You’ve probably seen tons of spam email or banner ads promising riches while working in your pajamas at home. Hopefully, only a tiny minority believes in these get-rich-quick schemes, but someone must be making money here.
Working from home has become a valuable endeavor for both the employee and employer. Many businesses have instituted flexible work hours and have determined that some employee’s responsibilities can be fulfilled from home. The employee benefits from a more flexible schedule, less time wasted on commute, and better lifestyle. The employer benefits through decreased workstation costs, greater productivity time, and less brick and mortar overhead.
Using centralized computer applications like accounting systems and order entry systems remotely has been in use for some time now. Most large corporations and even medium sized businesses allow some sort of secure remote access to their data networks. This is usually performed via a VPN software client or VPN hardware gateway. More recently, voice applications have also migrated to the remote realm. Major manufacturers like Avaya, Cisco, and Nortel offer IP PBX systems that support remote voice applications. In particular, IP softphones and IP deskphones combined with the miracles of the public internet allow employees to be connected to their business phone system at home.
Now, you can have your computer workstation connected to your company’s data network and your IP deskphone or softphone connected to your company’s phone system. For many cubicle or office employees, this is all they really need. Data entry, order fulfillment, or any server oriented computer task can be performed. Phone calls can be answered, transferred, and the like. You can even have access to your company voice mail.
So now you’re wondering what exactly you need to work successfully from home. Well, if you’re an employee, then you need to know that the company your work for will let you. If this is the case, then the IT department can help you setup your remote home office.
For business owners wanting to offer remote telecommuting to employees via IP telephony, here is a basic checklist of requirements:
- Broadband internet connection at business and remote employee site (T1, Cable, DSL, etc.)
- Company site: Data Connection – Firewall w/built-in VPN or stand-alone VPN gateway appliance. Voice Connection – IP PBX system with support for remote softphones or deskphones through IP network.
- Employee site (hardware based connection): Router w/VPN capability or remote VPN appliance to connect to remote VPN gateway. This hardware will allow both PC and IP softphone or deskphone to connect directly to remote data and voice network.
- Employee site (software based solution): Data Connection – VPN software client to connect PC to company’s remote VPN gateway. Voice Connection – IP deskphone with VPN firmware to connect remotely to phone system or IP softphone installed on PC connected via VPN software client.