Easy Onboarding Is Key to Empowering Remote Workers

Working remotely is essential for keeping the business running, but IT teams need tools like virtual desktop technology to make onboarding go smoothly.

By Michael Brenner

By Michael Brenner March 25 2020

With the novel coronavirus shutting down offices, many companies are expecting their employees to work from home. But behind every employee who works from home – or anywhere, really – is a skilled and dynamic IT team that must constantly change how they serve employees.  And if they implement remote work incorrectly, it could turn off employers from using it in the future.

Long before the current public health crisis, employers were becoming more comfortable with remote work. According to data from the American Time Use Survey, 36 million salaried employees in the U.S. did at least some of their work from home as of 2017-2018. That was up from 19% in 2003. In fact, for over 5 million Americans, working remotely was a required part of the job.

Not every office is turning away from traditional models, but the technological tools in place today mean remote work is no longer out of the question. In fact, it can be imperative. In its 2020 HR Trends Report, HR consulting firm QTI Group found that many respondents were advertising workplace flexibility to attract a dwindling labor market.

The numbers don't fully address the shift toward remote work that's underway. 2020 has Slack and Google Drive; 2003 just barely had email and instant messenger. Some company cultures have adapted to the new tools and gone all-in on virtual work, while others stick to mostly 8 to 5 formats.

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Different approaches include:

  • Traditional offices require all work to be completed on-site

  • Connected offices might require employees to come in from 8 to 5 and also expect them to be reachable on nights and weekends

  • Remote offices allow employees to work from home or a workspace

  • Flexible offices permit a mix of on-site or remote work catered to the employee's needs and the job requirements

Companies must fully commit to remote work, however, in order for it to work. Otherwise, IT teams' efforts will be for naught.

[Related post: Turning Adversity into Opportunity - Learn from Home]

Indeed, poor rollouts may have doomed some remote work initiatives. Dana Wilkie, SHRM's online editor, writes that some companies have reduced employees' ability to work from home. In some cases, this may have been because employees weren’t given the necessary resources to do their job or trained how to use them. Lost efficiency from untrained workers could result in management scrapping a remote program altogether.

How Can IT Teams Shift Mentally and Technologically to Meet Needs?

IT teams have to balance multiple needs when dealing with remote teams. Primary among them are security and access. In addition to email, remote workers rely on chat applications, video conferencing, collaboration/project management software and documentation tools.

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While such tools keep people productive and collaborating, they may also open the business up to security risks. Companies can limit access in the name of security, but it sure makes it harder to share documents and meet the bottom line.

Steaming Business Applications

The easier onboarding is, the happier the IT team will be. And the more likely that remote work will become a permanent benefit. That’s where virtual desktop infrastructure and desktop as a service technologies come into play.

Nutanix Xi Frame is a desktop as a service (DaaS) technology that operates in the cloud. It’s designed to get remote teams up and working quickly, which is vital when emergencies strike, said Ruben Spruijt, a senior technologist for the End User Computing Group at Nutanix.

“Frame runs virtual applications and desktops on any device, securely, and it’s easy for IT to manage,” he said. “The only thing you need is a browser on a user’s device. No clients, agents or plugins. You can run these apps just by using your browser.”

It works on all the major cloud systems, including AWS, Google and Microsoft Azure, or runs from on-premises private cloud data centers running Nutanix AHV. Then, it’s just a matter of getting employees to log in with their internet browser, where they can access all the business apps they need.

“Imagine you're a large engineering and design firm with 25,000 people at multiple locations in the world,” said Spruijt. “Frame lets colleagues collaborate with each other using 140 different engineering workstation applications to design a bridge, an airport or a building. They can run these apps in a browser.”

Frame was designed to be easy-to-use and easy-to-scale so IT can focus on updating applications, adding new applications and giving access to data.

He said interest in virtual desktop technology has grown since COVID-19.

“I see around 10X more interest for this solution right now,” he said, citing the February-March increase in sign-ups to try Nutanix Frame free for 30 days. 

“People need to work from home and from anywhere with all kinds of devices and apps, which are the gateway to data and productivity.”

With DaaS, IT managers don’t need to worry about the plumbing.

“The beauty of Frame is there’s no need to worry about the underlying infrastructure to deliver apps and desktops as a service,” Spruijt said. “That's the beauty of a cloud service where you can easily scale up or scale down when and where it’s needed.”

Not having to worry about the infrastructure means IT managers can onboard remote workers with little time or effort compared to traditional virtual application and desktop technologies.

Try Nutanix Frame Desktop-as-a-Service free for 30 days.

Michael Brenner is a keynote speaker, author and CEO of Marketing Insider Group. Michael has written hundreds of articles on sites such as Forbes, Entrepreneur Magazine, and The Guardian and he speaks at dozens of leadership conferences each year covering topics such as marketing, leadership, technology and business strategy. Follow him @BrennerMichael.

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