One of the most commonly overlooked sections of a Statement of Work or proposal focuses around the area of working conditions for consultants. Paraphrased it says that a consultant will have a space to sit, a phone to use and equipment required to perform the job as a consultant. With IT today however, just finding a place to sit and work is often a huge challenge. As examples, here’s some of the most extreme sitting arrangements I have seen since I started consulting:
- Sitting in a server room which was under-cooled resulting in an 80+ degree working environment.
- Sitting in a server room which was over-cooled resulting in one of the consultants periodically leaving the working environment to rub some feeling back into extremities (Allen… )
- Doubling-up in a cube – this is actually the most common one we run into which actually works pretty well since usually we are mentoring clients on new technologies and physical proximity is helpful in that.
- My personal anti-favorite was a client location where I was put in a window office on the 42nd floor looking out the window. Thinking – that sounds great right? Yep, unless you are afraid of heights (sigh).
- On the other far side of the spectrum as an example, at one client I was at the only space they had available was a manager’s office that was vacant – pretty nice digs.
The end-result is that most consultants I have seen often end up sharing cubes, with no phone, no Ethernet connection other than guest wireless, and they bring their own laptop (and cell phone) to work on while they are on client site. Now don’t get me wrong – I’m not complaining about the working conditions on client sites. This is part of the gig as a consultant and while clients do allocate seating space for employees, consultants aren’t permanent employees so locating space for them is generally at best an afterthought. As consultants, we need to be extremely mobile and the positive part of this is we should be able to be effective with just a cell phone and a laptop pretty much anywhere.
This brings me to the point of this blog post. I recently found a great technology benefit in consulting that I had to point out. While working on a client site I found that I had zero cell phone reception while I was in the building. Needless to say this makes it a little more difficult to communicate. Lync works well if you have a headset available as a phone. Often however, conversations need to be more private than can occur when talking on a laptop in a shared cube.
Wi-Fi Calling to the rescue!
My phone has a Wi-Fi calling option which has been really useful. So when I’m on client site, I browse to the guest wireless, authenticate, and then launch Wi-Fi calling. If anyone tries to call me during the day, my cell phone rings as normal and I can go and take a walk and talk as needed (as long as I keep in the wireless network range).
[As a side-note I have also found that this is extremely useful when camping – there is almost always at least one guess wireless around the administration or camp counselors areas. ]
Summary: On a client site without cell phone reception? Try out either your Lync client, or Wi-Fi calling combined with a wireless network connection!