How to work from home during the coronavirus outbreak

Posted:
in General Discussion edited October 2020
Here's exactly what to do of you're required to work from home while the coronavirus outbreak continues. If you make key preparations, you may never want to go back to the office.

We could've tidied up a bit.
We could've tidied up a bit.


While we can all hope that the coronavirus outbreak will be contained soon, right now companies are seriously examining the option of having people work from home. And if they're not, maybe you are -- and maybe we can help you persuade them.

Many of us here at AppleInsider have been freelance writers working from our own offices for decades. And while it is different managing your business there, between us we have built up best practices, and we've certainly made all the mistakes.

If this is happening to you because of the coronavirus, then you will hopefully have an advantage in that you can start preparing before you're sent home. Even if the decision to close was sudden, though, you still need to prepare -- you just have to do it at the same time as starting this home working. You'll be setting up systems, making sure you have what you need, and doing it all at the same time as getting through the work you'd normally be doing. So while you can do that, and your company will surely understand that it takes time to set up a functioning home office, the more you can do in advance, the better.

Here's what you need to know and what you need to do.

How to prepare for working from home

Before anything else, look at what you will need from your company in order to work from home. Specifically, what information, what data, and what shared resources you normally rely on in the office.

If everyone at your firm uses a shared network drive, ask your IT department about remote access to it. If you use an internal messaging system such as Slack, make certain you've got your login and password details with you.

Check with IT about security, too, as you're undoubtedly going to end up with confidential company data on your local hard drives.

And speaking of local hard drives, if there is ever a time to put a backup plan in place, it's now.

Told you we've done this for decades. Notice the original Macintosh LC and the ancient PowerBook. Don't look at the haircut.
Told you we've done this for decades. Notice the original Macintosh LC and the ancient PowerBook. Don't look at the haircut.


Since this is going to be a temporary move, you may not need access to every last piece of information on the corporate network. But you will be working with others and they've been sent home too, so be sure to get their contact details.

Creating your own office workspace

Yes, you can do this at the kitchen table. You can turn a corner of the living room, or even the bedroom, into your office. If you have to do it, you have to do it, but even with working from home only temporarily, fudging your workspace will frustrate you. It will affect your work, and it may well even affect your health.

So find a place where you will be able to work for hours on end without lifting your iPad to lay the kitchen table for dinner, or unplugging the family Xbox when you need to charge up your MacBook Pro.

Ideally, you need a separate room but that may not be possible when this is temporary. Even if it's only for a few days, though, make the space you work in be as comfortable and appealing as you can.

Make it somewhere you will like to work in, rather than some awkward spot in the cold garage. That extends to spending money, if you need to, on decent furniture, most especially a good chair.

Get a good chair, but don't spend so much money on it that you can't afford a room to put it in.
Get a good chair, but don't spend so much money on it that you can't afford an actual room to put it in.


If you are going to be sitting in a great chair, but you'll be hunched over a MacBook Pro for eight solid hours, consider a new external monitor, too.

You don't have to buy the very most expensive ones, you may even be able to make do with a really good TV set. But while we wouldn't want to spend that money if it turns out you're returning to work in a few days, it is also something that will be useful to you forever.

Keep all receipts, whatever you buy. There are carve-outs in U.S. tax law for home office expenses and some localities have property tax offsets for home offices. This aspect of it, though, we'll leave for you to determine as there are so many combinations to deal with.

You're not in this alone

Talk to your family, too, but be prepared for the fact that very often they simply won't get it. Trust us, this never changes -- you're around, so you're available.

The best you can do is be really clear with them, right from the start, precisely what times you are working -- and then do not break that. Don't figure that you can take five minutes to fix the bathroom tap because you can't, and certainly don't suggest that you can or will to the family. It will take longer than five minutes, and you will pay for that time by never again being able to insist that you're working.

While your family, as great as they are, will not see this, you are working and this is a job. Working from home is not a holiday and if we do get to skip a commute, that's about the only advantage.

If we're insistent about you sticking to certain hours for your working -- though we appreciate that your job may need you to be more flexible -- then it is at least in part because we're really adamant about when you are not working.

Do whatever you can to have it that you can work for hours, but then that you can walk away from your work at the end of the day.

So that's why hotel TV sets have HDMI cables. Seriously, we're not recommending any part of this -- except for the handy bottle of water.
So that's why hotel TV sets have HDMI cables. Seriously, we're not recommending any part of this -- except for the handy bottle of water.

