By Robert Fox, VP Emerging Technologies, Liaison Technologies
The way we do business sure has changed. Collaboration and virtualization tools have made our world a much smaller place. Being able to conduct meaningful technical demos and meetings with people literally around the globe has changed how we think about our world in a business setting. Sharing files in the cloud with Dropbox, collaborating in real-time using GoogleDocs, or conducting an interactive meeting with GoToMeeting with colleagues in India, Europe, and the US at the same time are now basic daily business activities. We can accomplish so much more than ever before. With these and other tools to improve our ability to function, come a new set of challenges and issues. Regardless of what technology brings us together, common sense must still rule the day. I recently read an article that serves as a good reminder of some basic things we can do in IT to improve security, but what about our own behaviors with the new technology? Here’s a list of a few things I came up with to help survive the modern corporate technology era.
Is this thing on?
Many professionals, including software engineers are using laptops, laptops with built-in microphones and webcams. With software development teams more geographically dispersed than ever before (due to the technology improvements made in the workplace), this opens up some fun new adventures.
- If you use a headset for online meetings. Make sure that your built-in microphone isn’t also on. I have been in team meetings over Skype on more than one occasion where somebody muted their headset to take a call or talk to someone in the room, not realizing their laptop microphone was still on – it’s awkward for every on the call, and who knows what you might say that should not be heard by those on the Skype call. Out of respect, I’ve actually ended and re-initiated Skype calls to help the person out who was unaware of what was happening.
- This may sound extreme, but make sure you aren’t broadcasting via your webcam when you don’t want to be. People working from home have lost their jobs over this one because of “inappropriate attire”. Usually there’s a light to indicate that the cam is on.
Screen sharing/Presenting virtually
if you plan on screen sharing for a team meeting, prospect demonstration industry webinar, etc., you really need to be careful. Most people presenting over software like GotoMeeting/GotoConference or WebEx should pay attention to these survival tips.
- If at all possible, do not share your entire desktop. Most screen sharing applications allow you to selectively share one application/window at a time. Use this feature unless it is going to severely interrupt your flow when you are doing a demo that requires many applications.
- Turn off all IM and E-Mail popup alerts. You really don’t want your audience to know that ‘Joey TwinkleToes is online’ or that your spouse would like you to pick up some foot cream on the way home. Besides, this feature is distracting and a productivity killer – I recommend turning it off all of the time.
- If you do need to share your entire desktop, close out everything you can, and make sure that your background is appropriate (or also filtered out by the screen sharing application).
- REMEMBER TO END THE SESSION! I’ve been guilty of this. The screen sharing session you are hosting is all done, but you forget to actually shut down the session. You continue to work only to realize an hour later, that you are still broadcasting. Panic sets in – when did the last person leave? What did they see? This is corporate espionage at its finest.
- If you record the session, review (and edit) before posting for a wider audience. It’s amazing what things you may have said that you really don’t want to have immortalized.
- Remote Desktop – make sure if you plan on remoting into another machine during a presentation, that you do this beforehand to make sure there are no hidden surprises. One time several years ago, a colleague and I were doing a very important and highly technical demo of a proof of concept that we were looking to get funding for. This was in front of a panel of executives. The demo needed to go perfect. We prepped a second environment in case ANYTHING went wrong. If it did, we could quickly switch over to the second environment and continue the demonstration. Well, something did go wrong. I switched to the other machine (it was my colleague’s development environment). Once the screen appeared, everyone in the room was staring at a web browser where the colleague had obviously been shopping for a television set. Imagine what *could* have been on that page. This was bad enough, but could have been oh so much worse (we did get the funding after all, but there was some laughter and ridicule that went with it).
Odds and ends
…and here are a couple more tips to help you survive corporate technology
- Don’t trust e-mail address autocomplete. You may send the wrong person an email. In fact, you may be sending an email ABOUT someone, and carelessly send it TO that person. That one is tough to explain.
- Did you know most copy machines have hard drives and store a copy of everything you copy? What’s worse is a study done showed that many copiers after they are sold or disposed of still have the hard drive intact with the images still available. So don’t copy sensitive documents if you can avoid it on an office copier, use a scanner instead, and remember to remove the file once you are done with it.
These are just a few that came to mind – I’m interesting in growing my list. If you have some good common sense ideas around using corporate technology in the 21st century, I’d love to hear from you. Just leave a comment.