This group is for teleworkers and telework managers...and anyone else who is interested in discussing telework!
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Telework Challenges and Solutions
July 14, 2011 at 3:22 pm #135521
I would like us to use this discussion thread to solve everyday problems. Whether they are technical, social, ethical, and so on.
I will start with a solution my office found to the problem of knowing who's in, who's out, and who's teleworking. We use Microsoft Outlook for email and calendars. The whole staff has online access to our supervisor's calendar and we are each responsible for keeping our whereabouts updated on this calendar. Also, each employee has her own color so we can easily find who we are looking for (We are a small office so none of the colors are duplicted). We keep our off days, telework days, vacations, and out-of-office training on this calendar. We also know if our supervisor is in a meeting or out of the building. Another office in our agency uses a common shared calendar and the supervisor keeps his calendar separate. We also use Microsoft Communicator. We can tell immediately if a staff member is online, away, in a meeting, or offline. Using Communicator is almost like sharing a telephone conversation. This has helped us and helped our supervisor to manage us while we are offsite.
My agency uses VPN and Citrix. In May 2010, I upgraded to wireless and couldn't connect to VPN. This caused problems because I have special software on my laptop that I use for work and couldn't access through Citrix. I couldn't connect to VPN for more than a year because I didn't know why I couldn't connect. Every solution I was offered didn't work. I was speaking to a collegue down the hall one day and happened to mention this problem and he had had the same problem. Many wireless routers have VPN blocked as their factory settings. If you run into this problem, just email the router's manufacturer (mine was Motorolla) and they can tell you how to access the router's configuration and change it to allow VPN access. It took me about 24 hours to get access to VPN once I knew who I needed to talk to.
What is the appropriate thing to do if the network is down and you're teleworking? In the office I normally file or spend time in conversations with others. At home, it's different. I have very little work that isn't done on the computer. What do you do? Thanks.
July 14, 2011 at 3:32 pm #135527
That's a great idea to let everyone know each other's status!
I always try to have some "offline" work at home, whether it's reading, editing, or something similar. I don't regularly telework, so sometimes I have connection or other problems that IT needs some time to resolve, and in the interim I can still be productive. It's also been helpful for those unexpected telework days; I always have something I can do at home that's productive, and I don't have to keep taking work home every night "just in case". I also have some long-term review/editing projects that I work on intermittently at home. I just rotate or update what's kept at home as necessary.
Hope that gives you some inspiration.
July 14, 2011 at 3:44 pm #135525
I think the MS Communicator is great for teleworkers! You can track your "Presence," use the status bar to say what you are working on, send instant messages, and integrate your VOIP phone and Live Meeting. The new version - MS Lync - is even better. These tools are great for any team that wants to improve communication/collaboration, but EVERYONE needs to be on the system!
For a backup of our government-furnished laptops, we are able to access our systems using Citrix/Juniper from any computer. This is a great tool!
July 15, 2011 at 7:03 pm #135523
Thanks for the post Michelle – agree with Terry’s response that MS Communicator and other instant-message systems can be great for communication while teleworking. This allows workers in the office to always know the status of remote employees, and ensures that no one is bothered while they are busy or in a meeting. As teleworking continues to increase, I believe gov’t workers will find that the technology tools are out there to accomplish almost all of the same tasks one can do in the office – it’s just a matter of investing time to find the best tools for you and your office.
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