Compartmentalize your room and your day

This business of walking away when you're done is the first thing that homeworkers abandon. You will find it supremely difficult to close down your work at the end of the day and not look at it again until tomorrow.

We are profoundly guilty here of not fully practicing what we preach. It will be so supremely difficult that you're going to fail like we do from time to time. The more you can do it, the better for your mental health, your physical health -- and the quality of work you do when you are working.

This is perhaps especially hard if you are using your own equipment, as you will of course have bought that for all sorts of non-work reasons. While you can log out of a corporate computer and leave that office, if you're relying on your home iPad, you are never far away from your work on it.

Using your own equipment

There's a decent chance that your Mac, or MacBook Pro, or iPad, is a better and newer model than you have at your office. Enjoy it. Especially if you're usually stuck on some ancient Windows PC, enjoy the fact that you can now get things done better and faster than before.

You're probably on your own for IT support, but you're not going to need that so much when you're using Apple gear.

Again, given that this is hopefully temporary, your company is not very likely to fund your buying new equipment. While you can't in all practicality buy your own new MacBook, do still spend some money to help you with other gear.

This is a time to buy AirPods, or a HomePod, for instance. Or at least to take the HomePod from the den, to borrow your partner's AirPods Pro, and to sign up to Apple Music.

Everyone is different, but regardless of how you like to work, you are going to get distractions throughout the working day, and having music in your ears will help with that.

If you're used to a loud office, to mentally tuning out conversations and calls from the cubicle next to you, music won't replace that. But it's a lot better than silence, or maybe listening to someone's lawn mower in the distance.

The working day

If the first thing homeworkers abandon is the idea of shutting down work for the day, the second is food. You are highly likely to start some bad habits and then simply make them worse.

Many of them are going to revolve around food. You'll find it tempting to snack throughout the day, for instance, and especially if your kitchen is nearby and there's nobody else around to look askance at you.

Listen to your Apple Watch.
Listen to your Apple Watch.


You will definitely find yourself eating at your desk.

Don't do it. Regular meals are crucial, and eating them away from your work is hugely important. Quite apart from getting crumbs under the iMac keyboard, and probably staining your working desk with coffee, there is the effect on you.

You need the time away from the desk to eat and to digest. You really do.

Equally, though, have some water with you at the desk at all times.

There is also exercise. Maybe your regular commute involves plenty of running for trains, but your new homeworking one does not. Get up and walk around at least once every hour. Your Apple Watch keeps telling you to do that, now's the time to listen to it.

Leave your office

It's not as if working from home makes you into your own boss, but you do have more freedom. If it means that you will get more and better work done, leave your office occasionally.

You know that writers lurk in coffee houses, you can do the same thing. Don't just buy one latte and nurse it all day while plugged into the coffee house's single socket. Don't sit there glued to your screen, using their Wi-Fi, and wearing your AirPods, either.

Instead, use the place as a change and a nourishing one at that. Get some human contact, hear some lively noise and conversation, and consider that large hot chocolate.

An iPad, an Apple Pencil, and a good cup of tea. You won't want to go back to a corporate office.
An iPad, an Apple Pencil, and a good cup of tea. You won't want to go back to a corporate office.


You could equally well use libraries, perhaps even a park bench if the weather is kind. If you were doing this for more than a short time, and if it weren't because of the coronavirus, you could consider renting your own office.

Many firms offer rental space like this, and some doing it as a co-working space. So you might not be working with the people around you, but you have those people, and you are all working.

Preparing to return to work

You may have to find your car keys, or you might have to search your coat pockets for that train season ticket, but otherwise going back to office work will be a lot easier than leaving it. You've been using network drives remotely, for instance, so now you're just going to be sitting a bit nearer to them.

Even though we hope the coronavirus issue is short-lived, however, what is surely going to happen is that some firms are going to see that your working from home is beneficial to them. And if they don't, you will.

Whether it's you or they that want you to continue working from home, though, if you end up making this more permanent, it raises extra issues.

True, you're saving on all the commuting costs -- though you did already buy that ticket, you have already bought the car -- but now the heating and the electricity is on you. Plus, the business is saving those overhead costs.

And suddenly there are important tax issues you'll have to consider. Some of this you'll like, such as the ability to write off at least some of your equipment costs, and at least some of your bills.

But it's also complicated. For instance, as we said, there are tax differences when you have a dedicated room to do your work in, as compared to when you borrow the kitchen table. It's something you'll need to look into, but again only if you're going to be doing this for an extended period.

