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Jared Rathbun

Infosec jobs and remote work

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I'd love to hear everyone's opinion about working in the infosec industry remotely. Personally, I'd like to see more companies supporting remote work, but I'm wondering where some difficulties might come up. I'd also like to hear what you or your team has done or is doing to support your people who are already working remotely.

For example, as someone who works a lot with internal tooling and the developers that use them, face to face time is super valuable when trying to come to an understanding of something complex. On the other side of the coin, 95% of my work could be completed from anywhere really. I'm wondering if I'm over-valuing talking with someone in person, but I feel like it's bought our team a lot of social capital and trust from the users we support. On the other hand, not having to commute every day is an awesome perk that buys me a lot of extra time and a great reduction in stress.

Secondly, I'd love to hear what everyone's habits/practices/etc are for being more effective while being remote. Some of my habits:

  • clean workspace that I can walk away from when I'm done with work
  • setting expectations with my SO that when I'm working, it means I'm working and would prefer to not be distracted unless needed
  • communicating with my team when I expect to be away from my keyboard
  • clearly marking on my calendar what days I'll be work from home, and explaining what that means with regards to scheduling particular meetings

Overall, I really like the hybrid approach of flexible work from home hours on top of being in the office face-to-face with coworkers, and I'm going to continue to try to get as much of it as I can, no matter where I work. I'd love to learn from this discussion here and not only become a better remote worker but also be better and working with remote teammates.

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My team is spread over 9 timezones, and next year that may be more. I see no issue in having my guys work from home, or work remote. If an incident happens in Edinburgh and they are in San Diego physical proximity isn’t going to help.

as a manager I have happy staff that like the working conditions and stay because they feel empowered and valued.

personally I WFH 3-4 days per week and my boss is Boston based, so effectively I’m remote too. I don’t believe it affects my efficiency.

Edited by Ian Chisholm
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I feel that remote working needs to be handled on a case by case basis, but overall should be supported within a company. There's multiple reasons why an employee may need to WFH, including disability factors, caring commitments, or just that sometimes you need space away from people to focus.

I'm solely remote until I move, and I'm getting a little stir-crazy from the lack of socialisation - as well as feeling a bit left out from events that are happening in the office in Southampton currently. I'm fortunate that I'm with a company that tries its best not to leave remote workers out (for example, Critical recently celebrated its 25th birthday and there were celebrations in all of our offices, but being 200 miles away makes it relatively difficult for me to join in in festivities in Southampton unless it's prearranged or I'm already in the office for whatever reason. The UK based HR team made sure to send me and a handful of other remote workers a gift to help us feel included, which was really delightful) but on a day-to-day basis it's pretty lonely. I think that there's probably many people in infosec who also aren't as social as I am, though.

While I'm craving social interaction though, I'm also mindful that I need the capacity to WFH at least some of the time - I'm technically disabled and getting to the office (in previous jobs) can prove difficult on occasion.

During my time working remotely, however, I'm finding that my focus is best when I treat it very similarly to how I treat studying for my degree. Luckily I have a separate laptop for work, which easily reduces my ability for distraction (which is quite significant, even living alone!); as long as I keep my personal laptop off and out of sight when I intend to work - there's no access to Discord, other social media, games, the general internet where I could theoretically decide to dive down a Wikipedia rabbit hole instead of working - I'm able to focus in on the things I'm meant to be doing rather than entertaining myself on my company's dime. I also find that some of the tricks I've often used for studying really help - such as listening to game soundtracks, which I learned in college are often designed to help a person focus in on  the game (I find it better to listen to soundtracks from games I haven't played, and soundtracks without vocals especially, because I know that if I listen to one from something I've played that I'm going to be thinking about periods of time in the game where whatever track is playing occurs -- the only one where I break this rule is the Hacknet soundtrack. I also don't limit myself to games, as I find the same sort of effect with soundtracks from TV shows and films: this works especially well with period pieces as they're less likely to have vocals which distract my singer's heart).

One thing my PM said to me when I was discussing adjusting to WFH after having worked in offices or on premises for the last 3 years of my working life is that it's really important to take walks and get away from your working environment. He also suggested working in a coffee shop sometimes (something I typically reserve for the week after I get paid, because I feel bad sitting in a coffee shop and buying only one coffee or small item to justify taking the space!) to at least be around people even if you're not truly socialising.

Some recommendations I have for soundtracks, if anyone is interested (Youtube Links, and playlists where possible because shuffling tracks is fun!):

 

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@Chrissi Robertson - Those are some great call outs about remote work and focus! I know when I work from home I also have to actively shift into "focus on this task" mode, but once you've trained yourself and identified approaches that work for you, it can feel very productive! I also like the point around using game/TV sound tracks, I find myself listening to game soundtracks naturally, but I'll give it another try to see how it changes my focus 🙂

@Tim Casey - Looks like your link might be broken, but that sounds like a great resource for job hunters, thanks for sharing!

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3 minutes ago, Jared Rathbun said:

@Chrissi Robertson - Those are some great call outs about remote work and focus! I know when I work from home I also have to actively shift into "focus on this task" mode, but once you've trained yourself and identified approaches that work for you, it can feel very productive! I also like the point around using game/TV sound tracks, I find myself listening to game soundtracks naturally, but I'll give it another try to see how it changes my focus 🙂

@Tim Casey - Looks like your link might be broken, but that sounds like a great resource for job hunters, thanks for sharing!

I typed it in. The fellow is @asg5704 on twitter you can get the link there.

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2 minutes ago, Tim Casey said:

I typed it in. The fellow is @asg5704 on twitter you can get the link there.

Awesome, thanks for the source! I found the original tweet with the link to the discussion as well as the link to the spreadsheet here:

 

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