Being self-employed and working from home has a lot of advantages. You can set your own hours, you have a very short commute, you can have complete control over the design of your workspace. Of course, it also has its disadvantages, especially in the technology arena.
First and foremost is the fact that you are solely responsible for providing all of your office equipment, and if something goes wrong then you’re stuck with some unplanned downtime. There’s also the fact that when you work from home you’re relying on your local utilities. If there’s a power outage, unless you have a backup generator, it means you have no power to do the work that you need to do. That’s also true if your internet goes down, or if your computer breaks down.
When you work from home, you need to make sure that you have a strong technology plan when so that you’re prepared for any eventuality.
Have a Backup Computer
Your computer is your bread and butter. If it goes down, not only could you lose your files, but you could suffer serious downtime while you are waiting for it to be repaired, or while you install all the software and files that you need on a new machine.
You could use a desktop as your main machine and load a laptop with the same software to use as your backup machine. That way, you don’t have to worry about loading everything when you need it. Just make sure that you periodically boot up the spare machine to make sure you download any software updates.
Another advantage to the backup laptop is that it’s mobile, so that you can use it to work outside of your office. If the backup machine is stolen or damaged while you are out and about, you’ll still have your main machine to work off of.
Have Strong Security Software
By now most people are aware that you have to have some sort of Internet security or antivirus software installed on your computer. It’s just not possible to navigate the web without it.
A good internet security program should include virus and malware protection, safe surfing technology, and identity protection.
Internet security software by companies like Trend Micro also have the advantage of working across multiple platforms, and having multiple licenses so that you can install them onto all of your web-enabled devices, from PCs, to Macs, to smartphones and tablets.
Some internet security packages also include password management that stores all of your information in a central location. If you have to use your backup machine, or if you have to replace your main computer, you will still have access to all of your logins, as long as you are running a copy of the internet security software on that machine.
Have a System for Backing up Your Files
The backup option included with most internet security software will back up your important files on a regular basis, but it’s also a good idea to have alternate storage options as well.
For example, you could store your working files on a cloud drive like DropBox, OneDrive, or Google Drive, so that you can access them from your backup machine or a mobile device. At the same time, you can designate the contents of the cloud drive as part of the weekly, or even daily, backup that you run through the security software.
That way, you can work with the files you need in real time, across multiple platforms, and you can archive older files as part of your backup set. If something ever happens to your cloud drive, such as the local folders failing to synch with the cloud, you will still have current copies of those files in your backup.
Have a Mobile Hotspot
If you ever need to use the internet outside of your home Wi-Fi, it’s best to have your own hotspot rather than rely on public Wi-Fi.
The problem with public Wi-Fi is that they’re not particularly secure any anyone on that Wi-Fi has the potential to see everyone else’s machine. If somebody wanted to hack into your computer the public Wi-Fi best way for them to do it.
With a mobile hotspot, you can have your own private Wi-Fi and not have to worry about it. Many smartphones have built-in mobile hotspot capability, so it’s often just a matter of beefing up your data plan, or subscribing to a couple gigabytes of hotspot data each month. Phones that don’t have built in hot spots might have tethering – where you plug your computer directly into your phone with a USB connection. If neither of those options is available, check with your provider to see if they offer separate mobile hotspot devices, or Wi-Fi cards for your computer.
If you use your phone as a personal hotspot, make sure that you take some security measures, such as enabling encryption, changing the SSID, and setting a password, otherwise other people will be able to connect to your hotspot, which defeats the purpose of setting up your own.
Another issue with public Wi-Fi is that they can be fairly slow, whereas smartphone and standalone hotspot tend to have 4G connections.
Having a strong technology plan can help you continue working even when the things around you aren’t. In the long run, it can make the difference between making money through smooth sailing, or losing clients from dangerous downtime.