In the last five years, the number of people working remotely has increased by 44%. Since the novel Coronavirus struck in early 2020, however, that number shot up: More than 60% of Americans began working from home full-time to avoid spreading the virus.
While the world grapples with the pandemic and works toward a vaccine, some companies are adjusting to a long-term remote workforce, while others are considering a permanent change to full-time remote work.
In fact, Gallup reported that three in five U.S. workers want to continue working remotely as much as possible, even after public health restrictions are lifted. And employers seem to be listening: A Gartner survey of CFOs found that 74% of companies plan to shift at least 5% of their workforces to permanent remote positions after COVID-19 restrictions end.
Many employees report increased productivity, engagement and job satisfaction with the flexibility that comes with working from home. However, plenty of other Americans are struggling to balance all the responsibilities that come with being at home during the workday, especially if families are home, too.
Luckily, many aspects of a smart home and smart security system can actually help you maximize efficiency and productivity while you work from home.
Optimize your work-from-home setup by ensuring both you and your smart home are operating at your best. Read on for tips to maximize remote work with modern, secure technology.
1. Secure Your Network
The most important component of a work-from-home setup in any smart home is the Wi-Fi. After COVID-19 forced most Americans to the confines of their homes to work, play and learn, more than half of citizens agreed that wireless internet is “essential.” And in the first few months after many states enacted “shelter in place” policies, home broadband use was roughly 20 to 30 percent higher in peak traffic times than before the pandemic.
With so much relying on your home network, how can you make sure your connection is strong, secure and optimized for productivity?
If it’s Digital, it’s Hackable
Your laptop isn’t the only way a hacker can infiltrate your network. Look around you. If the items in your home are connected to the internet, they can be hacked.
Home automation hacking is when cyber criminals exploit internet of things (IoT) devices to gain access to the wider network. And it’s scarily common: Researchers at Kaspersky Lab detected 105 million attacks on smart devices in the first half of 2019 alone.
Some smart devices aren’t developed with security in mind and many don’t come with reminders to change default settings and passwords. This is information that hackers can easily find in product manuals on manufacturers’ websites, then use it to infiltrate your device and your network.
And, even if the adults in your home are well aware of online security risks, that doesn’t necessarily mean you’re safe. Hackers have been known to target children’s gaming websites to steal personal information, too.
Stay vigilant and be aware of the many possible holes in your network security to avoid falling victim to a hacker.
10 Ways to Protect Your Wi-Fi Network
There are a number of ways to ensure your network is safe from hackers and can support your necessary remote-work functions. Below, we outline some top tips.
- Enable your wireless router’s encryption setting. Encryption technology scrambles content sent wirelessly so it cannot be easily deciphered.
- Change any default passwords. Change the default name, or service set identifier (SSID), and IP password that was provided with your router. Pre-set passwords and names are easily discovered online and, therefore, are simple to crack.
- Choose a unique network password. Depending on your configuration and supplier, your router IP password could be different from the password you will regularly use to enter your Wi-Fi network. Therefore, ensure your Wi-Fi network password is unique and not used for another device.
- Keep firmware up to date. Stay on top of things like router updates, which come with increased security measures and enhance performance.
- Invest in antivirus software. Research reputable antivirus providers to find a program that will protect your network. It could be helpful to enlist the help of your IT department for a recommendation.
- Be wary of phishing emails. Especially in light of COVID-19, be aware of hackers sending fake emails that appear to come from the World Health Organization (WHO) or the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
- Be cognizant of your home Wi-Fi speeds. If it suddenly seems slower than normal, it could be indicative of a hacker.
- Separate your personal and work devices. If possible, don’t use your work computer to pay personal bills or homeschool your children. If your organization is hacked, then your personal data could be hijacked, as well, or vice versa.
- Utilize multi-factor authentication. Enable settings on all of your devices to require a multi-step login in the form of a text message, facial recognition or fingerprint for an extra layer of security.
- Confirm with your IT team that your work-from-home setup adheres to company regulations. If not, work with IT to meet the requirements.
Keep your Wi-Fi network secure to ensure that a hacking attempt doesn’t undermine your productivity while working from home. With your Wi-Fi secured, you can now take advantage of your home’s smart devices for added utility during your workday.
2. See Who’s at the Door—or Anywhere Else
One of the most valuable aspects of a smart home is convenience. While you work from home, you could be distracted by any variety of activity around the house, such as a knock at the door.
But with a home security system that includes a doorbell camera and a mobile app, it’s simple to see who’s there and even speak to them. That means you don’t have to step away from the report you’re working on to instruct the mail person to leave a package on the front porch, or thank a food delivery person for dropping off your lunch.
You can also use your mobile app or online portal to check on other areas of your property, not just the front porch. Depending on where you’ve installed outdoor security cameras, you can log in to see a live feed of your:
- Front yard and sidewalk
- Driveway and garage
- Side yard
- Patio and/or deck and backyard
- Pool and/or playground
- Perimeter of the lot
The convenience of seeing who’s coming and going on your property while working means increased peace of mind without lost productivity.
