Is Your Home Office as Safe as It Should Be?
There aren’t many drawbacks to working from home. It can improve employee productivity, schedules are more flexible, and, of course, there’s always the option to wear your favorite fuzzy slippers to work. As of 2017, around 8 million Americans worked from home, and the home office has become as much of a household staple as a library or an entertainment room.
As convenient as a home office may be, and as tempting as it is to treat it like just another room in the house, there are some responsibilities that come with working out of one. The second week of January is Home Office Safety and Security Week, which makes it the perfect time to take a quick inventory of your office safety standards (and improve them, if necessary).
Ergonomics and Physical Safety
When you’re the only one in the office, it’s easy to relax, slouch in your chair, and type away. However, prolonged work with poor posture can lead to a wide variety of issues. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics in 2011, musculoskeletal disorders (MSD) were responsible for one-third of all injury cases in the United States. It can take two to three weeks to recover from these kinds of strain, which makes it well worth the effort to prevent MSDs from developing in the first place.
- Make sure that your office chair is adjusted so you may sit comfortably, without any muscle strain.
- Keep your computer equipment, like a keyboard and mouse, comfortably within reach.
- Keep your computer monitor at eye level, and remember to give your eyes a break from the screen every twenty minutes.
You will also want to make sure that your office area is physically safe to move around in. This means tucking away any electrical wires, outfitting your office door with a sturdy lock (to prevent intrusion by curious young family members), and clearing an exit path in the event of a fire or emergency evacuation. Make sure all safety equipment, like fire alarms and carbon monoxide detectors, have fresh batteries and are working properly.
Digital Security and Data Protection
The amount of sensitive information we handle for daily work can be impressive. If you do this work from home, it becomes even more important to make sure that your home network is safe and protected.
- Install anti-virus and malware software on your home computer. Certain types of viruses and malware make it possible for intruders to spy on or gain access to the data on your computer, and having effective (and up-to-date) protection software will help reduce the likelihood of a malicious data breach.
- Use two-factor authentication and change your passwords often. If all that stands between your clients’ account details and a hacker is “Password12345”, the chances of a breach escalate. Make your password long, specific, and hard to guess, and change it frequently. Similarly, you should activate two-factor authentication whenever possible to provide an additional layer of security.
- Make sure your Wi-Fi is secure and password-protected. Open networks create the opportunity for digital spying. Protect your network with a strong password, and activate network encryption like WEP, WPA, or WPA2.
Safe Document Disposal With Off-Site Paper Shredding
While many of us work digitally, there are always paper files kicking around. If these papers contain personal information, like a name, address, or account number, they shouldn’t (and in some industries, legally can’t) be discarded in the public trash. An office shredder is a good solution, but the ones that shred documents past the point of reconstruction can cost thousands of dollars up-front and can be even more expensive to maintain and repair.
A simple solution is to find a local off-site paper shredding service. While a scheduled shredding service arrives on a predetermined day, off-site paper shredding can happen wherever and whenever you need it, making it perfect for home offices who need a quick cleanout after a large project. A shredding truck can either be dispatched to pick up whatever you have to shred, or you can bring your own files to the off-site shredding facility.
When you drop off your files or papers, make sure that you receive a Certificate of Destruction after they’ve been shredded. This not only affirms that they were disposed of properly but also provides you with a tangible record of that fact for your business.
For your convenience, Secure Shredding & Recycling has two different drop-off locations that you may use to drop off old papers and documents. We accept papers, files, and electronic storage devices (like hard drives or SD flash drives) for shredding. If you’re interested in watching the shredding process as it happens, just let us know! A member of our staff will direct you to a safe viewing area.