When that is the case, your company has to plan how this is going to work, too. Get their help, and talk openly with them about your how they might sweeten your salary. That's a conversation for when this is all over, though, and for the moment you need to concentrate on making working from home as much of a benefit to you as possible.



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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 30
    bonobobbonobob Posts: 373member
    An entire article on working from home, and not a single mention of VPNs. Tsk.
    gutengelpscooter63jdw
  • Reply 2 of 30
    alanhalanh Posts: 75member
    Horrendous posture in the second picture. Get a decent chair! Ha!
    gutengelFileMakerFeller
  • Reply 3 of 30
    The thrust of this article is about setting up your home office.  The beginning touches on establishing the connection to the corporate network, but really doesn’t do it justice.  VPN as mentioned plays a huge part, and storing corporate files on a local drive is a non-starter for many organizations.  

    In our organization we not only have to establish a VPN connection, but we also have to RDP into a virtual machine.  So we are working on a Windows server VM in a Mac window.  The issue that comes up during major snow storms (and now outbreaks) is that thousands of employees all decide they need to work from home.  Our infrastructure isn’t designed to have that many concurrent remote workers.  People can’t connect and if they do, the connection is unstable or drops after 10 minutes of inactivity. Collective productivity tanks unless you happen to be working the night shift. 
  • Reply 4 of 30
    Mike WuertheleMike Wuerthele Posts: 6,720administrator
    The thrust of this article is about setting up your home office.  The beginning touches on establishing the connection to the corporate network, but really doesn’t do it justice.  VPN as mentioned plays a huge part, and storing corporate files on a local drive is a non-starter for many organizations.  

    In our organization we not only have to establish a VPN connection, but we also have to RDP into a virtual machine.  So we are working on a Windows server VM in a Mac window.  The issue that comes up during major snow storms (and now outbreaks) is that thousands of employees all decide they need to work from home.  Our infrastructure isn’t designed to have that many concurrent remote workers.  People can’t connect and if they do, the connection is unstable or drops after 10 minutes of inactivity. Collective productivity tanks unless you happen to be working the night shift. 
    There is no practical way to universally discuss data sanitization, VPN configuration, and full IT practices as much as they vary from organization to organization.

    This absolutely has to be coordinated with the company in question. Coordination with your company is addressed multiple times.
    edited March 2020 StrangeDays
  • Reply 5 of 30
    Mike WuertheleMike Wuerthele Posts: 6,720administrator

    alanh said:
    Horrendous posture in the second picture. Get a decent chair! Ha!
    We were young and invulnerable then.
    alanhStrangeDaysFileMakerFellerchia
  • Reply 6 of 30
    mike1mike1 Posts: 3,235member
    I truly would miss the daily banter and camaraderie with my co-workers, if it lasted for an extended period of time.
    gregoriusm
  • Reply 7 of 30
    GeorgeBMacGeorgeBMac Posts: 11,421member
    I worked from home on a special IT project for 3 months (mine was the only computer that could do the job -- so they told to just work from home).

    The first month was great -- I had a ball and got lots of work done.
    The second month -- I started getting sloppy, started later, took longer lunch breaks and less work got done.
    The third month -- I was gritting my way through it while going stir crazy.

    I was very happy to finish the project and get back to the office.
    FileMakerFeller
  • Reply 8 of 30
    OferOfer Posts: 211unconfirmed, member
    I have the option of occasionally working from home at my job. The part about drawing a hard line with family members about work time is spot-on. They never understand and treat it as if you’re home with tons of free time.
    StrangeDaysFileMakerFellerpscooter63
  • Reply 9 of 30
    StrangeDaysStrangeDays Posts: 12,661member
    bonobob said:
    An entire article on working from home, and not a single mention of VPNs. Tsk.
    Pretty clear this was an article on personal habits in the home office, not the technical details of how your IT staff has you configured.
    GeorgeBMac
  • Reply 10 of 30
    StrangeDaysStrangeDays Posts: 12,661member


    alanh said:
    Horrendous posture in the second picture. Get a decent chair! Ha!
    We were young and invulnerable then.
    Yes. I used to sit squatting in my work-issued Herman Miller Aeron chair like a gargoyle.
  • Reply 11 of 30
    StrangeDaysStrangeDays Posts: 12,661member
    I've been on a remote project for almost 5 years. This is a useful guide on setting up best practices for your ways of working, managing your work space, habits, family, etc. It takes a little getting used to. While there are some drawbacks (like everything in life), I enjoy the trade-offs. For me that is the flexibility in my schedule -- the ability to go the gym during the off-peak hours, or the post office, etc. I still have a normal work day, Outlook calendar with meetings, Jabber IM for quick questions with colleagues, and WebEx for frequent screen-sharing. Our entire team of a few dozen people is in the same boat and it works surprisingly well. I'm convinced this will have to be embraced to help combat the ever-crowding challenges of urban city life (commutes, housing, etc).

