Here’s the reality: employees may truly enjoy the company they’re working for, but a clear majority still have the desire to work offsite part of the time – whether it be for reduced commuting time and costs, more time with family or the option to work more flexible hours. In response to employee expectations, the percentage of organizations offering part-time commuting rose from 5% in 2018 to more than 40% this year, according to SHRM research. Additionally, SHRM notes more than 25% of organizations it surveys now offer full-time telecommuting.
SHRM was right on point, saying, “Organizations likely need to be prepared for more employee demand for part-time telecommuting arrangements, particularly as population density continues to increase in urban areas and technology makes working from a distance more seamless.”
Traditional telecommuting, working from a home base, has evolved into other remote work practices, whether traveling, using a company’s satellite office, or sitting in a café – the common thread being mobile devices. Embracing remote work unlocks numerous benefits for both companies and their employees. It gives employers access to a much broader pool of high-quality candidates, reduces facilities costs, and improves employee retention. Remote workers often find that they are both happier and more productive with their work.
Four Productive Steps to Take
High-speed Internet availability and remote collaboration tools have made supporting remote work much easier. However, implementing, maintaining, and controlling secure endpoint devices at hundreds or thousands of remote locations remains a major IT challenge. How best to provide a satisfying user experience, and simultaneously, be effective at cyber threat prevention and overall device management and control? Here are four areas to consider.
- Accommodating All Devices. Issuing company-owned PCs to remote employees can be extremely costly across several dimensions. Beyond initial hardware cost, remote Windows devices are notoriously difficult to patch and secure. They are also prone to day-to-day support issues that are difficult to diagnose and resolve remotely. On the other hand, allowing remote access to corporate systems from unmanaged personal devices presents a major security risk, as the IT teams have little ability to detect and defend against malware that could compromise sensitive corporate data. To solve this, moving Windows to the data center or cloud and deploying a secure OS (preferably Linux) endpoint solution – with centralized management – enables secure remote access to desktops and applications.
- Securing All Endpoints. Mindful of workers’ desire to use any device, at any location, IT staff needs to secure endpoints whether using company or employee-owned hardware. Organizations that prefer to equip remote users with dedicated company-owned devices can install a secure OS directly on any 64-bit x86 device with a 1 Gigahertz processor and 2 Gigabytes of RAM or greater. If employees want to use their personal devices while adhering to organizational security policy, there are, for example, USB devices that enable the user to boot a personally owned PC into a secure instance of the company OS that is fully isolated and completely independent from the locally installed personal operating system.
- Simplifying Remote Access and Management. Organizations with a large population of remote users may want to look at cloud gateway software options to help simplify “off network” device onboarding, remote access, and ongoing endpoint management. Gateway solutions can be deployed on-premises in an organization’s Internet-facing DMZ environment or in the public cloud. They can help provide a productive user experience by enabling frictionless ongoing remote access while maintaining corporate management and control of the device(s).
- Optimizing User Experience and Support. While workers prefer to work remotely part-time or as needed, they do not want their productivity to suffer from sub-par performance. One remedy that should be put into play is shifting Windows OS execution to data center or cloud environments – enabling more effective management and updates, and from the user perspective, giving them the most current versions of Windows without the need to upgrade their device with the tedious downtime and a pause in workflow. Additionally, organizations need to provide rich local device support for peripherals and multi-media to further ensure their remote workers’ experience is the same quality as on site.
Remote Workers: A Growing Force
Companies are seeing the continued shift from the days of people ‘at their desk’ to a workplace without geographical boundaries and untethered to any one device. Working remotely is part of the larger employee trend to desire flexibility in work schedules. LinkedIn notes there has been a 78% increase in job postings that include work location flexibility since 2016.
The remote worker trend is increasing. In parallel IT needs to shift its thinking from ‘on-premises’ to ways to further support users by using available technology to proactively measure and optimize remote desktop performance. When remote users require support, centralized endpoint management allows IT to support and troubleshoot remote devices and execute configuration changes in an efficient manner, without disrupting workers’ productivity.
Regardless of how work gets done or from which device, a seamless, consistent, up-to-date user experience – regardless of location– is the goal.
Written by Dan O’Farrell. Have you read?
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