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Best Practices in IT for the Telecommuter: Preventive Steps to Save Costs and Productivity
Last Updated: 3/26/07

In-house IT staff and telecommuters must work together to keep off-site computers functioning properly in accordance with company standards. A compliant PC is free of unauthorized applications, data and other invaders that degrade performance and generate support calls. As a result, computers perform better, support costs fall, and workers stay productive.

Many IT responsibilities are handled in the office, such as maintenance and updates to software and security, and regular back-ups of company data. In the remote office, the worker must continue these responsibilities. In-house IT staff and telecommuters should consider the following best practices:

  • Educate the telecommuter on how data is protected and stored, and at what time intervals data needs to be backed up. Also, emphasize the importance of keeping up with software and security updates.

  • Keep the information about the computer system on hand: make, model and version of the computer, operating system, printer, and modem.

  • Be cognizant of what files and applications are added on the computer. If a problem arises, the telecommuter should be able to mention what software applications have recently been added.

  • Isolate the telecommuter connections from shared devices and files. File and printer sharing should be disabled or at least password protected, as well password protect the telecommuting desktop and screen saver.

  • Ensure that the operating system and major applications are always updated to the latest and most secure version or patch level.

  • Keep a backup boot-up disk and operating system disk on hand at all times.

  • Install an anti-virus program and configure it to scan all incoming files and e-mails. Update the program's virus database updated on a regular basis.

  • Configure web browsers to limit vulnerability to intrusions. Because they represent a threat of compromise, web browsers require some additional configuration beyond the default-installed configuration. Browser plug-ins should be limited to only those required by the end user. Active code should be disabled or used only in conjunction with trusted sites. The browser should always be updated to the latest or most secure version.

  • Be sure to have a firewall installed when hooking up to wireless networking. If a VPN is used, the organization's system administrators should be responsible for correctly configuring the VPN and for providing telecommuters with properly configured software for their offsite systems.

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