5 Tips For Helping Employees Securely Work From Home

With many companies having no choice but to allow their employees to work from home during the coronavirus pandemic, employers have had to swiftly make arrangements that enable them to do so. Running a company remotely is much more complex than just sending employees home with a laptop. Like in an office, security measures must be taken to protect a company’s data and employees. Which means some employers may be faced with trying to bring this same level of security to hundreds of homes as they formerly did to one office location. If you’re an employer whose employees are now enjoying the remote work life, consider taking these steps to ensure they’re working securely and safely. 

1. Determine a Security Protocol 

First things first, you’ll need to determine exactly what type of security measures your business needs and how you can implement those measures in your employees’ home offices. One simple step to take towards security is to ensure that employees have up-to-date security protection installed on any devices they utilize for work, such as virus checkers, firewalls, and device encryption. Remind employees to update their software when new versions become available or to activate automatic updating on work devices. 

Other aspects of your security protocol may involve resetting default passwords on home Wi-Fi routers, requiring all devices to be locked when an employee walks away from them, or providing digital backup systems or external drives to secure work, all of which can help strengthen your remote security measures. 

2. Provide Proper Training & Support

Once you’ve set a security protocol, it’s important to train employees on how to follow it correctly. Ongoing training will be necessary as you put new measures in place or as new security risks arise. Providing them with educational tools and access to an IT support team will help lessen confusion as well as emphasize how important your security measures are. 

3. Take Passwords Seriously 

When employees work remotely, their choice in passwords matter more than ever. Auditing their passwords will give you an idea of if their passwords are secure enough and if they need to be updated. You’ll want to educate them on the importance of having a strong password (aka not “password” or something personal that can be guessed) and provide password guidelines that you expect them to meet. Requiring them to update their passwords periodically is also an effort worth making. Implementing two-factor authentication across work devices and digital accounts can add an extra layer of security.

In case a key employee is not available, it is important the company has access to their passwords. There are programs such as LastPass that can help you securely manage employee passwords, in case you ever need to access them. 

4. Keep an Eye on Your VPN

Virtual private networks (VPN) can be used to secure data across a core system and remote employee devices. They do so by hiding a user’s IP address and their location and by encrypting data transfers. If your company already has a VPN in place, double check that all of your employees can receive protection from it remotely.

VPNs are susceptible to vulnerabilities, especially older versions, so it is important to keep your VPN up to date through your survey or firewall, whichever provides your VPN solutions. In some cases, this is simply the desktop of the remote user. 

5. Create Scam Awareness

New security scams pop up every day and there is a fresh batch circulating related to COVID-19, according to The National Cyber Awareness System. Ideally, someone on your team will stay abreast of the latest scams so your employees can be properly informed of what scams to look out for. At the very least, employees should be frequently reminded not to click on unsolicited emails or visit unofficial websites.

10 Tips for Working From Home Securely

If you’re one of the millions of employees who rapidly transitioned from working in an office to working out of your home, it’s time to get your ducks in a row. More specifically, your security ducks. When you work in an office, there are often strong security measures already in place and a handy tech team that helps prevent cyber security issues. When you take your work home with you though, you’ll need to take extra steps to ensure you’re working securely and protecting your company.

1. Use Strong Passwords

Your home office likely doesn’t have the same level of preventative security as your workplace, which makes the need for a strong password all the more important. Avoid using common passwords such as “password” or repeating numbers that are easy to replicate. It’s also best not to use easily identifiable personal information such as your birthdate or a pet’s name to create your password. Make the password random and difficult to guess.

2. Implement Multi-Factor Authentication

Speaking of passwords, using a multi-factor authentication process can add an extra layer of protection that is more difficult for hackers to move past. Typically, multi-factor authentication requires presenting at least two pieces of evidence to an authentication mechanism such as entering a password and answering a personal question.

3. Invest in Antivirus Software

If you took your work computer home with you, chances are it came equipped with antivirus software, but if you’re using a personal computer or your company allowed you to purchase a new one, you should instal antivirus software to help protect your computer from malware such as viruses, spyware, rootkits, ransomware, and trojans.

4. Learn to Avoid Phishing Scams

If you ever encounter a link in an email, on an app, or on a webpage that seems suspicious, don’t click on it. Take some time to learn the signs of phishing scams. One quick trick to spot a phishing scam is to hover over links instead of clicking on them, doing so allows you to preview the link and see if it looks suspicious. Generic messages with attachments should be avoided as well.

