Hardware

Members respond: Should corporate help desks support home PCs?

In this week's edition of Point and Counterpoint, we take a look at what our members think about help desks providing support for the home PCs of end users.

Point and Counterpoint's purpose is to present a balanced discussion between our members regarding hardware, software, and any other topics our members wish to debate. If you have a suggestion for Point and Counterpoint, feel free to send us a note.
Should users keep their PCs at home?
In a recent edition of Point and Counterpoint, Support Republic Community Editor Bill Detwiler asked TechRepublic members if a company help desk should support home computers. The member response was outstanding, with quite a few opinions given on the subject. Below you will find a sampling of the member responses to the column. Please note that due to the number received, we aren’t able to publish every response.

Keep those PCs at home!
Clay H.
“The home PC is just that—a home PC. As such, users tend to tinker with them and often render them unusable. Most home PC users know enough to be dangerous. We can only be expected to support standard machines. Time is not a luxury we can afford to spend chasing down the reason why Homer can't log into his work e-mail, when the truth is he hasn't paid his AOL bill in months, resulting in a cancellation of service.”

Greg M.
”I agree that corporate help desks need to get the job done and must be flexible and responsive to business needs. However, the following form the core goals of IS Support to the business:

  • Timely and responsive call resolution.
  • SOE proven and reliable platforms, hardware, and software.
  • Reducing cost of ownership.
  • Network security.

“None of these core principles can be met if a business attempts to support private equipment. If the business requires this, the only alternative would be to provide a minimum set of specifications and for the IS department to build the company SOE on a separate partition with a dual boot capability. Support is then provided for the company SOE partition.”

Pat R.
”I see the main problem as a lack of communication from the corporate policymakers. Employees should have clear and concise documentation as to what their responsibilities are if they elect to telecommute. This should be a brief one or two page outline that is ’idiot proof’ and that anyone can understand. The next phase is for the help desk staff to have an exact script covering non-supported items. This ensures that every customer (and they are customers) hears the same response.”

Cathy U.
”It has been my experience that most IT persons work more than a full day, and most I know do not get paid OT for the time it takes to work on home machines. Most ’at-home PC’ calls come after hours and again take up the IT person’s time at home. If the call comes in during the day, it takes the IT person away from ’company‘ time and usually results in the IT person having to work OT to get other things done that he/she could not while dealing with the ’at-home’ issue.”

Bring those PCs in!
Paul B.
”Support to a home PC should be given if the person actually uses the home system for work purposes, as long as the employee understands his or her role in the process. Company assets should not be used for individual needs. If the system crashes, company information is on the PC, and support should be given. As for a game that is not running, then they’re on their own. A distinct line can be drawn as long as it is done prior to any support being given.”

Donald A.
”In many instances, the expectation that users work from home might as well be written in as a requirement. Until this changes, IT needs to be supportive of end users even if they are calling from their hotel room while ’on vacation.’"

Joe L.
”Is the employee required to work from home, or is telecommuting allowed for the convenience of the employee? In the former case, the software and any necessary support should be provided to an employee required to work from home. When the employee receives the company machine, a written agreement should be required that states how the employee is to handle the machine. Issues such as personal use should be spelled out clearly in the agreement. By supplying the computer, the company ensures that the machine will run in a way that best supports the company's objectives.”

Josh M.
”Having worked with PC support for the last five years, I have seen both sides of the home support issue. I believe that it does a company well to support the employees home PCs. The key to this is having well-defined and tested documentation for the end user written at an easy-to-understand level. Also, the end user needs to be made aware of the specific home support guidelines that are in place.

