Connectivity – The Achilles Heel of Remote Knowledge Web Work

13 thoughts on “Connectivity – The Achilles Heel of Remote Knowledge Web Work”

  1. Losing Internet is a real issue for all mobile and remote knowledge workers. That’s why I continue to use Notes to push out local replicas of mail and other key databases. We may not be in a dial-up analog world any more but the issues remain. Sometimes it pays to be “old school”.

    1. Hi David, thanks for highlighting what’s perhaps one of my major pet peeves of today’s remote “workplace” environment, where, more often than not, our entire productivity depends solely on whether we have got a good, reliable, fast connection to the Internet and to Intranets through VPN. And you bring in a very good point, in terms of whether the Social Web needs to adjust and incorporate offline capabilities, because, somehow, I feel ISPs are not going to adjust fast enough to our needs for an online, constant connection. So, yes, “old school” is good, indeed, at least, for as long as connectivity remains an issue, which I guess it’s no longer going to be much of an “old school”, since the issues are very real!

  2. Connectivity is an infrastructure issue indeed. I am a 2 hour flight from one office and a 5 hour flight from the other. I’ve lost ‘net access at my house before and have headed right to the coffee shop and/or restaurant where I know they have WiFi but you’re right about access.

    The other piece about connectivity that I’ve been thinking about this morning as a fellow remote worker is how do we build trust and gratitude from remote locations…think I may have my own blog post rolling there.

    Keep the connection!

    1. Hi Mark! I wish I were that lucky, or, perhaps, I am grateful I am not that lucky! I am also about 2.5 hours flight away from my closest traditional office, but I don’t have much of an opportunity to go out to a coffee shop in my neighbourhood, since there isn’t a single place where I live that would have such a reliable connection to the Internet with *decent* speeds. I have got 3G for my iPad and iPhone, but the village where I live recently got removed one of the mobile antennas and we lost half of the coverage in the village, the one where I live!! Arrrggghhh

      The second reflection is an entire blog post on its own, I tell you. It’s one of those things where remote workers always need to keep fighting with office workers, since we need to somehow keep “justifying” our non-office existence by perhaps putting a few more hours, making ourselves more visible, being more open and transparent on how we work, so everyone notices, but also understanding that by doing that and taking up flexibility as an additional perk our overall long-term careers would suffer since we always appear at the bottom of the ladder in terms of promotion, salary raises, and whatever other perks, just because “we are not there”… I would love you putting together that blog post that we could contribute to. It’s an important topic, for sure. So thanks for the heads up and for the initial thoughts shared across!

      Good stuff!

  3. Hi Luis. May I ask who your VPN and ISP providers are? Did you get good customer service? It sounds like either way, it took much too long to get fixed. Is this a rare instance or does your VPN/ISP go down often?

    1. Hi Sylvia, my ISP is movistar, in Spain, where I have been a customer for the last 9 years and counting and with some very good performance and overall service. Except this year, where I am starting to suspect they may have started to cut down on costs of service and maintenance and therefore provide poorer quality of service. For instance, in a matter of a year or so, approx. I have gone from 10 mbps download to barely 5 mbps, which I guess it’s not like some other slower speeds, but it’s definitely not the fastest!! And it keeps raising the concern of whether it would ever be upgraded into 21st century speeds altogether.

      About the VPN solution, it’s from my employer and it was identified by customer service relatively quick and it’s all good now.

      Generally speaking the customer service is good, fast and with quality, it’s just that last week, it wasn’t. So I am inclined to reflect it may well have been a one time instance and we can move on, either way, it helped me understand how fragile we all are, as remote knowledge workers to carry on our jobs in a hyperconnected world [in some areas …]

    1. Hi Nancy! Ha! It does actually feel a little bit like that! :-(( I bet you would have plenty more experiences to share from your regular business travelling and I bet it would give you an opportunity to write the odd book or two!

      How do you manage and keep up with such frustrating experiences? I could learn a few tricks to help me set up the right expectations for myself and others, to be frank. Another week without it and I could get in trouble with a few folks!!

  4. Cope? I think I swear a lot. I do a lot of downloading of my Google docs, use an email client that allows offline reading and composing and carry lots of little pen drives! Seriously, I can’t do a lot of my online collaborative work when I’m on the road due to connectivity problems. And frankly, it starts to kill you when you have to do everything on crappy hotel wifi after an 18 hour day.

    So, what I try and do when I can is plan NOT to do a lot of the collaborative work when I know I’m going to a less connected place.

    There is also a flip side advantage. I spend more time in F2F conversation or eating great meals!

    1. Hi Nancy! LOL!!! I know this is going to sound really sad, but I am somewhat glad I am not the only one suffering from these connectivity issues while on the road and I wish we could be offered some good alternatives overall as well, perhaps, like this one, where summer 2014 we will no longer have huge expensively roaming charges across Europe. That’s going to make our lives so much easier altogether, I can imagine! 😀

      I think you also hit the nail on the head on something that I think I need to plenty about: plan!, specially, when I know in advance that connectivity is an issue and eventually should follow your advice as well on spending more time treasuring the F2F conversation and the lovely dinners & drinks than just swearing at a screen that won’t do anything, anyway hehe

  5. Luis – great article and certainly a real reminder of the frailty of our seemingly ubiquitous connectivity.

    We are just not quite on even par with water, electricity (and air 🙂 ).

    I can still remember the IBM commercials run in the late 90’s around utility computing. There was a specific commercial where a “manager” was leaving a conference room when he shut off the lights – and had this epiphany that computing could be had “On Demand”. All I could think about where the “hundreds” of IBMers running around to make that work — a bit of a sarcastic play on what might really happen “behind the scenes”.

    As we move more towards “always connected” tools and technologies for interaction and knowledge work, the risks of connectivity are actually much more impacting. I guess one of the reasons why I still love our good old Lotus Notes… Replication was/is such a great thing 🙂

    I am optimistic we will get there, the challenge is that we are just not there yet, and some folks don’t quite get that point…



    1. Hi Patrick, thanks a lot for reaching out and for the wonderful comments! Glad I am now having a chance to go through them and add some additional thoughts altogether. Good stuff!

      Absolutely! In fact, a couple of days back one of my friends, over in Twitter, shared the the following tweet, which I thought was quite telling on its own:

      Thinking abt ur recent post @elsua RT @euroinnov_philg: Only 2% of #Europeans have ultrafast broadband | New Europe…

      I guess that also puts things into perspective for that matter! Grrr You bring in such a great point in terms of those risks of connectivity, when working in a Web environment: there can be so many things gone wrong (Internet, VPN, browser, internal infrastructure, the actual application and so forth) than just troubleshooting it from whatever we had in the past *is* indeed a nightmare. I, too, miss the replication from Notes in this whole Web environment, because I doubt we would ever reach the level of broadband penetration that would make it doable and everything, so I am wondering we would eventually have to take the Web down with us, vs. us having to go to the Web!

      Yes, I am, too, optimistic about it, although I am just hoping it does happen before we retire, just for the sake of experiencing the future 😀

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