5. Don’t Share Work Devices

Keep your family and friends away from your work devices as you won’t know what risks their activity may expose your work computer to. Not to mention, you may be violating company privacy policies by sharing work devices.

6. Keep Physical Workspace Secure

Whatever rules are in-place in your office for keeping your physical workspace secure should be followed at home. That may include best practices like never walking away from your computer while it is still logged on or physcially locking up a laptop at the end of the day.

7. Back Up All Data

Often workplaces have computers linked to a secure network that automatically backs up files, but at home make sure you frequently save your work to an external hard drive or cloud storage system to avoid losing valuable data during a system failure.

8. Avoid Risky Apps

Think carefully before you download any external apps onto your work devices and remove any that may put your network or devices at risk. If you don’t need an app, it’s best to remove it even if it seems safe.

9. Only Use Safe USB Drives

Do not use a USB drive unless you are certain of its origins and its contents. Using a randomly found USB drive may result in exposure to malware.

10. Plan Secure Meetings

The rise in popularity of video call meetings have led to new hacking opportunities. To keep virtual meetings secure, use a reputable platform, don’t share the meeting passwords with anyone outside of the meeting, and avoid sharing sensitive information during virtual meetings.

Download the infographic!

It’s Dawning on Businesses That Remote Work Has Its Perks

The concept of working from home is not a new one, but for many until March of 2020 it was something that seemed out of reach. That was, until stay at home orders were put into place and millions of workers were left with no choice but to work from home. At Terra Translations, our entire team has worked remotely since day one, so we were able to maintain business as usual while staying home to slow the spread of COVID-19. But for many businesses, a major shift had to occur in order to accommodate remote working. 

The Forced Shift to Remote Work

As mentioned, the rapid spread of COVID-19 left many employers with no choice but to send their workers home. While not all employees can work remotely, many in more corporate settings can do so with the right support. Remote work has always had a stigma attached to it. Many business leaders fear it will lead employees to being unproductive, uncommunicative, and untrustworthy. With no choice but to allow employees to work from home, many managers and executives are realizing that stigma is often untrue and that there are actually many benefits of allowing employees to do their work from home when possible. 

The Benefits

Studies have long shown that working from home can enable employees to be more productive. A 2019 study by Airtasker found that remote employees worked an average of 16.8 more days than office employees every year and wasted less time during the workday. The positive effects of working from home are not just felt during office hours. The survey also found that remote employees on average save an annual average of $4,523 on fuel required to commute, not to mention many hours spent in traffic. 

Employees aren’t the only ones who will save money by working from home, business owners are looking at massive savings too by not providing a workspace for employees. Of course, savings caused by workplaces moving from the office to the home will cause a negative impact for other businesses. While many businesses will save money on office rent, utilities, and supplies, the suppliers they no longer require to keep theirs up and running will suffer. Landlords, office supply stores, and restaurants and shops in business heavy areas and financial districts could face ample loss in revenue when their customers trade their pricey office space for a spot on the couch. 

The Aftermath

It seems natural that the companies who found success in, and reaped the benefits, of remote work would consider continuing to do so once stay at home orders are lifted. Large international companies such as Facebook, Apple, Microsoft, and Twitter were early to send employees home after the onset of COVID-19 and are continuing to keep employees home longer than other companies. Many of these tech giants are reporting they will offer more work from home opportunities for employees on an ongoing basis, even once the spread of COVID-19 stops. Tech companies are notorious for building luxurious, creative, and unique workspaces to attract top talent, but it appears the office employees may be most drawn to is at home.

How to Recruit Talent Worldwide: An Interview with Natalia Quintás

These last months, remote work has been a resourceful way of maintaining productive operations of non-essential jobs across the globe. But for companies that are beginning to operate online and for those that have a background of remote working, it’s important to embrace the specificities of this model. For instance, there are strategies for organizing a daily schedule or for establishing effective channels of communication.

More importantly, behind every great virtual team, there are great professionals suitable for the task and, hence, talent recruitment comes to the scene. Remote staff selection implies a different process of recruitment planning, execution and applicants’ evaluation.

