From the ongoing global health crisis to unexpected personal circumstances, there are many legitimate reasons why employees value the flexibility of working from home, AKA “telecommuting”. Offering your knowledge workers the option of working while they’re away from the office can help you attract and retain top talent. It can also reduce the need for workers to take the day off when unplanned road closures, extreme weather, or other surprises prevent them from making it to their place of work.
But are your digital business applications and technology infrastructure ready to serve your workers outside the workplace?
Why cloud applications are a natural fit
Your technology infrastructure usually dictates:
- How much telecommuting costs versus physically accommodating an employee
- The quality and quantity of work that can easily be accomplished remotely
- Whether working from home is even an option at all!
Business applications deployed on-premises require additional complexity to set them up for secure remote access. For example, you’d probably have to set up a point-to-site VPN connection from each employee’s laptop to your office network. Global businesses face the additional challenge of inconsistent performance that varies according to each user’s distance from your datacenter.
In contrast, the cloud simplifies telecommuting by enabling access to business applications using most Internet-connected devices. By doing so, it eliminates the need for installing and maintaining software on users’ devices, which requires time and money, and is also logistically tricky for employees that are away from the office long-term.
Forward-thinking businesses have been moving office computing to the cloud over the past decade. For their employees, working from home is virtually identical to working from their desk at the office. Common office applications like Microsoft Word and Excel have been reimagined for the cloud as Office 365. Email, document sharing, and communication have similarly been enhanced and freed from a specific desktop or laptop computer by running on the cloud. No VPN connections, no remote desktop sessions, and no network drive mapping required.
Cloud platforms like Microsoft Azure help businesses take this portability a step further with cloud desktop environments like Windows Virtual Desktop. Instead of accessing a specific set of business applications over the Internet, cloud desktops give your workers access to a complete desktop environment that contains all their documents, software, and personal preferences. Cloud desktops are also easy to reconfigure. You can start with a desktop that’s suitable for common office tasks, and whenever the need arises, the same desktop environment can be upgraded in minutes to handle resource-intensive jobs like data science or training AI.
Let’s face it: working from home has its own set of challenges. You might have a dedicated “home office”, but for most people, that’s usually a multi-purpose room in their house or apartment. There are several reasons why you might want to occasionally work elsewhere in your living space. And no matter how disciplined you are, the doorbell or other distractions might pull you away from your computer for a few minutes.
Even though they can’t eliminate these challenges, digital mobility solutions can help you stay productive when you need to step away from your home office for a few moments. You can continue to communicate with and receive important updates from your team via your tablet, smartphone, or smartwatch. With an effective set of mobile tools, workers don’t even need a desk; they can work from the palm of their hand.
Depending on the complexity of the business process whose mobile experience you want to improve, you can use custom mobile development (very complex) or low-code/no-code “citizen developer” platforms like Microsoft Power Apps (relatively simpler). In both cases, cloud integration is a critical prerequisite. If you plan to pull Dynamics 365 ERP and CRM information into Power Apps, you should implement Common Data Service (CDS). If your mobility needs include the ingestion of information from a wide range of sources, then you need an application integration approach like microservices architecture, web APIs, or enterprise service bus.
By combining cloud and mobility solutions, your organization can maximize worker productivity, no matter whether they are in the office, working from home, visiting a client, or in transit. Even in the event of globally impactful circumstances, your remote workforce can be prepared for a productive business day.
Visionet has a broad range of skills and expertise, including cloud engineering, mobility, and enterprise collaboration, making us ideally suited to improve remote worker productivity across your organization. Please contact Visionet for a more detailed discussion.