29 Jun Q&A with Technology Guru Rik Roper
Our technology Guru explains the challenges setting up the IT for working from home businesses and the pro’s and con’s of being a remote worker.
How long have you been working for JACAL?
Since their inception – around 2003 from memory
What is your background in IT?
Original Qualification “New Zealand Certificate in Data Processing” (NZCDP – mainly programming) from Auckland Technical Institute (now AUT) about 100 years ago. I worked at both ATI and ComputerLand as Senior Network Engineer. Attained Novell Master CNE/Compaq Accredited Systems Engineer/Microsoft Certified Professional (but these are all super old and have lapsed many moons ago). I started out as an independent IT Consultant in 1993 and have been doing that since. Clients have included SOEs, global Pharmaceutical and now mainly SMB clients such as JACAL. Also ran an IT mobility distribution company between 2000-2005.
What were the main challenges for JACAL’s IT during lockdown?
They were already well positioned for Level 4 as their IT infrastructure is based on a hybrid on-premise/Cloud model with 2/3 of their workforce in effect “remote workers” at remote offices. Most of the Auckland office staff are familiar with working remotely on weekends or evenings. However as servers were reaching capacity and were towards the end of their lifecycle we were in the process of replacement and with enough foresight were able to source and deploy new servers to provide additional capacity prior to Level 4. Many of the team members needed guidance with equipment, connectivity and strategies for the best experience when working from home. To enable collaboration Microsoft Teams provided the platform to keep all staff in touch with each other.
What should people consider when working remotely vs in an office?
When working from home there are a number of elements that change. Physical social interactions (“water cooler” conversations) with co-workers no longer happen by chance – effort is required to initiate interactions. However less interruptions can lead to more focus and higher productivity. Distractions in the home environment (family members/pets/chores) may need consideration also – personal discipline is required to isolate “working from home” from “home life”.
What pros & cons for IT for WFH?
Aside from social and physical environment considerations you need to ensure there is a way to measure productivity and engagement of staff members. Not everyone is suited to working remotely and some will require more assistance than others.