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Do teleworkers need to connect to the Internet or network to access data, applications or Web-based services?

Some teleworkers may use technology for their job but don't need to connect to the Internet. Perhaps they only require a phone or a computer for word processing.

An Internet connection will be required if teleworkers need to send/receive emails and/or instant messages, conduct research on the Web or access Web-based applications or services.

Internet access will also likely be required if a teleworker needs to connect to the corporate network, such as for remote desktop access, client/server applications access, for remote desktop support or if thin-client computing or terminal server infrastructure is in place. For security reasons, access to a corporate network is sometimes accomplished via a virtual private network (VPN), which creates a secure tunnel over the Internet between the corporate network and a teleworker's remote PC. If a teleworker only needs access to their desktop PC on the network, you may want to explore tools that allow remote workers to access files and applications on their desktop back at the office via a Web browser. This can be a quicker and more cost effective solution than implementing a VPN.

Is a secure connection required?

Connecting a computer to the Internet makes it vulnerable to hacking, computer viruses and malware. The vulnerability profile is raised when there is sensitive data on the computer, or if it is being used to access applications, data, or services on the corporate network.

There are a number of steps that can be taken to protect a teleworker's computer and the organization's network, some of which are low cost and easy to implement, and others that are more complex and costly:

  • Development of a corporate security policy (physical and digital)
  • Ongoing security training for all employees
  • Implementation of firewalls on the corporate network
  • Installation of firewalls at all end points, including PCs used by teleworkers at their remote location
  • Installation and regular updating of anti-virus software on teleworker PCs
  • Deployment of a Virtual Private Network
  • Application of encryption at the hard disk level, file/folder level, and/or network communication level

Is high bandwidth required?

Evaluate the level of Internet connectivity at the telework site and at the corporate network level.

Different teleworkers may have different Internet connection needs depending upon the type of work that they are doing. For some, dial-up access may be perfectly sufficient. Others will require the greater bandwidth provided by broadband services, such as DSL, cable and satellite. Will a teleworker need to email large files or download large files from the Internet or the corporate network? If they are using a Web-based application, will they require higher bandwidth to improve application performance and productivity?

Not all broadband services are available in all locations so this should be included in a telework evaluation checklist. Decide who will pay for the Internet connection, particularly if telework will take place at home. If the organization pays for the Internet access, will use of it be restricted only to official business? Or, will the organization pay a certain percentage of the monthly fee, based on how often telework takes place?

From an organization's network perspective, determine the bandwidth requirements that might arise from the implementation of a telework program. Will there be an additional drain on bandwidth going in/out of the network? To what extent can the organization's current network scale to support a large number of teleworkers, or a fluctuation in the number of users? Most importantly, how will application performance, and potentially teleworker productivity, be impacted by bandwidth constraints?

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This page was last updated on May 6, 2009