Many forward-thinking corporations and companies are beginning to allow their employees to work from home, either part or full time. Realizing that real estate is only getting more expensive, employers are looking to leverage employee owned assets (ISPs, home networks, etc.) to prevent busting at the seams in some cases. This allows those of us who enjoy this flexibility to also save in our own pocketbooks, in the form of gas and mileage on our automobiles (or for those of us working in Baton Rouge traffic, a small piece of our sanity).
Technology plays a key part in maintaining a functioning home office. While some leaders spurn the home worker because of the “loss of collaboration”, I find them misinformed and somewhat behind the times. Many tools on today’s market allow teleworkers to stay in touch with the corporate office. Web based meeting “places” such as WebEx or Cisco’s Meeting Place allow for virtual meetings to be scheduled and take place regardless of physical location. Add a web camera in, and you can visually see who is participating in the meeting.
Online chat programs, whether housed behind a company firewall or one of today’s freeware (Google’s Google Talk, Microsoft’s Lync or newly acquired Skype) allow us to chat a coworker just as seamlessly as walking up to their cube at work. The chat program’s also allow you to set your status (“busy”, “in a meeting”, “watching my fifth edition of this morning’s SportsCenter”) that lets coworkers understand if you are available to talk or not.
Most Internet service providers (ISPs) allow for greater bandwidth and throughput these days, in the event that your company requires a small networking device, which acts as a VPN (virtual private network) tunnel into your company’s network. This allows you to connect to company assets such as SharePoint, intranets, or company file shares as if you were in the office. Greater bandwidth also allows for IP based phones, which transmit your voice data over the Internet rather than through traditional phone lines.
All the technology in the world is not going to provide you with the number one tool required to work from home: discipline. People who misuse company time to run to the grocery store, run a daycare, or watch too much ESPN ruin it for the masses. However, in the end, these slackers’ lack of productivity will come out, and hopefully management will weed out these bad apples.
I think we should all get used to the home office being a fixture of this century’s workforce. Water cooler chats cut down alone should save on the company’s bottom line. Like I said, don’t ruin it for the rest of us. Now, I’ve got to get back to my ESPN…. see you next week.
Until then, stay wireless my friends. ~ db