Traveling for the Holidays? Here’s How to Work From Anywhere

With the holidays upon us, chances are you’ll be traveling to spend time with friends and family. You will likely find yourself trying to kill time on long flights or wrapping everything up before you log off for the holidays. Are you hoping to get some work done during the hours you’re in transit? If so, you may end up working anywhere from an airport to a Greyhound bus. Here’s what you need to know to keep working comfortably, efficiently, and securely.

Optimize your work environment

List the factors that make up your ideal work environment, and think about how you can recreate them on the go. For me, a giant bottle of water, good headphones, and an ambient music playlist are necessities. But also be sure to take appropriate security measures depending on your environment. If you’re traveling, make sure you always keep your devices close by and that any WiFi networks you use are secure. I also delete any unnecessary sensitive data from my computer and change my passwords after I’m back from travelling.

Run a tech check

The most common remote working frustrations arise from not being technologically organized. From video conferencing to CRMs, make sure everything you need is installed or accessible from your remote devices. Remember that there may not be WiFi and power outlets when you need them, so test your cell phone’s hotspot function so you have a backup option. Make sure you have a hotspot set up for long trips by road or train, and use a privacy screen to keep your confidential data safe from fellow passengers who may glance over.

Another important thing to check is whether your data plan can accommodate the level of access you require. You might need a temporary upgrade, so flag this early with your team lead. Some companies offer reimbursements for extra data and in-flight WiFi, but it’s best to be prepared.

Here are some other quick tasks to remember before you leave:

  • Backup all your crucial contacts, access codes, and calendar information, either in hard copy or on your personal device
  • Create a tab on your single sign-on (SSO) dashboard for all your critical apps to save yourself time searching and scrolling.
  • Check with your superiors and HR or IT department that your plan is solid
  • Don’t get locked out
  • Security risks abound when employees work outside of their office network. However, you can take steps to mitigate those risks, keeping your company secure and yourself productive.

Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) is a must for remote workers. MFA adds an extra layer of security as you log in to your work accounts and apps. Check that you’ve registered for OMM and MFA, and test these on both laptop and mobile before heading out to work remotely. There’s nothing worse than being locked out for something, especially when you could have avoided it.

MFA can include receiving a text message (SMS), a voice call, or using Okta Verify, an app available for iPhone, Android, and Windows devices. Okta Verify is easy to configure via a QR or manual code. It allows you to verify your identity with a single tap on your mobile device, giving you access to your work accounts and apps with the same level of security you have in the office.

Make sure you take note of how your MFA of choice might be affected by your travel plans. We hear from many frustrated fliers who can’t access SMS MFA in-flight. If you’re planning to work on the plane, make sure you choose a method that’s accessible at 30,000 feet.

I also step up my security measures on my personal devices when I know I’m going to be using them for work. I use 2-step authentication for my Gmail and always use unique passwords. On my iPhone, I set up a passphrase, disable Siri on my homescreen, and set up my phone to delete all data if the passphrase is entered more than 10 times incorrectly. Do some research and see what security features your devices have and use the ones that seem reasonable.

What to do if if you manage an IT team

If you’re in charge of IT, send out an email early on letting everyone know your remote working plans so they can get what they need from you before you head out. Add a file on your company drive that contains a “how to” guide of the top five or six issues that tend to arise so that your team or boss can troubleshoot without contacting you. If possible, set up a backup or secondary email in the Okta Profile. That way, if you have any issues with your account, you will have a second line of defense to access Okta and fix issues with your main account. Finally, before you leave, ensure that all your company’s critical applications are up to date and have no open tickets.

And finally, log off!

Once you arrive, make sure you log off and enjoy your holiday. Working from anywhere can be great, but remember to put the laptop away and spend time with family and friends.

From all of us at Okta, we wish you happy holidays and an exciting and productive 2017. For more productivity tips, join the conversation in our Okta Community and follow us on Twitter and LinkedIn.