Admins, start your VPNs! As oil and gas prices soar, IT organizations should prepare to support more remote workers.
On Tuesday, Goldman Sachs analyst Arjun N. Murti predicted that oil prices may hit $150 or even $200 a barrel in the next six months to two years. Murti believes this "super-spike" will be driven by a lack of adequate growth in supply and could lead to demand rationing in developed nations (particularly the United States). Whether Murti's prediction comes to fruition or not, fuel prices and transportation costs are likely to continue their steep rise for the foreseeable future—barring the unlikely discovery of new, easily-accessible oil reserves or the rapid development of alternative energy sources.
As transportation costs rise, organizations and workers will look for ways to reduce travel. For many employees, this will mean working from home to eliminate the daily commute. As I wrote in response to IBM's prediction that the "virtual workplace will become the rule", I'm not convinced the traditional office workplace is in immediate peril, but I believe a hybrid model will emerge. Employees will work from home a few days each week.
Today's lesson: Start preparing now
Many IT organizations, particularly in large enterprises, already support a distributed workforce. IT leaders within this category should ensure their infrastructure has the capacity to support increased demand. IT departments not currently supporting remote users should begin exploring their options now. At the very least, you should make certain your network can support existing remote workplace technologies. Also, IT will not be immune from this trend. IT leaders must develop the skills and techniques required to manage a distributed workforce.
Here are resources that can help you support and manage remote workers:
- TechRepublic's VPN Policy
- TechRepublic's Remote Access Policy
- Learn the basics of virtual private networks (VPNs)
- 10 tools to help your remote workers stay in touch
- Fixed Mobile Convergence can centralize business numbers and reduce airtime
- Use special project management techniques for dispersed teams
- Unified communications: What it means to your business
- Why unified communications bring out the best in VoIP
- Unified communications terminology cheat sheet
- Presence: What is it, and why do you need it?
- Managing mobile devices the Microsoft way
- 10 things you should do before letting users take their laptops out the door
- Mobile devices are the new network perimeter: Can they be secured?
- It's 9:00am: Do you know where your people are?
Bill Detwiler has nothing to disclose. He doesn't hold investments in the technology companies he covers.
Bill Detwiler is Managing Editor of TechRepublic and Tech Pro Research and the host of Cracking Open, CNET and TechRepublic's popular online show. Prior to joining TechRepublic in 2000, Bill was an IT manager, database administrator, and desktop support specialist in the social research and energy industries. He has bachelor's and master's degrees from the University of Louisville, where he has also lectured on computer crime and crime prevention.