July 22, 2008

Working From Home Can Benefit


With the rising price of fuel, many people may be considering the benefits of telecommuting - working from home as if you were at your desk at work. It can save money on petrol and in some cases can improve productivity and job satisfaction.

The key element is not technology but your employee's work ethic. Employees who need constant supervision are probably bad candidates for telecommuting.

The most common practice for a single telecommuter is to "remotely control" their computer at the office from home.

There are a number of software packages offering this type of service that range from a monthly fee to totally free. Our favourite free programme is LogMeIn (www.logmein.com) because it's simple to install and can used with any web browser from any internet- connected computer in the world.

In other words, you don't have to install special software on your home or office computer in order to get access.

You simply login to your account through the internet and gain access to your computer (as long as it is switched on and there is a broadband connection at each end).

The free version does not allow you to print remotely (print from the office computer to the printer at your home), but the Pro version does (for a fairly small fee).

Anything that allows easy access to a computer through any browser is also less secure. For instance, if you are not careful about when and where you access your office computer, the username/ password could easily be obtained by someone who shouldn't have it.

If someone learns the username/ password, they can just as easily access the computer from anywhere, which is the same as allowing them to sit down at your desk unsupervised.

If you have more than one user and want a more controlled approach, you can activate Terminal Services if you have a Windows- based server.

This method requires someone that understands how to set up the technology. For most small businesses, this approach is one of the most cost effective and least technical to maintain, if you have multiple telecommuters.

If you want the ultimate in flexibility, security and control, a VPN (Virtual Private Network) is what you need - but before you commit, be sure you understand all of the ongoing issues.

VPNs are more complicated and thus are more prone to failure.

This means that they require a technically competent person to set them up and fix them if something goes wrong.

A product such as LogMeIn can be set up reasonably easily by a competent amateur; your best bet for Terminal Services and VPNs is to consult a professional who has done it before to help you avoid the headaches that doing it yourself would bring.

* Adam Dunkerley is general manager of Need A Nerd, a company that offers mobile technical support. It can be contacted on 0800 63- 33-26 or visit the website at www.needanerd.co.nz

(c) 2008 Evening Standard; Palmerston North, New Zealand. Provided by ProQuest Information and Learning. All rights Reserved.