Best Safety Tips for Working Remotely from Home
How remote workers can keep themselves safe at home
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Over the past few years more and more Americans find themselves working from home. No longer are we making space on the kitchen table for our work devices because of lock downs, but we are making dedicated spaces in our houses for employment. While many remote workers don’t think about their personal safety at home, there are many things that we need to think about.
I’ve run my business from my home office since 2016 and I enjoy it. There are a few things I have learned along the way that I want to pass on to you. Of course, being the creator of The Secure Dad, I’ll encourage you to read this and make your own safety plan for an emergency. Now, let’s look at a few safety tips for working remotely from home.
Safety Tips for Working Remotely from Home
How many emergency preparedness lectures did HR make you sit through so you’d know what to do in the event of a tornado or how to escape a fire? Working remotely, have you ever thought about those same topics for your home? I’m guessing you haven’t. That’s okay, we’re going to hit some important topics so you can make better decisions for your own personal safety.
Securing Your Work Environment
One of the dangers of working from home on your own is that there isn’t anyone to immediately help you in the event of an emergency. This means that we must minimize the risk of working alone. Securing your work area at home is vital to your success and health.
While it may sound odd, how you manage the cables in your dedicated work area is very important. Investing in an under-desk cable tray may help you reduce the cord clutter. You don’t want four extension cords strewn all over the place ready to trip you coming back from a bathroom break. That’s going to be fun to explain to everyone on Zoom why you have a busted nose.
Keep all your power cables and cords neatly organized. Try to run power cables in areas where there is little to no foot traffic. Do your best to route them where you don’t have to step over them because even if you do trip, you just might destroy your work laptop. Again, no fun to explain.
Experiencing a medical emergency at home while alone is an unnerving thought. While it may make you uncomfortable, we must think about this possibility in order to prepare for it. One of the best things we can do to be ready or an at home medical emergency is have a first aid kit.
Overall, having a first aid kit is a great idea, but it often gets overlooked when working from home. The good news is that you can solve this problem by ordering a basic kit from Amazon. This Johnson & Johnson portable kit offers 160 pieces to get you started. If you’d like to be more hands on, you can make our own first aid kit with help from this list the Mayo Clinic.
Saving Yourself from Choking
Back when I was living alone in my first apartment, I had a choking scare. Thankfully, the event did not last long, but I had two very sobering thoughts. The first was, how do I preform the Heimlich Maneuver on myself? Second, no one would know anything was wrong until I didn’t show up to work the next day.
There is a way to use the Heimlich Maneuver on yourself as this helpful video explains.
As for the second thought about not being missed until the next morning, consider regular check ins with your fellow telecommuting co-workers. This way you can keep in touch and if someone isn’t where they are supposed to be, you can act to see if they are okay. Also, regular check-ins with your team can help you with your mental health and social skills.
The last tip for handling choking while alone is to have a phone nearby. This way you can call for help. I do suggest having a dedicated home phone that will register your name and address with emergency dispatch so they know where to go in the event you cannot speak.
Home Security for the Remote Employee
Do not discount the physical defense of your home and workspace. Being in an office you may never feel like you have to worry about someone committing a crime. Maybe your company has hired security for that. But when you work from home, you are also the security team. I’ll share with you some quick home safety tips that you can use while working from your house.
Home security systems are one of the best tools you can have to protect yourself at your house, let alone while you are working there. These systems can monitor doors, windows, and the front porch while you create a pivot table that will wow the sales team. If you are focused on your work, then you need a home alarm system to watch your back. This helps you to create a secure location while you work.
Adding security cameras are great, too. This way you can keep up with what’s going on around your home while not ever leaving your desk. Most modern wireless camera systems like Ring, allow you to see each of your cameras from an app on your phone. You can also get motion alerts that will show you if anything is approaching your cameras. This can also be useful to let you know when DoorDash has dropped off your lunch.
If you live in an apartment, then security may look a little different for you. I’ve written an in-depth article for home security for apartments.
Fire Safety when Working Remotely
Unlike your office, if a fire starts there won’t be a sprinkler system that comes on to extinguish the flame. In addition to being the security team, you are also your own fire fighter. When working from home you need to limit fire hazards like overloading outlets. While surge protectors are great, it’s not a good idea to daisy-chain eight of them on one outlet. That’s a fire waiting to happen.
Make sure you have a fire extinguisher in the kitchen and where you work. The last thing you want to do is hunt for one when you need it the most. And of course, make sure your smoke alarms are working and that the batteries are in good shape. If they aren’t the alarm beep at 2 am and let you know.
Cyber Security for Working at Home
Chances are your employer does have some safety standards when it comes to sensitive information for your job. That means you may use strong passwords and anti-virus software on your work devices. But just because you are working form home does not mean you are not vulnerable to phishing attacks and other work-related cyber threats.
For personal and professional use, I suggest that you invest in a Virtual Private Network, commonly called a VPN. This is a service that gives you private access to the world wide web. A VPN establishes an encrypted connection and hides your IP address and online activity from prying eyes, your internet provider, and marketing tracking.
When the internet was new, there was no need for a VPN, but now every site we go to generally adds a cookie to our web browser, logs our device type, and your IP address at a minimum. By encrypting our connection online, we can protect our data from cybercriminals who may want our work traffic.
I trust Nord VPN. There service is easy to use. I’m using it now as I write this post. If you are interested, Nord VPN offers The Secure Dad Community 59% off a two-year plan. And not only that you get thee extra months of service.
Since you will be working from your home network, you want to make limit the chances someone can hack your router and watch where you go online. In addition to a VPN, use strong passwords for all of your Wi-Fi networks and routers. Do not leave these on the default settings! Hackers can easily guess the passwords if they are common ones that came standard on your devices.
Fighting Fatigue While Working from Home
Since we don’t have a commute or water cooler chat, folks who work from home find themselves at their computers more frequently. This can lead to fatigue like eye strain and headaches.
It’s a great idea to schedule regular breaks to get up and stretch those muscles. Maybe go for a walk and see things beyond your monitor at eye level. As I’m writing this sentence my Apple Watch is asking me to stand, so I guess I will. In fact, if you haven’t stood up in the last hour pause reading this article and stretch a bit.
One of the best things that I purchased for my home office was a great chair. Don’t buy an IKEA chair and think you’ll be good. Your back will tell you differently. Invest in your health with a comfortable chair that will support you. You may also get your office to pay for it, so ask.
Working from home can be great and rewarding, but there are a few things we need to consider since we are the only ones responsible for us at home. Establish a dedicated workspace that you can secure and keep orderly, so you minimize the chances of tripping and having a medical emergency. Remote workers and becoming more and more popular so we have to take care of ourselves.