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Telecommuting Technology

April 2014 – Vol: 37 No. 4
by Ann Dee Allen

Here are some things remote CU workers will likely need

April 14, 2014Man works at home office

This is bonus coverage from “It’s Not Complicated” in the May 2014 issue of Credit Union Management magazine.

“Because of the growth of technology, the way that people thought about telecommuting six or seven years ago has changed,” says Jim Benlein, CISA, CISM, CRISC, owner of KGS Consulting in Silverdale, Wash. Technology has made it easier.

Importantly, there is still a difference between using your smartphone, tablet or personal computer to respond to work-related texts, email or voicemail and doing several hours or days of remote work, emphasizes Benlein, an information security and IT governance consultant who, as a credit union IT manager, developed and managed his employer’s telecommuting operations.

Indeed, employees who work remotely for a length of time need secure connections to credit union data, online files and applications, which can be possible through:

  • a virtual private network that securely connects a remote computer to the credit union’s internal computer network and
  • Internet access, possibly through an “aircard,” which provides roaming Internet.

VPNs allow for secure connections to servers, operating systems, and applications located at the credit union’s offices or with a cloud provider. Using remote, virtual, or thin client (e.g. Citrix) technologies, the credit union maintains the software on internal systems, and the telecommuter’s computer accesses and runs the credit union’s software.

Telecommuters’ hardware needs vary widely but, in general, include one or more of the following:

  • smartphone,
  • land line,
  • a voice over Internet protocol phone that connects the employee’s remote phone to the credit union’s internal phone system,
  • laptop,
  • desktop PC,
  • keyboard,
  • mouse,
  • tablet,
  • printer,
  • scanner,
  • fax capability and
  • a webcam.

The simplest and most common remote hardware setups involve the employee’s home Internet connection and a PC or laptop.

An employee doing accounting or processing loans needs VPN access to the credit union’s computer system. Those who provide customer support also need a VoIP connection to the credit union’s phone system so service is seamless.

“VoIP has become affordable for smaller credit unions,” Benlein says. “If the credit union doesn’t have VoIP, they try to figure out whether it will be more cost-effective to put in a separate phone line for the employee.”

Ann Dee Allen is a writer and editor based in the Midwest.

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