    Ofer said:
    I have the option of occasionally working from home at my job. The part about drawing a hard line with family members about work time is spot-on. They never understand and treat it as if you’re home with tons of free time.
    Agreed, it can be an issue. They see you just sit/standing there in front of your computer as usual, not realizing that is actually what you look like when you work.
    GeorgeBMac
  • Reply 12 of 30
    dewmedewme Posts: 5,125member
    I worked from home on a special IT project for 3 months (mine was the only computer that could do the job -- so they told to just work from home).

    The first month was great -- I had a ball and got lots of work done.
    The second month -- I started getting sloppy, started later, took longer lunch breaks and less work got done.
    The third month -- I was gritting my way through it while going stir crazy.

    I was very happy to finish the project and get back to the office.
    I get what you’re saying. I had an open option to work for home for several years whenever I felt it suited me. Since many of my daily interactions with my team  in several other countries including China and Singapore was via telephone, WebEx, and Skype it didn’t really matter where I was sitting at the time. Despite having this option available to me I still preferred to go into the office for a number of reasons. 

    First, I liked maintaining a clear separation between work and home. When I’m home I’m home. I don’t like getting home only to have to jump on a call in the middle of my time to deal with work. In most cases I’d just stick around the office late for meetings with my Asian colleagues so I didn’t have to chop up what was left of my home time. Don’t underestimate the emotional value of the ceremony associated with “going to work” and “leaving work for home.”

    Second, my time in the office was never all about working directly with my team. I always had to collaborate with members of other teams, marketing, management, etc. When you’ve been working in an organization for a long time you also develop an informal professional and social network that spans across the organization. You’d be amazed at how much valuable collaboration takes place through incidental contact that occurs when you’re collocated with a lot of smart people with different perspectives than your own. 

    If you do work from home and can afford it, set aside a distinct “work place” in you home to create some semblance of a barrier between work and home. You can code from the couch, but unless you want your couch to become linked with “working” I’d suggest finding another place to do your work. 
    FileMakerFeller
  • Reply 13 of 30
    mfrydmfryd Posts: 208member
    The danger of working from him is that you look at the clock and realize that it's 3pm and you are still in your pajamas.

    As to tax consequences, please check with a local tax professional.  In the USA the rules will vary depending on whether you are an "employee" or an "independent contractor".  If you're an independent contractor, it will depend on how your business is structured (Sole Proprietorship,  Subchapter S corporation, Limited Liability Corporation, etc.).

    If you are an employee, you may want to ask your employer if they can reimburse you for various expenses of working at home.  You may need to upgrade to faster Internet, Your energy bill may go up as your home is not occupied during the day, etc.  

    The important part is to keep in mind that when it comes to Tax law, the obscure details of the law are far more important than common sense.  Talk to a tax professional to make sure you get the details correct.   Why pay the IRS more than they require you to?

  • Reply 14 of 30
    taddtadd Posts: 136member
    My computer was subpoenaed about a patent dispute at the employer.  If you use your home storage or computing with storage hardware you can lose your computer and your privacy over something your employer is tangled in.  I suggest not mixing your employer’s data and your private documents on the same device.  
    SpamSandwichpscooter63
  • Reply 15 of 30
    knowitallknowitall Posts: 1,648member
    Access to computer resources can be the same at home, just do a screen takeover with your Mac of the Mac at work.
  • Reply 16 of 30
    GeorgeBMacGeorgeBMac Posts: 11,421member
    I've been on a remote project for almost 5 years. This is a useful guide on setting up best practices for your ways of working, managing your work space, habits, family, etc. It takes a little getting used to. While there are some drawbacks (like everything in life), I enjoy the trade-offs. For me that is the flexibility in my schedule -- the ability to go the gym during the off-peak hours, or the post office, etc. I still have a normal work day, Outlook calendar with meetings, Jabber IM for quick questions with colleagues, and WebEx for frequent screen-sharing. Our entire team of a few dozen people is in the same boat and it works surprisingly well. I'm convinced this will have to be embraced to help combat the ever-crowding challenges of urban city life (commutes, housing, etc).

