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8/9/2007
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8 Steps of Telecommuting

Telecommuting can increase productivity and save your company money. It can also be risky. Here's how to find the right balance between benefit and risk.

This document gives general guidelines to help you in making a decision whether to investigate the telecommuting option for your employees.

Chances are, if you type the word "telecommuting" into a word processing application, it will flag the word as a misspelling. Setting up your network for telecommuting does not have to be a mystery. As a matter of fact, the most critical steps are accomplished without using any networking hardware whatsoever. Telecommuting is a great way to increase productivity and save the company money. However, there can be some risk, so finding the right balance of benefit and risk is crucial. This document discusses some important points to consider when deciding whether about telecommuting.

1. Identify the users whose productivity will increase from telecommuting. Most employees will want to telecommute, but remember that each remote user is an additional license and adds to the size of the hardware you need to purchase at the company site. Mobile workers are obvious choices, but what about workers with young children who could benefit from not having to pay child care expenses, technical writers, customer service agents, researchers, and so on?

2. Write a new security policy that addresses the needs of telecommuters. One size does not fit all in the world of telecommuting. Your network's acceptable use policy should address on-campus behavior, and your telecommuters should have to agree and sign an additional usage policy for telecommuting. This policy should address use of company assets (laptops, PCs, printers, and so on) by family members; where telecommuting is acceptable (only at home, or is the local coffee shop approved, and so on); and, most important, safeguarding remote access tools such as VPN tokens. Two new polices should be written (not amended to the current policy): one for the telecommuter and one for the IT team that outlines responsibilities, support, recovery of equipment if an employee leaves the company, and the incidence response/reporting process.

3. Train users. All telecommuters should have to attend a hands-on training class about how to use the telecommuting solution (VPN and tokens). Make sure they use their own laptops so they can troubleshoot and resolve any issues onsite. This helps keep your calls to your IT support center down and reduces user frustration. The most important thing to stress at training is that the users know who to call in the event a VPN token is lost, a laptop is stolen, or any other event occurs that could lead to a compromise of your data integrity and negative exposure for your business. This should be a 24-hour phone number to a member of your IT staff.

These first three steps are the most important for telecommuting. The easy part is selecting the solution and moving ahead. So let us get started with picking out the best telecommuting solution for your business.

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