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Taking a concierge approach to the employee virtual workspace

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A new poll released last month on where people want to work, post-pandemic, reaffirms that most workers prefer a hybrid, flexible schedule, with 51 percent of respondents stating they do not want to be in office five days a week. Call it virtualization, the cloud or the internet, the reality is people are empowered by the choices remote technology brings and are making a strong statement: we like to see our fellow workers part of the week but otherwise we’re happy Zooming and Teaming off-site.

The flip side of this desire to be hybrid, of course, is the expectation employees have that their respective enterprises will deliver a user experience (UX) that is every bit as productive, efficient and rewarding, whether they’re onsite or remote. It can be done! With virtual desktop technology, enterprises can deliver each employee a virtualized workspace that not only meets or exceeds expectations but saves short-staffed IT teams from having to process unnecessary help desk tickets.

Let’s look at four elements that influence a successful virtual desktop environment:

1. Be Proactive about Bandwidth. Your employees or contractors don’t want to deal with bandwidth issues, particularly when working at different remote sites. To provide consistent, sufficient connectivity, take the time to analyze your current workforce and determine whether you have enough bandwidth to meet demand, and whether you have planned at scale for the year ahead. Typically, companies have an assortment of users, from relatively lower bandwidth users like admin front office support to high-bandwidth demand users such as software developers or digital entertainment producers. Analyze your types of bandwidth users across the enterprise to gauge an accurate measure of what is needed, then determine what bandwidth you have available and plan to fill in any gaps.

IT teams can also make use of optimization tools that can ensure applications running over WAN have better response time, a common complaint from remote workers working with business-critical, higher bandwidth applications. Companies can also implement controls to prevent users going on sites that are not business-related, which will help to keep bandwidth down.  

Lastly, video conferencing tools consume high bandwidth and need to have minimal latency as people conduct meetings in real-time. To manage this successfully, IT can use quality of service (QoS) protocols to ensure bandwidth is available for video conferencing or video-on-demand sharing. In concert with classification of types of users, IT can classify traffic so that bandwidth is allotted according to business-critical applications. 

2. Engage Your Employees. IT teams around the globe faced the biggest challenge of their career when the pandemic hit. Employees pivoted to work-at-home scenarios and extensively used collaboration apps. No one had bandwidth allocation top of mind; health and economic survival were paramount. Now, as enterprises are recovering, it’s a good time to refresh employee communication and team-building practices across the board and engage employees in the right technology practices and processes.  

Encourage judicious use of high-bandwidth tools and set clear policies for tasks like where and when to store files. For example, a quick check-in call could be done via phone; non-business essential videos do not have to be shared on the network, and some files do not have to be sent to the cloud if they are obsolete and do not carry legal or compliance weight. 

Additionally, employee communication needs to consistently refresh employees on cybersecurity tips for avoiding adding rogue devices to their work tools, being mindful of phishing, and always being on the alert for confidential data getting into the wrong hands.

3. Make the Virtual Workplace Consumer-Friendly. Related to the need to better engage employees, is drawing parallels to  the consumerization of IT  which can help understand and influence how employees perceive their virtual workspace. Employees’ personal and professional tech usage blend as video collaboration apps, GIF and Slack channels and many more apps are used for both. 

The impact of this is end-users often expect their day-to-day endpoint device use to be as satisfying and agile as their downtime streaming/texting. They are accustomed to working on their tablets and Macs, installing applications on the fly, and so on. The closer IT can come to such an experience when delivering work tools, the more productive the employee will be, and the more willing they’ll be to accept any access protocols or other recommended practices. IT knows rogue devices and unauthorized applications can introduce cybersecurity threats, for example. To counter this, an end-user computing model that facilitates easy use of authorized applications at the endpoint is a good first start at user satisfaction.

4. Create a Concierge Mentality. The most powerful virtual workspace UX acknowledges that end users are not a one-size-fits-all community. Defaulting to typical app installs or failing to understand some remote workers like to work ‘after hours’ and need an automated help desk, will lead to an inferior UX. 

Much like an upscale hotel concierge, end users will expect something broken to be fixed quickly, and questions/needs to be answered right away. A virtual desktop platform can perform these concierge services and the best ones do so through automation to deliver a seamless user experience, fixing problems before they impact the user and require actions from IT. 

A virtual desktop or architect can also customize endpoint application delivery to better fit an end user’s needs. Automated help desk support, auto-healing by the virtual desktop platform, and the concierge customized approach, all benefit employees and the enterprise and helps reduce IT trouble calls or tickets.

Future productivity

Going into 2022 and beyond, the hybrid work week will become the standard. What ties all locations together is the virtual universe – end users working at virtual desktops, freed from worrying about whether all the applications they need are available. Ideally, if bandwidth protocols have been upgraded, employees can also conduct video collaboration without the headaches of latency and jitter.  Is it utopia? Actually, it is just using all the virtualization and computing tools already available. The payoff will be more productive end-users and a better cost margin for enterprises looking to move past recovery.

Vadim Vladimirskiy, CEO and co-founder of Nerdio

Vadim Vladimirskiy is a visionary expert in the creation and evolution of innovative cloud IT management platforms for the remote work era. He is CEO and co-founder of Nerdio and empowers companies of all sizes to deploy, manage and optimize virtual desktops in Microsoft Azure.