    Ofer said:
    I have the option of occasionally working from home at my job. The part about drawing a hard line with family members about work time is spot-on. They never understand and treat it as if you’re home with tons of free time.
    Agreed, it can be an issue. They see you just sit/standing there in front of your computer as usual, not realizing that is actually what you look like when you work.
    I suspect you are right with that:   That an evolution of multiple tech features -- from cloud computing to video conferencing to 5G always on connectivity, etc., etc., etc....) will revolutionize the central city concept where everybody crowds into a central city at 8:00am and then tries to escape it at 5:00pm.  

    Increasingly that will become increasingly stupid.  But more importantly it will become apparent how unnecessary, inefficient and costly it is -- and that will drive the concept of home and remote offices.

    And, it's not just the cost to a company or a person --- but the massive costs in urban infrastructure (roads, bridges, mass transit, etc.) necessary to support it.  A good example of that might be Amazon's quest for a second headquarters where they and others are willing to spend hundreds of millions of dollars to support it.   Remote work could change that.

    Other examples are:   remote medicine.   Where a doctor or nurse practitioner can "see" multiple patients without subjecting themselves or the patient to the dangers, inconvenience and expense of a centralized office.  And, if the patient needs a special test (say for Corona virus) Amazon Prime can have it delivered to their door in 2 hours.   As a nurse I realize that sometimes hands-on can't readily be replaced in every case -- but neither is it entirely necessary in most cases involving PCP visits.

    StrangeDayscgWerks
  • Reply 17 of 30
    GeorgeBMacGeorgeBMac Posts: 11,421member
    There are really only two ways to manage the Corona Virus:  Either mass quarantines or mass testing.  While other nations are going full steam ahead on both, we in the U.S. are doing almost nothing -- and now the reasons for that failure are starting to leak out.

    Most egregious of all is that the WHO developed and distributed tests to 60 nations nearly 2 months ago (mid-January) -- but the U.S. refused the offer and claimed "We'll design and build our own thank you!" -- at which we totally failed.

    The result is:  while other nations are conducting mass testing in the hundred of thousands (South Korea even has Drive Thru testing stations!) the U.S. is restricted to testing in the hundreds rather than the hundreds of thousands.   And, the result of that is:   Since the virus is infectious for about 2 weeks before the person  shows any symptoms , we have no idea who has the virus and who doesn't.   Your friends, family and co-workers could all be infectious and you wouldn't know it till the fever hits.

    This Go-It-Alone,  America-First nonsense is getting Americans killed.

    From Politico:

    How testing failures allowed corona virus to sweep the U.S.








    StrangeDaysFileMakerFeller
  • Reply 18 of 30
    dewmedewme Posts: 5,125member
    tadd said:
    My computer was subpoenaed about a patent dispute at the employer.  If you use your home storage or computing with storage hardware you can lose your computer and your privacy over something your employer is tangled in.  I suggest not mixing your employer’s data and your private documents on the same device.  
    I’m glad you brought this up! One thing mentioned in this article was the possibility that you could end up with with confidential company information on your local (personal) drive. That statement should have set off all kinds of warning sirens and alarms for employers. I know it sounds very hard core but companies that value their IP, information security, and their ability to comply with federal laws concerning information and data retention should NEVER allow this condition to exist. Ever. If employees are allowed to work from home they must do so using controlled corporate assets, and only over secure communication channels. No, this does not only apply to DOD or government agencies, it applies to all businesses that intend to remain viable for the foreseeable future. 

    Yeah, smaller companies will cringe at the thought of buying all of their remote workers mobile computers and setting up a VPN but they really have no other choice. We all love to poke blame at companies like Intel for the serious security holes in their core technologies, but it is exactly the same mindset of declaring something as “working” to be good enough without consideration for security that got them into the mess they’re in. You can even cut Intel some slack because the “good enough because it functions” decisions were made in earlier times when the security threat was not fully understood. Those times are long gone. If your company is making decisions today that have significant known security risks and still deciding to proceed anyway, you don’t deserve to be in business. Allowing confidential information to leak between a “controlled” asset like a corporate PC or storage repository and an “uncontrolled” asset like your home computer or personal storage device is a clear violation of information security best practices, and it is in all likelihood a criminal act in terms of violating federal laws if you’re involved with DOD work. If you’re beholden to shareholders it’s a glaring example of corporate negligence. 

