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Pushing to remote before you were ready

Jim Schwilk Community Leader Apr 02, 2020

As with many others around the world during this new and always changing time I found myself wondering how to keep my employees safe while still providing an essential public service.  Before I get into the issues we face, let me give a little background to what we are about.  We are a non-profit mutual benefit public safety organization for protecting underground facilities and excavators from damage, injury, service interruptions and death in Southern California.  We are required by California law to be in business, up and running all the time and are listed as an essential service.


When the virus was still “new” to our county, I was starting to prepare the IT and Operations teams to start sending high risk agents home to work as all of our staff works in the office.  We are a call center and they work very close to each other.  However, we only had 2 extra routers.  After about a day of planning we found that our hard phones can connect to our phone system via a built in VPN which eliminates the need for routers.  This was perfect.  In a matter of 4 days, we were able to empty the entire office of all 47 staff members.  2 days before the Governor declared “Safer at home” and required everyone over 65 or with health conditions to no long report to work. 


We have been planning to start a work from home program next year and have been slowly getting the network ready, which is great, or we wouldn’t have been able to do what we did.  However, the current situation pushed us to do it now and for everyone, instead of for top performers.


The solution without the routers is far less than perfect.  We are unable to record the calls and a few more issues that has had my IT team running around fixing things every day.  Once we get these routers (early May as of now), the solution will be rock solid.  I took the stand that the health and safety of my staff is more important than the recordings and waiting on equipment that will be delayed for a while.  We’ll see if my Board agrees with me later this month.


For now, we find that connecting remote to agents for either help with a call or for IT work is a struggle.  In the office we use Dameware Mini Remote for these needs but now it seems to lag a lot when connecting to their home.  We have tried LogMeIn for all the workstations but it’s a little complex for my Operations staff.  For those that are also working remote now or have been that find themselves needing remote support for non-technical users, maybe sharing ideas of how that is done would benefit us all.


Above all, take care of yourself, your family, your co-workers, your staff and all humanity you can.  We are all in this together.

1 comment

Dan Moran Community Leader Apr 02, 2020

Terrific post, @Jim Schwilk !!!! Lots of great food for thought during these challenging times.

Like Jim Schwilk likes this


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