Nathan Byrne, EUC Consultant at Proact UK
The lockdown has brought a realisation, just how much of business is still done in person or in one location. Meetings, office work, and user groups were all gone with one Prime Ministerial statement. It would be fair to say that few if any, organisations’ DR teams had prepared for this, let alone expected it to occur within their tenure.
If we were to think of many companies’ current DR/BC plans, they would account for the loss of a location by replacing that location with that of a recovery company or some element of a cut-down provision in the cloud, they hadn’t envisaged the possibility that all office (permanent or temporary) locations would be inaccessible for a prolonged period of time.
The concept of working remotely is nothing new, but recent events have forced a rethink for many companies, not only the home worker concept but also the role of the “office” in a broader sense.
As a long term home-office employee, I have enjoyed the freedoms that come with being able to work when the creative mood hits me. However, even as a self-confessed introvert, I recognise the cohesion that going to an office can bring. During these turbulent times we have seen some of the most incredible behaviours from employees, all while facing their own personal challenges.
The remote working conundrum includes not only technical challenges but those of mentality, emotion, and culture.
So how do companies that revolved around a central location, sometimes with it even included in its core DNA, cope, when pretty much every location is out of bounds and destined to be a long changed engagement?
Put simply, it is how we can best satisfy and utilise the company’s staff, and the answer may not be the same for everyone.
Not everyone is going to have an up-to-date home office just waiting for them. There will be people who need a laptop, whose broadband is just not up to it, and those whose quiet space is the kitchen table and others that for webcam sharing would just be out of the question!
Organisations are currently trying to solve technical issues of how to get users connected and productive, but also social impacts that were not foreseen. For many, isolation from their colleagues is a mental challenge in itself and one that needs proactive engagement.
It’s important to remember that not everyone’s situation is the same, and as such the solution to enable them to return to some sense of work capability/normality may not be either. It’s all about being armed with the right tools.
One of the tools we have at our disposal to allow remote working is Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI). We have long been waiting for the #yearofthevdi, so much so that it has become an in-joke within the IT community. Expense, user experience challenges and vendor stability have all been issues. However, the uptake of cloud-based services around virtual desktop during this time illustrates it is a force to be reckoned with.
Much of the stigma around VDI comes from the old mindset of trying to shoehorn a solution to meet the needs of the many without consideration of a key metric – the user experience. Poor performance, poor graphic capabilities, and lack of personalisation all fed into a perception it was hard, and to a degree that’s true, it’s hard to do right.
Organisations are finding that while the old “one size fits all” VDI solutions do meet their needs, the value of End User Workspace and application delivery cannot be underestimated. It is a reason the term VDI is quickly being recognised as outdated with a drive to more to End User Computing (EUC); the desktop is not the point, connecting the user with their data and their apps are!
One thing that has come to light following a move to remote working is that workers can be equal if not considerably more productive when they can control their environment. Users feel empowered and happily adjust to the reduction in travel and meeting fatigue, but the social aspect must not be forgotten.
VDI is a tool in the toolbox, EUC encompasses so much more, and ensures a user can connect with the right apps at the right time with the right security context.
Couple this with innovative ways of reusing the compute and graphics capability of VDI at quiet times, for data mining, or AI/ML and things really have changed within the space.
EUC can help your employees achieve a far better work-life balance; when the transformation goes beyond the technical aspects, the employee, and how they want to work, is given greater regard, becoming key to the design. With the right tools, the physical location shouldn’t matter, and the user experience should be great either way. Proact has helped numerous companies develop their remote working and BC/DR strategies. Whether the demand is high fidelity graphics or ensuring scalable remote solutions. To find out more about how we can help, contact us using the form below.