    The InfoSec problem associated with computer access across boundaries has gotten so bad that many companies now treat every employee as being remote - whether they are in the local office or at a remote site. In the last company I worked for we implemented a secure development environment (SDE) that air-gapped all access to secure assets/IP from outside the SDE. This meant that computers that had access to the secure assets and IP had no connectivity to anything outside the SDE boundaries. This included, obviously, internet access but also email, IM, file storage, etc., on the corporate intranet. Even the USB ports on computers with SDE access were disabled and all computers with access to the SDE were in locked rooms with keycard access and with a roving security guard periodically checking who was in the rooms. Of course there were cameras everywhere and audit trails on all transactions and movement. Developers inside the SDE were issued a second computer with VPN to access their corporate email, IM, non-secure assets, internet, intranet, etc. If you’ve ever worked in the DOD or for a DOD contractor none of this should sound unfamiliar, but for companies building products for industrial, commercial, or consumer use, this is quickly becoming the new reality of dealing with information security demands. 
    edited March 2020 FileMakerFeller
  • Reply 19 of 30
    If Apple and the rest of silicon valley allowed their employees to telecommute from anywhere, it would completely solve the housing problem in the bay area. Let's hope they learn a valuable lesson and begin dog fooding their products in a far more significant way. For one thing, all the issues Apple has with its online services not working properly on a slow/poor internet connections (like most of the USA enjoys) should get cleaned up in no time.
  • Reply 20 of 30
    knowitallknowitall Posts: 1,648member
    dewme said:
    tadd said:
    My computer was subpoenaed about a patent dispute at the employer.  If you use your home storage or computing with storage hardware you can lose your computer and your privacy over something your employer is tangled in.  I suggest not mixing your employer’s data and your private documents on the same device.  
    I’m glad you brought this up! One thing mentioned in this article was the possibility that you could end up with with confidential company information on your local (personal) drive. That statement should have set off all kinds of warning sirens and alarms for employers. I know it sounds very hard core but companies that value their IP, information security, and their ability to comply with federal laws concerning information and data retention should NEVER allow this condition to exist. Ever. If employees are allowed to work from home they must do so using controlled corporate assets, and only over secure communication channels. No, this does not only apply to DOD or government agencies, it applies to all businesses that intend to remain viable for the foreseeable future. 

    Yeah, smaller companies will cringe at the thought of buying all of their remote workers mobile computers and setting up a VPN but they really have no other choice. We all love to poke blame at companies like Intel for the serious security holes in their core technologies, but it is exactly the same mindset of declaring something as “working” to be good enough without consideration for security that got them into the mess they’re in. You can even cut Intel some slack because the “good enough because it functions” decisions were made in earlier times when the security threat was not fully understood. Those times are long gone. If your company is making decisions today that have significant known security risks and still deciding to proceed anyway, you don’t deserve to be in business. Allowing confidential information to leak between a “controlled” asset like a corporate PC or storage repository and an “uncontrolled” asset like your home computer or personal storage device is a clear violation of information security best practices, and it is in all likelihood a criminal act in terms of violating federal laws if you’re involved with DOD work. If you’re beholden to shareholders it’s a glaring example of corporate negligence. 

    The InfoSec problem associated with computer access across boundaries has gotten so bad that many companies now treat every employee as being remote - whether they are in the local office or at a remote site. In the last company I worked for we implemented a secure development environment (SDE) that air-gapped all access to secure assets/IP from outside the SDE. This meant that computers that had access to the secure assets and IP had no connectivity to anything outside the SDE boundaries. This included, obviously, internet access but also email, IM, file storage, etc., on the corporate intranet. Even the USB ports on computers with SDE access were disabled and all computers with access to the SDE were in locked rooms with keycard access and with a roving security guard periodically checking who was in the rooms. Of course there were cameras everywhere and audit trails on all transactions and movement. Developers inside the SDE were issued a second computer with VPN to access their corporate email, IM, non-secure assets, internet, intranet, etc. If you’ve ever worked in the DOD or for a DOD contractor none of this should sound unfamiliar, but for companies building products for industrial, commercial, or consumer use, this is quickly becoming the new reality of dealing with information security demands. 
    All rather obvious.
    Of course a secure line is used.
    Do a remote desktop over ssh, for example.
    In this way everything normally accessible is accessible and documents can stay at the servers at work.
    Other measures you mention are a bit paranoid. I all boils down to trust in employees, if you don't have that, don't employ them.
    Note that it is very easy to use cameras to record things at work. If one is determined even a full body search and scan won't work.

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