24 Mar 2020

Technology and the big shift to working from home

From The Detail, 5:00 am on 24 March 2020
Paul Brislen talks about the future of free and open access to content on the internet.

Paul Brislen talks about the future of free and open access to content on the internet. Photo: 123RF

Yesterday everything changed.

The Detail had arranged an interview with technology commentator Paul Brislen late last week about working from home. At that time about 200,000 people were getting ready to do that - about 10 percent of the workforce. Now everyone is house-bound, except those needed for essential services.

Brislen talks about the social and technology challenges of working in lockdown. He's contracted to IT giant Datacom in Auckland, as it shifts all 6500 employees from their offices in four or five different time zones, to their homes.

The New Zealand-owned company is using shared services, Microsoft Teams, Skype - “whatever has to be done to communicate with customers and keep the ship afloat. That’s quite a mission,” says Brislen.

“Being able to work remotely is the new black.”  

There is a range of issues the company has to consider, and cyber-security is one of them.

Brislen says employees and businesses need to ensure they have secure connections so any information or data they share is kept private - including payroll details.

“You’re entrusted with customer data, normally you’re working in an office and that’s usually a fairly heavily policed environment from a cyber-security point of view. But when you’re working from home of course everything’s a little more lax.”

And it’s not until you try to access that password you only use once a year that you realise it’s in the office. Brislen says a lot of companies, whose business continuity plans are enacted maybe once a year, are going to find out about these issues the hard way.

Finding out the hard way about what social isolation means happened to Newshub reporter Zac Fleming.

Today on The Detail he talks about shock of going into isolation and cutting face to face contact with friends and family.

Fleming flew to Hawaii last Wednesday to activate a US green card he had won in a lottery. Time was running out to get it stamped and he had no choice but to travel to a US port or lose the green card.

He knew he would have to return to live in isolation for two weeks but what he did not expect was the way he was treated when he returned home less than two days later.

The hotel he ended up in was well versed in health protections, but its protocols left him feeling like a leper.

Find out where he’s hanging out – and what his plans are – on the podcast today.