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The challenges of remote working

The challenges of remote working
(Image credit: Shutterstock)

The pandemic has completely shifted how we live and work. After a short stint of working from home (WFH) back in March (that was expected to end in a number of months) businesses are now putting permanent plans in place to reroute all employees to remote working.

A recent survey by Gartner, Inc. survey revealed that 74% of business leaders will move at least 5% of their previously on-site workforce to permanently remote positions post-COVID 19. While a positive approach to WFH is now being embraced across the board, there is little consensus on what this will look like on the ground. How will this impact the organizational culture? What are the new measures of productivity and channels of engagement? And crucially, how do we look after employee well-being?

Virtual Desktop Infrastructure

The shift to WFH has triggered far-reaching global technology changes. A short-term remote working setup for a few critical resources versus a hybrid flexible workspaces are worlds apart. First, we need to think about what an effective hybrid workplace encompasses. It’s multifaceted, but in sum, allows employees to work autonomously, boosts connectivity and resilience, and offers a robust business continuity plan bolstered by solutions, such as Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) and Desktop as a Service. All this then needs to be supported by a robust IT system that is able to flex.

The new challenges that have surfaced due to the shift in the way we get our work done require businesses to scale resources quickly, futureproof user experiences, and maintain up-time and much more. If the IT infrastructure can flex, then we will be able to influence softer aspects of work - like helping employees find meaning in their work even when they miss the human element of co-creation, fostering a community among isolated employees and building a loyalty that goes beyond basic needs.

Getting the tech right is key. VDI is a an excellent option for enterprises looking to secure sensitive data, risk management, enable scalability, create expansion and migration plans, and empower digital transformation via smooth transition to cloud services. This, of course, is also complemented by lower IT cost, and enhanced productivity through secure and reliable access, managing employee experiences across any device, any place network, extending into a “Cloud Ecosystem”.

The process has recently been adopted by a well-known European bank. With the help of VDI, they were able to ensure business continuity for nearly 90,000 employees in just 2 weeks. If there hadn’t have been the option of quick installation, flexible and secure VDI, these 2 weeks would have easily extended into a number of months. This, of course, would have financially burdened the institution, not to mention raised public concerns. Nobody trusts a bank that suddenly goes incognito during a crisis.

Responsive culture

Employer branding is also built on trust, and much of a good reputation circulates around a ‘responsive culture’ that can flex for employees. During lockdown, a lot of organizations found themselves unable to provide basic facilities to a bulk of their employees - like connectivity to the company’s core systems to enable fluid work from home. Employees with IT devices could not link up to the company network because of security concerns surrounding private networks. Employees without company devices, could not use their own laptops because of concerns around end-point data security. So, what is the solution?

Take for example, the case of a global pharmaceutical firm. When lockdown started, the company had many challenges - from shortage of laptops, to dodgy network connectivity to inaccessibility of client applications. It needed a robust, scalable, intelligent business continuity-centric VDI. Here, it was important to undertake a thorough analysis of the situation, design an effective solution and follow it through with rapid deployment across the company. Successful implementation brought almost every employee back to the company system, with easy access to collaboration tools, security and scalability. A move like this can restore confidence, build loyalty and give hope.

Futureproofing

Now, more than ever, businesses need to think about how to best futureproof work IT systems. One of the easiest ways to do so is by installing a complete Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI). Supported by Artificial Intelligence, analytics, automation led services from anywhere, the VDIs are able to deliver secure, best in class user experience.

Implementation is also key. For best results, it needs to be installed carefully and in phases, prioritizing critical functions, roles, regions and other business imperatives. Conveniently, the deployment process can be easily fine-tuned depending on whether the company has an existing VDI environment or not. With work from home here to stay for the foreseeable, preparedness is key. It’s up to business leaders to invest in the appropriate systems that will enable employees to thrive working remotely, both allowing teams to hit performance targets, and communicate effectively with colleagues. Change is positive, but as with anything else, choices must be strategic and forward-thinking.

  • Seshu Venkata is General Manager and Global Practice Head, Wipro.