Telecommuting with OS X Part I – Connecting to Your Workplace

Gas prices are soaring. Commute times are climbing. Workplace distractions abound. There’s a ton of reasons why telecommuting’s popularity is growing. With the present state of energy costs only going higher, telecommuting will become mainstream in the near future.

On any platform, setting up your computer for telecommuting could be… involved. With OS X, there’s special considerations involved especially when dealing with the Microsoft dominated enterprise workplace. In this four part series, we’ll explore how to set up your Mac for telecommuting so you can get things done without leaving the house.

Consult with your IT Department
For those of you working in any organization with a dedicated IT team, you will need to consult with them first. Some organizations supply their employees with laptops, which you should use for telecommuting. (Even if it is a Windows machine..) For them to allow you to use a personal Mac from home, they need to be rather liberal in their policies. Note: Most IT departments aren’t.

Don’t despair.. We’ll explore alternatives that may be alright with them in Part III – Online Tools. Remember, if your company comes up with a policy that allows workers to telecommute one or two days a week, IT must be accommodating.

Technology today is converging with Windows-Mac compatibility and interoperability is better than ever. There’s absolutely no reason why you can’t work on a Mac. Even if it’s a Windows only proprietary application. First things first, you’ll have to get your foot in the virtual door.

Part I – Connecting to your workplace:

Whether you work for a huge global corporation or a small office, chances are there’s some sort of network involved. The first step in telecommuting is attaching your computer properly and securely to this network. Once you’re in, as far as the computers are concerned – they won’t know if you are sitting next to them or on the other side of the world. That’s the magic of the Virtual Private Network (VPN).

Let’s set up a Mac to connect with a VPN to your office.

Step 1. Notify your IT department for the proper access and details. Your going to need information from them such as the network’s address on the internet. Also, any particular passwords or special login procedures. Since VPNs can either follow a common scheme such as IPSec or be a proprietary Cisco style, find out from IT which client you are going to need.

Step 2. Download the appropriate client. OS X comes built in with a VPN client so if your company is using a common VPN standard such as PPTP or IPSec, you can use this. If you are working with a company that uses OS X Server, this is all you will need. Chances are that you aren’t given Cisco’s popularity in the enterprise. That’s OK. Here’s the download link for the Cisco VPN Client

Now let’s learn how to set up OS X’s built in VPN Client: Next Page.

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