Work from home: Be productive, secure and healthy during COVID-19 lockdown

Jessica Fenol, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Mar 19 2020 04:00 PM | Updated as of Mar 20 2020 11:38 AM

A merchant associate for a financial technology company works from his home in Quezon City on March 18, 2020, amid the enhanced community quarantine for the whole of Luzon. Mark Demayo, ABS-CBN News

MANILA (UPDATE) - Employees working from home during the Luzon-wide COVID-19 lockdown can avoid online attacks, slacking off or being overworked by following these simple steps from experts.

The following pointers can help work from home employees keep a positive outlook, be productive and to stay secure online during the quarantine period, which will end on April 12:

WORK FROM HOME HACKS

1. SHOWER AND GET DRESSED

- Doing morning rituals, as if you're going to the office, help workers feel refreshed. Taking a shower and putting on a fresh pair of clothes in the morning can help employees become more productive and energetic, recruitment portal Jobstreet Philippines said. 

2. EAT YOUR BREAKFAST

- Eat a wholesome breakfast then take time to relax and meditate before work to help achieve a "productive frame of mind," Jobstreet said.

3. HAVE A PROPER WORKSPACE

- Doing work on the bed or the sofa could be comfortable but less productive, Jobstreet said. Employees might start to doze off. It's recommended to have a proper workspace and a table so that the brain knows that when you sit, it's time to be productive, it said.

4. SET PRIORITIES

- Households should identify family members required to work from home to optimize data or internet use, said PLDT Inc head of Public Affairs Ramon Isberto.

5. USE COLLABORATIVE APPS

- Working from home has its logistical limitations. But meetings can be done using various collaborating apps such as Microsoft Teams, Google Hangouts, and the likes. 

6. SET A DAILY SCHEDULE AND STICK TO IT

- Setting specific hours, even when working from home, will keep employees from getting overworked, Isberto said. 

7. OPTIMIZE INTERNET CONNECTIVITY

- Reducing video resolution when many people are watching videos online can help users save bandwidth and optimize their internet connection, PLDT's Isberto said.

8. SCHEDULE ENTERTAINMENT, SOCIALIZING AND EXERCISE

"Binge-watching is a fad. But like work, it is wise to schedule entertainment. Leave time for socializing with members of the household and to do some exercise," Isberto said. 

9. CONSCIENTIOUS INTERNET USE

- Downloading contents illegally can "negatively impact" internet speed, especially when most people at home are working from home, Globe Telecom earlier said.

ONLINE SECURITY

Workers shifting to work from home from the more secure office set-up have become more vulnerable to cyber crimes, cybersecurity experts from the US earlier said. 

Employees should follow these steps to stay secure while working from home during the Luzon-wide lockdown:

1. USE COMPANY ISSUED DEVICES AND VPN

- If possible, it is best to use company issued laptops, storage and tablets and to always connect to the company's Virtual Private Network (VPN) when accessing internal applications, said ABS CBN Data Protection office Jay Gomez.

- Use of corporate-approved tools, applications and platforms is advised, he said. 

2. PRIVACY

- Use strong passwords such as phrases and use two-factor authenticator such as Microsoft or Google Authenticator, Gomez said.
- Do not share work computers with family members
- Always lock work computers
- Always apply software updates when prompted

3. AVOIDING SCAMS

- Watch out for phishing emails. Do not click emails from suspicious senders
- Report any suspicious emails to the company's IT department

"Criminals right now are crafting COVID-19 emails to trick and lure users to click on links and download malware into their computers," Gomez said. 

WORK LIFE BALANCE IN THE TIME OF COVID-19 LOCKDOWN

1. BE CREATIVE

- To avoid boredom and following a "mindless routine" during isolation, individuals can harness their creativity, psychologist and life coach Dr. Ali Gui told ABS-CBN News.

Art and crafts, writing, singing, dancing and other creative practices can help overcome irritability and depression, she said. 

2. LEARN SOMETHING NEW

- Being in a lockdown is a good time to learn something new, like knitting, playing an instrument, writing a book or studying essential oils, Gui said.

"The action of learning something new...can lift your mood," she said.

3. EAT HEALTHY

- Decrease consumption of grains and sugar and increase protein and saturated fat since sugar imbalance can lead to irritability and forgetfulness, she said. 

- Food with high carbohydrates can affect your mood and increases the chance of weight gain, she said.

- Organic eggs, wild caught fish and grass fed meat are considered good quality protein that can help stabilize the mood, she said.

4. TALK TO A FRIEND

- Human connections "increase our sense of well-being," Gui said.
- If meeting face to face is impossible, phone calls or video calls are beneficial

"Deep conversations...help to anchor us in our place in the world and remove the feelings of hopelessness and isolation that community quarantine can bring," she said.

5. JOIN ONLINE MASS OR WORSHIP

- Joining mass or celebrations online will help keep spiritual health in check

HOW TO KEEP EMPLOYEES IN CHECK WHILE WORKING FROM HOME

Working from home during the quarantine is unusual for both the employees and their bosses. Jobstreet provided some pointers for employers to keep their workers focused and engaged.

"Instead of stressing out about the changing times, allow innovation and digitalization to ensue from this mandatory community quarantine. Ultimately, the better you know your employees, the better you will be able to handle any situation," Jobstreet said.

1. ESTABLISH TRUST

- Building trust is easier said than done, the recruitment portal said. An open line of communication between workers and their supervisors and transparency help build trust, Jobstreet said. 

- Regular updates on company policies is also recommended, it said.

2. GIVE DEADLINES 

- Set specific goals such as weekly targets while employees are working form home to give them a sense of responsibility and accountability, Jobstreet said.


3. TRACK EMPLOYEE PERFORMANCE

- There are many ways to track productivity even though everyone is working out of the office. A good way is to create a data base and require end-of-day reports to track progress, Jobstreet said.

- There are also apps that can help managers track the websites and tools their employees access during work hours, it said.