5 Ways to Rethink Your Work-at-Home Situation

As countless people began working from home for the first time in their lives, time and again I have heard them express one especially common worry:

“How can I get any work done when I have so many distractions?”

The fact is there is no way to just poof away every distraction available. So to keep disruptions at bay, you need to start with how you approach them and the idea of work itself — in other words, the solution is to reassess how you think about productivity and where it can occur.

Read on to learn five points to consider if you are worried distractions are keeping you from being the best smart home worker you can be.

1. Appreciate the Absent Annoyances

Although there is plenty to distract you in your own digs, the upshot is that, at home, you are free from office disruptions.

Before you tell yourself your home situation is unmanageable, keep in mind that there was also plenty in the office to take you out of a work mindset: loud coworkers, noise from other rooms, someone running the copier for an hour.

But working from home, those distractions all disappear. Not only are you away from the environment where those issues popped up, but just by muting your inbox and setting your status to DND, presto! You have officially nixed your nagging workplace woes.

So anytime you find yourself lamenting the distractions at home, remember that you pulled through distractions at the office, too — only, now, you can turn those issues off.

2. Stick to Your Own Deadlines

Except, the initial problem was that home does have plenty of its own distractions. After all, you have probably got a TV, books, an overly affectionate pet or two — and no manager over your shoulder to keep you on task.

As self-explanatory as it may sound, the key to overcoming these obstacles is self-policing. To boil it down, this means staying aware of your deadlines and making certain you stick to them on your own.

One specific way to aid with this is to make use of task management software like Jira, Wrike or Asana, which all let you create tasks just for your own purposes.

Another way is to create short-term milestones for yourself. Set explicit goals on a smaller scale; instead of saying “I need the audits done by the end of the month,” say “I need four expense reports processed today.”

With this approach, you can track progress (and procrastination) on a smaller scale, making it easier to manage yourself.

3. Re-Evaluate Your Work Boundaries

But — what happens if you are not making progress? Suppose that siren call of Netflix cuts through your carefully crafted work schedule. What then?

Though this question is too complex to fully answer in this post alone, the solution in brief is to separate yourself from your home’s biggest distractions — both physically and mentally.

The physical side works on a case-by-case basis, like stowing your phone far from your workplace or shutting yourself away from roommates or family. The mental aspect, meanwhile, entails putting an internal boundary against distractions.

Again, it is important to embrace the mindset that, so long as a task sits in front of you, that must be your focus, not the diversions you naturally associate with home. Learn to notice when that craving for a distraction pops into your head, then to brush the thought aside.

Call it self-help, call it a kind of meditation — the point is, focus must come from internal conditions as well as external ones.

4. Make Distractions Your New Breaks

To approach this whole issue from another angle, though, it has worth pointing out that work-time distractions are not necessarily a problem.

As psychological studies have shown, giving your brain some off-time is good for your work in the long term. With a brief period to reset, you will be able to come back to your task refreshed and more capable of getting those to-dos done.

Consider that what you call “distractions” may be a way to reset your thinking — or potentially some comfortable background noise to make your work more manageable.

5. Know When to Quit

But perhaps most crucial for settling into a work-at-home routine is learning to recognize your accomplishments.

A negative habit the office instills in us is the need to act busy just to look it, even if we have done the most we can for that day. Whether due to workplace standards or social pressure, finishing early does not always create more time for you.

This mindset can easily bleed into remote working. Sometimes, despite how you have finished the day’s work and your mental energy is totally sapped, there is a nagging fear that you cannot leave your laptop behind due to some abstract sense of “professionalism.”

The thing is, at home, you can afford to measure your work by what you have completed, not by your total hours online.

When turning your attention away from distractions and toward work, think about “tasks” instead of time. Remember, completed projects are a helpful, concrete way of measuring your progress; focusing on time, on the other hand, is arbitrary at best and unhealthy at worst.

So, if you have already finished with what work you had that day, then great! Feel free to give into a distraction or two. In fact, if you have no other commitments, it is even fine to log off early.