To have the insight from an expert, we interviewed Natalia Quintás, Terra Translations’ Director of Human Resources. She has a bachelor’s degree in Psychology, and 18 years’ experience in the field of human resources. Also, she has been managing the virtual recruitment of Terra’s talents, both freelancers and in-house teams, for six years.

Terra Translations: What are the benefits for recruitment from a work-from-home model?

Natalia Quintás: Operating remotely implies a wide range of possibilities for Human Resources departments. The first important advantage is that the search will be boundless: we can really focus on talent, experience and education, because applicants’ location won’t be a limit for us. Thus, we can really work with the best, and with those professionals who match most with the company vision.

Terra: How does remote recruitment differ from on-premises recruitment?

Natalia: The most salient difference is that in online recruitment we can’t meet face to face. But it can be easily rectified. An experienced hunter identifies the suitable talent executing specific actions, that include active listening, providing online personality tests and planning a smart and effective competencies’ based interview.

Terra: Which are the best practices to manage global recruitment efficiently?

Natalia: First of all, recruiters have to define a strategy based on their requirements. If in need of talent with a very specific profile, it’s better if HR managers search for it (or “hunt”) in professional social media platforms. However, for general positions, as translators or editors in our industry, a job posting will be more useful.

Second, recruiters of course need to know English, so they can communicate with applicants around the world. In that regard, it’s important to build a strong and wide network of contacts in social media, specifically on LinkedIn. That way, we make sure that the job posts are reaching more people. With a good contact network, we are increasing the likelihood that the right person reads the offer.

Terra: Is there a specific way of carrying out the recruitment process? How do you do it?

Natalia: Because virtual recruiters don’t meet with candidates, we try to compensate for that fact. First, it’s crucial to use a webcam on both sides. Second, it’s very useful to conduct an interview based on competencies. Before the search and the interview, we define which skills the candidate needs to master for a certain position. With indirect questions and remarks, an experienced recruiter will be able to check these competencies during the interview.

Furthermore, online personality tests can be handy. They are not a selection test, but they help to assess the management profile of applicants or employees. Sometimes, the recruitment process also includes a technical test to measure the required knowledge for a certain position.

Lastly, as recruiters we must communicate clearly and sincerely from the beginning. This implies notifying the responsibilities and required or desired skills. Finally, we must always show gratitude for the time of the interview. We are one of the faces of the company we represent, and we have to convey correctly the values of our organization’s culture.

A Remote Force Era is Coming

The COVID-19 outbreak and the measures taken to control it changed the reality of many countries around the globe. In addition to the emphasis on healthcare and health systems, the pandemic put the spotlight on the concept of work. Globally, we realized the essential nature of some jobs and the value they have in a community. We also learned that other jobs, which were always placed in offices, can be carried out from home.

Offices on the move

During this critical pandemic period, the modality of remote work allowed a lot of companies to maintain their operations; hence, employees could preserve their jobs. Some industries were already offering days of home office as an employment benefit. Others operate under different levels of remote models, that include the localization industry, software development, gaming, graphic design and freelance content writing.

The need for applying social distancing policies extended remote working to other sectors of the productive sphere, proving it can be a reality for employees and employers. In fact, a recent paper from the University of Chicago estimates that one-third of the jobs in the United States can be done entirely at home.

Connected employees

Working from home impacts positively on the wellbeing of employees. They save time and money on commuting and, also, there is a boost in productivity (without the office distractions). Because of this, there is a higher rate of satisfaction in home office jobs, as research suggests.

However, some employees can find it difficult to adapt their jobs to the domestic environment. In these cases, they can initially benefit from a mixed model, partially on-premises and partially from home. This way, there is a gradual adaptation of working and domestic routines.

Managing online

Companies can take advantage of remote operations in many ways. First, in regard to Human Resources, the modality has an increased rate of employee retention. “It will make us more comfortable in providing more flexibility to employees, which, by the way, makes this a more attractive place for people to work,” explains Goldman Sachs’ CEO David Solomon. Moreover, for Paul Estes, Editor in Chief of Staffing.com, these engaging conditions translate into attracting the best and brightest professionals.

