Collectively working from home poses no technical challenge, says Remon Klein Tank of WUR-IT. The whole department has been doing just that for the past two days.
Not a soul to be found in the Actio wing where the IT department resides. It looks like a ghost department. However, it is buzzing with activity, Information Security Officer Remon Klein Tank assures us. All from home. The fact that he is present this Friday afternoon has a particular reason: He has an appointment with a job applicant. ‘And I can hardly receive him at home. Yes, I could have skyped.’
The IT department has been working from home for two days. ‘A first drill to test if everything can continue as normal,’ Klein Tank explains. ‘Consider the following: what if something goes wrong in our department, one of us is infected. Then what?’ Then, no problem, as has now has become apparent. So far, all has gone well. IT specialists are uniquely equipped to work from home. Klein Tank: ‘for the majority of our tasks, this is no problem. In fact, it is an eye-opener. There is no need to be present on campus all the time. Our stand-up meeting, which we have every morning, was done through Skype.’
Our stand-up meeting, which we have every morning, was done through SkypeRemon Klein Tank
Even the IT Servicedesk operated from home these last two days, without anyone noticing. And the IT specialists were certainly not the only employees working from home, Klein Tank, who has the numbers behind the scenes, reveals. These numbers reflect the people who log into the network directly through VPN or MyWorkSpace, ‘Yesterday we had 330 sessions on VPN, and 500 today. The numbers on MyWorkSpace are slightly lower, but still, double those of a few days ago.’
Still, the numbers are not staggering. Partly because it is Friday, and many people have a day off. The crowded parking spaces on campus show that a significant number of employees are still present at their desk on campus. ‘And not everyone needs VPN or MyWorkSpace to work from home,’ Klein Tank explains. ‘If you use Office 365, you can work in the cloud, and this is not reflected in the numbers.’
In any case, Klein Tank is convinced the WUR IT systems are ready for large numbers of employees working from home the coming weeks. ‘We have increased our capacity by adding additional hardware. But we will still have to wait and see if it is sufficient and if Skype for Business can handle a large number of online meetings simultaneously. For us, this is a great test case: what are we able to handle and what can we learn.’