Square and Twitter have already announced that all of their employees can remain working from home ‘forever’ or for the near future. At the same time, Facebook expects half of its 48,000 employees to be working remotely in the next five to 10 years. It’s not only the leading tech companies that are contemplating a major shift towards remote working. A recent Gartner survey of 317 CFOs and finance leaders have revealed that 47% of respondents are going to move at least 10% of their on-site employees to permanent remote positions. A further 74% of them will move at least 5% of their previously on-site workforce to permanently remote positions. Overall the Gartner survey has shown that 48% of employees would likely work at least part of the time after COVID-19 remotely.
Remote working didn’t start with COVID-19, but the pandemic has greatly accelerated the trend and has caused business leaders to rethink how and where work should be performed. Companies have already responded to the immediate crisis of enabling large segments of their workforce to work remotely. Moving forward, CIOs will need to develop long-term strategies for supporting a workforce that includes a much higher percentage of employees working from home on either a part-time or full-time basis.
These strategies will need to address end-user devices, network connectivity, security, and collaboration tools, along with help desk and field support services. Companies who have outsourced end-user computing services are going to need to update their outsourcing agreements to reflect the impact of these changes on supplier delivery solutions, staffing, performance requirements, and pricing.
Remote working arrangements will impact the technology solutions for end-user computing in various ways and may require significant investments in new or upgraded technologies. Most businesses focus on ways to effectively industrialize remote working for all employees where flexibility and mobility hold the key. In the ‘new normal,’ workplaces now include hundreds or even thousands of “at home” offices, all of which must be supported, scaled, and secured.
· End-User Devices
Most employees will need to be provisioned with new or upgraded devices to support work from home. For instance, upgrades or refreshes of older devices may be required to enable the hardening of the devices to reduce vulnerability to attack and protect data. The hardened network environment within an office enables these dated devices to leverage more resources actually to do work versus protect. Most of these devices might be incapable of traditional hardening typically required on a public internet connection.
Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI), and other virtualization capabilities are options that CIOs may want to explore to separate processing and data from remote working challenges. However, moving users to virtualized capabilities has never been a ‘cost savings play’ and remains a ‘complex task,’ especially where users leverage several proprietary or customized applications. Knowledge workers tend to be more difficult to move to VDI than process workers.
· Network Connectivity
In the short term, most companies have scaled existing network solutions with a limited architectural redesign to meet demand. Still, these solutions may not be cost-effective and secure long-term solutions. Because of the critical operating symbiosis between network and compute/data resources, and the expense and the relative permanence of network design, most companies aren’t likely to take major steps on redesign until they better understand their 18-month business/IT support strategy.
Security solutions for remote working will be critical in protecting companies against the risk of security breaches that could expose them to liability for unauthorized access to personal data or result in theft of sensitive business data and intellectual property. The age, diversity, and capacity of a company’s fleet of end-user devices must be considered in the assessment process. Various solutions exist to enable secure and safe management of devices regardless of the platform. As part of an integrated security and device management solution, they expect a steady increase in:
- Workspace-as-a-Service, including the delivery of virtual desktops and applications to mobile devices.
- Unified communications and collaboration, including the integration of instant messaging, voice, web, and video conferencing, desktop and data sharing, call control, and speech recognition.
- Unified Endpoint Management, including a single interface for mobile, PC and other devices
- Omni-channel User Support, including call, chat, email, web, and virtual agent support.
· Collaboration Tools
As most of us have experienced during the lockdowns, there has been a tremendous increase in the use of video conferencing and collaboration tools like Zoom, WebEx, and MS Teams. Due to the pervasiveness of Microsoft tooling, full adoption of Teams and Office 365 seems unavoidable.
Some collaboration and communication tools were made available for free on a short-term basis. As temporary access to these applications starts to expire, companies will need to address licensing agreements, entitlements, and how to scale and secure applications across the workforce. Asset management policies and procedures should be in place to manage these licenses/subscriptions and control costs.
Due to the sudden shift to remote working, businesses have started to organize their teams to work from home. The current pandemic has played a major role in ensuring that businesses who want to continue their operations must do so remotely. It has given them the advantage to keep on running their systems without compromising their quality of services.
Remote working does come with its fair share of challenges, but they can be met quite easily when you consider the advantages that it affords users. To stay on top of the game and ensure that you continue delivering services without any hiccups or stop-gap measures, gives the business the advantage to keep on delivering end-point services to users.
by Bobby J Davidson
We love our company and we love what we do. Check out the ‘Why Percento‘ page to learn more: Love of Technology and Business! As the President of Percento Technologies International, I provide day-to-day leadership to the company’s senior management and I am personally involved in the strategy, business development and sales activities of the firm.
The company was founded in 1999 with the purpose of providing a one call source for organizations in need of Enterprise IT Consulting and Management. We also provide a line of products in the boutique Cloud Server space with a touch of high-end website strategy consulting and design services. We personalizes the IT Service experience with a team approach, working with clients from diverse sectors of industry, including energy services, financial, legal, entertainment, healthcare, hospitality, retail and general and/or corporate business. percentotech.com/contact