On the other hand, when operating remotely, companies save in rent, electricity and other billings related to having physical installations as offices. Nevertheless, if this unprecedented experience leaves certain companies willing to try remote operations (under a mixed or a hundred percent model), it’s important to plan before executing. “Sustainability needs a firm foundation: the right investment, good operational plumbing, smart HR systems, strong soft skills, and outstanding communication,” underscores Jon Younger for Forbes.

The strategic shift to a remote workplace must include a proper investment in technology and broadband services to guarantee the best performance. It’s also fundamental to set a new structure of communication and leadership, that has its differences compared to on-premises strategies. Furthermore, it’s important to monitor productivity to assess the effectiveness of the shift.

From localization to beyond

Language service professionals operate remotely more than any other industry, in a 68 percent rate. Terra Translations’ staff is included in this percentage, and the company has the experience and the proper infrastructure to do it efficiently.

Maybe, after the COVID-19 outbreak and with the required strategic planning, moving the office to home will emerge as a possibility for many other industries and companies. Both employers and employees of different fields will be able to experience the pros of this productive model; from sustainability to profitability, from saving time to an increased sense of personal welfare

Video Calls Best Practices: Before, During and After

Communication is one of the pillars upon which virtual teams build their strength.  Every day, an organization needs to set up strategic planning, feedback, collaboration and leadership. These aspects depend on establishing clear and effective networking among the members of a team.

Some companies may now be facing the need for operating remotely due to the public restrictions established globally to control the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19). In this scenario, companies have to find different ways to hold meetings, share daily information, instructions, etc.

One of the most useful resources is video calls or video conferences, since they nearly recreate the face-to-face experience that at times online conversation lacks. But for those not used to them, video calls can be more exhausting than actual meetings because of the use of a headset, the digital sound and images, connectivity or domestic issues. However, when video calls are efficiently planned, these issues can be completely addressed and solved. Virtual meetings are a very rewarding and enriching communication experience that has no equal within remote operations.

Before: Prepare

Not every subject is appropriate for video calls. For instance, notices, news, heavy data reports can be displayed in written formats, which allows information to be easily accessible for further use. But to discuss collectively, to hear general reports of more than one department or to introduce new members of a team, a well-planned video call is the perfect ally of effective time management.

Keep in mind the following tips when preparing for a virtual meeting:

  • If you are the organizer, prepare an agenda and have a moderator who points out who speaks next.
  • If you will be speaking, prepare notes and practice what you have to say.
  • Everyone: Check if your camera, microphone and speakers are working BEFORE the meeting starts. Having to deal with technical issues can be very annoying for the attendees.

During: Leverage

During a video call, certain practices can also help participants take full advantage of the meeting. 

  • Mind your environment. A light, tidy context will help you give the right impression.
  • Take and type notes. This way, you will have a summary or a draft for further reports or briefs.
  • Be respectful of the other’s speaking turns. Thus, raise your hand if you need to intervene, and if it’s the right moment to do so.
  • Record the meeting. Having this resource available can have multiple uses.

After: Share

What happens in the video conference doesn’t stay in the video conference. The discussed matters, the conclusions, the valuable information shared should be taken into account for planning and defining new actions, changes or resolutions.

  • Share your notes or prepare reports. This way, there will be a record of the attendees and the topics discussed.
  • Share the meeting recording. If a member of a team couldn’t make it to the call, if you need to review your notes or analyze in detail something said, you will regret not having your conferences recorded. 

It’s part of a strategy

We might think that some organizational practices —like holding video calls, schedule online, being a leader from afar— are somehow spontaneous skills when operating remotely. But there is always a planned and more professional way of addressing them. Consciously preparing virtual meetings impacts productivity, time management and communication. Give it a try!

Homemade Offices: Terra’s Tips for a Successful Remote Workplace

The rapid international expansion of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) significantly impacted the everyday lives of individuals  across the globe. Many governments established a quarantine or public restrictions in order to control the spread and circulation of the virus. As a result, daily routines, industrial processes, productive activities and transit were affected globally.

In our current climate, many companies and public entities are carrying out their duties to contain the virus by switching to a home-office model (with the exception of critical activities, like the job of health care providers). A lot of employees and employers are new to this scenario. However, at Terra Translations we are experts in working-from-home, since we’ve operated daily under a 100 percent virtual basis for 20 years.

In an effort to collaborate with all those who are not used to working from home, we’ll offer some insight on best practices to consider. With an optimal organizational strategy, operating remotely won’t affect productivity nor efficient communication.

