anywhere / anytime office
this first article we list the various locations that can now function
as part of the distributed office and outline their main
technology characteristics and issues:
technical terms used are explained in the subsequent articles.
main IT servers and private telephone exchange (PBX) will be
located here, with IT workstations connected directly on a
high-speed local area network.
The standards in the main office provide the benchmark
for other locations. Where
there is more than one main office, high capacity and high-speed
private networks ensure all perform equally well.
with only a handful of workstations, small offices benefit from
a local area network connected to the main office using either a
digital leased line, automated ISDN (Integrated Services Digital
Network) dial-up or IP (Internet Protocol) via an Internet
service provider. For
cost reasons speed is normally compromised, though careful
design (including a local server) should minimise the impact of
similar approach applies with telephony: most PBX vendors offer
branch office solutions that connect seamlessly with the main
system, though normally using the public network to route calls
rather than a leased line.
will typically provide PCs running standard office software and
offering Internet access. Modems,
ISDN connections and LAN connections are also sometimes
provided, allowing the user's own computer to be networked.
bandwidth is adequate, internet-enabled IT applications can
usually be run with no problems on any PC connected to the
Remote access to corporate systems via modem, ISDN or the
busines centre's LAN requires some temporary
configuration to be carried out to network and dial-up settings.
the business centre offers direct inward dialling, the main
office follow-me facilities can be used to divert calls to
employees when they are based there.
Ad hoc offices:
Hotel rooms, cybercafés and other
locations are increasingly used as ad hoc offices. These
differ from business centres as they are not normally designed
to support remote access. Nevertheless they can often be
used effectively as long as appropriate precautions are
taken. The most common applications are to receive and
send e-mails and to access the corporate intranet.
is often the greatest concern in using ad hoc offices. A common problem is
that Internet history files, memory caches and dial-up settings
can be left behind inadvertently for the next user to study.
who spend more than say one or two days a week working at home
will normally wish to set up a permanently configured office,
with a dedicated PC and telephone.
The most straightforward solution is ISDN dial-up for
remote IT system access and call forwarding.
IP solutions are becoming more attractive with the launch
of unmetered services and higher bandwidth and these are likely
to offer better performance and lower costs.
home workers may use either laptop computers (see the next
section) or a multi-purpose home PC.
In the latter case, similar considerations to more
regular home workers apply, with the added complication that
security issues need to be carefully addressed.
users of laptop computers currently operate in four ways:
computer is never connected to the corporate network
computer is connected to the corporate network when the user
is in the office (main or branch office)
computer is also connected to the corporate network by
dial-up from home or other locations (e.g. client office,
third party centre, hotel etc.)
computer also (or only) has a wireless connection to the
trend is towards the third and fourth ways, with "always
on" wireless connection likely to become increasingly
important following the launch of the next generation of
phones are already a well-established feature of the mobile
office, the main concern, apart from cost and performance, being
effective integration with the corporate systems.
definition, the virtual office does not have a physical
concept is to dispense entirely with main and branch offices and
work entirely from third-party, home and mobile locations.
this is only possible in a (mostly) paper-free working
the most radical approach, it is now becoming a realistic option
and locating all corporate IT applications on a dedicated,
secure server at a business Internet service provider (known
as an Application Service Provider)
all users have reliable and fast Internet access from
wherever they are working
telephony - a service offered now by many telephone
companies that provides PBX functionality within the public
with other implementations, the trend is towards data and voice
convergence: the "server on the Internet" will in
future host voice and multimedia services as well as information
Remote access technologies