Is remote access part of your toolkit?


If you've ever had the nice human from IT take over your computer from another location to solve a problem, you've seen "remote access" in action. It's kind of cool - and just a little unsettling. After all, do you really want someone to be able to take control of your computer any time they want? A surprising survey says yes, you probably do.

Why do people want this feature? Why should it be available to your team? According to a survey carried out for Teamviewer, one of the world's most popular providers of remote control and online presentation software, there are many reasons people want the ability to have access to other computers.

Some of those reasons range from the altruistic (helping someone solve a problem faster) to the purely selfish (saving your bacon when you forget to bring an important file with you).

The way we work has changed. Many of us are now using more than one computer. It might be a laptop, a tablet like the iPad, a smartphone or something else that will be invented and thrust upon us shortly. Additionally, as the line between what we use for our personal lives and work becomes blurrier, the need for cross-platform accessibility becomes more crucial.

Why carry that clunky four-year-old company laptop when our iPad or Android Tablet does pretty much the same thing? (And just because it's company policy doesn't mean people will always behave. You knew that, right?)

What if some of your team is behind the firewall while others are trying to get things done in a Caribou Coffee shop or an airport departure lounge? We can't store every file we need on every device, which makes remote access not just a "nice to have" feature, it's becoming critical to our team productivity and mental health.

Here are some of the surprising numbers in the study:

  • 63% of Americans use more than one computing device. This means you need to do more than access the informationóit needs to be in a form that's usable across multiple formats.
  • 79% of Americans would like the ability to control someone else's computer. Of course, my personal guess is that the number of people who would like to just have control over that other person is actually much higher.
  • 49% of those surveyed would feel "extremely nervous and stressed" if they didn't have access to a critical document and 31% worry they'd be fired.

This isn't as simple as just allowing people to people to do whatever they want, whenever they want. Do you really want to make it easy to get access to every computer or corner of your company's network? Do you really trust your IT department to look into your phone any time at all?

If you don't feel guilty about the amount of time you spend playing Angry Birds when you should be working the Johnson account you might not think this is a big deal, but most of us would be less than comfortable with the notion of always-on monitoring.

As a team leader, it's important that you think long and hard about the tools you use at work. For every problem something like Teamviewer, GoToMyPC, or something similar solves there are additional questions and challenges. You and your IT folk need to put your heads together.

Who gets control? When do you get bogged down solving a problem for someone over and over when people should learn to solve it themselves? What are the legitimate security issues to be addressed? What's the line between vigilance and paranoia?

We've already discussed the notion that once a technology becomes simple and available, people are going to want it to make their jobs easier and their lives less stressful. How prepared is your company to oblige them?

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About The Author

Wayne Turmel
Wayne Turmel

Wayne Turmel has been writing about how to communicate effectively in remote and virtual environments for more than 20 years. In 2016, he merged with The Kevin Eikenberry Group, to create The Remote Leadership Institute, and now serves as Master Trainer and Coach to the Kevin Eikenberry Group. Wayne is also is the author of more than 15 books, including The Long-Distance Teammate and The Long-Distance Team.

Older Comments

A great post, and as different remote access methods becomes more and more available, there is suddenly a need for a way to manage all these remote access applications. One of the more popular remote access management system is called AccessIT from Minicom which allows you to manage all your different remote access tools - both software and hardware - regardless of vendor and all from a single dashboard.

Mads Copenhagen, Denmark

I use various remote access tools every day, but KVM over IP is still my preferance as it gives me the access on the bios level.


If I download Teamviewer to have a friend help me, can he see where I log on, for example when I check my bank? how do I log off, so I know I am the only one on my computer?

joe Baja Mexico

VPN or another remote tool is very helpful in the workplace. Good remote support tools can be used for everything such as accessing a document you left at home to screen sharing for a meeting. My office has ScreenConnect. The IT support team uses it to fix computer issues remotely and they allow some of us access for screen sharing and such for meetings.

Simon United States