by Calum Macleod - European Director of Netilla Networks - Thursday, 24 September 2003.
We all hanker for the opportunity to work less hours and avoid wasting time traveling to and from work. If you counted up the average commute of two hours a day you could claw back by avoiding this daily commute an extra week each month, or nearly three months every year. Thankfully, more and more large corporations are looking at ways to enhance the working environment and to find ways to cut this daily commute. At the same time companies are being faced with a mountain of challenges such as providing:
- e-enabled access to services for their staff, clients and suppliers
- increasingly providing a 24/7 service
- providing remote access for field workers while ensuring that the corporate network remains secure and protected
The arguments therefore to provide the opportunity for remote/home working becomes stronger every day as:
- The daily commute is becoming physically impossible & stressful for commuters.
- It can be the cornerstone of an employer's flexible working policy.
- Past evidence has shown that it helps with staff retention, which saves money.
- It can significantly reduce the need for expensive office space.
- Staff can often be more productive working at home for at least part of the week.
- Staff save hundreds, if not thousands of pounds in commuting costs.
- Staff are happier, because they have a better quality of family life and much more flexibility.
- Helps to empower people and give them greater responsibility.
Taking these factors together, society, employers and employees have to ask themselves if the traditional commuting model is still valid, especially with the change from a 9 - 5 work pattern, to a 24/7 service provision requirement. Remote working can now successfully be achieved in a secure manner with clientless VPNs (virtual private networks) or SSL VPNs from companies such as Netilla Networks. This new technology, delivered as a single appliance can be installed quickly and easily in an organisation's data center, enabling the remote & home worker, using a web browser, to see & use everything that's in the office - update their diary, find out about meetings, read minutes, amend & print documents, change & update databases. It provides the same "look & feel" as an office-based PC, and is accessible anywhere there's an Internet connection. It brings the IT facilities of the office into the home of the authorized worker in a secure manner.The appeal of a "virtual private network" or VPN is easy to see: it allows an organisation to connect its branch offices, remote employees and partners by using the public Internet, which now extends nearly everywhere, rather than expensive dedicated lines from the phone company. But precisely because the Internet is a public communications medium, care must be taken to safeguard these private and privileged corporate communications by encrypting them at both the user and corporate end points - thus using the Internet simply as a data tunnel through which encrypted communications are sent.