With the governor declaring essentially a state-wide shutdown of traditional workspaces, almost all of you are transitioning to some form of remote operations, up to a full shutdown of your physical office spaces and sending all of your employees home to work. While I consider myself a work-at-home veteran – this will be my eighth year running C2 from a home office – I can definitely say two things: firstly, none of us in IT have ever seen anything like this (though I did write a plan for EY during the SARS epidemic), and secondly, the IT world is mostly ready for this, technology-wise. But that doesn’t mean everyone else was ready for the Tele-pocalypse.
Many of you will be working from home, long-term, for the first time in your professional lives.
Whether you are a principal, manager or staff, everyone will be facing many of the same challenges:
- Residential internet is not business-class internet. Some of you may not have broadband because you’ve never really needed it. Even if you have broadband, it’s shared with everyone in your neighborhood, all working, attending classes, or just trying to enjoy a little entertainment. This may result in poor VPN connectivity, spotty VOIP phone calls, unreliable remote access connections, and general internet slowness. I know the ISP’s are trying to address this, but I’m not sure how much urgency they are putting into their effort, at least at the leadership levels. If you’ve been relying on DSL or your phone’s hotspot, it’s time to check to see if broadband is available. Get at least 25MB down and 5MB up per person in the house hold.
- Residential-class WiFi may not be reliable enough for your work. Judging by how many calls I received even before the Tele-pocalypse hit, most residential WiFi is weak and unreliable. This will be bad now with the increased traffic, and possibly may get even worse if you live in high-density buildings like apartments. WiFi signals don’t abide walls, and if your neighbor decides to put in a high-powered WiFi router or mesh system, it could step all over your weaker Wifi, changing your normally reliable wireless network into a troubleshooter’s nightmare. If WiFi is your only option, try to sit closer to the router, or if you can, get wired with an Ethernet cable.
- Most of you don’t have good monitors or computers at home. Currently there is a bit of supply-chain issue inhibiting everyone from gearing up with quality technology, mostly due to the rush on store shelves of people anticipating the Tele-pocalypse, but also due to a long-standing tariff battle with China, the largest supplier of technology to the United States. Also, you may have no idea if what is available is what you actually need. If you are shopping, get a 24″ monitor (maybe 2 if you are used to using dual-screens), a comfortable, ergo-correct chair, a wireless keyboard and mouse, and a computer in the $400-600 range at minimum. Refurbs are OK as long as you get a warranty and it was made in the last 4 years. Don’t go any older.
- Using a home PC to remote into your office computer is disorienting if you’ve never done it before. It will take some time to acclimate, and whether you wanted to or not, you’ve now doubled the potential for technology issues, malware infections and what I affectionately call “general tech orneriness”. Stuff is going to stop working, or start behaving strangely, and it will slow you down. A coworker is not likely to be nearby to give you a hand, and IT may not call for several hours. You’ll get more comfortable as time goes on and you get familiar with remote technology quirks. IT will stamp out the big bugs. It may never get back to the old normal, but it will get better.
Image by thedarknut from Pixabay