Home workers are just one segment of the growing number of employees who spend some or all of their day away from their main office. Sales teams and field engineers have, by the nature of their jobs, always spent a large part of their time away from their desks. But now they are being joined by a far broader range of staff and executives, who have adopted the maxim that work is not where you go, it is what you do.
Introducing remote working across an organization can be complex, with significant input needed from the HR department to ensure that both employees and employers will see the benefits. However, it also demands the right technology.
Laptops and PDAs are now a familiar part of our landscape. But if remote working is to be as efficient as possible, and really deliver productivity gains, it is essential that these are supplemented with the latest communications developments so that remote users have real-time access to all the data and systems they would have if they were in the office.
If real-time data exchange is relatively straightforward, it is harder, but absolutely crucial, to ensure that only authorized users can access that data. In other words, security is a key consideration - particularly as remote working opens up a new range of potential hazards and security risks.
A sales person out visiting clients, for example, may decide to keep a copy of the customer database on his laptop, along with price lists, confidential internal business documents, contract details and financial information for his clients. It all helps him to be as effective as possible when doing his job. However, as soon as this kind of information is removed from the office the company is vulnerable if that equipment is lost or stolen.
Even companies that think their information isn't really that sensitive should consider what would happen if their biggest competitors obtained price lists or R&D information from a lost device. So valuable is data in the information age that it is often the information stored on the laptop rather than the equipment itself which makes it attractive to thieves.
The solution, therefore, is for remote workers to access office-based PCs from mobile equipment, rather than storing any information on the device itself. Remote administration or remote control technology that system administrators use to manage and monitor 1000s of networked PCs, has become massively popular among remote workers who need access to corporate systems. The number of programs providing access to remote computing is rather broad today.
When this kind of remote access technology is used, the company is no longer vulnerable to industrial espionage, brand diminishment or expensive law suits should the device fall into the wrong hands.
Not only does this protect data if the device is misplaced, it also means that only one port needs to be opened up in the corporate firewall. This means all traffic is going through the one, secure port, making the company less vulnerable. Add in advanced encryption and detailed permission levels for access to data, and remote control software becomes an attractive option for remote working.
Where the "grabbing" of screen data in traditional remote control software means there is latency between command and action, the newest versions effectively clone it. As a result, remote workers get the information they need easily and quickly.
Flexible working, working from home, business trips - these are all driving the demand for access to corporate systems while users are out of the office. It is now just down to the organization to ensure they are working in the most effective and secure way.