[sdnog] How to work from home

Nishal Goburdhan nishal at controlfreak.co.za
Wed Mar 25 21:43:51 SAST 2020

On 24 Mar 2020, at 8:49, Kabantsh Alameen wrote:

> Regarding to the last scenario (Creating your own VPN
> server) there is a lot of solutions that provide a way to make your 
> own VPN
> server and the pros of this method it is secure if you are using very 
> long
> key strings, key rotation and very good cryptography algorithm and 
> higher
> level of key exchange, but the main issue that you will be facing is
> creating and maintaining the VPN server, as well as stable internet
> connectivity (depending on your company size).

pfsense [1] is both free, and super-easy to use (read:  it has a gui for 
even the technically challenged like me  ;-))
wireguard [2] is supposed to be the new hotness, but i have not yet 
found time to play with this.
algovpn [3] makes it easy to deploy secure config ..  (manhal, you’ll 
like this, it’s ansible based..)

that’s just three of the top of my head.
the days of a “vpn” server being something of a mystery are over, 

there are a lot of other tools that others have mentioned here.

> As a summary it depends on many factors like:
>    - IT infrastructure.
>    - IT engineer training and skills.
>    - Company size.
>    - Financial situation.

there are obviously _some_ jobs that can’t be done from home;  eg. 
being a bank teller ;-)   but i think that the current global 
environment (ie. The Distancing and The LockDown) is inspiring people to 
find new and interesting ways to continue to be productive, whilst still 
at home.  i think that more and more organisations are going to realise 
that they can save their staff productive time lost in traffic, improve 
their employees’ quality of life, and reduce their overheads;  eg.  by 
using less office space.  i could go on .. but i think those benefits 
are easily understood.

as manhal asked, the real issue is how to be able to show that you’re 
still productive when you’re not at an office desk.  that really comes 
down to how your work is being measured;  and that’s completely 
separate to someone being at their desk.
so, manhal, how is your work being assessed and managed now?  if you 
have a smart way of doing that (and here, i’m talking about process, 
and measuring progress) then frankly, it does not matter where you sit.  
there are many frameworks for how to get this done.  but mostly they 
relate to:
# creating a process for how something should be done
# documenting your work according to this process
# giving your team members and management visibility into this (and you 
getting visibility into theirs) so that it’s clear what progress is 
being made, how, etc.

and again - this is what you should be doing in your office anyway.  i 
know that atlassian is broken in sudan, so look for alternative to their 
popular jira application.  but remember, it’s not the tool.  it’s 
the process, mindset and people behind this, that matter.

working from home also very much a work maturity thing;  working from 
home mean you need to instil the discipline into yourself that says : 
“i have to get X done” and not go rummage through my fridge/watch 
tv/..etc.   that’s a lot easier to do, if you can setup a defined 
working space at home, which you treat as your “office” and that 
while you are here, you just work.  and, it’s also super important to 
remember that when work time is over (or you’ve finished your task) 
and you move away from this space, you are now no longer at work - ie. 
keep work/life balance.

i’ve been 100% work from home for 8+ years now.  i got the “keep 
your space separate” thing wrong at first;  i would work from my 
dining room table  (i live alone, so it’s not a problem for me), and 
then just not leave my tale.  as a result, i used to leave my 
“workspace” (laptop) at the table full time, and i would not leave 
“the office”.  and because my small apartment has the dining room 
connected to the “lounge”  (rest/tv area) i could not tell when i 
was due to stop working.  so i converted a spare room into an office, 
and now, when i close that door i am “no longer at work”.  (well, 
technically ;-)).  but it’s helped me tremendously mentally in terms 
of just separating out headspace(s).  i haven’t seen this mentioned 
yet in the thread, and i think that’s important for you to remember;  
work from home, is not work = home.
obviously, choose a quiet space, and, if you’re like me, and spend a 
lot of time at your desk, ergonomics matter.

the cost of mobile broadband internet access in sudan is much, much, 
lower than what it is in my country.  so that’s a really good thing 
that you have going for you.  and you have a local IX, so that’s also 
a good thing.  but in a work-from-home environment, things that are 
going to hurt you are:
# more mobile users, online, for longer periods of time (if they are 
working from mobile) because there isn’t a large proliferation of xDSL 
# content/materials still housed outside your country
# broken cybersecurity expectations and understanding

maybe teaching this could be added to the sdnog agenda.   /hint, sara ..


[1] https://www.pfsense.org
[2] https://www.wireguard.com
[3] https://trailofbits.github.io/algo/

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