3 Ways the Digital Workspace Supports Remote Work Today and Beyond

May 26, 2020
Marshall Anne Busbee

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Marshall Anne is a Product Line Manager at VMware with over 5 years of experience specializing in mobility and end user productivity.

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We are living in unprecedented times.  You may be tired of hearing the word “unprecedented,” but there are not many synonyms that dictate exactly what the meaning is in this context.

Likely, you or someone you know are now working from home indefinitely.  If you’re like me, that may have seemed exciting at first, but it is starting to lose its allure.  Zoom virtual backgrounds are becoming less fun, and the endless stream of online meetings is taking its toll.

As we settle into the remote work routine, what are some ways we can make it more sustainable for the long term?  This is not just appealing to employees, but also to employers as they look to continue remote work programs and offer employees choice as to how and where they work. Potential  of enabling a remote workforce  can range from higher productivity, to lower turnover, cost savings – both from high cost real estate and the cost to recruit and hire replacement employees, and more.

The digital workspace supports remote work as it provides a holistic change in the way end-user services are delivered by IT, so companies can deliver the apps and data employees need to work across any device, from any location. There are three primary ways that a digital workspace can help organizations provide the best experience for employees: device flexibility, employee engagement and IT support. Let’s take a look at all three.

1. Provide employees with choice.

As  employees are learning how to work in new ways in new places, the apps and devices that supported them in the corporate office may not work anymore.  Here’s how the digital workspace can help.

First, BYOD programs.  Here at VMware, we are hearing now more than ever that supporting personal devices is a key to remote work success.  Maybe employees are more comfortable working from their personal device setup at home, because of connectivity and ease of access. Or, we are also hearing that because the entire family may be at home, children may need to use laptops for an easier time learning at home and the employee might need to use a tablet or Chromebook.  And how do you handle break/fix scenarios when employees need replacement hardware? There are a few considerations to a successful BYO program.

Device  Policy – Different devices may support different ways of BYO. You could use more secure containerized apps on mobile devices. Provide browser-based access to the organization unified app catalog with an additional factor of authentication. Or, not let any data reside on the device and route employees to use a virtual desktop for corporate app access. VMware Workspace ONE, VMware’s digital workspace platform, allows you to set up all these ways of BYOD with Intelligent Hub, the digital workspace application that allows employees to access corporate resources in a consistent manner on any device.

Security – We touched on this in the last section, but if you’re supporting BYOD devices, you may not be able to require full management of said device. Incremental steps can be taken to better protect your data while progressively improving the user experience. Multi-factor authentication should be your first step, moving you beyond vulnerable and forgettable usernames and passwords. Application single sign-on further protects applications while simplifying the user experience. Conditional access policies can check the security status of an endpoint and remediate OS patches, for example, further helping better secure your information and helping users remain connected. Per-App-VPN can remove yet another sign in and agent to install while only exposing information the application needs, and not your whole datacenter. Depending on where you may already be, each of these individual steps will also set you well on your way to a Zero Trust security implementation.

Privacy – Protecting employee privacy is one of the top considerations for a BYO program. Certainly, this requires a partnership with your Legal teams to create, but then you have to share it with employees.  Your digital workspace solution should not just support sharing the terms of use but should provide an easy-to-interpret view of exactly what and why data is being collected, what is not and allow the employee to acknowledge before proceeding and be alerted if anything changes. Workspace ONE Privacy Guard, a feature of Workspace ONE, is built directly into Intelligent Hub and the Workspace ONE suite of mobile applications for employees to see exactly what data is being collected and see notification of any changes. Privacy Guard also has a privacy role for admins to configure and audit the appropriate settings.

Another way the digital workspace can help is self-service application acquisition.  Employees may be figuring out how to collaborate and work in distributed teams.  The apps they had before may not be quite right for their current situation.  App recommendations and allowing employees to request and access new or additional applications without filing a ticket through a unified app catalog gives employees the opportunity to browse, search, launch, and install right from a single view.  Providing this consumer-like experience can empower your teams to be most productive.

2. Employee engagement is more critical now than ever before.

During a crisis, employee communication is critical.  Now that in-person forums are not available for the foreseeable future, organizations are looking at new ways to communicate with employees.

Organization to employee communication is key.  We’ve heard from many customers that sharing video messages from the CEO is resonating, and the intranet is a great place to host these. But that means organizations have to be cognizant of how the intranet site is accessed and made available to employees and devices all over the world.  Promoting the intranet as a default landing page in the digital workspace is a great place to start.  In addition to corporate messaging, employees need access to many additional resources – financial planning, HR and healthcare resources, work from home tips from IT and more. We’ve found that using notifications to the digital workspace is a great way to alert employees to these resources that they can easily access or revisit when needed.

Finally, organizations want to maintain the two-way communications.  Ask your employees for their feedback and questions to address during the next round of communications or town hall.

Another Workspace ONE feature, Workspace ONE Notifications, provides an easy-to-use tool for sharing resources with team members as well as soliciting feedback by linking to a survey tool.

3. Flexible work means that to encourage productivity, IT support has to change as well.

Now that teams are working from home exclusively, with spouses, partners, children and parents at home, the standard “9-5” workday is having to change. Parents are looking to work and educate their children – two full time jobs! And with changing priorities at home, that means the workday is shifting. Employees can’t help when something goes wrong or they hit a roadblock. It could be when they’re finishing up a project late at night or early in the morning, and they can’t wait until IT support comes online at 9 AM.  There are several ways a digital workspace platform can help as organizations plan for scaling to support employees in the new reality.

First is self-service options. Give employees the tools to be able to troubleshoot and discover solutions right from their applications. Use a virtual assistant, or even configure a custom “support” module within the Workspace ONE Intelligent Hub application for recommending top solutions.

Second, we see from our customers that the top inbound ticket type to IT is password reset. Avoid these challenges by supporting SSO with a unified app catalog. Employees never have to search for app launchers or remember multiple passwords again, keeping them productive and IT focused on the highest priority projects.

Third, when all else fails and IT needs to help resolve an issue, make it quick and painless with Workspace ONE Remote Support.  Don’t go back and forth over email several times, or exchange voicemails. With this Workspace ONE capability, IT can remotely access the user’s device (with their permission, of course!) to see firsthand what the issue is and troubleshoot from wherever they are. This helps reduce the time to resolve tickets and return employees back to productivity.

There is a lot of stress in the world right now. How employees are going to be successful working remotely should not be one of them! Having the right digital workspace platform in place allows you to better provide solutions to the top challenges employees are facing. For more information on how VMware and Workspace ONE can you help you navigate remote work, please visit https://www.vmware.com/solutions/business-continuity.html

 

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