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COVID-19: Prepare For Remote Work

March 10, 2020
Teradici

Teradici is the creator of the PCoIP remoting protocol technology and Cloud Access Software, the leading solution for a cloud-ready future. The company, founded in 2004, is focused on its core mission of seamless delivery of workstations and applications for end-users.

If you don’t have a business continuity plan, now’s the time to build it; If you do, now’s the time to test it.


With the spread of the new coronavirus (and the resulting illness, COVID-19) and the attempts to control it now widely established as inevitable around the world, many regions are already dealing with prolonged imposed or voluntary restrictions in travel and cancellations of large gatherings to mitigate its spread. In the U.S., companies including Amazon, CitiBank, Facebook, and Microsoft have encouraged workers to work remotely and even cancel work-related travel. In the U.K., the government has warned that businesses could be requested to send their employees home for up to three months in an attempt to contain community spread. Similar calls for preparedness have been issued in Canada and many companies continue to alter their operations to keep their employees and communities safe.

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So, are you ready? If you were faced with the prospect of most or all of your staff working from home starting next week, could you transition without significant impact to your operations in the short term or long term?

For those of us fortunate enough not to have been in one of the earliest regions affected, the good news is that there’s still time. But we need to start now. So, where to begin? Here are a few tips to help you get started.

Assess what you already have

If you have a business continuity plan or a disaster recovery plan in place, that’s a good place to start. This scenario may not fit the definition of disaster that you originally intended, but it can serve to help you test your plan in a more controlled fashion that can benefit both your current situation by giving you a head start, and your overall plan by revealing gaps that would be more problematic in a more urgent or catastrophic environment with less time to prepare and implement.

Does your plan include access to remote desktops in a data center or the cloud? If so, and you already have a service in place ready to transition or expand, you’re well on your way.

 Cloud Access Software  Deliver rich, cloud-based, user experiences across all  network conditions. >> Learn More <<

Assess what you really need

One size does not fit all. Just as in most workplaces, the requirements for computing power and form factors can vary greatly from one department to another, they can in virtual desktops and workstations as well. One configuration doesn’t fit all. If you have users who frequently need more power than a conventional desktop provides because they work with video or large graphics files, for example, a virtual workstation that fails to provide the resources they need will reduce their productivity. This might be fine for a day or two, but it could significantly impact business results over the course of an entire quarter, at a time when they may already be under strain.

Similarly, if you have a subset of employees operating in Linux environments within a predominantly Windows-based organization, shifting them to Windows because that’s the only choice you’ve set up could restrict their access to critical applications. Moreover, it’s not necessary – many options exist that provide for mixed Linux and Windows deployments, some even with joint brokering and management for operational efficiency.

Finally, it’s imperative to fully understand your security requirements before implementing a solution. In preparing for theoretical business continuity scenarios, it’s easy to assume that compromises to security or to usability don’t really matter because they’re only short term. Facing a potential implementation of three months or more puts it in another light. Most organizations are not willing to take the risk of lowering their security standards for a full quarter, and most employees will lose patience with clumsy implementations that reduce usability and will look for workarounds that may compromise security as a result.

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The option to work-from-home is now within reach for many businesses, large and small.

Check your assumptions

So, maybe you have remote desktops set up already, and your workforce already works flexibly from home periodically, so you know they have the ability to do so. You’re all set, right? This is just Friday-before-a-long weekend implemented at a larger scale.

Except it’s not. Because it’s quite probable that your employee isn’t the only one at home. That home office, home computer, and home network they use to access their remote desktop – who else needs it, when everyone, including the kids, might be working from home at once? Don’t assume that the resources that work for occasional remote work are going to work for weeks on end. Ask employees what they have available to them and plan to supplement equipment as required.

If you’re implementing a remote desktop solution that employees will need to access via a software client, consider provisioning it now, rather than waiting for the order to drop. Empowering employees to download and configure the client in advance ensures that you have time to troubleshoot it before it becomes critical infrastructure.

As you make your preparations, beware of cobbler’s children syndrome. It’s easy to assume that the IT team will be able to manage on their own, but in the middle of transitioning your entire workforce to remote work, can you afford that assumption? Ensure that advance provisioning and setup allows for the probability that your IT team won’t be in the office and will be working under the same constraints as everyone else.


Jumpstart Your Disaster Recovery Strategy


Consider your costs

Panic buying is irrational, and usually expensive. But there are ways to keep costs down. Using public clouds rather than investing in physical infrastructure offers several advantages in this situation – they are generally faster to set up, offer better uptime (particularly if you have no one in the office to maintain servers), and can be offered from multiple sites for better scalability. They also allow for resource sharing, with options to pay for only what you use. A subscription solution that includes software clients with brokering and provisioning bundled in can cost up to three times less than a private data center.

Carry on

Business continuity planning is often one of those important but not urgent items that gets repeatedly pushed aside in day-to-day work, only to come back to haunt you during 3 AM worry sessions and annual planning reviews. Take this opportunity to move it to the urgent list and not only will you be able to transition more smoothly to address the current situation, you’ll be better prepared next time you need it. When the situation has returned to normal and everyone is back to the office, take some time to collect feedback and codify what you’ve learned into the process. And take comfort in the fact that the ability to transition quickly between office-based and remote work creates a more resilient organization in the long run.

 Cloud Access Software  Deliver rich, cloud-based, user experiences across all  network conditions. >> Learn More <<

Teradici

Teradici is the creator of the PCoIP remoting protocol technology and Cloud Access Software, the leading solution for a cloud-ready future. The company, founded in 2004, is focused on its core mission of seamless delivery of workstations and applications for end-users.