“Of course, this kind of support comes at a price. IT needs understand that this support costs more. I am all for supporting the end user from home with pre-defined solutions."
By submitting your answer, you agree to let TechRepublic publish your thoughts and/or suggestions on its Web site. You also agree that TechRepublic may adapt, edit, and authorize the adaptation and editing of each submission, as it deems necessary. TechRepublic may or may not publish a submission at its sole discretion. Point and Counterpoint's purpose is to present a balanced discussion between our members regarding hardware, software, and any other topics our members wish to debate. If you have a suggestion for Point and Counterpoint, feel free to send us a note.
Should users keep their PCs at home?
In a recent edition of Point and Counterpoint, Support Republic Community Editor Bill Detwiler asked TechRepublic members if a company help desk should support home computers. The member response was outstanding, with quite a few opinions given on the subject. Below you will find a sampling of the member responses to the column. Please note that due to the number received, we aren’t able to publish every response.

Keep those PCs at home!
Clay H.
“The home PC is just that—a home PC. As such, users tend to tinker with them and often render them unusable. Most home PC users know enough to be dangerous. We can only be expected to support standard machines. Time is not a luxury we can afford to spend chasing down the reason why Homer can't log into his work e-mail, when the truth is he hasn't paid his AOL bill in months, resulting in a cancellation of service.”

Greg M.
”I agree that corporate help desks need to get the job done and must be flexible and responsive to business needs. However, the following form the core goals of IS Support to the business:
  • Timely and responsive call resolution.
  • SOE proven and reliable platforms, hardware, and software.
  • Reducing cost of ownership.
  • Network security.

“None of these core principles can be met if a business attempts to support private equipment. If the business requires this, the only alternative would be to provide a minimum set of specifications and for the IS department to build the company SOE on a separate partition with a dual boot capability. Support is then provided for the company SOE partition.”

Pat R.
”I see the main problem as a lack of communication from the corporate policymakers. Employees should have clear and concise documentation as to what their responsibilities are if they elect to telecommute. This should be a brief one or two page outline that is ’idiot proof’ and that anyone can understand. The next phase is for the help desk staff to have an exact script covering non-supported items. This ensures that every customer (and they are customers) hears the same response.”

Cathy U.
”It has been my experience that most IT persons work more than a full day, and most I know do not get paid OT for the time it takes to work on home machines. Most ’at-home PC’ calls come after hours and again take up the IT person’s time at home. If the call comes in during the day, it takes the IT person away from ’company‘ time and usually results in the IT person having to work OT to get other things done that he/she could not while dealing with the ’at-home’ issue.”

Bring those PCs in!
Paul B.
”Support to a home PC should be given if the person actually uses the home system for work purposes, as long as the employee understands his or her role in the process. Company assets should not be used for individual needs. If the system crashes, company information is on the PC, and support should be given. As for a game that is not running, then they’re on their own. A distinct line can be drawn as long as it is done prior to any support being given.”

Donald A.
”In many instances, the expectation that users work from home might as well be written in as a requirement. Until this changes, IT needs to be supportive of end users even if they are calling from their hotel room while ’on vacation.’"

Joe L.
”Is the employee required to work from home, or is telecommuting allowed for the convenience of the employee? In the former case, the software and any necessary support should be provided to an employee required to work from home. When the employee receives the company machine, a written agreement should be required that states how the employee is to handle the machine. Issues such as personal use should be spelled out clearly in the agreement. By supplying the computer, the company ensures that the machine will run in a way that best supports the company's objectives.”

Josh M.
”Having worked with PC support for the last five years, I have seen both sides of the home support issue. I believe that it does a company well to support the employees home PCs. The key to this is having well-defined and tested documentation for the end user written at an easy-to-understand level. Also, the end user needs to be made aware of the specific home support guidelines that are in place.

“Of course, this kind of support comes at a price. IT needs understand that this support costs more. I am all for supporting the end user from home with pre-defined solutions."
By submitting your answer, you agree to let TechRepublic publish your thoughts and/or suggestions on its Web site. You also agree that TechRepublic may adapt, edit, and authorize the adaptation and editing of each submission, as it deems necessary. TechRepublic may or may not publish a submission at its sole discretion.

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