Ultimately, telework (or any remote access) needs to be easy for users and provide them with choices, says Tom Soderstrom, chief technology officer for NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab. That comes down to serving five needs, he says, and points to the ability:
• to talk: “Voice over IP is very effective,” but also consider instant messaging, Cisco Unified MeetingPlace, Skype and Jabber.
• to see: JPL relies on high-definition video conferencing (see “True to Form”). NASA has built Second Life virtual worlds at JPL and Ames Research Center for meetings and collaboration, as well.
• to share documents: There has to be some mechanism for remote users to exchange documents. Soderstrom cites Gartner research that this year 80 percent of computer users will share documents on the web.
• to collaborate: Right now, the lab uses Microsoft SharePoint, but IT is also exploring backup cloud solutions.
• to maintain relationships: This goes back to being able to see one another and so requires that an organization provide end-to-end video conferencing.