In a new thought leadership series about remote work challenges, we hear from three JDL Technologies managers about how the pandemic changed the workplace for their managed services clients – and for their own teams.
Dan Aubin, Client Services Manager at JDL Technologies
My observations of how the pandemic impacted businesses may be a little different from my colleagues. As a provider of virtual desktop services, we’ve been creating work-from-anywhere (WFA) environments for our clients for 20 years. So when they started working from home, it went smoothly. They might have had issues with services from other vendors, but not their virtual desktops. In fact, our clients told us they were so happy to have this service, because they could just go home and log in. They were prepared for a crisis nobody saw coming. They saw no difference in performance; they had access to their applications on their virtual desktop and could keep right on working.
Remote Work Challenges: Printing
Outside of the virtual desktop, our clients ran into a few problems, but we were able to help them find solutions. The first remote work challenge was that they couldn’t use the office printer. That forced people to think about printing differently. As a result, they did significantly less printing and more secure electronic sharing of files.
Remote Work Challenges: Meetings
A second remote work challenge was the need to have virtual meetings and share files with people outside the organization. Vendors and clients, for example. This time last year, we weren’t yet part of JDL Technologies and weren’t providing all the unified communication tools provided by JDL. Still, we found safe ways for our clients to meet and collaborate externally. We provided coaching on which collaboration applications to use, like Zoom and Teams, and how to use those applications outside of their virtual desktops. Now that we are part of JDL, we are able to provide comprehensive Unified Communications solutions.
Remote Work Challenges: Phones
Phones were the third remote work challenge our clients ran into. On-premises phone systems required work arounds (like forwarding the office phone to a person’s mobile phone). Not many of our clients had voice over internet protocol (VoIP) phones. We guided some clients to phone replacement solutions. And again, now we can provide end to end VoIP solutions and not just recommend a different vendor.
On a larger scale, the pandemic forced leaders to examine their business models. It helped validate what was working well and pointed out areas that needed immediate improvement. It changed project priorities and timelines, pushing essential operational improvements to the forefront and compressing timelines for completion.
For our business, the pandemic affirmed the path we were on to expand our service offerings and become a fully managed service provider (MSP) was right. Merging Intelligent Virtual Desktops (formerly IVDesk) with JDL Technologies enhanced our ability to support local as well as virtual desktops, offer VoIP solutions and SD-WAN internet failover and resilience from Ecessa.
Enhanced Communications Strategy
Another way we improved our business was to communicate with our clients more frequently. We sent out a weekly status email to let them know we were there for them, our operations were fine, and they could depend on us. As time went on, we added remote workforce tips and best practices. It became a perpetual cycle of sharing thought leadership with our clients, who told us they appreciated the increased communication and shared their ideas with us, too.
A Mindset Change
The pandemic gave everybody an opportunity to reevaluate the nature of office work. At this point, I see no explicit expectation that everyone will return to the office once the pandemic is over. It has allowed us to evaluate the structure of the office and the structure of the workforce.
I know the executive mindset might have concerns about this, tied to productivity. If revenue has continued to increase, it’s not as much of a concern. Some executives prefer to have staff in the office so they can know what the team is doing and can maintain control. Other executives see the benefits of remote work flexibility. A more flexible workforce is a happier workforce. It’s actually easier to leverage technology to maintain an agile workforce, rather than have them all report to the office.
Redefining the Office
Going forward, I believe most organizations will operate in hybrid environments. Dedicated office space to house a full time, on-premises workforce will no longer be needed. However, having physical space to hold a certain percentage of the workforce will still be needed. The next generation office may consist of reduced space with cubes and a conference room. Lunchrooms and recreational spaces may no longer be needed. Inventory space may still be needed and will likely drive where the hub office is located. The desire to still get together on critical projects may remain, because humans are social. But overall, this past year redefined the office. It’s wherever you are, connecting you to the people and resources you need through the internet and a suite of cloud-based applications.
Companies could avoid the hassle and expense of upgrading laptops by hosting data and applications in intelligent virtual desktops (iVD), either in a data center or Azure. That limits their capital expense. They won’t have to buy more hardware to keep things performing well. All you need is a laptop connected to the internet. You don’t need the latest and greatest PC to log into iVD. The PC or laptop is just a portal, a terminal. All the processing is done in the cloud, so the laptop only needs to display the results.
When you use Azure and cloud desktops, you turn your infrastructure into a service (IaaS). You don’t manage or update that infrastructure, because the MSP does it. An investment business leaders can make is to get rid of as much infrastructure as possible that they need to own and manage. You don’t need to do that anymore. All you need is a computer and internet access.
Investing in Flexibility
Leaders will do well to invest in their staff’s flexibility. It’s a big job perk to work remotely and you can enable that by investing in the cloud. Think about the risks employees take trying to get to the office through bad weather. Driving in a snowstorm, for example, generates an ugly amount of stress and risk.
In summary, a company is more agile if their employees are untethered from the office. With all the advancements of remote work technology, going into the office is a tool to get tasks done, but it’s no longer a requirement.
Contact us to learn more about how JDL Technologies and Ecessa team up to solve remote work challenges for organizations of all sizes.