The issue of providing IT support to home-based users always attracts a lot of responses from the IT pro readership on El Reg, as illustrated by Jon Collins’ recent article. The bottom line is that most of you who expressed an opinion think that supporting teleworkers is not actually that big of a deal, as long as some sensible …
Why wouldn't you just get them to log into the workplace network by using citrix servers? If they have some requirement for a specialised setup then they can just remote from the citrix boxes into a desktop (virtual or otherwise). I mean, why bother with what they're using at home? It's what my workplace does. Citrix farm for remote working and I can rdp into any number of machines including my desktop and VMed calculation servers for more specialised work.
It's not that hard, provided....
... You've started out with homeworking as a deliverable for your whole infrastructure delivery programme.
We've got a heavily virtualised machine room, pusing out a Citrix published desktop to everyone in-house, with a Citrix access gateway for those off working from home.
User feedback is that they can't believe how easy it is to log on at home, and how straightforward home working is. As a result, we don't get that many calls from home-workers requiring support.
The only downside is when they say the system is faster at home than it is in the office.
Admittedly, if you aren't going to completely renew your infrastructure any time soon, knowing what worked for us may not be that helpful for you... ;)
Great from the staff members point of view, a bit harder to deal with for management and harder yet for support staff.
Harder but not impossible.
Dumb terminal model.
In *principle* this neatly dovetails into the idea of Unified Comms. Outside callers no longer need know weather they are in their office/at home/redirected to mobile etc.
Something that works well in Sun, and will hopefully carry over into the Oracle world, is the
Sunray@home approach. Standard Sunray thin client (cheaper than a PC), with VPN software in the firmware. As long as the DSL line is adequate (2Mbit/s or so) working at home is just like working in the office. Plug your badge into any Sunray, and your desktop appears. In work, at home, in a flex office. Support-wise it all happens on the server, if the client dies just bring it in for a swap.
Run the Sunray server-side software on an x86 server with Virtualbox installed, and you can have Linux and Windows clients as well.
I do hope he means trousers...
Time spent working?
I still fail to see why the emphasis on "time spent working from home must be spent working" when so little time spent at work in an office is actually spent working. Between commute time, time spent fussing around before and after meetings, the 15-minutes periods in the loo with the morning newspaper, lunch out with coworkers taking 45-90 minutes instead of two minutes in the kitchen assembling a sandwich. In-office workers actually manage something approximating five or six hours of productive work in an eight hour day. Factor in the lack of commute time, and the perception of "work-day" means that if the home-worker spends even as little as *half* the day productively working, she's getting as much done as the typical office-bound employee.
commuting time doesn't count!
I don't know about you, but my commute time is not included in my office hours. I still have to start at 8:30 and finish at 5pm whether I have a 5 minute or 5 hour commute.