Don’t Sweat the Summer: Tips for Working Away From the Office

With the onset of summer comes the end of another school year. For working parents this can be a tough time of year. Juggling work and keeping an eye on little ones can be a challenge for any parent. This month I am dedicated my post to all the working parents trying to balance their time this summer. I thought I’d pass on some of the ways you can stay connected even though you’re not really in your office.

Most of this post will be about email options but before I get into that I wanted to talk a little about phone calls. Sometimes, as a part of my role in Support, I need to be mobile. It is rather difficult to answer calls coming to my desk when I have to be on the road. To get around this problem I use call forwarding to my cellular phone and I can pick them up as I go.

This works well but what if I need to look something up in our database? A simple solution I came up with is remote desktop access to my office PC. In my case I use a VNC product that allows me to use my smart phone or my tablet to directly access my PC over the Internet. The process is a little more clumsy than directly being on my PC but it is a workable solution. If you can port a laptop around with you this could be used as well.

Email

As promised, though, what are the best ways to stay connected with your email? It is probably no surprise that, provided you have your email account set up on any computer (PC, smart phone, laptop…), you can either POP or IMAP your incoming mail. The real challenge is replying to those messages when you are away from your office and their Skyway West Internet connection. Here is why:

Back in the “good old days”, when the Internet was new to anyone not in educational institutions Spam was never a problem. As the net grew in popularity and commerce began to emerge so did the unwanted bulk mail we’ve all come to hate so much. Junk mail started to become so much of a problem that Internet Service Providers (ISP’s), were forced to take a drastic measure to minimize the problem. Their action was to block third-party email relay.

Third-party relay means sending email via the mail server of one ISP when you are directly connected to another ISP. This was, as they discovered, the primary method being used by spammers to get their messages out. So what did this mean to the average user? Simply, they could not send mail as easily as they did before. In short users could only send mail through the mail server of the ISP they were directly connected to. Alas, this made it much more of a challenge to work away from the office. To help overcome this obstacle here is what Skyway West has to offer:

Webmail: Log into our webmail portal and you will have access to all mail available to you on the Skyway West mail server. From here send and receive mail with ease. If you want to have copies of emails you’ve sent show up at work BCC yourself on your outgoing email.

Receive email from a mail client: As I have already noted, receiving email from anywhere is as easy as setting up your account to do so. Just make sure you either set the home computer up as an IMAP account or, if a POP3 account, you leave the messages on the server until you can get them at the office. Note that if you plan on leaving your email client on in the office you should also set the office client to leave email there for a few days as well so it doesn’t take the mail before you have a chance to view it.

Sending email from home: This can be done fairly easily. To make this possible Skyway West has set up authenticated SMTP over Secure Socket Layer (SSL). When you send a message you also send along your email address and password to tell the mail server you are allowed to send this email via third-party. Note: another possibility would be to use remote desktop to access your office email directly.

Smart phones and tablets: These are a great way to work remotely when you are on the go (but please, not while you are driving). The basic setup information for most flavours of phones and tablets is available on our website. Links to mobile email guides can be found here. As with sending and receiving from home, leaving messages on the server will help you keep track of your mail and make sure what you need to see will be there for you.

So there you have it. These are some way in which, should you be able to, you can get out of your office and enjoy some of what summer has to offer. While your IT consultant should be able to assist you setting any of the above up, you are always welcome to call into Support where we will happily give you hand. Lastly, should you be interested, here is a link to our “All About Email” page where you will find everything I have talked about above:

Got a question or an idea for a topic you would like to see covered in one of my upcoming blogs? Write to support@skywaywest.com and sound off. I’ll do what I can to address your questions or concerns either personally in a reply email or on the blog. Until next month, take care.

–Wes


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