3. Secure the House
Another way to maximize your productivity while working from home is by granting yourself peace of mind.
When you’re at the office, you don’t usually have to think about whether the premise is secure, security cameras are rolling, and access control is enabled. But working from home is a different story.
To truly engage with your work and minimize distractions, utilize the features of your smart home to ensure that your house is secure from burglars. Believe it or not, most home break-ins occur during the day—and a shocking one-third of robbers enter through the front door!
With a smart home, securing the entry points can be as simple as instructing your virtual assistant to lock the doors, arm the security system and close the garage.
But to make sure your smart home is fully protected when your Amazon Alexa or Google Home enables the security system, make sure you’ve installed these basic safeguards.
Every Smart Home Should Have These Security Features
Smart home automation is helpful, but what is really being protected when you say, “Hey Google, turn on the security system?”
To make sure your smart home is truly secure, work with a trusted vendor to install the following:
- Indoor and outdoor security cameras, especially near your home’s entrances.
- Glass-break sensors on windows.
- Motion sensors, which can trigger an audible and visual alarm, turn on flood lights, enable video recording, and send notifications to appropriate personnel.
- Carbon monoxide sensors.
- Fire and smoke alarms.
And, as an added layer of security, choose a vendor that offers 24/7 monitoring. Monitoring is a helpful aspect of home security because it guarantees a human response to an emergency. If an alarm is triggered, trained monitoring center personnel will verify the alarm is valid and dispatch emergency personnel if needed.
4. Manage Your Home’s Energy
When you and your family are away from the house for an entire work or school day, you probably turn off the furnace or air conditioning, lights and other energy-wasting functions.
However, while working from home, you may find that utility costs increase since you’re in the house using electricity, gas and water. Luckily, your smart home can enable you to manage energy usage while remaining productive at work.
Control the Heating and Cooling
Research proves that the optimal temperature is crucial to staying productive while you work. One benefit of working from home is that you don’t need to fight over the thermostat with an office full of coworkers—instead, you can control the temperature in your workspace with the touch of a button.
Using a smart thermostat, you can maintain a comfortable temperature while staying energy efficient. You can also set schedules to automatically adjust your thermostat at certain times of the day. For example, if the windows in your home office get lots of harsh afternoon sun, you set the air conditioner to automatically kick on after lunch on weekdays.
Zoned heating and cooling gives you even more control by allowing you to regulate temperatures according to specific room preferences. That means you can mitigate energy usage by only controlling the temperature in the rooms you’ll use during the workday, such as the home office and kitchen.
Best of all, you can control all of these functions with a home automation mobile app or virtual assistant, meaning you never need to waste time during your workday repeatedly fiddling with the thermostat.
Turn Off Lights You’re Not Using
Another smart way to manage energy usage while working from home is to automatically control the lighting. Using your home automation mobile app, you can check that all the lights in unused spaces are turned off—all without leaving your desk.
To enable this function, install smart lightbulbs throughout your home. Smart bulbs simply screw into standard light sockets, just like standard bulbs—but they’re Wi-Fi enabled, making any lamp or light fixture an IoT smart device.
You could also install smart outlets, which plug into any standard outlet and control the devices using that power source, such as lamps or other electronic devices.
5. Check in on the Kids
If you’re sharing your home with your family even while working, it can be incredibly distracting. Parents across the country have shared sometimes-humorous, and all-too-common scenarios of attempting to multitask while they provide childcare while working.
If your kids are old enough to play or do school work unsupervised, you may still be tempted to break away from your job to check on them. Luckily, your smart home can enable you to see if the kids are safe quickly, easily and without neglecting your work.
Simply install home security cameras in places like your child’s bedroom, playroom, or wherever they spend time. Then, use your home automation mobile app to access a live feed of cameras from anywhere in the house.
Additionally, you can rest assured that your children are safe inside even if you can’t see them by installing monitored alarms on windows and doors.
Importance of a Mobile Home Automation App
A home automation app is a crucial component of controlling your smart home ecosystem—including IoT devices and home security system. Within a mobile home automation app, you can:
- Arm and disarm your security system.
- Turn lights on and off.
- Lock and unlock doors.
- Open and close the garage.
- Control your thermostat.
- See live video feeds from security cameras.
- Determine if alarms were triggered.
- Get customized notifications from devices in your smart home.
...All from your mobile phone or tablet.
Ready to get your Vector Security app set up? Click here for step-by-step instructions.
Level Up Your Smart Home to Enable Better Work
Is your work-from-home setup sorely lacking in home automation technology?
Consider installing the high-quality devices and security system to give you the peace of mind and convenience that results in high-quality work. To benefit from the smart home tips we’ve listed here, start by browsing these home security products.
If you have questions or you’re ready to install a home security system to complete your smart home ecosystem, contact us today.