These days we tend to take for granted technology and advancements that only a decade ago were expensive luxuries. Wherever we travel, we expect to get Wi-Fi or at least extremely fast cellphone connection such as 4G. However when working in some areas we can find that technology infrastructure is lacking and this can have consequences on project deadlines.
Over the last twenty years in my project experience, technology has advanced so quickly that it’s hard to remember a time when we didn’t have something digital in our pocket. We now have phones that work in the same way as computers did years ago. Laptops now have as much power as desktops and miniaturization means we can take all our office files with us, without lugging around hard drives. However it’s easy to take it for granted.
Two years ago I was working on a project in Wales (for those not familiar with the UK, that’s over to the West and in some places, very rural), and it was in an office surrounded by trees and not much else.
I turned up with my laptop, switched it on and asked for a Wi-Fi key. That was my first mistake. It was going to take at least three days to sort that out due to security (this was a government building). I was only going to be here for four days; that’s going to be a problem.
So, next I would try tethering my mobile phone. From the computer room (air conditioned, cold) I couldn’t get any signal at all.
From the main office, I got a little bit of signal which allowed me to get emails away, but not much else.
This was going to be a difficult few days.
The next problem was a little more challenging though. It turns out any storage devices brought on site had to be analyzed first. We couldn’t transfer files between computers on drives without first checking them for security access and viruses.
Again, there was a way around it. All storage can be quarantined by the IT department and checked: It would take two days.
Know in Advance
I’d messed this up completely. I’d been asked to work here for four days and at no point had I thought there would be any problems like this. I hadn’t been prepared and so the best thing to do was to fill out the necessary paperwork, and walk away.
The next time I turned up, all was well. My storage had been cleared, I’d got the Wi-Fi key ready for when I turned up and I could get on with my job.
Never Leave Anything to Chance
The lesson here is simple. We should never leave anything to chance or assume everything will be as we expect. In today’s world where companies are increasing security in order to mitigate against the threat of cyber-attack, we’re probably not going to get free access to networks.
We’ve had a good few years of rampant open technology and now it’s being locked down, so don’t expect to get full access to the network of your choice when you get to a company these days. Always be prepared and ask beforehand if there are likely to be any problems and cover them off before you get there.
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