On the company’s end

To achieve successful development of the company operations, there are strategies that help the management team strengthen connectivity and communication among employees.

o   Use online tools

Every member of a team or company should be able to have quick access to the information needed to do their jobs remotely. Hence, online tools such as file sharing systems or work management platforms help organize the team’s tasks and access needed data anytime. Besides, some companies have their own management systems which administer daily operations, staff and information.

o   Communicate clearly and positively

Calls and video calls can replace meetings and maintain a successful corporate communication. But when addressing someone via instant messaging or email we must pay extra attention. As the other person is not listening to the tone of voice or seeing gestures, he or she can misunderstand the attitude of the message. Cultivating a polite and positive attitude in written messages keeps healthy work relationships.

o   Schedule but keep it flexible

The staff can benefit from fixed daily schedules to organize their work routine at home. But some employees —especially those who are taking care of kids and/or older adults— need flexibility to attend the needs of others at home. Promoting collaboration among coworkers will help support the tasks and provide breaks for those who need them most.

o   Share

Keep employees informed with institutional news, share reliable information and show that the company is there to support the staff. This will promote confidence and a sense of security. A safe, informed and calm environment will foster, also, a smooth daily workflow.

At home but at work

For employees not used to working from home, it can be challenging to adjust their routines. The first basic practice that impacts productivity and organization is the separation of the workplace. Ideally, there is a room in the house settled as a home office. This will contribute to keeping a distance between domestic and work-related issues. If this is not possible, to have an exclusive space, desk or table can be useful too.

Second, it’s important to establish a time schedule routine. Some remote workers prefer working under a flexible timetable, while others prefer fixed hours. Regardless, having an organized routine will help in setting limits to work time. That will impact on domestic and personal welfare.

Furthermore, there are other practices that improve remote work. For instance, keeping the workplace tidy and neat will increase the sense of comfort, along with using ergonomic chairs and furniture.

Also, self-care is a very important factor. For Terra’s CEO Marina Ilari, for example, “Getting dressed or combing your hair for work will make you feel better about yourself,” she suggests. As she sees it, although it’s a simple action, self-care supports self-esteem and, thus, staff’s wellbeing.

The challenges: health and family

As Terra’s team knows how to operate daily from home, every member has a tip to share. For example, for in-house editor Ivana Sabelli, we should never overlook the relationship between work and wellbeing. In that regard, she notes three aspects we must not forget: vision, focus, posture. “Scanning a far object for 30 seconds every 40 minutes is a way of taking care of your vision health,” she suggests. Also, there are techniques to apply even while editing. “Doing breathing exercises and stretching while working will improve relaxation and a sense of welfare,” she added.

On the other hand, one of the greatest challenges is to entertain children all day while working on a full-time schedule. Sometimes, kids demand attention, and to work in separate rooms is not possible. For those cases, our Senior Project Manager Cintia Sturla has some advice: “You can even get them involved in work, only for a few minutes. They can press a key or you can explain to them what you’re doing,” she suggests. When that doesn’t work, she admits she has worked wearing costumes (sometimes more than one at a time!) for her identical twins’ joy.

Operations Manager Manuela Lamas has also twins and double wit. For video calls, she always stays in a closed room, “But I hand some paper and colored pencils to my kids, so they can slip me love messages or drawings under the door,” she says. That way, children feel connected with their working parents while doing creative activities.

***

All these actions, strategies and considerations show that there is plenty to set in motion on everybody’s end. An interconnected, ready-to-go and healthy environment —both for remote managers and their teams— will secure a successful operation even in such unexpected times.

Behind the Scenes: Terra’s Annual Team Building Workshop

On Saturday, November 16th, Terra Translations’ staff enjoyed an exciting afternoon engaged in a series of team building activities at the amazing facilities of the Howard Johnson Resort in Pilar, Buenos Aires.

The aim of the workshop was to strengthen group dynamic because teamwork is the cornerstone of Terra’s culture. Through inspirational speeches, ludic activities and shared time, the team consolidated the values of commitment, confidence, leadership, respect, and creativity.

How was all this possible in one single day? Here are the highlights of the team building workshop.

13:00. Lunch

Lunch was just what the team needed for the workshop to launch. Terra’s staff reconnected over a delicious shared meal. It was a relaxed moment for catching up and building energy for upcoming activities.

