Working Remotely: 8 Most Asked Questions

As an organization, your efforts to combat the spread of COVID-19 (Coronavirus) have most likely forced you to change how and where you perform your daily operations. Those changes may even become incorporated into and just a normal part of how roles and duties are performed going forward. While nothing new to those out in the field, working remotely has become necessary for many formerly office-bound staff wherever possible across the entire state. As a provider of Virtual Datacenter Services (Private Cloud Access) to County Boards, Providers, Agencies, and DD-related businesses in Ohio since 2013, our team of IT experts at GO Concepts would like to share some helpful information to assist you and your staff, especially those who may be newer to working remotely or have limited experience working in remote settings.

Below, you will find our tech team’s 8 “most-asked” questions… they may just be the same ones your organization is getting or will get at some point. Our goal is to help you keep your organization safe, your systems reliable, and lower your employees’ anxiety, so they can work more productively and comfortably, wherever they may find themselves working. Please note, while some questions and answers are more generic in nature and can pertain to most, if not all organizations and businesses, some are more specific to the IT for DD Managed IT, Cybersecurity and Private Cloud Services we provide our clients. That being said, feel free to substitute your particular terminology into these questions to meet your team’s specific needs.

Lastly, if you, your staff, or the individuals you serve have a specific question, which you do not see listed here, please do not hesitate to email or call our tech team at GO Concepts and we will do our best to provide a thorough answer as quickly as possible. We continue to all be in this together, not just the pandemic, but life, so if there is anything we can do to help you complete your mission and better assist those you serve during these challenging times, please let us know!

Question 1:

Can I use my own personal phone or computer to check my work email?

Answer 1:

The answer to this question depends on your County Board’s policy for using personal devices, as well as, if your County Board has a ‘bring your own device’ policy and if proper steps have been taken to secure and track the devices.

Regardless, at GO Concepts, our typical advice to clients is no, you should not use a personal device to access work email due to HIPAA restrictions and the security issues it presents. To avoid breaching these guidelines, only access your professional email account from approved devices that have undergone the proper security measures.

Question 2:

Why isn’t my computer’s microphone working when I’m on Zoom or Microsoft Teams?

Answer 2:

If your computer’s microphone won’t work while you’re on a video chat or call, there are a few different issues that could be causing the problem.

  1. If you are using a mobile device, check that you have given the app permission to access your microphone. If not, you will need to go into the app’s settings and give the necessary permission. This also applies to the camera, if you are using the video feature.
  2. Whether you are using a mobile device or a computer, video calling applications often start with the microphone muted and the camera turned off. This is a setting that you can adjust prior to or during a call. If you are muted, you should see a line through the microphone icon. Simply click the icon to change to unmute yourself and speak on the call. Take the same approach for the camera.
  3. If neither of the previous items is causing your microphone issue, the microphone may be muted through a setting on your device, your headset or your camera’s software settings, if applicable. Look for the mute button/switch on your headset, as that is a likely culprit.

Question 3:

Should I be more alert to phishing emails during this time that I’m working remotely, and what should I do if I question something?

Answer 3:

Absolutely! Scammers are always looking for opportunities to obtain confidential information and data. Moreover, with so many people working remotely, and a large amount of communication and client requests sent over email, malicious parties have not only increased their efforts, but are getting more and more sophisticated. Here are some effective strategies to adopt that will help reduce your chance of falling victim to a phishing scam:

  1. Adopt a ‘better safe than sorry’ policy and carefully review the emails you receive. Spear Phishing Emails, in particular, are designed specifically for you, your position, current projects and more. For this reason, phishing emails can look very real — even if the subject line looks relevant, take a second look at the sender before opening.
  2. If you have doubts or questions about any email you receive, don’t click on any of its links or attachments. Simply take the time to contact your IT support. Here at GO Concepts, our Help Desk can quickly review the email and let you know if it is safe or if it does, indeed, contain harmful content.
  3. Hover over any hyperlinks in the email, without clicking, to see where they are going and if the links are taking you to unrecognized pages.  Remember, if there is any doubt, there is no doubt… contact support.

Question 4:

In regard to being safe, how can I make sure my work computer is getting all of the necessary updates?

Answer 4:

To safely update your device, the first step is to leave your computer on and connected to the Internet. This way, updates can either take place automatically or your Managed Service Provider (MSP) — like our team here at GO Concepts — can ensure all patches and system updates are taking place. To do this, we monitor for any problems, resolving any issues that may occur during your updates.

For peace of mind, you can go to the search box in your computer’s toolbar, type “Check for Updates,” click on “Check for Updates” to open “Windows Update” and access your status as of a certain date and time. You can even click the “Check for Updates” button to force a check.

Question 5:

My computer seems to be running slow when I log on to my VPN but works well if I’m not on the VPN. What’s the problem?

