So, you are working remotely? Hey there, welcome home! At Lionshead Law we’ve been doing that for 6 years as a ‘virtual law firm’ and we’ve always believed in #workthatworks as its freed us up to spend more time helping clients and doing other things we love just as much.
Over the next few weeks we’re going to share with you a mix of legal things to consider about working from home – especially with kids about – and some insights on how we’ve done it for so long.
Hygiene & Security
So you’ve got the hang of singing happy birthday whilst you wash your hands (and may have cursed that you don’t know the second verse just for a bit of variety), but working from home may mean adding in some digital security to your life as well. Most businesses have ‘work from home’ policies and they will oblige employees to take precautions to avoid your devices and systems being hacked. It might even say you have to follow “best practice”, even if it is not clear what that is. So, ‘digital hand washing’ is making sure you have the latest updates to your anti-virus and anti-malware software. Read this, then do that right away.
If you are working at home you are probably on a VPN, but make sure your network has a password and – with all passwords – change that regularly and make it a strong one. Get creative and combine your favourite colour with your favourite food and the number of the house you first lived in (e.g mustardcurry12) and don’t write it down where someone on a video call will see it. Logging in to work systems you are probably already using two factor authentication, but if not, consider instigating this.
I was on a Zoom call with a colleague in the US last week – someone who really knows a lot about technology and there in the background was their filing cabinet with the name of clients stuck to the front – DOH! These types of security breach are too easy to fall into. Be creative here too, use a virtual background (Zoom has packages) or simply use the ‘blur’ function. If you have to set up a space for calls, remove any personal items from the field of vision; I love my kids dearly but my clients don’t need to see their baby photos or have a picture of me at the last ‘clan gathering’ and, TBH, this type of thing creates a security risk and provides ‘threat actors’ with information that is gold-dust for them (see phising).
Did I mention you should also log-out regularly? Most of us leave our apps and programs working in the background, well don’t. My kids call that ‘leaving the front door open’ and they are right. Closing the windows but leaving the front door unlocked would invalidate your home insurance – don’t leave your apps running or your computer on when you don’t need it as it creates unnecessary risk. Oh, and turning things off is good for the planet too, so you can know you are doing your bit to save Polar bears.
Working at home requires discipline when it comes to not leaving things lying around. I say this because what you leave around can be read by family (and kids in particular) as well as visitors and viewers. It’s good to talk about what you do, but many elements of a working day contain information that it sensitive to your business and that your employer has a reasonable expectation staff will not reveal. Pack-up business plans, pricing, sales figures physically and digitally at the end of the day and put them away; it’s good for our mental health to ‘switch off’ in this way too at the end of the day.
Hackers are really good at finding weak spots in systems and human behaviour. Phising scams are a great example of this and they will take particular advantage of the fact that people are not in the office speaking to each other face to face to check things. If you are not sure who you are on email or online with, find someone else in your organisation who can help you verify the request or the identity of the ‘newbie’ you don’t know. Don’t be too keen to ‘help out’ and hold back on giving out personal mobile phone numbers (unless they are work provided) and landline numbers. Remember your customers don’t need to know where you or your colleagues are right now and if they genuinely need to send something to you, you can arrange for a courier to collect and they can pay. If you get an email that looks questionable, it probably is dodgy. Don’t open it, even if you are desperately in need of a distraction! Tell your IT department and ‘fess up if you did think it was ‘only a cat gif’! Isolating the source is the best way to stop a computer virus as well as a human one!