Trends in Technology
Square and Twitter have already announced that all of their employees can remain working from home ‘forever’ or for the near future. Similarly, Facebook expects half of its 48,000 employees to work remotely in the next five to 10 years. Leading tech companies are not the only ones contemplating a major shift towards remote work. A recent Gartner survey of 317 CFOs and finance leaders revealed that 47% of respondents are moving at least 10% of their on-site employees to permanent remote positions. A further 74% of them plan to 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 remotely at least part of the time after COVID-19.
Remote working didn’t start with COVID-19, but the pandemic has greatly accelerated the trend. Subsequently, it has forced business leaders to rethink how and where work should be performed. Companies have already responded to the immediate crisis by enabling large segments of their workforce to work remotely. Moving forward, CIOs will need to develop long-term workforce support strategies for a growing percentage of employees working part-time or full-time from home.
These strategies should address end-user devices, network connectivity, security, and collaboration tools. They should also take help desk and field support services into account. So, companies that outsource end-user computing services need to update their outsourcing agreements. And, these agreements should reflect the impact of these changes on supplier delivery solutions, staffing, performance requirements, and pricing.
Undoubtedly, remote working arrangements impacts the technology solutions for end-user computing in several ways. This in turn, requires significant investments in new or upgraded technologies. Accordingly, many businesses focus on effective ways to industrialize remote working for all employees to maintain flexibility and mobility. In the ‘new normal,’ workplaces now include hundreds or even thousands of “at home” offices, all of which must be supported, scaled, and secured.
Employees likely need new or upgraded devices to support work from home. For instance, upgrading or refreshing devices reduces vulnerability to attack and protects data. An office’s hardened network environment enables dated devices to leverage more resources for work rather than protection. Therefore, many individual devices may be incapable of traditional hardening typically required on a public internet connection.
CIOs can explore Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI), and other virtualization capabilities 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’. This is especially true where users leverage several proprietary or customized applications. Unsurprisingly, knowledge workers tend to be more difficult to move to VDI than process workers.
In the short term, most companies have scaled existing network solutions with a limited architectural redesign to meet demand. Still, these solutions are unlikely cost-effective and secure long-term solutions. Nevertheless, companies avoid major redesigns until they better understand their 18-month business/IT support strategy.
Security solutions for remote working are critical to protect companies against the risk of security breaches. Such breaches expose them to liability for unauthorized access to personal data or result in theft of sensitive business data and intellectual property. Therefore, the age, diversity, and capacity of a company’s fleet of end-user devices must be considered in the assessment process. Luckily, there are solutions that enable secure and safe management of devices regardless of the platform. Steady increases in the following can be expected as part of an integrated security and device management solution:
- 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.
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 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 begun organizing their teams to work from home. The current pandemic has played a major role in influencing business to continue operations remotely. This option has given them the advantage to keep systems running without compromising 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. Ultimately, you stay on top of the game and ensure that you continue delivering services without any hiccups or stop-gap measures. Businesses have the advantage to keep on delivering end-point services to users.
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