How to Get Remote Access to Your Work Computer

December 9, 2016 • Devin Partida


Ahhh, holiday vacation. The weeks leading up to Christmas and New Year’s Day are some of the most popular for employees to take time off.

Unfortunately, nothing interrupts your time off more than an urgent call from a co-worker or client, asking for a certain file or some other kind of information stored you your work computer. When that happens, having remote access to your work computer can be a huge time – and sometimes money – saver.

Keep in mind that company policies vary, and you’ll probably need help from your IT department to ensure you’re connecting securely. That said, get your remote working options set up before you take your holiday PTO, and you’ll be able to relax much better knowing that you can securely access your desktop.

Getting Connected

Computers have been shipping with built-in remote connection software since the days of Windows 3.x, but modern network technology is letting us enjoy increased functionality. The throughput we can achieve today makes it possible to carry out complex tasks and procedures remotely.

Most companies that make office resources available remotely do so through the use of a virtual private network, or VPN. To access it, you’ll need to install VPN software on the computer you’ll connect from. Next, you’ll need to acquire a set of credentials to log on to the VPN. In some cases, your company may require an extra one-time password. This is called two-factor authentication, or 2FA.

After you log on, you’ll have access to the same set of resources you’d have at your fingertips if you were sitting at your desk. Depending on how the VPN is configured, you should even be able send files between your local computer and your home office.

Now you can submit that project you were worried about, on time!

More Tools for Working Remote

Accessing work resources over a VPN is only the beginning. There are lots of neat ways to take advantage of tools for remote collaboration, even when you don’t have to work remotely.

As opposed to the FTP sites popular years ago, file transfer has become a specialty of cloud utilities, making it easy to stash and access even large files anytime, anywhere. Dropbox, Mega and OneDrive are nifty solutions for doing exactly that. You can store files, create custom links to send to co-workers or access your stored materials from any computer with internet access.

Collaborate Workspaces

Each of these features and utilities is helpful on its own, but for long-term remote work where you’ll need to collaborate, a steady base of operations must combine all these functions and more.

If you’re planning on running or participating in a remote team, there are lots of options for cloud-based environments that can allow every member of your team to see “one version of the truth” from any point on the globe. Basecamp and Taskworld each offer rich feature sets, and there are enough competitors in the marketspace to write a standalone piece on this topic. As an example, let’s use something everyone knows: Google.

Google has staked their claim as the company that does everything, and a look at the tools they offer collaborative teams free-of-charge gives an excellent picture of just how much “everything” they can do.

Google offers storage through Google Drive, shareable documents through Google Docs and a collaborative workspace where teammates can use their proprietary spreadsheet and presentation tools for free. If you need more robust tools, they’re available through a paid service — but the beauty of it all is that most people already have a Google account for one reason or another.

Never Be Disconnected

We’re not saying Google is the last word in collaboration. For many people, it will be simpler to select one tool that works for their needs and just use it. If you do need a collaborative workspace, however, it’s good to know they’re around.

The world is shrinking — and that means having secure access to your assets in the cloud, and working with people on different coasts, are both getting easier every day. Just don’t get too caught up with productivity — we’d hate to be responsible for a holiday spent working just because you can!