Supporting the casual teleworker?an employee who works remotely three or fewer days per month?can strain your support staff and your IT budget.
While most IT staffs have the budget and resources to support the committed teleworker, they might not be prepared for the demands of the casual teleworker. Casual teleworkers may be using their own home PC, ISP and applications that are incompatible with the company’s systems. The IT staff ends up supporting and troubleshooting applications it is not familiar with.
Problems that can arise include exposing the company to viruses and hackers, supporting applications and devices that the IT staff is not familiar with and that are incompatible with the company’s hardware and software, and compensating the late hours of help desk staff. Employees may be using the company’s Internet access or company-issued PC for personal use, which the company may define as inappropriate. Additionally, company assets may be stored on an employee’s home PC and may not be backed up to company servers.
1. Draw boundaries. Create a telecommuting policy that clearly explains what applications and hardware the IT staff will support and how teleworkers will be supported (times of day, telephone support versus onsite technical support and so forth). The policy must cover how the company’s physical and information assets will be secured offsite and also list the tasks that the PC and network can and cannot be used to complete (no illicit content, gambling and so on).
2. Simplify remote PC management. Invest in tools that can remotely monitor, diagnose, troubleshoot and resolve users’ problems to avoid dispatching technicians to employees’ homes.
3. Standardize employee access. To lower costs and increase security, Jim Slaby, senior industry analyst at Giga Information Group, suggests that companies have all employees connect to corporate servers in the same way by deploying VPNs and installing the same VPN and firewall software on all employees’ PCs. Internet VPNs let employees access corporate assets by dialing in to a local ISP from any location. “This allows you to leverage collective buying power and avoids the high costs of long distance or 800 calls to the company’s own remote access server,” Slaby says. Higher-volume purchases from one or two providers can result in greater discounts to the company.