Credit: Austen Read-McFarland, Wildix

Please contact us today for details on how you can take advantage of our help!

2 Way Radios Calgary

sales@nutecelectrotel.com

Amid the sudden surge in demand for smart working, one option that has caught on with literally millions of consumers is Zoom. With its rise to the spotlight, the freemium videoconferencing app has drawn a lot of attention — but not always for the best reasons.

The explanation for Zoom’s popularity is most likely that it does what it says on the label: it provides a fast, approachable means of connecting people over video (albeit without providing the degree of end-to-end encryption it promises).

In a perfect world, this would be all an end-user needs out of a web conferencing app. But the problem is, we are living in a world full of security and privacy threats.

This means using Zoom poses enormous problems for businesses and individuals alike. Because, at the end of the day, Zoom does very little to keep you safe from those threats. In fact, it even does a whole lot to make you more exposed to them.

Let us dive into all the ways Zoom gets security and privacy wrong — and what Wildix does instead.

Unsecured, Inside and Out

A well-known exploit in Zoom is the ability for strangers to enter videoconferences uninvited. In fact, the practice is so common it’s been given its own name: “Zoombombing,” a term which even the FBI has recognized after having to step in to warn about the attacks.

This issue has garnered attention because of the shocking disruptions Zoombombers cause: shouting obscenities or even screensharing sexually explicit material, they aim to disturb attendees as much as possible and make their harassment all anyone can focus on.

These intrusions were made possible largely through Zoom’s lax approach to conference security. The big issue is that Zoom’s conference URLs all use a simple nine- to eleven-digit numerical code, making it easy for malicious agents to enter a conference room through brute-force hacking — meaning that Zoom conferences can easily be disrupted even if their room invite is kept secret. Further complicating matters is that, until recently, Zoom’s preventive measures against such disruptions, such as password locks and waiting rooms, had been turned off by default.

All this suggests that Zoombombing is not the result of user error, but of poor design. Practically speaking, a program’s security is only as good as the average end-user can be expected to maintain it. Consequently, it is essential that communications software is secure automatically, without the need for endless user guides and video tutorials.

Yet what we see in Zoom is just the opposite; instead of the program ensuring users are safe on its own, the program makes it the user’s responsibility to understand the platform in perfect detail or else be subject to security breaches.

The poor design in Zoom is even more apparent in the app’s rather odd choice of using pre-installation tools in its Apple software. This code, security experts have revealed, allows Zoom to install itself on macOS without user permission — and, alarmingly, is usually seen in malware, not web conferencing tools.

This is a problem not because Zoom itself is malicious, but because it can become an unwitting accomplice for malware. Thanks to pre-installation exploits and the permissions you’ve given the app, Zoom can be leveraged by viruses as a way to record you without your knowledge.

Yes — with Zoom on a Macbook, it’s actually easier for malware to hijack your webcam and mic.

Meanwhile, with Wildix, these vulnerabilities are effectively non-existent.

First off, the issue of unwanted guests entering a conference is solved automatically thanks to a more complex alphanumeric URL. By including both random numbers and letters in conference URLs, the platform automatically makes it exponentially more difficult for intruders to enter (let alone disrupt) a conference.

As for malware, that problem is solved through browser-based design. By running through WebRTC, Wildix requires your explicit permission to use your mic and webcam from new web domains. But more importantly, the program is exceptionally difficult to hack in the first place thanks to the near-impenetrable design of WebRTC.

As far as security is concerned, Wildix operates efficiently and transparently from the word go.

Zoom, meanwhile, utilizes design that keeps users in the dark about its security operations.

A Not-So-Private Branch Exchange

Zoom’s secretive approach to its functionality has also extended to their privacy policy, which cybersecurity expert Doc Searls described as “creepily chummy” with ad tracking companies.

