Paul Fisher, Technical Consultant at Parallels, shares his top tips for SMEs wanting to enable a mobile workforce.
If the idea of enabling your employees to work productively anytime, anyplace, anywhere, and on any device – so long as they can access an Internet connection – sounds expensive and like a huge ask for your IT department, this article is for you. Making it easy for your employees to get up from their desks carrying only their phones or a tablet so that they can still receive emails and work elsewhere in the office, shouldn’t be a headache and is more important that being simply a ‘nice to have’ capability. One study found that two in five millennials would quit their job over poor workplace tech, which shows how this kind of tech-capability is needed to help retain talent.
The benefits of this kind of mobility doesn’t stop at being able to work anywhere around the office. If you and your team need to travel for work, you’ll want to be able to access your business applications and current work files from any location around the world and on a mobile phone, tablet or laptop.
Deploying this kind of mobile working is not as hard as it sounds and is eminently possible on SME budgets. Here are some tips on what to look for in a tech solution:
Keeping IT simple
Mobile working can be a challenge for IT, which needs to allow access to business applications and work on any device an employee might want to use whilst keeping your network and data secure, and ensuring GDPR compliance. IT also has to ensure all applications are kept up-to-date, and with a potentially wide variety and high number of mobile devices to manage, it’s hard for IT to impose security software and add updates and patches on them all individually.
The solution is remote application delivery and virtual desktops, as this allows employees to access any Windows application, along with their files and desktops, on their mobile devices with everything safely and easily managed from a central dashboard interface.
TIP – although remote application delivery and virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) have a reputation for being complex and expensive, there are some easy-to-use and cost-effective solutions on the market today, so have a look around and don’t assume the big brand names offer the best solutions.
Less stress more getting things done
The point of mobile working is that it allows you to be more productive, but this won’t be true if its not fast, simple, and stress-free. You need to provide your team with a seamless and consistent end-user experience for all their business applications across all their devices regardless of OS platform or make. Furthermore, people will want to be able to use their mobile devices in the familiar way, using tap and swipe gestures.
TIP – look for a software solution that’s simple to install and lets your team seamlessly and securely access their work from any device running Windows®, Linux, Mac®, iOS, Android™, Thin Client, Chromebook™, Raspberry Pi, and more. They should also be able to work on their chosen device using the gestures they are familiar with so that they don’t have to experience a steep learning curve.
Keeping it secure
When using virtual application delivery, IT departments can take control of security because shared applications and data resources accessed over a mobile network can be saved in a closed-off central server. By using virtual images, this data need never actually leave the server, so it’s a super secure solution, especially as IT can impose a strict separation between corporate and personal data.
TIP – its simple for IT to back-up endpoints, deploy and maintain security as well as meet compliance regulations when they deliver server-based desktops and applications from a central location. Look for a solution that adds extra layers of protection such as multifactor authentication, smart card authentication, advanced encryption protocols and a granular level of filtering.
Out of the cloud
The challenge of mobile and remote working is solved by cloud computing, as this is the environment that enables remote application delivery and VDI. With this type of solution, you’ll be able to provide your workforce with the ability to work on any device from any location so that the business as a whole benefits from productivity gains while ensuring data security. Some solutions can require a high spend on expensive hardware, licences and software add-ons, but high-quality cost-effective offerings also exist on the market.
TIP – keep costs down with a simple licensing package that includes all available services and a clean upgrade path for scalability. Easy configuration and fast installation are also must-haves, so you and your team can be up and running with mobile and remote working in less than five minutes.
Sky’s the limit
The desire to enable mobile working is a good reason to move to cloud-based processes if you’ve not already done so. With the cloud, all your technology and security updates are always up to date, and cloud technology is continuing to grow and develop every day – who knows what might be possible in future?