Online safety / October 07, 2021

Tips to stay safe (and happy) while working from home

Amanda Lee

Amanda Lee

Senior Project Manager, TELUS Wise

Man working on laptop on the kitchen table. Next to him is a sandwich on a plate, and we can see into the kitchen, where there's a man doing dishes

It's hard to believe that it's been over 18 months since I stepped foot into the TELUS office due to the pandemic. Working from home definitely has its perks - from being there to accept deliveries or to throw in a load of laundry, to enjoying a break with your dog to repurposing commuting time into time spent working out. On the flip side, the line between work and home can be blurred and you may find yourself working longer hours and feeling burnt out.

With the likelihood that some version of remote working will continue into our post-pandemic future (given many Canadians' preferences) many of us have taken steps to help ensure our work from home experience is positive. But have you taken steps to ensure your cybersafety? What do you do to manage your well-being?

October is Cyber Security Awareness Month and Canada’s Healthy Workplace Month, and we’ve rounded some top tips on each topic.

Top tips to protect yourself online

  1. Avoid phishing scams by verifying the authenticity of all emails and messages received (i.e. text and social media). These scams use fake emails and accounts that are carefully crafted to look legitimate. Fraudsters may pose as banks, credit card providers, government agencies or even fellow employees at your organization looking for urgent support with something work-related. Clicking on links in these emails/messages will result in malware being installed on your device, or in some cases you may be directed to malicious websites where you are prompted to enter personal data.
  2. If you’re using a work-provided device, it probably comes with already-installed antivirus software. If you’re responsible for your own technology, protect yourself by using a reputable anti-virus software program. This software can protect you from malware and will scan email/messages for suspicious attachments or fraudulent links. It is recommended that you update your system(s) whenever an update is available as they often provide patches or fixes for known vulnerabilities.
  3. Protect your data and privacy by using a VPN (virtual private network). Sending data over the web may expose sensitive information like your passwords, photos and credit card numbers to hackers, and the risk is especially high when using an untrusted network, for example a Wi-Fi hotspot. A VPN helps protect this data and allows you to browse securely.
  4. Monitor accounts, especially your financial accounts. Personal information is commonly sold on the dark web, and scammers use it to drain bank accounts, charge credit cards and even apply for new loans or credit cards in your name. It's a good habit to regularly access your credit report to monitor any unauthorized activity or accounts in your name.
  5. Regularly check whether your data has been exposed in a breach. Have I Been Pwned? is a website that allows you to check whether your personal data has been compromised by data breaches. It is recommended that you change your login credentials on any sites where you may have been exposed and on any other sites where you may have used the same password. It’s best to use different passwords for different accounts and because this can get complicated, you can use a Password Manager to help remember, secure, and automatically enter your usernames and passwords for you.

To help avoid becoming the victim of a cyber attack, take advantage of a cyber security solution like TELUS Online Security powered by NortonLifeLock™. The service provides dark web notifications of potential threats, on demand credit reports, as well as identity theft reimbursement coverage and help with full identity restoration (terms and conditions apply). Visit telus.com/WiseOnlineSecurity to learn more.

On top of cybersecurity, it's just as important for us to manage our well-being when working from home. According to a recent survey, Social Connection in Canada, 60% of Canadians reported being lonely during the week, attributed to living and working in isolation during the pandemic. Furthermore, a recent report from Indeed found that employee burnout is on the rise, with 52% of workers feeling burned out, up 9% from a pre-COVID survey.

Top tips to help you stay well in our work from home, always-connected era

  1. Block time in your calendar for your well-being and if you can, try to create a separate space for working from home. Scheduling breaks, lunch, and time for a short walk can help ensure you have the opportunity to get up, stretch and take a break from your screen throughout the day. Having a dedicated workspace can help you avoid distractions and remain productive, while also helping you achieve better balance and establish boundaries between your personal and work time. Remember to use your vacation time, too (even if you’re not yet ready to travel)!
  2. Keep office rituals like “morning coffee” and stay connected with your co-workers, even if it’s virtual or through socially distanced outdoor walks. Feeling socially connected, especially in an increasingly isolated world, is more important than ever. Research shows that human connections can boost your mental health, with friendships offering a number of mental health benefits, such as increased feelings of belonging, purpose, and happiness, reduced levels of stress, as well as improved self-worth and confidence. Social connections help make us feel good.
  3. Turn off notifications. If working is creeping into all hours of your life, and you’re noticing that technology is adversely affecting you - be it your sleep, relationships or overall well-being, consider turning off work-related notifications - especially outside of office hours. The Do Not Disturb feature found on most devices can help you reduce the feeling of overwhelm and be present in the moment - it may even help you get a better night’s sleep.
  4. Recognize the impact that video meetings may have on your well-being and consider balancing your day of back to back video meetings with old-school phone conversations when you can. According to this recent CBC article, psychologists have suggested that video meetings are ‘more draining than in person conversations’ and may result in burnout and depression over time. Work with your team and support person to establish team norms about when camera use is required and when it can be made optional.

Technology can boost our productivity and help us stay connected, but it can also be all-consuming, impacting how we feel and our relationships with others. Take this quiz to find out how well you’re managing your relationship with technology. You can also learn more about balance and well-being in our digital world with the TELUS Wise happiness workshop - although designed with high school students in mind, it’s a great reminder for all of us about the proactive steps we can take to stay well and maintain our happiness in our digital world.

Tags:
Safe digital habits
Frauds & scams
Identity theft
Password management
Prevention & support
Mental health
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