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Can Your Business Keep Snow Days At Bay?

Desktop remote access tools are an important part of a company's telecommuting strategy. But even if they are the stars of the show, they still need a strong supporting cast.
Desktop remote access tools are an important part of a company's telecommuting strategy. But even if they are the stars of the show, they still need a strong supporting cast.You might not think of the United Kingdom as a country that has a hard time dealing with ice and snow. But last week's winter storm left millions of UK commuters unable to reach their offices. Inevitably, some companies had contingency plans in place -- but many others did not.

On a single day, experts estimated that the UK economy lost the equivalent of more than $1 billion due to weather-related employee absences.

A recent article at Computing.co.uk points out that desktop remote access solutions such as Logmein and GoToMyPC are extremely helpful when employees find themselves caught at home. But companies also need to focus on a number of supporting technologies, including:

- Email and applications. Many companies find that ubiquitous, free Webmail services do the job. Others, however, are more comfortable sticking with Microsoft Exchange or Lotus Notes. Configuring these tools for home access isn't complicated, but it does require a bit of advance planning. Also consider whether to combine remote access tools with cloud-based applications -- a mix that could cause more confusion than it is worth if it isn't done properly.

Don't Miss: NEW! Remote Access How-To Center

- Telecom contingencies. Solutions range from mobile phones and call forwarding to voice-over-IP services and full-scale unified communications platforms. Any of these are better than forcing employees to check their voice mail constantly in order to stay in touch with customers and coworkers.

- Security. This is an obvious concern for any company that allows employees to work from remote locations. Are you comfortable that the right people are authorized to access the right systems? Does sensitive business information require special handling? Will legal and regulatory compliance issues play a role in your company's strategy?

Finally, remember that corporate culture can make or break a telecommuting strategy just as quickly as the supporting technology. Set realistic policies, goals, and expectations; make it clear when telecommuting is acceptable and when it is not. That way, your company's next "snow day" won't put a big chill on your bottom line.

Editor's Choice
Sara Peters, Editor-in-Chief, InformationWeek / Network Computing
John Edwards, Technology Journalist & Author
John Edwards, Technology Journalist & Author
James M. Connolly, Contributing Editor and Writer