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Tech tips

Work from home basics: 4 tips to help you get started

The dramatic rise in COVID-19 cases has prompted many businesses to transition to remote work. In 2018, a quarter of Americans worked from home at least some of the time. Now, at-home workers may be the norm for the foreseeable future.

To make this possible, businesses rely on technology. But not every business knows what it needs to stay afloat. And some encounter unexpected hiccups when working remotely. Tap or click to see how the Komando editorial staff fared with teleconferencing.

So what happens to the millions of workers who are now required to bunker down and shelter-in-place? How many really know their way around tech? To help newly remote workers adjust to life indoors, here’s our simple four-point working from home guide.

1. Is your connection secure?

Under quarantine, your internet connection is the only doorway out of your home. Without it, you can’t bring any money in, which is why securing it is so important.

First, you’ll want to verify your modem is plugged in and working. Check that all wires are tightly connected and your router isn’t in a dangerous spot where it can fall or become unplugged. Nobody wants to lose hours of work thanks to a mishap.

It’s also worth mentioning that hackers are a bigger threat now than ever. With so many new at-home workers, you can bet the worst people on the web will be after the fresh meat. Tap or click here to see how to hacker-proof your router.

2. Get your login information and keep it safe

Your employer will probably have you use a workplace productivity tool like G Suite or Office 365 for your daily tasks. These systems are highly flexible and give you a range of features that make it easy to create and share documents.

Both of these companies (and several others) are now offering premium features free during the peak of the COVID-19 crisis. Tap or click here to find out more about free software upgrades for remote workers.

But with work-from-home software comes passwords, and with more hackers lurking about, protecting them is paramount. You’ll want an encrypted password manager to keep you and your coworkers safe.

You need something that not only saves the passwords you have, but generates new ones that can’t be easily cracked. And don’t even think about saving your passwords to your browser. These are even easier to compromise than an encrypted password list.

We recommend our sponsor Roboform, since it can automatically create strong passwords for you and will securely encrypt them after saving. Tap or click here to find out more about Roboform.

3. Make your workspace your own

Working from home means you have control over your temporary office. So why not liven things up?

Decorate your space with personal items that inspire you, like a family photo or a desk toy. Make sure they’re not so distracting that you won’t be able to get work done, but are enjoyable enough to uplift you throughout the day.

And get comfortable. If you don’t already have one, set aside some time to invest in a good chair that provides lumbar support and encourages good posture. No need to hurt your back or pull a muscle in your neck while working from home.

But be careful, you don’t want to be too comfy or you’ll stop being productive. Need a little push? Tap or click here for an app that helps keep you on track.

4. Double-check your tech

Regardless of whether you have a PC or Mac, it’s important to ensure your computer is configured for virtual meetings. Many companies will require you to dial in for video chats and nobody wants to hold up a meeting due to technical difficulties.

To test and enable your camera on Windows, click the Start menu >> Settings >> Privacy >> Camera. Then toggle Allow apps to access your camera to the on position.

Take the same steps for your mic by clicking Microphone from the left-hand menu and toggling Allow apps to access your microphone to the on position.

On MacOS, the camera and microphone are automatically enabled. To make sure they’re working, check the FaceTime and Settings apps.

For the camera, open Facetime and make sure your face is visible. The green light should be on, indicating the camera is working.

For the microphone, open Settings and search Sound Input in the search menu on the upper right corner. Click Sound Input and begin speaking out loud. If your mic is working, you’ll see the bars light up under Input Level.

If nothing is picking up, adjust the microphone volume until you see the bars light up.

Don’t forget: the coronavirus pandemic isn’t forever. Eventually, you’ll have to trudge back to the office along with all your other colleagues. But in the meantime, you can make working from home fun, comfortable and productive enough to tackle anything your boss throws at you.

Welcome to the great indoors!

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