While many people already started working from home a few weeks ago, the current lockdown in Accra and Kumasi is now challenging all professionals living in these areas. They need to set up a good ICT workplace at home for themselves as well as their family members.
Set up a proper work place
Normally, you may work a bit on your laptop in the evening, sitting on your sofa, but this is a new situation. To be productive during the whole day, it is recommended to make arrangements for a separate room, or to dedicate a corner in the house where a good table and office chair can be set up, preferably on a height that allows for an ergonomically healthy posture while typing on a keyboard. The chair should equally be comfortable to support your back for long hours. You need at least one electrical outlet and good Wi-Fi or internet connection. Get yourself an additional keyboard and mouse and eventually a large monitor to avoid headaches or neck pains after a long day.
Stay concentrated to get things done
When your working routine is to leave home in the morning, spend time in traffic and go to the office, it may be difficult to keep disciplined at home and actually sit and get things done. It is therefore good to develop a new daily routine where you create time slots for yourself to concentrate on your work. When you spend too many hours behind a computer screen, your concentration and production inevitably will go down. So set a timer and take a break at regular intervals where you do some physical exercise, a domestic job, or go for a drink to stay hydrated. Having good daylight at your desk boosts productivity, and when the room is quiet, it will help you to concentrate even more.
Professionals who are blessed with a working spouse and children at the schooling age will need to adapt considerably more. For them in particular, it is important to organize fixed working lhours and home schooling. A long dining table is ideal to install the whole family for joint work and schooling sessions. Both parents may take shifts spending time with the children while having specific hours in the day where they can work in a concentrated manner on their own job. Arranging rosters for this, including regular breaks, fun and exercise for the whole family, will avoid a lot of stress and frustration.
A safe Wi-Fi network and passwords for your mobile devices
- While many people work from home, cyber criminals are driving around to look for vulnerable Wi-Fi networks to hack. A Virtual Private Network (VPN) is recommended to provide your home with online protection by means of encryption. If VPN is not feasible for you right now, at least protect your mobile devices against unwanted access with strong passwords. Here are some good practices:
Set complex and lengthy passwords, which contain upper and lowercase letters, numbers, and special characters. Avoid common phrases, famous quotations, and song lyrics.
- Avoid passwords reuse. After setting up a strong, memorable password, reusing it endangers ones accounts. So change them frequently.
- Set different passwords on different systems and accounts. Avoid the use of passwords that are based on personal information that can be easily guessed or words that can be found in any dictionary of any language.
- Choose a password that is easy to remember but difficult for others to guess. Avoid writing your password but rather develop mnemonics to remember them.
Cyber criminals are extra active now
Unfortunately, Cyber criminals have been reported to abuse the current situation for fraud. Fake emails, text and WhatsApp messages as well as fraudulent websites are being used to trick people.
Expect to receive emails from fake government agencies, businesses or employers. This is a typical form of phishing linked to the pandemic. Receivers of these messages think it makes sense that a message is being sent by either their bank, or their own ICT department, with specific information about the lock down, or extraordinary measures from the government as announced on television. You need to be extra vigilant these days!
Of course, it is key to never open these messages or click on any hyperlink, but remove them immediately. In case of any doubt, call your employer, the ICT department, your bank or anyone who would normally be expected to send you a mail to check or verify if it is from them .
Fake web shops
While we are all at home and urged not to go out to shop unnecessarily, e-commerce is an excellent alternative. Reliable web shops will deliver the goods at your home and you will not have to go outside. At the same time, a completely new category of fake web shops are popping up where people try to sell all kinds of Corona related items such as facemasks. Of course, you will have to pay for these items but they will never be delivered!
Tricks to get your information
Never reply to anyone who is asking – either via an electronic device or in person – for your confidential information like your pin code or credit card credentials. In particular, elderly people should be warned. People may contact them to offer shopping services during lockdown, offer medical test kits for Corona virus and so on.
Author: Diana van der Stelt, Sales Director at Trinity Software Center, Kumasi and director at Maxim Nyansa IT Solutions Foundation in Tantra Hills, Accra, a training center for ICT professionals. Member, Institute of ICT Professionals, Ghana.