by Thomas Wailgum

What Your Remote Workers Are Really Doing

May 01, 20063 mins
IT Leadership

You’re away from the office and on a conference call with three of your staffers who are back in the IS shop. You hear some music in the background and then a glass breaks.

What they say happened: A glass of water fell off their workspace, amidst all of the hard work and Ethernet cables.

What you think happened: The techies are partying like its 1999, and Stu just dropped his margarita.

What you should do: Call the CSO, a.k.a. Darth Vader, and ask him to go down and investigate.

You’re talking up a new handheld CRM application with the VP of sales who is working out of a remote office, and she seems a bit distracted.

What she says: Her assistant keeps interrupting her with phone messages.

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What you think she was doing: BlackBerry-ing her sales colleagues about the boring conversation she’s having with some IS guy.

What you should do: “Accidentally” shut down her BlackBerry service and see if that gets her attention.

You send an urgent IM to your project manager who is “working at home.” No response for two hours.

What he says: “I was putting out a fire with a key business partner and couldn’t respond.”

What you think happened: His taxes are overdue, his iPod needed updating, and Jerry Springer had Nazi lesbians on the show.

What you should do: Tell him you had video cameras installed on all of the laptops and you know what’s going on.

You’re using WebEx to go over a critical presentation on a new software rollout, and no one in the other offices is asking any questions.

What they say they’re doing: Engrossed in your every word and taking copious notes.

What you think they are doing: Using the live chat feature to message each other on what a “dead in the water” project this is.

What you should do: Tell them that 100 percent of their bonuses are tied to this project’s success.

You’re on a conference call with the board of directors, talking up a new ERP rollout, when they have to put you on mute.

What they say they are doing: Confidentially discussing a key financial question.

What you think happened: The group is still trying to figure out what “ERP” stands for.

What you should do: Explain to them what ERP is—for the 50th time!

Your CEO is calling the help desk in a panic.

What he says: “Someone stole my laptop!”

What you think happened: He got up to go to the bathroom in Starbucks and left his laptop on the table. See ya!

What you should do: Tell him you’ve terminated his network connection—even though you had never given him network access in the first place—and that he’ll have a new laptop on his desk Monday morning. Sir.