One of the great things about working on a PhD (as opposed to a regular 9-5 job) is that as long as you don’t have meetings or teaching you can work from anywhere. In fact I know a girl who managed to go overseas for a month without her supervisor ever knowing – she emailed her supervisor files as she was working on them, and managed to avoid scheduling any meetings.
But, even with the best file management (see my post on Dropbox), there are some things that you can’t do from home. For me the major thing is data-analysis. I don’t have a copy of SPSS on my home computer (and don’t want one!), but every so often I’ll be working on a paper from home and realise that I don’t have the results of an analysis that I need. It used to be that I’d just have to grin and bear it, and most often meant that I gave up actually ‘working from home’ for the day and spent time ‘watching television from home’.
And then Adrian introduced me to TeamViewer.
“TeamViewer connects to any PC or server around the world within a few seconds. You can remote control your partner’s PC as if you were sitting right in front of it.”
I can use TeamViewer to connect to my work PC from my home (or from my iPhone), and run any of the programs on my computer. Because I try to keep the files I am working on synced using Dropbox I mainly use TeamViewer for things like SPSS, that I can’t do on my home computer. But I also use it from time to time when I’ve forgotten to put a file in my dropbox, or when I need something I wasn’t expecting to need.
I worked from home on Thursday last week and logged onto my work computer about 10 times – at least once just to freak out my office mate by making my computer look like a ghost controlled it.
Download TeamViewer from here
Set up unattended access so that you can login to your computer without needing to be anywhere near it (and without needing to get a kind office mate to help you). This uses a username and password that doesn’t change.
You can also generate a one time use password if you’re using TeamViewer from a public computer or want to give a friend access to your computer
There is a small version of TeamViewer that is great for tech-support for Luddite family members
TeamViewer is free for personal and non-commercial use
There is a great iPhone app for TeamViewer so you can access your computer from your phone, this is especially helpful because the list of things you can’t do on your phone is probably longer than the list of things you can’t do on your home PC