Posted on 17 September 2014
"Ohhhh what a tired subject" I hear you groan, but as I sit down in my local Starbucks to begin a brief hours work, it's got me thinking about how great it is that I can actually do this!
Laptop open, connected to the free Wi-Fi, a 'Grande' Latte, a heinously expensive bacon roll, secure connection to Office 365, Word Online open, typing away.
As I work away happily (I'm not actually happy, this chair is very uncomfortable) I started to think about the technology world's developments in remote working and remote support.
In the modern connected office, it's expected that an IT provider will be able to connect a device and remotely solve any issues you are having using remote screen control software or agent as we install on all of our supported clients at Smith Cooper.
14 years ago when I started in the IT industry, things were very different. On the service desk of PC Service Call, there was no remote control software in fact, there was barely the internet! Resolving customers issues then was a case of leaning back in your chair, headset on, eyes closed and drifting off into your own virtual desktop (a little like the 'we are free' dream sequence in Gladiator, except with computers) piecing together the ramblings of computer illiterate customers to guide them through the resolution using only the power of my dulcet tones.
Of course if any of our customers have a problem today we can screen share, control the mouse keyboard and demonstrate our resolution, no visualisation, no dream sequence, and this can sometimes turn into an impromptu training session. We can show customers quicker ways to complete tasks and train on the sometimes confusing Windows 8.
We are currently experimenting with a new technology that will allow us to turn on a machine remotely enabling us to complete support out of hours. Even more useful in the event of a server shutdown we can remotely turn it back on again! But I digress…
"Paul! What about Remote working?" I hear you ask, "How has that changed?"
I can remember setting up a Nokia 6210 with an infrared connection to a laptop which in turn used the GSM on the mobile phone to make a connection (if I was lucky) to the works server to upload the days files. That connected at a blistering 9.6kbps taking hours to upload even the smallest files, to put that into perspective I'm currently connected to the internet at 40,000kbps.
What is the difference? How is my working experience better? I no longer have to 'sync' my files, I'm working directly on Word Online. I have my emails open with a connection to Exchange Online. If my connection drops I know my document is safe in Microsoft Datacentres and my emails will be cached on my laptop.
I can connect to our sense system to view our customer’s issues, I can see the stats of the day so far from the service desk, I can view my customer files to answer queries and, if I have a problem with my laptop, I can log a call via the web to our service portal. If I need to connect to our accounts system I can open up my remote application and function as if I'm in the office. Everything is awesome.
All this technology means I can sit here, working as if in the office... it's just I'd rather be in the office with our great team, asking Tom about his recent date, discussing multi tenanted Sage 200 deployments with Rob or using my 30 second football sound bite from Radio 4 to start the conversation as to how Liverpool were saved embarrassment last night from a blatant dive, with Ricky. Working remotely is great but only when I can't get into the office!