Monday, September 17, 2012

Accessing Your Office Computer From Home - Or Elsewhere. [Benefits versus Risks]

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I work from home frequently, as many of our colleagues do. And rather than sneaking past office security with a zip drive or similar device that law enforcement types invariably look upon as potentially explosive contraband, it's good to be able to have full virtual access to your office computer from home without your having to feel like a smuggler in a 'B'-rated movie. It allows for increased creativity, productivity and for certain contractors or 'partial' telecommuters (think about maternity leave, or timezone differences, or a multitude of other possibilities) to have 24-hour potentiality and access to all pertinent information.

While this enhanced ability has much to be said in its favor, it also can impose certain hazards. These risk factors must identified, quantified and mitigated in weighing the incremental benefits of  these devices and arrangements against the incremental or marginal costs. This calls for a sort of quick and dirty cost-benefit analysis

I saw a wonderful ad in my email (one of the featured advertisers of a newsletter publication to which I subscribe) that inspired this article. It was something quite different from the Citrix Virtual Office solutions and the various collaboration media such as various interactive forums which have the look and feel of elegant chat rooms or GTD (get things done) team progress monitoring mechanisms. This is simply a way of making it possible for a given individual to prospectively optimize his or her contribution to the organization due to increased accessibility and the opportunity for spontaneity and extra work time.

Here's the ad:

Easily access your work computer from home.

Who says you have to be in the office to get down to business? With free
remote access, you can stay connected and productive no matter where
you are.

Whether you want to escape the distractions of the workplace, avoid your
tiresome commute or simply get more done, LogMeIn Free makes working
from home easy. All you need is an Internet connection and then you can
free yourself from the office.

•  Connect to your work computer via your PC, Mac or mobile devices
•  Access important files and run work applications anytime, anywhere
•  Rely on the same SSL encryption as major online banks and retailers

Millions already rely on LogMeIn to work from anywhere.
Sign up today and see how you can make yourself at home for free.

If you'd like to give it a free try (I am not affiliated with this company, nor do I endorse or offer any warranties or representations regarding the service), just click on LOG ME IN.  
Let's identify some of the potential risk factors (each and all of which require serious examination and consideration:

1) An employee's access may have to be restricted to a certain security or administrative level. How is this handled?

2) Somebody in the employee's residence may extract confidential or compromising data by simply 'borrowing' the employee's computer to access email, play with FaceBook, read Blogs By Douglas E. Castle, or something else seeming innocuous. What then?

3) Is it possible that the employee's computer could be either contaminated with a virus or hacked into, wherein the contagion could be up streamed to his or her office computer; and worse, if the office computers are linked to a central unit, in a ring or via LAN or WAN (remember this stuff?), could all of the organization's data be corrupted, deleted or pirated?

As the organizations CIO, CTO, or IT Professional, I would speak with the service provider about these possibilities prior to my putting the service into use.

My view, in the meantime, is that tools such as this one seem ideal for entrepreneurial members of a team which is either working on a private project, a start-up, or a fast-emerging enterprise. In those cases, Castle's Second Law Of  Practical Risk Assessment would dictate that the smaller the organizational database and the smaller the number of personnel involved, the greater the ratio of marginal benefit to marginal cost, given the same set of risk factors (unquantified) as for a larger, more established organization with a larger complement of personnel.

An Observation: Business Planners and Project Managers, as well as their affiliated teams should note that in many cases, the same given risk factors weigh much more heavily against the benefit factors in a larger, more 'multi-cellular' organization than in its smaller, less-evolved counterpart.

That is indeed something worthy of a doctoral thesis, or at least some deep thought and discussion.

Douglas E. Castle for The Business And Project Planning And Management Blog, and for The Daily Burst Of Brilliance Blog

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