Working from Home: Bridging the Technology GapApril 1, 2015 Leave your thoughts
Working at home; a great opportunity for some of us, anathema to others but, love it or hate it, many of us have joined the ever growing work at home community. I’m one of them.
From the Office to Working-at-Home…
There have been many learned papers and articles on the personal characteristics needed for successful home working; the necessary discipline to work effectively and not get distracted by the television, walking the dog, endless tea/coffee making, etc., is usually top of the list followed by the home working environment. I’ll leave the former to the psychologists; I’m rather more interested in the environment and, more specifically, the technology we use to make the transition from business office to home office as smooth as possible on a day to day basis.
First things first, you need a decent broadband connection in the home. If you don’t have one, probably best to stop reading at this point – the remainder of the post will just be irritating since you won’t be able to do it…
When we’re in the business office, we can easily talk (yes, talk, not e-mail!) directly to nearby colleagues or on the internal phone system to others in the same or different offices so we need to be able to do that just as easily from home. Mobile phones, I hear you say. Hmmm. Unless you’re fortunate enough to be in a decent reception area (and I’m not) mobile telephony is definitely not the most consistent, trouble free service you’ll ever come across.
However, it is pretty straightforward to have soft clients on PCs and laptops or to have remote handsets which all ring at the same time as the business office phone (known as simultaneous ringing or ‘simring’) so that’s easily fixed.
But what about the data and other information that we use all the time? A lot of this will be on our laptops but many, if not all, organisations also have server based information on the corporate LAN/WAN infrastructure that needs to be accessible remotely and securely. VPNs will go part of the way to fix this one but they’re a bit of fiddle and there’s an easier way – wireless! (It’s taken me a while but I’ve finally got back to my favourite topic…)
Remote Network Access
In our office we connect wirelessly in a great majority of cases. We run a controller based WLAN to manage user access, the various user profiles, security, etc., so that we all have access to those areas of the network that we need for our roles. In our home offices, we have Remote Access Points (RAPs) which tunnel securely back to the controller and which then present the same SSID (network name) for easy connectivity and control access, security, etc., in exactly the same way as if we are in the main office.
So, business or home office we have the same (secure) access to the information we need and don’t need to change the way we connect between different locations.
Incidentally, the same approach can be used for branch offices remote from the main office, all you need is a more powerful RAP designed to deal with multiple users rather than a single home user.remote network access, working from home