High-speed telecommunication and telecomputing power offers freedom to complete tasks away from the office, as more people run small businesses or start-ups from home.

SOHO is not just a cool place to hang out with friends after work in Central. It’s also an acronym for what the government expects more of us will be doing in the future –  they’re probably right – and that’s working from home.

A working paper titled HK2030 Study delves into the home-based working trend which began emerging in the 1990s, and where it is headed. High-speed telecommunication and telecomputing power give many workers the freedom to complete assigned tasks away from the office, via what the government calls SOHO (small office-home office) activities. It is also in line with the trend of more people running their own small businesses or start-ups from home.

Wi-fi and Bluetooth have helped to cut down the clutter by reducing the need for unsightly cables. “Even a printer can be neatly concealed in a cupboard, so the only visible tether to the old ways is the power cable,” he says.

Many devices are easy to self-install. James Dwyer, managing director of IT services provider StratusRed, says it’s more important to have a professional overlay on home office equipment than it is for “plug and play” smart home devices.

He stresses that there is more to consider than simple broadband access. Improving home Wi-fi speed may be as simple as switching to a lesser-used channel, which a professional can do via the router – much like changing channels on a TV.

Stability of connection is one thing – security is another, and Dwyer says it’s one of the biggest areas people tend to overlook.

Although many devices can “talk” to each other these days, Dwyer recommends segregating all IoT (internet of things) devices in the home – such as web cameras, home automation and mobile phones – from the core business equipment of computers and tablets.

“Home networks are becoming more complex as more devices can be connected,” he explains. “The rise of IoT means that home networks are getting more congested, but are also prone to a wider range of attacks.” Your home office is particularly vulnerable if you don’t change the default password on IoT devices, or haven’t disabled the networking feature Universal Plug and Play (UPnP), which helps devices automatically connect to and from internet services potentially bypassing any firewall settings. Dwyer describes UPnP, which “comes out of the box with most routers”, as a potential security disaster.

“Enterprise”-like set-ups with advanced network features such as mesh Wi-fi – which a few years ago were only of real concern to businesses – are rapidly making their way into the home environment, he adds. “Specifically, if you are running or planning on running cameras, doorbells, thermostats or home automation systems these should ideally run on a separate network segment.”

Firmware updates are another layer of security protection which can be challenging for a lay person to maintain. What everyone can do to keep their home office work secure is to have up to date antivirus software, back-up files regularly (on an external hard drive and in the cloud) and install patches as soon as they become available.

Source: Home-based working trend heads for SOHO | South China Morning Post