Answer 5:

Typically, this issue is either due to the performance of your Internet access or the fact that your Internet speed is not high enough to handle your household demand. The incredible rise in demand for Internet provider networks and the Internet backbone infrastructure itself (via streaming, gaming, remote access, video conferencing, and more) is causing performance to be slow at times.

Whether you are on a service like cable Internet or DSL, that service is shared at some point among all the subscribers in a given area. This means there is only so much Internet service available to everyone at a given time, and only a portion of that is available to come into your home. Here are a couple of tricks you can try in order to enjoy better quality Internet:

  1. If you can, adjust your work schedule so you are not utilizing the Internet during normal peak times (“peak Internet hours” are generally between 8 am-9 pm). We realize that “normal” is a relative concept right now, so you might have to experiment with different times of the day to find your sweet spot. Keep in mind, the best Internet hours may change from day to day.
  2. If you are on a base Internet plan, you may consider increasing your plan to a higher amount of bandwidth coming into your home. Simply contact your Internet provider to find out how to increase your bandwidth beyond your current plan and the associated costs.

Question 6:

I have limited WiFi at my house. Can I use my phone as a hotspot? Are there other safe options?

Answer 6:

If you don’t have access to a strong WiFi signal in your home, consider the following options:

  1. Yes, as long as you have good, solid signal on either LTE or 5G, you can utilize the hotspot feature on your phone to compensate for a poor WiFi signal in your home. Turn it on, look for its name to pop up on your list of available wireless networks on your computer, select it and enter the appropriate password (found on your phone).
  2. Adjust your workspace to be located where there is a reliable WiFi signal.
  3. Adjust your workspace to be located where you can plug directly into your Internet device via Ethernet, such as your cable modem, DSL modem, router, or switch.

Question 7:

Why can’t I access some of my files when I log on to my VPN?

Answer 7:

Simply put, a VPN (or virtual private network) is designed to provide a secure, private connection to a network or the Internet. Employers often utilize VPNs to allow their teams to access company accounts without running the risk of a breach or similar compromise. Using a VPN creates a sort of remote desktop, entirely separate from your personal Desktop and files. For this reason, users may be unable to access their personal documents, USB files, and more while using your company’s VPN.

To bypass this issue, log out of your VPN connection to access your personal files on your own desktop. Then, email any permitted files you need from your personal email to your work email address. This shortcut will allow you access to your personal files even while using your secure VPN connection.

In some cases, Microsoft Teams users find that they cannot access their files after logging onto their VPN. This is a security measure due to the updated IP address that can be easily resolved by logging out and back into your Teams account to access your documents.

Question 8:

Am I more vulnerable to hackers working remotely?

Answer 8:

Yes and no. Clients who utilize our Virtual Datacenter Services (Private Cloud Access) while working remotely have access to the same secure, reliable Remote Desktop environment as when they are at their office desk. Because a Virtual Private Network (VPN) is required to do so, users have automatically-enabled secure access via their County Board device, whether they are using the ‘Always on VPN’ or the ‘Secure Portal’ option.

Unfortunately, remote working can lead to a series of cybersecurity vulnerabilities. Bad actors are always looking for opportunities to access private data, and with so many people working remotely, they have not only increased these efforts but are getting more and more creative.  Keep a close watch on all of the emails that come through your inbox and never open anything that looks fraudulent. Contact your IT support for anything in question.

About GO Concepts

As The Premier Information Technology Solutions Provider In Ohio For Agencies, Independent Providers and County Boards For the Developmentally Disabled – GO Concepts Is The Best Choice

Cost-effective, reliable, and secure information technology is paramount for developmental disability organizations in Ohio. Your organization needs an IT services provider like GO Concepts that understands how you operate and the standards that you must meet. Since 1997, GO Concepts has been assisting the governmental sector with its IT needs. Focusing on County Boards, Agencies, and Independent Providers since 2013, GO Concepts has emerged as the clear leader in information technology solutions for the entire developmental disabilities organization community.

At GO Concepts, we have implemented a company-wide HIPAA compliance program that is comprehensive and ongoing. Our HIPAA compliance program includes, but is not limited to, comprehensive HIPAA policies and procedures, performing a HIPAA Security Risk Assessment/Risk Management with a professional third-party expert firm, as well as ongoing HIPAA and security awareness training for all our employees. As a result of our extensive and ongoing HIPAA compliance program, we are committed to providing developmental disabilities and healthcare organizations with the assurance required by a HIPAA Business Associate.

We know that you have a wide range of choices when it comes to IT service & support for your developmental disabilities organization or business. Don’t settle for subpar services — choose the team that has the necessary experience and knowledge to deliver cost-effective, secure, and reliable information technology. Choose GO Concepts and “Don’t worry about IT.”