Work from home tips & tricks (version 2021)

Published March 29, 2021, 11:06 AM

by Robert "Bob" Reyes

It has been more than a year already since the government imposed the initial community quarantine to curve the further spread of the COVID-19 virus. This means that most of us have been working from home (WFH) for over a year now (I have been WFH since 2014).

The shift to WFH setup may not be as smooth as most would aspire, especially with our present Internet connectivity situation – but as we would always say: the Filipinos can easily adapt to anything.

Allow me to share some best practices that I and a couple of colleagues do to make our WFH productive and safe.

Invest in the Proper Equipment

Both my business and work (as a blogger, techie journalist, and non-profit organization representative) allow me to work from virtually anywhere that can provide a decent connection to the Internet, though I still maintain physical office space for the sake of having a business address (that is not your home address). But since ECQ, I only visited the office once – just to bring home most of my office stuff.

It is but important to invest in the right equipment to achieve utmost productivity while working from home:

  • Workstation (Office Table)

    The very first investment I made for my WFH setup is a sturdy and functional workstation or office table. You should be able to determine the proper size of your office table depending on the space that you will allocate to your small office/home office (SOHO). Since my kids are also into homeschooling since the onset of the pandemic, I had to downsize the footprint of my SOHO and opted to use one of those 120 cms. foldable tables readily available from eCommerce websites. I am thinking of having a height-adjustable workstation later this year.
  • Comfortable Chair

    The next thing that you need to invest in is a comfortable office chair. Ask yourself if you need a gaming chair or a monobloc (plus seat cushion) will do? I tried using the gas lift office chairs from department stores and an office supplies depot but am currently using a leather seat I acquired from a relatively new co-working space that has to shut down operations on the onset of the pandemic.
  • Dependable Computer System

    Choose the right computer system like your life depends on it. I am often asked for advice on which to choose between a desktop and a laptop. My answer remains the same: it depends on the user. If you are someone who will work at home most of the time, then get a desktop computer. If there is a need for you to be mobile (and your budget can afford), then get a laptop.
  • Headset

    Since meetings are held online, investing in a good headset with a microphone is a must. Get something that has noise reduction capabilities, and if you have kids, I recommend that you acquire a wireless headset.
  • External monitor

If you are using a laptop as your main workhorse, I suggest that you get an external monitor (at least 23-inch), and a monitor riser (for ergonomics).

  • Charging Ports & Electrical Outlets

    It is also a must to have ample charging ports and available electrical outlets near your workstation; but please, do consider good housekeeping (and commonsense) to avoid house fire.

Software & Internet Security

Now that you have your workstation in place, let’s go to the software and Internet connectivity security aspect of your WFH setup.

  • Do not use pirated or unlicensed software.

    Piracy is a crime. You might want to consider the use of free alternatives to commercial software if they are needed for your work. In recent times, most ransomware incidents are associated with the use of pirated/unlicensed softwares.
  • Use a VPN.

    if your work requires you to be online most of the time, consider using a VPN (Virtual Private Network). Using a VPN can help protect your privacy at home and in some cases, avoid bandwidth-throttling.
  • Use a Password Manager.

    If you are using quite a number of online services, using a dedicated Password Manager may help in securing your online identity. Password Managers store your passwords in an encrypted manner and can even suggest or generate secure random passwords to ensure utmost online protection. Change your passwords at least once every 90 days.
  • Update your web browser.

    Since most of what we do during WFH depends on our favorite web browsers, it is a must to ensure that you are using the latest version of it. Also, please make sure that all the add-ons and plugins installed in your web browser are up-to-date. Hackers may try to exploit vulnerabilities found in outdated browser add-ons or plugins.
  • Change WiFi and Router default passwords.

    One of the most common online security loophole I find with most of my friends lately: they are using the default login access provided by their ISPs (Internet Service Providers). Your failure to change the default password to manage the modem/router provided by your ISP, and in some cases even the SSID access, is a serious online security concern. People knowledgeable about this stuff can easily take control of your Internet connectivity and spy on your network users.

I hope that by sharing the above, you will get the most out of your Work-From-Home setup during this pandemic. Tag us on social media if you have other suggestions or if you want to share your WFH best practices.