In response to COVID-19, and as an attempt to flatten the curve, many of us are working from home. There are steps we can take to manage the risks that working offsite can present. To protect our employers, we should take security precautions; to protect our mental health, we need to practice self-care.

We spoke to some experts to gain insight.

Cat Coode, Founder, CIPP/C and Data Privacy Expert, warns that when working from home, you may not be protected by the cybersecurity measures that your company has in place. She cautions that while cloud services can be convenient, they may not be secure. A VPN (Virtual Private Network) can be set up for your own devices allowing your messages and files to pass through a secure and encrypted server. Implementing multiple authentication methods will also help.

“These extra steps may seem unnecessary, but hackers are savvy. It is worth following all the steps laid out by your workplace to keep you and your company safe,” Coode said. (Learn more about security and its importance.)

Unfortunately, Code says there may also be a greater risk of scams related to COVID-19 including malicious links to websites or threats that prey on companies who may have their guard down. Coode says now, more than ever, we should be vigilant about not clicking links or opening files we are not 100 per cent certain about.

While we can generally agree that greater things can be achieved through collaboration, working from home may cause barriers to collaboration. Coode said there are free or freemium services that can help. She recommends Cisco Webex, Microsoft Teams or Zoom for team meetings.

“For ongoing conversations, Slack is an excellent tool where you can run various channels by topic and by audience,” Coode said.

In order to avoid feeling isolated while working from home, Suzanne Gordon, Senior Nurse Manager, Elective Psychiatry at Homewood Health says it’s important to maintain your regular schedule and keep your workspace separate from where you relax. She also suggests working in natural light, taking breaks to stretch and breath and to consider mediation and yoga. She also suggests remaining active on your work or industry social media sites and teleconferencing whenever possible to maintain person-to-person conversation.

You can support others by staying in contact as much as possible via telephone, skype or other platforms, she added.  “Using the telephone, the old-fashioned way, really helps us stay connected,” she said. “Set a daily check-in meeting or chat to stay in touch with latest developments and changes that may affect your friends, your associates or customers.”

Gordon also recommends eating healthy, getting exercise, listening to music or podcasts and getting outside to avoid feeling isolated. “Walks are enjoyable and free. With the nice weather, it is so easy to get outside.”

Perhaps you have great tips for staying connected, cyber security or self care? If so, share on social, tag us and #SocialDistance or #PhysicalDistance. Helping each other builds community!