Throughout the onboarding process, the new employees will rely on each other for help and support as they adjust to the company culture. Creating a buddy system between the new employees allows them to feel more comfortable exploring the company’s work system. 

5. Designate a culture buddy for the new employees

Aside from cultivating a buddy system for new employees, employers could also assign a culture buddy that has been with the company for a while to a new employee. Having a culture buddy allows the new employee to freely explore the company’s culture with the guidance of a current employee.

6. Provide list of stakeholders in the company

HR leaders should provide a list of the company’s key stakeholders to the new employees during their remote onboarding. The list should include the stakeholders that the employee will most likely interact with frequently, the role of each stakeholder, and a brief description of the stakeholder’s position. This allows new employees to understand the company’s operations more and how they fit in with the company’s success. 

Employers need to take the time to observe the effects of their programs and approach – like their virtual onboarding process – on their employees and make the necessary changes to improve the process. Having an open line of communication between employers, managers, and employees is important in making sure employees feel included and important, all the while ensuring their work productivity and quality are high.

8 Remote Work Security Mistakes You Should Avoid | Lando Loic, Makeuseof.com

To mitigate the security vulnerabilities associated with remote work, you need to be aware of common mistakes to avoid and take steps to protect yourself. Let’s dive right in:

  1. Using the Same Password for Multiple Accounts

While having one password for all your accounts is convenient, using the same password for multiple accounts is a significant no-no. you shouldn’t even attempt to use the same pattern while changing a few characters here and there.

If cybercriminals gain access to one of our accounts, you have made it easy for them to break into your other accounts. We bet you have a ton of different passwords to keep track of, and it’s obvious you can’t memorize all of them, but that’s what password managers are for.

  •  Not Encrypting Your Files

One important measure you can take to protect your files is encrypting them. Encrypting your data makes it unreadable to unauthorized individuals. You can use encryption tools like AxCrypt to protect your local files.

  • Failing to Update Your Software

Procrastinating on updating your software leaves you vulnerable to security threats. Cybercriminals are always looking for loopholes in software that they can exploit. This is why software companies release updates frequently to patch up these vulnerabilities.

So, one of the biggest security mistakes you can make is failing to respond to those updates, be it for your operating system, or other applications. That said, when you receive a notification to update your software or system, do it as soon as possible. If you must postpone because you can’t stop the work you are doing at that time, schedule a time for the update and stick to it or set a reminder, so you don’t forget.

  • Not Backing Up Your Data

Although we never hope for the worst, things can go wrong, and they often do. When it comes to remote work, this could be anything from your cat knocking over your laptop to a ransomware attack.

This is why you should prepare for unforeseen circumstances by backing up your data. There are two main ways to do this. You could either use an external hard drive or backup your data to the cloud. If you choose to go with an external hard drive, make sure you keep it in a safe place.

  • Clicking on Links from Unknown Sources

That harmless ad might not be as harmless as you thought. Phishing attacks are on the rise, and cybercriminals are better at making fake emails and links look authentic. They mask emails to make them look like they are coming from a legitimate source, such as your bank or a company you do business with.

This is why you should avoid clicking on links from unknown or even known sources that look suspicious. If you have doubts about the source of an email or link, contact the company it claims to be from to verify its authenticity.

  • Not Using Two-Factor Authentication

Securing your accounts using strong passwords is good practice, but you can take it a step further by using two-factor authentication (2FA).

  • Using Public Wi-Fi

Working from public Wi-Fi hotspots comes with its own set of risks. These networks are usually unsecured because anyone can access them, exposing you to cyberattacks.

Whenever you feel like working in a public place, use a VPN to encrypt your connection and protect your data, or use your phone’s Hotspot feature to create a more secure Wi-Fi network.

  • Not Reading App Permission Lists

When you install an application on your device, it will usually ask for specific permissions, such as access to your camera, microphone, or location. It’s important to take a moment to read these lists to understand what an app will have access to on your device. After all, why would your wallpaper app need access to your microphone?

You can follow these tips to create a more secure remote work environment. But, keep in mind that cybercriminals are constantly adapting, so it’s crucial to stay up-to-date on the latest security threats.

Top 7 Career-Boosting Tips for New Developers in 2022 | Geektime.com

This article features seven essential hacks for junior engineers to create the foundation for a successful and sustainable software development career. The tips will help developers fast-track their careers, make an immediate impact, and stand out so they get noticed by companies seeking skilled and motivated developers.

1.Build your LinkedIn profile

Visibility is key, and LinkedIn is the place to be today. Make sure your online presence is maximized with an active and updated profile. Comment on company updates, participate in group discussions and try to get recommendations from CTOs or team leads you may have engaged with previously. 

2. Participate in dev events and meetups

Once you have established a digital presence on LinkedIn, you need to connect the dots by participating in events, lectures, and conferences. The software engineering space is constantly evolving, and you want to stay in the loop. Being an active participant in developer get-togethers will boost your networking and allow you to stay ahead of the curve.

3. Establish your presence on GitHub

Try to beef up your resume and make a good case by contributing to an open-source project on this dev-centric platform. Practicing with Git and GitHub is a valuable skill you will need to demonstrate sooner than later.

4. Freelance away

It doesn’t matter if you are unemployed or working your first job as a QA professional or junior developer. You’ll want to start freelancing as soon as possible– some great freelancer platforms are Upstack, Upwork, Toptal, and Gun.io. You can also practice new languages and prepare for future challenges.

5. Join dev communities

Get exposed to training opportunities and gain exclusive access to job openings that may not be floated on mainstream channels. Subscribe to newsletters, track industry news via relevant subreddits, and spend time on StackOverflow – a community with almost 5 million developers. It’s worth every minute of your time.

6. Start interviewing even before you’re ready

The reasoning behind this is simple: You need to familiarize yourself with the screening process, learn how to follow up with potential employers, and create a professional identity that works (literally). This is a huge confidence-boosting hack that will also help you in the short and long run.

7. Compromise on Salary Packages

The software developer space rewards experience and demonstrated value like any other industry. Be prepared to earn less in your first couple of jobs. Prioritize landing in companies with fast-paced environments, healthy corporate cultures, and cutting-edge technologies. 

The Bottom Line

Demand for developers is growing, but so are the expectations. You have to demonstrate value instantly and keep growing as a professional to make your mark. Diversify your skillset and learn multiple programming languages to bring more value to the table. Always remember – becoming a successful software developer is a marathon, not a sprint (pun intended).

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