The COVID-19 pandemic has forced companies around the world to do something they were not ready to do – ask all their employees to work from home. A recent survey showed that 74 percent of chief financial officers respondents stated they planned to transition at least part of their workforces to permanent remote working. Much to their surprise, businesses are finding the transition home more palatable that expected – in some cases it has worked so well that measurable productivity numbers have increased and as important, employees like it.
For most organisations, there was a scramble to get home offices ready to be the primary place of work. It was a matter of enabling them by shipping devices, monitors, keyboards and confirming sufficient network bandwidth. And let’s not forget ensuring security, where some were retooling existing policies, and others have had to create new plans from scratch. It comes with challenges, and there are a lot of lessons learned. The experience has turned the way people work upside down for many industries, leveraging video conferencing and other cloud services far more throughout the day from home, finding the on-prem datacentre to no longer be the centre of the universe. And with the offices empty, IT organisations are running the numbers and finding they can save so much by decreasing spending on office space, power, A/C, food, and travels expenses – and in return, support what their employees have been asking for all along, “I want my home office to be my office office”, otherwise known as - “BYOH” – bring your own home!
From BYOD to bring your own home
When cellphones and the original Blackberry devices first became mainstream, the concept of BYOD – bring your own device – came into being. Many employers realised they could save money – and make things easier for their employees – by allowing them to use their own cellphones and then laptops, rather than requiring them to use company-issued devices.
However, this then prompted the need for securing the personal device, adding VPN access and multifactor authentication. And yet, security is one of the biggest concerns with VPN connections, as it provides the much-needed access to applications and data, although it also opens up a network pipe between the home and the corporate network that could be exploited by malware.
Alternatively, with cloud desktops (VDI/DaaS) done right, you can provide a secure proxied connection from the cloud desktop client on the user’s home device (BYOD) to the company's Windows 10 virtual desktop in the cloud, no VPN and associated risks required. This increased level of security enables employees to use their own personal devices with no compromise, opening the door wide for trusted home use across all employees – enter BYOH, the new norm. With today’s cloud desktop technology, you can securely access your company's Windows 10 cloud desktop with all of its applications and data from any device, anytime, anywhere – especially when you’ve moved your primary work location to your home.
We may just be to a point where there is no “office” location anymore, your “office” is wherever you are with your mobile device in hand with network access to your cloud desktop.
BYOH is a strategic plan in which organisational leaders are taking in all the factors and determining the best approach for their enterprise. Many employees when surveyed are not in any rush to go back to a centralised office if their role allows the freedom to work and be productive from anywhere. BYOH as a fully supported program from the top down, will require leaders to take into consideration the advantages and disadvantages, security requirements, productivity, cost, risks, business continuity and so on. And with that comes a checklist of all of the things that must be in place in order for employees to work from home successfully. Aside from a suitable WFH setup, which could include an employee stipend for power, food, network connectivity, etc.
The Benefits of BYOH
CFOs are particularly happy with this new way of thinking about remote work. From a corporate standpoint, BYOH has the potential to save a lot of money in terms of commercial real estate and office space, not to mention utilities like electricity, internet and heating/air conditioning. Frankly, physical offices cost a lot of money in upfront expenditures not to mention all of the ongoing ones.
With travel limited and conferences put on hold for the foreseeable future, companies will also save on all of the associated costs of business travel like airfare, hotels, rental cars, client dinners and more. And while in-person visits have always been a hallmark of the sales and customer success role, there’s growing evidence that these efforts can be just as successful without them.
From the employee perspective, BYOH brings a number of benefits pertaining to improved quality of life. This includes the end or reduction of commuting and flexibility with hours and scheduling. In some cases, this means an increased freedom to live in places other than big cities, where rents and mortgages are very high (think about the Silicon Valley, for instance).
That’s not to say there aren’t potential drawbacks, such as less interpersonal interaction and reliance on potentially spotty internet connections at employees’ homes. However, most of these can be dealt with relatively easily and are off-set by the benefits.
The silver lining of the new reality
The past few months haven’t been easy by any stretch of the imagination, but the upside is that this remote work experience may usher in a new approach to how we work. It’s unlikely that things are going to go back to exactly the way they were pre-pandemic. Even for those employees who do return to the physical office, there will be changes in terms of meeting layouts, spacing and how employees interact with one another. Many organisations may decide that it’s not worth it and instead, stick with remote work. Either way, it’s going to take some fundamental shifts in not just logistics, but mentalities. Organisational leaders will need to take steps to ensure they’re designing policies to maximise employee productivity at home. They’ll need to ensure employees have collaboration and communications technologies that are secure and efficient, with easy access to the network and corporate tools. It’s certainly going to take some initial work, but the trade-offs are already showing a lot of positive results.
Brad Peterson, vice president of marketing, Workspot