Saturday, March 21, 2020

Corona - T minus 34 - IT and homeworkers

The Dutch government has given the advice to limit social interaction to a minimum, keep 1.5 meters of distance, and only go to work if absolutely essential.

Of course, it is an advice. So many people simply don't listen. Or are forced to ignore the rules, by circumstances, or by their employers...


The company I work for asks many of its employees to go to work, even if that isn't strictly required. It makes working from home as difficult as possible.

This isn't the first time I've noticed this. Many 'modern' companies are very old fashioned when it comes to people working from home. They are so afraid their employees are not wasting yet another 8 hours of their lives everyday, that they try everything to discourage working from home.

The latest tool is electronic surveillance. Log in / log out, just like using an old punch card, and monitor the employee's activity on his / her laptop to make sure he / she isn't slacking.

As if that is any guarantee. I have been working for an international company, where my expat colleague employees were spending 50+ hours a week in the office. Note the choice of words: 'spending'... Yes, they're always there, working on Saturdays, evening, overtime. But at least half their time is wasted on useless meetings, or Alibaba shopping sessions, or simply napping.

I wonder who's more productive... the home worker spending 10 hours a week on non-company matters, or the aforementioned office worker. You figure it out.

Forced attendance

The worst example of old fashioned thinking is those companies that force their employees to come to the office, because 'it is only an advice'. Idiots. Even if Corona wasn't that serious that smells like evil, self centered, counter productive management. The same kind of managers who would let a company loose millions, as long as their own personal bonus arrives in time.

I've been an employee. I've been a manager. I never understood the mindset. I'll probably never make CEO.

I try to be in the office when I have to. When I don't have to, I work from home (if IT lets me). But I notice traffic on the road, which was blissfully quiet for the last weeks, is increasing again. Which means more and more people start traveling to their work again.

I wonder how long it will take before the government turns the advice into a formal requirement.

Failing IT

Many companies that have decided to follow the advice found out their IT environments were lacking capacity, or were not as hardened as they thought.

Overloaded servers, insufficient Citrix or VPN licenses, lack of online communication tools, and some idiotic limitations imposed by IT departments make it lots of fun for the average home worker.

Some great examples? Users being asked to start using Teams on their company laptop, only to find out IT has disabled audio, and the user cannot change the audio settings. You gotta' be serious...

Or how about systems enforcing policy by pushing massive amounts of data to the user laptops, leading to startup times of 30+ minutes, because the internet connections and VPN's are slow, dial-in / access points overloaded or centralized (forcing Windows profiles to be retrieved over an already overloaded company network).

T minus 34.

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