More and more people are working remotely, outside the typical office and everything that that entails. In a traditional work environment, most employees worked in the office, keeping normal business hours. While this is still the most common situation today, a growing number of US-based employees are working from a remote location, according to a recent Gallup poll.
According to this report, 37 percent of U.S. workers say they telecommute, up slightly from 30 percent last decade, but four times greater than the 9 percent found in 1995. Many sectors are affected by this trend, including the education industry. Thus, one of the largest trends in higher education specifically, is completing online courses and degrees. Often, going to a physical campus to complete classes is not feasible, especially for full-time working adults wanting to complete a degree. Adding to the traditional complexities, is the ability to take classes on a flexible schedule and from wherever they must be, as mandated by their work or personal schedules. This, of course, is why online colleges have become an extremely popular options for these individuals.
Because of this, there needs to be technology solutions in place to ensure that the end user is successful and can work efficiently from any location. There are many common issues that remote workers and students face because of their need to work anywhere at any time. Getting technical support at any time can be a bit more of a challenge. Accordingly, the school or corporate organization can easily use a few solutions to assist.
Common technical issues for remote users
The first common issue is remote end users often need to access several different systems and applications to complete their work. These are often cloud applications which they need to login to each day. These users need an easy way to access everything they need, as they may be studying from a coffee shop, on their phones, in a train station, etc. Logging into each application is an annoyance and requires the user to remember several sets of complex credentials.
So how can this be made easier? A web single sign-on solution (SSO) allows remote users to access what they need from one simple portal. The end user simply enters a single set of credentials to access the portal where all of their applications are kept. Thereafter, they can open any of their authorized applications and are automatically authenticated. This allows them to quickly open their portal and complete their work or classes wherever they are, on whatever devices they may be utilizing.
Aggravation of simple passwords
Another common aggravation is simple password issues, such as password resets, that require users to contact the helpdesk to resolve. Since remote students cannot easily get assistance from the helpdesk after hours, they need to have a simple way to resolve their own password issues. For example, students who are completing an online degree, might be completing classes after they get home from work at night. The helpdesk typically only works a nine-to-five schedule so they are out of luck for the night. The user might not even be in the same time zone as the helpdesk, as they may be traveling for work or even taking classes from a different state.
So if they have any issues with their password, how are they supposed to get them resolved? A very simple solution for this is self-service password reset software. This solution allows the end users to securely reset their own password after correctly answering security questions, which they previously provided answers to. They can then reset their password and continue with their work without needing any interaction with the helpdesk. Since these applications do not require human intervention, they are available 24x7x365.
Correct access rights
Still another issue is ensuring that the end user has the correct access rights. What if you’re a remote user and you need access to an additional application? You probably need to email someone at your school try to get the rights created. Then you often need to continue to follow up with them to make sure it is getting completed. If you are on the go, or working different hours than your office, this can present an issue.
The advent of automated account management solutions, with workflow management, provides a secure solution to this type of situation. Users simply access a portal where they can easily request anything that is needed, such as access to shares, groups or even additional applications. The employee simply submits their request and it is routed to the correct person for approval. Once approved, the change is automatically carried out in the network. The employee can also easily check on the status of the request without needing to contact the helpdesk for an update.
When you are working remotely, things need to be very convenient, otherwise it becomes a huge aggravation of dealing with technical issues before you can get anything for work or school completed. Account and password management solutions ensure that users can focus on getting their work completed whenever and wherever they are, so that they can be just as productive as users who are attending the school on campus or employees working in the office.
Dean Wiech is managing director of Tools4ever, a global provider of access and identity governance solutions.