 

14:00. Master class

Once lunch was finished, the team moved into a conference room to listen to Carlos Melo, an expert teacher with over 15 years’ experience in business development, consulting, and marketing.

A little bit of theory is always useful. Carlos invited the attendees to rethink the concept of “persuading” by emphasizing the notion of “negotiation” as a key action in every team. He also remarked that for better staff relationships, members should prefer the “Y-Position”. This means paying attention to different opinions on one matter and being open to learning from other options, which can be rewarding for a team. He also gave useful insights about assertiveness, feedback, attitudes to be avoided, and much more.

15:00. Fun and values

Then it was practice time. The group went to the park where different games were setup ready to be played. These entailed applying the skills that are part of teamwork done every day. Some games needed creativity, coordination, and trust in other members, while others relied on improvisation and strategic thinking. All the members were impressively committed to the tasks, but there was also time for laughs, fun, and cheers.

16:00. Oh, do we actually have to build?

It turned out that “team building” was literally about building! The whole Terra team constructed a huge fortress using logs, rope, and the principles needed to build: organization and mutual confidence.

17:00. Instagram time!

Once the task was completed, the team posed for a photo (boomerang included).

 

17:30. Break and getting ready

Mission accomplished. The team had a moment to rest and take stock of the activities of the day. Some coffee and mate were shared and, afterward, the team went to get ready for dinner.

20:00. The dinner

Such a special day needed a unique ending. In the evening, the team welcomed freelance translators and editors to the annual dinner. The event was the occasion for sharing a joyful time among long-time vendors as well as meet those who came to the event for the very first time.

When all vendors had arrived, Terra’s equation was complete. To have the in-house team sharing time with the vendors means being in the presence of the heart of the company. They all are the talent that, combined with teamwork, make Terra’s quality and commitment possible every day.

Take a look at our photo album here!

The Secret to High-Performance Teams in the Digital Era

One of the highlights of CLINT 2019 (Congreso Latinoamericano de la Industria de la Traducción) was the session of Natalia Quintás, our Human Resources Manager. She led an in-depth session on how to manage high-performance teams in the competitive and challenging scenario of the localization industry. Natalia has 5 years’ experience at Terra Translations. She has worked as a vendor manager, permanent staff administrator and training and development manager. In addition, Natalia has a 15-year background  in first-level global companies. Her bachelor’s degree in psychology and postgraduate courses are a supplement to her solid expertise. Because of this, she is a specialist in employment relationships, staff selection and team management, key aspects that shape the translation workflow.

The digital era

Natalia’s  professional background was fundamental to the success of the presentation. On Sunday, September 15th, she took center stage in the packed conference room of CLINT 2019. Natalia began her lecture defining the context of where the localization industry is set today: a digital era in which the internet is a featured part of the productive process. In this framework, companies can operate completely under a remote model without losing their high-performance profile, establishing new skills, leadership models and monitoring processes that Natalia knows very well.

Competences and monitoring

With this context as a new reality, Natalia explained that companies tend to have a more horizontal, interactive structure with flexible shifts and workplaces. The scenario requires different professional skills as well as new ways of monitoring everyday work. For instance, constant feedback, follow-up meetings and using psychological assets like the enneagram for team composition are some of the methods that allow leaders to have control over their vendors and processes, in the same way leaders can take monitoring actions for on-premises companies. That is why HR personnel should know, like Natalia does, how to find the right vendors that adapt and provide their best for digitally connected high-performance teams. Complex problem solving, staff management, creativity and teamwork are some of the features that Natalia values in both linguists and operations staff. In companies like Terra, they result in quality of the final product and success of a project’s development.

Advantages of remote localization work

Remote companies like Terra have advantages that improve their employment conditions and, moreover, the value of the linguistic product delivered, she explained. First, savings in structural expenses (like office rent or electricity) can translate into more competitive rates for clients. Second, employees save time and resources. As Natalia outlined, not having to commute to work has a positive impact on employees because it results in enriched well-being and work-life balance. This directly influences  the team’s high-performance. The most salient asset of remote localization teams is that the vendors and managers’ location doesn’t interfere in recruitment because geography is not a limit for being part of the team. As a remote company, we can work with top professionals in their fields regardless of where these vendors are.