Working from home – safely, securely and productively? Tips and tricks from our digital pathfinders

Michelle Unternährer
April 26, 2021
Digital Pathfinders
Flexible working will be with us long into the future as a key element of the modern working world. Our digital pathfinders share their own experience to help us work safely, securely and productively from home in the future, with the key tips and tricks summarised in this article.

Just like everyone else, the digital pathfinders at Baloise have had to spend more time working from home than ever before. They have now compiled their knowledge in a brochure entitled Tips and tricks for working from home (in German). In the article, Monika and Steven, the brains behind the digital pathfinders, share a selection of the key aspects from their personal experience of working from home.

Monika und Steven von den Digitalen Pfadfindern
Steven Tirrito and Monika Scheper

Optimal working conditions – more than just technology!

A well-organised workstation 

We often spend hours working at a screen and sitting in the same position. So what do we need when working from home? A well-organised workstation has enough workspace, ideally a height-adjustable chair, enough room to move around the workspace, good lighting and an environment with no tripping hazards such as cables lying around. Both Monika and Steven got hold of a larger screen to use together with their laptop: “I was able to borrow an unused screen from Baloise and buy a large second-hand desk, which helped to make working from home much more pleasant,” says Steven. Sufficient bandwidth with at least 40 to 75 Mbit/s is needed for a good and stable connection when working from home. Monika speaks from experience: “We all know what a video call with a bad connection is like. With enough bandwidth, things work so much better. Just check how many Mbit/s are included in your Internet subscription and upgrade if necessary.” If you share your Internet connection with others, it is advisable to add a further 20 Mbit/s per user.

Virtual communication: switch on your camera and listen consciously

Communicating within teams whose members are in different locations is a major challenge. Using communication channels for coming together virtually in online meetings, chats and project tools is essential for flexible working. “Virtual meetings soon need a moderator to ensure that not everyone is speaking at the same time. It’s about listening more consciously and letting others finish, which is actually not such a bad thing,” says Monika. The two pathfinders also agree that the camera should always be switched on during video calls if possible: “This way, you see reactions that are otherwise lost. It also enables others to see that you are listening attentively.”

You need a structure and breaks

People who work from home can organise their time freely throughout the day, but exactly because of this, their time should be well-organised and structured: breaks for exercise are important for healthy working. Stand up every now and then and walk around, stretch and change your sitting position. Go for a walk or a run at lunchtime or after work. “Good break planning also means including coffee breaks with colleagues,” reports Monika. Locational freedom is another benefit of working from home. “This flexibility has enabled me to relocate my workstation to my allotment garden hut,” reports Steven, “where I had peace and quiet, and the change of scenery also helped to provide new momentum.”

Logo der digitalen Pfadfinder

IT security – confidential handling of devices, software and data

How I can protect data from hackers and neighbours

Only hardware and software supplied or approved by the employer should be used when working from home. Public Wi-Fi hotspots should be avoided. Remote access solutions that expand a company’s communications network so that it can be accessed by the employee externally represent a particular challenge when it comes to working from home. This expansion in the company’s network means that hackers are offered more opportunities for attack. As an employee, this means: stay alert, and report any inconsistencies directly to IT Support. Confidential company information or customer data must not be accessed by unauthorised individuals, including the people with whom you live. “Our customers expect all employees to continue to handle customer data confidentially when working from home. Confidential handling is legally protected.” Sensitive data should not be processed on a terrace or in a public café, for example. “Last summer, lots of people were out on their terraces. I was able to hear far too much of what my neighbour was saying as he worked on his balcony, for example,” says Steven. 

Infrastructure and raising awareness are the employer's responsibility 

In addition to increasing capacity so that employees can work efficiently from home, raising awareness of security issues also plays a central role when it comes to ensuring that employees can meet their responsibilities for information security and data protection. More detailed tips from the digital pathfinders can be found in the Cyber Security Guide for companies (in German). “Baloise has always had secure VPN connections for flexible working, but not for the entire workforce at the same time,” reports Steven. “Once the lockdown was announced, therefore, within three days, Group IT had set up a complete mobile infrastructure to enable employees to work securely and quickly from home.”

Last but not least, we should always enjoy being able to set up, organise and structure both our own working day and our own workstation in the way we want. We can make things even better by following just a few rules.

Monika and Steven, the Baloise Digital Pathfinders

IT Security

Baloise Digital Pathfinders