March 11, 2020

Empowering Your Team to Work from Home with Virtual Desktop Infrastructure

Chris Patterson

With more employees requesting to work from home, many companies are evaluating opportunities to support them, while ensuring continuity of services. Technology makes that possible, of course: VPNs, laptops and reliable internet provide anytime, anywhere access to data, and have spurred the growth of telecommuting over the last decade.

According to a 2017 report from FlexJobs, 2.9% of the total U.S. workforce work from home at least half of the time—a 115% increase since 2005. And a PGi survey of global knowledge workers showed that 33% of respondents in EMEA telework 2-3 days per week, followed by APAC at 22% and North America at 20%.

While telecommuters are already well equipped and ready to work from home, the fact remains that the majority of workers are not. Aside from jobs where people need to be physically present—hospitals, factories, retail stores, etc.—there are many scenarios where employees could potentially work from home but need access to highly specialized software or additional layers of security to support the handling of sensitive, protected data.

If you didn’t plan to have 50 or 100 or 500 extra laptops on hand to support these employees, installed with all the appropriate specialized applications and security controls, then you can see where it becomes a logistical challenge—even if you did want to hand out laptops. It’s also not cost-effective or feasible for many businesses operating with limited resources and staff.

Look to Virtual Desktop Technology

This is where virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) technology can provide valuable support. While VDI has been around for years, the growth of cloud technology has made it much easier to manage and scale. In a cloud-based VDI solution, the operating system and applications are separated from the computer and hosted in the public cloud, such as Azure or AWS. Since data is never actually downloaded to the computer, employees can work from wherever they are on any device that connects to the internet—whether it’s a personal laptop, iPad or even a kiosk.

In a situation where an employee or contractor needs access to highly specialized software and other types of protected data, the company can quickly provision a virtualized desktop to that person and securely manage it from the cloud. This not only saves time and cost, it opens the possibility for many more types of workers, such as call center staff or medical clinicians, to do their jobs from wherever they’re located.

With pay-as-you-go pricing, companies have the ability to immediately scale up to serve any number of employees and scale down as needed. So, whether it’s concern over a weather event, health-related or providing additional flexibility to employees, it’s easy to support changes to your business, without disruption to the customer.

While many companies have thought extensively about continuity of services when it comes to data and applications, there also needs to be a plan in place for people. This is especially true in situations where employees are being mandated to work from home, such as with the current coronavirus that has impacted how people work and business operations in general.

According to a Gartner poll of over 800 organizations across the globe, the current coronavirus pandemic has significantly impacted standard business operations, with the majority experiencing little disruption (38%) or reduced level (34%) of business operations, compared to just 16% that said business is operating as normal.

VDI makes it possible to implement a widescale work-from-home program, allowing employees to access the applications they need to do their jobs and collaborate, without compromising security, compliance or performance. It’s a great option to consider as part of your overall business continuity strategy, and can be supported by either in-house IT staff or outsourced to a managed service provider.

To learn how Navisite can help your business with VDI services, contact hello@navisite.com.