Is Your Privacy At Risk? 🙅

Dear Rich Lifer,

Privacy and security have always been important.

But while privacy is not a new concept, it has taken on even more significant meaning during the pandemic.

It’s not just about keeping your passwords safe, it’s now something involving the ordinary happenings of your daily life. It means protecting your work space and personal space from both family and colleagues.

We are now contending with a loss of personal privacy.

For example, on a Zoom call with colleagues they may overhear your children in the background or gain access to a more intimate look at your living space than you may be comfortable with.

Conversely, your roommates or partner can now see how you handle yourself on a long conference call. You “work life” is now on full display for anyone sharing your household.

Privacy goes both ways. Of course, your company expects you to keep intimate details of your business ventures private…but this is easier said than done when your spouse or child is sitting across the kitchen table.

And no matter how many times your partner assures you you aren’t on camera, it can feel incredibly intrusive to do daily activities like changing clothes or putting on makeup in the same room where your partner is conducting a meeting.

Keeping your personal life private is becoming increasingly difficult as many companies are encouraging people to share their going-ons via Zoom happy hours or weekly debriefs that are now common to remote work culture.

However, no successful relationship can be built on discomfort; so today, we will look at some advice from Dr. Alexandra Samuel, a technology researcher, whose new book, Remote, Inc.: How to Thrive at Work…Wherever You Are, is helping teach people how to thrive while working from home.

Privacy From Work

The first step in maintaining privacy is figuring out what you want to keep private. Whether it’s the art on your wall, the bookshelf behind you during Zoom calls, or the sounds of children, partners, or roommates, you must first decide what boundaries you want to protect.

Once you’ve decided on this, you can begin to plan how to curate a work space for yourself that is free of these private things. The easiest thing to do is find a space in your household that is enclosed and sparsely decorated.

Obviously, this is not a realistic situation for most people, so here are some ideas for how to make the most of any living space.

Decor Covers — Sometimes using the blur effect available in many video conferencing platforms makes you look like a disembodied head. Not to fear! There are many options for “cheating” a clean background.

Consider investing in a ceiling track where you can easily attach fabric to use as a room divider, back drop, or curtain to enclose yourself in while you’re on video calls. You can also buy a popup backdrop to hide mess or to use as a “green screen.”

Physical Webcam Covers – An inexpensive webcam cover is the perfect device to attach to your computer so you never forget to turn your video off after a call. This will save you from any awkward video interactions and from potential spyware!

Declutter (digitally) – If you are planning to do any screen sharing during calls, make sure you turn off notifications and hide any browser windows. Applications like Pliim Pro will do this for you in one quick click!

Social Media – Social isolation has made social media important as a way to connect, but you can still be selective about how much you share online and with who. Make use of Facebook’s “restricted list” or Instagram’s “close friends” list to share only with certain people.

Privacy From Your Household

When you’re working from home, privacy from everyday intrusions from partners, children or roommates becomes very important. You no longer get a commute with built in alone time or a lunch break to socialize with people outside your household.

Here are some ways you can create boundaries between your work life and your household so you can reduce conflict and maintain privacy.

Privacy Shelves – Establish a shelf or container for personal items that are only for you to touch. Maybe this is a place you put specific work for your job such as folders or papers that are private. Maybe it’s a place where you keep a journal or other personal info. Regardless, designate the space for yourself and make it clear to others in your household that this space is off-limits to them.

You can encourage your partner, roommate or child to make their own private space that is off-limits to you. This helps everyone respect each other’s personal space and personal items.

Separate Accounts – Hopefully you are not having to share a computer or tablet with another member of your household, but if you are, you can create a sense of privacy by maintaining a separate user account for “family use.”

This way the family can use the computer after hours without getting access to any of your work files.

Noise Cancel – Investing in a pair of noise cancelling headphones can be a huge game changer when it comes to creating a sense of privacy from the rest of your household. They can also help provide a sense of personal space and allow for more focus.

Take it Outside – If you really don’t want household members to hear your side of a call you can always take the conversation outside. This can allow you to speak more freely while also getting fresh air and exercise.

Shut the Door – Sometimes the best way to create privacy for yourself is to help create privacy for other members of your household. For example, if you can curate a space specifically for your kids to play in or complete homework, this leaves more space for you to unwind.

With a vaccine on the horizon, maybe work-from-home will soon be a thing of the past, but for now, hopefully these ideas from Dr. Samuel can help you balance your work/life privacy.

To a Richer Life,

The Rich Life Roadmap Team

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