Updated: Nov 5, 2021
Set up a home office quickly, easily and safely. The Federal Office of Public Health (FOPH) recommends working from home whenever possible. We explain what it takes for a home office and how it can be operated safely.
Stay at home
With this urgent appeal, the Federal Council is trying to contain the Corona crisis. But for many workers, this is not so easy. Work must get done, the economy must not come to a complete standstill. However, especially for people who do most of their work on a PC, it is possible to stay in a home office. However, many SMEs have little or no experience with this. We show you how you can now implement home office very quickly and easily.
Plus: How you can hold meetings despite social distance and, of course, how to make digital data exchange as secure as possible.
What you need for a home office
Basically, the requirements for the vast majority of applications are quite simple: a fast internet connection with sufficient bandwidth, a computer, and a smartphone are all that is needed to make home office possible.
This makes it clear: most employees of small and medium-sized enterprises, but also of large companies, can already do home office with their personal devices. In Switzerland, 95.5 % of all households had an internet connection in 2019. Mobile internet use is also widespread: around 80 % of Swiss people also use the web from their smartphone.
Data access from the home office
If you store all your data on your personal PC in the office, you not only risk a total loss in the event of hard disk damage, but you also cannot access this data from anywhere without a security risk. It is better if companies use Office 365, for example. This includes practical collaboration tools such as Skype and Microsoft Teams (more on this later) and, last but not least, a terabyte of online data storage. Microsoft calls this "OneDrive".
This makes it easy to set up a fully-fledged workplace at home. It is particularly convenient if you integrate OneDrive directly as a drive in your Windows environment.
You can easily share OneDrive folders with colleagues
To do so, log in to their OneDrive account in the browser and share the desired folders with "Share". OneDrive can be displayed as a separate drive directly in Windows Explorer by clicking on "Embed".
Secure connection from the home office
A secure connection is the basic requirement for home office. The best way to do this is to offer your employees a VPN connection that can be used with a normal internet connection. VPN creates a virtual tunnel in which data is transported very securely. Ask your telecom provider about the possibilities.
Hotspot via smartphone
If someone in your company doesn't have an Internet connection or has one of very poor quality, that's not the end of home office. Today, smartphones very easily offer the possibility of setting up a so-called hotspot. This means that the smartphone provides internet access for the tablet, for example. Search for the keywords hotspot and tethering in the settings of your mobile phone.
When you activate it, the mobile phone will give you a password. In Windows, search for the now released network and enter the password accordingly. Now you can establish a connection to the Internet via smartphone.
You or your employees may have to adjust the mobile phone subscription, as more data traffic is generated in this way. It is best to ask your telecom provider about this. Cheap mobile offers are also available here, where you can even benefit from a 50% discount at the moment.
Notebooks with integrated SIM cards are also very practical. Here, the data exchange also takes place via the mobile phone network.
For security reasons, we strongly advise against logging on to public WLANs, for example in cafés, railway stations or shopping centres. There is a high risk of catching a virus or losing data. Public WLANs are open to everyone - including cybercriminals, who can use them to track down poorly secured devices.
Meetings in the home office
Data exchange is one thing, meetings and discussions are another. But this is basically no longer a problem in the home office. Very practical for a short exchange between more than two colleagues (with a maximum of 4 participants) is the WhatsApp group call. It's very easy: tap on "Calls" in WhatsApp, select the handset icon with the plus, tap on "New group call" and select the contacts. Call, done.
Caution: For data protection reasons, you should not use WhatsApp to exchange business data. Web conferences go a little further. Here it is not only possible to see each other, but the participants can also show each other documents that are being discussed. Many good solutions are available for the home office (see next section). It is important that these solutions are also available as apps for the mobile phone or tablet.
The hardware is equally important
A camera is optional with all solutions, a headset (headphones with integrated microphone) is strongly recommended. Notebooks may have integrated loudspeakers and also a microphone, but the sound quality is in most cases an imposition for the rest of the round.
A few collaboration tools:
Skype: If you work with Windows, you can start right away with Skype, which is part of the basic equipment of the operating system. Here, too, group calls are easy to set up. To do this, simply go to "Calls" and "New call" in Skype and place a tick behind each contact you want to invite to the conference call. This way you can invite a maximum of 10 people.Skype is also available for macOS, the iPhone and Android, but still has to be downloaded and installed separately.
Microsoft Teams: Office 365 also includes Microsoft Teams, which is also available free of charge without Office 365 in a slimmed-down version.MS Teams is a so-called collaboration solution, i.e. software that specifically supports digitalised collaboration. MS Teams offers a much wider range of functions than Skype (including chats or tools for editing files together, etc.).
Other tools: The collaboration solutions Google Hangouts and WebEx are also quite widespread. Ask your telecom provider about suitable solutions.
Security in the home office
To ensure that the home office does not become a nightmare, it is important for everyone involved to take certain safety precautions. As the boss or head of department, you should definitely inform the employees in writing about these safety precautions and give concrete tips on how to implement them.
VPN: As already mentioned, the most secure data traffic is with VPN (Virtual Private Network). Ask your telecom provider about suitable solutions.
Data storage: The following applies even more in the home office than in the office: storing data on local data carriers is not permitted. Data must be stored either in the cloud or on company-owned servers. Storing data in the cloud also has the advantage that an automatic backup is guaranteed. Data loss is thus less likely. Furthermore, especially in times of home offices, it is extremely important that all authorised persons have access to the data at all times.
It is mandatory that home devices (notebooks, tablets, smartphones) are secured with a password. It is best to have employees confirm in writing that their devices have a password lock. Selbstverständlich sollten die Heimgeräte mit einer Firewall und einem aktuellen Virenscanner gesichert sein.
What you need to arrange for the home office
Basically, in today's situation, employers and employees should come to an agreement as soon as possible and allow home office whenever possible. However, define precise processes together with the responsible persons:
Where is the data located and in what form is what stored where? Be sure to observe the access rights so that not everyone has access to everything. These access rights can be easily assigned in cloud storage such as OneDrive via invitation.
Who can be reached and how? Skype, for example, has to be started for it to work.
Is there an attendance plan so that the phone is guarded? If you have VoIP, calls can be conveniently diverted - even to the mobile phone.
Regulate access to the data or files so that there is no overlap, unless you have a collaboration tool in place that regulates use. It is annoying when you realise that you have been working with an outdated file.
Put these processes in writing and ensure that all employees are informed.
And: stay in personal contact! A phone call is sometimes better than an email.
Home office is your contribution in the crisis
In these difficult times, digital tools allow us to comply with the FOPH's recommendations while maintaining business as usual. Home office can be implemented with very little effort and modest financial resources. It is worth taking this step today, if you have not already done so.