Evaluate Technologies with Remote Access in Mind

Paul Mah

New research from collaboration firm oneDrum says that many workers find themselves unable to work from home despite the fact that they are willing to do so. The survey quizzed 606 employees and 610 employers in November 2009 and was conducted in the United Kingdom on businesses with fewer than 250 employees.


Based on statistics obtained from the study, 61 percent of employees never work from home, even though 72 percent of SMBs allow it.


According to the report on CBR Online:

Over 80% of respondents said that they felt they could be more productive when working from home, mainly because of fewer distractions. One-third of workers said that they could do all or most of their work from home.

One key reasons cited for the low take-up rate was that work documents were not accessible outside of the office. This particular issue caught my interest because the underlying issue is a familiar one: Not having the necessary technology to support remote work is the most common barrier for SMBs.


In a way, the findings are not surprising, especially if you consider that 55 percent of the employers surveyed say they fail to see how such work flexibility translates into greater productivity. With benefits hard to quantify, it follows that CIOs and IT managers are hesitant to pour money into technologies to facilitate telecommuting.


On the other hand, the response from employees is near unanimous where productivity is concerned: Staffers feel they can get more done at home. Laying aside the inevitable debates over actual productivity, the truth is that our perception does play a vital role in shaping our job satisfaction.


Moving forward, my suggestion for SMBs is simple: Do a gradual move toward teleworking. This can be achieved by evaluating new technologies with an eye toward facilitating it.


For example, I recently wrote about how I switched to a hosted Exchange provider. While I don't use it on a daily basis, the superior OWA (Outlook Web Interface) found in Exchange 2010 worked very well. In a pinch, I know I can access my e-mail from any Internet browser with little effect on my productivity. Similarly, users who opt to use SugarSync's file-synchronization service as a backup solution are automatically empowered to remotely access the most updated copies of their files from home.


For sure, I'm not advocating that companies rip up their entire IT infrastructure -- the evidence points to the contrary -- but to enforce a deliberate policy of selecting technologies and services that facilitate or support being able to work from home. As aging and obsolete equipment give way to their telework-friendly counterparts, SMBs eventually will be able to narrow and close this technology rift.

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Add Comment      Leave a comment on this blog post
Jan 25, 2010 9:29 AM user30316 user30316  says:

I missed something here! Why would you have to rip up the IT infrastructure for secure remote access of documents? A VPN client is cheap and a decent enterprise firewall with secure VPN is $3500.

I guess that the staff can not put metrics together on the improved productivity and savings to the environment (less commuting) to justify the say $4000 investment in a new firewall and VPN.

Jan 25, 2010 2:15 PM Rehman Rehman  says: in response to user30316

Well, looks like $4000 is your entire budget for IT.. Kidding :).

Look at the Employee Job Satisfaction and over-all productivity + Flexibility +Time saved in commuting (2 hours a day = 10 hours/week > 1 whole working day) + Money Saved in commuting/Parking expenses + Less Workplace conflicts/harassments etc

I think IT Related professions should be encouraged to telework as they tend to work more with machines that people. I sit in the office and talk to people all day over the phone from US/India/China/Canada etc to whom I never even saw. Whats the point to go to an office and be stranger for 10 hours a day.

Jan 26, 2010 9:04 AM Paul Mah Paul Mah  says: in response to user30316

Hi there.  I guess there can be many reasons why a drop-in Firewall/VPN solution won't work (and leading to the problem outlined in the study in the first place)

- For one, companies might be on Internet connectivity that are on dynamic IP

- SMB operates in a few locations, making the cost of a Firewall/VPN that much more expensive

- The company doesn't even have a centralized (NAS/SAN) solution in place

- And of course, there's always the chance that the $4k investment is just "too expensive" to a smaller SMB

I'm sure there's more, but these are a few off the top of my head. What I'm advocating is to start implementing these gradually/over time, or employ technologies that doesn't rely on the missing infrastructure (e.g. Cloud storage)

Feb 2, 2010 7:11 PM Remote Access Remote Access  says:

I think the numbers hit the issue right on the head. The only real reason people do not use these products more is because they either do not even know of them, or they are not aware of how beneficial they can be. I think this is changing, however, as mobile devices like the iPhone & now the iPad are going to make these more prevalent, people will see the benefit they can have from using them to go PC to PC rather than just mobile device to PC.

Feb 8, 2010 3:55 PM Pete B Pete B  says:


I enjoy your posts. It would be great to get some feedback on Egnyte. I use their solution and I'm very happy with it. Would you be able to review Egnyte?


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