Per a complaint by Consumer Reports, Zoom’s long-standing privacy policy allowed the software to not only store the data it captures during a videoconference — which includes anything from your face to the objects in your call’s background — but to then sell your data to the marketing sector.

While, thankfully, this practice has ended with Zoom’s latest privacy policy, it is still concerning why such a policy was ever included, considering a competent web conferencing developer ought to be making money off their proprietary software, not by mining data.

Yet more concerning still is the way Zoom handles video recordings of conferences. As revealed by the Washington Post, when Zoom stores a recorded conference, the service defaults to saving the file to a public URL — so public, in fact, that Zoom’s recordings can be found through a simple Google search.

By default, Zoom quite literally puts conferences out for the entire internet, and thus the entire world, to see. While user settings and custom names can again add a layer of privacy to these recordings, it is nevertheless mind-boggling that such a lack of security is possible at all.

More worrying still, your Zoom account may not be safe even if you skip recording your conferences. Since January 2020 onward, databases containing Zoom account names and passwords have been circulated and sold on the dark web. As Zoom took on more and more users, that database has only grown larger and more valuable to hackers, meaning there is all the more reason for new accounts to be exposed.

With Wildix, these privacy issues are outright nonexistent. Wildix does not store any video communications for ad tracking purposes — in fact, since the app works directly from browser to browser, it’s impossible to intercept or save such data, even for Wildix technicians. Recorded conferences are also private by default, since they are given a complex, randomly generated URL that’s inaccessible from the outside web.

Again, privacy is the built-in, automatic default with Wildix. With Zoom, meanwhile, the responsibility for protecting privacy is once again relegated entirely to the end-user.

The Takeaways

To Zoom’s credit, the company has taken active notice of their system’s flaws. As of April 1, 2020 — not long after undergoing investigation by the New York Attorney General — they announced they would suspend feature updates for 90 days to focus on existing security issues.

This announcement came in an apology for Zoom’s security flaws issued by the company’s CEO, Eric Yuan, which also highlights why the product was released with such defects at all. In the post, Yuan states that the number of active users on the platform “far surpass[ed]” what the company expected to ever host, and that Zoom “was built primarily for enterprise customers – large institutions with full IT support.”

Yuan is certainly correct, though more through omission than admission. With all the security issues that have come to light, perhaps it’s appropriate to say Zoom should be used only in conjunction with an internal tech team — provided said team is large enough to devote much of their working hours to upkeep on the program.

Of course, the underlying implication of this point is equally correct: for small to midsize businesses, and even for individuals, Zoom is not a worthwhile, purpose-built solution.

This seems to be a conclusion shared by New York City public schools, who are now dropping the platform, and by self-described “public interest technologist” Bruce Schneier, who wrote about the software’s issues at length. Princeton computer science professor Arvind Narayanan, meanwhile, outright calls Zoom “malware.”

If there is anything to take away from these examples, it’s that security must be integrated into communications platforms. Since user error is guaranteed to happen, safety must always be active in the solution, not something that can be casually flipped on or off.

We have often talked about how being secure by design is an integral part of the Wildix solution. With Wildix, security is not simply a setting that you have to turn just right or else be exposed to threats — security works automatically as soon as you start using the platform. Here, there is no need to choose between convenience or security, because Wildix gives you both.

In fact, what we have seen is that nothing makes a solution inconvenient quite like a lack of security. As Zoom’s example shows, once you lose security, you lose usability.

After all, no solution is less usable than one that puts you and your organization at risk.

Credit: Austen Read-McFarland, Wildix

Please contact us today for details on how you can take advantage of our help!

Telephone systems Edmonton

sales@nutecelectrotel.com

The Cambridge Advanced Learner’s Dictionary & Thesaurus defines “get real!” as a statement used for telling someone that they should try to understand the true facts of a situation and not hope for what is impossible.

WebRTC (Real Time Communications) is now REAL and POSSIBLE! WebRTC is nearly instant with minimal latency. Messages are not stored between transmission and reception, providing a peer-to-peer, rather than broadcasting or multicasting, transmission.

