Telecommuting as a business practice has grown steadily over the past decade. It offers employees the flexibility of working remotely while allowing organizations to save costs related to maintaining office space. Perhaps more importantly, telecommuting can increase worker productivity, as a study referenced in a recent article in the Harvard business review shows. According to the results of a survey by Reuters, approximately one in five workers worldwide telecommutes frequently, and as the results of a study by Telework Research Network show, the vast array of technological options now available for communication will lead to continued growth in the practice of telecommuting.
The ongoing rise in telecommuting brings with it significant challenges for IT departments. Some of the key challenges that telecommuting poses to IT departments include:
Increased Operational Costs: Phone support is a notoriously slow and frustrating way to provide help to end-users. As more and more end-users begin working from home or other remote locations, the need for tedious phone support will continue to rise. With it will come an increase in the average time to resolve support issues and, in turn, lost productivity. Often, support issues require physical access to crashed computers resulting in travel time for IT staff. In some cases, this has led organizations to contract IT work to local providers for what should be relatively easy tasks. Collectively, these scenarios add up to increased operational costs.
Security Threats: How secure are company-issued end-user systems that are outside of the local network? How secure are the personal devices used by remote workers to connect to company resources? This is always a concern for IT departments as both telecommuting devices and data are vulnerable to potential hackers. Accessing work networks and data from unsecured home systems or storing sensitive data on unsecured laptops could lead to data breaches resulting in lost business or litigation.
Business Continuity: Employees often require 24/7 access to office networks to perform business-critical tasks. Common tasks require a consistent connection include accessing file shares, remote connections to other computers, and running in-network business applications. Loss of connectivity through a VPN tunnel or a Terminal Server connection can cause frustration and lower remote worker productivity. Often, disruption in service from a downed VPN tunnel prevents IT admins from providing remote support through common remote connectivity tools such as RDP.
With remote support software, however, an IT professional can provide constant support to end-users within the office and outside. Here are a few ways remote support software addresses the above challenges:
The ability to connect quickly and take control of remote desktops from anywhere helps the IT department troubleshoot end-user issues faster. Remote support software reduces the need to employ additional IT staff or pay to outsource for one-off problems. Travel to remote locations to provide hands-on support can be reduced through the use of these tools. The end result is a drastic reduction in operational and personnel costs.
Multifactor authentication, such as smart cards, requires multiple means of identification at login. This provides additional levels of protection against unauthorized access. Encrypting data during transmission between local and remote systems minimizes the risk of data breaches. In choosing the right remote support tool, IT departments must take special care to choose one that supports the use of multifactor authentication.
Some third-party remote control software allows IT admins to support remote personnel without a direct connection via VPN. This is important in scenarios in which a VPN tunnel is temporarily down or is not used at all. The best tools for this type of connection establish a remote connection over the internet with a direct TCP connection. Tools offering this type of direct connection are generally agent-based. Some even offer special tools allowing IT admins to create customized agents that remote users can quickly download and install over the internet.
The practice of telecommuting will continue to grow as organizations look for ways to curb costs. The technological challenges this trend creates for IT departments are many, but through the use of the right set of tools, these challenges become much more manageable. Remote control support products such as DameWare Mini Remote Control (MRC) offer a solution to the challenges that telecommuting pose for IT. With features like screen sharing, smart card authentication, and on-screen chat, DameWare MRC allows IT pros the ability to offer immediate support to end-users running Linux, Mac OS X, or Windows anywhere at any time.
Learn how DameWare Mini Remote Control can help you overcome telecommuting challenges and be the affordable remote control software that you are looking for.
Author Bio: Brandon Whichard is a Sr. Director of Product Strategy at SolarWinds. He is responsible for promoting and setting the strategic direction of the SolarWinds tools products including DameWare and Web Help Desk.