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You’ve heard about virtual private networks, and probably read somewhere that they’re great for improving security and privacy. But for some reason, you’re not using a VPN. After all, your time is taken up with work. You don’t have time for Netflix, social networking, online gaming, or any of those other activities that also benefit from VPNs.
As it turns out, there are many more reasons for using a VPN. Whether you’re a freelancer working from a home office, or taking a few days out of your company HQ to work from home, you should be using a VPN. The same goes if you’re a part of a remote working collaboration, or you are a virtual assistant.
Here’s five reasons why anyone working in a remote location should be using a VPN.
1. It’s Cheaper Than Commuting
This might surprise you, but staying at home and using a VPN to connect to your corporate network is cheaper than commuting. Even when you consider the electricity costs and the VPN subscription, it’s still cheaper. If your IT department has configured a VPN from your computer direct to your workplace, even better!
Picture getting up in the morning, burning your hand on the cafetière, falling into your car with your tie on wrong, or your makeup still to do. It’s almost never a straightforward trip, and then you realize you’re short on gas, which means a stop on the way to the office. Then you get caught in the late traffic, making you even later. And you forgot to sort out your tie/makeup.
It’s horrible. Really, if you can avoid living like that, you should.
If working from home is an option, you can keep your data private and secure using a VPN. Your current work projects are protected from hackers by the VPN’s encryption. All for a few dollars a month.
2. Productivity Is Increased
Working from home, or at a table in your favorite café, or even in a hot-desking workspace is great. You’re swapping the water cooler for a cat and a coffee machine. As long as you have the determination and discipline to work rather than play/veg out to Game of Thrones, then you can expect a marked increase in productivity.
Is it really that easy? Well, it takes some effort to get in the zone. But one thing you don’t want is to be worrying about the security and privacy of your connection. That sort of distraction will reduce productivity, not increase it.
Simply enabling your VPN client can help immeasurably.
3. Gain Remote Access to Your Work Network
It doesn’t matter if you’re planning a schedule for your team or developing departmental policies. If your connection to the work network is secured by a VPN, no one is going to be able to remotely hack this data.
But for this to work, you’re ideally going to need your IT team to create a VPN for you. This secure tunnel would then give you the encrypted access you need to the vital files stored on your home network.
Take the time to reach out to your IT colleagues and see if this is possible. It’s possible they’ll say no, but if your home-working is mandated by your superior, it would be short-sighted to refuse.
Of course, this all depends on how you work. If you’re a freelancer or virtual assistant, perhaps there is a collaborative portal you regularly use. Your vital files might be stored in the cloud. Or you might be concerned about the security of VOIP calls.
You can still use a VPN here. Simply subscribe to a top VPN service, like ExpressVPN, and go from there.
4. Access Your Work PC via RDP
While reading this, you’re probably wondering “how am I going to connect to my work PC?” It’s quite simple. Using the Remote Desktop Protocol (several variations are available, although we’re focusing mainly on Windows here), you can establish a remote connection with your work desktop.
All you need to do is ensure it is switched on, which a colleague can do for you. As long as RDP is permitted by the organization’s IT policy, and the technical team have enabled it, then you should be able to connect.
Again, a private work-arranged VPN will be required here.
5. It Protects You on Public Wi-Fi
One of the greatest things about working as a freelancer is that you can set up shop anywhere. The best place is a café. Bars are tempting, but pretty much the antithesis of productivity. All you need to do is roll up, order your drink (table service is a winner, of course), open your laptop, and start work.
Need an internet connection? No problem. The majority of cafes offer free wireless networking, so you’ll be able to get online as you enjoy your latte and croissant.
But is it safe?
Over the years, various threats dwelling in free Wi-Fi hotspots have been uncovered. Wi-Fi sniffer software installed on laptops, tablets, and smartphones can detect and capture unencrypted data. You probably don’t fancy losing your username and password to a stranger sat nearby. Then there are man-in-the-middle attacks, where fake wireless networks posing as real ones record everything you do while connected.
Regardless of whether the wireless network is paid for or not, if it isn’t yours and you don’t have control over it, you shouldn’t connect without a VPN. The simple act of subscribing to a VPN service and using it on your tablet or mobile device will protect your data.
Remember to Adhere to Your Company’s IT Policy!
Although you’re working away from the office, if you’re accessing your organization’s network or using hardware provided by your employer, you need to ensure that you’re adhering to the IT policy. As you’ve probably already agreed to do this, it shouldn’t be too difficult. Just make sure you use the equipment as you would in the office: for work purposes.
It’s also worth pointing out that the IT usage policy may exclude you from working from your favorite café or brasserie. Regardless of whether you have a VPN running on your computer, this could be a big no-no, so tread carefully. Contact your IT department for advice here.
Remote Working Needs a VPN
However you’re working, either a few days out of the office to work from home or as a full-time freelancer, you need a VPN. Freelancers and virtual assistants can take their pick from a range of great VPN subscription services (avoid the free ones since they tend to be slow). If you’re employed, meanwhile, your employer should be able to provide you with a VPN connection to the network. You might even get a remote connection to your work PC!
Does your employer offer a VPN for remote working scenarios? Or are you self-employed? Do you use a VPN to secure your work-related activities online? Tell us in the comments!