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Remote Work Surprises: Is Working from Home Too Easy?

If you’ve worked from home with any regularity you’re lucky! Plus, making the transition from office to home due to COVID-19 hasn’t been a transition at all; it’s just more of what you’re already doing. For many people, though, working from home is a new experience. There are plenty of companies that have not allowed people to work from home, either because of organization culture, preconceived concerns about security and productivity, or because they did not have the right technology in place to support it. However you have viewed working remotely, with the implementation of shelter-in-place directives, everyone has received a crash course in how to stay productive at home!

Over the last few weeks I’ve been speaking with many customers and hosting webinars with some of them too. We’ve been sharing our thoughts on remote work, including early concerns, making the transition, surprises along the way, and speculating about what our “new norm” will look like.

Remote Work Surprises

Our customers tell us they have been surprised at some of the results of remote working. The top two surprises:

  1. How fast and easy it was to transition to working from home
  2. Contrary to expectations, productivity is up

Customers have universally been impressed with how cloud desktops and workstations made the transition to remote work fast, easy and seamless. When shelter-in-place directives were issued, many employees could literally grab their large monitors and their docking station, take them home and get to work immediately.

“It just so happened that we were already invested in the Workspot platform, and we were invested in the idea of expanding the platform to encompass most of our company, to take us into the future. We’re extremely pleased at how quickly we were able to adapt and get our people home and working.” Mark Rodgers, CEO, Wood Rodgers.

Some of our customers needed to add cloud desktops and workstations for additional people. For one such customer, it took them 10 minutes to spin up an additional 75 cloud desktops for administration staff. For other customers who have our disaster recovery cloud desktops in place and on standby, it takes even less time. A global law firm sent everyone home, activated 1000 cloud desktops in 2 minutes, and got back to work.

During our recent webinars I have included a polling question about concerns around remote work. Consistently, the top concerns are around security and productivity. While security has always been a good reason to adopt virtual desktops, improved productivity has rarely been a benefit of legacy VDI. But with cloud desktops, that all changes. Workspot’s Cloud Desktop Fabric platform was architected for security that is unmatched by any other vendor, and our cloud desktops, in conjunction with the massive security infrastructure of Microsoft Azure, really can’t be beat when it comes to security.

The bigger surprise though, is around productivity. Many companies have been culturally averse to remote working. Others, as highlighted by our polls, believe that productivity will suffer. The feedback we are hearing directly is that the opposite is true. People have been just as productive, if not moreso. Some of our customers have come to us with data showing increases in productivity. Recent articles, such as this one from Business News Daily, cite studies that show people are more productive working from home. Good news across the board!

Remote Work Downsides

So is there a downside with remote working? Communication can be one. Most of our customers have embraced the use of Microsoft Teams and Zoom for for chat and meetings. Use of web cams is always a bit controversial, since some people are just cranking away and are so productive they don’t take the time to get themselves camera-ready! But it is nice to see your colleagues’ faces once-in-awhile! At Workspot, we’ve moved our company meeting from bi-weekly to weekly, so everyone can connect to hear the latest highlights and share information. Of course, we are heavy users of Teams day-to-day. And we’ve continued our tradition of a weekly Happy Hour each Friday; now we meet on Zoom (web cam required!).

One of our customers, Dudek CIO Brian Nordmann, said “With Workspot cloud workstations, it’s easy to work at home – sometimes too easy. Productivity is stronger than ever, so we are focusing on work/life balance.” Brian points out an interesting challenge: People are so productive at home that many are having difficulty establishing a boundary between work and life. It can be too easy to work all the time.

With the productivity gains Brian’s company has seen, they’ve turned their focus to wellness. Each of us needs reminders to employ healthy behaviors. To that end, the Dudek team gathers each week for a webinar that is focused on various wellness topics, such as healthy eating, getting enough exercise, and more. Brian says, “It has been a great way for the team to stay connected in a non-work environment.” Turns out, the Dudek team is very forward thinking, not only with their commitment to cloud computing, but with their commitment to the well-being of their staff. Many studies show the importance of focusing on work-life balance and managing stress and productivity by taking breaks in a structured way. Here’s a few more tips for wellness and productivity while working from home.

Modernizing Work: What’s Next?

We have all been through many changes in the last several weeks, and it’s interesting to contemplate which changes will become permanent. What does “the modern way to work” look like?  “This is the same speed I have in the office. Why should I go back to the office?” Andy Knauf, CIO at Mead & Hunt foresees a healthy dose of working from home as part of the new normal for work. Some people who were skeptical about working from home now view it completely differently. “People are telling me they are as productive at home as they are in the office – that’s what you want to hear.” The “productivity anywhere” narrative has been around the VDI industry for years, but traditional VDI has never lived up to the hype. Now with high performance cloud desktops and workstations in the public cloud, Workspot customers are seeing measurable productivity gains; a pleasant surprise at a really difficult time. To keep too much productivity from becoming a liability – in the form of overstressed people – one methodology, the Pomodoro Technique, is a time management framework and work methodology that seems particularly timely and is worth a try to keep productivity high and stress at a minimum.

It seems reasonable to anticipate that during the coming months, we will have periods of time where COVID-19 keeps us at home, followed by periods where the virus subsides and people venture out more. Clearly it will be a tricky balancing act. The good news is that for organizations that can continue operations with people working from home, those transitions, back and forth between office and home, will be so easy that it will be the new norm to spend significant stretches of time working at home. When you’re ready, Workspot is ready to help you make the change to the modern way to work, so you can be ready for anything too.