Mobility is not a privilege

weekly roundup In my interactions with friends and relatives over the Chinese New Year holidays, a stark reality hit me. Despite the oft-cited benefits of telecommuting, it seems that some local companies are still not sold to the idea.

weekly roundup In my interactions with friends and relatives over the Chinese New Year holidays, a stark reality hit me. Despite the oft-cited benefits of telecommuting, it seems that some local companies are still not sold to the idea.

In the midst of the festive celebrations this week, a close relative had to make his way back to the office to complete some reports that were due right after the Chinese New Year break. I asked him why he couldn't work from home instead.

His reply: "I don't have VPN access to the data I need from the office. It's a privilege that's not available to me."

Perhaps the company he works for has made provisions for telecommuting, but only to selected employees. Obviously, my relative is one of those who would benefit from remote access, but his company has decided to deny him that privilege. Whatever the reason, he needs to travel for 30 minutes to get to his office by car--when he could have worked, in this case, from the comfort of his home.

But why should remote access to e-mail messages and work documents even be regarded as a privilege?

I've heard too many stories of companies giving mobile push e-mail devices only to senior managers. A sales executive also lamented to me that only his superior gets a BlackBerry, while he has to use his own personal Dopod device to access his e-mail on the go. His company does not pay for his data charges.

The fact is, whether companies like it or not, that employees will find their way around to work faster and smarter--and with their own devices, if one isn't provided for them by the company. So why not provide telecommuting tools to workers who will benefit from them, rather than face the risk of data leakages from unsanctioned devices? Companies could offer a subsidy for approved handset purchases and gain control of user devices as part of a larger enterprise mobility strategy.

In other news this week, find out why Microsoft says the 64-bit version of Windows Vista is not for everyone, how technology managers are struggling with a peak in spam activity, and what Intel is dropping from its Santa Rosa platform.

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