Harper, technical support analyst lead at Oil States, manages his five-person team from his home in Oklahoma City, far from Oil States' Houston headquarters. He's a senior resource for high-profile projects such as ActiveDirectory consolidation and ITIL best practices.
Although Harper believes that IT service management software such as LANDesk's Web Desk and Mobile Web Desk are essential to maintain a central repository and track all IT projects, interpersonal communication is even more critical.
"Working from home requires special initiative on my part to stay on top of things. I do have to put in extra effort," he says. Harper, who also uses Microsoft Lync, relies on Cisco's WebEx videoconferencing for "regularly scheduled face time" with team members.
Working from home has come in handy for him in dealing with users in dramatically different time zones such as Australia. "If I had to be in a sky-rise building during off-hours, it wouldn't be a very comfortable situation," he says.
The millennial generation, which is now coming into the workforce, expects the telecommuting that Oil States offers. "Of the three people I most recently hired, almost everyone wanted to know about flexibility," Harper says.
Setting telecommuters up for success
Experts agree that as data centers continue the march towards lights-out facilities, with no on-site staffing, and cloud computing puts resources off-site, full-time telecommuting will become more the norm among IT pros. Organizations should develop policies now that foster a successful telecommuting environment.
To start, companies should set boundaries - a subject Harris admits can be difficult to broach. Managers should make sure that work-at-home employees have a separate room with a door for proper privacy and professionalism on calls. Employees also should demonstrate they have adequate connectivity to support videoconferencing and other bandwidth-intensive applications.
PRODUCTIVITY MONITORS: Pay no attention to that widget recording your every move