As you scrutinize new technologies such as WebRTC and its capabilities, you may ask, “How will they fit my enterprise?” “Will they live up to the hype?” WebRTC is the latest set of technologies for enterprise communication solutions, connecting between browsers over peer-to-peer connections. It uses Real-Time Protocol to transfer audio and video, offering significant advantages for customers to include real time communication in a wide variety of applications. These include video conferencing, file transfer, chat, or desktop sharing without the need of either internal or external plugins.

nec-webrtcThe NEC SV9100’s InUC (Real-Time Communications) provides highly cost-effective video and collaboration, working seamlessly within your IT environment. SV9100 users are able to quickly set-up audio and video connections between two or more PCs or devices from anywhere with an internet and VPN or LAN connection. This functions via Google Chrome on a PC or Android device for video conferencing, document and screen sharing for up to 32 users (up to 8 participants in each of 4 virtual rooms). It’s ideal for live software demos and presentation slideshows. This facilitates learning and making meaningful connections within a digital work place.

When face-to-face meetings are not practical, WebRTC may be the best option available for your video communication. It’s easy and quick to setup while retaining the personal touch and keeping your participants engaged. Will this be your next choice?

Get Face-to-Face

Video conferencing is a great tool to help boost the return on investment (ROI) in your communications system. Benefits include saving time, resources, and money because you connect face-to-face online without having to leave the office. It is versatile, easy-to-use, and functional. Reduced travel expense has often been touted as the major factor in decisions to invest in video conferencing systems. It costs a lot of money and a lot of time to travel to meet people. Imagine that you have to conduct an important meeting for your company with different people who are dispersed over different places in the world, thousands of miles apart. To bring them together around a table, you need to consider and deal with so many hassles: travel expenses, availability of flight seats, visas, availability of participants at the scheduled time, accommodation, food etc.

On the other hand, some say video conferencing can actually be more efficient than regular face-to-face conferences since the meetings often have a defined start and end time with people calling in from different locations, so a more focused discussion and less chitchat is likely. And, the organizing can be done over email or instant messaging.

Since most communication is nonverbal, video conferencing fills a huge gap that has long existed within organizations using audio alone. A video conference helps managers, knowledge workers, salespeople, and customer-service employees to better convey and understand information that is being shared within projects or engagements.

As sales involves collaboration with customers and a sales team, you can employ video conferencing to support sales activities such as sales presentations, training sessions, and hosting product demos.

Video conferencing has been used to train sales people, interface with customers and close business more quickly. One financial services firm deployed video conferencing to allow their subject matter expert to be in more places more quickly. In the past, he had to travel to each site, make a presentation and then fly home. With video conferencing, he is able to connect more sites together at the same time. This gets his information out more quickly to more people. As a result, revenue has grown and the salesperson has less wear and tear on his body. He stated, “Before video conferencing, I was exhausted. Now I travel less, see more people and close business more quickly.” ~ S. Ann Earon, Ph.D. President, Telemanagement Resources International Inc.

Business TrainingBusinesses today are transforming the way company-wide training is conducted. Company personnel are no longer required to leave the comfort of their homes and offices. By introducing online training through video conferencing, not only are businesses able to drastically reduce the cost of travel but they also see an increase in employee productivity and job satisfaction.

Video via cellular
Mobile video conferencing is the future, and it’s advancing at a tremendous rate. Most video conference systems now enable the use of mobile devices for participating in a video conference, you can have effective visual communication without restrictions on time or place. You can join a video conference from a location outside of the office, while you are on the go, or from your own home using a mobile device. There’s a world of opportunity waiting for you; all you have to do is explore it!

The growing trend to use video calls will continue to change how people interact with one another and overcome some of the past reluctance to choose video conferencing. Today’s youth expect video as an almost default collaboration tool. In a survey by Redshift Research, 75 percent of the young professional respondents say they will not settle for low quality. This expectation results from growing up with technology that continues to improve rapidly.