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Tangled up in Telework? Federal Communications Bar Association Attorneys Have Some Tips for You

David Jelke



Elizabeth Cuttner of the FCC and moderator of the FCBA panel

April 19, 2020 – With many Americans working from home and struggling to stay motivated and focused, lawyers from the Federal Communications Bar Association on Thursday offered some tips for staying productive during telework.

The session was moderated by Elizabeth Cuttner, attorney advisor in the FCC’s Competition Policy Division of the Wireline Bureau.

Matthew Collins, who has worked remotely for the Federal Communications Commission for the past year, shared three tips from his experience for how to remain productive during quarantine.

He said “getting in the right headspace for work” was the most important issue Collins identified. To do this, Collins recommended getting up often because it is easy to feel “chained to your laptop.”

“Going for a run can also be a great help.”

Second, Collins recommended “minimizing distractions.” “Find a spot in the dining room table” where you can work, Collins advised. Lastly try “setting boundaries.” Know when it’s time to “log on when it’s time to log on” and vice versa, Collins said. It’s easy to let things “bleed” between work and life. Especially in a society where you can get a message from a coworker in the late night. “Make it as much like working in the office as much as possible”

Rebecca Hussey of Crown Castle offered tips on “mentally prepping for telework.”

“If you’re like me, you may have thought to yourself, ‘what day is it?’” Hussey said.

She implored listeners to reflect on the time that they ordinarily would spend commuting to work. Are you using it to get ready for the day ahead, or “are you hiding under the covers asking yourself when is this madness going to be over?” Hussey suggested using that time “to set intentions for the day.”

Despite its tiresome repetition on blogs, actually dress like you’re actually going to work, Hussey implored. “Nobody needs to see their coworkers in an undershirt. Ever.” Hussey said that she was speaking from experience.

“In terms of morale,” Hussey recommended getting creative. One idea she suggested was “to schedule conversations or coffee with colleagues” via Zoom, something her organization has set up.

“Thirty minutes can drag on; 15 minutes seems to be just right,” Hussey suggested. Another idea Hussey recommended? “Virtual Power Point karaoke.”

“There are plenty of concerns” regarding privacy in this new space of telework, said Matthew Diaz of Ice Miller. Diaz swore that Ice Miller “is not a beer,” referencing his law firm’s unusual name.

Diaz recommended being mindful of sensitive business material while working at home. Apple has recently stressed to employees the importance of discretion surrounding working at home when it recently loosened the rules surrounding its notorious secrecy surrounding new product development.

Proprietary documents and gadgets should not be left on the table for children or spouses to peruse, Diaz said.

“It’s really easy for these hackers and scammers to socially engineer you,” Diaz added. Hackers are shifting from traditional email scams, such as the cliché of posing as a prince who is shipping diamonds from Africa.

“No longer is it the Black Panther” asking you for money in exchange for “parcels of land in Wakanda,” Diaz joked. Now, scammers are preying on the fear and the uncertainty of this situation by framing their emails as authoritative voices surrounding the coronavirus.

Diaz ended with three practical things you can implement to make sure your telework is more secure:

  • First, use a virtual private network
  • Second, make sure your router password isn’t easily guessable
  • Third, have “two-step,” or multi-factor authentication.

“We have locks on our doors and windows,” Diaz said. Why not put them on our laptops and cell phones?


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